TRUTH, and other lies we tell.

It’s so easy to see something insightful or inspiring, and respond “TRUTH!”, as though we’re confirming an absolute, rather than sharing an opinion steeped in a lifetime of personal circumstance, culture, and outside influence. I’m wary of those words which seem too good to be true; too glib; too ‘one-size-fits-all’. 

That’s not to say the words and sentiments, aren’t good, right in some instances, and always well-meaning. But are they truths?

For some, perhaps, some of the time, or at a specific moment in time – voicing with piercing clarity the *exact* thing needed to be said. Or heard. But we stray from TRUTH into subjective experience, with a fine veil of grey, deepening imperceptibly, between fact and feeling, between experience and exactitude.

I’ve been challenged in the last week, by various people, to look back at the truth of my self, of my past. To examine then-me and now-me, and see whether there’s a continuum, of self-ness, which wasn’t (as I have always thought) nasty, then nice. To open my mind to the idea that perhaps then-me was as good (or not) as now-me is, but was beset by circumstances beyond her control, which compounded the negatives and labelled them time and time again as TRUTH, reinforcing them through wicked and ignorant behaviour, despite any efforts to the contrary.

Perhaps I wasn’t so bad after all.

Perhaps I wasn’t rejectable, repugnant, unworthy of respect…

Perhaps it was simply that constant rejection, repulsion, and disrespect, played out over and over and over again, convinced then-me I was worthy of the worst treatment I received. That I was as bad as the worst they thought of me.

I could never believe I was as good as the best that was thought of me, even though I knew that ‘best’ was told fervently, with love, from a few sources who labelled it TRUTH. And so, in their eyes, according to their subjective opinion and the sum of their experiences (though I never factored myself into the influences which might have shaped those experiences), it was.

It was never a ‘truth’ I could accept. My perspective was veiled with deep grey, my vision damaged by impact of the constant shredding of my young self. I was too far gone. Too ashamed of what I was, and how I seemed to be to other people.

who am I now - summat2thinkon.wordpress.com

It’s all very well, as an adult, to stick two fingers up at those who publicly decry you. To be your own, brave, beautiful self, march to the beat of your own drum, and cry behind closed doors at the wounds rejection never fails to inflict. But as a child? Impossible. We look to those around us for truth. We interpret the world through their older/wiser/better eyes, for we know little except that we know nothing.

Our world begins, and all we know is what we feel. As we develop, we learn to incorporate the views and opinions of others. We interpret their behaviours and our brains find patterns which (rightly or wrongly) make some kind of sense of our experience. My pattern was shame, because of who I was. Shame and sadness. Self-revulsion. Embarrassment at my existence, my self, my everything. For it was all bad. Clearly.

I’ve been running away from that child ever since.

Now I’m hearing the worst and the best thing (maybe) – that I can never escape her. That she is entrenched, embedded, emblazoned through me like words through seaside rock. That child. But I’m hearing too, the other version I was offered (by some) even then, and was unable to concede – that the then-me was good, was acceptable, was lovable, because the same can be said of the now-me, and she and I are one.

Perhaps the traits people value in me now – the characteristics I’m learning to appreciate and even like about myself – were there all along. I changed, after all, determined one day that I would alter my behaviour until I was one of those ‘nice people everybody liked’, until I could be said to have a personality people warmed to and wanted to be around, until I could sparkle, just a little bit at the edges.

I worked hard. I changed, or so I thought, from old-me to new-me, trying to generate distance between the two halves of self. To jettison that child and drift away, never looking back at my spotted heritage. Faking it. Untruthfully purporting to have been a nice person all along. Finding success and friendship and the boost and delight of my efforts working, internalising, until I became a reasonably kind, compassionate, caring person, who people liked to be around.

A liar. An impostor. A cheat.

A pretender to the title of anything sparkly, brightshiny or good.

Yet with these new thoughts, this new challenge, which might suggest a truth that leaves me not jettisoned, but in the position of having healed a breach of bad years, I feel more in the grey than ever. This time, though, it’s a grey which promises to lighten as time goes by. A grey which swirls with confusion, new thoughts, and sparks of possibility. A grey which holds hope.

Who am I now? I’ve no idea, yet in the midst of my grey, and my wondering, I can affirm two things, absolutely, without need for resorting to subjectivity or opinion.

Nothing is black and white.

We’re all a mixture.

TRUTH!

Finish the Sentence Friday

This post was part of Finish the Sentence Friday, with the prompt “Once I knew the truth…” and was hosted by the fantabulous Kristi Campbell, and the lovely Leah Vidal

 

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40 thoughts on “TRUTH, and other lies we tell.

