Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Another Comment

Things I'm writing about that could possible invade or hurt people in our family according to another commenter
--mental health issues (ADHD, anxiety, depression, medication) of the girls
--my sister's sexuality
--family conflict

Summary of comments is that I'm not anonymous enough (even though nobody knows about my blog except for 3 close friends who I tell this stuff in person to anyway). It would be easy to figure out the who, what, and where of our family from our blog and this could be used to damage my family by others OR if the kids find out in the future they will feel I've invaded their privacy.

Things I'm struggling with on this:
--I don't know how to write without being totally honest and telling details of the story.
--As a family, we are very open about the girls mental health issues, especially M's ADHD and anxiety.
--My sister is gay.  Everyone knows this and it's not something we hide.
--There is a lot to our family story that I don't share and that is not included in this blog. 
--Despite the commenter's best intentions, I now feel horrible and guilty and that this blog, which has given me a great outlet and support system, has been selfish and despite helping me, it's something that inadvertently I have created to potentially hurt my family by invading their privacy.

I'm at a loss with this one.  It all comes down to people finding out that I write a blog and then tracking it down.  It's easy to do this if you are a reader and can use information from the blog to form search criteria in google, but not that easy if you don't know what you're looking for. If they google about the accident using the names "Jeanne and Mike" they can find their last name but no where in the press is my last name or the names of the girls. I honestly think it is a bit far fetched someone would use information found from my blog to hurt my family.

If in the future the kids or K find my blog and read it, I'm not sure they'd be all that upset.  They lived all of this.  I think they could be upset that I shared stuff they may feel is private.  But again, I wasn't posting this on a billboard or all over facebook to be read by people they interact with on a daily basis or even distant acquaintances.  My blog isn't read by very many people.

I feel awful and now incredibly naive and guilty.  Another mark on my "I suck at this" chalkboard.  I want to write.  I need to write.  I just don't know whether or not I'm going to be able to continue.


  1. Hi there, it is tricky. Could you go private and invite your readers? That way you do limit what is truly accessible to the public but can share with people you've come to know through this community. Could be a good way to protect privacy while maintaining the community you have created. Thinking of you!

  2. I was going to suggest going private as well. I've toyed with the idea and just haven't for any number of reasons.

    I have nothing else.

    I truly don't believe you've done anything wrong or harmful. You've really posted nothing other than what you've experienced and how you've processed it. If you've been upfront with your kids and husband, I don't see the harm.

    As for googling you guys...what? Really?!? Who...why...uh...wha...? I suppose there are those folks out there who do those sorts of things, it never occurred to me to do so (and I still won't, choosing to respect your privacy and whatnot). And, WHY? Why would somebody do so? For what POSSIBLE reason?

    I confess, I really just don't understand people.

    Peg, you have to do what is best for YOU. If it's writing, then write. If it needs to be done in a more private setting, so be it. I will say I'll miss you and your family, but I completely understand. If you choose to share your writing with those of us who are here supporting you and have been with you on this journey through the years by inviting us along, wonderful.

    Don't second guess yourself. Hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20. I have to tell myself I made the best choices I could with the information I had at that moment. You did the same.

    Hugs to you, my internet/CW friend. :o)

  3. If your sister is open about being gay, then why should you treat it as private information? The idea that being gay is somehow shameful or should be kept secret is so last century! As for mental health issues, again, why should that be considered stigmatizing or shameful? If we never talk about these things (as a community), how can we support people that are dealing with them? You wouldn't hide the fact that one of the children had an infection and needed antibiotics, so why should you hide an illness that is mental, rather than physical? That double standard gets in the way of finding ways to help people.

    Family conflict stuff is a bit more tricky, but really, anybody who knows your family probably already has some insight into these issues, and for people who don't know your family, why should it matter?

    I do think that if you're feeling uncomfortable writing now, going private and using a password is a good way of finding a happy medium.

    Good luck figuring this all out. I'm so sorry that you are now having doubts. Try to release the guilt, anyway. You have done nothing wrong.

