The post I wasn’t going to write

by DaniGirl on March 10, 2010 · 25 comments

in Meta-blogging

Last week when I put up the quick post with the TtV tulip shot, I mentioned that I felt I’d been neglecting the blog lately because I’ve been so crazy busy and “feeling a little unsettled.” Bless her observant little heart, Angela picked up on it and asked me “Why unsettled?”

Sigh.

It’s been about three weeks since the whole stupid thesis thing, and you know what? I still can’t find my footing. Oh, how I wish I could close that damn Pandora’s Box. I’ve tried to write this post a dozen times, and I can’t come even close to getting it right. Ever since that whole kerfuffle, I feel so exposed and so self-conscious and so — and this is where I get stuck, every time. Not only can I not blog about this, but I can’t blog about *anything* without feeling weird and awkward about it. And I hate it.

I have this idea in my head of what the blog is to you, dear reader. I like to think you think that it’s a place for fun ideas of things to do with your family, of places where we have interesting discussions about the foibles of parenting in the 21st century, a place where I show you what the world looks like through my eyes by using my words and my camera, a place where I can turn the minutiae of my life into vignettes that resonate with you and will be treasured by me when the moment has long since passed. In the last couple of years, it’s also been a place where I hand-pick what I think are useful or valuable or just plain interesting products and services, and find ways to get freebies for all of us.

By the time the dust had settled, I felt like just another mommyblogger writing about potty training and takeout dinner. I’ve never felt so misunderstood, not even as an angsty 16-year-old with more attitude than brains. And then as it rippled through our little corner of the Internet, people said I was “indignant” and “overreacting” when in fact, I was none of those things. I was perplexed and weirded out, and I felt like someone had taken something quite valuable to me without my permission and turned it into something that made me uncomfortable. As it progressed, I felt like I was the one who had been wronged, and yet somehow I had to defend myself for it. And you know what? It drove me crazy seeing all these people saying, “Well, you put it out there, what did you expect?” Um, not that. As if that weren’t enough fun, then I felt awful because of the brutal comments — none of which I made but many of which I felt responsible for, because they happened in my space — eviscerating the thesis and its author. So I went from weirded out to defensive to guilty to wishing I’d never found the damn thing in the first place. Damn Google.

So I kind of tried to wait it out, putting up meaningless little posts while not blogging about the elephant in my throat, and hoped that I’d shake it off. I tried to go back to a contented sort of oblivious bliss, but I just couldn’t find my way. And then I read that Theryn is planning on writing another paper about the reaction to the thesis, and I felt even more exposed and more vulnerable because I don’t *want* to be a part of anyone’s thesis ever again so I sure as hell don’t want to feed that fire. But after five years of group problem solving, I don’t really know any other way to address an issue like this except to blog about it.

Gah.

I had decided that I would not write this post, that I would just suck it up and swallow my anxiety whole and muddle through, because this is exactly the kind of revealing, wallowing, indulgent sort of post that I really don’t like to write. And then I read this paragraph on the Canadian Weblog Awards post about Nova Scotia blogger Kate Inglis of sweet | salty. I’ve read Kate’s blog on and off through the years, and found her to be an amazing writer and photographer, but this paragraph in her interview on the CWA blog spoke to exactly where I am right now:

Choosing not to delete my blog at that moment was a turning point. To keep going, I had to shrug at the rest of the internet. The trolls, the bickering, the melodrama, the need for validation, the exposure fetishists. The shit. I had to make the internet into something else, at least in my corner, and not internalize the rest of it. I made an effort to find kind and interesting people for whom blogging was just a platform for something else. Good writing, ideas, photography, art.

That’s it, exactly. I’ve got to find that place again, where I can write from my heart without feeling like I have to put up walls to protect myself and the things that are important to me. I hope it’s not gone for good, because I liked that place. It made me happy.


{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Guillermo March 10, 2010 at 9:57 am

In the meantime, while you search and try to find that place, be sure your loyal readers will wait for you.

Take your time DaniGirl, take your time.

2 Ari March 10, 2010 at 10:43 am

πŸ™ I can only imagine how you must be feeling, I’m sure I would be feeling similarly if that had been me. But I hope you find that place again, we’ll wait while you look. πŸ™‚

3 Gliding through motherhood March 10, 2010 at 10:57 am

If it’s of any comfort, that is how I see your blog and I too hope you find that place again,

4 Scatteredmom March 10, 2010 at 11:27 am

I liked that place too. And I DO see your blog as a place with good writing, gorgeous photos, and stories I like to read. Don’t let this stop you. EVER.

Recently I wrote about my anger with a particular company, and all I received in the way of comments was support. I can’t imagine how it would feel to already feel violated, and then have to defend yourself as well. I hope that none of my comments ever made you feel that way, because I love your blog and your writing.

