“What if someone told all of your deepest, darkest secrets?”
My brother recently asked me this question, challenging me to consider how my mother might feel about the public writing I’ve been doing about her lately. It’s a legitimate question. One that I’d asked countless times, though in a different way.
My discussion with myself has gone something like this:
Me (accusatory): What gives you the right?
Narrative ‘I’ (defensive): It’s my story, too.
Me (pleading): But her secrets are hers, not yours. Maybe she’s not ready for people to know. She has a right to her secrets, to tell them or not. Don’t you understand? They’re hers.
Narrative ‘I’ (taking the high road): And I can do what I want with mine, including write about them. And if she’d wanted them to remain a secret she would’ve kept a better hold on them. She would’ve kept them from me.
Me (exasperated): You’re going to hurt her. Hasn’t she had enough?
Narrative ‘I’ (self-righteous): What about me? Those secrets hurt me.
Me (tenderly): So you’re writing to get back at her? You’re writing for you.
Narrative ‘I’ (exasperated): No. You’re missing the point. It’s not just for me. It’s for us, her and me. And, all of us. I’m not writing for revenge or something. My secrets are all of our secrets. Don’t you see? Our secrets are who we are.