I would consider myself an open book. Amongst the few friends that I keep close, there isn’t much about myself that I haven’t or wouldn’t share, and in all truth, the people around me probably know more than they would ever want to. I am TMI embodied – if something weird is going on with my body or if I’m having obscure sex dreams about some kid I used to go to school with, then odds are I’ll bring it up over a casual coffee and iced bun. I love talking about sex and relationships and all things intimate, and when it comes to “confidential” details, the more the better.
I have always been able to keep secrets about other people (you know, that “Okay, don’t tell anybody else, but…” that inevitably gets passed around 15 people anyway), but I can never keep a secret about myself. I can’t even keep gifts a secret – as soon as I buy them, I give them. There’s probably something to be said about instant gratification and the social media age in there, but I’ll leave the millennial shit-talking to Piers Morgan (tw@t). This incessant need to share my own life and my own stories undoubtedly led me to blogging, and when I do have pent up emotions or a bee in my bonnet, there is nothing more cathartic than typing at 1000mph and getting my thoughts down onto paper (well, internet paper).
The thing about sharing my personal stories is that they are inevitably interwoven with the personal stories of others; of my friends, my family, people from my past. And contrary to what my brain might think in a moment of creative passion, most people don’t want their dirty laundry aired online, even if the only person that can identify themselves in that story is them. Even if the article isn’t negative, there have been a few instances where I’ve shared something on my blog that as a result, certain loved ones felt excluded from or felt didn’t include something that they deemed important. When instances like this occur, I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. The writing that I find most stimulating and most satisfying comes from a personal place of experience, but this is the same writing that is potentially most harmful to my most valued relationships. I either feel silenced or selfish.
Towing this line isn’t easy. When I talk about my relationship with Keiran, I can tell from his tone of voice post-reading that he’s not always happy with what I’ve shared. When I wrote my article about self-sabotage in relationships and how self-esteem can come about and bite you in the ass, he thought I’d made it seem like he didn’t make me feel good about myself – as if my self-consciousness was somehow a result of the way he treated me. Of course this wasn’t the case, and I remember at the time expelling a deep and v. v. dramatic sigh, exclaiming “but this piece wasn’t about you.”
And in some ways, I was right. If I’m writing about something very personal to myself and how that facet of my life interconnects with the people around me, then the focus is on me. If I spend all of my time worrying about what somebody might think or might feel, then nothing would ever get written. However there are also times when I’ve been wrong. A few months after breaking up with Jordan, I asked him if I could write about the break-up. At the time I was in the midst of a thousand different emotions, and for me, writing has always been my route to reflection and relief. I’d just lost my best friend, and I was lost. Whilst my motivation for wanting to share came from the right place, it was absolutely the wrong time, and he was right to say no. I was caught up in my own bubble of pain and I wasn’t thinking enough about how he might be feeling, and how he might not want to share something so absolutely personal, so soon.
I still haven’t written about that break-up, and honestly, I never will. I respect that he wanted to keep that private, and I’m grateful for that decision because it allowed me to keep something to myself – to not feel like I have to bear my soul to the internet every time I have #feelings. At the time it seemed strange to me because I was going through this huge emotional upheaval and on my blog and on social media I was all rainbows and butterflies, but that in itself was a lesson. As cliché as it is, we all have personal shit going on behind our VSCO filters and it’s easy to forget that amidst a sea of city break pictures and mirror selfies, our hearts can be broken and our families can be fucked up and we might be way more broke than we appear.