Sufficient Unto This Day

April 22, 2009

Last week, I almost quit blogging. Almost.

I wasn`t going to say anything about it. If I had quit, I would have gone totally silently into that good blogless night. There wouldn`t have been a post angsting about whether or not to quit; there wouldn`t have been a post proclaiming some long goodbye. I was just not ever going to post again. Which, I know, is kind of douchey, but still.

I was not going to post again, because the imperative to post was hurting my heart and making me crazy in a week during which I felt, strongly, that I simply could not post, that it would be wrong to post, that it would be wrong, somehow, to even Twitter all the fears and anxieties that I was struggling to contain. I wanted to write, but my preferred forum for writing was closed to me, or so I felt. I ached to write, to write anything, even just 140 characters proclaiming my fear; my fingers twitched, desperate to tap messages into my phone as we circled Emilia’s bed in the hospital, as we fretted and worried and paced. I am so scared, I typed, I am so scared. And then my fingers retracted their message, backspaced, deleted, and I resumed my pacing, my worrying. What could I possibly accomplish, publishing my fear? And how hollow, how terribly, selfishly, hollow to whine vacantly into the void when others were living and sharing darker fears. Realizing darker fears, the worst fears. What would I be doing, to add my own selfish anxieties to that chorus of pain?

No pain is hollow, of course. Seeing my daughter slumped and incoherent, eyes sunken in dark sockets, skin white and hot, was terrifying and horrible and I felt my anxiety in every moment as a strangling hurt, a terrible pressure against my lungs and throat that threatened to cut off my breath. But that was only my hurt, my fear, and although I know that every parent understands how terrible that hurt and how horrible that fear, it was not the time to share it, it was not the time to reach out. It was simply not the time.

Which invites the question: is it ever the time? This is a rhetorical question, of course, because, yes, yes, there is always a time for expressing and sharing fear or anxiety or sadness or all of these together. If we never shared these experiences, we would not know that they are common, ordinary even. We would not know that pain is something that we all live through. We would not know that it is something that we share. And we would never be able to find community in and through our pain, if we didn`t express it, share it.

But doesn`t sharing the pain, sometimes, just exascerbate it? Doesn’t it become, sometimes, a sort of twisted indulgence, a way of lingering in an ache and prolonging the sensation of hurt, in the same manner as scratching compulsively at an itch, even though it causes us bleed? If I write my hurt, am I expunging it or clinging to it? And if I draw others into my circle of anxiety, does it serve to comfort all of us – by underlining how common the experience – or does it serve to discomfit all of us – by making the experience common, by forcing others to live it, vicariously? Do I want community, or do I want attention? Can these two desires even be distinguished?

My anxiety about writing through my fear last week reduced to these three concerns – that I wanted to write because I wanted to wallow in that fear, that by wallowing, publicly, in my fear I’d be forcing others to experience that fear (in a week when fear and pain were already in too great supply) and that my writing/wallowing might be construed as attention-seeking (look! look! I hurt too! come see my pain!) – and these conspired to shut me down. And so shut down I did: I unplugged my computer and disabled e-mail on my phone and resolved that the only writing that I would do would be with pen and paper and kept entirely private. And then I cried. A lot. Because blogging has, in the worst of times, been a lifeline for me, a way of working through the pain and fear of struggling with depression and with the challenges of motherhood and with the general anxieties and regrets of a life well lived and with the looming spectre of death. And so the thought of abandoning it – of being abandoned by it – was terrifying, gut-wrenching.

And so I decided to not decide. I would simply not write about my pain that week, and hope that I would somehow grow an ability write light-heartedly and humorously so that I might not be so often an agent for spreading dark and gloom across the internets. And then Monday came and Emilia seemed better and so there was something happy to say – Emilia seems better! - and so I opened my computer and said it and the universe didn`t collapse in on itself, so. Baby steps.

I still don`t know how I`ll handle writing about Tanner, whose condition is worsening, and about how I`m going to explain the fact of his inevitable death to Emilia (something that becomes ever more pressing with every question she asks about his disabilities), and about lost siblings and hurt parents and depression and darkness and faith and all those terrible, difficult things that seem to have become my stock in writing trade. I just don`t know. I do know that I will write about them, sooner rather than later, just as I know that I will, someday – later rather than sooner – stop writing this blog. But I`m not going to worry about those things now.

For now, I`m just going to keep writing, and see what happens.

