1/6/11

The thin line between privacy and shame

The issue of shame and its relation to privacy have always been an interesting to me. Yesterday, I watched a truly amazing interview with Portia DeRossi on The Oprah Show. Ms. DeRossi, you might know, is the wife of comedian and talk show host Ellen Degeneres. During the interview, DeRossi mentioned how her mother would always claim to be supportive of her gay relationships, yet would be subdued about any outward displays of support towards her choice under the guise of respecting her 'privacy'. Ms. DeRossi pointed out that this was not the case with the way her mother addressed her brother's marriage. The mother would always openly show great pride in showing off their relationship to the world. It was at this time that she mentioned that there is a thin line that separates shame and privacy. I could not agree more.

In looking back at my choices in life, I believe it's been very important to me to be true to myself in every way. It sounds almost too simple and corny cliche, yet, this way of thinking has permeated into all my life choices, from whom I befriend, to who I look up to, all the way to what I do for a living. It's not secret to anyone that knows me, even in passing, that I have a very little care for maintaining a sense of privacy. I am open about my views on politics, if I am upset you know it, if I am sad, you know it. To be totally frank, I have never quite understood privacy. It's the motion of holding in, keeping secret, and after listening to DeRossi talk about the connection between shame and privacy, I see how both can be one and the same.
My mom told me a story when I was a young girl which has largely helped me disregard this whole concept of privacy. The story was about a little girl who lied to people so much she could not keep her stories straight anymore. As it always happens when we lie, these lies came tumbling down, backfiring on her and making her lose all her friends. When we maintain a private life due to shame, we lie to others, but most importantly we lie to ourselves and that is pure, living torture. The kind that rots you from the inside. Honestly, I always found it much simpler to just be one way to all people and that way there are no lies to keep straight, no roles to remember. I believe in this way of being so much that I even jokingly always tell people that I am not 'smart enough' to be play various roles to different people; just can't manage all the manipulating that such endeavour would require of my brain. Understandably, people who are extremely secretive, or who play various roles to various people have always greatly confused me. People like that make me feel like the rug could be pulled out from under any minute and I stay far away. It's always proven too stressful to get close to these seemingly volatile people; ultimately my sanity mattered more.

I would be interested to know what others think of privacy.



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