all the colors . port townsend, march 2010
last week, as i was pounding letters, mantras, beliefs into metal, i had the thought to pound in the phrase "speak your truth."
this phrase has meant a lot to me over the last few years or so. back in november of 2006, i found myself in the midst of an illness that involved a growth on my thyroid. as i tried to make sense of the senselessness that is biopsies and other things, i kept coming back to how the words i so often wanted to say were sometimes stuck, literally, in my throat. how this had been a piece of my truth for my entire life. this growth seemed to represent this truth. (i wrote about my thoughts at the time here.)
this need to speak my truth came up again in 2007 when my dad shared that he wanted to get treatment for alcoholism. spending time with him and "talking about it" meant that i would need to speak my truth. i didn't know what form it would take or how i would be "brave" enough to share my experiences with someone in my family. i thought about the pain and all that i wanted to say to him (and as i thought about that pain, i thought about all the pain that had brought me to that moment). but when i started writing pieces of my story to share, i glimpsed something really important while in a hotel room outside chicago writing from my gut. i glimpsed a lesson in the idea that sometimes it is knowing our truth that is the powerful piece. this glimpse helped shape how i shared my story with my dad.
i didn't put this "glimpse" into the words of "knowing my truth" at the time. instead, i focused on how sharing our truth from a place of truth and love, as i did with my father, can push us to be honest while also owning our own pieces of the experience.
i think often of this idea of speaking my truth. in situations that have been confusing or when i find myself trying to set boundaries, i think about how i can speak my truth but from a place of truth and love. i know i do not always do it. i know i mess up a lot. i know my feelings/emotions in a moment can sometimes over rule this way i want to be. but i try to think about how to share pieces of my experience from a place of love of myself and love for the other person (whether i truly love the person or just feel compassion toward a fellow human i might not know very well).
let me try to explain another way: when something happens that shifts us, that moves us away from feeling grounded or "like ourselves," i think we have to look at why this feeling has come up. the truth piece comes in because we have to be truthful with ourselves. are we hurt? why? what is this really about? is this triggering something else/someone else? then, in being honest with ourselves, we can maybe see how we can separate how we are feeling from the other person/people involved.
as i started to pound "speak your truth" into metal last week, i stopped after "speak" and stood there staring at the word for five minutes or so. i thought about all of this. about how sometimes what seems like speaking my truth is actually a mishmash of feelings, emotions, fears, pain, triggers and not really the truth that rests in the core of who i am...who i hope to be.
in that moment, i thought about how it is powerful to know my truth and why i am reacting the way i am. in knowing my truth, i first speak my truth to myself (and then maybe to a very trusted friend because sometimes you need to hold someone's hand as you find this truth within you). i figure it out. i trust my self.
this is the most important piece: when we know our truth, the truth frees us.
then, from a place of truth and love, i can decide how and if i need to speak my truth to another person. i can figure out what pieces to tell that person that will help him or her see me instead of feeling attacked or invited to be defensive.
i think about that moment in that hotel room when i found my way to words that invited my dad to hear me instead of hearing judgement. i hoped that my words would convey: "this is what it was/is like to be me. this is how your actions shaped me. but i am glad to be who i am. i wish there had been less confusion and pain, but i stand tall in my life proud of who i became even though there was this pain on my path."
in this moment, almost three years later, i believe that our relationship is the good one that it is partly because i chose to know my truth and share only pieces of it so that my dad would be able to hear me. if i had attacked or come from a place of judgement, our relationship might be different now.
so what did i do with those words pounded into metal? i changed my mind and pounded the phrase "speak of hope" in one locket and "know your truth" in another.
i know i do not do this all the time, this know my truth stuff...i do not always sit in the quiet to try to know what my feelings are about and why. ask my husband. he is often the recipient of my knee-jerk, pouting ways.
yet, i am trying to find my way to this as i walk in my life. trying to find my way to sharing pieces of my truth in the way that helps me and those i love. this means my heart is pretty open most of the time. this means i am sometimes misunderstood because not everyone feels comfortable with truth and love. this means i sometimes stumble as i try to find my way through my triggers and the pain.
as i look to this vulnerable time where i am bringing a new human into this world, where i am walking a new path that invites more judgement than i have perhaps ever felt in my life, i know that coming from this place of truth and love will serve me and my little family.
the other day, i wrote a status on facebook about how tender my heart feels and how we never know what another person is experiencing. this is so true. i believe this to my core. yet, i sometimes think we say that we believe this because we want to be able to say, "don't you know how hard it is to be me? don't you ever think about me?" i should rephrase: sometimes i think i say this when i feel hurt because i want to feel better that no one knows my day-to-day experience; no one knows what it is like to be me in this life. and this truth pushes me to think about how we have to remember, i have to remember, it goes both ways.
before we "speak our truth," we must remember that someone else will be the one to hear us. we must choose our words. in this place on this day as i walk on this path, my path, i invite myself to know my truth and to choose love.