In early November, I wrote this post on social media about my relationship and our decision to live separately for a period of time as a conscious choice. You’ll see from the public comments that many felt inspired by my expression of relationship freedom.
In private messages, I curiously received some well-intentioned notes of condolences from people who skimmed the post and missed its essence.
Then, out of the shadows, came an accusation and admonishment that I was OVERSHARING.
I’ve been pondering that one ever since.
The idea of “not airing our dirty laundry” might be an empowering decision IF we were coming from a clear and sovereign place of uninfluenced choice.
And of course, there are certain times and spaces where sharing the intimate details of one’s life can be socially inappropriate. I can appreciate why you may want to keep your private life out of the conversation at the parent-teacher conference. Sure!
What I see though, is that a lot of the time, there’s discomfort and shame around “real talk,” especially if it is about our emotions. Have you ever lied and said you are fine, when someone asks how you are?
We are unconsciously adhering to what I feel is a dangerous and disempowering societal construct.
Why dangerous? Simply put, across history, people with more access to privilege have overtly and covertly silenced those with less privilege. Think about the old-school rule that it is impolite to divulge how much money we make at our jobs. And now, think about how that provides the conditions for men to continue to make more money than women for the same work. This is how problems like abuse, racism, inequality, and many other ills of society are able to thrive.
Why disempowering? I think often about a community I lived in for 20 years that was affluent, highly educated and achievement-focused. Competition and keeping up with the Jones’ was the norm. On a regular basis, I witnessed people experiencing the pain of normal life issues become compounded by the deep shame that they were having any challenge at all.
Take something as common as it is taboo, like divorce. The experience of ending a marriage is stressful enough, but in these environments there seems to be a ubiquitous feeling of loneliness and isolation that is added to the original issue because people are living in fear of how others perceive them.
The sad irony is if they were brave enough to share, they’d likely experience a sense of comfort in hearing that in fact, the Jones’ are in couple’s therapy too. All parties would be able to show up powerfully and supportively, if there wasn’t this judgmental stigma about oversharing.
We could all do our dirty laundry together!
Learning how to live a radically authentic life is courageous and necessary work, my friends. It is a key component to our well-being and ability to feel emotional resonance and connection with others as well as resource support for ourselves.
This type of self-development is the nucleus of my work these days. Oversharing is a focal point within my one on one coaching, the online groups I lead, as well as workshops and retreats that I facilitate.