So I wrote my post and people got mad. Really mad. And as I read their comments I felt awful and I tried to keep an open mind and heart and I attempted to respond both honestly and respectfully. And I thought I was understanding what people were trying to say and I while I tried to explain myself I was also trying to be really open, to really hear them and why they were upset.
As the comments kept coming in, and I read and re-read each one, and my own responses, I started feeling confused. Then I re-read my own post and I was even more confused. Because honestly, I thought I did a really good job of making that post about me and not about the other person. I thought I was writing from a place of curiosity and interest and not from a place of hurt or anger.
Except everyone insisted I was just writing this because I was pissed I didn’t get the password. And everyone was telling me, but you can’t say X about you without also implying Y about someone else. You can’t say you felt like you were walking up to a group of people who stopped talking until after you left without extending that metaphor and making the bloggers who use PWP the people who stopped talking in your comparison (therefore suggesting that said bloggers are rude and insensitive). And you can’t say that you think password protected posts foster exclusivity (even though, by their very nature, passwords EXCLUDE people from reading a post) while reiterating that you want to avoid that atmosphere of exclusivity on your own blog without criticizing people who use passwords as mean and exclusive themselves.
And as we were walking around and around in circles, I realized something, these are the same arguments that I use when I get frustrated with Natural or Attachment Parenting articles that promote one way, calling it natural, so that I immediately assume they are suggesting that the other way in unnatural. And then they tell me, “no, you misunderstood” and I counter with “no, you misspoke.”
Now I get it. Now I’ve been on the other side and I see what it’s like for someone to take what you meant to say, even when you think it seems so clear, and actually read something totally and completely different. What a humbling experience, to be on the other side. And what a helpful and important reminder that yet again, you can’t have it all, not when it comes to making yourself understood.
I want to reiterate that I did not mean to cause anyone hurt or harm. That was not my intention, but it is clear that I did cause pain to not just to the one specific blogger who had something to do with the post, but also her many friends. I hope I made it clear in my responses to comments that I take full responsibility for my actions and their consequences and that I’m deeply sorry.
I’ve read everyone’s comments countless times. I’ve read my responses to them over and over as well. And I’ve returned to the original post, trying to read it again through the eyes of those who were hurt. I have to admit, I don’t necessarily understand why everyone is so upset, I don’t think I could write that post again without hurting someone’s feelings in the process. Obviously I will never be writing a post about anyone else, anonymously or otherwise, because I just can’t gage what will or will not hurt people. I recognize that weakness now and I will make future decisions with that in mind.
But I also hope that those who came here with the expressed purpose of defending a friend, can take the time to read the comments of those who did not come here with that purpose, who saw something else in my words, who saw that which I intended to write. I hope they can see that maybe their connection with the blogger I spoke of is making it difficult to read what I was hoping to write, just as I have admitted that my own insecurities as a parent have twisted the way I read certain NP and AP related posts, causing me to read much more than is actually on the written page.
I have also learned something else in all this: I try to avoid exclusivity. This has been a theme on this blog before, when I expressed my concerns that PAIL might be seen as exclusive days before that whole debacle went down. I dealt with it again when I first created the PAIL book club and asked that anyone be able to participate (a practice that is still honored today). I don’t like people to feel excluded. I know there are all sorts of groups that exclude people, that by their very definitions some groups are only for certain people and therefor exclude others. And I’m not saying that exclusivity has to be bad, but I don’t understand why it can’t be acknowledged and why it can’t be acknowledged when that is possible.
It’s true that password protected posts exclude people from reading, from being a part of a conversation. That is just a fact. If people want to assign judgement on that statement it is their own judgement and has nothing to do with the simple truth of it. If someone password protects a post they know that they are excluding people from reading it. That is their purpose in doing it. And it’s true, what Julie said in her comments, that blogs can be exclusive. Each blog belongs to its author and they can include or exclude whomever they please. There is no rule, even in this community, that every blog must include everyone who wants to read, that they must make everyone feel welcome. No blogger owes another blogger inclusivity. We can’t all be a part of everything, it just can’t be done and it would be insanity to suggest otherwise.
And yet, I can say that I want to try to include anyone who wants to read my blog without criticizing those who don’t want to do that. I enumerated all matter of reasons why that is the case for me, but might not be the case for others in my original post (anonymity in my space and my own personal comfort levels surrounding sharing private information among them). So I don’t understand why I can’t just say that on my blog, I want to do things one way without suggesting that others who want to do it another way are somehow inferior to me.
I guess I can’t say that because I told a personal story that included someone else, and people who knew her realized who it was (and people who didn’t know her, found out because she commented on the post). I thought I could write about my experience without making her a part of it, but I couldn’t do that, either because I’m not a good enough writer or because it can’t be done. I thought that I could focus on my part of it, because honestly I didn’t think what she did was bad and needed to be hidden from others. She said she was going to do it in her own post, I didn’t think it would be so awful to discuss it here. But it was awful, obviously. If I had just said my piece without explaining why I was saying it, people might have actually heard me. Instead they read something else in my words, something malicious and hurtful that wasn’t intended at all. I have definitely learned a valuable lesson, to keep other people off this blog, even anonymously, even when I don’t think I’m writing about them at all, even when it means I can’t say what I want to say, or recount an experience that was significant or thought provoking, unless I have their expressed consent, because you never know how someone is going to react to your writing. And if they are involved in any way, they have the right to react to it however they see fit.
It is a powerful lesson, one I won’t ever forget.