Honest communication takes courage. It feels like safety to keep what's in my heart inside, to not disclose myself to others, even to pretend that I can keep the truth from myself if I don't give it a voice. It's the old blinder strategy, the thinking and wanting to believe that if I pretend I don't see it, then it's not there. I have found that ultimately, my spirit and my truth will not let me betray it, even though I may want to. If there is a fear inside of me, or some kind of shame, or ache, or hurt, if there is a hope or a strong belief, a resentment or a joy- whatever is in me wants to express itself. If I deny the urge to share myself with others, all of my internal stuff grows, like mushrooms in the dark, and I become increasingly blocked and isolated and sorry for myself, pitiful in my self-imposed separation.
To speak up takes courage, at least for me. I perceive that what I think or believe may have no real value, and may be judged and condemned by others; that I may be squashed and discounted and slapped down like a child who has crossed a line. And the truth is, depending who I choose to share myself with, I may be discounted. I may be emotionally slapped. But I am learning that the way others respond to me is about them, and does not in any way diminish the reality and the value of what is in me.
It helps to be smart about who I give myself to, who I share my spirit with, who is likely to listen and be respectful, even if they disagree. But none of that diminishes the necessity for courage. Even when I know I can trust someone, I have to take a deep breath and let the words and feelings come the way they come. It may be messy. Perhaps tears are involved, or awkward pauses and hesitations. I am self-conscious and unsure. I lack confidence, but I plunge forth, and it gets easier.
It's natural to get caught up in our culture's imposition of the value of perfection, and to think that perfection means we are not supposed to have flaws, that everything should be polished and neat, that we should have no problems, no challenges, no fears, and to admit to having them somehow makes us weak. But in my experience, what is human and vulnerable and raw and real is what's perfect. When someone trusts me enough to share his/her fears and hopes and sadness and dreams with me, I see absolute beauty.
And that's what happens. When I have the courage to be honest and vulnerable, rewards follow. Internal pressure that has built inside of me is relieved, and I feel clear and unburdened, understood, connected. Often, the one with whom I have shared will then share some of his/her inner angst with me. We can laugh together over our human-ness. I believe this is the beginning and maintenence of loving relationships: the courage to share what we feel and who we are from the heart, the willingness to take a deep breath and speak though our fear.