I've decided to permanently take the primary focus of my blog off of my son. I know the focus has shifted off of him in recent years anyway, but this is my way of making it "official." It's time to move on. From here on out, my blog will still concentrate on addiction, recovery, mental health, and other things I'm passionate about, but it will be from a more general perspective. Hell, I may even start posting about other stuff I love, like cooking. (You've been warned!)
This isn't the first time I've thought about making this change. Back in June of 2009, in a post titled "We Gotta Stay Positive," I wrote the following:
I've also been thinking about taking the main focus of this blog off of my son's issues and throwing in some more stuff about me. Yes, I started this blog to loosely document what goes on in the life of a parent of a recovering addict who also suffers from severe depression. And since I started the blog, writing about that stuff has been good therapy for me. But lately I've been coming to terms with something: Even though my son's issues are a huge part of my life, I've got to work harder to see past the negatives and not let my son consume me 24/7/365. If I don't, I think it'll kill me.
Granted, I'm not the most interesting person in the world. But I do love to cook. And I do love music. So if I blogged about the latest hunk of meat I grilled, or posted a favorite recipe, or recommended an album that I'm currently digging, would that be such a bad thing? I'm thinking it still might be kinda sorta interesting to the two of you. And even if it wasn't, maybe the different subject matter would help generate some positive vibes inside my tired, too-often-negative mind. That would definitely make it worthwhile, no
So stay tuned for the new and improved (and perhaps slightly more upbeat) "My Life As 3D" blog. Coming soon. I think.Obviously, I wasn't ready to make the change back then. That "I think" at the end of the third paragraph was my way of saying "I reserve the right to change my mind"; and I did. But here we are, more than seven years later and the time has come.
The biggest contributing factor to me making this decision now is a piece in the Well section of the New York Times that I read this past Sunday. Penned by writer/blogger Elizabeth Bastos, "Why I Decided to Stop Writing About My Children" really hit home with me. Especially this paragraph:
"So began my wrestling with my relationship with the Nora Ephron line, 'Everything is copy.' Until now it has been my battle cry and artistic excuse for printing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted with very blinkered vision. Maybe, in fact, not everything is copy. Maybe it’s people’s lives, and we should be considerate and loving and respectful of their privacy. It’s a new point of view for me in our clickbait culture of confessionalism and parading nakedness."Bastos went on to admit, "I was working out my issues. My kids were always satellites to the big round-faced moon of me."
I could definitely relate to all of that.
One of the reasons I started this blog back in December of 2008 was to help other parents who were struggling with a child's addiction. I thought my experiences could help those parents realize that they weren't alone; that other parents were in the exact same boat as they were, suffering and trying to figure out how to get through another day of hell on earth. And I think I did that.
But I also know the primary reason I started this blog was to help me. Writing about my son's issues was cathartic for me. It made everything more bearable for me and gave me an outlet for the feelings I was feeling. It felt so good to get things off of my chest and onto "paper." Writing about things like my son's relapses didn't fix anything, but it made me feel better.
Maybe that was selfish. Maybe putting my son's life "out there" for the world to see was exploitive. That was certainly not my intent.
In his book Neil and Me, newspaper writer and author Scott Young--father of rock and roll legend Neil Young--talks about his hesitancy to write about his son, even though he constantly received requests to do so.
"Apart from a profoundly impressed column I wrote about his first Carnegie Hall concert and a few other newspaper mentions, I had consciously avoided exploiting our relationship....I told [Neil] that, despite my rejection of these advances, sometimes I was tempted to write about our original family relationship for my own purposes, to help me figure some things out, to come face to face with myself and my part in breaking up our home....He thought for a moment or two, then glanced at me sideways and said, 'Well, it's your life too, you know, Daddy.'"Whenever I wondered if I should write about certain things in my blog, I remember thinking about Neil Young's "It's your life too" comment to his father and using it as justification for continuing to write about my son. A passage from Anne Lamott's book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life popped into my head on a regular basis, too:
"You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better."I've been incredibly transparent throughout everything that's happened to my son and our family. I wanted to be, because I think too many people keep their family's experience with addiction and mental illness behind closed doors. I believe that helps feed the stigma that's still attached to these disorders. (Don't get me wrong: I understand that everyone's different and that a lot of people aren't at all comfortable with wearing their family's problems on their sleeve. I'm just not one of those people.)
So, what's done is done. From this point forward, I'll still write about addiction, mental health, problems with "the system," etc. You just won't hear specifics about my son. His life might be my life too, but at this point I'm going to let him decide what parts of it he wants to share. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep this blog interesting enough for you to keep stopping by on occasion. If so, that will be great. And if not? Well, then it's been a good run.
"Moving on is easy. It's staying moved on that's trickier." --Katerina Stoykova Klemer