About self-disclosure

On the first anniversary of my blog, it seems appropriate to take a step back and assess what has been accomplished. In a nutshell, I crossed the line between private and public sphere, survived twelve months of self-hosting a website, started a business, participated in five art shows, one of them a solo exhibit that ends next week, sold several paintings, and dashed off witty posts late at night when quietness and darkness conspired to make me want to write. Although I reinvented myself as a visual artist midway through the year, I never stopped writing posts. And in so doing I revealed myself. After all, what is blogging if not a vehicle for self-promotion, possibly self-indulgence, and ultimately self-disclosure?

Nonetheless, there is something I haven’t disclosed in my blog. Why haven’t I? Because I’m of two minds about it. On the one hand, I ask myself why I should consider full disclosure. Would it be helpful to my readers? To me? In which way? During my three years as an intern practicing family therapy, I was cautioned that self-disclosure by a therapist is only warranted if it truly benefits the client. And while blogging is not therapy, I use that as a reminder of the need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of self-disclosure.

Disclosure can also be a powerful, almost intoxicating agent of transformation. There are risks involved, of course, the main one being that it is irreversible and a return to what might later be perceived as that blissful pre-disclosure state is impossible. The universality of digital communication and the anonymity it provides to its users means that once a post is published, it floats in cyberspace, grazing the physical boundaries where humans still dwell, but barely. Where does it actually end up? In the iCloud?

So far, I disclosed that I have a chronic illness that requires me to take pills six times a day. The pills, when they kick in, restore my motor skills–which is why I will eternally be grateful to the researchers who developed my magic meds and the pharmaceutical companies that make them accessible to me.

My greatest reservation about full disclosure centers around the issue of labeling. I never let my illness define me and would hate to have people start to see me through that single, narrow lens. While the illness is a part of me, something I must face daily, it is by no means what defines me. Nor has it prevented me from being productive: I can easily spend twenty hours toiling in my office/studio, turning out canvas after canvas, forgetting to eat or drink until my parched throat clamors for a gulp of water. True, I abhor labels, yet labels help us to categorize the unknown, the unfamiliar, the Other. Suffering from a serious illness undoubtedly puts me in the category of the Other. But to be perfectly honest, I already belong to that category for having lived a somewhat unconventional life.

At this point, full disclosure doesn’t strike me as necessary. But bear with me: every so often, I will revisit the topic and my conclusion may change.

One response to “About self-disclosure

  1. I hear you, sister. If I said “it takes courage”, that would imply that I thought disclsure were the right path — and I don’t mean that. It’s much more complcated than just trying to summon the courage to do what you know you should do. The inner back and forth about the best path is much harder than that, isn’t it? I’m with you…