This question came in my email last week and after thinking long and hard about it, decided to see if I could print this and to my surprise she said yes.
"USM, I am taking your suggestion and teaching myself to blog. When I sat down yesterday to start, I had to delete, omit, then take out some more because of family and friends. How do you do it without feeling guilty? Do you ever worry about putting it all out there, or sometimes bad mouthing your husband to the world? How do you deal with the comments and emails? I LOVE your blog, but often wonder how do you not get into trouble by saying some of the things you do? How do you do it all without feeling guilt at all? Do you beat yourself up later for the things you said? I also get scared that it will backlash on me. From a HUGE fan in Snowmass, CO."
Ahhhh I wondered when someone would ask me about 'Guilt'. First off Snowmass, I am thrilled to see that you are taking on blogging. I once read a quote that was always my favorite from Will Rogers, "Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there". Means, you need to always do something even when it all feels ok. I find that blogging, using a journal and such things, are therapeutic, accessible and feasible for those of us who need to find some type of outlet when we are facing challenges of the standard outlets such as group therapy, support groups etc. I had to really think about this because your email stumped me! I rarely get asked direct questions to me. I thought long and hard and the answer is.....sometimes. I am starting therapy via telephone, believe it or not, and during that I discovered that Guilt is my biggest downfall.
When I started blogging, sometimes my husband would read and sometimes not. Most times, he gives me ideas on the topics I choose or something he says he wants me to mention. He without knowing it, creates the subjects I write about. Often times, my children say something or most of the time personal experience builds my decision on what to talk about. While some of you might think "shame on her" because of what I said about my husband, it is nothing we haven't discussed or anything behind his back. Although silence is an issue at times, we do have conversations and of course, arguments and often these things come up. Is it too personal and am I sharing too much? Possibly. However, when this blog began to pick up with readers and the amount of hits it was receiving, my husband said the most powerful thing he ever has to me and that was "If you are going to do this, don't do it half-ass. If you can help but just one person you did something important.". I had a comment the other day on my Facebook page for this blog, asking if my husband could sometimes comment or write his point of view. What you all don't realize is, he is here in my writing just the same as I am. I have my days, and that reflects in my writing of course...but I don't think I continuously "bad mouth" my husband and often put his point of view in there, such as thinking I am the enemy or how he feels. His words, not mine. This blog is a combination of both of us; its a part of my whole family. We have walked this road alone for so long that we don't want to see another one of you do it on your own. If that means telling it all, well then we must. We both decided that we would stand up, and say you know what? This IS what is real. These are our feelings, all that we are and all that we will be.
Now, guilt from it all? Of course. I am human. I feel anger, bitterness, frustration, love, happiness, sadness and emptiness but, all of those I can compartmentalize, shove back and try not to let it run rabid. Guilt though is harder to push back and often does eat at me. Is it because of my husband or my family? Not often but sometimes I wonder if we did the right thing by blogging about everything. For the rest such as the VA, the military, etc? Most definitely. I will admit that when I hit "Publish Post" I realize that there are dozens of VA's , dot.gov, and dot.mil addresses across the United States/world jumping on each and every post and staying for a while. I worry that when someone reads my posts, and knows who I am in real life they will be angry or pissed at me. However, the ones who eventually do find out they are rather surprised rather than upset with me. I have been nicely told to stop, casually mentioned not to bring up certain subjects, told I really didn't need to post this or that, and I often wonder if some just get scared of me because I am blogging. The biggest thing that bothers me is I don't want people to help me because they are afraid I will blog. I want them to help because that's their job, and that they do their job because it IS a wounded soldier.
There is a reason why I write under a pen name. I really don't like people knowing who I am and there are only a trusted handful that do know who I am, other than our local VA etc. Anonymity is a wonderful thing, and after a long talk with a spouse the other day, she mentioned that I did a good job keeping my identity safe as she didn't even know who I was. I am a book lover and history buff, and I knew that many past historical authors like Dr. Seuss, Mark Twain were all created names. Many women of the 19th Century wrote under a man's name because that was the only way they could be published and since this is a long way from the 19th Century, J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter series is also considered to have a pseudonym. I created my pen name to write under because it was easier, to be honest, to write behind that smoke screen. It gave me strength if that makes sense and the cajones to talk about tougher subjects.
