When my truth hurts others…the downside of radical honesty

This year has barely started and already it has been packed full of excitement, most of which if I had my way would cease to be…but do I really get a say? Of course not! In the midst of dealing with my father’s health issues, it seems I passed a milestone (actually a few, including my eldest turning 21…yikes!). Last month this blog turned 5 years old. If you know anything about the blog world, I am nice and middle aged now…gee, the blog and I are running on the same trajectory.

This week has been an interesting time in the life of this blog, one of the challenges of having a larger and more diverse readership is that frankly I am feeling less open. I started this blog in 2008 when I was in the midst of an 18 month period of unemployment. I was doing some grant writing for a few clients and desperately looking for a permanent job. I had briefly worked with a life coach and one of the areas of career interest that I had identified from that process was writing. At that time, I was already doing a column for the Portland Phoenix and wanted to expand my writing. Back then I thought a blog might be able to lead to something more substantial that would bring in some income. It was also a way for me to experiment with my voice in a way that neither grant writing nor my column allowed.

Back in the old days of this blog, I wrote whatever I felt like writing, safe in the knowledge that very few people were actually reading what I wrote. I am not sure when things changed, but they have changed and this week, for the first time ever, I am feeling the impact of sharing myself with others and really I am feeling at a crossroads with this space.

In the past few years, I have embarked on a personal journey to make peace with myself. Part of making peace with myself is being radically honest with myself and by extension this space being part of me is where I strive to be radically honest. The problem with radical honesty is that for many people, it’s hurtful and can come across as rude. This is the point at which I have to say I am looking at the wall and not really sure where to go.

A few days ago, I published a piece on this site, which came from a deeply honest place in my spirit. While many replied either on the blog or directly to me and understood the spirit in which I wrote the piece, not all agreed. In fact a long time reader who did reply to that piece said she was done reading, as she felt I didn’t get it. I have had other people unsubscribe in the past several days and in one instance I was informed that they found my material offensive. As a Black woman in a state like Maine, hell in America, I am well aware that discussions on race are hard. Yet at what point must my reality be blunted to accommodate another’s reality?

Moreover what responsibility do we owe to others when living our truth creates discontent for them? I believe that we are all connected as part of the human family and when we look out not just for ourselves but others, things are simply more harmonious. I believe that a great deal of the tension and stress that is so prevalent in our culture is because we value surface appearances to the detriment of truth. As a result many of us stuff ourselves down to avoid conflict, but eventually there are limits to how much stuffing down we can do and what we stuff down, eventually comes back up.

Anyway, I am sitting and wondering what my next steps are for this space as I have done many times in the past. Someone recently asked me what my plans were for this space and the truth is; I have no idea. In many ways the goals that I had when I started this space are no longer applicable. I have been wondering if it is time to take it all back to the old fashioned journal and say good bye. I don’t feel quite ready for that but when I no longer feel that I can honesty speak my truth in this space, I do have to wonder, is there any point in going on?

Life Update: For regular readers, I did want to give an update on my Dad. He is stable and pain free at present as we wait to hear the final diagnosis. We are starting to deal with the day to day impact of his illness which includes lots of paperwork and phone calls for things like disability payments. As a result, my plans for the e-book are on hold since I am holding down my day job and trying to secure as much freelance work as I can to ensure that my dad’s needs are met in the short run. I did have a couple of readers who pre-ordered and because of life’s interruptions I am offering a refund for anyone who wants one since with everything going on, it’s become clear that rushing to get the book done is a bad idea. Too bad, I can’t get more than 24 hours in a day to get everything accomplished.

12 thoughts on “When my truth hurts others…the downside of radical honesty

  1. I always admire your courage to be so honest because I feel self conscious just posting a comment. But, let me give this honesty and openness a try:
    The cat is out of the bag, baby. Only stop the blog if YOU really want to. People will join and leave and join and leave. That’s the beauty.

    You could think about the BGIM identity or brand and perhaps the BGIM Blog could repeat, follow and reflect what you write in your column for the paper…(like Oprah’s show after the show). AND, you could have another more personal and reflective blog for those of us who read and follow that journey.

    I (finally) listened to the public radio piece this weekend and it left me wanting to hear more. A dialog with that last caller, in voice or print, would be great, I think.

    2 cents :)

  2. Please don’t stop. I think your honesty has gotten you on CNN and NPR and encouragement to publish a book. It hurts like hell to be misunderstood or rejected and you’ve already been braver than us all. But you are also getting acceptance in a pretty grand way, So I hope you will hang in there. Even people who leave might come back for more and even if they don’t…you probably are getting new subscribers as others leave.

  3. Wow.. Don’t know why folks would consider your posts offensive. Do hope you don’t stop writing; I’m a long-time reader and love your honesty. That’s why I read you!

  4. As a new reader, and as the white adoptive mom to two black girls in southern New England, I hope you decide to keep on keeping on. I *need* to hear/read about what my girls will experience once they’re out of the umbrella of my white privilege. And I also need to hear this as a human being, as the sister-in-law of black women, as the friend of black women. However, I am keenly aware that no one is here for my personal enlightment, and the decision is absolutely yours. All I can state is my personal truth, which is that I crave these discussions. If we can’t talk about it, if it is too uncomfortable to hear these truths, then nothing will ever change. I value what you bring to the table, and hope you keep bringing it. I also continue to wish the best for your dad and family. Take care.

  5. I would definitely support your continuing to write here, as you have been. I might not have a lot of time to read blogs anymore but I don’t regret spending some of it reading your writing among any others I could choose – it’s thoughtful, it’s nuanced and it’s open without bashing others. We don’t get a lot of that combination, IMHO.
    I reread that post and I really did not see anything offensive in it – it’s honest and about what your experience has yielded. And I, for one, appreciate that.

  6. As a brand new reader and one who can relate to stuffing stuff down to avoid conflict, I hope you will continue writing here, but do what your heart tells you; be kind to yourself. ;)

  7. I believe writing provides us bloggers and writers of various types of prose one of the best releases. Not everybody will be part of your cheering section. Sometimes it’s good to agree to disagree with points of view when you read someone’s own’s thoughts. If the words we write are so incredibly offensive, off-putting, tiresome, whatever, they can unsubscribe and move on. What I really appreciated from your original post was your honesty. What I really appreciated from this post was this statement: “I believe that a great deal of the tension and stress that is so prevalent in our culture is because we value surface appearances to the detriment of truth.” Anyone who claims this is not true is full of crap and feeding themselves the biggest bowl of it.

  8. I hope you don’t ever feel the need to censor yourself because some people are afraid of getting their feelings hurt. There are those of us who love your honesty and appreciate it. But don’t even write for us. Write for YOU, if that’s what you want to do.

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