Article

The Price of Being Vulnerable

Photo credit: Hank

Photo credit: Hank, 2017 (10 years old)

 

Me: Hank, you got a second?

Hank: (looking up from his video game, pausing it) Sure.

Me: I want to ask you a question and regardless of your answer I promise you I will not be upset. Do you believe me?

Hank: What’s wrong?

Me: Really, nothing at all. I would tell you if there was something wrong. I just need to confirm something with you. Cool?

Hank: Okay.

Me: Honestly, does my blog embarrass you?

Hank: What?

Me: Does the fact that I have a blog where I transcribe conversations we share and publish them so anyone and everyone can read them embarrass you?

Hank: No.

Me: Remember, I won’t be upset however you answer.

Hank: Your blog doesn’t embarrass me. I think it is cool that you’re writer.

Me: And the fact that I post conversations both good and bad about your feelings, tantrums, thoughts and fears truly doesn’t upset you.

Hank: No, you tell me all the time when I want you to stop you will, but I don’t think I will ever want you to stop. I like you’re blog.

Me: And you fully understand that I post funny conversations and also hard conversations and arguments, like the ones I show you on my computer and ask your permission before I publish them.

Hank: Of course I understand. Mom, I read your blog every day.

Me: (honest shock) What?

Hank: Mom, I have the internet and I know how to google. I have been reading your blog on my phone for, like, forever. I like your blog. I don’t understand why you would think I wouldn’t want you to write it.

Me:

Hank: (his attention back on his video game) Anyway, you say the blog is about me, but that isn’t how I think. Your blog is about you and I am in it.

Me:

Hank: (dropping his game, attention back on me) You always talk about no blame and find your part, right? So like, on your blog, after, when it’s bad and I’m like emotional or whatever, I can hear again things you have said, like, all over again when I am calmer because sometimes I know you’re saying important things and I should be listening but I am still, like, mad, you know?

Me: (still in shock that Hank reads this blog, nodding)

Hank: What conversation is this about?

Me: The conversation in the kitchen after you had that big tantrum in front of our house guests?

Hank: And someone is upset?

Me: Pretty much, yah, but really I think some people have held a deep resentment for a long time and only now am I being informed.

Hank: Who is upset? Trolls? People are mean, mom.  Especially on the internet. Mean people don’t matter.

Me: The who isn’t important and no it isn’t trolls. I pay trolls no mind. These concerns come from people we know who love you very much. They feel I shouldn’t post conversations centering around the bad moments, such as disagreements or tantrums. Their opinion is that I should keep those moments private.

Hank: (thinking rather loudly)

Me: (listening)

Hank: Is it okay that I don’t agree?

Me: With me? Absolutely!

Hank: No, not with you, with them.

Me:

Hank: That bad day was public. I had that birra (tantrum) in front of seven people. You didn’t even post the bad stuff I said and did before you made me eat dinner and we talked.

Me:

Hank: Mom, I don’t want you to stop writing your blog, but if you do I understand and support you.

Me: That is very kind and compassionate, Hank, thank you.

Hank: Do you want to stop writing your blog?

Me: No, as long as I have your consent and you know that at anytime you can change your mind and promise you will come talk to me. No fear and no shame.

Hank: Mom, you ask me every time before you put a birra (tantrum) on the blog.

Me: Do you say yes because you want my approval or because you feel you have to say yes to please me?

Hank: NO! I have said no. Sometimes I say no.

Me: True.

Hank: And then you don’t post it.

Me: True, but do you feel like you have to be supportive?

Hank: No.

Me: Honestly?

Hank: I promise. It’s a blog. It’s not like it is YouTube or SnapChat.

Me: Hank, this is very important. I want to you hear me: I have zero problems being wrong, admitting I am wrong and apologizing when I am wrong. I never shy away from a conflict that can be resolved. It has come to my attention that I have a different opinion about the way I choose to raise you and the way I choose to document it than some people who love you very much. I respect them. I have listened with an open heart and defended by position on the matter, but I have a feeling on the subject of sharing the good and the bad conversations we share online they will never be supportive.

Hank: Who is this?

Me: That isn’t important, because none of this is your fault, you are not a part of this disagreement and all people involved love you. This kind of disagreement can happen when someone is more willing to be visibly vulnerable. This is a common disagreement between an artist or writer and people who love them. If anyone reaches out to you and voices their concerns I ask you to please, listen to them with an open heart and know that regardless of the words that they use their feelings are love.  You don’t have to agree, but I’m asking you to hear the love behind it. And if this kind of discussion takes place please talk to someone about how you feel. It doesn’t have to be me. You can ask anyone else in our tribe. And I don’t care if it is tomorrow, three years from now or twenty: the day you need me to stop the blog is archived, that very day, and more importantly the day you need it to be private my blog will be taken down from public view.

Hank: I know that.

Me: You do? Promise?

Hank: I promise.

Me: Thank you for listening and for reassuring me that you know you have control over the conversations I share. (getting up to go)

Hank: Don’t we help people?

Me: (sitting right back down)

Hank: Well, not we, you because you do all the work and I just love you and talk to you, because you’re my mom, but we meet people sometimes and they know who I am, like that lady in Porto once, the one at the picnic and that other lady at The Women’s March. I remember her from when we went to see the Miró art she was nice and then later, on a completely different day, at the March we were there and I heard her ask you if I was Hank from the blog and she thanked you because she read it or something, I don’t know it was a while ago or whatever.  I like your blog and not because other people like it, but because I can hear you when I read it. Does that make sense? In my head, when I read it, I hear you. I hear your voice. That is why I like it and why I read it.

Me: (clearing my throat, desperately trying to not get emotional) I had no idea you read it.

Hank: (attention back to his game) Oh yah, every day since papa bought me my phone so that was like forever ago.

Me: (deep cleansing breath) Thanks for talking to me about this, Hank.

Hank: (nonchalant) Sure, mom, no problem.

Me: (getting up to leave)

Hank: And mom?

Me: Hum?

Hank: (not looking up from his game) Maybe you should post this conversation on your blog so people know I am okay.

Me: I don’t know…

Hank: (interrupting, looking up) Please, mom. I want you to.