Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Blue Funk Day

There's a reason I picked this for my online image. Not only does it look like me, a lot, but also it symbolizes for me what I want this blog to be.
I stomped around the house yesterday in a senseless rage at fate, the weather, my poor husband and anything else that got in my way. I stomped on sluggish flies, slammed drawers and, to put not too fine a point on it, sulked. It was that kind of day, I was tired and bored and had a pile of things to do that I did not want to do and nothing to do that I did want to do except write a post for my blog. But, I thought to myself, I cannot write a post while I am in this terrible mood because the YD reads my blog and the YD is an activist; if she reads about this she is going to get on the phone and try to Do Something about it, and so I can't talk about it.

Well, this went on for a bit, as I wrote bits of invective about anything and everything in my head, and then I thought…."Wait a minute!"
All my life I have perceived it as my role to be the constant cheerful person, especially to my mother. I could write to her about anything, anything except that I was in a miserable mood, because if she thought I was down, or sad, or upset, she would inevitably try to Do Something about it, or at the very least fret about not being able to Do Something. (Did you follow me around the last curve? Sorry!) Anyway, I hardly ever mentioned times when I was less than cheerful. But when I started this blog, the idea was that I could write about whatever was on my mind, bad or good. And here I find that just because the YD will read it, I am censoring. Again. I do not think this is a good thing. No.

(YD, if you are reading this, do not pick up the phone. This is my bad mood, and I intend to enjoy it fully.)

And so, here is the manifesto. I, Mary G, resolve that I am going to portray what I really am like in this blog. I will not try to be better than I am. I will not do the constant cheerful thing. The censoring will be limited to other people, whose concerns are private to them. I will not self censor. I will not write around things to avoid upsetting anyone. Not here. And if someone who knows who I am tries to Do Something about it, she is toast.

Now, can I keep this resolution for five seconds straight? We will see.

All this leads to a question I want to ask. The self censoring topic has been bounced around in MommyBlog land as long as I have been reading in it. Julie at Using My Words tackled it not long ago; it has been a topic on BlogRhet. People have talked from time to time about topics they avoid, about how they deal with controversy, about how they handle references to family and friends. But I have a specific curiosity. And it is this. If your family and friends read your blog, how conscious are you of how they will react to what you write? If you find yourself self censoring, what do you do about it? How much does it change your blog personality?

My answer would be: I wrote the blog anonymously for some time. I censored, but only to protect the inncent. Then I let my daughters and several friends in on it. Since I did so, I fear that I am becoming less …. real, for lack of a better word, less three dimensional, less forthright. I don't know if this is reflected in my posts, but if anyone who is a regular reader has seen a difference, I would love to know what you think.

Two further things.

1. I have written about my blue funk as if it were funny. Today it is. Yesterday it wasn't.

2. Advice from the crone: when you plan your retirement home, make sure it has two good, comfy beds in it. In different rooms.


  1. Yes, I self-censor. My parents read my blog, my husband's co-worker reads my blog, and my neighbor reads my blog. That's a really weird cross-section of the people in my life ... so I only write about things I'd be willing to shout out a window. I'm sure it makes my blog less interesting to read, but I'm not convinced that it's less honest. It's not like I'm shouting lies out the window -- I'm just not revealing my darkness.

    I do blog about things I don't usually talk about in 'real life' -- not private issues, but things that most of my friends/family don't find interesting. Blogging has been a way for me to find out what I think on those matters, if that makes sense. And to find like-minded people.

    Do you think that your openness on your blog is being reflected in the rest of your life?

  2. Self-censorship takes on a few forms with me. If I am blue or angry, I try not to write or at the very least post in the midst of the worst emotion. "Ha!," you will no doubt say given all that I've written about in the last two months, but when I first started talking about the miscarriage, I felt emotionally detached from the experience. Once the full weight of it hit me, I refused to write about it for a couple of weeks. I came back to it still raw but with enough emotional distance that I knew I could survive whatever direction the feedback went.

    My family does read my blog and I have had to field a few "DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT" phone calls but, by and large, they have been both enthusiastic and respectful of what I write about and they listen to me when I tell them in person that I am doing ok. If I write about any of my family members (like I did with my niece's cancer) I ask permission first.

    The only person in Sleepy Town who reads my blog is my dear friend AND work supervisor. Knowing she is there does make me cautious when it comes to discussing general professional issues. Not that I would ever gripe about work on the blog but...

    I have learned the hard way to self-censor when it comes to taking on other bloggers who I disagree with. I have found that the blogosphere is not the honest and open forum for debate that I thought it would be. This is not really a criticism of this space b/c I fully understand why it can't be. I know too well the sting of reading a pointed comment alone in my study. No matter how much I may disagree with another blogger, I don't want to be the one wielding that particular knife. Usually, when I have disagreed with a blogger on enough occasions, I simply migrate away in search of someone whose writing I find provocative and not provoking.

    One final thing: the blog is my main way of keeping my family part of my daughter's life. I find it hard to strike a balance between writing stories or posting pictures about Miss M that are designed to appeal to the aunties vs writing about broader issues designed to appeal to my readers. There have been photos/stories that I have not put up b/c they have no place being made public beyond a close family circle. And when I wrote so frankly about the miscarriage, I couldn't help but worry a bit about what my 56-yr-old brother would think.

    Whoa, you asked for opinions and you surely got one. My friend Natalie likes to say, "opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one."

  3. I write openly under my own name. I am very open and honest within the things I do blog about but I could use a large stadium sized space for all the things I do NOT blog about. Many of those are because they are private, mine---or private, someone else's. I appreciate it when people are open about things, or do not always depict only the good. I know I depict struggles, as well.

  4. Urgh...that last comment stinks of spam!

    Anyway, I do censor to a degree, because my blog is mainly to provide a record of my children's lives. And because my friends and family read it, I can't say certain things about my friends and family because their feelings would be hurt.

    I have not talked much about my struggle with postpartum depression because it's a very personal topic. I also try to keep my husband's right to privacy in mind, so if he and I are arguing, I don't write about it, because he would probably prefer the world not know about a marital spat, KWIM?

    Otherwise, I try to strike a balance between the good and the bad.

    I read something about how Dooce wrote a post about the religion she was brought up in and managed to alienate her family and a large portion of her family in the process. So I do think you can't put it ALL out there unless you intentionally are trying to make waves.

    I actually have a post in the works, not about censoring, but about honesty in blogging. Slated for next week, maybe.

  5. i self censor for many reasons. at first i censored in order to spare or preserve the feelings of the other bloggers who read. i also censor now b/c 2 good friends read it. in many ways, for me, it has gone too far, as i really just don't feel it is the same candid space it used to be.

    Running on empty