Poetry and personal blog – Spilling my guts to strangers

From the Outside Looking In

There are two types of bloggers: Those whose close family members read their blog fairly regularly and those whose families avoid reading it like the plague.

I’m a Typhoid Mary type of blogger.

To be fair, some of my family members read the blog when I first started it but have long since tapered off. They and others will read it if I ask them to look at a particular post. Others will promise to read it but never do.

Of course, I don’t badger anyone about reading my blog and for that reason I hadn’t asked them why they don’t read it–until recently. What I heard from two people I know extremely well was interesting.

One person said that they were happy knowing what they knew about me (which is a lot) and they didn’t felt uncomfortable delving any further than that. The other said that reading the blog is disorienting because of the difference between their perception of me and my thoughts as they are expressed here.

I probably imagine myself to be more transparent than I really am, though I’m positive I have improved in that area over the years. Is there something about writing out your feelings that is different from talking about them?

Assuming we are trying to be true to ourselves, is there any way to reconcile what we think, what we say, and how we behave? Do we need to observe all of these aspects in a person to form a complete picture?

Can we ever be who we think we are?

Do we ever really know each other?

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2012.

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Comments on: "From the Outside Looking In" (79)

  1. Hey, SJ! Blogging can reveal some things and suggest others. (Depending on your blog, of course. People would only get advice on how to do a squat on mine!)

    It may indeed be uncomfortable for your relatives to read your posts and try to decipher what they mean and how you REALLY feel about things.

    Hey, remember I asked you a question about one of your poems? Well, your relatives might not have had the gall (as I did, lol) to inquire about that. And they might have left things unsaid rather than risk something that had an impact on their perception of you. So….better not to wonder at all!

    If you enjoy a pleasant and functional relationship with these relatives, there’s no need for them to know EVERYTHING about you. Transparency is oversold. I think our private inner world is just fine where it is, left alone for us to enjoy it.

    • Hey, Kathleen! You make some really good points, especially with the poetry, which can be open to wide interpretation. I’m a big fan of transparency, although everyone’s tolerance for it varies. I like your gall, keep it up! ;p

  2. Autumn Eliza said:

    Writing out your feelings is certainly different from talking about them and you write mostly knowing this in mind.You write to reach out to like-minded people and most of your family members or relatives may not fit in that catagory.So, why bother about their reaction? Even a single genuinely interested reader should be sufficient for a poet.Somebody has heard you and liked it. What more do you want?Write a poem and then turn to the next! My best wishes!
    -ELLE

    • I hear ya, Elle! I just think it’s an interesting phenomenon. It really is all about being heard. Maybe this is why we become poets, because our families didn’t listen to us! ;p I’m joking, but only a little …

  3. Oh girl, you opened a can of worms with this post. I have sometimes wished I had started blogging anonymously, because there is so very much I keep to myself. But I chose to blog about my life and family and my thoughts, and I am pretty open about it. As far as I know, I have several family members who read it, and no one has said anything derogatory, because what I often write about are incidents that they remember too. So it appears I found my niche, and that is where I will stay.

    And no, I don’t believe we ever totally know each other. I think that we wear faces with others. We have our work face, our family face, our creative face etc. There are parts of me that no one knows, or ever will. Those parts will stay tucked away. Private.

    You ask excellent questions Adriene. And even though your family doesn’t respond, I am glad I found you and think it was a serendipitous moment for me. 😀

    • I feel the same way about you, Cath! Thank goodness for My Blogworld! ;p I’m glad you found your niche and have family support. The things you don’t say, where do you put them, in your art and photography? ❤

  4. Really thought provoking questions. I have a load of friends who read my blog but dont comment but they tell it is a new Rimly. I have always considered myself a very open person but I guess when you read something it is a different matter. we do reflect who we are through our writings but I suppose it is not all of who we are. I do not think it is possible to know someone totally. There will always be hidden layers to us that get exposed once in awhile and a person close to us will feel they never knew us fully.

  5. Janaki Nagaraj said:

    I agree with you. When I started blogging, it was my close friends and family who were reading them. Now, it is just the bloggers from the blogging community. I think friends and family who know you can become judgmental when they read our blogs either because they know us too much or because they cannot relate to what we have written…then they feel left out or let down.
    But the bloggers are so non-judgmental that they comment on the content of what we have written. They are very supportive and appreciative too.

    We can be a part of real us … with each part revealed to a certain person. We can never be totally our true self in front of anyone…this is my opinion.

