What would you say?

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human experience / Humor / relationships / Uncategorized

 

“Fill up your head.

Fill up your heart

And take your shot.

Don’t waste time trying to be

Someone you’re not.” 

~Dave Matthews

If there is anyone or anything that says real to me, it is the Dave Matthews Band. This man can make something profound out of even the most simple of lyrics. He could make “Go to hell” sound like a great idea. Maybe I’m premenstrual, but these people envelop humanity to me. I know, deep, huh? I’m just certain you were thinking that very thing. It’s of course why you go to his concerts and hum his songs all around your home. Think about it, he surrounds himself in beautiful music played by a plethora of instruments that each own their own distinct sound. It all comes together, all the tools he uses to convey his messages in song co-mingle magically. He has a way of placing flutes with violins and guitars with trumpets, sax with all kinds of earthy percussion instruments in a mix that is vibrant, bluesy and completely free from pretense. His music reeks of honesty. I love the way he jams past so much of his lyrics, most recently to “Drunken Sailor”, from his Away From The World album.  Many artists aren’t as apt to show their musical mastery like this band does. They show their cards. I think I’m in love.

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What would it be like if people were able to wear it on the outside like that? Sure there have been comedies created with that in mind, it seems that a hubby must have to endure some kind of traumatic brain injury or make a promise to a disillusioned son on his birthday (Liar, Liar with Jim Carrey) in order to be able to answer even his wife’s simplest of questions with total honesty.  For example, “Do I look good in this dress?” is a staple question, to which he, the normal partner, naturally answers “Yes. Of course,” without so much as peering up from his iPhone. Some of the more thoughtful, aka, manipulative, cohabitants might suggest she turn for him before he says this to throw her off the scent a bit. Appearing more genuine will not only garner more points but will ensure that she doesn’t continue to ask this particular question, leaving him alone to watch the game.

According to movies such as Liar, Liar, men need little less than a gun over their heads or a traumatic brain injury in order to be honest. A “no” to the question of whether the dress looks good or not enters a man into unknown, unpredictable behaviors. Obviously his mate feels some discomfort or she wouldn’t have to ask. She either looks dumpy or everything is too tight, or it’s over-the-top just wrong to begin with. She is of course, appalled and tells him that women naturally prefer that men tell a white lie of some sort rather than actually be honest. Initially it is just easy to say “yes, of course, you look awesome as usual!” and let it go. No fuss, no muss. You grab your coats and head out the door all smiles. It’s all good. And to that I cry “FOUL!” What a mixed message.

Be honest as long as you tell me I look good = don’t be honest. Just tell me I look good. Which could convey into even deeper issues using that same frame of reference → mixed messages.  Note: the woman here is giving off the mixed message. She wants him to approve. It’s the male who is being dishonest. So…how do we keep this from becoming a ten year cycle of resentment wherein both parties are evading issues and promoting dishonesty by letting things go when what they really want to do his shake each other and scream things like:

 “Stop making me late for church! I sit patiently in the driveway for fifteen minutes waiting for you each week. I never complain. Mass begins at 9:00 for the past ten years! 560 weeks of this shit!”

 –response under Dave and my plan: Since I tend to take longer, how about we take two cars to church on the weeks I’m running late?

“I hate it when you yell at the kids because you are mad at me! If you don’t like that I said he could eat in the living room, yell at me!”

–response under Dave and my plan: How about we don’t let this build up like this because then the kids are involved? Take me aside privately, let’s talk about family rules, maybe even monthly.

In more extreme cases people become apathetic to both theirs and their partners needs. Why? Because they are tired of working on something that doesn’t feel loving anymore. They aren’t able to connect, and instead arrive at decisions in a parallel universe. Two people housed together glued in by children, finances, anger, frustration, resentment…when apathy joins the mix it is not worth it anymore. All kids see is arguing and all adults feel is failure. It’s gotten too far. And perhaps it couldn’t have been saved for other reasons…many, many other reasons, some less easily forgiven than others.

Relationships are just plain difficult to begin with. Without honest communication it is THAT MUCH HARDER.  Resentments begin to collect as at least one person in the relationship doesn’t see the point in talking about her/his frustrations because she/he doesn’t want to “rock the boat”, “upset him”, “make him uncomfortable”, etc… whereas had she/he talked about her/his feelings more openly she/he might not be acting them out later in the form of hostility or vices.

