Posted in Insight, Mid-Life Mama, Sexuality, Takes a Village, Teens, Underage Drinking & more

On Privacy

Vincent van Gogh, vispix.com

“Will my kids be safe?” a friend asks about beginning to blog.

I consider the age of her children. “I think the greater threat to children is not speaking up,” I say.

Yesterday, I read a piece on the Huffington Post by a highschool classmate of my son’s.  Margaret addressed our culture’s current obsession with “sharing.” Her point was well made, but I’m happy to see the pendulum shift away from secrecy. No doubt discretion is needed as this clear-headed writer suggests, but I think this rocking into the openness is a necessary step.

I grew up in an alcoholic family where the drinking wasn’t kept secret. My father told me that my mother had a disease. We talked about–what it looked like; what we could or couldn’t do to help. My father was the only one who would talk about it.

When someone got seriously sick, we talked about that too; and when the neighbor’s teenage daughter attempted suicide, my dad told me how; because I asked. As a physician, he had been the first on the scene.

My father also sat me down to talk to me about cigarettes–told me that he and my mother hadn’t known of their risks when they started smoking. He said that I could smoke. At home. In front of him. I would pester my mother for puffs, but I never started, though she died from never stopping.

I talk to my own sons in this same candid way–as things come up, or when they ask, or when I can tell the time is right. I include that which my father left out–sexuality.

Once I became a teenager myself, my father stopped talking, at least about the gritty things that I was facing in my day to day:

My mother’s  depression.

My emerging sexuality.

My exposure to alcohol and drugs.

Maybe he didn’t know how.

It’s not surprising. Most parents don’t.  How would we know?

Which is why I blog about the conversations I have with my boys. As a lifelong educator and writer and a life lover, I want others to have an example of what an uncomfortable or solution-less real-life conversation with a teenager looks like.

And I want to hear back from my friends and readers; because parenting a teen is life-defining work, and working on it in the dark isn’t nearly as rich as stretching it out in the light together.

So my opinion is that privacy is over-rated. I prefer transparency. For not only does that allow others to learn or differentiate or improve upon what is offered, it also releases the drama of “story.”

For what is essential can’t be taken away from us by sharing. Our being-ness doesn’t get robbed on a blog.  Our life’s details and woes are simply garments.

Does that mean that I think everyone should strip themselves of story for others? No. Not unless that’s your calling.

There is a conundrum however in that calling–in that the fibers of my own drama are intimately woven into the stories of those who are closest to me–like my sons; and those who grew old with me–like my friends and siblings; and those who loved me first–like my parents and aunts and uncles and boyfriends.

They may not want to disrobe with me, no matter how far apart our threads have become.

Which brings me to a line my late grandfather used to say, “When it’s your time, it’s your time; but what if it’s the pilot’s time?”

Kelly Salasin, last day of November, 2011

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Author:

Lifelong educator, writer, yoga & yogadance instructor.

4 thoughts on “On Privacy

  1. For years I have struggled with a deep yearning to share my life and thoughts via blogging, and yet greatly lost in protecting that very life, those very thoughts from the scrutiny – or even simply the embracing – by others. I’ve had private blogs. I’ve shared some blogs with just one or two people. I’ve had public blogs that have slipped miserably into the abyss, because of my fear of losing myself by sharing my life with the world.

    I’ve been looking ahead into the new year this last week or so, and have decided to face this conundrum I have with blogging head on in 2012. It’s going to be a daily thing, and it’s going to be a challenge in letting go of expectations. I think it’s going to be an important year – for me and for the world. I want to document it. And I’d like to share it – even when it feels a little raw, exposed, and vulnerable. Wish me luck! It’s a big resolution for me this year…

    Hannah

    Like

    1. Wow. That is big.
      Writing is a vulnerable thing.
      Even though I’ve been a blogger for a few years now, I’m still surprised by content that I find difficult to share.
      I pay close attention to make sure it’s the right time.
      I watch the signs.
      I remember that my writing will garner attention–and it won’t always be nice.
      For me it’s something I have to do, like that “yearning” you mentioned. Not so much the blogging, but the writing.
      The blogging was simply the next step for my work.
      Putting it out there.

      Seeing what it does.
      Listening to it echo or fall flat.
      Following the trail of what brings me alive, what feels right, what is
      exciting.
      My best on your own path Hannah.
      I’ve always found that listening and responding to the yearning is a strong place to start.
      May you find good medicine there.

      Like

  2. I totally agree, and yet I also struggle with the privacy of others…even on a simple blog post regarding an event.
    Honesty takes courage, and I admire your willingness to say what others hold back. Thank you for that.

    Like

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