I finally went ahead and faced the fear. I gathered up the most personal and painful Blog posts from the past 15 years and entrusted them to a self-publishing website.
The result? Meh. My book looked more like the owner's manual of a Ford Fiesta with overlooked typos.
In my mania, I sent out mass emails to friends, mentors, basically everyone in my contact list. A week later I had to write back to sheepishly admit that, "Psych! That was just a test. If this were a real book, you would have been informed by press releases, not self-promotional Facebook feeds and web links."
As I wait for the final (I mean it this time) edits from my Editor and Graphic Designer (also known as my sister), I have read two memoirs just to assess the competition. I was intimidated by both but found only one worthy of the reverence.
After finishing the first I was feeling something close to cocky "That chick has a TV show?@!" The other author, however, put me firmly back in my place; humbled by the wit and insight of one of my favorite women (Amy Poehler's book, Yes, Please, is fantastic. I gotta give it to her. I loved it.).
My memoir is flawed, redundant in the over-sharing zeitgeist I straddle, but it's mine, and despite the impulsive retraction and resubmission, I still want it to be known.
When I'm not writing about myself and the view from my subjective window, I am a Psychotherapist, in the last few months of a bloody long road towards Licensure. I've been working and studying for this career since 2007. I could be a Nurse at this point, have a kid in first grade, or at the very least be tens of thousands of dollars richer. Yet, I've pursued my passion for Psychotherapy because I believe in the process.
In traditional Psychoanalysis the Therapist/Analyst was unknown to the patient, a tableau rosa, blank slate, sitting behind the reclined species while scribbling away on a notepad. Modern theory has focused more on the Therapeutic Relationship, as years of research have shown that it is actually in the connection between patient and professional where the conditions for healing can truly be conceived.
Yet I wonder just how much we should share with our patients. When I have been a patient I left Therapists for sharing too much of themselves, speaking about their "faith" or taking up my therapy hour with anecdotes about their dogs. I'm not there to chat, I just want one hour a week where I don't have to take an interest in another.
As a result, I try to limit my disclosure with my patients because I respect their time and space, and usually recognize their enquiry as deflecting, projecting, getting uncomfortable, or just harmless nosiness. I'm not militant about it but I don't believe my opinion is relevant to their growth; it blurs the line, dilutes the concentration, and takes the focus off what they entrust me with. Nevertheless, a Google search could connect anyone- patient, friend, foe- to the deepest places of my heart and the details of my life that I willingly share with the world.
So how much of myself am I allowed to share outside of the therapy office? It's a lonely field to work in, spending my days focusing on other peoples stories. I deserve a space apart from the patient/practitioner alliance that can be seen. But I have my doubts.
I wouldn't be friends with a patient on Facebook, I wouldn't even approach them in public (although if they approach me I'd welcome the interaction), so I acknowledge and value the boundaries we adhere to but also recognize the grey space that can exist between them.
I wonder what Jung or Freud would think of our Twitter feeding, status updating, self-publishing, modern world? Actually, I think I'd rather not know.