August 28, 2006
Introducing The "Silence The Shame" Blog
I was up late last night setting up the new blog. I called it, "Silence The Shame." (I wanted to call it "Stop The Silence," but there seemed to be other sites conflicting with/competing for that name.)
I know I said I needed to "do this myself." But, I'm woman enough to admit, I could use some help. Brian, Cassandra: Your offers of help still good? I could really use some advice on formatting it. Anybody else good at that stuff? I want to know how I can put up some secret submission/posting instructions and rules and also a legal notice about reproduction rights. I'd like to put those elements on the sidebar, but I'm just ignorant about adding stuff like that to my template. I don't know nothin' about html, rss, css or any of that stuff.
Well, it's up and I went ahead and put up another secret of my own, so anyone who wants to can go over and take a look. I'm open to all suggestions about how to improve it. If you can figure it out and you're up for it, go ahead and leave a comment requesting a secret post. Another option is that you can post a secret on your own blog and then give me the permalink in a comment. Keep in mind: I will always keep comment moderation enabled with word verification, etc. These "comments" will funnel into my e-mail box and must be approved by me before they appear on the site.
BTW, you can also leave an actual comment to support someone who has shared their secret. I will be very strict about comments I will allow, however. There will be no attacking, unsolicited advice or heated debates allowed. Comments that attempt such things will be rejected by me. I will do my utmost to keep out spam, attackers, voyeurs and anyone else whom I feel would make the secret-sharing environment feel unsafe for users.
Without further ado, here is the link: http://silencetheshame.blogspot.com. Thanks again, guys, for all the support on this. And thanks, in advance for the help with it.
August 25, 2006
Loose Ends: Links & Secrets
I'm going to make my final decisions about the secret-sharing space and try to get something out there in cyberland by Monday. So, I'll give you the link then, if Blogger let's me. I really appreciate all the feedback I got about the idea, both on comments and via e-mail. Some common elements in the feedback included the words empowering, freeing and release.
Another common element was the idea of secret-sharing being cleansing. One commenter talked of sharing secrets as having the ability to "cleanse and help heal deep infected wounds." Others think of secret sharing as a way to take a load off, emotionally speaking. One commenter described the process as to, "shed the weight of guilt and shame."
Everyone seems to agree that the space needs to feel safe. One commenter went so far as to say it should be "sacred." I agree that this is the feel I would want.
Logistically, how do I go about setting it up to accomplish these goals? I thought about doing it as a blog carnival (and one commenter suggested just that). But, I don't want the constraints of a lot of deadlines and submission forms. I also think going through Blog Carnival might take some of the safety factor away. Message boards were mentioned. Quite frankly, I don't have the time and energy to moderate a full-fledged forum or board. This is a huge undertaking that I'm not geared up to handle at this time.
I think I'm leaning toward setting this up something like Poetry Thursday. Here, a group of bloggers gets together and posts poems on their blogs around a certain theme each Thursday. When their poem is posted, they comment on the Poetry Thursday blogspot and let everyone know they've got it up (kinda like a meme).
One commenter made the elegant suggestion that our secret-sharing space could be an either/or choice of posting anonymously or not. I really like the idea of at least giving bloggers the option of "coming out of the closet" and revealing their identity, if they so choose. This goes along with stopping the silence and erasing shame and stigma. I understand, however, that some may want to share, but are not ready to attach their name to the secret revealed.
So, what I'm thinking of is a kind of hybrid of a Poetry Thursday or meme-type posting. For those who want to be linked and identified, they can simply comment that their secret is posted at their blog. This will be especially handy for bloggers who have long secrets, using a lot of words. For those who want to be anonymous, they can simply select "anonymous" on the Blogger comment form.
To ensure further safety, I will keep comment moderation activated at all times, of course. As with my regular blog's comments, no spam or attacking commenters can get through my approval process. Also as with my regular blog, I'll set this up so that commenters can make comments on other poster's secrets shared in a supportive-only manner. Kudos, congratulations, comfort, compassion and "way-to-go's" will be allowed. Heated debates and unsolicited advice will not be permitted. We want this to be a safe, sacred secret-sharing environment.
Any other last-minute input before I put this in place? Do y'all still think this is a good idea? Just to help soothe over the "starting-to-share" jitters, I would start the posting off with another one of my own secrets. Okay. Deep breath everyone; we're going to do this!
August 24, 2006
Save the 1-800-SUICIDE Hotline!
I've made a donation, signed the petition and am trying to get the word out on some appropriate forums. Any other ideas are greatly appreciated. If you or anyone you know has ever dealt with suicide, don't wait! Act Today! Do what you can to save this free, private, confidential resource!
