Wednesday, May 29, 2013
The upside of candor
I was talking to my sister, who has just started reading my book. She and I have never been close. She is by far the most emotional member of my family and we never shared much in common. We talk on the phone maybe once or twice a year. She wanted to call to tell me that she felt like she was understanding some of our interactions and my past history better than she ever had before. It felt really good to be better understood by someone that I've known for most of my life but from whom I have always felt distanced. She did admit that she felt a little badly for the death of the baby opossum, but she also told me that she loved me and was proud of me. And perhaps the first time in our lives it meant something to me because I knew that it wasn't because I had tricked her into thinking I was something that I'm really not. She was actually seeing me and still seeing things she liked.
Along these same lines, my other sister sent me a link to this interview with memoirist and former alcoholic Mary Karr:
When you surrender, you get used to a certain level of candor—you know, the old thing, you’re only as sick as your secrets. You develop a confidence in truth-telling. Part of my drinking was so much about trying not to feel things, to not feel how I actually felt, and the terrible thing about being so hidden is if people tell you they love you. . . it kinda doesn’t sink in. You always think, if you’re hiding things, How could you know who I am? You don’t know who I am, so how could you love me? Saying who I am, and trying to be as candid as possible as part of practicing the principles, has permitted me to actually connect with people for the first time in my life. It’s ended lifelong exile.
They always say God is in the truth, and I’ve ended loneliness and been able to feel connected by saying who I am and how I feel. I’m sort of comfortable to the degree to which I’m an asshole. It’s not like I’m not an asshole—people know the ways I’m an asshole and it’s within the realm of acceptable asshole-ocity.
I don't know if being more honest and open will improve my relationships in the long run, but that's the hope. It's probably a very ironic thing for me to say, but I don't really have any desire to let my disorder define me or my life. That doesn't mean that I don't acknowledge that I have issues and struggle with things that to a large extent have prevented me from having lasting stable relationships and work situations, but I've always been really open to trying new things.