They must have taken my marbles away

I often question if I’m doing the right thing by putting my personal life on show for anybody to read. As a teenager I wrote pages and pages in my diaries and wondered how it would feel if other people read my most secret and shameful thoughts. I approached the idea with a cavalier “that’ll teach them to mess with me” attitude, almost hoping that somebody would find my diaries so the world could know how unjust it had been.

Of course, my diaries eventually got read; it’s not long since I found one in my mother’s room, tucked away in a chest of drawers. The teenage romance of justice suddenly felt very shallow indeed; my life was exposed, and I didn’t like it. I’d been writing Halfway Between for a year before that happened, and I admit it did bring a new fear of being judged. Knowing my mother read that diary served as a reminder that real people are following what I’m saying.

I think writing a personal blog can have a lot of negatives, especially when it comes to subjects you’ve laid yourself bare on. My mother doesn’t understand why anybody would speak about themselves on the internet, and I’m still not quite sure why I do. Yes, it helps me rationalise emotions and let off dangerous steam, but not everybody will understand that. Not everyone who reads my posts will know how I’m really feeling at that moment, and nobody knows my entire history. In each post I write there’s an opportunity to criticise me, and sometimes the fear of that keeps me awake at night.

Don’t get me wrong. I know I can’t sit in an ivory tower and demand exclusion from all criticism because it inevitably upsets me. I’m not a special little snowflake by any means, and I can’t expect the world to surround me in bubble wrap until it feels safe. By putting my world out there, I leave myself open to everything, and I really do question why I do that. I know it helps, but I can’t help but wonder just what would happen if somebody really pushed me.

You see, I’m far from invincible. A lot of my more extreme behaviours are under control but I still have the underlying fear of being abandoned, and to my addled mind criticism = abandonment. As far as I’ve come, that fear still triggers that fight-or-flight response, and I’m not yet strong enough to stop the self-destructive thoughts which smack me in the face whenever I feel trapped in a corner by harsh words. I may not always act on those thoughts anymore – swapping knives and bulimia for writing this blog – but just knowing I still think them is a hard thing to deal with. Sometimes, the concern that I’ll act on them grows into a massive ball of fear, and one tiny strand of all those worries is the fear that I’ll be judged harshly on my words or actions.

You see, I don’t do this for attention. Nobody ever claimed I did, but I do know some bloggers consider personal diaries to be self-indulgent affirmation for weak souls.

Personally, I don’t see how writing a personal blog can ever be anything other than self-indulgent, and I don’t understand why that necessarily needs to be a bad thing; especially if it’s beneficial. Through reading blogs similar to my own, I’ve come to the comforting realisation that I’m not as fucked-up as I perceived myself to be. Most importantly, I’ve learned I’m not alone, and that’s something everybody needs to feel now and then.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been overracting to minor events, turning them into a mess of anxiety and confusion and lashing out verbally in an attempt to protect my corner. So when I received criscism on Facebook this evening regarding a post I wrote on depression, it pushed me into a place I didn’t feel at all safe in. Despite all my efforts to reign in the urge to prove myself, I freaked. My first thought was to retreat here and smack the keyboard a little until the panic subsides, but then I questioned myself.

Do people really need to hear this?

I’ve become convinced that my blog is taking up time and space which could go to a much better cause. I get these feelings sometimes – a favourite hobby is beating myself down – but right now I honestly think I’m pushing it by assuming my feelings mean anything outside my own, fuddled head.

Now, my worry is that this post will be taken as a cry for attention and a bit of sympathy; an ego-boost for the damaged soul. Perhaps deep down it is. Perhaps it’s all that keeps me afloat sometimes. All I know is I don’t want to undo the progress I’ve made by becoming wary of putting a step wrong every time I post, and there’s only so many times I can apologise for slights only I can see.

A while ago, a blogger commented that my posts were too negative. I didn’t understand it, and I still don’t to this day; is there a programme I should be following? Should I gee up my posts and pretend everything’s hunky-dory because things are getting a little morbid?

I’d be lying if I did that and lying has never brought me anything but trouble, so I avoid it these days.

The reality of writing a diary for everybody to see is far from the romanticised revenge of years ago. I don’t want revenge anymore. I don’t care for sympathy, or sit comfortably with platitudes. Empathy, yes. False best-wishes? No, that’s not for me. I no longer feel 100% secure in what I write and the possible consequences my words could have. Despite appearences, I loathe attention, and writing this blog has certainly attracted plenty of that. It’s a hard thing for me to deal with; something entirely new which I was never prepared for. Like compliments, I shy away from attention because the reality of accepting either is something I just can’t process. I may have a big voice and type thousands of words about myself, but that doesn’t mean I feel comfortable doing it.

