Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Talk Talk


So I was having lunch today with friends from work. There's a group of us that try to get out for lunch as often as possible. I really enjoy these outings, as it is always nice to have some adult conversation now and then.

I'm finding that I am far more extroverted than usual when out. I've always been a fairly open book as far as my life goes, but in getting together with friends, I'm finding that I rarely use a filter these days. Sometimes I can go a bit too far in my humor, then step back and wonder why I am doing this. Often times my humor is sexual in nature, which is mostly received with a collective good sense of humor in return. Yet it all makes me wonder why I am doing this?

Which brings me to another topic. Friends reading my blog. I think there is a generalized perspective that bloggers are hungry for attention. That we have a need to share everything with the world, and thus publish our every thought and experience. Of course by nature of this post, I suppose part of that is true. Yet in my defense, I didn't start out with this in mind. At least I didn't consciously have this agenda.

My blogging beginnings were born out of my need to limit the direct responses that Michael and I were having to respond to when he got sick. I began blogging to keep our family and friends up to date regarding his cancer treatment. Along the way I began collecting new friends, who were mostly other caregivers whose loved one also had a brain tumor. Anyway, it was after Michael's death that I realized that I then had a need to blog for myself.

That blog, which is the one you are reading, began on our first wedding anniversary. It was my way of keeping sane during a horrific time when my grief was still so raw. In time the whole experience became such a significant part of who I am. I was suddenly part of a community who spanned throughout the world. I made connections that continue to be significant today.

Anyway, along with these new connections, I had my friends and family, who continued to read my daily writings. At first they would contact me, and give me some feedback about my writings, or offer their support. In time they drifted away, as their lives are just as busy as anyone else's. As I have met new people along the way, they learn that I am a blogger, and often then search out my written words.

It is always a surprising realization for me that someone new has taken the time to read my blog. I used to check to see where my readers were from, which gave me an indication if any locals were checking in. With time I have chosen not to look to deep into these details.

So back to my original discussion. While at lunch today, while joking about something, my friend turned to me to joke about my libido. At first I wasn't sure what she meant, then it suddenly hit me, she had read my blog. I found this quite funny, and loved how she used her humor to share it with me. Yet without skipping a beat, she also shared that she found my words quite sad, and how they brought about tears. We discussed this briefly, and what surprised her most was that my written words were so different than how I was presenting myself to our group.

In thinking about all of this, I have to admit that my interactions during the day are significantly different than how I am once at home. I go from being outgoing and jovial, to being quiet and reflective. I go from being overtly sexual in my humor to feeling alone and starved. Is it that lack of touch that is coming out in my humor? I suppose. Is it my need for sexual intimacy? Emotional intimacy? Any kind of intimacy? Intimacy with him that I miss?

Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.

Well, once again you have a blogger sharing what normal people keep to themselves. You have someone who is talking about subjects that most folks would consider far too revealing. Yet I always come back to the same place. What do I have to lose? Really. I benefit, and others benefit, from my written word. Sometimes it brings up discussions that I would otherwise not have. Keeping all these types of thoughts to myself is far too easy, and only serves to isolate myself further. There are too many of us out here who have suffered a great loss. There are too many of us out here who don't have someone to have these conversations with. So maybe they take the form of sharing too much. Maybe our lack of a significant other at home means that we say things, or express our thoughts and feelings in ways we never would have before.

Maybe we regret that we shared to much. Maybe we have no regrets.

What am I feeling immediately about this?

I think I'll keep it to myself.


  1. Interesting topic, Dan, and one that I've given some consideration to as well. I don't have nearly the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with readers that you have, but once in awhile, it can occur. Most recently, I discovered that a few people in this area are following my blog - perhaps more out of curiosity over the house restoration work. As you know, I make no secret of my name or location, so the blog comes up in any search pertaining to this hamlet as not a hell of a lot else happens here! In any case, after giving this a bit of thought, I realized that it's all okay and doesn't bother me. These days, I don't seem to care as much about what people know about me. Maybe it is better that they learn about me directly from my writings, rather than basing their knowledge on speculation. For example, when I first arrived here last year, one of my neighbours disclosed that everyone in the hamlet had been discussing me - the widow "from away" who had bought the wrecky old house on the hill - sight unseen! Was I crazy? Did I realize what the place was like? Why was I moving here? A few years ago, I probably would have been kind of ticked off about being the talk of the town, but after all I have been through, I seem to not care too much anymore. Let them talk, but I will present my own version of my life through my blog.

