This week I sat with my childhood best friend and talked about something that unfortunately I know all too well: losing a parent. There were many conversations had that revolved around this topic from steps after her parent passes to even processing her emotions as she continues to care for her parent alongside her family members. But then as we sat there catching up, talking, and reminiscing, she asked a pointed question, “how do you tell people about this whole thing?” Both of us are involved in ministry organizations and because of that, it sometimes feels like you live in a fish bowl: on display for everyone to see, watch, and comment. It’s something that one gets used to and often keeps us accountable to our actions and how we live our lives, but then when something so deep hits your life, it makes you question how you share it with others, even when you don’t want to yet.
I have found myself in multiple situations where you think, “how do I call someone up and just tell them that ____ (fill in the blank)?” As a strong Enneagram Type 2, the last thing I often think of is myself and think more of others, so it’s easy for me to say, I don’t need to share this about myself, and I’ll just keep caring for their needs. Yes, I realize how backwards that sounds, but it’s true. I can remember people asking me why I didn’t call to them that my mom had passed away and thinking because it was too hard to do or even some of my own family members wondered why I hadn’t shared about my double mastectomy with them, but the reality is is that it feels invasive, hard to do, awkward, and for those of us that don’t like to be inconvenient to others, extremely inconvenient.
Just because our lives are like fishbowls for everyone to watch from the outside, doesn’t mean that everyone gets the right and privilege to be on the inside swimming with you.Lindsay Bridges, Building Bridges
But I think it brings up a good point: where can you put in some boundaries in your life about your life? Everyone doesn’t need to know everything. This is a hard process that I’m learning in my own life right now. For all these years, I’ve shared about my mom’s cancer, my reactions to that cancer, my ministry, my whatever, because I so desperately needed a listening ear and a caring person to help process. However, I started the hard work of beginning a journey to develop the tools and the strength to process on my own and then determine what I want to share with my tribe. It doesn’t have to be every detail of my life and it definitely doesn’t have to be the whole process.
Here are some sayings that I’ve put in play to allow myself space and time to continue processing and healing before sharing:
- “Thanks for the offer. Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.”
- “I’m not quite ready for that, but thank you.”
- “I appreciate the advice, but that doesn’t resonate with me right now.”
- “I appreciate your concern, but I need you to stop asking about it.”
- “I appreciate your willingness to listen, but I’m not ready to talk about it.”
- “Thank you for the invite, but I just need some alone time.”
Hear me say this: your village is there for you, in whatever capacity you need at that time in your life. So if you are in a season like I was that I needed to share everything with my village, then be in it. But, if you are in a season in your life, where you need a little extra time and space to work through the events, the feelings, the process, then take it. Your tribe wants the best for you to be the best version of yourself and so they’ll honor your wishes. Just because our lives are like fishbowls for everyone to watch from the outside, doesn’t mean that everyone gets the right and privilege to be on the inside swimming with you.