Community

by Lori Dwyer on May 19, 2011 · 59 comments

I’ve been asked to comment, or speak on, the aspect of community amongst bloggers, and mummy bloggers in particular, quite a few times lately. I’ve heard it’s been discussed a bit on the interwebs lately too, but I am so damn out of the loop at the moment you might not want to quote me on that.

I wrote, a while back, in the Before, about the online community of mums and dads. What I say there, stands.

Multiplied by a thousand tweets, a million prayers, hundreds of emails, and 12 000 bucks.

Another question I’ve been asked a bit lately (people like to ask you questions when you win awards, I’ve discovered) is, well… for lack of a more eloquent way to phrase it, if blogging about what happened to Tony was simply a way of cashing in on life experience.

After all, isn’t it great writing material?

Every time I get asked that, it’s like a bucket of cold water in the face. Because, as most of you know, the first post I wrote after this happened wasn’t about writing. It wasn’t about blogging.

It was about prayers. It was a desperate woman, asking people who loved her for whatever they could give, to help form a miracle. It was me, in the most pain, the most confusion I’ve ever been in in my life, asking for help and love and support. From my community.

And that other post, the ugly one…? I know, it’s become a spectacle, a car crash of a blog post,one of the most viewed pages in my domain. But when I wrote it, that never even crossed my mind.

I was reliving, exposing.. purging the ugliness from my system. Into the arms of people who I know are intelligent, compassionate, brave and open minded… people who could handle it’s weight.

I don’t know how many of you would remember this, and to be honest I don’t why why I remember it. It happened years ago, but it stuck with me. An online mumma- one like us- suffered the same horrible sort of trauma that I did when her baby boy was found unconscious in her backyard swimming pool.

She Tweeted, asking for prayers. And then sent another Tweet, later that night, confirming that her baby boy had passed away.

People crucified her. The basic tone was that this woman was more concerned with her online identity than the welfare of her child.

At the time, I guess I agreed, allowing my opinion to meld with that of the journalists writing in that tone, the public outrage that was expressed across the Web.

Now, I don’t judge. I totally get this chick. If I had had an iPhone, what would the temptation had been to tweet? Not in the first half hour, surely, but in the immediate hours after, waiting at the hospital.. definitely.

Would I have been judged that harshly? Wasn’t she simply reaching on to her online community, the same way I was? I know I was judged harshly, for writing the way I did (A special thank you here to the editors of Essential Baby forum- I’m not sure what that thread about me that you removed said, but I got the feeling it wasn’t very complimentary). Thankfully, most people seemed to err toward sympathy, rather than condemnation….

But I was probably walking a very fine line there for a while.

Anyway.

Tell me there is no community here, and I’ll show this first post, and the 300 comments that come with it. I’ll show this post, or this one, or this one. I’ll show you $12000 donated, and a stack of parcels and packages, and cards and flowers and wishes, all for a family that these people had only read about, and never met.

I’ll show emails that keep arriving, every day. Ones to say I’m thinking of you. Ones to offer practical help and support, from food to clothes to cash to babysitting.

Tell me there’s no community, and I’ll tell you that one of the best weekends of my life was at the Aussie Bloggers Conference (sponsor plug- remember Bamboo Village?!) meeting friends who I already knew.

Tell me there’s no community here… and I’ll show you me. Night after night, day after day. For weeks on end, being sustained by love that flowed in in pixel format, faith and hope and support that was being sent by wifi.

Try to show me there isn’t an online community that exists among us… and I’ll show you me. Walking. Breathing. Still surviving.

Living proof that the connection between us all… it’s real.

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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

MamaRobinJ July 11, 2011 at 5:33 am

Hi Lori. I just found you this morning, in a roundabout way, but ultimately via The Bloggess. I've read The Story, sitting here horrified, but mostly wanting to reach out and hold your hand.

You're right. This community is real. I didn't know it was here until I started blogging about my demons (postpartum depression & related) in January. But it is real and it has supported me more than I ever knew possible.

And now I'm part of yours. Soldier on. xo

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Lulu May 20, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Well said.

It is not the same but when I had my second son two months early the married to Japanese wife community pulled together and did so much for me and that is all because I blog.

Blogging is a wonderful thing and the community that comes with it is amazing.

