the smell of my desperation has become a stench


This featured community question comes from member fellowtoucans:


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.

  • cheekymuffy

    2013/09/16 at 2:48 pm

    We are here, and we love you.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/09/16 at 2:49 pm

    I love you, too.

  • Kathryn Humphreys

    2013/09/16 at 2:49 pm

    It’s ok. I don’t tell you everything either. Feel better.

  • Kate

    2013/09/16 at 2:50 pm

    I think you share just as much as I feel comfortable knowing, and as a faithful reader and virtual friend I will tell you that things will get better. You can do this, you are doing a great job. Be proud of yourself.

  • Kristen Howerton

    2013/09/16 at 2:51 pm

    Much love to you, friend.

  • daisy barringer

    2013/09/16 at 2:51 pm

    You don’t owe us funny, but don’t sell yourself short: you’re still funny. And the only “mommy blogger” I actually love and read. I mean, if THAT doesn’t make your day, I don’t know what will.

  • Terilianne

    2013/09/16 at 2:51 pm

    I commend your honesty and strength. I could never do what you do, baring your soul to the world. It is often brave, honest, funny and terrifying all at once. You have inspired me to be honest with others about my struggle with depression, my relationships with my siblings and even more important with my parents. Thank you for all you do say. I hope you continue to voice what those of us only hear in our heads and are afraid to share because we feel disconnected to the rest of the “happy, perky” world that is a lie. We all have issues. Some weirder than most, but normal isn’t true.
    Hugs, love and blessings

  • Kate

    2013/09/16 at 2:52 pm

    I have really loved what you have given us for the last 6 or so years. I will wait for the words to come back. I have had the same problem myself.

  • Lori Rowland Houlihan

    2013/09/16 at 2:52 pm

    Girl. I got your back. You don’t have to tell us nuthin’, so I am very grateful for the ideas that you do share. Keep up the great work! Enjoy your life!

  • katrynka

    2013/09/16 at 2:53 pm

    I appreciate what you do post. Although I admit to a somewhat prurient interest in the details that you have mentioned that you won’t disclose, I agree with your decision not to disclose them! I think that a blog like yours becomes (in the minds of your readers) like a story about a cast of characters, and as such we want the “whole story”. But we have to step back and realize it is not a story, it is your life, and the lives of the people surrounding you. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for the often hilarious manner in which you do so.

  • Karen

    2013/09/16 at 2:53 pm

    You do what’s best for you. I am single, have no children, and check back to your page every day. Try to ignore the haters…if the worst thing in their life is not knowing about your divorce, I want their problems. Much love to you and the family!

  • Heather B.

    2013/09/16 at 2:53 pm

    A hug from way up here to way out there. xo

  • christa teston

    2013/09/16 at 2:53 pm

    Well. I think you’re awesome. So, thanks for being awesome.

  • Nicole

    2013/09/16 at 2:53 pm

    Heather, I’ve been reading your blog since like, 2003. I have no kids and we don’t have that much in common, but I love you and you make me laugh and I’ll keep reading your blog until you quit writing it, which I’m sure is the case for lots of people. Fuck the haters.

  • Amy Reilly

    2013/09/16 at 2:53 pm

    Your life is your own. I enjoy reading whatever you do choose to share with us. You have a gift when it comes to putting into words the experiences of your day and the emotions it evoked. Google Dave Matthews singing with Grover “I need a word”.. If nothing else it may bring a smile to your face. Be well!

  • jessiCat

    2013/09/16 at 2:54 pm

    We love you, and that’s why we come back every day. We want you to be happy, and we love to see the photo’s where you are smiling 🙂 Thank you for letting us in, no matter how much. You really do make a difference in so many of our lives. We owe you a big hug, a glass of wine & puppy breath. All the good things. So many people from so many places just love you to pieces even though we don’t “know” you, we know you. (((HUGS)))

  • April

    2013/09/16 at 2:54 pm

    Heather, through the years you have added so much to my life and we only met in person once at a meet n greet in Austin a few years back. This blog and what you have shared and continue to share is more than enough. Some people want drama ALL the time and when their own life doesn’t provide enough they look to others.

  • valarie kinney

    2013/09/16 at 2:55 pm

    Just a few thoughts: I have been reading you since Leta was just little bitty. I CHOOSE to read you, so you don’t owe me anything (except perhaps more pictures of the chip toothed hillbilly baby).
    B. My sister just died, and I know how it feels to just barely keep your head above water.
    I am sorry things are tough for you just now.