You can tell me, honestly – is there such a thing as oversharing hurt? Do I do it? Do I need – do we all need – to bring less angst and more happy? DOES THE INTERNET NEED MORE UNICORNS? I think maybe.

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    { 103 comments }

    Marcea April 22, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    HI,

    Im am sorry to hear the difficult times you and your family has been enduring…
    You should write WHATEVER your heart pleases. You have the freedom to open and close the comments to the posts. YOur choice, your decision. YOUR BLOG! :) I am sure you will do what you think is the best.

    Take care
    Marcea

    Sarah Lena April 22, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    For what it’s worth, I totally get it.

    I had drinks with my best friend last Friday night, and while we sipped cosmos, we heard a loud bang. From our seats at the bar, we could see a horrible car crash outside. Two people were trapped in a car. They burned to death. We watched.

    I’ve tried to write about it numerous times since then, but my pain? NOTHING. Nothing compared to the parents that had to bury those two teenagers. Nothing compared to the teenaged classmates, who until Friday felt invincible. Nothing.

    Thanks for not giving up. And I’m SO glad things are getting better for you and yours. Much love.

    Mr Lady April 22, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    You know how when you’re fighting with your spouse or your mom or your friend, and if you open your mouth at the right second, horribleness comes out? But if you just take a walk around the block, come back and think for a second, you can make it all right?

    That’s how I handle what you’re talking about on my own site.

    I would never, ever not write about the hard stuff in my life. The whole point of this, for me, is to leave myself a trail of breadcrumbs for later. Just like you, I never am sure what I can say, what I should say, what is too little or not enough. But I’d never quit this. I just write it all in a draft and take a walk. In a week, in a month, in a year…whenever I’m ready, THEN I post it. I never do the hard stuff as it’s happening. Because it makes me feel more vulnerable. And I need that, yeah.

    I think we all need to keep bringing ourselves. Happy, sad, tired, whatever; we are sounding a barbaric yalp, yo. For ourselves, for each other.

    Don’t you ever quit, woman. And if you need help with the Tanner talk, I have that one in the bag. Call me anytime, sugar.

    maggie, dammit April 22, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    You know what? This is gonna sound weird, but I don’t write about the big stuff. (Of course, this could be why you have eleventymillion more readers than I do… :) But really, I keep the most important stuff close to my heart, and I write around it. When it’s the most important stuff, I write feelings rather than events, and I still get the therapeutic value of writing and working things out. And then I know what I mean, and the people closest to me know what I mean, and sometimes (for as much as we honor our beloved bloggy relationships) we have to honor our IRL people in that way, too, you know? By giving them some things that are not for public consumption, like whispered gifts.

    I don’t know. I’m just saying I get it, and I’m sorry for your pain, and I’m so relieved your girl is better, and I’m grateful your blog is still here.

    xo

    Karishma April 22, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    oh god, i’m so sorry. i was wondering where you’d gone in that week, and it all made sense when you told us how sick emilia had been. i just didn’t realize that this had been the full reason for it. and for what it’s worth, i think the fact that i’m completely SHOCKED that you felt it would be inappropriate to post about it means that that particular fear was unfounded. what i can tell you is, no matter how much crap goes on in the world all at the same time, there’s a community around these parts of blogland that wants nothing more than to be there for you when you need it. and so there’s no question of ‘it wasn’t the time,’ because it’s *always* the time. this is YOUR blog, and your avenue of writing about what’s happening in your life. it saddens me that you felt you couldn’t do that, but please, never doubt the ability to do that again. there would have been no judging, none whatsoever, because what are we supposed to say? you purposefully made your daughter ill at just this moment to gain attention? even the dimmest of the internet trolls can see how absurd that is, i think.

    and look, if we need less angst and more happy, none of the writing on the internet would be real. the rawness of posts that convey what’s really happening is what make them amazing. quite honeestly, if everything was happy, i wouldn’t be here reading any blogs.

    zchamu April 22, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    I think maybe *Catherine* needs more unicorns in her life right now. And that’s not a slam on what you write, it’s a simple fact. You have a lot of stuff going on right now and a unicorn or two could not go amiss.

    maybaby April 22, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Pain, shared, is halved. Joy,shared, is limitless.

    Robbin April 22, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I don’t know – I am like the ultimate anti-blogger. I cannot blog depressed. I simply stop writing. It’s the joy of life I am compelled to share, the sorrow I keep to myself unexpressable. I may be in the minority. Quite frankly, I think yours in the healthier approach. The suppressed indignities of life eat at you from the inside out, because ultimately you can’t keep them buried.

