Concealment and the Single Blogger

Confidantes and Hiding in Plain Sight

When I first started blogging, nearly five years ago, my main purpose was to show how smart I am and what a good writer I am.  I knew almost nothing about blogging.  My blog had too much “white space,” then it became too “busy.” When I showed what I was writing to people, they concentrated on the aesthetics rather than the content. I kept on writing, trying to make it a daily habit so I could get the practice and then start promoting my writing.  I figured that if I could only keep practicing, eventually I would become a solid enough writer that people would take notice (money and fame would follow, of course).

This was in 2004, and I was mostly writing about the events leading up to what I had hoped would be the selection of a Democrat to be president of the United States.  When that didn’t happen (despite my best efforts to fix America), I shifted my focus to write about my experiences growing up in a small town.  I reconnected with old friends who googled their names to find themselves in a blog post about Hallock.

Eventually, I became bored with the premise and branched out toward writing about atheism, science and other topics and finally started to get notice from people I respected.  My proudest moment was covering an event with Greg Laden, Chris Mooney and Matthew Nisbet at the Bell Museum.  Greg linked to my article, as did PZ.  (PZ said that my explanation of the issue was written more clearly than what he had been trying to say.)  I had gained attention for photoshopping a hydra with an LOLCnidarian caption (with links and references to my post from Dr. Todd Oakley, who was the principal author of the article I was describing).

So as my blog traffic built, I seized the opportunity and signed up for an AdSense account.  I was sure that I would be soon making an extra hundred bucks or so per month.  The clicks were slowly but surely building, but even after a year of that, I had not earned enough for the $100 minimum payout that Google sets as its threshold. (I suspect this is why they are so rich. They earn on small bloggers without ever paying out.  Nice business model.)

In the meantime, I have been working in the cubicle world.  This is frustrating for a man my age, because I had hoped that by this time in my life, I would have accomplished many of my long-term goals.  I haven’t even come close.  In fact, since my divorce, I have found myself falling farther and farther behind and seeing a future as a Wal-Mart greeter in the days when I should instead be playing with my grandchildren or traveling to the weird and cool places I have read about and seen on TV.

I have been dropping hints here and there in my blogging of the desperation I have been feeling, but as they are only hints, I haven ‘t been able to get out what my real issues are. And I don’t feel free to discuss the knots in my stomach over the internets.

Before I started real blogging, I had a LiveJournal account, but since there were people I sort of knew there, I still held back.  The issue wasn’t confidentiality, which is of course impossible on the internet even for the most obscure and seldom-visited blogs.  The issue has been that I’ve needed a confidante, and I just don’t have one right now.

Yes, I have friends with whom I can spend time and talk about issues; sometimes even in great depth.  I have friends I can ask for advice on some issues, but I don’t feel comfortable talking about the issues that are burning inside of me.  I don’t know who I can “trust” at this time.  Most of the people that I know now have their own busy lives and their own issues.  It’s a tough time for a lot of people and I sometimes feel like I am just one of six billion people who are facing the cold, hard reality of a “socially darwinian” world.

I asked someone recently for some time just to talk about my issues.  This is someone I used to confide in quite regularly, until she became involved with someone. When I asked for her ear, as in the old days, she passed me off to someone else.  While I like that person, I have not developed the relationship with him that I want to have in order to share what I need to share.  I felt a bit betrayed that she passed me off, but I could understand the reason that she gave me.

I don’t have the person that I need right now.  So, what does that have to do with blogging?

Yes, sometimes I can let out hints of what I am going through, but just as much as I am a writer, I am also a reader.  I can’t read through blogs on which people expose too much of themselves.  Such posts remind me of my own struggles a bit too much, and without personal contact to be able to reach out to that person and at least touch him or her to let them know that they aren’t alone, I get frustrated.

My frustration grows when I see a donation page for a cause that I would really like to give to in order to help someone else out.  The best I can do for them is blog about their troubles and hope that my readers follow through and give a bit.  I just get frustrated seeing other people struggling and not being able to help them.  Because of this, I can’t use this blog or my own home blog to write about what I am going through.  I also don’t want people to pity me, which is the likely  result of a self-pitying post.

No, I need a confidante with whom I can sit down, face to face, and talk.  I need someone who will hold me, or at least touch me, while either confirming that I am on the right path out of where I am or helping me find alternatives.  Yes, I am doing something right now about my situation and it has the doubly good effect of helping other people at the same time.  My new project is not going to fix my financials for a few months, and I have some pressing needs that are pushing me right now.  If I have made a bad decision to go with this new project, I am hosed and not sure where to go after that.  I have to make it work.

In the meantime, during this struggle, I just need someone with whom I can express my doubts and fears so that I don’t carry them with me all day. These days I can only let them chew on my insides like so many caterpillars munching away.  They’re  getting ready to  cocoon and become the butterflies that flutter in people’s stomachs.  I have done some things in the last few weeks that are ethically questionable, and I have justified them, yet still I feel the need to confess them and until I do, my insides are twisted.

I am writing this for a good reason, but before I get to that I would like to explain what this not about.  I am not looking for a volunteer to come and let me cry on their shoulder.  I am not seeking funds from anybody and this is not a “donation” call.  I am not writing this so you will feel sorry for me.

