susanby Susan Birmingham

What does that really mean, “The Truth Shall Set You Free?” For me it means that if I tell the truth about what I am doing, thinking or saying then I have nothing to hide. I am free to be who I am – authentic and real. My self-esteem is high and I have a good feeling of self worth.

Telling the truth means I don’t have to lie about how I am feeling, what I am doing or where I am going. Once you lie about one thing, be it big or small, you put into motion a pattern that can become extremely difficult to break. It takes on a life of it’s own before you even realize it. It doesn’t have to be a whopper of a falsehood or a white lie to be considered not telling the truth. It really does start with keeping your thoughts so private for so long that they get blown out of proportion in your head and things become distorted. Over time you start living what I call “A false sense of reality.”

I have been sober over 22 years now and I got that way by learning to tell the truth. Years ago I had what I call my “Taco Moment”, my moment of clarity when I actually opened my eyes and saw where my choices and decision had taken me. That moment changed my life forever!

I had been living a life of untruths, lying to myself and everyone else. The worst part of it was that I didn’t even know I was doing it. I did not realize that the biggest lie of all – was not telling myself the truth about how I felt. Every since I was a little girl, I was always denying my feelings. I was afraid that if you knew what I was thinking or how I felt, you (the generic you) would not like me, much less love me.

Thank God I found my way into the rooms of a 12 step program over 22 years ago. My journey had begun and I didn’t have a clue where I was going or how I was going to get there. I only knew that the way I had been living wasn’t working for me anymore.

There are so many wonderful sayings that I have learned over the years in the rooms of my 12 step meetings. One that really resonated with me from the very start is “You are as sick as your secrets.” WOW, that is another way to say “The truth shall set you free.” Well by the time I made the decision to change my life, I was 35 years old and I had a lot of secrets. I had secrets from way back, from when I was a little girl. There were things I had never told anyone.

Part of the 12 step program is working “The Steps” and yes, there are twelve of them. The fourth step is the one where you take a moral inventory of your life. This is a big step and one I put off for many months. When I finally did it, I started to understand what freedom was all about. I started to see how I was breaking the chain of secrets that were keeping me bound in a way of life that was killing me.

It started with the ability to tell the truth to myself. The truth about how I was feeling. The truth about what I had done. I started to accept myself. It took time but it happened. I started to let myself feel good about who I was. Over the years I have been able to discover the beautiful woman that I am today. And none of it would have been possible without the ability to tell the truth!

Once I got started I began to see how important it was to be honest to myself and others. I realized that I didn’t have the skills to let people know how I felt. I did not know how to communicate. So I set out on a mission, I wanted to learn how to communicate. I took workshops on communication, read books about how to talk to people and express my feelings, went to therapy, worked with coaches, and…practiced, practiced, practiced.

Where did all this get me? To AN AMAZING LIFE -one that is filled with fantastic relationships of all kinds. Today my relationships are real, they are deep and meaningful. I have genuine connections with people and I have never been happier.

No matter what stage you are at in your relationship, married or not, start to tell the truth about how you feel. Begin with allowing yourself to be honest to YOU! Admit how you feel to yourself, how you really feel. Seek out ways to learn to express what you are feeling. Sign up for workshops, read books, work with a coach (like me), whatever it takes it will be worth it.

Learning to communicate and tell the truth about how you feel will change your life forever. It will give you a closeness in your relationship that you may have been searching for your whole life. I am not saying that it will happen overnight. What I am saying is that it will happen for you if you want it to and if you work for it. As my title says “The Truth Shall Set You Free.”

Susan Birmingham 2009

Susan Birmingham is the founder and C.E.O. of Birmingham Consulting and Coaching as well as creator of the ESTEEM Principle. She works with women from all walks of life helping them maneuver around the obstacles that are keeping them from creating their dream life from the inside out.


  1. Msphia on August 6, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    I am almost in tears…thnak you for verbalizing what i have been feeling for years. I ahd a sheltered upbringing, from a large southern family, keeping appearance or fronts as i call them is almost mandatory. My parents have always told us not to talk about family business, not putting ya business in the streets. I was silenced years ago, but i got a lot f fight in me so i put up a struggle. I wanted to know why, i wanted to know what esle. i was & still is curious by nature and silencing a childs curiosity is detremental to thier development emotionally, physically, mentally. I was trained to be quiet in public with them speak when spoken to. But i got alot of fight in me so i was ridiculed to talking back when i just wanted them to listen. This often lead to “the belt” which my parents used as a silencer, punisher, a tool to break me down emotionally, mentally, physically. nothing was normal in my household but no one wanted to admit it. But i got a lot of fight in me, so voicing an injustice regardless of the punishment had to be done, sensing that i had grown immune to thier threats & pain of the belt, they resorted to emotional abuse. Outrageous punishments that didnt make sense, was never followed up with talking about it, just ridicule. Not talking with me but at me. No reasoning. I had no opinion. if they thought it was wrong it was. i got punished. As a defense mechanism i just didnt speak, i had no opinion, made to believe i was wrong. But i got a lot of fight in me. to make a long story short I went into young adulthood not knowing how to express myself. I did not know how to communicate effectively. this leads to unhealthy relationships, and bad decisions overall..i knew something was not right. i had no direction didnt know how to ask for it was too proud. I wanted help but had too much pride. thought i could handle it i was smart. a relentless cycle of “bad luck” had my mind so twisted and confused trying to rationalize, not putting blame but trying to understand. my supervisor at the time asked what was wrong. sensing the sincerty in her voice wanted to reach out to somebody, wanted help but i wasn thier yet. I look looked her in her eyes shook my head n started to cry.That was the moment i realized that this was bigger than me. I did more research , found books to build self esteem, become assertive, understand relationships, let go of relationships… i was and still am the self help queen just didnt know how to properly implement what i had learned. No one knew. I grew up learning to create illusions. didnt know how to open up so in 2005 i spoke to my first psych maintaining relationships was discussed..loved it 4 visits i felt strong again. but something still wasnt right. in 2007 i spoke to my second psych my acoholism was discussed..i loved it 5 visits felt strong again. but something still wasnt right. in 2009 i have gotten to the point of realizing that im blocking my own happiness by not being honest with myself.more than anything i want to be set finding a group , a support system. i want to do it the right way once and for all..i want to except truth.expect truth. and speak truth…this is the first time i ever spoke about this..THANK YOU

  2. Editor on August 10, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you, Msphia, for your beautiful comment, and I hope these articles continue to speak to you…Sarah

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