  • LindaK

    2013/09/16 at 2:55 pm

    thank you for this… you don’t owe it to us, no, but we appreciate it tremendously… I LOVE YOUR WORDS, no matter how frequent, no matter the subject… thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • CaratJane

    2013/09/16 at 2:56 pm

    I think that explanation has been long overdue. I respect your candor, and more importantly, your editing of knowing what and when to share. I don’t need to know about your relationships former or present, but would feel very disengaged if I did not know about your daughter’s pooping habits. Take care.

  • Melissa Jahnke

    2013/09/16 at 2:57 pm

    I’ve been “here” since Leta was born, and I hope to be here when both girls graduate high school and meet their own spouses (who we will know very little about). I’m not going anywhere. I’m happy if you’re happy, and I miss you (okay that sounds weird) but I understand and I hope you continue to allow us a PEEK into your world. Thank you for all you have written, and the awareness you have brought to issues, and for the peek into your world.

  • Beth99

    2013/09/16 at 2:57 pm

    I have so much respect for your decision to not publicly discuss your divorce. Your kids should absolutely not learn about the details, ugly or respectful as they may be, on the internet. You’ll find your way back to the words, and they’ll be the right words for you at the time. The words in this post have been a long time coming, and yet the timing is just right.

  • Tara

    2013/09/16 at 2:57 pm

    I came when I needed a lifeline ( actually seached for “lifeline” a long time ago and your blog was suggested, read it daily ever since – you’ve been that and more.) I am a Mom, work for a non profit, and write – and feel lost and alone a good bit of time.
    Here’s one for you – someone out there cares, cares and doesn’t need anything more from you than you knowing that. To steal from Tom Bodett – Come home when you can, “We’ll keep the light on for you.”

  • Cris

    2013/09/16 at 2:58 pm

    I felt so happy when I read those words, “my boyfriend”, and wanted to put down the laptop and do a yes,girl! dance, but then I felt guilty, because… well, I still like Jon, and it’s… kind of weird inside of me right now… That said…. heeeeeeee, dooce has a boyfriend la la la :p

    (yes, I’m Instagram-challenged, stick out your tongue)

    I don’t care for details. You don’t owe me, personal little me, anything.

  • Pam Huff

    2013/09/16 at 2:58 pm

    I come back every day, a few times a day, looking for that seat on the couch. Thank goodness it’s still here. It reminds me I’m not alone, and most importantly that I’m not crazy.

  • Lorrian Ippoliti

    2013/09/16 at 2:58 pm

    Good grief – those who complain about what you do or don’t share with your readers need to get a life, a grip, or whatever phrase that is eluding me at the moment.

    Here’s some more patience from me.

    And love.

    And hope.

    And gratitude for the difference you made in my life. Continue to make, by sharing.

    Thank you, Heather.


  • muskrat

    2013/09/16 at 2:58 pm

    I’m just glad to see you’re meeting with lawyers. We have families to feed, too, you know.

    Also, I hang with Jon every year at Dad 2.0; I like both of y’all and don’t give a damn about the “whys.” I am glad to see that y’all seem to be doing well, that y’all’s kids seem to be doing well, and the dogs seem to be doing well (not necessarily in that order of importance).

  • schmutzie

    2013/09/16 at 2:59 pm

    Amen to all you’ve said. And I’ll see you through and on the other side.

  • Morgan Frederick

    2013/09/16 at 2:59 pm


  • Jenny O.

    2013/09/16 at 2:59 pm

    I’ve read for years, never commented, but wanted to say that I’ve enjoyed the blog in all its iterations. Bless your heart, in the truest way ( not the sometimes snarky-sounding way us Southerners do love.)

  • loyal reader

    2013/09/16 at 2:59 pm

    sending hugs. i get it. keep on keeping your head above water and manage what you can. most of all thanks for your honesty

  • abby

    2013/09/16 at 2:59 pm

    I am not going anywhere, I find a lot of strength in your words. And right now, I could use a lot of strength. XOXO

  • Jen Wilson

    2013/09/16 at 2:59 pm

    You certainly do not owe your readers one single thing. If anything, it’s the other way around. We as your readers (and friends) owe you respect, especially the respect of your privacy. Your girls deserve more than we do, and when you honour them by not telling details about your divorce from their father? It’s the right thing to do. When you’re light on the posting, you deserve a HEY! ARE YOU OKAY?! Not a MOAR WORDS YOU OWE US!

    Thank you for sharing with us what you do. We (most of us) are here to celebrate your joy and share in your hurt. As humans with souls should do to one another. Sending much love to you.

    ps. 184 days till spring!

