Monday, 11 November 2013

To thine own self be true

Being economical with the truth is a necessary part of life. 

“How are you?” you will ask. Do you mean you want to know exactly how I am? Warts and all? Sleeplessness, physical symptoms, family matters, missing out on some work, feeling over-responsible for others, anxious about money... otherwise fine…! Thanks for asking. Do you really want to know? Therefore on occasion, ‘I’ve got plans that day’ is economical - you don’t need to know about my hospital appointment or the support group I might be going to.

© Maggie Sawkins 2013 All rights reserved
My art work on Etsy
I find huge relief in Mark Twain’s reminder: “If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything”. It serves me well. And it’s a blessed relief to tell the truth. Thank God for the people with whom I can be utterly honest. Completely myself, totally candid and fantastically free. I do need to work within boundaries that I learn more about all the time. Someone on the foundation therapy training I undertook, I think described me as, ‘somewhat emotionally incontinent’. Bless me. Spilling it all out all over the place to whoever would listen, often without checking their credentials in any shape or form. Leaving myself vulnerable to the comments of heavy footed and insensitive others. I'm learning to be more discerning as I grow up. 

With honesty, I find there is so much less to fear. I've seen eyes glazing over and slowly register that they are being less than open. That's what sets off the worries about what is not being said. The sinking recognition that honesty is not in fact their best policy. I've found that meeting a man who declared himself 'honest' meant in fact 'I won't be'. Watching the 'Real Housewives'(I have eclectic taste in TV), I see how much they like to declare how authentic they are… how ‘genuine’ equates to ‘not at all’. They protest too much!

I’ve spend a lot of my life not being truly honest.  It’s a strange thing to say but it's a fact. I didn’t know enough about what makes me tick. I was honest in that I shared my true feelings (as far as I knew what they were) in therapy rooms, in workshops or recovery meetings. I would pour out my heart on the phone and with friends who had similar understanding and awareness. If I can't be honest with myself, how can I be truly truthful with you-?

Being with work colleagues in situations where we may be judged, I find much more testing places to be honest and open. What a pity that is. How much better would workplaces be if you felt you could say what your true thoughts were. I recently noticed I was irritated by a committee meeting (from the church next door) happening alongside me in the cafe where I write. It was their lack of personal expression that struck me - nobody said what they were feeling or thinking. Their communication was often about others who weren't present. Not any of my business of course. Yet I want to live amongst people who are open, frank, compassionate and alive and I didn’t hear that in them. I heard them judging others. And here I am doing the same! God love me. 

What is honesty? Being the most natural and open? Telling it like it is? Being open and clear. Declaring how one feels rather than saying what we think is expected. And perhaps even more importantly, telling the truth to oneself. Self-deception has a lot to answer for. And in starting this blog, I aim to share honestly for my own ends. I’ve run out of doing the right thing when it doesn’t also please me. I need to stay honest. To mine own self be true. I think the truth does in fact, alway set us free.