I’ve written this post three times before I sat here today. The first two were months ago when I got a paragraph or two in and then decided that I really didn’t want to blog again after all. The third time was last week, when I was literally one category away from finishing what I considered a truly lovely daybook post and my computer crashed. I spent the next hour deleting so many large photo and inDesign files and trying to organize the all the other files that are in disarray while I contemplated whether the crash was a sign that this whole blogging again thing is a bad idea.
When the pop up popped up and then browser shut down without a warning, thereby deleting everything I was writing, I might have uttered a four-letter word Paddy taught me. And I might have sighed a very heavy sigh. But I didn’t shed a single frustrated tear. Instead, I cleaned up all the garbage on my laptop, emptied the virtual trash, put the computer away and went to sleep.
I did not try to re-create the post.
The absence of frustrated tears or an attempt to write it all again quickly so that I could publish as planned is a sign to me that I am not the same blogger I once was. If I’m going to do this thing again, there will be a gap—a lapse, a chasm maybe. There will be a marked difference between then and now.
I am not the same woman I was ten years ago when blogging was a daily habit. I am more shy, if that is even possible. I am less confident, thereby dispelling any myths about busybody mothers-in-law who have all the answers. I don’t. I have more questions than I did in my thirties, not fewer. And I am also more private.
I’ve learned a thing or two the hard way. I allowed too many people in, and I granted them access to the most sacred, private corners of our home. Most readers were kindhearted, gracious women of goodwill. A few, though, were what a friend categorized as the “most vicious, worst of the worst kind of cruel.” She continued, “I don’t know what you’re doing to attract that kind of crazy, but living like that is unsustainable.”
I wish I’d heeded her words and shut it all down then. But I didn’t. Because I was stubborn and idealistic and so ever-loving forgiving that I didn’t know how to protect myself. Or, unfortunately, my children. Instead, I persevered until I couldn’t even open the blogging site without a sense of dread. Then, without ever making a conscious decision, or ever committing the pause to paper, I just stopped blogging.
I have children who have never recovered from reading what women wrote about them and their childhood on the internet.
I pause here and ask myself, What the heck are you doing right now? You know that’s true. You know you wish you could take back ever letting those people come so close. Why are you here?
Because those women were wrong. And I was wrong. We were all trying to figure it out and we made some terrible mistakes. Because my big kids had a beautiful (if imperfect) childhood. What was good about it was the faith that still beats in the heart of my home.
I believe that even if my faith has been tested. And, oh, how it has been tested.
What was damaging was the distortion of faith. What hurt them isn’t what was really happening at home, or even what I wrote about what was really happening. What hurt them was people both out there on the web and in my local church who were distorting truth from two entirely different places at the same time. And I felt so suffocated at the hands of both and so brokenhearted about my own loss of what I thought was good and true and holy that I just stopped.
Stopped so many things.
And in many real ways, we’ve spent years trying to recover. I know that won’t make sense to you without all the details. But I also know that I cannot possibly share all the details. People online were cruel in the name of faith, while at the same time, such affronts to the gospel were happening at the church across the street that I have a child who still visibly shudders when driving past.
I am a person who discovers what I think, and feel, and believe by writing. And I pretty much stopped writing.
Stopped offering much of anything of myself—especially my homeschooling, my parenting—in this space.
I made a few false starts at returning. I tried to honor my obligations to my regular column by posting it here. But my heart left this space years ago.
And it’s been restless—searching, seeking, asking hard questions ever since.
As much as we say real friends can be found here—and they can; they absolutely can—the internet is not “real.” It is pixelated and flattened and lacking the warmth of breath and touch. No matter how we try or what we say, we cannot fully know one another online.
I come back to this space knowing its limitations. I come back knowing where I found strength in the hard years that don’t hold places in this space. The Internet is not my life. My family is. My soul is. My God is.
No matter what I write here, what is real cannot—should not—be wholly represented here. And I won’t even try. I’ll hold a place in my actual living, breathing, warm and tender life for the sacred. My children deserve to know that I can be a trusted keeper of that sacred place. And I won’t ever, ever let the internet be the master of that place.
If an online presence feeds my interaction with the real world—the world with trees and taste and tears—I will pursue it. If it doesn’t, then I’ve worked too hard for the real world to sacrifice it on the altar of the internet. I will simply click it closed and walk away.
I have hopes for this slow re-entry. I hope to find my voice again—not for clicks or kudos. Just for me. Just because I miss the medium. Just because I can.