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".... I know that if I share my story, especially the nitty-gritty details and emotions, you’ll see yourself in my words...." "Stories laced with deep emotions are the ones that stick with us and prompt us to share them with others." Lyle, my friend, this beautifully written essay could not have been more timely. I posted a very personal short memoir this morning, a piece that is specifically about me and obviously shows my vulnerability. I wavered a lot before hitting the "post" button. You, in this excellent piece, have affirmed for me that, though readers may not have had the same experience, they can relate on the emotional level and the feelings expressed may resonate for a while longer than the silly cat stories do. Thank you for helping me see that the writing path I have chosen is a valid one. PS Your life and mine could not be more different, but I relate to everything you write.

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Thank you, Sharron! And great job facing the resistance and hitting that publish button!

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This qualification needs a little more airtime, IMO: "Sharing more vulnerably can be risky business, though. It’s not always possible to share all the intimate details of your experiences—sometimes there are bosses or spouses involved, or legal grey areas and the like."

Writing vulnerable personal stories was fraught for me even when I was writing for literary magazines and when I published a memoir that had a small, but successful, circulation. I think there is a particular ethical nuance here that is often glossed over on platforms like Substack, which is just how much one is willing to minimize others' concerns in order to be rewarded by readers. When you add the numbers game to the mix -- the notion that being vulnerable is a way to attract more followers, and potentially make more money -- I think it's even more fraught. I struggle with this when I share interviews, even if I have my guest's permission to paywall, etc.

My own standard is that there has to be a larger public good to airing my private experience, especially if it includes others. I felt that way about my fundamentalist upbringing. Writing about unsavory family experiences, even if uncomfortable for my parents and others, potentially served a larger purpose in helping other people from similarly cloistered backgrounds know that they were not alone. I feel that way now about my fatherhood essays and about my higher ed pieces.

But I think there is also a time to *not* write about sensitive topics, especially if it means trading on others' vulnerability at the same time. Or at least to tread lightly and think about the larger "why."

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Great point, Josh! I totally agree and I believe it’s why when writing memoir it’s important that the narrative is rooted in the author’s experience as much as possible. I never pretend to know how another person feels or what their experience might be. I like your framing of the larger “why” as a healthy barometer.

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Nov 11, 2023Liked by Lyle McKeany

I just ordered “The Psychology of Money” on Amazon. You should get a commission, Lyle! 😊 There is so much to think about in your post. I was thinking about how years ago, I joined an online forum about racism, where the people posting there were followers of a philosophy that all white people are racist. They were all people of color and I was the only white person posting. Everything I posted about my true feelings - (such as how, as a little girl in the 1950s, my mother had made a profound impact on me by talking about the inequality of racism... and how I grew up deeply wanting to repair race relations) - got derided and doubted. It was painful. I made myself vulnerable, and got doubted and derided... but partly out of that vulnerability, I met a future mentor of mine online there, an older black man who, in some ways reparented me in deeply sensitive conversations. (Obviously this is something that would take longer in-depth writing to truly explain very well) But the bottom line is, the pain that came from my being vulnerable and derided, as painful as it was, was much less than the depth and joy of the reward that that one man gave to me in my vulnerability.

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What a great experience for you, albeit painful at first.

Your comment reminds me of Jane Elliott’s blue/brown eyes study. It makes quite a powerful point about how ALL of us have at least some measure of racial bias in us. I watched this video years ago and found it to be quite powerful: https://youtu.be/Nqv9k3jbtYU?si=H0EN4BghqRLJpxKv

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Nov 11, 2023Liked by Lyle McKeany

Thanks for sharing your wonderfully worded Stack. Ive got an awful lot to think about, having read it, and the link to Jane Elliotts video o Yourube has been saved so as I can watch later. Much appreciated!👏✍️

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Thanks, Kevin!

