Having read blogs for years prior to becoming a blogger myself, I knew I was opening myself up for public shaming, criticism, and potentially mean commentary when I hit PUBLISH for the first time back in July 2008. After all, I was blogging about a very personal and shameful thing: my disordered eating and the downward spiral I was on.
I’d never even realized chewing and spitting was a “thing” til I began doing it — and so I knew there could be some backlash to being so open about my struggles.
I intentionally didn’t share out posts on Twitter or Facebook — even though I was active on both platforms — choosing to keep all my battles within the confines of this blog (save for the family and friends who were there cheering me along as I progressed or picking me up when I fell, dusting me off, and telling me to try again).
This made me feel “safe” — I could document my entire journey without worrying about who was reading. I was able to “come out” about my disordered eating the way I wanted to: with my own words, on my own time.
And what I discovered along the way — as I added my various link to my profiles, occasionally shared out a guest post I’d written, or began writing at bigger platforms and putting my opinions out there — was that people were overwhelmingly positive and supportive. In spite of some haters in the “healthy at any size” group who thought I was “whining over 10 pounds” … for the most part, my community was uplifting.
Readers offered kind words and counsel, sharing their own struggles with me. Some may have been disappointed in me when I had a set-back and others may have questioned what I deemed “recovered” … but there was respectful dialogue within each post, and I really appreciated that, especially when in the depths of my disorder.
Old friends from high school and college and beyond came out of the woodwork to thank me for speaking out publicly about such a taboo topic; for addressing this demon so many women struggle with. And as time went on, I knew I was making a difference–moving from “victim” of my own disease to a legitimate advocate for recovery. I began getting calls and emails to do interviews about my experiences before, during and after my pregnancies, for example. None of that would have been possible had I not experienced those dark years of disordered eating.
I’ve said before that I credit blogotherapy (plus traditional cognitive behavioral therapy) with getting me to the other side, where I’ve stood proud and “sober” since mid-March 2009 thankyouverymuch.
Being so open and honest leaves plenty of room for judgment and for criticism — but it also opens doors for other people. Gives them an opportunity to think of their own demons and how they are facing them [or not facing them]. I believe laying it all out there makes a writer relate-able and human. Which is why I haven’t shied away from interviews in recent years, even though that is in my past. My feeling is, if one person can be helped by my struggles … if one person can overcome his/her demons … then I feel my blog and my writing is accomplishing what I set out to do.
Though I blog less and less about those specific struggles these days, I still talk frankly about my weight and body image issues. It’s just that those things are a much smaller part of my life now. I tend to write more about whatever pops into my head nowadays: being a working mom, motherhood, my kids, marriage, family — albeit through the lens of someone who still struggles with anxiety.
I know as my kids get older I won’t be able to blog about them as much or “lay it bare” to the same extent, but I do believe that great good can come out of brutal honesty. I’ve seen a lot of it recently outside of my own world. People find comfort in knowing they aren’t alone, that others understand their struggles.