This is sort of an expansion on the previous post I made about how lying can benefit the world. In this globulation, I talk about how honesty can benefit the world based on personal experience.
As I was reading others' blog posts, I thought about the relationship I have with my mom and remembered why it’s so good: honesty.
When I was a kid, and I broke a teacup after my mom told me not to play with it, I was afraid to tell her about it. I considered hiding it, but I knew she'd notice it was missing. Plus, I was scared to pick up the tiny sharp pieces of white ceramic from the carpet. So, I took what I could of the teacup to her. With my head hanging in shame and a knot of guilt in my stomach, I told her what I had done and that I was sorry, and I begged her not to be angry. She said it was okay. It was okay? How could it be okay? I was expecting a lashing or to be dangled by my ankles out the window or fed to a tank of hungry sharks, but no. "Shit happens," was her response - except probably something more appropriate for a five year-old’s ears. This kind of thing happened over and over again in my past, mostly because I'm ridiculously clumsy, but I never hid anything from her because I knew that “Shit happens. It’s not the end of the world.” She’s never let me forget that, and that’s why I’ve never worried about hiding the truth from her.
Our ability to communicate, I think, is unparalleled; it is so, in fact, that sometimes we don't even need to speak. Usually I'll think something and she'll say it. One time, my tummy growled very quietly, and I only felt it; no one could hear it, but then my mom said she was hungry. *Cue Twilight Zone music.* Other times it’ll be like, “Do you have a thingy with you?” “Yeah, but it’s the kind you don’t like.” “That’s okay.” And I’ll whip the “thingy” out of my purse and my brother will look at us wide-eyed and ask, “How did you know what she was talking about?” Actually, that’s not true. My brother is completely oblivious to 96% of his surroundings unless it has four wheels, a leather interior, or breasts. The “thingy” in question is a grapefruit-flavoured lip balm.
But I told my mom about every insecurity: "Is this supposed to be like this?"
Every incident with a stupid boy: "He asked me to tell him when I was menstruating so he would know when not to hang out with me because he ‘doesn’t want to see me when I’m angry.’" (I guess he was pretty lucky that I wasn’t menstruating then.)
Every time someone made me feel bad: "I can see why you wouldn't want to go swimming."
And she told me about herself in return: the way my dad had made her feel when he left, that guy she went on a date with who didn’t leave enough of a tip, how much she wished she could wear high heels but no longer could. The same cannot be said for my father. He can still wear high heels.
I was a daddy’s girl when I was a kid, believe it or not. After he left, though, his interest in me and my brother left too. Although it sometimes felt like we were strangers forced to be in the same room with each other, I still felt like I was able to talk to him relatively easily. I opened up to him a few times, but he never opened up to me… until the day he told us he was leaving the country. It’s hard to be honest with someone who tells you lies, but it’s also hard to be honest with someone who doesn’t tell you anything.
Some people think the relationship I have with my mom is not good, that it’s unhealthy. You know, because we get along and have a lot in common and are able to talk about very personal things and we spend a lot of time together and we enjoy each other’s company and have similar values. I have even told her about my sex life (gasp!). Yes, those are all definite signs of an unhealthy mother-daughter relationship and I should rebel immediately and vow never to talk to her again. Despite our numerous similarities, we have differences. I’m an introvert, and she’s an extrovert. I like grapefruit, and she doesn’t. I work better when it’s quiet, and she works better when she listens to music. We have a vast middle ground of things we agree on yet there are some things on which we don’t, and I think that’s important for any relationship. Although we are very open with one another, we are still true to ourselves; I am my own person, as is she.
Some parents feel they need to hide things from their kids because it’s a way of “protecting them.” They might never let their child see them cry. They might never let their child see their true emotions, period. I saw how my mom reacted to things that her father or mother-in-law or friend has said. She never hid her emotions from me, and I learned a lot from that. It probably helped that she was terrible at hiding them, but because of the honesty that still holds us together, I don’t think she’s ever really felt like she had to hide anything.
If she hasn’t hidden anything from me, why would I hide things from her?
I can depend on my mom to tell me the truth and to listen to me when I have a secret to tell. From this honesty came trust, and from trust came respect. These are the most important things in a relationship. My mom is my best friend, and honesty is what got us to this point. It just has to go both ways.