    So. I would remove this from your list of worries. Write away.

    Kristy - Where's My Damn Answer April 22, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    I personally feel that sometimes saying it out load (or writing about it) let’s you get the fear portion out of your chest so that you can breath. Do I think that it can be too much … honestly … no … if someone can’t handle reading it then they can move along and come back later. You need to be able to have a space to get things off your chest – and if it feels like it’s too much to you … then you can keep those entries private :-D

    Without sorrow and pain … how would we know what happiness truly was? Life doesn’t just give us one emotion … life is complicated that way.

    Janet April 22, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    I don’t know the answer. I do know that reading about the hurts and losses of other people in the blogosphere has both humbled me and fueled my anxiety. I try to appreciate my life more, not sweat the small stuff. But at the same time, I carry the stories around in my heart and it is feeling so heavy and full and, um, fearful? I dont’ know if that’s the right word. I just know that I have been feeling like the world is, simultaneously, a beautiful place with caring, lovely people, and a scary place where very bad things happen. Maybe that’s the real reason why I shut my blog down recently. I wanted to respect my growing kids’ privacy but I think I also needed a break from it all. More unicorns, as you say.

    PS: I’m glad your Emilia is on the mend.

    ChristophersHeart April 22, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Interesting post. I have a blog, although I don’t share with everyone like you do (shyness? fear of boring others? not sure why I don’t share). But I started my blog as a way to cope with my son’s heart defects and all the struggles that come with parenting a heart healthy kid and a kid with a wonky heart. For me, it’s therapeutic to write it out, to re-read my thoughts and frustrations and joys. I turn to it fairly often as I am overwhelmed. Keeping it all inside makes it worse, at least for me. Sharing it, even if nobody reads it, helps a lot. (so does screaming into the night sky, but blogging is a little less crazy looking). Share what you need to, don’t feel pressured to share more or less than you want to. And if you don’t want to share, just write it out for you and keep it private. It might help.
    Very glad your little girl is starting to feel better. I know too well how hard it is to watch helplessly as a child is desperately, mysteriously ill.
    ((hugs))

    TeacherMommy April 22, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I think it’s a question of balance–balancing the sharing of pain with the sharing of laughter. Too much of one without the leavening of the other either makes us wallow or makes us false.

    Life involves both, and so should blogging. And if writing is that necessary, than it should be done. As a mentor to Max Lucado once told him, don’t do [whatever it is you feel "called" to do] unless you have to.

    It sounds to me like you have to. Just try, each day, to find the balance between the angst and the unicorns, and above all else, write what’s real.

    (Because secretly, I still believe in unicorns too.)

    Jessica - This Is Worthwhile April 22, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Maybaby nailed it: Pain, shared, is halved. Joy, shared, is limitless.

    If we always compared our hurts to others we might never feel worthy of feeling; there will always be someone else who seems to be faring worse.

    Keep on sharing. It’s what makes us human and keeps us humane.

    habanerogal April 22, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    maybaby says it best and my own feelings of late are that until I can wrap my head around the feelings that events of late have created then “no news is good news” when the time is right the words will flow until then, keep on searching for those unicorns

    Super Careo April 22, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    I wrote about something similar, although not so artful stated, this morning. I do think that the world needs a few more unicorns. But I also know that it is foolish to make yourself believe that there is a world with no hurt in it. I think that we all need to take the blows and keep our heads held high and offer the support we can to those who need it. There is nothing that we can’t overcome if we deal with it together … keep sharing your stories, but don’t stop looking for the unicorns either.

    palinode April 22, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Yes, keep writing. See what happens.

    Last week, when you were at the hospital with your child, I read your occasional tweets and thought My God, how scared she must be. And how difficult it must be to communicate that fear, as if to pronounce your fear would somehow deplete the store of meaning that tragedy contains. And to somehow invoke a tragedy by referencing it (See? Even I can’t say what the tragedy is). I was relieved when you returned from the hospital. But anyway, keep writing.

    Kyran April 22, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    There’s a lot to be said for letting things compost in the dark a bit, lest the rawness of our experience burn the garden instead of nourish it. This rich and beautifully crafted post is proof.

    Wishing all health. xo

    Heather of the EO April 22, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this same thing a whole lot. I’ve always over-shared on my blog. My personality does it for me. I’m not guarded and I’m not all that happy-go-lucky. I like sunshine and unicorn blogs, but I love REAL blogs. Because when someone shares the depths of who they are and how they see life, I find myself moved to change.

