I recently posed a question on my personal Facebook page to get people’s thoughts on something. I asked,” When your kids start doing genealogy in school, are you honest about their lineage, if say Dad isn’t the biological father, or there was some dark secret in the family’s past concerning parentage?” And a follow-up had to do with what age people thought it was appropriate to tell kids the truth. I often pose questions to see what answers I will get and I look for inspiration for my blogs. Sometimes it works really well and other times, I just file it away for another day of ruminating. I appreciated the responses I got from people who have experienced this in some form themselves or from those they were close to. I would have liked more feedback. What I didn’t expect was the private reactions to my questions.
While everyone knows I am a relationship coach, apparently it’s not uppermost on their minds when they see things on my personal page. Apparently, with this particular question, I committed a faux pas that caused a bit of consternation among some of my friends. I was asked by people, in not so many words, if my husband was the father of all of my children or knowing my youngest daughter has had her tales of woe that resulted in a divorce, that perhaps I was talking about her and her children and their parentage. There’s no story there or in my marriage. I have learned my lesson about not starting with a disclaimer! I was taken aback at first by the questions, wondering why anyone would think I’d post something that personal on Facebook, but then I realized that people do. It’s scary just how personal some people get. I didn’t think too much about a scenario to pick, especially when I was actually more interested in the dark secret from the family history part of it. Maybe it would have been smart to just stick to that. Regardless, it was my fault and I accept responsibility. I learned a lesson and, for those, I am always grateful.
I still find it interesting that people went in that direction with my question. Are we always looking for there to be some hidden meaning? Some clue to a secret? Reading between the lines to see the real story? What has made us so suspicious and why can’t we take something for face value? While we may behave that way with people we know, do we do it with strangers, too? Of course, we do. Tabloids would never sell if they weren’t trying to feed our imaginations about the lives of celebrities. While there may be some element of truth, they are usually full of speculation and innuendo. I, for one, don’t buy them. I get enough sensationalism out of my own real life. But, there are those who can’t wait to sit down with a good cup of coffee and read every juicy bit and then share that with their friends. It has gotten to where we, as a society, are facing this in practically every way of social media and communication. Facebook is rampant with it. We have gotten to where we don’t trust the news or stick to a certain network because we believe they are the only ones being truthful. It’s the same with newspapers and at times, our conversations with acquaintances. While I used to be able to talk about the 3 three things you aren’t supposed to talk – religion, sex, and politics- with anyone and have a civil conversation, that isn’t the case anymore. It becomes a battle over why you believe a certain way instead of being open to learning something new. It has caused a discord in some of my closest relationships and that makes me very sad. While I believe in the truth, it’s gotten more and more vague and no longer black and white. Diving through the gray fog left behind has gotten to be very difficult. In that fog, we have created a lack of clarity that makes us vulnerable and suspicious in general, and in some cases, even with people we care about.
Sometimes, even if we don’t like what we see or hear, we just have to take it for what it is. There is no underlying current, no hidden truth, and no subterfuge. If we can’t learn to trust the relationships we have, we are on the road to ruining them. There is plenty in this world to stay on our toes about, but we shouldn’t be thinking our family or friends are part of some conspiracy. People who truly care about one another, don’t do things behind each other’s backs, don’t believe things others might say out of pettiness or jealousy, and most importantly, keep an open mind to ask questions and hear out the responses. We need to keep in mind that relationships are more important than politics, success, being right, and being understood. There will never be just one way of thinking, one way of doing things, and one way of being. Diversity isn’t wrong. Disagreeing isn’t the end of the world. Seeing someone else’s view isn’t going to hurt you. Understanding someone else’s intent isn’t going to turn your life upside down. As long as Mr. Spock isn’t around to do a mind meld, I think you’re safe.
If you find yourself angry about any of those things, take a deep breath. Think about the relationship and what it means to you before you put it at risk. The wrong words, the wrong inflection, and the wrong attitude is a deadly combination. After that, if you just can’t stop yourself from taking the chance, then be prepared to feel righteous, but alone. And remember, sometimes there’s no going back. You can be sorry until the cows come home, but you may have lost the best relationship you’ll ever have. Was it really worth it?