Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Soul Soothing Intimacy

Wow. Something big is up with me and the truth right now. Pondering. I recently had a powerful experience with my husband that once again reminded both of us how necessary it is to communicate the truth with one another. It's easy to get sidetracked, have a little confusion going on inside with some mixed emotions, desires, and then not clearly communicating what's going on for one reason or another. Feelings can get hurt when we fail to be attentively truthful to the hearts we love. For us it was only a matter of hours before we cleared up the issue because fortunately we seem to be getting fairly skilled at handling these types of situations (knock on wood and hold on tight to my personal humility and the general vulnerability to the human condition.)

But a couple of other issues with the truth have surfaced right before and directly after this issue with my husband and it's just got me going. I'm an advocate for the truth and I'm pretty much in line with Brad Blanton's Radical Honesty form of telling the truth. Not that I actually engage in the totality of his method nor recommend it to others (although I do recommend them to read the book) and he did inspire me continue down the truthtelling path with determined devotion. I've already admitted that I'm a liar because, well I am. I've lied a lot in my life and I've conscientiously worked to become aware of my dishonestly and to become a more honest person. I've discovered that acting out of integrity with self is the catalyst that tempts me to lie because, well, quite frankly I'm embarrassed to admit the truth and be exposed for who I truly am rather than the person I'm striving (or pretending) to be. To be clear about what I consider a lie, read my post here.

This is my own criteria for the practice of truthtelling and I don't push it off on others. In fact, if someone chooses to be a liar, so it be. That's their choice and I accept that. I would be a total hypocrite if I didn't acknowledge another's right to lie because well for one thing, I attempt to hold myself to what I consider a fairly high standard of truth telling and I still make the choice to lie at times.

Anyway, even though I accept people's right to figure out whatever level of honesty suits them, sometimes I am taken aback when I hear a certain story or another's reaction to lying. I was recently with friends and one woman was relating a story about a young man she had sex with as a teenager. He had a girfriend at the time but he and my friend experienced a brief moment of overwhelming lust for one another, fucked, and then never spoke of the matter again. The young man my friend cheated with married his girlfriend and they are still together today, over 30 years later. They all bumped into each other recently and were chatting it up. At one point when the two women were alone together the wife asked my friend if she had had sex with her husband back in the day and my friend lied to her. Upon hearing this story, another friend immediately chimed in with "What good would the truth have served?" supporting her decision to lie. I was flabbergasted. It just amazed me, both of these women's reactions. And I'm not judging them their choices/opinions but it just shocked me. It seems to me that the truth to her question was important to the woman and that in fact there was perhaps something very significance to be served with the truth. If not directly telling her the truth outright, but perhaps nudging her towards a truthtelling session with her husband. I don't know this, but that's the way it hit me.

I thought about how I would have responded to her question myself if I had been in my friend's position. I hope that I would have told her that her question seemed more appropriately addressed to her husband than to me. I would want to give that answer whether I had fucked him or not. I suppose that it's possible that the conversation may not have stopped there because who knows what the situation really was. Maybe this woman had already asked her husband and he had admitted the truth and she was attempting to elicit the truth from my friend for whatever reason. Maybe she had asked and he had denied it and she didn't believe him (because we always know the truth even if we don't know we know) which speaks to probable trust issues in this couple's relationship that she was attempting in good faith, to address. I don't know what I would have responded to her if she had pushed the issue. It probably would have depended on my connection with her and other particulars of the situation that I'm not privy to. If this was a friend or an acquaintance that I had a current relationship with and she seemed like a reasonably sane person, I would probably tell her to talk with her husband first and then if afterwards she still felt the need to discuss the issue with me, I would be happy to talk with her. At that point I would certainly tell her the truth.

Another conversation I was recently privy to was with some polyamorous friends and although I don't feel at liberty to share the details of their situation or the particular lie, I was once again dumbfounded at the willingness to withhold the truth from another in an attempt to protect oneself from the repercussions of the truth. What about the repercussions of the lie?! People seem to think that if another doesn't discover the lie, there are no repercussions. I don't believe this for an instant. People speak as if they have a deep understanding and commitment to the truth but often, when it comes right down to it, they choose to lie when the going gets tough. I guess that it's just my own personal experience with being a liar and seeing the horrendous consequences of those lies as opposed to the soul soothing intimacy and powerful sense of freedom that telling the truth creates that has convinced me of its merits.

And although I think all relationships thrive on the truth. Polyamory adds enough complications to the mix that, in my experience, one must be even more vigilant with the truth.


Emma Kelly said...

Hi Adrienne,

I've read the Brad Blanton books as well and, like you, I'm basically an advocate of "radical honesty." But I have had two major experiences that turned out in completely opposite ways.

The first time resulted in the total collapse of my second marriage and led to my parents disowning me and to my eventual bankruptcy. A major midlife cataclysm.

The same truth told early to Em set the foundation for the strong relationship we have today.

In the big picture I believe that honesty takes you where you need to go to be a whole person. But I'm not sure that telling truths that may unglue the stability of other people's lives is always the right thing for someone to do. If in some way maintaining a lie affects your life negatively then I suppose you have to.

Difficult territory

Adrienne Parker said...

Thanks for your comment Scott. Yes, a big piece of the truth is that we never really know if telling the truth will create intimacy with another or, as you say, a total collapse and midlife cataclysm. But like you, I do believe that it takes us where we need to go to be a whole person. And with relationships that are truly based on telling the truth, I do believe that in most circumstances it creates intimacy. I guess we never know for sure though until the truth is actually told.

Your point about telling the truth to another, a truth that may unglue the stability of their life is a valid point. I guess for me and where I make the distinction is that, I don't go around telling people the truth about their lives that is none of my business--such as telling a girlfriend about her cheating husband for instance. Also, there are certain things that my mother or children or clients or acquaintances don't need to know about me and that the telling of would probably create emotional distance (or just simply make them uncomfortable) rather than create intimacy so those types of things are perhaps better left unsaid.

I don't actually hide that type of stuff but I don't generally throw it around in people's faces either.

But if someone should ask me for the truth, well I tend to think I own they something. But there are some distinctions I make around this and it's not always simple to know what is appropriate to disclose. For instance, if my friend asked me if I knew anything about her cheating husband that would be very difficult for me because on one hand I don't want to gossip and most all of what I know about him is second had information (yet very good sources that I totally trust). But somethings were told to me in confidence. How would I respond to her? I suppose I would say something to the affect of "honey, you are not a stupid woman and if he is cheating on you, there is a part of you that knows this already. I'm sorry but I have nothing to share with you." Now that's not very clear is it? If she really pushed it with me after that I would probably tell her "people talk, people gossip, I have heard things that I am not at liberty to repeat."

But if I had had sex with her husband I would tell her to talk with her husband and then come back and talk with me after that if she still felt the need to discuss the matter. This information may indeed unglue the stability of her life but maybe in this case it needs to come unglued. She's asking for it.

Emma Kelly said...

Hi Adrienne,

I agree with everything you said and appreciate how you expanded on my comments and clarified things.


Mrs. Kelly's Playhouse

Adrienne Parker said...

You are such a sweetheart Scott.