Day 37 - Self Censorship, Oversharing & Retraction
I really put a lot out there yesterday. Maybe too much, since I spent the entire day yesterday wanting to take it all down. I wanted to un-publish the two things I posted yesterday most of the day and I considered taking the whole fucking blog down more than a couple of times.
I totally overshared. But it was cathartic. I needed to get it out. I had been holding on to the last post for years. Literally, years.
There is so much shame attached to sex, abuse, and dating. It is hard to allow myself to be seen as I truly am. I want so desperately to create a better image of myself. To show up in a better form. To hold things back that I think you might not like, approve of or wish that I had kept quiet about.
I did that for a very long time. In fact, I will go so far to say that I do not think that I really inhabited my own body and space until I left my husband. I don’t think that I was really me. I was more or less a collection of stories that I spun to obtain and maintain your interest. I tried to be real but I was living a lie. I wasn’t me. I was this other person who was trying to live a life that was not mine.
In today’s world of Facebook happy and social media, I think everyone to some degree is presenting their best selves in a new and detrimental way. It seems that we have agreed as a society that it is ok to post the following:
cats freaking out about cucumbers
flattering photos of ourselves
exciting parties we are attending
death of friends and loved ones
death of pets
But you rarely see anything really honest. Where are the posts:
My spouse is an asshole
I am an asshole
I am cheating on my husband because I want out of this marriage
My kids are doing drugs
My child wants to be another gender
My parent is bipolar and in the hospital again
My significant other fight all the time and I don’t know what to do about it
I hit people and am worried about this
I kind of feel worthless and alone
I am drinking and drugging myself to death
I am having a mid life crisis and trying to fuck everything that moves
I have cancer but am not telling anyone about it
Where are those posts?
In today’s world, I think any of the above posts would be classified as oversharing and would not receive many likes. But what the hell! Why?
Every one of my alternative posts above has been said to me by someone I know. Everyone of them. But they are said in confidence. They are private. But they are honest. They are real.
I feel like I am trying so hard to walk the line. Where is the line between private and public? Why do I feel so compelled to keep fucking crossing it?
All day yesterday, I sat with the compulsion to go take down my Astray with Strays post. I almost did - like about 30 times. I would be just living my life - in my day and would be overtaken with this compulsion to run to my computer and unpublished something that I have wanted and needed to share for decades. I did not take it down. I bore out the compulsion and allowed there to be space...cyberspace and left it alone.
I am terrified that you are going to read it and think less of me. I am scared that you are going to judge. I am afraid I appear crazy or damaged or pathetic. Or all of the above. I am afraid to be real. I so wish that I could return to the place that I lived for so many years - I had the Erin I let you see and then I had the real me. The one that I didn’t allow you entrance to.
And I would have taken it down except for what my dear friend Nicole said:
Blog number 2 is so brave and beautiful. That is real talk and that blog could heal people!
How could I take it down after that?
Isn’t that why I started this whole deal? To help people including myself. Who would I be helping if I took it down and hid?
I was overcome yesterday with feelings from my youth - knowing that I am this one person and really, really, really wanting to be someone else. I want to be less damaged, cooler, funnier and way more sophisticated. I want to be more compassionate and loving. I want to understand myself and others better and I want to be available to those around me.
Funny thing is that I have become all of the above faster and in more depth since I started sharing who I am with you on this damn blog. Writing and sharing has helped me heal and allowed me a way to reprocess old shit. I guess I should really say thank you for the therapy.
Yesterday I was able to push past all of my fear, judgment and self image misperception and share with you and my mom about where I came from. As close as my mom and I are - I never told her about the past. I didn’t want to hurt her. I didn’t want her to feel badly. I needed to protect her. But as always happens, my protection and holding of secrets was ruining our relationship. Keeping secrets just gives rise to more lies and more hiding. As uncomfortable as I am right now with all of my oversharing, I can at least feel good about the fact that I cleared the air.
You may not like me for it. You may not understand. You may feel the way I used to when I would hear in a public way about someone’s egregious childhood - “Stop. Please just stop. This is too painful to watch. Too painful to listen to.” That is totally ok. Because what I know now that I didn’t know then was that those feelings I had were about me ,not about the person sharing. I sat in judgment of those brave enough to share their pain because I could not share my own. I disliked and wanted to censor because I didn’t want to own my own shit. If that is true for me, then perhaps it is true for others. My own self-censorship, my own jailer.
I feel like yesterday I walked around the bars that held me back. The joke was really on me because for years there were only bars in front - none in the back or sides. I could have walked around years ago but I wasn’t ready. I could only see the ones in front. I could only face that direction which seemed blocked and barred. Yesterday I realized that I just had to change my mind.
None of this is easy. I think we spend the second half of our lives getting over the first. Some may like me less for all that I share. Some may like me more. Whatever the score turns out to be - at least it is real. At least your judgment is warranted. It is not based on image manipulation thrown all over social media. So judge away. I’d say I am ok with it but that would also be a lie. Your opinion matters and I need your approval. However, today I need it less than I need my own. Today, what matters most is how I show up for this life of mine. Fucked up as it has been and maybe still continues to be. It is mine to share. It is mine to give. It is yours to read if you dare.