words unspoken

Something I found really interesting about the BlogHer conference was listening to other writers reflect on the act of blogging.

For some, writing is an artform, or therapy even. For others, it serves to document, inform or amuse. Some of us aspire to do it all. Sometimes we may know just what we want to say, yet other times we may use writing to reflect and work through our thoughts and emotions. Sometimes an experience is not complete until we’ve had the chance to process it through the act of sharing. Sometimes we may need to fully live through an experience before we can even begin to formulate the words. And sometimes the words may never come… 

I know for me writing has been so many things. It has served many purposes throughout my life — from childhood to my work and therapy, yes — and blogging is no different.

Yet I see within myself the tendency to write about certain things while I shy away from others. So I ask myself why I am unwilling or unable or unprepared to approach certain topics. Is it simply a matter of time? too soon or too late? too personal? too overwhelming, complex or confusing? Am I too lazy? too defensive or protective? too afraid (and if so, of what)? Am I not in touch with how I feel enough to articulate it? Am I trying to retain some sense of privacy that is forever lost when sharing an intimate thought or fear? Am I simply trying to exercise some discretion? Or are there just certain words that must remain unspoken, at least for now. I think it may be a bit of everything… 

For instance, I have not really written about the process we’re undertaking to pursue open adoption. Sure, I’ve alluded to the massive piles of paperwork and hurdles to leap. But I haven’t written word one (here anyway) about the details, or the people we’ve been meeting and the process this will involve. I haven’t shared the questions we’re being asked, or the tough issues we’re forced to ponder. I haven’t explained how it feels to embark on this new path shrouded in its own uncertainty and fears. I’ve only shared our excitement about the joy we hope will meet us on the other end… 

I realize this is partly because I’m still processing. We’re in the thick of it, though we’re only in phase one, the prep work. The hard work of waiting has not even begun. We’re not even “eligible” for a child yet. We have not yet been deemed “qualified,” as wrong as that seems, since we know what wonderful parents we will be. But it doesn’t matter how terrific and loving we are, or how much we’ve been through, or how long we’ve been trying to bring a child into our lives. We’re back to square one, really. There are so many feelings associated with that knowledge that I don’t even know where to begin. 

Some things are easy to write about in virtual “real time,” but not others. Some topics require time and space to reflect. That distance enables perspective. It allows you to process an event and assimilate it into your life. That process affects your thoughts and emotions and helps you find your words. Yet that distance also removes you from the immediacy of the event itself. It creates detachment. I wonder if it therefore results in a less honest telling of the story, or a more thoughtful and reasoned one. And I wonder which version is more real or if they are both equally significant. 

Everything changes over time. My writing on grief, for example, was obviously very different when it was fresh and raw than my writing from later, after I had the time and space to reflect on it and its evolution and impact on my life. Of course our thoughts are shaped by our experience and will evolve over time. So why am I unable to commit words to the page to express where my head and heart are at now?

I am also very mindful that whatever I say could find its way to a future birthmother or our future child some day. Do I really want them seeing me drop the f-bomb left and right? Or venting about our frustrations and screaming about my sadness. No. Maybe those things are better left unheard.

Yet this is my safe space. I need this haven, and I don’t want to be ruled by fear. So maybe I will find the words some day…

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~ by luna on July 21, 2008.

18 Responses to “words unspoken”

  1. You know, I fully expect my children to read my blog some day. And I still drop the f-bombs. I think if a possible birthmother was in the picture, I would be a lot more cautious.
    I do understand the wavering on real-time blogging. Even some things I want to talk about sometimes have to sit for a week or two before I get the words out. Some have sat for six months or more.
    I hope the words come to you just when you feel that you need them.

  2. I can certainly attest to needig to “process” things when it comes to adoption, and the “paperchase.” It is/was sometimes overwhelming to write about it in Real Time, because it is so exhausting emotionally, and the last thing you feel like doing is talking about it some more. Also, there were times where I was too wiped out to write about it, especially if we had just spent time at a family gathering, because as soon as people find out you are adopting, you suddenly become The Amabassador of All Things Adoption. Ugh. It’s like answering the same 12 questions over and over and over and over some more.

