I’ve realized recently that not everyone shares my “honesty is best” policy. The hardest relationships I have are the ones I’m not quite sure are exactly what they seem. Why is it some people seem unable to just be themselves?
Many relationships in my life are somewhat volatile. Not that we fight constantly, yell and scream or beat on each other, just that when something upsets either person – it’s going to be talked about. However inconvenient, wherever we are – whatever it is, “it” is going to be out there . Those conversations aren’t usually exactly pleasant, but they are necessary to preserve an ongoing healthy friendship. After the tears and hugs, I’m usually reassured by these altercations, they let me know that problems are being dealt with. They confirm that my friend (or family member often) is being forthcoming about the things that irk them about me. I don’t have the sense that there are things being left unsaid, or things being said to other people rather than to my face. I know it sounds a little strange, but I’m comforted by honesty – even when it’s not pretty. I would rather have 1 friend who is truthful (even when it hurts) than a dozen who passively placate me just to “keep the peace”.
I’m sure we all have people in our life who just don’t seem to be three-dimensional enough. They smile and talk, but never really say anything. Life seems to go around them – always at arm’s length. Friendships never seem to get below the surface. There certainly is no confrontation with these relationships. Nothing to indicate that anything is amiss, and yet there is that nagging feeling of wounds left unaddressed. Years can go by and yet, there is no deepening of conversation, no knowledge of faults or failures, nothing that is real, only the pleasantries of acquaintance. I often wonder at the motivation behind this behavior. Are these poor souls so frightened to let anyone close because they fear rejection? Or is their pride so dominant they cannot allow others to witness anything that may diminish the appearance of perfection? It seems a lonely way to live. How can you take joy from friendships when secretly you wonder if those friends would fade away if they really knew the person within?
I have problems. I freely admit them. I’m a control freak. Well, I feel “freak” is a little strong – but that’s only because I’m trying to control the very term that describes me. I’m loud. I like to talk – specifically I enjoy telling stories with mind numbing detail. I struggle to control my often sharp tongue. I’m kind of messy. I can be obsessive when I have a goal. On a résumé I would call this a strength – “dedication to achieving objectives” (or something like that), but in reality, it is a major pitfall of mine. I lose sight of everything else in life when there’s an ambition I’m trying to accomplish. And if you throw a competition into the mix – look out. I have a good measure of vanity. I have pride issues. I want everyone to like me, and don’t understand very well if someone doesn’t. It’s not that I’m always right, but people who disagree with me must not be very smart. I’ve had a few very hard lessons in life that were the direct result of thinking I had a good handle on life and didn’t need God’s help. There are a few years in my life I’d rather forget, and hate talking about. I have worked very hard and spent a lot of time in prayer to become more sensitive towards the needs others. It’s still a work in progress, one that I doubt will ever be completed given my natural tendency to make snap decisions and harsh critiques of others. I have the ability to be viciously mean in an argument.
In spite of all these things, I have amazing friends. Some wonderful ones that have stood the test of time. Other relationships that are just deepening into real friendships – who knows, I may have just lost a couple with that last paragraph. Knowing that I live my life (as much as I can) out in the open, that my friends and family know who I am gives me a great sense of peace. Sometimes my husband says I’m strange and I remind him that he knew that when he married me and it’s too late now. I love feeling known. I don’t ever worry that someday the facade is going to come crashing down and when all the walls have turned to rubble, I’ll be left all alone. I’m so thankful for that.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is – be honest. Live like you want people to know you. I’ll bet you’ll find a much greater fulfillment in your relationships just knowing they are real. I can’t say it will be easy. Real intimacy (ooh, a dirty word) rarely is simple. But it’s worth it. So incredibly worth it. We were not meant to pretend at life. Open up and just be yourself. It’s much easier. Other people will just have to deal with it. It’s better to have to “handle” the truth than wonder which parts are lies.