“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
I’ve really not been as lax at blogging as it looks lately. I’ve actually written a few things but can’t post them just yet in case it somehow messes up something for me. I’ve just discovered that this blog comes up in the first page of any Google searches on the subject of those posts; and while that’s great from a, ‘go me, Google thinks I have something useful to say’ perspective, it’s made me slightly paranoid from an, ‘oh, this blog was originally supposed to be anonymous and now anyone can find it’ stand point.
So instead I’m going to write about honesty, and the value we place on finding somebody to whom we can tell, and who will tell us, everything.
Because that’s supposed to be the holy grail of any kind of relationship, isn’t it? Finding someone who’s straight forward, and honest, and we can be completely open with.
Except that nobody actually does that.
Well nobody over the age of about five anyway.
Because it’s impossible. There aren’t enough hours in the day to tell anybody everything. If you meet somebody as even a young adult you’d be there for the next few years of your life just to tell somebody everything about you and that’s happened to you so far. Never mind to keep them up dated about what happens from that point on.
We’re very busy people, all we have time to give anyone are the edited highlights. And we edit those highlights selectively depending on who it that we’re talking to and the image of ourselves that we want to portray to them.
And sure, if what we’re trying to convey to some particular other person is that we desire to create a level of intimacy with them, the edit we show them has information that we wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable sharing with the wider world.
But it still isn’t everything.
Because if we actually told them everything that we thought and felt in the course of a day most of it would be boring.
And we don’t want them to think that we’re boring. Because that would be completely counter-productive to the kind of relationship that we’re trying to create.
I mean, that guy who only ever wants to talk about himself, his obscure interests, and what he’s had to eat that day can’t get himself a partner for a reason.
They’re not called communication skills for nothing.
And maintaining openness and connection – which is what we really mean when we say ‘we tell each other everything’ – does take skills. Because it only gets harder.
It’s relatively easy to be honest at the beginning of a relationship. If it backfires on you all you’ve lost is a relative stranger who you thought might have the potential to be someone special.
But as time goes on you become invested in the relationship, it becomes a fabric in the patchwork of your life. You work other pieces around it. If things go wrong now it’ll mess it up. You stand to lose something real.
As the stakes get higher certain things become harder to say. And our insecurities come into play.
Take me and you for instance.
I said from the beginning that I’d be honest with you. That I’d tell you all the gory details of everything that went on in my crazy brain.
And I did. And I do.
But then you stuck around. You told me how much you liked my writing. You were supportive of my problems. You shared stories about your life with me as well.
And I started to like you. I wanted you to stick around.
So now I worry more about the things I say.
I don’t want to say something wrong, something that might make you decide you don’t like me anymore and to go away.
Despite the fact that my mental health problems are the reason for my being here. Despite the fact that I even named this blog after an antidepressant. I worry that if I keep sharing stories of the sadness in my soul you’ll go away again, and that to keep you I should try to write things that are more like what I think you might want in a blog.
Not to mention that it’s harder to feel able to share with you when I have an idea to talk about secrets that might be slightly out of left field. Things that aren’t related to any of the things we’ve discussed so far. Things that you might never have gleaned about me from what I’ve shared up to now. Like how maybe I once slept with a married guy but I can’t actually remember.
And our relationship, yours and mine, is conducted through a computer screen.
It’s not like we share a life, or a house, or a family, or in most cases even a social scene.
Working on this stuff with people who’d actually recognise our faces can be terrifying. And we can tend to respond to this by behaving cowardly. And holding back from sharing quite so much of ‘everything’ as we had originally intended.
Although withholding information, sometimes even lying, aren’t necessarily always the worst things you could do in the world.
You don’t need to know anything about my sex life in order to take any of things that you were supposed to from this blog.
And sometimes it’s just that the motives underlying what we say are more important than the veracity of its content.
Once upon a time I was involved with someone. And there was an incident between that someone and a close friend. My friend chose to lie about it, my flame didn’t. I knew this. Even so I chose to believe my friend.
The one who lied to me did so because they loved me and wanted to protect me, the one who told the truth was able to because they clearly didn’t.
In that scenario the one who wouldn’t just tell me anything was clearly the one worth hanging on to.
It’s a difficult balancing act, deciding what we should share and what it’s wisest, or kindest, to conceal. That’s where the skill part comes in you see.
But nobody tells anybody everything.