More often than not, we know how we are supposed to act. There is a difference between thinking something and saying what's on our minds. For many of us, the internal dialogue of what we should and shouldn't say, questioning whether we are we good mom's, daughters, friends etc., can torture us. The truth slips out unedited, despite our best intentions. For instance, you are not supposed to laugh at funerals, but it happens. You are not supposed to tell someone they look tired, but you do anyway. We know that we shouldn't grimace at someone else's food. but the face just takes that form sometimes. You are aware you should not talk through someone's speech -- but we whisper away. Asking someone their salary -- I think not -- How much did you weigh when you got married -- and now? NOT. Wow, you changed your hair color, wow. Or my mom came into my house and said, looking at my new décor, "Did you consider any other color besides red"? Ouch.
We beat ourselves up when we realize we have let a "truth" slip out that we shouldn't have.
Sometimes it's just so hard to contain all the stuff we really feel and want to say and it feels so right to have a "confessor." For me, that is a friend who I feel safe enough to admit something to that is just not conventionally okay to say.
On a recent spring afternoon, my dear friend came over for a visit. She looked amazing. "How was your day?" I asked. "Well it started out a little rough -- I had to kill my dog this morning and I missed my exercise class," she said. "I did cry -- I really did -- but now I'm over it. My friends keep calling and they are worried that I am so sad -- I can't tell them that I'm not -- I'm fine -- I'm just a little on edge because I didn't get to exercise today."
I tried to stay calm and not let my face betray my inner reaction, but frankly, I was horrified. I dissolved into hysterical laughing. "WHO THE HELL ADMITS TO THAT????" -- well SHE DID. The flood gates opened and I was ready to confess. Actually, the reason I was home was because my son had emergency appendectomy surgery the day before. She had brought a gift for him -- she was concerned and was sweet to come by. "How are you doing she asked?" "Poor you" -- "your poor kid".
So I kind of paused and since she had come clean, I thought I would, too...
I'm glad I was here for the surgery and so glad he came through it great, but honestly, he looks fine. I feel like I can't leave because I haven't clocked more than 48 hours of doing the mom thing. He is 25 years old and is totally independent. Yet, I feel so guilty because I want to go hang with my friends who are all gathered for a weekend at my summer house. My husband is there, they are there, and I am here being a good mother. I love my kid -- he needs rest, he needs food, he needs his mom. I want to be the perfect mom and give him all that -- but for how long?
She totally got it. We snickered about our shared secret. She loved her dog, I love my son. This was not the point. We knew the world would not understand you can love and be loyal but sometimes you just need to confess your honest feelings without being judged. So I decided to read this "piece" to my convalescing son and his girlfriend who had just stopped by. We laughed together about how we torture ourselves trying to be the most thoughtful caring people ever -- and we had a full-blown talk which led to them discussing how much truth we should all handle. What a platform for really getting into someone's head -- and I got to sit back and watch how well they dialogued -- so cool. Who knew? Honesty was the gateway drug and we were flying. You should try it.
Read more from Better After 50:
Follow Felice Shapiro on Twitter: www.twitter.com/betterafter50