Taking the blame out of honesty
My recent obsession with Dexter has me thinking a lot about the value of truth. We all have a way we want to be: an ideal self, like Dexter’s code. Our behaviors, with the right effort and intention, generally reflect our principles. Well, so long as our feeling is on board, that is. Our feeling, the river of emotions we ride, is the thing we try to manipulate the most- in order to stay the course and complete the story we’ve decided on in our head- like we’re gathering research in our own personal forensic lab- stapling the blood spatter analysis to theories of probable culpability, no meddling or murderous feeling unaccounted for. Sooner or later, the facts always lead to the truth. If the code you live by reads like Dexter’s: 1. Never get caught., then, you know the story takes precedence, and the appearance of maintaining your story trumps the actuality.
Lately I see everyone around me with everything life told them they needed to do, be, have — and yet, something snags at every turn, doubt and confusion lurk in the shadows, the undiscovered shrapnel of real evidence, subverted or left to oblivion. Instead of turning to truth, we invest further in the story; we decide some debt has to be paid to our lover, our boss, our mother, our friends… so that we can feel complete again. These “good deeds” save us from facing the reality that is our destiny. We feel validated in the story — that it’s true we are giving and loving and punctual and articulate etc., and look how happy they are now, that they don’t know…
But the emotional being we conquer through doing does not back down. The river approaches its precipice and the line breaks and we fall — if we’re fortunate.
I fell. The first was impossible to brace myself from. I had almost no tools. Everything in my head tried not to let go, tried to maintain the story I was raised to trust. I tried to just be a good girl because I loved and respected my family, so I got internships and night jobs and learned to “make it” living on my own. But my spirit was so broken all of my resources went towards keeping myself alive nevermind building anything. I didn’t want to build anything, especially not a story or a lie. When I graduated from college 3 and a half years ago, that’s when the story fell apart. It was crumbling within the walls of those years of higher education; So much mental illumination led me to face my inner abyss. I was living in Chicago, far away from my family, from the life I had known and something in me was asking to be heard, to drop the act and start fresh. I’m sure many of you share a similar story, an origin of consciousness or at least the resounding admission that all was not right or fine even. It came from the heart.
Sure, it would be possible to live with the unrest. Just how we manage to live in the chaos we create, emotional or physical, to avoid the real work. Because we can always pick up the pieces and try again. Why do we find it so hard to try in new ways? Why is our human disadvantage a cloying indifference to our personal, spiritual freedom? If not indifference then perhaps stubbornness or blindness, or both.
I surmise the answer lies at the highest point, at the center of our experience. We desperately want to trust the head, the perceived vessel of our sight and communication, even when it lets us down. The codependent relationship begins here. I need my mind to reassure my heart that it exists. It is my fickle interpreter, collecting tolls on the highway to consciousness.
Dexter reasons that it’s the code keeping him from turning himself in, the only way he knows how to be from everything his father Harry has told him. The code gets undermined when Dexter uncovers the secrets of Harry’s past. As the show’s seasons continue, we learn it is not the code but Dexter’s desire to live and feel that causes him to continue in the way he does. It’s as if Harry’s code was meant to protect this possibility for Dexter by buying him time to control his monster and eventually overcome it.
What if I could see the destination without having to worry about the route? Then the head would miss its opportunity to bring me on detour after detour after detour… This is the goal but the head won’t be silenced all at once but through continual practice via meditation, yoga, qi gong, sacred dances, wilderness walks- wherever your work brings you. These practices are at the foundation of choosing to live an authentic existence. Yet, it is in all of the moments in between practice where the real work exists.
Which brings me to the axis of my exploration: how to be honest in every moment by choosing to live in a space of truth and acceptance. Additionally, how can I be honest to myself and others without needing to feel the threat of blame. Oftentimes the worst is not experiencing the blame myself but experiencing the sensation of the other feeling blame from my honesty. This can be an unbearable confession for those of us who are sensitive communicators. Dexter can’t tell the truth because Rita would consider herself a complete failure, unable to detect a quality character; she would never trust anyone again. Deb as well, having been tricked by one serial killer already, to find out she lived with one her whole life, her father an accomplice, would shatter her faith in humanity. These are Dexter’s considerations. Thus, our wanting to understand the other overwhelms our needing to be understood. Yet are we giving our partner enough credit by holding back when we’re angry, instead of trusting them to not take it personally? Or if they do, trusting them to come to terms and do what is best for themselves. Do we insult others by suggesting they can’t handle the truth? We follow the advise of our head but then we feel remorse for the thoughts and feelings it generates.
