Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Shame vs Privacy

"I did not want you to know because it makes you see me in a manner I do not want to be seen."(Austin, Lisa M., Privacy, Shame and the Anxieties of Identity (January 1, 2012). http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2061748)

I am writing my memoir. I am a person who over shares. I say I have no secrets. I am not ashamed of past behaviors, although I have some regrets, because those behaviors contributed to who I am today. I believe that if I share my experiences, I will help others to overcome their fears and shed the need for privacy to avoid feeling ashamed. I do not view privacy as a healthy thing. I do understand people use the need for privacy as a shield against the criticism they may receive from others as a result of sharing themselves openly and without shame. Others, who feel ashamed, desire to make those who share feel the same in order to make themselves feel better and more powerful.

I have experienced these attacks on my character, and have succumbed to feeling the shame they insist I must feel. Now that I have "found myself", I feel more grounded and clear. The past is the past. My past behaviors remain there. I do not behave in the same way I did when I was twenty or thirty or even forty. Of course, that depends on the behavior: I still dance alone in public, for example. I just love to dance, and the lack of a partner will not prevent me from breaking out my "moves".

My memoir is about growing up the oldest of twelve children in an Irish Catholic family with an alcoholic father. It is about becoming an unwed mother in 1970. And, it is about my very personal journey to self-discovery. That journey includes discovering, accepting and enjoying my sexuality. My story is also about shedding the "good girl", embracing the "wild woman" and becoming "the matriarch". I never consulted my son about anything along the way. I just dragged him along with me as I created and discovered my journey.

Now that he is a successful professional adult, do I have the right to share my story publicly knowing that the image he projects may not be seen in the way he wants once the public learns about the upbringing he survived as a bastard child? He is more of a private person than I. How then, do I solve this conflict? Can it be solved?

Certainly, I can write my story and not publish it. I can make it available for him if he wants to know who I was as a person. I always wanted him to know me as such, and not just as an authority figure. I regretted never knowing my parents as people once I reached a mature age. I am assuming he will feel the same way twenty years from now. But, will he? He is a man. Do men feel differently about these things than women? I think they do. Men do not like sharing their feelings or expressing them.

My son was raised by a woman around mostly women. He is sensitive and a great communicator. But, he is still a guy. I think genetics dominate behavior, thought and feelings. I believe as human beings, we can overcome anything, including our own physical limitations. Mind over matter is real. But, one has to have the desire to overcome adversity or the sense of it. If there is no desire, there is no will. If there is no will, no change will happen. Change is possible, but desire must be present. Desire allows one to choose. One must choose to change if certain behaviors, thoughts and opinions no longer contribute to happiness and a fulfilled life. Choices must be consciously made.

If I write my story and do not publish it, how will that make me feel? I always said I did not want to die with regrets. Well, I have a few. But, my one goal for just me that I promised my Self was to publish one book in my lifetime. My story keeps coming back to haunt me. The need to tell the world my story keeps coming up. When I share certain stories with others, I receive positive feedback that says, "You should write those stories down and publish a book." I know! I am! But, What about my son's feelings? I don't want him to hate me or resent me forever. I know he loves me, but he's not a kid anymore. I can't disregard his feelings any longer. So, where does this leave the sharing of my story?

I never found a book about a woman raising a son alone when I was doing it. I needed that book. It didn't exist. At least, I couldn't find it. My story is that book! At least, that's my opinion. I can't be the only person to experience life in the way I have. Nobody is truly alone. Isn't that what therapy teaches us? We are not alone. I am not alone. Is there a woman out there, young or old, who would be affirmed by the sharing of my story? I hope so. That is what drives my need to publish. But what about my son's feelings? Should they prevent me from publishing? How do I talk with him about it?