My vow, to be honest.                 

Really hard.

Really important.

 

Dearest Friend,

 

I’d like to share with you one of my honest moments with B.

 

I asked B to come upstairs to chat.  

We’ve established the two chairs in my bedroom (think a hotel set up) as a safe zone for both of us to practice being vulnerable.  

 

I started.

I have an issue with you pouring half of your cocktail into mine.

 

I felt a bit shaky and uncomfortable, but I continued.  

 

Being honest often feels uncomfortable; it’s the hard part necessary for connection to happen.  

 

Here is the story I’m telling myself when you give me half of your cocktail.

 

The story in my head has a few versions; you didn’t want a cocktail but tried to please me. Look, I know my passionate tales of French Monks, secret recipes, and herbaceous delicacies can be a lot.  My alarm bells go off because saying yes when you want to say no is a form of codependency. Playing this dangerous game leads to a sticky and disingenuous relationship.

 

Honesty goes both ways for a real connection to happen.  

 

The other story in my head is that you want me to drink more than my typical one-drink limit, so I get a little drunk.  I have heard you make jokes about alcohol as a form of foreplay.

 

My voice is a little shaky, and I’m struggling with both of these stories and their implications.  I press on.

 

These are the stories I’m telling myself.

B, please tell me how this is all landing for you.

 

I could feel myself getting caught up in my story and at serious risk of not being able to hear his response. I took a big breathe so I could let go of my account and be open and curious about what B had to say.   

 

B looked concerned and started with I want to try the cocktails from your new French cocktail book. I share my drink because I prefer not to drink much and after half a glass I thought I would share it with you, so it didn’t go to waste.  He finished by saying I have no intention of getting you drunk; my sharing stems from not wanting to waste the drink.

 

Dear friend, how often is the story you are telling yourself entirely wrong? The risk lies in not addressing issues and allowing misunderstandings to fester and ultimately weaken connections with loved ones.

 

I suggested in the future, B could taste my drink or have a half portion.  He liked the half portion option.

 

As awkward and challenging as it was to bring up this seemingly simple issue, I’m so glad I did.  It seems that every time I listen to that niggling feeling in my stomach, the benefits are real. Before I made a vow, to be honest, I would have dismissed my niggling reaction and missed out on an opportunity to connect with B. 

 

I think the secret sauce in good relationships is honesty.  

 

Take two people, give them the wisdom to be able to check in with themselves and the courage to share their truths, and you get a beautiful soul connection in celebration of shared humanity.

 

It’s messy, and it’s necessary. 

 

You can’t give what you don’t already have, so it all begins with being honest with yourself.  Digging into every nook and cranny of who you are and how you show up in your one precious life.  

 

Being honest is hard.

It takes guts to step into this level of vulnerability.

You share your most profound truth, and you’re not sure how it’s going to land.

The real you has been waiting so long to be set free.

Your deep yearning for connection is finally possible.

 

 

Gone are those days of suppressing my feelings, smoke and mirrors, misunderstandings and resentments. Sometimes we convince ourselves that it’s not worth it, just let it go.  I call BS on that.  Letting it go becomes a habit, and pretty soon, the misunderstanding and resentments are preventing you from truly connecting with your loved ones.

 

Avoiding hard things becomes a way of life, and we convince ourselves the alternative is just too scary.  Trust me, once you take a vow, to be honest, the thought of going back to acting is, frankly, terrifying.  Losing yourself to not rocking the boat is like standing on the deck of the titanic, hoping she doesn’t go down.   I’m not interested in repeating my past behaviours and finding myself in a relationship where both of us can’t find the courage, to be honest.  

 

I heard Brene Brown describe it so well. Some people say they don’t want to tell the truth because they don’t want to be an asshole.  She then pointed out that the real asshole is the one who avoids sharing the truth and instead talks about the person behind their back.  The person is left to continue behaviours that will ultimately become an even bigger problem.  

 

I want to stop being an asshole and start telling the truth.  I’ll do it with dignity and respect. I’ll share my truth by telling the story in my head and then being open and curious to hear what my loved one has to say.

 

There is nothing wrong with prefacing how you feel about this challenging conversation.  I often start my tough talks with  I am nervous about telling you this, but our relationship is important to me, so I need to be honest.

 

Good relationships include challenging conversations.

 

If you don’t know where to start with your vow, to be honest, try a few of the exercises in Gottman’s books on relationships. 

 

The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work has several great fun and easy exercises.  

Try Exercise 2 of Principle 1; Open-ended questions.

Or the book called Eight Dates; this book has eight categories to work through, from trust and commitment to money.  

B and I are working our way through these books.

 

I want you to have deep and meaningful relationships in your life, so here is my challenge to you.

 

Make a vow to be honest.  Choose to be real instead of avoiding the hard conversations and watch your relationships deepen.

 

You’ve got this; we both do.

Creating great relationships is sometimes hard, but you and I are worth it.

 

xo 

Shelley

 

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