Over the last 72 days of this 101 day project, I have had a lot of opportunity to reflect on what it means to tell the truth. A big part of this Excess Emancipation project is the letting go of old baggage that no longer serves me. The biggest step I have made in that direction has been deciding to say, out loud, what is true for me. About everything.
I was taught, as I am sure you were too, that we should keep some things to ourselves in order to spare others’ feelings. While I think there is merit in that for some cases, I also think that in most situations, it is not helpful.
Let’s look at one of my stories. When I was 17, I had an argument with my dad that escalated into a full blown screaming match and ended with me standing on a chair, in the middle of the office, crying.
That statement is just a statement of fact. The argument happened. It escalated. I ended up standing on a chair in the middle of the office, crying.
What I do next with that fact is where it gets tricky. My experience was, that in that particular incident, I was standing up for what was right and got ridiculed for it. Who knows if that is actually what happened? Who cares? That is what I experienced, and only by telling the truth about our experiences can we move past them.
But how can I say that out loud? I have no desire to cause him any pain. How can I say what was true for me without hurting my sweet father’s feelings? Maybe I can’t. Would my dad feel bad if he read the paragraphs above? Perhaps. Would he agree with what happened? Maybe. Maybe not. Would he think I was just being a silly girl? Probably. But maybe not. Does any of that matter? I assert that no, it does not. NOT if I am simply telling the truth about what I experienced.
And this is why:
My dad is a grown man. He raised 10 kids. He is a great man who has helped many people. He loves his kids no matter what sticky situation we manage to get ourselves into. I promise, he has weathered far greater storms than me saying we got in a fight once. He knows I love him. I know he loves me. Do either of us have any illusions that the other is perfect? Absolutely not. I have enough faith in our relationship that I can tell the truth about it. And I have enough faith in him that he can handle it. After all, I am simply stating my experience, and that is the key.
If I had claimed that, “My dad provoked me because he hated it when I wore blue,” then that would not be my truth. That would be a wild guess about him. We have to be careful not to try to state “truths” about other people. We have no idea what they are. We can say what our perspective was, what we know our experience was, but anything more than that is conjecture.
I assert that if we freely state what is true for us, if we speak our truth, without name calling or judgements, it will, indeed, set us free. I have found that no matter how difficult the topic, if I stick to how life has affected me, the people I care about have not only accepted it, but have been very supportive.
Having said all that, I am lucky. I do not suggest anyone go around boldly speaking their truth directly to people who are emotionally, mentally or physically abusive. They will not hear it. No good can come from it. You put yourself in danger and are “casting pearls before swine.” Take care of yourself first. Make sure you are safe. Then, find your voice and shout from the rooftops.