I am sitting at the kitchen table looking at the cherry tree in the back garden. You wouldn’t know it at the moment, all is quiet, but this tree is a battle ground. The tree’s variety is Stellar by the way, and the only sweet cherry I know that does well in Scotland. If you ever get to see them, the fruit is a beautiful marbled shiny fresh blood red. It tastes good too.
It has been three days since I posted my blog on my Facebook page, thus connecting my friends with my anonymous writing. Some people have described this as a brave thing to do, but it seemed a normal progression at the time. Writers need readers and I had a pool of people that hopefully would be interested in what I had to say, because they are my friends too. Well they were certainly interested. My page views rocketed. On a good day I get four views, Sunday saw a peak of 459 views from twenty six visitors. I think what is remarkable about those figures is that the visitors were not just reading the last few articles, on average they were reading over twenty articles, two thirds of my posts (you can’t take the maths out of a mathematician).
I am pausing trying to find the words to describe how I feel about that. I can’t. It is overwhelming. It is very rewarding to know that people find interest in what I write, but it is also a little scary. Am I setting up expectations on quality? Am I setting myself up for a fall? Have I overstepped the mark (whatever that means)? Yep fear is definitely seeping out now.
I have been aware that I had shut down my emotions again. I was taking all the blog attention very calmly but I noticed that when people private messaged me, often telling me of their depression and difficulties that I was not really connecting with them on an emotional level. I was touched by the thought and action, but not necessarily by the emotion. I noticed these flags but didn’t recognise them until later on Monday when my wife said I seemed to be rather short with colleagues at work, and angry with her. I knew I was being short tempered, but why?
With Tuesday came the revelation that the stress from work on Monday, combined with attention my blog with getting was overwhelming me, and my automatic emotion filter had fallen into place. But when I thought about it, there is more going on too. On Sunday I had taken a risk and sent a friend request to someone I have met through online gaming. Going from the virtual world to the real world to make friends is not something I have done before but it seems to have gone ok.
On Monday I was also chairing a meeting with a new format I was not familiar with, and there were issues in the air that could easy take over the meeting. At the same time, a young lady was returning from Europe and needed to be picked up by car, but I was in a meeting, so I needed to coordinate that whilst the young lady’s mobile phone wasn’t working. In the background, two friends of ours had been diagnosed with cancer, two were or are having life changing operations, and my wife pointed out that I was breaking confidentiality on some of my blog posts because I was no longer anonymous to some readers.
And there’s more, but you get the drift I’m sure. No wonder I felt overwhelmed, no wonder I needed to shut down and regroup.
My reaction to this level of stress is to stop writing on my blog until I have time to sort myself out. There is a part of me that feels I should continue writing every day, because it is good for me, but I also need to be gentle and give myself thinking space. Writing is a bit of a battle too.
Whilst I have been writing the blackbirds have been on the offensive and the cherry tree has lost some more cherries. I would like to eat these cherries myself, but the blackbirds have a habit of eating them just before I would say they are ripe. The tree feeds a whole family for a week or so. A cat appears to see if it can catch a blackbird off guard. I motivate the dog to charge out barking, open the door quietly and the cat sprints away. I may resent the blackbirds eating the cherries, but there is a part of me that takes pride in feeding a family that lives in the garden hedge.