Living a more simple life doesn’t always have to do with ‘stuff’. Posts that are becoming popular on this blog are the ones that have to do with de-cluttering areas of the home. But there are aspects beyond the physical things that can, and really need to be simplified in order to live fully. Recently I’ve been thinking about how simplicity can benefit us in so many ways. I started jotting down a list of habits that foster simplicity. In this list was:
1. Having meaningful conversation.
Ask yourself these questions when you’re talking about something.
1. Is it necessary?
2. Is it true?
3. Is it edifying?
If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these, perhaps you can refrain from making negative comments. Or maybe you can steer the conversation towards something more uplifting and constructive.
2. Taking care of yourself.
If we make sure to take care of ourselves it really can help us take care of others by making us able to give more fully and attentively. We also need to understand our own hearts in order to better love other people.
What do these two things have in common?: Being honest.
Simplicity can change your life. But it’s also true that simplicity is impossible without honesty. Consider how firmly planting honesty can make simplicity bloom in your life.
Just a few days later, a dear friend of mine wrote a post that wonderfully encompassed both of these things. For a concrete and very real example of how honesty makes life less complicated, continue reading the story below. I’m so happy to include this brave, beautiful, and inspiring guest post called ‘Honesty Saved My Life’…
Honesty Saved My Life
(This is a guest post by Mirjana. This post was originally published at The Purple Seastar.)
“We are only as sick as our secrets,” said the woman at the other end of the phone. “So do not be afraid to reach out when you’re struggling. It really helps.”
She’s just saying that, I thought, because I wasn’t used to honesty yet. It wasn’t what I expected in others, because, although I would have stated otherwise at the time, I didn’t have much of it in myself. I held secrets until they held me. I lied by omission time and time again. I accepted the lies I told myself, and soon all of these blurred my vision. I was navigating through life wearing warped and fingerprinted glasses, and I could no longer differentiate reality from fiction, though I feverishly searched for truth.
One of the biggest lies I came to believe was: Asking for help makes me weak.
The second biggest lie was: I don’t need help. I need to suck it up, I am doing just fine.
These two big, fat lies kept me mum about everything, which continued a spiral of what became life-threatening dishonesty.
Truly, I was dying. Here is where I defy the allure of secret-keeping: I was wandering deeper and deeper into the pit of anorexia, where the only options are honesty, or death.
This mental illness thrives on dishonesty. It convinced me that I was worth nothing. It diverted my attention from the pain I was actually experiencing and convinced me that all I had to do to fix everything was to attain a certain inhuman number on a scale. It kept me sneakily counting calories, exercising on an empty stomach, and fabricating reasons to miss meals and avoid social interactions. Most of all, my eating disorder convinced me that all of this was normal and that I was in complete control.
When the same woman I mentioned earlier, who had been through the same thing I was struggling with, called me out on my sh*t, I didn’t know what to do. I had no retaliation, because she called me out by sharing her own story, honestly and lovingly. The pull of my anorexia became stronger after this, but I was becoming aware of it, little by little. And I hated it. Everything I had believed about myself seemed to be turned completely on its head. I was trapped, and all I did was writhe and scream, trying to deflect loving honesty because it hurt, simultaneously moving towards the other alternative.
But she didn’t give up on me. This woman continued to talk to me, always patient, always honest, gently coaxing me towards life. She showed me that honesty opens us up to true human connection. It shows us that we are all struggling, and that, even when we feel like we are drowning in a river of loneliness, we really are not alone.
I practiced being honest with her. After a while, I was able to be honest with my doctor, then with a friend I really trusted, then with my parents. Each time I confessed to someone about my eating disorder, I felt the sting of losing something dear to me. I counted the people who “knew my secret,” and tried to limit it to the number of fingers on one hand.
But I found that impossible. The woman who showed me the power of honesty also told me that it’s impossible to recover alone. I believe that these two things go hand in hand. I told a couple friends that I lived with about my eating disorder, so that I had support surrounding me.
Sometimes, when I was honest with people, I was met with unhelpful comments. But 99% of the time, I was met with unflinching support. My eyes were opened to the possibilities of deeper human relationships all around me. When I shared with someone, the honesty was almost like the relief of a floodgate opening. People shared their own struggles with me, returning the vulnerability and humility that I showed them, trusting that they would be met with love. The warped glasses we had both been wearing fell away. Honesty allowed me to form deeper friendships with the people around me, and with my family.
Honesty becomes scary when we begin to believe that our support system feels burdened by us. This is another lie that I have to fight back on a daily basis. When others ask me for support, I don’t feel burdened, but loved. Why would this be any different when I ask others for support? (Clue: it isn’t! And if it is, then maybe this person isn’t a good person to count on for this kind of support).
As I progress further into recovery from this illness, I attribute most of my success to the support of my family and friends- friends who have had eating disorders and friends who haven’t. Being honest with others helps me to be honest with myself, and once I am honest with myself, I am able to be honest with others. It is a cycle of deeper human connection.
And, above all, honesty saves!