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TRUTH AND LIES
And apple pies
Happy F-Word TUESDAY!
This week has been a week of joy, of growth, of looking at the truth of some things in my life and holding them up to the light. There are imperfections, and man, is it scary as hell, but I believe that our only job in this life is to live with integrity and with authenticity. To do that, no stone can be left unturned. No relationship can go unexamined, no event from my past is allowed to live in the shadows any longer.
What is true will remain, and what was built upon fear and mistruth will disintegrate.
As you can see, this week’s issue is going to be VERY LIGHTHEARTED!
What does it mean to tell the truth?
We live in an age of gaslighting. Political leaders, generational gaps, abusive relationships: our lives are built on a shifting paradigm that moves beneath our very feet.
(Dad joke: Is all this GASLIGHTING why politicians refuse to move to cleaner energy sources? BUH DUM TSS.)
Much like when we are in an earthquake, we feel unstable. We feel (rightly so) that our lives are precarious, our relationships are precarious, our dreams are precarious. The constant aggression, anger, and finger pointing from others leaves us dizzy.
It can feel very much like we are being ripped, torn, shredded, clawed at. We’re left confused and disoriented. Because we are human, our nervous systems begin to shut down. We fight the urge to curl into a ball or to collapse on a bench in the garden and have a good cry.
The way I see it, on all political and social spectrums, there are two factions of people:
Those who want truth
Those who want power.
TRUTH means authenticity. TRUTH means shedding light on the dark, dirty skeletons in our closet. TRUTH means living with integrity. You cannot have truth without acknowledging that our family systems, the ways we move in the world, our history: it all holds darkness. But that darkness does not negate the light.
POWER means denial. It means turning a blind eye to the imbalance of power between men and women. POWER means denying that our entire system is founded on systemic racism and intentional subjugation of entire groups of people. POWER is in the status quo. POWER says that the darkness should be feared, and that darkness negates the light.
To look at this another way, in any dynamic, there are two types of people: truth seekers (people who seek truth to honor it) and truth slayers (people who destroy or deny truth). To tell the difference, look at what they are wielding—do they come to the conversation with their voice and empty hands, or do they come with a sword?
We are taught to respect the image of a “warrior”—as a society, we respect those who speak with FEROCITY! CERTAINTY! BREVITY! AUTHORITY! But none of these things have anything to do with the truth. Speaking with ferocity does not mean leadership. It does not mean authenticity. It does not mean integrity.
When we’re told conflicting things, when we’re being bullied into submission, when we’re being gaslighted (gaslit?) and controlled and influenced, how in the Samhain hell are we supposed to know what’s TRUE ANYMORE!?
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M TELLING THE TRUTH?
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M BEING TOLD THE TRUTH?
WELL! Buckle up, buttercups! Here’s a handy little Buzzfeed-esque list you can consult the next time you feel unsure:
1) Truth is, first and foremost, acknowledging complexity.
Truth requires fear. Truth comes with anger. Truth comes with grief. Truth is not the absence of these things, and the absence of fear, anger, and grief does not mean something is true.
Truth is subjective in some senses, and two different truths of the same event can exist. But truth is objective in other ways, mainly in the fact that it is complex.
Truth means acknowledging others and their humanity, and acknowledging that nothing is black and white. If you are not acknowledging it, you are not telling the truth. If you are doing this, proceed!
2) TRUTH is never an attack on you, nor does it require you to attack others.
Truth is empathy. If someone is saying that your version of events “didn’t happen that way” or that “XYZ is the truth of the matter,” it’s easy to question what you know to be true.
A touchstone during these tough moments is to look at how they, the person questioning you, views other people.
An attack on personhood, name-calling, questioning someone’s validity or happiness as a person, or thinking others are below them—these are massive indicators that someone is getting defensive. Getting defensive means you feel you need to protect something. Feeling the need to protect something means you think you are being threatened (This is usually a bid to protect our own ego).
If you are telling the truth, someone else’s reality will never be threatening to you.
