Liz Gilbert on Truth and Kindness (and lies….)

I just saw this on Facebook.  It’s a post by my hero, Elizabeth Gilbert, on Truth, Lies and Kindness.  BOY, does she nail it.  Just nails it.  As someone who has had my life turned upside down by the lies of others, and who has been attacked for my passion to have the truth out on the table, this was amazing to read. I was accused of wanting to play God, because I insisted that the truth be told.  When, in reality, it was the liar that played God, manipulating me and others lives for their own benefit, with the most enormous pile of painful lies imaginable.  Liz Gilbert explains my need, and my pain, and my truth better than I have ever been able to.  Read on…..
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Dear Ones –

The biggest emotional trouble I’ve ever gotten into in my life always stemmed from the same dilemma — when I was torn between telling the truth, and being kind.

Both matter immensely to me.

Both of these virtues (truth and kindness) are top-notch, A-grade, golden-ticket qualities, recognized by every human society in history as being essential for basic goodness.

I want to be unfailingly honest, but I want to be a REALLY NICE PERSON.

But here’s the thing: I’ve traditionally had trouble figuring out how to be both. Because sometimes the truth really hurts people, and I never want to hurt anybody. So — for most of my life — when I had to choose between truth and kindness, I always went with kindness. Because my need to not hurt people was bigger than my need to be truthful.

Also, isn’t it a fact that most people — no matter what they may claim — actually don’t really want you to tell them the truth? (Or so my reasoning went, anyhow.) As a Ethics Professor of mine taught me back in college: “Most of us grew up in families where our parents DEMANDED the truth, but they couldn’t DEAL WITH IT…and so we all learn how to lie.”

Didn’t the world teach you how to lie, too, in order to keep things peaceful and smooth? So aren’t you doing people a favor, when you them what they want to hear? Isn’t that nice of you?

No.

Here’s the thing I have finally learned, after years of struggling and suffering over this subject:

White lies are OK. Other lies are not.

There is such a thing as a harmless little white lie. The best anecdote I know about this came from President Jimmy Carter’s mother, who — when her son was running for president — was visited down in Georgia by a pushy New York journalist, who demanded to know, “Is it true that your son has never told a lie? Seriously? NEVER?” Mrs. Carter thought about it, and said “Well, Jimmy has told some white lies….” The journalist thought she had Mrs. Carter in trap and said, “Aha! But isn’t a white lie just a lie, all the same?” Mrs. Carter said, “No, white lies are harmless.” The journalist said, “Give me an example of a harmless white lie.” Mrs. Carter said, “Well…remember when you came into my house today, and I told you that it was very nice to meet you? THAT was a white lie…”

Mrs. Carter was correct: If you can’t tell little white lies sometimes in order to be polite to people, than you’re a sociopath and a jerk — so don’t worry about it. It’s not a big deal. Tell your neighbor that her cake was delicious — who cares? The world does not hinge upon such things, but it’s fine to be polite.

But this is not what we are talking about here.

We are talking about bigger moments, bigger lies, bigger truths.

There will be times in your life when people need to hear the truth from you — real truth, that will have real impact on their real existence — and when you decide “protect” that person with lies, then you are actually not protecting them at all. What you are doing is demeaning both them and you.

As that same Ethics Professor taught me, twenty-five years ago, “Whenever you lie to somebody about something that affects their life, you are manipulating that person and infantilizing them. By denying somebody essential information that they need in order to make intelligent decisions about their own future, you are effectively making all their decisions for them. There is no greater act of disrespect you could offer to an adult human than to make their choices for them, by lying to them, or by withholding essential information.”

Or, as my friend Martha Beck has taught me: “The truth is always an act of kindness, even when it seems like it will hurt. And a lie is always an act of unkindness, even when you believe you are being protective.”

For years, I told lies to people because I didn’t want to hurt them. Some of this was because I am “a nice person”, sure. But some of it was because I was “a scared person.” And some if it was because I was “a controlling person”. (Which isn’t very nice, when you really think about it.)

