August 19th, 2011 § 23 comments

Much writing comes from pain. Much of mine has.

I initially started this blog when I was dealing with the after-effects of my cancer diagnosis, chemotherapy, and surgeries. Later I wrote about my grief when my mother-in-law Barbara was killed suddenly almost two years ago. Back then — and now once again — there is a line I have always tried to walk between exploring my own feelings about my life and those in it while not divulging too much information about people who might not want to be so public with their thoughts as I have.

I haven’t posted much this month; it’s not just because it’s summer vacation time. I’ve been struggling with some issues and unsure how I can write about them while still allowing those I love their privacy.

I try to be the quiet wheel– you know, the one who doesn’t get the grease. With neighbor disputes, school and coaching situations, I do my best to be neutral, to just get along with people. When it comes right down to it, I just hate drama. I could never go on a reality show because my idea of a great day is one that most would term “boring.” I just want quiet and peace, a good cup of coffee and good health for my friends and family.

But lately that’s not possible and there’s a knot in my stomach all the time. And what I’m realizing is that it’s hard for me to write when I can’t be completely open and honest. It’s hard for me to carve out a part of my life and say “but I won’t touch that subject.”

The varied parts of our lives are intertwined; the strands are knotted. It’s one big heaping mess of togetherness.

And so, I want you to know I’m working on it. I’m trying to figure out how to navigate this time in my life.

§ 23 Responses to Tangled"

  • Helen Van Patterson Patton says:

    “And so, I want you to know I’m working on it. I’m trying to figure out how to navigate this time in my life” – As are we all. We are here if you want to post, and I certainly understand if you feel like you can’t. I am with you in the search for a drama-free life.

  • Patti Wunder says:

    Wishing for you the strength, patience and calm you need (we all need) to deal with the tangles of life. xoxo

  • Ann Gregory says:

    You’ll find your way. Be patient with yourself. We’ll always be here.

  • ChemoBabe says:

    I respect your discretion, Lisa. I respect your desire to think of others’ feelings.

    I am sorry for your knot and wonder if there is a level of abstraction that would help you write about enough to untie it and honor your sensibilities.

    Wishing you peace. XO

  • Pamela Carlson says:

    Clinking my coffee cup with yours–cheers to a (mostly) drama-free life. Sending you long-distance support in figuring out how best to navigate your situation.

  • Becky Sain says:

    Always navigating with you my dear friend. I feel the same way about my blog. There’s posts or poems I wrote that, looking back now, I wish I would have paused before I pushed publish — they are too personal. But, now I know to think, to pause, to align my thoughts before I share them. That’s on my blog though, with my friends is “say anything” territory, you know? And you, my dear friend, can say anything to me anytime.

  • Understand completely. But the people who come here to read your words are not people who would point fingers and blame you for sharing what you want, and need, to share. We learn from you. Or nod our heads in understanding when you touch on something that has touched us.

    Yes, It IS hard to write when one cannot be completely open. Hoping that you will find the way to untangle the knot with a minimum of drama and a whole lot of relief.

  • There must be ‘something in the air’. In this past week, several of my clients found themselves struggling with ‘Where do I draw the line?’ when it came to deciding what and how much to share with others. They were trying to figure out the same thing you are (I think.): How do I remain honest while protecting my privacy and/or the privacy of others?

    It was crucial for them to figure out where they wanted that line to be drawn. Until they figured it out, they were keeping things to themselves – completely to themselves – and that wasn’t healthy for them. The isolation was making things so much worse.

    What does that have to do with you and this post?

    Your blog has created a relationship between you and your readers – individually and as a whole. So, it makes sense to me that you face that same question re: where the line needs to be drawn.

    The good news is, as I told them, you *can* be honest while withholding information. Discretion and honesty are not mutually exclusive.

    Sometimes you don’t need to point out that you’re withholding information:

    A simple example: An acquaintance asks me if I can help them on Saturday afternoon with a fundraiser or some other such worthy thing. I have a full schedule during the week and am really looking forward to relaxing on Saturday. I can tell this person, “Sorry. I’d love to help. But, I have plans.” without guilt. They don’t need the details. They don’t need to know those plans are to sit on the couch staring at my navel. I’ve still been honest. But, I’ve also used my discretion re: how much I shared with them.

    Sometimes, depending on the level of intimacy you share with the other person, you may feel it best/appropriate to say, “I can’t tell you everything right now. And, I may never be able to.”

    I’ve had times in my life when I needed to work through something privately before I trusted myself to know what I could/should share with others. It’s difficult to always know when you’re ‘in the thick of it’ what can/should be shared. In those times, I simply told my friends that I was struggling with something that I wasn’t ready to talk about. They were there for me anyway, knowing I may never tell them WHY I needed them, and they were ok with that. I was honest. But, I was also discrete.

    You may know all of this already. If so, I apologize for telling you something you didn’t need to hear. And, I thank you for indulging me with the space on your blog.

    Either way, I hope you know this blog is your space, first and foremost. It’s a conversation you’ve invited us to join. It’s a privilege, not a right, for us to be here, sharing your life with you. As with all relationships, *you* get to decide what is shared with whom and when.

