Truth telling. It’s like loosening the laces on your corset

Truth telling. It’s like loosening the laces on your corset

As you know, I’ve been writing about personal things lately. I always get reflective and a bit gushy as a new year approaches. I’m still speaking what needs to be said to the people in my life—and feeling good about clearing things out. Or people, as the case may be. And that’s the risk when we show up honestly. Some people won’t like it.

So, do we risk being less than who we really are, just to keep someone else happy? Do we squelch the concerns, ignore the abuse, forget about having the sex we want, etc.?

Relationships, authenticity, communication, speaking your voiceDo we place someone else’s comfort over ours? That’s what I’m looking at this morning after reading a newsletter from Kelly Diels about pandering. Her subject line, “you are not origami. unfurl” spoke to the writer in me. The idea, as she notes, of how  we bend and shape our words, (our actions, our desires) in order to be liked by this imaginary audience we’ve created in our heads.

I’m thinking about how I write to you, as well as how I show up in public. And how I show up in relationships. In my past the ‘audience’ was men and I did a pretty crappy job of being me. Bad choices were made in those early post-divorce dating years. The result was that I didn’t find a man who was right for me.  How could I have? I didn’t know what I wanted. I wasn’t willing to risk that I was enough in all my blemished glory.  In the intervening years I’ve made so many changes that I have a completely different take on relationships.

Many of us fail to be ourselves in relationships. It happens all the time on dating profiles. From exaggerating our height, a male thing, to underestimating our weight, a female thing, and any other number of seemingly small details. We create what we think will attract, what we hope looks desirable–imagining some ideal audience out there—when what people really want, desperately, is to connect with real people. We are all flawed. The best relationships come out of accepting another’s flaws and letting ours see the light of day.

What drives us to hide our real selves? If we’re afraid of offending a person to the extent that we bite our tongue, or tell lies, how strong a foundation are we setting for future relationships? How do we build truth and respect if we can’t be honest?

Oh, I don’t want to hurt his feelings.

I’ll tell her one day that I don’t like the way she kisses.

If he tries long enough I’m sure he’ll figure out what excites me.

How long are you willing to put up with an unsatisfying situation? What are you trying to prove?

What are you afraid of?

I am speaking to all of you. But in reality it is we women who are the worst offenders. Ladies, the world will not fall apart if you speak about what’s important to you. Your mother won’t die of a heart attack. (It may be true that some men will rush off in a puddle of crushed male ego but they weren’t right for you anyway) The people who value you will be willing to listen and engage in conversation.

The people who don’t appreciate your honesty? Why bother with some who doesn’t respect you? We can invite into our lives whatever we choose (my quest for 2016 is to invite in desire) and we can also give unwelcome folks an invitation to go.

In that more spacious space, we then have the opportunity to focus on those relationships that matter. We can get clear on what we want. We can talk about the things that matter, the good and the not-as-good as it could be, and work together to create something worth holding on to. This applies to work, to family, to relationships.

The minute we hide a piece of ourselves, or compromise our happiness, comfort or safety we give into contortion. We fold ourselves up into something that looks beautiful to the eye but isn’t really who we are.

Photo from Photo Pin

7 Comments
  • Carol Cassara (@ccassara)
    Posted at 09:48h, 04 January Reply

    For me, this has been the kind of situation that “depends.” For example, if you know that someone is closed off and defensive, any communication you make will be rejected or fraught with the crazies and lashing out. In that case it’s better for me to simply go my way quietly. I have a situation like that with a friend who is –frankly–just too damaged to hear how he hurts others. So I just stepped back, changing his role in my life. With lovers it all depends on how important the relationship is.

    • Walker
      Posted at 11:20h, 04 January Reply

      Absolutely. I think we have to cater our message to the person receiving it. I’ve held back things because it’s not worth the resulting mess/chaos,tears or whatever.

  • Pour
    Posted at 17:28h, 04 January Reply

    Yes. And I love the image of origami.

    And if we begin with the idea that we are not always going to be completely open or completely vulnerable — especially at the beginning of a relationship, as we are learning about that new partner — the origami image becomes even more powerful. Because it is in the unfolding that intimacy grows. A petal at a a time, deeper and deeper, the partner gets to see more of who we are — just as we do as they unfold.

    How fast the reveal goes can also tell you a lot about the vitality of a relationship. Some may burst forth all at once; in others, the dance of revelation lingers and twirls.

    So yes, let slip the laces on that corset. It’s up to you whether they come undone an eyelet at a time or all at once. But we all have one, and knowing that is an important first step. Thank you.

    • Walker
      Posted at 21:05h, 04 January Reply

      Nice continuation of the origami idea. You’re right, each relationship takes it own pace.

  • Linda Crowe
    Posted at 17:59h, 06 January Reply

    This is a tough one. That great John Mayer song, “Say What You Need to Say” was on the radio a lot during the time my mother was dying and I thought about our complicated relationship a lot. Ghandi’s quote “It is better to be kind than right” was also much on my mind.

    So I think I come down where Carol did: It depends.

    Thank you for your thought-provoking and really fine writing.

    • Walker
      Posted at 08:54h, 07 January Reply

      Linda,
      I also have thought about the kindness component of this–it’s important to communicate in a way that honors oneself and holds the other person in respect. It doesn’t serve anyone by being aggressive or mean-spirited. It’s finding that balance. So, I had to really think carefully in one case. And there are at least two other people I have complicated relationships with but with whom I’m choosing to remain silent.
      Thank you for those very kind words. Tea some day soon?

      • lindalcrowe
        Posted at 12:59h, 08 January Reply

        Yes, Walker. Tea soon. But only after I learn to spell Gandhi. OK?

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