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Oversharing

February 10th, 2012

 

Sometime this month, I’m scheduled to be on the cover of a local weekly newspaper. I’ve known for awhile, probably about two weeks after my December interview, when the paper’s photographer called to set up my “cover photo shoot.” The fact that I — or rather my blog persona — would be featured on the cover was news to me, and so I called the story’s writer in a panic.

 

“What did you say about me?”
“Do I sound like a moron?”
“Will my neighborhood find out about my secret online identity?” and so on.

 

She assured me I won’t look too much like an idiot in the story and so that’s that. Until it comes out and I’m exposed.

 

It’s no secret that I’m fond of oversharing. I do it in person all the time, usually with people who don’t know me well and could care less about my feminine itching. I say most things I think on my blog, too, which befuddles my friends and general observers, because why do I want everyone to know my business and see my kids and learn that I suffer from severe hormone imbalance and fear the word, “moist.” People who keep life close to the vest don’t understand, will never understand, and that’s OK. It’s just not me. Still, I find myself explaining all the time why I want the world to know my life.

 

The simple answer is “I don’t.” The long answer is “I love to write. I’ve been presented with this medium — MY space — where I can express myself to the world and for better or for worse, my expression is open and raw. I will tell you everything because that’s how I write. Because I think you think these things, too.”

 

Word gets around about my extreme openness, which is why the writer of the article mentioned above, contacted me. I told her everything, because I don’t know how not to. I confessed how much of my life is spent online, how I’ve sacrificed family time, how my work is the computer — and so is my recreation, how I wish I could get back to reading the printed word, how I don’t know how I’d operated without something electronic in my hand. I told her all this, because it’s all true. Even if it’s ugly, it’s glaringly honest. So why wouldn’t I say it? That’s what I don’t understand.

 

Professionals will tell you it’s because the ugly truth will tarnish your brand, and I believe it. It’s just that I’m not a brand, I’m a person, and I’m talking to people.

 

Still, with this telling comes judgment and criticism. It’s natural. When this article is published, I expect it. How I’m a bad mom because I’m online so much, how I’m wasting time, how I’m exploiting my kids, how I need to get over myself.

 

Maybe not, I don’t know. Truth is, I’m scared. From behind my laptop, I can write honestly about the things that make me imperfect, but when the laptop is gone, it’s just me and my words. Even if I do stand by them.

 

***********************************

 

I remember a few years ago when Dooce appeared on the Today Show and Kathie Lee read her the riot act for compromising her child’s safety by writing every detail of her life, which was rich criticism coming from a TV host who’s talked about her family to MILLIONS OF PEOPLE for years. Guess what Kathie Lee? I know your kids’ names, the state of your marriage, where you live and where you work out. Do you think with one click of a mouse other people can’t find this information, too? These days, you don’t need a blog to broadcast your life, the Internet does it for you, pretty much whether or not you are complicit in the process.

 

***********************************

 

About 15 years ago, I was stalked. This person broke into my apartment, hid under my bed until I returned home, shattered my front door, vandalized my office, and terrorized my friends. I wasn’t online, then. I believe that the real danger to your safety are the people you already know, or who happen to see you on a street, or randomly attack. I don’t think I’m any more compromised by telling you my life on my blog. Certain precautions are taken of course. I don’t name my children, or my husband, or my street, or broadcast where I am every minute of the day. But I’m not so daft to think these details can’t be discovered. As with anyone else, whether they write online or not.

 

***********************************

 

In 2003, I interviewed for a position with a government organization. I sailed through the process, thanks to undergoing approximately 67 job application processes just like it in my career. After the third interview, I felt pretty confident that I would be extended an offer. Then a week went by, and another. I couldn’t figure out why I’d heard nothing, not even received a rejection, and so on a hunch I checked my blog stats. And there it was: A URL navigating my site that I recognized instantly from the .gov extension. I’d been discovered, and obviously deemed a — I don’t know? — security threat?

