As a child of the 80’s I remember that long before the days of social media we were blissfully able to keep a certain privacy to our lives.
We wrote in little cat pictured diaries that we locked with badly made little silver locks and we hid them under our bed so no one read them.
We got to express ourselves. Moan about the neighbour, gripe about that teacher we didn’t like and tell the world ( ok …so it was really the whole world, just the pages of a book but it often felt like the world) all about the injustice to our hearts.
Then came social media.
Enter the universe of oversharing and the huge documenting of what you ate for lunch.
Now days Facebook, Instagram and that little Twitter bird are used as regular dumping grounds for all the hardships, judgements and negative moments of our lives.
Much like days of our lives we openly share the good, the bad and the family feuds.
Our lives are constantly on show and living authentically becomes increadibly difficult as you navigate your boss, your family, the neighbours and your high school friends all on a space of judgement.
Now, realistically if I asked you if you’d have all your Facebook friends at your house at the same time I’m sure you’d make excuses as to why great uncle Earl cant sit by aunt Sophie and why your boss should never meet Blair from high school ( I mean did you see who she married?)
So, you see my dilemma….
How do you carefully navigate all these people daily and still express yourself authentically?
What to share
Now, this may seem like a strange blog topic coming from someone who makes a living being online but the truth about bloggers, influencers and those sharing their lives online is that we actually only share the version of ourselves that we want people to see.
We still keep a large part of our lives private. Much like that diary under our bed, we still maintain a level of thoughts and memories that we do not share online.
The great divide
I’ve been quoted when asked how I find the line between how much to share as saying, I share what I would openly tell the lady seated next to me on the bus.
Whilst I love to share the fun things Hamish and I do, the joys of parenting a huge family, the difficulty in co-parenting and blended families, I shy away from sharing things that may embarrass my children, that wouldn’t honour my marriage, my own personal beliefs in religion and politics and often my rather strong opinions on one or other cause.
This doesn’t make me inauthentic. It makes me mindfull of which stories I own to tell. It makes me respect my family and friends enough not to share every detail of my life.
For example, I have several platforms and whilst my honesty and authenticity can be found on all of them, I have chosen to keep my personal Facebook profile as a space I share just with family and close friends.
A space where I don’t have to create content, watch my thoughts, worry about if the image is appropriate for my brand, ect.
So, in essence, Facebook has become a personal diary for me to record our lives, milestones, funny thoughts and family moments. Far from that teenage diary that I sketched little hearts and flowers in I now share our milestones, family news and thoughts on my facebook feed to keep our family who are overseas updated.
It’s become my space.
Watch who you add
By now you asking what has all of this got to do with me deleting my mom in law from Facebook. ..
I’ll explain ….
When I first met Brent I happily added every member of his large extended family. Then came our joint friends and his friends who wanted to know me and before long I was running a page of people I did not know and whose feeds I really did not enjoy, whose political/religious and personal views were being forced on me and who if approached in person I would most likely excuse myself from the conversation .
I started to hate going onto my own page. Navigating the response of all these people became a nightmare.
I started to watch what I was sharing about my children and marriage and almost felt suffocated by the weight of this group of people who, to be honest, hold absolutely no relevance in our current life.
A space I once loved and felt free to be myself on, suddenly turned into the equivalent of a courtroom as my ideas and opinions were constantly debated by one or other person I did not know.
I sat one day , not wanting to share a photo of my son with me because my hair didn’t look it’s neatest and I realised how much my self esteem had taken a knock by the cloud of unsaid judgement on my own space.
Worried that I would upset my husband and hurt his feelings, I went against my own better judgement and kept these people on my feed, all the while becoming more and more withdrawn.
Our relationship started to change as I couldn’t believe these were the people he chose as part of his life and silently I took my frustrations at not being able to have the freedom of my own expression on my feed out on him.
Just fix it damnit!
Eventually, 2 years later and after yet another post that was completely inappropriate I just deleted the whole lot. Almost every last cousin, aunt and friend of his I had never met.
So, there I sat with a very small handful of his family and friends whose feeds are uplifting, who show a genuine interest in getting to know us, who have followed Hamish and my other children with interest. These are people I feel I can trust should I share a personal detail or thought.
But what about the mom in law?
The one thing I will credit my husband for is trusting my judgement and respecting my choices.
We had always agreed that we do not need to like the same people to be in love with each other. And if anything we respect each others opinions and guard each others hearts this way.
Over the years, this list of mutual people has become smaller and smaller, until eventually a few days ago, I deleted his mother as well.
Explaining to Brent was a little harder. I mean how do you tell your husband, you’ve deleted his mother ?
But, I spent many years changing the cycles in my own life. Those who have followed me for a while know that my mother was a toxic alcoholic and I have fought to become the strong woman I am today by not being as weak as her.
It is an achievement I’m proud of and although I’m I’m increadibly patient, I have no tolerance for toxic behaviour.
So, I sat him down and explained:
- I’m religious and my children have all grown up with a religious faith but I will never force my religion onto someone. I worship a God of love not of judgement.
- To me The Easter bunny and Santa are the cutest reasons to dress my child up. Add to the magic to childhood and I won’t rob a child of their innocence by telling them that they aren’t real. I’m also offended by anyone robbing a child of the innocence of their imaginations.
- Halloween is a reason to dress up, telling my child it is evil is not fair on a 3 year old who will interpret that as he is evil.
- We homeschool because it was a decision Brent and I made, by asking my child when he is going to a proper school our parental choices are being questioned.
- I do not compare my children and do not enjoy listening to others constantly compare their children either. No child or adult wants to be compared.
- We celebrate each member of our blended family as an individual with their own choices and abilities. We love them unconditionally just as they are.
- Gossip is not a good trait.
- We speak to each other with respect and kindness, we do not use condescending tones. The way we speak to each other will determine the way our children will speak to others.
How did he take it
Blended families are not easy. My husband is the most imperfect saint somedays ….and when I feel I need to make concious decisions to protect the mental health and self esteem of myself and our family he stands beside me and supports me.
We spoke about it. We came to our conclusion to move forward and we set boundaries.
I personally think it is not easy for anyone to accept a strong, independent women who has raised 6 grown children already, mostly because as a strong women I am set in my way. I am not easily swayed, gave up on impressing people out of obligation and hold my value system very strongly.
Although I may really not want to share my personal space or facebook thoughts with my mother in law, I still have the obligation as my husband’s wife and my son’s mother to not let our relationship, or lack there of determine their relationship with her.
So, whilst we certainly won’t be having any holidays together I’d still encourage Brent to speak to his mother and after our conversation I know that he will put the boundaries in to safe guard Hamish from any toxic influence and be mature enough to end the conversation should it become toxic.