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Toushka Lee May 20, 2011 at 7:53 pm
Maxabella May 20, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Oh it's real, baby, it's real. If we are real, then how can it be anything but?

And we take our support from wherever we can find it. Surely everyone can understand that. What's to judge about that? x

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Hear Mum Roar May 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm

I'm so glad there is an excellent blogging community:)

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thankyou May 21, 2011 at 1:56 am

Hi Lori,

You are wonderous to me. Thank you for your ongoing honesty, your truth, your feelings and thoughts. Most of all, thank you for not hiding who you are.

You are the strongest, most courageous woman I have ever come across and I thank you for allowing people like me into your world.

My sister died in a horrible accident many years ago. I've experienced PTSD, depression & impulse disorders ever since.

Some days are OK, some days are shit. But mostly, with each passing day, I can say, "Today, not only did I live, but I also learned."

And from your blog, I learn so, so much about compassion, coping, brutal truth, empathy. I often read other comments and am heartened by the incredible support you receive. As for the haters, feh. They've probably never had a tough day in their lives, so instead of getting incredibly fucking angry with them on your behalf, I just move on and hope I never meet them in real life.

You're inspiring. Thank you for being so real.

xxxxx

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themodernparent May 20, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Perfectly said Lori. The bottom line is this is the person you are now. You cannot hope to possibly write anything remotely truthful if you avoid that which is your life now. I too have mentioned the fact that my daughter passed away at 5 months of age many times on my blog…not for material, but because I couldnt possibly think the way I do about certain things if this didnt happen to me.

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Denwise aka Denyse Whelan May 21, 2011 at 12:46 am

Oh Lori.
Oh not another "I have to justify myself somehow again"

You
Are
Brave
Beautiful
and the most real communicator in the blogosphere.

I have come to know you under circumstances which are too awful to bring up again. I "met you" that god- awful, prayer begging, omg what is happening night"

I cannot remember how I came to the blog. Twitter? Doesn't matter.
Just glad to have been able to at least reach out through the tears and fears to you…. To keep YOU alive when it would have been ….. No I won't say.

I value knowing and caring for & about you more than a friend.. Like another daughter… You are a big part of my on-line, and having met you.. Real life world…. Love you D xxx

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Farmers Wifey May 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I am so proud and fortunate to belong to this amazing community and to be able to meet some of you is wonderful xo

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Sophie May 20, 2011 at 12:55 pm

There seems to be two very distinct sets of people when it comes to grief…. those who think that you should keep most of that crap to yourself and get on with it, and those that understand that any talking about the incident is helpful and neccessary.

My daughter was born with a severe brain injury… I was already a blogger at the time so I documented our whole experience… through prengnancy, birth and her death five and a half months later. And then there was the grief. I blogged for the sense of community, for the comfort of having my story out there, for having those comments coming back to me sending love and support.

I totally understand why you are blogging about this, and I know that doing so is so good for dealing with your pain. And to those people out there who think that you're sharing this to gain anything other than support, seriuously they have no idea. It says more about these people, than it does about you Lori. They clearly have their own issues.

I'm sorry someone accused you of 'cashing in'. What a truly horrible and insensitive thing to say. Although that's not true, those words have a way of staying with you.. and that is not a thought you need in your head right now. Seriously I hope they are ashamed of themselves.

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Rachel May 20, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Beautiful, beautiful post my love….
As for the Ugly post, despite the furore it created amongst your IRL circle it remains one of the most powerful things I have ever read. Truly profound writing leaves a mark on the reader. I am changed by that post, forever. It's like a tattoo of your pain and truth, permanently etched on my soul. And I know others who have never met you have read it and had the same experience, because when we spoke about it, it was in their eyes. They were marked by it too. I hope you are proud of it.
Much love always xxx thepixiechick

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Kristy May 20, 2011 at 7:20 am

Beautiful! Anyone who thinks other wise has hate in their heart. Keep shining!

