Honesty Can Be A Change Machine


This post is a mixture of several elements mentioned already on the blog: gratitude, the search for happiness, stress management – all of the psychological gremlins that seem to be perched on one shoulder or the other on a regular basis. I went through a life-changing experience at the age of 48 that centered on honesty: self-honesty, to be precise.

At 48 the wheels came off for me; I lost my job when the company changed hands and shortly thereafter my marriage imploded. This was a relationship that had been lifeless for years but when the specter of a permanent split hove into view I was terrified and scared to death. The couples therapy routinely became a place for target practice, but out of that and some other situations that I had to confront it became clear to me that I had very little knowledge of how I felt about things, how I treated people, and what might be the principal source of my fear.

The fact that I was in a miserable marriage that I was scared to leave was a red-flag indicator that something was amiss in my internal communication. My soon to be ex said to me, “You’ve never lived alone.  You don’t know how.” There was some truth to that; even though I hadn’t married until the age of 33 I lived in a succession of little apartments that were more like hotel rooms – just passing through.

But now I was confronted with a major change that was causing enormous pain, the reasons for which were beyond me. I got into therapy – group therapy, for the most part – and slowly it became apparent to me that what I considered honesty was far from the real thing. I wasn’t a thief, but I was self-centered to the point that I had no grasp of the realities surrounding me. Prior to marriage I’d gone through a series of relationships that in my mind began and ended in a straightforward manner. My new perspective suggested that was not the case; it was more likely that I’d been deceptive with each woman I dated and deceptive with myself because I did not have the emotional maturity to understand what true commitment means in a relationship.

I also learned that one element driving my fear of divorce was the notion that I was being exposed somehow. I’d had a great job, a house, wonderful daughter, the entire Ward and June Cleaver package. Now it was coming apart, bringing to light the fact that my life was far from a role model affair. It wasn’t just about the marriage; it was about the way in which I dealt with people, with my daughter, and with my parents.

And so I learned to look inward, to evaluate my words and actions from an unencumbered perspective. It took a long time – after all, I’d been twisted up for several decades – and in fact, the process goes on today. It is only when I’m alone with myself – in meditation, in prayer, or just in thought, perhaps writing in a journal – it is only then that I have the time and clarity to evaluate my behavior. But taking that time on a regular basis has paid enormous dividends.

I have a very close relationship with my daughter, who means the world to me. We have managed to make that transition to an adult relationship without losing the special feeling that comes from a family bond. And the same has been true between me and my parents.

I left home at 18 and spent the next thirty years hiding from them; they were (I thought) the driving force for my constant insecurity. I learned something different during the year of that divorce; I learned that they were merely humans doing the best they could. When we are children, the only beings on the planet with true magic at their fingertips are the parents. At least so it seemed to me – but then, I was just a kid. Over the couple of years following that divorce I established a new relationship with each of them, based on mutual respect and void of that childhood fear. It has been an enormous blessing.

Photo by Astragony

11 thoughts on “Honesty Can Be A Change Machine”

  1. I found your comments about your parents extremely poignant. I feel like we go through three phases with out parents – phase one, when we think they’re perfect and all-knowing; phase two, when we realise that they’re flawed; and phase three, when we realise that being flawed is human. I’m finally reaching phase three with my parents, and it’s a far more comfortable, honest place to be.

  2. Great post and so true – Isn’t it funny that it took losing your job to get you to the place of Honesty.

    Honesty in my book is still the best policy but so many are so afraid of honesty that they live in this deception to themselves first and then to so many others. In the longrun, after runnng with dishonesty and deceptions for a while – the Universe will get tired of the load and expose the truth.

    Thank you for this thought provoking post,
    In gratitude,

    1. Really loved the depth in this reply Nancy..!.. Yes, eventually, “the Universe WILL get tired of the load and expose the truth.” As i have experienced throughout my life, there exists not a single, not even the most trivial of lies that are hidden forever.

  3. Hi Bob,
    That’s a very revealing insight. It can take a “shock” in order to evaluate one’s Life, how it’s been lived and how you would like to live it from now on in. Being “honest” can feel like being ‘expose’ as you put it however it’s the best way. Good luck, thankyou.
    be good to yourself

  4. Great post and I strongly believe in honesty being the only way to find peace. Only when we are not honest to ourselves can we be hurt. Once you accept the way you are life is soooo much easier…Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. self-honesty takes a lot of courage. but it’s also, yes, a life changing factor. i came to my senses and became honest with myself finally – and only when i got sick with depression. suddenly, i’m not afraid to admit to myself things i didn’t want to admit before – i didn’t like my job, i’m not as strong as i think etc…
    honesty saves lives – it saved mine, literally…
    Noch Noch

  6. It takes courage to tell your life’s truth. Thank you for taking us with you, sometimes we can be too hard on ourselves especially during such a journey. Please be kind and patient with yourself, and thank you for
    reminding me to stay honest .

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