Well, that took a turn…

I’ve been thinking a lot about this blog and what I write here and the support I receive, and my past blog and what I wrote there and the support I received. It struck me that my first blog, by the very nature of why I was writing, provided me with a community, and the members of that community adhered to a certain set of unspoken rules, perhaps organically understood because of the common thread that intertwined through all our stories. We knew, for the most part, what we needed from others and so we knew what to give everyone else. That community, and the unspoken rules we all seemed to follow, made me feel safe expressing all manner of thoughts and feelings, even the ones I would never expose to the light of my real life. That space, for a long, long time, it felt safe.

Until it didn’t.

This space has never felt that way, and that is part of why I created it. Once I realized that the safe haven I once had was gone (or perhaps was only ever a figment of my imagination, a thing I needed so much I made it manifest), I abandoned it to write somewhere else, where the expectations didn’t have to change, but could be created anew.

Here I don’t feel a part of a community, at least not in the ways I used to. And here I don’t really feel safe. {Which is good because I shouldn’t feel safe–no space on the internet is ever, ever safe.} Which is not to say I feel unsafe here, I just recognize that not everyone who reads this is coming from a place of understanding. I still chose to put some things out there that I would never expose to the light of my real life–writing anonymously can be a powerful thing–but I don’t do so expecting a chorus of empathy and support. There are fewer common threads intertwining my stories with the stories of those who read me, and many of those stories are unknown to me.

I wonder a lot, what the purpose of this space is, especially when it’s not serving a therapeutic purpose to me personally. What am I creating in this space? Is that creation valuable to others? Does a truthful account, in and of itself, have some inherent meaning? Or is the mere idea narcissistic to the extreme?

As I’ve closed the chapter of loss and infertility, I’ve opened some new ones, and my reading habits mirror that feeling of moving on. I rarely add a new blog about infertility or loss to my reader (though I follow everyone I once read, if they are still writing), but I do add parenting blogs (I suppose “mommy blogs” is the proper nomenclature but I never use it myself), or blogs about minimalism, frugal living and personal finance, or Buddhism and meditation, or creative living, or education. So many of these blogs offer “how to” posts, or offer generalized advice, or present the writer’s expert opinion. There is very little of personal significance in them; I know very little, or nothing at all, about these people’s lives or families, about their doubts or fears, about their challenges or self-perceived weaknesses.

I have to admit, I don’t get as much out of the blog written by the person who already knows it all. I understand why these are the more popular, better trafficked blogs–most people are looking for solid advice to enact real, measurable change in their lives. And when I’m searching for the answer to a question, those are the posts I appreciate finding, the ones with a step-by-step guide of how to get it done, or some expert advice on where to start. But as I’ve explored the world of personal finance and frugal living, I’ve found almost no blogs written by people who struggled to get where they are (which is always a place of success from which they can share their valuable knowledge). Most found the way to their frugal, well-financed life organically, or if they did have to look for it, had no trouble adapting it for themselves. The few blogs I have found where people had to do real soul searching and make difficult changes, are incredibly valuable, but they are rare treasures, the diamonds in the rough. And I haven’t found anything by someone still in the trenches, but then again, I suppose you wouldn’t tout your blog as belonging to the personal finance genre if you felt you were failing at personal finance. Lord knows I don’t.

This post is meandering and I apologize for that. I’m just struggling of late with what I perceive as a lack of belonging, and this perception of myself as having no real niche, or reason for writing. As is always the case, my story is unremarkable. In all the areas I struggle, my struggle is of no real consequence. Yes I suffer from depression, and it marks every day of my life, but I’m not circling thoughts of suicide or even trying to find a medication that works. Yes my daughter is challenging, but I’m not parenting a child with a diagnosable disorder that requires the pursual of treatment or therapies. Yes, my financial situation is barely sustainable, but I’m not paying off hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt, or filing for bankruptcy. Yes, my marriage isn’t a great, but I’m not  having an affair or getting a divorce.

{And yes, I realize it is GOOD that none of these things are happening to me. I’m not disappointed that my life isn’t rife with drama, I’m just pointing out that it is ultimately unremarkable, that there is no aspect of my struggle that defines me, or might lend definition to my writing, and this space.}

My life is just, my life. My blog is just about that life. I don’t possess any sage wisdom to share or expertise with which to advise. I’m just a woman–many would call me a mommy blogger–writing from her mundane, insignificant point of view. And for what? So eventually some day someone might ridicule me for being both ungrateful enough not to appreciate what I have, and also self-involved enough to write about it?

Ah, now we (me included! I did not realize I was writing this post!) see this post for what it is, the unavoidable (for me it seems) existential blogging crisis, put into words. I write through these feelings every once in a while, and I wonder “aloud” if I’ll keep blogging, and then I always do, because honestly, I have nothing better to do with my time. And without this space, I might never express myself in a meaningful way, or exchange ideas with other adults (especially not ones as intelligent and thoughtfully the women who comment here.) And so I keep coming back here, even though I know it’s not worth much, in the grand scheme of things, and I’m not safe here from those who might hurt me with their words (knowingly or not). I keep coming back here, making myself vulnerable, because it’s the only way I know how to create, and until I can create something different, here I will stay.

