To Be Honest

Yesterday I told a hard truth to someone I care about.

It was hard for several reasons. I knew that the person I was talking to would get really, really angry at me if I said this truth out loud to them. I have seen them deal with other people who spoke up about things they didn’t want to hear, and it wasn’t pretty. The usual modus operandi was a swift and brutal severing of the friendship– point blank and on the spot. Sometimes this person came around after a few days or weeks (or years) and the relationship resumed on some level, but not always. So yesterday when I paused and took several long, silent seconds on the phone before speaking Those Words, I weighed the cost. Was it worth it? Was I truly prepared for the reaction? Was I finally at the point where I simply could no longer keep nervously pretending everything was normal? Because not only was there an elephant in the room, it was rampaging through the house, flattening the furniture and threatening everything in its path. But once those words came out of my mouth, in my voice… there was no going back. They could not be unsaid.


There are consequences to keeping silent, too. My nickname among my friends is “Switzerland,” because I am always the one who wants to stay neutral, work towards agreement, find common ground. That’s not necessarily a bad trait, but for weeks now I have felt less like Switzerland and more like a dishonest, peace-at-any-cost coward who was NOT HELPING the situation by avoiding what I knew would be a horribly unpleasant confrontation. I have danced around this hard truth, daring to come as close to it as I could, then retreating when I felt the push-back. I’m not proud of that. That’s not who I want to be.

So, I told the truth.

My worst fears were realized, of course. My words were met with an immediate, stinging insult, then a dial tone. Within the hour I received a text informing me of a decision that I knew was supposed to cause me panic and pain– but to be honest, instead caused me to feel a wave of relief. I know I did the right thing, though that doesn’t make it any easier. I know I can’t control the other person’s actions, though part of me hopes this is a wake-up call. And I also know I may have just lost a dear friend.

Can any of you guys relate? I could sure use a couple of “Yeah, that happened to me once” stories right about now! Please feel free to weigh in…

23 Responses

  1. jonny

    Coming to the rescue in a moment !!

  2. michelle57

    Yes Tori, It has happened to me. I have lost people (family) because I just couldn’t play their games anymore…and I got blamed for being the one who was the problem. I followed my heart. If you followed yours, it was not pleasant, I know, but some people you just can’t help, change, or get them to see your point. You have to do what is right and good for you. Hugs, Michelle

  3. jankinney

    Yes, I have been there, done that. While it was initially unpleasant and even devastating, in the end, the person sought help and is today much happier and healthier and once again, my friend.

  4. jonny

    For what it’s worth, in Finland they have hippopotami in their living-rooms.

    I often find it a relief when they finally ‘un-friend’ me afterwards because it usually has to get REALLY bad before I say anything in the first place. More than once the person has come up to me two or three years later and let me know they understood where I was coming from. Don’t know if I’ve ever been thanked for my honestly, though = )

    What I find difficult, and in these situations quite often, especially with women for some reason, is that I finally get up the nerve, or am pushed to the point of speaking my peace –sometimes screaming it– and after awhile, some hours, days or weeks, they come back at me as if nothing was ever confronted, or said, and I have to bring up it up all over again. And then after some time, again; etc. I’m in that situation with one person now, actually. And you’d think that repeating what has to be said would make it easier, but for me it’s just the opposite. Anyway, thanks for being honest with your friend. Open rebuke is better than hidden love, and all that = )

  5. Barbara M. Lloyd

    You know, Tori, if your “friend” caused that much havoc in your home, I rather suspect you put the wrong label on her.

    I am a strong believer in checking my motive in different situations…and certainly in one like this. From all you’ve said, it sounds as if you checked your motive and a lot of other things, too, before speaking with her. And, knowing you, I know it was done in love. Had you not taken this step, I feel you would have been an enabler. Only thing left now is praying that God will be able to use your words to help her get the message He would want her to hear….and just maybe one day your real friend will be calling you on the phone.

  6. ShowMeStGirl

    Being the recipient of honesty and being the honest one – both can cut your heart, but in the end it’s always the “right” thing. Truth hurts; time heals and lessons should always be learned.

