I’ve always been a bit of an open book when it comes to sharing my thoughts and feelings. I’m sure that some people might have wished I’d kept some things to myself at times - TMI (too much information) being a thing! Indeed, there have been times when I’ve wondered myself whether I have been too indiscreet, or worried that I have overshared.
Then I’ll get a message like this:
“Unless you have gone through something you cannot say I understand.... you can only say I have an understanding of .... I have said this for many years re many situations so carry on being truthful and share it helps all of us.”
And I know that if just one person is helped by my ramblings, then it’s worth opening myself up to the occasional criticism.
I know I say this a lot - because I have found it repeatedly to be true - but there is an almost magical power in realising we are not alone.
I have always talked with my photography clients. For one thing, I get better pictures when they are relaxed and feel safe in front of my camera. For another, it means I enjoy my work so much more, having made a connection with another human being. Often, it turns into something so much more.
Years ago, a client - let’s call her Fliss - and I were talking about our teenage sons as we drank tea after her photoshoot. She was telling me how proud she was of his grades and his sporting endeavours. I remember grimacing and saying how worried I was about my boy who was clearly smoking weed and not attending lectures. I suspected he was on a slippery slope and, to be honest, it helped me to release a little of the pressure in the back of my mind to talk about it.
As I talked, Fliss’s expression changed. It turned out that her golden boy was depressed and angry and she also suspected he was taking drugs and drinking too much. She hadn’t told a soul about how worried she was and the strain of keeping up a front was making her ill. We actually shed a few tears together, brainstormed some ideas about how we might approach the problem and parted company feeling lighter, knowing we weren’t alone.
Secrecy and embarrassment seem to be a hallmark of midlife, don’t they? I am encouraged to see it being talked about publicly more and more. But we must also continue to talk amongst ourselves, with our partners and our daughters. No one should feel they have to soldier through alone.
I received this comment recently after someone read one of my weekly newsletters:
“If only everyone were encouraged to share how they were really feeling with each other. I imagine the world would be much more relaxed!” Indeed.