  4. I'm sorry I was so quick in my comment. I agree with the others, you shouldn't beat yourself up about this. You and your family are in a challenging, challenging situation and you've found a way to help yourself. Think it over but please do be kind to yourself.

  5. I think your second thoughts are an extension of mom-guilt. because we will never ever get it all right and the last thing you would ever want to do is cause harm to those you love. I'll repeat what I said before: I have never read anything you've written here that I thought was cruel. If turning your settings private puts you more at ease, give it a try, but personally I don't think you need to (unless you are being harassed).

  6. Hi Peg - I stop in on your blog every so often and have never commented before but first of all I would definitely tell you to keep writing - whether private or even in an abridged blog, way -- I think it is therapeutic and don't know what I would do without writing as an outlet myself. You said above "I think they could be upset if they feel I have shared things that are private" -- what about going back into the blog and changing the names and some of the accident and family specifics to make it more anonymous? That won't change writing being a much needed and wonderful outlet but you could protect your kids, husband, siblings, etc.from being hurt or upset if it were to ever come to the surface. The other option would to, like the other commenters suggested, go private which might also give you some peace. Blessings - Michelle

  7. You haven't written anything that a reasonable person could mistake for deliberately hurtful or embarrassing information. You've written about your struggle, as a real person, dealing with grief and family issues. To me, that is sharing your humanity with others, and it's also so helpful to others who are going through similar situations. I can understand the guilt, but I hope you don't take it too much to heart. People who say your blog is hurting others don't really understand how therapeutic it can be. It's not selfish to create an outlet for yourself that makes you happier.

  8. I read regularly but haven't really commented. I agree with the others that you should do what you feel is right. Go private if that feels right, or edit names, or just keep going.
    I had a blog I thought was private, and my mom found it. Unfortunately we don't have a great relationship, and it blew up. Now I write knowing my family may read, and I'm good with that. I'd prefer to have pseudonyms and be public than use real names and go private. But that's my family's choice - you can make yours.
    Wishing you all the best as you make this choice.

  9. Peg, please don't feel bad about my comment (I am the one who left the comment yesterday). I'm not trying to say this is something you suck at, nor am I trying to say you should give up this outlet. Blogging about personal life walks a fine line, everyone learns as they go--including me. I had a blog I thought was anonymous - I completely changed my kids' names and was very careful to leave out specific details about us. Still my kids' friends found the blog by googling them. Somehow the search brought them to a photograph of my daughter that I had posted (btw, is that E's name on the signs in your last post?). I was shocked and still don't know how that happened. So, to answer another commenter's question: who would google? Kids. Kids google themselves and each other all the time.

    I didn't mean to suggest that psychiatric issues or sexuality are shameful, but they are personal, and like everything else in a person's life, should be shared only with that person's permission. My family has lots of issues that we share with our close friends, but that's different than putting something on the internet for anyone to read. Just as an example, does your sister's employer and all of her students know she is gay? I know many teachers are very discreet about sexuality because not all parents are as open-minded as they should be.

    I think your other commenters have made some good suggestions for you: make the blog private and invite current readers, friends and family to follow. Or go back and change names and edit out the more personal information. I would actually suggest both. As for writing without sharing others' private information, that is a difficult skill to master, but it can be done, allowing you to continue writing. As I said before, Anna's blog is a great example you could study.

    As a last suggestion, I wonder if you've shared this blog with your therapist? If not, you might consider doing that to see if he/she could help you winnow through some of these issues/decisions as he/she obviously knows your family better than any of us. Best of luck, and sorry to leave another long comment!

  10. Peg,

    I always read but rarely comment and I have to say, I hope you continue to write. Selfishly, I hope you continue to write somewhere where I can read it - first because I have grown to care about your family and your story through your words, and secondly, because I've gained a better understanding about how grief affects families through reading here. I work with high school kids and know some of them are living with grief - and I feel like I understand them, not completely, not even a lot, but just a little better due to the experiences you have shared here.

