Anonymity, Depression and Diaries

May 31, 2010

I’ve been thinking a lot about anonymity and confidentiality in this wonderful world of blogging. I’ve also been thinking about “onymity” which is the opposite of anonymous, also known as public-ness. (Don’t you still remember when you learned what “eponymous” meant? It was the REM album, right?) I’ve been thinking about the mind-state, the lattice-work of values and ethics and habits, that each way of blogging brings about.

I’ve kept four kinds of diaries throughout my life. First, the regular paper and pen diaries of my youth. No one read it, I didnt read it to anyone. I fantasized about giving the diaries to a daughter. And I didnt have an purpose for doing it, other than those murky proclivities and imperatives with which we are all born. That lasted ten years. There was a lot in there about boys, then girls, my parents, then money. Or being lonely or being fat. Over and over.

In my early twenties, I kept a Live Journal. It was “confidential” in the sense that I didnt use my name or pictures, but I wrote about my sexual escapades for a select group of real life friends. We egged each other on in the typical style of an mutual admiration society. My purpose was to brag, to glory, to flirt, to mutually admire. Mind state: exhibitionist.

Then, I kept a Blogger blog. About my wedding. It was onymous eponymosity galore. Name, first and last, dates, times, pictures. Everyone and their mother had the url, my mom and Wifebian’s mom. If someone wanted to explain gay weddings to their grandparents, they clicked on over to our blog. My initial purpose was PR for the fam, but then a little community-building happened. For the first time, I had “readers”. We were gay and engaged. It was fun. And then something wonderful happened.

I thought that the fact of writing for my in-laws would be a chore, that I would feel stifled or unsatisfied, that I would have so much “other stuff” to say. But in fact, the steady stream of chipper, picture-heavy updates seemed to melt away the “other stuff”, the “real” stuff — which is just code for complaints, blame, and insecurities, really. And so, not giving voice to them, or occasionally giving very generous, well-chosen words to them, turned out to be a real boon to my mental health.

Then, there’s this diary. Which is a lot like my first diaries of 11, 12 and 13. I write what I want, when I want, the way I want. No holds barred. Except, now that I’m almost 33, the holds are a little more damaging. I can insult, slander, and defame. The competition is getting tougher, too. The fertility clinic is incompetent and costing me hundreds, the director of the sperm bank is insensitive, costing me thousands, my mother-in-law is cold and judgmental, which messes with my happy marriage. Like the diaries before it, it has been very subject specific. Unlike the previous blogs, it’s been almost entirely anonymous for the majority of its life. I didnt give this address to friends until maybe two months ago.

And what was the purpose of this diary? Initially, it was to salvage any shred of identity I mightve had left after getting married and moving south of the Mason Dixon line — right into my mother-in-law’s basement. Then it became a spectacular platform for my complaints, blame and insecurities about said mother-in-law. Then it became what it was meant to be — a forum for the discussion of the good, bad and ugly of lesbian baby-making.

Throughout my years of training to become a mental health professional and also understand my own mental health, I’ve become more aware of the impact of negativity on me, the people around me and the world, really. I’ve done my best to avoid using the blog, and therefore y’all, as a worry doll, a medical consult, or court room. And I’ve tried my best to be fair even in the most trying of emotional situations. In life generally, I never say anything about someone that I wouldnt say — using the exact same words — in a one-on-one situation. And I try to say what needs to be said to the right people, before I reminisce or consult or whatever with other parties. I’m the type of person that signed my name to course evaluations in college. For most of my life I have struggled with being “too honest”, but I think that struggle is really about being mean, or maybe critical or maybe depressed. Honesty is always warranted, but being critical, mean or just plain depressing isnt. I ask myself, what is the value, the purpose, when is the time and where is the place, to be “honest” — about what I think about you or what I think about me? And how do I want to go about executing that honesty?

And then, on top of all the other things I and we have to consider when we blog what we blog, there are our unique circumstances with being gay, with being women and with making babies. Some of us dont want our principals finding out we are gay. Or heaven forbid our coworkers be subjected to information about our shameful cervical mucous. And then there’s the taboos around talking about babies before the 6th week, or the 12th week, or the 14th week. I know for me, that sperm tanks and donors and medical intervention felt weird, that I didnt want to explore my feelings about it in front of friends or family because I was still grieving the fact that my wife can’t be the father of my children, I was still ashamed that I had to buy sperm from a stranger. I was still sad that my kid might feel like a science experiment, like the product of some new accident, a handshake between two people who just bumped hovercrafts in the parking lot. And angry that I was being charged thousands of dollars for the special privilege of all this. This blog was a private and safe space to to write about my thoughts, read about other people’s experiences and start to feel normal about this new normal. (Coming to believe that you are, in fact, normal, especially when you really arent, seems to be an important first step toward making other people feel like they should think you are normal, too.)