5 mom of the busy toddler March 10, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Thank you for writing this. I can see why you feel this way and hope that with time you can get through this.

Take care!

6 Kathleen March 10, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Dani-
I feel for your original sense of violation, I don’t think you have to justify it at all. Plus, I am completely with you on the sense of unease about how to keep going. (I struggle with that every time I think about posting, and more often than not, do not.)
But I hope you do! I really think you have distinctly succeeded in making “the internet into something else, at least in my corner” and I don’t want you to stop!
I think we may really be at a turning point in the interweb – it can only become what we make of it, so now’s our big chance. What you’ve made here is more than your blog, it is a community, and it has the power to make positive change.
(too rah- rah? sorry, trying to convince myself, too!).
Go easy on yourself.This has been a hard thing If you need time, take it.

7 XUP March 10, 2010 at 1:50 pm

I’m sorry this has disturbed you so much. I’m one of the people who took the position of once you put it out there in a public forum, you no longer have control of what’s done with the material – because it’s true. I realize that does nothing to make you feel better, it was more of a surprised response to your reaction to the thesis. I guess I don’t understand how the opinion of one person who doesn’t even know you can have such a devastating impact on you — how you can let her damage something that’s important to you. You are no stranger to the public eye. Does everyone always totally get you? Totally agree with everything you say and do? Probably not, if you’re like the rest of us. So what? The important thing is that the people who are important to you understand you and understand what you do. This one person can’t possibly negate the opinions and respect of the hundreds or thousands of people who read your blog, understand your blog, comment on your blog, enjoy your blog — can she? Because if you are making her opinion more important than the opinions of all your readers and more important than your own feelings, then you’re very much disrespecting them and doing yourself a great disservice.

8 smothermother March 10, 2010 at 2:12 pm

“I have this idea in my head of what the blog is to you, dear reader. I like to think you think that it’s a place for fun ideas of things to do with your family, of places where we have interesting discussions about the foibles of parenting in the 21st century, a place where I show you what the world looks like through my eyes by using my words and my camera, a place where I can turn the minutiae of my life into vignettes that resonate with you and will be treasured by me when the moment has long since passed.”

That is what it is exactly. I can sort of understand the violation, though it hasn’t happened me, I think I would have the same reaction. But I like what XUP wrote. Why let one person negate what you and your readers do? Why should she have the last say on what you hold to be special in your life and something you truly love?

I have been reading for a few years now and come back every single day to see what’s new. I think following you while you were in labour with Lucas was one of my more memorable blogging experiences, as your readers ended up speaking to each other over your comments all anxiously awaiting for news of the new boy to join the family.

But I digress, I truly hope that you find that place again, come to peace with what has happened, and what could possible happen again, and return to a community that has an enormous amount of respect and appreciation for you.

9 DaniGirl March 10, 2010 at 2:24 pm

You know, it’s really terrific that I can count on you guys. I don’t know why I didn’t talk this out sooner. Make no mistake, it hasn’t been consuming my life or anything, but it has been a bit of a ball and chain around the ankle of my muse.

XUP, it’s not just about what one person wrote, but how I saw myself (not myself — my work?) distorted through the various filters of everyone’s posts and tweets and comments. I don’t quite know how to forget that everyone is listening, and that some of the people listening are not the sweet, kind and supporting people who usually speak up around here. It’s like when you leave the house wearing your favourite jeans and thinking you look great, and you catch a reflection of yourself that shows they don’t really fit at all, and you actually look kind of slovenly — you wonder, what? How did that happen? And it kind of takes the breeze out of your sails for a while.

10 Annika March 10, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Dani, I am so sorry that you have been feeling this way.

Please know that your corner of the internet is a little slice of happiness and something I look forward to reading on an almost-daily basis.

I really hope you can find your way with the blog again. I would miss you terribly if not.

11 Amber March 10, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I’m sorry that you’ve been feeling this way.

And that quote is awesome. Just like you. I hope that you find some peace, soon.

12 XUP March 10, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Okay, I get what you’re saying. The key word I think is “distorted” — as in not a true picture. The world is not made up of only kind supportive people, unfortunately and the further you venture out into the world, the more likely it is that you’ll meet up with some of these people. You can’t let that distort your reality though. It’s like sending your child out into the world by himself. You hope because he’s a good person that everyone will be nice to him and you do what you can to protect him from situations where he’s likely to get bullied or laughed at or called nasty things. But one day it’s bound to happen and then you and he will deal with it. What will you do? You’re not going to lock him away so that nothing like that will ever happen again, will you? And you’re not going to let that episode distort is view of himself either, will you?

