Some years ago, I had a friend who was adamant that she would NEVER enter into a relationship with anyone who wasn’t in therapy.
I recall thinking that she was a bit EXTREME in her thinking. We actually had a big fight about it. There was no talking to her on this point. For her, it was simply a “deal-breaker.” I wasn’t trying to win the argument. I, after-all, was and remain a huge advocate of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. But at the time, I didn’t understand why she was excluding perhaps 90% of the world from dating her. Funny to me, to think of it those terms. Some years later, when I entered into a relationship with someone who had never been in therapy (and asked the question “have you ever been in therapy?” when we began dating), I began to understand. Nearly 18 years later, I understand even more.
I am someone who works very hard to walk through the hard and prickly stuff.
This past weekend, I was engaged in a process of working on myself with a new methodology, one which I had not attempted before. When, on the first day, the question was posed if anyone wanted to share how they felt about being there, I raised my hand immediately. I stood up and said, “I am ripe and ready to get to work and begin the process of healing the pain which has been holding me back in my life.”
What I realize is that what I want most, what I have always wanted, has been to be having honest conversations. Not to find out a month later that “you” didn’t really mean what you said or that you are upset with me for what I said way back when. Because if that is the case, then who is showing up in real time, right now? Then who are we spending our time with?
If we aren’t speaking honestly with each other, then what is the point in relating to each other?
Let’s take a simple and direct statement I recently made to a very close friend. I said the following: “I have already told you what I need and you aren’t listening.” For me, this was the truth. Not just my truth, the truth. And if my friend doesn’t want to hear the truth from me, what does she want? Does she want for me to lie to her? If so, I am simply not going to do that.
In all fairness, I think the only thing I could have done better would have been to say, “I have already told you what I need (which I had) and I feel like you aren’t hearing me.” I could have said that. I could have been softer. Okay. I see that now. I still would have been in my truth and the truth and my friend may not have had such a hard time hearing what I said. I can see that.
I can see that now. Harder for me to see in the moment because by that point, I had stated what I needed three times and if someone were to tell me I wasn’t listening, I would hear that so bloody fast and becauase I want be proud of myself, I would figure out how to change my behavior even faster. Because it would matter to me. Why? Because in my core value system, I truly believe that loving is listening.
And if my friend were telling me that I wasn’t listening to her, then, not only would I want to investigate what was operating within me that was making that happen, but I would also want to catch myself. Look at the behavior and see when I had stopped doing so, so that I could understand what drove me to not listen. That’s how I roll. Because it matters.
To me, it all matters.
If it is called a conversation, then it must be a dialogue, not a monologue. And if it is a dialogue, then I want my dialogues to be truthful ones. 900% of the time. Otherwise, I’d rather put the TV on. Otherwise, I’d rather go mute. And I’m good at that. In fact, I did that today at physical therapy. I went mute. I told my PT that I needed to not talk. And I love him. So he knew I was being honest and he knew it was the truth of what I needed so that I could stay in the game of helping myself.
I used to be hyper-vigilant about reading and picking up on the metta communication of nearly anyone and everyone when spoken to, because trust was such a big issue for me. So I always felt like what came out of a person’s mouth had a subtext that was ten times the storyline of what was actually said. But now I just ask when or if something smells icy or sarcastic or unkind to me. I just ask directly. Because I trust myself to say if I am uncomfortable or need clarification and I want to know the answer. I don’t want to spend time doing other people’s work. It’s not mine to do. And it’s arrogant of me to think I should be doing it in the first place.
So moving on, maybe some things are not easy to hear. Maybe we can say them more gracefully and forgive each other when we fumble.
But if we have any chance at evolving ourselves, the only way we can do it, is through walking the path, one step at a time, in naked and with the right sized shoes. In the god’s honest truth.
Let’s walk proudly in our own shoes.