Being Real (and Vulnerable).

May 27, 2012


I have been moved and inspired by the "Things I'm Afraid to Tell You" posts circulating lately (more about that here).  When I first started reading blogs a few years back, I was drawn so strongly to those women (I'm pretty sure I have only ever read women's blogs) who shared of themselves on a personal level.  I loved the pretty picture blogs (who doesn't?), and all the cool advice, and fantastic clothes, and the recipes (oh, I do have a thing for food blogs).  But then I started my own blog, which was sort of a big deal at the beginning in terms of feeling exposed (even though I'm pretty sure it was only Alice and B and maybe a couple other close girlfriends who read it).  And ever since then, it has been a push-pull thing with me wanting to share more or.....posting pretty pictures and recipes.  If you have a couple days to kill, you can search my archives to see I do a lot more of the latter.

The truth is, there is A LOT I do not share on this blog.  It isn't because I want to hide things, but sharing hasn't always felt appropriate.  What I never want is to give the impression that my life is easier or nicer or tidier than what shows up here.  I like authenticity in people and, well, everything come to think of it.   And while I struggle with trying to focus on the positive, I feel a small sense of pride that blogging has helped me to see all that is good in my life and in the world.  It is real.  And it is good.

But I do want to get something off my chest here.  It involves my family (mom, dad, brother and sisters, not B and my kids).  I have a very, very painful family situation.  I really don't want to go into a lot of detail (believe me, you don't want it), but what I can share is that we have not all been in the same room for probably at least 15 years.  We are very divided and people don't speak to each other.  My brother has never met any of my kids.  The reason for all of this is religion.  I won't say which one and call out negative attention to it, but that is the one and only issue and this is, obviously, very sad.  I do not belong to the religion that most of them do, and consequently, I am not included in their lives.  It is very black and white.  I have struggled more than I could ever type into this stupid blogger post template thing, but it has been a real "theme" in my life I guess you could say.

I know, though, I have learned a lot from this unusual situation, and I know I have so, so, so much more to learn and grow from because of it.  I am so very lucky to have the friends and extended family that I do.  I really believe that friends are the family you choose.  I also know that nothing, nothing in this life is a given.  We can talk about what a mother should do or never do, or how a child should be treated, or the ways families should interact and support, but the truth is, not everyone has the things that seem so natural.  (Things that I can't imagine happening in my own family with B, C-Man, JuJu and Little E.)  I also know that it is hard to grow up and be who you really are, especially when that means it will cost you something crazy valuable like your family.  It is hard to figure things out on your own.  I am positive it is always easier to take the path of least resistance and follow the crowd.  I also know that this experience has made me a much more conscious parent and wife.  I know so much more about myself, which guides me everyday while parenting three little ones (but boy oh boy I need more of that).  B and the kids give me hope and love and the desire to move beyond things in my past.  Most of all perhaps, I know that we never ever know where a person comes from or what battles they are fighting.  We are all here on a path of learning and, hopefully, growth.  We can never judge where a person is on that path.  We just don't know.  I live for that connection I feel with a stranger or new friend that comes from my gut knowing we are more the same than different.

So there you have it (UGH).  On the off chance you thought otherwise, my life is not perfect.  Far from it.  I am thankful if you read all the way to the bottom of this post, as I know it is a whole lot of navel gazing....but hey it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to.   Here's to being real!  xoxo

photo credit

p.s.  this post was brought to you by two glasses of rosé and this song on repeat....like a thousand times.

63 comments:

  1. Jora, I had put you in my Google Reader under the category "Perfect Mothers." Women whose blogs reflect intimidatingly tidy lives. Thank you so much for posting this. Now I think I'll just put you under "Friends."

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    1. Thank you so much. These words are so kind. :)

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  2. Its so good of you to be honest. I am often turned off by perfect blogs even though, of course, its just a snapshot not the full picture of a life. So sorry about your family. I am an atheist but grew up very religious so I understand how divisive it all can be. I guess there is comfort in knowing you have your own little nest now and can raise your children with the values you hold dear. So many things I want to do better with my own little girl. Hugs.

