When I was little, I would sometimes get one of those painful little bumps on my tongue. When I told my mother, she would say, “Oh, You must have told a lie. That’s what causes those.”
And then I would wrack my brain trying to remember what I lied about.
I never could come up with one.
Because the other thing she preached was this, “Always tell me the truth. I may not be angry at the mistake you made, but I’ll CERTAINLY be angry at the lie.”
She was smart. She made lying riskier than telling the truth. So I told the truth.
These days, I still tell the truth.
Unless I am lying.
Most of my lies these days are about denial. By the way, are you familiar with the three levels of denial?
The Three Levels of Denial
1. First you don’t know. But you don’t know that you don’t know, so it’s okay.
2. Second, you don’t know. But you know you don’t know. So you make a choice. Either you continue to lie to yourself and other people. OR you seek change.
3. Third, you know. And – ONCE YOU KNOW, you can never pretend you don’t know you don’t know. Lying to yourself and other people at this stage gets REALLY uncomfortable.
Which brings me to a LIE that I’ve heard a lot recently, both here at Life After Tampons and elsewhere.
And here’s that lie:
I’ve been getting a lot of emails this week from people who are “fine.” And that confuses me. Because, if you are reading these words, if you are hanging out at a site that says, “Quit your Bitching. CHANGE your life,” you’re sort of here because you want to change something.
In other words, SOMETHING, even some teeniest of all things, is not “fine.”
And, sometimes, it takes a pair to admit that. (If you’re not sure what that means, ask a teenage boy.)
And what’s the big deal about asking for help anyway?
You don’t have to have a life that’s going down the toilet to be a woman who strives for personal growth and development.
Your life doesn’t have to be a train wreck to want to make changes to it.
And even if your life IS CURRENTLY a train wreck, no one who matters is judging. (Remember that little adage about showing your butt and relationships?: “If they care, it won’t matter. If it matters, they don’t care.”)
Besides, I wonder what “I’m fine” is all about, anyway.
To me, when I hear that phrase, the first thing I think is, “Um. Respectfully — Liar, liar. Pants on Fire.”
Because, more than likely, this person is NOT fine.
* afraid to take up space
* afraid that if she acknowledges – even a bit – how “not fine” she is, the whole lid will blow off and reveal a greater, but currently unacceptable, truth
* been hurt before trying to change her life. Maybe she was unsupported. Or laughed at. Or discounted. And those things hurt. So she doesn’t want to risk that again.
One of my friends used to say that the acronym for FINE is:
F – F*cked up
I – Insecure
N – Neurotic
E – Emotional
It’s not really our fault. We’ve had a whole lifetime of schooling to say we’re fine when we’re not.
And then there’s this.
Once we stop lying to ourselves, many of us have to deal with a whole lot of suppressed anger.
We’re angry at life, angry at circumstances beyond our control.
But mostly, we’re angry at ourselves. For not challenging the status quo.
Dealing with anger is like dealing with anything else. We just chunk it down. We do a bit at a time, while also building a base of counterweighting emotions.
We balance our anger with truth . . . and RIGHT ACTION.
We learn to become truth tellers. We risk sharing our anger, but we learn to do it in a way that is not destructive to ourselves or other people.
It’s simply a skill. Like hopscotch.
But, it’s sort of a messy process.
In the beginning, you might trip over yourself a bit.
And you have to be willing to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
But here’s the thing, Sweet Cheeks – what choice do you really have?
The price of your denial is your dream.
Oh, you can still have bits of your dream.
But the biggest one. The one that you are afraid to say out loud??
That’s the price you pay to keep your illusion.
It’s okay. You don’t have to acknowledge any of this out loud. You don’t have to DO anything.
Telling the truth to yourself does NOT necessarily mean:
* you have to trash all your relationships. (though you might, eventually want to change some)
* you have to have to stop having your affair while you deal with the truest truth in your life. (though you might, eventually make that choice)
* you have to quit your job. (though you might, eventually make that choice)
* you have to pick up and move (though you might, eventually make that choice)
Just for today, maybe you can simply start with this — See if you’re ready to be nudged along to the next step in the Denial Chain.
So, as a reminder, here are the three phases of denial:
1. You don’t know. You don’t know you don’t know. (No change will work at this point because you don’t see any cause for change.)
2. You know. But you’re not willing to do anything about it. You may not even be willing to look at it. (That’s where you are if you’re saying you’re “fine” but you’re also getting those Liars Bumps on your tongue.)
3. You know. In fact, you know so well, you can NEVER say, “I’m fine” again. Unless you really, really are. So, you’re ready and willing to make some shifts in your behavior.
Where are you – truly, truly?
And then there is this – Are you FINE with that?
Photo: flickr, superfantastic