Friday, March 16, 2012

How Much Of Your Personal Life Do You Make Public?

My neighbor, Mustang Sally, came over with her daughter last night to deliver my Girl Scout cookies. Perhaps you remember Mustang Sally’s daughter, per my post about the rude Girl Scout. I was a little suspect. Why was Mustang Sally accompanying her daughter for the drop off and was nowhere in site when the initial sale was being made.

No matter. It was a wee awkward because I was in the middle of putting groceries away, and my boyfriend was about to eat lunch, so instead of inviting them in, like we probably should have, we kept them at bay in the entryway.

We got down to business, paid her for the cookies and then my boyfriend engaged the little girl scout in conversation. She was very articulate and all I kept thinking was, “Shouldn’t we invite them in and let them sit down?” But we didn’t. I kept glaring over at the perishables on the kitchen counter, that desperately needed to be refrigerated.

While my boyfriend continued conversing, I extricated myself and moved into the kitchen. I should explain that we have an open floor plan, so even though I moved rooms, I was still visible and audible. At some point, the conversation turned to one of her seven children. She said that her thirteen year old suffers from acute anxiety, and panic attacks.

My boyfriend and I listened, while I put away our canned goods and organic beets. And then Mustang asked, “I don’t know what a panic attack is like. I’ve never had one. Have you?” My Man was silent, and I had a choice to make. Do I divulge personal information to my neighbor, who I really don’t know, or do I continue to put away my Quinoa and let my boyfriend handle it.

I felt a sudden pang of empathy towards Mustang and her son. I’ve had my share of attacks in the not so distant past, and they are not fun for anyone. I decided to risk it and I spoke up. I think even my boyfriend was surprised. I’m not sure that he knew about my attacks. I don’t know if I helped her but I think she felt a little less alone.

A few minutes after Mustang and her daughter left, I was certain that standing in my entryway made them tired, I regretted sharing myself. It’s ironic. I have no problem writing about all kinds of personal shit here and yet, sharing a piece of myself with my neighbor, was, well, too personal.


Leah Marie, Unpunctuated said...

Its funny that you should post this today. I just recently wrote up a post about something personal (depression, blah blah) and am hesitating publishing it. The reason is because there are people that I encounter in every day life that I know read my blog. Otherwise I wouldn't hesitate. What is that? Why am I okay sharing with the internets but not with people whose faces I see?

Either way, good for you for sharing. I think we all like to know that we're not the first ones to have faced something, so I bet you were a big help to that family.

Kathy Radigan said...

I think it was very kind of you to do that! I always feel I can use all the brownie points I can get in life, and I think this qualifies as one for you. I know what you mean though, I have had experiences like that myself. I think it's healthy! Take care my dear friend!!

thegirlfriendmom said...

Leah Marie,
I think it's really hard and brave to expose oneself to strangers- online or off. However, I've learned that most experiences that I've had are shared by many others and sometimes we scared but brave ones need to speak up and out for those that truly cannot. Go for it. It's all a part of humanity. And of course. You can't see the faces that people are making at you for being bat crazy. I meant me. I wasn't insinuating that you're bat crazy.

thegirlfriendmom said...

Thank you, I will take the brownie points. It's just that naked feeling I get that's the bad naked, not that good naked kind. Love you for stopping by. Have a great weekend.

Leah Marie, Unpunctuated said...

Oh. I'm totally bat crazy. And thank you for the encouragement, and for this post in general. It really just was the exact thing I needed today. I did publish my post.

mrsmomx6 said...

You know what? You're a sweetheart. That was so kind of you to try to help her know you can relate.

And I totally get the regret too!

You rock as always!

injaynesworld said...

I'm reading a book about memoir writing and one of the quotes in it is "That which is most personal is most common." It think it means that when we share our "warts" with others, they feel more connected to us. It probably applies to personal contacts, as well.

Debbie said...

Girlfriend please ... I tell the whole world EVERYTHING! Have always been that way. What you did was exhibit COMPASSION my friend. Do not regret admitting your humanity and sharing an experience your neighbor probably found a lot of comfort in. That sounds A-OK in my book!


Michael Ann said...

Good topic. On my writing blog I tried not to write about anything specifically personal, mainly because people I know would read it. I stopped writing on that blog too for a similar reason. I just didn't feel like sharing anything anymore! I had a recipe blog that is less personal.

But in life with "real life" people I am making similar decisions. Keeping a lot more things to myself and it actually feels good. I feel it's good to have some boundaries. I think it's very odd your neighbor asked you about that directly because that is crossing a privacy boundary. But it was definitely a choice for you whether to be honest or not. I have done that before too...been honest and then regretted it. I guess my overall thought on this is that there is nothing wrong with sharing...but there is also a good feeling about keeping certain things private.

thegirlfriendmom said...

I'll just everyone know that I'm in the process of going wordpress so I can answer each one separately. This is pure bogafication. Thank you ladies for your kind words and for encouraging me to lay it all in the line. And I agree with Michael Ann, even though it's probably my initial response to be honest, I am getting better at knowing my audience and thinking before I share.

alphawoman said...

I find that I am very protective with my blog's content. My husband would be mortified if I wrote about our escapaades! I tell people anything - most the time. It allows you to connect. I mean, that is what this short little life as all about - connecting.

BTW, I want to go Wordpress too, but I am such a procastinator. And I am a little afraid! lol.

thegirlfriendmom said...

It is about connecting but I do think twice about what I write, sometimes, and as a writer, that part bothers me but I do have to be respectful of those that are close to me that I do write about. Don't be afraid of Wordpress. The procrastination I get!