Thursday, September 2, 2010

Telling My Story

My blog is semi-anonymous. Plenty of bloggy peeps have met me in real life (and if you come to the SITS Bloggy Boot Camp in Austin you can meet me too!) but I generally keep my blogging life separate from my "human" life. Therefore, I often spew my unedited thoughts and feelings on the pages of my blog, readily available for consumption. I (usually) don't have to face the people who read my blog, so I can tell you about how I lost my virginity. I can share with you how I alienated my best friend in high school. I can share everything from the embarassing to the disgusting.

But that's me. That's how I roll. I feel like self-deprication is very entertaining, almost as much as philosophical self-reflection. Readers, I believe, like to dig deeper into the author's psyche. They want to know more than what I feed my kids and where I went on vacation. They want to hear about my struggles, my joy, my anger, my sorrow, and my accomplishments. Anyway, that's what I'm hoping.

Every person has to have some predetermined boundaries when starting a blog. What will I talk about? What won't I talk about? And, will those boundaries hinder my writing or will it make me accountable to myself, forcing me to keep my thoughts/emotions in check? If there is one thing or one subject I won't talk about, will a part of my personal story be limited because of it? Is it better to face my demons head-on and use my blogging as a form of therapy? Or would it be better to just face those demons within the safe confines of a therapist's office?

For me, the boundaries are like a fence around my world, the part that I can call my own and no one elses. I am okay sharing just about anything about myself. Acceptable topics include: my parenting struggles, my opinions about politics or religion or Miracle Whip, my personal grooming habits, my thoughts on current events, etc. I don't worry too much about perception (although I do wish I could be more upbeat like her or more sophisticated like her). But I try to draw the line at writing something that would intentionally hurt the feelings of someone I love and care about. And NO that doesn't include my kids' school or rude drivers. Those people are just fair game. But, let's say my mom was a recovering alcoholic - WHICH SHE ISN'T, I'm just using it for an illustration - I wouldn't share that because although I certainly would have been affected by that experience, it wasn't really MY struggle. I feel like that would be HER story to tell - WHICH IT ISN'T BECAUSE SHE ISN'T AN ALCOHOLIC ... JUST USING IT FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES - and I want to give her the love and forgiveness that I'd hope to get from her, if the shoe was on the other foot.

I learned a hard lesson about the power of words when I blogged about my frustrations with my Mother-In-Law. Little did I know she was reading my blog. She never told me, and so I felt free to speak my mind. And, speak it, I did. I don't think I said anything that was really mean, per se, but obviously I was too much of a coward to speak my mind to her face. If I had known she was reading my blog, I probably wouldn't have blogged about that particular subject. But then I ask myself: am I being polite, or am I wussing out?

From time to time, I wonder if I'm being totally authentic if I censor myself like that. Am I putting out one image of myself when, in reality, I'm something (or someone) totally different? How can I tell my story if I leave out some parts? How can readers really get to know me if I'm only showing part of myself?

What kind of boundaries do you put on yourself when you write a blog post?

This post was part of MamaKat's Writers Workshop. It's in response to Prompt 5: What is your Story?

Texan Mama


Swizz said...

I, too, edit what I say on my blog. Partly to protect others, partly to protect myself. I fear saying something and then 10 years from now regretting having that out there in cyberspace, never able to take it back.

I think we can still get a pretty good idea of who you are by the things you DO share. Thoughts on life and politics, interactions with people who are not family, etc.

I wish the world were a place where complete transparency was normal and accepted, but it isn't...and we have to work within those boundaries as bloggers.

I DO enjoy getting to know you through what you share! :O)

Bridgett said...

I have several boundaries:
1. I don't use my pastor's real name because I don't want to get him in trouble with anything I would say.
2. I don't use real names and real photos on the same blog of people I'm not in charge of (like girl scouts or neighbor kids)
3. I don't mention when I'm home alone, like, "Mike's going to be out of town for two whole weeks starting tomorrow!"
4. I don't complain about my husband except in stereotypical ways (like how he finds house rehab to be odious but we live in a 105 year old house...). Most of our arguments are alcohol fires-hot and fast, and I don't want a record of them to simmer slow on the internet.
5. While your mom might not be in AA, several of my relatives are. And a very close relative is bipolar. I don't talk about any of these people or the frustrations involved with dealing with a bipolar person because it's too much.
6. When someone says "I don't want to read this on your blog..." I respect that 100%.
7. I'm losing weight but I'll never use real numbers if I talk about that!!

Tarunita said...

Why do we need to have boundaries while blogging I just fail to understand!
I wish I could write more freely but the truth is I can't...Anyways love blogging!
Great post!

Kirby said...

I dont talk about my in laws on here, even though right now I will say they drive me nuts, haha (Thye wont read this comment!) in fear that maybe they might read my blog and I dont know it, so I just keep them out of it all together!

staceysmotheringmoments said...

