As much as it may appear to the contrary, there are actually quite a number of topics I have steadfastly refused to address, on this blog, over the years. The reasons vary, of course, but they all really boil down to one basic root: I understand that anything I type is, effectively, permanent and out of my control as soon as I click on Publish.
Sometimes I’m angry, and I’ll vent that anger in the heat of the moment… but I know to click on Save Draft and wait, and usually within an hour or so I find that all I needed was the process of writing. I don’t need it published, I don’t need it aired out; just getting the thoughts out of my head was enough, and now I can click on Discard and move on.
Sometimes I’m hurt or sad, and writing from a place of pain or confusion: “Why would you do such a thing to me?” And usually that evolves, within a little time and thought, into a direct, personal email or conversation. Or I’ll just figure out the why on my own, or I’ll decide I don’t need or want to know. In any case, once again, Discard, move on.
Sometimes, even though I have a specific instance to the contrary, I have an overarching desire to protect you, and the general perception of you. Maybe you’ve done something that hurts me deeply, but it is vastly outnumbered by the things you have done to prove that you love and wish to protect me. Maybe you’ve made a mistake that is at odds with the majority of your other actions. Maybe I’m embarrassed at your action, even if I’m not sure that you have the self-awareness or conscience to feel shame, yourself. Maybe I just don’t want my children to, someday, read your words or actions – because I do, fully, expect them to read this blog someday. Whatever the circumstances, I have opted to protect you from yourself, despite your apparent willingness to present yourself in the most unflattering possible light.
Sometimes I’m confident about my own reaction and words, but I think that perhaps the other person would regret their own actions or words. I try to let some time pass, and provide ample opportunity for them to change their minds, thoughts, words, before I publish. Fair or not, I do consider my blog to be my own personal space, on which I can choose to recount whichever life stories I choose. Sometimes I’ll tell the bare-bones, just-the-facts-ma’am version, and sometimes I’ll embellish for the sake of a better story. Either way, I’m telling the story of my life, and sometimes that means that the actions of other people become publicized in a way they never intended.
I’ve given this significant thought over the years: do your private words or actions toward me really carry any reasonable expectation of privacy? Is it wrong of me to post stories involving other people, without their express permission (and, occasionally, in spite of their direct request to the contrary)? Perhaps. Sometimes, I’m certainly in the wrong. I own this. I make mistakes, cause feelings to be hurt, expose people to external observation or internal discomforts that they would prefer not to experience. My feeling about this has boiled down to a few basic thoughts: don’t do or say things to me that you would find embarrassing, should I opt to retell the story. Whether the retelling is to no one but my husband, or to potentially millions of people with access to a computer, I reserve the right to talk about the things that happen to me. It’s generally a rule I live by, and am willing to hold you to the same standard: if you would be ashamed for my children, or your friends, or whomever, to learn about what you did, then don’t do it. Or, assuming that impulse got the better of you and it’s already done before you had the chance to think about it, then do what you can to make it better. (And, just to clarify, “make it better” does not equal “explain to me why you were justified in acting in that manner.”)
The only way that a blog changes this is that it broadens the potential audience… but, unless you are a member of my immediate household, or I have received your permission to the contrary, then I will not use your given name. This doesn’t provide you with a magical cloak of confidentiality and anonymity, because your relationship to me will still be obvious… but it does mean that your friends, work associates, and other non-family acquaintances will not be able to read these stories. Unless, of course, you choose to share the blog with them, in which case, you’ve made your choice. Live with it.
Does this make me sanctimonious, or holier-than-though, or other forms of arrogant? Maybe, though a brief peek inside my brain would provide a clearer estimate of my self-assessment. I am, without doubt, my own harshest critic, though a few attempts, recently, have been made to one-up me on this measure, and in some areas they have succeeded: it turns out, some people do hate me more than I hate myself… they seem to think this will hurt me more than it hurts them. As long as I’m willing to live by the same standards I apply to others,I cannot accurately be labeled a hypocrite, and I’m OK with the other possibilities.
Why post this, and why now? I’m of the opinion that people don’t do things without some basic, underlying reason, even if it’s a strange or illogical one. And I do have a reason: as I wrote yesterday, I feel that it is time for me to make some changes to my blog and the habits thereupon. I’ll be posting more frequently, and telling some old stories. And if you have done things that have hurt me – regardless of whether you intended to do so, because the results are far more relevant than the intent – then I might just choose to air that story. (Should you know of certain stories that make you uncomfortable, now would be an excellent time to notify me and work out an agreement about publication.) Know now that I’m not perfect, and I’m not on a rampage to upset people… but given the first part of that sentence, the second part will inevitably occur. If I’ve hurt you, and you let me know in a reasonable, non-threatening, grown-up sort of way, then I will do what I can to make it better. If you choose to respond with threats and name-calling, then you might not receive quite the response you were hoping for.
And just think… if I’m as babbly and over-sharing as I have been wont to do here, can you just imagine what sorts of things I have opted not to share?