    I had hoped the same would happen through my blog and then I received an email that said, “if you ever doubt the heart of God, if you ever wonder if His miracles are wrought through human hands, just know that you’ve poured many of those miracles into my life. Your words span the chasm that others dare not bridge. You write heartfelt posts of truth and beauty, even when that beauty is the horrifying truth of worlds racked in pain.”

    OK now. She was waaay too nice. Most of my posts are about nothing. But when I choose to share my heart, I just do. I did that through my son’s illness and surgery and it probably WAS selfish, it was for ME and I needed it. And to know that even one person was moved by that over-sharing…well, I guess it’s all good.

    I just want someone, anyone, who reads a post in which I spill my guts to say, “Me too.” I want to validate.

    And now I’ve written a novel.
    here’s a silly little example…as if you have time.
    http://tinyurl.com/c6hawm

    Issas Crazy World April 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Interesting, but I almost deleted mine yesterday morning. Then I didn’t and posted about it, which I’m getting some flack for…along with some very sweet comments.

    I think when your world is as up in the air as it was last week, when you are scared beyond belief, it makes complete sense to want to hide away. To shut out the world, is a realistic move. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to not know what was going on with Emilia. I’m thrilled to hear she is doing better. Just know, no matter what else is going on in the blog world, what is going on with you is still important. You fear is not diminished by the tragedies that have happened in the last few weeks. Your words, are still important.

    Kristine April 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    I think it’s natural for you to feel a bit of guilt about sharing pain, especially when you’re seeing so much of it around you.

    Yet, when people like me see others share it, I don’t think about anything other than how much my heart would ache if I were that person, and how very lucky I am to not be hurting like that right now. Sometimes I think it’s very good for us to see, very clearly, other peoples’ pain. And maybe places like this are one of the few places we can do that.

    And pain, family pain, is not meant to be scaled against other family pain. Losing a child, watching a sick child, dealing with a child that is disabled or even being a postpartum sad mother of two…any and all of these things are worth sharing if you feel the need. There will always be people (like me) who want to reach out…who want to help you through to the next day.

    Then, when there’s room for it, the unicorns just start appearing on their own. Not too late or too soon…just when it’s time.

    Steph April 22, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Months ago, I left my first every comment on your blog. It was about how I was pregnant and your blog was to depressing for me to read and I couldn’t do it anymore. I was quite quickly reprimanded by other commenters on my poor form. which was true. Granted it was my oppinon at the time, but telling someone their life is depressing isn’t cool and obviously I didn’t stop reading. I blame hormones for my rudeness. Getting to my point-if your blog is an outlet to express yourself and your feelings….write on lady. I will continue to read you no matter what you write about.

    Jaelithe April 22, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I think you should write when you feel like writing, and that you should not write when you feel like not writing.

    I think you should reach out to your friends when you feel it is appropriate or necessary, and deal with your thoughts in private when you feel that is appropriate or necessary.

    I think you should remember that
    people do not have to read what you write, if they feel it’s upsetting and they can’t handle more upset on any given day.

    And now that I’ve dealt out my unsolicited assvice, I’ll also admit that I personally regularly avoid writing about many of the events in my personal life that have changed or upset me most. That when I am overwhelmed with emotion I sometimes stop blogging for weeks at a time. And I do not know whether this has been a right course of action.

    Mandy April 22, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I don’t think that there is any answer that anyone can give you that will change what, in your heart, is right for you to do.

    When my baby died, I wrote, before and after, and then took down most of those posts. That’s not how I use my blog, but that is my comfort level. And, as Maggie, Dammit says, that’s one reason why you are much more read, much more sought after.

    I guess you need to decide, do you want to be more sought after for those reasons. I think of Mike and Heather now. I wonder how their healing will be different, done, in part, in public. It is neither wrong, nor right, but their path.

    Only you can decide your path. And what works for you.

    And now that I’ve exhausted every cliche, I will say that I (as many I know) support whatever decision you make.

    Karen Sugarpants April 22, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    I kinda thought that’s what you were doing. Keeping it in when our community was already deep in grief.

    I do applaud you for it and I am glad you wrote. Maybe when you think we’re ready, or when you’re ready, you’ll share. Or maybe you won’t. Your call.

    You should know we were thinking of you. I wanted to email and call but instead I wrote to Katie and sent my love thru her for when she thought it was a good time for messages.

