On this night, a year ago, my blog was born. It began with this post — “dating as research.”
That first post was the next step in a life spent writing. I started my first novel at the age of nine, at my kitchen table while my mother cooked dinner in the evenings. It was a story about two pre-adolescents growing up in a West Virginia coal mining town. I was a young girl living in suburban Maryland. Absent having visited that part of West Virginia a few times, I was completely unfamiliar with my subject matter, and I’m certain it showed. When I read a draft of the first chapter to my mom, she gave me my first (and best) piece of writing advice: Write what you know. And I have, ever since.
I have journaled for most of my life; I still have my diary from elementary school. I have a few partially-finished novels and even more ideas. When I moved in with my now ex-husband, I discovered that I didn’t have much personal time or space for writing. I tried to hold onto my love of writing; when Bryce and I moved to Colorado, I even took a creative writing course at the local university. My instructor urged me to develop my talent, telling me that I had a unique and compelling voice. But he, like my mother before him, urged me to write what I knew. And that I could no longer do. While in theory he supported and valued my writing, Bryce was never comfortable with the idea that I was putting to paper or screen anything that might have to do with him. The “write what you know” approach made him decidely uncomfortable.
So I gave it up. Completely. Even journaling. I stopped writing for pleasure or personal value. My profession required me to write quite a lot, but it was more in a technical vein and did nothing to feed my soul.
As my marriage came apart, I began journaling again. Furiously and almost constantly. I poured all the nastiness and pain into words. Those cyber pages held all my anguish and despair and anger.
In therapy, I was exploring the pieces of myself that I’d lost or given up during my marriage. A recurring theme was the concept of being heard — truly heard — by someone. Very early in my marriage, I had relinquished my voice. I had begun capitulating to all of my husband’s demands and assuming his opinions of me as fact. I had stopped speaking up effectively or productively, and I had stopped believing that the things that made me special had real value in this world. Reclaiming my voice was clearly an important element of reclaiming my space and my life.
My therapist was the first to suggest that I start writing seriously again, for an audience beyond just me. After much urging on her part, and quiet consideration on my part, the universe opened the door and shoved me through it. At work, I was tasked with creating a new website. Our website designer selected a WordPress platform, and together we created the website. During that process, he told me about blogs and how the blog platform worked… and the idea was planted. The same month our website premiered, so did my anonymous blog.
I wrote that first post in one sitting, with minimal proofreading or editing, which is pretty much how I’ve written every post since. I think 15 people read that first post within 24 hours, and I was thrilled. FIFTEEN PEOPLE READ WHAT I WROTE!!! I couldn’t believe it. Wary of guarding my anonymity, I confided the existence of my blog in only a handful of trusted friends, most of whom became my earliest subscribers. These friends, some of whom have graciously permitted me to examine their lives alongside my own in these posts, have been my strongest champions. They have publicized my blog to their friends, applauded my milestones, and encouraged me when I was wrought with doubts.
It has not always gone smoothly. I have written things that have hurt people and things that have offended people, including some of my closest friends. Most of the men I have dated have not known of my blog, and among those who did, some were supportive, but some were not. But I promised myself when I began the blog that it would be real, authentic, honest. And I can sincerely say that I feel that I’ve kept that promise.
The blog has introduced me to people I’d never have known without it. Some are fellow bloggers and some are not. I have emails I will save forever from perfect strangers who have told me how a post touched them or changed them or encouraged them or supported them. Those emails are profoundly humbling and encouraging.
Then there are the women for whom my blog has become a therapeutic tool. Apparently, these women use my blog as a point of reference or framework for examining issues that they are struggling with or through. It’s incredibly gratifying to know that the words on this screen might actually help someone else get to a better place in their life.
But the main reason I write is still the first reason: because I need to, for me. Writing is my meditation. It is my way of making sense of the world and my way of cataloging my lessons and epiphanies. It helps me stay grounded and it reminds me of what’s important to me. Writing forces me to clear my head. It allows me to celebrate a part of myself that I like.
I think we all need something like writing. I suspect that many, many of us have given up a part of ourselves that we mourn. I suspect that we have put aside or thrown away or surrendered aspects of ourselves that fed our soul, contributed to our radiance, and made us whole. Maybe it was salsa dancing, or pottery throwing, or sewing, or piano lessons. Maybe it was time spent with girlfriends or at art galleries or taking photographs. Maybe it was volleyball, or running, or yoga. Or maybe it was writing…
Whatever your reasons for coming to my blog, I thank you. Thank you for sharing this journey with me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with me over this last year. Thank you for giving me such an amazing audience for my musings and contemplations. I value you and am grateful for you. I hope that you’ll stick around for a while, because I’m only just getting started.
Happy Anniversary to Us.