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?


Manic Monday: Full Disclosure

"Mommiiiiiiiiiieeeeeee!" (little arms wrap themselves around my legs giving them tight, loving squeezes)

Hey sweetie are you ready to go?

"YUP. " (grabs jacket & my hand) "Who's in the car with us today, Mom?"

No one sweetie, it's just us, c'mon. (I pull  him thru the door and out into the brisk cold where the late afternoon sun greets our faces with lazy kisses of sunlight)

"It's Monday, right Mom?"

Yes it is. Do you remember where we're going?

"To the therapist. You see the therapist on Mondays after school.  Every Monday, not Saturdays anymore, right? The therapist is like a doctor who helps you fix your mind and 'motions, right?"

Right. But first we have to go to Target to buy you a coloring book and a toy.

"A toy? Why? What kind of toy?"

Any kind of toy you want as long as it's not too expensive. We have to get you a toy because I forgot to charge the iPad and you need something to do whi-

"While you talk to the therapist?"


I'm not perfect. I haven't been anywhere close to a Stepford Mom and that is why I believe in having full disclosure with my son about the fact that I see a therapist...a "doctor who helps (me) fix (my) mind and 'motions." He's seen my at my worst since Alex was born nearly 22+mos ago and if it's one thing that being in therapy has taught me, it's that full disclosure helps paint a clearer picture for people to see and try to understand. So with Brennan, I don't hide or keep from him the fact that I need help with certain parts of myself. He understands that there are parts of me that can be out of control and need help or "fixing" so I can be a "healthy Mommie," as he puts it. He's only going on 5 but he gets it or at least what he needs to at this stage and that eases the tension on the pressure valve of motherhood to appear like I have it all together. Cause let's face it-I don't, and after the past 2 years we've had I know he can see and understand that I don't, so why try to hide it from him? I can't. I refuse to. I refuse to perpetuate any kind of shame, negative stigma or unhealthy association to this. Even though mental illness runs in my family, it's something my family sucks the big wad at, talking about their problems, their malfunctioning parts, and seeking solid, effective treatment for them. And besides, it wouldn't be fair of me to tell all of you the down and dirty 411 of my life and illness and not tell him would it? Me thinks not.

Full disclosure. I give it to my son. In return he gives me the space I need to spend an hour untangling myself from the web of chaos that is my mind and digging myself out from underneath the plethora of emotions buried behind doors I have to learn how to unlock.....

I'm pretty sure the toy bribes make it an hour worth spent for the both of us.

this post is a link up!  Click the button to read more awesome posts and read the creator's blog....

Meaning Behind the Name

Part of the reason I chose to name this blog "Butterfly Confessions" is because I wanted it to be a place I could bare all. I've always been a person who has struggled with the "should I or shouldn't I be" transparent issue....and the struggle doesn't come with baring my thoughts and emotions for strangers to see, it instead comes with wondering what those who are closest to me will say. I have no problems sharing myself with strangers, it's easy and somewhat comforting to let them in through the door without fear of judgment or being misunderstood.  I've always had a desire to help people...I've never shared my experiences, thoughts or feelings for vain, self-indulgent, narcissistic reasons....Showing people my struggles, my triumphs, my humanity, has always been born out of a desire to help others identify and recognize that they aren't alone in what they are experiencing in life. Growing up with an abusive father and wrestling with self-esteem/self-image issues, wanting to end my life, and other things always had me wanting someone to hear my pain, understand my feelings...sometimes all I wanted was just for someone to give me some hope that I could survive and overcome. I was always looking for people who could be examples of "over comers"-people who survived the rough seas of life and made it to the other when I first fell in love with and discovered the art of writing in junior high, I not only wrote to release and express what was going on within me, but also to document what I was going through so that if I came across a kid/person who was in the same boat I was, I could grab my journal, and say "Hey, I understand-I'm going through it too, you aren't by yourself. Let's get through this together!" My "friends" on Facebook often comment on how open and transparent I am with my status updates....and while I agree to an extent that discretion is wise when it comes to such things, and while I also do keep some things to myself, I can't help but just share my life with people.  Holding back (for the most part) is not something I'm good at. Growing up, my dad didn't allow me to talk much, especially in public. I had to keep all of my emotions and comments to myself (at restaurants or in stores, people would often come up to my dad and ask him how he got me to be so well-behaved...some would even ask if I was mute or deaf...a store clerk even remarked that my silence was creepy lol)- At home and in public I lived behind an expressionless mask for most of my childhood and teen years...the only place I could (somewhat) be myself was at school, and when I left my dad's at 17 I vowed I wouldn't live like that anymore-all bottled up and that's another reason I live my life "out loud" I guess... But sometimes, when it comes to baring myself to those closest to me, I'm not as bold....I believe I struggle with being as transparent with those closest to me as I am with strangers because of how my parents and even some close friends have reacted to my writing or my spoken thoughts. I found that sometimes just because people ask "What's wrong?" doesn't mean they are equipped to handle, understand, process, grasp or even genuinely be interested in the honest, soul-baring response. When it comes to those who are closest to you, transparency can be a two-edged sword-as I always say and have experienced, honesty, especially brutal honesty, (if not tempered with a degree of love and tact) has a price-one that even when on the receiving end, I'm not always willing to pay....

