Weekend Gauge Check: Defining Emotional Honesty

It’s time for our weekend rituals, the ceremonies of escorting one week out and preparing the next one. Which, around here, is the Gauge Check, where I take a look at my week and figure out where I’ve come from and where I’m going. Sometimes there are goals, sometimes I just talk about what’s going on in my life and my crafting. You are all welcome to join in in the comments.

So I’m finding myself in a bit of a dilemma this week, because I’m struggling with the border between my own emotional honesty and sparing someone else’s feelings. Does my upset trump their discomfort? Or should I keep my mouth shut and wait to see what the fallout is?

I have a friend who has a partner that I strongly dislike. Being around the partner is emotionally exhausting; partner is relentlessly negative, bordering on hateful, and exhibits a number of other behaviors that mean every time I am forced to deal with them I end up angry.

With help from Jack, I worked to establish good boundaries that helped to keep my resentment in check.

Now, they’ve officially split up, though circumstances have forced them to continue living together. So should I still play nice with the partner, or can I be honest with my friend about how I feel?

At least for now, I’ll probably err on the side of discretion, and see how it falls out.

Emotional honesty, for me, is about being honest with myself first.  Yes, I’m battling the Cult of Okay, refusing to pretend to be fine for the sake of greasing the wheels, but I’m not trying to hurt other people.  What emotional honesty gives me is the ability to establish boundaries, to identify when I need to pull away from someone who’s causing me pain.  It gives me a place to say “No, this isn’t working,” from; it gives me space to not feel like a failure or a bad friend when I need to protect myself.

Isabel didn’t like boundaries.  If you were in a relationship with her, romantic or otherwise, she was the one who decided how close you got to be.  She was the one who decided when you were allowed to walk away.  When someone followed a timetable other than hers, I was subjected to the dual-pronged attack of listening to her complain incessantly about the “disloyal” former friend, and simultaneously demand to know when I was going to betray and abandon her.  Added to my own fierce sense of loyalty, I have a hard time knowing what a reasonable boundary is.  How much am I required to give before I’m allowed to expect an emotional return?  When is a good time to say “That’s enough, no more?”

I still don’t know.


~ by Amber on September 17, 2012.

One Response to “Weekend Gauge Check: Defining Emotional Honesty”

  1. Wow I loved this! I am 44 years old and have just recently learned that it is ok to establish “emotional boundaries”. 22 years I endured an emotionally abusive marriage. I have two young adult daughters and I want them to understand the imporatance of emotional boundaries since they did not see their mother establish it until recently.

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