I’ve just been through a very difficult and personal trauma, and I’ve decided to share it online. Why would anyone choose to share personal and sensitive information about themselves? Well, admittedly it’s not my usual MO. I’m a very private and contained person usually and put on masks to blend in with others and hide my trials and experiences. After all, our social and online self is a brand, one we don’t want to tarnish with reality or anything less than perfection – anything human. Some people of course think that they should share every minute detail of their existence with the world, spouting off every detail of what they do without actually having any return dialog; the computer is their mountain and megaphone and they funnel out everything presuming that, somewhere, someone must be listening, even when they’re not listening back.
But people process grief in different ways. Some people choose to take their anger out on people around them, to blame them for what goes wrong. Some try to internalize everything until they explode. Some turn to others for support and help, while others try to be a rock and deal with it themselves. There’s no right way or wrong way; people just have different styles. If you care about someone, understand their style. I’m usually the rock. But when others are a volcano, penting up anger, letting trivial things blow up into Big Issues, they ultimately explode. Somehow some people expect to be treated in a way that is not on par with what they are willing to give. I could go on and give my one-sided account of what went on, but it wouldn’t matter. Suffice to say, things didn’t go well. Wounded people are not fun people to be around. Grieving people are not fun to be around. I dated a guy once who dumped me when my mother died because he ‘couldn’t deal with change.’ After reconciling, he dumped me again when I had pneumonia. So was I so horrible and vile a wounded creature, lashing out at some poor victim? No. But I was hurt and needed support and reassurance. This is why we share things with those we trust; we expect them to have compassion and understanding, to give us the benefit of the doubt and ultimately to believe in us and help us. So what happens when you share and that trust is broken? What happens when pain turns into a pissing contest of ‘who has more of a right to be hurt’ and whose feelings and needs are more important? What happens when you try to express your feelings and it boomerangs back into ‘oh yeah, well what about me?’ I don’t know. But not sharing is unhealthy, and sometimes we go to such great lengths to keep life contained that being human, having pain and faults and personal experiences, is seen as a flaw, a weakness, a taboo. We can tell people on Twitter what we eat, but not how we feel. Now, I am a Rational and not really effusive or knee-jerk emotional. I don’t let people into my life easily and choose the image I want to portray. But sometimes we disconnect from how human people are, how much hardship they endure – and how much harder it is to heal without the support of others. Sharing is a step towards healing oneself, but also may help others know and see that being human is okay.