Someone Who Reads This

In a few weeks, this blog will be six years old.  Anniversaries always make me take stock, and when I think about where I was six years ago when I started this, or where I was when the planes hit the towers or where I was when Katrina stormed, those events make me realize how different I am now and at the same time how little I have changed.

If nothing else I find it remarkable – the things I once wrote about here, when I thought no one was reading.

Because lately when I sit down to write I seem to censor myself at every turn, for no other reason than because of someone who reads this.

I want to talk about my marriage and complain about my husband, but someone who reads this once changed his diapers and doesn’t want to hear about our sex life.

I want to swear like a sailor and talk about abortion, but someone who reads this is religious and will be offended.

I want to write funny posts with lots of exclamation points and THINGS THAT ARE CAPITALIZED but someone who reads this thinks that all my jokes are tired, that “amazeballs” should be banned in print form and that only Dooce is allowed to use capital letters.

I want to tell you what I thought about the books I read, but someone who reads this wrote one of those books or loved one of those books or thinks one of those books is insufferable sludge.

I want to tell you to come to the Blathering and then I want to make jokes about much wine we’ll be drinking, but The Blathering makes someone who reads this feel left out.  I want to tell you that the jokes about wine are just because I’m socially awkward and people make me nervous but then someone who reads this would know that I’m socially awkward and people make me nervous.

I want to complain about breastfeeding.  Then I want to talk about how much I love breastfeeding.  But we all know that’s the fastest way to offend someone who reads this.

I want to rail about “authenticity” and I want to tell you what I really think about the famous ladies of the internet, but someone who reads this thinks I’m just jealous, or that it’s my own damn fault I’m not a famous popular blogger or that I’m ugly or that I’m fat or that I smell and my blog sucks.

I want to vent about the dirty socks on the bedroom floor and the beer bottles I find every morning in the living room, but someone who reads this thinks I’m lucky to be married and that picking up socks is my job and that hearing about dirty socks is boring and that I should do something about my problems instead of just whining about them.

I want to write about how awful it was when we thought K Dub might have Down Syndrome, how scared I was, how frustrated I got with the people around me, but someone who reads this has a child with Down Syndrome and I don’t want to hurt her feelings.  And someone else who reads this thinks the word “retard” is funny and that the world has just gotten too politically correct and we should all just chill out.

I want to write about how my brain feels like a ticking time bomb, how for the rest of my life every time something goes wrong I’ll wonder “Is this something that needs to be medicated?  Or is this something else?” but lots of someones who read this know me in every day life and that makes talking about my mental health awkward.

I want to talk about how days without naps are hard.  About how we can’t afford preschool and I am not sure what to do about it.  How I have been waiting two months for a three hour stretch where I can just relax and how it doesn’t help when you tell me I’m just not going to get that.  But  someone who reads this thinks I am a terrible parent.  Someone who reads this can’t have children and doesn’t want to hear me complain about the ones I was blessed with.  Someone who reads this thinks I’m lazy.  Someone who reads this is thinking I should just get a real job.

Someone who reads this thinks I am a terrible writer.  Someone who reads this can’t believe I talk about my life on the internet where anyone can read about it.  Someone who reads this thinks my children are homely, that my feet smell, that I’m pretentious and boring and all I ever do is complain.

I want to complain about my neighbors, but someone who reads this could BE my neighbors.

Someone who reads this thinks I’m mean.  Someone who reads this wonders why I never respond to comments.  Someone who reads this can’t believe I once put my baby on top of a running dryer.  Someone who reads this would never give her baby Zantac.  Someone who reads this has a child much sicker than mine, a life much harder, a day much longer, a problem much larger, a plate more full.

I write here for a simple reason, and it is the same reason I have always written things down.  I write because I must.  It’s something I have to do, like breathing or eating or sleeping.  I’ve got these words, and they have to come out.  But lately these words of mine knock around my head and when I go to put them down, I think first of someone who reads this, and the words stick, and will not leave.

And I am just not sure how to fix that.

