The Truth Tellers

How many people in your life tell you the truth?

If someone asked me that, I’d immediately say my husband.  My children.  My mother, when she was alive.  Though the reality is that there might be a hitch in the conversation before they said what they wanted to say, some equivocation, a “but,” a wanting to be kind.  To spare hurting my feelings, I can remember my mother pausing a bit, then starting her best-effort-truthful sentences with a sweet, “Well ….”

Bless them.  We all need those kindnesses.

And of course, memoir writer that I am, I understand we all have our disagreeable truths ….

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But I spent this past long-weekend in Florida with some of my best friends from high school.  For several days, 8 of us lived in a hotel room with not-enough beds and 2 bathrooms.  We are grown women.  We’ve known each other for 30 and 40 years.  Imagine the truths.  The bathroom alone ….

But sometimes I feel I’ve misled people when I talk about my oldest friendships.  When I  say, “high school friends” it sounds as if we’re a bunch of fun-loving cheerleaders and that we’ve been irritatingly positive rah-rah buddies on a monthly basis for 4 decades.  The reality is that every single one of us has been in and out —- some for a few years, others for a decade or even two decades! —- and some were not even friends until after high school was over.  I can tell you that Tracy and I barely tolerated each other from mid-Freshman year on, but we were roommates in college, had yet more falling-outs, and still love each other.  I was so jealous of Trish I barely survived her, and yet she’s one of my favorite people in the world.  I used to think Laura was waaaaay too cool for me.  We lost Lisa for 20 years, but now we talk/text almost daily.  Etc …. but no matter.  The bluntest of truths are told.

“You’re being a bitch.”

“Fuck you.”

“Love you, miss you!”

“You stole my boyfriend in 9th grade, and I’m still hurt pissed.”

“You think you’re expressing your opinion, but you’re really just judgmental.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I greatly appreciate the pauses, the kindnesses, sentences that begin slowly (and a little worried) with, “Well ….”  How would we survive otherwise?  But sometimes we need to hear the unfiltered truths —- the, “this is what I really think of you and your behavior” —-  and these are the women I trust to put it all out there.  The “oops, did I just say that out loud, women.”  Thank god for them.

So.

Here’s to new friends, the ones who help us aspire to who we want to be.  And here’s to old friends — the truth tellers.  No matter how long the absences or issues, no matter the most painful truths.  Here’s to the ones who remind us who we were, who we still are in our deepest regions, and who have no fear about telling their truths the way they see it.  You are my mirrors.

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Who tells you the truth?

 

 

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6 thoughts on “The Truth Tellers

  1. Lyra

    I’ll be seeing them in a week and a half. And the relief I feel knowing that, knowing that I don’t have to preface a story, that I can show my ugliest self and they have my full history to temper it…ahhhh, yes. Love.

  2. donnaeve

    Who tells you the truth?

    I had to sit and think long and hard about this question. I had a whole other response typed out that I erased. It had to do with family, friends, anyone of course that would be around me and know me well enough or long enough. The ones I have long lasting relationships with, of course. Short answer is, none of them tell me the hard core truth.

    I think the way we operate is to weigh the benefit of telling a truth. How bad will it hurt? What good will it do? Will it only serve the purpose of letting the “truth teller” feel better about themselves? Will it create a divide that might not have existed before? How important is it for them to know this truth? Will it make a difference, strengthen the bond or tear it apart? Will it change who the person is?

    Sometimes telling the truth serves no real purpose if the person receiving it only feels like shit afterwards.

  3. amyg

    The Gesenhues’es (Gesenhui being the plural form) are really, really good at being way, way honest. My aunts are (sometimes brutally) honest, letting you know (often immediately) what they think about what you just said, did or how you acted. But they are also the first to be honest in a helpful and guiding way when all feels lost.

    I love this. I love their no holds barred, no bullshit through these gates, way of relating. of course, I imagine most of this honesty is saved for us – the ones they love most, often dished out around the Sunday dinner table.

    …and my kids, my son told me just last night the polish I put on my toe nails looked messy. (he’s five) and my daughter is the first to tell me when my roots are showing or my upper hair lip is noticeable.

  4. Teri Post author

    RIP Maya Angelou. Here’s something I read today, something Dr. Angelou said about the difference between friends and acquaintances:

    “There’s a marked difference between acquaintances and friends. Most people really don’t become friends. They become deep and serious acquaintances. But in a friendship you get to know the spirit of another person; and your values coincide. Friends may disagree, but not about serious matters. A friend will stand for you when you are no longer able. A woman can say to herself, “If I die, I know that my friend, my sister friend will be here to hold up the banner.”

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