Great post. I definitely edit myself because I have a lot of family members that read my blog. There are probably things I would write about if I was anonymous, but it's never felt too restricting. So I guess that's a good thing. Stopping by from Mama Kat's

Jennifer said...

That is so sad that your mom is an alcoholic.

Kidding, totally kidding.

I get what you mean. My blog is not anonymous and I have lots of family and friends that read. Therefore I do edit some things. I have stories that I won't/can't/don't share just because parts of them don't belong to me and I don't think it is right for me to steal someones voice.

(And I totally wrote "write" about instead of right and had to change it... even though I thought it was kind of punny.)

Jennifer said...

I totally censor myself and leave things out because my friends and family know about and read my blog. Sometimes it makes me feel a bit like a phony, but I never present a fake me on the blog, I just have to leave some parts out. Like the fact that my in-laws LOATHE me and always have and try to make me miserable whenever they get a chance. I leave out any detailed talk of sex, because my daddy reads it AND most importantly ( and perhaps what I am most regrettful of) is that I leave out the drama/struggles of my parents' divorce when I was 15. There is still so much anger about the way things were handled and I would love to write about some of it, but just can't because it would be too hurtful to my family. I briefly considered starting another anonymous blog for that kind of thing, but let's face it, I don't have that kind of time or energy.

Melani said...

Well, I blog about normal and regular stuff. I don't blog about:
1. my parents because they read it
2. problems with my in-laws (this is including sister-in-laws) because I know some of them read it.
3. Personal problems, like between me and my hubby, hence the word personal.
4. Somthing I wouldn't want the entire world to know or comment on
5. things that pertain to my X because his mom reads my blog and well we are still friends :)

Shannon said...

I originally wanted my blog to be anonymous so I could vent and say whatever the hell I wanted. But then I got a little proud and shared it with a few friends. The problem is, I shared it with a friend who I don't generally share a lot with b/c she can be opinionated, unsympathethic and that is not what i want to hear in those situations! So now, I do have to leave some things out, but it is still genuinely me.

Lesley said...

Blogging can be tricky. I've only been blogging since May, but I find that I am linking fewer and fewer posts to FB. My blog isn't embellished or made up, but there are quite a few topics that I wouldn't touch with a 10ft pole. My kids, on the other hand, they may make me a ritual killing as they get older and read some of the "fun" details that I have documented about them over the years. :) If you give me grey hair...I get to blog about you! LOL

Visiting from Mama Kat's!

Gigi said...

Oh I don't think censoring stuff isn't sharing who you really are - think about it. We censor ourselves on a daily basis with people we meet. I mean if your mom is an alcoholic (ONLY FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSES - NOT THAT SHE IS) are you going to trumpet that to everyone you meet? No, probably not.

Some people feel very open about sharing every single aspect of their lives with whomever. Some don't.

I blog completely anonymously and I still censor - because some stuff is just too private; isn't my story to tell; or heaven forbid - what if someone I know stumbles onto my blog and reads something I don't want them to?

All that being said, I think most of the folks I've "met" have a real feel for who I am just like I feel like I "know" who you are basically and I still like you - even if your mother is an alcoholic.....

Just kidding!

Jennifer said...

I had to comment again, because this is making me giggle! If your mom reads this blog, she is going to KILL YOU over the alcoholic mom comparison.. since everyone is totally running with it! LOL!

Sandra said...

Terrific prompt by Mama Kat and terrific response.
I agree with most of what you were saying. I love to be authentic, however, what I do find is that, like it or not, I've developed a sort of blogging persona. So even though I'm honest and say what I mean, if you were to meet me, you would see I'm very shy and not as outspoken.
Anyway, I gotta go read the post about your MIL!

parentingBYdummies said...

I write about crap that is funny. I try not to write about people IRL who annoy me unless I use a metaphor, because I'm really good at that. Like, Walmart is a metaphor for my in-laws, sometimes, when I feel like it. Funny thing is, when I find out people I know have discovered my blog and read it, it sorta creeps me out. Because I'm different in my daily life. Not that my blog is a fake, but I don't show my funny to everyone, you have to pay (in comments) for that shiz!

anymommy said...

It's really hard isn't it? I've always pretended that every single person I know reads my blog (although, of course they don't) because I didn't try to be anonymous, so I don't write about a lot of things that go on in my head. I think in the end I'm glad. Kind of what you said above, if I don't have the courage to have them read it, maybe I shouldn't write it.

I wouldn't want to hurt anyone, though I'm sure I've crossed the line a few times. Except anonymous annoying people. They don't count.

Not Just Another Jennifer said...

I struggle with that, too. On the one hand, I feel like my blog is my outlet. On the other, I would hate to know I hurt my loved ones feelings if I shared too much and they saw it or heard about it. I worry about what my kids will say when they get older, but for now, they can't read, so they're fair game. :)