Bluntness or Honesty?




IT teen had been told by a friend that he was as blunt as a butter knife, which made me laugh until IT revealed he had replied by saying, "If I'm as blunt as a butter knife then my mother is as blunt as its wooden handle."

"I'm not that bad!" I cried, picturing the offending knife with an unwieldy, rustic handle, not so much spreading the butter as flattening it into the table.

"Yes, you are," IT replied. "I didn't even think I was blunt before now, because I always compared myself to you!"

So, the acerbic, brutally honest, psychological enema that is IT teen thought he wasn't even blunt?? I thought of all the times his essential bluntness had risen to the surface like a basking shark, ready to make itself known in clear, undeniable terms. Then I thought about myself.

If IT teen, that bastion of bluntness, thinks I am the handle to his knife, what do I do to people? I know I can say the wrong thing and am overly honest, but if IT cuts to the core with the things he says, what do I do?

This is a terrifying concept, readers. It makes me feel open to the elements, left on the fell tops with only one foot on the path. I feel buffeted, blown backwards towards the scree, helpless to hold onto anything solid as the weather closes in and the clouds meld with the land.

All those times when I've blurted out the truth, or even thought carefully before expressing myself, have I been sand-blasting the other person? Has their silence or quiet agreement been a stunned response? How many times have I hurt instead of helped?

So, I talked about it with RT teen, himself something of an honesty monster. He's less blunt than IT teen, if you count bluntness and honesty as two separate things. He also was aghast at the idea of anyone being blunter than IT, but did snigger at me being a handle.

We talked about the idea that what we had considered helpful honesty was, in all truth, nothing but bluntness looked at in a different light. We hesitantly admitted that our honest answers may have been felt and seen in the same way as IT's blunt pickaxe approach.

We came to the conclusion that perhaps honesty becomes bluntness in the telling: that letting it fall out of you, without hesitation, into the middle of a normal conversation, turns vital honesty into blunt endeavour. That perhaps it's all in the telling, after all, with the tone of voice, or expression, making an honest response a more harmful blunt one.

Then, never one to let honesty fall to the wayside, I said to RT teen,

"You know, this is all very well but maybe people just call honesty bluntness because they don't want to hear the truth?"

He thought for a second, then agreed happily.

We came away from this worrying debate solid in our beliefs once again. Honesty is still for the best, even if other, gentler souls, call it bluntness. We believe, readers, that honesty has a true face that aspies see and name. It becomes other words to other people because they are so used to operating in a world that expects one person to behave differently in so many situations. If we could all simply be ourselves, all the way through, then honesty would always be recognised.

I do feel I may be excusing myself rather lightly here. I know I am an awful, terrible, frightening teller-of-the-truth. I know it upsets people. And I do, really, really do wish, I could be more tactful a lot of the time.

I hate it when my big, honest mouth lands me in it or I hurt someone - especially when I hurt someone. I get tired of other people having to think to themselves, 'She doesn't mean it that way, she's only being direct'. I would like to be eloquent in person more often.

And yet, I do feel I would rather have it this way. Let other people have their names for honesty and their belief that it has many different faces. I like to see things as they actually are, without a veil between. I like to know the real answers to every question.

Honesty, bluntness, directness, tactlessness - call them what you will, I have the complete set in original boxes and I know their worth. I see the world in a certain way and they help me to explain it to you.

If I sometimes say the wrong thing, or more likely, the right thing that you would rather not hear, then I apologise. I'm confident in the knowledge that I'm unable to see it any other way and that, usually, it's better to have clarity between us than kindly-meant subterfuge.

Oh, and readers, one more thing. Without that big, blunt handle, you wouldn't be able to use the butter knife. And without the butter knife, you would have dry toast with no butter! Faced with such a dreadful alternative, it's always better to have the use of a good, solid, rustic handle between you and the knife.

Amanda

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