Monday, December 18, 2006

The Post About The Post Before

Almost as soon as I had clicked the 'publish' button on the last post I felt somehow cheered. It felt as if I had owned up to something I had been obsessively worrying about. Writing the words and then seeing them blinking back at me diminished the anxiety because I recognised the problems for what they are: temporary. Seeing them contained like that on a page rather than free floating around the vast open spaces that comprise the inside of my head makes them much less daunting. I can cope with that, I think when I read it back to myself. This, if I think about it, is nothing I haven't felt before. Tenfold.

When I read the comments, I tried to work out whether the post was a cry for help, and if it was then to whom I was crying. If I was asking for help then it was more for understanding than actual 'shitgetmetoaninstitution' real life help. To be honest, if I had been seriously worried rather than just felt depressed in a way I am used to I think would be able to talk about it out loud.

I chose to talk about it here instead of going to someone and asking them to seriously help me because I can recognise that, whilst I am going through a bit of a hard time, I'm not on the verge of a breakdown. What I needed was to be told that it was all going to be alright and that it is ok to be a bit fucking terrified, and I have the outlet to ask for that kind of help here. My friends are great, but instead of entering into a big conversation about anything I just wanted to say what I needed to say and bugger off into the Internet ether. What I like about blogging is that you can choose your words, then backspace and re-choose until you have pinned down the essence of whatever it is you have decided to wax lyrical about that day. In conversation you always have to clarify, to bend and stretch and reiterate. Here you just pick your words, say your bit, go home.

My last post was the equivalent of standing on top of a very tall building, then shouting "FUCKFUCKFUCK!" at the top of my lungs for a couple of minutes before patting down my hair, re-applying my mascara and adjusting my bra, then calmly making my way down the fire escape.

Which isn't to diminish what I actually said, because it was how I felt and it still is. What I am trying to say is that the post was a release and a cry for help at the same time. The fact is that it achieved both of those ends, and I somehow feel much less isolated than I did. I feel I can admit that there are elements to this new life which maybe aren't as good as I felt they were in the old one. I miss being around people all day. I miss routine. I miss meeting friends after work. I miss having a boyfriend. I miss earning any fucking money.

All, though, are just adjustments I am in the process of making (with the possible exception of the last one). I might go and have a bit more therapy, even though I will probably end up addicted to therapy and initiate a whole host of new problems.

Anyway. Now that I have satiated my apparent need to clarify every negative post I write here I can move on to the many more interesting things I have to talk about.

Like the fact that I have bought nearly all of my Christmas presents and it isn't even Christmas morning yet.

Or that I am going to Belgium for New Year's Eve (Bruges, to be precise). It is the same group with whom I went to Biarritz in the summer, so there should be potential for copious amounts of the good times, which usually involve gin and dirty talk. Brilliant.

I have also received my first Christmas present (just this year, not ever). A piece of Mount Everest! From my friend Chris who has just returned from Foreign Climes (or should I say Foreign Climbs). It is, admittedly, a bit of rock, but it is Sparkly and therefore Fancy. It is currently making my handbag heavy because he gave it to me last Monday and I keep forgetting to take it out. I am hoping that my next present will be a large-print hardback copy of War and Peace or a three-hundred pound man called Keith.

What I wanted to say without sounding too Oscars, is thanks. For the emails and comments and texts and phonecalls, and just the being nice and not minding that I am ruining everybody's Christmas period with my moaning. I appreciate it.


Blogger Huw said...

Be careful: your handbag could be classified as a lethal weapon. Depends how big the rock is though.

11:51 am

Anonymous Anon said...

Well, I think I have a kind of answer to the question I asked Huw in the last post: then what are we? (Huw had said something like, "dude! this is so not a cry for help. It's just release!")

let me say that I've been reading your blog for a few months now, and even 'de-lurked' occasionally (well, twice now) to make comments. But what I found curious in your last post--and in this post--is how you see your blog and the internet. and it's led me to ask questions about what exactly the relationship between blogger and reader is.

As you suggest, once you post, it's out there. If people want to read it they can, but "no one is forced to". This is in contrast to your friends, who sit there with the potential of being bored by you (or entertained, or bedazzled). Moreover, in a blog you can say what you want to say and send it off into the internet ether—there’s not endless clarification; you can be honest. And the responses you get are usually (always?) uplifting.

Well. My first response was to think, hmmm, then who are 'we'? As you say, we're not forced to read it; we can go read girlwithaonetrackmind or whatever. You’re right. So I come back to your comment about being honest, and my question: what does it mean to be honest here on your blog? and another question: what is our responsibility to you? Because if I were someone who came across this randomly, I wouldn’t care. Take, for instance, another blog I read occasionally: Chaucer’s Bitch, about a PhD student in English literature in Bristol. Recently she had bowel problems, and the responses were numerous. At the time it struck me as funny: why on earth would anyone care to read about this? To me the answer is that ‘we’, the readers, have a kind of history with her as a blogger. We’ve read her stuff, which can be quite entertaining; we comment; sometimes we get a response. And so ‘we’ build up a ‘history’ with her, in which we are aware of many of her fears and worries, what she likes and dislikes. None of us as readers are under illusions about this relationship’, however. But still, there are conventions and understandings that we all follow.

