On Anonymity, a face and a name, and a revelation
October 6, 2012
There’s a question of whether you can truly believe what a blogger’s saying if you don’t know his or her real name, or see his or her face, of whether there’s disingenuity in hiding behind a pseudonym online.
I’ve been thinking, lightly treading, one moment to the next, about whether or not there’s any point, a benefit, to considering shedding my pseudonymity, whether, if I wanted to take a new, fresh step in my writing, that would be the right step.
Bloggers are doing brave writing, soulful pieces about their journeys; Clare and her discovery process with alcohol: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3; Andrea’s recent revelation about her PTSD. They’re able to write in the open, under their names and I admire that.
But having always been an anonymous blogger, an open identity looks like open and perhaps treacherous waters from here. Many PF bloggers have come out into the open and seem to have enjoyed the process; why not consider it?
Would it enrich my writing? Would it enrich the experience of blogging?
It’s an interesting thought exercise. On the one hand, I haven’t had the experience of people caring enough to want to be open and honest with people in my real life about my health, my thoughts about my health, and experiences stemming therein. I certainly couldn’t have been this open about my family’s life with money with, well, anyone. More of you know that genuine and authentic side of me than anyone in my real life.
On the other hand, of those who care, there’s nothing they can do and I chose not to enlighten them to the depths of my health journey and the related life choices. Mostly, it was years of knowing that if I added one more thing to the list of things for my parents to worry over, that they couldn’t fix and had to feel guilty about not being able to fix, I couldn’t live with myself. So the encroaching, progressing and overwhelming chronic pain and fatigue issues were all safely tucked away under the hood. They were never to know that it was more than just a bit of pain I just couldn’t shake, that it’d ever gotten worse than the pain they knew about, the pain that started when I was 13. Not the chest pains, not the vertigo, not the breathing problems, not the weekends of being flat out steamrollered, unable to lift limbs for the exhaustion, nor the parade of pharmaceuticals that wouldn’t breach my crushing defeat. They were to know nothing about it. Not when just the fact that I worked incredibly long hours with the little pain they knew about was so distressing.
I kept up a facade for so long that I’d forgotten it was there.
It was a sharp shock remembering this past week that knowing me, my name or my face or even knowing me since birth don’t lend itself to knowing much about me.
I got into a tiff with my dad over, of all things, weddings.
PiC and I had a very quiet courthouse wedding last year with only a handful of people. My side was represented by my parents and very close friends. The rest of the extended family saw the engagement ring at the funeral soon after and then the lying started.
It’s ironclad tradition to have an engagement party, oh well, Mom was so ill we just had to have a quick and small one. They all, of course, felt left out, but what could they say during funeral arrangements?
Then the questions, because, it’s my family and if we did a formal engagement, the date must already have been set.
Oh, well we can’t possibly think about planning anything now, obviously.
We have to wait a while, now, we thought we’d have Mom around for a while…
Oh, I hear someone calling my name, gotta go.
We never got around to planning the reception. Life and grief and work and everything got in the way. I still can’t really bring myself to want to plan one, yet. I had the worst times thinking about planning it while Mom was struggling with losing her very self.
He brought the subject up the last time we were back home and my throat closed up.
It came up again, this time with the “your aunt and I will take care of all the arrangements,” “you don’t need to worry about the guest list, I’ll deal with it,” and after several attempts to put on the brakes gently, to interject some sense into the runaway train that leads to the 18-hours of Miserable Asian Wedding, trying to compromise before it turned into the Scary Vision of Stress, he said “well, everyone just has to suck it up and deal with it.”
He didn’t know. He doesn’t know how deep my wells of grief are intertwined with my helplessness to save her and my helplessness to save myself.
I lost it.
“NO. No, because if I ‘just deal with it, I will DIE. I can’t even do normal stuff because I’m sick. I can’t even live a normal life now, get dressed, cook meals, eat meals, drive a car, walk to and from the garage without planning which things I can do in a day without falling over, so no, I Can’t. Just. Deal. With. It.”
I shouldn’t have. I really really shouldn’t have. I was tired, I was short-tempered, I had completely forgotten how much I had hidden even from him. Because in all these long years of chronic pain, fatigue and mystery illness, I hadn’t even told him that it wasn’t just the initial joint pain that he knew of in one isolated area anymore. That it was everywhere, that it was fatigue, and shortness of breath, and chest pain, and dizziness, and and and.
And he didn’t know that my years powering through work and school and work and moving and taking care of everything and more work, that was all on the Scholarship of Faking It. He had no idea that I’ve been slowly falling apart for nearly 20 years.
Because I deliberately didn’t tell him, in case he let it slip and Mom found out and worried herself into an earlier grave. /Sigh. And now I feel horrible for telling him because he’s been having survivor guilt, guilt for making my life difficult all these years, guilt for being dependent on me. And I know that. But I just ran right over him.
And of course he felt terrible over it.
So now that’s out and we both feel worse for having it out there in the open just making us both feel bad.
It’s more complicated, of course, than just a secret held too long, grief clouding judgment, guilt clouding judgment, a father feeling he’s neglected his duties. It’s all of that and more.
At the end of this, I don’t think I see a way for me to be a better blogger when I haven’t even figured out how to be a better, more open person yet.