It took years of terrible consequences and suffering for me to realize that I wasn’t doing anybody any favors by hiding the truth from them, again and again. By lying to people out of kindness, I was being neither honest NOR kind. What I was practicing, in fact, is what the Buddhist call “Idiot Compassion” — which is when your cowardliness and your weak-heartedness makes you pity people instead of respecting them. Idiot compassion is what keeps people in relationships with abusers. (“Oh, he can’t help it! He had a hard childhood!”) Idiot compassion is what makes people engage in “pity sex”. Idiot compassion makes you cover for people, instead of challenging them. Idiot compassion is at the basis of all codependency. Idiot compassion makes you say yes when you need to say NO. Idiot compassion makes you easy to manipulate, but also makes you a serial manipulator — because you are always controlling people when you lie to them. Idiot compassion is called “idiot compassion” because it makes an idiot out of you, but it also makes an idiot out of your victim, because what you are offering is not protection, but patronization. By building a house of lies — no matter how pretty it may look from the outside — you are keeping everyone trapped.

As my friend Iyanla Vanzant says, “Respect people enough to tell them the truth.”

Respect yourself enough for that, too.

If there is one lesson I have FINALLY learned that has actually transformed my life, it is this: Whenever you are called to choose between truth and kindness, choose truth.

Trust me, in that moment you will actually be choosing both.

ONWARD,
LG

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Blowin’ Away on the Summer Wind

summer wind

I walked with my cousin this morning, a short walk, just a couple of miles. The rain stopped, it was cloudy, and though it was very humid, it was cooler, not quite 80. It was a pleasant change. It’s was that way all day, til a short time ago.

We talk, deep and honest, always. I talked to her about moving, and when I talked about leaving my son in Denver, I started crying. Geezus.

The walk was nice, but I can’t even talk about that without losing it. I don’t know how I’m going to actually do it.

Then I went to the grocery store this afternoon. I ran into one of my best friends there. We have known each other 22 years, since our kids were 2 and in Story Hour at the library together. Her daughter and my son were born on the same day. My son is older, lol, by 3 hours. A fact he never let her daughter forget.  She was part of our small book club.

She had just come home from a big family vacation to Ireland and England, with some side trips, one to Paris for a few days, I think. I had called her to see if she wanted to go for a walk about 3 or 4 weeks ago and she said, “Um…I’m in Ireland.” LOL. I said, “Oh, I guess you don’t want to go then…..” And laughed. We talked a little, texted a little.

So it was good to see her, and just catch up briefly. I told her I sold the house while she was gone, and she looked happy and sad in the same moment. We talked about it briefly, because she had an engagement she had to get to, but I choked up again, talking about taking son to CO. I am a basket case. I so wish he had a father. Or I should say, a father who wasn’t a sociopath. Anyway, we are going to try to get the book club together to say goodbye the week after next.

I truly can’t believe I’ll be out of here in 6 weeks. I’ve feel like I’ve been talking about it forever. It’s been so often, my final escape from so much drama in my life, from men who can’t love, or won’t, who have caused me so much pain.  Men who have taken all I would give, and given me back nothing except pain, and heartache, and lies.

Now I look at it as just an awesome thing I get to do. I’m so over all of that. I think about it, and I think, the drama goes on, I’m sure. Just without me. Because, really….how could there ever be any trust there? Yeah, she lied, a small tiny lie to make him stop lying to her, to make him believe he’d been caught red-handed.  I seriously only objected to it because she involved me, and it just wasn’t true. But really, he’s the one who cannot tell the truth. How could she ever ever trust her heart to him again? So much like my ex. Just cannot talk without trying to manipulate someone.

I feel like, she’s just in her comfort zone with him, and willing to put up with his bullshit.  She was never going to talk to him again, twice now, til I did.  So she did.  What kind of foundation for a relationship is that?  If I’d told him to come here that night 6 weeks ago when he asked me so many times….what would she have done then?  Wanted him back?  I was leaving anyway….who knows?  Such a game they play.

Whatever. It’s none of my business. Sometimes I just go off on a tangent, it was part of my life way too long.  I still feel connected to him on some level, it’s weird.  But it doesn’t stop me from living this life.  If we are connected through past lives, which I feels sure we are, we will bump into each other again.  But this life time….I don’t think so.

The whole point, now, is….I get to retire.  I don’t have to work, unless I want to.  I intend to find a part-time job, grocery money.  I get to live by the water, which has always been my other home.  I get to do the things I love to do, that I have a passion for, and not spend the bulk of my time at a stressful job.  I will be so free.  As hard as it will be to say goodbye to my son, the fact that he’s not going to be living with me, makes me all the more free.

