I was five years old when my innocence was snatched away from me.
A grown man, clasped the little me, stroked me in places that weren’t even developed,
tried to teach me how to kiss and satisfy him… all at the ripe age of five. I wish it
stopped there but it didn’t.
It happened to me multiple times with different men in my family from the time I was five
until I was about ten.
Once, I mustered up the courage and told one of the predators that I would say
something to which he responded, “nobody will believe you”.
At that moment, I felt defeated and quietly accepted my punishment. At that moment
and for the majority of my life, I felt like I deserved it. I deserved to be dehumanized.
These horrific years affected my life decisions and perception of the world. I spent
most of my childhood living in fear. I learned quickly that showing weakness to the rest
of the world was not an option. So, I put on a façade for many years and quietly
suffered. I became a great actress in the process. I pushed myself away from the
people that brought me into this world. They loved me unconditionally, but the pain I’d
been through made me resent them and I lashed out.
Years later, when I started to receive attention for my looks, I found myself in situations
that retracted me back to my childhood. I was in countless relationships belittled me,
used my shame for their gain, and held it against me. I’ve been cheated on and labeled
all sorts of names. Even my own friends were ashamed of me. I always came back to
the conclusion that I deserved it because I was not worthy of anyone. I was insecure,
depressed, anxious, and kept myself guarded. These thoughts hurt and consumed me. I
wanted to halt the pain and started to have thoughts of ending my life. In those deceitful
moments, I believed that my absence on Earth would be unnoticed.
I am telling my story publicly for the first time because I need people in the South
Asian community to stop shaming people (especially women) and start getting to the
root of pain. I’m beginning to see that the only way to do that is to embrace vulnerability.
Growing up in an Indian Christian community was both a blessing and a curse. A curse
because at a very young age, I was exposed to the notion that any sign of vulnerability
was a weakness. Something happened? Like my girl, Olivia Pope, please know that it is
being handled. At what price? Our society has taught us countless times that showing
any kind of vulnerability is a weakness. So what do we do? We mask this vulnerability
and so called “weakness”, digging a deeper hole. Too often, we suffer.
According to research from “Barriers to Mental Health Services for Asian Indians in
America”, the most prevalent mental health issues relate to somatization, stress,
suicide, and denial. Each of these issues are common trends in the South Asian
community. But, they are rarely addressed. How have these issues ignited struggles in
our own lives? Each of these issues is a domino effect for other struggles that people
encounter; anger, addiction, abuse, and many other underlying problems. Sometimes,
they become a part of us, luring us to a path of destruction.
This is why I believe that unveiling vulnerability is a beautiful concept that we must embrace.
Sometimes, I feel like we have lost our ability to empathize with humans. Instead of
empathizing, we say or think malicious thoughts that eventually become a part of who
we are as a society. Or worse, we believe that ignoring the problem is the solution. We
cannot claim to love Christ if we do not love people the way that we should. Imagine
how different our society would look if we embraced vulnerability in a Christ like manner.
Unveiling vulnerability will not diminish the sufferings that people endure. But, when we
start responding to these issues in a loving manner, I’m beginning to see that it can
change our perspective on how we treat one another and the way we perceive vulnerability.
What does unveiling vulnerability look like?
It starts with a seed of an open heart, loving people the way that Jesus called us to love.
Instead of rolling your eyes or taking a screenshot of someone to make a joke out of the
issue that another person is facing, let us learn how to control our tongues and our thoughts.
Confession, confessing to a friend or accountability partner who is walking with Christ
about the struggle is necessary. Too often the enemy will whisper that you are the only
one going through this and you will be condemned for the struggle. So we carry this
struggle, on our own, without leaning on to the ONE who paid for it all. Take a deep
breath, you are not alone in this.
Kindness and compassion will never go out of style. These fruits are essential for your
life. How life changing it is once you can convey these emotions to those around you
and strangers who don’t know you. Prime example- Mother Teresa. Kindness and
compassion allow you to be approachable and put you in a place of love- not judgement.
The most wonderful thing about Jesus is that He pursues and loves us so well. I was at
my absolute worst and He picked me up and pieced me back together. It was not an
overnight process and all of a sudden I was healed. It took years of building up and me
knocking down certain pieces. I fell multiple times.
There were plenty of times I cried, cursed, yelled, and questioned His authority over my
life. These problems did not just simply vanish; they are less evident in my life. I write
this because it’s my prayer that unveiling vulnerability brings healing and compassion to
the people around me.
People are struggling with things that have hindered them in all areas of their life. We
must embrace vulnerability as a society to uplift and encourage each other- just like
Christ asks us to.