When Honesty Brings Grief

18 Oct

“I wish I’d met you before I got engaged.  Then I wouldn’t be engaged right now! I really, really like you.  Maybe I shouldn’t be engaged?  Maybe this proves that I made a mistake?  Are you going to say anything?  Do you like me?”

Sometimes, when confronted with honesty, I get annoyed.  I feel like someone used “honesty is the best policy” as an excuse to dump things onto me that are an unfair burden for me to carry.  This revelation felt like one of them.  I had no idea he felt this way, but that’s probably because he’s not exactly a close friend, a more recent acquaintance that I’ve enjoyed getting to know.  And by getting to know, I mean, laughing at stupid things during group meetings, discussing our mutual interests in hockey and exercise.  He doesn’t know that I go to church or that I have 3 amazing siblings or that I can’t write with black pens.

The answer I gave him was pretty blunt and honest.  “I don’t know if I like you.  In fact, I’ll never know if I like you because guys who are married, engaged or dating, are off limits to me which means I wouldn’t even let myself consider if I liked them.  And now that I know this, we really can’t be friends anymore.  You need to figure this commitment out for yourself but you can’t use me as a scapegoat or an excuse to ditch the engagement.  Figure it out on your own but whatever you do, please respect your fiance.

And then I moved into the stages of grief.  (Well, more like stages of annoyance.  I don’t particularly like losing friends or handling awkward situations.)

1. Shock and Denial – Maybe I heard him wrong?  Maybe he just likes me as a friend?  Maybe he was just teasing or somehow trying to flatter his own ego by hoping that I would say “Yes, I like you?”  There’s no way someone would say that in real life.

2. Pain and Guilt – Did I do something to cause this?  I’ve never flirted with him, but I’ve been friendly.  No more friendly than with the others in the group.  There were those two emails about exercise nutrition but they were so matter of fact and non-personal.  Is this my fault?  Am I a horrible fiance-stealing person?

3.  Anger and Bargaining – God, this is not a funny joke. I hate losing friends especially people that I really connect with and don’t have to work at being close with. I’ll be a better person if you make this go away.  Like, have him tell me that it was some stupid exercise for his negotiation class or something.  Or that he’s not really engaged, he just wanted to see what kind of character I had.  Because this is REALLY annoying.

4.  Acceptance.  That had nothing to do with me. I did nothing wrong and I know that because were I to go back in time, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I was friendly and funny and considerate but I never singled him out or gave any indication of this.  I wish I didn’t know and we could still be friends.  But then that wouldn’t change how he feels and that could end up being more awkward.  It’s better to know and move on, to accept that people have different standards than I do.

Sometimes, honesty brings grief.  We learn something we didn’t want to know.  About ourselves.  Or about someone else.  And it can be painful or embarrassing or just really, really awkward.  But after the dust settles, you never regret honesty.  Too much of life is dim and hazy.  Whenever we can illuminate a truth, clear up a misconception, bare our true feelings, it helps us live a better life.  Even if that means relinquishing a friendship to the pit of “friendships that almost were but probably never should have been.”


3 Responses to “When Honesty Brings Grief”

  1. Becky October 18, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    You know, i probably shouldn’t write this on here, but just so you know you’re not alone with this kind of honesty that brings grief thing.. i was once faced with the exact same situation as you’ve described.. and it brought me so much grief, and fear that i had some how done something to cause it. Anyway, i owe you a letter.. i will write soon. Much love, xx

  2. Andy Fay October 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Trouble is Liz, he’s not been taught that men have crushes. All their lives. Not just when they’re dizzy teenagers, but all their lives. And he’s mistaken a crush for something more.
    If he had a wise, older, male companion, he could voice his crush first, to his old friend. The older guy would chuckle, and then call him an idiot, they’d both laugh, order another beer, and talk about football or cars or something, and the bomb would be defused.
    Instead, he threw you the bomb.
    Perhaps the finality of marriage has dawned, perhaps he’s shaky about his fiancee, or perhaps he just ‘says it how it is’. Whatever his reasons, your answer was perfect. it was beautifully put, kind, and honouring. Well done Liz.

    • ezelie October 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

      Thanks for that, Andy!

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