the smell of my desperation has become a stench

An IOU

This featured community question comes from member fellowtoucans:

09_16_2013

I’m not sure that I owed it to anyone, but I did create and continue to host a community section of my website where people can sign up for free and ask questions exactly like this one. I’ve given away money, game consoles, cameras, and subscriptions. I’ve held meet-ups in various cities to shake hands and exchange hugs with some of you. I’ve advocated for those who suffer mental illness and for better maternal healthcare and education. I’ve shown you my scars from skin cancer. I’ve donated thousands of dollars to various charitable organizations, some of which were recommended by you. I can’t but I wish I could come to your house and pour you a glass of wine and let you tell me everything that is wrong because you so desperately need someone to listen. Instead I try to articulate the things that are going haywire over here in case reading what I’m going through gives you any sort of release. That’s my job. That’s what I can offer you.

I do not owe you the details of my divorce. I know you want to know, you’re curious, you’ve been reading along for years and have been invested in the well being of my family. I’m sorry if it feels like I left you out in the cold by not giving you a point by point explanation of where things went off the rails, but things went off the rails. That is all I can give you. The picture you had of my marriage was incomplete, and that was purposeful on my part because the only acceptable place to air the problems between us was in front of a therapist. My own children will never know the details, should never be privy to the details, and that alone prevents me from filling in that picture for you.

You want to know about my boyfriend. You’re curious. You’ve seen pictures of him on Instagram and don’t understand why I won’t write about him. Given the stories I read in local and national publications about my separation and divorce and the message boards filled with rumors and lies and accusations, the comments left on my own website, I have no desire to write about another relationship. Because I can’t give you the full picture. The ever-evolving dynamic of any relationship, if honored as it should be, has no place in a one-sided blog post. Sure, I’m exposing myself to all of those various ugly things just by acknowledging the relationship with a photo, but that photo is what I can give you. That photo is my way of letting you know that I’m trying to move forward with my life, and although I don’t owe it to you to tell you that, I am grateful enough for your investment in the well being of my family to offer it to you.

You want to know about all these projects and meetings I allude to. Why am I being so vague? Why do I just throw those words around? This is a less about what I owe you and a lot more about not wanting to bore you. So: meetings with my accountant, various lawyers, business managers, and gatherings for the local non profit on which I serve as a board member. Meetings with my ad partners and agent, PR agencies trying to figure out how to work with bloggers, and phone calls with project managers who want me to promote their ideas. Freelance writing and design work. Back-to-school meetings with teachers and preschool orientation. Fourth grade math homework.

Business-wise this may be a bad decision on my part, withholding these details. Because your desire to know all the ins and outs has left you little patience for me. Posting around here is lighter than it normally is. It’s not nearly as funny as it should be, I’ve heard. Why stick around anymore? I don’t have an answer for you, although I’ll repeat what I said in the first paragraph and remind you why I’m here, why I’ve always been here. I’m offering you a place at my table, a seat on my couch. And what I most certainly do owe you is my honesty, my heart even. That’s what our relationship was built on.

And to that end, I’m having a really hard time. Keeping my head above water is a daily struggle right now, and whether it’s seasonal or the disorienting changes my life has seen over the last few months, it’s the reason why sometimes I sit down to write something and I cannot summon a word. And when words pay the bills the problem gets even more complicated.

I trust that things will look up, and I just need to give it some time. I’ve been through periods like this before when it seems everything goes wrong at exactly the same time, and if I can just get up and make it through my day things will turn around eventually. They always do. Words will come more easily. And for those of you who have continued to offer me patience, I cannot thank you enough for that generosity. Thank you for sticking around. You certainly don’t owe me that.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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