And this is what bothered me about your comment about being honest. Because to me, honesty means little if you don’t know the person you’re being honest to. It’s easier to be honest to a stranger because it has no impact on your life (you might get a bloody nose, of course); being honest to a friend is different—they know, and you know they know, that you have a problem, and both of you are implicated in this knowledge, you have a history which has become deeper and in some ways precarious.

So it seems to me that you make a distinction between your interactions on the internet and in real life. Quite right. But I wonder how much turns on this distinction? Because you can’t come to the internet anew every time. Over time, you build up a readership, possibly loyal, and if this happens you will become constrained by them too, because you know they know of your history. So you can’t write or act inconsistently with what they think they know of you. Or you can, but you should then expect them to point out your inconsistencies.

Or at least I would think so. I guess I’m just saying that you can send these posts off into the internet ether. And we can respond. But what is the meaning of these posts, and the meaning of our responses? You are being honest, but to whom? Is it right that we offer support, of whatever kind? ‘We’ are in a very odd ‘relationship’.

All of this is by way of saying, it's been very interesting. I suspect that most people are going to think, "that dude is so a stalker-in-waiting", or "you should get a life, man" (the first is not true; the second is), but perhaps I'm just sending my bit into the internet ether as well. You're not forced to read it; move on to the next comment.

12:15 pm

Blogger Gordon said...

Whatever you do, keep writing. It does help with [insert whatever it is you think you are struggling with].

Honest, it does.

Been there... t-shirt .. etc etc

1:26 pm

Blogger Léonie said...

anon - I reckon it's about audience. I am someone who loves, and has always loved, a big audience. I would rather stand on stage and sing to thousands of unknown people than to three of the closest people to me. I don't know why, but somehow shouting into the void is more comforting to me than doing something face to face with one individual.

When I talk about honesty I kind of mean honesty with myself. Having a platform from which to honestly self-analyse is liberating for me, and has been since I started writing this. I never write anything here that I wouldn't say out loud, but sometimes it takes the process of writing to actually identify what the problem is in the first place.

I suspect that to pick apart the blogger-reader relationship is to probe a bit too deeply into something that serves as such a hugely different thing to different people. If we really started exploring it we'd have to take into account the differences between commenters who leave names, those who link back to themselves, those who choose to remain anonymous. Then the blogs that don't allow for comments - a whole different notion, surely.

Well. I'm not sure about any of it. I like writing in my small corner of the Internet. It makes me feel happier, and it makes me feel good to write under my own name and have no shame about anything I write. I don't know what that says about me, or about anyone else for choosing to read it.

Thing is, maybe if we peer too closely at it the magic will go and it will be a case of murder by dissection.

That said, thanks for your comments. You should de-lurk more often.

12:43 am

Blogger shayze said...

I'm reading your blog for the first time and I have only read a few of your posts, but this one and the last one along with the conversation with anon intrigues me. Only because I know exactly where you are coming from. I have always felt more free on my blog to say things than I do in real life. Mainly because it's easier to say things to people you don't know. There is a definite freedom in blogging.

I have 2 real-life friends who read my blog and sometimes that makes it more difficult for me.

I also recently had some co-workers find my blog and they didn't understand why I was upset. They said that if I didn't want certain information known, that I shouldn't have put it on the web. I tried to explain to them that with a blog, it's so much easier to put stuff out there than it is with people face-to-face.

Since then, I have had to make my blog private and only open to a few people.

I will continue to read yours and wish you the best of luck!

7:53 am

Anonymous Mr Angry said...

Gordon is wrong. I have had man-flu for three days and blogging has not helped one iota.

Seriously though, you seem to have a pretty good grasp on what is going on in your life at the moment, it's just you've had some pretty significant changes, which takes adjustment.

Just imagine the sell-out tour you'll be celebrating this time next year and how much fun you'll have had with your new backing band...ahem.

10:25 am

Blogger Curly said...

We often dream about how things will turn out, then conveniently leave out the bad parts. Then, when we look back on it all - we say "It wasn't so bad really". It just seems to be the actual living through it that chucks up the nasty stuff.

I'm sure you'll look back and wonder what the hell you were so worried about.

Keith was a little hard to wrap, so I had to get you an Edward - that okay?

12:58 pm

Blogger Clarissa said...

*Clapping and shouting, 'Yeah' after reading this post directly after commenting on previous post.*

8:49 pm

Blogger lady miss marquise said...

You once posted a very lovely comment on one of my posts way back in the day... and I am going to repost it back. Not for my lack of creativity, but erm, because when I read it it made me feel very warm and fuzzy...

So here t'is... (Am holding your hand)

You know what? I think you should post when you're sad. There's a lot to be said for the catharsis of it and the feeling of being able to make that elusive unhappiness tangible for a moment.
I mean, obviously it would be better if you were happy, for you, but if you're not then I think being honest and open about it is really important.
I don't really know anything, though.
I am sad today, too. Let's hold hands.

9:37 pm

Anonymous greavsié said...

Everyone should be able to shout 'FUCK!' from the top of a tall building every once in a while.

It'd be more fun with a megaphone though....

12:57 pm

Blogger Will said...

I went to Bruges once. Bought a coat.

10:57 am


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