Honesty has always been incredibly important to me.
That sounds kind of obvious, but when you start to pay attention it’s amazing how many little lies we let slip through just in the course of a day – excuses for not wanting to go out in the evening, white lies to children – it all adds up.
The older I get, the more I try to avoid these little lies, even if they feel like they might not do any harm. It might feel easier to tell a friend you can’t come out because you have a headache, but is it really any harder to just say ‘you know what, I really do want to see you, but today has just been exhausting and I know if we go out tonight I’m going to be rubbish company and neither of us will have a good time’?
I also try to be honest because I want other people to be honest with me. I’d much prefer to ask someone how they are and hear that actually, things aren’t great, if that’s the reality of their situation. I find it hard to be all ‘oh yeah, fine, great!’ with people when that’s not how I’m feeling and it’s through our vulnerability, sharing the bad stuff as well as the good, that we form real connections with people.
When it comes to blogging and social media it’s the same – I want to present a real version of myself so that you feel that the relationship we have as writer and reader is a genuine one. I’m not afraid to tell you when I’m sad, or when I get my vagina rejuvenated, and I like that. It’s like we’re chums.
What I’m finding more and more difficult though is feeling like I’m telling you the truth, but not the whole truth.
When I first started blogging, ten years ago, Bee and Belle were 14 and 7 years old. They were already of an age where I was mindful of what they may or may not want me to share, but Belle at least was still young enough that our day to day lives contained plenty of low key, sharable anecdotes. I could tell you sweet stories about her, like this one where we found the rabbit ‘asleep’ and had to have a chat about death.
As they’ve gotten older though, their lives have become more complicated and, quite rightly, more their own, and I feel less and less able to share their stories. It’s not that there’s not plenty to talk about, both in terms of the things that they go through and the impact on me, or even that I don’t think it would be interesting – I actually feel bad that I can’t share some of it, because I know as a parent of older children how much you want to hear that other parents are going through the same things.
The fact is though that they are not my stories to share anymore.
As much then as I want to present a full and honest version of myself to you, I can’t help but sometimes feel like a fraud. It’s silly I know – I’m under no obligation to share every detail of my life after all – but can you really get to know a person when big chunks of their life go unspoken? Can I still be authentic if I only share a slice of what I think about every day?
It’s something I think about a lot, and I think it’s part of the reason why the last year or so of blogging has felt like harder work. I have so much that I could say, plenty of truths to tell, but I have to balance that now with respect for other people’s privacy. It’s frustrating sometimes, because I so enjoy being able to write in a raw and frank way that really connects with people. It can feel like I’m short changing you.
I have some ideas for how I want to change this, which I hope will make my blog a more interesting and valuable place to visit, but in the meantime I’d love to know if this resonates with you. You might not be a writer, it might just be in terms of how you talk to friends or family, how honest you feel you are or can be in every day life, and what impact this has on you. Please do leave a comment and share your thoughts.