This here bringer of the pooper to the fun party

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.

  • Cissyrene

    I’m a member of the DoCo and I read that question and subsequent discussion, though I didn’t reply myself. I’m sorry that you read it and it seems? maybe your feelings were hurt. I still read and love your blog! I come here every week day to see what new antics Marlo has been up to, or to see silly pics of the dogs. The content has changed, but your content has changed many times! It’ll probably change again. We still love you, Dooce. Don’t let them get you down!

  • issascrazyworld

    I’ve been here cheering you on since Leta was born and I’m not going anywhere. Even silly dog photos make my day a bit better. If it didn’t, I’d just leave. You and all bloggers and all celebrities of all types deserve privacy. It sucks that people don’t understand that. As a child, I grew up in West Los Angeles and saw so many people who didn’t understand that just because you see someone on your TV screen doesn’t make them your possession in any way. Basically leave them alone and let them eat/shit/swing their child in peace. Just because someone shares their life, doesn’t mean they owe you every detail of it. Sadly not everyone gets that.
    Heather, I wish peace for you. Divorce is hard as hard can be. A new relationship….well I haven’t tried yet. So I wish you much luck with that one. Mostly, I hope things start looking up soon.

  • Beauty Marks

    Eloquently put. You have given your readers a great gift, but that doesn’t entitle us to ask for more than you’re comfortable giving.

  • laura h

    Knock knock. Who’s there? It’s ‘whom’, you idiot. // Did that make you smile? Hang in there. xo.

  • Cassandra Marie

    It took me to the age of 43 but it clicked. I don’t owe anybody anything. Loved ya for a decade.

  • Melissa Crawshaw

    i’ve been reading you a long, long time (before Leta)…and of course i’d love know the “real scoop” but that is none of my business.

    i have read some of the snark about you and it just slays me. i want to respond so much but you can’t argue with idiots.

    sometimes i don’t agree with you…or you annoy me…but those are common feelings in any kind of relationship.

    but the bother and extent some people go to…WHY??? move along and grow-up folks; if Heather isn’t your cup of tea move the hell along. it will save you stress.

  • JennC

    Heather, you don’t owe us $hit. You are a wonderful, introspective, hilarious writer and a fine photographer and purveyor of websurdities. If people want more from you, that is their problem. Expecting a blog to be your BFF is a sign of mental illness if you ask me. Take care of yourself. The words will come when they do.

  • Lisa R

    How you’re even able to post 5 times a week, better yet 6 or 8 or 10, is beyond me. An amazing feat, that – especially being a single mom on top of it. Bravo to you.

  • Jeannie

    Be well. Put one foot on front of the other. Let us know how it’s going if you feel inclined.

  • Dee

    Even though I yearn to know the details I know I have no right to them. It’s smart to keep personal details private for both your daughters and your own protection. I read your blog for entertainment and if I wasn’t entertained I’d stop reading.

  • You can come to my house. I’ll pour you a glass of wine. We’ll talk about nothing…because talking with wine in your mouth is messy.

    What do they want, pictures of your toilet bowl before you flush? Geezzus.

  • Mary

    I’m not going anywhere. Take your time. Enjoy your life.

  • aks

    As long as there’s poop talk, I’m in!

  • Pam

    You definitely don’t owe anyone anything (except owing yourself your own happiness!). I really respect your and Jon’s decision not to write about the divorce. And your new guy is hot, photos are fine with me! 😉

  • Sarah Nicole

    I don’t feel you owe us anything. I’ve been here since before your marriage and I’ll continue to be long after. That’s what loyal readers are all about. 🙂

  • OlivesMom

    How brave we are to stand and throw nasty words around behind a computer. Dooce, you keep on keepin’ on, girl.

  • Pam

    WHY ARE THERE SO MANY KATES

  • Amy Norris

    Yes, exactly. (Thanks, Steph. Now I don’t have to struggle to find the words.) I will still be here.

  • Lisa Baxter

    I, personally, have no desire to know personal details about your life. I just want to see more pictures of stuff on the dog. 🙂

  • Debbie A-H

    So much love to you. You have given much. And I wish you to know that I value and appreciate it. Thank you for making me laugh and cry. I wish you could feel the hug I’m sending your way.

  • Heather Armstrong

    I’m so sorry about your sister. You are in my thoughts.

  • Kate R.

    She’s *dating* a Nosey McNoserson. Hello.

  • Amy Gomoljak

    I read your blog almost every day and have for nearly 7 years. I love your writing style, your honesty, and your sense of humor. Hang in there. It will get better.

  • M.

    I’ve been around since before Leta. I think the curiosity (at least for many of us) stems less from voyeurism than from investment; we’ve known the details of the daily life for so long that it feels odd to have some aspects be private. If someone we knew shared with as much candor as you have about many things in her life, knowing next to nothing about a divorce or a new relationship would feel (and sometimes does feel) like an enormous gap. But the truth is that we’re not your friends or acquaintances, and the sense of intimacy is, in many ways, truly one-sided. We may know many things about your life, but you know nothing about ours, and so… you have the right to share whatever you want to share. I hope you will continue to share your life, whether in moments of joy or sorrow, because I have come to care about your family over the years. I wish you all the happiness you can find, wherever that may be. I’ll be sticking around.