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Nov 11, 2023Liked by Lyle McKeany

Thank you, Lyle! 🫶🏼 I have to admit my first thought to your wise comment was defensive (first thinking that because of the way I was raised - by a mother who from my earliest memories often said that in race relations, black people were the nice ones and white people were the mean ones (putting it in language young children related to), and by her taking us to an integrated church in D.C., All Souls Unitarian, where a black man in coffee hour used to delight all the kids both white and black, swinging us around😊) - my first reaction was therefore to think defensively that not ALL of us have some measure of racism - but, then again, how can ANY of us escape all the subliminal, and subconscious, and ubiquitous racist messages all around us, still?🥺 So I need to be vulnerable enough to acknowledge that I may have at least some measure of racial bias that I’m not even aware of.😢😘 And so I very much want to become aware! Thank you, Lyle! 🫶🏼

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Your reaction makes sense and I felt similarly before watching the video. It's always difficult to take a hard look in the mirror. The key, in my mind, is that we're willing to learn and be influenced by others.

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Karen, I recognize so much of this experience! Just a whole lot of black/white thinking (*binary - no pun intended!) Have you ever heard of Karpman’s Drama Triangle (Oppressor/Victim/Savior)? Once you see it, it’s so hard to unsee. Shame is a powerful weapon that shifts victim into oppressor and vise verse. While I don’t know much about your relationship, it sounds like your Mentor wanted out of that pattern and I’m glad you found him and he took you under his wing. You can read more about the triangle as it relates to DEI training here:

https://www.growinharmony.com/post/the-drama-triangle-in-diversity-training

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Nov 12, 2023Liked by Lyle McKeany

Thank you, E.L.! If of interest, this is a YouTube audio of the man by whom I felt so caringly mentored. I admire him profoundly. He was born in 1929 in Oklahoma. He truly thinks for himself, and he helps anyone. I am no longer in touch with him but when I was helped by him, he put his phone number out for anyone to call him any time, for help with anything.

https://youtu.be/QenJyTDZ0Ds?si=m4Gxe8YAmTHJlkK5

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Thank you for sharing this! I can sense the kindness in his voice. 1929, incredible. He’s witnessed so much!

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by Lyle McKeany

Oh thank you so much, E.L.! You captured his essence perfectly, the kindness. And his other signature trait is that he always tries to follow the logic in any subject, breaking things down to their most basic truths.

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E.L., is this an example of the black/white thinking that you mention? (Below) Along with other commenters, I thought it was unnecessary to mention that the young men were African American:

“Please be careful walking at night. My boyfriend and I were walking Friday night around 9:15 when a dark SUV pulled up. Three African American teenagers jumped out. One had a gun. They wanted my boyfriend's jacket. Once they had the jacket, they drove off. This happened on Military Road between Connecticut Ave NW and Chevy Chase parkway. Couldn't get a look at the plate or make/model of the car.

They are quick so be aware of your surroundings”

980 85 Neighbors

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This is a tough one. From the context I have, this neighbor is describing the details of a crime that just occurred to them (noting the day, time, location, vehicle type/color, perps' age, and, yes, race) — trying to be descriptive to warn fellow neighbors (and perhaps the exact description they just gave the police in a report). "If you see folks like this, in a car like this, in this location - be careful." If they were white teenagers, would this neighbor have included their race? I have no way of knowing. Does the description include some confirmation bias? Again, I don't know this neighbor so I can't make that assumption. [This paragraph is an example of non-binary thinking (coming at it from multiple angles making no assumptions).] Does that help at all?

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That’s very helpful! And thank you for the definition of non-binary thinking as “coming at it from multiple angles making no assumptions”. That’s a great and helpful definition. I do suspect some bias in the choice of how the words “African American” were inserted… I think if the description had been written with a caveat, it would have been better and less subject to being interpreted as possibly racist. Maybe something like this : “Three teenagers jumped out. The only thing I had time to notice to describe about them is that they were African American. One had a gun.” Otherwise it does sound to me like the writer is possibly thinking their race is the only, or most important, trait to use to describe them.

