Thursday Thoughts: On Telling Stories and Balancing Perceptions

thurs

My work day was done ten minutes ago. I should be out of my office and headed to the daycare to pick-up the kids. The rain is pouring outside, Sam is painting in the campus art studio and I haven’t written. I’ve decided to stay for one extra hour and write.

I keep thinking on how I want to shape this space on Thursdays. I have thought about a million topics and have several drafts floating around. Part of me wants to write about plagiarism, racism, feminism, and my continued struggle with religion. When I encapsulate those thoughts into little “-ism” bubbles those topics seem safe. The problem that happens is I begin to write specifics: news stories, life stories, stories ripping through hundreds of blogs faster than I can clumsily form a tweet. In order to maintain some sort of balance and distance I have decided that anything I write about has to be part of my story. I decided long ago that this wasn’t a mommy blog, a baking blog, a book blog, a craft blog…. this blog is me. It is my space. My story. Not one dimension of my life. On one hand this feels arrogant. Who am I to assume that folks would care about Amanda and her life? There are so many other stories and perspectives in this great wide world. I want everyone to tell their stories. I don’t want others to be silent, but I also don’t want to push them out of the way in my fervor to speak for them. I think trying to say that I can speak for other people is the error. In other words, I’m looking to get back to the idea that the “personal is political.” That the stories I tell (or don’t tell) impact me as an individual, but by sharing my story others may find the companionship, permission, strength, or whatever impetus they need to tell stories of their own. I’m hoping that tiny changes like this can help chip away the big hulking systemic problems of the universe.

There is one problem with this… I have to tell my stories. This blog thing is really odd. If I write a recipe, do a book review, share photos of my kids then I get a handful of comments from people I “know” (friends and regular readers). If I write about rape, drug abuse, self-harm or disordered eating then I get gobs of hits, shares, and comments. I’m so glad my experiences can resonate with others, but it is very scary if only the bad parts of my life are popular. It skews perceptions. I’m not a fat, depressed, anxious drug-addict who is barely surviving. I’m not the sum of my bad experiences, poor choices, or mental illness. I am a thriving and vibrant human. I am surrounded by people I love and who love me. It takes so very little to fill me with joy: a deep breath under an old oak tree on a rainy day, starting a new yarn project, losing myself in a book, feeling the cat purr on my chest, feeling the arms of my children hug me and their sticky little kisses on my cheek. I have so much happiness, comfort, and stability in my life. One must look at all of me to truly see me. For every post about the hurtful and difficult there are at least fifty about the good in my life.

I have so much good in my life, but I feel it is so important to speak of my own darker experiences. I spend most of my blog cataloging the wonderful, but it feels disingenuous to not mention the shadows. I can across this cartoon today and I think it aptly expresses why I am so driven to write about the nitty gritty.

eat shit & die 233

So yeah. I write about my shit because it helps me, but it also can be a light to others. If you read about an unpleasantness or struggle at Fig and Thistle know that it is shadow. This light is burning bright.

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2 comments

  1. Your bravery shines through those shadows, and your love for your family blazes in the light. So glad that you keep doing what you want to do on your blog and resist the pressure to write what you think people might want to read. It *should* reflect you because it’s yours! Kudos to you for rolling with what works for you. Happy weekend to you!

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