07 February, 2014

the trooff, the whole trooff and nothing but the trooff

i've had several conversations lately with various friends and it got me thinking about the concept of honesty. let me preface everything that is to come by saying that i do believe in honesty. anyone who knows me knows that i am mostly upfront about what i feel and why i feel it. yes, i wish i was better about dealing with unpleasantness in a work or school environment, but hey, it ain't bad.

however, the idea of being completely honest, utterly and totally open about what is going on in my head makes me feel ill. i am an intensely private person, though i know you find it hard to believe. but surely you must know that even when i open myself wide, i am keeping a whole lot hidden. i have never been dishonest here, but i have never been completely honest either. you know very little of what's been going on in my life (other than what you've inferred or imagined) and i intend to keep it that way. what you know is how it all made me feel. i have no qualms about sharing my feelings.

one of the most spiritually uncomfortable moments of my young life was when a (catholic school) teacher said that when we die, all that we have ever thought or done will be projected on a large screen for god to see. i remember feeling nauseous at the concept - even with the implied notion that god already would have known all my most secret thoughts. my head is, and has always been, my own. my thoughts, my dreams, my fantasies, my ideals are mine, mine, mine.

i also find the concept of total and complete honesty in relationships morally repugnant. it feels like violation to be expected to share absolutely everything and keep nothing secret. i would not want mr. monkey to share his whole being with me, and i would never reciprocate if he did. i need my secret self. i crave it. and i think it is everyone's right to have that inviolable core. i don't think it's wrong if others believe in total honesty, i just don't buy it for myself.

the only case for full and total honesty that i do buy is with oneself. it ain't easy, but it's vital.

and lest you think i have closets full of skeletons or bodies buried all over the continent, well, i could tell you that is not the case, but i prefer to keep that to myself.

11 comments:

Tom said...

We celebrated our wedding at a Roman Catholic retreat centre, run by some lovely nuns whom we know well. As part of the celebration, Lucy and I read, out loud to each other, a selection of writings which we had previously agreed.

One of mine was the following:-

We are each a secret to the other. To know one another cannot mean to know everything about each other; it means to feel mutual affection and confidence, and to believe in one another. We must not try to force our way into the personality of another. To analyse others is a rude commencement, for there is a modesty of the soul which we must recognise just as we do that of the body. No one has a right to say to another: "Because we belong to each other as we do, I have a right to know all your thoughts." Not even a mother may treat her child in that way. All demands of this sort are foolish and unwholesome. In this matter giving is the only valuable process; it is only giving that stimulates. Let us impart as much as we can of our spiritual being to those who are on the road with us, and accept as something precious what comes back to us from them.

[Albert Schweitzer - modified slightly to meet our requirements.]

polish chick said...

oh tom, i knew i could count on you to make me feel better about myself (yet again). i was starting to think that it was some sort of flaw in me that made me mistake the ostensibly moral for the immoral, but my gut level reaction is so very strong in this case, i could not go against it. my core is my own, and albert schweitzer (and tom and lucy!) agree!

Crusty Juggler said...

Complete honesty as "morally repugnant"? Come on, now! You're looking at things in black and white here. There's no way people can ever completely and entirely know another person. That's just impossible. And there's no reason to share every thought that pops into your brain. That would be pointless and exhausting. If that's what you mean, then there's no possible way that you can be "utterly and totally open." Hmm, guess I don't know what you mean by that.
If you're keeping important things from each other, however, that's a problem. And I mean important things that have the potential to affect the relationship or the other person in some way. I'm sure you'll agree that honesty is vital for a healthy relationship.

Zhoen said...

We just don't lie to each other or hide from each other. We are otherwise guardians of each other's privacy and solitude. I am a mystery to myself, how could I share everything when even I am baffled?

I don't intentionally keep secrets, but neither do I share every thought, nor do I pry. Which is how he tends me. Mutual transparency, without intrusion.

Total honesty does not necessarily mean sharing that information, nor assuming that truth is the same as a fact. Lies are toxic.

polish chick said...

lies are toxic. sometimes truth is toxic too. i know i am in the minority with this, but i stand by my conviction.

crusty, you and i will likely never agree on this topic, and that's fine.

i do believe in honesty in general, but not always. that's always been the case.

Crusty Juggler said...

That's ok, we can disagree. We both mean well and have amazing men in our lives.

polish chick said...

i must also stress the fact that i do not claim that my way is right, merely that it is my particular understanding of truth. i do not think that those who believe in complete honesty are wrong, merely that for reasons that i am not completely sure of (semantics perhaps? perhaps we are all in full agreement but because our definitions don't line up we seem to be at odds) i need a core of privacy. hell, maybe it's because i'm such a blabbermouth - i need to keep the important cards really really REALLY close to keep them from flying out when i open my mouth.

joan said...

I agree 100% with you chickie! Even with my closest peeps, no one knows all of me. I don't think it is even realistic to expect to know everything about a person! Some bits have to remain sacredly secret!

polish chick said...

amen, joan! i knew you'd understand. and the older i get, the more sacred that space becomes. perhaps THAT is the true room of one's own - an internal space of utter safety.

Geneviève Goggin said...

I'm not sure I even tell myself the full truth, let alone others. That said I sometimes wish there were someone I could tell it all to. I have one friend who comes close but some thoughts are simply not for public consumption. And perhaps it's those thoughts that are deepest, and sometimes not so pretty. We sure are complicated creatures.

polish chick said...

that's precisely it, g: some thoughts are not for public consumption. and i really don't wish i could have someone i could tell it to. i find i sometimes tell different people little snippets, but that's just nibbling at the edges. the middle is mine and so it shall remain.