Our Privacy Pods- living in them + coming out for fresh air

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How’s that Pod of Privacy Working for You?

I’ve noticed in our culture there seems to be a backlog of communication in the Telling Department. I believe that our human nature influences us to have a personal pod of privacy, things we share with no one and keep somewhat sacred. This shows up for me by raising three children and wanting my private “mommy” life.

I hold private thoughts about myself and my surroundings. I don’t have too many earth shaking secret but having these pods of privacy gives me a retreat of sorts and bolsters up my individuality in the midst of playing so many roles in my life. Occasionally, I  pull out a juicy thought and share it with a trusted friend, but more often a blank sheet of paper eases the tumbling thought and brings it down to a manageable size. For many years I was in Al-anon, a 12 step program and downloaded years of guilt, shame, anger and blame. That was cathartic and cleared things out, but even then, I had my small private pod.

So to me this idea of a “privacy pod” is normal, whatever that is. My friend says “normal is just a setting on the dryer” and I shouldn’t aspire for that, but I’ve always been one to look around, assess the room and see how I stack up. ( that’s from my private pod so don’t tell anyone).

I bring this up because I have noticed that the pods of privacy in our culture are becoming condos. The big rooms of secrets and lonely lives that were once attributed to a passing teenage phase have extended to the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and geez up to the 70’s. As the parent of teens for so many years, I walked a tightrope of allowing their privacy but keeping my foot in that closed door so they couldn’t lock themselves in, and me out. I still have foot problems to this day.

I don’t call myself a global activist, but in my home I was a fierce local activist. Running in my private pod was a movie of me as a teen sneaking out windows, stealing my parents scotch, and creating a dark and lonely world that I stayed in for way too long. I am 62 and I have only recently moved out of it and I was damned if my children were going to be deprived of living in many exciting zip codes.

So I created a truncated form of communication in my home- like S.O.S. When the door slammed and silence ensued for more than 30 minutes I would knock on their pod, Ask and they would Tell me the key word of why they were barricaded in. Once I knew why, I didn’t need the whole story because the plots were always the same. They would usually fill in the details when they were ready.

“Hello in there.”
“What?”
“Anything you want to talk about?”
“Go away. I’m fine.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m fine. I’m doing homework.”
“Oh, can I help?”
“ No, mom. Like you know Algebra?”
“Okay, I’ll leave you alone. But first you have to tell me the topic.”
“MOM!!!”
“Is it boys, school, friends, your sister, drugs or your body?”
Silence………………..
“Boys…….. I want my privacy please!”
“Okay, honey. I’m here if you want to talk. I love you.”
“I know.”

This short soundbite program worked when they were not locked in too, but it still had the element of privacy and non- invasiveness. When I received the lists of “what they learned from me” each year, I knew I was getting through and shining some light into those dark places that we all have.

Now that my children are grown, I have become a global activist for the hearts of parents and children of all ages. We must Ask into that closed door until they Tell. And when they open the door whether they are 15 or 50 we must put our arms around them and say, “I am here for you. You are never alone.”

Ask +Tell  for someone today.

Maureen McElroy
Mo has secret parent diaries and stashing away thousands of lessons and experiences raising three daughters. Since they are college graduates, married with great guys, and are superb human beings she felt it was safe to call herself an expert, a successful mother or someone who may be worth listening to. Mo says, “If I can save one night’s sleep, one argument, one sneak out, or moment of insecurity, or increase the number of hugs in a family, my mission will be accomplished.”
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