Thoughtful Thursdays: Unexpected Side Effect

So you may or may not know about my Creme de la Creme Iron Clad Commenter Attempt 2010 – where I’m trying to comment on all (400!) of the Creme de la Creme 2010 posts in 100 days! At first this felt like an exciting undertaking but after just three days I’m experiencing an unexpected side effect.

Yesterday I felt a little out-of-sorts. I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but I was not very enthusiastic at work and last night I got in a silly fight with Mi.Vida over our cat. More specifically, whether or not I liked our cat. You read that right. A fight about my emotional commitment to our feline.

Today I was just, well, melancholy. I felt lack-luster about work again and generally anxious about things. There was nothing in particular worrying me – just life in general feeling a little too scary and uncertain. I couldn’t pinpoint what was making me feel so bad and then suddenly it hit me.

It’s the Creme de la Creme. Because you know what people? There is a lot of suffering on that list. There is a lot of longing, a lot of loss, a lot of pain and a lot of tragedy. I’ve read 20 posts and I would say 15 of them brought tears to my eyes. And a heaviness to my heart.

If 20 posts can make me feel depressed and anxious what will 400 posts do?

I’m not ready to give up yet but I’m going to proceed with caution.

The unexpected side effect of my Creme de la Creme endeavor has me looking more closely at how all my blog reading affects me. Most of the time I really love being a part of the blog community. I am kind of addicted to following the blogs that I subscribe to and I enjoy commenting when I feel a special connection with a particular post. I have followed people from IF and IVF to BFPs and through pregnancies and on to births. It’s amazing to share the stories of so many smart, strong, exceptional women. It’s inspiring and I feel honored to call them “friends”.

The passion I feel about my own blog is a flame I don’t feel could be stoked by anything else. I am a girl who has filled over three dozen journals with my thoughts and feelings in the past twenty years. My best friend and I stayed in touch from sixth grade through college via snail mail and the occasional visit. Expressing myself with words is a part of who I am, and nothing else could ever satisfy that part of me. It fills a gaping hole left in me by my “real life” friends and acquaintances, people who don’t understand how I feel about my ectopic, my daughter or trying again. Having found this community, where people read my words, understand where I’m coming from (hopefully) and sometimes even write me back, means more to me than I could ever say.

I don’t feel like I can write my own blog in a vacuum. It’s important for me to follow other people’s blogs and comment on their tragedies and triumphs. I don’t feel right asking other people to read my entries without me reading theirs.

Having said that I probably read dozens of blogs by women who do not read my own. I have almost 90 subscriptions in my reader and only 50 some odd visits every day, with only the few random comments. As for the ones I read every day, some I want to follow and some I don’t have to heart to give up. But sometimes I wonder if all this blog consumption is good for me.

Sometimes I wonder if my fears about pregnancy and infant loss, SIDS, infertility, secondary infertility and everything in between is amplified by all the stories I follow. How can I expect to NOT think about these things when I read about them every day? Do I really want to be consuming so much of other people’s pain on a day to day basis? Is the feeling of belonging it brings me worth the anxiety it fosters? Sometimes I don’t know.

I’ve asked these questions before, and even taken “breaks” from the blogging world. I think it’s good, every once in a while, to revisit my participation in this community and makes sure my mental health and happiness are factors in my continued (or suspended) involvement. Maybe, while I’m undertaking the Creme de la Creme Attempt I will stop reading some of the blogs in my subscription. Maybe I will jettison the women I’ve always followed and have hoped would follow me, but never have, whatever their reason. Perhaps I need to decide why I’m following some of these blogs – do I just love what they have to say or am I hoping they will read my own blog some day, beginning a kind of blog-friendship? If it’s not 100% the former, perhaps I should learn to let go, because not being acknowledged by women you comment on every day is another kind of hurt that can happen in this community.

Do you ever feel that blogging can affect you negatively? Do you blog primarily to write for yourself or is it for your “readers”? Do you ever comment on a blog hoping to get a comment in return, because you think the writer is awesome and would like to be their “friend”? Have your comments ever gone completely unacknowledged?

I want to end this post thanking all the people who do read my blog, whether you comment or not, whether I know you read or would not recognize your name. Knowing that someone is experiencing what I share with the world means a EVERYTHING to me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Creme de la Creme 2010 Iron Clad Comment Attempt Part II

This morning I was greeted by this email from Mel in response to my kick-off comment on her blog:

YOU ROCK!  That is the best idea ever and I wish you a lot of luck.  It’s a huge task.  But think about how good you’re going to make everyone feel on the list.  There are still 100+ posts that will go up before the end of January.  So pace yourself.

After the initial excitement wore off I rescanned the email. Wait, WHAT?! 100+ more posts that will go up before January?! That is 400 posts! That is 4 posts a day for 100 days. At five to ten minutes a post/comment that is 20-40 minutes a day. Every day. For 100 days.

Hmmm. What have I gotten myself into?!

I have to admit, I’m feeling some trepidation about this endeavor, but I want to carry on. I will give it my best and if I don’t reach my goal, well, no one will care but me.

In the meantime, I’ve gotten through the first 10 posts! So far I’m enjoying myself immensely. After having read the same blogs for many months, some for more than a year, it’s nice to “hear” different voices, enjoy new stories, discover connections with new people. While I do feel somewhat overwhelmed, I’m mostly excited for what lies ahead. I can’t wait to see what the next 390+ will bring!

Bring it on Creme de la Creme!

PS I continue to post all my comments on this page if you want to check them out!