I was recently contacted by Marcy at Sensitive Ginger asking if I would be willing to post something she has been wanting to post but isn't comfortable publishing on her own blog. After reading her post I was reminded, once again, why I have this blog and why I started it; to let out the all of the feelings I was keeping in; to release the things I wanted to say, but couldn't.
I've mentioned to many of you that I want this blog to be your outlet as well; that is why I keep my Guest Post invitation open. I want to be here to be your outlet- to be your voice when you can't speak.
So, with that being said... Here is Marcy's post- please be sure to offer some insight or advice; I know she'd love to hear what you have to say!
And thank you, Marcy, for knowing that you could turn to me for help.
|Hope- be a voice|
This post is going to go deep and get scary. I have been having an internal struggle for a while now that I have been holding back on posting about because I don't want to cause hurt feelings. I've been filtering what I write and haven't been genuinely writing how I feel in the moment for fear of what someone that knows me might think. Many of you chose to write anonymous blogs to avoid having these conflicted feelings and so that you could write freely and unload things that you might not be proud to admit in real life for fear of judgement. I have been trying to tread the fine line of being honest about my struggles and emotions around them, but at times I've held back or tiptoed around the details of what's really eating me because I didn't want any judgement or feared that my writing would be taken out of context and turned against me.
You see, when I first started this blog over a year ago I didn't know it would become a major emotional outlet and source of comfort for dealing with fertility struggles. I had no idea the path we'd follow and that I'd end up enduring multiple fertility treatments. I had no clue about the sensitive nature and heightened vulnerability that I would experience being a member of the infertile tribe. At first my blog was completely anonymous, but then I decided to open up a little and then bit by bit I began telling a few people in my life about it. I never felt the need to broadcast it or post it on Facebook and really only told less than a dozen of people about it. After that, every so often I would feel bad about going on a mini rant and I would write in a disclaimer like I did in this post. I also added this tab to my page for friends that visited to have a resource and help on what to say and what not to say to me, since I fully realize it can be a very difficult situation to navigate.
Most of the friends that I shared with would leave a comment, call or email me to let me know they were reading and offer support. Others, would never mention it and on a few occasions I would awkwardly ask, "Hey have you been reading my blog lately?" Some people surprisingly responded yes, they were reading (even though it had never come up before) and others flat out told me they had no intention of reading and would rather hear about my life from me directly. As things got more intense I again posted a warning about my vulnerability and asked my readers not share my blog. Right after that is when this blog turned into an all out, TMI, detailed and emotional overload of our fertility struggles. I chose to share it all because I became part of the incredible online tribe of women fighting the same battle and together we provided each other with an enormous amount of information, a huge amount of support and a giant sigh of relief that we don't have to go through this alone.
Then later, when shit got even more intense and we officially got our infertility diagnosis, I posted a more detailed plea to friends following along in real life. I'm copying the meat of that post here, because I think it really gets to the heart of the matter on how I felt and still feel about what I share on my blog.
I have already shared this news (referring to our diagnosed infertility) with a couple of my close friends and now that I am writing about it on my blog a small handful of my friends in real life are being let in. This blog is for me to process my thoughts and emotions and for those of you out there that haven't experienced fertility struggles much of it might seem overly dramatic or dark. It is something you can't understand unless you've experienced it, so I ask you to not feel sorry for me, make judgements or ask one billion questions. If you're unsure of what to say you can read this article or if reading this blog gets to be too much then stop reading. Many infertility blogs are written anonymously so that the author does not have to sensor anything with worry that it may change how friends or family see them in real life. I hope to continue without filtering my emotions or worrying that people are gossiping. It goes without saying that anything that you read on this blog should not be repeated. I am so thankful to have such great friends in my life and I don't say these things to offend you, but to protect myself and openly communicate my intentions. A short communication from you that says, "I'm thinking of you and am here to listen if you need me." is the most comforting to me and lets us both find equal ground without added stress.
