"Tell me your truth!"
As a couple's therapist, I hear this often, but what does it really mean? The last time I was asked this it was a demand, spoken in anger as a challenge - tell me your truth - and I spun off in my thoughts like this - "My truth? Tell you my truth? I don't even know what my truth is in this moment - I am angry and hurt and terrified and spinning and holding in what I am feeling. Whatever I tell you right now, will it be my truth? I need time to find my own truth - meaning what is really me. Is this really me? My hurt feelings and anger? Yes, in this moment this is what I am truly experiencing, but is this my truth? I don't think so.
What is my truth?
What is the truth?
Is there a difference?
What is it that you are really asking me?
I see in my mind's eye a me in this emotionally chaotic moment who is sputtering, struggling to tell you my truth, coming up with some words, and you pointing your finger at me in response - "See? I told you so!" Blaming, accusing, proving your own point.
So I scream out in my mind "Screw you and your truth! You don't know what I know and you don't know that I know that you are not telling the truth!"
Some part of me will then remind me that I don't know that. I think it is true. I could make that my truth and call you a worthless piece of whatever, and we could stand firm in our separate truths and self-righteousness and aloneness. And if one of us can't tolerate this separation they will give in to the other's "truth". They will self-abandon and the relationship will suffer, probably in silence.
Instead, I want to take space to find my truth which I will hold loosely as I seek to know what is true, and then I really want to talk to you and find healing between us, which will be possible if you are willing to let go of your tight grip on your truth.
Finding what is the truth, if this is even possible at all, takes time, humility, and an honest desire to listen and hear one another - to understand each one's perspective, to admit that we may have this wrong, until we hear from the other, and they hear from us. This takes great love and great patience.
This is hard enough in couple's counseling when we are dealing with two people caring enough to enlist the help of a third - two people who want healing and understanding. It is harder in family therapy, and it is harder in a community, in a nation, and then hardest when it comes to the world, but I believe that this is the way forward. Each one's "truth" is actually each one's perspective, and the story we are telling ourselves, out of which come our feelings and thoughts and actions. We come closer to the actual truth when we are honest with ourselves, when we have awareness around why we tell ourselves the things we tell ourselves that we call our truth, and when we openly share and listen to one another, seeking what is true in honor of healing the rift between us.
This is how we heal the world...this is a great work. It is not easy, but it is important now - more than ever with our current capacities to destroy it all, take us all out, almost with no effort, blinded by and empowered by what we call "our truth". There is your truth and there is my truth and there is The Truth, which we can get closer to by sharing our truth, listening, validating each one's perspective, improving communication, apologizing, forgiving, deepening connection worldwide.
We also have that capacity these days - for worldwide communication in real time to accomplish this difficult and challenging process.
And so, I still have hope, and I hope that you do, too!