family speaking the truth

Acknowledging the Truth and What That Brings

Something is up inside me, something which has been brewing for some time now, and I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I know it has something to do with the truth. For something that sounds so definite (“The Truth”), it feels very amorphous and vague at times, like when I’m trying to figure out what I want to do or whether or not to say something to someone or what I’m afraid of in a particular situation. At other times, the truth is the most beautiful thing in the world. In fact sometimes it feels like it’s the only thing in the world, as if the world were composed in that moment of nothing but truth.

The expression, “the truth,” seems to convoke the idea that it is about words. I remember hoping at age 7 to be allowed to stay up late to watch Perry Mason at 9pm on Thursday night (I’m not sure if that time/day is actually true but I kind of remember that) so I think the idea of “The Truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” is steeped fairly deeply in me. In fact, however, the truth is not necessarily about speaking the truth, although that is generally helpful and what I hope to do here, but rather it’s about recognizing, knowing, and living the truth, which is a much deeper, more elusive concept.

Let me throw out an example lying right next to me on my desk: “I love my cat.”True? People often use the word Love overly freely and sometimes very niggardly. So saying it doesn’t mean it’s true. Is it true? How do I know that I love my cat? This one is easy because I can simply feel it – it’s actually a visceral feeling – a welling up of appreciation and joy-laced sweetness in my chest. Funny (or not so funny really) that when it comes to loving other people, there is often much more judgment and conditionality that gets placed between the person loving and the person being loved. Do I love my brother? Can I be pissed off at him and still love him? Can I actually have feelings of hatred and rage for him and still love him? Can I feel pity for him and still love him? Can I have feelings of superiority over him and still love him?

News Flash!

I just discovered something while writing that exploration of love for my brother. When I asked about whether I can have feelings of superiority over him and still love him, love came in. The truth actually made space for the love in my heart. The truth is that I love my brother deeply, and I feel that in my core right now as I type, but without acknowledging the entirety of the other important feelings I have for him that normally get in the way of love, there was no space for love to really emerge.

So there it is, the power of the truth, the real truth. Steve, if you are reading this, the truth is that I am angry with you for the abuse I had to withstand in my life with you, I feel sorry that you didn’t get all the love that I got in our family, that sometimes (actually oftentimes) I feel like I don’t want to reach out to you, because you’ll give nothing in return, I don’t blame you for rejecting dad, but I wish you wouldn’t reject me as well. Under all of that is the true depth of love that I have for you.

My brother actually taught me something important about the truth, as he is someone for whom it is much easier to say what he means than it is for me. Seems he doesn’t really care all that much (or so it appears) how people feel about what he has to say. To tell someone to fuck off is no big thing for him. Some would call it anti-social, but I think there is something miraculous and heart-renderingly sweet about just saying what you feel, assuming that it’s true. Anyway, we were together last year (I think December) with a few of his friends and at some point in the evening when I was refusing to eat raw hot red peppers wrapped in jalapenos (it’s true I’m not that manly) he turned squarely to me and looking me in the eye said, “You know, I don’t even like you that much.” It cracked me up and made me smile. A deep heart-warming smile. It’s the truth. It’s that simple. It is so very much the truth. It’s the unspoken truth between us. It is the truth that very few people ever say. When that truth was revealed, it felt like a barrier had lifted between us. I don’t really like him that much either (there I said it!).  With the barrier lifted, there was and is more room for love and appreciation.

So do I love my cat. Yup. Sure, maybe I wish she wouldn’t… (naw there’s really nothing I’d want to change about her).  Do I love my brother? Yes. I can say that, I believe because I am willing to acknowledge the remaining truth of the relationship. Without speaking the entirety of the truth, the truth we proclaim is often not really true. Do I love you? There is quite likely all sorts of stuff getting between the reality of that love and this moment. If I’d take the time to really see and acknowledge the complexity of the relationship and see that in the context of a greater whole, then I bet there would be enough room for the immensity of that love that exists right here right now, with you. This may seem a little paradoxical, but I think I’m discovering on this page that acknowledging the conditionality of the love which we feel makes room for the emergence of the unconditional love that is already there. Comments encouraged.

