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Entries in relationships (2)


The Word: A Story

I pull the wool cap down over my ears and knot the scarf.  Swallow the lump in my throat, jam my hands deep into my pockets and step out into the searing blue sun of a late winter afternoon.  It is time, finally, to be honest with each other, something I don't always believe in, the truth being so slippery and easily obscured by obstacles in our own hearts and minds.  It is hard to see things as they really are and to name them correctly in the moment.  It is hard to hear each other well.

I let this wash over me, stinging my skin like ice crystals: You didn't do it right.

Draw back the arrow and release: Why did you change?

Frozen ground crunches under our feet and there is one truth I believe as it swims up in front of my teary eyes: you are you and I am me, and there is no talking either of us out of that.  I can see my breath.  I see our story stretched out on a gossamer thread, behind us and before us.  Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  This is only the middle, I see. 

So we do this:  accept, and keep creating our story.


This is the word that keeps coming up for me, as I contemplate what to set as intention and guide for 2013:


This is a year to own my own story, and to receive others' stories in nuance, acceptance and fullness.  It is a time to study the elements of story and to improve my facility with them.  I aspire to strengthen my storytelling both in my professional life and here, in my personal work.  I will return to my reading life, my bedside table stacked high with books waiting to be loved.  I will write and shoot in an effort to illuminate the threads that hold us together. 

I am afraid to make any claims about honesty but I believe there's truth in the story, and I hope that will guide me through the coming year.


The Trouble with Honesty

I used to think all we had to do was be honest with each other, those of us doing this life together.  I didn't know then that it's damn near impossible.  We tango through our shared spaces, trying not to step on each others' toes.  Losing track of who's leading.  Clumsily getting off beat.

Sometimes when we say please pass the salt we mean I need you to hold me.

And sometimes I'll do the dishes comes when we are really trying to say all I want to do is cry.

Or can I have a some jelly beans? becomes go away, mom!

Sure, you can work late substitutes for when are you going to pay attention to meeeeeee?

We fall from our safe spaces.  We may hold in our fear and our pain and our primal screams, landing soundlessly.  We may not notice the bruises our friends and family parade through the living room, so busy are we with being nice.

These swallowed sighs, these polite interludes are not the same as dishonesty.  They're gifts of a sort, or they can be.  We absolve each other of the responsibility of holding space for our every neurosis or insecurity.  We say I can handle this one myself.

But lately I'm wondering if the challenge has more to do with mystery than honesty.  There's a way in which every single person I'm close to becomes more inscrutable the deeper we go.  I puzzle that we are all but unknowable to each other.  How could we be otherwise, when (I'm noticing) that we seem to be unknowable to ourselves as well? 

We move through life as we think we are supposed to be.  Or more to the point, we move through life as we think we really are, but below the surface subterranean rivers of emotion and pattern and pathology carve unseen canyons into our soul's terrain.  We navigate by instinct, without maps.  Occasionally we fall into deep holes we didn't even know were there.  It's hard to tango where the ground shifts beneath our feet.

In the face of uncharted land, honesty seems beside the point.  If we don't even know ourselves how can we blame our dearest ones for failing to understand us?  Instead of honesty, what if we put our emphasis on acceptance, good faith, and trust?