    Unselfishly, I hope you continue to write as it is obviously a great outlet and theraputic for you. And, I believe having a good, healthy outlet like writing makes you (everyone!) a better self. (as well as parent, spouse, sibling, friend...)

    I've heard of people being "burned" by blog content they thought was anonymous before. I don't think you've written anything hurtful here, but I also don't think teenage girls always think rationally in terms of judging what is and isn't hurtful and understanding that adults are people with feelings who need to cope with stress! I think changing your sister and her husband's "blog names" to initials or nicknames would make a world of difference in the anonymity of your blog and allow you to continue to write candidly in the way that is most helpful to you.

  11. I find anonymous commenters fascinating. Where else but the Interweb and a confessional can people be so judgmental. I won't even get started on the unsolicited advice portion of this.

    "To thine own heart be true". That is the best wisdom I can offer.

  12. I recently began following your story and have been so inspired by you. If you feel like this will affect your writing what I'd suggest would be to let people know you're going private and invite people who are willing to share a bit about themselves so that you feel comfortable knowing a bit about who those readers are.

    However, at the end of the day it's all up to you. I also find writing to be extremely therapeutic and you have a lot on your plate. If this blog allows you to be a better mother then that has a very real value to it that should not be discounted.

  13. I have no advice to give. I have (silently) followed your blog for several years, and your family has taken a special place in my heart. I, too, have lost a sibling and i can definitely relate to the grief you so eloquently express. You have definitely helped sort out my feelings, too.

    That having been said, i have to admit that i once did find your daughters' true identity. It was during a swim meet weekend, and i googled to see how E did. I did it with no ill intention (it sounds stalkerish, but i was just truly interested as i, too, have gone through my ups and downs in competitive sports at the national level, and i know a lot about how these things can affect you psychologically.) However, after the fact, i was a little irked to see how easy it was to invade that privacy barrier, and i often contemplated emailing you, just to let you know that things are not as a anonymous as they may seem. But i figured it wasn't my business to "warn" you, and i did not want to seem judgmental. So i kept quiet.

    That having been said, i have not read anything that i would consider offensive to anyone in this blog. But i will say this: the way you talk about your boys on this blog is inherently different than the way you talk about your girls. I don't know how much of that is intentional (given the scope/theme of your blog) but the gut reaction you often get out of me (and i say this in a completely non-judgmental way) is that a mother's love and an aunt's love, wonderful as they may both be, are completely different creatures: No one "gets" my babies the way I do, no one will love them as unconditionally as I. Or so I fear. Because of your blog, it is all arranged that my sister and her husband will get my girls if something happens to my husband and me. But this arrangement still does not give peace of mind, for as much as I love my sister and she my girls, i am afraid she can never know or accept my babies (with all their faults and quirks) the way i do.

    Part of me hopes i am wrong, part of me thinks this is probably the way things should be - no one can ever really take a mother's place. And it is quite likely your girls have come to this conclusion themselves, too. But realizing it anew through your blog, should they stumble upon it, might be hard for them. I don't know -- i obviously know neither you, nor your family, nor your girls.

    But no matter what the case, like i said, i have not read anything offensive in your blog, and i am grateful for this space.

    Love and peace to you all,

  14. Keep writing, love. However you chose to do it, keep writing.

  15. Here's my two cents, and take it for what it's worth. Every person has their own comfort levels. And what the anonymous commenter has done is take his/her comfort levels and place them on you. And what you have done is take the anonymous commenter's comfort levels and place them on yourself. And someone else's comfort levels never fit us as well as our own. It's like wearing someone else's coat.

    I do question if their comfort levels are the right fit for you because they are someone who is commenting anonymously. That speaks volumes to how comfortable they are standing by their words. You blog at a slightly less anonymous level, taking care not to make someone's identity too easy to find but also not making it impossible. And I think you do that mostly out of respect. So I tend to think that your comfort levels and simply different from the anonymous commenters. And frankly, I wouldn't let someone else's comfort levels dictate my own. But that's just where I stand with things like this.