One of the most important lessons I am learning in this lifetime is the importance of expressing my truth and allowing others to express theirs without judgment. I’ve come to believe that when a person is expressing something from their heart, whether or not it resonates as MY truth is not the issue. Their expression is THEIR truth in that moment and is valid for them and deserves to be heard. With this understanding I can be tolerant, non-emotional and non-judgmental when discussing belief systems with others. I can fully hear them and at the same time be the observer and detach from emotional involvement in their truth.
Expressing my own truth, however, presented a more challenging lesson for me. When Victor and I entered into a committed relationship in 1994 we took only one vow. It wasn’t a vow of undying love or a vow that we would be there for each other for eternity. It was a vow to always express our truth, even at the expense of possibly hurting the other person’s feelings.
On the surface, that vow appeared to be a simple one to keep. I had been brought up to “not lie” and so I always thought that this was the definition of an honest person — someone who does not lie. However, Victor pointed out to me that expressing one’s truth not only means “not lying,” it also means “not withholding.” Whoa! I have always been a master at withholding. When something is bothering me, I can opt to not hurt the other’s feelings and bottle up my emotions like a pro. Could it be possible that I was now agreeing to reveal all my emotional reactions to what was going on in our relationship? Needless to say I was going to have to make some fundamental adjustments to my way of being in this new relationship.
Because I really hate to cause upsets or to be caught up in emotional turmoil, my pattern during my first marriage was to “keep silent” when something bothered me until I couldn’t contain it any longer. Then I would explode. I really didn’t know any other way of being! Now Victor was going to model for me a new way of being in relationship. He was not going to let me withhold my feelings any longer. The turning point for me happened early on in our relationship.
As Victor and I got to know one another more deeply, I came to recognize and appreciate his many wonderful qualities and to feel blessed that this man was in my life. But there was, however, this one tiny, little thing that he did that really bothered me. It was such a small thing that I didn’t want to even mention it, especially because he was so wonderful in so many ways and this was just so insignificant. One morning he did this small bothersome thing once again and I had a quiet, internal reaction to it. Victor immediately asked, “What’s wrong?”
I turned my back to him and between clenched teeth responded, “NOTHING!”
He took a breath and said, “You know, we took a vow to always tell the truth and I’m getting the distinct feeling that you are being less than truthful with me.”
What a shock! I got caught in what amounted to a lie! I turned to him and said in a quiet, guilty voice, “I don’t like the way you put the silverware into the dishwasher.”
There! It was out! I had told him what was bothering me.
Victor immediately smiled. “Thank God that’s all it is,” he said as he gave me a big hug. “Show me how you want me to do it.”
He was obviously relieved and I learned a valuable lesson! If I had continued to withhold this little thing that bothered me, it might have built into something huge that may have created a wedge between us.
During our many years together we have had numerous opportunities to “walk our talk” by expressing our truth. And, each time a new situation presents itself where one or both of us feel out of alignment, it has become easier and easier to work through it and talk it out. We have developed a level of safety and trust that I have never experienced with another human being.
I feel the reason many relationships fail is because the partners don’t have an agreement to express their inner truth in a safe, loving environment. If we could all reach a point of feeling safe to communicate our truth to everyone with whom we are in relationship, and know that our truth will be heard and honored, the world would be a much more peaceful place.