  1. Pingback: Is This Post True? | gibrown

  2. It’s all very confusing, is it not? I know that I have changed in the past several years, but sometimes I feel that the “old me” is just biding her time, lurking in some dark corner of my psyche, just waiting for an opportunity to erupt with old, destructive behaviors. I find myself, too often, responding in a habitual (and often comfortable) way instead of being thoughtful and considering what may be a better way to respond. I convince myself that I am strong, and loving, and in control of my emotions – but deep inside I fear I’m lying to myself. The duality frequently makes me feel like I’m going a bit crazy and not making much progress. However, all I can do is plug away every day – trying to be more healthy (physically and emotionally), less fearful, kind, and loving (not only to others, but also to myself). Maybe in another decade or two, I’ll feel more authentic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol. I think, having spoken to people of varying ages about this, we’re ALL works in progress, all of the time. There’s always room for improvement, and the best we can be (at any one moment) is conscious of how we’re responding in the situation we’re in, and attempting to make the best of it. After all, the only thing we have the right and ability to control in this life is our own behaviour.

      I so get it, though – especially the bit about familiar habits coming back, and slipping into comfortable ways rather than ones which we *know* are better, but which challenge us. It’s a constant striving, and sometimes it feels exhausting, but I’m sure it’s worthwhile, not for in-the-end (because we don’t know when that will be) but for NOW, because we know we’re doing our best.

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  3. THE TRUTH of who and what we are, and have been is an ever moving target. However straight or twisting, smooth or rough, dark or lit, our traveled road, it is all one road, one journey. It is said that history is written by the winners, Well, when we do win our way to better, brighter places, we do get to look back and rewrite, not the facts of our histories, but the interpretations – to comfort the old wounds, forgive the old mistakes, accept the tuitions paid in the school of life, love the child who believed the lies of un-lovablity, and (reference to comment elsewhere) dream of being a dragon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True, and most or all of those things have happened to some extent or another (that dream was STILL so cool!) and…I think the idea of us being in constant evolution, ever in flux according to events around us, and how we handle them, is probably quite right.

      And perhaps how things should be, which is a comforting thought.

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  4. This splitting of two different identities is something I can really relate to. It took me some time to reconcile [Birth Name], my persona for three decades, with the man I am now – and there are still times when things she said or did come back to haunt me, or I forget that I am not in fact her anymore (usually when I haven’t worn a binder/packer for a few days). They diagnosed me with Borderline Personality Disorder – but since transitioning I do not have that unstable/missing sense of ‘who I am’ that is at the heart of that particular label, and I now reject it…in terms of how I think of myself at any rate.

    Don’t forget we have a best friend weekend coming up, and don’t feel it has to be all laughter and light if that’s not what you’re feeling at the time. I’m equally happy to sit and listen, hold you while you cry, make endless cups of tea, and whatever else it is that you need.

    Love you x

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m definitely looking forward to our weekend. Do we still need to fix a date for it? I can’t remember whether we pencilled a date in or not! And I’m sure that (as ever) I’ll be however I be, but I expect we’ll just end up laughing, like we usually do. I’m looking forward to that.

      And I think it’s great that we’re both further along the path to who we feel we’re better off as 🙂 I’m really glad for both of us 🙂

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      • I have 5th-6th March written on my calendar – the weekend before my dad’s birthday, which is actually kinda cool. I imagine he’d approve of the pair of us getting drunk and disorderly around that time. And yeah, we will probably end up partaking of at least some laughter. 🙂 Are you over your lergy yet?

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  5. I think I’ve told you this before, but my daughter (the youngest) is the one who finally allowed me to see my younger self with different eyes. She looks like me but more importantly her personality is all me. And one day it hit me. That I wasn’t horribly annoying, disgustingly ugly, guilty of awful things. I love that whoever gave you this advice did. I think it’s absolutely critical and can be immensely healing to finally look at the young “you” and love her. And find her to be a joy and a light and beautiful. I hope that is where you end up, my sweet Lizzi. ❤

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    • I shall try to end up there. For now, the thought is engaging enough, but I’m not sure I’m prepared to welcome her with open arms yet…but I’ll think about it. About her.

      I remember you telling me before about your youngest, and I love that her being allowed you to understand your own goodness. That’s wonderful, and I’m so pleased, and I love how you are now, and how engaging and brightshiny you are. I hope that for myself one day 🙂 For now, I will continue to grapple and try to figure out the truth of me.