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52 Responses

  1. I think your writing is beautiful and I love your honesty. I understand the self-censoring thing- I go back and delete posts all the time, and lately barely write at all. But it makes me sad to think about bloggers editing themselves too much, because finding posts and people who are going through things similar to what I’m going through, or who have been there and made it to the other side, keeps me sane and reminds me that I’m not alone.

  2. God, I would love to hear you rant about authenticity. I hope you find a way through the self-censoring and doubt. I’d read anything you wrote.

  3. Someone that reads this thinks your writing is honest and beautiful. Someone that reads this needs to read that marriage is hard, being a mom is hard and that they aren’t alone. Someone that reads this wants you to write what you need to and know that this someone has your back.

  4. Oh wow, I thought this was a very thoughtful, thought-provoking, and powerful piece! I’ve been lurking around reading you for a few months and finally had to comment. I think many of us who blog wrestle with many of those same issues…I know I did and do…I don’t know if there is a cure for it. I decided that I don’t care WHO reads what I write as long as I am comfortable exposing myself (or my family) to WHAT I write. So I censor myself…but not because of who will see in and judge or not judge, but because of how it will impact my family and my relationships. I have a paper journal that I put all those other things into…things about work, relationship issues, whatever. I figure my readers can go ahead and judge me, but I just have to let it not be my problem!

    Good luck finding a “fix” that works for you!

  5. Delurking here. In a way it’s kind of odd that so many of us have put our lives, thoughts, and feelings out there for just about anyone to see. Most of us self-censor to some degree, but I find your honesty refreshing. I’d much rather read about someone’s problems, frustrations, bad days (mixed in with the good – because that’s real life) than post after post about someone’s perfect life.

    I’m always baffled by those commenters that continue to read and leave nasty comments. If someone bothers you, why read their blog?

  6. But someone who reads this really wants to know your thoughts. Someone really, really, really wants to hear about your highs and lows, your problems and successes, your flaws and perfections, your trials and joys.

    I hope that you remember that person, too.

  7. For every person out there that gets offended, 10 more are nodding their heads while reading your honesty. You are writing for you and others have a choice if they want to read it or not.

    I choose yes.

  8. Someone who reads this saved your post for last in my feed reader, because I wanted something to look forward to. 🙂

    You can’t censor yourself based on everyone in the world (though I’m sure your in-laws appreciate the no sex talk, hehe). There’s always someone who won’t like something. I know you know that, and I know my saying it doesn’t change the feeling hanging over your head…but there you have it.

    Just realize that for every person that DOESN’T like something, there is another person who feels the same, who is glad that somebody is putting a voice to the feelings.

  9. I’ve tried to write like 10 different pieces of advice and deleted them all because you know what? I don’t have good advice,This phenomenon is incredibly paralyzing. I struggle a lot about how to be authentic without being a complainer, or how to be critical without being jealous or petty.

    It is hard.

    That’s all I got, and it ain’t much. 🙂

  10. Sometimes I don’t write what I want to, because I’m afraid nobody will care.

    I enjoy what you write about, no matter how similar or how different it is from my life. Write on my friend, write on!

    (and will you give me a little courage while you’re at it? It shouldn’t matter if nobody cares, but why does it?)

  11. Oh and what Miss Mel said too.

  12. You know what? I write whatever I want and if someone takes offense I write it off as being their problem. Free Speech is still legal, right?

    Di

  13. YES. I totally see/feel this. I’ve gotten so much negative feedback now, I can predict what people will say—and so I hear it before they even say it, WHILE I’M STILL WRITING IT. I think the only solution is to do what Mimi Smartypants does and just never have comments—but then that’s losing something huge, too. So…I dunno either.

  14. *raises hand* I’ve been reading since you were living in Nebraska! I remember when I first found your blog and then I went back and read your archives and thought “wow, this person is a whole lot craftier than I am when it comes to xmas and gifts and handmade stuff” -which is true.

    even now that I’m no longer really blogging your blog is one that I vist at least once a week. I love your writing and wish I could be more honest when I wrote! I respect you too much to feel offended by anything you write- mostly, I’m just interested in what you write.

    and I’d love LOVE to hear some of your thoughts on some of the things you allude to in this list. but of course I understand if you don’t want to go there!

    xo

  15. NO one who reads this could ever question your talent as a writer, and no one who knows you could question the job you’re doing as a mother.

