on airing dirty laundry

I’ve been thinking about sharing and over-sharing recently. I’m a pretty transparent person nowadays. I like to feel connected to people through narratives–happy or sad, triumphant or despairing.   Another way of saying this: I don’t like small talk or trivialities. There is a distinction, however, between connecting and gossiping, or sharing stories that aren’t mine to disclose. In my writing groups this is sacrosanct. We do not share our peers’ writing, directly or anecdotally, ever.

There is a woman’s blog that I follow, off and on, that has a tendency to over-share. By this, I mean she will write about others’ stories—fully disclosing heartbreaking details of, say, her mother’s earlier life. I’m caught off guard when I read these posts, sometimes feeling like I want to ask, “Did you ask your mom if you could share this?” I suppose part of it is context, too. Is the nature of the blog to share devastating narratives of people in her life or is it mostly a Waldorf homeschooling blog? See what I mean?

I worried about that after my first two writings. Did they catch people off guard?   Were they too personal? Too revealing? It’s strange because I NEVER would have shared them before I started writing again in Utah. Only a handful of people knew about my eating disorder, because there’s an impression I felt I needed to maintain: I’m a mother, I’m healthy, I’ve got it together. And then the real reason: I.Do. Not.Want.To.Be.Judged. Eating disorders are very touchy, mostly because they’re grossly misunderstood. But then I learned from my friend M that no one’s judgment has any power over me (I can’t tell you what internalizing that nugget of advice did for me), and additionally, maybe I’ll make someone else feel a little less judged by sharing. When I first told my best friend about the eating disorder, we had been the closest of friends for over ten years. It was the ONE thing I’d never told her. Why? It’s complicated, for sure, but I think it had to do with a friend that she lost to an eating disorder, and I didn’t want her to worry about me. When I did tell her over a year ago, she looked at me with her misty, green eyes and hugged me, “Oh, Aggie. That just makes me love you more.” Sigh.

I’m curious about your decisions to share personal details either casually or with caution. Has sharing ever backfired or does it usually bring you closer?

I haven’t yet asked for specific responses on the blog, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot and would love to know. x

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