On Vulnerability and Boundaries — A Guest Post for Nacole Simmons


In the fall of 2006, I got a new boss. He arrived on the scene after two years of searching, two years marked by upheaval in my life, personally and professionally.  I had been working as an Associate Pastor, part-time, for almost ten years by then, and I was deeply relieved to welcome him and to learn to work with him and for him.

One of the first things he asked me to do was start a blog. Yes, you read that right. My boss, the senior pastor, asked me to begin writing on a blog. He already had one, and used it for brief reflections on life and ministry, very rarely for anything personal.

But I’m not wired in the same way, and when I was invited to write, I chose to get pretty vulnerable, pretty quickly. And I loved it. I was careful, especially when trying to write out the difficulties that always attend a new working relationship. I tried to make it about me, and what I was thinking/feeling. And, for the most part, I found my way to a pretty good balance. I posted infrequently, about once or twice a month for that first year. I learned to import photos, and often chose to write about my family, especially my grandkids.

But in July of 2007, something hard happened. Our son-in-law was in the midst of a long and very difficult dying, suffering from the after-effects of intensive radiation to his head and neck when he was a teenager. Our daughter was trying to finish a masters’ degree in special education, so that she could go to work after fifteen years as a homemaker. Her husband was on full disability at that point, and they desperately needed medical insurance. Her program required a 10-week internship at a hospital 400 miles north of her home and she worked like a champ to make everything happen. Some weeks, her husband was well enough to go with her, but some weeks, he needed to be closer to home.

We housed her husband and two younger sons (the eldest was working at a camp on Catalina Island that summer) for one of those closer-to-home weeks. And that experience was one of the most difficult times I’ve ever walked through. Watching someone you love suffer — and watching how that suffering impinges on the lives of two young people — well, it was hard, sad, painful. . . there are no words.

But I tried to find them anyhow. I wrote a post, not using names, about watching this particular kind of suffering. I finished it late one night, posted it and went to bed. At 7:00 the next morning, I went in and removed it, feeling unsettled about writing something so deeply personal.

The post was up for less than twelve hours.

But in that time, someone close to him found it and was deeply wounded by it. I was crushed — repentant, sorrowful, so sorry for causing pain and for further complicating my daughter’s life. My heroic girl was already exhausted and overwhelmed and my post made everything worse.

I crossed a line, one that I deeply regret.

Please follow me over to Nacole’s site to read the rest of this post . . .


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  1. Diana, Thank you for writing about this subject. It is so important and so hard. My first attempt at writing was for myself, to try to understand what had happened in a particular relationship. I eventually sharred the story with the other person of the relationship, saying I had not shared it elsewhere. But it there it was in print. This other person was devestated and cut off all communication with me and with anyone who had communication with me. It was the hardest experience of my life. My intention was to open up a conversation. But that didn’t matter. I had exposed someone in a way they didn’t want to be exposed. I had not clue. We often don’t. We are all wired differently when it comes o privacy issues, and learning to know that and honor these differences is so hard for someone who writes from the heart. Anyway, thanks for letting me piggyback onto your story. I’m glad your wrote about this and I’m glad you found a way to keep writing.

    • Thanks, Nacole, for the invitation and for sharing this oh-so-painful piece of your own story. Finding that safe place is not easy, is it?

      • NEWELL – I’m so sorry! This came into my email box as though it were from Nacole. How weird it that? I am so very sorry this happened to you. In fact, I can hardly imagine it. But I do know, from hard experience, that we are, indeed, wired differently. And what feels safe to us can feel highly offensive to someone else. So, so hard when that happens.

  2. Diana, what a hard story. I am so glad you found the courage to write again. As a brand-new blogger, this is on my mind a lot when I’m writing posts, particularly because my husband and I seem to have different ‘privacy settings’ – his settings are higher than mine, lol! So because of that, because I want him to be comfortable with what I’m writing about, he reads almost everything I write before I post it. And on occasion he has said he’s not ok with a particular post, and I’ve found a different way of sharing it, which he was happy about. It is a fine line, for sure.

    • My husband often serves the same function for me – I trust his judgment and listen when he thinks something needs changing. It takes time, Donna. And lots of writing!

  3. Diana, after posing the last comment, even though I didnt’ mention it there, I keep thinking about the losses you have gone through. your story made me think of losing one of my beautiful daughers-in-law, the mother of my grandchildren, my son’s wife – it would be devastating on so many levels.

    There are so many relationships affected when one dies. It goes on and on, but I think the Mother-in-law might be one of the last ones people would think about, unless they were close to her. that it, in some cases, would qualify as “disenfranchied grief” – same as adult sibling loss and loss of a good friend are often referred to. We think of the spouse, the children ….. but i am thinking of all that you and your whole family, including you, must have gone through. And I want to honor that. On top of what happened when you had a reaction to your post. How very difficult. so thank you for sharing it here to help all of us be wise when we post – a reminder to tell our own stories.

    • disenfranchised grief – definition: the pain of a significant loss that is not openly acknowledged or socially supported.( It also helps if one spells it right in the first place!)