    I’m always here if you need me. But I’m pretty sure you know that. xoxo

    caramama April 22, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    I’m glad you didn’t quit blogging. What you want to write and share is of course up to you. But I personally find it easier to deal with grief and depression and everything else by having others to help me through it. I also think it’s helps others to deal with similar issues they might be going through. When I don’t share, I bottle it all up inside me. When I share, I am able to handle it better with people who care.

    And we care, even those of us who rarely comment. We want to help you through difficult times, if you want our help.

    As for “oversharing hurt,” I try to balance out the hard times I write about with the joys and happiness and wonderful things in life too. And some mindless, unimportant things. We are all ocean, we contain multitudes. How boring would it be if we share only one aspect of ourselves? Just be true to yourself and write what you feel you want to share. I just hope you don’t stop writing.

    Don Mills Diva April 22, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I’m in kinad the same boat as Maggie and Mandy – I don’t really write about the really really big and painful stuff in my life – it’s not what I use my blog for…

    I admire that you do and I know that (in addition to your ability to craft prose) is why you are so very popular but I have to keep a little bit of the veil there otherwise I think I would burn out much more quickly and likely with regrets…

    So glad Emilia is better.

    Emily April 22, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    I agree with Maybaby. Fear is a bully and I find, like most bully’s if you open your mouth and say what they are they lose some of their power.

    Fear grows in the darkness and by bringing it out into the light you take back some of its power.

    Write whatever works best for you but I would rather read 10 blogs about real life than a 1000 blogs that are all sunshine and unicorns all the time.

    Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com April 22, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    I don’t think there is such a thing as oversharing hurt.

    I do think there is such a thing as sharing hurt to the point where one forgets that there is beauty in this world too. I do think that even in the midst of hurt, it is important to remember to look for the small moments that have happiness and beauty, because it is those moments combined with love and time that help heal the hurt. Even just a little bit.

    I am so glad that Emilia is doing better.

    I’m also glad that you didn’t stop blogging. But that gladness really pales in comparison to how happy I am that your daughter is okay.

    Ms. Moon April 22, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    I think another part of not being able to write about the truly, truly profoundly awful things is that in writing about them, you are somehow making them more real. That if you say it out loud, it will be truly too real to bear.
    Those are my thoughts.

    Jessi April 22, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    I think you zeroed in on it. It’s all about the why. If you are writing so that people will say Poor you, then don’t. If you are writing to get it out of you and onto paper (or screen) then yeah, do it.

    If you can’t figure out which thing you want, then you’re human and sometimes you’ll do it right and sometimes you’ll screw it up.

    I read your blog because I feel the things you feel and that commonality makes me feel better. I’ve lost a child and I know that hurt, but it didn’t lessen my hurt when my daughter was abused in daycare and it didn’t lessen my worry when I found out she had severe hearing loss. It also doesn’t lessen my hurt or fear or worry when I’m reading or hearing about someone else’s kid. Hurt and fear and worry are life and you’re not going to save any of us from those things by sheilding us from yours.

    Elisabeth April 22, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Hey Catherine – I am really glad your daughter is OK.

    I am an ex blogger. I wrote a blog that was popular in the UK and I stopped blogging after my first child was born. I didn’t say ‘goodbye’ either. I just pulled my blog one day.

    I did it for a number of reasons. For one thing, I thought my best writing was achieved when I was when I was angst ridden and my happy writing (‘I love being a Mum, oh yes I do’) was quite frankly a bit dull. Also, I wasn’t sure at one stage what was more real to me – my real life or my internet persona and my internet ‘friends’ who knew me only as ‘Elisabeth’. That scared me.

    I am now pregnant again with my second child and I’ve got to the stage where miss writing my blog. I have lots of thoughts and feelings on motherhood (and a variety of other topics) that I would like to commit to paper for my own memory/therapeutic benefit and also for the satisfaction of producing a good piece of writing that others appreciate. However, something stops me. I think all of the above plus a couple of new concerns:

    *how to be a mummy blogger without painting an intimate potrait of my children’s lives on the internet – a potrait which they did not consent to

    *Twitter – not a necessary add on to blogging but a popular one. It’s so immediate – the danger is that people don’t reflect on what they put out there to the same extent as they do with blog posts. Plus it’s so easy to twitter – the danger is Twitter addiction – are you living your life or just twittering?

    *the followers of popular mummy bloggers hounding those smaller bloggers who don’t agree with their chosen one. I’ve seen it a couple of times now. I don’t like it at all. I want to believe I left the school playground behind a long time ago…

    That’s my personal perspective and so for the time being I am staying blog free.