  • Hazy Shades

    I’m new here and have no right to weigh in, but I would like to offer you something and that is this – your stats on making it through rough and tough times and trials up until this point are, well, sitting at 100%. Keep rockin’ it. :0)

  • MominAmarillo

    You’re exactly right about one thing…you don’t owe anyone an explanation of your divorce. That was for you and Jon to figure out, and when you did, it was for you guys to decide. I applaud the fact that you’ve kept it low key. It is NO one’s damn business who you’re dating if it’s not them. Somewhere, my blogging friends, we have been given a bullshit lie. We don’t owe the world an explanation of our sadness. It is real, and honest and in the moment. It is not something to be bought or sold or even examined. It just is. Sending good thoughts your way Heather. For everything you’ve given this world with your voice, *I* owe you that.

  • Everyone is entitled to privacy. I do hear resentment however that the reader wants to know more and wouldn’t that be the whole point? Some of your readers feel like family or close friends. I’m not one of them, I enjoy your writing and style along with thinking your pups and children are cute (in that order)…we have a business arrangements–you tell a story and I click over to read it and when that story is incomplete it’s annoying. Would I defend your right not to to only share what you want to share – Absolutely! You owe me nada, but I would like to be spared the resentment, as a reader, for wanting more.

  • Kate R.

    I felt this post was…. ungracious. Your success was built on page views and a fan base, and those things were attracted with honesty. Also, to accompany this “none of your business” post with a photo of your (alleged) boyfriend while posting that you refuse to write about said (alleged) boyfriend seems, again…. ungracious.

  • KristenfromMA

    I’m offering you a place at my table, a seat on my couch.
    Good enough for me, Heather. 🙂

  • KristenfromMA

    This comment was ungracious.

  • Samantha Wolfe Earnest

    I enjoy reading your blog just as it is. Wishing you increasing happiness with each passing day.

  • Leigh in TX

    What do any of us owe each other, besides respect and kindness? You don’t owe your stories to us, and you never have, but I’ve enjoyed your honest writing for many years now and as long as you are offering that to your readers, I’ll stick around. I hope this current phase is short and that the next period of your life is filled with joy and light.

  • Kate R.

    Heather used a photo of her boyfriend knowing that it would get people to click… and then sort of lectured us all. Sorry, I’m just being honest about the vibe I got. It IS her blog, but it also felt a bit ungracious.

  • JenVegas

    Aw, you don’t owe me anything. I’ve been lurking for years and JUST went and joined the community as a show of solidarity…and also because you said something about handshakes and hugs. I like those.

  • Kate R.

    Thank you for more eloquently phrasing what I was trying to say!

  • Amy Masson

    Here’s the thing. You don’t owe us anything. Really, that’s the truth. But.

    Of course, there’s a but. For those of us who have been loyal readers for so long, for those of us who followed all your ups and downs and highs and lows and for those of us who supported you when you needed it, we felt like more than readers. We felt like we *knew* you. We were privvy to so many aspects of you life. We felt included. At least I did.

    Then all of the sudden there is a huge life change and we’re all shut out. To be honest, it felt like you were breaking up with us. And I get it. Divorce is painful and private and you should be able to keep it to yourself. But it went from feeling like a part of the in-crowd to being kept at arm’s length.

    I think the part of your blog that we all valued, that kept us coming back, was that we felt a connection to you. We were there for good and bad, triumphs and sorrows. Almost like family. And now, there’s a clear separation.

    And we aren’t really family, or friends. Maybe that connection wasn’t authentic. Maybe there always was a line there, between who you really are and who your online persona is. But the thing is, we didn’t know it then. And we do now.

    You invited us in for everything, and then you shut us out. It’s like you didn’t just divorce your husband, you divorced us as well.

    It isn’t right and it isn’t fair. You have a right to keep your private life private. You absolutely have that right. But it’s hard not to feel a little reserved after being given the Heisman. And maybe this is just me and nobody else feels the same way.

    But I wanted to let you know that I still love you, I still value your writing – but maybe this explains why we’re a little distant right now.

  • Kate

    Heather, it was your hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking over-sharing of every detail of your life (or so we thought) that brought us here and made us keep coming back. And yes, we want more of that honesty but only because many of us have also been or are going through divorces and finding new love, and would love to read and share in your experiences. That’s not to say you owe us, but I hope you can find a way to both navigate your new life and continue doing what you do so well (writing) in a way that feels healthy for you. We’ll be here, waiting, when you’re ready.

    PS. This post took a lot of courage. Mad props, I believe the kids say.

  • KristenfromMA

    Condolences.

