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Losing Out Loud: Sharing Ourselves Through Story

Yesterday we lost our baby.

When I was about nine years old my dad took me to see a play at the Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary. It was a beautiful late spring day, and before the show we sat out on the hillside and had a very in-depth conversation about "life". I remember some details, but mostly I remember the atmosphere and character of the talk. My dad sat in that grass telling me personal anecdotes from his life, many potentially bordering on TMI for a daughter, but all inevitably revealing himself, and his philosophy on life, to me.

The result of that intimate conversation is that, even years later, I tend to wear myself and the personal details of my own life on my sleeve. I am not a private person, nor am I able to be one even when the circumstance seems to necessitate it. I need to share myself, and my life, with the world. I hate closed doors. Maybe I hate the idea of someone discovering truths about myself, leaving me feeling vulnerable and exposed when otherwise I would have been in control of the situation. Regardless, I share myself, maybe too much.

When I found out I was pregnant this time around I shouted it from the rooftops. Because it was big. And it was a blessing in my life. And it was happening to me - part of my story. With social media, these are the things of everyday life for all of us. We share our stories with the world on a grand scale with the most minute particulars. Guess what I ate for breakfast? Guess how much I lifted at the gym? Guess how many episodes of Breaking Bad I sat through this weekend?

Why do we do this? To feed our egos, yes. Our egos demand attention at all times. But there is a bigger human need - the need to feel connected. That is life - what makes us human. We need to not feel alone. And we do that by reaching out and sharing ourselves.

Social media is a complicated beast. As a writer, an online presence is a professional necessity. And as someone coming out of the "dark" of the early years of motherhood, using SM for the past several months has been strictly for posting endless photos of my daughter, and redefining my presence means deliberating on what I want my new "professional" presence to be. This means calculating what story I am going to tell.

So do I go back and erase photos of my younger years in foreign countries in less-than-sober condition for fear it shows me in a certain less-than-professional light? Do I get rid of my personal Facebook profile altogether and start from scratch? And moving forward, do I strategize about what to post and how to post it so I maintain a certain...personal brand?

Or do I just keep putting myself out there, telling my truth, and letting others take what they will from it all? Define me as they see fit. Use it against me if they see it necessary.

And what do I do with this news? Everyone thinks I'm pregnant. God, as if the pain of this loss isn't enough already.

I'm a writer, and part of that identity, that existence, means being authentic with the world even when it hurts. It means opening up and sharing, maybe even exposing yourself and those you love to pain and discomfort, because truth needs to be out there. Because somebody needs your experience to get through their own.

Today is awful. The "process" is far from complete for me, both physically and emotionally. I want to hide from the world, to grieve and move on with the least amount of suffering. But I have to let everyone know.

Sharing good news in a profile update seems completely natural. Bad news seems invasive, uncomfortable, and almost inappropriate.

But maybe it shouldn't.

Today I am sharing this because I have to. I have to answer questions that will inevitably be asked. But I'm also sharing because I want to. Because it is a way of processing, and also a way of sharing truth, which is important. In this life we will all be criticized for so much, but I don't ever want to be judged for not being authentic and true. And maybe this will encourage others to share their stories. To connect. To not, in the end, have to feel alone.

Phone Phobia

Becoming a Writer