Soul-bearing writing–writing personal essays that are a little too personal for comfort

Tablet published a new piece of mine today, about the untidy family life of a person who is an Orthodox Jew with relatives who are devout Christians. The comments are busy, and no trolls have appeared so far (meaning that anyone who disagrees with me does so with politeness and reflection).

I’ve published the piece because the problem I described in the article is a surprisingly common one  (among the “baalei teshuvos” who come to religiosity as adults) that most people ignore.

It’s sorta mortifying. This is a problem that is very private for me, and–like many who share it–it is a source of pain that I usually sweep under the rug. I’ve had to explain the absence of half of my family to many people over the years, and it’s never comfortable. Now the entire world can read about it (and share! and comment!).

In general, I don’t write about my family unless it is 100% positive. I felt that this needed to be an exception, in order to support people who share this type of situation. I intentionally omitted the name of my father’s family, and I tried to protect their identities. I wanted not to expose them, but the problem. Nonetheless, one of the commenters pointed out that I was still airing my family’s laundry in public.

I’d love it if readers weighed in here (in a comment below) or in the comments section on Tablet.

<a href=”http://www.makealivingwriting.com/?p=2538″><img src=”http://www.makealivingwriting.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/MALW_linkparty1.jpg”/></a&gt;

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4 thoughts on “Soul-bearing writing–writing personal essays that are a little too personal for comfort

  1. Becca, I would have left this comment over on Tablet, but you know that I have difficulties with their commenting system! Suffice to say that once again you’ve written something beautiful. I’m sorry for all the pain that has been involved. My thanks to you (and Tablet) for sharing your perspective and experiences with readers.

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  2. It’s one of the most frustrating aspects of writing and being orthodox. We are much more limited in what we will allow ourselves to write about. That being said, what’s considered dirty laundry is subjective. If your intentions were pure (to give others struggling with the same thing some insights), then I think it’s ok. It’s purposeful writing, not just “airing.” The issue is, how do you feel about revealing certain aspects of your personal life in order to help others. It’s always a tough call.

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  3. Well, I just wrote this to you in an personal message, but I want to say it in yet another public venue: I’m so proud of you for exposing yourself in this way. And I’m in awe of how you’ve responded to those who, as your best friend, I at least reserve the right to accidentally spill a water on should I ever meet them face-to-face. In honor of your maturity, I’ve edited myself into innocuousness.

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