I’ve spent a lot of time this week reading about, hearing about and thinking about truth, the pursuit of it and the ramifications of the lack of it. Some people seek “the big truth” about life and the universe while some people seek simpler truths: Where should I live? What do I want to do for a living? How do things work? Some people except other people’s truths, some find their own, some don’t believe anything is true. Some choose to live in honesty, others in deception.
I have made a progressive effort in my life to seek out, accept, embrace and speak the truth. Not just about my sexuality, but about being the person I am, being honest about what I feel, want and need, what I believe and what I don’t. I try always to present myself as honestly as possible in image and word and deed and if I have ever misled someone, it was not intentionally. I am honest with my husband, with my friends and, with most difficulty, myself.
Truth, the sharing of it and discovery of it, has brought me great pleasure. It has both freed me to be the person I am and want to be, to like myself more for always trying to be as honest as possible, and to look at the world as it is, not as I want to believe it is. It has allowed me to find someone who loves me for who I am and not have to endure a relationship in which I struggle to be someone I’m not and it has allowed me to shed the burden of secrets and fear of discovery. It allowed me to let go of other people’s notions of truth, to break away from the oppression of false gods, religions, societal beliefs and ideas. It allowed me to have the life I have now with (relatively) no guilt or shame or remorse.
However, the sharing of and discovery of truth has also brought me great pain. I have learned things about people, places and things I wish were not true (although I never wish I did not know.) I have discovered many people, friends and enemies alike, hide who they really are, what they really think and how they really feel, to gain acceptance or favor or privilege. I have lost friends (such as they were) for revealing the truth about myself and my feelings, and I have ended friendship in discovering the truth about others. I have learned that the majority of people neither want the truth nor can handle it, and many will never give you the truth. For many, what is true and what they want you to think is true are two different things. That is hard for someone like me who does not present two sides of the story: I am what I say I am, I mean what I say, I do what I promise, I believe what I believe, for better or for worse, even though I know some people wish otherwise.
It is hard for me to always be honest, because I also try to avoid causing people pain, especially those I care about. I never take pleasure in any one’s pain, no matter who they are or what they’ve done. But sometimes the truth hurts. It hurts me, it hurts others. So the question becomes: is absolute truth always worth it, whether it causes pleasure or pain? Am I more respectable and honorable for always being honest no matter what? Can (and should) I be trusted more because you always know where I stand? Or is that too great a risk, too much a burden? Can absolute truth become toxic to relationships and life?
I don’t know. I want to believe that people can’t know who I am, what I want and need, if I don’t tell them. I want to believe that I am being dishonest if I lie for any reason about my beliefs or my personality. I want to believe people will trust and respect me more, appreciate me more, like me more, for being honest and they’ll know what they’re getting into when they get involved with me, no surprises. But that has proven untrue time and time again, so I am starting to question my pursuit of truth and wonder: Am I wrong and have I been wrong? Would it have been better to keep things to myself and preserve friendships despite the deception or to avoid situations that became uncomfortable and awkward because the truth was revealed? Is it wrong that I’ve revealed so much of myself here and in life? Would I be happier if I did not know things I have been told or have discovered? Is ignorance not only bliss, but the essential glue that keeps relationships working and life pleasant? Do life and relationships absolutely require deception and dishonesty to work properly?
In the end, is being honest worth whatever consequences it brings? Or, does the end truly justify the means? Should we focus on what we want the outcome to be and do anything to get that result, or should we put aside what we want to be true and acknowledge what IS true despite the risks and potential damage it can cause, to ourselves and others?
Truthfully, I just don’t know anymore.