13 Theryn March 10, 2010 at 7:05 pm

If it’s any consolation, I’ve been trying to write a post about this and… well, the keyword is trying. I keep writing sentences and deleting them. In fact, I’m doing it in this comment right now. For now, I guess I’ll just say that I’m kind of baffled that my thesis has been read as if it were some sort of an indictment, when that wasn’t at all what I intended. Which is to say, I feel misread too. Which leads me back to the beginning of this comment and trying to figure out what to say that won’t be misinterpreted by someone or accidentally hurt someone’s feelings or… and the answer is, of course, that when you write there is no way of guaranteeing that your work won’t be read in some unintended way. You just have to write anyway.

14 bea March 10, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Perhaps part of your reaction arises from the fact that our readers usually self-select based on sympathy and interest. I know that people will stumble upon my blog and be bored/alienated/repelled by what I write – but most of those people will just keep on going. Maybe they’ll leave a snarky comment, but then they’ll move on. When someone goes to the trouble to read my entire archive, I take it as the huge compliment it usually is, because they are usually doing so for the same reason that I read your entire archive back when I first found you – out of a desire to get to know me, to spend time with me. To think of someone combing through my archives not out of a sense of mutual sympathy but rather with a cold, analytical eye – yes, I can see how that would feel like a violation.

15 Carly March 10, 2010 at 8:43 pm

I think the comments above, all the comments, have put it all very well.

Nevertheless, your feelings are your feelings. There’s no morality attached to them – feelings are never right or wrong. They just are. And you Dani, are entitled to them, whatever they may be.

It appears that most, if not all us, can understand where you’re coming from at least to some extent, and sympathize with that. We’re all still here, commenting on this post (and not only the one directly related to the thesis) because we enjoy what you do here. Your stories, your ideas, your wisdom, your photos. The sharing of your feelings.

What you do now and how you act on your feelings, both in the immediate future and down the road is up to you. I’ll continue reading . . .

16 Angela ( jhscrapmom) March 10, 2010 at 9:20 pm

sorry;(….

“It’s like when you leave the house wearing your favourite jeans and thinking you look great, and you catch a reflection of yourself that shows they don’t really fit at all, and you actually look kind of slovenly β€” you wonder, what? How did that happen? And it kind of takes the breeze out of your sails for a while.”

i hope it is just a little while. i know i read and then followed the whole thesis debacle and asked myself many of the questions you are struggling with, in the “what would i do” way…and i am not sure what i would have done.

i know that through my own 365, i got ripped apart a few times, intentionally and unintentionally and it hurt…but i think that i am a selfish person and soldiered on because the value to me remained real and present. if the cost of the fallout is affecting you in your “real” life, and you can not shake it…then maybe you need to re evaluate. but i hope that even if you do re evaluate ( and i am pretty sure you have) that you can see the good that is here. because i do:).

17 Batman March 10, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Delurk…

I was thinking about your post for the past couple of hours. I’m not sure what you’re going to do. I had thought of a couple of things for you to consider though as you continue to ponder your “ball and chain”:

– think back (or go back) to your first posts when you described the reason why you wanted to create blog (and the reason why you chose to make it public). Is it still meeting that initial vision for you? If not, what’s changed?

– I recently came across a story about Lance Armstrong and how he apparently motivated himself with the mantra of “Pain is temporary. Quitting is forever.” Think about how that applies to your situation and whether you would have regrets in the coming years if you stopped blogging or changed the format, content, media, etc. Can you learn to ignore the negative aspects of being a public figure? You are one after all.

– Finally, have you considered looking for opportunities in the haze? I understand that the thesis writer is considering a Part II to her thesis. Is there an opportunity for you to work together with her directly to ensure the messaging and the content of that thesis more accurately captures your mood, intent, essence, purpose, etc? Perhaps you can provide some focus to the discussion paper and ensure that it reflects what you really want it to say. If she’s going to write it anyway, wouldn’t it be better to be a participant rather than an observer? It may also be a learning opportunity for you as you delve deeper into your psyche and re-evaluate blog.

Anyway, it’s been a great ride so far and I’ve enjoyed reading everything you’ve had to say. I’ll still be here if you will.

Sometimes it’s better when the silent minority remains the silent minority…

18 coffeewithjulie March 11, 2010 at 8:53 am

Hi Dani,

Like XUP, you are aware that I was one of those whose opinion was something along the lines of, “well, it’s out in the public, it’s going to be used” in addition to saying “that if it’s in the public, you also risk that it will be interpreted in ways which you did not intend.” I saw your blog like any other piece of writing that gets examined in a thesis, and that to be selected means at least one thing — that it is a stand-out blog that is deserving of a Master of Arts examination.

