Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Slightly More Explanation

I have started this post in my head at least a thousand times, but nothing is ever right. Never before have I been so conflicted about this blog and its role in my life as I am these days. Never before have I felt so silenced. I cannot write out my problems here, and it's tearing me up inside. But I made a promise and I will not break it.

For those of you who have asked - and many of you went out of your way to ask, for which you have my eternal gratitude - I am okay. I am healthy, both emotionally and physically, and I am not cutting again. That, in many moments over the last week or so, has been a true victory. The trials of the last two years weren't in vain, because I am much stronger now because of them. I can see that while life may be dealing me a tough hand right now, things will get better. The coming month or two will have hard moments, but I know it won't be like this forever. I'm grateful for the wisdom to see that.

Answering more of your questions and concerns, no one has died. My friends and family are all in good physical health, so far as I know. Batman has not dumped me, ditched me, or broken my heart, and he seems to have no plans to do so - again, so far as I know. (You're not, right, Batman?) I am still employed and happy with my employment. None of that is the issue at hand.

As I said, though, I am not at liberty to discuss the issue at hand. And that's what really has me thinking about blogging and what it really means - not just for me, but for countless others as well. I'm talking about the personal bloggers: the men and women writing about sex, love, family, relationships, parenthood, work, school, friendship, and a million other things that all combine to make a life. The people who are - piece by piece, day by day - writing their stories. The people like me.

I think the idea of the blogosphere is amazing. Here is an entire community of people sharing their lives with each other - supporting each other through the tough times, celebrating each other through the good times. As I said, they're telling their stories. But here's the thing about personal stories: They aren't lived in a vacuum. Our stories, while primarily our own, are not solely our own.

Let me put it this way... Romeo and Juliet is one of the greatest stories of all time. It is Romeo's story; it is Juliet's story. It's the story of their love and life together. But you can't tell their story without telling a little bit of Mercutio's story too. You have to tell a little bit of Tybalt's story. You have to make references back to Lord and Lady Capulet's story, and Lord and Lady Montague's story. You have to tell the story of the friar, the nurse, and a hundred other people we may not even see in the play. Romeo and Juliet don't exist without those other people, and their story can't be told in isolation.

So what does that have to do with me and other bloggers? Well, that should be obvious, I think. We're all telling our stories, but who else's stories are we telling in the meantime? And are those stories ours to tell?

I've been accused of being thoughtless with my blog - thoughtless with how I treat the people around me, and thoughtless with how I treat their stories. And I can see how it might seem that way at times. But honestly? I put a LOT of thought into what I do and don't say here. For example, many of you might have noticed that I really never talked about why J. and I broke off our engagement and ended our relationship. There were a lot of issues tied into those decisions that I felt I shouldn't talk about here, because it would have been disrespecting J.'s privacy. I've also never discussed anything sexual, because I firmly believe that what happens in the bedroom isn't really mine to share without express consent from the other party. (And frankly, I'm not sure how much I'd want to share even with the express consent.) Batman asked me not to post any pictures of him here, and so I'm not going to, though I will mock him occasionally for it, because really? Why hide that beautiful face?

So no, never am I writing without a thought to other people's feelings. Does that mean I've never hurt anyone with this blog? No, it's caused problems on multiple occasions. But guess what? I'm not perfect. That's right, I said it: I'm not perfect. No matter how much thought I put into my decisions, sometimes I make the wrong ones; no matter how good my intentions, sometimes I do the wrong thing. Sometimes, people get hurt, and all I can do is apologize and try to make amends.

Which brings us to the ultimate question: If I can't be sure that I'll always do the right thing here in this blog, should I shut it down? If I can't guarantee that no one will ever have hurt feelings because of something I might write here, should I stop writing? In other words - if I can't be perfect, should I stop trying?

Well I think we can all agree that that's just stupid. I can't give up just because I make mistakes - not if I really and truly do believe that telling my story is worthwhile. So after careful consideration, I've decided not to give up my blog. I've decided, instead, to learn from my mistakes, stand tall, and continue telling my story the best way I know how. And if a few of you are willing to come along with me, well, I'd appreciate the company.

Will you stick around?


William said...

I think it's clear that everyone here loves you too much to not stick around.

That's the other side of why it takes so much strength to share like that. You risk getting hurt yourself, but you also risk hurting other people. Such is kind of the way with any meaningful human interaction.

I think that's what's such a huge draw to your blog: your willingness to be... well, human.

Maggie said...

I think that William has it exactly right.

I think that people have to realize that that there are always (at least) two sides to every story...and that just because theirs is different doesn't make yours wrong.

Sarah P. Miller said...

I'm here at 7:20 in the morning, aren't I?

(It's never going to be easy, always for a variety of reasons. Some days, blogging sucks. But for what it's worth, I'm glad you're here.)