    • Great points, Janaki. Maybe they think we were intentionally hiding something from them. With bloggers, there is no expectation or baggage so it’s easier to accept each other for who we are, or for who we reveal, at any rate …

  6. Its really not possible to a person and make opinions through writings,we can grasp a bit,not not entirely.But in our community,most of us have opened our lives to all..and have got immense support from blogger friends.
    Its entirely up to us also as to how much we want to share also.

  7. Sweepy,

    If you write it they will come if they don’t come well @#$%*&…
    I for one am glad to have met you…. I read you when I can find the time away from BlogNostics. I value you and I am happy we have become friends through your site…

    xoxoxo

    Jessica

  8. My close family reads my blog. I.e my mom, my grandma, occasionally an aunt or cousins. I don’t always realize how much until they surprise me with a comment or share it or tell me about it when I call them. There is no doubt in my mind that I have people who do not talk to me who are loyal readers of everything I post. I’m sure that comes off pretty egocentric but, it’s fine with me. I know what I know and that’s how it is, you know?

    The only time I have worried about who is reading when I consider how nasty some people I know can be. In other words, if I write something will they use it against me in some revenge-type agenda? That’s what keeps me censored at this moment. Soon when both my kids are of age, watch out because the shit will hit the fan and my words will start an apocalypse.

    I have come to find that if you have to ask someone to read your posts than they don’t care about you the way they say they do. I’m an upfront person and my biggest disappointment in life is that people have to behave so sneakily. If you aren’t interested in my feelings, thoughts, ideals, etc… than just say it and be done. I can then choose whether I want to continue wasting my time on a one-way relationship. Unfortunately not everyone is like me and they’d rather be secretive for whatever reason. Not everything has to be a big dramafest when you speak your mind. Some people actually respect you more and revel in the realness of a true conversation.

    Frankly, I enjoy getting to know you through your writing and FB. And even if I knew you offline, I would still enjoy getting to know you. You can never ever know everything about a person there is always something new to learn and “real/true” friends and loved ones know that.

    • You are so up front, that’s what I love about you, Jen! For some family members, I really do believe they have difficulty reading certain things and it’s not that they don’t care. But yeah, maybe some don’t! Lol! Or else they are lurking. But I’m like you. I’m done with secrecy. Secrecy hurts more than it helps. And I don’t like bs conversations.

  9. I had the issue of insanity in my family members reading my blog. Most of them are mired in denial, so when I write an honest post about what I see going on; it causes no end of drama. I write for me and you that I might in some small way help someone else; in order to do this I am honest. When certain members read my blog all they want to read is what I said about them or some one else, This creates fodder for their insanity, because no matter how I write it it is most often misinterpreted or intentionally twisted. I have no desire fr the drama, I am trying to heal not remain where I was. Thus the Daisy blog. I have nothing to hide and I am honest when I speak with them, it doesn’t seem to matter. No we don’t ever truly know all facets of anyone, but generally we know their heart, and values from reading them on our blogs. This is a great post I am glad to be your friend.

    • I’m glad to be your friend as well, Daisy! I applaud you for continuing to blog your truth despite the controversy. I also agree that we can get to know someone at their essence from reading blogs.

  10. Very few of mine read it, but I did insist my wife email subscribe so it is at least delivered to her daily.

  11. I think a lot of it also depends on the type of person you are as a blogger. Not every blogger wants to expose their heart and soul and for some they remain reserved and keep within the neutral elements that make them feel safe. However bloggers that write personally generally find it difficult not to let something out in their words. My thoughts are if you’re writing something that is personal to you, it doesn’t matter whether you put it all out there or skirt around the outsides, anyone who reads it that is close/knows you will make it mean what they want to mean, it’s their perception rather than your view point.

    As to whether you can form a complete picture of someone from reading their posts, well yes you can but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the right or true picture. I think you can gain an understanding of what that person is like but it’s like they say – you never truly know someone until you’ve lived with them and I don’t think you will ever truly know them inside and out. I formed very close friendships with a few bloggers and it wasn’t until I met them for real that even though I knew I loved them to bits I truly had a complete picture.

    • Having met some of your blogging friends must be interesting. Also, you are right that most of us form opinions based on our own perceptions that may or may not jibe with reality. I wonder if we really know the people we “know” in real life who don’t also write?

  12. No one in my family reads my blog, they don’t get why I write and think I am strange since I am always writing (even when I go on vacation I take my laptop. ( note, I am strange, but that is besides the point). I recently learned that a very close friend of mine (he knows I write) is a regular on my blog. Well color me shocked. And today, a former work associate confessed to stalking my blog all the time.. Double wammy. I wonder. As for your first question – I think we are ever changing, hard to be sure who we are on any given day. As for the other, I don’t think we can ever know the heart of someone else.. we get close, but we can’t crawl inside.