    Here’s my tip/advice. On blogger you can start an entry, save it, and NOT publish it right away (a draft). Many times I would jot down a phrase or thought, and then go back a few days later and finish it. I have copied/pasted parts of my blog and emailed to close friends, and I have taken bits I wrote to close friends and pasted right into my blog. Cheating? You bet. But it still counts as a chapter in the journal ;o)

    ANYTIME you need encouragement or to vent, you know where to find me!

  3. I do think that you should do whatever you need to do to keep this your safe space, whether that’s to write or not to write. I have lots of unpublished posts and think that’s often a nice way to go for me. So much of this infertility journey is about doing what you can do, when you can, whatever your process is. Maybe it’s the same with blogging?

  4. I completely get what you mean. And I feel the same.

  5. Very interesting post, Luna. I notice there are topics I tend to avoid — like, for one, I feel strange writing about my husband. Or my jealousy regarding other IFers pregnancies. I am also pretty restrained overall — always aware of my audience, not wanting to freak anyone out.

    For over 20 years, actually, I’ve kept journals (on actual paper… wow!). But with blogging I’ve moved away from that, and I’m kinda sad about that. There is definitely some private stuff I need to work out.

    Regarding the adoption — even though we’re not quite there yet, I’ve even started having dreams about being scrutinized for approval. I’m really scared of the whole thing, that some tiny-tiny detail will surface and make me “unfit” and blow our whole chances of parenthood, period.

  6. Great post, Luna. There are certain topics I tend to shy away from in blogging. I’m still sort of wary of the public nature of the Internet & who might be reading my posts, although very few people know about my blog. My dh does, of course, & reads it, so I tend not to vent too much about him!! Partly because I know he’ll read it, & partly because I don’t want people thinking he’s a jerk when he’s really not & I’m just doing some venting. I do have a few other outlets — a small private board that I post on — where I feel safe doing that, though! ; ) I used to keep paper journals on & off, since I was 7, but haven’t written in one for quite awhile now. I’m on the oomputer so much these days, both at work & at home, it’s almost more natural for me to type now!

    You know, I always thought I’d keep a pregnancy journal, & for some unknown reason, I didn’t, & of course I regret it. I think maybe because the pregnancy was such a roller coaster, I had a hard time writing down how I was feeling about it at the time, because it was all just too frightening & overwhelming.

    That’s partly why I’m blogging now & writing “10 years ago” posts, to capture some of what’s left of those memories before they fade any further.

  7. I thought going private would help with this, and maybe it did to some degree . . . but all of what you say here it so very true. It’s a hard balance to strike. What to share, how to process . . . what to guard . . . I always thought keeping a private diary/journal would be good but I never did do that.

    I did start reaching out through e-mail, to others at similar stages, on topics that scared me to post more widely . . . and that did help.

    Great post.

  8. Interesting and thought-provoking post, Luna!

    I think that it’s sometimes easy to forget – particularly when you are fortunate enough to be part of a community such as this one – that, whenever you hit publish, your words are out there for just anyone to read.

    Please know that I am thinking of you as you embark on your journey towards adoption, and wishing you nothing but the best.

  9. I can completely relate to this post. I think that’s why it takes me a while to write some of the really long posts I’ve written. It’s not really because I tend to babble on on on … It’s more because those are the ones where I have needed to sit down and try to process exactly what I’m feeling. And how I want it to be read by others.

    Now I’m wising I was able to go to BlogHer …

  10. Hi Luna!
    I totally get it. I think you and I touched on this topic when I saw you at (after) BlogHer. I barely wrote a peep about our adoption experience as it was happening–and all the stuff that happened afterwards…and there was so much to say! But in a way it was too much, too big, or just too private to put out there? I’m not even sure.

    Very interesting post. I like how you explore how the raw-real time telling of something is different from the re-telling later on. Hmmmm…..

  11. Great reflections. Sometimes, when I don’t know when to write, I just write to see what comes out. Reflection has it’s place. Inquiry in the moment, without any agenda to entertain or please your audience, can be enlightening. You may discover feelings or insights that you would not have had if you carefully thought out your post. Try it sometime. You might surprise yourself.

