Lori’s comment on Thursday’s post prompted me to pull up my Stumbling Gracefully archives and see if I had written a post on this very thing so many years ago.
It turns out that I had, indeed written such a post and I evidently felt a lot surer of myself and my ability to navigate that fine line between acceptance and action back then. Of course, my big example of navigating that line was my acceptance of myself as a bad housekeeper. While I was quite aware that berating myself for house dirty my house was wouldn’t inspire me to get off my ass and do anything about it, I clearly didn’t know how to use that acceptance to eventually spur myself to action. What I didn’t know then is that I would accept that shitty house for the next two and a half years, before I finally made the huge changes necessary to get the clutter under control.
But that post is not why I sat down to write this one.
Instead, this post is about the surprising barrage of swirling emotions I felt as I read through other posts (and the comments on those posts) from my February 2012 archives.
I wrote two pieces that month about embarking on TTC#2. Those were hard to read, especially knowing what that year would bring. Then there was a ping back on one of those posts to an October 2012 piece that revisited those initials fears after nine months of failure. In October I was admitting to myself that we might need to take next steps. I had scheduled an appointment with an RE and was revving up for the dietary overhaul that I believe helped me get pregnant with my daughter. I was feeling very defeated and incredibly unsure of what the future might bring.
As I read over those posts, I noticed a really incredible symmetry. February of 2013 is when I learned I was pregnant, despite not trying due to wonky cycles after my HSG. And of course in October of 2013 my son was born. Reading those posts in 2012 and knowing what was coming in 2013 was a strange experience. On the one had I felt sad for myself, remembering how hard that year was, and yet on the other hand, the struggle meant something different through the lens of knowing what was to come.
There were other posts in February 2012. Gutwrenchingly painful posts that I hadn’t expected to come across. Those were really hard to read.
But what really struck me from February of 2012 was the community interaction I saw taking place. I know that things have changed–have been continually changing–since I started blogging in 2009, but it’s been a long time since I went back and witnessed it from this vantage point. It was clear from my writing then that I felt I was part of a community and ot was clear from the comments that others felt that way too.
I don’t really feel that way anymore.
I still read the blogs of many of the people who commented on my posts in 2012 (and some of them still read mine) and we exchange comments–and in some cases FB messages and emails–back and forth. I feel significant connections to many of the women I read–I consider them dear and very real friends, even though we’ve never met in real life. But that feeling of being a part of something bigger than myself? That is gone.
Before the blogging community felt like a net, like I was connected to everyone, even if I only “knew” them tangentially, like the whole community would be there to catch me if I fell. Now it’s more like individual threads stretching out into the distance, disappearing into the hazy ether, almost swallowed by the gapingly empty space around them.
I will admit, I felt a pang of loss as I recognized what used to be. I had forgotten how it felt back then; while some aspects of the dissolution of our community occurred in fits and starts, much of it happened so gradually that I didn’t realize the extent of the erosion. Reading those posts was like looking back on the photo album of a certain time in my life and realizing how long it had been since I’d seen the people with me in the pictures.
Life is change. Everything changes. One of the amazing things about a blog is that it provides a record, not only of one’s thoughts but the interaction those thoughts inspired. It provides a road map of the back and forth that transpired, of the exchange of ideas and opinions, of the support given and received. In providing that record, our blogs expose the enormity of that inevitable change.
In so many ways, I’m thankful for the transformation of our community, or at least the part of it I belonged to, because that transformation was brought about by the realization of dreams. Our community was born of longing, suffering and loss, and it transformed through resolution, and in many cases, triumph and joy. We were a net ready to catch those who fell, but we disentangled ourselves as the chance of falling became less and less and the net was no longer a necessity.
Disposing of so many of the artifacts of my past has brought into sharp focus the undercurrent of change that remains the only true constant, and the sometimes shocking realization that we don’t recognize how extensive that change can be. Looking back at old albums from college, I barely recognize the person I was in my early twenties and I’m strangely unattached to that woman and her experiences. She is a part of me and I’m thankful for all she lived and learned, but I feel no need to grasp at the remnants of her life, the things that held so much importance for her. They don’t belong to me and I have no reason to keep them.
I suppose that is how I ultimately felt looking back at the February 2012 posts. The community captured in the amber of those archives doesn’t belong to me, it belonged to the woman I was when I was struggling through family building after loss. That community isn’t something I can lay claim to and mourn the loss of, but a gift which arrived exactly when I needed it, and provided precisely what I required at the time.
I hope that community still exists out there, for the women who need it now. I hope they feel so entangled with each other that their net is strong and ready to catch them if they fall, or simply need to rest. I hope they find strength there, in the understanding and empathy.
I hope they find exactly what they need, just like I did not so many years ago.
How do you remember your blogging community? What does it feel like now?