I think this is an important conversation to have. To start I wanted to share a situation that was shared with me and all names and such will be revised.
Kevin reached out to me the other day stating that they had an issue they wanted to vent about. In that conversation they mentioned how frustrated they were with how an important person in their life didn't respect their boundary and privacy when it came to personal information. Kevin said this person had sent out a message to their entire family sharing something personal, which I won't share, against their wishes. i.e. they did not consent to the sharing of this information. Kevin also expressed frustration due to this same person not respecting their boundaries in the past by sharing extremely private and personal details with the family.
Reflecting on this it got me thinking about my own issues with my family growing up and that's the theme of our post this time.
In my own family network from my parents, to grandparents, to cousins and etc. there has always existed this ridiculous level of entitlement. That because we are family everyone has a right to each other's business. Or because they're the parent, they're entitled to share their child's information regardless of whether the child wants them to or not. I remember friends at times telling me their parents forced them to share personal details with grandparents, or aunts and uncles, full well knowing the recipient would enter a hissy fit and lash out in frustration, anger, or shame them. I'm not sure when this started in the generations, but for me I know it went all the back to my grandmother on my father's side. For some reason it was everyone's "right" to know what each other were doing. And let me tell, you in conservative North Dakota, that isn't always a good thing. I mean, it's rarely a good thing no matter where you are, but depending on what it is, it could be pretty bad.
I've spoken at length about this with some folks and it's really just something that's engrained in the culture around here. Could be everywhere, but I'm only speaking from experience. I think these adults were shamed and had their business shared as a child and so that poor trait continued down the generational line. I'm fairly ostracized on my father's side of the family, which is honestly okay with me. I have very little interest engaging with folks who...well, that's a conversation for a different day. Needless to say my refusal to be gaslit and be talked down to, as I aged, was received very poorly in this type of family type. I quickly was thought of as a problem child by many.
What I want to get you thinking about today is whether you do this in your life.
Why or why not?
Does your family have this similar level of lines blurred and a lack of respect for one another?
Or are people allowed the right to privacy and respect?
Many times in my life I've found myself in the role of confidant. Whether someone wanted to inform me about big news on the horizon or about receiving unfortunate news from their doctor. A common theme I'd hear from people is
"Please don't tell other people about this yet."
And it's the yet that always bothered me. Something I stand firmly by is this.
Just because you have information it does not afford you the right to share it.
I think that sentence is huge. Mostly in part because so many people often feel entitled to information. Whether, like in Kevin's case, it's your parent. It could be a best friend, or sibling, even a partner. The entitlement and expectation of information can come across in any type of relationship and I think that's a massively bad thing. Everyone has a right to their own privacy in life and whether we share that information or not should be entirely up to the person has the right to that information. By that I mean, if I go to the doctor and they inform me I have cancer is it my families right to know? No. Is it my right to share that information? Absolutely. I know a lot of people will likely disagree with that comparison, regardless of how you feel it's still true. No relationship, be it best friend, lover, child, parent entitles you to the extreme personal details of someone else. We can even turn this around back in a situation from a few years ago. A famous youtube was visiting Japan and happened upon a person who had taken their own life. What did they do in this situation? Film it and upload it to the internet because "content". There is such a massive level of entitlement engrained in our society that people think they have the right to share anything and everything simply because it happened in front of them.
If you want someone to feel welcomed and encouraged to share those deeply personal things you need to have created a safe and welcoming space for them and yourself. Where open dialogue can be had. A place that doesn't facilitate anger or shame. I think that's incredibly important.
A friend of mine was moving and he suddenly told me "Hey I'm moving 300 miles away in a few weeks."
Can you imagine how hard it would have been for him if I had leaned into him and gave him so much grief over it? Of course I was going to miss my friend, but, I was happy they shared their news with me.
I first asked him "Is it okay if I ask why you're moving?" and when he shared why with me and told me he was excited to go I mirrored his excitement. For him, he didn't feel like he had much left here any more. He has always wanted to move there as well and now was the perfect time to do so. He already had a job lined, had other friends in the area, and was ready to go.
This guy has been my friend since middle school. We shared an apartment together. Had many late nights drinking and eating tacos together. Played games all night and watched tv together. Shared a lot of laughs and tears together. He is a great friend. Of course I would miss him being so close. But rather than try to guilt him, or make it all about me, I just told him how I felt.
"Well, I am excited for you and I'm happy to hear you have friends in the area and a new job. I am going to miss knowing your just around the corner because you're important to me and I really love having you so close by. But I hope you find a lot of joy and happiness with where you're going!"
We spent our last night sharing a few drinks with tacos and wishing one another well. I hope he's doing okay. He isn't very good at texting.
Anyways, think about situations like that. Put yourself in other's shoes. Start to evolve your empathy and remove yourself from a situation that really doesn't belong to you. As friends, and parents, our role is to support and encourage those in our lives. Not control. I think a lot of people were raised thinking the opposite and that is a mold we need to break in order to learn new ways to communicate and grow together.
Let me know what you think in the comments.
Thanks for making it to the end and I hope to see you in the next one!
If you are someone who enjoys watching live streams and the legend of Zelda. I will be doing a Help or Hurt Breath of the Wild playthrough starting at 8:30pm CST on Sunday March 27th on my Twitch page. It is going to be a wild time and I hope you'll consider dropping in! I'll be posting more about it on Instagram Stories and, of course, chatting about it in my normal live stream schedule.