“Mom, do want to see the present I got Dad for Fathers’ Day?”

Seeing that she is headed to the front door of the house, I reply, “Yes, but where is it?”

“I hid it behind the blackberry bush. I want it to be a surprise!”

“You mean the blackberry bushes a couple of blocks from here?”

“No, the blackberry bushes right over here!”

We walked a couple of blocks (I was right about the location) and there it was, a blackberry bush along a neighbor’s retaining wall that spills over onto the side walk. My daughter reached behind it and pulled out my husband’s gift, wrapped in a beach towel. I convinced her to take it home in case it rains in the next few days.

The gift was also not very well hidden. My daughter is not good at hiding, whether it be things, her emotions, or her thoughts. She is not good at being sneaky even when she tries, her emotions are easy to read, and her thoughts if perhaps not shared immediately, come out eventually.

In some ways, this is incredibly refreshing and endearing. For her life to be out in the open to others and to herself. In this way, I think she takes after me. However, I learned the hard way in life that it is important to be able to trust someone before sharing private information. I made a lot of mistakes.

I grew up thinking that not sharing was hiding. Over time, I learned to respect my own need for privacy. I learned to set better limits with people and to better determine who is trustworthy and who has not yet earned my trust. Sometimes setting a limit means something as simple as not answering a question and changing the subject. People I don’t trust with my most vulnerable thoughts and feelings are also ones who are very likely to be offended if I say, “That’s private. I don’t want to talk about it.”

People used to ask, “Why do you have just one child?” Now these folks were close friends or family. They were people I’d JUST MET. As I’ve written in the past, I made evasive jokes or changed the subject. If someone says something rude to me, I don’t respond, “You hurt my feelings” unless I want to maintain or develop a close relationship with that person.

So with all I’ve learned about privacy and trust, how did I end up writing a very self-disclosing blog? One of the main reasons I started this blog was to process a very stressful and traumatic experience in a healthy way. As a psychologist I know that we can get stuck if we don’t integrate painful experiences into the rest of our lives. This is a balancing act. It means that I can neither hide from my cancer nor hide from the rest of my life.

At this present moment, I can’t think of another way I’d rather live. And if I do, you know I’ll probably end up writing about it here.