I’m a big fan of the “Fragile White Male” example here:
BLACK LIVES MATTER
WOMEN ARE INHERENTLY OPPRESSED BY ALL WHITE MEN
Boop! If you felt your hackles rise at either of those statements, THEN CONGRATULATIONS! That means you feel your very existence is somehow threatened by someone else’s reality. Looks like you have some therapy to do, BB!
The above statements DO NOT threaten your existence, even if you are a white man. It threatens the SYSTEMS OF POWER that are in play, but not YOU AS A PERSON. Those statements are THE TRUTH for Women and Black communities everywhere. Remember rule number one: truth is complexity. If you’re running from that complexity, then you are not telling the truth. You do not pass Go. You do not collect $200.
3) Truth is painful.
We disconnect from our authentic selves in the face of pain. This can be a painful memory, a painful situation, or a person who wants you to feel pain because they, themselves, cannot handle the truth.
You know you are telling the truth when you can face the fear, the backlash, the consequences of it. To tell the truth, to be READY for the truth, is to accept that whatever is not true will crumble.
This is why radical acceptance of ourselves and who we truly are oftentimes leads to the destruction of relationships in our lives.
When we accept our sexuality, or acknowledge our abuse, or recognize unhealthy patterns, the people who support us will remain. The people who do not support us, or those who cannot handle that truth, leave.
True relationships can withstand the truth.
True relationships deepen because of the truth.
When we can face ourselves, we can face others as they are. If the other person is not ready for a relationship based on truth, then the relationship itself will collapse.
As Elizabeth Gilbert says (I’m paraphrasing): liberation is a two-way street.
It is this “letting go” that leads us to:
4) Truth is the release of control
Truth is not a power play. Truth is the acceptance that we cannot control others or their behavior. If someone else telling the truth makes you feel like they’re trying to “one up” you, then you, yourself, are not living with your eyes open. You are living with your eyes shut—in fear.
When we are ready for the truth, our authenticity and integrity become all that are important. But we also know that we cannot control how others will react to that truth.
Sometimes this is easy to accept, but other times it is very, very painful.
It is human nature to find safety in falsehood. We build walls around ourselves to protect us from the pain of the truth—what we have done to others, what others have done to us—and this means we block out the light. We stay within these walls, which makes them prisons of our own construction.
What is true will last.
What isn’t true will disintegrate.
A life lesson from the Little Rascals: let people into your club, my dudes!
5) TRUTH means that we STAY CURIOUS.
Can you acknowledge what you are afraid of? Do you greet fear with curiosity? Or do you greet fear with resistance? Do you ask questions about things you don’t understand? Or do you tell other people they are wrong?
Here’s a real world example of how to unpack this:
Right now, where I am sitting, three men sit at a table next to me. Their voices are loud, proud, and strong. The three men at the table talk with certainty about “knowing their God.” About reading the bible. About believing in a “God that is smarter than us” and how “you don’t have to be smart to be a disciple.” ( DIRECT QUOTES, PEOPLE). “God is awesome. [Non-believers] don’t think God has a right to tell them what to do.”
WOW. There’s a lot to unpack there.
Five minutes prior to this, they were complaining about a homeless man they “tried to help” but who refused to go to their church in order to receive food. All three of them laughed at the audacity of this man to refuse them.
Truth is NOT holding a human need hostage in exchange for allegiance.
Allegiance is about POWER.
This also goes for any type of relationship in your life. No one, ever, should put you in a position where you must choose between either acknowledging your truth OR receiving love.
Withholding human needs—shelter, food, respect, love—until you are compliant is abuse. That is not love. Love is based on truth. Abuse is based on power.
So! How will we end this EXTREMELY UPBEAT AND CHIPPER NEWSLETTER?!?!?
Simply by saying that when you are being questioned or denied; when you are made to feel that you are unlovable because of who you are and for speaking the truth:
I see you. I love you. I’m holding space for you this week.
There is JOY to be found when we live our truth. True, unbridled, joy.
You deserve love, you deserve truth, you deserve joy.
Love, light, and Queen Lizzo,