Thursday, April 22, 2010

Out

When I was in 9th grade, I sat in front of Matt McCarthy in English class. He had freckles and I thought he was cute. I flirted with him the only way I knew how, in my innocent freshman-year way. I passed him a note and, maybe in an attempt to seem more grown up, I used the f-word.

BIG mistake. HUGE. Especially in Miss Herrington's class.

Of course she caught me passing a note. And, of course she sent it home. Thank goodness I was able to intercept the note by checking the mail every. single. day. until it came.

So, you can imagine the level of suckitude I faced when I came home from school one day to find out that Miss Herrington had called my mom, just to make sure she got the note that was mailed home. And, of course my mother had no idea what she was talking about. Miss Herrington was nice enough to convey the contents of the note to my mother. How sweet of her.

So, 1) passed a note in class (low on the possibility-of-punishment-by-parents scale); 2) said the f-word in a note (much higher on the scale); and 3) stole note out of mail and lied about it to my family (off the scale altogether). Yeah, I was grounded for a long time freshman year.

One thing I learned from this little episode (because, really, what good is it to get caught in misbehavior if you can't learn something from it?) is this: don't EVER put something down in writing that you would ever be ashamed for your mother to read.

Still a principle to live by today. Still something I tell my children. Still something I practice.

Or maybe not.

I've always enjoyed writing my thoughts out on my blog. Pretty much, I just say it like I feel it. All bets are off. But, of course, this was always done with the understanding that the people who were reading my blog were just cyber-people, out there in the blogosphere somewhere, who I had no relationship with and to whom I had no emotional obligations. And then, through a myriad of clicks and hyperlinks and the magic of the internet, I found out that my mother-in-law has read my blog. Specifically, I found out that she read this post.

Gulp.

I don't know if she still reads it. If she does,

hi Pat.

I feel a little bit sick to my stomach. I would never want to hurt this kind, gentle, unassuming woman. She has been a really fantastic mother-in-law to me during my whole marriage. I don't have any complaints. Yet, there were times I've written some harshly-worded things about her on here. I re-read some of those, and I had to really re-examine what I'd written, why I'd written it, and if I really meant what I said. And the truth is, I still agree with what I feel. But, here's the rub:

I would be ashamed for her to read it. I didn't have the nerve to say it to her face, so I just typed it out on my not-so-anonymous blog. And, as my mother told me, I should never write anything down that I'd be ashamed for her to read.

My initial gut reaction: THE END. Close down shop. No more blog. No more words. No more hurt feelings. Never mention it to her, like I'd never found out that she knows about my blog. She's never mentioned it to me so maybe that's all fine and good for her too. So... great. There we have it. Don't ask, don't tell.

But I thought about it, and I realized that what I type here is not going to go on Fox News. It doesn't have to be fair and balanced. These thoughts are MY thoughts. They aren't a non-biased outsider's account of someone else's life. This is me, and my view of what's happening in my life, and how I feel about things. Of course my version of any story is going to be slanted - from MY point of view. And now, all of a sudden, I am feeling exactly the way I never wanted to feel: like I'm going to start censoring my words in light of who might be reading them.

Ahh, censorship. It's not such a nasty word. It can be okay. Kinda like the little angel and devil sitting on opposite shoulders, keeping our behavior in check. I guess I don't have to run at the mouth with complaints and ugliness. At the same time, I don't have to sugar coat my posts to the point that I feel sunshine coming out of my butthole. (see, normally I'd say a$$hole but already I'm switching gears to a cleaner mouth. I must be chewing Orbit gum or something.) Maybe it's okay to know that someone with whom I have an emotional investment will be reading my blog. I guess it's good to know that I'm not working without a net. 'Cause the net is what catches you when you fall, right?

Now, I just pray that my mom doesn't find her way here. But, I think I'm pretty safe. Still, maybe I should go through my old posts one more time...

50 comments:

Jennifer said...

Wow. This is how I felt when the interviewer found my blog. Like I needed to caution myself. But then I realized that my blog is just that... mine. And if someone doesn't like it, then they don't have to read it.

Gigi said...

Exactly why I don't want anyone I know in real life to know about my blog. I don't even let Hubby or Man-Child read it. Because if I want to vent I want to vent. I don't want to have to soothe ruffled feathers for having my own thoughts or feelings.

