My friend, Starra Neely Blade, wrote a blog post entitled “Living Honesty Honestly & Letting Go,” where she asked the following question: “Do you live honestly or are you hiding the beautiful person you truly are because of others expectations or out of fear of being rejected?”
As usual, Starra’s post hit my PhD dissertation button when I started to leave a comment and it changed into this post instead!
I’m embarrassingly naive, which also means I find it difficult to be dishonest. I can’t keep secrets very well (as my friends will attest) unless constantly reminded that I must not tell so-and-so about her surprise party (that’s about the extent of secret-keeping I’ll attempt–don’t ever ask me to lie for you and say you were out sick when, in fact, we were out shopping–I’ll talk about our shopping expedition to everyone, including your boss–oops!).
I guess I’m also gullible, because I never think ill of anyone, even when forewarned by gossips with the best of intentions. I never did build a protective barrier between myself and others, either. And yet…
No one has ever really tried to take advantage of me, spoken ill of me, or rejected me..at least, not for very long. People hate, that’s a fact, and when a person doesn’t accept me, I keep treating them like everyone else (with courtesy, kindness and respect) and, sooner than later, they go from rejecting me to a begrudging acceptance and finally to open acceptance. I just wear them down, I guess.
My laugh is infectious (so my friends say), my naivete is charming (I’ve been told), and my openness is disarming (which I’ve never quite understood). I’m shocked at the amount of secrets people keep. I don’t have any (which shocks people with disbelief until they’ve known me just a little while); I will tell anyone everything about me, given enough time! In fact, one of my friend’s favorite retort is, “Kat, you’re telling me more than I want to know!”
I have no concept of shame about my past–and if you’ve ever been through what it takes to get a Top Secret clearance in Naval research and development, you wouldn’t either! Of course, I didn’t have any shame or guilt going in to interogation, but they sure tried to hard to find something. Agents tried to waive every “naughty” thing I’d ever done as a teenager (I was 19 at the time) before my face as crimes of high treason, but because I’d already documented and exposed them myself, it was clearly evident I could never be blackmailed or coerced by my past into betraying my country. My life was then, and still is, a very open book. For those of you who might be worried: There was never any danger of me blurting out something Top Secret; everything was so technical, I didn’t understand a single word!
Starra says that she is often very “brutal” in her honesty with herself. I am never harsh in my judgments, of myself or of others. My nature is, I think, far more gentle. She doesn’t like “false pride, ego, pretense or falseness in others,” and will not abide these things in herself. I don’t care for these traits, either. Thankfully, I don’t experience them in myself very often, so I forgive myself very readily when they do occur. And I give other people the same courtesy. So I guess I “abide” these “things”…to a certain extent. If someone I know engages in these behaviors to an unhealthy extent and I cannot gently persuade them to modify their behavior, I will distance myself from them; I’m pretty good at avoidance! Some people will say this is a passive/aggressive approach, but I disagree. The person will know exactly why I choose not to associate with them any longer; I simply refuse to be dramatic or confrontational because I don’t think it will be to anyone’s benefit (especially not mine!). I might as well note here that I have had far more failures than successes; I realized long ago not every relationship is meant to last for a life-time and people are slow to change, if they change at all.
Starra requests, if we find “human falseness” in her, we call her on it. This bothers me. Where did this idea about policing our friends inner thoughts (nay, even our enemies) come from? My friends are all human, have human faults and weaknesses, and occasionally stumble. They know when they do; they don’t need me to point it out to them. How they correct the stumble, and even whether they correct it, is their responsibility. No one is answerable to me or anyone else, and they shouldn’t be. As I previously noted, people do not always respond in a positive way to having their flaws pointed out to them, no matter how gently one does it.
This also opens that nasty can wherein “truth” must be defined. Is truth absolute? Can my “truth” be different from yours? If “truth” were simple, it would not require SIX separate entries to define it in a dictionary, where even then words like “faith,” “reality,” and “spiritual” are used (ambiguous terms themselves, at best):
- The state or quality of being true to someone or something; faithfulness, fidelity.
- A pledge of loyalty or faith.
- Conformity to fact or reality; correctness, accuracy.
- True facts, genuine depiction or statements of reality.
- That which is real, in a deeper sense; spiritual or ‘genuine’ reality.
- Something acknowledged to be true; a true statement or axiom.
So, am I who I really am? It’s too hard to be otherwise, I think.
I don’t understand how people stay guarded all the time. How they watch what they say and don’t say. How they remember what they said or didn’t say to which person. Who they’ve confided in and who they haven’t. My brain never got wired to do all that, I guess. I imagine repressing things and keeping emotional secrets must take a great deal of energy. I need all of my energy just to stay alive. My health is a huge drain on my emotional and physical strength. I can’t afford a bout of false pride or ego that, when overturned, results in a feeling of inferiority, or a bout of pretense or lies that, when found out, results in a feeling of humiliation. These only serve to further drain my emotional strength; self-preservation dictates I avoid the behaviors that elicit those feelings (I did say I was good at avoidance!). So I seem to have always been who I really am, by default and without really trying or thinking about it.
I will confess, when I was younger, I thought this wasn’t such a good thing. Being “naive,” like being a virgin, wasn’t much in which to take pride. In fact, it was rather embarrassing. I wanted to be “street wise” instead of “sweet,” but it just wasn’t in my nature. Let’s face it, my wings are pink and sparkly. I wear rose colored granny glasses. I treat the world like the shiny place I want it to become. Perhaps if enough people did, it would become what we want it to be.
Thanks, Starra, for pushing my button!