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    1. Yes, it is all about doing better with our own children. That is what everyone tries to do....regardless of their family situation.

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  3. so raw, so beautiful and so necessary to be real. i come from a family with a history of crazy relationships/division too..which sometimes feels so sacred, yet it's made me the woman i am today. in many ways, i'm grateful for that...because like you said, it makes you more aware of the person you want to be and the values you hold dear. totally agree with you about the connection we can feel with a stranger...and serendipitously learning how we are more similar than different.

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    1. thank you, jessie. coming from crazy families can weirdly be a blessing!

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  4. Long-time reader, here. I share your situation in my extended family. Our isolation is more emotional than physical. I am so glad you spoke up about this rarely-discussed side of this religion, and am so.... proud of you. For living your life, for teaching your kids what you know to be right, and for forging your own family traditions. For standing up for what you believe, though you are shunned for it. I was so surprised to read this today, and find myself warmed by your bravery and feeling more kinship with you. I leave today feeling inspired, and so much less.... alone.
    Thank you, Jora.

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    1. Rebecca, you should email me.....

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  5. This is so real and honest, and there's a reason I'm always so excited to see a new post from you in my reader. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. you are welcome....thank you for reading it :)

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  7. Although my life with my family of origin is different, it's far from perfect. I've recently hit a bump in the road reminding me of that. Thank you for sharing such an honest and personal post. I never thought you were perfect (you are too interesting and funny and sassy (in a good way) for that nonsense! ;) ), but I really appreciate you sharing such a personal side of yourself and reminding me that my life with members of my extended family is what it is and we are all just doing the best we can. xo

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  8. I was so happy to see this post today while cruising around. One can only take so much lifestyle, fashion, and the like before needing to see something real and gutsy. Thank you.

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    1. The wine fueled the gutsy part I think :)

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  9. I'm so happy that I know you. You are incredible and resilient. xo

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  10. Thanks so much for sharing this, Jora. I know it took a lot of courage, and will inspire and and bring comfort to many.

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  11. oh jora-- how cool it is that you *did* have the courage to be honest with yourself and your family and follow your heart...even though it certainly was a more difficult choice. And now you are creating such a loving, beautiful environment for your own babies. I'm so sorry for the pain and loss you've experienced with your family. That is tough stuff. ugh.
    Thanks for being vulnerable on your blog. I agree-- I like reading the personal stuff too...

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    1. colleen....you always inspire me to be more real here.....thank you for all of your honesty and openness. xoxo

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  12. Thank you for sharing this. I am very sorry to read about your extended family relationships. It must hurt so very deeply. You are not alone. xxx

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  13. I appreciate your honesty. And I'm sorry you all have to live with that. It sounds like it is a hurtful situation.

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  14. Oh Jora. I admire you for writing this. In high school, I never could have imagined that this was your family's story, but I didn't yet have the gift of this blog to really learn (a bit about) who you are. And since knowing you here, I always had the sense that there was "something there" in the family category, but never knew what. I'm shy about prying. Just had a feeling. I too have (I hope... sometimes?), in between recipes, pushed myself a little to share the painful bits that I tend to keep mostly covered and protected. I think your honesty in prior posts, in some part, showed me how to start to reveal. So, thank you for that, and for this post. No, I don't think you're perfect, but I think you're really, really great :) xoxo

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    1. love you, blake! your words are always exactly what i need to hear. xoxo

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  15. This was such a beautiful post, Jora. Your honesty brought tears to my eyes as well. I'm sure it's a very painful reality that you live with and very difficult to share. I wish I could share some of my life's pains with you as well because I feel like that would just make it more fair. :) We are all trying to make the best of our unique situations in life and sometimes it's so nice to be open and honest. Lots of love, Neda

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    1. thanks, neda....i really appreciate your comment. lots of love back to you.....

