Truth. It is a very simple thing. A pocket of awareness that lies in the deep gut of our soul, our belly, our heart. This is not our conscience which tells us the “right” thing we should be doing throughout the day, but a further profound root at the edge of our current presence. It reaches back days, years, centuries, lifetimes and dimensions. For some it is hidden, seen only in glimpses. For others it encompasses every moment of every day. Regardless, our truth is always there, ready to live and express as the days unfold in front of us.
So, if it is such a straightforward concept that is at the periphery of every situation we encounter, why can it be so difficult to express? Why can we go years within a relationship with a partner, a family member, a neighbor, a friend or an enemy and evade our truth?
Last year I saw the Broadway musical, THE BAND’S VISIT. It was exquisite, beautiful, gut wrenching and immensely powerful yet moved so simply through the 90 minutes, gliding from one person’s truth to another. In a recent advertisement for the show in New York Magazine, the playwright Itamar Moses refers to the concept that it is much safer to share our truths with a stranger. He says, “They don’t know the story you’ve built up around yourself.” He describes how the tentative English used within the language barrier forces the characters to get to the point right away. He continues, “People aren’t going to talk around the truth because they don’t have the words.”
This story Moses refers to is a multi-faceted thing. Traumatizing events create walls of psychological protection, peer pressure pushes our decisions in inauthentic directions, and people’s disapproval of our beliefs leads us to hide our words in fear of conflict. This constructed fable begins to feel very exhausting, and we finally come to a point to move beyond into expressing a deeper truth.
My 10-year relationship with my partner came to an end a few months ago. This time for me has been chaotic, murky, difficult, sad and frustrating, with lapses of excitement and exhilaration. Underneath the external tornado, there has been an underlying immense calmness from having fully come into the truth of what I need for myself in a relationship. This authenticity has pulled me through and is now catapulting me forward into action. Yet why was it so difficult to come to terms with this inner knowing for so long?
The answer is clear. As a gay man, I felt the need to cover up my deepest truth for many developmental years, and this became embedded in my “story.” My attraction for another human sexually, emotionally and physically was not accepted by my peers, family, teachers and religion. In being raised as a gay man within a straight world, I needed to construct a persona that was false and safe. As a human animal being relentlessly bullied by other human animals, it was fight or flight. The only mechanism that was present in my awareness at the time was flight. So I flew inside a great castle of barriers that would keep the enemy out. To survive.
I do not beat myself up for continuing a relationship that went against certain grains of my deepest truth. There was so much love, joy, growth and deep trust present in my connection with this beautiful and heartfelt man. He was a gift, and we both actively and openly expressed our challenges and triumphs with each other and with ourselves. And, I am grateful that together we both came to an understanding of our authenticity. These tools were not given to me as a gay man growing up in a culture that denied my genuine self. These are tools I and my partner needed to construct on our own and with each other.
We are living in a time where fight or flight is more apparent then ever before. The claws of hatred, bigotry, racism, sexism, violence, homophobia, xenophobia and bullying has leaped out of its cage with full vengeance. We can no longer fly away from the truth, or we and the world around us will be swallowed in falsehood.
With so much passion and vengeance stirred up inside of me against the current hate, it is easy to get clouded in the particulars of how to bring my truth forward. How do I help others see behind their ignorant actions, for ignorance is something I once knew buried in the locked cellar of my own truth? When someone lectured me or assaulted me or taught me the way to open that door, I did not change my story. I could only observe and experience the shift on my own. Therefore, we must not push another or annihilate them to see. Instead we must simply show and express our powerful truth for the deeply embedded hate in them to exponentially dissolve.
As my cousin Kathi Seiden Thomas powerfully told me, “You have to express yourself or you will lose yourself.” It is easy to see this tumultuous era we are living in as a curse or a dark hole. But, it is also a gift. An enormous opportunity to shine our authentic self. Even if we don’t know the exact strategies to use in the battle before us, we must fight forward from the calm underlying depths within. There cannot be light without darkness. And truth without fear. It is now time to radiantly blaze our light.