Lessons in the Truth
I believe in honesty. I believe in truth. When I have been on the receiving end of deception it hurts.
I know that there are plenty of reasons why people lie and hide the truth, particularly from themselves. Almost all of those reasons stem from some form of fear. Not malice really, but fear. And that fear appears as manipulation to most, but it is less of a deliberate, cunning ploy and more like the actions of a scared 6 year old who believes that the truth will get them into trouble.
Conversely, I have known plenty of people who relish in giving others “THE TRUTH” as more of a hammer of justice. They think they are doing a public good and in that respect, I can understand where they are coming from. But the arrogance of thinking that your version of “the truth” matches the receiver’s experience of it is often what adds insult to the injury of having to be lectured to by a grown-up. More often than not the receiver already knows of the issue that this person is hammering them for. Maybe they’re not facing up to it. Maybe they do need to see it from a different perspective, but awareness is rarely the problem. And shoving “THE TRUTH” in their face isn’t always going to garner the best response.
Both of these are defense mechanisms but in very different ways and yet they both stem from a place of fear. One is passive and the other aggressive. Both are fueled by this similar sense of loss. In the first one, if the actor doesn’t tell his beloved the truth or lies to cover it up, he is doing it to avoid the consequences for the truth coming out. In the second instance, it’s preventative. Instead of facing their own harsh realities, often the actor is projecting their issues onto someone else. The more disparate the observation, the more projection that is being imposed. Both are from a place of fear. And both work to avoid resolving conflicts with one’s inner truth.
Truth resides in every human heart, and one has to search for it there, and to be guided by truth as one sees it. But no one has a right to coerce others to act according to his own view of the truth. – Mahatma Gandhi
I started writing this post just after the beginning of September. My life was in chaos at that point. Not only had I quit my job, but I was actively trying to re-engage with my ex and trying to figure out the best place to be in his life. And here I am three months later and still contemplating this issue of honesty and how to best integrate it within the chaos that still surrounds me.
Honesty and truth had a lot to do with the fall of many of my relationships. It wasn’t always about deception, but deception was usually revealed. It wasn’t always about not being receptive to the truth, but often the truth was used as a hammer of justice by both me and my loved one to injure and disable within arguments. It’s not something I’m proud of, in fact, I often look on it with worry and guilt.
But I think that is more of the point about “the truth”. I can admit that I was a dick back then…and still can be when it comes to the truth. I can say that I do my best not to hide things from the people I love. I don’t always succeed. However, one of the first things I ask for is a similar amount of transparency as I show to others. When I don’t get that, I freak out. And that is my truth too.
In the past I’ve required such a massive amount of transparency that I then start panicking when I feel something is being kept from me. Maybe this stems from some of my earliest romantic relationships: a boyfriend who was hiding that he was gay, a boyfriend who was hiding that he was cheating on me everyday with a co-worker for 4 months, a boyfriend who was hiding his drug use from me. Because I had been so gullible and naive I had to fine tune my sense of truth. I wanted to avoid being taken advantage of and being humilitated by the people I love. I am at a point now where I can not only smell out a lie (little inconsistencies here and there adding up to a bigger cover-up) but also sense when someone is bullshitting themselves.
Of course, this results in some false alarms. Sometimes the little details that just don’t add up are because the person was drunk and honestly can’t remember and is trying to fill in those details as well. Maybe they are bullshitting themselves about their own life because they have been taking steps to create something new after being in the dumps for the past 4 years and are trying to be more positive and self-assured. In either case, my accusations of dishonesty don’t help matters. I often forget that people don’t have the same inner trust for honesty and integrity that I do. Some of them still need these coping mechanisms and are possibly fighting a hard battle to confront them. Most simply feel that my honesty requirements are pushy and intrusive.
It doesn’t mean that I have to accept shabby or inconsistent treatment from the people I want to be intimate with. In fact, if honesty is what I need for intimacy, then, by all means, I deserve to receive it. And I certainly don’t need to surround myself with people who will be careless about that need.
But I also need to recognize and remember that I am not perfect and can’t expect perfection from others. I flub up. I act impulsively. I make up stories to explain my emotions so I don’t have to tell someone they are disappointing me or hurting me. I also impose my own truth on people as well. And I should apply that same lesson to those that have employed the hiding and projecting and recognize what is truly driving those actions. The same fear of embarrassment, shame, and loss as what has driven my own actions. And the more I judge dishonesty and brutal “truth” the less I create a structure with which people can feel safe in sharing their full truth with me…which in the end takes me further away from what I truly want to create for my closest friends.
And much like Mahatma Gandhi mentions above…truth is truly within and individual to the person viewing it. In order to act with my highest truth, I need to allow people the space to act with theirs; stop coercing them into adopting or conforming to my view of things, especially intimacy.