What counts and how, and who decides

“ ‘Are you bipolar?’ My daughter was ten when she asked me. We were in her bed reading together before she went to sleep. It was something I knew I had to tell her one day, but I didn’t expect it to come out this soon, and in the moment she had taken me by surprise. I felt instantly awash in shame. By way of explanation, she said that her friend’s mother had googled me. Google. Fucking Google. For the first time I regret having written a memoir about my illness. She was a toddler when I wrote it. At the time, a handful of friends suggested that it was irresponsible of me; what would my daughter think when she was old enough to read it? Insulted by the question, I was cavalier in my response. Aren’t men allowed to write about their illnesses, their affairs, their acts of aggression and unkindness? Why are women held to a higher standard? Why is our mothering called into question when we reveal something unpleasant? All of my indignation fell away when my daughter looked up at me. I had told the world my story, only now I faced the only person for whom the truth mattered.” – Betsy Lerner, The Bridge Ladies

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