August 21, 2006
No Secrets, No Silence, No Shame
One blog--a blogspot called TELLSECRETS--seems to have popped up the day after I posted "Share a Secret, Stop the Silence, Silence the Shame." Hhmmm...strange coincidence. There is no personal information in the blog's profile, but my blog is linked on the sidebar. Not sure what I think about this mystery. I'll have to find out who this blogger is.
I've noticed that some of the more popular "secret sharing" sites talk about confessions. The word confess means to acknowledge or admit. The word admit means to acknowledge or recognize as true. Synonyms for confess are own, declare, confirm, affirm, testify, disclose, reveal and divulge. Synonyms for admit include accept and allow. You won't find many of these words on the popular sites.
The site Daily Confessions at www.dailyconfessions.com, instructs visitors to "confess your sins" and is organized around the Ten Commandments of the bible. (This is not a religious site, by the way.) The site, Not Proud, www.notproud.com, lists confessions organized around the Seven Deadly Sins, such as envy, pride and sloth. (Also not a religious site.)
The Not Proud site has been around since 2000 and has spawned a book entitled, Not Proud: A Smorgasbord of Shame. The Daily Confessions site also led to a book called Coming Clean.
I don't know about you, but I'm not keen on grazing from the "smorgasbord of shame." I was already force-fed that crap for enough of my life, thank you. Another site--which has only been around since 2003, but is even bigger than the two previously mentioned with over 100,000 incoming links--is called Group Hug and also has a book. Unless you've already seen the book, I doubt you can guess the title. It's called Stoned, Naked And Looking In My Neighbor's Window.
The Group Hug name is a reference to group therapy. When a visitor wants to post a secret, however, they are also asked to "confess." In my own personal experience with group therapy and support groups, I never felt like I was "going to confession" when I shared with the group.
As I look at the definitions and synonyms I listed above, I find that I really like the ideas represented in: acknowledging, recognizing as true, owning, affirming, accepting and allowing. As I consider my own secret-sharing site and look at the terms I found on the sites that already exist on the Internet, I find that I am definitely turned off by: confessing your sins, deadly sins, raw confessions, a smorgasbord of shame, looking in my neighbor's window, and being labeled "not proud."
Of the sites I just listed, one flags appropriate posts with "disturbing content," one does not allow uncalled-for vulgarity and one simply has a disclaimer at the beginning that states, "may be offensive." One site includes helpful information and links for suicide prevention and abuse hotlines. I like that. The same site has pop-up ads. I don't like that. One site allows comments on posts, but commenters must log in. I have to give the webmasters of these sites credit; they all seem to disallow bragging, obvious lies, urban myths and spam. They all promise complete anonymity. I agree; when dining at the smorgasbord of shame, one must insist on anonymity.
Some of the other, lesser-known confession sites highlight things such as "tips to follow when having an affair." Some post "secrets" like those jockeying for bragging rights on "shameful deeds" such as their recent induction into the "Mile High Club."
If you know me at all, you can probably guess that I'm not interested in anything like that. I am not interested in encouraging any kind of voyeurism. On my site, I'd like to do away with any terms akin to "sins," "shame," and "lies."
There's so much to think about. There's more to this than I could have guessed when I just popped this particular idea off the top of my head.
I guess I'm pretty sure about what I don't want. What I do want is a safe place for people--especially survivors--to feel heard. I want a supportive place where we can stop the silence and shame that perpetuates abuse in all its forms. I want visitors to feel compassion and affirmation and acceptance. At its best, this space should be a place where sharing feels cathartic, but may also be inspiring for others to read. Shame doesn't belong in this space; we've all had enough of that.
My next post will go over some of the specific ideas I got from my blog readers. I'll also be considering the logistics of how to set up a secret-sharing, shame-silencing site.
For now, I'll leave you with a quote from Don Miguel Ruiz and his wonderful book, The Four Agreements. The first of the Ruiz agreements is, "Be Impeccable With Your Word." Ruiz affirms, "Being impeccable with your word is the correct use of your energy; it means to use your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself." (Emphasis here is mine.) He elaborates by saying, "...with that intention, the truth will manifest through you and clean all the emotional poison that exists within you."
I like the idea of cleaning emotional poison. As I'll show you in my next post, the idea of sharing secrets as being a cleansing experience is popular with some of my fellow bloggers and survivors. My intent with hosting a secret-sharing site is to clean away emotional poison, not spew out more of it into the world. Thanks for your ideas. I'll be back soon with more on this.
August 19, 2006
Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse: Third Edition
Anyway, we finally got the carnival listed at Blog Carnival dot com this morning and the first version of it is up at Wendy's blog. I think there may be a few post links missing. Don't be alarmed; Wendy is still working hard to get the whole thing perfect.
