Voltaire said, “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
As I move further and further into life and further into and out of grief, I realize more and more how defiant I am about Voltaire’s words. How steadfast I have been in this position much of my life. How clumsily I have interrupted others at times, in order to defend a beloved’s right to speak her needed truth.
I have emerged from a “sentence” which has informed much of my adulthood and I can never go back into the silence I have emerged from.
Today I saw that I began to place myself there as if that would be the solution. From feeling hurt and sad and harmed, I began to think that maybe just taking time away would simply feel better... But once I realized what I was doing, I caught myself in my raw grip and said “No. Be uncomfortable and try something different.”
I made a call and and it was difficult. We cannot expect others to stand where we do. Show up as we do. Dialogue the way we want to dialogue. I read just yesterday that “expectations are nothing more than premeditated resentments.” (I wish I knew who said that- I think it is genius! It went around Twitter and various religious blogs... but I don’t know the original thinker... I wonder if it was VOLTAIRE? Haaaah! Haaaah!)
Brené Brown says the following: “I think if you love someone, and you’ve got a struggle that you’re not getting a response back to, then it’s incumbent upon you to reach back and say, ‘I love you, and here’s what I need from you.’”
I believe in that “wholeheartedly.” Goes right back to expectations. It’s almost hostile to expect the other person to know what you need. It’s insane, actually. We are responsible for getting our own needs met. Period. But I also believe that one of the greatest acts of kindness we can offer one another is our honesty. No matter how difficult it may be to speak or to hear.
I sat in a silence for 10 years wanting only to know the truth. Once I heard it, (and it was undeniably awful) I could barely move. But from that pain, I was actually able to make the decision to move forward. And move forward from love.
When we withhold the truth from the people in our lives, what are we actually doing? Why are we even engaging with them?
Personally, I don’t know how to engage without a direct line to speaking truthfully. I have memories of being the same way as a small child. Exploiting lies and being hushed.
Perhaps I was in a hurry to get to things faster...
I notice that I get impatient at times when I ask a direct question and there are paragraphs and paragraphs of language spoken before anything of substance is addressed in reference to my question.
I can, in fact, BE a very patient person.
I have sat with terminally ill patients who have been strangers and who have been beloved. And I have sat and sat and sat for days and days just “being with.” Knowing that was all there was to do. To simply show up and to love.
But when it comes to interpersonal fiery dynamics, I am very pitta and I require something else. If I ask a question, I want a truthful answer spoken to me. I don’t want silence on the other end of the phone. I’d rather hear, “I’m not comfortable with this conversation.”
Honesty. I just want raw, unencumbered honesty.
Today I saw something in myself.
I decided to withdraw from feeling deeply hurt and then I said to myself “but what good is that doing to your heart?” So instead, I took a step towards... My compatriot was not eager to engage and decided we had already had this conversation. But I pushed further. I said I was angry and hurt because there was a behavior which was never once acknowledged. Not once. And I cannot step in and out without warning signs. It is not acceptable to me. All I ask is for the other person to own his or her part. I don’t need to know why. I don’t need to unpack it. Even as my preferences would be to do both. I just need the truth to be acknowledged. That’s all. Done.
If you want to know me. If you want to be a part of my life. You have to speak the truth to me.
And you have to be willing to hear it from me.
“I love you. And this is what I need from you.”
It’s actually pretty simple. But it has to be a way of life.