My readings these past few months have been heavy in narratives, which I was no longer used to. It is crazy how new information builds a new reality- how one set of writings from one amazing thinker (Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, anyone?) can completely change what really sticks with you and how you interpret stories. I want to take some time to build a little more on the blog Use Your Words (https://www.saraperryfixestheworld.com/articles/use-your-words) and the idea of compulsive confession, truth, and that sacred word: honesty.
One of the stories I came across talked about a woman who had had an affair with a cousin of the same gender, and how her marriage had come to be dissolved and she was actually narrating the events to a therapist. The very format of the therapist in confession changes the story... you see, we are all rooting for her to have the clarity of coming forward. Like, somehow, this changes her position. We look to other's transparent information like it is the ultimate truth, a truth that we could not exist without, and a truth that cements with certainty that we have a full understanding of events. We assume that a person who has come forward with information is even capable of delivering a sort of reality that we deserve to be privy to. What it really comes down to is the need to be in control of information.
What we fail to understand is that there is a solid distinction between truth and honesty. Truth means transparency, it means cellophane paper that we get to experience and examine. In truths we can let information that resonates stick to us, and we can come back to that truth and explore different ways it can be looked at. Truth is a magnifying glass that we can hold in our hands and use to see different angles, translate into different languages and become a part of the experience. But truth exists only from a single perspective: what you interpret cannot be interpreted through the mind of any other person, not with exactly the same idea. To assume that my truth is reliable to another would mean that someone else has all of the rhetoric that I carry, all of the memories, all of the same random literature that has led me to read stories differently. This will never be the case. This is why the history books are full of truths that are not true. However, objective or not, truth carries with it the added quality of being held up for public viewing. It doesn't actually matter if you and I agree about what happened, truth allows us both access and lets us see for ourselves.
The truth is a naked model in an art class.
Honesty is vastly different. Honestly requires all of these different attributes that are, frankly, a hell of a lot of pressure. First of all, honesty requires an idea of what is transgressive behavior and what is mundane. To be honest, one must first identify what is important enough to confess. One must sort through the millions of experiences that they come across in one day and pin point what needs to be mentioned. This means that any person witnessing has to share their idea of moral imperatives and draw similar lines in similar texture and color sand. That brings me to the second absolutely required aspect of honesty: companionship. One cannot be honest alone. Even the phrase "being honest with yourself" requires two different identities: the one that acts and the one that interprets. Similar to the way we have a hard time identifying what it is we need and want, honesty sets in motion a dialogue that demands that one polices behaviors and actions, identifies them as important to highlight and present, and serves them up on a silver plater. A third aspect of honesty is the call to judgement. The silver-platter-presented version of pinpointed behavior lines up for inspection. It demands to be seen and scrutinized. It is the hot-or-not version of the worst thing you ever did.
The use of honesty as a tool is not meant to define a person's identity, as it is sold to us, it is meant to demand that we offer ourselves up for judgment. In our world, honesty and confession have both become axiomatic to intimacy: equally necessary and emblematic of it. Having a relationship requires consistent and vigilant watch over which behaviors would need to be brought forward; it must be done all of the time, it must be done as soon as possible, and it must be done for your own good.
So much is this idea of compulsory confession, that we weave into stories ideas of repressed truths that seem to bubble up to the surface. We make shows like What If where a husband is consumed by the inability to share what went on in one tormenting night with another woman... We internalize that anything that we have for one reason or another identified as harmful must be immediately spoken about or risk eternal internal torment. We can't receive an DM from an ex without feeling awful about not immediately telling our new partner.
This is also extremely clear in queer experience. In our culture, the idea of "coming out" is a fucking ritual. Queer is literally an identity- it defines everything about one's reality. No where in heteronormacy does a person feel defined by who they want to fuck- only in queer life. One's sexual identity, only if not heterosexual by essentialist standards, must be first identified, then internalized and subsequently divulged in order to become truth. A queer experience can only be defined as queer if it has been owned as such, and subsequently disseminated. One must "come out" to be queer.
What is more, honesty is only meant to police a person's behaviors, not their intentions and not how they internalize the consequences. Honesty does not care why someone does something, simply that it has happened.
Honesty is a claw game that spits out only the transgressive toys.
In contrast to notions of truth, honesty requires intent. It demands purposeful action both in form of transgressive confession and of policing information. It redefines morality inside of intimacy. One is then held accountable for the disclosure of identity only to oneself and those who hover on one's internal discourses, but is responsible for disclosing actions so that they many be judged and policed outside of the internal context.
So I guess the point of this post is to recognize all of the moving parts of honesty, especially when we demand it from our lovers, romantic partners and/or friends. There is much too much at stake to think we deserve something that can only be defined in tight, inflexible limits. Do your best to keep those you love and love you in positive regard, assume that they care for you and are doing the best they can.
Sometimes, doing the best we can is falling madly in love/lust with someone else. Sometimes it is staying in bed binge watching The Man in the High Castle for three days. Sometimes it is antidepressants. Sometimes it is crying over how you can never heal old wounds from days that are faded in memory. And sometimes there is no energy left over to offer you up my own ideas of why you would choose to walk away from me.
And that doesn't mean that I haven't given you ever part of me I had to give.
How do you feel about honesty? How important is honesty in a romantic/sexual relationship?