    If I couldn’t read your blog anymore I would be sorry but I think there are plenty of legitimate reasons why bloggers pull their blogs.

    Adelas April 22, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Catherine,

    I’ve been sitting here with the comment box open, rubbing my face trying to figure out how to say this, and I’ve gotten to a point now where I just need to start kicking words out. So if this is 10 times as long as it needs to be, just to get the idea out, sorry.

    You asked whether you want community (by which I think you are implying “comfort”) or attention. I think if by “attention” you mean glory, or the spotlight being on you, I kind of doubt that’s your motive. However, I think that the point of saying these things in a public place (whether we’re talking about you or any other poster) is simply to have said them, so that they can be known by others. I think that acknowledgement, that known-ness, whether it’s accompanied by comforting responses or not, is its own comfort. It feels nice that someone else knows what’s going on, regardless of the result of their knowledge. (well, it sucks if they’re mean about it, but assuming it’s a friendly person who may or may not say or do anything helpful other than just KNOWING along with you).

    I guess the bottom line I need to make sure to post is this: I WANT to share your pain. As I write it out baldly like that, it doesn’t seem to make much sense, but here’s the best way I can explain it:

    I need people to love. I have a lot of “care capacity” and by seeking out people that I can care about, I give myself those chances to use love.

    My husband is completely, utterly stymied by this fact. He figures I have enough people in my life to spend my emotions on caring about. He can’t imagine how having SO many people whose lives I spend time caring about won’t burn me out entirely, using up all my emotion so I don’t have enough to spare on those who can more legitimately claim it (my family, my IRL friends, etc).

    He wants to know what I get from it, whether it’s some sense of being a good person because I’m sooooo caring, or the appreciation and dependence of the people I care about, or whatever.

    But the fact is, to me, loving someone, caring about someone – viewing them as important and valuing them – is its own reward.

    And when you share yourself- especially the important events in your life and deep aspects of your personality, but even lighter things like sense of humor- it enables me to know you well enough to care about you.

    Yeah, I know there is a line somewhere around here that is called stalking and/or dependence. I don’t want you to get the impression that I’m implying you should be obligated to share anything for my sake!!!

    But the sentence where you implied feeling guilt for enabling others to feel your pain with you really made me shake my head. I wish I was there enough, and familiar enough, that I could hug you, grab you under the jaw and make you look into my eyes so that you’ll REALLY understand that we – meaning at least I -welcome it. It is not true that I enjoy being worried, but it is right for your friends to care along with you, to join in your joys, fears, questions and discoveries.

    And if anyone debates whether I can legitimately consider you my friend, when you probably have a very sketchy idea of who I even am… I’ll say to them just as I did to Tanis: loving someone makes a friend of you both.

    I consider you my friend because I care about you. I consider myself your friend because I care about you.

    I do hope that I don’t come across as an obsessed stalker person when I send you a tweet unsolicited or post fifteen-mile long comments about how much I care about you. To mitigate any fear you may have, just know I have been trying to come up with ways to non-idiotically convey the same thing to Tanis and Heather, and I’m getting to that point with Jennifer (MckMama, Stellan‘s mom), among others.

    Finally, as regards the timing of your trauma – this month has ranged from devastating down to just yucko, it seems. Besides the abovementioned, you’ve got gorillabuns (thalon’s mom), Angie (audreycaroline’s mom) hitting the one year anniversary, @Amomtwoboys at the hospital last night, @dooce’s leta with a fever, and I just wasted another 20 minutes trying to research/find whoever else it was.

    ANYhow my point is, you’re, um, allowed (?) to have trauma at the same time as someone else, and just because their trauma might out-tragic yours, doesn’t mean yours isn’t valid. Just because my guy’s three days of horrid runny nose cold (which he oh-so-kindly shared with my pregnant self causing me to be in a fog of misery for my own three days) can’t compete with the horror of having one in the hospital, doesn’t mean that the minor misery I do have is not real. It’s not as bad as yours, but it’s not “fine”, either. Ya know?

    I was going to say something nifty to wrap this up but I think I already said it all. I’m listening, and caring, whenever you’re posting.

    -Della

    Heather @ Domestic Extraordinaire April 22, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    I am glad to hear that Emilia is doing better.