I didn’t do any packing today. Just normal house chores. Laundry, shopping, making some food so we’ll have food to eat during the week. Now I’m outside in the sacred space, lol. With a dark rum and diet coke and half a lime squeezed into it. Feeling pretty content. Sun is out, and it’s breezy. This mornings humidity is blowing away.

As are the last years tears, and pain, and drama. Blowing away, leaving cool, clean energy in it’s place. Life is so good.

Love and light, everyone.

A Few Words on Words

words

Words….

I have been accused of being too wordy, by some. Funny, my ex-husband, in his pre-alcholic days, disliked my reticence. I learned to keep my mouth shut around him, so he’d have nothing to get fired up about, nothing to twist into some crazy attack on him, nothing to make me defend myself against.

I once told his mother, who was calling him at 8 AM, that he’d call her back when he got out of the shower. OMG, the tongue lashing I got for telling her he was in the shower at 8 AM. Geezus. When you live with someone like that for almost 40 years, you learn that the less you say, the less he knows, the better off you are. (Why I stayed is another story, in fact a book, but abusers are good at making us shoulder the blame for their anger.)

When I left him, I gradually found my voice, and my words, and I vowed no one would ever silence me again. Much to the chagrin of at least one other man.

But what else do we have, to express ourselves? Rolling of our eyes? Hand signals? Hanging up the phone? Withholding in bed?  I’m sure I use the first 3 of those, in combination with the words.  The last?  Not really my style….

All that stuff….may communicate pleasure or displeasure, but it doesn’t let someone in. Some people don’t want anyone in. Fear. Afraid if someone gets in they might get hurt. We all probably have that fear at times.

My greater fear is that no one will ever get in. That forever, I’d be alone with my thoughts that I didn’t have the courage to be vulnerable enough to say out loud.

I can say “I love you” if that’s how I feel. There could be a million reasons why it’s not said back. But there also might be a reason to say it. Like, it’s just how a person feels. Maybe me saying it first takes away the fear of saying it back. Maybe not. But maybe. And it may be worth the risk to me.  The bigger gamble for me would be to spend my days wondering “What if I’d said it?  Would he still be here if he knew?”

I like the truth out on the table. I like things to happen based on the truth. Not on games that people want to play. Not on being manipulated into a position. I know who I am. There is kindness underlying my truth, most of the time. Unless I sense injustice. I hate injustice.

But words, written words in particular…have taken me from the dark days of an abusive marriage, they enabled me to help my son to climb out of that same dark cave. The words brought me through an intense affair that ended in terrible betrayal, to the joy I feel in this moment, because the words have allowed me to be true to myself. They have allowed me to tell my story, to form relationships with like-minded people, all over the world. They let me see what is in my head, and decide if what I was thinking, and what I’m saying is actually true.  I have discovered, along the way, that the truth rings.  If it’s not ringing in my head, it’s most likely not true.  At least for me.

Just some thoughts on words.

Awareness

 

third eye

Aware
That I can love
That the energy which powers the sun
Also powers my heart.
Powers my words to express.

Powers my body
To be one with my heart
That the physical manifestation
Of love
Is powered just as my heart is.

By the one thing.

True and honest.
I never lied,
(I could not)
With my words,
With my thoughts,
With my body.

The electrifying touch
Comes from the same place
As the soft words.
The connection that can’t be broken.

The face will come into focus
The face that will know what I know
And feel what I feel.
Another connection;
Stronger,
Sweeter,
Still unbreakable,
Is in the making.

Bliss.

Solitary Thoughts on Revenge, Truth, Happiness, and Love

 

your center

I was alone all day today, after my son went to work around noon. I was going to take a walk with a friend from my book club, but after I grocery shopped I was exhausted. I suppose because I only got about 4 hours sleep last night, and worked around the house changing sheets, doing laundry, cleaning windows, until I went to the store. So, I didn’t go for the walk.

