One of the conundrums I’ve always faced as a blogger whose primary subject of interest is me is exactly how much of my life to put out there, and what’s better left unsaid. When I first started blogging, frankly, one of the things that set my blog apart from others was that I had a level of openness in my writing most people weren’t willing to exhibit to strangers on the Internet.
While this gained me a number of fans and I’d receive letters from strangers commending me on my honesty, I also received a disturbing amount of hate mail. Being the oversensitive type, it was difficult to deal with being someone whom others would trash on their blogs after reading my blog. I wasn’t prepared for people to use my vulnerability against me, and I should have been, as people certainly do that in real life.
I also wasn’t prepared for the fact that my willingness to open up to the world would win me admirers, and even stalkers..and also people determine to use this medium as a way to attack me in a manner that really affected my normal day-to-day life. At some point, I had to learn to put some walls up to protect myself, and to stop writing to the Internet as if I were writing to my diary. Although “Jaded Elegance: The Uninhibited Adventures Of A Chic Web Geek” tends to get more personal than most, it’s a much less personally revealing site than it was.
I attempted to counteract these issues by starting a friends-only blog that only a handful of real-life friends were able to access. Twice, someone I trusted enough to allow access to that blog printed out those entries to use against me in ways that were hurtful and destructive. Fool me three times, I’m a freaking idiot, so now I keep a paper journal and write letters in addition to blogging.
One of the issues I’ve always had is dealing with blogs, close friendships, and relationships. Those who matter the most to you are very likely to become a subject of your blog, but you don’t want to be that person who passive-aggressively uses a public blog to discuss a private issue. You don’t want to go on a date and blog about it the next morning, unless something momentous happened. You don’t want to use it as a forum to trash your ex, your boss, your parents, whoever—but at the same time, you want to fulfill the purpose of having this type of blog in the first place–authentic self-expression.
An interesting verbal-sparring partner (we don’t seem to see eye to eye on much, especially when it comes to relationships and gender issues and the like, yet we seem to discuss really complex ideas in a very intelligent fashion without personally insulting one another—something that’s rare to come by!) and long-time fellow blogger Bill Cammack has what I hope is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek guide to dating those who have some level of internet presence or are “microcelebrities”. While he discusses things on a whole different plane than some of the conundrums I’ve encountered as a blogger— he’s discussing what to do when you’re always going to end up on social media with someone, but you’re dating multiple people, and I’m more concerned with how much of your relationship is appropriate to share with an audience—there is some truth and some overlap. At some point, anyone with a noticeable social media presence will have to deal with this issue.
I used to blog about everything when it came to my relationships, especially if things weren’t going well. It didn’t occur to me that this was making things worse, and even if I don’t name names, people KNOW who I’m talking about. In fact, because I can share my thoughts and feelings far more rationally in writing than via uncomfortable conversation (which may often end up in me walking away at some point because I’m too upset to deal.), I thought putting it all out there in an honest way was helpful. After all, you want your partner to know what you’re thinking and feeling, right?
It wasn’t until 2005, when I was dating someone who said, “Look, it’s either this blog or me, because I think you thrive on the drama and like me better as a character than a person”, that I took a step back. At one point, I was actually offline (except for my “secret” blog) for a bit over a year.
Obviously, I’m back, and I still write about my personal life. It turns out, that guy wasn’t worth taking the blog down for, in any sense, and it’s not a mistake I’ll repeat. Anyone who loves me should love my blog. In fact, I actually take it as a slight and a sign of utter disinterest that I have one or two people in my life I consider important to me, and they flatly refuse to read this blog. It’s hard not to think, “Really? You can log in to check your e-mail and surf pictures of Grumpy Cat, but my blog isn’t worth reading?”
This evening, I realised I felt very minimalised when I asked The Guy I Am Currently Dating over dinner whether he read my latest author interview. He said “Well, I looked at it, but no. It seemed the same as the others.”. I pointed out that many of the questions were different, and he said, “Well, it didn’t look that way, so I didn’t check it out. Sorry.”
Maybe it’s just me and my co-dependent, easily-infatuated-for-a-certain-period-of-time type of personality, but when I’m really into someone, I read everything they write. I read everything that’s out there about them (and given some of the people in my past, that’s not always been a small feat! . I look at the pictures they post and listen to that random song they shared because they listened to it 12 times. I’m not that crazy stalker kind of girl, but many years of dating have augmented my liberal arts education. My horizons have been broadened through the people I know, and the fact that me taking an interest in a person means taking an interest in whatever that person is up to. I won’t pretend to like it or understand it if I don’t—I could never end up with a guy completely devote to, say, baseball—but when I care about someone, I’m really invested in learning more about them and their life and their thoughts and feelings.
To have someone who won’t read my blog, or a different someone who doesn’t read interviews where I talk about random stuff, or someone who never checks out anything on my Facebook page….I can’t help but read, “I like you, but I’m just not that into you.” And, in some of the aforementioned cases, that’s exactly true. But when it comes from the person I’ve been with for years, it’s a little less acceptable.
