Tell your story, too(sday)

Originally posted on

I was watching an episode of Jane the Virgin, where Jane and Rafael go to therapy to work out their differences for the sake of their son, Mateo. At one point, she said that the worst thing about the situation was the lie, and the fact that he lied to her.

To my surprise, the therapist in the show says, “Why is lie such a trigger for you?”

And I’m watching the show, pissed. I start this angry internal dialogue, just seething, thinking, “What the FUCK does that even mean, it’s LYING, that’s FUCKING WRONG! People shouldn’t fucking lie to people, what a stupid, invalidating, idiot question, what a quack doctor, I can’t wait to see her get roasted!”

Then, after Jane gives her answer, I was forced to look inward. Jane’s mother lied to her about the existence of her father, and she missed out on a relationship with him for 23 years, which altered the entire course of her life.

The last words my father said to me, I was 8 years old. I was leaving Haiti going to Canada, and I say, “W’ap vini, baboo?” (Are you coming with us, Dad?) He said to me, “M’ap vin deye’w”. (I’ll be right behind you.) I turned away from him, boarded the plane, and that was the last time I saw my father (In 3D.)

When I was 9, it hit me that I may never going to see my father again. At the age of 11 was when my mother first started selling me that lie that he left because of me. I had my first surgery the year at 11, had been going to physical therapy. It was time consuming for my mother, and I guess she was frustrated and took it out on me. She told me my father left because I was such a big medical problem, and he didn’t want to deal with me anymore. I would be hearing these lies on a loop for the next eight years.

I hated myself. My mother constantly told me how much I ruined her life, and made everything much more difficult for her. I wasn’t an easy child by any means. I was the child of the conservative parent who wanted to know why God couldn’t be a woman. I hid books about witchcraft beneath my bed, and read books on mythology. The really terrible part, I guess, for my mother, is that I tried to share these things with her. I told her about the witchcraft, and the mythology, and the questions I would ask my CCD teacher. I was so proud of my curiosity, and so enveloped in these subjects and I wanted to share them with her. All of these things stirred my mind and soul and were a big part of who I was, and I wanted to show her. It was my way of presenting these things to her, as an offering. “See me, mom? See, I’m not that bad.”

She called me a demon.

My senior year of high school, she found my Correllian Witchcraft book beneath my bed. I was in Canada, then, and she almost made it so I didn’t come back. I think the only reason I did return was because my high school kept calling the house asking why I wasn’t in school. I’m veering off topic, though.

I hated myself. I hated what I loved because my mother hated it, and it made her dislike me. So I learned to live and love myself in secret, because liking who I was felt like a betrayal to my mother. I wrote poems, I read books, i made abstract drawings, I sang and dance, and discovered new music. But the words never left. I was still the person who ruined my mother’s life. I still drove away my father.

It was easy to believe, because even if it wasn’t my existence that ruined my mother’s like, it turned out all the same. Even if the medical issues were not of my doing, I was still the reason why my mom had to support two daughters on one paycheck. I was the reason my sister couldn’t always get the things she wanted. I was the reason my mom worked long hours, and I never saw her. I was the reason she was stressed out, I was the reason she got angry so easily and snapped and hit me and called me names. If her life was easier, she would be less stressed out, and I was the reason why her life wasn’t easy. So I hated myself, and the things my very existence deprived the people that I loved.

Turns out my father left because my mother tried to kill him. Turns out my mother and father used to abuse each other, and my father was arrested for domestic violence. Turns out my mother was stressed and panicked her whole life. Turns out my mother suffers from mental illness. Turns out my father had been doing his best to find my mother and contact her and speak with me, from the Dominican Republic.

Turns out the words my mother said to me that altered the way I felt about myself for nine years were a lie. Turns out that the reasons I thought the world would be better off without me were a lie. Turns out that feeling I inherently didn’t deserve anything was a lie. Turns out that lying is a trigger for me, too.

I associate lying with making someone feel unlovable, disposable, undeserving of the love and respect that comes with tell someone the truth. I associate it with self-serving cowardice and underlying bitterness.

Getting to the root of it, though, understanding why lying is such a trigger, will help me be able to understand and process lies on a more case by case basis, instead of constantly being overly offended when I know someone is lying to me. It’s a long process, and it’s hard to unlearn a deeply ingrained idea of nine years, but it’s been fours years since I’ve learned the truth and I have been working on it. I still hate when people lie to me, but now I am learning not to take it so personally. Not every lie I have been told has been as abusive as the lie my mother told me. No lie ever will be.

I am always going to think lying is wrong, but I will no longer let a lie change the way I feel about myself. I matter, I deserve, I belong. This is a truth that can no longer be taken away from me. I hope this helps you find yours.

-Stephanie Ambroise


*I hope this has encouraged you to tell your story, too.


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