If asked, I’m guessing most people would say they are honest. I don’t fudge my rates to get a few bucks more from someone who can afford it. I do not lie on my taxes. I return overage change. Theft of any kind has never been ambiguous to me. Taking money or anything, that doesn’t belong to me, is stealing, very clear. However, when I dig a little deeper, what about absolute honesty in all other areas? In the past, I lied mostly by keeping quiet, pretending and going along with others because that was easiest. I suffered in silence. I thought I was being “good.” (Residual Catholic school stuff rears its ugly head….)
I exaggerated details to make my stories more valid. I misquoted news reports to back up my points. I altered examples to “win” arguments, or to seem more knowledgeable. I evaded by silence and concealment. I told white lies. (What are white lies anyway? As opposed to black lies?) And, shamefully, I talked badly about others and never told them how I felt. All of this was easy to identify and correct. But I have never used the truth to hurt others. And that is because I don’t want anyone mad at me, plus, I am not one of those who derives pleasure from others suffering.
I’m usually really good at remembering birthdays, I’m not sure why, it’s just some sort of quirky thing, nothing I try to do. I can rattle off almost everyone’s birthday that I know, including Prince and Madonna. But life gets busy and I may remember someone’s birth date, but may forget that day because I never know what day it is. Dates stopped registering with me years ago. When you work in sales or hospitality, dates seem irrelevant, not even holidays, because you are always working. Anyhow, I forgot to call my friend for his birthday and I felt badly. As soon as I remembered, I texted: Happy Birthday! Sorry I didn’t call yesterday… caught up in my whirlwind life, taking care of business… Love you! For a second, I did think to text an excuse…. a lie really. I know when his birthday is. It just slipped my mind….it happens…..
I continue to think about the subject of honesty. Suppose he was really mad that I didn’t call…. then he isn’t a true friend. Would I get so offended if a friend didn’t call me for my birthday? Not offended, maybe sad, because I wanted to hear from them… but I wouldn’t be permanently upset. People have a life that doesn’t revolve around me. So should he expect my life to revolve around him? Why would I have to invent a story? My life doesn’t work with friends who don’t know my heart. Those who continue to test me or doubt me will naturally be phased out. Of course he understood, he figured I was busy. I acknowledged and I took responsibility immediately.
Here is where absolute honesty can get complicated. People will try their hardest to make you feel like you HAVE to do something. Even family can make you feel like you owe them. You unwillingly take part in whatever, to keep the false peace. If keeping the false peace is what makes you genuinely happy, then of course, do it! But if going along with plans because your mother will be upset with you, regardless that you become miserable and resentful…. well then whose fault is that? WHEN, WHY, and HOW did other people become a priority over yourself? Especially as an adult, it doesn’t make sense….. Ah-hem….. my suffering was my choice. I chose to act out of guilt instead of being honest with myself and others. I can’t turn around and blame them for MY ACTIONS……but I did………… before I discovered that I have a really big mouth!
Let’s look at the other party as well. If someone tries to guilt you into something, what does that say about them? In my opinion, it shouldn’t matter if it’s parents, caregivers, family, or friends that will guilt trip you — that behavior seems very manipulative, controlling, and not very loving. Yeah, way harsh, I know, but truth is truth. If someone loves you, they don’t want you unhappy or uncomfortable. Even if that means you are not in their life as a result.
Unless there are a web of unresolved issues. As an example, why do some families take part in holidays or special events, expecting all in attendance, no matter what, pretending that all is swell, while almost everyone is in agony. Year after year after year…. So you attend to keep the false peace, disregarding your wants or needs. Things may get so bad even, so uncomfortable, that you need to drink, binge, starve, cut, medicate…. just to get through that time. Even afterwards, you may continue not dealing because now all your issues have resurfaced. WHY??????? Because Grandpa will leave you out of the will and you want your share??? But figure it out, then be honest with yourself at least. Participating in false relationships is unhealthy.
What is so scary about telling the truth? Anger directed towards me. Anger causes anxiety because of past abuse and feeling like I am responsible to make everyone happy. Why would I choose to be around angry people, no matter who they are?? I make no false claims that this is easy to work through, it isn’t….. but so worth the effort.
I needed to break this down even further, reviewing (obsessing) the circumstances that I felt the need to lie about. It is mostly about availability for events or simply meeting a friend for lunch….. It is all the same to me. I NEVER WANT TO DISAPPOINT. One, if I don’t have the money, or would rather spend it elsewhere, why should I lie and why should they get mad? Then pay for me, if you want me to go so badly! I am not responsible for how they feel. Two, if I have other plans, why should I feel bad? Again, why lie? If the other person feels bad, it is their issue. I am not responsible for how they feel. Three, if I have too much scheduled, then I cannot or will not, add another date. Should I burn myself out to make another happy? I can lie or become more worn and stressed because I didn’t honor myself and then go on to blame the person I “kept happy,” right? Again, why should they get mad if I am tired? And if they get mad, they are just wacky and I shouldn’t be hanging out with them anyway. I am not responsible for how they feel. Four, maybe I just don’t want to go. BUT I will not make the person feel bad and say I don’t want to go with that exact phrasing… Truth can be tricky. People start taking things way too personal. If I don’t feel like attending whatever, I don’t see why someone has to take that as a personal offense. Furthermore, why do I have to lie OR explain?? I don’t. And the other party can be unreasonable, mad …. and as uncomfortable as that may be for me, I STILL HAVE TO DO WHAT I FEEL IS BEST.
(Random/relevant point… I don’t have to lie about things I don’t want to reveal. I just don’t have to answer, explain or whatever…. that simple.)
After realizing that most of my fraudulent ways, if not, all, were based on preventing someone from being mad at me. So either I needed to stop doing things that I felt I had to lie about OR let someone be mad at me for telling the truth. Never thought I’d get to this point……………THEN LET SOMEONE BE MAD AT ME!!!! (Looooving this authentic me!!!!) Lying causes me stress. Doing things I do not want to do over and over and over causes major stress… that CAN BE AVOIDED or at least minimized. This isn’t a new concept. I’m just giving myself permission to care for myself, first. I just figured this out and it is still very new.
One thing though… as much as I am being honest, I am keeping my mouth tightly shut when it comes to giving my opinions about another’s situation. My opinions bear no relevance to anyone except for me. My maxims are not facts for others. Most don’t want veracity from someone else, even if they asked for it. I’ve learned that people need to figure things out on their own, I don’t have to preach. Again, I don’t use honesty to hurt others. And how can I possibly know what is true for someone else??? I am still figuring out my life….. bottom line…. my happiness far outweighs the “consequences” of telling the truth.