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33 Comments

  1. One of the wonderful things about the internet is you’re not actually taking up space. Your writing here doesn’t take away anyone else’s space or voice.

    I rarely write in paper journals because I found out my mother spent years reading mine. Oddly, blogging feels safer to me–I really haven’t gotten negative feedback on WP, though I left another site because of it.

    I guess I selfishly hope you’ll keep writing here because I really like hearing what you have to say. I don’t think you’re making a cry for help or you’re too negative or any of that–you’re you, which is exactly how you’re supposed to be.

  2. Love from Maine, where it’s almost bedtime, but I’m really glad I read this first.

    No false reassurances — I am your friend and I believe you know I don’t do that. Disquiet about writing a blog which everyone can see is a reasonable disquiet, but I suggest for a very different reason from the one you worry about. Remember my epiphany? It came with the words that “…no one could hurt me unless I let them.” I am not suggesting this for you, at least not immediately, although it might be a great long-term goal. I bring this up, because a corollary is that no one’s criticism can hurt you unless you let it.

    I’m not saying that criticism never hurts — it hurts a lot, a lot of the time. But you choose which criticism is important enough to affect you, so the idiot with the “too depressing” comment can be dismissed out of hand. You have shown remarkable courage and strength in the course of this blog, and I only wish you realized that all the time. But, if you put your life in public, there will be people who will be first-class shits about the whole business. You are incapable of writing anything wrong on this blog, unless it goes against how you really feel. And I believe that writing this blog has been, and still is, of enormous value in giving you another out.

    Long comment, I know. With all of our idiosyncrasies, our physical ailments, and our mental states, each one of us is without question exactly ourselves, nothing more or less. We can grow from the lessons along the way, and perfectionism is a disease, not a goal; what you write is completely controlled by you, and is unimpacted by anyone from whom you don’t want impact. Tell yourself this every time you write — “only people who care about me have my permission to offer suggestions, and then I am not bound to take those suggestions to heart. And anyone who doesn’t care about me can say whatever the fuck they want, because they don’t matter, and not knowing me is their loss, not mine.” I’m a believer in self-talk. Maybe this will help. Write it down, or something like it, and tape it above your desk, if that will help. But please, remember it’s true. All kinds of love and support from this side of the pond. 8-)

  3. Everyone writes blogs for different reasons. And occasionally you’re going to get a negative response from someone. It is open forum. And like judithatwood said, you choose which ones you let bother you.
    There is an asshole lurking around every corner.
    And you’re better than they are. Some people are born to critique everything. They enjoy putting people down to give themselves more self esteem.
    If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all is what I go by. If you need to say something negative, at least try to be diplomatic about it. Words can hurt. And it’s those people who need to go to hell.
    You’re very expressive about your emotions. You shoot from hip. You’re very open about your feelings. You’re brutally honest. No fluff going on here!
    I’m not. I have major communication problems. Ask my husband. But I envy that in you.
    Don’t ever stop being you! That’s why I read your posts! I just wish I lived near you! I would love to meet you!

  4. I don’t think you should take the “too negative” comment seriously. Feminists have got that kind of a response for ages: you see things very negatively, you want to bitch about everything. People do not realise how the world bears down upon you. If people cannot see what are the reasons and the factors that make you feel so bothered, then they have no right to say anything to you. They should realise that you do not enjoy being bothered and writing long posts about your anxieties. They should realise that you are trying to reach out, making yourself vulnerable as to be able to communicate to others in your weakest moments. How can this not be valuable? I am sure it is valuable to a lot of people who read your blog, who feel that they are not alone either.

    I am not very sure about personal writing being self-indulgent, at least in the bad sense of the phrase. I think that a lot of us cannot bear to communicate our feelings to the people around us. For various reasons. Sometimes, it is too painful; sometimes, people around us don’t want to hear us out. Writing can heal, writing can help us piece out our own feelings and help others in the process too.

  5. I really enjoy reading your blog, and I will never judge or criticize you. I know I’m not everybody, but I just wanted to express that.

    I can very much relate to everything you are saying. The feelings of self-indulgence… The fear of being criticized… The taking up of time and space… But you are right. Blogging helps us to feel more connected to others and helps us to see that we aren’t alone.

    I, for one, am glad you share on here all that you do.
    -Brandic

  6. “Do people really need to hear this?”

    Yes we do. It helps remind me that I’m not alone. That although the crap I deal with is different from yours we can sympathise, empathise and support each other, with virtual hugs and as much love as it possible to give to someone you’ve never met.

