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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Selfie Of The Year.

So I guess it's time to talk about this.

This is the photo that was honored as one of two Selfies of the Year at BlogHer '14.

But I guess I should start with the story of the photo, since at no point was there ever really a chance for me to stand up and say This isn't just a pretty picture, this is a piece of my heart dying.

I can tell you that I took it sitting on the end seat of my living room couch, closest to the window, while Kyle was upstairs giving the kids a bath. I had a fuzzy idea of what I wanted the photo to look like in my head from earlier in the day, so I set about moving myself within the provided light and adjusting angles at an arm's reach away. It was one of my first "posed" selfies, if you will, and not just an opportunistic attempt at capturing a flattering angle or new favorite outfit.

It was intended to be a series, with another, similar shot to display a ring-less hand whenever that decision would be reached.

I knew, in the day or so before I took the photo, that such a decision would eventually be reached. And I remember glaring through that one visible eyeball, unleashing every ounce of unfettered anguish and defeat that I felt with those pieces of metal wrapped around my finger.

Those rings, once symbols of everything I had ever dreamed of and never truly felt worthy of having, were my imprisonment.

I look at that photo and see the first seeds of knowing that my entire life was unraveling without my consent. I knew that eventually, I was going to have to face that my marriage was dead and that no amount of resuscitation on my part would ever revive it.

In the moment of that photo, I let myself feel all of the ugliness I'd been trying to avoid, all of the resentment and fear and disappointment and loneliness of the past five years of my life.

And hearing people tell me it was a beautiful photo over and over again was hard. Harder than I anticipated.

I don't think it's about having (forgive me this really uppity sounding moment) my "work" be misunderstood -- part of the experience of partaking in art is gleaning your own interpretation of it, so hey, I guess there was something about it that struck a chord with a bunch of people. And maybe people did sense the strong and dark emotional experience I underwent that lead to that particular capture and they just didn't know what else to say or how else to convey an appreciation of that effort than to express what's commonly a universal compliment, to bestow upon it the sanction of beauty because in this culture, that's always one of the most deeply ingrained goals to strive for.

But I do know, as I walked across that stage for my two seconds of recognition, the applause was heard loud and strong in my soul, as if maybe, maybe more than the handful of people who know my life understood what it took for me to take that picture and publish it, and more so what it took for me to be able to be on that stage and be recognized for it. So I curtsied because what else do you do on a stage whilst being applauded?

And then I blew the audience a two-handed kiss of deep appreciation and love, because without those people clapping and whooping for me, there's no way I'd have been there at all.

Well, and the nudging of one woman in particular. Who actually told me she was surprised that this was the photo picked. She liked a different one better. So do I, kind of. But I'm not complaining.

From where I stand now, I see that selfie not only as a capture of who I was and how I felt at that moment, but as a quiet premonition to myself, to the woman I was on the cusp of beginning to be.

It was the first step, admitting to myself (and my Instagram feed) that I -- that we -- had a problem.

And, for the record, I stopped wearing my rings altogether a few days afterwards.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Mini BlogHer '14 Recap.

I'm still in California.

This past week -- I don't really have words. I came to BlogHer expecting to be a mess. Instead, I was so far away from that it was almost shocking. I felt absolutely in the right place, with the right people, making the right choices about my life. These people, my friends, are more than that. They're more than my tribe or my peers or my mentors.

They're my family.

And coming home to them was exactly what I needed in every arena -- blogging, friendship, community, life, all of it.

Today, I'm going to spend time with my family out here before I red-eye it on home where I will fiercely hug my children and tell them how very much I love them. 

And then, I will sit back down at my desk and I will get to work. Because I am strong and I am capable and these words, my words (and I suppose these photos) have value, just as I do.

Okay, I'll probably sleep a good deal first, but you know what I mean.

This trip, I think, will be the defining moment of my life at this stage. And I cannot possibly thank everyone who made it that way enough. Every single smile and hug and high five and selfie (MY GOD, THE SELFIES) and the heartfelt talks over coffees and meals and the silly jokes and the dancing and just EVERYTHING, each instance gave me life and brought me back to myself in a way I haven't felt in years, if ever.

I have never felt so right with myself and my goals and my heart and my soul and I have all of you to thank for that.

Thank you.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tread Gently: The Obligatory Pre-BlogHer '14 Post.

My first BlogHer, in 2012, was a tumultuous time in New York City. I cried throughout most of it, overwhelmed both positively and negatively by the experience. I was still reeling from discovering the first affair, hating being away from home because that's when the worst things happened, when I was plane rides away from my home and my children and everything I held to be sacred.

By the grace of women I now call my friends, I survived.

I returned to BlogHer the next summer primarily because I try to give everything a second chance ... but it was a lot easier to make that decision as the conference was in Chicago, my heart's home. I truly felt like I shined at the conference, as never before in my blogging career had I felt so confident, so pulled together, so on top of my game. I had found my tribe. In some ways, I found my family.

I wouldn't trade that experience for the world, even knowing that while I was away from home, missing my family and wanting them with me, to share this experience with me and see me in a way I wasn't sure they'd -- he'd -- ever seen me before, there was a new stranger in my bed, underneath the room where my children lay sleeping.

I am aware that this BlogHer, in San Jose, will be another crying year.

I have said this enough in person -- because that's the new safe way, new secret way now, to not leave any digital trace of your thoughts or your intentions for anyone to archive or redistribute -- but it is something I have kept from this space with tremendous and painful effort. So in a way, it doesn't feel like it bears repeating because those who are closest to me already know, but there will be many people I meet that don't know me or know me that well who may not understand why I may not be the person I was last year.

My marriage is ending.

The logistics haven't been fully worked out yet, but we are separating at the end of the summer.

I have all the words to say on this, but I can save those for another time. What I hope to do now, is to ask for your grace if you see me in San Jose. I will be trying my hardest to enjoy myself and this wonderful experience that I'm so lucky and grateful to have. I will relish those hot two seconds I'll be on stage as part of the #VOTY and #PhOTY honors. And I hope to be inspired and rejuvenated by being in the presence of you all.

But if you see me, and you hug me, know that I might sob a little. Because kindness and empathy are hard for me to accept sometimes, even when I desperately need them. And if I don't see you walk by me or hear you call my name, it's not because I'm ignoring you. Please try again. Your company will be welcome, as long as you aren't put off by the tears that may be forming in my eyes. I just may not hear you over myself.

I ask you to tread gently with me this year. I am broken and I know I won't always be like this but this hurt and this defeat are very fresh and very raw and I guess I'd rather have you know than not.

So. See you in San Jose.