Hello Dear Reader, thank for all your public and many private comments. It seems I’m not alone in musing when and how it’s the right time to speak our truth.
Like ethereal voices, pretty, swirly platitudes flow effortlessly through our Instagram and Facebook feeds, bidding us to speak our truth and to be real. Speakers and authors pop up daily with messages of “hey life is so easy if you just relax and be real.”
How many advocates of “just relax and be real,” have really known a difficult truth? Do you ever wonder? I reckon many wouldn’t know their truth if it jumped up and bit them on the arse. Some do, but plenty don’t. The most dangerous are the ones who don’t know what they don’t know but still spruik the platitudes.
So, while I’m a fan of always show up, all of you, all of the time, the right answer to when it is really right, is “it depends.”
How annoyingly vague. But consider this,
Say you’re relaxed at your good friend’s summer party, it’s 9pm and you spot someone you know reasonably well. They’re in the kitchen, glaring at the knife block.
Taking a sip of your chianti as you sashay in, you open with, “Hi there Hannibal, nice to see you, oh and by the way did I mention I’ve had some fractious tear-my-hair-out-stick-my-head-in-a-blender issues just lately?”
Oh dear. It’s fair to say you’re probably not reading the signs and selecting the plat-du-jour of conversation starters there, Friend. Unless you want him to tear out your liver to enjoy with some fava beans, washed down with your chianti dregs, Hannibal is not ever going to be your audience for showing up with your truth and authenticity. Ever.
Equally, and more realistically, I have a friend whose Black Dog is ever present, best kept invisible, only to be hugged and nurtured by close friends and family. She senses that others will gossip or snipe, or worse, take advantage of her condition. For someone whose confidence can shatter in a moment, who can be readily triggered by past traumas, these are very real and meaningful considerations. On the other hand, it could also be argued that her need for privacy is a symptom of her depressive anxiety condition, in itself.
If she had say, bowel cancer, a common but sometimes considered ‘yucky’ form of cancer, I wondered if it would be any different. Would she say she had been unwell, if asked “how have you been?” No, she said, the same rules applied.
Sometimes, as another friend rightly pointed out, people in whom we confide are simply not equipped to deal with a difficult truth, either for their own emotional reasons, or their own capacity to understand BUT, there’s a bigger more burning reason our truth must be told. Consider the recent highly-publicized victims of institutional abuse. What if they had never spoken their truth? The bravest amongst them did speak their truth but to the wrong people, and so were not believed. Some understandably gave up and held their poison close, sometimes with tragic consequences. Others bravely spoke up again and again until the truth was outed.
The right time to speak our truth, when to park Platitude, grow Small Voice into Big Voice and speak up, whatever the context, is tricky.
To me, the answer, and what we must subtly teach our children while we nurture their confidence and conviction, is time, place, person, purpose and context.
- Is this the right time for me to speak my truth?
- Are we in a safe place?
- Is this the right person to be trusted with my vulnerability?
- Am I doing this for higher purpose, or self justification?
- What is the context of our relationship?
Now I’m older and hopefully wiser, I find it easier to speak my own truth and seek to create change by so doing, for others suffering and for myself.
Do you have a truth to speak, Dear Reader?