 

I wonder at this still. I mean, does a personal blog suggest unprofessionalism? Even if I do talk about blatantly private matters? Because every office I’ve ever worked? People are sharing their personal business all over the place. Cubicle talks, happy hours, water cooler chats. We are humans with human problems and issues and lives. Why is it wrong to be upfront about it?

 

At the very least? Points for the ability to string sentences together and tell the truth? I’ve worked with a lot of “professionals” who did neither very well.

 

***********************************

 

I’d just moved into town and attended a party. Everyone began talking about this and that, and soon enough I found myself in the company of a delightful young mom who started talking about postpartum suckiness.

 

“I know,” I said. “I haven’t felt right since my second pregnancy. It’s like my body went into perimenopausal shock.”

 

“I get it,” she agreed. “What do you do about the vaginal dryness?”

 

My mouth fell open. Really? We hardly knew each other.

Seems I met my match.

 

Awhile ago, that same woman wrote me:

Was just thinking of you and wanted to thank you for the support at the party. I finally did start Zoloft, after seeing a psychiatrist specializing in postpartum depression. I’m finally starting to feel better. Just talking with you helped me to realize that this was a step I needed to take.”

 

***********************************

 

I texted my friend, “I’m going to be in the paper.”

 

She replied, “What did you do now?”

 

I told her and she tsk-tsked because she is protective and knows all too well the consequences of my big mouth, most notably when I announced in a national magazine that I drink a lot of wine.

 

Because I do.

 

Because it’s the truth.

 

Because I say and write the true words.

 

And because maybe someone else feels like I do. Or will be inspired to tell her truth. To drop the veil.

 

To me, that’s worth the sacrifice of my entire neighborhood knowing my true self.

 

Pretty much.

 

***********************************

 

My husband calls down to me from his perch upstairs, “SAN DIEGO MOMMA!”

 

I know I’m in trouble.

 

My most recent post recounted our budget, my fear about money, our working hard and getting less, and The Rock wanted me to take it down.

 

And I did. Because he’s my husband and he didn’t agree to have his life shared like I’ve decided to share mine.

 

***********************************

 

Whatever you choose to say or not say, there’s a reason, a motive, an intention, an outcome. Everyone has a line they choose to cross or not.

In retrospect, if it hadn’t been for my oversharing, I wouldn’t have gained the writing partner I have now and am so blessed to call a friend. I wouldn’t have “won” some of my writing gigs that heal my soul and pay my bills, I wouldn’t reap the benefits of this space that’s my therapy and heart.

 

So I choose to continue. Despite the risks, it feels right to me.

 

And you do what feels right to you.

 

P.S. I’m trying desperately to add social media icons to my site because I’m trying to be very 21st century with my blog, but I’ve mucked it all up, which is why you’ll see some wily nily icons at the top of this post, when they should be at the bottom. And horizontal, when now they’re vertical.

Just thought I’d “share.”

 

« « A Terrible Waste    |    PROMPTuesday #181: The Prime » »

On February 10th, 2012, IlinaP said:

I’m not going to be in the paper but I can totally relate to everything in this post. The thing is, with or without a blog, my big mouth causes problems. But I keep running it because I’ve found that my big mouth also makes a difference. Write on.

On February 10th, 2012, Indigo said:

A few years back before Shattered Prose, I was an open book like no other. I tore into the gov. about underfunded reservation police forces. One cop for over 100,000 spread over 100’s of miles, allowing for rampant under reported rape of native individuals and abuse. I was outspoken about domestic violence of which I’m a survivor – barely, animal rights…the list goes on.

I found a voice despite my deaf ears. Then I started taking writing more seriously…and I began Shattered Prose; on the advise of writer friends who feared I was a little TOO outspoken. From time to time things still leak out into whatever I’m writing. On some level I miss that outspoken, determined me, who fought for those that couldn’t.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, we each have to decide what’s right for us. I applaud your courage and stamina sweet friend. (Hugs)Indigo

P.S. Never fear maybe I no longer talk about it on my blog, but I still volunteer for several animal shelters and a woman’s shelter. *shrugs* We leave our mark in our own way.

On February 10th, 2012, Vinobaby said:

Be brave, you can do it.

