I have a huge confession to make: I made my blog private over a year ago and I haven’t written a single post since. Not only that, but I haven’t responded to any comments or requests to be included in the private blog group. If I did that to you, I am very sorry! I am a writer and once my blog became private, I lost all motivation to write. For what is a writer without the inspiration of a growing readership?
I feel really bad about this because of I feel like I let a lot of people down. My dear readers, who followed my posts, supported my adventures and shared theirs with me. My family, whose experiences I was chronicling (one of my daughters asked me to keep writing the blog so we would have a written record of our adventures!) And most of all, myself, because this blog was such a big part of my life in South America. I make sense of my world by writing about it and this blog helped me process and make sense of a dramatically different life in a small Andean town. It gave it all more context and meaning.
So why did I make my blog private? It boils down to several reasons. On a deeper level:
- While my mostly American background celebrates being open and true to yourself and saying or writing whatever you want as long as it’s honest and true, Colombian culture is more private. People will share their worries and concerns on a private level but take great offense to these “truths” being exposed on a public level. I lost several Colombian friends due to my writing so openly and honestly about my experiences, thoughts and judgements. I even pissed off a French friend. And truth to tell, I was often reluctant to befriend Colombians on Facebook for fear of what they would think of my blog. As living here became more “my life” and less “an adventure”, I was hesitant to keep separating myself from the culture around me by viewing it as an outsider. I was basically finally falling in love with Colombia and its amazing, resourceful, resilient and happy people and like all lovers, I didn’t want to hurt my beloved. I wanted in. I wanted to be part of the gang.
(*As an aside, I have never gone back and reread any of my earlier posts. Once I publish a post, I am done with it. I don’t want to become self-conscious about what I write and how I write it and start censoring myself. My intention with this blog was for it to be an honest chronicle of our family’s experience, as seen through my eyes, and to be true to this, I just need to keep writing from the perspective of today, from the “now”. Moving to a foreign country, especially one with the heft of Colombia’s reputation for violence (and yet, did you know it was named Happiest Country in the World in 2015?), with three kids has been a life changing, soul rocking experience. It’s an amazingly fun adventure and yet so much change and newness has brought up so many fears, doubts, and with these, judgments and prejudices. I never want to sugar coat it. I want to be real. And if in the process I come across negatively, so be it. I am human and therefore, very fallible. But I am also very open to learning…)
- I was starting to feel like our life in Colombia was no longer a novel experience to write about. After nearly four years here, it was just our regular life, the new normal. Plus, I started meditating consistently for an hour every day (nearly three years ago actually!) and thus my musing started wandering deeper into self exploration and quite frankly, I didn’t want to share those publicly.
And on a more superficial, yet still really important level:
- I started working on a group project to increase awareness about childhood sexual abuse in Colombia. This was a result of several very sensitive and painful incidents that occurred in the schools (plural!) that my daughters attended. Thankfully, my precious girls weren’t harmed but I can’t say that for several other children. So we got to work to try to do something about this issue. However, given the sensitivity involved, I decided that it would be most prudent to remove all information about me and my children from public viewing while I was working on the project.
- Ironically (or perhaps because the Universe has a great sense of humor), at about the same time that I started working on the project, somebody I don’t know started writing numerous sexual comments about my daughters’ photos on my blog posts. Really disturbing and gross! At the moment, it seemed like the final straw. Today, I say “Screw you, whoever you are. You are not going to stop me or silence me. And please, please, please get some help!”
So why am I making my blog public again?
I need closure. To say I am sorry for just disappearing and say thank you and goodbye properly. To showcase the beautiful country that Colombia is and share about our amazing adventures to La Guajira (a remote and starkly beautiful part of Colombia!) and Cano Cristales (a true natural wonder!) as well as Brazil and Argentina. And most of all, to come full circle and share with you, my reader, how and why I finally fell head over heels in love with Colombia!
I think it’s only fair! And necessary. Any expatriate experience is full of ups and downs, and Lord knows, I have bitched and moaned my fair share in this blog. It seems only fair that I close out this experience by sharing with you the final stage: GOING NATIVE!
I really don’t know what it will take to get closure. I may just write a few more blog posts and say goodbye. Or, once I get started, I may find that I just can’t stop. Travel, adventure and writing are in my blood! I do want you know, my dear reader, that I am very grateful that you are still with me and look forward to your comments below. I promise to answer from now on.