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Cycles of Life: 20 Years of Rambling on the Internet

As the earth spins so do the cycles of our lives. I’ve found as I near the 20-year mark the life-changing decisions that were made in my late teens I’m finding that a number of things are cycling back around. I started blogging on LiveJournal in the late fall of 2003. I had recently been freed from the group home my father and his third wife lovingly, yes folks that’s sarcasm, dropped me in. I do credit that experience with making me an expert at finessing white people and religious folks. So thanks, I guess.

Before LiveJournal, I kept a physical journal/diary for years. Until the day my father stole it from my room and made photocopies of it. I vowed to never let myself be that vulnerable again, to remain silent if I couldn’t ensure that the sacredness of my deepest thoughts would be protected. I was drowning in a sea of thoughts and emotions when a dear friend offered me a lifeline. “Have you heard of LiveJournal”, they asked in hushed tones as if the mere mention of it could send both our conservative fathers into a tizzy. I hadn’t, so we met at their house later that day.

They showed me how to protect what I wrote and it became a place where those closest to me got to witness my colossal fuck ups, poor choices, struggles, and victories for a solid five years. Then I discovered homeschooling, Blogger, and that I swear way too much to get Google ad dollars by late 00s and early 2010s standards, but my personality was the right amount of chaos to amass a tiny following of homeschoolers and godless heathen parents. I was consistent and relentless with my writing. Hell, I even hosted a giveaway! I wasn’t Mormon mom blogger level and I never could be, but it was a space where I could share my life no longer hidden in the dark corners of the internet out of fear of who might see and what they might do.

Then in 2012, I gave birth, and like with each birth before a mixture of postpartum depression and lack of support from my spouse left me with zero desire to do anything but survive.

I tried to force myself to write. To create. To convey all the thoughts that lived in my head in a way that might make a difference. Ultimately, I had to break some shit and retreat to the safety of my journal - no longer hidden under a bed because I only had myself to fear- and I did some hard fucking work. Some of it I shared, but the vast majority of it I kept locked away for my eyes only. A private testament to where I’d been, how far I’d come, and where I still had left to go. I wanted to share the fun homeschooling experiences we had, different materials we tried, life organization hacks, how to sprinkle magic into the mundane, and so much more as I had in the past.

It wasn’t the past and I couldn’t pretend that that was my focus. My focus was survival and processing decades of trauma. The areas that had been my focus while painting the picture of a family that was functional, with dysfunctional being merely a cute tagline, went into autopilot as I worked to make our lives actually functionally healthy.

As I come to the end of that cycle, the 20 years of trying to figure out what it means to be an adult, a parent, and a human being in a body riddled with trauma, I find myself reevaluating my goals and desires for the space where I share my thoughts.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve made some wonderful pocket friends, friends who I know because of the internet but have yet to physically see, and I’ve watched with sorrow, wonder, and joy as their lives have ebbed, flowed, and changed. Some gave up blogging once their kids moved on from homeschooling, others have turned it into a glorified side hustle that they remain passionate about, and there are some who like myself set up their own websites that are a testament to where they are in life now.

As I look at my website and the direction I want to take I keep looking over where I’ve been. I once tried branching off from my main blog to create something that focused on being a housewife from a Black woman’s perspective. Finding ones that weren’t steeped in Christianity was difficult back then. Now there are TikTok creators and Instagram influencers showing that Black women have the right to lean out and focus on home, family, and creating because it brings us joy not because someone says we have to.

Is that still something I want to talk about?

I think so, but so much of my homemaking has evolved as the children have gotten older and my plate now includes consistent employment. I’m still a stay-at-home mom but there’s an asterisk beside it and I don’t know if that title even fits. I feel more like the ring leader of a circle and judging by the Mother’s Day card the ex-husband gave me four years ago I’m not the only one who sees it that way.

When I was hustling away to turn my anti-oppression work into a career I revamped my website and gave it a professional yet blunt appeal. When I view it now, with the experience and trauma that came from doing that work on a regular basis, it doesn’t feel right. It’s wrong, all wrong, my brain screams at me as I peek at the hidden pages where I wanted to put curriculum and informative information. I believe in the work, but I no longer believe in wasting time and energy on leading white people to water. Most won’t drink and far too many should be left to drown in it. I prefer investing my knowledge in the spaces that don’t need to be taught I have worth and dignity. Spaces that already know I deserve to live and love safely.

So what does my corner of the internet look like if I admit that I am all the things I’ve conveyed and then some? If I create a space wholly for myself with the understanding that others may peek through the window but I am not performing the act of living for them, I’m engaged in living for myself, what does that look like?

I’m a walking contradiction that dances between the gray areas of life. I plant seeds in all forms and I cut trees down to size when necessary. I relate to Shrek’s onion analogy more than any one human probably should. I had a column many moons ago called Malice In Wonderland. I distanced myself from it a bit when I was trying to play the role of “professional” by limited white supremacy standards. I had three kids to feed so I don’t fault myself for that. The more I think about the column and more importantly the name, the more it feels like the most authentic name for my brand of fucked up-ness.

In Wonderland, there is room for wonder and malice - as needed. My bark has bite and my oven has freshly baked bread. What you get served will depend greatly on the way the wind blows, my mood, and above all else your behavior.

I’m ok with that. If you are too, welcome.

If not? Well, baby, in the words of Tabitha Brown “Have a good day and if you can’t, don’t you dare go messing up nobody else’s”.

Copyright(c) 2023 Rayven Holmes

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