I had a text conversation with the new guy from a dating site, and it went nowhere. Boring, lol. Might have been a scammer, Idk. But when he asked what I wanted in a man, I said, “Hmmm, funny, interesting, creative, maybe slightly outside the box like me. Someone I feel a connection with.” And that was the last I heard from him, lol. Literally. Not, “well it’s been nice talking to you”, nothing. Just disappeared. I wasn’t interested at all, so didn’t follow it up. Boring. Self absorbed.

I had asked him why he was single. Was he divorced, or widowed? He said, “Didn’t you read that in my profile?” Well, if I did I forgot….. Geezus, I didn’t memorize it! So when he asked me what I wanted in a man, I said, in the middle of the description, “This is all in my profile too, lol.” Trying to make him look at himself. Apparently, he didn’t like me or me throwing his words back at him.

God I can’t put up with crap, at all, any more. Geezus. Be real.

When I said it, what I wanted in a man, I was actually describing all the things I loved about S. Too bad he balances it with all lies, deception, unhealthy living, not being able to stand in his story, not being able to own his actions. And casting blame all around him rather than look it in the eye and deal with it. Too bad he can’t recognize and accept love, given to him just because he was. Too bad he had to assign motive to it. Well, there was a motive, then. To help him to be happy. That was all. I already was, am. I loved him enough, just to want him to be.

I doubt that he is, happy. I doubt he has what he wants, and I doubt he even knows what that is. I don’t think it’s what he professed it to be, or his behavior would have been different. He had some pie in the sky thing that was going to make him happy, but it wouldn’t have. Sooner or later he would have fucked it up again. Because he couldn’t/can’t be happy on his own. He couldn’t/can’t love himself. Neither she nor I, nor both of us together at the same time, could love him enough for him to love himself. No matter if we both loved him with every fiber of our being. It would never have been enough.

It makes me hurt for him. But it doesn’t make me want to unblock him on my phone. I can’t do it again with him. Even if that’s not on the table, I have no way of knowing, and I am not going to take the chance.

I talked on the phone to Montana, my friend who lives up there, this afternoon for about an hour, maybe longer. That was nice. She had me google these Arched Cabins. They are pretty cool, I gotta say, and inexpensive. We talked about books, about dating, about our men or lack of, about our abusive ex’s, our kids. Covered a lot of ground, lol.

But then I was alone again. I have to stay busy when I’m alone, that’s when it would be easiest to crack the door open to S again. Just unblock him to see if he tried to reach me. Or just leave him a message. Or an email. Or a text, to see if he’d answer. Or carry on a conversation with him in my head that I will never have. It’s when I’m home, and alone, especially if I’m tired, that he starts creeping into my psyche again.

So, I vacuumed. I washed the floors. I made some buffalo wings. I cut up some fruit. I fell asleep for about 20 minutes on the couch.

Now I’m watching Wild, which was such a wonderful book, and the movie is very true to the book. I’ve seen her, Cheryl Strayed, many times, mostly on OWN. She is one amazing woman.

She undertook walking the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail, the west coast equivalent of The Appalachian Trail on the east coast) because her life was a mess. She ruined her marriage cheating on her husband with anyone she met. She was a heroin addict for quite a while. So she walked this trail, by herself, about 2000 miles. She ended it a different person than she began.

I hope S can find his PCT, his journey out of the darkness. It’s my most sincere hope for him.

I know he thinks I posted the truth about our January together as revenge to him for saying he didn’t want me at his house. But it wasn’t revenge. It was for her, it was all for her, so she would know the truth he would never tell her. So she could decide, with all the facts in her hand, whether or not she really wanted to be with him or not. Maybe she did, maybe they reached some common ground. Maybe she walked away forever. Maybe she’s still stuck in limbo, loving a man who would screw her over because he has no center, no ability to make a good decision. No comprehension of right and wrong.  Loving a man who will always pick immediate gratification over the long term repercussions.  He’ll always deal with those if and when they show up.

I know she loved him. I know I loved him. Like I said before, it would never matter how much someone loved him. Until he can find his own light, and let it shine, no one can love him enough.

So I posted it for her. It had nothing to do with him. It was for her, I hoped she’d read it, and at least know the truth. I knew it would hurt. But not as much as finding out you’ve made a decision based on the lie that poured out of the mouth of someone you loved and wanted to trust. My mistake was thinking that love and trust went hand in hand. They should, but they don’t. Or didn’t, in this case.

