This past weekend, I was out with a group of friends. I was talking with one of them about something oddly deep for being at a party. I can’t remember what it was about, but I laughed and said “I can’t believe you just said that, my therapist and I were talking about this exact thing a couple of days ago, we’ve been talking about this for a few weeks now, and I just can’t figure it out”. He looked rather taken aback, and then he said “Wow, you were just really open about the fact that you see a therapist. Not many people are open about that.”
That’s the general response I get every time I tell people that I see a therapist once a week, or that I struggle with depression and anxiety, that I’ve been hospitalized for almost taking my own life, or that I used to abuse and depend on alcohol. I obviously don’t bring this up on the regular to complete strangers, but if it contributes to the conversation, relationship, or topic, I’ll definitely bring my experiences up. So my question is… Why is everyone shocked by transparency?
These are all things of my past, and they’ll never not be with me, so why would I hide them? Why would I avoid talking about the uglier parts of my life, when they’re the pieces that have shaped me into the person I am today? Nobody should have to pretend like parts of themselves don’t exist, or that bits of their life did not happen, just because society stigmatizes whatever piece of their puzzle it may be. We teach people to hide their struggles because they’re not glamorous. We stigmatize mental illnesses, and shut the door of discussion about them. I used to lie about pieces of my life that I wasn’t proud of, but I refuse to be dishonest when there is nothing to be ashamed of about my life.
Do not be shocked when I tell you some of the most important things about my life, and do not shun me for them. Just because you know something about who I used to be does not mean you can form judgements about who I am now. Everyone should be able to be transparent about who they are, who they have been, how they feel, what they need, what hurts them, or what empowers them.
Being open and transparent with someone builds a powerful connection between you two. A wonderful, strong connection. A type of deep connection we all desire. So then why are we so rarely transparent with those around us? Why is it shocking when we are?