  16. …And I want to write about how I am a terrible parent, and I made my kid cry basically all evening long and how maybe I wasn’t cut out for this to begin with. But I can’t…

    Writing helps me get it out of my head and makes it so these thoughts don’t torture me so much. I totally know what you mean. I also totally get when you said that every negative thing makes you wonder: should I be medicated for this? Or this? Awful feeling.

    I hope you don’t stop blogging.

  17. I don’t think you should care so much about what we think. I choose to come here and read your writing because it is interesting and most of the time has parallels to my life (just way better written).

    If I wasn’t interested, I wouldn’t read and people who get worked up about what you write should find another hobby or maybe they just enjoy getting worked up. Either way it shouldn’t matter what people think. Write for the reasons you write – this is your blog after all.

  18. I feel privileged to get a little bit of your offline, uncensored thoughts and I also can completely relate to this (as you know). I hope you’ll find the words to write honestly; I know many of us would love to read more about that.

  19. great post…and swistle your blog has such an awesome comment community. i sort of get it when bloggers go comment free, because it’s like saying the writer doesn’t need a million ‘you are so amazings!’ to validate her writing, but it also gives a bit of a ‘i don’t care to hear you relate your similar stories now’ vibe which is sort of blech, no?

  20. Someone who reads this would love to see a post on every single one of the topics you mentioned. A post from you, expressing your view. If some people don’t agree, there are opportunities for them to blog their own views, or to leave respectful but disagreeing comments.

    Your writing is powerful. I say go for it!!

  21. Write. Just write. If people don’t like it they don’t have to read it It’s not about them; it’s about you.

  22. I would tell you that I want the whole uncensored version (and I DO) but I feel hypocritical doing that, because I do the very same thing.

  23. I think everyone’s more candid in the beginning before you’re aware that you have an audience. I know we chatted about this over tea, but I too hate that I have to analyze every last adjective to make sure I don’t offend some faceless name (or anonymous hater) on the Internet. Sucks, doesn’t it?

    But SIX YEARS?? Wow!

  24. Write to get it out of your head. Yes, you may offend some people – even people you know IRL. I adore your writing and your honesty and you have never once offended me (even if you did, I’d still read your amazing words.)

    You are the reason I found the courage to begin SSRIs again and I’m so very glad I did. That was a tough post for you to write, no?

  25. It’s hard to get that veil of privacy back once people start commenting, and the imagined becomes the real.

    Offended or not, this is your space in the web. Your blog. It sounds completely voyeuristic to say that I enjoy reading about your life, but I do. And I can completely understand passwording every post so that you can get some privacy back 🙂

  26. Well, I know this doesn’t help or solve anything, but I love your writing. Dirty socks, Down’s Syndrome worries, backyard renovations, weight-loss – whatever you have to say, I want to hear.

    I’m sorry someone who reads this is getting inside your head. But I hope that you can put your words down anyway – even if we (gulp!) don’t get to read them. You have something special and I feel lucky to be a recipient.

    (And now I also feel totally dorky.) (But it’s all true.)

  27. Someone who reads this (ME!) thinks your fabulous and shouldn’t take one second of your time to worry about what anyone else thinks. They’re big boys and girls – it isn’t your job to worry about their feelings. HOWEVER, I also totally get what you’re saying here.

    I actually used to have another blog and stopped writing because I felt like no one was reading it anyway. Now I write for me – for something to look back on and smile about when I wish things were “the way they used to be.” And you know what? It’s more than enough.

    Just know I appreciate your words and the opening up that you do here — especially because I’m 3 weeks from becoming a new mom — so thank you. And happy blogaversary!

