I just hit 10,000 views on my blog. Maybe to some bloggers this wouldn’t be too big of a deal but to me it is. I haven’t been blogging for quite half a year yet, I did practically nothing to promote it (my blog isn’t even attached to my Facebook account for privacy reasons, or sent out to most of my friends and acquaintances) and yet so many people have come and read my words, my stories, considered my perspective.

It is an even more surprising experience to me because I grew up in a space where these topics I write about today were seen as ranging from controversial to “unspeakable.” While I rarely felt altogether powerless in the face of it all, I definitely felt alone so many times and for years on end, really. I am a social person but for so long it was just me trying to deal and I was writing in my diary for only one reader – me. It’s kind of surreal to realize I have had thousands of people read what I have had to say so far, and that that’s just on my blog. I don’t have metrics for the posts that have been cross-posted to NLQ.

The first day I posted something was in October 2012 and when I saw a few people were actually reading it, I kinda freaked out. Then, when I saw a couple fundamentalist homeschoolers who wrote vehemently about “babykillers” and wives being “helpmeets” on their own blogs were the first people following it, I freaked out even more. “Ooh,” I told my husband. “It’s like watching a zombie movie and then having one walk up and bump its’ head against your living room window.” It was triggering. I thought about deleting the whole thing. “Maybe they’re searching for another way too” he said. I hoped they were, or at least interested in what that world looked like from my side, but after a few posts they silently unsubscribed. I see them write stuff on some other bloggers’ walls if the bloggers say they are Christian, apparently trying to pull them back into male headship, “purity” culture, “sheltered” homeschooling, or child “obedience” training. I guess saying that I never had faith in that lifestyle and what little bit I had died after actually reading the bible means they decide I am a lost cause. This is something I’m actually quite ok with.

The main word that came to mind when I first started this blog and thought about people reading my writing was “scary.” The second word was “cool.” It’s now feeling a lot more cool than scary though. My audience has turned out to be a slightly different set of readers (I still think “wow, I have an audience?”), and I actually haven’t had to delete any hateful comments yet (yeah, yeah, I know it’s coming), and for the record, I believe in fostering debate and I will not be deleting any critical ones. Most people who have written comments or notes have said considerate and supportive things and those who have been critical have been pretty respectful about it.

So hitting 10,000 views has gotten me thinking about a few things, like “hmm, maybe I should actually pay for my own blog site instead of using this free one?” and “I wonder what would happen if my Dad ran across this?

I have told most immediate family members that I’m keeping a blog, but not my Dad. We don’t talk, so there is not really a relationship there to lose, but if (more like when) he hears about it, I wonder how that will go down. I am not afraid, but rather I do feel love for my parents and don’t want to cause unnecessary pain, but I also will not be silent while these same things happen in other families that are promised the false happiness mine didn’t get either from following the Quiverfull formula.

I figure speaking out is easier for me than it is for some because I do not have the threat of being disowned or shunned by the important people in my life. It is still a risk though. People who’ve done abusive things generally thrive on fear and silence, but my Mom has been good about it, saying she wished what I had to say wasn’t true, but since it is, she hopes I will keep her privacy, but that I am entitled to tell my story. I am sure if it was me who’d done these things and read about them like this it would be hard to stomach though.

It’s such a different situation now for my family than it used to be, but I am still a big sister and want to do my best to protect my siblings, who are hands-down some of my favorite people in this world. I may have moved away but they are still my tribe, so I have to say it is rather weird to look over my blog and see that I use “I” so much, when, as a member of a large family, I often think in “we.” I leave my siblings’ stories off of here as much as possible because they are their stories, not mine, to tell. Also, my views are not always theirs and like any family, there are enough different perspectives and takes on any situation that when I picture it, I see a multifaceted gemstone, even if I think it occasionally needs polishing (yeah, if you’re reading this, you know who you are).

Overall, consensus seems to be that most of my family would much rather watch a marathon of Harlem shake videos until they got a headache than read my blog. They know this story already, and after all, it wasn’t just my trauma. I do wish we could all put some kind of art project together to show how we each individually feel, but that is another endeavor altogether.

Despite this blog starting out as a solo rather than group project, in the past few months blogging has gone from being something just a bit outside my comfort zone to something incredibly meaningful to me. In the past I would have laughed at the term “blogging community” but now I don’t. I have made friends, found colleagues, discovered patterns and similarities, picked apart differences, discussed issues with others that are close to my heart, and even bridged the gap of opposing viewpoints in a way that has deeply mattered to me. I’ve found it to be both therapeutic and empowering to realize that openly writing about painful topics that in the past had filled me with confusion and shame have not only helped melt away the shame (I guess it’s true that all it needs is a little sunlight), but become an artistic endeavor, with my own photos and words.

Anyway, thanks for reading y’all, and I will keep on posting. 🙂