I have never experienced such a response to anything I have written before and I have been bowled over by how it seemed to strike a chord with people. It has had way more hits than anything I have written in the past eight years and after being featured by Huff Post Parents was chosen as a featured post on the front page of Huffington Post UK, which was awesome.
As with almost every post I write, I hesitated before hitting 'publish' on this one. Writing this blog can sometimes feel quite exposing- I am sometimes after all writing down my innermost thoughts and feelings for anyone to read. If I over-think it I can start to feel really scared that people will judge me and criticise my choice to share my views. However, usually I know deep down whether a post might just reach someone (even if it's just one person) interested in understanding life with Cerebral Palsy and that is ultimately what causes me to hit the 'publish' button.
The response to this post in particular ultimately showed me my decision was the right one, but it was a bumpy ride to this realisation. Perhaps because it has reached an audience that ordinarily my posts might not, I also experienced my first negative comments from readers, too. I'm not going to say that didn't sting a bit because it did. I'm just not used to it and incredibly stupidly, after having opened up my private thoughts for the world to read since Elin was a baby, I wasn't really prepared for it. On refection though, it's pretty naive to think that a post can be read by so many people in this crazy world of the internet and not receive any negativity at all and I have definitely learned something with this one, which is why I'm doubly glad I hit that button.
I have mainly learned to try and stop with all the self-doubt that public blogging and sharing can bring. It's not going to get me anywhere. Why does it hurt that some random person told me to basically suck it up before likening life raising a disabled child to being Vegan? (Yes, really!!) Why do I give a rats ass that another randomer thinks that I must be a very 'lonely attention-seeking' Mum who is 'clearly bitter and jealous of other normal families' ? Ouch. I needed the red wine after that one (it wasn't even the worst but I won't give credence to the other comments by repeating them). I think I care because I've always cared too much about what people think, it's one of my weakest points. I think I care because I'm opening up my heart on here about something so insanely personal- my daughter. I think I care because it's hard to separate someone trolling a post from a personal attack on us and more importantly, Elin. It's beyond my understanding that anyone could misinterpret what I write about Elin and turn it into something ugly, particularly when I strive to stay positive and show the wonderful side of raising a child like her. But then a lot about the internet is beyond my understanding and so I have to be honest with myself. If I'm going to put a public profile out there and publish my thoughts on this blog I can't then get upset when people disagree with what I say, however frustrating that may be. Basically, I have to grow a thicker skin.
It's not that I feel answerable to anyone for what I write on this blog because I can't control how people choose to interpret my words. It's just so annoying and let's be honest, hurtful, when people read your post but not your words. When they choose to ignore the message at the heart of a post and instead pick apart your choice of expression of that message. My post was just written because I wanted to inspire a little confidence in other families when faced with interacting with families like ours. Nothing more. If the post finds even just one person amongst the thousands of readers who might think twice about how they interact with children like Elin when they are out and about then I'd be well chuffed with that and THAT'S what I have to hang onto and what I do hang onto.
All that said, I was genuinely moved by the amount of positive messages and comments I had about this particular post ( the support this blog gets in general is amazing and totally humbling to me). I was especially moved by the messages I had from many families like ours who said my post resonated so much with them and made them feel they are not alone. That is one of the reasons I started my blog in the first place - connecting with others in our situation and maybe even offering some comfort to those at the start of their journey. So to those who commented with such kindness and empathy directly on the blog or via private message, or to all those who shared via Facebook and Twitter, you really helped me to remember why I open my heart about being a Mummy to Elin so publicly when I needed it most and I'm truly grateful to you. If you need me I'll just be off growing my thicker skin....(you can from now on refer to me as 'The Rhino' 😂)
Have a fabulous week, everyone! Elin's got off to a cracking start :-)
"The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt"