"Don't air your dirty laundry in public."
We've all heard the phrase. It means you shouldn't speak publicly about private matters, like that time your husband impregnated a cocktail waitress and then you filed for divorce after burning his clothes on the front lawn. Once upon a time, such an occasion was cause for shameful seclusion. But not so much anymore. Thanks to the Internet, anyone struggling through a similar saga can easily find comfort and camaraderie with a few quick clicks of her mouse.
The Internet has brought us instant connection. Our culture now enjoys a host of online options for separation support, and one particular avenue to healing involves publicly blogging about your divorce. At first, the idea might seem like a win-win: the writing process is therapeutic, and the act of sharing your story will amass a virtual entourage to cheer you on at every turn.
But a blog might come back to bite you. Before hitting "publish," consider the following…
1. Are you willing to be truly authentic? Divorce represents a loss which comes with the same stages of grief which accompany a death. You might get angry enough to drive yourself to the edge of sanity. You'll make some poor choices, perhaps engaging in malevolent misdemeanors. Or you might find yourself drunk-dialing your ex, attempting to bargain him back into your bed. Are you prepared to share yourself when you're not at your best?
2. What effect will this have on your ex? Will you tell your ex about your blog? Or will he hear about it through the grapevine? And how might he react? Blogs offer a window into worlds we aren't physically a part of, and they're a favorite tool for stalking. Would your ex be enticed to follow your online saga? How might he use the information against you?
3. Is there a risk of court-related repercussions? To you, the virtual documentation of your journey is an effort toward finding support and healing. However, your lawyer might see your blog as a risk while your ex's attorney considers it to be evidence against your character and abilities as a parent. If your case goes to court, there's no telling how a judge might rule. In the end, your free outlet for your thoughts might cost a lot more than you bargained for.
4. What about your friends' and family's privacy? Although your blog is about you, you're not the only character your readers will come to know. No doubt, you'll tell the story about your youngest vomiting at the bank while you deposited a late child support check. You'll seek support if your oldest gets caught cheating on a test. In expressing appreciation for your family, you'll talk about how your mother lied to her bridge club so she could miss a meeting and help you get your life together. Might there come a time when these people regret the part they played in your story?
5. Are you ready for the wrath of your audience? Sure, most people who follow your blog will be supportive, but not everyone. There are those who will disagree for reasons understood to them but not you. And the perceived anonymity of the net can bolster a brutal ego. In your fragile state, how will you feel if someone attacks you, a supposedly devoted mother, for having a glass of wine with dinner? And what if someone from your ex's camp checks in to provide The Other Side of one of your stories? Sometimes, a suit of emotional armor is needed before reading the comment section of your own blog.
One way to protect yourself is to remain anonymous and not post any photos or details about where you live, what you do, etc. However, that isn't entirely foolproof as anyone who knows anything about your activity has the ability to blow your cover.
There are many courageous women who've chosen to share their stories via divorce blogs, and you may choose to become one of them. Just be mindful that such a venture is not without risks.