What I want to know is how you figured out she's read it? This is the kind of knowledge I would love to have.

Jess said...

I have 'vented' about my inlaws before! (my mil's name is Pat also) When I decided to put my blog on my facebook profile I put those posts back into 'edit' because I'm friends with my mil's sister and niece and since the incident happenend last year and they probably forgot or didn't even know they were doing it, I didn't want it to be 'exposed'.
I'm doing the childish thing and you are just awesome by posting this and still blogging!! You rock!!

J said...

This is exactly why I have to censor everything I post, because my passive aggressive family reads both blogs. Good times. I am just always in such awe of your honesty & sometimes envious of your freedom. Way to go!!

Sturgmom said...

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: a truly anonymous blog would be wonderfully cathartic. Something my own family doesn't even know I write. As it is now, I def. censor myself.

By the way, I loved the rawness of your Apr. 20 post. Did you delete it? It was still in my reader. You aren't the only one.

Emily said...

I hear you...I know my MIL reads my blog so I've had to majorly censor. ;)

Sugar said...

Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap. And ordinarily, I would say shit.

That's all I've got.....really feelin' for you today. Wish you could go back to the Four Seasons about now.

Anna See said...

yikes. ouch. darn.

my blog has bitten me in the butt before, too.

i think your mom's advice was excellent.

but...we still need a place to be ourselves, right?

GunDiva said...

The one - AND ONLY - time my in-laws read my blog was the time I bashed the heck out of them (see how I edited that?) for having two grown (and I mean 20s and 30s) children living at home with them - not working, not helping out around the house, not doing anything but being wastes of oxygen.

I removed that post, but I was *pissed* because they were my thoughts and I truly believe that my BIL and SIL are losers who need to get a life. But that may just be because I moved out at 18 and have been supporting myself ever since.

I've just decided that I can't blog about that particular subject - and I'd have thousands of posts - just to keep family peace.

Foursons said...

I read that other post. I don't think it was THAT bad. You had already addressed the issue with her so she knew how you felt. I wouldn't worry to much.

That being said, family reads my blog and I censor because of it. And I HATE censoring myself.

nick and carina said...

I just happened upon your blog and I have to say, it's great. It is hard when you have to scroll through your brain, considering who might be reading what post, etc. I say, keep up the great writing :)

Sandra said...

It's a fine line...do you blog and write what you want because it's your blog...or do you make damn sure you only inform those you know you won't write about...tough call.
I was caught writing nasty shit about my mom, saying things like she wouldn't know how to find my blog if her life depended on it.
She found my blog.
So now, I feel like I can't really vent about her unless I've told her off in person first!

Erin said...

That is one thing I learned...don't share blog address with family or in laws....so my next blog...they will know nothing about it!

M.Jay. said...

I love this post. I think all bloggers think about this on occasion and I think the just of it is, we are who we are, and removing anything would change who we are. Besides if you mother in law knows you well, she will know that you only had the best intentions...hopefully...lol

Karen & Gerard Zemek said...

I believe a good rule to follow is never to put in writing anywhere anything bad about anyone. Once it's out there, you can't take it back.

Stopping by from Writer's Workshop. Here's mine: http://zemeks.blogspot.com/2010/11/time-i-feared-for-gerards-safety.html

parentingBYdummies said...

My mom reads my blog. Which is why, I only curse and talk about sex when I guest post on Mary Mac's blog! Only thing about that is that my mom also blog stalks me. So, when I do that, she finds it and reads it even though I tell her to please not to. So, in addition to being a blog stalking judger, she also doesn't listen well. Love her to pieces though, which I'm naturally only writing because probably, she will read this!

JustMom420zaks said...

OMG, I totally relate. Which is why I have a seperate blog with all the swearing, references to smoking and drinking and certain whole blogs left out of it.
I send that address to my mom...lol.
The old bait and switch.
I wonder if she notices theres no extras on it, no ads, no search engines, no widgets... hmmm

Jerralea said...

This was interesting, but I believe like your mom taught you ... don't put anything in print you don't want everyone to read ... It's safer!

theworkinghousewife said...

Eeek.. I'd go nuts if anyone I knew read my blog - especially my relatives.. Husband is only exception - but I don't think he reads it often, so I'm pretty safe.. When I first started blogging, I had a few friends who read my blog - and I felt censored - so I started my current blog and have kept it anonymous.. :) Hopefully.

