I started my first blog in 2004 when I was 34, a decade before I became a personal trainer. I was a novelist back then and might be again someday—who knows? I blogged about writing but mostly I chronicled the struggles and triumphs of motherhood. I shared poop stories, temper tantrums—mine and the kids', the bottomless pit of self-doubt I felt, oh and the time I let my daughter watch a deer get eviscerated.
99% of the small group of readers I had were supportive and could relate. 1% ruined my day with their comments and criticisms because I believed that what you thought of me was more important than what I thought of myself, which usually wasn't much anyway. Coming from a dysfunction-soaked childhood, I'd been taught in one way or another to pretty much hate myself, feel victimized and cast blame. At the same time, I thought I was special—a secret rock star.
As the internet expanded, more and more people were sharing their private lives online, getting book deals and thousands of followers. My life started to feel less relevant, less unique, and certainly less important. Also, by the time my kids were in school, I found myself living in a large community of moms who had easy access to my innermost issues and could just as easily kibbutz with each other about me—or at least that was the story traipsing through my head—that I was being laughed at in living rooms and kitchens all over the Main Line.
From an internet success-story standpoint, my blog wasn't slick, or laser focused toward a particular market or reader or niche. One day I'd write about eating a Paleo diet, the next I'd be blogging about writing and the next time about my kids. I'd publish a post and then cringe, waiting for a negative reaction, or worse, no reaction at all.
What was the point of putting myself out there like that?
I slowly lost my momentum, lost my way among the millions of voices that I felt were drowning out my own. And then came a comment from a neighbor that I allowed to shut me down completely. It happened a year or so ago. It was shaming, condescending and bitter. The commenter warned that I should be grateful for my lot in life when so many people out there can't even relate to how good I have it.
I wrestled with this critique for days, growing by turns angry, indignant and ashamed.
My final decision to stop blogging was based on the premise that other people didn't deserve to know what was going on inside my head or in my life. I decided to view it as a luxury best reserved for a small group of supportive friends. Or a decent therapist.
My days of intensely personal online sharing were over.
But by now I was a personal trainer with a small and loyal following, I'd published my second novel, my kids were older and people, in spurts, started telling me that they missed my blogs. I had started to miss them too, and by growing older I'd grown wise enough to practice the craft of not giving a shit about what anyone who didn't matter thought of me. The conclusion that people didn't deserve my innermost thoughts loosened a little, changed shape. Or maybe it tightened around my throat, suffocating the creative force that ultimately drives me.
In the end I rediscovered that I write for myself—for my own therapy, catharsis, thought organization, goal sussing, fun-making. I write for the readers out there who CAN relate. Those who don't can read something else—but if they do come around, offer their character assessment or even laugh at me, they're just broadcasting their own misery.