My therapy sessions seem to be raising some curious talking points, societal constructions that I have never considered as cornerstones to the difficulties I face in my relationships. My last session began with an analogy of a messy desk. I commented on how messy my desk was, books removed from the bookshelves for reference and left out, my journal and a pen to one side, articles of my life that have significance but aren’t always necessary. As I rambled, he suggested that my desk is like therapy. Only instead of mindlessly putting it away again, we look at it, learn from it, and decide whether it’s significant anymore. Appropriate, don’t you think?
The biggest thing I took away from this session was not explicit but was something that I realised afterwards. Why I am afraid of telling people the truth, that’s not to say I am dishonest. It is more that I find telling the difficult truths incredibly difficult, so much so I often ignore them. Part of this is for an easy life; the other part is because I have always been a people pleaser, and failure to comply (tell people I disagree with their view) deems me unattractive and undesirable.
This is a complicated truth to admit, and merely writing it down gives me chills… publishing it will undoubtedly cause some anxiety level. What will people think? Can it be used against me? Will people stop liking me? The reality is that the answers to these questions don’t matter. My mind has already predetermined that admitting it is not safe. The reason I push on with it, I need to learn to be okay with it not being safe. Protecting myself and keeping myself safe doesn’t keep me safe. It very often makes me miserable.
From the beginning of our lives, we are told that to ‘fit in’, ‘be desirable within our community’ and ‘be loved’, we must conform to the standards set. Set by who, though, exactly? This is something I’m having trouble assimilating. I don’t want to be ‘the little woman’. I want to align my life and lifestyle with my values, which don’t come anywhere near being the little woman chained to the kitchen sink. But in admitting that I want to be desirable or attractive, I am committing a sin which, by default, makes me undesirable and unattractive.
Aligning my life and values means that sometimes, I have to tell difficult truths that will inevitably lead to my being less attractive to some people. My values align with equality, fairness, and inclusivity, values that I’d expect to be universally accepted. But they’re not. Every day, we are all expected to justify why we hold the values we do. It leads to compromise, and enough compromises lead to a loss of the sense of self. This is what I need to get back, my sense of self, and realign it once again with my values.
So yes, I am afraid of telling the truth. Particularly the difficult ones, the facts I know others won’t agree with. I am worried that telling the truth will mean that I am liked less and deemed unattractive. The hurdle is to push through these feelings and continue to be honest… This will take courage. This will mean that I will be vulnerable. It will, however, also mean that I am living a life I want, not the one everyone else wants for me.