Tag Archives: honesty

“The most dangerous secrets a person can bury are those we keep from ourselves.”

This is a story nobody wants to hear. Not that it hasn’t been told. Plenty of souls have tried in many differing ways to tell it. In fact, it is trending right now to admit via your blog that anxiety and depression are frequent visitors to your heart and head. But anxiety and depression are only the tip of the iceberg. And these bloggers only admit to it via the interwebs because the anonymity makes it safe to publicly declare that all ain’t right.

Often people try to discuss the issue through art- music, writing, paintings- which makes it easier to digest. The audience can relate in a way that says “yeah I’ve felt that way before, but glory hallelujah I don’t anymore. I am now a happy, well-adjusted adult.” Oh yeah? Are you now? Because after your work day, when the kids are taken care of and happily preoccupied, the dishes are cleaned up, the e-mails have been answered, can you truly sit down and just be? And then can you keep being and calmly face the demons who only show up when all is quite?

How quickly do we fall apart when some piece of the routine is destroyed. Will a pint (or half-gallon…) of ice cream actually take care of the pain after your significant other moves on? Or how well do the ideas gleaned from pinterest actually keep your unemployed self doing ‘productive things’?

But these are just rich white people problems right? So we seek movies and documentaries highlighting the injustices of Africans or Asians (often at the hands of rich westerners I might add) to ignite our fires of righteous indignation. Because at least watching documentaries about Darfur give us a reason to feel bad.

Who is willing to say that even with the job, cute urban house, dog to walk in the park, and hot wife, life still sucks? But it does doesn’t it? There is pain. And sometimes just getting on the train with a hundred fellow commuters can break your heart. But that is strange. No one else feels empty. They all seem to have life figured out. So we hide it by aiming for more money and a hotter wife. (Maybe the last one didn’t look good enough for my sub-conscious to truly be satisfied.) Or we read all about how the sale of chocolate to an increasingly unhealthy, obese, United States of America is a part of modern day slave trades. Now that is real reason to be unhappy. After all, no one wants to hear that you are unhappy merely because our world is broken and human souls are empty.

That is weird right? Being unhappy because the world you were born into is broken certainly is stranger than making yourself unhappy by watching Blood Diamond alone in bed every Friday night.

I venture that it is easier to explain that, even though I am part of the 10% most privileged humans on this planet, I am unhappy because the world is not as it should be. But no one wants to hear this. This is a story where the reader can only accept what is written. There is nothing the author offers for changing the plot.

See, it’s true. All is not the way our hearts say it should. Even when friends are near and food is on the table, something aches. But denying it and hiding from it only aggravate and spread the hurt. Denial is the strongest poison out there. It made an entire country live with stewing hatred, only to explode every 10 to 15 years in violence so massive it merits the word “genocide”. It simmers in your heart, causing you to withhold communication from the ones that love you the most and can actually accept you as you are.

No we can’t change the evil and broken of the world. But we most certainly should not pretend that all is well.

“A doctor lets a war injury heal slowly from the inside out. He debrides dead tissue and drains poison. Close the wound up too quickly and the filth gets trapped inside. So it is with the mind. Don’t ever walk away and pretend or hope that things can be the way they were before this damage.”  Aidan Hartley, The Zanzibar Chest, pg 384 (in reference to witnesses of the horrors from Rwanda 1994).

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Keeping the Peace

My roommate and I were talking the other day about getting what we want and being polite.  She admitted to asking her bosses for time off to attend a training on the genocide and the importance of remembrance with As We Forgive, instead of straight up saying ‘I want to go visit a memorial site with my roommate’.  Now seeing as how I do help teach the tenets of reconciliation and represent As We Forgive, her excuse was not entirely wrong. But it wasn’t the truth of her heart.  She just wanted to see a memorial with a good friend.  I wondered then, why are we so afraid of saying what exactly it is we want?

In our jobs, like my roommate’s story demonstrates, we have learned how to ask for what we know we will get, rather than what we actually want.  In our relationships, we just keep quiet and “go with the flow”; afraid of admitting deeper feelings and finding that they aren’t reciprocated (or worse, afraid of admitting a loss of feeling and hurting the other. Thus we drag each other on, leading another to believe that we feel something we don’t actually).  After being insulted or embarrassed, we don’t speak up.  But our thoughts of doubt do more damage to these relationships and inflict more harm than the truth would.

I live in an incredibly polite society.  Appearance is everything. The streets are swept free of dirt, leaves, and what little trash is lying around every morning.  Leaving the house requires business attire or dress clothes. And everybody is always fine and wearing a smile.

Which is a little unfortunate.

I admit that I wouldn’t want to be honest with my emotions if my past was filled with feelings that cannot be described. Plus, expressing oneself is terrifying. First, it is incredibly difficult figuring out what exactly you are feeling. Second, we have no idea how people will receive our hearts. So yes, it is much easier to bury it all, and deny your emotions, and put a smile on your face.

But forgiveness and reconciliation cannot occur on the surface.

Healing is possible from storytelling because hearing another’s experiences invites personal connection and thus a restoration of humanity. And the overly polite come across as inhuman. Too good to be true. And if they really are okay, then I cannot possibly admit to my inner sadness or frustration.

It is terrifying to be honest. But doing so ends in fuller understanding of the situation, and often closer friendships. And that is what it means to be human, right?

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