Honest Living: Opening up the Lines of Communication
As part of my quest to live honestly, both with myself and with others, I had a very lengthy talk with my boyfriend. I went into this discussion prepared to state my case: I feel second-rate to his family, don’t like the messages I’ve found between him and two other women and need more of a commitment than I’ve received. So I launched into this litany only to discover a startling fact.
He had no idea I felt this way about our relationship. In fact, he thought everything was fine because I’d never before said anything. And there you have it: when you don’t speak honestly, the situation is likely to escalate.
“I’m so sorry,” he apologized as soon as I finished speaking. “I can’t believe I’ve hurt you so badly. I would never do anything to hurt you.”
His reply took me by surprise because I assumed he’d known all along what I was feeling. I also thought he must have known how badly his actions were hurting me because I had started to distance myself from him. Not physically, but emotionally. I stopped reaching out to him by phone during the day, and at night, when we were together, I focused on my work rather than share my thoughts and feelings with him.
One of the hardest things for me to see is that a relationship requires two people in order to work. It can’t be all him, bending to my every whim in order to keep me happy; and it can’t be all me, struggling to hide when I’m hurt so he doesn’t walk out on me. In order to avoid this scenario, we need to communicate. That’s something I desperately need to work on, verbalizing how I feel.
Trying to live honestly has helped me realize that just because I’m aware of my emotions doesn’t mean those around me are. This includes my friends and family, who probably don’t know me as well as I would like to think because I don’t open myself up. In turn, staying locked inside myself and dwelling on my own feelings means I don’t get to know others. When I look at the situation from this perspective, I see I’m probably not a very good friend. I’m like a book cover without the pages; from the outside I appear to be fine, but on the inside I’m empty.
As I try to speak more openly to others, I’m getting in touch with who I am. I’m not thrilled with what I see, but I’m not in despair, either. I see areas that call for improvement as well as those that are okay. For instance, I like the fact that I take responsibility for my mistakes, but I don’t like how poor I am at sticking up for myself.
In terms of the relationship with my boyfriend, I know I need to articulate what I’m thinking and feeling. This is as much for the sake of the relationship as it is for myself. Bottling up these emotions is like swimming in toxic waste; it prohibits you from moving forward and makes you feel awful inside. And if I’m honest, I’ll admit these habits will be hard to break, but they do need to be broken. I’m up for the challenge.