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Kelloggsville May 20, 2011 at 7:04 am

it's not just about support is it? I think there is a lot of friendship too. And all lives have good and bad, ups and downs, and yes of course where intensely bad things happen you have a lot of interest but many are here through the review posts and the potty training diaries too! We also laugh at the fun bits together. I consiously try to regularly comment blogs where I have made a 'connection' because I don't just want to be a voyeur of bad expereiences, I want to be a supportive bloggety friend x

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Janet NZ May 20, 2011 at 4:39 am

We're all still here – for you, and for each other. xxx

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Angella May 20, 2011 at 4:30 am

Writing of your experience has called the rest of us to hug a little tighter, hold and little longer, and love a little deeper. We owe you so much more than 12 grand for that. You have a strong beautiful soul and no critic can take that from you. xx

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Amandala May 20, 2011 at 4:06 am

Honestly Lori, I don't think you should ever again waste a moment of your precious life justifying things you've done or written since this all happened to you. Those who understand will understand. Those others can just read back, or as you said, look elsewhere. I know it must bother you when people criticise you, but you know in your heart what you're doing and you should try to just ignore them.

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Amandala May 20, 2011 at 4:03 am

If you are sitting around, distraught, and all you can do is pray and hope, and you are a person for whom twitter and blogs are a form of communication, you're going to communicate that way. Period. You're going to ask whomever you possibly can to pray and hope, too, because you feel like that's all you have.

And if I were in that situation, if I had the opportunity to, I would stand on top of the tallest building with a megaphone and beg everyone in the city to pray for my loved one. That's not attention-seeking.

And I can't believe that people don't understand that. Are there really so many people who are so lucky that they haven't ever been in desperate times?

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Pandora May 20, 2011 at 2:13 am

Beautifully put, Lori.

I haven't been through the hideous experience that you have, but I completely agree that online communities and the kindness of strangers are life-changing. Life-saving, in my case, if I'm honest.

As for those vile human beings that criticised you for writing everything you have – fuck 'em. You wrote about your pain on your blog, your community – why would you not?!

Kudos and love to you.

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Steph(anie) May 20, 2011 at 1:08 am

Tears.

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Ms Styling You May 19, 2011 at 11:53 pm

I'm just getting to my reader tonight – incredible post Lori. I'm in awe of you AND this community.

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OurGangof7 May 20, 2011 at 9:52 am

You are so right. It doesn't matter whether you have a really popular blog or just a few followers, people do read them and word gets around and in times of crisis people tend to stick together and try to help in some small way. Blogging may in some ways bring tragedy and sadness into our lives on a more regular basis but at the same time just knowing that there are caring people out there restores faith in human kindness which these days seems to be severely lacking "in the real world".

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Jess Newman May 19, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Beautiful Writing Lori. Who cares what anyone thinks. You bog when you need to, and if that helps you deal, that makes you a better parent.

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Taryn May 19, 2011 at 10:37 pm

The community is here and it's real and it will hold you up when you need it as best as it can xx

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Fox in the City May 19, 2011 at 10:31 pm

It is interesting to see that for some, the word "community" and the idea behind it seems to be seen as an insult.

I myself see this whole blogging community as a way of connecting with others, people I may never meet in real life, but who I get to know better than some of those who are in my real life. It is a chance to share, to learn from and to connect. In my eyes, that can never be a negative.

Absorb the positive, discard the negative and continue to be a part of your community.
Jenn

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Naomi May 19, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Love this post. Love it. Amen to community.

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Varda May 19, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I agree so much about the online blogging community being as "real" as any flesh and blood community, and in many ways even moreso.

Because we are a community of the like-minded that have come together to share ourselves, there is a widespread intimacy and connection there that occurs much more frequently than in our local "communities" where the only connecting factor may be the happenstance of physical proximity or the people we have been thrown in to work with, or where our kids go to school.

This. is. real. And I have found so many new near-and-dear-to-heart friends here, it is truly amazing. I already had a circle of close friends where I live. And now another all over the world. It's glorious.

I am so glad that you have found wave after wave of support here. Let me add my cyber-bucket of love to your ocean. Hugs.

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Kate May 19, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Beautifully said. As always. xox

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frog ponds rock... May 19, 2011 at 8:43 pm

When my Mum was dying, I put up a blog post asking for prayers. I wrote the post using my Mum's laptop as I sat by her side in her hospital room.
After Mum died, I grieved my mum on my blog because there was a deathly silence here once the funeral was over and done with and my blog was the only place I could talk about how sad I was. I am still grieving my Mum and I am still writing about how sad I am on my blog.

Non bloggers will NEVER understand Lori. Love to you sweetheart.

