I don’t quite know how it happened. I wouldn’t even be able to pinpoint the moment at which it happened. My penchant for complete honesty. I have struggled with it and do so ever so often. Less often now. Actually I have very few memories of honesty being a challenge ever. I don’t know but of many of my vices, dishonesty has never been of them.
I have lost friends and almost relationships over it. People who couldn’t handle the truth. Either mine or their own. In retrospect, I don’t know what ever gave me the right to tell them the truth but I did. In the eyes of many it might have been cruel. In my eyes it was pulling the band aid off in one go and that to me is kinder than letting misery fester in some delusion. One would imagine it would make me friendless like I have always been warned. I have been accused of being naive and not knowing how the world works. But guess what? Life has been kind and I have earned some gems on the way. My miracles. My magic beans. Makes me believe in the innate goodness of humanity. Everyone struggles with the truth. So do I. And I have watched loved ones struggle with their own truths but they have braved themselves through those struggles. Navigating through life, relationships, questioning priorities, identities and making irrevocable sacrifices sometimes. For the truth. Sometimes no mostly some dark uncomfortable truth. I admire it this unwillingness to give up on the truth. The relentless pursuit, sometimes intentionally and at others instinctively. It is admirable.
But of late I have been struggling with something. There is a certain roughness, a cruelty even. A lack of compassion. There is a certain brutality to the truth don’t you think?
A very recent conversation with an old, exceptionally dear friend, whose relationships became a casualty to honesty. Well one of the reasons I suppose because breakups are never that binary. Made both of us think about the virtue of honesty and the rules of exercising complete honesty within a relationship. I often struggle with the question of whether you would save a relationship with a lie or just suffer it’s loss with the truth? Opinions differ on this. If I wasn’t able to be honest with a partner or was at the receiving end of dishonesty, it makes me question the very foundation of the relationship. It shows a disrespect for the individual at very fundamental level. I have never understood the statement – ‘I lied to you to protect you.’ There is nothing selfless about lying. There is the inherent presumption that the partner is too weak to handle the truth or is unimportant to deserve it. Both very valid reasons not to be in a relationship to begin with. And no a**holes who think being honest about their escapades gives them a free pass. If someone is getting hurt for the wrong reasons you are still a jerk…
Yes, there is a possibility that the partner may not be ready for the truth. The relationship may not being prepared for the onus of the truth. Sometimes the truth is something unhealed. And that in itself should never be something to bring to a relationship. But when you truly care about someone, they should feel trusted and trust that you will share your truth with them eventually but surely.
Maybe discretion or withholding the truth might save the relationship. For some time. For the sake of appearance only. But it would inevitably make it weaker implicitly. The inability to confide is when the turning away begins and true communication erodes. So does the relationship.
What I have also come to realise is that while yes honesty is a cornerstone of every relationship, it is the equal responsibility of both partners. But with honesty, each partner, the truth sharer and receiver always need to approach the conversation with empathy. And this applies to a platonic equation as well. A relationship at its core should be a safe place where honesty can be shared freely without judgement and with empathy and respect and received with empathy and understanding and appreciation of the show of trust the sharing implies. We give it to our dearest friends. Why is it so hard to give it to the one you love? Honesty is the truest act of courage you can show for your relationships.
It is utopic, this view, I do realise that. Especially in a generation of cynics, naysayers, scoffed and sarcastic pricks(yours truly included). But isn’t this what we all ultimately want? Isn’t it the whole point? Isn’t this what we wanted and believed in? Before the teenage boy broke your heart or the girl you couldnt keep or the time when you were too scared to be honest yourself in a past equation? Before things broke us? Before unhealthy relationship patterns screwed us over? That person lives in us, within us, the one who believes in this utopia and has the audacity to hope, hidden under layers of denial, cynicism and sarcastic humor. That person who desperately wants to be saved and to be in a healthy relationship, the one who is frustrated and yet wants to believe.
What I can only say is that if you are going to be selfish for after all who isn’t, be selfish for the right reasons and do that suppressed forgotten part of yourself a favor and let it live again. Take a chance at being intentionally authentic. Godspeed!