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  16. Lovely. I'm sad for you and your extended family reading this, but your honesty and resilience are admirable. It doesn't require a lot of reading between the lines to see that love and kindness is abundant in your family and that you are creating a great life for your husband and kids.

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    1. thanks wendy! i am happy to know that love and kindness is abundant in my family (it's hard to see sometimes!)

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  17. I read your post last night and thought about it all day. I´m sure your honesty and bravery will help you in dealing with this situation. My heart goes out for you.

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    1. you are so sweet to say so.....thank you.

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  19. So courageously soul baring and inspiring. Love and hugs from one of your chosen family. You make my life a better place every day my friend. xo

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  20. I love the honesty. Although I don't feel like you are ever hiding anything.

    Families can be tough. Especially where belief is involved. I understand the choosing part, it can be very hard. I'm glad you made the right choice for you even with such harsh consequences. Those are always the hardest decisions to make.

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  21. I too find connection to other blogs who reveal a little bit behind the curtain..it is so refreshing and real and authentic. I think this is what all of us look for in the people we surround ourselves with.

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  22. I've hoped that you would write about this one day. It is such a real and painful part of your life, that it has deserved mentioning; not only for the sake of being truthful, but because it makes up a huge part of who you are. It saddens me to no extent that a religion can cause such division and exclusion within a family. Even though I'm sure it doesn't always feel like it -- you have risen above it all, my friend. You've not caved in on your beliefs just to appease others and that speaks volumes about who you are. You are even greater than that gorgeous house and beautiful/stylish image that we all regularly see. Not to mention, you and B have created an amazing family of your own. I have hope that one day your family will realize how much they are truly missing out on. Much love to you for keeping it real. xxxxx

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  23. You write so beautifully! I couldn't agree with you more about that we can't judge by what we read on blogs. I think it is very wonderful of people who write and share their creativity and love for life and learning.

    Thank you for your post!

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  24. "Most of all perhaps, I know that we never ever know where a person comes from or what battles they are fighting." - So very true!

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  25. Jora, I love authenticity too and feel like I am most drawn to the blogs, movies and books that have it. Thank you for sharing all of this about yourself. I think it helps all of us know that we are not alone in our own struggles.

    I also really like how you said that "blogging has helped me to see all that is good in my life and in the world." I can see how that is true and what a good thing to use a blog for, to focus on the good in our daily lives, which can be easily overlooked. Pretty pictures aside, you are an interesting woman, have a great sense of humor and are consciously raising beautiful kids. That is what I love about your blog and you!

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  26. i- like many others have commented- really appreciate your honesty. i have talked to so many that have and are dealing with a similar situation, and i think that putting it out there helps others realize that they are not alone, and that there are 'positives' that can come out of it. my childhood and current family situation (extended family) has not been what i would like- or at all what i try to create within my own immediate family. it has brought a tremendous amount of frustration, resentment, etc... but i have learned so much about acceptance and the necessity of creating the life that i want for myself (husband & kids too :)) rather than spending my days wishing, lamenting, waiting for others to create it for me.

    but it isn't always easy, and there is still so much i have yet to learn, so thank you for sharing your experience/learnings.

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  27. Yep I'm sure this was not an easy to post to write. Guess the grass isn't always greener - although for me, sometimes it seems that way when I'm going thru the bad things. And OIY have I experienced some bads! Chin up!

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  28. Having just had my first baby I don't have time to read blogs anymore, alas yours and one other are the only ones left on my toolbar. I love your honesty and passion for your life and family.
    I imagine it took a lot of courage to write this post and I really hope it helps you by sharing.