  12. I understand this completely. Sometimes I don’t write about some things because I’m afraid of what might come out. Seeing my emotions with the objectivity of a reader and then making judgments on my own feelings seems too heavy for some topics, and it feels safer to keep them inside so I’m not forced to look at them through a different lens. That probably doesn’t make much sense.

    Then for other things, I might not need or even want an audience -I just need to get the feelings down and out of my system. I call it a “verbal download,” and sometimes just getting the words out of my mind and set down somewhere for further review once I’ve had some time and space is enough. I have a few unpublished posts that are simply “there.” I needed to get them out but didn’t necessarily want others to read. Maybe someday I will, but for now, it’s just enough to have them there.

  13. I’m really loving these comments. I usually don’t do this (reply here), but what the hell…

    julia — I also love the f-bomb, can’t help myself sometimes. and I’ve got posts sitting in my draft folder too…

    ms. j. and millie — I agree it helps to just write those posts sometimes, with no greater need to hit ‘publish.’ and ms. j, you’re right, it’s all pretty overwhelming and exhausting.

    peesticksandstones — I know what you mean about that restraint on certain topics; sometimes I find myself saying more in comments on other blogs (like yours), or writing it down the old fashioned way.

    loribeth — I also kept a paper journal for years, though not with the level of detail that you have (impressive!). I have a jounral chronicling my early infertility, moment of discovery, and pregnancy. though like you, I stopped writing when the complications began. I picked it up after it all went bad, and writing was a big part of my healing. I hope it’s the same for you.

    beagle — you’re so right about balancing and feeling the need to guard certain things. I already find myself emailing others when I can’t commit to the blog, or journaling…

    ms. heathen — yep, once you put it out there, there it is. and many thanks for your well wishes.

    emily — I also write the long posts to process those thoughts. but they get pretty long…

    frenchie — hi! yes, I was building on our discussion and others on the same topic. btw, your arrangements make me feel like I want to get married all over again…

    phoebe — I do that all the time, on paper and in posts that will never see the light of ether.

    kym — love the idea of “verbal download” — and yeah, I’ve got lots of those unpublished posts too.

  14. Luna, it is incredible the way you manage to capture all those swirling thoughts. this is a major step, what you and dh are currently just begining to undertake. it makes me very very angry that after all the heartache you’ve both been through that you would have to prove that you would be a capable parent. what you have undergone to have children and keep your precious son proves what type of parent you would be. i wish we could just show our hospital records, that should more than prove that we would go to any lengths to protect a child.
    this is your safe place, i hope you would chronicle your adoption journey here.

  15. I also hope, when you’re ready and feel it’s appropriate, you’ll tell us more about your journey. You’re a fascinating traveler, and I want to hear your account!

    I also understand the silence. I think I’d stray on the side of caution, too. There’s a lot at stake, and it must feel like you’re walking on eggshells to be understood for what you are: excellent future parents.

  16. I’m sure you know that we are all here to listen, even when you don’t have the words to share yet.

    I understand the reticence, be it potential readers or your own privacy you are protecting. It makes perfect sense.

    For me, lately especially, I find I do a lot less spewing and a lot more thinking (my old writing teacher would say I’m just busy editing in my head instead of writing). Not sure what that’s about, though I do often find that I find answers or clarity in the act of just getting the words down. Whether I hit “drafts” or “publish” it usually helps, if in different ways.

    As others have said, this is your space, and just as your life has changed, I would imagine your use of this space would change, too. I, too, am interested in what you have to say about this next step in your journey, though of course, I respect your silence.

  17. Sometimes I have those exact thoughts. I used to write in a journal and I stopped for various reasons. My handwriting just got so bad, I could barely read it myself and sometimes the thoughts came so fast, I could barely keep up. With blogging, it’s a bit easier. I type very quickly. I feel like I’m sharing with other people, so yes, sometimes, I hesitate to write some stuff. I have this image of myself as strong and spiritual and can do it all sort of person. But then there’s this secret side, that is vulnerable and insecure and sometimes I’m not too keen on sharing that.

  18. I think that is wonderful that he will be a part of your amazing journey. Good luck in the future I hope things move swiftly for you.

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