“If I tell the real truth about me, you won’t love me … actually, no one will.”
That single thought has driven me to madness for most of my life. It’s like having a nasty little thought-vampire living in my head with fangs like dagger straws sucking out the oxygen-rich blood that would otherwise fuel clarity in my brain and allow me to actually make healthier decisions for myself … or to simply BE myself.
Yeah, it’s that bad.
“You won’t love me for who I really am.”
Thus could begin most of my tales of woe. For that blood-sucking little thought-vampire creates a brain freeze locking me into all kinds of bewildering behavioral patterns and stupefying choices.
Oh, the wild tales I could tell of diving in, over and over again, to ill-advised relationships because I somehow believed the treasure of “being fully loved” was to be found in the conquest of those ultimately unruly continents. And I’ve surely dynamited amazing relationships before they even began, too fearful of rejection to confess the juicy experiences simmering hot inside me. I’ve worked jobs I loathed (for years) and done things for others that I completely resented doing. And – I love this one – do you have any idea how many complete chunks of time I have squandered hardly listening to people drone on and on about things probably THEY weren’t even interested in talking about simply because I had no courage to confess my severe disinterest in that topic? I actually don’t have any idea, either. But it’s LOTS of chunks.
Oh woe to the heavens!! I simply cannot count the ways my life has shown up a cowering hunchback shadow of its highest princely potential simply because I believed no one would love me if I confessed my moment-by-moment truth!
But what is this gooey, jagged gob of chunky reality-butter that scratches and claws at my tender throat as I choke it down, determined to never let it meet the outside world?
What is “my truth”?
I’ve actually been learning to recognize what it is by what it clearly is NOT. The truth is not the complicated, elaborate sentences that start spewing from my mouth in the midst of an uncomfortable situation. The more complicated my sentences get, the more I’m obviously avoiding an unsettling inner truth, creating instead some fantasy that requires acrobatic imaginative effort. I’m scared of reality, so I play make-believe in a happy-place to avoid it, hoping everyone else will hide there with me.
Thing is, I’m miserable in that happy-place.
More and more I’m discovering the crazy truth that the simple truth is just that: crazy simple.
When my truth gets complicated, I’m actually dancing around some deeper truth that just tells it like it is. My simple truth, like a good business idea, can generally be written down on one side of a cocktail napkin and requires no justification. Justification comes from needing another – or even myself – to approve of that simple truth. But the truth itself doesn’t give a damn who accepts it. It’s perfectly content to be what it is.
I want this. I don’t want that. I feel this. I think that. I like this. That hurts. That angers me. Yes to that. No to this. That pleases me. I’m confused. Sometimes that’s the truth, too, that I just don’t know.
The truth is simple. Only my cover-ups are complicated.
However, as I learn to fully speak my truth, it does take courage to brave the consequences.
The reason we manipulate with fantasies and half-truths is because the uncertain consequences of telling the full, simple truth frighten us. We really do believe – and in some cases may even be right – that if we confess our truths other people will abandon or hurt us in some way. But when we manipulate with fantasies and lies, we’re not giving anyone an opportunity to be with the real us, anyway. That’s all we really want, to be loved and seen for who we truly are, right now.
When we tell the simple truth, as it rises in this moment, at least we give ourselves the chance to be loved for who we are. We also give ourselves the chance to love ourselves, as we are, right now.
But there’s no guarantee you’ll get what you think you want, at least not externally. Your partner might leave you. You might lose a friend or a job. I believe, however, that living with partners, friends, jobs, etc. that can’t fully embrace you is an insidious and ultimately deadly self-torture, anyway. As brilliant reality-advocate author Byron Katie said, “Whenever someone leaves me, I know I’ve been spared.”
Life is messy. Being human is messy. It’s not so neat as our “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” would have us believe. Truth arises inside each of us in infinite ways. It takes shape as the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.
More and more, I notice that when I tell the simple truth about who I am in any given moment, I’m overcome with a deep, abiding peace that doesn’t depend on anything outside me. By allowing the outside world to NOT have to fix what hurts or give me what I want, I’m simply left with the most indescribably delicious freedom and sense of peace.
The truth is going to be what it is, anyway, whether or not it has anyone’s cooperation, including my own. So I’m learning to just, as the Beatles wisely sang, let it be.
Jamming our jagged, chunky truths deep into our guts just cuts and slowly bleeds us from the inside.
Better to just spit it out, tell the truth and let the peace fall where it may.
What’s one powerful action you could take today to tell the truth about who you are?