Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The case for anonymity

I started writing this blog ten years ago as a way to keep family and friends apprised of my impending move to Hawaii.  It was originally conceived as a chronicle - a record of what was going on - because I was getting ready to be on the other side of the world (almost) from the people I loved, and it seemed like a good way to maintain some contact on a bigger scale than email or the telephone could provide. Remember, this was before the days of social media.

Over the years, the blog has taken more of an intensely personal tone.  I feel like I developed a voice as a writer, and became a better writer, by making the essays more thematic - even when they were expository in nature - and by tackling subjects that were harder and more emotionally based than simply "here's a funny story" or "here's something crazy or sad or awful that happened."  In the process, I've developed a (modest) readership and have had people tell me that they were touched or moved or amused by something I had written, or that I had given a voice to something that they were feeling, particularly when it dealt with depression or grief.  And I am so, so humbled and gratified that anything I have written is valued - the internet is a huge place, and there are millions of reading options to choose from.  Particularly for readers who have stumbled on the blog and don't know me personally, the notion that anyone other than my mother would be take time out of their day to read and be interested in my ramblings is amazing to me.

But many readers do know me personally, and therein lies the rub.  As the blog has become more personal, my relationship with it has changed.  It's not just a place to record my life - although I love being able to go back and remember and relive things that I would have otherwise lost.  It's become a place to bare my soul, or to vent - it's become a form of therapy.  I write to work out feelings, to force myself to articulate what's in my head and my heart, and in doing so, to deal with it more effectively. Often I'll be thinking about something, and the urge to write about it in order to clarify how I feel about it or how I need to handle it is overwhelming.  And when the essay is written, it's cathartic.  I feel better - lighter and unburdened.

Much of that personal stuff I obviously don't mind sharing. But sometimes what I want to write about implicates someone else in a way that doesn't need to be made public, even if I make an effort to be as opaque as possible (which itself makes the writing feel contrived and fussy to me).  Sometimes I need to be careful not to betray someone else's confidence. Sometimes I can't say something because I'm legally bound not to. Or sometimes I just want to write about shit that my friends and family don't need to know about.

And when I'm not able to write because I feel obligated to self-censor, I've lost an important outlet for my own self-expression.

That is the case lately. I've got stuff swirling around in my head, and I can't write about it here, and not writing about it is giving me agita. I feel stifled.

So I've set up a separate, completely anonymous blog.**  It has no reference to who I am or where I live or what I do - just a place to be completely open and honest and raw as I want to be.  I'll still blog here sometimes, but many times I won't.

**I could keep a written journal, but I don't write as well that way, plus what if I die in a car crash and someone finds it in my house?  No fucking way.

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