Kim said...

This is such an interesting point you raise - is it really worth it to write it all here. I really censure myself on my blog because I know so many of my family and friends read it but sometimes I wish they didn't because it is by writing about them that I could crank out some awesome posts.

Donna said...

Your writing style definitely shows you have a way with words! Glad you have used it to express yours. I, too, am considering censoring and actually deleted a post (after I copied and pasted the html code into a file and saved it on my hard drive) just yesterday.

Rachel M. said...

I love your blog! My husband is from Texas, it's one of my favorite places.

My mom reads my blog so I censor accordingly! Not sure if my mother in law reads but it's ok if she does.

mommyshorts.com said...

I FEEL YOUR PAIN. I guest posted on someone else's blog about my mother-in-law and the ridiculously horrible dress she bought for my baby girl with the expectation that she would wear it to her first birthday party. Then I liked that blog on facebook which showed up in my mother-in-law's news feed which led her to check it out which brought her to the post. She told her sister who told her daughter who emailed me that my MIL is more computer savvy than I think. *GASP* I was horrified. Turns out my MIL also has an incredible sense of humor and found the post hilarious. Who knew?

Natasha said...

Just visiting via SITS and have had fun exploring your blog, especially these 2 posts! Thanks for your honesty and sharing these stories and for reminding me that I have no idea who reads my blog so I'd better be nice!

Best wishes and happy SITS day,
Natasha.

CK said...

Aw! how ironic. The incident makes for great blog fodder, though ;)

Kimberly said...

Very good point. I think my ex-Father-in-Law reads mine. And although there are plenty of things I could blog about my ex and his family, I just avoid it altogether. They'd probably laugh about it (we get along great), but just in case...

cheekymama said...

Woah mama. What a dilemma and glad you've worked (and written) your way through it.

That's one of the toughest choices we have to make as writers/bloggers putting ourselves and our inner worlds out there. The risk of others misunderstanding or plain getting hurt.

I find that even if you write a fictional piece with characters based on nobody but your own craziness, almost everyone you know will assume that it's about them. So you're right - find a balance but don't censor yourself entirely. You can't please everyone, but you can be true to yourself.

Happy SITS day. Coming by from
Babes about Town
http://babesabouttown.com

alison said...

so i went and read the mil post and i have to say...though i totally identify (my inlaws visit at least twice a year for a week each time and lately it's been 3 or four times but who's complaining not me not not at all) i cannot believe you had the nerve to write and post it on your blog for all to see...you have nads of steel my friend.

visiting from sits...hope you have a great day in the sun.

blessings,

alison
stuff and nonsense

Saucy B said...

I wrote one post about my MIL when I first started blogging. And even though my blog is anonymous - no names, no pics - I decided I wouldn't write about them again. Just too big a risk.
Visiting from SITS - congrats on being featured!

Laura said...

I have know idea who I personally know that reads my blog. I write a good bit about my daughter's troubled teen years, but I made sure I got permission first.

Happy SITS Day!

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

From the beginning of my blog, I knew my family could possibly read it someday. So I didn't write anything I wouldn't say to their faces. Except a couple posts that I moved into drafts before I gave my mom my URL. BUT - I wrote a post about a friend who hurt my feelings back in SIXTH GRADE, and she found it quite a bit later. She left a long comment about how she didn't remember the incident and was so sorry - and I felt like a total jerk. Who am I to make her feel bad for something she did 20 years ago?! So, all that to say - yes, censorship (or at least some consideration) can be a good thing. :)

TornadoTwos said...

Oops. I'm glad I've known from the beginning that my husband, in-laws, parents, grandparent AND aunts/uncles/cousins read my blog. I definately censor myself.

solodialogue said...

So glad you were the featured blogger today at SITS. I absolutely love your writing style. It flows and is witty and fun to read! I read the post that your MIL found. I actually don't think it was that bad. If I was your MIL, I think I'd find it a little bit funny! But I can understand that feeling in the pit of your stomach when she did. Ugh!

My inlaws are in their late 70s so this is not a concern for me. All but one knows how to turn a computer on, and none really know how to connect to the Internet, much less navigate it with efficiency. (Uh-oh, did I just jinx myself?)

At any rate, so glad you did not give up on your blog because, it is AMAZING!! I looked around and am thoroughly impressed. You are exceptionally talented. And although, I'm quite certain fair and balanced does not occur on Fox News, I love your blog too much not to return. Hope that sits well with you! ;)

Michelle said...

Congrats on your SITS day!

You've certainly hit a nerve with me. My own mother-in-law can most certainly get up my nose much of the time, but I never write it in my blog. I wouldn't want to hurt her feelings.

Peace,
Michelle @ http://greenearthbazaar.com

Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

Oh, how I can relate. I used to write a second blog and wrote a post about how a friend pretty much acted like a serious problem I was having was no biggie, it was a huge biggie. She called me to apologize after reading the blog and recognizing herself. I felt awful, she felt awful and since then I've noticed that she's especially empathetic. I still wish I'd kept it to myself though.

Congrats on your SITS day.

Marilenn said...

Came by from SITS.

I think it was pretty brave of you to share this! I'm currently learning that in-laws sure can be tricky to deal with sometimes!

HealthInfoChick said...

Your censorship analogy, the little angel and devil on each shoulder, struck a chord. This post is a solid reminder to be conscientious during online activities.

A wonderful outlet for self-expression, our blogs can be like journals we're offering to share. How paramount to remember that the cyber-world is fraught with peril! The entire blogosphere would benefit by following your mom's advice; well-mannered comments never come back to haunt you, nor do they typically hurt feelings. Thank you for your openness and freely lending your insights.

fumblingtowardsnormalcy.com said...

I started out anonymous, but then some people found out about it. Now a lot of my family read it and I definitely censor myself. I don't get to write everything I want. It can be very frustrating.

Angie said...

Happy SITS day!

I was pretty sure that no one I'm related to read my blog...until my aunt called me once to ask who had left a very questionable comment, and then informed me that ALL of my aunts read my blog. oops.

Life with Kaishon said...

Did you ever talk to her about it?

I don't check out my blog stats. I don't know who comes unless they leave a comment. I don't really care either. I try not to write anything that would offend my boss or Jesus, and I feel pretty confident that I do ok with that : )

Congratulations on being featured today. Loved reading more about you!

Madison said...

In theory I live by the rule that you should never do anything you would be embarrassed for the whole world to know about.

Practicing that is hard sometimes. I don't talk about my family on my blog that much because my niece reads it. She doesn't need to know what her mom/grandmother/grandfather/uncle did to me before she was born.

I have four blogs. Each reflects a different part of my life. I have a wide variety of friends but they don't all feel comfortable with every aspect of my life. If I put everything in one blog my conservative, Christian friends wouldn't read it. So I give them a choice. They can read the blogs they're comfortable with and ignore my the rest.

I just have to be careful I don't post an entry on the wrong blog...

Christina said...

Yep, I've always heard the same thing, don't write down on the Internet what you would be ashamed someone else you know might read. I can't wait to go back and read that post... I know I have a few things I'd like to write about my mother-in-law, who I love, don't get me wrong, but she still can drive me crazy....

visiting from SITS

Alex said...

Oh my goodness. I would have died if I had written something about my MIL and she saw it. That's the only boundary rule I have when I write. Don't write something about someone who I'd be embarrassed if they saw it. Yikes.

*here from SITS

Zeemaid said...

Wow that would be tough. I'd be pretty mortified if my MIL or even my own parents read some of the stuff on my blog. That's why I blog anonymous but still.. there is always a risk. For me I found myself censoring a little more when I started getting comments. I do try to be fair and honest but do find myself more often than not leaving negativity out of it.

Congrats on your SITS day!

Marie said...

Happy SITS day!

Yikes, now I need to go read what you said about her. ;)

YuL hm said...

the one reason why I don't share my blog with my personal FaceBook account. yikes !

Happy SITS day ~

misssrobin said...

What a great, although horrific, story. I can't even imagine.

I agree with someone above. You should blog about what happened. Did you ever talk to her about it?

Sharon said...

I love this story. My mother taught me to be careful what I say because it will come back and never in a nice form. I had to go read the original story. And these days with everything in writing it's hard to make it go away and the words don't always convey the right feeling. Happy SITS Day!

Jenny said...

Visiting from SITS. Yeah, I know this pain...it's hard to explain stuff away sometimes...going to go find a more recent post of yours!

Kimberly said...

Hey! Happy SITS day!

interesting post! when i started blogging i wanted to be all open and honest, but was too nervous someone would find me out. :)