If raw honesty makes for the best personal blogging, then anonymity is almost a pre-requisite. The best writing I've done was probably the first few posts as the groom stripped bare, before I caved in to my conscience and told my now-wife where she could find it. Since then, I've progressively shared the blog among the people I know in the real world and reached a point where the only people who definitely wouldn't see it are my parents.
The problems with this were embodied by an incident where I had a spray about someone, the kind that make for good, expunging, therapeutic personal blogging but which don't really embody any overall deep resentment. Their behaviour on a particular occasion tripped a few parental wires, but not so that I'd want to do anything to hurt their feelings. Perhaps I assumed that no-one was still reading, but they, being media savvy, may in fact have a feed reader. The next time we met they didn't meet my eye, and seemed unhappy, and though I don't know for certain I suspect they read and recognised themselves in the post.
Even by then I was self censoring. The gap between what tears you up inside and what can be said is vast, and encompasses perhaps the most interesting emotions- the hurt, anger, jealousy, fear, resentment and complicated love that we all try to make sense of in respect of our closest and dearest.
I have written little since Bear was born, Mr Man suffers an even greater deficit of words. But this is in part because I love them dearly, and I know, having been one of those who didn't get it, that writing 'oh I love you so much my kidlets' a hundred different ways just isn't exciting for others. Perhaps not even for me- I find I want to experience parenting more than write about it.
I can tell you Zoe was right, as of course I knew she would be: it's damn hard finding time to hit cafes or read papers. And yet it hardly matters, moments spent idling with my family are the best things ever, far beyond the worlds of career satisfaction or political critique.
What has been left out of my posts is all the close tension with family and friends, most of which they are not aware of. The abject disappointment Beloved and I feel as we find that people's talk is not matched by their walk. As we envy other friends whose family are closer, more helpful, more excited about their children. The complex posts I could write about how we know we were once like that, debating particular behaviours and what they mean. The things other parents do that we have doubts about. The things we do that we have doubts about...
The tensions between Beloved and I as we work through a period that breaks many relationships. Hanging on to the hope that some time in the future we will go out again, look each other in the eye and talk about how much we love each other. It probably wouldn't help the situation to write about how I feel gutted by each criticism or how I dread us becoming our parents- not in the 'uncool' ways, we're there already, but in the ways that drain love from a relationship.
We're ok, even good... But often I've needed to scream and I have nowhere to write it and no-one to tell.
My political blogging has been on the backburner for years. This is partly because I've found unless you write political posts all the time that readership quickly moves on- the action is all on huge meta blogs like LP which, good as they are, also represent the death of a different kind of punditry. It's also because I now work at a level in policy where these things get sensitive. There is a high level of checking, testing, and vetting and this has the palpable effect of excluding many more interesting and left-of-centre personalities from the senior levels of public life.
And I've lost most of my readers, the bloggy ones who comment and give life to the posts. This is a self-perpetuating effect because when I write about something deeply important to me and get few or no comments, I don't want to write about it again. But of course it is natural that, given how little I've written, there are less comments. I don't mean to sound petulant.
So I constantly think about closing down. The best of this blog is probably behind me, but that also makes it hard to end. It spans a wedding and 2 births and in places manages to perfectly capture moments and feelings in a way no other medium could. I know I should love it for what it is, a chorus to a play in several acts that has now reached its conclusion.
The conclusion is comedy, not tragedy, and through all the tensions parsed above I am happier than I ever thought I'd be with my fantastic family. They have been the main subject of this blog, and they, and I- we- are now embarking together on the rest of our lives.
A different trajectory. A related, but different, narrative, that may well deserve its own space.
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