Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Secret Life of Bloggers

My daughter and my niece, B, have both started blogs. My daughter's is a foodie blog, mainly a place to put up photos of her culinary creations, mostly desserts. My niece B's blog is to chronicle her journey to getting fit enough to run 26 miles for breast cancer awareness in October. I was her first commenter today and also her first donation to the cause! So proud of her.

My daughter had other commenters before her dad and me. Some of her school friends weighed in immediately with their various witticisms. In fact, after a couple of comments, I decided that maybe I should just say my comments to my girl in person, that her parents commenting all the time might inhibit her friends' participation. Kind of the way we parents know better than to always be posting comments on our children's wall on Facebook. The rule for parents who are Facebook friends with their kids? Lurk in radio silence.

My niece B knows I have a blog but she doesn't have the address. I write under a different name than my working name. My name here is the composite of my parents' middle names because I don't want any of my coworkers to google me and find my blog. I just feel freer that way.

Also, I have been reticent about mentioning this blog to family members (other than my immediate family) because I don't want to feel inhibited when I write. I am not writing here to keep relatives up to date on our family. Really, I am writing for myself, to process whatever might need processing, to skip through whatever fields of thought I find myself traversing that day, to post pictures I want to look back on, all of it selfishly for me. I don't want beloved cousins to wonder why I never mention them or their kids, why I didn't write about that wonderful afternoon we spent together, or conversely, why this thing or that thing so upset me, and how come I never bothered to tell them about some other thing? It is completely random what I share here. I want to preserve that.

I used to keep a journal, and when I got married, I made my husband promise never to read it because anyone reading those pages would just know that I was the most disturbed human on earth, depressed, self-loathing, addictive, and so very dark. That's because I only wrote in my journals when I was desolate, never when I was happy. I was too busy enjoying the happy times to pause in a solitary place and write them down. But in those desolate times I needed the therapy of the pen on the page. I needed to get the darkness out of me before I was consumed, to clear the weight in the middle of my chest before it crushed me.

This blog is a little different from the journals. It's a record of sorts, yes. But a very idosyncratic one. And while it does serve sometimes as a place where I can release dark thoughts or find my way out of a quagmire of emotion, it is also a place where I can express the awesome love and gratitude that sometimes stops me in my tracks and sits me down in pure and blissful wonder.

For all these reasons I have been hesitant to open this space up to my niece only because I don't want her to announce it to all our other family members. I can write without inhibition if she's checking in, but that's not true of everyone she might casually mention this to. But I can just ask her to keep it to herself, right? I can just explain that I want to share this space with others slowly, judiciously, and in some cases, not at all.

Surely that should be okay?


  1. It's absolutely OK to share your blog with whomever you want. My own rule of thumb is to never put anything on the blog that would upset or offend my family or anyone else who would stumble onto it -- in case that ever happens. But of course I'm also writing under my own name.

    I understand the need to "process" and I too kept a journal for many years. My blog is my journal now, but it's nowhere near as candid as the journal used to be.

  2. Thanks, Steve. I do try to follow your rule of thumb, too, for the same reason you do. Which of course is why the blog is nowhere near as candid as our journals used to be!

    Appreciate the support. And the knowing whereof I speak!

  3. i'm so glad you started this. it's so therapeutic and shows a side of you too many people don't see enough of. i love it.

    as for your niece, the newbie blogger, welcome to the wonderful (and crazy) world of blogging.

  4. I spoke to B this evening. She won't mention this blog to any family members.

  5. Thanks, Candice! And to anonymous, I know who you are! lol

  6. I definitely agree with this! And I do think it's okay to keep it private from family members... Blogging gives us a strange world of public catharsis that seems to feel a little more satisfying than journaling ever did, as if we've posted our thoughts on a wall and can walk away then, leaving us free to think of other things now that we know the old thoughts are hanging somewhere in a tangible form.

    But, I do get these moments when I think that my family would want to see a certain picture or share a certain experience, and I am always about two heartbeats away from sending the link to them. I do think that an awareness of an extended family audience could affect the freedom to write.

    Good luck with your decision!

  7. A Well, "public catharis" really nails it! I feel the same way. I especially want to send certain posts to my mom, but then, i know she would read other posts and worry about me, when in fact, i would have moved on, having had the freedom to write it down. so i send her love in my head instead. thanks for your insights.