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Wedding Woes

Censor myself for my mom or tell my truth?

Dear Prudence,

Over the past several months in my quest to deal with my own mental illnesses, I’ve been trying to write more. I wrote a lot when I was in high school, but afterward it fell to the wayside. I’ve always been told how well I write and that I should share it more, especially from my mother, who has PTSD and clinical depression. When I was about 6 to 14, she was mentally checked out. My dad worked full time, which left me responsible for taking care of my sisters and to cause as little trouble as possible. While I don’t blame my mom for what her illness did to her, it really screwed with me and is something that I am still trying to deal with (I currently have two whole therapists to help).

I recently started a poetry Instagram account, which my mother follows. I have yet to share any of the poetry that talks about my childhood, mostly because I’m afraid of hurting her. I know it kills her to know she missed so much time with us and how badly it affected us. I don’t want to bring that hurt up for her unnecessarily. But some of my strongest work is in that pile. Do I not share the work dealing with my childhood where she can see it to spare her feelings? Or do I tell her that this is something that will come up as a topic, remind her that I love her, and hope that it’s enough to help keep this from hurting as much as it could? I know she would be proud of the work but hurt by the contents. But I know sharing this work would help in my own recovery.

—Poking at Wounds

Re: Censor myself for my mom or tell my truth?

  • Traumatic childhoods - no matter what the trauma - affect people differently. It's good LW is getting it out in a good way, but therapy might help. Maybe later a session with LW's mom would be beneficial, that way LW could show feelings but also understand their own and in a safe space where the mother could ask questions and not feel attacked.
  • I would suggest LW find another outlet besides Instagram for publishing/sharing these poems, but I suspect they'd still feel like they were hiding something from Mom, and it wouldn't help matters if Mom inadvertently came across them elsewhere.

    I think before doing anything, LW should talk about this specific issue in therapy. LW shouldn't have to hide how their childhood affected them, but I can also understand not wanting to make their mom feel worse about something she already feels really bad about. Discussing with a therapist how to balance these things, and possibly how to broach the subject with Mom before sharing the poems, would probably be the best first step.
  • OurWildKingdomOurWildKingdom in the 216 member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    I’m here right now. As I might have mentioned here, I recently submitted a chapbook to a poetry competition. My poems about childhood are all positive, but I have several about the struggles I’ve had with my faith and my sexuality. DW recently told my mom and my brother’s GF about the competition, and they were both enthusiastic about it. I can’t exactly tell them they can’t read my poetry, but I’m not looking forward to the questions I might get.
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