Tailspin

I feel like the dust is still settling from BlogHer.

I don’t really believe in “meant to be” but I do believe in creating meaning out of what might otherwise be deemed coincidence. A few things happened in quick succession last weekend. Actually they all kind of happened at once, spinning me furiously so that when I slowed enough for the nausea to pass, I wasn’t sure what direction I was facing, or what I was even looking at.

I’m still trying to get my bearings.

The first thing was this: I wrote that post about how much it annoys me when bloggers ditch their blogs mid narrative, never to return. I used strong words. I wrote in all caps. Honestly, that was my angry voice, the one I use with friends in texts when we’re chatting about something that just really ruffles my feathers. I don’t usually use that voice on my blog. It was very much “me,” the “me” that I show only to some people. I don’t know how it snuck out of the basement rec room where it is normally relegated, or why it broke free, but it did. I guess I just feel really strongly about that particular topic, and so I said some shit and didn’t really think about the consequences when I scheduled it.

But there were consequences. And people came to my blog and one of them was quite frank in the dialogue that ensued. And it got me thinking.

So the whole time I was at BlogHer, surrounded by literally THOUSANDS of women who do the same thing I do (give or take)–in very different Internet spaces and with drastically varying results–I was thinking about what had transpired on my blog. As I watched women find their tribes and connect with their readers, I thought about how I knew almost no one there (at the conference) and I wanted so badly to meet the people I did know through blogging, but I’d probably never meet them, and I cared so much and I had no real way of knowing if anyone else felt the same. I spent the whole time at BlogHer listening, trying to figure out why ALL THE WOMEN write, realizing there are SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE, so many women who come to blogging to talk about other things besides not being able to get pregnant, and losing babies and feeling broken and alone. They come to write about all sorts of other shit and they find their tribes and it all just seems a lot simpler, and at the same time harder to understand.

The blogosphere is a big place. I used to think that when I’d fall down the rabbit hole of comment links or BlogRolls and found woman after woman writing about IF or RPL or adoption or parenting after all of those. But I had NO IDEA how much bigger the blogosphere actually is. How our little corner is a thousand times smaller than I ever could have imagined. I felt so small when I was at BlogHer. Our community felt small. I’m not quite sure what that means.

A couple of other things happened too. I watched Elizabeth with her best friend and I was struck, as the cracks in my heart deepened, by the fact that I don’t have a friend like that. I don’t have a friend who has walked with me through so many seasons of my life. I don’t have a friend who has known me for that long. Most of the friends I’ve ever felt close to are gone now. I could barely maintain a brief phone conversation with them today. I have no one in my life that knows me to my very core. And there is no one I know that well either. It feels like a gaping hole in my life, and there is absolutely no way to fill it. No one will ever be… enough.

Finally, there was a small mention on someone’s blog about getting together with blog friends and I thought, I will never do that. I will never spend a weekend away with women I know through blogging. It just won’t happen. I’m not close enough to anyone to do that, and even if I were, it would never come to pass. Maybe that woman was right, who wrote those things on my blog. Maybe I don’t have any real friends in the blogging world. Maybe it’s all just an elaborate facade. Maybe I need to get a real life.

Those things–the post and the responses it got, the things that were said, being among all those thousands of bloggers, seeing the physical proof of how large the blogosphere really is, and what a small percentage our community represents, witnessing a real, honest, true friendship, and being forced to recognize that I don’t have that, being forced to recognize what I actually have here, it kind of threw me into a tailspin. I honestly don’t think I’ve landed yet.

I’ve been making plans, because that is what I do when I get sent into a tailspin, I grasp desperately at something, anything, to ground me. When there is nothing in the present to hold on to, I grope desperately at the future. Except the future is only an illusion. It’s just smoke and mirrors, and I’m left with nothing in my hands but scratches.

I’ve made myself wait. I’ve held off on actually doing anything because I want the dust to settle and I want to get a handle on how I feel. The thing is, I might not know how I feel for a long time, so now I’m trying to decide how I can trust myself enough to make some decisions now, in the absence of accurate information. It’s hard to chose a direction when I’m not quite sure yet where I want to end up.

This posts makes almost no sense, but I’m going to press post anyway, because sometimes that is what we do.

Please forgive me.

