December 25th, 2000, our Siamese cat, Pebbles, is missing. The holiday passes. I search and search and finally discover the cat in the field across the street, having perished… from what? Being hit by a car? Trauma from a coyote attack? What do I tell my 5-year-old son? “Honey, Pebbles must have jumped in Santa’s sleigh and gone to live at the toy factory!”
Ugh. Is this a harmless lie? What possesses us to cover the truth? I’m sure I’ve told countless white lies under the excuse of protecting someone’s feelings. My friend wants me to come over for a game of Monopoly with the neighbors and here I go… “I’m sorry I already have plans.” Why didn’t I just tell the truth? “Thank you for the invitation but I’d like to stay home tonight.” Maybe I didn’t want to leave room for persuasion because I know I’m a people-pleaser and I’d give in!
I used to do this frequently until I experienced trauma and loss, and subsequent depression and anxiety. I’m very direct now; probably “painfully honest.” My experiences have changed my outlook on life and have changed me as a person. Life is too short for facades. Now I tell it like it is, although I do try to do so in a considerate manner. Grief has opened my eyes to suffering in others and activated more compassion, so I try to be sensitive to how my words sound and choose my words carefully. I also have better boundaries. I am able to ask for what I need, or say no, or voice an opinion without feeling guilty.
Unless it’s with a particular family member. But that’s another story. I would tell it to you but I have to… um… go wash the dog.