“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
I’ve really not been as lax at blogging as it looks lately. I’ve actually written a few things but can’t post them just yet in case it somehow messes up something for me. I’ve just discovered that this blog comes up in the first page of any Google searches on the subject of those posts; and while that’s great from a, ‘go me, Google thinks I have something useful to say’ perspective, it’s made me slightly paranoid from an, ‘oh, this blog was originally supposed to be anonymous and now anyone can find it’ stand point.
So instead I’m going to write about honesty, and the value we place on finding somebody to whom we can tell, and who will tell us, everything.
Because that’s supposed to be the holy grail of any kind of relationship, isn’t it? Finding someone who’s straight forward, and honest, and we can be completely open with.
Except that nobody actually does that.
Well nobody over the age of about five anyway.
Because it’s impossible. There aren’t enough hours in the day to tell anybody everything. If you meet somebody as even a young adult you’d be there for the next few years of your life just to tell somebody everything about you and that’s happened to you so far. Never mind to keep them up dated about what happens from that point on.
We’re very busy people, all we have time to give anyone are the edited highlights. And we edit those highlights selectively depending on who it that we’re talking to and the image of ourselves that we want to portray to them.
And sure, if what we’re trying to convey to some particular other person is that we desire to create a level of intimacy with them, the edit we show them has information that we wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable sharing with the wider world.
But it still isn’t everything.
Because if we actually told them everything that we thought and felt in the course of a day most of it would be boring.
And we don’t want them to think that we’re boring. Because that would be completely counter-productive to the kind of relationship that we’re trying to create.
I mean, that guy who only ever wants to talk about himself, his obscure interests, and what he’s had to eat that day can’t get himself a partner for a reason.
They’re not called communication skills for nothing.
And maintaining openness and connection – which is what we really mean when we say ‘we tell each other everything’ – does take skills. Because it only gets harder.
It’s relatively easy to be honest at the beginning of a relationship. If it backfires on you all you’ve lost is a relative stranger who you thought might have the potential to be someone special.
But as time goes on you become invested in the relationship, it becomes a fabric in the patchwork of your life. You work other pieces around it. If things go wrong now it’ll mess it up. You stand to lose something real.
As the stakes get higher certain things become harder to say. And our insecurities come into play.
Take me and you for instance.
I said from the beginning that I’d be honest with you. That I’d tell you all the gory details of everything that went on in my crazy brain.
And I did. And I do.
But then you stuck around. You told me how much you liked my writing. You were supportive of my problems. You shared stories about your life with me as well.
And I started to like you. I wanted you to stick around.
So now I worry more about the things I say.
I don’t want to say something wrong, something that might make you decide you don’t like me anymore and to go away.
Despite the fact that my mental health problems are the reason for my being here. Despite the fact that I even named this blog after an antidepressant. I worry that if I keep sharing stories of the sadness in my soul you’ll go away again, and that to keep you I should try to write things that are more like what I think you might want in a blog.
Not to mention that it’s harder to feel able to share with you when I have an idea to talk about secrets that might be slightly out of left field. Things that aren’t related to any of the things we’ve discussed so far. Things that you might never have gleaned about me from what I’ve shared up to now. Like how maybe I once slept with a married guy but I can’t actually remember.
And our relationship, yours and mine, is conducted through a computer screen.
It’s not like we share a life, or a house, or a family, or in most cases even a social scene.
Working on this stuff with people who’d actually recognise our faces can be terrifying. And we can tend to respond to this by behaving cowardly. And holding back from sharing quite so much of ‘everything’ as we had originally intended.
Although withholding information, sometimes even lying, aren’t necessarily always the worst things you could do in the world.
You don’t need to know anything about my sex life in order to take any of things that you were supposed to from this blog.
And sometimes it’s just that the motives underlying what we say are more important than the veracity of its content.
Once upon a time I was involved with someone. And there was an incident between that someone and a close friend. My friend chose to lie about it, my flame didn’t. I knew this. Even so I chose to believe my friend.
The one who lied to me did so because they loved me and wanted to protect me, the one who told the truth was able to because they clearly didn’t.
In that scenario the one who wouldn’t just tell me anything was clearly the one worth hanging on to.
It’s a difficult balancing act, deciding what we should share and what it’s wisest, or kindest, to conceal. That’s where the skill part comes in you see.
But nobody tells anybody everything.
15 thoughts on “Nobody Tells Anybody Everything”
Very good article. I will be dealing with a few of these issues as well.
When I mentioned to you over Twitter that this was a heavy read, I truly meant it, but as a good thing. The reason why is because, even though you have your fears of people seeing you differently if they fall upon this site, I see you as an open pioneer. It takes a lot of guts to post your honest thoughts and feelings over the internet, and with the heavy material you cover, many can benefit from your insight. You start a conversation for those who may be a little scared to start one, and it’s a conversation on mental health that needs to be had.