24 responses

  1. I think you’re being very hard on yourself.

    I wonder how many women have friends who know them to their very core. I don’t, which is not to say that I don’t have close friends. And maybe collectively they might know me to my core – though I don’t think so actually. And I include online friends in that group too. But not even my family know me that way. Maybe my husband …

    I also think I like the real you. As I read your comment, I thought how much I’d like to have a real conversation with you. Face to face. Maybe even going away for the weekend. I’d like to do that with a number of my blogging friends, if only I lived in, well, the same hemisphere! And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

      • Me too. I only know you through your blog but I like you a lot. As I said to you via email, you remind me of me. If we lived closer and met in real life, I think we could end up being great friends. I wish that were the case – I’ve got a very good group of friends (many of whom I’ve known for 15+ years), but not a BEST friend. I wish I did…

  2. I am really upset that you let that woman’s crazy rant make you doubt yourself. That conversation made it very obvious who has the real problem, and it isn’t you.

    You have friends, REAL friends, and you have a life. What you witnessed with Elizabeth is very special, and very unique. I have lots of friends and none of them know me like that. Only my sister knows me to my core, and that’s because she’s stuck with me. 😉. You cannot judge your own life in comparison to someone else’ life. You’ll never be happy if you do that.

    I’m glad you wrote this out, I hope it helped. Now… Head up, young person!

  3. This post brought back a lot of memories of a time when I felt fairly alone in the world. I wanted so desperately to rid myself of those feelings and to feel connected with others on an intimate connection. The thing was, it wasn’t until I began sitting with myself and analyzed what was happening in my world that I realized the lack of connection was due to me.

    I think Mali and Courtney are absolutely right. I also think there’s been a lot of change in your life. Change can be wonderful and exciting, but it also makes us feel less grounded. That lack of grounded makes us feel less certain and we can find ourselves questioning everything.

    Finally, though I can’t speak about others knowing you are your core, I can speak about how loved you are. I’ve heard the stories about you selfless acts for friends, especially in moments of need. Doing that requires a connection, an intimate one in fact. And those acts are rarely forgotten.

    So, be kind to yourself E. And may you land smoothly.

  4. Remember when you said “comparison is the thief of joy?” That is definitely what is happening here.

    I think you put the idea of friendship on a pedestal, and part of why you do that (I’m guessing) is because you are an extrovert. When you talk about all of the friends you have in different ways – high school, college, blogging, honestly? I think, to quote Paul Rudd in “I Love You Man” – “I need to go get some fucking friends.”

    I do have friends from all periods of my life, but I rarely speak with or see them. I have no time, working the crazy hours I do, but I do have lots of nice co-workers, which probably fills the space I need to socialize.

    Staying at home to parent (which you are now doing in the summer) is isolating as heck. I think that is probably adding to the feelings of wanting these idealized friendships.

    Well, I’m here in my own way. I may not “know you to the core” for years and years, but our many conversations keep me sane and amused, and I thank you for that. 🙂

    • Putting friendship on a pedestal. I shall be musing over that all day. There will probably be a post about my thoughts. Very interesting.

      I hope you know that you, and our friendship, is the only thing keeping me sane. It is my lifeline. I don’t say it much because it seems like a lot of pressure and I don’t want to scare you away, but it’s true.

  5. Oh E, this was hard to read. I recognize your voice as one of my own sometimes, and you are so, so hard on yourself. Everyone above has mentioned the same thing, and I’ll let their words say what needs to be said. Take care of yourself, and realize that we’re all here for you in one way or another, and that counts for something 🙂

  6. What about a skype meetup with bloggers you feel close to once a week or month? I have a couple bloggers who I’ve become close to and we use to skype once a week or so. We haven’t in quite awhile now because our schedules/lives got busy, but we still text or check in every once in awhile. I feel isolated in my real life too, we live in a tiny town with not many women/mom’s I feel connected too. I was just telling my hubby that I’m lonely too. Honestly, I think it’s so much work to have a friend who knows you to your core. In order to have that, it takes years of friendship/trust to have that. For me, it takes me awhile to warm up to someone.

  7. Where you live is in my top 5 places to visit and meeting you is in my top 5 things to do there. For what it’s worth 🙂

    I have new friends and old friends but I’ve always felt some distance from them, even when they’re my close friends. Maybe that’s just how we are?

  8. Yes, I think jjiraffe got to the heart of this with your own words…”comparison is the thief of joy”. I could have written every word of this. I’ve written about this pretty extensively, but of all the facets of what I consider a complete life, friendship is the one that is sorely lacking (and I am a pretty severe introvert, even us introverts need kindred spirits in our lives!) When I see or even read about other women’s friendships, the long-term ones that are still going strong, the new “tribes” that seem to effortlessly form—I get a little green-eyed and inadequate-feeling. I have to realize that part of it is my own doing—I don’t spend a lot of time and energy putting myself “out there”. And part of it is just a fact of life for a lot of people.
    For what its worth, I would LOVE to meet you, the REAL you! I think we’d get along (though our kids may kill each other, at least O and B and L seem to be feisty, Monito seems pretty chill)

  9. Like so many others said, you may be imagining that others have something they really don’t. I’ve always wanted to have the kind of friend I could call at any time of night, who I could tell anything to and would always be there. I have a group of friends I’ve known since I was 9, but even we don’t have that. I seem to be good at meeting people in lots of different places, but not in getting really close to them.

