“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” ~Muriel Rukeyser
That is something everyone says they want but they really want on some conditions its seems we have some unspoken agreements in our society that the truth is only welcome if it is pretty, positive and what everyone else wants to hear. That’s not the truth.
One thing we widows understand better than most is that the truth can be ugly and painful. The truth isn’t always able to be told in a positive light because there sometimes isn’t anything positive about it. If someone is telling you only what you want to hear, they likely aren’t telling you the truth.
The truth is, life is messy. No one is perfect. We are all messy. We all have our flaws and our weaknesses. We all fail. So what? Failures teach us. Imperfections connect us in our humanity. Messy doesn’t necessarily denote bad. Most of the best people I know are incredibly messy. They are beautiful in their messy realness.
When your husband dies by suicide, people are shocked and made uncomfortable by the truth. I am blunt. I usually tell people that he took his own life. I don’t like “committed suicide” because that implies he committed a crime. He didn’t. He was allowed to do whatever he wanted with his life. It just sucks that he decided he wanted to end it. But even softening it a bit (mostly for myself) does nothing to prevent people from avoiding eye contact or acting like having your husband kill himself is somehow contagious.
People suck with the truth and they suck with talking about hard topics. I mean, they seriously suck. They have bought into the unspoken agreements I talked about earlier. Then when something horrible happens (like your husband hanging himself) they cannot handle it…at all. They either change the subject, pretend you didn’t talk at all or avoid you completely. Only other people who are willing to be honest can handle being around you.
For the people who can’t handle the truth about life, you are a reminder of things they prefer to be in denial about. I was shocked to realize that most people go out of their way to pretend like death and grief and murder and suicide and heartbreak and imperfections aren’t real things. They are the people who try to turn every bad situation into a motivational poster.
“It could be worse”
“At least they aren’t suffering anymore.”
“They are always with you.”
“Well, at least you had life insurance.”
Listen, I will be the first one to admit that some truth just sucks. It does. I mean, I had a police officer tell me that my husband was dead because he hung himself in my house. Trust me, I know how bad the truth can hurt. I know how uncomfortable and awkward it can be to talk about certain things. I do it anyway. I speak the awkward, painful, uncomfortable and real truth about things.
“The truth will set you free”
Indeed. That’s really what happens when you speak your truth and refuse to apologize for the way people feel about it. That’s a real thing. One thing losing my husband dying did for me that was positive was that it set me free. What I mean by that is that when you are so completely broken, you realize what’s important. Truth is important. What people think about you or your truth isn’t important, at all. Becoming a widow makes you care very little about what other people think. That’s what it did for me, at least.
My husband died because he felt like he couldn’t speak his truth. 47,173 people died by suicide in the United States in 2017. How many of them do you think died, in part, to not feeling like they could speak their truth because it wasn’t pretty, positive or what everyone wanted to hear?How many of them do you think tried to speak their truth only to have people not want to hear it because it wasn’t pretty, positive or what everyone else wanted to hear?
Be honest. Say yes when you mean it. Say no when you mean it. Ask for what you need. Tell people when they hurt you. Tell people when they make you happy. Tell people you need them and tell them when you need them to go. Be honest. Talk about your pain. Talk about your joy. Talk about the abuse you suffered and talk about how you overcame it. Brag about your accomplishments and admit your failures. Talk about your heartbreak and how much it hurt.
I found my freedom and my love for myself when I decided to be completely honest about my life. I found deeper connections than I had ever had before. I lost a lot of people from my life. At first that was scary but I learned that not everything you lose is a loss. I gained so much more. I gained the things that were meant for me. I gained having people love me for who I really am and not for who they want me to be. I found new love for myself and my peace.
Tell the truth. Let other people tell theirs. It will set everyone free.