Monday, June 15, 2015
We all learned this one in kindergarten, right? And yet, I've had to relearn it, at least when it comes to family. More specifically: my mother, here on this blog.
Yesterday, a family member gently observed that I always seemed to be denigrating her and her choices. And he pointed out that while the blog seemed to be therapeutic for me, it isn't right to do so at the expense of my mother's dignity and, furthermore, social media is not the best forum for dealing with complex or damaged relationships.
I couldn't sleep. It's been on my mind all day.
Because he's right, absolutely right. And I am ashamed.
Close to twenty years ago a family event triggered in me a whole mess of emotions and dysfunction -- with consequences that have taken me too long to sort out, including an abrupt end to communication with my mother for a long period of time.
Her recent health crisis has been the impetus for a long-overdue reconciliation, but I have made the mistake of rehashing the cause of our estrangement in just about every post I've written about her. And that's not fair. It's not kind. It's not loving and it's just wrong.
I've been a too quick to snag onto the "confessional" blogging style thinking that honesty and openness are better than secrets and lies. I still believe that, but here's what really happened:
I assumed my mother didn't read the blog and therefore I had no compunctions.
Can you believe my naivete? My callousness?
Here's a lesson everyone needs to learn: If you wouldn't say it to someone's face, then do not put it in writing. Not in an e-mail, a text, a Facebook post, and certainly not on a public blog.
I don't know if anyone has actually read or shown my blog to my mother, but the heat rises to my face when I think about how painful it would be for her to read what I've written. There was a time when that would have been fine with me. (Gosh, vindictiveness is nasty, isn't it?)
Even then, however, I wasn't thinking about the ripple effects: people who love my mother, who have different relationships with her than I ever had, people who have been justifiably deeply offended by my writing. These are people I care about and never intended to hurt, and yet I have.
So I'm making a new policy for this here blog. While I will continue to write about things that are important to me, I will not write anything that would be embarrassing or hurtful to anyone.
So thank you to the person who spoke up. It was brave and honest, and you did it the right way: directly to me. To everyone else, I'm sorry. Very, very sorry.