Telling the Truth?

When I was growing up, telling the truth was all about not lying and simultaneously doing everything I could to stay out of trouble.

For example:  Did you finish your homework yet?

  • Yes.
  • No, but I would have if she hadn’t interrupted me so often!
  • Almost….  (last resort; usually a nonstarter)

Or how about this:  Did you hit your sister first?

  • Yes, but she was being really mean to me.
  • No!  She hit me first!!!
  • I don’t remember….  (sometimes a weak attempt at a cover-up; sometimes the sad and sorry truth)

I wish I could say truthfully, “Today I’m beyond fudging, fogging or minimizing the truth to stay out of trouble because I don’t care what people think about me!”  It’s easy to proclaim boldly that I don’t care what people think about me. But in the moment of truth, I care deeply. So deeply that direct, honest response takes a toll on me.

Nonetheless, I’m deeply committed to discovering and telling the truth about myself. Why? Because things that happened and still happen to and in me matter, then and now.  In fact, they matter to all of us who inhabit this world God loves so much–infants, children, young people and adults.

There’s no way to tell this kind of truth without referring to people whose lives have intersected and influenced my life—for good and for ill. My goal, however, isn’t to focus on them and what they did or failed to do in relation to me. Nor am I interested in having the so-called “last word” about particular incidents and conversations that shaped me.

Instead, this is what telling the truth means for me in this blog:

• Bearing witness to things I would rather not talk about–not because they’re shameful, but because they’re painful.

• Focusing on myself, especially my internal world; telling the truth about myself as I’m coming to understand that truth today.

• Exercising compassion toward others just as I would like others to do in relation to me; they have their pasts, just as I have mine.

• Exercising compassion toward myself, taking seriously the events and contexts of my life and the way they shaped me for good and for ill.

• Maintaining personal privacy when it comes to details about particular events. This is not a tell-all blog or an invitation to voyeurism at my expense or the expense of anyone else.

• Being clear about things that were and are totally unacceptable—no matter when, why, how, by whom or to whom they happen.

• Making use of personal journals, letters, conversation notes and other materials I’ve kept over the years as a way of grounding my writing in more than my memories.

• Taking seriously formative memories that seared their way into my body and spirit—even though I may not have concrete material to ground them.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 30 Nov 2013