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Honesty and Compassion: Eggshells, Broken Glass, and Scissors – A #1000Speak Post

I honestly wasn’t sure I would know what to say, to write today.

Would I honestly have anything, whatsoever, to say on the topic of compassion for the month of September, when the 20th arrived?

Okay. Okay. I’ll stop with the usage of the word honesty in that way now, and try to get at least one point across, but I missed taking part in #1000Speak last month. I’m feeling a little out of step, if I’m being perfectly honest.

Yeah, just one more.

🙂

Okay. Done now and onto my post.

***

I was sitting at brunch, just the other day, with family. We were having eggs, in three different forms. I wanted scrambled, some of my family members wanted fried and what are called sunny-side-up, while still the rest love their soft boiled.

That last one is connected to my childhood, growing up, as my grandparents would always make them for us. My grandpa loved to eat them just like that.

It was fun for us kids. Perfect, when my grandma would cut off the top, and we could dip strips of toast into the yolk.

Once we were finished, we would take the eggs, after scraping all the inside of the shell, and draw a face with a pen. Then, we would take our “Humpty Dumpty eggs”, as was our little game. We would go out on the front porch and sing the song, dropping them over the edge, letting them crash and break apart on the ground below.

HUMPTY DUMPTY

All fun and games, but truthfully, I’ve had a sort of love/hate relationship with eggs for years, ever since the smell of them frying and their texture and taste made me ill, even though it was mostly from being in the midst of kidney failure.

Ever since age twelve I’ve been unsure how I might react to being in the presence of eggs, each time having a different reaction and never knowing until I’m in the moment.

Then there’s the expression: “walking on eggshells”.

Well, I think most people are familiar with the phrase, but then again, I came across this, which lead me down a different path.

Stop Walking On Eggshells

seems to be a new blog on the Psychology Today website.

Today I won’t be talking about Borderline Personality Disorder or anything nearly as serious, as far as mental illness goes, but ever since brunch my mind lingered on the expression, a metaphor, as it paints an interesting picture in the mind.

Don’t you think?

Can you be honest with someone, really and truly honest about anything, all while walking on eggshells around them, so as not to hurt their feelings? No, right?

The two things don’t go together. Life can feel as gritty as those broken eggshells.

Walking On Broken Glass

Then there’s the song, by Annie Lennox, that was a popular one, with me, when I was growing up. Sure, most kids my age, during the early nineties, weren’t blaring Eurythmics, but when this particular song would come on the radio, I would listen with interest to the words, as literal as literal can be. I was and still am way too literal for my own good, at the most inopportune times.

Walking on broken glass sure paints a picture for itself. Eggshells sounds like painful, sharp underfoot, but glass sounds like it would be much worse if stepped on, to the point of deep cuts and blood being drawn.

“I’m living in an empty room, with all the windows smashed.”

I am blown away by that image that Annie describes.

All the truth in the world is better than a lie, of course, but when love is what’s the issue, hearing certain things come out of the mouth of the person you love can hurt, like you’ve gone from the walking of eggshells, for what may have been months or years, straight into a minefield of broken glass with every step you take..

You get to the point that you are afraid to take a step, in any direction, for the fear that that glass is just going to be right there, ready to cut deep.
You walk on eggshells to avoid the issue. You walk on broken glass once honesty becomes the only way forward.

This is true for creativity also.

When should an artist, singer, musician, or writer hear the truth and is compassion possible, once you’ve crossed over into the eggshells and the sharp shards of glass, which is what it feels like to be served a big dose of honesty.

Was that a bunch of bad art? Was the writing abominable? Was the music horrid enough to cause people listening to cover their ears in protest?

How do we show compassion with those we love, at the end of a relationship, or in the world of art and creative expression?

Can you really be honest and compassionate, at the same time?

You have to make up your mind, one way or another. You can’t have both, right?

I’m on an ongoing search for this “having both” things because I think we could all use it, could use the break and the safeguard from the sharp, piercing pain that you feel stabbing into your feet.

Save Your Scissors

The imagery that comes to mind when I hear this City and Colour song seems to be the answer for me, when my fear of being burned in love or with my writing, when that threat feels like it’s coming too near.

I hear this song and I hear pain, infused throughout. He seems to have it in his voice, in the very sound of the simple guitar he strums.

I think of those child proof plastic scissors we used to use in kindergarten. They couldn’t possibly puncture through skin. Round and dull.

That was the point. When, at what age was it specifically decided that children are okay to handle a sharp pair, a weapon, when adults aren’t spared themselves?

We teach children to watch out, not to stab themselves or others, and then we give them the scissors and they use them, going forward in life.

Inevitably, no matter how careful you are, someone will get stabbed. It makes the idea of a tough enough skin, so that nothing can hurt you, seem pretty appealing.

Avoid letting someone break your heart. Avoid the possibility of an honest opinion. It will hurt too much if they suddenly admit they no longer love you or your art.

Have compassion, we teach, we hope for ourselves, for others, from others.

Be honest. I want people to be honest with me, always.

I don’t see how we get anything done, any art. We need to keep reminding ourselves to look down, to watch for those shards of glass.

The eggshells, the glass, the sound of crunching when you walk. At some point, if your skin is tough enough, nothing can get through.

Compassion or honesty?

If Humpty Dumpty breaks into enough pieces, can he ever really be repaired, the way he was before? No amount of shattering will break me forever, I’d like to think, but in the balance between honesty and compassion, I’m sometimes not so sure the heart and the spirit can survive without suffering permanent and irrefutable damage.

What do you think?

***

That’s the best I can do for my return to:

http://1000voicesspeak.org/about/

It might make very little sense whatsoever. In my maze of a mind, sometimes my thoughts don’t translate well enough to the screen. I go ahead anyway, in the desperate hope that someone, anyone might understand what I’m trying to say.

That’s why we need more compassion, to keep a common thread of understanding running through us all. That’s why I want to keep taking part in 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion.

#1000Speak on Twitter

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7 thoughts on “Honesty and Compassion: Eggshells, Broken Glass, and Scissors – A #1000Speak Post

  1. valj2750 says:

    Kerry, this is a wonderful, compassionate post. Walking on eggshells and walking on glass are two great examples. I taught Pre Kindergarten for many years and during Parent/Teacher conferences there were often times when we had to let the parents know of some sensitive situation in the classroom. We followed the Jelly sandwich rule. Two slices of fluffy white bread (positives) on either side of the truth issue we were a way to put it in perspective and leave the parent feeling upbeat about the conference. It’s a good rule to follow with people in our lives.

  2. Thanks so much for linking! I love all the lovely analogies you used; especially the scene you painted of the family breakfast!
    Honesty and compassion sure do sound mutually exclusive but you clearly show that they need not be!

  3. Pingback: Celebrating a Year of Compassion, #1000Speak #LoIsInDaBl #BlogLove | Her Headache

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