The Heavy Weight of Transparency

I find it interesting that as obsessed as our culture is with "reality" television, we're only comfortable with the realities of another person's life when parts of it are still scripted. Facebook asks, "What's on your mind?" but answer it honestly and you'll find others trying to shame or criticize you for choosing to do so. No one really wants to know what's really on your mind-they want the watered down, mundane, heavily filtered, "fluff" that resides on your mind's surface. Reveal anything deeper, and people start hiding you from their news feeds.

Blog about what's bouncing around & lurking in the corners of your mind, or buried within the folds of your heart and people refuse to read. Peel back a wound to reveal the ugliness underneath, and people look away.

During my Social Works Basics class this past semester, my professor constantly discussed this, saying that people are too afraid of other people's realities. He would challenge us to reflect on why this is.

What is it about the reality of life and another person's vulnerability that  makes us so uncomfortable? So uneasy, so fearful, so angry even?

Good questions. To which I only have theories for answers, but nothing definitive.

I have a heavy heart this morning because I had an encounter that left me feeling the weight of my decision to be as real as I can with people. It was so uncomfortable and the reason for their coolness toward me so obvious, I felt my face burning hot with shame at the realization.

It hurt.

It's never easy being rejected or losing a friendship because of what you believe or how you choose to live your life. It's painful...I've lost count as to how many times I've gone through it the past 3 years, but its frequency doesn't lessen the blow when it happens.

Writing this blog and being as open as I am on Facebook has cost me a lot. About 50% of the distance that lies between some people (and family) who know me "in real life" and myself I've created on purpose and for good reasons. In order to focus on growth and healing, creating distance was necessary. Not easy, but a must. (It's amazing how much therapy has helped me recognize and understand this)

The other 50%, however comes from people distancing themselves from me because they don't like what I've dared to share and talk about here...and even on Facebook. I've gotten complaint after complaint. Angry messages, chastising emails, and have had people refuse to talk to me because they either don't like something I've revealed about myself, my past, an opinion I've had, or just don't like that I choose, above all else to be transparent, to be real. I've been talked about, ridiculed,and people have walked away. Some departures haven't bothered me...others have. Exhibit A: Today's encounter.

The result is that I'm now fairly filtered on Facebook. And most of my "friends" have gone from people who know me "in real life" to people I've met on Twitter who don't mind when I have verbal diarrhea, bare my soul, or rant about an irritation. Or at least if they do, they don't tell me about it.

That's the strange thing I've noticed since I started blogging and joined Twitter. Complete strangers can value, respect, and appreciate your vulnerability. They'll even commend you for your bravery even if they don't agree or can't identify with what you've shared. They validate your effort. They encourage you. But those who "know" the "real" you? Friends, family, church members? They give you the most grief, their silence, a deaf ear to talk to, and a chipped shoulder to lean on.

The only person in my everyday life who hasn't done this is Bertski-and guess what? He hates how open I can be. It makes him uncomfortable. But he pushes past his comfort zone and supports my decision to practice transparency, which I love him for.

But while I've become more filtered on Facebook, I haven't here and I absolutely refuse to.  I feel like this is the one place I have to share anything I want, and I intend to keep it that way. As difficult as it is to maintain that stance, I'm always reminded of why it's important that I do. It helps me, but more than that, every now and then, I find out what I share here, good or bad, helps someone.  A message pops up on my Facebook, an email finds its way to my inbox, and it's always from someone sharing something with me they haven't told anyone-simply because I dared (in spite of my fears) to put it all out there.

Practicing transparency and choosing to live authentically is far from easy, and comes with a price.  But it's one I'll always be willing to pay, even when it hurts. Why? Because the rewards of helping another person outweighs the cost. It might not for other people, but it does for me.

I just wish the weight of it didn't feel so heavy sometimes.

Maybe I'm doing something wrong?