  7. pattiekins

    Yes Tori, I too have had this same thing happen with my sister. She refused to forgive a family member of a wrong-doing from years ago; choosing to hang on to an old grudge and expected myself and our Mom to chose her over this other person. After YEARS of trying to get her to realize that in order to be forgiven, she must forgive, she refused and has severed ties with both Mom and I. Breaks my heart for my Mom but our minister told Mom that NOBODY should ever expect a mother to have to choose between her children; even if one of them was an axe murder (which of course was not the case)! Just know you aren’t alone. It’s painful but you WILL get through it. (((Hugs)))

  8. LindaB

    I hate confrontation. And avoid it at all costs. (Well, unless it’s politics and that’s different.) I’ve never done what you did, Tori. I have entertained more elephants in the room than Barnum and Bailey. I admire your courage and honesty. And I hope your friend realizes eventually how much you care about them and how brave you were to confront them. And that you were right to do it.
    (When I first started reading this, I checked my phone to see if you’d tried to call me! Whew! LOL)

  9. JanetB

    Once? I wish. Like you, I’ve always been the peacemaker – avoiding conflict like I avoid peanut butter. (Icky poo!) Somehow though, time and again, I’ve found myself right in the middle of an ugly confrontation, asking – How did I get HERE? Because, among many other valuable things, my parents instilled in me a love of the truth. Sometimes, I admit, I’m not very thankful for that! But, He giveth more grace…amen?

    So Tori, dear – you did the right thing. If the truth hurts, then so be it.

    Have you ever read Boundaries? I did – and it saved my life. One thing in there that has really stuck with me is this: If you feel guilty about guarding a boundary, then you’re doing the right thing. It’s our conditioning to please people, even to the point of our own detriment. So, to go against that automatically pushes the guilt buttons. (In other words, if you feel lousy right now – good for you!)

    Oh, and Momma Lloyd is very wise – you should listen to her! :)

  10. tnmusicman

    Tori , one thing I have observed over the years is the “silence makes no mistakes” rule. I’ve been so wrong about that rule though. It held true in my 20’s and 30’s but in my 40’s I feel like hell everyday and have no time for bull. So, I try to tell those unpleasant truths to my best friend and even my sorta friends and family. Well, not so much family but that’s another story and another cup of coffee.
    Your “friend” should have been able to handle the truth (thank you Jack) and if they did not I would consider it a loss but not a big one.

    Btw, you looked great at 3rd&Lindsley as did Russ. He sounded awesome !!! I was so happy to meet your girls. They seem real sweet.

  11. VA-Cathy

    I know how hard that was. I have been guilty the “whatever it takes to keep the peace”. But I found that many times, the more you let it go, the more it grows and the worse it gets, and the other person may not have a clue that you have a problem with it. As I have told my kids all their lives, you are only responsible for what you say and do. The other persons decision is theirs alone. Whatever they say or do, you have to do what you feel and know is right.
    If this person is truly a friend, it will work out. If not, you’re better off. Life is stressful enough. Who needs drama??!!

  12. tnmusicman

    Side note Tori. I’ve been the peace keeper in the family and its come back to haunt me. You did the right thing. Get it out there so it can be dealt with. No regrets.

  13. Karin

    So sorry Tori. It is not easy. I did a similar thing with a “friend” several years ago. And, needless to say, we are not friends anymore. But if it is one sided – is it really a friendship? It has taken lots of time to get over it. If someone constructively spoke into my life, I would be grateful. Hang in there dear Tori, if it is real, they will be back. If it isn’t, don’t let it take up the gray matter like I let happen. Too much wasted energy and effort on them. Keep being authentic and treasure those that you have that appreciate that.

  14. Cynthia

    I can relate; several years ago my daughter gave birth to twin boys; her third and fourth of five children, and one of them was born with Spina Bifida. It came down to both grandmothers, Maternal and Paternal stepping into the situation which had, since their births spiraled out of control. We watched time and again as others gave my daughter and son in law a “Get out of jail free card” simply because no one wanted to open the box of anger and possible hatred that would spill out into all our lives.
    I’m an only child, I have only one child, I’ve been widowed for twenty nine years, and both parents have gone on to be with the Lord, so she was all I had. All I’ve ever wanted was a family; but I couldn’t live with things as they were, and was prepared to lose that which I’d always longed for to do what I believed to be the Lord’s will. His grace is sufficient; it’s been two years since I had any contact from my daughter; and there are only from time to time the odd school pictures of my grandchildren. But knowing that I didn’t make like an Ostrich when I knew the Lord wanted me to speak and to act gives a peace unlike anything I can describe.
    If you’ve spoken truth then it is totally up to the other party to make the next move; and if they do not, you must ask yourself, is my life better for having spoken out or would I prefer times past.
    Tori, I can’t see into your heart; nor do I know what the Lord would have you do, but I do know that if you sought his will then you can rest easy in his love and peace. From an outsiders view point I’d say “Ya did good kid”