  28. DEAR GOD, I just noticed I used ‘your’ and not ‘you’re’ in my comment. Blame it on late pregnancy brain. GAAAH.

  29. Write for the people who matter, who care, who love you. Write for yourself. If you write (or don’t write) for all the people you mention above, it becomes their space, not yours.

    And it’s a pretty awesome fucking space when it’s yours.

    It also helps me to realize I’ll offend someone with every single post I write. Every one. So I may as well write about it all.

  30. Someone who reads this loves every post you write, even the ones she doesn’t agree with, because you are honest and funny and charming and amazeballs is even better in print than it is out loud, and your words make her cry, make her laugh, make her inspect her own life, her own thoughts, and her own words. That’s a good thing. A great thing.

  31. Sometimes I don’t like what you write. And you know why? Because we’re not the same person. People like different things and write in different ways and believe different things, and if they didn’t, there’d be no point in reading anybody’s blog, because you’d already know exactly what they were going to say.

    Anyway, if you hide who you really are, some people might like you a little more, but others (and you) will like you a little less, so you may as well be yourself. 🙂

  32. Oh, isn’t this so true?

  33. I think you may have spoken on behalf of the entire internet. Or at least for me.

  34. Yeah. I hate having to self-edit.

    I love your blog. I would like to say that you should be as candid as you want to be and not worry too much about offending people, but I also know it’s not so easy to do.

    For what it’s worth, I haven’t even begun that writing group prompt because I keep imagining how good your entry would likely be and it seems futile because I’ll just be mad that I can’t write like that. In other words, the writing you do on this blog is unique and it’s great stuff.

  35. Well, I guess I am kinda/sorta a relative. And I LOVE your blog and admire your talent, girl! Write what YOU want – I know that is easier said than done. I had to remove a blog of my own last year when a family member strongly objected ( I was being humorous and she thought I intended to belittle and offend). So I know what you mean – most of us bloggers do. Go ahead, as others have said: be YOURSELF. Bitch, complain and comment as YOU see fit. Look how many of us are on your side!

  36. Sorry… I obviously did NOT put the “end bold” editor in that comment correctly. Didn’t mean the whole darn thing (nearly) to come out that way. But I did mean what I said!

  37. As a pathological lurker, I had to de-lurk to tell you that I have laughed with you and I have cried with you. I have quoted you and I have had to adjust perspective on my own life because of you. I may not agree with or relate to every part of every post, but each one is a treasure that I look forward to. Your emotion and eloquence is amazing. Anyone who wants to pass judgement on your honesty should take a closer look at their own life.

  38. SOMEONE thinks you are KICK ASS. Smooch.

  39. Someone else who reads this understands your worries, and has them herself (even if her three readers don’t really complain all that much). But she admires your honesty and courage, and your compassion – all of the things it takes to put the words not just into your computer, but out here on ours too. You’ll figure out how to move past your internal censor, I hope. I think. Because when writing is something you have to do, you find a way to do it. You’ll figure out the right fit for you – even if, six years in, that fit is constantly changing.

  40. Hey,
    Just found out about your blog through the parenting magazine must read list. Congrats for making that list. Thank you for posting about self-censoring. It helps to know that other writers think and feel as I do. I blog mostly for my friends and family but secretly want to reach a larger audience. I find myself limiting my posts to what I think people want to read. Now that I’ve moved and started a different blog, I aspire to blog more courageously. So what I’m trying to say is thanks for your honesty and I’m so glad I found your blog.

  41. Very shortly after I began my blog I was already regretting telling people I knew about it. Now, four years later, the worst part about it is that I no longer know who’s reading and who’s kind of forgotten about it. Most of my IRL readers don’t bother commenting (except to my face!) so it’s hard to guage if they’re checking daily or just once a month or what. But I do know that I’ve definitely offended a few of them in the past, and I really hate that. I can’t even do an occasional guest Constance post when I need to vent, uncensored, because my mom reads that blog, too, and I KNOW she’d recognize my writing voice somehow! Not that it’d be all about her, but I just hate confrontation and I know I’d end up offending in some way.
    I’ve been tempted to start a completely different blog and not tell a single person I know about it, not even my husband, just for the freedom of getting stuff out there. And then I think, “Wait, what’s wrong with me that I’m so afraid to just say how I think/feel?! Why do I need total anonymity to feel comfortable?” On the other hand, it’s possible that feeling slightly censored has prevented me from being a cranky, whiny bitch every time I decide to post… 🙂
    Anyways, congrats on the anniversary, sorry for the book of a comment, and I hope you keep up exactly what you’re doing- writing honest, thought provoking posts!