    It reminds me when I’m feeling that no-one else understands that there is a whole community of us who sit at home and feel isolated. Blogging brings us together.

    The fact that there is also a group of people who think we’re self-indulgent and should get a grip on our lives is irrelevant. At least we’re trying to understand what goes through our head.

  7. As long as you are happy chatting and documenting your inner most thoughts, does it really matter what anyone else thinks? I do not have a blog as I’m a disabled housebound woman so don’t really have alot to say about my day etc. With your entries, its nice to know that i’m not alone and that i also have the same thoughts as you

    loads of hugs

  8. You could be me! I need to know that other people are going through similar things to know I am not alone. Blogs like yours save me. I blog to get things sorted in my head and get them out of my head and hope somewhere along the line, I might help someone by letting them know they’re not alone. I haven’t been criticised (yet) and dread the day – school report in Middle School (or Junior as they call it now!) “Doesn’t respond well to criticism”. That hasn’t changed! Keep going if it’s helping you and know that you help others by doing so.

  9. Someone from my country has found my blog yesterday and gone through every single post I have. Paranoia about my family is high considering my history of my family reading my stuff but who cares. I write the truth and nothing but the truth. If other ppl don’t like it well tough titties really!! I too don’t take criticism well & luckily I haven’t come across any yet but I’m sure my day is to come. There of course are always going to be people out there whose no understanding leads them to be judgmental and arrogant. I’m just glad I’m not one of them. What a sad place to be. Take care lovely x

  10. not to make you feel uncomfy (cause i know how that is) but I find your Blog filled with bravery. I recognize some of what you go through, and others make me want to get on a plane and find you to just give you a well needed hug. I also know how important it is to know you are not alone. And if you read my blog, some of the more personal posts and the ones dealing with my religion, scare me to death. Worried someone will use it against me. But I just need to get it off my chest, and had always wanted to write so others could read, i thought of writting a biography about my messed up childhood, but now know that my adult hood is just as messed up, and am always surprised when people do find out the crap i have been dealing with how strong they feel i must be to function with all this going on.

  11. I feel like I could have written this post, it rang so true with me. I do empathize with you. If someone says you are being too negative, they can choose not to read. It’s your post to write whatever you want to write. But truly, the whole thing hit home with me as if I had written it. So much is what I struggle with also. Criticism=abandonment is a huge one. Please keep writing and sharing.

  12. I just found your blog a few days ago and you’ve already helped me so much. I think you’re incredibly brave to write the things you do. You make me feel like there is hope and that I’m not alone. Maybe that sounds selfish and “all about me” but I hope it lets you know sharing your life and experiences does help people. :)

  13. um, my advice is: screw the naysayers. you speak directly and honestly to your audience, and each blog entry is a progression from the previous entry, always moving forward and bringing your audience on your journey.

    i think my blog is more selfish because i don’t care about the audience, and i don’t try to communicate with them. i have been blogging for over the ten years, and i have been in therapy for almost as long as that. half the time i don’t write about myself. it’s just too hard, and sometimes, i don’t think it matters anyway. (plus, i’m too busy writing my novel, and living vicariously through my characters.)

    anyway, my point is, i’m not writing my story or telling stories in my blog, but you are. you write well and tell an interesting story. you speak about doubts and insecurities that many people can relate to but are afraid themselves to say aloud. imo, by definition, personal blogs are self-indulgent.

    the world of a mentally ill person is very centered on psychological torment, repetitive intrusive thoughts, mood swings, and it is all personal. because no one on the outside can see what’s going on inside your head.

    so, write, explore your feelings, get them out, who cares what people think. you are not a bad person, you have feelings. your flaws make you a real human being. the only criticism i have is that you put yourself down a lot, but i understand that. i’ve done that too, and sometimes, still do. i think part of it is feeling you aren’t good enough because that’s what you were told all your life. from what i’ve read, it seems your mother still gets to you.

    writers write because they have to, need to. don’t judge yourself, because other people judge you enough. just be honest.

    and thank you for being yourself and having the courage to share your story.

  14. You have no idea how much I can relate to this right now. I go through periods where I question all of this, but its usually short lived. I know why I write my blog, and honestly it has helped, but lately I dont even know how to explain it, theres just this pull inside of me that I cant seem to shake. I cant seem to find the words that I want at all at the moment, but I wanted to let you know that I understand.