  • SaveYourMckDramaforTheSlamma

    You’re not wrong, Kate R. Those things she gave away were given to her. The money she donated to charity was made from our page views and purchasing of linked products and vendors. As far as the sharing, things have felt a bit “bait and switch”. Here’s a picture and a vague promise of more to come, then nothing. Of course you don’t owe us anything! Free entertainment, I get that. But, well, we can all choose to continue on to whatever dooce becomes or leave, plain and simple.

  • Jessica

    you have helped me so much over the last almost decade. I have never thanked you. I was bummed when you announced you were not going to write so much about Leta. Now my daughters are the age she was when you said that and they get annoyed and embarrassed when I explain to their good friend’s mom that they were out of school because they had a stomach bug. I thought of you when they asked me not to tell anyone else. I get it now. You don’t owe us anything. I am so grateful for however you want to express yourself to the blog world. Whatever feels right to you. Hang in there and know you are loved and appreciated.

  • Andrea Shipman

    You owe us NOTHING. It’s YOUR divorce, YOUR boyfriend, YOUR life, YOUR family. You have invited us all into YOUR place and we can by all means overstay our welcome with rumors, accusations and rudeness. Yes, I am curious. I am curious to know that Jon is OK; that the girls are happy and that your boyfriend is as good of a man as he seems. I believe that’s the role of a FRIEND rather than a reader – but certainly not something you OWE to me or to anyone on the Internet. Hmph. Pregnancy makes me cranky. I know I will be here and so will hundreds of others. Thank you for sharing, for being as honest as possible within your limits and thank you for letting us into your place.

  • Carla at Loves Moose

    I loved your post. It’s direct, real and honest and is no different than anything else you’ve ever written. So why break from tradition and splash your life all over the pavement just to keep us entertained and coming back here.

    And honestly I think folks like the veil of mystery hanging over your divorce and new found love. It gives them something to talk about. That’s where much of your audience comes from. They want to know what they can’t know. Me, too, although I know I never will.

    Your blog is entertainment. But it’s also very real and relatable. I may not like your hair (it was adorable and spunky when it was super short), but if you’re going to show up in my reader several times a week, I’m going to have an opinion. I can’t help myself.

    And really, most of us don’t just like you; we love you. So if you keep writing, I’ll keep reading, as I have been for the last decade. I was young when I first came across your blog. Now I’m on the soft side of middle aged.

    I think that’s kind of cool.

    Carla

  • Heather Armstrong

    Kate, R., Marlo and I have a few enemas we can recommend.

  • Heather Armstrong

    Thank you for being here for as long as you have.

  • Vanessa

    I’ll admit it: this time last year I unfollowed you. I’ve never believed the bad things and I never judged your divorce (I have my own under my belt), but the blog wasn’t what it used to be. No judgement, not better or worse, just different. But the weirdest damn thing is that I missed you. Even when you weren’t here. So I came back.

    It’s September, in part, and you know that. In fact, I think I learned that from you. Light changes, seasonal, school changes… fuck September. It’s gone fully off the rails for me in the past week and a half, and I didn’t tell you a goddamn thing, so you owe me nothing. But I do appreciate the honesty because, well, we all have September sometimes. I would have loved to be a fabulous queen-of-something blogger, like you, but I can’t find the words MOST days, let alone September days. You do what you need to do, and hold the cards close to your chest when you need to. I’ll be here. Most of us will, plus some new ones.

  • Mich_Mad

    I love having a seat at your table. I’ve been here since we were both pregnant with our first kids and I’m not going anywhere. Life is an ever-changing, untamed thing and those of us living it have little choice but to change right along with it. Take care, Heather! 🙂

  • Heather Armstrong

    Thank you for coming back and for the kind words.

  • Debra

    oh, Heather darling. I owe you so much. You owe me nothing. What you can give is awesome and always appreciated. What you can’t give, I understand. When you can’t give it, I can’t stop my heart from bleeding for you, because I’ve been there in a lot of ways, and the ones I haven’t been there I can still empathize and above all else I believe that you deserve to be happy. But life isn’t always unicorns and rainbows.

    That was a spirited post and I’m very proud of you for that.

    Although I’m way older than you, I still want to be you when I grow up. That’s love, Heather!

  • Elizabeth

    Preach!!!! You owe us nothing, yet we love you anyway, that is family, in person or through the Internet. If others don’t like it, they can buzz off.

  • Caitlin

    I’m sorry for the impatience demonstrated by readers, and for the challenges you are facing. Just think, if this were another industry, if you were not literally THE pioneer, we would know about long-term blog life, readership stats, etc. But, nobody knows what to do, because you’re the first! While it probably sucks on your end, the blog is still a really neat and interesting thing to watch in terms of online behavior of readers, brand loyalty and habits, market pressures, etc. Thank you for continuing to write, or just post photos, links, and jokes! Everything you do adds to this interesting experience for us, the consumers, even if some readers don’t think it’s what you SHOULD post. Keep trucking! This too shall pass!