Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
You can also find Monica's writing here:
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New Ways To Fall Apart

Life is a series of rushes. A rush from home to daycare. From daycare to work. Work back to daycare. Daycare to home. Home to Serge's house to drop off/pick up kids. Serge's house back to mine. Holy shit, we're out of milk for the third time this week. Get in the car, kids.

I feel like I'm always late. I hate being late. Late is a moth flapping in my chest, a hand squeezing my esophagus, a roiling in my stomach, an eventual headache at the end of the day but just keep going, you. You've got dinner to make a house to clean a lawn to mow bills to pay shit to write work to do and recorded TV shows waiting in your DVR that you attempt to watch in some token effort to feel like a part of society before exhaustion wrestles you into bed.

I am overwhelmingly aware that these are the days with my children that I should be relishing. Especially now that divorce has halved my precious time with them. My sweet Charlie learning to walk and talk and play with his big brother and sister. The amazing Henry waxing poetic about love and life and the best superhero powers while casually winking "Hey, beautiful!" to me in a way that makes my heart pound harder than if he were Jake Gyllenhaal himself. Violet, telling stories and asking to snuggle and still calling me "Mama." Instead I am in survival mode. Their precious childhood moments ominously ticking away during a post-divorce haze I'm desperately trying to find my way through. WHEN THE FUCK WILL I FEEL BETTER? It feels like a slow-motion divorce while my kids are growing in fast-forward.

You know that scene in Boyhood? The scene that won Patricia Arquette the Oscar? It's how I feel all the time.

I started this blog more than ten years ago. It was the dawn of my marriage. Living in Brooklyn. Working as a producer at ABC, flush with ambition and hope. A decade later I'm facing another beginning. Not so young, not so fresh-faced, hope crushed by reality, not really even that ambitious anymore. I'm more interested in conquering myself now, not the world.

The writing isn't coming so easy as of late. I suppose I can guess why. I'm not interested in writing about my failed relationship, that horse done been beat to death. Not interested in chronicling new relationships as there are far too many feelings to consider. I've also experienced how detailing a relationship affects my own mentality. It tricks you. You can make yourself believe untruths. You begin performing and believing your own performance instead of focusing on what is actually taking place in the relationship. You blur where real you ends and Internet you begins. You become a character and you begin to believe your own bullshit. It happened to me and I am still watching it happen to others. You believe your Instagram photos. You believe Internet you.

I don't believe any blogs I read any more. None of them. I see the same symptoms in everyone who blogs. Is what you're writing reality or is it a performance? Do you even know anymore? Oh, I believe you're writing something based on an experience or emotion you've just had but once you mine those experiences for others you start to edit them, often reframing them and then you're reshaping your own memory and perception and then, well, you can convince yourself of just about anything, can't you? You can change your entire memory of an event just by writing about it in a certain way.

Blogging blurs reality and every single blogger you've read and loved knows this. And it's fine. It's a performance in the same way a book is a performance or the telling of a story becomes exaggerated and therefore a performance of sorts. It is what it is. But the act of becoming a persona based on a version of myself I inadvertently created seems unsavory to me now. Is there a way to write honestly? I don't know. I'm still figuring it out.

Reader Comments (12)

Young children take up a lot of time and energy. Single parenting is ridiculously hard. I'm sorry that you are feeling crappy this week about your life.

I appreciate your comments about your writing and how it relates to your reality. I think those are important observations about yourself and the world we live in. Selfishly I'd love to continue reading your thoughts but I can certainly understand why you would want to stop sharing all of this.


August 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I think you just did :) I know I've enjoyed voyeuring on your romantic life as much as the next gal over the years...but hey, there are other interesting topics out there, right? Tell us about small town life in the hills of PA or balancing work and mothering. I'll still read it!

August 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

Maybe a brain dump with no edits? I don't know..maybe that's too raw and real to post on the internet.

I agree there are other topics you can write about but do you want to?

