Sunshine and rosesThursday, February 24, 2011
I suspect this post is going to make yesterday's look all flippant and cheap. Oh well. Hey ho.
As I mentioned before, my first stop on the train to Blogland was in the tulle-filled, bunting-laden land of the Wedding Blog. In fact, I'm still a frequent visitor to that particular area. It's all just so happy. Everyone is always gushing about the beautiful bride, the adoring groom, the wonderful family and supportive friends, the joyous act of committing yourself to another person for as long as you both shall live, etc etc. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I love it; with all the sorrow and despair in the news every day, there is something very uplifting in reading about all these loved-up young things, starting off their married lives full of hope and happiness and fruit cake.
I've also now added quite a few "married blogs" (for want of a better term) to my blogreader – women who, like me, have done the wedding thing and are slowly moving on from that place, but aren't quite ready to catch the express train to Mommyblogging just yet (I don't love that word either, but let's go with it for now). Married life isn't all sunshine and roses - it's just life, after all - but there's still plenty of happy talk among the married ladies too. Happy, happy, happy.
However. On Tuesday, as I was merrily scrolling through my usual fare of quirky bridesmaid attire, exciting married adventures and portable air organs, I came to a post from Maggie Mason, she of Mighty Girl. She had bad news, she wrote. She and her husband were separating.
I only started reading Maggie's blog very recently, so it's not as if I was emotionally invested in their relationship, but nevertheless I felt genuinely sad as I read her post – sad for her, for her husband and her son, of course, but also ever so slightly shaken by the realisation that all in Blogland is not as rosy it first appears. So much of what I read every day is – or seems to be – built upon the perception of marriage as something to be prized and desired, an essential component of personal happiness. I suppose I had foolishly imagined that, along with all those other brides and newlyweds and marrieds, I could tick "Find person to spend rest of life with" off my life list. Done, dusted.
But of course, it's not that simple. Even back in seemingly safe Wedding Blog territory, heartache can be hovering just beyond each beautifully lit, perfectly composed shot. A friend of mine recently got engaged and I sent her my usual 10,000-word email with suggestions for blogs to check out, one of which was the inimitable Rock n' Roll Bride. My friend replied that a couple she knew had actually had their wedding featured on Rock n' Roll Bride towards the end of last year! OMG! Except, and I quote, "They have now split up. Ouch. But lovely day."
I went back and looked at the wedding in question, which for obvious reasons I won't link to here, and I remembered that when it was first featured I had thought it so cool, so stylish, the couple so glamorous. It's heartbreaking to think that even now other brides could be admiring her dress or her flowers, might have saved the link to their inspiration folder, while in real life that fledgling marriage has collapsed into nothing but recriminations and disappointment*.
Just before I decided to start this blog (and the timing is probably not a coincidence), The Bloggess wrote a post about fellow blogger, wife and and young mum, Lori, whose husband had just committed suicide. He had what can only be described as a psychotic episode and hanged himself, right in front of her. It's impossible to imagine how this woman must have felt, must still be feeling, and I won't even try here. What struck me, however, was the immediate and immense outpouring of love and concern that rose up in response to this awful thing. As well as countless messages of support and sympathy on her blog, a fund was set up for her and her children, to which complete strangers donated. Lori's decision to keep blogging through and about her grief has, perhaps, polarised opinion, but there can be no doubt of the support she has received via her own blog and the wider blogging community. It might be hard to read, but it's honest, and people respond to that. The hundreds of responses to Maggie's post about her separation tell a similar story.
When I began writing here, I didn't make any conscious decisions about how much I was prepared to share, or where I would draw the boundaries. I suppose I thought that I could deal in generalisations, and hints, and glossing over, and wouldn't have to give too much of myself away. But it turns out I'm not too great at self-censorship. There are parts of my life that are great – romantic trips to Rome, getting involved with Fringe by the Sea – and there are parts that aren't so great – my mum has cancer, my husband's a homicidal maniac – and to write about one part wouldn't make any sense without writing about the other. I don't know whether I would feel the same if I ever found myself in a situation like Maggie's or Lori's, though. Of course, I hope I never have to find out.
In the last two days, I have received two of the nicest emails ever. Hopefully the ladies in question won't mind me mentioning. The first was from the lovely Lucy (who is starting her own wedding photography business!) and the second was from Clare, of the fabulous Any Other Wedding (who actually featured Lucy's beautiful wedding – oh it's all very incestuous in Blogland). The fact that these two amazing and talented women took the time to write me such warm, encouraging and downright hilarious emails, all because they had read my wee blog, put a massive smile on my face (two people in two days!! Best two days ever!). It also gave me some much-needed confidence to carry on with my own random combination of the pretty, the witty and the gritty (ooh! New tag line? Hmm, maybe not).
So where am I going with all this? I suppose I just wanted to say that my thoughts are with Maggie this week. And thank you to all you lovely people who have commented on here, or tweeted me, or (eek!) sent me an email. So far, I'm really quite enjoying this blogging malarkey. I think I'll keep it up.
*Obviously, not every marriage that ends does so acrimoniously. But this particular one sounded like a total car crash. Lies, cheating. Sad, sad story.