    And I really do wish I could meet you in real life. K’s cousin in CA just got engaged, and I have this fantasy that we’re going to fly there for the wedding and I’ll get to meet you (and Rain, from Weathering Storms). I have not yet looked on a map, because I fear it’ll tell me you live too far from K’s cousin. And I don’t know that we’ll be able to afford 4 plane tickets. But I can dream…

    Even with blogging, very few of my relationships have transferred into “real life”. I’ve still only met 1 person whose blog I read (Serenity) and I haven’t seen her in over a year. I am FB friends with about 4 bloggers, I occasionally email others. And that’s it. I’ve kind of made peace with that, but sometimes I wish I’d made more of these relationships.

  10. May I remind you that 4 of us got together last Fall? It was wonderful. I was honored that you and the others took such good care of me while I was in your neck of the woods.

    (Though it was too short.)

    Maybe an ALI mini-con somewhere?

    • And that was AWESOME. But I only saw you for an afternoon. And it will probably be years before I’ll see you again. 😦

  11. I don’t have those super long friendships either. I have a couple college friends I still interact with, but no childhood or high school friends. I think that’s pretty typical, but I’m also an introvert, so socializing can exhaust me. I think you’re being really hard on yourself personally. At least you went to BlogHer! I don’t even consider it, because I’m so scared of the intimidation of more successful bloggers and better writers, and people who have already formed friendships.

  12. I hurt that you are hurting about this. I so wish there was something I could say, or do, to make you feel better and more confident. And I know I’ve said it many times before, but I truly wish we lived in the same city and could get together all the time. I do think we should make an effort to get together again SOON, whether that be next year’s BlogHer or a trip to West Texas 🙂 I was thinking about your writing class- maybe you will meet some like-minded women there that would want to meet outside of class. I do think this is one area I am good at- making and keeping friends. And I was trying to think of some things I do and my friends do to make that happen. Facebook is honestly a great tool- I am a part of many facebook groups- support groups for Mito and a dinner group of friends who meet once a month- not only is it a good place to set up dinners, playdates, etc. but also a great place to have coversations and get to know each other outside of the structured meetups. Maybe you could volunteer to set up a group of your writing class people?

    I also had the same realization after BlogHer- that the blogosphere is SO MUCH BIGGER than our community and I don’t think we should be bound to stay (or be exclusive) to one community just because that’s where we started. I’ve already started adding new, different blogs to my reader and have really enjoyed reading about more than pregnancy and babies!

  13. Just echoing what so many have already said… I like seeing the real you in your writing. And I think I’d like the “real life” you too!

    I think it can be harder to make friends now that we’re older and busy with our families, but it’s not impossible. I’ve been lucky enough to make a few good friends in the recent years because of being a mom. It’s not always easy and I know a lot of us can be scared of rejection but I was always so happy when other women “made the first move” and reached out to me.

    I hope you can see from the comments here that a lot of people in the blogging world care about you and consider you a friend.

  14. I think evaluation and reevaluation of our lives is always a good idea. And sometimes facing a truth we weren’t aware of or ready to face can be hard but productive in the long run. So in that way I think this introspection is a good thing. HOWEVER, I do not think what that one person said needs to sit so heavily on your heart. For what it’s worth I found that comment insulting, and considering that my opinion of people who drop blogs without warning is in line with yours, I immediately felt rather defensive when I read it. It does not come from being needy, it comes from a place of caring. In my book it says something GOOD about you.

    Also, I have known my best friend for almost 30 years. I have two other (almost) best friends I’ve know for 17 and 11 years. I am immensely lucky to have these amazing women in my life and I STILL feel lonely quite often.

    If you DO come back to Spain I’ll absolutely meetup with you! 😉

  15. I have only ONE long-term friend…and she lives a 6 hour drive from me. We talk several times a month and text weekly….but we only share the “big stuff”. She knows very little about my day-to-day life. I have a few local friends, but no one who I trust with what’s going on in my heart-life. Part of it is that we both live in big cities, and I think it’s harder to connect when there is SO much to do all the time. And getting to know someone takes time….which you know, of course.

    If you’re ever up for it, we could totally meet for a writing weekend! I know a little lodge north of you that would be perfect for it.

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