6 replies on “Acknowledging the Truth and What That Brings”

I’m glad you started this venture with some easy ideas to think about before moving on to the hard stuff.Is truth masked by sarcasm a lie?Your first post gave me lots to think about and to respond to.On your brother – I got a similar feeling – not so much love, but the idea/thought “Of course you can love him despite your other feelings.” And that idea/thought “felt” true. Or “smelled” true? Perhaps “welled up inside of me as only truth can?”That’s one aspect of truth that I think is worth exploring – how it feels. I think it feels a bit like love.I haven’t thought of William Blake in a while, but one of his proverbs of hell was, “The truth can never be told so as to be understood and not believed.” I like that as part of any definition of truth.You branched out in to love quite a bit. The stuff with your brother got me thinking about my stuff with my parents. Of course I love my parents, despite my other feelings for them. And part of me says I should do whatever it takes to get them back in my life. But a bigger part of me has vowed that I will not “be the bigger person” and say what I think they want to hear. And that gets back to truth – I want a relationship that is true and genuine. If I can’t have that, then I guess I prefer none at all to continuing with unhealthy patterns that cause me more grief than joy.But why do you need to “feel superior” to him? And why should that be a barrier to love? The bit about Hookie got me thinking about my love for my dogs and how it bumps up against my love for Rachel. I do love my dogs. And when they were sick, I had similar feelings to those I has when Jake was really sick, but not as intense. They are here with me now, lying on the bed, waiting for me to do something, but still content just being here. But sometimes they drive Rachel nuts. And of course, I love Rachel more than I love the dogs. But I am not willing to sacrifice the dogs for my love of Rachel. I think I loved our rabbit, too. But if Rachel was considering divorcing me, it would not be hard for me to get rid of the rabbit. (Incidentally, the rabbit went off on it’s own and is living happily in a field out by Tony and Eva’s place. I’ve seen her, but have not made any attempt to bring her home. And when I see pictures of her from when she used to live here, I miss her and it makes me a little sad. But I think knowing she’s chosen to live out there makes me OK with the loss. If she wanted to come home, I think she would.)This is a tough one that’s been brewing, and every once in a while it percolates up to the top of my brain.At one point during the perseids, I asked you to tell me more about the blog you were going to start. But you were asleep. Next meteor shower we should talk more about this stuff. Spend a little more time in abstracts.Great start, Ted.

I respect the fears I have about telling dark truths to people that matter to me. But I think I go unconscious, and stop scratching away at these communication difficulties, and then I let the fear become its own force, a habit of not saying challenging things.I notice that I love it when other people are edgy in this way. It’s thrilling. My fearful patterns seem to me like they are related to being helpless when I was young. It was dangerous to speak my mind. As an adult, I have often spoken my mind in an abrupt and perhaps insensitive way (maybe in order to push my way through my resistance). This has created some unpleasantness which I think is compounding my fear, and sitting on my spontaneity.I like this blog Ted!

Hey Ted, Reading your exchange with your brother made me smile. No tip toeing around! I recently had an encounter with my Mom, where I got possessed by the impulse to speak some truth of my experience … hours of it, to her. It was strange because every time she asked a question that indicated she had no idea what I was talking about (or that was a defense masked as a question)instead of just shutting down the conversation (which would have been most easy), I kept trying to present the truth in a way that she could perhaps here it, somehow, without watering it down too much.I have no idea what really sunk in. What really made an impression, what, if anything will change in her modes of operation due to the conversation.Of course part of me hopes for certain shifts and such, but that is not really for me to worry about. I just feel a sense of Grace that the conversation was allowed by both our souls … It is quite fascinating how the Truth can seem like an attack or like a car bomb … devastating, ‘ruining’ everything. It can be such a different experience … so fruitful and purifying and creative, if one wants to know Truth, regardless of how it challenges the ego or one’s established life structures.But then there is the subjective/relative/personal Truth, and there is absolute Truth of Being (and Becoming in Time). Even the suggestion of the latter can send people into a tizzy. But it is worth exploring, even though most people equate absolute Truth with all the evils Religion has wrought with the imposition of limited truth in the name of Absolute or Universal Truth. But just because humans have been more than a bit twisted with regards to our conceptions of Absolute Truth, or that we have NO IDEA what that IS, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.So, food for thought: Is there an Absolute Truth that ties everyone’s Relative Truth’s together … makes it possible for human unity on a world-wide scale, despite all of our individual truths/experiences.If not, how does Unity happen? What Truth holds things together? That is my interest.How is the Truth of, say a beet, or the Earth itself, connected to the truth of an human being?

