The Honesty of Discomfort

At the suggestion of a friend, I’ve begun reading “The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness” by Pema Chodron. From the very first page, my world was rocked:

During the dathun (as always at the abbey), the participants kept the five monastic vows: not to lie, not to steal, not to engage in sexual activity, not to take life, and not to use alcohol or drugs.

Ok. I roll my eyes. Blah, blah, blah.

The resulting collaboration of nature, solitude, meditation, and vows made an alternatingly painful and delightful “no exit” situation. With nowhere to hide…

Woah! I put down the book. Nowhere to hide?! And it’s “delightful?”

I squirm.

Why am I so uncomfortable with this thought? What do I have to hide?

You couldn’t lie.

I squirm.

Are you kidding me? One of the character traits I prize most is my honesty and integrity…to the point of brutality, I’ve been told. I would always rather someone told me the truth, even if it’s hard and painful to hear because that’s the only way I know someone is trustworthy and worth having in my life. I look down on people who struggle with honesty and judge them for being less trustworthy than I…less honorable than I…less than I.

So…why am I squirming? Particularly over something that I know I do not do?

Except, that you DO. 

What?! When?!

At work. 

Seriously? How?

By not speaking up when you know someone’s lack of integrity upsets you.

But it’s my boss! How do I tell my boss that she’s lacking integrity without losing my job?! I have to pretend I don’t notice it if I want to keep my job!

Why do you want this job if you have to lie to keep it?

I’m stumped. I have absolutely no good reason. From the outside, I have the perfect life. I live in an ideal and quiet beach town in Southern California. I have my dream job and have fabulous benefits. My office has a stunning view, and I have yet to drive to work without expressing gratitude at the scenery. I have access to all kinds of circles and events and have made excellent connections. But, over the past two years, I have become increasingly miserable despite all of the magnificence of my life…of my dreams coming true. Why?!

Because of the lying.

You’re asking me to tell the truth even though I know it will mean I will lose my job.

I’m not asking you to do this…YOU’RE asking you to do this. You’re miserable. How long will you continue to ignore your heart? 

But how come no one else is bothered by this?

Lots of reasons. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that it bothers you and you’re pretending that it doesn’t. And for what?

I then notice my body…full of aches, lethargic, anxious, teeth deteriorating, canker sores, digestive issues, food cravings. How did this happen? Why didn’t I notice before?

Lying. You have been lying to yourself. And, your body is reaping the rewards of that. The lack of integrity within you is being reflected in your body and your outer world.


Now what.

Tell the truth. 

No matter what?!

No matter what. 

To sit in a room and tell the truth about my boss to her face and to administration? I’ll have to defend myself. I’ll have to provide examples. Can I do that? I realize that I can indeed…I realize that I have lots of examples. I realize I’m angry. I realize I’m frustrated. I realize just how miserable I am each day.

I squirm again.

To sit in that room and tell the truth and not back down? To tell the truth to people I know personally as well as professionally? To tell the truth and face ridicule? To tell the truth and experience even more harassment from my boss? To tell the truth and risk everything?

Do you really have any other options at this point?

I squirm. Again.

No. I don’t.

I squirm…and send an email to administration requesting a meeting.

It’s time to tell the truth.