Not running regularly has had a detrimental affect on my writing, mainly in that I am out of sync with the schedule that afforded me the consistency of thoughts turning to words turning to sentences. The words are all still there, but in a nasty knot much like a pile of colored climbing rope a neighbor would pay us kids to spend time untangling while we sat outside on long summer evenings. I start to follow a a promising lead, and unravel a few snarls, then run smack into the giant clump of intertwined mess. My words are being choked by those snags.
However, I have had a recurring thought that I need to get out, even if not my best description, about two phrases I am banishing from my vocabulary. Banishment is serious business, as the lovelorn Juliet knows. Follow along:
It will be too soon if I ever hear someone say TO me again, “I’m just going to be brutally honest…” This was a favorite phrase of my ex-husband, who by all accounts was and is a bully and used the guise of honesty as a cover for merely being brutal. Consider how many times someone has said this very phrase to you and then, without missing a beat proceeded to hurt your feelings with an opinion they have about how you are acting or reacting to something that is causing you pain, frustration or worry. Go ahead. Think about it. I guarantee that 99.9% of the time, it hurt you more to be brutalized by a lack of compassion than to hear the editorial about your feelings from a person who thinks they know what is best for you. People who use the phrase “brutally honest” will hide behind their “good intentions” when in all likelihood they have not even examined the full scope of what being intentional actually means. Honesty is not truth. The truth simply exists and honesty is the courage to perceive truth without bias. No brutality is ever needed.
The next one I have decided to do away with is slightly more controversial since it is so embedded in our culture, and for me has probably been assigned a bullet point when describing my big personality. Here goes:
Tough love. I am breaking up with tough love. Similar to its cousin “brutal honesty” it connotes pain and confusion. From its oxymoronical phrasing to its overuse in popular culture by the likes of Dr. “How’s That Working For Ya” Phil, it simply must be banished from my lexicon. “Tough love” has become a cover for sass and uninvited judgment. It’s often followed with the meaningless and condescending, “I’m just saying…” Having an opinion, and a strong one at that, is very different from “tough love” so I hope this doesn’t cause too much confusion for my family and friends who do value my intense perspectives.
I don’t need to love to be tough. I don’t need someone using the cover of love to deliver their opinion of my pain. How about people attempt to be courageous enough to sit in the aura of their loved one’s struggle? If someone is repeating a destructive pattern that has them unable to move forward and is causing you frustration, try being compassionate instead of “tough.” Believe me, the stuck person is being hard enough on themselves. Let me also apologize to anyone I have ever practiced this ill-advised strategy upon. I know for sure I have blurted things out about how someone “should” or “could” fix their situations. I have been working hard the last few years to be compassionate first and a problem-solving supporter later.
Whew… that felt good. Almost as good as a five-mile run. Back to the foam roller to fix this knee.