Ted One way I think of the truth is five levels of why. If you keep asking why, maybe five times, you’ll eventually get to the truth.It’s hard to put aside childhood experiences and identities. The need for superiority is complicated and I don’t understand it in myself. I would like to explore that one more.So I thought about Steve, and how sad his life is. I thought about calling him after reading your blog. I actually did try. But his phone wasn’t working. Probably disconnected for non payment. Again. And so I thought about calling his girlfriend or his son. But I didn’t want to. I guesss I’m not a phone person. Why? I think dealing with the truth requires energy. And I just didn’t feel it today.Love yaMe

As we can see from all of the comments on this blog, truth is a relative concept, shaped by genetic traits, personality, needs, and most of all our experiences. They are different in each person, and withing ech person as we age. My truth today is very different than it was 20 years ago. Why? Because I see the world through different lens. The same event sparks a different reaction from me than would have been the case then. I have more experiences that color my judgment. I am shaped by the fact that people around me have changed (Ted being the exception, of course!) Relationships are so complex, especially to the people we are closest to. Insecurities and jelosies come into play, whetehr we ackoledge tham or not. Hope to read more thoughts on this topic.

Eric, I agree with you – how truth feels is a worthy pursuit. If I try to sit with the feeling of truth, it feels big, expansive, like a deep breath which expands the lungs. With that expansive breath, the head is held higher, much more ready for eye contact. It’s also a very settled powerfulness, grounded like a rock but able to nimbly attend to what is needed. At least that’s it for me. I also agree that truth has feelings of love in it, for when we feel love I think is when we are best and most ready for real eye contact – nothing in my experience is as “loveful” as deep, real, timeless eye contact with another. Just the other day I was in a bar for $1 happy hour Taco Tuesday and a young drunk guy kept badgering/insulting/challenging me. He started a staredown contest with me and I stared back, but with feelings of love instead of aggression. It was through heartful eye contact that my love for him in that moment was able to be present, whereas during the rest of the time of our interaction, I was ruled more by fear, bravado, incredulity, ego, and deliberate self-calming efforts on my part. An anonymous commenter to this posting went into fearful patterns from youth and how dangerous is was to speak his/her mind. That kind of insight is really helpful I believe because it gives us more space to have those feelings arise and not have to fall into their trap. I always loved the Buddhist story of the man who walks down the road. The first day he falls in the hole. The 2nd day he walks down the road, sees the hole but falls in anyway. The 3rd day, he walks down the road, sees the hole and skirts around it. The 4th day he sees the hole coming up and crosses the road before he gets to it. The 5th day he walks down a different road. It takes some time to come to see our patterns and actually change them, but that almost only happens, I believe, with some sense of intentional awareness.Lori, I loved what you said when you said “It is quite fascinating how the Truth can seem like an attack or like a car bomb … devastating, ‘ruining’ everything. It can be such a different experience … so fruitful and purifying and creative, if one wants to know Truth, regardless of how it challenges the ego or one’s established life structures.” Are we truly open to the truth whatever it is, or do we only want to know it if it supports our egos and makes us feel good? Good question too on the Absolute Truth which binds all of our relative truths together. I like to think so and I’m glad you broached into that territory.

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