Week 1 : Day 2 : Andrew Solomon, Identity

I read Andrew Solomon’s book, Far From the Tree, and it helped me wrestle some of my own identity issues into the ground. In this email interview he responds to Kate Moos’ questions. I found this quote compelling

…we are all constantly coming out about one thing or another, that my experience of coming out as a gay man is part of a vast web of people negotiating the tension between their acknowledged and unacknowledged selves.

The idea of an “unacknowledged sel[f]” is powerful. He is talking about the same issues as Brene Brown, there is something about me that you don’t know that if you did know you wouldn’t be able to love me and let me belong — shame.

…but the essential messages are that people dealing with all these situations are less alone than they imagine — less alone insofar as there is community around each of these topics, and less alone in that each of these individual topics has so much in common with the others. Community is an essential part of healing. Any aspect of any person can be seen as an illness (negatively) or as an identity (positively). Holding onto that reality, even in the moments of shock when it seems implausible, is a key way of coping with problems that may look very intimidating.

What is the difference between keeping a secret from a sense of shame, and being discreet because that part of you isn’t someone’s business?

Describe how you feel when you are keeping a part of you secret from a sense of shame.

Who is that relationship with and what in you prompts the sense of shame?

How could you change your thinking to reflect a sense of discretion instead of shame?

I lived with a big secret — my sexuality — for years, and casting off that burden of secrecy was the great liberation of my adulthood. I hope that others, in reading the book, will feel empowered to redirect the enormous energy that keeping secrets requires, and will be able to use that energy to build rich and productive lives.

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