The Messiness of Blogging

Years ago I wrote about the difficulties involved in writing a balanced and yet honest depiction of life.  I just reread that post and my first response was to delete it.  But as I no longer do things on this blog without asking Emma, I asked her if she wanted me to remove it and others like it.  She wrote, “no.”  So I’m leaving it, though, for the record, if this were left entirely up to me, I would delete it, along with a great many others where I detail personal things about my daughter without thinking about how she might feel having such information made public.  To be honest, I would delete the first two and a half years of this blog, just wipe the slate clean and begin with the spring of 2012 when I began to become aware of Autistic people who were writing about their lives.  But this blog is not mine alone.  This blog is a group blog, written by three people, one of whom has their name featured on it, Emma.  (Emma has said she likes the name of the blog and does not want it changed.)

A blog is a curated version of life.  We tell what we are comfortable discussing, what we are aware of and understand at the time of writing.  But when writing about others, particularly family members, things get trickier.  Even a year ago I wrote things I am not comfortable with, but as Emma wrote a few weeks ago, “it’s important to show that times were difficult.  It is still not easy at all times.”  Emma wrote this regarding another project, but when I asked her if her statement applied to this blog too, she wrote, “Yes.”  

My dilemma in continuing to contribute to this blog concerns that difficult balancing act of writing about the things I am learning, processing and thinking about, while being respectful of other members of my family and not writing in a way that suggests I speak for them.  Even so, I am not always successful.  But more and more there’s a great deal I don’t write about.  If Emma is going through something that causes her pain, I no longer feel comfortable writing about it, even from my perspective unless she asks me to.  I argue that a certain amount of self censorship, particularly when done to protect the confidences and security of others, is not necessarily a bad thing.

The only time I’ve posted things that are personal and painful are when Emma has written, “Put this on the blog.”  Or when I’ve asked her, “What do you want to talk about?” And her response was, “I want to write a blog post.”  But these omissions, this version of life that I do feel comfortable enough to discuss here, cannot, by their very nature, give a true picture of our lives.  So for some, it may seem our lives are ideal, or some readers may mistakenly think we never struggle, or perhaps these posts give the impression that we live a pain-free life of nothing but joy and ease.

Blogging is an intimate and immediate form of writing.  Those of us who blog are far more available to those who read what we write than other people who write. Anyone can make comments and most bloggers, even those who do not or rarely respond to comments, read what commenters have to say.  It is part of what makes blogging unique, and to me anyway, particularly compelling and interesting.  Comments from others, whether they agree or not, are fascinating, often thought-provoking and some even make me reconsider what I believe or how I think about something.

Blogging is the reality TV version of writing.  But even so, there is more left on the editing room floor than gets seen.  It is the nature of the beast.  Life is far too complex and messy, particularly when it is four lives or five, if one counts our mischievous kitty, to capture in 800 words or less, even when posting Monday through Friday.

WhiteWaterRafting copy

26 responses to “The Messiness of Blogging

  1. Maybe put a line at the end of all your blogs – old and new – “Blogging is the Reality TV version of writing. Hope you enjoyed this snapshot in time. Views are subject to change and mature as we live out our lives.”

  2. I like your reality TV analogy: we as editors decide what gets broadcast, weighing the various factors such as relevance to the message we want to convey as well as respecting the privacy of those close to us.

    There is no technology that can let somebody experience the totality of another person’s life. Even being followed 24×7 by a film crew would not capture a person’s inner thoughts and feelings. Instead we show a selection of highlights, providing a curated experience that guides the reader through our narrative.

    To my mind this makes it more like an educational curriculum or a good museum exhibit. The experienced judgement of the educator or curator allows them to select the key elements that outline the sequence of events while keeping the clutter of extraneous details at bay.

  3. Just think of your blog as an excellent example of how viewpoints change and how people grow when they have new knowledge. I think it can be very helpful for some people if they read some of your old blog posts where your viewpoints are different than what they are now. It makes it more “real” to know that you started off where (most of) the rest of us started….thinking that we need to cure our child….to fix them…thinking that autism is horrible. It certainly carries more weight for the people who still think like that. There is nothing like admitting you were “wrong” to get people to sit up and pay attention.

  4. Everyone does the best they can at any given point in time. If we accept that, then perhaps what you wrote before isn’t really “wrong.” It is where you were, doing the best you could do, at that point in time. We all should evolve and it is wonderful that you all share you journey, the good and the not so good.

  5. I have to echo Martha’s comment. There is no doubt in my mind you have always done the best you could at the time, and no doubt Emma thinks the same. Your writing gives me so much to think about and I appreciate it, and I believe this has benefitted both of my boys. Thank you!