  13. Sweepy, family and friends read my blog frequently but I wouldn’t know it by comments, only by my feedjit. I’m not quite sure why they only comment once in a blue moon, but that is okay for me. Sometimes, I think it is their way to keep up with what’s going on with Michaela since she no longer has a fb account.
    But, I knew there were things I wanted to get off of my chest that I just couldn’t write on my Celiac site, or I didn’t care for family and friends to know about. Those writings are on my other site and stay private, away from nosy eyes with big mouths 🙂

  14. I think it’s definitely easier to express myself through the written word. I am blatantly honest about my feelings, philosophies and spiritual experiences on my blog. There are lots of people that probably know a lot more about me than my own family members because those people read my blog and my family members don’t. I remember reading an article that someone wrote one time mentioning that her husband read her blog and said it was like a window to her soul. How beautiful. It’s true many times for us bloggers…we put our hearts and minds into our work and people can learn a lot about us through visiting our blogs.

  15. deborahnscatteredmusing said:

    When I first started my blog, it was listed on my now ‘personal’ facebook profile. I didn’t push or promote my blog back then, nor did I ask any family member to read it. At the time, my blog was my outlet, my place to express and escape life happenings, during which that time my hubby and I were getting reacquainted after almost a 3 year separation. He saw that I was writing a blog, but never admitted to reading it, and I once told him that was my space and to not invade it. I wasn’t ready to share some of my feelings then. (if that makes sense) and I wasn’t ready for him to read stories of my pain etc.

    Even when we are true to ourselves, writing brings out some deeper emotions that we might not share with family members. I am the same person in real life and on my blog, It’s like a book, turned movie, how often have you read a book then saw the movie? You think darn the book was better. It’s like that with writing on my blog, I can tell you the same story in person that you read on my blog, and the blog version will be better. Why? Maybe because when we write there isn’t prying, judging eyes upon us.

    I honestly think that no one will ever know me completely, I am so ever changing, they can learn my habits, likes, dislikes but to really know me, don’t think it’s possible. We can claim to really know someone, but we only know them for the situations/surroundings we’ve seen/been with them in. Change the scenery, add some drama, or misfortune and guess what you might meet a totally different person.

    Sorry wrote a book…

    http://www.scatteredmusings.net

    • Thanks so much, Deb. I can totally relate to the “book vs movie” analogy. The book is usually better because there are nuances and details from the written word that doesn’t translate visually. A lot of books written here on this topic. I’m grateful for the comments, I’m learning a lot.

  16. Hello Sweepy Jean.
    I’m a private man and share very little about me or my wife even with those family members with whom I have a close relationship.
    I think as writers, even if we don’t want to, we reveal a little of ourselves in our writing. We can’t help it because we pour our hearts & souls into what we love.

    I know very well that a lot of my family & friends read my blog, but the majority of them don’t comment, or if they do, they do it anonymously (which I have now disabled due to an increase in spam). Early on in my blog year, one of my family members used to write really stupid comments, which didn’t have any relevance to the blog posts. I had to explain in no uncertain terms that this kind of behavior was unacceptable since my blog is my pride & joy. The person still doesn’t get it & is an idiot. We don’t speak much anymore, but I really don’t care. I have no time for foolish nonsense, especially when it comes to my poetry.

    I enjoyed reading this post & the subsequent comments.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Zealous For Your Love

  17. What you write is interesting because I would expect it to be the other way. I reveal more of me to my close relatives than I do to the people who read my blog. So my close relatives would not discover anything new about me by reading my blog. I guess it depends on the person.

    Rolando

  18. The only people who read my blog are other bloggers and friends on occasion…I’m opposed to family reading my blog because I don’t want to be judged or pitied because of my words in print. My early posts were filled much pain and intimate thoughts so undoubtedly they would have been even more concerned about me than they already were. I feel fellow bloggers can often relate to anothers blog better than family because they understand the posts come from a special place and how much work goes into a blog. Btw family are not facebook friends for the same reason. Great post as always!! 🙂

  19. You blew me away with this one

  20. These are very thought-provoking questions Adriene. Do we really know each other?–I think we can only know people as far as they are willing to reveal themselves. Having said that, doesn’t it follow then that it’s impossible for each of us to know another fully, for no one, at least in my belief, reveals themselves 100%. There will always be some part that will remain private to some extent.

