Part of my personal growth this year revolved around determining this site’s core values. If I were to birth my writing, my insights, my creativity into this world, what driving forces would provide the foundation? After much deep searching, I found these core values also represent my own personal ones.
Honesty sits on one point of the triangle of my three basic values. It’s often the one that’s most elusive. The temptation to over-dramatize, resort to a white lie, indulge in a harmless bit of gossip, revert back to the negative stories I told myself about myself - all hover around, anxious to be of service to my discomfort and disservice to my vulnerability. Over the first few months of my recovery, I learned that I demanded honesty from others but from myself? Umm, maybe not so much.
Working my way back this year has given me the time and impetus to do a deep moral and spiritual inventory. It allowed me the freedom of movement to look at myself through the lens of gentle but firm honesty and internalize the truth I knew in my head into the deepest parts of my heart. It also found me tossing out a lot of baggage so the dreams and hurts and truths buried in my heart - for eons, it seems - could emerge from under the weight of it all and allow my head to wrap itself around them in a fair exchange of sorts, a kind of symbiotic relationship.
What I’ve come to realize? It’s easy to resort to the white lie from time to time - and that’s not necessarily bad in some cases. It becomes dangerous when it’s what we reach for first. Perhaps a better option to offering an opinion when asked might take the form of a question. If we’re asked “How do I look in this?” maybe we can respond with “How do you feel in it?” Or if asked “Should I buy that car that I love the most, even though it costs tons more than the other one, or just go with the less expensive one?” - maybe we can ask “What is it you love about the expensive car?” or “What other types of expenses do you have to consider?”
When we ask an open-ended question, it allows the responder to sort things out a little better in her own mind. But it also casts us into a very important role: that of listener. The “listener” role allows us to weigh what’s said and to pick up on a lot of what’s left unsaid. Listening with love and presence is, perhaps, among the greatest gifts we can give another - if we’re being truly honest about it.
Another thing about honesty? We have to make sure we realize that the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves end up permeating most, if not all, aspects of our lives. So we better become pretty good at recognizing fact from fiction within those stories or we’ll live our lives by other people’s rules for us and perceptions of us.
By our nature, we are creatives, artists. Despite other people’s comments saying I’m no painter or singer or creative, the truth of my story is that each of these endeavors informs a great deal of who I am. Although I am a communicator by nature and must write in order to get to the heart of the matter - letters, blog posts, poems, or summing up life’s truths in a few words or sentences - painting, collaging, and reading a bit of inspirational material with my wee notebook in tow are part of my creative cycle. But sometimes my head and my heart become so overstimulated that I simply don’t know where to begin when I pick up a pen or sit at my keyboard. Or maybe what I’ve just finished writing is so huge and emotional I simply cannot write another word for a period of time. So as this cycle dies off and my writing lies fallow, picking up a brush, art materials, or a good book allows me to “go away” for awhile and fertilize the quiet fields of my silence. And the stories other people try to impose upon me - about not being an artist, a painter, a singer - fall away like false gods do, once I actually see them for what they truly are: someone else's junk.
I’ve written for years and only recently discovered my voice. It’s a good voice - sometimes full of imagery, most times not - the strengthened voice of a strengthened woman. Discovering our voices - as creatives, crusaders, freedom fighters, wives, daughters, sisters, mothers - in the manner most natural and fulfilling to each of us, represents the most basic form of honesty with which to infuse our lives. These voices, discovered or rediscovered, are personal honesty at its best.
I wish you gentle honesty and strong voice.