Emotional Honesty

Word based honesty has always been very important to me. If I can be properly honest, I will be, although I recognise that there are times when honesty isn’t honourable. Truth can kill people, in some contexts. If I need to protect someone, then my preference is omission and misdirection rather than outright untruth because these cause less trouble and are easier to unpick later on.

Of course, most lying happens for a reason, and not all of it is conscious. The reasons always seem good to the person doing the lying – self protection, harm and pain avoidance, avoiding punishment and reputation damage are likely to seem good ideas. We lie in small, and less small ways to ourselves and others about how good we are, how many people love us or depend on us, and this is all about needing to feel secure. Much of the time this kind of dishonesty isn’t a major problem, but the bigger the lie, the bigger the consequences if it catches up with you. The person who has greatly invested in a lie of self worth, telling themselves and those around them how fantastic and important they are, can be setting themselves up for the most almighty fall.

I know that I have trouble being honest around a number of issues. I’ve spent years refusing to look properly at issues of pain, depression, anxiety and exhaustion, telling myself that what matters is the soldiering on regardless. I got to the point in the last year of no longer having the means to do that – the lie caught up to me, my body cannot take it anymore. I have to start facing up to my own limitations, admitting they exist, and being honest with myself, and everyone else, about what I can and can’t do.

Alongside this I’ve come to recognise that while I’m very emotionally honest if using words, I do my level best to lie with my body language – again mostly about pain, exhaustion and fear. I’ll try and put a brave face on it. I lie a lot by omission around these issues, too. Again, this summer this has caught up with me, and I’ve reached places of can’t do this anymore. It’s requiring me to think a lot about how I present myself to others, the effort involved in masking, and the possible consequences of not doing that.

I lie to make life easier for other people. I lie in fear that if I am honest, people will think I am attention seeking or making a fuss. Sometimes I lie about things because it seems more professional to do so, and I have to wonder about how much of that goes on out there. When did being professional become more important than being real, or being human? I lie because it’s easier than having to explain.

How much of this should I change? How much do I want to change? How much of this is about changing what I do, and my choice of situations? I’m going to try and be more conscious about where I’m quietly lying about how I’m doing, and see whether those are really situations I need to be in, or whether, for the greater part, I can step away from the spaces where I don’t feel it’s safe or appropriate to be honest. I’m tired of pretending to be better than I am.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

3 responses to “Emotional Honesty

  • druishbuddhist

    IMO, you have to start by being honest with the most difficult person in the world to be honest to: Yourself. Everybody has limitations, just in different areas and intensities. But you have GOT to do what is best for you.

    When you come to outward honesty, you may discover that some people in your life do not deserve their place in it, because they take more effort from you than they give to you. I don’t know much about your struggles, but it sounds a lot like you’re living with multiple “invisible illnesses” as they are sometimes called. Chronic fatigue, chronic pain, autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, psychiatric illness including depression… All of these take a tremendous amount of energy to just make it through, some days.

    Have you ever heard about the “Spoon Theory”? It may be of some use to you in coming to terms with your own situation: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/

    • Nimue Brown

      I’ve run into spoon theory, but thank you, and yes. Could be something of that ilk – no formal diagnosis, because dealing with the medical profession makes me panicky at the best of times. I think I have old coping methods, that served a purpose in a time and place, but no longer do. trying to figure out how to do differently.

      • angharadlois

        A poignant realisation. May it lead to good things, and even though getting to those good things will be hard, I hope you will be well supported on the way – by yourself as much as anyone. All of this really resonates with me, having reached a similar stage in my own journey with similar struggles. I’m actually trying out CBT, to see if it will work for me, and one thing it seems to do quite well is to unpick unhelpful narratives and find ways to build more helpful ones in their place. It probably shouldn’t have come as such a surprise that a lot of my narratives centre on never being good enough, having to try harder, having to keep going… n.b. I still have that book ready to post you, but didn’t want to risk drowning it while walking the 2 miles to the post office in the pouring rain over the weekend 🙂

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