I had no idea what to expect when I started writing this blog a couple of years ago. I know that my intention was to write about some of the resources I’ve found that helped me through Recovery, depression and anxiety. I found out pretty quickly – the first week actually – that I couldn’t really do that without baring my soul to some extent. The first time I did it, I wrote about my blackout drinking. I remember being really afraid to hit send. Now … with a click of a button … anybody who visited my site knew that I had a drinking problem. Even though it’s been licked for the most part since my 20s, there is still a stigma attached to alcoholism or even drinking problems. A large percent of the population has a problem with drinking, but it is better to be a drunk than a recovered drunk.
A friend of mine commented this weekend that it looked like my move to Baton Rouge has been really good for me. I had to think a minute before I responded because I could see where she might get that idea. She reads my blog more regularly than she talks to me, and my blog has all kinds of great travel stories and fun things in it. This is the big disadvantage of writing for public consumption. People think they know what is going on with you because they read your stuff. And, yes, it is all me. I’m not making it up. But, it’s a snapshot of one thing in a million moments of time. I might have a day filled with stress and drama and hurt and disappointment, but I have a fun evening with a friend, and that snapshot becomes the picture of the day. I don’t find it necessary to dwell on all of the negative stuff that goes on. Nor, do I find it necessary to dwell on all of the positive stuff either. It’s a writing exercise. The content is filtered. In truth, my job here is very frustrating and has not turned out at all like I thought it would. I have been struggling to make friends locally. The city is not conducive to the things I like to do. So, you see, I was a little taken aback at how to respond to her comment.
I consider that I write ‘naked’ because I try to write about my feelings without filtering them too much. It probably appears to readers that I’m very open and honest about the way I feel and how I react to things. And, I am … to a point. My closest friends know there are things going on in my life that I never write about. Frankly, a large part of my life is nobody’s business but mine. I write about my depressive episodes after I’ve gone through them. I wrote about it once when I was in the grips, but I did that as an experiment. I don’t want to do it as a common topic. And, honestly, I am depressed fairly often. Sometimes it’s for a short period of time, and it has been a long time since it settled in for a long stretch. When I have written about it, I have worried some of my acquaintances, so I decided not to do that very often. My blog is not a cry for attention. If I need support, I’ll call those closest to me. It makes me a little uncomfortable when people I don’t know very well start worrying about me.
Writing ‘naked’ has brought me some great things. It has helped me find closure on some very significant events in my life. That first year of writing was the most cathartic thing I’ve ever done. I finally shut the door on my second marriage once and for all. That was huge, and I attribute it to the writing. The writing helped me meet people that I would not otherwise have met. It has also deepened some relationships with people that I already knew, but we didn’t realize how much we had in common. Other like-minded people wanted to get to know me better. It also caused some of my ‘friends’ to go away. They just disappeared .. unfriended me on FB … never heard from them again. It hurt a little, but I figured once they really got to know me in person they would have gone away anyway. In some way, it seemed efficient. Why waste time with somebody that doesn’t like me anyway?
I also blame some of my dating dilemnas on my blog. Sure, there have been guys I’ve met who liked the blog and thought it was cool, but I’ve found that writing – just like Facebook and other social media – creates a persona that may or may not resemble who I am at all. I have friended people on Facebook who seem really shy and reserved, but, in social media, they become very animated and personable. In person, they are not like that at all. I’ve also seen quite the opposite. Social media and blogging are entertainment; they are not real life. So, I’ve started warning men that I meet that – if they wish to read my blog – they need to realize Midlife Moments is a persona. It’s me … but it’s not me. One man said he thought my writing in public was a problem. “What would be left for your significant other,” he asked, “if you put everything out on the internet.” I tried to explain there was much of me to get to know and share that has nothing to do with my writing. He ended up being a wacko, so I didn’t care in the long run, but it bothered me that my writing might give somebody this impression.
I love writing. And, I love the immediate feedback and connection I get from blogging. I love the benefits for me personally when I write down my goals and the things I’ve learned. I even like to go back and read some of them from time to time to see how I’ve changed. Often, the words don’t even seem like mine. I can’t believe I wrote that – in that way – with those words. It has in a way created an alter ego that sometimes I like and sometimes I think is a little bit narcissistic. That’s sort of how I feel about myself in real life, too, I guess. But, when I write about it, it’s so …. public. The biggest downside is that I believe it causes loneliness for me. I write, and people feel like they are having a conversation with me. They just heard about my day … my trip … or my struggles. Their curiosity and desire for connection with me has been satisfied. But, for me, nothing has changed. I’ve made no connection other than the one with myself. It can feel very lonely. Occasionally, I think I should quit because nobody cares about this stuff, and I hate what it’s doing to my social life. Then, I meet up with somebody, and they tell me they read my blog all the time, and they love it. I’m always shocked. I see that I’m being read in the stats, but I don’t know who it is. It could be somebody in Spain as well as my next door neighbor. I don’t miss the connection with the person in Spain. I don’t care about them. I miss the connection with those people who are my friends. They feel like they’ve already made a connection with me, and they don’t miss me. I, on the other hand, miss them terribly.
A friend of mine just started writing her own blog, and she’s writing ‘naked’, too. She’s doing a project blog called Settling Mud, but the topic is requiring her to talk about herself. I get to see how my friends’ feel when they read something vulnerable that I write. It’s cool. It is very connecting. And, it’s inspiring. It tugs at me to give a little of myself. We’ve connected in some ways over the years but we’ve never been super close. It’s cool to connect with her in this way. I like the writing connection. It feels like we are totally getting each other, and it’s a great conversation. We are both writers, so we’re really comfortable with the medium. It’s different than sitting in a room and chatting. She opens up, and it feels intimate but without the face-to-face visual. It’s all up to me to decide how she feels about opening up like that and how much I’ll reciprocate. It feels private and close, but it’s not. It’s public. It’s helping me understand how readers see my writing. I also know that, even though she’s opening up, it’s not all of who she is. It’s a small piece of herself from her day that she’s willing to share with whomever wants to read it. It’s a gift. She’s so much bigger than that!