In my new novel, Aberrations, the characters uncover truths about themselves that are quite difficult to handle. The main character, Angel, must deal with issues that cut to the core of her identity. In my own life, I’ve also had to confront truths, some that were hidden from me, and some hidden by me. Now, I’m learning to accept, and even embrace, the reality of my unique life.
Sometimes the truth grabs you right where it hurts and strangles the life away. Maybe you were out looking for the truth, trying to sort through your life, or that of another, digging up the past, shoveling into the present, hoping to uncover and understand what you’re really dealing with. Or perhaps the truth was thrown at you when you least expected it. Maybe it slapped you in the face and made you realize that the life, relationship, or goals you had just aren’t working. Something has got to give, to change, but now you’re standing alone, trapped in a whirlwind of emotion, making it difficult to move.
Don’t lose heart. It’s tough to know what to do when you realize your next steps could alter the life you know in ways you can’t quite visualize. Knowing what to do next and then doing the right thing can be just as difficult as living in the midst of a lie, but having the courage to move forward will put you on the right path. It may be dark at first. It may be lonely. It may or may not be a path filled with flowers and light, but it’s the right one.
In this two-part blog entry, I’ll share my thoughts, ten points total, on accepting truth when it seems to smack you down. I don’t have all the answers but I’ll share the outcome of years of stewing over the truth issue. It’s likely the stew I’m cooking will take a lifetime but I have to believe that my simmering pot can provide some good food for thought.
1. Sometimes the truth hurts and that’s okay. Two key elements that make us more advanced than animals, particularly Ostriches, are intelligence and emotional complexity. Whether you were searching for the truth, or whether it hit you in the face like an unexpected baseball bat, it likely hurts to some degree. Did you think it would be all rosy, that somehow your heart would swell simply because you finally discovered the truth? Did you think the information wouldn’t hurt you? If you asked for the truth, how can you complain now? If you didn’t ask for it but got it anyway, the pain stinks but is a necessary evil. Regardless of the scenario, the truth hurts because it’s real, an almost tangible element of the life you lead. The pain tells you you’re still alive. If we had little emotional complexity, perhaps it wouldn’t hurt. If we lacked intelligence, we might not realize the implications or mistakes associated with the new information. To be fully alive and awake in our own lives, it’s essential to feel a wide range of emotion. When you emerge on the other side, you’ll be different, better, and wiser. You’ll have more to give.
2. You can’t change the truth. By definition, the truth is the true or actual state of a matter. It is an indisputable fact or reality. It is accurate. If you change it, twist it, manipulate it, or ignore it, it will not retain its integrity and you’ll be left, again, with a lie. You’ll be back were you started. Sometimes people want to go back but once you know the truth, it’s either impossible or unhealthy to go back, to pretend your life away. Is going back what you really want? Sometimes we want something so badly that we begin to believe it. We believe all kinds of lies. We pretend all kinds of things because it’s fun and it feels better than facing reality. Some people can continue this charade for quite awhile, some do it until the day they die. But isn’t that what childhood is all about? If we’re lucky, we’re granted those early years to play and pretend and try out all kinds of scenarios. As we mature, we realize that there are realities to life, some harsher than others. Accepting the truth will take you places that children can’t often go.
3. You’re better off knowing the truth. Sometimes we believe that if we simply don’t know the truth, we’ll be fine. If you don’t know the spaceship you’re riding in isn’t real, you can keep enjoying it, right? Well, that could be true in some cases; however, do you really want to be the person who’s sitting on the bed thinking they’re in a spaceship when everyone else is standing by the bed thinking, why doesn’t he realize that he’s just sitting on a bed going nowhere? What does that really do for you in the long run? What is your life about anyway? Do you have goals? Do you have dreams? How can you accomplish your goals and dreams if you’re too busy using up so much energy orchestrating a dream to live in? In this case, the truth can set you free and free you up to pursue real life.
4. Life is stranger than fiction, and so is the truth. One of the most satisfying elements of fiction is its ability to make sense of life. Life, and sometimes truth, is stranger than fiction. Fiction gives us nice, neat outcomes and explanations while life drags us along, wrapping chains around our hearts and minds. The frustrating reality is that truth doesn’t always afford us the privilege of complete understanding; sometimes it just doesn’t make sense, which makes it harder to accept. The challenge is then to resist being stuck in a time, place, or situation that is beyond your ability to navigate. It stinks and it’s tough but the best way forward is to accept that there are situations in life that can’t be understood, and that your time is best spent focused on your true circle of influence. This may be the most difficult long-term challenge when faced with the truth. It can lead to regret, obsession, and bitterness. The key is to focus on what you see ahead and on what is available to you now.
More on this next week …