I’ve learned a lot in my many years as a blogger. Some valuable lessons have had to be learned again and again because they didn’t quite stick. One of those lessons is that it’s okay to overshare your own stories (though some may judge you for it), but it’s going to bite you in the ass if you share other people’s. But what if sharing your story and your truth happens to expose someone else in the process?
Recently, and not for the first time, something I wrote about a long time ago was found by someone who was none too happy to read it. It was an offhand comment I made about someone I care about, and he was very hurt by it. It was something we’ve discussed, and he knows my views on the issue. Still, the way I phrased it stuck in his craw and made him angry and despondent, and our relationship suffered. The funny thing (and I don’t mean funny ha-ha) is that the same post caused a huge controversy in another relationship back when I first wrote it.
I realize this all sounds very cryptic, but it doesn’t really matter what the post was about. It could have been about anything at all. It’s more about what it taught me about sharing and the nature of having an opinion. The truth is that to have any opinion at all is going to open you up to criticism and offense. But our opinions are based on our own experiences, and a lot of our experience is gained through interactions with other people. So how to do we share our thoughts, feelings and reasonings for things without explaining how we came to those conclusions? It is a difficult thing to figure out, and the truth is that I’m not there yet.
I know that I feel badly that someone I love was hurt, but at the same time, I can’t pretend I don’t feel the way I do. People hurt us all the time, and we can forgive them and love them in spite of it. But it still affects us and influences the people we become.
Something I learned recently is that Borderline Personality Disorder, with which I was diagnosed ten years ago, can sometimes stem from childhood trauma, including stress and abandonment, both of which are true of my own youth. We moved away from my father shortly after my ninth birthday, and I only saw him once a year for many years. Despite the efforts my parents went to to show love and affection and let us know they were both there for us, I have to believe that not having a dad around was a big trigger for me in later life. Fear of abandonment and fear of rejection became all-consuming to me. I would go to great lengths to guilt the people I loved into sticking around, even if we weren’t good for each other. It’s one of the reasons I ended up married and divorced in my 20s.
There is so much I have learned about myself through the years that I feel I can’t share with anyone. There’s an enormous sense of guilt about bringing my past out of the shadows and into the light. But with the advent of social media, everything we share has the potential to be shared with the world. It doesn’t matter how we lock down our accounts, what we say can be taken and spread like dandelion fluff in the wind.
In this new world of brave men and women speaking out on the subject of mental health, how do we raise our voices without accidentally doxxing those who have informed our lives in negative ways – especially those whom we love and appreciate despite the hurt they’ve caused? Can we separate our stories from theirs? Or must we forge forward with truth as our guiding light and do our best with the concept of “acceptable loss?”
I don’t know the answers. I have made a living trying to share my past pain in an effort to make others feel less alone. But if sharing my truth drives a wedge between me and my peers, am I doing any real good in the world? Can I make lemonade from the bitter lemons of my life?
My heart hurts for anyone who feels judged or threatened by the words that I choose to put down. But in my heart, I know the alternative is that I die a little inside each and every day, wondering if I could have said or done something that would have made a difference in someone’s life. Just as so many other, whether they knew it or not, made a difference in mine.