I’ve been thinking about honesty the last couple of days. I’ve always had a problem with it in some ways, though it is one of my biggest values as a person. The thing is, that all my life, I’ve had difficulties being dishonest.. even in situations where it might have been better. To give you a better idea of what I mean, I guess I shall have to define what dishonesty means to me.
Dishonesty: Lying about a subject or emotion when asked by someone else; withholding a fact, opinion, or feeling because it is not “polite”, or it is uncomfortable (which falls under lying to one’s self); forcing yourself to do something because its what you are “supposed” to do or because everyone else is doing it; ignoring a problem even though you recognize it is one.
The problem with all of this is.. Most people don’t seem to share this view of dishonesty, and more than that, most people don’t even like to think of those things as such.
So often- as my sister says I have been doing since I was a baby- I put my foot into my mouth.
If someone asks me “How are you?” I answer honestly. “Not so good.” Or, “Okay”, or “Well…” This question more than anything, has gotten me that blank stare of “Whoa whoa whoa, you’re supposed to just say fine! I didn’t really ask about all that”. But I made a pact to myself a long time ago not to avoid this question. I find it such an important part of our community-checking in with one another.
Other times, I am supposed to be positive about situations that I am not comfortable with. This has happened many times with non-profits. I respect the underlying mission of many, but I downright cannot stand the politics and money behind the majority of them. So when people talk about them, I often say, yes, they do good work, but here’s where they could be better.
I guess I never learned you’re not supposed to do that?? People don’t want to hear criticism. It’s not easy, or comfortable, or fun to talk about. Instead, its often seen as a personal attack, negative, derogatory.
I just.. I can’t be not honest. It’s like a defect. If I am uncomfortable, my body completely shuts down and says exactly what my mouth is not. But at the same time, I know a lot of that has to do with trauma. When I was growing up, I faced situations again and again where I could’ve gone along with things, but I didn’t. My mind would scream No!, and when my words fell on deaf ears, my body would follow through in the best way it knew possible.. to shut down.
Despite all of this, I love the fact that I am honest. I find it an irremovable part of my being, and though it has created a lot of tension in situations and with individuals, I cherish that I stick to it in a world that seems full of lies and manipulation. I have to be honest with others to be honest with myself.
But while I am not sorry for my honesty itself, I am sorry to those who are hurt by it sometimes. Its like a button that gets pushed, and whatever happens to come out of my mouth does: often without filter. It doesn’t make sense to those who don’t understand it. It hurts those that don’t realize it comes with good intention, or that there is still a lot of love behind it. Because there always is love there, its just behind so many words that it cannot always be found.
And sometimes, its even worse when there are emotions behind it as well. I am learning to process those in different places, where they don’t stick to my words and muddle what I really want to accomplish with them.
But honestly, its not always easy.
With love, Kara