I went over and looked at it. There are over 15 entries included, with a couple of new bloggers joining our Carnival Against Child Abuse. I ask that you go over to Wendy's blog and take a look around the August carnival and give her your support. While you're at it, make a special point to use the links to visit the new bloggers joining us for the first time. Leave them a supportive comment, too, won't you?
On another "Survivor Solidarity" note: Thank you to all who left comments on my post, "Share a Secret, Stop the Silence, Silence the Shame." We really got a lively dialogue going on that idea. I really appreciate all the support I received for my secret shared, and all the ideas on preparing something permanent. My next post will discuss the alternatives I'm considering.
August 08, 2006
Share a Secret, Stop the Silence, Silence the Shame
Are you familiar with the blog, PostSecret? It's a very popular blogspot blog and an amazing "community art project." What happens is people send in postcards and tell their secrets anonymously. The secrets shared are riveting and often disturbing. There are many hints and references to sexual violence and child abuse on those cards. I urge you to visit but warn that it may be highly triggering. The blog even includes a suicide hotline number and a link to www.hopeline.com.
Okay, now, are you also familiar with the website 43 Things? It's sort of an online community of list-makers sharing their to-do lists. As one of my 43 things, I've got listed, "send a postcard to PostSecret." I haven't done it yet.
I was thinking of this the other night and secrets just started pouring out of me in a similar process to how I get poems sometimes.
I noticed that many of them were too long to fit on a postcard. I decided I'd like to share them here. This is a risky and frightening thing for me to contemplate. But, I want to do it. I am absolutely convinced that abuse perpetuates in our silence and shame--in the secrets that we as a society too often keep (sometimes to our graves).
What would happen if we all decided to share our secrets, stop the silence and silence the shame? I think we'd be well on our way to breaking the cycle of abuse. That's where I'm convinced we'd be.
Would anyone like to join me? What would you think of having an online place to share secrets? It would be similar to PostSecret, but the secrets wouldn't have to be short enough to fit on a card. The other big difference is that we would be breaking our silence and stepping out of our anonymity as I am about to do here. What do you think? Would you do it?
Even if nobody says, "yes," I'm going to share here. Because I'm scared out of my wits, I think it's easiest for me to simply lift the words right out of my paper journal where I wrote them in the early morning hours.
Here's what I wrote:
Oh my God. I'm so afraid of what I'm going to write here. Therefore, I feel absolutely compelled to do it. I must write it. This secret is about the abandonment I felt after my parents divorced and my sexual abuse ended. All my memories of sexual abuse are retrieved memories that were previously repressed. I don't know how I know this. I just do.
My father sexually abused me
And my twin sister
For almost eight years.
Instead of feeling relieved
When the abuse ended,
I felt abandoned,
I had realized
My greatest fear:
I truly was
But, I was not replaced
By my twin sister.
I was tossed aside
Thrown on the garbage heap
In favor of three strangers
Some other woman's daughters
My new stepsisters.
I wished my father
Had gone ahead
And killed me after all.
I don't know which part of this secret is more excruciating. I just want to wail in agony.
Copyright 2006 by Marj McCabe. All Rights Reserved.
Believe it or not, I found that writing this secret down was quite cleansing and comforting for me. I felt better after I "told" my secret. It was a secret I had never before even told myself before this journal entry deep into the night.
The Blog Carnival Is Hitting The Road
The deadline for this edition is Wednesday, August 16 for the Friday, August 18 appearance. WW's post announcing her host status is here. In the post, she explains that she wants to encourage all forms of poetry. "There is poetry in photos and artforms," she points out. She also hopes to see a post or two on forgiveness, which, as she says, "...can mean many things to many people."
I want to second WW's motion that we all make a commitment to invite new contributors to our Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. Let's really get this awareness-raising vehicle growing!
August 07, 2006
Relaxed, Refreshed & Romanced!
We spent our week vacation touring beautiful Colorado. We stayed in Breckenridge, Ouray, Mesa Verde and Durango. We also made stops for meals and scenery in Ridgway, Telluride, Creede, and Lake City. What a gorgeous state full of mountain majesty.
This was our first real vacation without a child along in nine years! We really needed the time alone together as husband and wife. We were starting to feel like a cranky old couple and now we feel romanced and refreshed together. Awesome!
My next post will be a reminder about the upcoming third edition (August) of the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. Then, I'll be finishing up the "linkomania" I started and posting that new and risky debut of the creative writing series I told you about before. (Wish me luck/hold a hand; I'm a little scared about it.)