When I started this blog almost two-and-a-half years ago, I thought of it as a place to share my thoughts and memories. I find writing therapeutic, and I often use this forum to work through feelings or experiences, both past and present. I also consider it somewhere I can record bits and pieces of myself for my children. If something happens to me, I want them to know who I was. I want them to understand that not only was I their mother, I was a wife, a daughter, a friend, an editor, a writer, a runner and a music lover. I was once a teenager who felt misunderstood and a young woman who struggled to find herself. I have experienced great love and joy as well as devastating loss. I have been many things in this lifetime; a mother is only one of them, although it is, to me, my most important role.
What I did not expect when I started this blog were the connections I would make to other bloggers, other mothers in my community, other people in general. It is not easy — and many would argue a little crazy — to expose your true emotions and imperfections on the Internet. But I have received only kind words and support from those who comment. I have had numerous people tell me that they related to one or more of my posts and that they found relief in knowing they were not alone. This blog has been a positive outlet for me, a source of healing and growth.
The thing is, when you share yourself online, everyone can see you. Why I never considered the full weight of that kind of exposure, I’m not sure. Obviously, “everyone” includes people you leave in the past and wish would stay there. I heard from someone like that this week. I am not sure how he found my blog, since we haven’t been in contact for a good 20 years. But he read through a few of my posts and sent me an email. He didn’t use a real name and never admitted his true identity, insisting that I knew who it was. He had much to say about my blog, about my life. I was left wondering why he felt entitled to comment, but I guess I gave him permission by clicking “publish” in the first place.
The rest of the story doesn’t matter. The experience left me to reassess the whole public blogging thing. Being the naive Pollyanna I am, I guess I never expected the negativity of the Internet to affect me. I want to keep writing, sharing and connecting, but not with everyone, especially not those who once knew me in the real world but never took the time to get to know who I am.
The Internet is a dark, dirty place. This isn’t news. But I don’t have to like it.