I started to write a different post. And then I deleted it. I have a lot on my mind this morning. Family stuff. I was going to delve into some things from my childhood, but… maybe not right now.
Instead I’m going to talk about a related topic… living one’s life out loud on the internet. Specifically Facebook. And some of the privacy issues related to that. And I realize this topic could possibly make me sound like a GIANT hypocrite, but… oh well. So be it.
I’m on Facebook. You’re probably on Facebook. My mother, father, and grandfather are on Facebook. And everyone’s putting it all out there… sharing everything. And it kind of makes me crazy. I think that we – as a society – have really started oversharing. And I think it’s bad. Especially if you’re a parent. Because eventually your children’s stories are no longer yours to tell. You have to draw a line. But a lot of people don’t. Especially my mom.
When I was in high school, my mom began writing about parenting in a very public forum. I actually am not sure how this all came about, but that’s neither here nor there. We didn’t live in a very big town, and I was occasionally approached by other kids who knew about my mom’s writings. They didn’t make fun of me, but they did know intimate details of my life, and as a very very reserved, shy, awkward teenager… this made me extremely uncomfortable. And honestly, when my mom didn’t have a lot of things to write about… she created conflict… she stretched the truth. She talked about my life and my sibling’s life in detail… what was going on at home; our struggles; my boyfriend… and I don’t think these things were hers to talk about or share.
Even though she has long since abandoned these writings… sometimes I still think about them, and I realize I have so much bitterness and resentment still stored up inside of me. Even though this was over ten years ago. I haven’t been able to let it go, and I HATE that. It’s pathetic. Move on, already! But I think I can’t let it go, because I’ve never been able to tell her how inappropriate I think that it was. And how I will never do that to my own children. (If I have children.)
I want so badly to have this conversation with her, where I just say, “Y’know… I don’t think it’s fair that you put our lives out there in such a public forum during the most vulnerable time in my life. And it’s been bothering me for years. I should have told you then, but I didn’t know how to articulate that. So I just want to tell you now, before the resentment ruins our relationship.” And then I want her to say, “I know, looking back, I should have been more anonymous… not used anyone’s real names. I’m sorry.” And then two flying ponies would appear and we’d ride them over a rainbow on our way to get ice cream.
But it’s not that simple. Because my mom may not be writing about our lives in a very public forum – but she is still living her life very much out loud and sometimes we get drawn into it. My mom can’t keep secrets. I don’t even know that she believes in secrets. Everything is OUT THERE… on Facebook. From the mundane, “In the garden, planting flowers,” to personal, passive aggressive jabs at me or my sibling when we have a disagreement with her. So if you tell her something… be prepared for it to show up on Facebook, or for a friend of hers to contact you and tell you they heard about such and such.
Recently The BFG was diagnosed with a somewhat serious illness. It’s not life threatening, but it is incurable, and it may – in the future – be debilitating in some ways. Naturally, The BFG and I very much wanted to keep this part of our lives private. We don’t want people feeling bad for him, because his medicine is awesome and his doctor is awesome, and he feels perfectly fine. We don’t need pity. And we don’t want people to look at him differently. We told our immediate families, gave strict instructions to keep it private, and moved on with our lives. This illness is only going to be a speed bump, we’ve decided.
Well, not long after, while everything was still pretty new and raw in relation to his illness, I met up with my mom and a close friend of hers. The first topic to come up in conversation? The BFG’s illness. The friend brought it up, and as I looked at my mom dumbfounded she said, “Oh yeah, I told her all about it.” Not apologetic. Just… “Yes, that secret you asked me to keep… I’m actually telling everyone.” The friend had a lot to say on the topic, but even though some of it was positive… I didn’t care. I was so FUCKING tired of talking about it, because that’s all we’d been doing for months. And I needed a break. But I should have known better. This wasn’t hers to tell, but she assumed that it was… she always assumes.
I realize how this sounds… writing about privacy on my PUBLIC blog. I know. But I’m not naming names… I’m not posting pictures… I’m trying to remain anonymous as possible. And really that’s all I wanted from my mother back when she was writing about our lives, publicly. I just didn’t want my name out there. I mean, I didn’t want her telling MY stories either, but if I didn’t have a choice, at least she could have used different names. Or something. I don’t know.
Sometimes old resentments rear their ugly head, and I hate it, but I can’t help it. (Yes, I have considered therapy, and as soon as I can find an awesome therapist that accepts my insurance, I am all over it.) And for the most part, I have stopped worrying about what my mother puts out there, and am careful not to give her any information that I don’t want everyone in the world to know. Because of the way she lives her life, I have learned to live my life in a very different, extremely private way. My status updates are small and meaningless… what I’m cooking for dinner, or updates on my business. Impersonal things. Privacy is one of the most important things in the world to me.
I love my mother. I don’t think she’s a bad person, I think we’re just really really different. And I think we have different values and beliefs. My mom needs constant attention, and she gets it in whatever way she can, whether that is wearing her politics on her sleeve and inviting debate or hijacking another person’s stories as her own. I don’t understand it, but I realize that after fifty-some years, she’s not going to change. So I can only do so much, and strive to protect my own privacy… and The BFG’s.
I just needed to get some of this out. It’s part of the reason I started this blog.