  • Lianne Bremer

    2013/09/16 at 3:00 pm

    What you just posted was an emancipation proclamation for all Bloggers. Good for you, Heather! Don’t let the haters get you down. We are your invited guests. Life your life to the fullest, regardless of its publishability. 🙂

  • Kaela Weeks

    2013/09/16 at 3:00 pm

    OOF. Dooce, bless your heart. I hate that there are enough Nosey McNosersons out there to make you feel like you have to explain yourself and/or apologize. I, too, am curious about ALL that stuff, duh, but I definitely don’t think you OWE us any of it. You give us PLENTY of juicy details, leaving just enough to the imagination. So shake those haters off, and keep your chin up, you’re doing great. Shit’s tough right now, but you got this. It’s totally ok if things around here are changing. It’s life. We can deal. You’re still an incredibly talented writer, even if it’s not all sunshine and MF bunnies all the time. Keep on keepin’ on. [hugs]

  • Jane

    2013/09/16 at 3:00 pm

    It’s a testament to the quality of your writing and the strength of your personality that so many people have followed your blog for so long (and are so eager to hear about every detail of your life). I’m grateful for the stories you’ve shared, and I admire you for keeping private the ones you haven’t. Hang in there.

  • Cris

    2013/09/16 at 3:03 pm

    just to “remove” the anonimity (Disqus wasn’t accepeting my reset password)

  • Sher

    2013/09/16 at 3:04 pm

    Valarie, I am so, so sorry that you’ve lost your sister.

  • Hannah

    2013/09/16 at 3:04 pm

    I’ve read you for years and I have to tell you – you are an amazing writer and your blog makes me laugh & cry & has meant so much to me as I’ve gone through different things in my life. And you don’t have to tell anyone anything you don’t want to. I was sad to see you and Jon split up, but it’s none of my business why. Or anybody elses!
    I wish you the best, Dooce – and I know so many other people out there do as well.
    The haters – first off, fuck ’em. And second, wtf? Get a life people!
    Hugs to you.

  • Suzie

    2013/09/16 at 3:05 pm

    Funny, I haven’t even noticed things were less funny, posts were less frequent or even the vagueness of certain aspects of your life. Keep on keepin’ on Heather. I for one appreciate the realness of the ups and downs of life & creativity. Hoping this beautiful fall will inspire you in many ways!

  • crash1212

    2013/09/16 at 3:06 pm

    I’ve read you for years – through ups and downs in both our lives – you don’t owe me all the details of your existence and I have no patience for those who think you do. You don’t owe me “funny” every damn day either. Just keep doing what you’re doing at your own pace as you are able. That will keep me around. Take care…sending healing hugs from San Francisco.

  • Tammy Clough

    2013/09/16 at 3:07 pm

    I come here for pictures of Chuck. Not sure what all that other crap you are talking about 🙂 You are a great writer and photographer. I don’t want to read Jersey Shores

  • Jamilisa

    2013/09/16 at 3:09 pm

    I still think you’re awesome! I still read every post and I’m not goin anywhere – haters gonna hate! Amiright?

  • Kimberly H

    2013/09/16 at 3:10 pm

    Being authentic and true to yourself and those you love is who you are and what got you where you are today. Changing that because people want more – they always want more – will change your voice and your passion. Keep being Dooce – we can ask no more.

  • christine cook

    2013/09/16 at 3:11 pm

    You’ll be ok. You’ll find a way through it all. And we’ll still be here. Trust yourself.

  • LeFiffre

    2013/09/16 at 3:12 pm

    Hugs. You can’t shake me. (Oh, that sounds so stalker-ish….)

  • Nancy B.

    2013/09/16 at 3:12 pm

    It’s your blog. You get to choose what to write, and what not to write.

    I’ve been here for years and will stick around because I enjoy your sense of humor and your insightful commentary about parenting (and life in general).

    You just do what you need to do, and everything will be fine.

  • Steph J

    2013/09/16 at 3:13 pm

    As much as the voyeur in me (I mean, c’mon, we all have to be a little bit voyeuristic to enjoy blogs, right?) perks up at the idea of knowing your personal gritty details, I completely and utterly respect your decision to not share them on this blog. You do what you gotta do to get through what you gotta get through, and those of us who still appreciate your witty and insightful prose, even if it may come less often now than it did at other times, will stick around. Your talent remains, even if it is a bit harder to access right now. And when things start to turn up, when the cycle turns the other direction, we’ll still be here. Because we never left.

  • Bichon Bisou

    2013/09/16 at 3:13 pm

    I can’t imagine being in your situation, and having a blog where you always post about your personal life. And then to have people complaining about you not dishing the dirt. I can’t imagine it, but I do empathize. No one is entitled to that information.

  • Laura

    2013/09/16 at 3:15 pm

    I love your website and have been reading for years and years, though this is my first comment! Yours was the first blog I ever stumbled across, and now I read hundreds. Thanks for being the reason I need more hours in my day! You don’t owe anyone anything, but please keep writing 🙂

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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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