I’m at the point, though, where anonymity, for me, doesnt breed honesty. It makes me petty and lazy. Or tempts me to be petty and lazy and therefore have to keep fighting off those urges. I want to stew in a vats of self-righteousness that would actually evaporate really fast if I just let the air get to them.  I indulge in snark and rail against everyone or everything that I think is beneath me, or not professional enough, or not smart enough, or not free enough or not understanding enough, when really I have the emotional resources to do otherwise, to focus on the positive, the possible, to be humble, forgiving and, yes, honest, and attach my name and face to all of it. A lot of the time this blog makes me feel split up. Between the part of myself I like and the part of myself that isnt even real, doesnt really need to be given the time of day, who is not good for you and not good for me. Honesty without accountability is a recipe for ugliness.

Not to mention, writing for me is an act of invention, of me-building. If I’m doing all of this thinking and writing about myself, my thoughts and feelings, my family, my future and doing it all in secret how much progress am I actually making toward realizing that next version of myself, or my family or my future?

So, I’m feeling this iteration of my diary-writing life coming to a close. We have one more insemination before we can call it a wrap. (We have finally wrestled free sperm from the bank for next month.) Then, in the second half of 2010, we will work on fostering and adopting — background checks and MAPS class, etc. Then we will start trying to conceive again in 2011, when the health savings account is replenished. But, sometime in July, I will password protect or delete or file away all of the late-night tirades about my mother in law and grievances with the sperm bank. I will start a new blog on a new site, prolly Tumblr, because it’s so awesome. It will be filled with pictures of me and my family, for everyone to enjoy and understand or be bored by and it will be filled with posts in which I am generous and gracious and hopeful and sometimes banal. I mean, won’t you love to see pictures of cute bibs, because that’s what my sister in law wants to read about?

But mostly, I think it’s that I have a better idea of how to be a lesbian parent in front of other people now, and that’s gonna be awesome.

Advertisements

10 Responses to “Anonymity, Depression and Diaries”

  1. Cynthia said

    Thank you for your beautiful post. Of course I understand but I have to admit I will be so heartsick to see your blog go – Reading your posts have helped me grow in my decision to try to conceive with my wife. I was never a reader of blogs before I got to thinking about ttc. After reading that “essential guide” there aren’t a lot of other books/resources out there and I really find the blog thing to be a pretty amazing source of info. Anyway…thank you for sharing all with us.

  2. LPC said

    However you want to do this is fine. I love to read what you write. That said, do you have any yearning for continuity?

  3. Angie said

    As short as my journey was with you, I enjoyed it. Thoroughly. Hope to find your Tumblr! Don’t be a stranger, Mrs B.

  4. Nicole said

    If you close down this blog and start another, I will live. But if you close down this one and disappear, well, I can’t guarantee I can handle that. I think reading your posts makes me smarter. Or makes me feel dumber for not writing posts that are as good. I haven’t figured it out yet.

  5. Lesbian Wife said

    Disappointed, but understand

  6. Meg said

    Yay!!!

    In a reversal of this, I keep a private lil blog for myself now. Maybe one day I’ll share it more, but as the glare of the blogging lights got brighter and brighter, I got worried about losing myself in what other people thought I was. Which is tricky, as it turns out. Ideally, I’d like that little space to be public too, but I’m still sort of reeling from the bright lights.

    Anyway. I think it’s good. Remember when Guilty Secret was Guilty Secret, and now she’s Cate Subrosa? Well, I don’t know if you do, but we all started at the same time, so you might. Anyway, it suddenly felt like there was all this AIR when she went public. Just so, so, much air. And I loved that.

  7. Elizabeth said

    Hey sweets. I love this post. And I’ve been dealing with then other side of the spectrum with my blog. How can I be a little more open and honey and vulnerable with my writing. Because I’m so up front with who I am, and my tendensy is to go toally WASPy. Just write about how great everything is.
    I’ve loved both your blogs, and I know i’ll love your next one. And maybe we can help each other figure out the right blogging balance.

    • mrsbasement said

      But thats your *project*, to rep your famous band(s). Youre an *entertainer*, knowwhudimean? If you were like a totally obscure musician, then you could be known *and* more full with your emotional range. But if you want to be *known*, then you cant really express your full range, you’d have to go anonymous, at least thats how I read your situation. I wish there was a word for going underground with your blog identity, like there’s a word for going without underwear.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: