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I've been thinking a lot about skeletons in the closet. Having an online journal, or I assume, ANY journal, makes you want to spill your guts about every aspect of your life, current and prior. Sometimes, it may be cathartic, but much of the time, I wonder if it's necessary. I think it IS necessary to the growth of friendship, to be allowed in, to learn the nooks and crannies and reasons for behavior a friend displays. Usually, it furthers understanding or at least promotes tolerance.

The person I am now is firmly rooted in the people I've been at various times in my life. I don't feel it necessary to hide or apologize for my particular skeletons, even if I don't feel the need to talk about them or bring them up at all. It's not because I'm ashamed of these things in my past, it's more that they aren't really relevant anymore. I know that they would add a new dimension to the picture of me that my friends have. Perhaps that's a good thing, perhaps not.

It's also different in this case because I don't know most of the people reading this in real life. And there are a lot of my real life friends and acquaintances reading this who never comment directly. Some of them know me better than others. I wonder if you would be surprised or dismayed to know that I've served jail time for theft. Or that I've been married 3 times. Or that I gave a baby away for adoption.* Or any of a million different things that could be my skeletons.

Finding out about things in a person's past does make you view them differently, for better or worse. I remember when I was 13, finding out that a girl 2 grades above me, who I sort of looked up to, smoked cigarettes. I was shocked, which may sound like I was very naive (and I was, but that's not the point). I actually wrote in my diary, "I didn't think Veronica was that kind of girl!" Smoking cigarettes may seem like a silly example, but my reaction, in many cases, would still be the same, and so might yours, upon finding out the things that I, or you, don't talk about to strangers or even to good friends.

To prove that I AM still the same person inside as I was when I was 13: when two good friends of mine unexpectedly lit up cigarettes when we were out having dinner last summer, I was equally as shocked as I was when Veronica Reese did it 26 years ago. :)

It's not because they're not good friends, but no one from my current circle of friends in Sweden knows about my skeletons. They rattle quietly in their closet once in awhile, but rarely come out to be introduced. That's just the way I like it.

*None of those applies to me. My skeletons are much tamer.
 relaxed
mood: relaxed
music: Sara Hickman—I Couldn't Help Myself


Comments

Well, I don't smoke, at least not now, and that includes all forms of smoking! Don't want to shock you, though, with word of what out of that list of yours I HAVE done.

You know, it's funny. I'm not shocked by much, honestly, and I suspect some people wouldn't think my skeletons were tame at all, (even I know that in certain circles they'd be considered MAJOR skeletons, heh). I think the reason I'm always so shocked by cigarette smokers is because I think people with any grain of sense wouldn't do it because, well, DUH. Smoking other substances isn't shocking and neither are a lot of other things (and I know what you mean) or even the ones I listed. I just think it's interesting (to me) that I don't share my particular skeletons much. If someone asked me directly about them, I wouldn't lie, but I never bring them up myself. /end confusing rambling answer

I grew up in an era where people hid a LOT and I was made to feel ashamed of mistakes I had made more than the mistakes warranted (not my parents, by the way). In younger years, I kind of liked disclosure to some for shock value, but to others to basically lay on the line right away exactly what kind of person I was at the time, take it or leave it. If they left, no skin off my nose. I don't have too much I'm truly ashamed of, mostly because nothing would change it anyway and also because what I've gone through over time made me who I am today, but I also no longer have the need to shock too many people (okay, I DO like shocking younger women sometimes, who seem to think there is no sex after 50, especially fun sex).

There's sex after fifty!? *boggle*

baha! :P

I relate to this post. It is very timely for me as in the past few days I have been reflecting on things in my past that I am ashamed of and that I wish had not happened. Nothing hideous. Just some people I wasn't nice to, co-workers I mistreated, etc. Sometimes I have a desire to contact people and make ammends- but 5, 10, 12 years later- does the person I wronged even remember what I did? In some cases probably yes- in other cases it is probably water under the bridge.

We moved here 4 years ago and even my "good" friends here don't know wbaout my not so proud moments in my past. (shrug) and I don't know all of theirs I am sure.

Is full disclosure necessary to have an honest relationship? I'm not sure.