  15. I have thoughts very similar to you. There have been a few comments or at times no one commenting on a certain post that have sent me into deep depressions for days vowing to never blog again. Wondering why I put myself out there, but I’ve come back each time because the support I receive happens more often and I try to tell myself that’s just my BPD reacting to those comments or lack there of. I’m even getting to the point where I have put a couple pics up with me actually in them. I think everyone is different in the degree of anonymity they require or prefer and I think that’s okay. I don’t make all my posts public or even all public or password protected. I’ve just found blogging does more good then harm for me. I enjoy reading your blog, your insightful words and writing style and hope you continue it; but if not I get it.

  16. Pingback: It’s Nice To Know There Are Others Out There « Scattered Feathers, Answered Chaos

  17. Whoever said your blog is too negative clearly doesn’t get why you are writing – you’re not writing for anyone but yourself, and those of us who read and support are merely accidental by-standers as a result of your writing in a public forum. You should do what you need to do to help yourself, because only you can control your health, be it physical, mental or emotional.

    *hugs*

      • It’s part of the human psyche; we seem to latch onto the shit that brings us down rather than the good stuff that builds us up. Your writing it all out however is a good way of getting rid of the shit, of bringing the light into the darker places of your soul. Sunshine always follows the rain; sunlight and rainbows generally are cheering thoughts and so slowly but surely, you’ll find yourself able to let go of the rubbish. Heck, you’ve come on hugely in the short time I’ve known you so give yourself a pat on the back.

  18. I was told my blog was too negative as well. I decided I was saying what I thought needed to be said and felt a lot more comfortable after that. Say what you need to say. We’re here listening.

  19. There are two reasons I expose most of my personal feelings on my own blog:

    (1) a kamikaze attempt to tell the world how much it sucks because I don’t think it matters anymore, which I think you may have alluded to

    I’ve always enjoyed exposing myself. — I think I’m an exhibitionist. — I like the scene in Fight Club where Tyler Durdan literally bleeds all over the club owner in the basement, screaming, “You don’t know where I’ve been!!! You don’t know where I’ve been!!!”

    That’s kind of how I feel about my own self-expression. The world can keep hitting me emotionally, and I’ll keep bleeding all over them, and I’m pretty sure they’ll be the ones to freak out first. It’s a preemptive emotional self-defense mechanism.

    (2) an attempt to leave a record of who I was in case I become homeless or dead

    • Number 2 does resonate with me, Matthew; I’ve never admitted this before but part of why I began writing this was to keep a record of myself. I can’t really identify with your first reason – perhaps in the past, but things have changed since then – but the second one… yeah. I always thought something would obviously happen to me one day, and I just wanted to let people know who I was. Egotistical, maybe… but I felt like somebody needed to know.

      • I’m not self-destructive by any means. I actually seem to become physically healthier as time goes on and I find new ways to live and new ways to think. All I want to destroy is the corruption in my life so that I can be reborn fresh and clean.

        Creating a log of all your ideas is not unusually egotistical. Creative pursuits are a form of abstract procreation, like children for people who don’t literally want to have sex. Some people choose to reproduce themselves with sperm and egg. Others choose words and schematics. (Still others choose both.)

        • All I want to destroy is the corruption in my life so that I can be reborn fresh and clean. – I think, in a way, this is what I’m trying to do. Being able to read back through just what I’ve written here gives me comfort because I know I’ve come on in leaps and bounds in many ways. What I have learned is not to expect all the corruption (brilliant word for it) to go entirely, but to lessen. That way, I figure it might happen one day without me even trying.

          Your comments have given me a lot to think about; and I’m glad someone doesn’t think of it as egotistical – or at least to a dangerous extent like some do. Some seem to think that it’s all a way to make myself important… I’m sure you know that writing like this isn’t about self-importance at all.

          • What I should really admit is that the reason I don’t care about exposing my inner thoughts to people is that we live in a world of sh**, and therefore I don’t think it really matters.

            A bunch of people just got shot up in a movie theater in Colorado, and I’m supposed to saunter on and be polite? To HELL with the human race. It’s going to happen again and again and again — I still remember Columbine — and there will still be plenty of other problems in the mean time.

            I’m not an ignorant child anymore. The only solutions I see for my despair are to (1) be brutally honest, (2) stay away from people, or (3) take medication. I’m going with (1) and (2) because medication has side effects.

            • I went for all three; medication has side-effects for me, but they’re less stressful than the effects of everything else. It took a long time to find the right pills for the situation, but I’m glad I did. As for avoiding people… it’s something I’m trying not to do now, but I slip easily back into being a hermit. It’s easier.

              Brutal honesty is always to be admired, I think. It can’t be a bad thing in my opinion.

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