Blog writing is more personal than journalism, because journalists need to separate themselves from their subjects.  They need to be detached so they can more objectively report what is going on.  Rarely do we get to see the person behind the journalist.  If you read most of the posts here at Quiche Moraine, you will find some very personal revelations mixed in here by our main writers and our guest writers.  In between our restaurant reviews, our commemorations, the news summaries, stories and just plain revelations on the writing and editing process you will find the people behind the writing.

When we express some of our pain from past experiences, intermixed with excitement, look for the brush strokes that each of us uses to express ourselves in our separate posts.  When Greg or Stephanie edit my posts, they don’t remove my brush strokes.  In those brush strokes, I often reveal either unwittingly or purposely what I am dealing with and it is often my only way of getting certain things out, if only obliquely, because I don’t have someone close that I trust these days.

If I am hidng things about myself, I am hiding them in plain sight so that you as a reader can recognize that you are not alone in your struggles and doubts.  It may not fix my problems, and knowing this about us it may not fix yours.  Perhaps, though, it can help you to breathe just a little bit easier.

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12 Responses to “Concealment and the Single Blogger”

  1. June 15th, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Adrian Thysse, FCD says:

    I have noticed your hints and felt some of your desperation. Over the last few years your writings have struck more than a few chords with me, even though our situations are different. You’re a good writer and brave – your articles have often provided clarity to my own tangled thoughts. Keep up the good work, and I hope you find that confidante soon.

  2. June 15th, 2009 at 11:42 am

    chanson says:

    I kind of know how you feel. I keep almost posting about re-assessing my life and goals.

  3. June 15th, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Ronja A-M says:

    I am definitely breathing a bit more easily every day because you blog on Quiche Moraine.

    Thank you for that and please keep on blogging!

  4. June 15th, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    khan says:

    There is much pain/angst/loneliness/… out there; always has been. Now we know about it. Good luck.

  5. June 15th, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Mike Haubrich says:

    I have this feeling that there are many people out there struggling this way, but like Carol, just don’t know how to write about it. It’s cathartic for me, too. One of the nice things about Quiche Moraine is that we don’t follow a strict topical structure and so I can share this kind of thing occasionally. Thanks to all of you.

  6. June 16th, 2009 at 7:06 am

    Jason Thibeault says:

    Let me throw in a “me too”. The “trying to make it a daily habit” bit especially earned my empathy. After having given up a career in English and falling headfirst into the technology world, I thought my education would have been completely wasted, until I figured out that I enjoy blogging. Wealth and fame will probably never come for me, but the writing experience itself is cathartic, so it’s sort of okay that I’m not exactly widely read. The frustration you feel at your works not getting the attention you feel they deserve — well, you’re not alone, for sure.

  7. June 16th, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Mike Haubrich says:

    And you have the advantage of being cogent, for the large part. (I added Lousy Canuck to the blogroll.)

  8. June 16th, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    a daughter's mother says:

    My personality bent is trying to “fix” something. The world presents as a series of mysteries or problems, all with solutions to find and apply. In reading what you are not looking for, I find myself saying, “Yeah, but….”
    No, I’m not offering to be your confidante, for two reasons. My time is already way to taken up fixing things for myself and others, and I need to practice saying “no” – right after I finish up with these responsibilities, and a few more that pop up along the way, and, heck, with breathing, probably.
    And second, I was there years ago, needing a confidante, needing the right kind of friends, needing a safe place to vent and cry and learn and grow. I landed, with lots of nudges from folks wiser than I, in a great support group. Nevermind what it was for. It fit me and my issues. It’s rule of confidentiality made it a safe place, and all the others who passed through gave of themselves, as I learned eventually to do, in a way that helped us all grow, rather than diminish. I gained a very firm respect for the process, and would be a much less sane person now had I missed that. It took years, where I was looking for a quick fix, and the ultimate rewards were nothing like I expected going in. I simply didn’t have the experience or imagination to know what I needed. But the friends I gained there are still my friends, the kind who can still listen, or ask me to listen, with a depth that I’ve never found anywhere else. I learned there how to be a friend as well as find a friend.
    If you are really lucky, you might find an experience like that. It’s not exactly what you think you are looking for right now. This isn’t advice to go find a support group. This is just sharing a possibility that may not have occurred to you before. And, really, it has very little to do with blogging – unless perhaps it’s what you are asking to be the result of blogging. If it is, then I’d have a question for you.

  9. June 16th, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Mike Haubrich says:

    I was thinking about that, too, but then I was wondering what sort of support group I could find that deals with the plethora of issues I am now dealing with. I made amends to someone today, and he told me that he may have never caught the issue on his own and would never have been the wiser. He was very happy that I talked to him and explained what I had done and why. We’ll work it out and get it fixed, together.

    Now, if I can figure out the rest of the issues and get them resolved.


  10. June 17th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Jason Thibeault says:

    I think you overstate my abilities! I have reciprocated nonetheless, sir.

  11. June 17th, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Stacy says:

    Well, all I can say Mike is “Thank you” for providing me with a great blog to visit from time to time. 🙂

    I think if you take a step back – you’ll find that you have accomplished a little more than you think. You’ve certainly helped educate me and counsel me (whether you knew it or not) so add teacher and therapist to your list.

    (I’m on vacation – you should try it) 🙂

  12. June 17th, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    Mike Haubrich says:

    Hey, this is turning into a love fest, I should bewail my misfortune more often. 🙂 Actually, your comments are always nice to get, Stacy.

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