There have been numerous times throughout my life that I have heard the word “Angry” to describe who I am. When someone, fresh from some pop psychology experience (reading books or worse, watching oprah or her moronic minion, Dr. Phil) tells me that they know who I am and what I need, I tend to do something that many people may find appalling. I tell them exactly what I think about them.
In most cases, this includes pointing out all their flaws and what exactly is their root cause. This tends to take the focus off of me, an uncomfortable subject for everyone involved, and brings it back to the real reason they’ve decided to “help” me become self-actualized.
The problem with the rather simplistic “angry” label is that it immediately discounts both my experiences and my intellect from the equation. It basically says volumes about the person who makes the accusation because it lets me know they can’t see beyond the surface of a given situation. I discount these people on merit, but I usually can’t just chalk it up to ignorance. I find it necessary to destroy that little piece of them that feels compelled to “help” other people.
I had a friend who watched Oprah daily, subscribed to her magazine, and basically got sucked in by the marketing machine that created her. One day, after some show that featured Dr. Phil opening up a can of misguided whoopass on some young teenager having problems, she called me and told me that the kid reminded her of me and that the advice Dr. Phil gave him and his parents would help me stop the cycle of anger that I tended to function around.
Now, this friend was many things, but what she wasn’t was without fault. Her sins, those of narcissm, materialism, jealousy, pettiness, and ignorance I always accepted as part of her personality. Accepting her and all her flaws was the price I had to pay to be friends with her. I was prepared to accept it until the cows flew, which is to say I was prepared to accept it indefinitely. Of course, her attempt to point out what she thought was wrong with me did little more than acknowledge that fact that she was a dumb, ignorant, fucktard. One that needed a swift kick in the proverbial teeth.
I laid it out. Simply, succinctly, and completely without the normal gentleness with which I would dance around her flaws even while she was clearly flaunting them in front of me. What happened after I finished speaking wasn’t a surprise… she cried. A lot. Hysterically.
Immediately after she finished crying she hung up on me and didn’t attempt to speak to me for six months or more. I can’t remember how long actually because I put the matter out of my mind. Not because I didn’t care, but because I couldn’t be bothered to worry about whether or not I had ended a friendship that i clearly didn’t need.
I said a lot of horrible things. Things that could have remained unsaid for eternity and neither of us would have ever acknowledged. I told her that since she was so concerned about me and my well-being, I owed her a similar concern and as with such concern, I should immediately attempt to “help” her as she had done for me. Of course, nothing I told her that afternoon was a lie. It was all, unfortunately for her, true. Every flaw, every sin, all of it irrevocably true. And there in lies the heart of most relationship problems. No one is completely honest with the one’s they allegedly “love.”
Brutal honesty has always been much more important to me than gentle lies. Sometimes the truth hurts, but a lie is like a cancer. It grows, it festers, and it tends to do so uncontrollably. You might be reading this and think there are times when a small, white innocent lie told in good conscience is preferable to the temporary pain caused by the truth. I disagree. I disagree because people need the truth in order to make good decisions. Without adequate, reliable information, how can we maneuver through the rather complicated, perilous paths we must take as adults? The terrible lie is one told for all the wrong reasons… for love. If you love someone, you owe them the truth even though it might hurt them.
I don’t lie to people. Ever. If they ask me something, regardless how trivial, they will get the truth. I don’t lie to preserve anyone’s feelings because to be honest, I don’t think I should have any responsibility for how someone feels. I can’t MAKE someone feel anything. People will feel whichever way they choose to feel regardless of what I do or say and that simple fact sets me free to be completely honest with people. I wish more people would do that, but they don’t. Not because they can’t, but because you have to be courageous to tell people the truth. You have to come to terms that some people may take offense, and leave you or end the relationship because they mistake your honesty for cruelty.
I am not a cruel person. I don’t enjoy hurting people. I have left people broken in my wake… but one thing has prevented me from changing… all these people? They all come back. They all come back to me and acknowledge that I did the one thing most people around them fail to do… tell them the truth.
My friend? The Oprah addict? She came back. She apologized for a number of things she has said, and done. She promised to be a better friend and to this day she is still among the few people I value. She changed and all because someone told her the truth. She’s happier now than she’s ever been… thats something years of Oprah and Dr. Phil could never bring her. The truth. It is that simple.