Is Your Story Really Yours To Tell?

September 9, 2014

Bloggers talk about boundaries a lot. I’ve read a lot of posts about how bloggers manage what to keep private and what to make public (see this post by Martine from Make it Blissful). I’ve never really had to deal with this tension in my blogging because it’s really just been me. Even with issues that affected Patrick, it was very easy to talk about me and what I was dealing with, without involving him. Now I find myself in a situation where I not only have to manage this tension on the blog and in my online life but also in my personal life, in real life. To be honest, seeing these two lives as separate is a struggle because I’ve always tried to maintain an authenticity and level of honesty on this blog so that it never seemed like two separate worlds.

There are so many things I want to tell people about my life at the moment. It’s in a state of constant flux. Many of my readers know that Patrick and I have our 10 year old niece living with us. She’s been with us for over 8 months and in her heart is set on living with us forever. I’ve previously talked about the joys of parenting and they have been pretty joyful. There are some parts of the story though that I haven’t been able to tell. Not because I want to gloss over the not so nice parts – on the contrary – it’s in my very nature to want to tell all. But circumstances prevent me from doing so in this instance. The struggles we’re having are really centred around the tricky situation of having a child come to you at the age of 9, we’re not her parents, but we kind of are, we’re her aunt and uncle, she’s with us now, but won’t always be, she’s come with one set of values and a particular type of upbringing to another home…It’s endless. And we haven’t adopted her, her parents are still very involved in her life.

I feel like dealing with my infertility was easier because I was free to talk about it. All aspects of it. I decided what I wanted to share and what I didn’t. With this particular situation, the boundaries of what I can and cannot share have been set. There are so many people’s stories intertwined with mine. Miss 10’s, Patrick’s, Miss 10’s parents…In telling my story I expose so much of their stories and that’s not what they signed up for and it’s not fair. But where does that leave me?

It leaves me in a situation where I can no longer really depend on my strongest community (my blog and virtual community). Some of my friends might pick up on the changes in my words and photos and reach out. But for the most part it goes unnoticed because I really can’t tell all. It leaves me in a situation where the people I can tell ‘in real life’ are limited, severely limited. I once made the mistake of sharing something with someone and because of their limited, and Eurocentric, understanding of this situation, their response to me was that I was a bad parent. It leaves me in a situation where I’m open to so much criticism and opinion, which I mostly quietly accept, because defending myself exposes other people that I care about. I find myself in a situation where I can’t speak online and I’m restricted to who I can talk to in real life and how much I can tell them. It’s tough and it’s frightening. So really, how much of my story is actually mine to tell? 

Do you have similar tensions on your blog?
How are you navigating between what’s public and private?

 

8 comments

  • Gemma Jameson

    I don't know the answer to this but, hello. If you need to talk you can always email me. Hope you're okay 🙂

  • Carly Webber

    I can understand your tension. You do a wonderful job of keeping balance, and it must be hard finding that with shared stories. I do understand your need to share more. I've mentioned before, we too have a severely limited 'real life' community, and I try and keep the 'heavy goings on' off Facebook. It then tends to give others an imbalanced sense that we are doing ok when all we share is the highlights.
    I still cannot believe someone suggested you are a bad parent – and it was someone you trusted.
    A similar thing happened to me when I was blogging, over three years ago. I shared some personal emotions and grief for the first time, after our second child was diagnosed with ASD, and a few people called me out as being 'depressing' and negative. I was so hurt by these few comments and judgements, I deleted my blog a week later. I didn't navigate those tensions well at all, but I do very much miss the part of that community that was so supportive, usually those who were writing a similar story. Perhaps there are smaller private groups for new parents navigating the same or similar family dynamic? I'm here also, to listen if you need. Without judgement.

  • Connie

    That is one tough question, and I think the answer is different for everyone. It's hard, because you don't want to hurt anyone, but hard because you are so engaged in your blog, and it makes us readers feel like we really know you. Hope you will find the perfect balance.

  • Annie Lue

    It is indeed a difficult situation you are in. You could try to focus on your side of the story and how you feel about the situations you found yourself confronted with. Maybe you could try to cut the conflict down to it's core and less ravel in details infolving others. But if the stories are really just that intertwined then… well, all I can tell you then is to listen to your heart and do what feels right for you rather than trying to find a mindful answer to this problem… You seem a strong woman to me, I am sure you can figure it out. Follow your heart.

  • Jeni at Northern Rivers Dreaming

    V,

    I'm a curator / academic / published author. I was in a very similar situation to you a few years ago. I resolved it by turning my blog private. This was not done lightly because it obviously has downsides. But for me it were totally worth these to finally (amongst other reasons) achieve a place where I can write what I like plus I can preserve privacy for family posts.

    At the time I did this I expected I'd go public again after a few months. But that's not happened because the resulting freedom is blissful.

    I use my blog's Facebook page as it's public space, and also have several other places I publish articles / reviews etc. If people want access to the actual blog they just send me their email address and Blogger sends them an invite to read it. I can switch my blog back to public anytime. If / when I do that I'll make a decision on a case by case basis re posts on issues I want to remain private.

    Being on Blogger you also can go private. However if that's too confronting you could always change from Blogger to WordPress, which allows locked posts, that can only be read by people you've approved.

    Good luck 🙂

    J

  • Iliska Dreams

    I tend not to talk about the 'outside family too much. Justin, Jarvis, Tamika and in extension Guy I do. But there is a lot I leave out.
    Anything involving me is open, hence why I have been open about my infertility and miscarriages. But I never discuss Justin in this story.
    I am as open and as honest about the me in my blog. But like you when others are involved it is a hard line to walk.

  • Rita

    I really don't have an answer but big hug to you ok? Stay strong!

  • Where is Shyamni?

    I came across this point earlier this year when I felt that I'd possibly written about everything I could and anything beyond that would be an invasion of privacy for others around me. I think most lifestyle bloggers eventually come to this point – of how much a story they can actually tell. For me, I feel my writing evolved after that point. I began to write with a bigger perspective rather than just vent! I'm sure you'll find a way around it soon enough, too 🙂

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