  42. I love how you write, and I love how real and honest you are. I don’t like censoring myself, but I’ve done it before. I’ve found that I can’t make everyone happy, and writing is what makes ME happy, so I write no matter what, and hope that those who really know me know that I don’t mean to hurt any feelings.
    The Blathering!!! I so wanted to be at last year’s, and would love to be at this year’s. However, I just got my master’s, and I’m taking my licensing exam this week (should be studying, not reading blogs), and I NEED A JOB, and I’m going through a divorce, and oh, hi, I’m 32 and l live with my mother. So..yeah. No Blathering for me this year. 😦

  43. I meant to come back and comment. But I forgot, and I wasn’t sure exactly what to say anyway.

    But I always want to hear what you have to say. And I think blogs are a good way to get to hear some things that maybe no one will say in real life. For me, personally, I’d want to know what happened when you were afraid K might have down syndrome. It’ll probably hurt me a little to read it, but I still want to read it. Not many people want to write about the hard stuff, but oddly I want to read about it. Like somehow that will be helpful for me, or something.

    it’s the difference between a friend telling you you got your skirt stuck in your tights, and some strange dude laughing and pointing and making fun of you. The facts still suck, but it’s all about how you talk about them. Or think about them.

    Convoluted. I hope my point is buried in there someplace.

    p.s. I also want to hear your opinions on the famous ladies of the internet. because honestly, seeing pictures of Dooce’s new house is making me insane with jealousy.

  44. I nominate that there should be a site where people can post regularly but anonymously. Where you can have a separate identity to get all this stuff off our chests. I’d be there in a flash.

  45. You said it so perfectly.

    I think so many of us struggle with this, and to some degree it’s ok to self-censor (i.e., to avoid being fired or hurting a close friend’s feelings or upsetting one’s partner); but after that point we have to let the words come out when they need to come out. Like you, I’ve always written, mostly in scribbled journals or in rambling letters to close friends, and now I choose to write in a public forum. There’s a difference between the two, for better and for worse, and I have adapted accordingly (mostly for better!). And when I really have to get something off my chest that I feel I can’t blog about? Well, that’s what email is for. 🙂

    Keep writing true.

  46. i found your site through swistle who linked to this post. you have expressed my thoughts exactly. my blog has lost a lot of joy for me because of those who read it. i’ve thought about starting a different one anonymously but that doesn’t seem like a good solution. so what is the solution…

  47. Great post, well said!

    You can’t win them all, so you just have to be true to yourself. And know you’re going to get the predictable comments. But you’re also going to find people who sympathize, and needed to hear that someone else feels the same way they do. Usually, anyway. 🙂

  48. (Here from Swistle.)

    AWESOME post. I feel the same way: I write because I need to and have a hard time figuring out the fine line between sharing and oversharing, connecting and prostrating. I hope you keep writing, because even though I’m new here, I can tell it’s worth it.

  49. I found this from Swistle as well, and I love it. I don’t have a lot of readers, but most of mine are family and friends and I often find myself not writing what I want because I am afraid of what they would think. Or I’m afraid that I don’t have my own voice; that I will sound like the bloggers that I admire and that it won’t be my own voice.
    Thank you for writing this. It’s really made me think about what I want to write, and whether or not I should care what others think of it.

  50. I enjoy your blog – and this last post you wrote is exactly why. Thank you for continuing to inspire me.

  51. […] truth is I wrote that post, about how I felt stifled here in this place where I write about all sorts of business, because 1. […]

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