And I can totally relate. I stayed anonymous until recently. Some of my friends know about the blog. Some of my friends do not share my sense of humor, my parenting style, or my candidness. Some of my friends are now threatening to no longer be my friends.

At this point, if they can’t respect my words or my voice, they don’t respect me. Screw them.

Cheers to you, and congrats on the publicity!

On February 10th, 2012, Mad Woman behind the Blog said:

Have I told you lately how much I admire you?
That is all.

#takingnotes
#iwanttogrowuptobejustlikeyou
#exceptforthehypochondriastuff
#whyamitalkinginhashtags

On February 10th, 2012, Amberr Meadows said:

It really is a dilemma with oversharing. I shared a post on how awful my husband’s family treated me at his grandfather’s funeral and after, because I knew they were searching for me online. I decided to leave them a gift in the post (confessing they are all jerks). Haha! After the sh*tstorm passed, I took the post down. I overshared on purpose, but that’s different than what you’re referring to. I think you should share as much as you are comfortable with others’ knowing. A personal blog is supposed to be personal, not professional. I don’t know. This is a tough one…

On February 10th, 2012, Me said:

Was there someone who didn’t respect yours? Because seriously I will come and kick their ass for you (figuratively speaking of course).

I hear you sister!!! I think I share way too much and blurt things out completely inappropriately. I feel EXACTLY everything you wrote here and that’s why I keep coming back. I think I continue to be so giving of myself (doesn’t that sound better?) because I have had a handful of people come back to me and say “Thanks so much for sharing what you did because I went to the doctor and…” When I hear that, it makes it ALL worth it to me.

On February 10th, 2012, Jennifer said:

I love your bravery and your no b.s. ways. You are a fantastic writer. Never stop! But be safe :)

On February 10th, 2012, Kim @ Mama By The Bay said:

Thank you for posting this, because your honesty helps to remind me why I blog to begin with. I felt so alone after I had my son…all the other moms seemed on the outside to have these perfect lives where everything was under control. But that’s just a facade. When moms don’t tell the truth about how hard motherhood is, what their families are really like, etc, then it just perpetuates the cycle of shame and competition. I blog because it helps me to sort through my own feelings, but also because (I hope) that other moms will read it and not feel so alone. I think you’re brave for speaking your truth in a newspaper/magazine…show those Mommas how it’s done! ;)

On February 10th, 2012, mommypie said:

I completely get this, Deb. Once Swapmamas started to take off, and people started connecting me with the blog, I was no longer totally anonymous. Sadly, it’s why I haven’t posted anything in two years, and, God I miss it. (I’ll be back one of these days!) It’s scary to “come out” but I have no doubt this will be a fantastic thing for you — your writing is just SO darn good — you deserve this! Congratulations!! xoxo

On February 10th, 2012, Frelle said:

I love you. We keep finding ways we’re alike, and Im glad for every one. I love the pouring out of your heart here, where your head went, the standing up for your own space and your right to speak in it the way you want, even while admitting you’re scared because you feel deep down that it’s the right thing to do.

your words make a difference. The woman at the party was right. for every hundred times we overshare, there’s this one time where it might even save a life.

with ya, sister.

On February 10th, 2012, Galit Breen said:

What I love about you, is that you *are* your truth.

Yes, love.

Send me a link to the article when it goes online. (It will, right?!) i can’t wait to read it!

One more time: Love!

On February 11th, 2012, Green Girl in Wisconsin said:

You are one of the most charming people I’ve ever met in person and online–and I believe it’s because you are unafraid to pour it all out there. Seriously, there are times when I start to self-censor and I think “WWSDMD?” (that’s “What would SanDiego Mama do?”)
You are on the cusp of awesome things, lady. Go for it!

On February 11th, 2012, Sean said:

First time reader. Just finished a post on what to share online, and then saw a link to your post on a friend’s blog.

I will probably never be as forthcoming, but I absolutely believe in being honest about our struggles. Writing about it sometimes feels like I am simply unburdening (which is helpful by itself), but you never know who you will help in the process.