    Rachael April 22, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I’m new here, and I don’t know your whole story. So maybe this is an objective comment? Anyway, I want to say this: It’s your blog, and you should write what you darn well feel like, okay?
    However, if it is bothering you to think you are sending negativity out, well, just balance it! Post a pretty flower picture in between rants.
    :)

    aqua April 22, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    I am so very glad your daughter is ok.
    The questions you ask are complex and in some ways impossible to answer.
    These past few weeks have been so horrible for mommies in the blogosphere. I have to admit that I had to stop reading their stories, because I found myself crying and clutching my 7 month old baby desperately to my chest. Empathy is wonderful, but it’s also painful.
    This is your blog, so you should always strive to be authentic to your feelings and your thoughts. Nobody need have an opinion about what you should and shouldn’t write. But I suppose we, the readers, should by the same token reserve the right to stop reading, perhaps only for a little while, if living vicariously through your words becomes too painful to bear.

    Eva Robertson April 22, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Very good questions you put out there. If you stopped blogging, I’d feel like one of my “legitimate” examples of bloggers who wear their hearts on their sleeves would be gone, and for the very reason that so many in my family are opposed to blogging: blogging, they say, is a crass and dangerous way to share one’s pain, and a sleazy way to seek recognition, attention, and community. (They are old-schoolers, of course, and I don’t agree, but the medium of blogging does, I think, raise a lot of important concerns. The way the personal can be publicized so vastly and so instantly is radically changing society’s notions about privacy, friendship, trust, and loyalty).

    But you have achieved it all, so to speak, in the blogosphere, and with much dignity. I am a blogger in the same vein as you (I talk about the personal), and I often wonder what your kind of celebrity would mean to me if I achieved it. Though I crave it, I think I’d feel a bit oppressed by it, too, and in danger of losing my joy, as well as perhaps some important sense of personal integrity. I say “in danger of” because I don’t think that’s a certain outcome, but it’s one I think one needs to guard against, especially when one’s blogging motives are mixed (or have become mixed). Your personal stories and your emotions are also your business — your livelihood to an extent — and I imagine that’s a tricky spot to be in.

    Someone else mentioned the mob mentality in the blogosphere and I do think this is an ugly aspect of blogging as I have discovered it in the last six months. Without impugning your following, you certainly have attracted some uncritical thinkers as devotees. Your site is one I enjoy reading for the posts, much more than for the comments. And interestingly, there are sites out there that present the opposite dynamic; the views of the writer are not so interesting as those of the readership. The blogosphere is certainly a weird place!

    Lala April 22, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I was worried about you but unsure of what to do about it. I thought about asking after you on Twitter but that felt a bit like fear mongering…….should I have sent an email? I dunno, we are almost complete strangers but I felt your absence and I was concerned.

    Elisabeth April 22, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Hey Catherine

    I just realised that because I have been mulling over the ‘to blog or not to blog’ issue for some time now I got caught up in my own reasons in my previous comment – not the issue you specifically raised.

    In that regard, I think broadcasting intimate details of your personal life is your choice. The positive of doing that for me was that is was a kind therapy – I don’t think writing about pain made me wallow it either, I think it helped me deal with it and move on.

    On the other hand, the negative aspect of being so intimate with my pain on the internet was that I became confused about who it was more important to confide in – my internet friends or my ‘real’ friends. When I realised I told the internet more than the people I knew in my ‘real’ life on a regular basis I was quite uncomfortable with that when I reflected on it.

    However, in relation to the idea of having a responsibility to your readership to shield them from the worst of your pain – that was never a big issue for me. People will read what they want to read and will go away and not come back if they don’t like it.

    All that said, I do think that blogging about children is a special issue which is fraught with difficulties. I was quite happy to destroy my own privacy by blogging (my choice) but I am fiercely protective of my children’s privacy. And sometimes I cringe at the things that some mummy bloggers do.

    The other day Dooce (whose writing I do actually really like a lot of the time) took a picture of her sick daughter lying on the couch and posted it on the web. I hated that. And sometimes I see a picture of a child mid-tandrum on a blog and I think ‘why are you not addressing your child’s emotions – why are you *photographing* it?’

    As well as photographs very personal descriptions of the ups and downs of a child’s life by his or her mother on a blog is something that makes me quite uncomfortable. At the end of the day, the child is too young to understand the significance of having an internet persona and so is too young to make a decision about what to do with his or her privacy.

    So yeah, in summary, I am happy for an adult’s pain to be out there raw and fresh on the internet (if that’s what the adult wants to do) – a child’s pain – no thank you very much.

