I sat with my coffee and my boy this morning and we put some music on and headed into the blogosphere. Visiting some friends
Until I got to Eden's blog. Her post today. I started to reply but I realised, when I was literally 5 paragraphs in, that it was too long. Too long to leave in a comment she may not see. Hell, she may not see it here. But it's important to me, so it is here on my blog, where I want to write what is important to me, whether it is read or not.
Eden, your post is kind of breaking my heart. I've been talking with some of my closest blogging girlfriends just yesterday after the announcement of yet another "Top 5" blogs; about what to me is a good blog. And to me it's nothing to do with numbers. Nothing to do with stats or PR or even followers or comments. It's you. All of the bits of you. The funny, the defiant. The scared red-headed step child and the self-sabotaging 24 year old, and the almost 40 year old who has learned so much from all of that. The irreverent pool bomber and the respectful advocate, eyes wide open, heart even more so. You with the beautiful words and the self deprecating vlogs. Even your god-awful Eminem (see, this is where we respectfully agree to disagree). <3
For me - it's about truth. Good writing and truth. Whatever that person's truth is. It doesn't have to be all about heartbreak. It doesn't have to be all butterflies. It doesn't have to be all hard slog. It just has to be real, dammit. Whatever is real. It doesn't have to be ALL of the china.We're all entitled to decide what we put on display for the world. But I need to see something of a blogger to care about their blog. I need to know something of the heart of the person. I want to be a witness to their lives, have a piece of them under my skin, niggling away, all sharp ends and chipped and real.
Because God, I'm all sharp ends and chipped and real. And I need to know there are people like that out there. I need to feel that connection. Because otherwise, my illness, my PACK of black dogs gets to win. Gets to make me stop feeling anything good and real and worthwhile.
Sometimes, your blog is my antidote to the numbness that threatens to pull me under and suffocate me. I don't say this to dump more pressure on you. You're not alone, there are others. But I'm saying, all of that china you put out there? All of the YOU that you share? It's why I have come back to your blog almost every day since I discovered it, less than a year ago. It's why I stayed awake that first week, every morning, going back and reading from the beginning.
It's part of why I still blogged after the Nuffnang mess in December. After 3 of the people I adore most online told me they were disappointed in me, in the mess I'd made. It wasn't the vitriol that almost stopped me blogging. It was the people I knew that turned on me. I hope it's not the people you know that are now making you feel the same way.
Reading that people are judging you? Judging the way you are writing about Africa. Reading about how you're feeling shame right now, rather than pride? It makes me want to weep. It makes me want to hug you and slap them and shout them down and whisper reassurances to you. And the bloggers like you.
My favourite bloggers - they're a tough bunch. They talk about alcoholism, mental illness, drug addiction, suicide, sexual abuse, divorce, infertility, the death of a beloved child or mother or husband. They talk about wanting to leave it all behind, about being determined not to take that step. They talk about having trouble bonding with their kids, the shame they (we) felt in the throes of post natal depression. Of falling in love, and out of love. Of poverty and violence in Africa, abuse of women there and in the Middle East; God, everywhere really; of race inequality, bulsh!t politicians here and everywhere, making promises and breaking them just as fast. They're bringing up children with disabilities, children with special needs, large families, small families.
Husbands whom they both adore and want to throttle in the same moment. Children whom they adore and want to throttle in the same moment. Families they adore and want to throttle in every moment.
They give us other stuff too. Favourite movies. Favourite poetry. Favourite books and music and pictures. Recipes and funny stories.
Because there's all of that and more to each of us. None of us are one dimensional. We have so much inside of us, so much to sift through. We go through our china and we each one of us make decisions about which bits to leave out, what we trust people to borrow for a little while. Some of us, we lay it all out there. Others, just a little.
But it's our china. Not yours. Ours. And we each get to decide how much to use, how much to bring out on special occasions, how much to pack away.
And for those of you who judge us? Who think we ought to have used the good stuff every time? Screw you. And those of you who think we ought to have packed it away, sucked it up and kept it to ourselves? Screw you too. You know where the 'x' is. Go up and press it.
For the most part, we don't mind if you disagree with us. Unlike some on the internet, most of us recognise that you can disagree with us respectfully, without feeling the need to call your words an 'attack', or you a 'troll'. We don't delete every single disparaging remark you make, just because we're uncomfortable. Just because you chipped our favourite cup.
But those chips? They hurt. They make us doubt ourselves. They remind us of the pain we once felt, or the pain we're feeling right now. They make us scared to show you more. Scared to invite you back. Scared to share even with the people who deserve it.
You know what else happens though? Our friends, our faithful readers... they get mad. They get protective. They circle the wagons and they will face you head on. Watch out. Those are the ones that leave their good stuff out there as well. They're the toughest of them all. The sisterhood, it's alive and well. It'll soothe our wounds and take you on, all without a second thought.
So, Eden. Let them flame. Let them talk. Let them be petty and jealous and ignorant. But let the rest of us speak. Let the rest of us remind you why there are tens of thousands of people coming to your site for the same reasons as me. I promise, we can drown them out, if you'll let us.
Ignore them Eden. Keep writing, the way you've always written. It's been working for you for a long time now. It's authentic and it's powerful and it's freaking amazing.