Going back a couple of paragraphs, what I detest about this, personally,  is that I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t honestly want to know. I can’t believe that I am the only female who feels this way. Who doesn’t really want to know if she looks like the extremities of a baboon? Is a man’s fear (in this scenario) so large that he’d sacrifice his integrity as well as any credibility in order to be “off the hook”?  How could you, in good conscience, let your friend, companion, spouse, a person who trusts your opinion of  her ensemble-prep leave the sanctity of your residence looking inferior if you are asked? (If you’re not asked then well, let the chips fall where they may, I say!)

You let your friend down, Broski. This is where resentment begins. Watch and learn:

There she goes, walking into the dinner party looking like a 21 year old wanna-be in public. She’s wearing a lovely dress, yes; unfortunately, however, it was purchased in the Jr.’s department and made for someone half her size and thirty years prior to her actual age group all because you, the person she trusted most, were afraid to call attention to her bra and panty lines exploding through the front and backside of her dress? Not to mention how uncomfortable she probably is in that ridiculous get up. Let me tell you what happens next. Our-lady-of-tight-knit-camel-toe-having-butt-hugging-dress sees me at the party and we’re chatting. She says, “I wasn’t sure about this dress, but Darren said it looked great, what do you think?”

This would be a good time for some soap opera music.♦

Shame on you, Darren!  You’ve put both her and me in an uncomfortable spot! (Dave would NEVER have done that!) I’m sorry, friends, I’m not going to lie. But I will try to be nice about it. “Oh, well, that color emerald is stunning on you, but it appears that your circulation might be cut off, in your crotch area.” Honesty.  Not always pretty, is it? And since I’m a helper, I’ll have to add some advice, “Oh, and be on the look out for a yeast infection in the coming days. No air *sad shake of head* I’d probably stop at a corner drug store on the way home from here if I were you. Oh sweetie, don’t worry! My gosh, it happens all the time! It’s no big deal. Here, now just wear my trench coat for now until you leave. Next time just ask me. I’ll be honest. Men clearly don’t get it. Really, great seeing you, Kathy – green is your color!” I leave the party with poor Kathy thanking ME. How crazy, huh friends? To be appreciated for your honesty?

It might not surprise you, but I’m looking a bit deeper than all that pleasing people business.  I carry honesty at my base always (almost). I do this with no excuses (most of the time). It does come at a cost; but usually only when someone hasn’t actually asked my opinion and I feel compelled to give it anyway. Trust me on that one. Telling a fellow parent on the opposing team during a heated volleyball match that his insults aimed at the players is offensive both to the team as well as the sport in general is often not taken well. Men, or women in competitive arenas aren’t open to even pleasant suggestions or conversation, apparently. Hockey games are the worst though. As a Caps fan I sat in front of some angry Penguin fans. When I let them know my frustration with their vulgar language the man beside me suggested I get into an FBI relocation program as he wouldn’t be able to keep them from killing me for too long.

There was another time that, although harsh, honesty was a decent tool. I sat beside a woman I’d never met at a national tournament. I quickly complimented the color choice of her team (I find that colors tend to be an easy ice-breaker, and lies are not necessary if you enjoy various hues). She was clothed in the same high intensity yellow color that housed all twelve teammates faces on large muffin-sized colorful buttons, proudly displayed on the chest and stomach areas of a rather large sweatshirt she wore. Let’s face it, from a distance she looked much like a walking sun with moon craters. Did I tell her this fact? No. She didn’t ask. It was extremely close quarters. I was hoping to be a good neighbor right off the bat. After the compliment I said something about trying not to take up too much space as we were to be neighbors for a good part of the day. I smiled warmly moving my junk pile under my own chair.  Perhaps she misread my friendship offering, or maybe she’d already had a bad day. Possibly the very large buttons were covering up an entire cup of coffee she’s spilled on herself dodging people to get to this fabulous spot. That would have pissed me off too.

Her response was baffling, yet very clear.  She said, “Stop trying to be nice. what’s your problem anyway?” Caught off guard I said I had no problems yet, but would certainly leave her alone hoping to avoid potential ones.  I told you, honesty isn’t always pretty. I did appreciate it in a strange way, however, as it took the pressure off any small talk. If you’ve watched Dance Moms then you know that world of negativity. Of course that is honesty in the extreme and probably with cue cards since it is a television program. But you get my point. Because of her honesty she didn’t have to listen to me babbling incessantly when I really wouldn’t have wanted to anyway.

Could I use some sensitivity training? Always. I accept that. I don’t lie well. Believe me I’ve tried and tried!  On the up side, people don’t ask me questions they may not want to hear an honest answer to. Or newbies might do that. But usually only once. And on the flip side, I, too, want the truth. When you locate friendships that give you that, hang on tight! It’s not always pretty, but it’s what Dave and I like to say is REAL.