August 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharity

Acknowledging the performance is a vital part of moving to authenticity. You KNOW this is media that you use both as a way to communicate visually and verbally, and also as a remedy. I think you are at a crossroads about what the next phase will look like. Artists go through this discomfort when moving from one theme to another or one body of work to another. You are many things, Monica. Claim the idea of yourself as "artist" and explore THAT possibility. Whoa.
<And please know that we are all down in the minutes of our crushing lives, feeling some of these same things in quiet and sometimes hidden desperation. In the lowest moments please know that we are all out here, slogging and dragging right by your side.>

August 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine

What Katherine much better than I could have.

Thinking of you!!!

August 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

I feel ya. I feel the same way about most blogs. But then there are the few and far between good and honest ones like yours. Which I deeply appreciate. On my own blog I don't present so much a polished version of things but I have tried to make it a space that is a resource for other single parents. Tips and tricks and reminders to take care of ourselves, too.

My child is almost two and a half and it is going too fast. Except when it's not and he is having amazingly embarrassing public tantrums in front of a bunch of the types of moms who would edit things to seem perfect. Ugh mortifying. I feel like I should be writing about that stuff on my blog sometimes but my challenge for myself is to try to stay positive as much as possible. As a single parent with no co-parent and no family (I grew up in foster care) it has been an impossible feat at times. I find myself hoping that there will feel like there was more to it than the "Boyhood" clip. Please let there be.

August 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBeck

This is hard. Life is hard and the way your life has changed, it seems harder still. Even if someone doesn't have kids along with an ex-husband, there is still a struggle... I just read some of your writing from way back--- Some of it was about when you met The Surge and what I noticed is that a lot of 'writing' is making observations. You are perceptive and true and the 'common-ness' of everything (social media ad nauseam) has made that a rare quality! One of the things you wrote recently about cycling I really enjoyed! I would love to keep reading your stuff. It doesn't have to be about relationships.... that is just one part of life. Keep the relationship talk for your videos and get back to writing in the way you like best.

August 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I have to disagree. I don't really write on my blog any more for a variety of reasons, but I honestly blogged to vent. Like a online diary. I showed the best and worst of myself. I never performed. I never lied. But, there is my truth and then the truth that others believe. No perspective is objective because we all bring our baggage to our stories... what we share. I'm sorry you don't feel you know what honest is any more. I think because you have laid so much of your life open for all to see, you now perhaps feel you don't want to share in the same way. You're considering your blog in a new way. But that doesn't mean we all are fakes or have performed. One could argue that all of life is a performance - the face we show our spouse, the one we show our colleagues... I hope you continue to write - but give yourself a break. You've been through a lot and you should only write about what you need to share, for yourself above all.

August 7, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercrummymummy

Yes, but the act of writing can serve as an organizing and clarifying thing. While perhaps it congeals our experiences, it can also heal them. Reality IS perception. The difference lies in the reflective honesty. It appears you are more than in tune to fact vs. fiction. If the choice is keep writing crap, and stop writing, then crap is what's going to happen. Because the alternative is becoming a victim of the agonizing complexities of life and that's just no way to live.

August 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

Are you and Serge not dating anymore? I enjoyed following the ups and downs because I felt you kept it so real. Best to you and the kiddos. Life is hard... but keep pushing forward.

August 13, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGlenda

I feel this way every time I get on pinterest and see a link to a mommy blog. Here I am trying to write my blog and be honest about things in my life meanwhile all of these other people are just posting these fantasy posts about vacations, perfect kids, perfect outfits etc. It brings me down and makes me feel like I have to do that too. This post made me remember I can blog about whatever the heck I want and it doesn't have to be a show! I can be a real person!!!!!

August 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKellie

I hear you, sister. I was a regular in the blogosphere for many years until I literally could not write another word because everything felt so f'ing fake. The most liberating thing I ever did (after many start/stops) was to just shut the SOB down and take myself off the grid. I have an Instagram account that I use to stalk my kids, but that's it. And Pinterest. Because it's like window shopping. I don't give a damn if people like or follow me on there.

For the record, I've swarm the sharky waters of divorce. We divorced after 10 years together and two children.

March 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterChava

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