Transparent

12:00 PM

I'm addicted to absolution, so I've come to rely on confession although not in the strictly liturgical sense. Even though I enjoy transparently sharing things I'm feeling or thinking about, I often experience discomfort right after I do. The following story marks my earliest over-sharing mishap.

In 1969, my father was booked to tour Japan with the Osmond Brothers. Hoping to be able to have his family on the road with him, he decided to rehearse a little show with his wife and four daughters assuming that people who would enjoy watching the Osmond Family’s fresh faced boys would also get a kick out of seeing the Boones sing, dance and relate to each other as a family. The idea worked well, and our two tribes toured Japan for a month.




Daughter of two country music singers Eva Overstake and Red Foley, my mama Shirley taught us to sing rich harmonies as children, and we all worked hard to develop that tight-knit vocal style into a full-blown production, professionally organized with choreography and well-rehearsed casual banter.

In '69, I was 11, a tomboy with a butch haircut trying to seem at ease in my pantyhose and patent leather Mary Janes. I felt awkward, so I was going for cute.



I remember standing on stage one night, in my place at the permanent end of the line with hundreds of Japanese patrons filling the space in front of the stage. My father introduced a song, and while he was still speaking, I walked up next to him, tugged on his costume jacket, and demanded that he give me his attention.

He tried to plow ahead, ignoring me at first, but I was persistent, so finally, he hesitantly leaned down to listen. I had decided that the audience in Japan needed to know that I had a sore throat, and that the infirmity might impede my performance. Concerned my contribution might be noticeably disappointing, I was clearly attempting a preemptive confession to negotiate absolution...up front.

I can only imagine the discomfort my father may have felt in the moment. He was mildly agitated, but professional and charming, informing the crowd of my concerns without letting his irritation in the moment leak out. He kept it entertaining and light, diffusing the awkwardness, and the show moved forward.

My sisters gave me befuddled looks while my mom’s jaw tightened. Later, there would be sarcasm and a few “don’t-evers.” I realized after the show that this simply hadn’t been the right moment to say how I was feeling, and the pure red-faced embarrassment from the epiphany was an effective teacher.

To be fair...how was I to discern when it was OK to say what I was thinking, and when it wasn’t?

My family lived in a sort-of glass house, complete with tour bus drive-bys, and there was always a steady stream of cameras, books and articles magnifying our lives so anyone who wanted to could see past the glass; that is to say, they could see what we allowed them to see. Public awareness of our life was normal, I thought. So why wouldn’t it be appropriate for me to tell the men and women in the audience in Japan something very personal about my present struggle?

I’ve lived most of my life negotiating some tension between a desire to be transparent, and an underlying compulsion to remain hidden. When sharing about oneself, how much is too much?

Telling something personal about myself, maybe even something less-than-great, can become a standard fix, easing the discomfort of feeling inadequate in general. It offers some relief to feel accepted, even after openly and willingly leaking certain unattractive features, implying that my darkest secrets might not be so dark after all. Often, talking about myself has felt like opening an overstuffed closet to remove one item and causing an over-leak, TMI. I have had to ask myself, how can I achieve transparency without shame? Like so many other issues in my relationships, how I experience transparency may come down to intent.

We all have an inner and outer life, and we get to choose how much we allow others to see "in." What's the benefit of revealing our inner world? We may want to be helpful, or identify with a struggling friend. We may want to simply offer tools we have discovered. But in my case, I've used openness as a vehicle to reach out for absolution, assurance, or acceptance, triggering the leaky closet fallout.

Al Franken's Stuart Smalley, a motivational  character from "Saturday Night Live" circa 1991,  had a pretty good idea decades ago, demonstrating the benefits of speaking affirmatively into a mirror instead of leaking stinkin' thinkin' into the atmosphere. Stuart was ahead of his time. Following his lead, I can do the deep work of self acceptance alone, loving myself holistically and accepting my deficits while trying to build character, and I do that mostly privately, in therapy, or in a safe inner circle of friends. 

I'm working on it.

Thankfully, the overstuffed closet is much tidier these days, and I know, now, that it's up to me to choose what I want to share, and what I don’t. I try to keep it useful. When I attempt authentic transparency, and I start to feel the anxious creepy-crawlers, the leftover worries from my public-and-private childhood, I remember that I am only one little person with one singular perspective, and I won’t put my hand over my mouth.

And...I try to remember that listening is at least as satisfying, intimate and rewarding as being heard. 

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8 comments

  1. Your transparency is a gift to those you share with. One thing that comes through is that there is nothing to absolve. Your transparency reveals your humanity, and we see ourselves in that, making our own experience seem less crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Feeling less crazy is a target of mine, so I might as well pay it forward! :) Thank you Franklin

    ReplyDelete
  3. My dear sweet friend Laury...
    How I have missed you all these years!!! Each Jan. 31st I remind myself it is your birthday but I had no way to wish you a HAPPY one - Reading your words again takes me way way back to our childhood. Please email me at Mavrock1@aol.com ;-)
    Love, Gigi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gigi,
      This was the best surprise I've had in a long time! Already dropped you an email, friend.
      XOL

      Delete
  4. Dear Laury
    The Boone family debuted in Japan (I'm proud of this).Thank you for coming to Japan! From Ayumi(Japan)

    ReplyDelete
  5. P.S.
    You mean so much to me…
    Love you from Ayumi

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, thank you Ayumi. I appreciate your kind words about our family and I'm really happy you found my blog.😊

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lovely Laury💕

      Thank you for replying quickly!
      I'm 27 year-old😊
      I love Pat Boone and The Boones❤️

      Actually, your father and I'm exchanging a letter (Pen friend).
      I'm really grateful for Pat and you.

      Love you from Ayumi💕

      Delete

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