The Problem With Honesty

Two days ago I was particularly honest with someone and now I wish I could take all that honesty back. People say they want to hear the truth, but they don't really want to hear it. As for me, I want to tell the truth, but I don't want to deal with the consequences of telling the truth. Sometimes I wish I could lie to people more, which is odd since I tell little lies to people all the time. How many times a day do you and I have this exchange:

"How are you doing?"
"I'm great."

Not to be all Dr. Phil about it, but this week I want to tell folks that I'm not so great. I worked 82 hours last week and I'm racking it up this week as well. I almost fell asleep while driving up Figueroa Street on Monday afternoon. The only thing that saved me was that the hookers were out in full force just south of Gage Avenue and boy oh boy, some of those outfits are serious jaw-droppers.

We all know what happens if I don't say that I'm great. I sound like a whiny beeyotch and I have to then hear about how whoever I'm talking to worked 90 hours so my 82 is really nothing.

So maybe I don't actually wish that I could lie more. Maybe I don't even really want to be more honest. Maybe I just like to behave badly sometimes and I pass it off as honesty. I still have to live down this conversation from 3 years ago:

"Can I take Olinga (my elder son) to the beach with me?" this person, an acquaintance of my husband's asked.
"No," I said.
"Why not?" she asked.
"Because I don't like you," I replied.
"But I don't understand why," she said.
"Because you're a bitch and a ho and I don't want my son around you," I said.

Now, that's behaving pretty badly, isn't it, even if I was definitely telling the truth. Everything was true, in my own subjective version of the truth. Perhaps to others, she wasn't a ho, just very free with her sexuality and very skilled at making men pay her rent. I try to make myself myself feel better by saying that I was so annoyed because I felt like it was hypocritical of her to act like I'd ever liked her...and I was six months pregnant and tired. Not that that excuses anything but I can sometimes just be a little raw when I'm tired.

Which brings me back to my honesty of a couple of days ago. I'm still trying to figure out what to do about it and maybe the best option is to do nothing at all.


Jon said…
I can't count how many times I've been told that my honesty is fine. It is the delivery that I contine to make bad choices about.

let me know if you find a way to take it back! :)
the last noel said…
Every once and awhile you gotta call like it is. If she's a bitch and ho, well then.
Anonymous said…
To be perfectly honest or in my honest opinion or if you want the truth from my perspective....
With honesty there has to be kindness, the saying sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind is ok but i feel that it is nice to be nice, Jesus would have made sure that he never put anybodys spirit down and i think we all know when it is right to be honest and when it is better to be tactful. Liz,its not about your feeings its about the other persons feelings. It is better somtimes not upsetting already troubled people. Besides, what is the truth? And why do people act the way they do? There is always a reason why people behave why they do. Past experiences and sadness etc. So, has the holy books teach us foregiveness and understanding, love and grace! Who will cast the first stone? Judge nor lest thy be judged etc etc.
Your honesty as more to do with yourself than anybody else, we all have to live a lie it is a inherent human condition in this corrupt system we have created, so without lieing you would go completely crazy. Lieing is a distraction of the truth for the truth does indeed hurt and who wants to be hurt anymore than we already have in this strange cold world, I could give you hundreds of examples, eg drugs, on the streets, in prisons, slavery, discrimintion, the government, phoney wars, the education system,etc, etc etc etc.
Mental institutions are full to the brim because more and more people are fed up with living this lie. Drug addiction is on the increase because of the same reason, suicides are on the increase, etc etc. The world has gone mad but thankfully we have FAITH, God is merciful and gracefull therefore, there is a way out of this madness, we just gotta check it out.
Be honest to yourself, love yourself, love your enemy, love God, love your family, love life and you wont go far wrong, peace and love to one and all.
* said…
This post brings up so many of my own dilemnas with truth and honesty. Thanks for writing about it. You've made me think honesty and "the truth", what our relationship is with it and with the person (s) who needs it from us. Your anonymous commenter brought in many points too and yes, the world is a tough place to be in and many of us find a way to barricade ourselves and fortify the walls we build because of the truth about our lives and how we have been hurt--well I could go on for quite a bit but I think I'll end here and think about it some more...
Liz Dwyer said…
So many thoughts to marinate on. Mainly, I'm thinking that if I didn't have this blog, I might not have access to such a diversity of perspectives. Thank you so much, all.

Jon, you are totally right. It is the delivery that matters. My skill clearly needs to improve. I think I either say nothing or say everything and the extremes of that are no good.

Noel, break it down! I do need to call it like it is sometimes. By the way, have I told you lately that you're awesome and I'm going to make sure everyone I know buys your new book?

Anonymous, you are the angel on my shoulder reminding me to behave myself. Don't worry, on Monday I didn't call anyone else a bitch or ho. Yes, I should be nice just to be nice but sometimes I get tired of being nice. Sometimes I'm tired of being so "good". Do I have to be good if it will make me unhappy but make the other person happy?Gosh, I feel like a selfish Luke Skywalker being tempted by the "dark side"! Here's another question: How do I keep someone else's feelings in mind when I'm not sure what they are feeling and I'm afraid to ask them what they are feeling? I need to get better at laying it all out there when the stakes are high. Good grief, I have a thousand thoughts about all this.

Peggy, I'm glad you share some of my dilemmas. Whew, I'm not the only one! My thoughts on this started out through a personal lens this week but then graduated into the professional realm because we've been having conversations this week at my job about how to give and receive feedback. That's another post for another day though!
Anonymous said…
...and how do we keep someone else's feelings in mind when we're pretty sure they're not keeping ours in mind?

total equality in a friendship/acquaintanceship is hard to come by... but if i'm only keeping in minde the comfort of the other person and they pretty regularly trample all over mine, than how much of a whole person am i being?

Liz Dwyer said…
Kari, EXACTLY! There are times when I'm pretty sure certain people are not thinking about anyone but themselves and in fact do not believe in feelings...especially because they've said they don't. And then, when you try to be honest about what you are seeing/feeling/experiencing, it all goes downhill.
I think your honesty with the ho bitch was the only way to ensure that an awkward situation wouldn't come up again.

You should never have to apologize for protecting your child, no matter what it takes. Who knows what she would have exposed him to?

And yeah, there is always some competitive asshole who will minimize your complaint because HER life is harder. A real friend will just listen and sympathize.
MartiniCocoa said…
How long have you been wanting to tell her about herself?

Trick I'm learning
to count to 10 before I say anything that could be brutaly honest or controversial.

It's working when I remember to count. Or avoid tequila.
Liz Dwyer said…
I am not Star Jones,

Now that I think about it, I think my comments were a good ten to twelve years in the making.

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