I read somewhere once, that we write online so others might bear witness, so that we might feel less alone in our lives. That is surely the case for me. And I know that until I have some other canvas upon which to create, I will come here to write, even if I’m not quite sure who I’m writing for or what I’m writing about.

Why do you write, either on your own blog or in comment sections? What purpose do you think blogs like this one serve?

31 Comments

  1. Honestly, I write so that I have a record of my life. My blog is sort of like an ongoing memoir, something to capture what’s going on so it’s not forgotten. Just two nights ago, I was perusing through my blog, looking back on 2015, and I was shocked by how hard the year had truly been (cousins accident almost leading to brain death, divorce in the family, death of my friends young nephew, death of my friend) – I had forgotten about the feelings of felt because we powered through and got through it. It was nice to look back and know how far we’d come. I also blog because I keep no baby books – the boys and my adventures are chronicled in my blog and that is important to me. I, like you, originally blogged while infertile and I used it to meet people who understood me, but I know those people now and I’ve only made a few recent friends.

    I love reading you. I look forward to your posts, and then our follow up conversations afterwards!

    1. I thought about this–I’ve read on a lot of blogs that people write to maintain a record, about their lives and their children’s’. That makes a lot of sense to me. And I suppose I do write this blog as a record of my own life, and it can be helpful for me to remember how far I’ve come. But I write less and less about my kids these days, as they get older (not my story to tell and all that), and my blog has stopped being a record of their lives. Which is a shame, because I’m not writing that down anywhere else either.

  2. “We write online so others might bear witness, so that we might feel less alone in our lives” – this, too, is why I read blogs (yours especially); it makes me feel less alone, like someone else’s life is much like mine, that not everyone has a dozen best friends and a clean house and a mind that isn’t constantly in overdrive thinking about all.the.things.

    I’m too tired (thanks baby who will no longer sleep through the night) to delve into the WHY of this, but there is some meat to this fact: your blog is the ONLY blog on which I read the comments. I get so much out of the comments that your blog inspires as well as your responses (in which you often further articulate your thoughts and I get that “deeper connection” type feeling…). Every day that you post, I’m glad. 🙂

    1. Me too! I always read the comments. Your blog does make me feel less alone. I really appreciate the candidness with which you speak about parenthood and marriage. I find that almost no one is ever negative about marriage.

      1. I also find that most people don’t speak negatively about their marriage. And I get that, I suppose. I just don’t do it myself. 😉

    2. Baby! Sleep through the night! Man, when my kids weren’t sleeping through the night I started getting panicky. I hope it doesn’t last too long…

      Thank you for this. You made me teary eyed.

  3. I write to work through things or to get out thoughts, maybe even to stake my tiny claim that I was here. I haven’t been able to write much recently, and I don’t like that.

    Your life is remarkable because it is your life. I “enjoy” (that’s not the write word exactly) reading about a real person’s struggles, victories, ups and downs. No one is perfect; I like reading blogs by other imperfect people. We’re all just trying to do the best we can.

    1. “maybe even to stake my tiny claim that I was here” <-- Yes. This. I also appreciate (is that a better word?!) reading about other people's struggles, because they make me feel less alone in my own. I totally understand that.

  4. My blog has definitely become an online journal that I simply let others read and comment on! My memory is awful so writing things down for the past 8 (!) years has been really helpful. My blog has also been very helpful to not feel so alone while going through infertility.

    I think that you often post to get validation on your thoughts- mainly about the labor difference between you and your husband. When you get people commenting that you are right and he needs to change, I’m sure that it makes you feel a teensy bit better that others are on your side.

    1. My memory is also awful! I never thought forgetting as much as I do were even possible for someone my age. I definitely appreciating having my blog(s) to go back and read when I need to remember what something was like or how I was feeling.

      I think you’re right that I post to get validation on my thoughts, but I realized reading to your comment that there is more to it than that. I’m hoping to write about it for tomorrow…

  5. I like your blog so please keep writing! I love reading and knowing about the mundane details of people’s lives, especially when expressed thoughtfully and with honesty. Your comments section is pretty great too *a round of back-patting to all of you other commenters* and I find the discussion here interesting and respectful.

    1. “I find the discussion here interesting and respectful.” <-- Me too. The comment section here is really incredible.

  6. I love your blog, and as others have said, I think the comments section is great too. Thanks to you and all your commentators this is a blog like no other! Please keep writing.

  7. Love your blog and I feel honored that I get to bear witness to another’s life. The ups and downs of anyone’s life are interesting, that’s what makes friends! No ones life is more remarkable than others, really, so it just the interest and caring that keeps us coming back. As friends.