If we were spiritually oriented, rather than bound to our story and its place in the social web, we would welcome truth at any cost.
The results are unknown, which is arguably why we stick with what we know. Being a catalyst for a new social paradigm that’s marked by honesty and trust is too great a feat for us to fathom. We fear the unknown so we settle for the status quo; We even defend it, become conservative, and vote for Trump — the incarnation of ignorance. Our political system prays upon our permeable, isolated, mental consciousness until such a shadow of cynicism and hate is cast over our hearts that HOPE now only echos the memory of our current leader’s feeble campaign.
Dexter is an extreme example, I know. He is confounded at every turn because, being a serial killer, his truth complicates the value of human life. He contemplates turning himself in and the relief he would experience as a result. Inevitably he favors his life, because capital T truth for Dexter implies capital P punishment. What is the risk of your truth? Is it worth your life or another’s? To save one or spare one? Is this what is boils down to?
Being the watcher: The way I have found to best express my emotions is by being the watcher, not the owner, of my mind and thoughts, so that when I share them they can be observations, curiosities even, instead of a two ton anchor of emotion I feel is going to sink the boat of my relationship or friendship. In other words sharing becomes purely openness and there is no predetermined blame or outcome you fear reporting to the other. You come to the table with humility, knowing your mind is a two headed snake hissing truth and lies in the same tounge.
In the mind, where fear reigns, to be spared is a merciful offering. We pity the one who would have to bear our truth, so we hide it. We lie, we cheat, or we just say nothing. Meanwhile the one we are responsible to feels anything but free in being spared. Nor do we feel spared by the Government and the Corportations that hide our humiliation from us. As long as we’re awake, it bothers us to feel a prisoner.
While learning to speak from the heart- which from my experience is the only source of absolute certainty, we must let go of the credence we assign to our mind. Author Robin Sharma says, “The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.” I don’t believe in an external source of evil that acts upon us. Evil is innate and one with unconsciousness, living in the darkness we do not see but nonetheless identify with because it appears to be of our organism and self. We believe the mind holds the keys to our way out of problems and so we sympathize with our mental oppressor, giving it the power to set us free… or not.
Why would the universe create this stokholm syndrome of the soul?:
Each one of us lives with an oppressor, a voice that tells us we are not good enough, not ready for our dreams, not worthy of success or love. Our story is weak and so the oppressor withholds the rewards of the ego. When we identify with this voice, we feel we deserve our lot. We might even exaccerbate the external situation in order to experience the truth of the accusations inside our head.
Dexter tells himself he has no feeling and thus he must experience in cold blood what he believes himself to be. If we can become more honest with all of the information we experience coursing within ourselves, we can have a true experience of the heart. When we were children most of us were fortunate to have experienced love in all of our being. We grow up and forget, and our task becomes to remember and allow love to enter through the grace of that memory. Then only will we learn to love this voice inside of us for what it is, a teacher. We also will learn to love those who have hurt us, and thus find a way back to the heart, the real master of all.
I can’t know truth without experiencing the challenge of its absence. For many of us, the challenge can last a lifetime. I believe the lesson need not rob us of our lives before we conquer the lie.
When you accept what you really are, what you really want, regardless of fear or the threat of blame, shame and separateness, then only will you be truly embraced by life itself rather than merely the story you’ve constructed. For Dexter, I don’t know if he will ever be ready to own up to his acts (I’ve just begun Season 3). I imagine his heart would have to see the value of freedom for the love of truth above the love for life itself. For the rest of us, the sooner we give up our lies, the less we will have built to lose. If we can stay on top of our mental dominion by engaging in honesty whenever possible, the truth will speak to us. Honesty need not imply having answers, merely sharing with yourself and, when appropriate, others what it is you experience and where you feel it is coming from. If we can do this and simultaneously connect to our passions and joy for living — thereby stimulating the heart — we will begin to experience what it means to live authentically, to be saved.