After that I really tried to forget about who might be reading and became completely absorbed in being an active member of the infertility blogging community. I did not hold back on writing about my emotions or any details of our journey. It became my safe place, where I felt accepted and didn't have to hide my fears or pretend that everything was ok. A few of my friends continued to follow along and would occasionally check in with me to let me know they were caught up and everyone that checked in did an amazing job at finding the right balance of showing support without any judgement or probing. Once, I even got a message from the partner of a friend confessing that they were reading which totally threw me for a loop, but I respected this honest confession and again felt nothing but support and genuine friendship. A couple times, someone would pop out of the woodwork after not having read for months and sort of surprise me and so I would be reminded to post another disclaimer to friends about how to best support me and also to let me know if they were reading.
This peaceful balance didn't last because at some point a bomb was dropped and my open blog backfired. A reader that I know in real life reached out to me in confusion on something that I had written and feelings were hurt. It was a huge blow that I didn't see coming at all and created an immense amount of stress. We met in person to talk about it and were able to clear up some of the assumptions and mostly move past it. Although, I was surprised and hurt at first, I was glad that we had confronted it head on and relieved to have moved past it. She ultimately decided that she wanted my blog to be a safe place for me and told me that she would only look to me for updates.
Not long after that a chain of other shocking things happened that made me realize I had picked up some additional in-real-life readers, some that knew about my blog way before it became intense and others that found out through an unknown leak amongst the few friends it had been divulged to. My feelings of vulnerability became extremely heightened and I was completely torn on how to proceed. Should I confront the readers face to face? Would that help or only further add stress and exhaustion? Would we be able to move past it or would it result in a friendship break up? Had they somehow missed all my prior warnings and suggestions on how to offer support? It felt like someone had stolen my diary without permission. I debated on whether I should make my blog private. It felt really strange to find out they were reading and not know how long they'd been reading or how often. How many times had we seen each other with them pretending they knew nothing about my current state of emotions? It caused a significant amount of turmoil, but I eventually decided that I should conserve my energy, retreat and focus on what I can control. I have not written off these friends, but have been keeping them at a distance and staying well within my protective bubble. Ultimately, I decided to try and let it go and keep on blogging like normal.
Obviously one of the risks of posting your deepest, most intimate details of your life on a blog, is that anyone can read it. Yes, anyone can read it and I have no control over how people respond. I have zero control over how my blog is perceived or how it is interpreted. I did not want to change how I utilize this space or filter what I wrote based on who I thought may or may not be reading. As hard as I tried to let it go, the crack in the foundation had been created and I couldn't shake the heightened sense of vulnerability. I began filtering what I wrote or avoiding posting entirely and I did not like how it had changed my blog. Something else I noticed was a mix of emotions when reading anonymously written blogs with authors' openly expressing frustrations about being an infertile living in a fertile world. More than once I left an emotional bomb in their comment section about my own frustration with in-real-life relationships. I felt terrible for leaving these comments about myself on their blog and began to realize even more that my decision to let it go was far from successful.
So here I am writing this post, my heart racing the entire time as I try to sort through the mess of it all. Do I save this as a draft never to be published? Do I make this blog private and wait to see who requests access? Then awkwardly deny those that I don't feel comfortable with? Do I post another plea, like many I've posted before asking friends to come forward or stop reading? How many other unknown readers have I picked up that are stalking me and yet pretending they have no clue in real life? I don't know what to do. I dread causing anyone discomfort, but I can't continue to try and let it go. This blog was created to be a place for me to openly share my emotions and experiences and it isn't that place right now. Will I ever be able to drop the walls and call this my safe place again? I want this blog to be a source of information and raw emotion to all of those out there that are experiencing infertility and if I make it private how many people will be left to feel alone? My page views last month came in at 3,566 and my all time history of views clocks in at 14,316. If I sensor myself or go private how many people will miss out on finding information or solace in knowing they are not alone on this journey? Have you found yourself in a similar situation? How did you deal with it? My heart is still racing. I don't know that there is an easy solution or a way to avoid further stress or hurt feelings. I only know that I can't continue with things as they are.