Tell the truth or gloss over my life?

I recently had a conversation with my husband about how honest I should be about what’s going on in my life. Should I gloss over it? Do people really want to know what’s going on? When they ask, “How are you?,” do they really mean it?

Early this morning, I spoke with a friend whom I’ve known for thirty years. We’ve been raw and honest with each other about kids, husbands, ex-husbands, divorce. You get the picture. During our conversation this morning, I gave the highlights of my family – kids are doing great, employed, girls have flexible schedules, son and his family enjoy cruises. I’m going good – painting abstract art, being interviewed on podcasts for caregivers, promoting the book. Arthur, a paraplegic, is stable.

So yes, on the surface, life is good. And my friend thinks I have nothing to complain about. Yet afterwards, I didn’t feel right.

Because those highlights are just the top layer. There’s always stuff underneath.

Years ago, I remember that everyone thought my life was great. Great husband, made good money, owned a car phone – in 1986! His company put us up in Bed and Breakfasts and gave amazing Christmas parties. We looked good. People thought we didn’t need anything. While my uncle was offering financial backing to a family member, we were perceived as doing well financially. We weren’t offered free furniture or cheap automobiles. People saw the need in others, but not in me/us.

I didn’t display any needs, financial or otherwise. I was solid. Strong. Came across as if everything was fine, working things out in my own head. I didn’t share what was going on underneath the golden halo that people saw. Underneath, we had marriage problems. My husband wanted to leave after four years of marriage. He began spending money without my knowledge. We were in debt. I didn’t share any of this with my family and very little with close friends.

When I shared this perception that people had of us with a dear friend, she told me I needed to be willing to be vulnerable. Be willing to let people in, to show that I could use some help too.

So I began the journey of being more open and honest with certain people whom I trusted. Now, my favorite part of conversations with my friends is the reality of life. Theirs or mine. Just being real with each other.

BUT, here’s the BUT… Mary Kay Ash said, “When people ask how you are, tell them you’re great!” And I don’t have to tell you how many books are written on the power of positive thinking and not having a single negative thought.

Hence, my dilemma. If I share the grit in my life, am I being negative? Focusing on the wrong things?

Do I sound like a whiney complainer or a victim because that’s not who I want to be or be seen as!

When I share just the good stuff, I’m not being completely truthful. It comes across as it did many years ago – as if everything is rosy. Sometimes it feels like I’m bragging. Yes, I’ve seen my grandkids! I went kite-flying this weekend! I’m sensitive to this because I don’t always want to hear how wonderful other people’s lives are, especially when I’m going through a rough patch.

I also need to get comfortable with the highlights in my life. I’ve earned the right to some goodness in my life. No reason not to claim them.

I suppose it comes down to trust and balance. Whom do I trust with my deepest secrets and my darkest moments? Those few can know the truth. Not everyone needs to know the details of my life.

And frankly, I don’t always want to be talking about the daily nonsense. We all have nonsense, don’t we? These conversations don’t leave me feeling uplifted.

So I find myself at the other end of the spectrum, wanting to put some stuff back in the bottle and not share it all. Not all the good, not all the not-so-good. Finding the middle way.

What are your thoughts on sharing the good, the bad and the ugly?

Angela DiCicco

The Italian Grandmama

Author of Better Than Before: One Couple’s Journey After a Tragic Accident

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3 thoughts on “Tell the truth or gloss over my life?

  1. I have two sisters that I can and do talk to about anything. We are each other’s best friends, greatest supporters and counselors. Most everyone else only sees the best of me.


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