Well, here I am. I have been ‘planning’ to start a blog since, well, since I first heard about the things. A wannabe writer for many years, I use all the usual excuses for not actually doing any writing. I’m too busy, my kids, my partner, the gardening, the messy house, our health problems… The excuses are pointless, for other than myself, who cares whether I write or not?
I am always mulling over ideas, composing in my head as I drive the kids to school or cook yet another meal, but they never make it to the page. By the time I get to a quiet space in my day, I tend to switch my thoughts off instead of on. I recently realised I spend a minimum of an hour a day on Facebook, sometimes more. Mostly I use it to access support communities relating to the GAPS diet that our family is currently doing, but much of that time is wasted just toodling around, signing pointless petitions, admiring other peoples art or photography, chuckling at the latest satirical Tony Abbot cartoon. It’s a way to zone out, much the same as reading trashy magazines or watching commercial television. Switch off the brain and just let the banality wash over you.
Another excuse I use to not write is my need to have the perfect post, drafted and edited and tweaked.. which of course never happens, because I get so overwhelmed by the idea of writing, editing, polishing and posting my idea, that it never makes it out of my head.
I also suffer the usual aspiring writer’s fear of being read; ‘What if it’s too personal? How honest should I be? Should I write about the deep and dark things that sometimes preoccupy my mind? What will people think?’ Well, what people exactly? Who do I really expect to read this? Until I tell anyone about it, no-one will know it is here. There are a million blogs like it.. I’m not selling anything that anyone wants. No one knows who I am or that I am writing this.. people may come across it, and of course I write knowing that there is an audience, but it is as yet an imagined audience. So who cares about what the imaginary audience in my head thinks? Excuse vanquished.
The other problem I have had is a lack of focus.. ‘What will my blog be ABOUT?’ Feeling like I need to have a specific purpose or focus, yet unable to decide what that is, has been another procrastination excuse. Yet I have been wanting to write about Obelia and our experiences with her illness since she was first diagnosed with gastroschisis at 12 weeks gestation. My feelings about it, all the intensity, the joy and the horror, have been too intense for me to articulate. The longer I have left it, the bigger and more complex the story has become. Obelia will be 6 in a few weeks, so now I have a LOT to write about!
So, for the month of May I have set myself several challenges. Firstly, to have a Facebook detox, to which end I have deactivated my account this morning. They have made this even harder since last I tried, it took me 20 minutes to find the ‘deactivate’ button, then I had to fill in a questionnaire about why I was deactivating, and ignore the huge photos of my Facebook friends with ‘So-and-so will miss you!’ imploring me to stay.
Secondly, to post at least one blog post daily. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it doesn’t need to be long. Just get those words on the page!
Well, I’ve failed that one already. It’s the 14th May today, two weeks since I started this draft. In that time I’ve stuck to my Facebook detox, and this blog has been sitting open in a Safari tab, just waiting for me to finish it. I have found my eyes avoiding that area of the screen, ‘I don’t see you, I have too many other things to do’. It’s not true. This is the one thing that brings me the most pleasure, creatively. I love to write, and I don’t understand the part of me that pushes it away. So, my challenge to myself stands. Write, every day. Let it flow, let go of the fear and the perfectionism, shush that inner critic and just begin.
In the weeks and months to come, I hope to tell you some of the story of my daughter Obelia, and of our family, as we seek to heal her. I’m trying my hardest not to use the word ‘journey’, but what a journey it has been. I’ll talk about gastroschisis. About having a baby in hospital, about NICU. About extreme food intolerances, failure to thrive, inability to breastfeed. About everything turning out almost exactly the opposite of what you expected or imagined. And about GAPS, which has done so much to change our lives in just four months.
Okay, so now my life really is calling me, in the form of my almost three-year-old who has coated herself in baked pumpkin pudding and is threatening to climb into my lap.
Have a lovely day, my imaginary audience. If things go according to plan, I’ll see you soon.