Proof Of Life

This week has been a brutal master class in the power of denial.

In case you missed it, Meghan Markle, who is married to Prince Harry, told Oprah that during her time working as a royal, she felt suicidal, and that her requests for support were stonewalled.

There has been a veritable tsunami of people calling her a liar and saying she has no proof. These people don’t know her at all, but have a vested interest in keeping the status quo nice and stable.

But her anguished face has haunted me since I saw it.

On Saturday, before all this came out, I spent the afternoon in bed, reading in the sun. How lovely, you might think.

Except the book was Educated, by Tara Westover, which is a hard read about what happens when religious extremism meets prepper life and psychopathy.

Denial — a refusal to accept painful and inconvenient truths — lies at the heart of that story, too.

In a brave moment, Tara raised a pattern of violence in her brother with her father. He flew into a rage, and in one of the most chilling scenes I’ve read, demands proof, and turns it all back on her.

He has a vested interest in keeping things just exactly as they are. His demand for proof is a convenient way to avoid having to make a change.

Denial like we’ve seen this week is poisonous. It’s gaslighting on a grand scale. And as Westover experienced, this savage maintenance of the status quo happens on smaller, more private scales too.

All Westover had for proof were her journals. All Markle had for proof was the word of her husband.

All we have are our words.

And in the face of such denial and cruelty, the words can feel like a pittance. They can feel flimsy, like wearing a silk shirt when what you really need is chain mail.

But words tether you to your sanity. Written in your moment of despair — or triumph, for that matter — they are proof that what you experienced really happened.

They give you the power to face the denial, and walk on. I can’t promise they’ll protect you from being hurt, but they will create a small space in your chest where the truth lives.

And words spoken from that small space are powerful.

They are immutable, and become ever clearer as the volume of denial increases.

Your words are proof that you exist, that you matter. They are proof of life, so make sure you write them.