Divorce lawyers have long known that the holiday season leads to an uptick in business. There's nothing like being surrounded by messages of love and joy to realize that those things are missing from your life. As more of us live out loud and online, it would follow that more of life's bumps and bruises would appear there, too, and over the past few weeks a number of well-followed bloggers, who write often about their families, have used those blogs to announce trouble in their marriages.
First Ali Edwards, who writes about memory-keeping (and about parenting an autistic child) had this to say on December 15: "It's always been my goal to authentically share my story...in this online space. As many of you have noticed, and some have commented and emailed, Chris has been mostly absent for some time from the stories and photos. He has decided that he wants something different with his life and we are in the process of getting a divorce."
Next, on January 1, financial blogger JD Roth wrote on his personal website, Folded Space: "... the last six weeks have been very difficult. In fact, they've been the darkest days of my life. And the start of 2012 is going to be a challenge. Why? Six weeks ago, I asked my wife for a divorce. I'm not going to discuss the whys and wherefores of this decision on the internet. Kris and I are both experiencing enough stress as it is. I'll only say that there's no acute crisis here: nobody's cheating on anyone, and nobody's doing anything rash."
Then, on Tuesday, Heather Armstrong, the Queen of the Mom-Bloggers -- possibly the most trafficked personal blogger on the internet -- told her her 100,000 daily readers at dooce.com that she and her husband, Jon, had agreed to a trial separation.
Actually she did't use that phrase. Jon did, on his blog, Blurbomat (which he also used to explain that he would be leaving work at the company the couple own together, and that he would appreciate leads on a new job and a new place to live).
This is a chance for me to work on some stuff. That's how I'm approaching this. I'm also approaching this as a time for therapy, for recovery and for stopping the codependency. As I've written before, living with someone with depression & anxiety means some gymnastics for any partner. Lest you think this is solely about that lone issue or issues stemming from Heather's mental health, I am plenty to blame for this state of things.
For those who are not regular readers, Heather became an internet sensation in part because of the depression and anxiety her husband mentions; in 2004 she admitted herself into a psychiatric facility to be treated for post-partum depression and she blogged through her downward spiral.
As is her way -- the blogosphere's way -- Heather also shared other exquisitely personal thoughts, including some very specific thoughts of suicide:
I had put Leta to bed, and then somehow I was standing in the garage with a dog leash in my hand looking up at a pipe running along the ceiling. I don't remember walking from her room down the stairs, but I looked around at all of this, all of this that I hold together -- all of this that is supposed to be perfect and satisfying and perhaps even enviable -- and the dog leash made sense. The only way out of my unhappiness was to take myself out of it. The only way out. The only way.
I was sane enough to walk away from that moment, one that occurred a while ago, and standing up to that hopelessness has only made me stronger. But I'm still trying to figure out how I got to the garage in the first place. Because this isn't a chemical issue. I wish a pill would make all this ongoing, unbearable pain go away.
My first thought while reading was concern for Heather. With her history of depression it is frightening to hear that she is thinking like that.
On the heels of that was the feeling that I shouldn't be reading this. It is none of my business. It is too intimate, too personal, too raw, too...much.
And yet, the very fact that these bloggers have a community with which to share the bad things is a measure of the reality that the meaning of the word intimate has been redefined. They've shared everything else with us about their marriage, it is only logical that they should also share the end.
How much is more than you want to know? Is the blogosphere at its best when it serves as a group therapy session? Or at its worst?
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