    If you need to write it out to figure it out, perhaps a private blog only you can see – something of an online personal diary – would be helpful. You can always go back after some time has passed and you have more perspective, and decide what, if any of that, you want to share with *after* you’ve worked through the toughest bits.

    If you need your privacy while you sort things out, please know that you have every right to take a sabbatical from this blog. We’ll still be here, waiting to read your words of compassion and wisdom, when you come back. If it helps to come to the blog and share the safer, more mundane things while you sort things out, we’ll be happy to read those words, too.

    Hugs, love & prayers to you, dear one!

  • JoanneFirth says:

    Ever since I’ve known you, I’ve been awed and helped with what you do write about. Subjects that other people wont’ touch. Whatever you are going through now, even though it does intersect with others, please share what you can. Enough so that you feel you are putting your cards on the table and freeing yourself a little bit from holding it all in. You know I’ve always offered to listen, and that offer has no expiration date. You have always been more than generous with your time and your knowledge, just know there are countless people who want to help ease the pain. We will be here if and when you are ready. Until then, know how much you are loved.

  • (My last comment is not supposed to be a butt. Just wanted to be clear about that.)

  • Chris Alexander says:

    I’m at once full of concern for you and full of admiration for the way you live your live with dignity and respect for the feelings of others. Your support of me has been a tremendous gift, and I will support you in any way you need. In person, in writing, on the phone, or just at a distance as I think of you fondly.

  • I relate a lot to this post. I’ve been facing a similar dilemma. As a writer, I find it hard to keep quiet on topics that compel me, yet I also need to take into account the needs of the people in my life for privacy. It can be very tricky. I believe you will unknot the tangle, eventually.

  • Lisa,
    I’ve been where you are since shortly after James died. The only thing I’ve said in my blog is “our family is broken,” and it continues to be. While I write from the heart, about me, James and situations I’ve encountered, like you, I value others’ privacy. This continues to be the most difficult time in my life and a lot of is as you said, because “I’m still trying to figure out how to navigate this time in my life.” I understand how the strands are knotted and a mess.

  • Laura Lump says:

    “Tangled”…. Sounds like either a crappy novel or a great rock song. 🙂 Let me know if you need an ear. Or whatever.

  • Jody Schoger says:

    Oh Lisa, I get this:)

    What a beautiful post, thank you. The very real and immediate sense of intimacy when writing, and sharing those thoughts via social media, has added a weird new dimension to life. It’s far to easy to pen something hastily, then look up a few hours later and think, “did I really mean to say that.” Restraint, especially when it arises from consideration for others, is a wonderful quality.

    I admire your honesty, the path you’re walking and wisdom. I know you will find your way through this.

    With love,

  • Jenny F says:

    It is such a tough part of being a writer. We don’t live in a bubble, and therefore our stories are all intertwined. Often when I am having a difficult time, I don’t feel better until I write about it. It’s tricky business to tell your story without exposing someone else.

    I also relate to the no-drama life philosophy. I crave peace and calm, and avoid drama like it’s a disease. (It kind of is, really). Unfortunately, once again, I don’t live in a bubble, so drama does occasionally find me. I have to work on facing it instead of hiding in the corner. It is not easy for me.

    I feel for your struggle and have faith you will figure out the best balance for you and your loved ones.

    Thanks for sharing this honest post.

  • jo miller says:

    although, we are not close, I have followed and enjoyed your tweets ~ they add lightness and some pretty profound perspectives. I have laughed out loud. I have applauded your decisions, given thanks for your kindness ( esp. to your construction personnel ),have been in awe of your sharing of medical journeys & of course rejoiced in the sharing of your family moments – some real treasures there. 🙂

    this post touched me deeply. I can feel your sincerity,your conflict. that sounds like a bold statement to make, on my part. You often give so freely with raw & honest emotion – this one does feel different.

    I send you love,support and most of all respect. I know that you are a person of intregrity ( as much as any human can be 🙂 )

    In my opinion, lady, you are doing the best you can.
    sitting here,reflecting I send you love,comfort and peace. Maybe a tiny retreat with some friends – I do know a sweetie in Tennessee who would welcome you.

    jo xo

  • denise says:

    Tangled. In life. In thought. In questions. Oh, sweet friend, I relate to this post so much. I love your approach and your respect of the others in your life. Miss you. xoxo

  • I struggle with this too. My blog lurks in a semi-anonymous state, but even so, it doesn’t offer enough privacy to talk about the things that consume most of my mental and emotional energy these days. Hugs to you as you work through it.

  • Lisa,
    I’m sorry you are feeling so “tangled.” I guess I’m a bit like you in that I don’t like drama either. I like to write retrospectively. I wonder about how much is too much. There are always so many questions arent’ there? And the answers aren’t quite as plentiful. Good luck sorting stuff out. Write what you can when it’s right. My best.

  • Anonymous says:

    I hope you decide to talk aka write about it, Lisa. Your writing helps so many people. However, only do it if it helps you, too. No matter your plight, your writing always inspires people, including us, from various perspectives.

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