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  6. I think we all battle the duality (multiplicity in some cases) of our personalities. As Kristi said above, how much is nature and how much is nurture? I know in my case the nurturing of my grandmother played a HUGE part in my life and once I was back in a more “natural” environment it sustained me and helped develop my thoughts. However, that same natural environment eventually overwhelmed me and I succumbed the way anyone would to things out of one’s control.
    The last three (ish) years have seen huge changes in my life and personality but they are only changes to the people around me who were not there to see me in the beginning. I’ve tried hard to go back to the nurturing thinking my grandmother instilled but as it is not “natural” it’s very hard to sustain, and so “stinking thinking” steals in, especially when encouraged by certain others whose natural environment consisted of it in the first place.
    But the one thing I’ve learned is that I’m still me and the old adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same” is one TRUTH I’m still fighting. Because I don’t want to stay the same. I want to be better, whatever that means to me.

    P.S. Did you know that a black jaguar is actually spotted? It’s a melanistic morphism that occurrs in only 6% of the population, and the spots are only visible upon closer inspection. So maybe (in a metaphorical sense) that is what you are like…your grey just covers all your brightshiny goodness that only those of us who are allowed to get close can see.
    You are *LOVED*.

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    • *grins* I DID know that about black jaguars, in fact! I love that you know it too. I still have my ‘loved’ bracelet in a place I can see it every day and I wear it often, to remind me. ❤

      I think the only thing we can count on in life is change. Everything is in constant flux, and we are always updating our manner and mode of self to best cope with the situations around us. I'm so SO glad that you had a stable, nurturing environment, and good teaching from it, to return to (in your mind and heart) when things have gotten rough.

      I think it's easy to look on the dark side, and perhaps it's counter-intuitive to determinedly focus on the better things of life, and better ways of being. I once read a theory which suggested we focus on the negatives because having our attention there protects us from harm – stops us from getting too close to danger, and sends up warning flags when we're in trouble. It's difficult to override what might be natural instinct, and try to live more in the light, but it makes such a difference.

      And yes…I'm still pondering the nature vs nurture thing. It's a huge thought.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Black jaguars were my favorite when I was a little girl because Bagheera. I still love them. In fact, I found out that there is a family crest through my dad’s lineage and it’s three leopard heads but it’s often mistaken for jaguars.
        And I’m so glad you like the bracelet. I saw that and I just knew it was for you.

        Liked by 1 person

        • OMG! The Jungle Book is my favourite Disney movie EVER! Closely followed by Dumbo and The Sword in the Stone. Those are the trifecta.

          It’s VERY cool that you have a family crest with leopards on. I suppose with a new name, I haven’t a family crest any more.

          The bracelet is *perfect* and I’m so thankful for your care and consideration.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I guess we are all trying to mould ourselves into what we imagine other people want us to be. Like Kristi said, it’s important to go back and see when you started to do that deliberately. I know I changed from an opinionated little miss in Goody-Two-Shoes so as not to cause problems to anyone – I thought there was enough problems already! Once I made that journey back saw how that happened and attempted to heal those times, I am back to being opionated and shocking some people out of their skin! 😉

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    • I don’t know if I’m trying to be the person other people want me to be, or the person I feel comfortable being. Maybe that’s a mixture, too.

      I remember very clearly that I was 18, in college, and suddenly decided that I didn’t want to be a horrible person any more. I fancy I even remember the corridor I was standing in at the time. It was as though this sudden wave of regret and determination came over me, and I knew I needed to change myself in order to be acceptable.

      I’m glad you made the change in your own life. I think it’s true that if you try to please everyone else, you end up pleasing no-one, not even yourself. It’s tough to know how to function though, especially going through the turbulence of childhood/teenage years and everything else in life.

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  8. I would agree that we are a mixture of all things, and that as we gain experience and insight, we are able to make more informed (and presumably, better) choices about how to live our lives. I’m relatively new to your blog and don’t know all the details of what came before, but it sounds like you’ve achieved some hard-won self-awareness–and are willing to share your journey with others. By any measure, that’s a good thing, and an indicator of a good person. And I believe that’s the truth!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Roxanne, and thanks for your comment. I think you’re right – living longer allows us the benefit of our experiences to look back and assess our own behaviour.

      I think my self-awareness was something I’ve been skirting the edges of reaching for a while now, and just…the timing or the stars or the *something* was right, and I finally copped on to what my friends and family have probably been trying to tell me for a long time.