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Megan Blandford May 19, 2011 at 8:34 pm

LOVE it! xxx

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Squiggly Rainbow May 19, 2011 at 8:26 pm

My inept computer inept skills have obviously prevented my email being public, but you can contact me via my blog xoxoxox

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Squiggly Rainbow May 19, 2011 at 8:25 pm

It is a lifeline – although many haven't met – even the less noticed and less read blogs – you are a lifeline to me. Something I know will be there and I feel encouraged. As crazy as it sounds for one that really hate's technology (games etc for kids) – blogging is a blessing. Sending love xoxo Rach

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Melissa May 19, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I am so glad you feel this way – for all of us who cry for you, who wish there was something we could do for you – it's so good to know that our presence here has been a comfort to you.

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Trik82 May 19, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Beautifully said Lori xox

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MaidInAustralia May 19, 2011 at 7:25 pm

I'm with you all the way honey. Thank God that for every Arse there are thousands of lovely people who really care. xo

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Mrs J May 19, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Blogging about your life is your choice, and Tony's death is a part of YOUR story. We blog because we want to reach out to others, is there anything criminal in that? NO.

I have blogged about my infertility and miscarriages and now I am part of a network of other women who have similar stories, we are there to support each other. Some days are really bad and all it takes is for someone to leave a comment telling me that they are thinking of me, it really touches my heart when I often feel so frickin isolated in my pain.

We have our own stories to tell and people want to be a part of them, is there really anything wrong with that? Or do we have to pretend to lead perfect lives and only blog about the good things that happen?

All I have to say to the critics is:

Who are YOU, by what AUTHORITY do you tell people what they can't or shouldn't blog about? Who made you the righteous one to go around trolling people's blogs and slagging them off for their decision to write about their lives and reach out to others? If you don't like what we write about, don't read it, if what we have to say offends you so much then you're better off walking away and spending your valuable time doing something useful.

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Adalita May 19, 2011 at 6:01 pm

So true – You are well supported in this community. Great big virtual hugs from me!

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River May 19, 2011 at 5:41 pm

I fail to see how blogging and tweeting are any different from waiting in a hospital room and desperately phoning family and friends fo help and support. It's what we did in the days before i-phones and the internet, we called for help and we got it. The message got around by word of mouth and gossip, so it was slower, that's the only difference. There were still judgemental people with cruel opinions, we just didn't hear about them as fast.
What you did was a cry for help in the quickest way you knew how and much better than screaming out to no one at all in a hospital waiting room.

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Lina May 19, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Wow, what a community to be a part of. I'm pretty new to the whole mummy blogger scene (that's 'cause I'm a new mum to the whole parenting scene) and it's really nice to find you all.

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Wanderlust May 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Amen sister, AMEN! You know, my estranged husband has accused me of the same thing. As if I've ever made a dime off blogging about my tragedy. Love what Woog said. Cockheads. You could earn more working at Target. Love you.

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Tai Tai May 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm

You said it! Agree agree agree. Snap xx

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Sam-O May 19, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Thumbs up!

My feeling is that some people are overly sensitive to perceived slights when their comments are not replied to and that has led to the great debate about "community". Let's face it how many "thanks for your comment" can you post?

In your case Lori, I know you did exactly what was right for you at the time. I know you weren't thinking about profiting from your situation – I mean how bloody ridiculous is that? That would require rational thought and a level of cunning in a crisis that I doubt anyone I know IRL or online possesses.

I think you have done what is right for you and it can only help you. Your ability to move on as far as you have has got to have been facilitated by your online community.

Keep it up. Heal thyself!

Sx

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Daisy, Roo and Two May 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Every time I read what you right I want to hug you. I'm only new to this blogging community but I am so blown away by the kindness and love everyone seems to have for one another!
I'm hugging you with my words right now (that soudned a little bit creepy, but it's not meant to be!)

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Carol May 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I, too, am a sufferer of mental illness – depression, anxiety, low self esteem… the list goes on ha, ha.
You have blown me away on so many levels. I wept with you last night & again this morning.
If this blog be the food of love, blog on. You are a 'firework' and my hero.
YOU DO, BCOZ YOU CAN
((((((((((:)))))))))))

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Miss Pink May 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Wow. Powerful post. I am glad we could catch you when you fell. We could offer support and strength when you needed it the most.