    1. “that’s what makes friends!” <-- Yes. This is definitely where I interact with my most amazing friends. Thank you for being one of them.

  8. I agree with you that I like those REAL personal blogs, not the polished “how to/i know it all” types. (This is why I recently added yours to my reader, as my blog reading list is not long these days!). I hope that mine is also more the former than the latter (I’m pretty sure it is). I write to process things, to get ideas, to make connections, to record. And as a hobby/release.

  9. I like your blog. The writing is great, and you are grappling with some financial and marital challenges that are really interesting. I used to read various personal finance blogs but they get a little repetitive. The actual numbers are much less interesting than the relationships and struggles behind them. And you are doing a great job articulating what’s going on there.

    1. I find that the how-to, or we-have-all-the-answer blogs do get a little repetitive. Some of them get VERY repetitive. I guess, when you have it all figured out, you don’t have as much to say! I’m never going to have it all figured out though, so I’ll always have something more to say. Especially when it comes to personal finance. 😉

  10. I found you only recently, but I really enjoy your writing. I am always drawn to people who sound authentic, and you do. I also like to read about people struggling with the everyday problems, because most of us are insignificant and struggling. I am also turned off by the blogs that seem like they have all the answers and simply don’t follow them. Humans are flawed; unless I can see some flaws or doubts or some expression of genuine humanity or introspection in the writing, I don’t read.
    To sum it up: great writing, and the candor is much appreciated. Keep it up!

    1. “I am always drawn to people who sound authentic, and you do.” <-- Aw thanks! Authenticity is really important to me, so that means a lot.

  11. You ground me in reality. You share the reality of your generation living in SF, with marriage, with jobs and their frustrations, with the reality of two working parents with children. You help me remember to celebrate places/times I have been and have worked through without quitting ~ and remind me to appreciate the positives in where my life is today.
    Your blog is the reality of people today…. What was the phrase…. ‘Having the whole catastrophe’ Which is the ultimate chaos and joy of a full life.
    Please keep writing. You help me each and every post.

    1. I really, really, REALLY wish you wrote a blog, because everything you say here is kind and insightful and oh so wise.

      You ground me in reality. And give me a confidence in myself I wouldn’t have otherwise.

  12. I really appreciate the comment above about being honoured to bear witness to another person’s life. I feel that way as well – I think we can all learn so much from each other. Especially, as you say, when none of us have it all figured out, and we are all muddling through. You are always insightful and your honesty and ability to get to the root of your struggles and acknowledge them is inspiring. Please keep writing!

  13. I really love reading real blogs about the complexities of life and the struggle, not just the successes. I also like reading journals kept by folk in years gone by too, like uncompressed memoirs. In a memoir, the bad stuff or the waiting get shrunken down to a paragraph or a sentence and you lose the agony of that period. I think there’s a value in understanding the struggle to get wherever. Thanks for writing about it all. It’s lovely to read.

    1. That is such a good point about memoirs! You also know the ending, which changes the struggle in some way, at least for the reader. I remember, after my loss, being so desperate to read a story about miscarriage where the author wasn’t writing from a place of having had a subsequent live birth. It so clearly healed their pain in a way I wasn’t sure I would ever feel and it made the memory of their loss almost unrelateable to me. Of course I understood why all the memoirs about loss were written from a place of knowing the ending–no one wants to read a story where the ending has yet to be written–but it was devastating to me at the time. It’s the main reason I went looking for blogs.

  14. I write on my blog when there’s something I want to document or emotions that I want to work through. I comment less frequently than I post on my own blog because I have to feel that the words in my comment have value to the blogger, and a lot of times I don’t feel that I’m offering much.

  15. You got me thinking about feeling safe. I guess nowhere on the internet is really safe. I had some pretty awful comments on my one and only piece on Huffington Post. But I”ve realised that, unless they’re from people I know and respect, I am better able to shrug them off. Or delete them. I have no qualms about deleting inappropriate comments! It’s my blog, dammit! So I feel sad that you don’t feel entirely safe here. And I admire you for being prepared to be so open and honest. I too feel honoured to bear witness to your life, and – through the discussions in the comments – to be invited into it.

    I think maybe you write here because, by putting feelings into words and sentences, it helps you sort things out. I do that. I’ll sometimes start a post having no idea what I’m going to say, and it comes out as I type. That helps me. Or, it’s a way to get things off our chest. That has helped me in the past. I hope, by writing your feelings out, it helps you. That, to me, is enough of a purpose. But also, in my experience, you can guarantee there are people reading who have been through or who are going through similar circumstances. They may not respond or comment, because maybe they’re as confused as you, but I guarantee it helps them to know they’re not alone.

    I think you’ve established a wonderful, thoughtful, community here, on your blog. I’d be proud of that too. It proves that, whatever the purpose of your blog, there is something here that keeps drawing us all back.

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