When I was in junior high, I watched a man on a TV news magazine (60 Minutes is my guess because it was prior to the advent of the myriad of others) talk about the future of computers. He was a "futurist" and my dad and I listened avidly as he talked about the changes that were to come.
Our family computer was used for three main purposes at the time: playing a game in which you tried to build up civilization while some evil force tried to destroy it; checking e-mail, which was a very new phenomena; and writing my essays for school. My school had computer labs. We were learning to use DOS code to "draw" clunky square-based pictures (you know, because it's so useful), and how to type proficiently (okay, that one paid off). Most of my friends' families had a computer, too, and they were used much for the same reason as ours. Tetris. But we also knew many, many people who did not have a computer, and given the somewhat frivolous applications at the time, I didn't envision them investing in one anytime soon.
Which is why I was amazed when the futurist proclaimed that in the future, every family would have a computer. And that the computer would function as their portal to the rest of the world. There would be this "place" where everyone could "meet". We would find recipes, pay our bills, and "talk" to one another - all without ever stepping foot outside our front door. His eyes went all dreamy as he spoke and you could see him turn into his five-year-old self, geeky though he was, right there in front of you.
I was dubious. It sounded about as likely as the jet-packs promised to my father's generation. And, frankly, I told my dad, even if it did come to pass, it sounded sad and lonely. Who wanted to sit, cooped up in their house, performing all the functions they used to do in person but without ever coming eyeball-to-eyeball with another human being.
And why in the world would I want to "meet" someone in this non-existent "place", rather than go out and make friends with people I could size-up, and eventually hug? I raised my eyebrows in my patented family expression of doubt, rolled my eyes, and dismissed the whole thing.
Of course, now we know why he was the paid professional "futurist", and I was, well, a junior high kid.
Four years ago, on the eve of a new year, I decided I needed a new start. I needed to reach out in the ether and connect to others who had been through some of the same things I had. And the only way I could access them was in that very "place" the futurist had described decades earlier.
My blogging career, as it were, began at a precarious time in my life. It came at the end of what was easily the worst year of my life. A year that entailed trials and loss that many never endure - let alone endure in such a small space of time. As my bio detailed, I had lost three children, moved to a new home, and began a new career. I had endured numerous surgeries. I had become pitiable - something this perfectionist had never, ever seen coming.
And I was crazy.
I don't mean that in a funny, "man, you were really out there!" kind of way. I mean I had lost my mind. I was at the bottom of a big hole of grief and I did not know how to pull myself out. I was not sane. The "me" who began blogging four years ago was still in the thick of it: full-blown post traumatic stress disorder. I could not hold a thought in my head. Todd had to constantly repeat facts for me, up to a dozen times a day, and still I could not repeat back to him whatever sentence still hung in the air.
And the flashbacks were nearly crippling. One minute I was standing in the shower, and the next I was there in the hospital bed, holding Thomas and staring at his closed eyes. Or I was frantically tying on my tennis shoes in my bedroom while I sat on a red towel with my pants unbuttoned, trying to organize an emergency trip to the ER without rousing my sleeping relatives while I hemorrhaged over Thanksgiving. And then I would come to, and not know how much time had passed. Which is fine when you're in the shower - but not while you're pulling out into the "chicken lane" and crossing traffic.
Ironically, I did not talk about those things when I first began blogging. I was not ready to be vulnerable in that way. Not here. Not out in the open for everyone to see. And yet, I was ready to share something: my anger. And there was plenty of that.
Those early entries are bitter and sharp-edged. And there isn't much forgiveness for anyone who strayed into my line of fire. But it was necessary. I needed to put that anger somewhere, and I had only just found someone who showed me how. It was getupgrrl.
At the time of my third loss, I was part of several online message boards. I'd moved from "Due in March" to "Loss Support" to "Pregnancy After Loss" back to "Loss Support" back to "Pregnancy After Loss" and then finally to "Multiple Miscarriages". And there, Ollie posted about a blog she'd found called Chez Miscarriage. She warned that it was dark, but funny. And dead-on for the inexpressible grief and anger we all felt.
Chez Miscarriage was only a few months old at the time and I breezed through the entries in an hour. After ravenously awaiting new posts from getupgrrl for a few weeks, I decided I should get me one of those new-fangled blog things. So I did. And I focused what little energy I had on being crafty and strong and witty. And unleashing the anger and ire. And I found a whole network of other women who were doing the same thing. And I cannot underestimate how it changed me.
I also began seeing a therapist. And she told me I was crazy - which I needed to hear. And she told me to slow down. And my new doctor told me to slow down. And so I finally did.
And into that void of quiet stepped a whole world of women who were as real to me as if I'd met them over dinner. Better, in fact. Because in this "place" called the internet, we were more real, more honest, and less guarded than in real life. We had conversation about topics we could never have with our friends and family because they had never been on this path. We said hard things because we knew we would be understood for feeling so dark and unyeilding.
Slowly, my sanity began to return. Because my therapist and my newfound friends began to help me take it one moment at a time. They told me it was not only okay to be crazy, it was mandatory. And they said they would help me move through it instead of skipping over it.
Even though the vast majority of these new friends had not been there to witness me move through all that loss (though some of you did), they stuck around. And they held on as they watched me heal.
Recently, blogging as a phenomenon seems to have caught the attention of nearly everyone. It is now a subject of dissertation. A media trend. An advertising venue. A source of news and community. And as such, I've been contacted here and there to participate in groups or studies about the effect of blogging on this or that. Which got me thinking:
Without blogging, I never would have known exactly how full of it my first RE was.
Without blogging, I never would have had the courage to tell her to cancel my surgery and transfer me to her partner, thankyouverymuch.
Without blogging, I never would have know about Asherman's Syndrome and what questions to ask of my new RE.
Without blogging, I doubt I would have come back from my first scar-removal surgery to get pregnant with Hannah.
Without blogging, I would never have known that I was at a high risk for placental problems, or that they could be diagnosed via MRI. I would not have demanded to have one, and would have simply tried for a vaginal delivery. I would have almost certainly lost my uterus and potentially could have bled out.
Without blogging, I never would have had the courage to try for Caroline and endure the fear of another pregnancy and delivery.
But most importantly, without blogging, my life would have been infinitely smaller. And lonelier. And sadder. I would not have all of you.
In a Christmas card from a friend, I was recently reminded that happiness is a choice. It may not be a simple "yes" or "no", but it is a series of little choices that brings us around to happiness or sorrow. My friend told me that when she receives and e-mail from me I always look so happy. And she's glad that I keep choosing that path. I think she's right. And I thank all of you for making that possible - for lighting the way with your own stories, words, and yes... even cyber-hugs.
My hat is off to you, Mr.Futurist. You could not have been more right about this wonderful new world, filled with as much warmth and human touch as the old.