  15. jonny

    Anyway, hope you’re starting to recover from the experience by now ! Love you much = )

  16. tori

    jonny: Wearing a Rock Star superhero cape, I hope!

    michelle57: Thanks for the encouragement. And you’re right, in the end it really is about doing what I know is right for me– I was not feeling good about the ‘game’ I was agreeing to play with my silence.

    jankinney: I would love to think this situation would have a similar outcome, but that doesn’t look too hopeful at this point.

    jonny: Yeah, it had to get REALLY BAD before I finally spoke up, too!

    Momma Lloyd: As usual, you nailed it. It’s interesting, in this case the main motive I had to check was not concerning speaking up, but rather what my true motive was in NOT speaking up… And I had to admit to myself that avoiding a confrontation was indeed, enabling behavior on my part.

    ShowMeStGirl: “Truth hurts, time heals and lessons should be learned”– Dang girl, I should put that on a bumper sticker and stick it all over my car! Words to live by.

    pattiekins: Having this kind of unpleasantness with a family member would definitely hurt much, much more. I’m like you, I cannot imagine what the payoff is in holding onto a grudge and nurturing that feeling of “I’ve been wronged”, sometimes for decades! I’m not saying I’ve never held onto hurt (I have), but hopefully I have come to see that it’s not the way I want to live my life.

    LindaB: OK, the Barnum and Bailey line made me snorty-laugh! And I would never be ‘afraid’ to be honest with you about anything. I know your heart, and it is wide open to the truth.

    JanetB: I DO know that book! And thank you for reminding me about it, especially about the feelings that come from guarding a boundary– I am SO conditioned to please people (which is a less flattering/more honest way to describe it than just saying “I am Switzerland!”) I am definitely going against that conditioning in this situation. (And I ALWAYS listen to Momma Lloyd!)

    tnmusician: Thanks for weighing in, Christopher– it’s great to see you on here, please keep coming back! And I have to tell you, the more fallout I am getting from this friend after the fact, the more I am realizing that, as you say, I might need to reconsider the degree of loss of this friendship… And yes, NO REGRETS.

    VA-Cathy: You are so right– life IS stressful enough! I was willing to hang in when I thought maybe I could be a loving friend in this situation, but when it became clear to me that I wasn’t helping either one of us by avoiding the truth– well, I certainly don’t need the drama, but boy howdy, I am getting it!

    Karin: Thank you for that insight– if the feelings I had about this friendship were truly reciprocated, then yes, maybe we will eventually find our way back to each other. But if they can absolutely turn and walk away (while spewing anger and bile at me), then that tells me all I need to know about the true nature of the friendship. AND the friend.

    Cynthia: Aw, sweet girl–every time you talk, I know I am going to get something good out of it! “Is my life better for having spoken out, or would I prefer times past?” Excellent question, very wise. My life certainly isn’t easier or happier right now because I spoke out (the reaction has been unbelievably mean-spirited and ugly)– but ultimately? Yes, it will be better. If the friendship is irretrievably broken, it was obviously toxic and not based on truth. If the friendship somehow survives, it will absolutely be stronger because it will be based on honesty and understanding. And NO, I cannot and will not ever return to the way it was before.

    jonny: I am beginning to recover, thank you. The viciousness of the retaliation was kind of a shock at first, but things are starting to all fall into place. I am getting lots of support, and I thank you (and everyone else) for that!

  17. jonny

    I also have to say thanks for bringing this up here in the first place. It was good to do a bit of ‘spilling,’ but even better reading what everyone else had to share on the subject as well !!

  18. jonny

    “Wearing a Rock Star superhero cape, I hope!”

    What else !?? = )

  19. grfdave

    Kudos, It is never easy. too often silence is considered assent or condoning. Can I borrow some of your courage?

