Sometimes people ask me “why do you blog?” The question is a loaded one; why would you share that amount of your life online? Why would you share your family in that way? What do you have to gain? The sub-questions abound, sometimes with a hint of curiosity, sometimes a hint of judgement.
So here’s the thing.
I used to write anonymously online in a private forum. It was a space recommended to me by our paediatrician, a place to share our lives in those early days after diagnosis and seek support from others going through the same thing. It was a space I felt safe in; private and locked down. A space no-one from my circle knew about, I kept it close to my heart. A place to share those bits and pieces that were too big to stay in my head.
The writing was raw and emotional; often full of fear, hurt and tears. But those typed words made me stronger, helped me to process it all and introduced me to ideas I would never have found otherwise. It was a place I celebrated gains with people who truly understood how hard won they were.
It was a positive space; I made connections with others that still stand today. Those ladies were my first taste of an autism community, a support group outside of my family.
There came a point in time where, very dramatically, as these things seem to go, that those messages were no longer private. Someone intent on hurting my family, hurting my daughter and for reasons I will never understand or forgive, took it upon themselves to hunt me down in that space, there’s no other word for it, and share those pain-filled messages.
They took them, those private messages, from my anonymous profile, they printed them, then shared them with others. Others who didn’t understand, couldn’t understand. Those messages that were never meant for their eyes, they took them and made them public.
A line was crossed and there was long lasting and wide reaching implications. Repercussions escalated an already difficult situation to another level. I felt like every piece of my privacy had been violated; stupid and naive as I now know that sounds.
So, for a while, I retreated. I locked down my personal Facebook page and used twitter for business purposes only. I deleted and blocked people ruthlessly and stopped writing.
Over time, the initial shock subsided and I realised I still craved that connection. I missed writing. I missed having that space to share our experiences with, to get support and celebrate with. I missed having that feeling of relief having poured it onto a page, exorcising out of my head and being able to move on, lighter and more confident.
So, after discussions with my family, and boundaries set that we felt comfortable with, a blog was born. But this time I made a promise to myself; I would never publish anything I wouldn’t stand by, I would never write something I wouldn’t be ok for others to read and to share. Sometimes that means posts don’t get published. Sometimes it means the stories are lifted to remove the detail. Sometimes it means knowing I may have to defend my position.
But with each and every post, I say fuck you, to those who thought their actions would stop me from writing, for thinking it would silence my words, for judging us, for taking away my safe place and making me defend my right to communicate. Every post makes me stronger, even if sometimes pulling those words out is exhausting and the results are lacklustre.
And that’s why I blog.
Thank you to every single one of you who has come along for the ride; supported me, supported us and given me the courage and the strength to hit publish.