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Jacki May 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm

You're so right Lori. This is as much a community as any other and I'm so proud to be a part of it! As for anyone implying that you're cashing in on Tony's death…. WTF?! Your blog was already hugely popular before this tragedy. Why on earth wouldn't you reach out to your friends when you needed them?

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Crystal Cheverie May 19, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Well said, Lori; well said.

As someone who has been expressing herself through writing since the age of seven, I know all too well what a comfort it is when things are going wrong. When you blog, you not only get the cathartic experience of writing, but you get, as you said, a whole community of people reaching out to hug you and sympathize with you and maybe you even "meet" people who've survived what you're going through now. There is nothing, NOTHING, wrong with that. You turn to your IRL friends/family in times of trouble – why not do the same with your on-line friends?!?!? It has nothing to do with money or attention – it has to do with comfort and hope and giving you a reason to carry on.

Don't mind me for getting a bit rant-y. I am just beyond sick and tired of peoples' judgements. I know all too well what it feels like, and I just wish I knew you for real so I could give you an honest-to-God big, warm HUG!

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Melissa May 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm

There was a time, a night even, when an online community (EB, in fact) saved my life. I don't know what was said about you on there, I never saw it. But I'm embarrassed to be a part of that forum altogether if they attacked you in your grief.

Your community is still here, Lori. Still sending you what little we can by pixel.

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MummaMoments May 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Oh yeah baby! xoxo

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Being Me May 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Media, once again, has SO much to answer for.

COMMUNITY seems to be an ugly word for some, so much so that it bloody well confuses me. Yes, there are leeches and vultures of tragedy, of the online car wrecks that many individuals can't take their eyes off… But why the insistence on the dark/shadow side of something? Of a phenomenon like 'your' online COMMUNITY? Why not focus only on the positive aspects of it?

I love this post, Lori. It's got all the right points. And they're so darn well made! xox

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Photographer Mum May 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Well said Lori, I truly believe there is a community amongst bloggers. Doesn't matter if we don't know each other personally, but we do, as you said, "in pixel format".

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Kellie May 19, 2011 at 12:34 pm

People can be cruel, but lucky you have some amazing people in your corner.
xx

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Glowless @ Where's My Glow May 19, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Yay for WiFi love! Another donation came in a few weeks ago, it should be with you now xxx

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Aprilke May 19, 2011 at 12:27 pm

*hugs*

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Brenda May 19, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Amen. That is all!xxx

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Caroline B May 19, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Awesome post. and so true. *hugs* to you

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Alicia May 19, 2011 at 3:58 pm

You are right on the mark with this post. I think that blogging is a form of therapy for the author so if something awful happened in my life I would blog about it and bugger anyone who thinks this is wrong!

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Good Golly Miss Holly! May 19, 2011 at 1:43 pm

This post is a testament to the awesomeness of our blogging community. There is bad and there is ugly but we band together for our own, and that itself is magical ♥

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Mrs Woog May 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I can think of easier ways to earn a living other than having your life explode in front of your eyes. What cock-heads. xxxxx

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Ames May 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I remember the crucification of that lady. As it was half an hour after the paramedics were called the media jumped on her like she tweeted before she called the paramedics. I remember being sucked into the media's judgements but now I don't know if I would be compelled to do the same.

Community and media are so different to when we were kids and people have to remember that. It was so different ten years ago. I was told on the weekend by ex-classmates that we don't need a high school reunion because we all are in contact over Facebook.

I had read your blog in the Before and I remember reading so many posts by so many wonderful bloggers asking for prayers for you when it happened. I read your After posts not with anger at all. I read it with sadness and admiration for your strength even when you were reaching out saying you weren't feeling strong.

Getting your feelings out is SO important and the fact you were able to do it with support while sitting alone is even more important and valuable. Although I haven't experienced anything so traumatic I know that isolation, feeling like you are the only person in the world experiencing this, is so dangerous yet so many people feel this. I'm sure you did too but without your blog, the blogging community and support it would have been so much worse.

I know you've received negative comments but you know what that shows your strength too. Putting yourself out there for everyone to see, even if you say you didn't care at the time, is still something so huge. You deserve all the awards in the world.

Ames xxx

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