  6. Messy indeed. The “truth” changes every day, sometimes minute-by-minute as we continue to learn, grow and change. My “truth” as I speak it today will very likely not be my truth a year from now. The wise reader understands this and perhaps learns from the journey. Those who never question things, who like easy answers, or use every statement to argue an opposing viewpoint, will always find something to criticize or deride.

    I’ve only been using social media for two years, since my first novel was published and I had to promote it. Now I’ve come to enjoy posting my thoughts on everything I care about and everything I don’t care about, or care for. I’m an anti-authoritarian, pro-freedom/justice provocateur by nature. I piss people off all the time. Largely I don’t care. If people don’t like what I’m saying, they don’t have to listen.

    The most difficult issues for me to write about have been those involving our family’s journey with autism. Partly because they are public declarations of very private circumstances, mostly because I was so totally ignorant about autism until I started reading the blogs written by autistic people. I still have so much to learn, however, I will continue to talk about our journey and the rampant injustice autistic people are suffering every day.

    If you are a member of any oppressed community, you will identify with the struggle of having your community defined and dominated by those who are not members of the community. The most egregious example of this (and one I will continue railing against until they cease to exist) is Autism Speaks. Why do they make me feel compelled to rant and rave and shout to the rafters? I recently read a perfect answer to this question (I can’t remember the source so if anyone reading knows, please attribute it). This person said (loosely paraphrased):

    Imagine a supposedly charitable organization called “Women Speak” and all the executives, board members, authorities and public speakers were male.

    Can you imagine the outcry? And yet Autism Speaks continues to be looked on by the non-autistic community as a leading authority on autism. Well they are an authority. But not on autism. They are an authority in the classic fascist tradition. So I’ll continue to speak out.

    And whomever doesn’t like what I have to say can find some cute kitty videos to soothe them.

  7. Has anyone with ASD ever attempted to join Autism Speaks? Just curious.
    Has Autism Speaks ever been challenged with the task of including adults with ASD either by petition or otherwise. I apologize that I don’t know that much about Autism Speaks, but I have donated $$ to them.

  8. “Love, no matter what.” see link below

  9. All three of you are lovely and I love you all.

  10. Beautifully written. I can relate to a lot of what you wrote. Life is never perfect or always easy for any of us. Keep writin what you and Emma feel inspired to share. Much love to you both! ❤

  11. Awesome pic! Thank you for this blog, we all learn and grow from it with you ❤

  12. Sherry Watkin

    You are a thoughtful and considerant writer. I love hearing from all of you. Your struggle is our struggle. You are honest and have good intensions. As we learn and grow we can change our minds and you can too. When you know better you do better. We are all learning about autism. The good, bad and the ugly. That’s life and there is always a lesson. We need to stay in community with others to grow and learn.

  13. I have learned so much from your blog. Blogging is brave.

  14. Ariane, don’t you think Emma’s Hope is the best record of the journey from being a “cure autism” parent to a loving and active advocate for another person? Emma is so amazingly different, she has gifts and abilities that surpass yours, and you are able to clearly see and articulate them.
    Don’t you think that is an incredibly important story for everyone to be able to access? This blog is the very best counter-measure to Autism Speaks.

    For me, Emma’s Hope is the story of Emma’s fight to make herself known, to let you know about her ideas, and her love for you. Your gifts allow you to tell this story beautifully. Deleting the beginning eradicates the depths of Emma’s victories in life.

    • Thank you for this. I will be rereading many times. Really.

      • While you are re-reading, redigesting, re-thinking, and forgiving yourself, in the back of your mind, birth a book!
        A calmer time will come soon (unless you go back into the schools), and this will be book one.

  15. I echo Aspie Mom. Don’t judge your beginning by your middle – you needed all of those steps to get to the amazing place you are now. Your readers need to see those steps too. I have learned so much from you in subtle yet vitally important ways. Thank you.

  16. Pingback: THE BEST OF JULY | Autism Mom

  17. I like that the evolution is present. By not trying to make out like you hatched a fully aware parent (like way too many blogs do) yours is valuable in way the nice clean blogs are not.

    You keep changing. If you look at this year alone when you already had that baseline awareness things changed a lot.

    By having the messy bits there I do think you give people courage to say okay I can move on from here versus digging in. I have seen some parents teetering at the edge of that. Having spent years chasing a cure they want to rethink that, want and need someone to validate that is in fact okay to have been wrong but if they just randomly poke around they won;t necessarily arrive at anything that admits to the messy bit.

    I look back at some of what I wrote 16 years ago. I thankfully don’t agree with all of it now.

    When I look further back during my I will outgrow my programming years which went on way too long I wish I could give myself a stern talking to.

    Back then blogs were not a thing yet In chats most people seemed already to not just accept being autistic but downright love it. Finding anyone who would say the things that were hard and messy was well hard and messy

    It was lonelier than it needed to be.

  18. I’m glad Emma didn’t want the post deleted. It reminds so well of the importance of understanding how much the appearances may be misleading.

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