I think one of the hardest parts about being a writer, and specifically a memoirist, is that it’s often challenging to know where to draw the line, how much to tell, how much of myself and my private life to reveal. You’ll notice I don’t write much about my husband here, and that’s intentional. Brad is a more private person than I am, and so I try to respect that by not blabbing about his every little thing on the World Wide Web. I also write less frequently about my kids these days. Noah is in middle school – enough said, right?
But I’ve also intentionally chosen not to write about certain topics. Sometimes I avoid writing about these topics because they are controversial, and I like controversy about as much as I like flossing my teeth, which is to say, not at all.
On the other hand, sometimes I don’t write about certain topics because I’m afraid you won’t like me, or will be disappointed in me, or will see me differently or less-than. I’m a people-pleaser at heart; I don’t like to ruffle feathers or disappoint.
And sometimes I don’t write about certain topics because I’m afraid they don’t fit who I think you think I am. Does that make sense? Take time to read that sentence again, because it’s a bit convoluted.
Part of this disconnect is simply a natural by-product of writing publicly. The truth is, you can’t know every facet of who I am just by reading what I write here twice a week – even if you’ve been reading all five years that I’ve been blogging, and even if you’ve read my memoir. I’m not saying this to be snobbish, but this blog and my memoir, even though they are about me, aren’t me entirely. They don’t fully represent me; they don’t reflect every facet of my personality, who I am inside and out. Part of that is because I have presented myself in a certain way, not to be deceptive, but simply because that’s what happens, even in in-person communication. And part of that is because you have interpreted me and defined me in certain ways according to who you are and what you believe.
All this to say, I might dip my toe into some new topics here in the coming weeks and months. Some of these new topics might come as a surprise – they might not fit your expectations of who you think I am or who you think I should be. You might think they don’t fit with the person I have presented to you these last five years. You might even feel like I have deceived you in some way.
I want to tell you that it’s okay if you feel this way. I want to assure you that it’s part of the process of growing in relationship with one another. Just like you reveal bits and pieces of yourself a little bit at a time when you are forging a new in-person friendship, the same can be said for these slightly strange but-no-less-real online relationships. I would ask that you offer grace and the benefit of the doubt – in the same way you would offer grace and the benefit of the doubt to a friend you know in person.
And I will do the same. I will offer you the opportunity to disagree with me, the grace and space to say, “I’m not too sure about this,” or “I don’t feel the same way,” or “Can you explain why you see it this way.” I will offer you the space for conversation and deeper connection, and even the space to step away, if that’s what you should choose to do, though I hope it won’t be.
I hope, even if we don’t see eye to eye on everything, that we can still walk forward in growing our relationship. Because I have to say, getting to know some of you in a real way has been, hands-down, the biggest blessing of blogging, and a gift I never expected to come out of an online community.