Oh my word you guys. I was planning to write a whole big post about being honest today, and what I was learning about it. I actually started writing it last night cause I just didn’t want to wait for this morning. And then I had this horrible dream last night where my being honest with someone led to them totally disappearing. I felt abandoned, I felt helpless and alone. Like catatonic state alone. Not a good dream.
It was one of those dreams you have right as you’re waking up. I kept pressing snooze because I didn’t like the dream as it was and I wanted a better ending to it. I wanted it to end at least somewhat positively. (You do that too, right?) It took two tries, but finally, after a lot more frustration and sadness and unresponsiveness, my key people were eventually with me, were supportive and loving me out of my catatonic-ness. That mattered. There was safety & support in my people.
It was a dream. It’s always confusing to try to remember dreams. They get simplified down and only parts keep any semblance of sense. I’m pretty sure I’m mixing parts and people and whose fault was what. But it still felt significant.
Experiencing that particular fear through dream doesn’t make me rethink the honesty. It makes me remember that being honest doesn’t bring everyone closer to you. It drives some away. That hurts. And some will go away and then come back. My people will show up.
So here’s what I was writing before that crazy dream:
I think I’m starting to get it.
I’ve wondered for a long time what the heck is everyone so caught up with honesty for? I mean, yes. It’s clear it’s not good to lie all the time. It’s nice to know that you can trust someone because it’s a shit load of work to try to figure out if someone’s telling the truth or not. It’s annoying. As much as I love detective & police shows, I hate playing detective with my kids. Just tell the truth already!!
Why in the world would people say honesty was their most important value? Like for their soul mate to have? Have they been burned by some sort of serial dater who lied about if they was married or not? Why else would that be the *thing* you cared about?
And sometimes, isn’t it better to not be totally honest? Isn’t it better to keep some things to yourself? To take into account who you’re talking to? To shape your message based on who is receiving it? Like when I’m talking to my kid I’ll answer differently than when I’m talking to an adult friend. Less swears. (When talking to the kid.)(Just in case you were unsure.)
Some friends you talk about one thing with. Another group you talk about other things all together. Some folks you keep light – small talk only. Others you can go deeper with. You can’t talk the same to everyone. You can’t be the same with everyone.
As I write that I know that’s not really the point. You don’t have to be exactly the same all the time to be honest. We’re multidimensional people. Multi-faceted people.
And yet….and yet there are lots of times I edit myself depending on who I’m with. These people have this particular approach to life, so I’m going to present this side of me. Maybe emphasize this one thing a little more than I usually do, and totally ignore that other thing. And these other people are much more interested in that thing – I’ll just listen. I’m going to keep my mouth shut about that and find some other point of connection.
That’s the dishonesty I’m talking about. Editing one’s self. ‘Cause the only other option of engaging with what I really think requires me to be vulnerable and put myself in a situation where I don’t have the control. (Ohmyword.) It’s not me deciding if I like them any more, it’s them deciding if they like me. Actually no; it would be us deciding if we like each other.
And that, right there, is where the goodness of honesty comes in. That’s what makes it worth it. Mutual connection, respect & appreciation. It’s can be rare & hard to come by. But it’s real and it has depth.
And that’s why people say that’s what’s important to them in a relationship. They want a real connection. (Lightbulbs are going off for me left and right here folks.)
This whole experiment with writing & publishing daily – in which I never committed to being honest (and yet that seems to be what’s happening anyway) – is giving me a new understanding. My honesty is important, not just for the people who interact with me, but for me.
I can tell by the way I feel after hitting publish how honest I was. If I was open and true – I get a little high. A vulnerability rush. (Huh. The opposite of Brene Brown’s vulnerability hangover.) It’s a little addicting. If I edit too much, if I keep what I’m really thinking hidden, the whole process is frustrating. It doesn’t work. It feels off and it feels like I can’t make sense of anything. Or I feel like I missed. Like it was all wrong and unproductive.
I’m learning that when I cage my thoughts or adjust who & what I present based on who I’m interacting with, I cage myself. For a lot longer than just that conversation. I end up believing I can’t really show up. Ever.
And then there’s that whole “the truth will set you free” business? What in the world? You say what’s true, but it’s not like the justice system only imprisons the guilty. Telling the truth doesn’t always seem to matter.
It finally occurred to me I’m being too literal. The truth will set you free doesn’t mean being honest will get you justice. It means being honest will free you from yourself. From the walls you erect that you think are going to keep you safe, but really keep you penned in.
So many light bulbs.