He said all the right things to me during that short time. About changing, about living honestly. He confided many things to me that he had not before. I really had hope for him. Then the moment he was under pressure, he defaulted back to that underhanded man who can’t own his actions, who can’t stand in his story, who has to not be at fault for a situation he created.

And I knew then, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I couldn’t have him in my life, no matter how much I loved him and wanted his happiness. I knew that at the end of the day, there would never be anything but endless pain for me if he was in my life.

It was small, compared to the betrayal of last summer. But it was the confirmation I needed. I needed to see if his words were real, or contrived to keep me in his bed, while he pulled himself together and figured out how to get her back. I got my answer. She told me, he can’t stand to be alone.

I don’t know if he is alone now or not. I am, but I’m ok with it. I can make myself happy. I have a rich full life without a man. Friends that call, that will go out with me. Things to do, things for which I have passion. I feel like I have a place in the world that I’m comfortable with.

I wish him well. I hope he finds some happiness, true, real happiness within himself before he dies. I hope she is well. I hope her heart is healing, and isn’t broken again. She’s still showing up on my FB page, I like to think that’s because we are friends on another level.

I suppose, considering the connection that I have always believed S and I have, that he and I are friends on some other level too.

So this blog has stretched out, lol. I guess I had a lot on my mind. Hope everyone has a nice evening. Or whatever it is, wherever you are. Love and light.

Just Bringing the Truth

truth

I wrote that blog last night about the hammer, and didn’t think about the fact that S might read it.  I don’t have any idea if he still reads my blogs.  I don’t know why he would, except to reassure himself on some sick level that I still think about him.  I would guess if he reads that one, he’ll get angry, and think it was all about revenge.  (My pendulum still says he does, though not every day.  It just seems illogical to me, that he would.  We have not spoken since I told him he was dead to me.  So why he would want to read it?  Maybe to reassure himself he is really not dead to me?  Who knows?)

Well, of course I think about him.  But I don’t think of him with any pangs of longing, it’s more like a bad habit I’m breaking now.  Kind like when the text alert goes off on my phone, I still first think of him, because we used to text so much.)  He is less and less on my mind.  What he did is more and more just another experience I lived through and learned from.

Neither of the experiences that I wrote about, he or my ex-husband, were about getting even.  Neither of the experiences was about revenge.  My ex was about getting what was mine, and being fair. I only brought the truth to light so I could survive.

S was about bringing the truth to light as well, so that everyone knew exactly what was going on, and so could make their own decision about whether or not they wanted to be part of it.  I feel that I did the right thing for myself, for her, and whether or not he wants to believe or accept it, for him.  A relationship based on a lie is nothing, except an ego boost for the narcissist, that he once again pulled the wool over someone’s eyes and got away with it.  While I normally stay out of other people’s business, I felt that since I was the third leg of his triangle, it was my business. He involved me where I didn’t want to be involved.  And when you pull one leg out of the triangle, it’s going to collapse, it’s a law of physics….

Both men were someone I loved, and men I hope the best for in the new year.  I am so happy to be moving away from all that drama.

I have a nice New Year’s Eve planned with a friend.  We’re going to try to get an early dinner somewhere, (because we have no reservations and probably can’t get any at this late date) and then hang out at my house and talk, drink wine, watch movies, lol.  I’m glad I won’t be alone, but if I was, I’d probably just write and write, lol.

Love and light everyone.  May 2016 be our year!

Which Will You Be?

strength acourage

Strength

Measured in lies

Measured in pain caused

Measured in lives destroyed

Is weakness.

Is less than zero.

 

Strength

Measured in open hearts

Measured in joy given

Measured in lives connected

Is power.

Is heaven on earth.

 

Courage

Measured in willingness to lie

Measured in willingness to deceive

Measured in willingness to devastate

To crush, to harm

Isn’t courage.

It’s cheap cowardice.

It’s emptiness of a soul.

 

Courage

Measured in Willingness to to be honest

Measured in willingness to trust

Measured in willingness to show oneself

And be seen, truly be seen

Is courage.

It is wealth of spirit,

It is fullness of soul.

 

Which have you been

The weak morally bankrupt coward?

Or the courageous, powerful rich spirit?

 

Which are you?

 

Which will you be?