My ROI post struck a chord with some of my fam…My Sweetie made a point of mentioning it to me, and my sister emailed me a discussion–that is, if we had been together, we would have rapidly worked various strands, overlaps, and implications out loud, but we weren’t, so this proxy had to do.
Has to do.
Since she brought it up in just this way, I’m going to run with it: she and I live confessional lives. Not by temperament, but on purpose. I think we’ve avoided Anne Sexton-caliber Too Much Information, thank heavens, though I’m sure that has more to do with our bourgeoise lifestyle choices than with our tell-all tendencies. Besides, it’s not the Sixties anymore; most of that racy stuff’s passé.
My sister’s insight, though, was that our wide-open approach has the the collateral benefits of not only welcoming others into our lives (all the doors and windows open!) but also helping us feel known. We believe our friends are our friends because they’ve seen, or heard about, our absolute worst, and they’re still there. They haven’t drifted away, or stayed in side-eye position. (Mine do blink repeatedly on occasion. But not all the time.)
In (sort-of) contrast to those very private women we love, we see our multitude of friends all as friends. After all, they can’t be frenemies. Because there’s nothing they could say about us that we haven’t said already…kinda like Alexander Hamilton. Can’t stab me when the wounds are already bare.
I know less about this part, but I wonder too whether radical honesty has the side effect of driving off those who prefer surface connections with air kisses. None of us has any tolerance for that, though I think Young Kimbol and Young Sister were confusedly sad about it, rather than stake-through-the-heart repelled the way A (and I suspect my mom) are. That stake goes outward, by the way. If you didn’t already know.
There is also an age aspect to the privacy/friendship dynamic. My mom has increasingly collected friends as the years have accrued, and also seems to me to have a greater number ‘sought-out acquaintances’ than I remember in earlier times. Perhaps it’s easier to lower the privacy bar as time wears on. I know lots of other things matter less to her now than they once did!
I can’t speak for my sister, but I know that I started out living a more private life and it didn’t work for me. I think wanting to feel known was a significant part of that. It’s not as thorough a feeling as I wish it were, but I’m confident I’ve done all I can to get there. When I’m misunderstood, it’s not because I’m not trying. I’m a fan of continually yanking back the Wizard’s curtains.
Still, I have no idea whether A or my mom would be happier if they weren’t quite as private. They’re not like me, in all sorts of ways. And I look at My Sweetie, who is also an extremely private person (more so than my mom, I think), and is essentially a happy soul. Despite my decade-long campaign encouraging him to go hang out with friends more often, his emotional balance appears well tuned as is. But I do worry that my mom, and A, feel cut off because their reticence can keep unknown folk not-known.
Ah well. I’ve done what I know to do, which is to live my life out in the open, pointing out the parts I like, and the parts I don’t. Since they’re my friends as well as my beloveds, they get to draw their own conclusions from that.
PS to my sister: Very same in our differentness. It’s the sisters-part, I think!