I agree with you. When I wrote the post I had 2 particular skeletons in mind, but there are also numerous little things, such as you mention, that I don't think anyone cares about anymore but me. I DON'T think full disclosure is necessary to have an honest relationship, but I suspect some people do. I think it's amusing that I'm more shocked by cigarette smoking than many, MANY other things. :)

You're right- some people feel the need to tell you their whole life history when you meet them. With others it comes little by little over time.

Years ago I worked with an analyst who was about my age- maybe a year or 2 younger than me. It was my first real job so I was 23 or so. I was SHOCKED to learn he had a 6 month old son and had been married 5 months. He was a nice but nerdy looking guy. I couldn't believe that this level headed guy was in that type of a situation. I was naive!

I don't believe in full disclosure myself. What's past is past and sometimes, things are better left unsaid. BUT that being said, omission is better than lying, I would never lie about something to someone I loved, but I sure might do some side-stepping.

I agree- some things are better off unsaid.

A friend of mine is a therapist and marriage counselor and he told me once that sometimes 1 partner will tell the other partner of their cheating to rid themselves of their own guilt, not realizing the burden and upset they have put upon their partner.

I dont think I could have said it better myself..

*smiles at you* :) thanks.

What an interesting observation. It's funny that L-G and I were discussing the idea of honesty in internet relationships and the fact that we were so happy that the person we appeared to be on-line turned out to be who we were in real life. Like Carolyn said, full disclosure is not always the best option, but while I'm sure there are things I've done in the past that may come back to haunt me there is nothing there that would lead L-G to think I was dishonest or misrepresented myself at all.

And you are right - to suddenly find out something from a person's past does affect the way you view that person in the future. You only have to look at the damage done to public figures by disclosures of sins they tried to keep under wraps.

And that link to the journal doesn't work for me - it is a protected "friend's only" entry.

crud, I didn't realize verian's post was protected. :( I'll remove the link.

I think the honesty issue is even MORE important in online relationships, whether for friends or for those that become more than friends, like so many do nowadays. Not that it means you have to tell that other person EVERYTHING, but those things that you feel will really have an impact should be weighed carefully and shared in the event that you could come off as dishonest if you don't reveal them. I think it's a hard line to walk for some.

Maybe there's something about the 'new clean beginnings' that is one of the unsung advantages to having upped roots and emigrated to another country... just a thought.

Funnily enough, I tend to be quite a private person. (Although, I'm sure you wouldn't believe that!) I'm fiercely private about my private life at work. I like to keep different circles of my friends apart. I freak at the thought of some of them crossing over. I suppose that's partly because each circle serves a certain part of me or my personality.

As for skeletons... hmmm... I'm sure I have my share. Although, with friends I trust, I tend to be quite open. As you said, it helps build relationships by revealing layers and different aspects of yourself. I think the older I get, the more careful I become about the rate at which I share things. *heh*

*big hug*

I think Europeans tend to have a different attitude about smoking. Just my observation, although, that is changing.

That's an excellent observation about each circle of friends serving a certain part of me or my personality. SO true!

And I agree about the European attitude about smoking, but the people in question in all those cases were Americans :) Although, they WERE Americans in Europe, so...

Oh my goodness. These skeletons in the closet.. Are you trying to tell us that you're a Republican?!! (just kidding, of course!)

I know what you mean, though. Occasionally, you run across something that you didn't know about someone that you thought you knew decently well and it makes you take a step back and say, "hey, I had no idea that Bob liked pretzels!" or whatever. It's a funny thing.

LOL! A Republican!? I told you MY skeletons were TAME! :P

I always kept the closet door open wide thereby preventing the discovery of bones! (and I used to have a very WILD life)

That's a good philosphy. :)

Funny, reading this I feel very boney but I am far from that! I wonder how many peoples closets I may reside in as a skeleton? Now that's a cool thought! I don't know that there is one person in my life that knows all my skeletons (although I wouldn't mind inviting some of those skeletons to a party!).
I know what you mean about them not being relative to your current life, what I really try to do is to not regret things that I have or have not done, that is a huge energy sucking vortex. Thinking how in one moment the choices you make can completely alter the course of your life, can make it hard to choose and give you and opportunity to think you might regret what has happened. Especially when you think that what happened was out of your control. I consider the past a treasure; something to go into every now and then, hold up a nugget and admire it in the present sunlight.

heh. ;) I only have one skeleton that I regret, and more the stupidity on my part that led to the necessity of it than the actual skeleton itself. I, too consider the past a treasure :)

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