The other day I did it again.
I told someone important to me the truth.
Not the truth according to the ultra-polite, politically-correct Southern gal within.
Not the truth as if I were standing in the other person’s shoes.
Not the truth I thought they could handle hearing.
Nope – I told them my truth. The simple, plain truth. The truth that somehow finally managed to slip by me in its raw, draft form, awkward, uncomfortable, and…..necessary.
Sometimes “it” – whatever it is – just needs to be said as-is.
Sometimes there is no way to sugar-coat, cushion, circumvent, or otherwise sweeten the deal.
Although here I must emphasize that what I told was my truth – as in, My Truth – not the other person’s truth (which of course I couldn’t possibly know) or the truth as I assume it to be given a thorough analysis of objective evidence.
I told my truth. I shared the way it is or was or needs to be or feels FOR ME.
And as I did this, I have also learned some interesting things.
1. The truth – my simple, plain, raw truth – IS actually simple.
“That hurts.” “This can’t happen again.” “I don’t agree.” “I feel sad and here is why.” “I need your help.”
For me personally, this was nothing short of a revelation, because as a writer, I am fond of (and good at) dressing all kinds of things up in all kinds of ways, including the truth.
2. The truth – my truth – feels worse at first, then better later.
Each time I told my truth, it felt just awful at first – like the moment the dentist taps on that sore tooth to confirm the presence of the cavity. But then later it felt better, because I was proud of my courage for finally speaking up in the way I needed to (versus in the way I thought the other person could hear me.) And also because the poison of holding back (like the cavity in the otherwise still useful and perfectly good tooth) was finally released.
Suddenly the phrase “the truth will set you free” finally makes sense.
3. The truth – my truth – is safer than anything else I could say.
So often when I have told “the truth” in the past, I have given in to the temptation to phrase it just so – so that what I hope will happen will happen, or so what I fear will happen won’t happen. But when my real truth comes tumbling out, it just is. It is what it is. There is no subtext, no ulterior motive. It is actually the safest form of communication (if not always the most refined).
4. The truth – my truth – is freeing.
No more wondering when “the last straw” will “force” truth out of me. No more late night confessions in weak (or otherwise compromised) moments. No more worries that the old passive-aggressive person in me will sneak back out without warning. Once the truth – my truth – is expressed, it is over and all that is left is whatever is next.
5. The truth – my truth – is necessary.
Gone is the girl who waited for others to come along, fully comprehend her deepest, private, innermost battles without her ever having to offer a word of explanation, and then willingly fight all those battles for her….while she sat by and watched her life unfold as a passive onlooker.
I must tell my truth because it is mine. If I don’t, no one will, and nothing will change, and that means all those years of fighting – the eating disorder, the anxiety, the depression, the desire to end it all – will have been for nothing.
That is NOT going to happen.
6. Telling the truth – my truth – is my birthright.
One of my most treasured mentors once said, “You are the only you who ever was, is, or ever will be. And I am the only me.” How amazing! I am the only one of “me” this world will ever see! If I was redundant, unnecessary – if my voice was not meant to be heard – I wouldn’t have a voice at all, because I wouldn’t be here. I have been given a voice, awareness, the chance and choice to participate in my life, because it is MINE. Speaking my truth is a necessary part of being me, and I know this because (see #2) after it feels worse it feels soooo much better than anything else!
Today’s Takeaway: Think about a time when you told your raw unvarnished truth – how did it feel? What did the experience teach you? Are you glad you did it? Based on that experience, what advice would you give someone you care about who is struggling to be honest and tell his or her real truth?
Talking image available from Shutterstock.