      Which is a good thing. And thank you for your confidence in me 🙂

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  9. I don’t know if I have anything could nstructive to add to the conversation. I didn’t know you then, but I do know you know. I know evil and nasty people. They have always been that way…and never had any motivation to change, because, mostly, they can’t see their behavior or thoughts as wrong. You say that you did those things and yet have an understanding that they were wrong and made a conscious attempt to change them. I *think* that could only happen if the seeds of a great person were already within you, and like in the Wizard of Oz, you had the ability all along (and those ruby red shoes would look fabulous on you).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to have fabulous ruby-red shoes but they were ‘lying down shoes’ and a little too big for me. I only wore them once, and recently sent them to a charity shop because…there’s no point hanging onto these things, is there?

      And in that vein, I suppose there’s no point hanging onto negative opinions which don’t fit, or weren’t right in the first place, and I need to keep my mind open and keep assessing the thoughts I have about myself, their heritage, and whether they’re right to keep or abandon.

      And…I suppose if I think about it, I’ve known bad people too. You’re right. They have no vested interest in changing, or being aware of the way their behaviour hurts others. So…good 🙂 I’m glad you think I’m not one of the bad ‘uns 🙂

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  10. I love this post Lizzi. I’m tempted to write TRUTH!! 🙂 Which I have never done, to be honest; largely because, as you point out here, what most of us call truth is opinion. I’d even go so far as to say that 90% or more of what we call truth isn’t. When I learned a process of inquiry several years ago, I realised that most of what I’d believed was nonsense, and it was incredibly freeing to see that. It sounds as if you are getting to a similar point now.
    It doesn’t necessarily mean (or it least it didn’t for me) that everything becomes plain sailing. I still find myself believing things about myself or someone else that I realise are just stories, not the truth. But being aware of that is half the work done – it means we open to new possibilities to heal in ways we couldn’t before. It’s so exciting to see you get to this stage! ❤ Wonderful, wonderful to witness.

    What you wrote about seeing the world through a grey veil is a good analogy and it reminded me of something the man I think of as a mentor (though he doesn't see himself that way) said on a course I took. He said that instead of seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses, most of us see it through shit-coloured glasses! Every time you clear a bit of the shit away, you get to see what we've discussed this week – that you are love at the core. (BTW, he also says that everything we say is a lie because words can't express our true nature, all they can do is point to it. I used to find that a bit frustrating, because I wanted some absolute truth, but now it seems like an invitation to be light and playful with life.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awwwh I’m so glad you like this, and that you think this is an exciting stage for me. I think it’s certainly one which is going to prove unsettling, but perhaps in a ‘shake everything up and see what settles’ kind of way. I hope so, anyway.

      I hope I’m going to be able to continue taking a good hard look at myself and my understanding of the truths I believe, and assess them without getting caught up in them, and see which ones are worth keeping, and which are negative opinions I’ve somehow hung onto as truths.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Here’s a clue, which I learned from Byron Katie, someone who’s inquiry process made a huge difference to me: If a belief is stressful, it’s not true. Truth doesn’t hurt – that’s just another stressful belief! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Now that’s going to make my brain hurt. It seems like a riddle. Truth CAN hurt. Who is Byron Katie? Is this another person I should try to read? I’m still getting towards the point of reading Kristin Neff, though I do at least have the book now 🙂

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          • The kind of “truth” people say hurts is when they tell someone they aren’t good enough in some way – but usually those so-called truths are actually judgements. (Eg You’re lazy.) Or gross generalisations: You never take out the trash. Etc. Or ones we say to ourselves. “I’m stupid, ignorant, selfish,” etc.

            Byron Katie had a spontaneous “awakening” in 1986 or so and went from being a raging, agoraphobic mess to so peaceful and happy that people flocked to her to find out her secret. She developed a set of questions that she calls “The Work” which which leads to undoing stressful beliefs. You can access the worksheets online for free, and she’s got tons of videos on YouTube. It is a very powerful process and one that at some point I think you would enjoy, but for now I’d suggest to stick with Kristin Neff. It is possible to misinterpret the Work and use it to attack yourself, which is not how it’s intended at all. With your habit of beating on yourself I’d be wary of recommending it right now, except with an experienced facilitator. It’s very, very good for questioning stressful beliefs about other people.

            The amazing thing about doing it is that when you go through the process, something that you’ve previously used as a stick to beat yourself becomes something to love yourself for. Or at least to feel neutral about, so even those “truths: – you’re lazy etc, don’t feel bad at all. (And no, I don’t always feel totally loving towards myself or other people, and I do react sometimes because I get hooked into believing these kinds of judgements sometimes, but far less often than I used to do.)

            Like I said a couple of nights ago, none of what appears on the surface is who we are, it’s just behaviours we’ve developed to try to protect ourselves. Beneath it all, we are at the core, love. The more you question beliefs, the more you let go of emotions, the more obvious that becomes. And yes, it can be unsettling for a while, but it’s so so worth it!

