Note: this is the final part of a five part entry, posted in five daily parts. It's strongly suggested you start with the first, here, and read from there. Note that single-spaced, this series of entries comes out to nine pages in OpenOffice, so the daily breaks are for both digestibility as well as readability. On the same note, I think I may get more useful comments and feedback with multiple parts. Please note:I state defining principles of a lot of what we do here, ergo comments are not only welcome, but requested. They are screened by default, if it's okay to unscreen please tell me. This notice will appear on each entry.
In the previous four entries, I covered, as straightforwardly and as honestly as I could, my belief systems, how I see people, and my justifications behind it. It may make me seem unfair, or self-centered, but I'm being open here: I forge the types of relationships I forge. Throughout it all, every time I've found myself posting something that I didn't see as accurate, I stopped, backspaced, and went over it. Any time I found myself saying something that I couldn't believe I'd said, but then I found to be true, I forced myself to leave it in. Sure, copy editing, spelling corrections, and restructuring happened, but I couldn't let what I felt escape the entry.
Part 5: Explorations in Radical Honesty
The Monkey and I recently watched an awesome Fox show starring Tim Roth called "Lie to Me". The show is about a team of "deception experts" who are able to tell when people are lying by facial micro-expressions made for less than 1/5 of a second. It's based on a real person, Paul Ekman, who pre-reviews every episode.
In this show, there is a supporting character named Eli Loker who adheres to something called Radical Honesty. The link there is to a wikipedia entry, and a copyrighted series of books and self-help lectures, but it's a very, very simple concept.
Say what you're feeling. Say what's on your mind. I've always tried to do this on some level with the Monkey, but now, I'm pushing it one step further, even removing the last of the filter. It also implies things like "don't ask questions you don't want an honest answer to". I suppose the classic "does this dress make me look fat?" would be an example. Supposedly, if the show is to be believed, the average person lies three times in ten minutes of conversation. About past experiences, about knowing things they don't, about seeming more right than they are. About the time, number, and frequency of sexual encounters. About inane things. About important things. And it comes to the point that you start to get not only used to it, but believing it. It's a filter that takes things from the speech center of your brain, and embellishes, polishes, omits, and distorts. It's a bullshit filter.
I've often said that the relationship I've had with the monkey has been one of the most honest and open ones I've ever had, but there's still been things I've been less than true about: a friend I had let be dominant over me, previous experiences in life, things as minor as a food allergy I've claimed to have ever since I've known her.
As I worked to shut down the filter, over the first few days I felt like I was drunk. I babbled incessantly. In fact, I gestured as I normally do when drunk. This is actually not surprising, as being drunk shuts off the same filter, so my brain was in a similar mode. I said every thought that popped into my head, no matter how inane (and given enough caffeine, there are quite a few of those). I've mentioned numerous things to the monkey, and with at least a few other people, in both emails and IM conversations, I've simply gotten things off my chest, cleared the air, said things I hadn't said previously or been saying to try to be nice, to be tactful. For some people, in IM, as soon as I saw their names something came into my mind, I realized it was true, and typed it: some radical things about ways I had damaged relationships, people I had wronged, opportunities I had missed. Every time I think about other things in the past that I might have said that are even the most bit misleading, I blurt them out. I correct myself constantly now, until I'm sure meaning is straight. Conversations are just a little stressful with the monkey. If I'm upset, I've been saying it lately instead of keeping calm. This may pass, it may not.
Being this honest doesn't mean the complete lack of tact, and it doesn't mean the complete loss of at least a little sugar-coating. If someone's wearing something that makes them look bad, there are a couple ways to say it as opposed to first-instinct. "That's not attractive on you" gives the same message as "God that makes you look ugly". I suppose the most important thing may be to respect people's limits: if they tell you outright that they don't like this, then I suppose like everything else, there needs to be the capability of safe space.
I would love to have this concept with everyone who wears a collar, and I would love to have it be bidirectional, but like so much else, that part wouldn't be mandatory: some people could only take it on after a long time, and some people never could. Some of the guidelines I've mentioned previously start to approach this, though.
I already push subs to this: to tell me what's wrong when I ask, to tell me what their needs are, to tell me when they're not okay instead of shelling. I especially insist on "safewording", and giving me status updates when you've got heavy stuff going on, either inflicted by me, or by life in general. I think on this one, I'm going to lead by example. Some of you reading this may have already seen this if you've been speaking to me.
Once I've explored it on that scope, I may employ it with my greater circle of friends and acquaintances in general. I'd honestly love to be able to employ this in my work life as well; but there are walls. Mentioning your love life at work (especially when you're into BDSM and are poly and at least a little bit bi) is a little bit weird, and just a little bit dangerous, but I can at least shut off the bullshit.
I freely admit that I can't do it with strangers. Not yet, anyway.
I'd like to thank anyone who's read all the way through to this point. It's been an interesting writing experience, and it's been useful both to hone my writing style, as well as to get a lot of things out of my head and into text, both about the past, and about the future: where I've been, where I'd like to go. How I've lived, how I'd like to live. While I have been told by some that I write using a very knowing/knowledgable tone, the truth is, just like everyone else on the planet, I'm still learning and still figuring it out. People are complex, and when you have multiple people, in multiple co-mingled relationships together, that require the degrees of trust these do, it can be difficult, and there can be numerous unseen variables. I don't propose to be an expert. I'm a programmer, a techie, a appreciator of hard science: I analyze things, and I come up with logical conclusions and relationships. People aren't always logical, and they don't always adhere to rules.
I need to be honest with myself as well: perhaps, in all this, I'm just trying to come up with some method to bribe/nudge/push people into fitting into my definitions, or rule them out. I can't honestly know, and time will tell.
For those of you who haven't been regular readers, please know that comments are screened, and that I love/crave feedback. I tend to reply to screened comments, which requires me to de-screen them momentarily (obviously if you have the option to email comments turned off, you miss out). Once this entry has had time to "set" for a while, I'll likely add them to this journal's memories listing.