Anyhow, this post had a point before it got sidetracked, as I so often do. The point is, I’m never sure what to do at times when there’s so much going on in my life and I’d love to be able to write about it and process it here, but it’s all of an intensely personal nature, but I can’t.
This week, before all the chaos unfolded in Boston (I have family who lives up in the Cambridge area, near the MIT campus, and they are fortunately all well, if a bit skittish these days.), I had some situations pop up in my life that threw me for a loop. I’d been feeling blindsided by people in my life, people I was willing to wear my heart on my sleeve for…and there were three separate and meaningful incidents with people I care for that made me feel hurt, angry, neglected, or betrayed. For some time, I felt the need for drastic change. It’s tough to look at the people you care about more than anything and say, “I know you’re nicer to me than you are to most people, but the way you’ve treated me in this situation, I can’t ignore. I deserve so much better, and if you don’t know that, I *really* deserve so much better.”
It’s been hard for me to internalise these feelings and these situations, and to generally feel lost. I sometimes feel like an idiot for caring too much, for investing in all the wrong people, for falling for people who will always have limitations on our relationship and developing friendships with people who view such things as far more disposable and replaceable than I do. And when you’re hurt in a way you don’t see coming, or suddenly abandoned and you don’t know exactly why you’re so easy to toss aside, you start to re-evaluate everything and everyone in your life.
This week, it’s been a very lonely place to be—and with the shock of national tragedies thrown in the middle, dwelling on my personal problems seems self-indulgent at best—but I do rather miss those days where this blog was the place I was allowed to be self-indulgent as I pleased.
With age and experience may come wisdom, but wisdom doesn’t always lead to greater happiness.
That being said, one thing I do not do is blog about political issues. My doctor actually advised me to refrain from discussions on political topics or watching shows that were likely to make me irate, because some of the things people say contribute greatly to my anxiety and sense of anger and injustice towards the world. If you know me, you know what my politics are, and for a socialist hippie type of girl, they’re actually more moderate than you might think. I’m not into blame, I’m not into stereotypes, I’m not into vengeance and wishing people would die and name calling and battling one another because being right is more important than being happy. I often see multiple sides to an issue, and while I have firm convictions on some subjects, I understand and respect why others do as well. I’m all about finding commonality, compromise, working together for the common good, and understanding the human psyche.
As a result, I dislike politics, and I even more greatly dislike those who use any platform or national incident to call attention away from those suffering and toward and political agenda. I dislike the media, which has become more about sensationalism and less about facts or empathy. I think that, in a way, our current President and I are similar types of people…and I’ve always said “I don’t know if emotionally invested idealists can ever really make the best politicians.” I’m sure that if I were President, my focus would largely be on compromise and working together and taking down the political boundaries that divide people. I’m also sure people wouldn’t care for me much, because so many people don’t want that. It’s more of a world with winners and losers, rather than a place where there are complex issues to handle on a daily basis, and I can’t agree with that.
I’ve had to ignore a lot of social media, and even actual media, since the Boston Marathon attacks. Some of what I read is ignorant, divisive, infuriating, discriminatory, and makes me so disappointed in my fellow human beings. So much of what I read is just false. So, I’ve not been commenting on the tragedy on my Facebook page and I didn’t blog about it here.
This should not be mistaken for apathy. My heart goes out to everyone in Boston, and the families of the victims, and the families of those who perpetrated these acts. (everyone always forgets that behind every person who does something unthinkable, there are grieving loved ones who suffer all the more for the shame of not feeling entitled to grieve.) I do care, a great deal. I just don’t find it a time for politics, which I dislike, or opinions, which everyone has. It is a time for humanity and empathy, and sometimes, the best response to loss is silence and introspection.
(An interesting side note, for those who are amused about all the little ways in which I say I am somewhat “psychic”, the day of the Boston Marathon, I woke up early. I never do this, but I couldn’t sit still. I decided it was the day I had to conquer my fear of walking in wide-open public spaces and getting my heart rate up, without having a panic attack. I haven’t been able to walk the area outside my apartment complex for two years. The day of the marathon, I walked about 2.7 miles…again, the longest distance I’ve been able to cover since getting ill. When I returned, the bombs had just gone off and the tragedy all over the television. I was so happy and elated about being able to conquer a huge fear/obstacle and take a step forward in my recovery, and then immediately crashed into a state of shock and sadness. I don’t know why that was the day I felt compelled to walk and overcome a fear that has been daunting for me for such a long time—I wasn’t even aware it was the day of the marathon. But I do believe there was energy in the air that day that told me “This is the day to appreciate life and push yourself forward.”. )
I hope all my readers out there, and their loved ones, have been safe and well this past week. I know events have taken a toll on so many, and I hope we can now start to return to a time of greater peace and even more appreciation for all that matters.