Although you laughed at my post on this subject (“Dani is indignant”) and even retweeted the post and complimented the title, I see now that yours was a protective reaction — a strong face put on during a time of unease because you note here in this post that this characterization was not right. So, for this, I am sorry. Because you are a person whose blog I respect, whose writing I respect and whose feelings I respect.

One of the key points that’s been noted is the “distortion” element — that someone took your words and posts out of context and it was therefore a distorted representation. Objectively, I’m with XUP – why does one person’s distortion about something so inconsequential such as pizza delivery (gawd, what busy family doesn’t order pizza?!) bother you? But really, subjectively, I do understand why even just one person’s distortion can be bothersome and even hurtful.

For this reason, you’ll find that my post using the word “indignant” no longer exists on my blog. I felt quite certain at the time that this adjective was accurate because you yourself used in on a public tweet. Also, the definition of the word indignant is “feeling, characterized by, or expressing strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting.” Somehow, the adjective “indignant” still seems accurate to me. But since you feel that was a distorted representation, I’ve pulled it down.

Why? Because unlike a thesis, blogs are good that way. And because your feelings are far more important to me that a blog post. I hope that we can mend any fences that might need mending (offline!).

And to chime in with everyone else – No, do not stop blogging!!!

Your long-time reader (and fellow pizza-orderer),
Julie

19 coffeewithjulie March 11, 2010 at 9:13 am

p.s. Hi Theryn – I still think that blogs are not only a fascinating topic, but an extremely relevant topic for a thesis in Communications. And you can quote me on that in your next paper. πŸ˜‰

20 DaniGirl March 11, 2010 at 9:57 am

Oh Julie — no! Please don’t take down your post, it was a really clever and well-written interpretation of what was going on and I really did love how you showed the misinterpretation in action. Please put it back up! It was really only the “indignant” part that rankled, and it was a part of what I felt was a larger misunderstanding on a grand scale. A single straw on the camel’s back, if you will. πŸ˜‰ I’m trying hard to stay away from revisionism here, so really — me being sensitive should not prevent you from leaving up a perfectly fine and well-written and well-received post.

(Hahahaha: captcha = on mistaken )

21 A Crafty Mom March 11, 2010 at 1:40 pm

I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It’s a lot to deal with, and I can understand how making decisions about your blog can make you feel “unsettled”. I’ve gone through the same thing, just totally different circumstances. I’m sure you will come to terms with your feelings, and figure out your direction. These things just take time. We’ll all be here supporting you!!

22 Theryn March 11, 2010 at 2:16 pm

My thesis. You’re reading it wrong.

I don’t have a problem with pizza delivery. I like pizza. No, I love pizza. I probably eat it more often than you do. I’ve had it twice this week. So far. There are leftovers in the fridge. I’ll probably have them for lunch.

This a small point, but it’s symptomatic of how my whole thesis has apparently been read by a few and how its message is being passed along to the many.

“Dani orders pizza” was intended on my part as a) a simple statement of fact and b) an indication that Dani has a full-time job and a family and she also is a fantastic blogger and photographer and she’s sensible enough to know that there are only 24 hours in a day and sometimes something has to give—and it’s not going to be time spent with her family nor the things that she loves doing best. So sometimes she orders takeout.

If you see “Dani orders takeout” and read it as “omg! Dani ordered pizza! how awful!”, that’s your interpretation, not mine.

For my part, it was about illustrating balance, and what’s possible if you let some of the small things go and focus on the big things—the things that are really important to you—whatever those may be.

23 Julie Harrison March 11, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Just read and commented on @DaniGirl post "The post I wasn't going to write" http://ow.ly/1h1KB

24 coffeewithjulie March 11, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Hi Theryn,

Actually, no, I didn’t read “Dani orders takeout” and read it as “omg! Dani ordered pizza! how awful!”

But I did read the following from your thesis: “She still relies heavily on take-out food for meals; they have a regular pizza delivery guy and Tristan thinks dinner come out of take-out cartons” (p. 75 of the thesis) and think that Dani’s tongue-in-cheek banter had been read in a different manner than she had intended.

I believe you when you note you above that you intended to illustrate balance because in another section (p. 66) of your thesis you state: “they [a cleaning lady and takeout food] also indicate that she is not one of those mothers who tries to “do it all” (work, childcare, cook, clean) and that she is willing to let others know where her priorities lie (her family and her job, not cooking and cleaning).”

Ironically, you feel that your thesis is being read in a way that you didn’t intend and Dani feels that her blog posts are being read in a way that she didn’t intend.

25 Theryn March 12, 2010 at 3:19 pm

Actually… I don’t think that’s ironic; I think it’s inevitable. Which is kind of the point I was trying to make πŸ˜‰

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