    Then there is subject matter. As mentioned in the past, I have been blogging about natural history and Don's and my studies and travels since early 2006. When he became ill at the end of 2007, I made a decision not to reveal anything other than that he had retired due to health reasons. After his death in 2008, I became very public and the direction of my bloggingvchanged considerably - so much so that I ended my posts to the original blog and started the present one to document a life that was changed forever. I thought that the natural history readers would probably fall by the wayside, but have been somewhat surprised ( in a pleasant way) to find that almost everyone seems to have kept reading along. Also, those who read have offered a terrific amount of support through their comments, emails, and even journeys to visit. I've wondered about that and have come to the conclusion that my writings (as are all of our writings) are about the human experience. Maybe people want to know what it is like to lose a spouse and carry on alone as it will eventually and inevitably happen to one half of every couple. Maybe they want to hear about a survivor-caregiver's life in the aftermath of cancer. After all, these days, there are increasongly few whose lives have not been touched by cancer.

    In any case, maybe the public exposure of blogging is just something very human. In the old days of small villages, much of what we write about would be shared and known to all. Now, in our busy, depersonalized world, there remains a need to connect, but it takes place in new ways that take advantage of changing technologies. Also, I think we come back to the feeling of having nothing to lose. Really, what do we lose by writing what we think? Privacy? Hmmm.

  2. i think some of us write because we are, by nature, a narrative species. we have always been storytellers. i also think that we seldom feel truly listened to. blogging is a way to put our words out there for all time. it is a technological carving in stone. we want to be heard, by someone, at some time; hopefully during our own lifetime. it is not lost on me that schizophrenics suffer from a loss of their story.

    we write to break the silence that surrounds us, or at least i do. for all i have written of in my own blog, it is truly the tip of the iceberg. so much i wish i could say but do not out of fear. i, sadly, am one who blogs to, yes, see if anyone is out there, and if anyone is listening to me.

  3. "There are too many of us out here who don't have someone to have these conversations with." - I think that's it, for me, why I still blog. And, as you said - these are things we used to talk about with our partners. We USED to have that built in processing, and now we do not. We've lost our echo, our give-and-take. And the average person doesn't, and can't, relate. Talking out these widowed-specific things with the non-widowed, for me, just has so much extra explaining and other challenges that it isn't worth the effort, and doesn't feel satisyfing or good at all. I never shared much personal stuff in the Before, but this sudden widow stuff is incredibly lonely and isolating, and finding a community who gets that is an important thing. I don't have my partner to share it with, and I need a way to share. And, as S said so beautifully, humans are a narrative species.

    I don't think all bloggers are necessarily looking to share every single private thing as broadly and loudly as possible to get attention, nor is that look at me! tendency limited only to bloggers. Some people share everything at any opportunity - on facebook, to casual acquaintances in line at the grocery store, etc. With or without a blog, some people need that and some do not. If you were taking out billboard space with your intimate details, well, perhaps that would be a bit far. Or not, if it felt right to you!

  4. What?! Humor that is sexual in nature?! YOU???!!! :)
    I love you, my friend, and I so understand your words .... and the emotions swirling behind them.
    My blog was for family/friends to keep up with us .... and then Jim died 3 months later. And the blog became the only way for me to vomit up all of those emotions, the raw, honest feelings that I couldn't put words to, yet they seemed to fly out of my fingers.
    And I've had many freinds comment that the feelings I wrote/write about don't seem to be the ones I show them. To which I want to reply, "Duh!" Like I want to always talk about my grief and how it's affecting me on that day .... and know that everyone is thinking, "It's been almost 4 years. You're STILL grieving?!"
    I spent enough time climbing out of that hell hole that was my hard grieving .... I don't want to converse about it every time it sends a wave my way. So I write about it .... and get past it. And know that when I write, other widowed people know they are not alone in their grief. And that keeps me writing. That and only that.
    A passion for people who grieve ... to let them know they are not alone. Or crazy.
    Great post.
    From your equally starved friend in Texas.