February 22, 2015

On How to #BlogHonest and #BuildCommunity

Yesterday on Twitter was a hard day.  No two ways about it.  There was a lot of:





But several bloggers and I discussed how we can take this plagiarism scandal and create a positive out of a negative.  I tweeted out that I personally feel that opening up and having a dialogue about ethics in blogging as well as admitting we are not superheroes that can take on any and everything is how we move beyond this.  We all face struggles, but it is how we deal with the struggle that defines us.  

I started blogging in January 2009 after having to quit my beloved job teaching and move back home to a) take care of my dying father,  b) deal with overwhelming health problems, and c) recover from an abusive relationship.  I began blogging as a way to fill up my time with something other than my problems.  Soon after my father passed away.  The blogging community who'd I'd been a part of for only a hot minute were there showing compassion and empathy.  I knew I'd met some wonderful people.  I tried working again, but my health problems did not allow me to last long.  (If you want, you can read about my struggles with my health here.)

Then I decided I would go to grad school and try to get a different degree other than in education because my health was not allowing me to teach any longer.  I had absolutely no time for blogging - so I stopped.  I couldn't hack both grad school and book blogging so I gave up blogging, which was extremely hard for me to do.  

ME: circa 2011-2012

Eventually I realized my health was not allowing me to go back to school full-time either and that's the only way I could afford to go, so I had to drop out. It broke my heart and I had more health problems from the stress.  Eventually I had to just come to terms with the fact I was disabled.  I had been in denial and sometimes I still want to deny it.  It is so not easy to admit you cannot handle the same things you once handled with ease.  It's embarrassing and frustrating and you feel like a failure.  On top of all this I had to deal with family dramas, a boyfriend getting a fatal illness (that he's still fighting), a friend in an abusive relationship, and more I am not even at liberty to talk about because they are not my things.

So I totally get feeling overwhelmed.  I completely understand how intense the urge is to deny that you cannot do it all.  And I do not know where this bullshit idea about women needing to be able to do all, be all, have all came from but it needs to die a fiery death.

It is okay, I repeat, IT IS OKAY TO STRUGGLE.  YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE.  I AM NOT A FAILURE.  WE ARE HUMAN.  And humans need to take breaks.  Humans need to step back and reassess. Humans are not robots.

I took a break when I had to.  And when I came back, no not everything was the same. ARCs had stopped coming because I wasn't reviewing.  Friends and readers had moved on because I wasn't around anymore.  But then once I got back into the swing of things last year, made my presence known again, let people realize I was sticking around, it's been even better than it was the first time around.  I have made new friends and met new bloggers who were not here before I took my break.  I'm reacquainting myself with the bloggers I once knew who are still around themselves (remember those wonderful, empathetic people? They still are.)  I'm working with publishers again.  

My world did not implode and it breaks my heart that women have been taught that our worlds will implode if we cannot hack everything.  We are taught that we must be everything to everyone - the doting wife, the stay-at-home mom, the breadwinner, the maid, the friendly neighbor, the perfect employee, the PTA president, the spin class master,  the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker.  If men were forced to be all these things, we would've learned about their implosion long ago. Let's be real.  We are strong but we are not invincible.  

Nor, are we infallible.  In our quests to be the best at every single one of these jobs, some people decide it will be okay to cut corners.  Just this once.  But then it worked so well last time that maybe it will be okay to do again.  And then well this is a busy week so I will do it just this once more.  And before you know it it has snowballed out of control and you can't even remember how you weren't doing it this way.  Errors in judgment turn into mistakes which turn into habits which turn into lifestyle choices.  Before you know it you are on a collision course with a little thing called consequences.  It's not okay to hurt others because you are stressed out.

What we have to do is keep the dialogue open.  Talk to each other.  Encourage each other.  Be a community - NOT competitors.  We have to forgive, even if we can never forget.  We have to share even when it is risky and complicated and messy.  We have to stop caring about appearances and start caring about our spirits, our core.  We have to take care of ourselves and our community or we will fall apart.  And, I for one, love this community and will be crushed if that happens.  Someone will have to come find all my pieces and sweep them up. 

Like Andi said yesterday, blogging is our happy place. 

So let's be there for each other.  No stealing, no lying for the sake of lying, no bullying, no threats, no trash talk.  Be the people we wish others would be.  Be a community.  That's the way we will move on and we will be all the stronger for it.  #truthtrain

Thank you to Andi, Michele J., Leah, Allison, April, Melissa J., Lisa, and everyone else I talked with yesterday for helping me flesh out my feelings on this.  

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