Diabetes Blog Week: The Quiet Parts.
Feels weird, and slightly ironic, starting a blog post about the diabetes-related things I don’t share here on the diabetes blog I’ve written here on the open Internet about my personal experiences with the disease. It’s been ten years of this – the idea that there’s crap I don’t talk about might seem like a big fat lie.
But there are plenty of things I have decided not to share, both in the realm of diabetes and in the regular flow of insulin-free life. I’m an oddly private person, considering what I do professionally. So what do I share, and what do I choose not to share, and why?
“You put it out there, so you’re inviting people to judge you.”
That’s true. By putting our lives “out there,” we are giving people information to judge us, for better or for worse. Giving the specifics of my lab work results or my weight or my fasting blood sugar this morning provides people with a window into my health reality. It lets people put me into a statistic, or a range, or an assumption. Some people are comfortable with allowing that kind of access. I have come to realize that I’m not that kind of person. No, I won’t tell you my A1C, even if it’s stellar and in-range and covered in fucking glitter. I work very hard to manage this disease, and I’ve come to realize that I’m not the kind of person who does well being judged for that specific number, especially when that judgment attempts to minimize my efforts.
Because (being totally honest), I cared very much about the critique for a few years. There was a time when I posted about my A1C while preparing for pregnancy (it was higher than what my doctor’s recommended, and I was writing about my struggle in bringing it down to baby range), and the comments that came back about my number ranged in their tone and sentiment. Invited, warranted, or not, I can handle critical commentary, but there is a fine line between “constructive criticism” and “cruelty.” And once I stopped getting all twitchy about the unsupportive commentary (because it’s not all going to be supportive), I felt a lot better. Getting older has made me care less about being judged and more comfortable and confident about my decisions, decisions like not sharing my personal lab data. Or like decisions to write about diabetes online in the first place.
“Just because you give them a window doesn’t mean you have to give them a door.”
We are not obligated to share. We chose to share. I write this website, and will continue to write here, because of the connection to the diabetes community that sharing fosters. I love that part of it. It took me a long time to realize where my boundaries are, and to feel comfortable staying within them.
While I chronicled my pregnancy in a very detailed way, I didn’t share everything. Before my daughter was even born, I decided to keep her name offline, and after sharing some of her baby stories, I decided to keep her offline, too. And I share a lot of the silly things related to diabetes, and some of the complicated things, too, but there are thoughts I have about diabetes that are sometimes so terrifying and other times so fucking arrogant that I keep those in, too. Diabetes is so personal and runs a pile of gamuts. Sharing it all feels like too much, at times. Sharing some, however, helps me deal with the emotional side of this chronic illness.
A window in our lives? That sounds nice. Opening the door and letting in everything, and everyone? I can’t manage that kind of flow. What if a bat flies into my living room? Fuck bats. So I’m sticking with the windows, with the screens firmly in place.
“So what kinds of stories will we never hear you tell? And why won’t you tell them?”
I don’t share stories about my extended family without their permission. I don’t post about where I live or where I work during the day. I absolutely do not write about arguments with family. I do not share things that make me sad while I’m going through them (but sometimes I will share once I’m on the other side of that kind of emotional upheaval, as is my comfort level). This kind of paints life as though it is “perfect” and without struggle, but I think we all know that the stuff we read on the Internet is always written with specific bias and through a specific lens. (Though I do try to disclose my financial biases, and also, I will always like my kid more than I like your kid. It’s a fact. Unless you are my husband, in which case I like your kid as much as I like my kid, for obvious reasons.)
I won’t tell some of these stories because they sometimes hurt to go through, never mind the added pain of retelling them. I won’t tell them because they are mine, and privacy is an often-underrated but essential part of a peaceful life.
What I will share are stories about how diabetes affects my life, and how it plays a part in shaping my experiences. I will connect with others through these stories and those friendships will color my existence in a way that I am still understanding and always appreciating. I will share in hopes that someone will feel less alone, just like I feel less alone every time I read a new blogger or find a new Twitter DOC connection or have an awkward interaction with someone in a bathroom.
Regardless of how much or how little you share, your voice is important, and our community flourishes as a result.
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This is part of Diabetes Blog Week, where blog prompts help generate a series of posts by folks in the Diabetes Online Community. Here’s today’s prompt: “Many of us share lots of aspects of our diabetes lives online for the world to see. What are some of the aspects of diabetes that you choose to keep private from the internet? Or from your family and friends? Why is it important to keep it to yourself? (This is not an attempt to get you out of your comfort zone. There is no need to elaborate or tell personal stories related to these aspects. Simply let us know what kinds of stories we will never hear you tell, and why you won’t tell them.) (Thank you Scott E of Rolling in the D for this topic.)”