Friday, August 8, 2014

PBP: Week 32- Personal space and privacy

I consider myself a bit of a contradiction. There are many different categories that when I try to think about what I am, I end up not being in the middle, but being on both sides at different times (or even at the same time). I definitely think I am that way when it comes to privacy.

I value my privacy. I have always been a bit of a loner with recluse tendencies. I am a housewife, and we have just one car, so for at least half the week, I am at home, most of the time alone, with no transportation. This works just fine for me. I know lots of people that would hate my life, but I tend to get a little antsy if I don't have some time every day to just be with myself.

But I also love (certain) people. I cherish time that I can get together with friends and hang out. I spend a fair amount of time with my mother in law, and while I enjoy playing many of the computer games that are single player, there are a lot that I enjoy much more if I can play with people I know.

If I don't like you, I don't want you in my personal space, but if you are my friend, I have no problem with casual touching at all. Most of the time, I know what my boundaries are going to be for someone within a few minutes of meeting them.

When it comes to personal sharing, I consider myself very open up to a point. There are things that I feel are private...things that I don't share with anyone. And I do mean with anyone. This is one place where I have a very distinct cut off. I will share 99 percent of myself with anyone who wants to listen. But that one percent is mine and isn't ever coming out. I typically don't ask my friends to keep secrets for me. There are things that I would prefer weren't shared with the general public, but it is less about being worried about my private life being known and more about being respectful of the people in my life who may be uncomfortable with some of the things I am.

This is still something I sort of fight with myself about. I have been more or less out of the broom closet since high school. I am not sure I was ever really hidden except to my parents. And I had the talk with them within a couple of years. But there are still a lot of my beliefs and practices that I feel uncomfortable laying out bare.

Some of it comes back to my belief that some things are just too personal to be shared, even with people you love. My husband and I talk about a good many things. And though he doesn't share my beliefs in really any way whatsoever, we can talk about things that we have very different thoughts on without it becoming a huge conflict between us.

I think privacy is a topic that gets kind of touchy in the Pagan community. Everyone has a different level of personal privacy they are comfortable with, and it can be hard to accept when other people's levels are different. One thing that I struggled with when I was learning was wanting to hear about other people's experiences. It is one thing for me to read instructions for something in a book and quite something else entirely to read about how it went for someone. Being mainly solitary, I didn't always have close pagan friends that I could talk about things with.

And even once I met people (mostly online), personal experiences are often very private things. People might share the mechanics of things they have done: how they set up their shrines, what types of offerings they give on Sabbats, chants they use. But how the ritual made them feel or what their reaction to a working was is much harder to come by.

I know that part of it is that sometimes these are very personal reactions. And sometimes, they can't be explained without sharing intimate life details, which is definitely not something a lot of people are comfortable with, especially over the internet. Sometimes it is that the reactions are not something they can put into words.

I also think that it has become somewhat of a catchphrase in the Pagan community to not give personal experiences because 'your mileage may vary'. Which ironically enough is why I always wanted to read about people's experiences. I know we all approach and respond to things differently. We are influenced by our life, and as my life is probably quite different from yours, we will react differently to the same situation. But there is something very powerful in hearing someone's personal experience.

It brings people together and makes the community more real. Even if your reaction is different from mine, we can discuss those differences and learn about each other. I believed for years I was doing things wrong because I wasn't getting the textbook reactions for practices like grounding. It wasn't until much later, when I started talking to people who were trying to learn and seeking help that I began to realize that I wasn't the only one with those same problems.

No one should feel compelled to share more than they are comfortable with. No matter how much it might help someone else, if it would hurt you, then you shouldn't have to do it. It is your choice how much you feel right in opening up. There are things that I may feel a little uncomfortable sharing, because of personal insecurities, but I am learning how to nudge my boundaries a little so that I can grow. For me, there is a huge difference between sharing something that I feel is a bit embarrassing (which typically I end up sharing and come out of it stronger for having brought it into the light) and sharing something so deeply personal that I feel raw and wounded afterward.


  1. I'm also a housewife who shares a car. I'm a loner, so I'm ok being alone for half the day, and I can walk if I need to get certain errands done. I just think it's so neat to find someone else in the same situation! I've always thought that most people would hate this lifestyle, too. Unfortunately, I'm so comfortable being alone (or only with my husband) that I often forget to spend time with friends.

  2. It is always nice to meet other loners! Much of my family is very social, and I think they worry about me because they know I spend so much time at home. I know my mother in law often invites me to do stuff because she gets super stir crazy when she is at home, and assumes I do as well (and just wants company). My husband gets it though, so I am very lucky.