So meta, I know. And also long….
I’m often slow to process things that happen in my life. I’m typically very methodical and intentional with my words and I care how what I say affects people and what the perception is about who I am. I’ve tried to say “efff that” to worrying about what people think but it’s just not me.
It’s because of these factors that I’m not exactly sure how to approach what I’m trying to process now. But I can’t hide from it, or slow down the process to the point it’s swept under a rug. If I do, it will surely resurface at some point as an uglier version. I just need to do what I’ve been doing my whole life, which is to write through it, thoughtfully and intentionally.
The challenge, here, is that the writing itself and my public-facing words are what’s being called into question. So figuring out how to delicately work through it could be a challenge.
First, I need a wide angle lens, so the big picture/backstory is necessary…
I’ve been writing this blog for a long while and the topics contained within these virtual pages cover every aspect of my life—my experiences, my history, my thoughts, feelings, goals, mental and physical health, and my hopes and dreams for the future. It’s a lot, but like Rome, it wasn’t built in a day.
This complete picture comes from 1,300+ posts across over 5 and a half years. In those 5 years my life has changed significantly. I began this blog because my life had become a daily struggle that I just could not take anymore. I needed an outlet that would help me through and writing about all of my issues served me well.
I also made choices to change my life in big ways. I worked on my physical and mental health and made my children and myself the priority. And just as I was turning a corner, other big changes were happening too. That is included finding a new life partner, getting a masters in creative writing, and giving up my 25 year career as a healthcare data integration specialist. I went from trying to just survive each and every day to having the opportunity to explore what most concerns me in a deeper level.
That transition is so evident in this blog but what’s not as evident without looking at the complete picture is how important the writing has been for that transformation. Or how many hours and tears have gone into it. I estimate each post has taken an hour of thinking and writing on average, which is super conservative considering the thinking part is usually much more. So, perhaps 1.5 hours per post. That’s about 2000 hours… and 81 entire days. That’s the very definition of dedication and quantifies the importance of what it is and what it means to me.
That’s the big picture. And now that it’s in context here, I can proceed with the new developments that have already had a detrimental impact on me, this process, and my state of being.
In short, it’s been revealed to me that a person has been trolling the blog with intent to stir up trouble and cause harm. Why a person would harbor hatred enough to hunt through my insignificant thoughts for content that could be used to hurt me or other people is beyond me.
But the fact that there are people out there that would do such a thing is a reality. A reality that’s a bigger concern now that it’s happened.
About a week ago it was brought to my attention that a post I wrote last July, which had detail in it that cast an unfavorable light on a few people close to me, had been shared with those people. And they were upset by what they read.
It was impulsive of me to write what I did, and was done in the heat of a really rotten day. The troll who found it and shared it did so for no reason I can see but to cause harm.
I’ll say, for the record, that most of the time I don’t write about specific people in that way, and my intent is never to hurt people. Most of the time I don’t even use people’s full names even when I’m saying wonderful things about them, but in this case the persons affected could be inferred because of the context. And so it happened. The needle in the haystack was found and subsequently used to stab at us. I include myself in “us” because I’ve been hurt by this too. Because I don’t want to hurt those around me and if they are hurting, I’m hurting too. I’m also hurt by the fallout.
It’s a risk, you know, every time a person elects to publicly put themselves out there. The world we live in is dominated by social media and public perception. Any writing, be it poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, or blogging is subject to scrutiny once it’s out in the world.
I’ve obviously long gotten over angst about that and made peace with my process. I published a book, for goodness sake, that reveals my deepest fears with regards to my new life. It’s poetry, yes, but rooted in the reality of the situation(s) that generated each poem in the first place. And I was willing to accept the responsibility of what people’s perceptions would be once it was out in the world. The same way I have with this blog.
The blog was, historically, fairly anonymous. I was writing under an alias and never told anyone about it. Even if someone found it, my satirical response would be that the number one rule of THE BLOG was just like the number one rule of FIGHT CLUB. Which is, that you don’t talk about FIGHT CLUB. Hence, don’t talk about THE BLOG.
If I know people are reading, that will inherently change what’s being written because there will be a known audience. This is undeniable. Not that I would be writing specifically to or for those readers, but it would definitely impact my words and my process.