Often times, confrontation and I do not agree. I don't think of myself as a fighter, a leader, or any of that so its easier for "Uncle Sam's Mistress" to get the credit than me, myself and I. I don't give our location, our doctor's names, anything that says HERE I AM COME GET ME. I don't think I have talked about anything that is going to cause some men in black to show up at my front door. However, in all of this, I did get help and that meant telling some who I am in real life so we could get that help. Did it bite me in the ass in the long run? I am not sure. That is a debate that I am still trying to figure out and counting the steps I am taking. Have I been chastised for blogging? Of course, but you know what? I figure this is my right, my husband and many many others fought for that right and not one single time, have I never NOT spoken the truth. If you failed me, I am going to say something about it. I also say, if its the truth and people get mad? That means they are worried.
I will admit, its easier to throw on the superwoman cape, write under the elusive Uncle Sam's Mistress, and way much easier for me to answer each and every email. I think looking back on it all, the most thing I feel guilty about....is not having all the answers for many. I am not a professional, never claimed to be, and only share our personal experiences, victories and failures. However, some find that I am an easy person to write to, especially my Veterans and soldiers. I sometimes am the confessional priest, but I don't know how to answer or what to say. Some stories are harder to read than others, some make me cry at night when I am trying to wipe my own day of worries away and sometimes...some stories make it all worth while getting into trouble, or having people treat me differently because I wrote something online. I sometimes feel guilty because I wish I had someone to confess to, and I really don't accept to all you out "there".
Back lashing from comments, I rarely get. On a daily basis, I get more good than bad. I get more emails than comments, and that's ok because I understand the need for people to email and feel that cover too. However, because it is an email sometimes the anti-war people can get more carried away, weirdos get loonier and sometimes the conversations can become quite graphic on their part. I thank the good Lord for patience, forgiveness and the will to hit delete when I really want to respond back. I can say ouch, yeah that hurt! Hit delete and try to move on from that without stooping to their level. Some comments are kind of hateful, but everyone has their own opinion. Some think I am a martyr because I stay with my husband, some think I am courageous....it doesn't really matter what people think. It's what I think about me is the most important thing.
As a blogger, my suggestion to you is if you feel fear, retribution, insecurity...create a pen name and just leave it at that. There is no reason to state your name, your residence etc. You can be whoever you want to be and maybe that will find you the strength you are seeking. If you feel worried that your family will see it, or you don't everyone knowing ALL your business...then do it that way. A good friend late last night asked me if I was willing to walk the line, and I said yes. So ask yourself Snowmass, are you willing to walk the line? If you choose put it out there, it is done. You can delete all you want, but you can't erase a person's memory or knowledge. However, in the same late night conversation, we bloggers are probably the safer majority because we DO put it out there. I kind of feel that if we don't though, we won't ever get the help and we damned sure didn't learn anything from our past wars. You have to decide what you are most comfortable with doing. You must in the end, choose of what you write and how much you put out there. In the words of my husband again, I tell you "If you are going to do this, don't do it half-ass. If you can help but just one person you did something important".
I hope this answers all your questions Snowmass. I sincerely wish you well on your endeavor and your decisions to blog. I will be rooting all the way from down here in Moo-Cow Town USA if you choose to do it. It is a good outlet, but in the end...you ultimately have to decide the consequences, the guilt and how to write it all out. If you should choose to use your name, and feel you have to omit some things...well, I kind of think it's a waste of time if you feel so censored. I just wouldn't say anything to my family or like some, just leave that out all together. There are many many bloggers out there who feel like you and some who censor themselves while others let it all hang out. It can be a wonderful thing, and sometimes it can be a hard thing. It's all about your level of comfort-ability, because if you are comfortable writing....your words will flow and be comfortable to read and that my dear, is your ultimate goal. To get it all out, to take the burden off of you, to let it all out and then let it go. Just ask yourself as I did....How much do you want to let go of?
Thank you for the email and making ME stop to think for a while,