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.