Anonymous said...

Always, my dear :)

Mayberry said...

Of course!

Sara said...

glad your back

nutmeg said...

I'm stickin'. This too will pass.

tmb said...

Here I am :)

Unknown said...

I will be reading you and being your blog friend no matter what.
Sending thoughts and love

Cate Subrosa said...

Not only am I here, I'm giving you a standing ovation for that.

This post is why your blog is so great. Keep at it.

And I loved the Romeo and Juliet analogy. I might have to blog about that too :)

Natalie said...

Yeah. It's one thing to hurt somebody through your blogging because you're using it as a way to strike at them. But you don't do that, and it's another thing entirely to hurt somebody through your blogging accidentally and despite being careful.

I'm here, always and forever, just like I promised.

Ashley // Our Little Apartment said...

Blogging & personal life take a careful balance. Many of us are still figuring it out & doing our best.

Good luck!

Dee said...

I'll be here. I may not comment often these days, but I'm always reading.

William said...

It may not need saying, but I checked back here today real quick to see how many comments were left. 13 original comments in not even 15 hours after the original post? That's pretty impressive.

Anonymous said...

I think your blog is very sensitive to this issue. But even so, the best policy is immediately to remove text referring to someone else if the person wishes it. Fortunately, it seems search engines don't archive blog sites as aggressively as they archive other data, so removing part or all of a post resolves the issue within a few days.

Bloggers are of course not the first to suffer the consequences of writing about others. I believe neither Faulkner nor Thomas Wolfe were favorite sons in their home towns.

jittacatgirl said...

Readers of Lara, I will comment here, and this will be the last you see or hear of me. I asked Lara to write me of this drama, so to speak, since there are really no boundaries about what is on the record or off the record in Lara's life. As is the case with some others who have come and gone on this blog, I don't wish to be blog fodder anymore. It gets old after awhile. Whether I walk in the apartment with a bad haircut and see a gleam in her eye and have to ask "You want to take a picture for your blog, don't you?" and hear, "Yes," or get an upset call from my mom who reads to me:

"I've heard Jitta express concerns about this with her bipolar diagnosis - who will stick around after seeing her take her eight medications every night?"

While I appreciate being compared to Mercutio -- oh, wait, no I don't, as that's a piece of literature and he's a side-kick with little story of his own -- shows either a lack of thought or, worse, a certain... disregard for my life, my feelings, my experience.

In a post about her and her own feelings, she threw the "8 medications" bit in "because it added something," she said to me, when we discussed it later:

First of all, Lara has no right discussing my medical history or mentioning any number of medications I take, especially inflating it to that extent. 8 medications?

Second, Lara and I have had several debates since January about the moral implications of blogging about others. She knows that I feel very strongly about protecting the privacy of others and respecting the power of the internet. And she wrote this anyway.

But yes, she heard those concerns. She heard that several weeks as I cried on the couch in our apartment, that I worry about how men will react because of the horrible STIGMA attached to the word "bipolar" in recent days, and that my fiance told me he didn't think he could marry me after I was diagnosed. When he found out that our children might be bipolar, that I'd have to be medicated for the remainder of my life, that I might always have to struggle to be stable.

To hear that from someone you love and who promised he would love you forever and no matter what really fucks you up, ladies and gentleman. And I'm not over that yet, and it's why I'm afraid to go out and date men I don't know. I'm apprehensive about sharing it. Sometimes I just sort of beat people over the head with it, just to see if they'll run---out of defense. But I think that's unhealthy, and it doesn't give others a chance to be trustworthy.

And despite our debates about privacy, and despite my crying in our apartment, she wrote that. Poor judgment? No boundaries?

My blog was always a place for me to write about my own experiences, where my mom and a few of my friends could read about me and my experiences. But I don't promote it or aggressively network or seek blog fame or keep track of comments or readership like a lot of bloggers.

I never would DREAM of addressing Lara's cutting or anything else she shared with me in the confines of our apartment. I've written my own story, and stuck to things I understand and can express with some accuracy. And if Lara wanted to allude to my story, she could link to it, if she felt it was an important story and didn't want to trivialize my feelings.

Bottom line: I have become one more victim of this blog. But, after all, it is Lara's story.

And as I told her during our talk, her actions have made it very clear that her blog comes first.

I do wish her the best. But I wish to go back to blog anonymity, and be left out of the drama.

Anonymous said...

one of the earlier commenters mentioned that there are two sides to every story.

blogging makes that even more complex. not only are blogs inherently one-sided by nature, a blog offers a platform to present an entirely sculpted and deliberately manufactured side of a story - which bears little resemblance to real events. and perhaps that is part of the attraction of blogging - that you can create a character or a personna, an alter ego who can react how the author would please.

that's one of the main reasons i stopped blogging, is that the temptation of bias and imagination was too great. blogs need to come with a disclaimer or something: "any resemblance of the characters to persons living or otherwise is purely coincidental."