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            • I’ll persist with Kristin Neff, then, and come back to Byron Katie down the road. It sounds like fascinating thought-processes and new ways of looking at things. But yes, I think I’d probably be too inclined to weaponise it, if it has that potential.

              I’ve begun letting myself off the hook for things – looking at the circumstances and deciding I’m only human, and this (whatever I’ve done) is a very people-y kind of thing to do, and probably not the end of the world. I’m making progress, of sorts 🙂

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  11. I think experiences allow us to grow but our past selves meld with our present selves because all those bits are ultimately who we are. We grow. We learn. I don’t think you are necessarily nicer now. I believe taking a step to change the circumstances in your life which weighed you down simply made you lighter and free to be you. And, maybe as you reflect on that it just seems that you are nicer when in fact you were finally just free to see it differently.

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    • I was definitely NOT-nicer whilst I had all those horrid negative behaviours going on; the ones I collected. But once my circumstances changed and I realised I wanted to be different (maybe more like I was at the core, yaknow?) then yes, I was able to make a change and perhaps allowed something lost to resurface 🙂

      I’ll keep thinking on this. I’m still a mixture about it.

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  12. So you know what I think is interesting and worth exploring (in my humble opinion) is when you decided to change, to “alter my behaviour until I was one of those ‘nice people everybody liked’, until I could be said to have a personality people warmed to and wanted to be around” – what was different? Were you acting actually “nicer” or were you simply being outgoing and more open to risking hurt for need of friendship and acceptance? I guess I ask because one of the first things I think of when I hear of somebody being unkind to others is “oh dear, what has been done to him/her?” Well, sometimes the second, if that less-than-kind person has targeted my son…
    Also I wonder A LOT at how much of who we are doesn’t have anything to do with nurture. While I know that our experiences help to make us into US, I also have seen, over and over, that there are certain things which seem entirely just “how he is” if that makes sense. Anyway, rambling. Thanks for eeking in on Finish the Sentence – so so glad you made it in time!

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    • I suspect there was a lot to do with coming out of my shell and deciding to engage positively with other people. I’d been stuck inside my shell for so many years, trying to be a nothing, unnoticed (safe), that beginning to be a bit more accessible was probably a big change.

      I also had to practice hard to get rid of the behaviours I’d picked up – instant defenses, cutting put-downs when someone upset me, finding effective ways to hurt others, discovering their weaknesses and using them against them, humiliating them in public for others to laugh at, so seeming to be the big guy…all the things which had been done to me, and which I hated, yet which I understood as ways to have power over others. Wicked, awful stuff, which I needed to unlearn before I could properly pick up better ways to be.

      I don’t know at what point I was willing to risk hurt. It seemed I was always hurting, so there was barely any risk, but it was probably around the time I was 16. That was when I feel I made my first friend, and since then, I’ve made a few others here, but more online (because of the nature of online, and the way you can get to the heart of someone without the preliminaries (we’ve talked about this, so I know you get it)).

      Your outlook is more compassionate though. If I hear of someone being unkind, my immediate response is anger, defensiveness, and a desire for payback somehow.

      There are definitely, absolutely huge elements of ‘nature’ in our makeup. There’s no other way to explain things like shared personality traits or odd preferences between twins who’ve been raised in separate households. I don’t think.

      We’re a mixture. Of all the things.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah the whole nature thing amazes me. I’ve seen it close and personally twice over the past decade – first with my husband and his dad who have such similar mannerisms, ways of speaking, of uttering little whatever noises and they didn’t “grow up” together. Again, I saw it with my biological mother – who I never had even met until well into adulthood. We, too, are similar. It’s weird.
        Also I’m glad you got over not being the person who would put others down to have power over them but I also know that you are not alone in feeling shameful for this because it’s a part of growing up and fitting in and getting to know what we don’t want to be like. Or something like that.

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        • I think that’s valid – we see behaviours exhibited which give us the ‘ick’, and decide we won’t embody them. Easier to do if they’re not ingrained, but I’m glad it’s always possible with enough self-awareness and determination.

          I hope that the things you’ve seen of yourself in your bio-mom are ones you don’t mind. I like the ways I resemble my mum, mostly, because she’s one of the most giving people I know, and if I get likened to WonderAunty at all, that’s a huge compliment. I guess I was lucky to have such great alternative role models to adopt my behaviours from.

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  13. All things that were absolutely 110% out of my control (as a child,) aside. – I wrestled with this for more years than I should have and then I read these words by Maya Angelou, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Once I read those words I never looked back. #truth – Peace to you my friend.

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