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I'm all-in being honest to the point of pain. So I agree with your advice.

My post this morning was all about My Personal Myth.

Lyle, feel free to check it out.

https://robertsdavidn.substack.com/p/my-personal-myth

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Thanks for sharing, David! And nice work digging into your personal myths

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Very well said.

It is indeed important to write from a place of genuine experience and feeling......as that does make our writings in turn more genuine and relatable to the reader.

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Thanks, Raveen!

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Amen. As Brene Brown says, “Vulnerability is the currency of human connection.”

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I love that!

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I’m all for sharing personal and emotional stories. It’s my way of working through these things. And if I can be relatable to people that’s the main goal; I want someone to read my stuff and say, “Wow, I totally get that.”

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Absolutely. That’s what it’s all about. And you’ll get that more by not writing in generalizations or only writing about famous people’s experiences.

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Lyle, I love these lines and 100% agree: "...there’s a difference between the stories we tell others and the stories we tell ourselves. When those stories collide into one and we bravely tell the singular truth that others would keep to themselves, that’s when our most relatable stories are created, forming our deepest connections with others. Because they’ve felt the same way before." I'm upgrading to paid so I can read more of your vulnerable truth gems!

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Wow, thank you so much, Marian!

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Hi! I’m new on here and just found you, which goes to show that random moves in mysterious ways! Good to read, reassuring, too, since I often get a weird, self-conscious feeling after posting my gently self-deprecating and usually funny (well, I think so!) posts. There are only two on here, and I was literally shaking when I pressed share on my first post about my longtime crush on a very famous superstar. Like, what will people think?? I’m such an immature, fluff-headed weirdo! But I did it anyway, because it’s the truth and it’s a fun read and a little dose of silly is always welcome, at least in my life. I enjoy writing these little jam tarts so much and sharing my enthusiasm for things comes naturally. So thanks for being here! I look forward to reading more of your posts. xx

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Thank you, Francesca! Congrats on launching your newsletter and hitting publish. Keep going!!

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Nov 17, 2023Liked by Lyle McKeany

Awesome Lyle, all great advice for me, hoping to share my story about coaching golf but finding myself reluctant to do so. Thank you!

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Breaking through that resistance is tough at first. I’m here if you need any help!

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Last paragraph is the best. Love.

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Thanks, Kris!

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K

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Lol, you win best comment on this thread 😆

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lol. Thank you! I wrote a prayer on Notes yesterday. It literally was what I scribbled in my journal while begging God to ease my anxiety and help me chill the fuck out. I’d say it’s pretty vulnerable like here, this is exactly what I’m feeling right now and what I hope could maybe help someone else.

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by Lyle McKeany

All I can say is WOW and well done Lyle. A great piece.

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Thank you, Barbara!

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You’ve helped me uncover more emotional depth while in season 4 of Foster. Begin in recovery, I already plumb the depths a bit when talking about my own character defects. But--two topics I’m frightened to death to write about: love and money. I think I might just tackle those two beasts very soon. 💪🏻

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I’m so glad to hear that the season has been helpful for you, Dee! I’d love to read your thoughts on love and money. Happy to check anything out before you hit the publish button too. Just let me know!

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Curious if you've read Untamed because I liked Love Warrior but LOVE Untamed. And I don't know (m)any men who have read it.

Great thoughts here on all of this ...

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I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list. It’s also been on my list for way too long, so it’s time to bump it up. Thanks for the reminder!

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Will be curious to see what you think of it.

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I challenge you to post your responses to the Narcissistic Personality Inventory 😁😁😁😁

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Nov 12, 2023Liked by Lyle McKeany

I'm curious why you want to see the responses, not the score.

Besides, only 0.5 to 1% of people are clinically narcissists.

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I might be the exact opposite of narcissistic lol. What about this would you construe as narcissistic?

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Nov 12, 2023Liked by Lyle McKeany

To Alicia and me you are definitely the opposite of narcissistic! The polar opposite.

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