Rushing to release the past often has the reverse effect. Radical honesty is a better way.
There are no shortcuts in life. I learned that this past weekend in Los Angeles. My trip was partly work related and partly to enjoy BritWeek in Santa Monica. I was also assigned to be at a Radical Honesty workshop during the weekend. At first I thought it would just another review of an event aimed at the “personal growth” crowd. Instead, I ended up immersed in the workshop myself. It was all synchronicity.
One moment I’m in work mode, the next I am enjoying British culture near the Santa Monica Pier, and then I suddenly noticed a man on the boardwalk whom I thought I knew. My girlfriend noticed my sudden nervousness. It was Ronan. A man I met months ago who wanted to be friends. Nothing wrong with wanting a new friend except I had been reading way too much Cosmopolitan magazine issues and listening to Kathryn Alice, the so-called “soulmate expert”. Both Cosmo and Kathryn Alice convinced me that when a man says he wants to be friends, it a gentle way of him telling you to go away. Kathryn Alice also added that there was no way a man could be one's soulmate if they just wanted to be friends. It wasn't about soulmate status for me. I was responding to thinking he just wanted me around as part of his admirer's club. So my response to Ronan was snarky, sarcastic, and in my mind intended to cut him off.
What was weird about my reaction to Ronan saying he hoped to be friends a few months ago was how out of character it was for me. Several years ago I had a very similar thing happen with my friend Thierry. He and I hung out a lot and then two months later he said he just wanted to be friends. I said sure. No drama. No upset. No problem. I said yes to Thierry because my guard went down as soon as we meet. All my friends who have been near and dear in my heart for years had the same effect on me. It wasn’t even a question in my mind when Thierry wanted to pals. So what was up with my decision to metaphorically slam the door in Ronan’s face? Good question. I lied.
I said no because Kathryn Alice told me that he wanted to create a club of admirers and I was his latest recruit. Looking back, that was certainly not the case with Thierry, but back then I had not yet met Kathryn Alice and was reading Tatler instead of Cosmopolitan. Nonetheless, Thierry has since been a blessing in my life, as has Alison, Juliette, Declan, Krisa, etc. Each of them felt safe from the start. My gut instinct chooses my friends really. I was comfortable around Ronan just as it had been with the others. What is unique about feeling safe the second I see someone, is how rare it is, as I am constantly guarded around most people. It’s a habit I have had since childhood.
When I thought I saw Ronan in Santa Monica I had that uncomfortable tense feeling. The type you get when you have been nasty to someone unprovoked then they resurface randomly. Call it Catholic guilt but as much as I wanted to say hi I didn’t. I figured he would ignore me or tell me to bugger off. Either scenario felt bad so I jumped in the car and drove to Venice Beach instead. Over dinner my girlfriend challenged me to apply our Radical Honesty homework which required telling the truth to Ronan.
Radical Honesty says that clear communication to someone who triggers discomfort is the path to freeing one’s energy. The result is being at peace with the past. My friend insisted that I apologize and tell Ronan everything without an agenda. The truth does set you free no matter how uncomfortable you get confessing. I resisted at first but realized that maybe it was no coincidence that I thought I saw him. The next day my friend asked me if I had contacted Ronan. I hadn’t. She insisted I do so.
The morning workshop continued and by lunch all that my friend had to do was glance at me to remind me that I had to get honest. By now, I figured I might as well. I didn’t want her challenging me the rest of the day. I went to the nearest computer and sent my message. I told him the truth. I wrote that he made me feel safe and comfortable from the start. He read how my guard went down instantly when we met. Then, in a radically honest move, mentioned that every time I see Colin Farrell on TV I can’t help but wonder about him (Ronan) and hope he is well. For a second it seemed like a teenager was writing this message and not the adult me. Yet I sent it and quickly turned off my phone until lunch.
Whatever the outcome would be at least I told him how I really felt back then about him. The entire experience was a crash course in trusting my own inner wisdom. Kathryn Alice’s insistence on releasing the past is generally a good thing. However, when there is an unspoken truth to communicate, the best thing is to do so. No matter how much I was busy and meditated to releasing past situations something always felt off about my words to Ronan. Kathryn Alice’s advice was to not re-engage because it would prevent me from being clear from the past. The advice only reinforced the past.
Sometimes the rush to let go becomes a tie that binds to what we want to release from. There were two people in the interaction. One asked a question. The other answered thinking it was negative. In the process, the questioner was snapped at, for no valid reason. How is there is anything bad in admitting you were wrong. Even if the other person doesn’t care there is a nice benefit to letting them know you wish you could take it all back anyway.
This whole excercise in being radically honest was confronting for me but now I feel so relieved. Letting the truth come out is an underrated method of being free from pondering what you did and didn't do. It was all perfect timing. Next month I'm going to Santa Barbara to meet with a matchmaker who thinks I am a good fit for one of her paying clients. My book is in edit mode and published by summer. With all this energy back in my system from speaking the truth, it's going to be a great summer.