Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Honesty & Entitlement

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I read a quote a few weeks ago that said something like, "Breaking out of the prison only lets us into the slightly larger exercise yard of freedom" and it stuck. I likened it to my personal journey about developing a better understanding of my emotions and feelings, so they don't rule me, and so I understand what they're pointing to. What will that freedom bring?

I still find journal entries from when I was a teenager...describing how my sister's behaviour annoyed me or the contempt I had for my mum for sending me to my room. Pages and pages I would write. And I continued to believe that the more I was digging, the closer I would get to revealing a sense of transparency around the wells of upset, or happiness, or whatever I was order that I could make sense of it all.

Underlying that assumption too was that a decrease in opacity around my thoughts and behaviours would somehow entitle me to truly communicate and level with another. So, the more I get what's going on and express that, the more able I am with another to make mutual sense of things and come to a rainbow happily ever after of a conversation. Fail!

Having been inspired on my travels by so many open-hearted folks, I have attempted in the 'normal world' back in my corner of the UK to speak as freely as I would in a liberal community. And I feel not only more ease but more connected to people, and more deeply connected to my closer friends. But those who aren't ready for that style of communication, I'm quickly learning that my honesty doesn't entitle me to theirs.

Living with my 90 year old grandmother, who was raised by her grandmother (born in the mid 1800s), I see that there's never been a grammar of emotional honesty, let alone an ease. Or the inclination to pursue one. Or the faintest idea of what I was talking about. Now that she has dementia and her memory has degenerated badly, the question of honesty and reasoning with her can, in a regretful moment, turn into a stick to beat her with. The frustration I can feel when she is unable to grasp an idea, repeated many times, is unbearable.

And yet, my honesty, my frustration, my disappointment, my impatience don't entitle me to behave any other way but kindly towards her. Feeling anger or sadness, or any way, doesn't entitle any of us to be rude, hurtful or disrespectful. I was brought up and rebelled much against those Methodist values of goodness, wholesomeness and morals. It's only now that I'm truly starting to understand those Sunday school classes.

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