Look at it this way: People have paid me very large sums of money to tell them my thoughts on how, what, and why they do the things they do. Sometimes I’m shocked that I get paid for this!  I actually need to be enlightened on reasons why people DON’T respond to others honestly and openly. The people I have polled have actually been unable to tell me. That both baffles and frustrates the hell out of me furthering my inquiry and prompting me to make assumptions that I don’t want to make.

How many times in my practice have I needed to say to a teen, “look, your mother isn’t a piece of china.  She will not break. Be honest. Tell her that you’re _________ (whatever they’re doing/feeling)______. ” I can stand by them and support then, but it needs to come from them if at all possible. Honesty makes them stronger, it eventually (fingers crossed) makes their child/parent relationship closer and it serves the greater good.

The truth is not limited to just words spoken but feelings acknowledged. This tends to be the most difficult part for the masses. So often it is hard to see for oneself. Again, that is where I come in. It is easier for someone impartial to see or hypothesize what might be going on inside from the outside based on behaviors and words said and unsaid. At that point it is what is accepted as truth that is often hard to digest. Behaviors have meaning. People are always  communicating something about themselves even, and especially, without words.

I would die an old, happy, rotund woman if people could just accept themselves in full…the ugly, the messy, the dirty-minded, the cheap, the wholesome, the large, the small, the eclectic, the silly, the nerd, the boring, the hyper, the smart, the hard working, the lazy, the beautiful, the freckly, the sailor-mouthed, the chatty, the meek, the quiet, the silent, the strong, the weak, the sad, the mania-filled.  We encompass all these things at various times in our lives…sometimes many times a day even! Own it. That starts early and it begins with even those little things.

If more people were upfront there would be so much less confusion.  As a secondary gain for me, I wouldn’t look so bad if more people spoke the truth!  There!  Now you know what this is all about: I could look so damn much better being honest if the rest of the world would just suck it up and tell the truth too!

I am endorsed by my friend Dave. And he doesn’t lie either. He puts honesty to beautiful music.

Hey…Dave! Let’s collaborate ♥

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The Author

I am a licensed clinical social worker who just happens to adore the written word. I have had a private practice and am now writing a memoir on my life in the company of my father and many of my clients who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I hope to dispel some myths and break down some barriers for those with mental illness. I write out of need and complete joy, which I hope to convey throughout my blogs. The human experience is not exclusive to one group. I hope to appeal to most as I touch on some pretty heady material with some self-deprecating humor and raw emotion thrown in for good measure. I have four amazing children, one HUGE dog and a tolerant husband. I am blessed.

3 Comments

  1. I hope people are reading these articles of yours. Gold. Pure Gold. 🙂

    I have to admit that I’m still unsure if I’d like to know the truth or not. The truth can sting, but then so can a lie when you detect one. Hm.

    Like

    • Thanks, Tony…that means a lot to me. Slowly I seem to be catching on, which is great; but more importantly, people who have commented have been truly wonderful and it’s all worthwhile to me.
      I’m looking forward to your next masterpiece!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oy. I have struggled with this my whole life. I am honest (most of the time), and I expect the same from others. I’ve even had that conversation with Tom: “When I ask you if something I’ve put on looks good, I actually want your honest opinion. Don’t bullshit me, babe, or I won’t trust you anymore.”

    I think he finally gets it.

    The problem with honesty is that it generally isn’t appreciated. Telling the truth is seen as rude or even confrontational. I think, “Look, I’m not trying to get all up in your shiz, but if you ask my opinion, then be prepared to hear it.” I tell the truth because I respect the person I’m talking to. Why would I lie? How is that productive or helpful or *friendly*?

    Going back to the lying to your wife about her choice of outfits or any other matter: I think men do this because they don’t want to deal with the potential fallout of being honest. If he says, “Honestly, I love your body, but that dress doesn’t,” he might have to deal with an angry wife. I used to tell my husband, “You know what? I might get angry. That’s true. But that’s temporary, and I am allowed to have emotions. Given time and opportunity to cool down, I’m generally pretty reasonable. I can forgive a lack of tact in favor of not letting me walk around with spinach in my teeth. What I can’t deal with is your desire to manage my feelings for me, to control my emotional responses.”

    He finally gets that, too, and not a moment too soon, I tell ya.

    On the flip side, when I compliment someone or try to promote them in some way, that is also honesty on my part. I’m not being “nice”. Whenever someone tells me I’m “nice” or “kind” I feel the need to correct them: “No. I’m not ‘nice’. I’m honest.” To me that means so much more, so I try to live up to it.

    Oy (again). Sorry for the book, Jules! What can I say? Your posts really speak to me.

    Honest.

    Liked by 1 person

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