What the Truth Did

"The truth will set you free."

"Speak the truth."

More than ever, we are constantly barraged with advice on being truthful: how to teach our kids not to lie, the consequences that come from lying, and how being your authentic, truthful self is best.

I don't disagree with any of this. But I do think there's a side here that is rarely discussed, at least, a lot less than all those "truth" memes being shared. And it's this: not only is being truthful HARD (because being truthful often means we are revealing parts of ourselves that are weak or flawed), it also brings unexpected consequences.

Most people, in my experience, don't want to hear the truth.

Oh, they'll say the do:

"Just be honest with me!"

"Tell me the truth. What do you think?"

So you do it. You tell them the truth. You're completely honest. And what happens?

They're pissed.

"How dare you say that? I can't believe that's what you think! I'm so angry/hurt/sad now!"

I believe the quotes that read like this:

"The truth hurts."

"Lies don't end relationships. Usually the truth does."

I'll say it again, for emphasis: People don't really want the truth. As Jack Nicholson famously said as Colonel Nathan Jessep in A Few Good Men: "You can't handle the truth."

It's absolutely accurate. People say they want the truth, and that they don't want things sugarcoated, but in reality many don't mean that and they can't handle it.

Because truth isn't predictable. Lies are predictable. Lies are used to cover up misdeeds and wrongdoings and make people look good so they won't be judged.

Truth is laying bare what you really think and feel. It's exposing what other people have done and how it affected you, really affected you, in all the ugly and scary ways. It's not allowing little words to cover up bad things.

Many people aren't prepared for this, even though they say they are. They want the truth as they see it, not as you do. They can't handle the truth because they don't want to be exposed for what and who they really are.

"Lies don't end relationships; the truth does." That's what the truth did. It ended two of the biggest relationships in my life. And it may have set me free...I don't know, I'm not sure about that part yet. Because if so, being set free feels an awful lot like being hurt, scared and heartbroken. The truth dissolved the illusion I held in my head and forced me to see things in reality. I spoke the truth in court, on the stand, under oath, in front of three people who used to be my entire world. And because of my willingness to, excuse my French, "call bullshit" on what was said and done, these people are no longer in my life.

I still want my children to tell the truth. I want to tell the truth. I want to tell the people in my life the truth about things and have them do the same for me. But I wish more people understood what they are really asking for when they ask for the truth.

Because the one thing the truth doesn't do is lie. And we have to ask ourselves, are we really prepared to handle that?


"Truth Hurts," 9x12 original mixed media on paper, Jaime Leigh Hebert

"Truth Hurts," 9x12 original mixed media on paper, Jaime Leigh Hebert