On Honesty In All Relationships—Friend, Familial, Romantic

. 4 min read

It was all white. Everything in my line of vision. There was no ceiling, no ground, no sky, no earth. Just white. Walls were there, but not in definitive form. Instead there were vertical blurs without density. You could push against them and feel them give, like the rubber-wrapped-air of a bouncy castle. You could push against them, but you couldn't break them. You couldn't get out. It was a cloud of a maze.

That visual is what I woke up to this morning. I wonder if that happens to you guys, ever? Waking up with one foot still in a dream?

This happens to me when the dream was a representation of a particularly daunting feeling. In this case, an unfortunate tiff with a friend yesterday evening. I don't tend to share things like this on here, but I've been through many moments of deep learning in the past few months, and this...disagreement, I guess, stemmed from the kernel of one of those lessons.

In other words, it stemmed from my being really honest when this friend said something that hurt me. It started with me saying, "I know you probably didn't mean it to come off this way, but just so you know, X made me feel Y." As you may have guessed, she did not like this and the conversation went sideways at this point, although I kept trying to tell her, "I'm not trying to make you feel bad. I just thought it may be helpful for you to know..." (and there we get into personal waters).

Honestly until 2020—and here comes the lesson—I never would have made that sort of comment. I grew up as a middle child, and we tend to be peacemakers... at the expense of standing up for ourselves. Harmony is extraordinarily important for us. Or, I'll speak for myself, it is to me. Drama is not my cup of tea.

What's more, I really do believe most people people are coming from a good place. If there's a sneer laced into a tone, not only are most deaf to it, most don't intend for it to exist. Most don't intend to offend.

But what I've come to this year is, finally, the understanding that not only do others' intentions matter, so do my emotions. And it's unhealthy to live in such a way as to ignore them. Not just for myself, but for the people in my life, too. I mean, unspoken emotions do find a way to bubble up and boil over, which is painful for everyone involved.

And it's for the purpose of keeping airs clear that I've come to be this person that does share honestly in these ways. It's not about attacking. Not at all. My thinking tends to be tell so-and-so how you feel so they can understand and answer accordingly.

In this case, I thought it would be helpful for said pal to reflect on her way of speaking so that she doesn't go ahead and behave this way with others, and go on to actually push people away. I also thought it may avoid her and I having any awkward, invisible walls up. I am not a fan of those.

Plus, when I spoke up, I was thinking of the fact that there is a value in the people in our lives holding up mirrors to our blindspots. I mean, we can look at our reflections all day long and still not see what's tucked away out of sight.

I've had the chance to learn this through some meditations I've done, but also through one of my closest friends who, as she told me the other day, was a former people-pleaser, too. In fact, she's been this sort of honest with me, and I remember it did sting. It did lead us to tears. But it also lead to a deeper trust. One that is thick with the knowing that we can share these things and still continue to be friends on the other side of the tears.

This lesson extends far beyond female friendships, of course. And if you're still reading this, the thought of romantic relationships likely drummed across your mind already. I can't say how many ladies I've talked to about this subject, how many, Should I tell him X? questions I've heard, to which I'm always, always like yes. I'm actually pretty passionate about this subject. The way I see it, life is short. If you care for someone, why wouldn't you tell them? Fear of rejection isn't a good enough reason for me, because I paint that picture like this:

You tell so-and-so that you care for them and they say, "I don't feel that way," or, worse, they ghost you and run away. Well there's pain that comes with this, but there is also time saved, too. I mean, why would you want to be investing time and energy on someone who doesn't care for you, too?

The alternative is to spin your wheels in the mud of wonder. To which, god, I've done in the past, too. But, really, it does nothing other than let anxious thoughts mount and mount and mount.

This year, I made the commitment to myself that I'd be honest about my feelings with those in my life, whether that start a small tiff with a girl friend, or whether that make me feel exposed after spontaneously voicenoting a certain special one. I want the people around me to know me, after all, not some veneer that is amicable but unreal.

All relationships require honesty if they're to have any sort of health and longevity. And sometimes, oftentimes, honesty comes with a side of pain. But that pain isn't to be scared of, I don't think. Really. Even if it culminates as mine does, in odd, carnival-style dreams. As one of my friends said to me today, it's better to walk through the feelings than try to fly above them. You'll only get lost in the haze that way. Better to feel them, let them grow you, and, hopefully, your relationships, too.