The Secret of Compassion

Only in the early morning light of day, and of life, can we see the world without its shadows. Truth requires new beginnings.                          Jeb Dickerson

59577bdbacd8e79cbcf498b8cdcadf96In my life, I have been accused of many things. Many of those accusations have been unfounded, and undeserved and quite ridiculous. However, there are a few of those that have stuck and I have proudly owned. I am most often accused of being too blunt or direct when expressing myself when it comes to dealing with indisputable tangible observable facts. This particular trait I definitely get from my dad. I have always been a facts kind of girl. Facts and truth are often not the same thing.

Depending on each of our own personal experiences, everything that happens in life passes through a filter and has the potential to be interpreted in a variety of ways. This unique way of processing the world is something that has always fascinated me. For whatever reason, my brain handles information most effectively when it sticks to the facts. I can easily parse through many situations and separate out the emotional elements and arrive at an objective conclusion. This is just how I am, how I was made, and for a time this caused me many sleepless nights.

How I was perceived by others was that I was lacking in compassion or heart and that I was blunt. I do admit that I have been less than gentle when communicating with other people. Mea culpa and lesson continually learned. I allowed the opinions about how my brain processes things to become my truth. The more that my harshness and directness was pointed out to me the harsher and more direct I became. I eventually realized that how I view or interpret facts did not mean that I was unloving or uncaring. My wife has told me many times that I am a big mush. Because others did not like dealing in facts did not mean that there was anything wrong with me. I quickly understood that my approach would not win me any popularity contests.

Where there are facts, there is truth. The problem lies with the reality that truth is often hard to swallow when it brings to light our extremely flawed nature and need to address the warts we all have as humans. Many are afraid of this process. It is not a pretty process by any means. I choose to view this process as a positive one. When we are challenged, we are given opportunities to make better versions of ourselves. I am a huge fan of truth. So much so, that when I came out it was never an option to keep any of this a secret. I needed to stand in the light of day and live my truth out in the open.

There were those that actually thought that telling the kids was a mistake, and felt the need to share this with us. Others thought that I was foolish for being truthful. It was never an option for me. The fact was that I was lesbian. Period. Sometimes standing in the truth means losing many people in your life and coming face to face with the hate that is bred out of fear and ignorance. Some days it felt lonely and other days like complete chaos. The truth is that my approach, dealing with facts, helped lessen the sting of this whole situation all the way around.

This may be a simplistic view of things but this is how I see it. Facts are facts. Feelings are feelings. Feelings stemming from facts create truth, which in turn create opinions and a myriad of reactions. Before I continue I want to make clear that I do not pretend to know everything. When it comes to truth and facts I do have a very good understanding of the difference between the two concepts, as I see it. As I mentioned earlier, I believe that I have inherited this way of thinking from my dad. Whether it is genetically programmed or rooted in nurture, it is a fact.

I have always relied upon the knowledge that when I have gone to my dad for anything I know that I will get a clear, fact based and often humorous response on a situation. Coincidentally, I get my sense of humor from him as well. I have always appreciated this quality in my dad. The rest of our family were not often fans of our way, but what can you do. It is what it is.

As a parent, I have also found the value in being honest and blunt with my kids. Often times they ask hard questions. As a parent, my philosophy has always centered on the fact that they could handle the truth. We all know that there are things in life that are not pleasant or fun. Sometimes facts are not always positive. My belief is that tackling something straight on is better than side stepping something. In the end whatever pain or feelings resulted would be simpler to handle if everything was on the table. This has worked beautifully given that we have three kids who seem to be healthy and happy in their lives thus far. If there was any way I could have avoided telling my kids about my being gay I would have. My heart was breaking. I was their mom and was about to change the way their world looked. This was not easy.

From experience, mine and those close to me, I can say that secrets meant to protect usually ending up causing pain and trauma when the facts eventually are brought to light. I think that many choose to omit things thinking that it will help protect the people they love from pain or hurt in that moment. This case is a more noble and selfless one. There is a flip side to this coin. Some keep secrets and their motives are more selfish in nature and is often put in play when person needs to protect their own interests depending on the situation. This could explain why a mother would hide the fact that she was briefly married, had a child and that the second man she married was not her daughter’s biological father. This could explain why a mother would behave in often abusive ways towards this daughter throughout her formative years and why this fact was blurted out during a heated exchange when the daughter was 13 and not spoken of again until she was 40.

I can tell you first hand, that coming to know these facts was devastating to my wife. In a way, these facts offered perspective and went a long way to explain her experiences in life. There were questions, years of questions, that were not addressed and she paid an emotional price for these omissions. Her own search for facts resulted in a shift in her truth. In essence, her “truth” was fashioned by someone else. This is the danger when we fail to live authentic lives. In having all of the information my wife has been blessed with opportunities for insight, strength and personal growth as well as the knowledge that she has a kind and supportive half-sister who lives on the left coast.

We all want our best face forward in the world. This is but one of the lovely traits we share as humans. We all screw up and choose to put our faith in the truth as we see it at times. I spend much mental energy checking to make sure that I focus on the neutrality of facts as I forge and decipher my own truth each day. My hope is that everyone who reads this will take a moment and consider the possibility of standing in the light of day, regardless of whether certain facts may seem better left in the dark. When we are able to take our lumps and make peace with our mistakes or shortcomings we can be open to all of the love, joy and beauty that our world offers.