Open Truth Telling – a tandem post


open truth-telling

Fellow Reverb-er (and a bright, sweet person) Bahieh saw this tweet and suggested that we write a tandem post about these tough kinds of conversations. I’m thrilled to be collaborating with her. Her tandem post, “We Need to Talk,” is here. And I’m really glad she suggested exploring this topic.


Rather than crafting a new post, I’ve decided to share my stream-of-thought journal entry, written the same night I sent the tweet. I’ve lightly edited it only to remove names and provide teensy transitions. But for the most part, it’s raw. It may not make a lick of sense. And I’m okay with that.


“The tough, heart-piercing/opening conversations? Trying to dance into those with grace. It’s difficult work.”

This tweet is—for the most part—in response to an email that ripped me wide open. An email from someone that was a once-important part of my life. And the ripping isn’t so much a bad thing insofar as it’s a thing. The heart-ripping is…an experience.




And the email begged a response—a response that I was terrified and resistant to write…but I knew I had to respond. So I wrote. Showed my ripped heart. The words melted off of my fingers in tenderness, but didn’t bow or break. I was compassionate, but firm.


Sharing conversation (even if that conversation is over email) with someone that rips my heart wide open is a deeply freeing experience.


It’s not freeing in a trite, cheesy way. It’s freeing because it means I’m no longer holding on to ideas that I’m scared to share. I’m no longer filtering. I’m no longer telling someone what I think they want to hear. No. Instead, it means complete openness. It means saying what’s on my heart-mind.


And this openness doesn’t always mean brutal, blunt words. Not at all. I’m learning that this kind of Open Truth-Telling is a practice. It’s a practice that requires compassion toward myself and compassion toward the person with whom I’m conversing.


Open Truth-Telling is about giving.


I can give nothing more than my honesty. I have nothing more than the truth I know. And I grow into and simultaneously out of some truths; like a tree, my roots curl through the Earth and my leaves and branches stretch out and up. I move in all directions. I truth-tell in three dimensions. I truth tell in Virtual Reality and in Actual Reality and in night-vision. I truth tell with substance and with the texture of skin.


I want grace in my truth-telling. Like the way that I dance. As I had the heart-piercing conversation, I imagined myself on a dance floor, dancing to one of the heart-wrenching salsa romantica songs that La Candela often croons. The kind of salsa song that makes your heart ache a little, whether or not you understand the words.


I thought about the way I’d move my body, just as the lead female vocal’s vibrato stretched past even the horn section of the band at the end of a particularly long, lingering verse. My slow stride toward my dance partner, before he’d lead me into a right turn, across his body, and then out into a one-handed grip that allows me to sink into my hips. That kind of grace.


Grace is: compassion in the trenches of heartache. Grace is: compassion in the wake of heartache. Grace is: compassion when the heartache reappears after you thought it’d been smoothed out.


Graceful, open truth-telling. Leaning into the edge…and then beyond.



If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read Bahieh’s post rightthisveryminute. She beautifully dances into the grounded part of these heart-piercing conversations. What she says resonates deeply for me. Go. Read. - Bahieh << Meet Bahieh. I love her Twitter bio (@bahiehk) for its simplicity—and depth. Plus, she quotes Kahlil Gibran…one of my favorite writers/philosophers:

‘It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.’ – Khalil Gibran. based in Latin America + persian background + currently spending time in Europe.




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  • This is my tandem comment, from me and my keyboard. Together we (attempt to) type beautiful words. ;)

    My truth always seems more ugly than beautiful. More clumsy than graceful. And more embarrassing than anything prideful to boast about. Perfect example: my “Respecting Silence” ( ) post.

    I’m all about putting blunt words out there and exposing rawness. But the graceful part I’m certain I need to work on. My truth is more like an amateur salsa dancer who is aware of the beat, but is almost guaranteed to miss some steps.

    Regardless, here’s to graceful, open truth-telling. Leaning into the edge and then beyond. (Love that line, Cali! Good stuff!)

    • Truth telling usually is clumsy. Else it would be easier to do, right?

      The reason I want grace is not just because I want it to appear graceful. I’ll leave the vanity to my salsa dancing. I want grace because I think grace is one way to be compassionate. Ultimately, I want to be compassionate—to myself and to the other person—in my truth-telling. {Grace even when I miss some steps…}

      Your “Respecting Silence” piece needs to be published widely and loudly. :) I didn’t realize how much that post must have been resonating when I wrote the above, because there’s the very, very similar tie-in about self-kindness, self-respect (and, as I’ve termed it, “compassion”).

      Thank you, Mr. Stehle.

    • Hi David!!

      I agree with Cali, your “Respecting Silence” piece was fab. I remember reading it through a link she sent.

      Glad the posts resonated with you. Glad you’re learning to expose rawness.

      I’m sure it’s a gift when you open up. :)

  • Kandicenate

    beautifully complex. I am there. Oh I am there. Continuing to Breathe with grace.

    • Ooo – yes. Breathing is important (and oft-forgot) in all of this.

    • Go Kandice!! Go Kandice!! xo

  • Alicia

    Cali – this post is absolutely beautiful. It exposes something about you that is raw and coincides with raw emotions within all of us. So brave! I think the truth is hard because once the words are spoken or the thoughts are typed, there is no going back.

    • Hi Alicia!!

      Isn’t that the beauty of it? That there is no going back.

      The advantage with written words is that you can think twice (or thrice) before sending them out. But then they are there forever.

      I think I like spoken words more for this kind of conversation. You never know what will spill out of your mouth. But you also have no physical proof of it. Pfffft. It is gone so quickly. All that stays is the memory of it.

      Nice meeting you.

    • That really means a lot to me, Alicia. Echoing Bahieh’s comment…it’s interesting how spoken and written words land differently. I’m so used to editing, revising, over-analyzing, and then re-revising my writing, that it was totally scary for me to publish my stream-of-consciousness. But worth it.

  • I used to live a very complicated life where “truth” and “honesty” were fluid concepts. I underwent a rather significant change about a decade ago and chose to simplify things but being truly honest with everybody. It’s not always easy and like you said, it doesn’t have to be brutal honesty, but the benefit to all is that there’s only ever one truth at that point in time. While I may not always be right, there’s an element of integrity that I bring to everything I do now that was sorely lacking before.

    I really enjoyed reading both posts.

    • Hi there!!

      Nice to read about the change you went through. I’m sure it brought a lot to your relationships.

      Glad to have you here (or there). (You know what I mean).

      bk :)

      • Thanks, Geekin’Hard. You’re spot on: it’s the integrity–the intention–that fuels the truth-telling. *That* is what’s important.

  • hey there!!

    I find myself coming back here to read your piece again.

    “And I grow into and simultaneously out of some truths; like a tree, my roots curl through the Earth and my leaves and branches stretch out and up. I move in all directions.”

    love that part.

    So grateful for the chance to write together. Hope it will happen soon again.


    • Honor is mine, Bahieh. You’ve been an inquisitive, honest, authentic & beautiful addition to my digital realm. :) So glad we connected through Reverb.

  • Just stumbled upon this:

    “How often could things be remedied by a word. How often is it left unspoken.” Norman Douglas

    So true.

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