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  29. Thanks for sharing with us Jora! I admit there is often a mix of both inspiration and a jab at my self-worth when reading many blogs (Why isn't my house so great?! Why can't I seem to accomplish so much?! Etc etc). I suppose many of our lives would look so dreamy if we were to share a brief view here and there. Sorry to hear of such a painful part of your life. It makes me aware that my own mother is really more accepting than I realized since she still loved me after declaring myself an atheist and rejecting the religion in which I was raised. Many tears from her though. May your healing continue, and I am so happy you have created your own loving family.

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  30. Thank you for this post! It's funny how we all tend to fill in the gaps between what we see of other people with imagined perfection. When we should be envisioning the messy table just out of sight in photographs, and the bad days that don't get written about.

    I have my own experience with being deeply hurt by family + religion. It's really difficult to explain to those who haven't actually gone through it. We hope to give our daughter the gift of a childhood without controlling religious dogma.

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  31. I am so sorry to hear of the rift in your family. How they can not accept such a whole, honest & lovable person as you seem to be is baffling. I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness & should theoretically understand the motivation, I just can't. How can people not lift their noses out of their theological interpretations & see that love/light/god is bigger than their books? (Baggage alert! Sorry.)
    Cheers to your bravery in finding your own way. It sounds like it was not/is not an easy path.
    Thank you for sharing with us, it resonated deeply with me.

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  32. my dad always tells me "you can't pick your relatives."

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  33. Yet another post I just love! It has been almost 2 years since I met you on the streets of SF and my memory is a little hazy but one thing I do remember about you is your warmth, beauty and AUTHENTICITY. It was quite evident from those 5 little minutes :)

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  34. Such a well written and lovely post. You're part of my chosen family and I am glad to be part of yours! Love you!

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  35. Verclempt. Beautiful, BRAVE and I love you. XOXO

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  36. Sometimes I can forget why I started blogging in the first place. I spend too much time worrying about what I write and have no time left to read amazing blogs, like yours. I often feel insecure and inadequate in this blogging world, worried about what to share, when and how much. It is so easy to get off track. The 'Things I'm Afraid To Tell You' posts have been incredibly comforting to me. Your post, in particular is especially touching and meaningful to me. Thank you for the constant inspiration!

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  37. jora, this is a beautiful post! xoxo

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  38. jora, this is a beautiful post! xoxo

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  39. Wow, Jora. I can really identify with the challenge of finding the "right" amount of sharing to do on one's blog. I think it's a huge part of why my blog is sort of languishing. I'm by nature a very open person but something about being open on the internet...well, it's just a whole other thing. Thank you for posting this. It's brave and inspiring, and I think sharing like this really helps to connect people. We can all identify with you. I'm sorry to hear about your struggles, but hearing about them helps me appreciate the things that are good in my life, and also helps me not feel so ugh about my own problems. I hope writing this post has helped lift a weight from your shoulders and that you feel supported and loved by all your readers, because you are! xoxox

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  40. Hugs. Families can bring so much joy and so much pain. I hope that your family can learn greater acceptance and that we can teach it to our own children.

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  41. Awesome, just awesome, Jora... I am a longtime reader and appreciate your honesty... Keep up the great writing! I can relate... Religion is such a sensitive subject... It is just so personal...

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  42. This post meant a lot to me. I appreciate your being open and real; it inspires me to have the courage to be more honest with myself.

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  43. I could really relate to this post. I have gone back and forth with the idea of starting a blog for this very reason; figuring out a balance of what to put out there, while remaining authentic and true. You seem to find that balance, so maybe, just maybe, I could too.

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  44. Jora, this post has just warmed my heart for you. I'm constantly taken back by how many different kinds of trials there are out there. Man. They just come in all different forms. It's just nuts. But I think somehow - these trials connect us all. Thank you for sharing. I'm thankful for the connection I feel with you - even as a fellow distant blogger. Much love, Mara

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  45. I started blogging myself and writing something like that must not have been easy. It is honest and real.
    It made me think about This blogging thing. There is thin line between sharing and over sharing! You found a perfect Balance?

    X mamajulesbrussels.blogspot.com

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