Another fact is that it’s tough to have a public blog that remains completely anonymous for over five years. Everything is connected in some way and eventually little lines are drawn between the dots.. damn you Google search engine! Needless to say, People I know read it from time to time, and despite my trying to ignore that fact, it does change the way I approach the writing.
I have, however, become less concerned about that over time. Especially now that I mostly have my act together. I’ve actually made the blog more “findable” by posting recognizable pictures and links between websites. I’ve even posted a direct link to the blog from my previously anonymous pseudonym on my main author website. I’ve apparently become somewhat comfortable with the notion that people might find it and read it.
I figure one would have to dig real deep (and through mountains of melodramatic fluff) to get to anything that’s super personally revealing. Or to find that “needle in the haystack” where I might not have been so careful with my words like I posted back in July. I guess I underestimated humanity. Shame on me.
So like I said, damage has been done. Sure .. apologies have been made, the post has been altered to remove the offending content, and the blog itself set to private so nobody has access to it. But it’s set a few other wheels in motion too. The least of which is that my mind is spinning about the potential loss of yet another aspect of my life that brings me a sense of fulfillment.
As if I wasn’t already completely down about all the rejection, lack of writing, and loss of any sense of purpose. Add another log on the fire. 🔥
I suppose the positive thing that has come out of this is that my husband now agrees with me that I would benefit from seeing a counselor/therapist. I’ve been saying it for a couple years. It’s helped so many people I know through tough circumstances and considering all the big transitions in my life, despite how positive they might be, are not without struggle.
I think he now sees more clearly the connection between my seeking an outlet to work through my thoughts and feelings and this blog. He understands I can’t just rely on him alone, like he once thought I should.
As far as the blog is concerned, he’s never read it (well, except for what was shared this past week). He doesn’t have that kind of time, and has treated my writing as something he doesn’t want to intrude on—with regard to both the process and content. He wants to be supportive and is always open to listening to things I want to share. He seems to enjoy my poems and is pretty good at giving feedback, positive and critical.
But this incident really crossed a line. It upset him and had potential to disrupt other relationships too. Like I said, apologies have been made and things have been smoothed over, but the future of the blog remains in question.
Obviously I’m still writing like it’s going to make its way to the interwebs at some point, but I’m also just doing that thing I’ve become accustomed to. Which is to write my way to some internal conclusions.
Aside from the apologies, I’ve only talked to two other people about this. One is my friend M (which.. golly, could be lots of people) and one is my daughter, Z, who I went to visit at UNL last night.
Both of these people are empathetic and upset for me. My daughter thinks I should reinstate the blog and not let this incident affect my process, outside of working to make amends. I tend to agree with that, but the situation has also made me think deeply about how important it is to continue blogging and what it means to me.
If I had an actual therapist, would I need the blog? Would it be the same anyhow now that it’s been compromised in this way? How will it change going forward? Will it be all fluff pieces about vacations and surface level musing? Will it hold the same value if I don’t feel comfortable exploring my deepest concerns and desires, because I don’t want trolls to have that kind of insight or information about my life?
My friend M suggested I could just start a new anonymous blog elsewhere, but would the effort to do that be worth it? I think I would still have the worry of being trolled. And to be truly anonymous, it really would be starting from zero. There is value in the human connections I have made here. Some are Interactions with kind strangers who have read and liked literally hundreds of my posts and some are those that take their precious time to comment. And there are a few people I’ve become comfortable talking to about the blog, despite my number one rule. 😉 All of these people and connections mean something to me.
So, lots of drama, and questions and lots to consider. This is too long already and I may not have gotten to all aspects of this situation or all the answers I seek, but I think there are a few conclusions….
- Things are going to be ok, this too shall pass.
- I’m going to finally get real therapy, yay!
- And…. If you are reading this, then the blog is active again.
We’ll see if it sticks. I’m currently on my way to visit another good friend, who I have a huge amount of trust in. She’s been there with me through a ton of shit in my life and I greatly value her advice. I am sure talking with her will give me even more clarity.
For now, that’s it though. And certainly enough, don’t you think?
Peace and love, always,