Anonymous said...

The internet is SERIOUS BUSINESS

Mrs. Chili said...

Look, here's the thing - the stories you tell may concern other people, but they're ABOUT you. I'm ALL FOR protecting others' feelings, I am, but what really needs to be recognized here is that you write for YOU - to work through YOUR feelings and to investigate YOUR OWN behavior.

I'm so glad you decided to not let this stop your blogging. If we didn't do something because we risked being wrong or hurting someone else (however inadvertently), we'd never leave the house.

PypersTune said...

I'm in.

Anonymous said...

There is a big difference between writing your story to include details about how another person was part of your experience versus including things that another person shared with you that are personal to them. Medical info is always personal. I'm glad Jitta commented.

Anonymous said...

hello, this is your grandfather. i love you. :)

Dave said...

"Lara," you do understand that "written defamation (untrue words)" is called "libel," don't you? "Jitta" does not take "8 medications" -- which makes what you wrote libel, which exposes you to lawsuit. And I know for a fact Jitta's family retains a very good lawyer, who would be happy to bring suit if Jitta asked him to. Thankfully, it doesn't seem worth it at this point, but I respectfully suggest you be a bit more careful regarding what you say about other people. A blog is NOT a DIARY, not when it's made public for other people to read. That means you can't simply write whatever you want and not expect consequences. It's both simple human decency AND the LAW.

East Coast Teacher said...

This entire post explains why I went private. Even so, I don't write about EVERYTHING that goes on in my life, nor do I stop using anonymous names for people in my life that make an appearance in posts (especially the kiddos), but, I simply love this outlet so much, I can't stop writing.

Besides, for me, it's much cheaper than therapy and has allowed me to meet many wonderful people - present company included.

I will most definitely stick around :)

BetteJo said...

Late to the game, as usual. Not keeping up with my blog reading. I'm definitely here, definitely will continue reading. I love the genuineness I feel here.

Having said that, I will say that there should be boundaries when it comes to writing about the people in your life. It's always a judgment call.

I'm one of those people who doesn't mind people knowing just about anything about me, but I need to be mindful of the fact that a lot of people aren't like that.

Simply leaving things out here and there doesn't damage the integrity of your blog or your writing because there has to be a balance between telling your story and respecting the feelings of those you love.

I have never read anything here that has been glaringly insensitive - although I'm sure I haven't read every word. I guess I don't get the impression that you would intentionally hurt anyone, especially anyone you care about.

One thing you have always made clear is how much your friend and roommate means to you and I hope you are able to work this out between the 2 of you.

Kennethwongsf said...

Since I regularly write about dating, I often wrestle with the same ethics of blogging. As a rule, I only refer to people by substitute names, and I change the minor details about them (like where they were born or what they do for a living) to protect the identities of those mentioned in my posts. Private information that others have entrusted with you, or personal information you have access to because of the intimacy you share with then, may not be suitable for such a public medium.

In telling my story in my blog, I have the option to decide how much or how little of myself I reveal to the world. But I'm also acutely aware that I have no right to make that decision for the others who are part of my story.

It's important to be honest, but, in my view, it's more important to be considerate.

I'm still following your adventures, because I'm confident you'll be more circumspect in the future in sharing the stories of those around you.

CityStreams said...

My rule of thumb, when blogging about others, is to let them read the post before I publish it. That way, if it's offensive, I can change it before the world sees it.

I'm adding you to my RSS feed. Can't wait to read more!

Still Jill B said...

Wow. I'm assuming you're feeling really hurt and upset (in an understating kind of way). I'm sorry, dear. I've struggled with all of the privacy/anonymity thing for years, because of someone in my life. I guess you could call her fodder, and you really nailed the issue. I certainly don't want to compromise her privacy, and that has been a challenge in our "real" lives, because people know her and care about her, but she has had a tough life, and has plenty of different reasons to not trust people who say they care about her. Therefore, her stories, and how she affects my life are held private for the most part (a particular challenge since I sometimes really need to talk about them myself, with someone who understands), but I decided long ago that I'd rather hold it in than risk hurting her. But her life is intricately wrapped up in mine, and I feel like people can't understand me without understanding at least a bit about her. Plus, for people who are respectful, there is a lot to be learned and heard.
Also, with my history of helping "hurting" families (aka, foster care and adoption), confidentiality was always an issue. People knew what I do, and occasionally heard anonymous anecdotes, but in a small place, it is always possible they might also meet the "real" people, or people who seem to be the real people, or bump into real people with me... Anyway. All that rambling to say, I understand in my own way, and love you, and am sorry you're dealing with all of these struggles. I'm sure "sucks" doesn't really do it justice.