When I’m afraid to publish something, online or otherwise, I run through a cursory checklist, trying to pinpoint the origin of my discomfort. Does it fall into the “what will people think of me?” category? Do I fear it’s just another thing for people to throw shit at? Am I violating someone’s privacy? Am I telling their story instead of my own? Is it my story to tell? What will the consequences be? Is this something I’d say to the person, in person?
I write about a lot of embarrassing things, honest things. Things I don’t like about myself, about my husband, about my friendships, about my relationships with my parents and sometimes even my in-laws, though I shy away from this lately because I know they will be deeply hurt.
Recently, in my blog writing, I haven’t been authentic. I’ve been avoiding. Fearing I will hurt people, fearing I’ll be judged, fearing I’ll give up too much information, and I can’t take it back. When I want to write about something hard I am dealing with, my children for example, I fear that it may one day bite them in the ass. Putting information out there about your child’s strengths and, more so, relative weaknesses, and writing about my personal dilemma on how to move forward, what to do, document my experience in mothering my way through it–I don’t fear judgment of myself, not at all, but one day of my children, or their own reactions to my choice to share my life, and by extension theirs.
I’ve said this before, my husband Phil is the most secure person I know. When people were telling me to stop writing this blog, back when I was documenting my dating life, because no man would want to read all the TMI details I share, and even if he was fine with it, his mother wouldn’t be, I knew that the right man for me wouldn’t give a shit what other people thought. Phil found me via this here blog, and he wasn’t shy in letting me know that he thought it was awesome, the way I was able to put it out there, lump sum, direct and raw, however fleeting a feeling was. Since then, I’ve documented fights and fears, writing authentically, without Phil having a chance to truly tell his side of things, and we’ve read it all. Divorce him! Leave her already! You two deserve each other! He’s the worst. You’re the worst. You’re spoiled, self-centered, a whole lot of projection and judgment. And, I can take it. Phil can take it. The blog is an outlet, but it’s not how we communicate with each other. It’s my destination, a place for me to air my thoughts, however one-sided or limited. One day I agree forcefully with what I write. Another day, the emotions have passed. I don’t believe I’m superior or inferior to anyone else, nor do I believe that Phil is inferior or superior to me. It all comes out in the wash.
The truth is that the minute I start to worry what people will think, how people will react, is the minute my writing stops being authentic. It’s never designed to hurt anyone. I realize of course that it absolutely 100% will of course sometimes hurt. But it’s never my intention. I’m not malicious. I am respectful when people ask me not to write something, not to post something. I don’t then, of course. I never write things I wouldn’t say to someone’s face. Overall, when I run through the cursory checklist, I always measure my responses against this one metric: am I being authentic? Is this my truth, my feeling, however fleeting, however wrong, is this how I feel right now? If it is, then I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and push “Publish.”
“I think there’s a difference in being vulnerable about yourself when you blog and slashing and burning your mate.”
I don’t see a difference. Because if I’m being honest, truthful about how I’m feeling, however wrong, however entitled, it’s still sharing my authentic experience, detailing what’s in my thoughts, what has me feeling as I do at any given moment, and my struggle in dealing with those thoughts, working my way through the conflict of wanting to shove myself in a bathroom stall for even having the thoughts, and my courage to share that these thoughts even exist… that is vulnerability. Knowing I’m going to be dumped on for admitting that I care, that although Phil tries tries tries his very best to please me, that I still feel disappointed, that’s not a good feeling to have or to share. Admitting it takes courage. Writing a comment stating as much takes the same amount of courage. It’s why I always welcome people to share their thoughts on such subjects. Because I realize that my perspective is mine alone, and I want to grow, to hear from others. It helps. Support helps, so does criticism when it’s meant with love, which is mostly the case on this blog, aside from anonymous comments intended to lash out only.
“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” — Franz Kafka
“If we are not ashamed to think it, we should not be ashamed to say it.” — Cicero
“If an offense come out of the truth, better is it that the offense come than that the truth be concealed.” –Thomas Hardy
“Women have often felt insane when cleaving to the truth of our experience. Our future depends on the sanity of each of us, and we have a profound stake, beyond the personal, in the project of describing our reality as candidly and fully as we can to each other.” –Adrienne Rich
Things are going to change around here. I’m going back to posting my real life. Which yes, includes posts about makeup and beauty and fashion, too. But also the day to day feelings, however temporary. The only bit I’m on the fence about is how much to share with regard to my children, sharing their own specifics. I do not, however, worry about how they’ll one day feel about the things I write about myself or my relationship with their father. That’s my truth alone, one they may or may not like. I hope to raise them to respect that there’s a difference between authenticity and “the truth.” I hope to raise children who mimic what I do, who live boldly and authentically, without fear of what that may look like to others.
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