Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Things We Can't Say

I think the biggest challenge for any blogger with kids is trying to decide how much is too much to share about their lives.

There is nothing more interesting to me than my children.  My life is intimately wrapped up in theirs.  They are my responsibility and their needs and problems shape my days and direct my thoughts and my moods.

But ultimately they are their own people with their own stories to tell, and as much as I feel as if their problems partially belong to me too, I don't really have a right to broadcast their private worlds out onto the web.  They don't mind my sharing certain events and general stories of trips and basic milestones, but then most of the time those stories are really about my own reactions, and not really about them.  Despite that, it means there are many things I can't say.

So I've been thinking a lot about how that relates not just to blogging, but how all of us present ourselves to the world.  I read often about the impact that comes from people on social media curating an image of their lives that seems too perfect, and that it gives a false impression of things going better than the reality.

But we all do that to some degree in daily life, not just online.  That's called privacy.  It may seem like I'm willing to share most of the details of my life with anyone who wants to read my blog, and the truth is I don't see much worth concealing, but I don't get to decide that for others.  Where my life intersects with others is where things get really interesting, and also where the lines start getting drawn.

Lately I've had to deal with some deeply challenging issues.  Those issues impact my schedule and consume my thoughts and disrupt my sleep, so it feels like I should be entitled to talk about them because those things are about me.  But the core issue is not about me, so I'm not at liberty to discuss any of it.  As much as I want to get certain details off my chest and receive outside feedback, it's not appropriate.  It's not my story to tell, even as I'm the one expected to take control of it and correct it and do everything in my power to make sure it comes out all right for everyone.

I don't think we extend enough compassion to people whose struggles we cannot see.  We jump to conclusions that if the surface we are presented with looks fine that everything beneath is as well.  But there are things we can't say.  As much as we'd like to, as much as it would explain our pain to others who might cut us the slack we need on a hard day, we can't.  We don't have the right.

It's not as simple as wanting to present a pretty image to the world.  Sometimes that's the only choice we're left with.


  1. First of all, I'm sorry you're dealing with a tough issue. I assume it's parenting related and that's always hard, even if you'll be able to work through it.

    But my main comment is: YES. Your 4th and 5th paragraphs are basically the exact thoughts running through my head the last few weeks. It seems like there's a lot of stuff floating around on the web about how terrible it is that people put a positive spin on everything they do online and how terrible it is because it makes other people feel bad about themselves- it's been driving me nuts, because OF COURSE WE DO AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT- like you said, it's called privacy- people shouldn't be comparing themselves to someone's Facebook life.

    I try to be as authentic as I can, but I can't share all the down sides to things, and I don't want to hide all the good things. They are the things I want to remember.

    Apparently I should write out my own thoughts into a post instead of writing one in your comments.

    The point is, I like this post. :)

    1. Thanks, Lisa.

      You know, the thing that always gets me when I read these reports about people being depressed by how nice everyone else's lives look on Facebook, etc., is what is wrong with them that they aren't happier for their friends? It cheers me up to see people I care about looking good and having fun. I never think "Damn them!" I'll admit, I'd be a bit jealous looking at your kitchen renovations if I didn't get to have my own, but even then I'd still be happy for you. Happiness is not a rationed commodity.

  2. No kidding!! Someone else's good fortune doesn't mean your life isn't good too! I see lots of people doing things that I can't do (example: trips to Disneyland! We had one planned for this winter but the kitchen remodel turned out to be pretty expensive so it's been indefinitely postponed), and I'm not upset / annoyed by them / or really even jealous- or if I am jealous, it's in a positive way that's happy for them too. I can certainly appreciate where clinical depression or even traumatic things like infertility would make some stuff on FB hard. (And I try to be respectful of that in my posts while still trying to share my joy! Although honestly I wouldn't be offended if someone going through infertility unfollowed me. I'd understand and assume they'd re follow me once they were in a place to do that). But me not posting enough pictures of my kid having a fit does not mean I have perfect children living a perfect life. Let's just be happy for each other!!