But when I write, I bare it all-Once I recognized the treasured freedom that lies in capturing unfiltered, non-sugar coated words & emotions in ink upon blank paper, I knew I could never hold back with my writing ever again. I discovered that while I may be able to lie to myself in my mind about something, the truth is always told when held captive on a sheet of paper. It's like the pen becomes a channel of truth serum-it takes what I may be trying to hide from myself and translates it into unabashed truth for me to read and digest, whether I want to or not-it's there. Maybe for other writer's it's not the same, but I find freedom in this approach.....but having this approach sometimes has a hefty price tag and I've experienced it way too often when it comes to those closest to me reading what I've written. I've very rarely had an instance where someone I loved and trusted reacted positively to something I've laid in prose....well-if it's something surfacey and light, yes, I've gotten positive feedback. But if it's deeper, something more...revealing, well, I always get a negative reaction....and distance...and am misunderstood...and....rejected...

My father is just one example of many. In high school he discovered a stack of journals and papers I had hidden in my room. Some things I had written were just poems about God, my purpose, my life....others mentioned my struggles with self-esteem, depression, how trapped I felt, and my will to live-or not live... You would've thought I had written blasphemes the way this man reacted. Instead of recognizing the fact that his 14 year old daughter needed help and that his abuse was destroying me, he beat the hell out of me and told me how awful I was, and how God hated me because of the things I had written.  He said I had no right to divulge my inner most thoughts and feelings on paper-said I was crazy and evil for expressing myself. Well, you can imagine the impact that had on me. He ripped up most of it in front of me...a couple of journals he said he was going to keep to "prove to people how crazy and horrible" I was, so they could see why he treated me the way he did, like telling me everyday he wanted to kill me. (Yes, my father was an insane person and a horrible parent-I know that now, but didn't know it back then.)

So that pretty much started a pattern of people closest to me not responding well to my writings....

When I started writing this post I didn't intend to go in this intentions in talking about "confessions" were to just give a little backstory on why I write on this blog and then dive into a...well...a confession lol...a startling revelation I made today while talking to and deciding to be very honest with God. (After experiencing what I did as a kid/teen with my dad, you can imagine why being honest with God is difficult and a process I'm learning my way through-but I've definitely found freedom when I am honest with Him, so, I'm working on it :) ) But seeing as though I dove deeper than I intended I don't want to "muddy" this post with the confession...I'll save it for the another post.

Who knows? Maybe my intentions in writing this weren't His....I'm an idealist, and I always believe that everything happens for a that being said, this might not have been the destination I wanted for this post, but maybe it turned out this way and arrived here for reasons only He knows... I'm okay with that :)