It is all about these moments – “I’m finally starting to feel better. Just talking with you helped me to realize that this was a step I needed to take.”

Bravo!

On February 11th, 2012, Sugar Jones said:

*snort* You said “My Space” ;)

I remember the Dooce interview. I thought that was pretty hypocritical, too. I couldn’t believe Kathie Lee could do that without laughing at herself. I mean, I remember how she talked about spinning sperm to get the “right” sex for her second kid.

We talked about being yourself the other night at a presentation. I said that you will attract others like you… and repell people who are not.

I know that we like to have people like us, but I know that more so, people like us would rather just be around more people like us.

Hugs mama. :)

On February 11th, 2012, The Frugal Hostess said:

I love this post. I am weird online – I write an anonymous blog but then actively, aggressively support Occupy and every other lefty cause in the world on my business Twitter account. I get a lot of flack for blurring my personal and professional identities, but I don’t really want to work with people who would care. Hmm. Anywho, great post.

On February 11th, 2012, Middle State/MomZombie said:

Bless you for writing this. I get all of it. I’ve struggled for so long with the decision to be anonymous, even though so many people know it’s me behind the curtain. Thing is, if anyone likes my writing based on not knowing me at all, I appreciate it so much more than props from my mom or best friend or former co-worker, who may feel obligated to say something nice. But, yeah, there are times I wonder why I say what I do for anyone anywhere to read. I fear it could all come crashing down someday.

On February 11th, 2012, Trish said:

First, congratulations! That’s a big deal! To be on the cover and inside the pages. A good type of big deal.

Next, I too, share everything (I refuse to say over share because who, exactly, is to say what’s over or under or just right in the sharing department?) I get a lot of grief from friends,family, and so forth. But, it just slides off me. I’m not too worried about some wacko finding my kids because I post their pictures and names online. We live in a digital world. Whether you have a blog or not, people can find you. I could go on and on,but I’ll stop here.

Just don’t apologize for who you are. You’re doing it right. You know you are a good mom and so what if you waste time? Who among us doesn’t?

On February 12th, 2012, janelle said:

new reader. great post and love your honesty.

On February 12th, 2012, heidi said:

As soon as I saw the tile in my reader I was hooked. I often use the word oversharing and I tend to do it. In fact, I just overshared on Twitter yesterday and it was a mistake. It wasn’t dirty or offensive sharing. It was about ‘writing’ and I should know better than to tweet about what I’m revising when my ms is out there. Such a small thing and maybe not a big mistake, but it could have been. I should know better. But, I don’t. Because how we share information has really changed and I don’t know what I’m doing a lot of the time.
However…
I love what you have to say here. I love that you’ve put yourself out there in this way. You really spoke to me today, for what it’s worth.:)
And a ginormous congratulations to you!!

On February 13th, 2012, stacey ross said:

You are a gifted writer and person! You know I have been your fan for years. :)
-stacey

On February 13th, 2012, Kizz said:

I bet you’ll get some flack. I hope you’ll be able to remember while you wade through it that there are a whole huge bunch of us who love the way you share.

Congratulations on the piece!

On February 13th, 2012, Mama Mary said:

This is why we hit it off so well. I am queen of over-sharing. In fact, I am working on my next Mama Drama script about how much I over share. : ) The line about vaginal dryness just made me spit my coffee out at Starbucks. Honestly, it did. And, what was your advice for dry vag? Just curious. No reason.

On February 13th, 2012, Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommy said:

You know me, I worry about not sharing enough. I think it’s all relative.

On February 13th, 2012, Becky said:

I used to share a lot more when I was more anonymous. My family is very private or else I’d write about a lot more personal stuff. But the backlash just isn’t worth it for now. But it does make me feel stifled and I guess that’s why I don’t blog as frequently any more.

But I still love you and your sharing. Mwah!

On February 13th, 2012, Rima said:

I am so very glad that you “overshare.” I wouldn’t have my San Diego Momma any other way. Some of the things you write about have hit so close to home for me and I am grateful that you’ve written about them when I am too chicken myself.

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