A few days ago, my son–my older son, in his mid 20s, the one with autism–decided to take one of the thousands of silly quizzes that pop up on his Facebook feed. This one promises to tell him what the internet really thinks of him. He puts in his name, birth date, address, maybe some other information. What he first finds doesn’t surprise or even especially interest him. But near the bottom of the list, in what he later describes as “tiny, 2-point font,” there is something with his name and the name “Andres.” He clicks on it and…
The link takes him to a post on my site, something I wrote more than a year ago about some of his mental health struggles and how our of control he felt a the time. I called him “Andres,” not his real name, in the post. I was deeply worried about him then, and to help communicate my tenderness to him, I had included a photo of him as a two-year-old. My guess is that there was some tag or data attached to that photo that included his real name. This surprises me, because I feel like I’m careful about that and tend to even change the name of a photo before I post it. But obviously I was not careful enough.
So through that little twist, suddenly my son has stumbled onto my website. From the photo and the post, he knew right away who wrote it. At first he felt hurt that I had written about his “bad” behavior. Then he clicked on the About page, and the whole backstory. Then he kept going and, over a few days, he read everything on my blog, all 401 posts.
I wonder if you can imagine the sense of shock and exposure that hit me as I realized he’d read everything I have written over the past three years. All the times I’ve felt suicidal. All the times I’ve struggled with self-doubt about my half-memories of sexual abuse from my father. All the posts in which I’ve included quite a few details about awkward to abusive sexual experiences, oh shit. I did that as a way to help myself overcome the shame I had attached to those experiences. Writing about it all in a semi-public but anonymous way let in some fresh air for me.
But I never envisioned sharing it with my anyone in my family. I’ve printed out maybe a dozen posts and shared them with my husband. E has seen more than that, but she hasn’t seen most of them either. I’m not writing for them. I’m writing what is essentially a private diary. I share it because I have learned that sharing it brings me warmth, validation, encouragement, and most of all, a sense that I am not alone in my confusion and struggles.
It might be that my son benefits from reading this. He’s told me he respects me for everything I’ve been through and my strength. He says he likes knowing “the real story.” He feels like he knows me in another way, adult to adult, he says.
But I don’t know. It’s my story, my very personal story, and I didn’t make the choice to share it with him.
Furthermore, in our family, he’s the person we’d all vote “Least Likely to Keep a Secret.” He takes so much pleasure in sharing information that others don’t know. I told him I don’t want him to share any of what he’s learned without my consent, and he agreed to that. The truth is, however, his history and personality give me no reason to believe he’ll stick to that, even if he really means it in the moment.
So I’ve gone private for now, while I think about the future of my blog. In addition, I have made some posts password protected. This buys me some time to think.
Maybe I’ll just close this chapter of my life, decide that the blog has served me well for three years, and it’s time to move on. Maybe I’ll start a new blog, with a new name (and no personal photos, dumb mistake). Maybe I’ll hypnotize my son so he will forget everything he read. Can anyone tell me how to do that?!? That’s the solution I most wish for, to simply erase his memory, to make this all go away. Ha, I think we all have more than a few situations in our lives we’d like to solve that way, wouldn’t we?
CREDIT: Photo by Tom Pottiger on Unsplash