  20. kinglearsdaughter

    Several years ago after some shattered relationships in my immediate family (and then a very difficult decision my spouse and I made regarding the welfare of a child) I learned a couple of hard lessons that I’ve begun to refer to as “the Dante One” and “the FOC One,” and I’m going to share them with you.
    FOC is an acronym for Family Of Choice, and we have a fantastic one, a group of folks who I have chosen to turn into family, in some cases even asking them point-blank if they’d act in certain roles for us because my own family is so dysfunctional. I’ve learned the hard way that high quality friendship is rare and worth fighting for and that most especially I should be steadfast and true (and can expect the same) during their most difficult trials.
    If you care about this person as much as you imply then it seems as if the hard truth you had to speak means he or she by definition needs your support more than you need support…or am I missing something? You needed support because you said something that made you nervous? Shower your friend with love and concern over whatever this truth is.
    As much as I loved Johnny Cash I don’t in the end want to talk about all the regrets I have and doubt you do, either. F’d up family we can’t do anything about but friends that we’ve chosen are a gift to cherish, no matter what’s happening to them.
    At the risk of sounding positively British, I disagree regarding staying neutral. It’s by definition a very bad trait. You couldn’t be more off-base there. In fact, Dante (who would have been horrified by social media in general, and in particular the fact that you wrote about a “friend” that others can identify or, worse, guess wrongly – so much so that one of your blog followers scrambled for her phone to see if you’d called her, poor woman), who lived in the 12th/13th century, believed the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain neutrality. Is this friend experiencing moral crisis? Are you? Does your behavior toward her feel ethical, moral, kind, loving? I hope so.
    There’s coal miner’s protest song from the ‘30s, “ Which Side Are You On?” that – and again, I’m going out on the un-neutral limb here, alone and separate from your supportive followers – I think you should look up the lyrics and hum it along to yourself while perhaps you pray for some guidance and figure out what this person needs most from you, right now. It’s soooo easy to judge others, isn’t it? I know, because I’m judging you.

  21. tori

    kinglearsdaughter: Welcome to ‘Bloomr Nation– nice to have you stop by!

    I guess my decision to remain purposely vague re: details about my friend (including gender) caused a little confusion and might indeed have led you to miss something… (BTW, LindaB who made the ‘scramble for the phone’ remark is a very dear friend who was totally joking–she was making a reference to the fact that we have very different political views and have teased each other about that throughout the recent election season!)

    I have indeed, to the best of my ability, been showering my friend with love, kindness, concern, support, time, attention and prayer, but the situation had deteriorated to the point that continuing to do that without speaking the truth about what the real issues were made me feel like an accomplice to their destruction. The truth I spoke was not a lecture, or an accusation or an opinion– I spoke five words that simply stated the reality of what was happening at that moment. But sadly, as I have seen this person do many, many times over the years, those five words were enough to cause my friend to completely cut me out of their life. I am no longer in a position to offer any kind of support– it has been made abundantly clear that our connection is terminated. My love and prayers, however, will continue. From a safe distance.

    A tremendous amount of new information has surfaced since then, and I am now more sure than ever that my decision to NOT stay ‘neutral in their time of moral crisis’ was exactly the right one. I only wish to God I had done it sooner.

    I admire your fierce commitment to the friends and FOC in your life, it sounds like they are lucky to have you. My family of origin is one of the most important things in my life– they are my touchstone, my safe place to land, and I love them with all my heart. My husband has had a much rockier road with the family he was born into, and it has taken a lot of years and a lot of therapy to come to terms with it all. BUT, he has an amazing FOC that I thank God for every day. So yeah, I totally agree with you about cherishing those people in your life.

    (And it’s OK about that whole ‘judging me’ thing– if you stick around, I think you’ll find this is a very welcoming, widely diverse, massively entertaining and refreshingly non-judgemental community!)

  22. jonny

    Interestingly enough, I read this– first, then back peddled here and read kinglearsdaughter’s ‘Say it!.’ Thank God that in knowing what was best in His good purposes for creating each of us he chose those he did to bring us into the world. And for those of us who have had –and may still be having– a rough time with all, or part, of their biological families, He has allowed and brought about people in our lives to help get us where we need to be; especially if this includes a full on FOC. Many years ago it dawned on me that Mary and Joseph were the FOC for the Christ child.

  23. jonny

    Oh, and welcome aboard kinglearsdaughter !! = )

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