Updated: Dec 8, 2020
For me, it all starts here.
Can I be honest about how I feel, what I think and what I do? All the time? Even with myself?
The answers seem to be sometimes, sometimes and sometimes...still.
I learned at an early age to protect myself. Unfortunately, I had some life circumstances that warranted an orientation towards self protection. One of my earliest and best covers was lying.
Lying keeps people at a distance and I was pretty sure that that was the only way to maintain safety. I needed all of you to stay far enough away so that I could feel safe.
After a little while I realized this kind of living was lonely and I wanted you to be closer...but I couldn’t let you in. Too terrifying. So I allowed you to come closer, but then refused to tell you the truth about who I was, how I felt and what I did. It was almost like I had this completely other inner life that was only marginally influenced and affected by real life.
Of course I was lying to you, it was the only way that I could maintain safety and allow you to remain in my life. I know this is fucked up but it is the truth. I needed you and wanted you to be close but I couldn’t tell you the complete truth out of fear, safety concerns and an overwhelming feeling that I might evaporate if I ever told you what was really going on inside me.
But before I started lying to you, I was lying to myself. I told myself fabulous stories about my feelings, thoughts and conduct. For the most part, they were all loosely based on fact. But sometimes, they were complete fictions...yet I believed them as if they were being told to me by someone else with a reputation for being honest.
The more I lived, the more I lied. Mostly to myself, then to everyone. It got to where I could not discern the true from the false. Seriously. Drinking and lying go hand in hand...and the more you drink the harder it is to remember the lies you tell.
My life living by the honesty principle didn’t begin until I was 25 and got sober. It seemed like my final submission and surrender to my alcoholism could only begin to be rectified by my admission of all my deceit...mostly to myself about myself. I had to confront my lying to me first, if I were to ever recover.
I do not want to slight this here...this is a critical and life altering change. The day I stood looking in the mirror, eye blackened, lip busted from one more bar room brawl that I started, and instead of seeing a tiny but prized fighter, I saw a girl who was a mess. I saw her desperation and fear. I saw that she was starting things that she could not handle or manage and it was only a matter of time before she began a fight that would do a great deal of damage, maybe gravely so.
As I looked in the mirror that day, I knew the truth at my core. But I could not accept it whole heartedly...that took some months to really come to terms with...the true nature of my condition. But the day I first admitted that I had a problem with booze was the beginning of a life with a passing acquaintance with honesty.
Of course is has deepened over the years...me being far more honest and forthright with every passing year...but I have to admit that I still was not living by the principle of honesty. And again, it was all because I was lying to myself.
I think that I have been practicing situational honesty. And in most situations, I am honest. But there is a part of my life that I still cordon off. I still deny myself and you access to where I really am, how I really feel and what I really think.
I am working on how to live life in relation to others while being honest with them. Because let’s face it, being close with people who know you makes being honest with them somewhat inconvenient...let me explain...
You say to your friend or significant other:
“How do I look in these jeans?”
Are they going to be honest?
If they say:
“Not good...they are not flattering at all.”
You know they are going to hurt your feelings.
If they say:
“I like your other jeans better...”
They are going to fill in the hole they just side stepped and depending on your mental state, could be in for the same argument they just thought they avoided.
But where did the dishonesty start in this whole conversation...it started with you asking the question, “how do I look in these jeans.” You knew that there was something off or you wouldn’t have asked. So you basically just asked them to lie to you because no one who has ever asked the above question wanted an honest answer...
And while my example of the honesty principle seems trite and too commonplace and mundane, it describes for me exactly where I get off course on this principle.
I know the truth - the jeans are not flattering. But I refuse to accept this for a variety of reasons: I like them, I want them to look good, I want you to like them, I want your attention, I want to be wanted...the list is really almost endless.
But the dishonesty starts with me by me refusing to accept a truth that I already know to be true - the jeans are not a good look for me. Your involvement is really just a furtherance of the lie I am telling myself.
And that for me is the root of all my lying...still.
In order for me to lead a life based on honesty, I have to take a step back and pause and examine what I am doing and why. I know the truth, why is it often so hard for me accept it?
I want things to be different. I want my butt to be different. I want my thoughts about my butt in those jeans to be different. I want to make your thoughts about my butt in those jeans to be different. And this applies to everything: butts in jeans, emotions, thoughts, feelings, actions. They all fall prey to the lie that starts before I ever involve you...my own refusal to accept my reality exactly the way it is.
My most and best attempts at honesty come when I am present, allowing whatever reality is to be just exactly as it is. Whatever is happening, is just happening and I am going to have to deal with the very inconvenient things that I think, feel and do about this reality that I often do not like.
For me, this is the only prayer I have to live a life based on the spiritual principle of honesty. I have to start with reality, then I have to deal with all my shit about what irks me about my reality. Then once I have had some time to process, I can be honest with myself which in turn allows me to be honest with you.
I wish there was another way. I wish that honesty just came easier for me...but it is always going to require a process for me. I am a hider, I am a deceiver and I love to live within the cracks of reality, never passing up a chance to misrepresent who I am so that you will do what I want, believe what I want you to believe and wholly miss who I am.
I cannot lie about who I am and be close to you. It is impossible to develop an intimacy with a person who won’t tell you the truth. And I really do want intimacy in my life...so I have to stop hiding and tell you who I am.
Starting this blog almost two years ago was the most terrifying thing I have ever done. Way scarier than getting sober. Because writing down your thoughts, feelings and actions, preserves them indefinitely. Writing and sharing your life in written form makes it last forever. And that is an unnerving prospect for a woman like me. Once I put it here, it exists and I have to deal with it. I can’t magically pretend it is something it isn’t.
Honesty is something I am going to have to work on...I like to hide...still. But I am making progress, one day at at time...using every day I am here to progress and dive a little deeper into the truth for myself which I do my best to share with you.
Honesty need not be brutal but it need be addressed in minute and sometimes excruciating detail in order to live a principled life. It can be no other way. Dammit.