I’ve got to get something off my chest. I struggled for nearly two hours this morning to write a 700 word post that should have taken me 30 minutes to write, and wasn’t even very good, but every word was like pulling teeth. The Ogre read it, and mentioned that I need to get back to the way I used to write, at which point I totally effing exploded because I know I need to get back to the way I used to write, but I can’t figure out how.
We talked a little bit about the reasons why I can’t write like I used to, and what’s changed, and what we kept coming back to was the fact that I’m afraid. I’m afraid to say what I think, anymore. I’m afraid to write about anything, anymore — partly because I’m afraid to be wrong, but mostly because I’m afraid that I’ll make people mad. I’m completely stifled by my fear of other people’s expectations.
Originally, this post was going to be about how that’s all Ave Maria’s fault. (Spoiler alert: it’s still partially going to be about that. There’s a red X in the corner you can click on, now, if you’re already mentally drawing and quartering me.) But it’s not just Ave Maria. It’s everyone who freaked out when I said I agreed with Joseph Bottum, who personally called me to inform me that I’m unfaithful to the Magisterium, who gave me the social media version of the Inquisition. It’s everyone who gets mad every time I use a 4-letter word. But most of all, it’s my fault for listening, for letting it get to me, and for letting it shut me up.
This is my blog. This is the space where I have worked out questions, doubts, fears, and yes, even my very salvation, in fear and trembling, and in full view of the public. This is the space I used to retreat to when I needed to vent, or cry, or wrap my head around something. I miss being able to do that, and there’s no reason why I can’t start doing that again. This is my space, and I am hereby reclaiming it.
I refuse to be cowed by people who think I should be a positive mouthpiece for Ave Maria. I won’t be. Guess what? I don’t like living here. I even hate it a little bit. I despise the weather, I don’t like being an hour from civilization, and by and large, I don’t think everyone who lives here is very nice. Yes, there are very nice people who have been very kind to us, and whom I like a lot. But there are also quite a few very mean people whom I find it hard to even pray for, because they are loud, and they say bad things about my family in public and turn people against my husband and children and I don’t like that. And I don’t care who knows it, because if Ave Maria is so fragile that it depends on positive press from absolutely everyone at all times ever, then there are bigger problems here and they don’t begin and end with one measly blogger.
I refuse to be cowed by people who think I should be a shining example of Catholicism. I started this blog because I suck at Catholicism, but I love it and want to be a better Catholic. Guess what? Not much has changed, except that I might possibly be even worse at Catholicism now than I was five years ago. But I love it even more, despite being admonished publicly for being bad at it. I am bad at it! I’m terrible at it! That’s one of the premises of my blog! If you want to read a blog by a good Catholic, go read Jimmy Akin! He’s wonderful and brilliant and non-controversial and good! But this is my space, for Catholics who suck at it but keep trying anyway. Bye, Felicia.
I refuse to be cowed by people who can’t stand cussing. Seriously, if you hate cuss words, go away. I don’t cuss in every post, but I do cuss in some of them, and I don’t care if you think that’s unCatholic of me. (See the above point). The only person whose opinion I care about on this subject is my mother’s, and it is only out of deference to her that I try to censor myself. I just don’t care what anyone else thinks.
I refuse to be cowed by Better Mothers (TM) who think I’m doing it wrong, and who like to tell me so. I love my kids and my husband, and while you might think it’s awful that I play Dungeons and Dragons instead of sewing clothes by candlelight, I think it’s awesome — and so do they. My actual family matters infinitely more than your opinions on how I’m screwing them up, so please go be better than me somewhere else.
I refuse to be cowed by people who think I should be more conservative, or more liberal. I am neither. I’m trying to figure out what is good and true in the constant muck of crap that we call the news these days, and if I offend you by having an opinion about immigrants or rape culture or guns that doesn’t line up with your opinion, I don’t care. Truly, I do not care if I offend you. If you have a critique of my thought process, or a rational opinion about where I’ve gone wrong, I do care, and I’d like to hear it. If you’re simply offended, GTFO. For real.
I refuse to be cowed by people who think I shouldn’t write something or other about my family, because what if they see it on the internet in twenty years and it causes them great internal anguish and destroys them forever, because the Internet is eternal? Oh man, I can’t tell you how much I do not care about this non-argument. If my child is destroyed in the future by discovering that I once wrote about them smearing their poop on my neighbor’s floor, then there are serious problems in our relationship that are so much bigger than a blog post. I do not make a habit of using my children as fodder for clicks, and that’s a good enough standard for me. If it’s not good enough for you, see ya.
I don’t care if you think my writing sucks, or that I should write about something else, or that I should stop writing forever and go live in a hole. I’ve actually tried that last one these last few months, and it doesn’t work for me. I end up feeling anxious and angry and yelling at my family for no reason because I miss writing and I need to write. And that’s not cool with me. I’m not going to let myself become an anxious, angry, neurotic housewife who let go of the one thing she did just for herself because she was afraid of what people might think. I don’t care, neighbors of Ave Maria, if you are appalled by me and embarrassed that I’m part of this town. I don’t care, Perfect Catholics of the Internet, if you are appalled by me and embarrassed that I am part of your Church. I don’t care, Perfect Mothers who Sew, if you are appalled by me and feel sorry for my children. I am who I am, and when I started this blog, I never pretended to be anything else.
I’m going back to that, because it’s the truth. I don’t have any wisdom to offer or lessons to teach, and I’m tired of trying to pretend I do. All I have is me, fumbling my way through life with the occasional hilarious result. Take it or leave it.
And now you’ll have to excuse me, because I’m going to go out in the front yard in my pajamas and do a little victory dance, and not care who sees me.