Have you ever been so honest with someone it made you feel sick?
Here, I’m not talking about saying something unkind in the heat of a moment, or having a fight, or speaking words you later decide you regret.
I’m talking about a genuine, honest, much-needed (and often long-delayed) sharing of your truth, at a level you never thought yourself capable of.
I’m talking about opening up your mouth and speaking out loud the kind of honest words that make you feel SO vulnerable, SO exposed, you actually look (maybe more than once) to see if you’ve sucker-punched yourself in the stomach.
I’m talking about the kind of honesty that is exceptionally painful, because to withhold it is to deny yourself, and to share it is to risk losing something (or someone) you very much want to hold on to.
I did this the other day.
I shared honestly with someone about something I needed.
The sharing had been not just a few months, but a few years in the making.
I had known and known and known I needed to open up to this person about this particular issue.
Yet I carried within me so many self-judgments about what I needed to share, so much embarrassment, so much learned shame, so much fear, that month after month and year after year the words just wouldn’t come out.
Even on the day of, even after talking through the issue with my mentor multiple times and meditating and praying and rehearsing and all of the other preparatory stuff I tend to do, in the end the aftermath of the actual act of opening up lingered for days.
Is still lingering, actually.
I have moved past any nagging suspicion I could have gotten away without sharing for even longer than I did.
In other words, I now support myself in the choice to share, and share at that particular moment.
But I do not yet feel proud of myself for being willing and (somehow) able to share at such a deep level.
I haven’t yet ceased the frantic hunt for the cloaking device button, or some kind of similar protection to allow me to shelter safely until the nausea passes.
I still have to gulp a bit – sometimes a lot – when reflecting back on the actual conversation.
It was like shedding my skin without knowing if I could grow a new one. In fact, I am still not sure whether I can.
But one thing I AM sure of….honesty – full and truthful honesty – is not a decision to be made lightly.
This kind of truthful sharing has side effects and no small amount of risk attached….and it may make one feel worse before there is any hope of feeling better.
Honest words, respectfully and kindly shared, may not net the desired results from the other party, but they are an essential part of participating in any relationship worth being a part of.
I knew this going in (because I have a great mentor who reminds me often) and I even thought I knew and was prepared for the aftermath of my honesty.
In fact, I no longer believe there is any way to prepare for the baring of the soul that is synonymous with this level of honesty.
In this particular case, so far the actual outcome of my decision to share has been a positive experience for both of us.
But even so, I have to say – at least in my own personal experience thus far – the act of sharing, the aftermath, and the outcome are each their own separate entity.
In other words, even once I become proud of myself for sharing, and even if the outcome is ultimately so positive and much-desired, the memory of honesty’s aftermath itself will remain, with its own healing process to endure.
Today’s Takeaway: Can you think back in your life to a time when sharing honestly, from your heart and gut, made you feel literally nauseous? Did you try to prepare before you spoke? If so, did it help? Was it worth it – in the end? If you had it to do all over again, would you make the same choice to share? Would that choice change if you knew the outcome in advance?