    As for the family reading my blog part….sadly, I would have to admit that not everyone cares to read my blog. Some family members religiously do and I treasure that support. However, oddly, the closest ones don’t and I don’t know whether to be sad and disappointed or not. Would you believe that not even my husband reads my essays? *sigh*

  21. I am not the real me… if you were to meet me in person you would probably hear no more than three words come out of my mouth. I am a shy and humble man. Through the blogging I can be not me! But don’t tell anyone ok?

    A

  22. many of my friends and family read my blog..but you’ll never see a comment..I believe they are scared..I’m raw and honest about personal things..and people don’t know what to do with that…..
    I decided a long time ago that this is my blog and I can write what I want…if they wanna read it and not comment that’s fine..to each his own..I’m not writing for them….I am writing for me..and for those out there that need to know they are NOT alone…..happy blogging…As always…XOXOOXOXOX

  23. it depends on what you write. i call myself the PG 13 blogger, i dont reveal my inner secrets and turmoils…i censor many thoughts. my blog is not my dairy, it is a resource to update my family and friends about my kids and give them a preview of my writings.
    offlate, i have stopped posting my blogs on FB, cos my readership has slumped tremendously. so i basically write for myself:-)

  24. Great post! I think about this topic a lot – about how no one can really know another person completely and how we frequently wear different faces depending on who we’re with and what the circumstances are that we find ourselves in at any given moment. However, obviously some people are more personality-consistent across the board than others. Actually, I don’t think anything that involves the human condition can be nicely categorized; there will always be anomalies.

    I would take this one step further, though, and suggest we cannot even know our own selves completely (& I think there are good reasons for this but I don’t want my “comment” get so carried away that it should be its own blog post); although, I do believe some people are more self-aware than others (again, that diversity). The people who are the least self-aware are often hypocrites because they judge the world from an external point of view and overlook their own actions and what’s going on inside their own heads. Hypocrites don’t realize they’re hypocrites.

    I don’t really know who reads my blog, but I know the longer I do it, the less anonymous I feel. I’m starting to censor myself more or cover up true events with fictional ones. My blog is sort of becoming a kind of quasi-fictional blog, or else a blog with fictional undertones and memoir-esque highlights.

    Anyway, wonderful discussion you’ve started here! (so much for shortened comments 😉

    Cheers ~ Lala ~

    • Lol! Thanks for your wonderful comment. I’m so enjoying the discussion here with you and everyone. It’s amazing. Self awareness – That is my favorite virtue. I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that hypocrites have none.

  25. My kids are starting to read my blog and that’s scary. Because their perception of me should probably not include some of the things I mention.

  26. if i could ever figure out who i am and what i am, i’d be me 🙂 until then i’m tbaoo !!

  27. So true about family members. Mine used to read my blog occasionally but it was more a duty kind of thing. However, even this occasional read inhibited me from writing about some of the things going on in my life that were affecting me deeply. Anyway, the subject matter of my blog – to motivate people to make a new start after job, home, money, status, etc. loss – was not of interest to them. My readers, with a few exceptions, were almost all people I’ve never met personally.

    You’re right about another point: it’s much harder to write about your feelings that to talk about them. Some people are very good at this but I just can’t expose my inner feelings in a blog even though I’d love to.

    • It is scary at first, Pennie, to share deep feelings on a blog, at least it was for me. Then I began to realize that nothing bad happens because of it. Now, I can’t remember what I thought would happen!

  28. Hey Adrienne,

    I force my family members to read my blogs! 😉

    Though my siblings do read it regularly, they don’t indulge in the tweet, share jazz somehow. They feel they’ve read it and that makes me more than happy! Although, I really don’t know who I am actually writing for, writing makes me happy and I am more than glad if family and friends love it too!

  29. As for me, my blogs stem from so many areas. Some are personal, experience of life and semi-fictional. Every blogger has his own unique writing skills and ideas. I try to give my audience interesting subjects and great information when I can. I enjoy reading as well as writing, okay let me make myself real clear. I enjoy a good story, fiction, personal or otherwise.

    http://giveback-2-day.blogspot.com/

  30. Well since I only have my mom left in my family she sees me as exactly what I write in my blog. I printed out the story of Rod and I from my blog and let Grammy read it a long while back and her understanding of me and the reality of me seemed to be two different things. So I really don’t know if friends see me as I am…BUT I will tell you I have long held the the concept that I hold to that can be described in this quote I said a while back, “It’s not the prophets job to interpret the prophecy to people. The prophets job is to speak the truth and nothing more. It is the people who hear it, it’s their job to understand it.” LOL so I don’t much worry about who understand what about me, it is just up to me to speak my truth.

