honesty

I Cannot Tell a Lie, Sometimes

I said yes to you once
Because the angle
of the sun seemed right
At the time.
But now, in this
More cordial season,
Formality requires
My truant distance.

Remembering our
Backyard sandbox
Below the dining room
Windows, observing
The sweet chaos
Of your hands, I knew
You, even then,
As one requiring
Royal loyalty
I could not give.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Been There, Done That

“Love and do what you will,” says St Augustine. We are told in the New Testament to “Love thy neighbor as thou would love thyself.” And then the kicker: “Love thine enemy.”

Shakespeare tells us that love is the “ever fixéd mark,” the stable grounding to all our emotional vagaries. And what fool in his right mind came up with the notion of “two in one flesh” to describe the close bonding we’re supposed to experience in a committed physical and emotional relationship? (the two-in-one-flesh metaphor, by the way, is seen by many as a convenient mandate to suppress individuality. I’m just sayin’). Continue reading

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The Shroud of Fatalism

So, you have  a great day at school. Your teachers laugh at your jokes. You get a 95 on your math exam. You talk to one of your teachers during lunch. They tell you are a remarkable young man. You leave the school at three and walk home. You’re in high gear. The world is your oyster.

Then you walk through the front door of your home. Your mother is screaming at your father. You duck as a frying pan comes flying across the kitchen. She’s yelling at your dad, “you took Janet to the drive in, didn’t you? I saw the popcorn in the back seat of the car. You’ve been sleeping with her again.” Janet was  my red-headed Brenda Star look-alike aunt, my mother’s sister-in-law.

That was the daily routine: Great day at school. The Inferno at home. Kids, of course, learn to make connections, as irrational as they may be.  When they are nurtured in one place and are dragged into the emotional muck in another, they begin to believe that, not only are there no guarantees in life, but that life cannot be trusted to offer any permanent security. They will always ask themselves, “when is the other shoe going to fall off?” And they  view happiness as an occasional blip on the machine of life, more often than not, set on disappointment. Continue reading

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Owning Up, Part II

This is the second part of a two part series on “Owning Up, Emotional Honesty.” In the first part, I discussed the confessional-box tradition I grew up in and my many years of therapy.

In this part, I discuss the importance of what twelve-steppers refer to as the “rooms,” the meeting places where we go to “share,” as they say, “our experience, strength, and hope.”

Those of us in peer-group recovery programs like AA, NA,
OEA, and SA know very well the importance of hanging out in “the rooms.”

They are often cold, damp church basements with concrete walls that have been painted over so many times they begin to look like melting taffy. But they are the rooms where I go three or four times a week, if not more, to learn how to live in the real world.

As a recovering alcoholic of over twenty-six years, I take great consolation in knowing that others in these church basements are struggling with all the issues that normal, earth-people deal with every day: money, relationships, anger, a boss, an adolescent child, a new job, or Verizon tech support. Continue reading

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Owning Up: Emotional Honesty

This is a two-part series on owning up, honesty, and emotional transparency. In the first part, I discuss my confessional-box heritage growing up as a Roman Catholic. I then go on to cover the contrasting role of therapy in helping me to be more honest about myself.

In the second part of this two-part series, I will discuss the significance of recovery meetings in opening me up to my daily emotions and behaviors and my on going relationships in sobriety. As they say in the rooms, “it ain’t over until it’s really over.”

Governments will often hide its dirty little secrets behind the mantel of “national security.” Corporations and large institutions (including churches) seem to like silence because they fear a customer backlash, a class-action suit, or media exposure. Or they often cover up a questionable ethical policy with public relations departments which have mastered the art of linguistic subterfuge.

And, in the world of advertising, truth is often enhanced with glowing images of a product or service in order to dull the minds and senses of a potential customer.

Closer to home, families often hold on to their own white-elephant-in-the-living-room secrets to protect a family member or to defend their we’re-just-a-happy-little-family public image.

So, when do we learn to “own up” to our own truths? I’m not talking about a factual transcription of a mortgage transaction or a detailed “and-then-we-did-this-and-then-we-did-that” description of a cruise to the Caribbean. Or a lengthy machine-gun rant about how a husband “ripped me off of my alimony.”

I grew up in a Roman Catholic confessional-box culture. I was taught, as a child, to “own up” to my sins, to tell on myself in a dark box of a room with only a punctured out plastic window divider between me and the priest. And I was always in the kneeling position, my hands held in prayer resting on a small shelf as I weekly went through the “bless-me-father-for-I-have-sinned” Saturday afternoon ritual. Continue reading

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