Online or in person, I can feel a gauge working, measuring my comfort, before I open my mouth or share words and pictures. Like the things we share, the amount we share is also very personal. In the spirit of writing when I’m in the middle of something messy as opposed to writing about it when it’s all wrapped up and neat, I will tell you that I hate not being able to control what others think about me. Hate it. I know that’s not awesome, but I’m trying to show you my messy kitchen sink and dog hair covered floor in addition to my perfect homemade bread and jam.
A very small and sweet group of people read my blog. For a while it was just my mom. She sends me texts like “I just read your latest blog, honey. Are you ok?” and I appreciate it. I also appreciate her sending me typos. I found out recently that people from my past were reading. And people from my present who I don’t communicate with otherwise were reading. And then I started thinking: “Who else is reading this?” And of course the next thought was “What are they thinking of me?”
I started writing for me, and then I kept writing for other people who might need to read it. I quit drinking with the support of total strangers who were writing on the internet, so doing the same for someone else out there seemed like a good thing to do, while processing my own shit. I continue to use it to process my life, as a newly sober person who is trying on a lot of new stuff, like teaching yoga and being madly in love with a guy with kids, and working and having relationships and trying to like myself more. This new concept that people were reading and maybe not liking what they were reading made me feel super naked. Cue the wild thoughts, and the making my Instagram private and double checking my FB settings and wondering if I should just start a new secret blog.
I tried to hide. But that didn’t feel genuine. I want to share. It’s how I connect and process. So I had to rethink some things, and it’s still unsolved, like most stuff, but here’s what I keep reminding myself:
- My story is important. It is important to me, it is important to someone who needs to hear it. Other than that, I don’t owe anyone an explanation. This is a very strange concept to me, but I’m pretty sure it’s true. My yoga teacher and my very smart coworker both said this to me recently, and I feel it in my bones and the pit of my stomach a little more every day. So that means it’s true, friends.
- What I share is my choice. I do not need to share everything. It still happened. The whole story still happened, and if I want to share pieces of it, that’s fine. That’s not to say that only sharing the good, wholesome, cute parts feels genuine or acceptable for me. That’s why I tell you that I was a drunken lady who was sad and anxious and had horrible body image issues. That is why I tell you that I’m currently a person who is happy lots of days and anxious other days, and is trying to understand how to live with/around kids, and still has a frustrating relationship with my body.
I don’t write all the details of every moment for a few reasons. One is that this is public and I have a very corporate job. That’s not cool or interesting, but it is the truth. Dog food and matcha lattes and housing don’t grow on trees, people. I gotta work. And I don’t want to share everything with coworkers who I don’t already have a connection or friendship. Another reason I don’t share everything all the time is that my boyfriend has kids who can read and use the internet. I am crazy about them and they challenge me and teach me things. I could talk about them for hours, and I would, but over coffee. Not here. And as far as writing about drinking goes, I’m happy to tell them the truth, and I do. That doesn’t mean that they need every detail. I also don’t have the authority to ground them for judging me. Can you do that when they’re your own kids? Asking for a friend.
- Final reason: Self-care. Sharing is vulnerable. I have to keep that balance between give and take, share and hold back. I’m always pushing myself when I share, but I don’t need to push so hard that I feel unsafe.
There is a filter that is built in when I write, but it doesn’t mean it’s not the truth, and it doesn’t make it any less valid. But just know, and this is the important part, that even if there are details about my drinking days, or the world of dating someone with kids that I don’t expand on, I’m never lying. It’s always true and I want to connect. Believe me, it’s still hard to tell, and I always appreciate you for listening and telling me yours.
Final thought, sort of a question for us all: Can we share without feeling overexposed, while still remaining genuine? How do you do it? Asking for a friend.