    • For me that is the ultimate, Lisa, to have someone see me the same way in real life as in my writing. You are fortunate that you have that in even one person. And wise words indeed that our responsibility is to speak the truth. We have no control over how it is received.

  31. What an interesting post. I had never really thought about a blog that way before, but I see it now, if you compare a blog to a memoir. There can be some discomfort, as you put it, of seeing a part of a person that doesn’t mesh with your perception. We never like our view of the world around us to be questioned, right?

  32. I’m not sure which category I fall into because my family doesn’t even know about my blog and I hope it remains that way!

  33. Queen Nefertiti said:

    I am one of the relatives in “avoid like the plague” category. In some way I feel ashamed because I know how much SJ puts into her blog and her writing in general. In my professional life I wrote as little as possible and listened to people spill their guts in person. So I guess I am guilty as charged. When it comes to actually reading what people think, I find it difficult to follow along. It’s mental laziness at best, emotional disconnect at the other end of the spectrum. OK, I am ashamed. I finally said it! I am supposed to meet a person where they’re at and if it is in writing it’s just as valid as spoken word. SJ you rock and I really do admire you. I will make an honest attempt to show it. Your trifling relative, P (a.k.a. Queen Nefertiti).

    • Wouldn’t you know it, that a family member would read THIS post! ;p Don’t be ashamed; it seems like a common phenomenon and the reasons are many. I admire you for speaking up! I’m happy you stopped by. Don’t feel obligated, do it when you feel like it. I promise not to rag on ya’ll too often! Love you! ❤

  34. As far as I know, no one in my family reads my blog, but if there is something happening in our lives and I feel compelled to get approval from my wife. Because of an earlier blog I wrote I am very careful about writing anything about my personal live, work or home. As I write this I have one issue that is going on that I would love to post, but if the wrong person looks at it I may not survive far into the future.

    • Well, definitely be careful what you say! It’s hard when you talk about personal matters directly, maybe a little easier leaving out details and just talking about how you feel. Easier, meaning less likely to offend someone, though it may be harder for them to absorb.

  35. No one in my family reads my blog. They all have found some excuses not to read (internet connection, etc…) and at first I was disappointed. Now I don’t care, I am perfectly happy with the support I get from the blogging community. It actually feels good to be able to open up and share different things.

    • That’s a great way of looking at it, Muriel. It is truly amazing how supportive the blogging community is and how great it feels to have that acceptance. It’s easy to wonder why it seems that the online family fills the holes more effectively than the one in real-life.

  36. My siblings confessed to not reading my blog LOL.Most of the experiences I share are with them but I keep myself to prudence and would never allow anything that I write mar any of them.

    While I do like my close friends and my family to read it, there are times that I wish, I could keep it only for them. There used to be certain people who I wish would never come across my blog, but then again, I promised to love myself more so I left things to the open. Anyways, I have control over the comments and if the things I post raised some eyebrows along the road, then I wouldn’t care less 😉

    I love your name 😛

    • I agree, Melissa, that the goal is not to hurt anyone’s feelings with anything I write, although I may have. I guess we never know how someone will react to what we write, but like you said, we can’t let that control was we write.

  37. Adriene, how interesting. None of my family reads my blog. Come to think of it, my friends don’t either. But that’s fine. I suppose one reason they don’t is because they already know me well enough 😉

    The writers that I know tend to gear their work, not toward friends and family, but toward other writers. Our ‘target audience’ is the writing community.
    Do we ever really know each other? No, I don’t think so.

    • I hear you, Debra. Even if it’s not a personal blog, maybe it’s a bit of egotism that we hope our families are interesting in our work? Or perhaps the best policy is to leave the job at the office and accept that every we do doesn’t have to relate back to family, friends, etc.

  38. Hi Adrienne,
    Those are some good questions. Many times I am surprised after reading someone’s blog for a while and then I hear their voice in a podcast or video and they are so different then their writing style.

    I would say that we have many aspects of ourselves and they come out in different ways according to the medium that we use.

  39. Hey sweeps. does that mean you would read my blog if i started one? i am thinking about it!

    • I would, not sure why I wouldn’t. So why not and why? 😉

      • I was thinking about writing a blog about those thoughts i have in the middle of the night, now that i have more occassion to be up at that hour. but then i thought maybe those thoughts only seem interesting because i am half awake. i dont want people to read and say “what?”. for example i hope this doesnt sound stupid when the sun comes up.

  40. Minx, you’d be surprised to find out how many people feel the way you do.

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