Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Know You're Not

For Monday, December 12, 2011

Sometimes when I say I’m okay, I want someone to look me in the eyes, hug me tight and say, “I know you’re not”.

Yesterday while on the internet, I came across this quote attached to a tender black and white picture of two toddlers hugging. I immediately stopped and whispered, “Exactly”.

We do so much pretending in our daily lives. It is exhausting. It is necessary however, for the world would operate much differently if we did not have the filters we have or the common sense to put a person or a situation into perspective when we are angry and frustrated. But lately I have been troubled by the lack of honesty that I see around me. I’ve said this before, but that is why I like teens. Many of them don’t see any reason to lie to me. That remark can be taken one of two ways of course. Some surely do not care whether or not I have a certain opinion of them or not; others trust me. And before I continue, let me assure you that I know that people (teens and adults) aren’t always truthful. We are dishonest for a variety of reasons, most of them self-preserving. I know that some of my teens try to lie to me as either a defense mechanism or in hopes of winning my favor with their deception. What they don’t realize however is how attuned I am to untruths. I don’t often confront the lies when I work with teens. I tend to simply smirk when I hear them. Some lies aren’t any ”big deal” in our daily functioning. But others can quickly erode the strongest of foundations. The lies or the hypocrisy I experience with certain adults is a whole other matter, one in which I have little tolerance or patience. I hold adults to a much higher standard. I expect too much at times. I know that. I push myself to these high expectations too and then grow disappointed in myself. It's something I am working on... Yes, Virginia, I do have this ugly side...

It’s the lie of “I’m okay” however that I wish most we could bust wide open. As individuals or as a society we have such a hard time admitting that we feel vulnerable, hurt, troubled, frustrated, sad, angry, or otherwise pained. We respond “I’m okay” to another’s “How are you?” for a few reasons. First of all, we know that the other person is expecting us to assure them that we are fine, that we do not need any additional attention given to us. Some of us don’t want that extra attention, preferring to be private in our feelings and/or seen as anything but vulnerable with certain individuals. The last thing we want or need is to reveal ourselves to a manipulator, backstabber, or otherwise hurtful person. Sometimes we lie and say we are okay because we don’t have time to get into a discussion of why we’re not. Or we aren’t in the right frame of mind to discuss the situation at hand. Sometimes we’re afraid of making a situation worse. And some of us, like me, seem to do better with honesty when we write. I suppose some may believe I've ingested a truth serum when I write. But let me be honest about my writing. There are some things I will NOT write about. Not now anyway. I have to keep some truths under wraps because I don't want to be hurtful. And in a few matters, I have yet to be honest with myself enough to put down words of permanence on paper. Oh, I have no startling skeletons in my closet. No, I just don't have everything figured out yet. I suppose no one ever truly does...

Some of us have had experiences where being honest proved to hurt us. I’ve been there. Many times. But this brings me back to my comment about the exhaustion of pretending. We all do it. We all respond with “I’m okay”, and we try to move on with our day. But sometimes when I say that, I want to be halted in my tracks. I want someone to look me in the eyes then hug me tight saying, “I know you’re not. Talk to me”. And I want that person to tell me it is time to stop pretending, that it’s okay to put down the wall of being strong and sensible and selfless. I want to be confronted and have every lie exposed. And then, I want to sleep...the best sleep I have ever had, so I can wake up and do the same for another.

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