Where you see yourself as afraid, I see you as a brave and humble person. And it’s a common thing that people say, but if people can’t accept you for who you are then it’s not worth wasting time on them. There’s right and wrong people for everyone, that’s just how life is, and the people worth having around are the people who can be honest with you and make you a better person and vice versa.
Though I don’t have nearly as many followers as you, haha, I’m completely honest and open about the things I post about. Sometimes getting to a point where a few Facebook friends would get offended. I don’t know what I’m getting at with that exactly, but I guess my point is that I see you as a fearless person with the material you cover, and I’m grateful for that. I’m sure a lot more would agree as well.
Thank you. Although the comments on this post are a little strange to hear. Many people have told me in my life that I’m not open and that I’m difficult to get to know. I guess I’m making progress 🙂
I definitely agree about communication skills being called so for a reason. On my old site, I was extremely open about most everything, which lead to some unpleasant conversations with various girlfriends/potential ones at the time. In my opinion, it’s possible to be honest with someone while not letting them know everything about your life. In most cases, that’s not a bad thing.
It helps on that front that only fifteen people who I know outside of the internet know about my blog. And only seven of them actually ever read it.
Some of that’s because I’m not sure how much of this is appropriate reading for people who know me socially as well. Part of it is because I know this strange guy who used to think that invading my privacy as far as possible was some kind of game, and for example found my old blog even though nobody read it so it didn’t even show up on a Google search.
I agree that it can be best to be selective in what you share though.
“I don’t want to say something wrong, something that might make you decide you don’t like me anymore and to go away.”
Yep. This. I’m used to reporting on stuff neutrally as a journalist; I’m not so used to putting myself out there as a blogger. This week’s posts were probably among the more controversial I’ve written, and while I know controversy is great for traffic, i did hesitate in publishing for the exact reason you outline.
I love your blog. I don’t comment a lot because I don’t feel I can add anything, but I’m reading, every time.
Thank you. And I really enjoyed those posts, I’m glad you put them up.
The other thing that worries me about writing about something controversial is attracting trolls. I’m less worried about them for myself as I don’t want to put off other readers and make them feel uncomfortable.
For example, a guy from a local sports team was sent to prison for rape last year, and around the same time I’d overhear loads of people banging on about how unfair it was. I wanted to write something about that. In fact I did write something about that. But I didn’t post it because I was worried that it’d attract his supporters in the comments, and I didn’t think it was fair particularly to any of my female readers with PTSD to risk them seeing stuff like that and feeling that my blog wasn’t a comfortable place to visit any more.
I relate about censoring yourself on your blog. I do it all the time. Because I blog about my life as a parent quite often, I tend to worry that if I reveal my vulnerabilities (warts and all), I will be judged. Lose followers. That I will somehow change the way readers feel about me. I am working on this all the time. I need to speak my truth because I’m not the only one who faces the challenges I face. Also, my truth is what makes me unique as a person – gives me a distinctive writer’s voice.
Also, at the moment, I am grieving the passing of my grandfather. It’s an odd situation as he lived across the country and we cannot get there to be with family until a fortnight after his death. There are so many reasons. We couldn’t afford the flights over Easter. The funeral/service won’t be until later (to wait for us to be there). My family has very philosophical views about death etc so we kind of cope better because our beliefs allow us to. We’re very sad but I worry about what people will think when they see me on social media getting on with my life – celebrating Easter with my son, sharing funny pictures on my page, basically not going silent. No-one knows everything about the situation. You just can’t tell everyone EVERYTHING. What they don’t know is that I feel funny at night. I hold on and I’m strong during the day (for my son) and then at night I cry or I feel sad and exhausted. Part of being strong during the day includes acting as normal. If I retreated from the internet or from my daily errands, I couldn’t keep up with my positive outlook for my child who is too young to understand and needs his mummy.
If I was to explain ALL of this to everyone, they would a) Think I was overthinking it (because I might be) or b) think I’m being a whinger or being self important thinking I need to give everyone such a big speech about it all.
I love your blog. Your honesty and fantastic writing really is what brings me back here all the time. I admire your honesty and bravery (even if edited at times – we all need to do it to some extent). I wouldn’t judge you, just for the record. You make me feel brave. You make me think.
Thank you x
Im so sorry about your grandfather. And that you have to wait so long to be with your family.
I try to keep in mind when I write something Anne Lammott tweeted about owning your stories and the things that happen to you, and then telling them. And that anyone who wanted a better review should have been better behaved. That’s been quite helpful. And with something that people have responded well it’s been nice to be reassured that it’s not just me.
And thank you! So much, for the nice things you said. I got a bit of a lump in my throat at the I make you feel brave bit. xxx