Judge: I want you to be very sure about this. This means you’re gonna walk out of here with absolutely nothing.
Tina Turner: Except my name. I’ll give up all that other stuff, but only if I get to keep my name. I’ve worked hard for it, your honor.
~ Tina Turner leaving Ike in What’s Love Got to Do with It
“If you do decide to start your own blog, my one piece of advice would be to avoid using your name.”
~ a letter to a friend who was considering starting a blog
There are a million and one reasons why I wish I hadn’t put my name on my blog. http://www.jessxxxxxx.wordpress.com. Really? I mean, really? What the hell was I thinking? Or not thinking? I’d tried for http://www.diaryofamom.wordpress.com but it was taken. Next stop – full disclosure.
When I started Diary, I hadn’t the faintest idea of what I was getting myself into. I knew about as much about blogs as I did about semi-conductors or the Permian Period of the Paleozoic Era – pretty much nothing.
At the time that it all began, a dear cousin of mine had been seeking to adopt a child. It was a long, difficult, emotional process that led dolts like me who knew nothing about it to ask to a lot of oversimplified questions like, ‘Hey, any progress?”
No doubt out of the exhaustion born of constantly answering the same ignorant questions from friends and family time and again, she started a blog. Through her web page, she was able to update us all in one shot. She would write about the latest developments, pontificate a bit on the challenges of the journey and in the process educate and sensitize all of us. I can promise you that no one who ever read her (beautifully crafted) words will ever again say, “They have four children – two adopted and two of their own.” I was grateful for the education.
One day, I found myself gnawing on an article I’d read. I chewed on it for weeks, but it just wouldn’t let me go. The article blamed the skyrocketing numbers of autism diagnoses on its hypothesis that many parents actually seek the label even when it may not be appropriate. Why? Well, according to the article because it opens the door to services – especially in the public schools, that might not otherwise be accessible.
Despite the fact that I couldn’t shake the article, I couldn’t remember where I’d read it. It killed me that I couldn’t send in a scathing letter to the editor. I had a couple of choice labels for HIM (or her). But I realized that just because I didn’t know where to send it didn’t mean I couldn’t write it. And so I did.
“As the parents of an autistic child,” I wrote, “we spend so much time trying to digest the label, understand the label, avoid the label – trying to get over, around, and through the label, to God-willing find a way to some day no longer meet the criteria for the label. The label represents everything we don’t want for our children.”
(ed note .. I have since chosen to change my language to person-first, but back then I still used ‘autistic’ rather than ‘with autism’.)
The next time I logged onto my cousin’s blog I noticed the invitation. There it was, clear as day -
‘Start your own blog on WordPress today.’
It made perfect sense to me. I would publish my letter in a place that would allow me to send it in one fell swoop to all my friends and family. Perhaps they would gain a better understanding of where we were coming from when we talked about our struggles with labeling *Brooke. Perhaps I could answer some of their questions all at once.
And so I put out my little shingle that day and opened shop on a quiet corner of the Internet, never thinking twice about using my name to do it.
After a week like this last one, that small detail is a glaring gaffe. I have so very much to write this week. So much that gnaws at me – much like the article that prompted my very first post. So much to share from our experience that I think could benefit so many of you out there in the ether. So much to purge from my system – the toxic doubt and the abject terror that drove me through the haze this week. I want it out. So much love, so much hope – the stories of so many good people who climbed into the mix with us and who leaned right into the wind. So much to say about the friendship that was forged in the fire – the one that had been here all along. So much to celebrate tempered by so much more yet to be done.
I could take out all the details, I suppose. I could write cryptic, round-about references and dance around the heart of the story. But if you’ve been here for a while, you know that’s just not the way that I write.
A gentleman contacted me yesterday about syndicating Diary. I wasn’t even sure what that meant. I’m actually still not sure what that means. We chatted back and forth via e-mail for a while. “We’re really only interested in your posts about autism,” he said. “We wouldn’t post give-aways etc.” I had to laugh. “I’m not a give-away kinda gal,” I wrote back, “Every day I give my heart and my stories; those are really the only things to ‘win’ on Diary.”
So I can’t tell half a story. It’s just not who I am.
I do hope that at some point I can find a way to synthesize some of the lessons we learned this week and share them. They are valuable to me, and I’m pretty sure they are universal. The most personal stuff usually is.
But in the meantime, I’ll have to find another outlet to process and purge and celebrate and lament. Because unfortunately, it just can’t happen on a blog that bears my name.