The following post is by my husband.
Cara received an email from a family friend requesting that she remove her blog post "Mother's Day, Shmother's Day." It was a thoughtful email written with good intentions, but it was very misguided. The following is my response.
I am ever grateful for my wife Cara. It is so wonderful to have a partner with whom to face life's challenges. One of the challenges Cara and I each face is dealing with complicated relationships within our families. Historically, family and friends have assumed that we were the cause of these strained relationships. Consequently our thoughts, feelings, and opinions were completely ignored. We felt alienated and disempowered. Now that Cara and I have each other, we can support and defend one another.
I believe every family has its share of dysfunction. When I was made to feel like a black sheep, though, it was only by a few people. Cara has a bigger family and a wider circle of family friends, so I think the alienation she felt was more acute. Another observation I have made is that my wife's family is very Victorian -- exceedingly private and concerned with appearances. They won't discuss the elopements, homosexuals, business failures, criminals, mental illness, or physical ailments among them with anyone, even amongst themselves. It's a pity that they are prisoners to their secrets. And frankly, I must go on the record and say that I am offended that they perpetuate the stigmas of interfaith marriage, homosexuality, and mental illness. Emblazoned on the clock tower where I went to college is the phrase "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free". They are words to live by. There is no inherent shame in anything -- it's what you make of it. I love Cara's family with all its foibles, and I wish they had the courage to look in the mirror and love themselves.
Cara and I like to share. We feel by sharing that we let people into our lives. Sharing allows our loved ones to support us in difficult times and helps others relate to and learn from our experiences.
Of course, Cara and I know how to exercise discretion. We never name names on the blog because it is not our intent to publicly humiliate anybody. We also selectively leave details out of our stories that are truly embarrassing and incriminating. We also will probably not discuss sensitive topics such as our relationship. But we might. And if we do, it won't be because we're exhibitionists but rather because we feel a sense of duty to share with others and help them confront the challenges that we have faced. We don't give credence to taboos that lead to self-censorship. The cornerstone of freedom, both individual and collective, is self-expression.
Like everyone else, there are things about ourselves that we find embarrassing, mostly about the way we look. But that's all they are -- slightly embarrassing, and it's out in the open anyway. I have a friend who used to conduct background investigations for the federal government. He told me a funny story about a man who was having an affair, and everybody knew it. When he confronted this man about the affair, he admitted it and did not show a shred of shame. The purpose of my friend's investigation was to uncover dark secrets that unscrupulous adversaries could use to blackmail this government employee. Because it was obvious that this man was not ashamed of his behavior, he was given security clearance.
When you fear the truth about yourself, you are at the mercy of anyone who knows what you're hiding from. You abdicate your power to everyone around you. Shame leads to secrets, secrets lead to lies, and lies lead to a life of inauthenticity. There are people in both our families who are literally dying -- slowly and agonizingly -- because of the psychic burden of living inauthentic lives.
On the last day of my business ethics class, my professor summed it all up in one sentence, "Don't do anything you would be embarrassed about showing up on the front page of the newspaper." News flash everyone -- in the age of the Internet, anything you say or type can be used against you in the court of public opinion. And I for one think that this loss of privacy will make the world a better place to live. Transparency and accountability shouldn't only be things we demand from our leaders and our governments. We should expect them from our families, friends, and most importantly -- ourselves.
I sincerely urge anyone reading this who is ashamed of something to blurt it out to the world. If people love you unconditionally, they will still love you after they know your secret...and if they don't, to hell with them anyway.
There is nothing to be ashamed of except shame itself. So let this be a declaration once and for all. Please do not ever ask Cara to take something down from her blog that you find embarrassing. She is free to express herself however she sees fit and has the right to publish anything that is true. If you find something on this blog offensive, we welcome you to exercise your right to express yourself and leave a comment for everyone to see.