    Shannon April 22, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    In my opinion, it just depends on the blogger. Yes, there are people who enjoy being the victim and take it too far and talk about it too much. But in my experience those people are few and far between (and you do not seem like one of them). Some people find it therapeutic to share their pain and receive encouragement, even from strangers and others feel their hurts are too private or too important to put out on the internet for anyone to see. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong. If it’s helpful for you to write it then write it. There will always be people who judge. It’s none of their business. It’s your hurt and your choice. To me, the beauty of this community is seeing the best and the worst that people experience. If people don’t want to read about it they can go elsewhere. Peace to you. (shannon@livinginthegray.com)

    Mrs.Chattypants April 22, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    First, I am glad Emilia is feeling better. Second, part of the reason I read oyur blog is because your writing is honest, open and real. Sometimes, reading about the happiness, aches and so forth, helps take my mind off my own issues-so it is not just about me. As a mom, it allows me to connect with someone who understands and realizes life is not all about flowers and smiley faces. If what you write makes a reader feel depressed or unhappy, they have the option to click on another link and move on. So, keep writing. Enough said.

    paperfairies April 22, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    When I first encountered the world of blogs I was searching for someone that felt pain like me, thought about the hard things I thought about, I wanted something real, not the fake life is perfect and cupcakes and unicorns!

    Online I found humanity and gut-wrenching truth. Even though the deaths/tragedies in the lives of my online families upset me just as much as the real-life ones, I read on. Every word I read and every comment I leave provides me with a sense of community I never experienced before.

    So write on because people like me need you, specially if what you’re sharing is not a perfect rainbow but the truth.

    Carolyn April 22, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    I’m glad Emilia is feeling better, really glad.

    Two points to make: First, Maddie’s passing doesn’t mean that your pain is less important. It is scary and painful when our children get as sick as Emilia was, and if that is what you are feeling then you should write it.

    Second, I am not a writer. I wish that I was because it would be so therapeutic to be able to write down my feelings and get them out of me. Instead, I read blogs, nearly 100 of them. It helps me immensely to know that there are others out there going through some of the same things. Please don’t censor yourself. If a post is too painful for someone to read, then they can skip it or not read you any more….

    mythoughtsonthat April 22, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    People should write whatever they want- it’s their blog and no one HAS to read it. For myself, I don’t write about the “big” things, but that is just me. Keep writing, I will keep reading.

    J from Ireland April 22, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I am so glad your little girl is getting better. You have alot on your plate at the moment, Catherine.
    I have come to love this blog for many reasons. Mainly I love your writing, honesty and obviously your humour.
    I think when you share something difficult, you do so with dignity and grace. I feel honoured that you share your life with me/us.
    Do what feels comfortable for you.
    My thoughts and prayers to you.
    J.

    Wabi April 22, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    If you write about death/fear/illness because those are things rearing up in your life and it helps you to try to describe them, then chronicling your difficulties online will probably not be wallowing. Writing about the bad stuff can be a healthy thing during times of chaos or sadness.

    OTOH, if a blogger is drawn to fear/death/worry posts mostly because he notes the spike in readership other bloggers facing tragedy get … Well, that’s all about ego. And writing anything just for fans is ultimately going to feel like an empty soul suck.

    Just be honest with yourself about your motives. The answer of what to write about will likely sort itself out from there.

    Christine Klocek-Lim April 22, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Yes, you could’ve written and blogged about your pain. You have no responsibility to us, to your readers; we can easily NOT READ if we don’t want to. So, in the future, do what helps you most and don’t add to your own pain by denying yourself comfort. Be kind to yourself.

    deb April 22, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Its good to mull over our intentions and motivations now and then. But there is a difference in becoming like some of those creepy sites, than what you are doing which is rather like art. And that sometimes comes from darker places than light and that is okay. If you have a gift , sharing it has merit. Seeking validation and popularity is s byproduct of the blog world, but we have to pull back from it ( or not buy into it as it feels so much like commerce) Just sayin.

    Her Bad Mother April 22, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    All of you: LOVE.

    Anonymous April 22, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    I would be crushed if you stopped writing. I appreciate your honesty and everything you share – the good and the bad. I am so sorry for all that you are going through.

    Another Suburban Mom April 22, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    I am sorry about your family’s troubles and I hope that your beautiful Emilia recovers.

    A blog is something that you are supposed to do for you. If you need to post you should. If you want to take a haitus, take it.

    Blogging should not be a cause of stress.

    Personally I think of my blog as kind of my mental junk drawer.

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