"When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her." —Adrienne Rich
I'm a honest person. I once shoplifted purple eyeshadow from a department store on a dare when I was 12 and was so filled with shame that I couldn't even use it. I routinely confessed to things that my parents didn't even know enough to ask me about. And any time my friends and I would wonder, aloud, if we could ever cheat on our husbands, it always boiled down to one thing for me: "How could I ever look him in the eye after cheating?"
So, to discover my husband's double life was more than a shock to me. It was an assault on the value system I thought we shared. If he lied about the big things, he must lie about everything. Was anything true?
And so I began calling my husband out for every single mistruth. I began to notice lies that I'd previously overlooked. Things that I would have called harmless before D-Day, I was beginning to see were part of a pattern.
He lied to avoid conflict. He lied to avoid consequences. He lied to seem nice. He told people he "couldn't" do things that he simply didn't want to do. He told me that he was late due to traffic instead of admitting that he got distracted at work and lost track of time. He told me he came to bed at midnight when it was 1 a.m. He told his mother he "had" to go visit a nearby friend rather than sit with her when the truth was she annoyed him. And on. And on.
I'm no saint, of course. I've told friends I like their new haircut when I don't particularly. I've professed to love meals that I choked down. Or to love gifts that I didn't.
I've tried to dedicate myself to radical honesty, ever since D-Day. But it's hard. Really hard. Sometimes a little lie is kinder than the truth. But each time I lie, even with the best intentions, I feel a little smaller.
Because I no longer believe that lies are harmless. I'm questioning if it's truly kinder to lie than to tell the truth to "spare" people's feelings. I'm beginning to think it's disrespectful to the person being lied to.
I was recently invited to join a writers' group. The others have been meeting for a few years and I was warned about one person in particular who's prickly about criticism. The others told me to "be careful" about what I say to her. They admitted that they tippy-toe around this person's work because they don't want to "hurt her feelings."
I listened to them and then I said that I wouldn't do that. I would, of course, be considerate. But it's a disservice to an adult writer to not be honest in my opinions of her work and how she might improve it. I don't claim to have all the answers. My opinions might be completely wrong. But she is a grown woman seeking input.
And I owe it to her to be honest, but also to myself.
Honesty is tough. But if we set the bar at "total honesty", then we're a lot more likely to at least get close to it. But if we set the bar at "honesty unless it makes us uncomfortable", then we're going to be living a whole lot of half-truths.
The other night, I suggested to my husband that we should take the dogs for longer walks because, as I pointed out, we could both stand to lose a little weight.
"I don't think I need to lose any," he said.
"H'mmm...but you think I do?" I said.
He said nothing, which, of course, says a lot.
But at least, he's being honest.
- Feeling Stuck, Page 22 (PAGE FULL)
- Sex and intimacy after betrayal
- Share Your Story: Finding Out, Part 5 (4 is full!!...
- Finding Out, Part 5 (Please post here. Part 4 is f...
- Stupid S#*t Cheaters Say
- Separating/Divorcing Page 9
- Finding Out, Part 6
- Books for the Betrayed
- Separating and Divorcing, Page 10
- Feeling Stuck, Part 23
- MORE Stupid S#*t Cheaters Say
- Share Your Story Part 6 (Part 5 is full)
- Sex & Intimacy After Betrayal Part 2 (Part 1 is full)
- Share Your Story