The elephant in the room

There’s an elephant in the room that I have to address. I touched on it in last week’s post — that was my attempt to let a little steam out of the pressure cooker, but it’s still building and now I have to say something.

I have blogger’s block. More specifically, there’s stuff I can’t talk about on the blog and it’s blocking the way for any other posts to emerge.

As some of you have guessed already, it’s the dating. Not that there’s anything major to report in that area right now, but I’m so acutely aware that current and future dates will be able to read my blog (some have been clever enough to try Googling “Susannah” and oh, there I am, plastered all over the bloody internet for all to see). Being famous in my own virtual living room is proving to be as much of a hindrance as I feared it might be. I mean, there’s SEVEN FREAKING YEARS of archives to explore — it’s like handing someone my diary. And yet it’s not. This blog is the public face of the last seven years. It’s what i felt comfortable sharing with the world, and there is plenty I have not shared. But when you dive into the archives for the first time… it’s overwhelming. God, it overwhelms ME sometimes.

I mention this because I don’t want to leave you guys hanging, and even though blogs are more like online magazines these days, this space remains personal for me. I have no intention to fill the pages with guest posts and impersonal Tips for Fixing Your Life. I started blogging to chronicle my healing journey, and here we are, nearly eight years later, and things have changed. A lot. The healing journey has morphed into a life lived with intention and curiosity. I share my stories and experiences because that is what I know. And I do it in the hope that it might be useful to someone else, and frankly, because it’s helpful for me, too. There have been many moments over the years when I’ve wondered why I think anyone would give a toss about me and my journey. But then I only have to look at the majority of the books on my shelves to see that sharing stories and experiences is the language I understand best. Leading by example. Reporting back from the trenches. Yes and yes, I love all of that. The books that have had the greatest impact on my life are all personal tales from women sharing what they know. Writers like Julia Cameron and Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Dawna Markova and Ann Lamott. May Sarton. Joan Didion. Erica Jong and Natalie Goldberg. Diana Athill and Cheryl Strayed. Anais Nin and Sharon Olds. I’m not saying that my writing comes even close to the magic of this tribe of extraordinary women, but these are the writers who’ve inspired and supported me over the years.


I wrote the first part of this post yesterday. This morning I woke with a possible solution — perhaps it’s time to blank slate this space. To let go of the literal archives that weigh me down. I no longer need the ballast of my story to justify my presence here. As I wrote the book in 2011 I knew I was putting the past to rest; now it’s time for the blog to catch up. So as of right now I’ve started archiving the archives. 2006 has gone, 2007 is next. Then 2008. Maybe some of 2009. I won’t get rid of everything as there are still plenty of useful posts here, but I’m ready to let go of the heaviness of the story. It’s not me anymore and honestly, it hasn’t been for a long time. I honour the past — and yes, i still have my moments — but I am more interested in the future. And the awkward humbling reality of the present.


47 responses
  1. Maria

    Beautiful post!

  2. Barbara

    Dear Susannah,
    You should take down all your archives and then post and put back as and what you want to share as and when you like.
    Freedom and space to you and thanks for all you do write

  3. Susan

    Thank you so much for this post! I looked at my box of hand written journals the other day that chronical my journey of the past gosh – 8/9 years and cringed at what they contained. Of course it’s not all bad, but as you said – it’s not who I am anymore. I like your concept of archiving. Good on you! How freeing to be released of the past.

  4. Lauren Tober

    Perfect xxx

  5. Michelle

    Thank you – authentic and real. Glad you found a liberating solution!

  6. Jena

    When I moved a year ago, I left behind–literally threw away–many, many years’ worth of journals. Some people warned me I’d regret it, but I was ready. To leave the past behind and trust that what I needed to take with me would never be lost. As for blogging, same goes. Clearing space. Onward. Freedom.

  7. vanessa

    Hi Susannah. I’ve been a lurker since April, and this is my first time to comment. This post resonated with me because I am in the process of letting go of the past & coming to terms with the present. Honoring where you came from & who you were is important, but facing the future and embracing its infinite possibilities, even more so.

    Onwards, indeed!

  8. Carol

    Completely understand and agree about letting go and moving forwards. Although I had a moment there when I had a little panic about not being able to see your old Polaroid images, but then realized that you’re on Flickr and they’re all there ;-) *phew*

  9. Carol

    Funny that you should mention Joan Didion, I’ve just been bought her collection of essays/articles ‘We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live’ as one of my birthday gifts

  10. Anne-Marie

    Courageous, authentic, and living with intensity, congratulations on finding a solution for yourself. “Who are you?” someone asks. “I am the story of self,” comes the answer. – M Scott Momaday.

  11. Sherry Smyth

    Once again, where you are in your life, in your own story will have a powerful impact for others. I applaud you for addressing the elephant Susannah. And your openness and vulnerability reminds us that sometimes we have to be vulnerable…sometimes we have to say “it’s okay to make myself this transparent” — even when it is just the tip of the iceberg and the most “private” you is still just that..private. I understand where you are in speaking of this. My own personal journey of breast cancer was 8 years ago. That was then and it was part of my story. This is me now and I’m changed…and it’s time to let go of the past and of some of what made us who we are. It feels lighter, yes? Brava to you for being so openly, honestly, sometimes vulnerably shaking you. You’ve inspired me once again today. xo

  12. kRISTINE

    What an incredibly honest and open post, Susannah! I have loved how truthful you are with all of us and so happy you trusted us with yet “More of You” … You have inspired me for years and continue to do so … Leaving the past, in the past – In a process … I feel you are doing just fine ;)
    Boston, MA

  13. nancy moon

    Oh susannah, this is just wonderful. I just purged so much from my office, it’s from the old Nancy and I doubt I will regret it. Once, in a gorgeous fire ceremony, I burned years of my journals, letters from old boyfriends. it’s only now that I remember I did that. :) Thanks. xxx

  14. Marsaille

    Brilliant idea. Go with it.

  15. Katie

    Geddon Susannah, how brave you are. It sure is a brave thing to know when to make changes to something, especially when it’s something that has brought so much success, for you and for others. But if it starts to feel heavy, or ‘not you’ then it is a great thing to be able to address that elephant in the room face to face and say ‘hey elephant, get outta here!’. Or something like that :) I will happily follow your writing and adventures into the future.
    Katie. X

  16. Marjory

    Letting go is so liberating. Blessings on this new phase of your journey, beautiful Susannah. xo

  17. Maureen

    Oh Susannah what a brave act – I too have been a lurcher and this is my first post to you. I have found in my 65 years that letting go of the past as been very therapeutic – my preference is to shred – for every page shredded I have a new bit of space and it feels so good. I know you are archiving which may be a good alternative but there is nothing like shredding. I do keep my photos though as I feel that is different – somehow it is the words that bind and constrict rather than anything visual – funny that. Take care maureen

  18. kira

    Thank you for sharing your authentic self now and all of the years on your blog. What is appealing about your work is that it is personal and real. You lead by living and it is inspiring. I had to laugh a the thought of dating someone new and knowing so much personal detail is out there. Yeah for growing into the next phase of your life. I say let them go buy your book and read it peeps need to know more about your story. I appreciate your honesty and I look forward to seeing how your work evolves. Just remember always that you rock!

  19. Katie

    I totally understand the pull to do that. I went back a while ago and deleted a number of posts, cleaning up my blog. I found it unsatisfying and it led me to blank slating 6 years of blog entries. I have no regrets in starting over because those words I wrote no longer serve me since I shared them with the Universe. The only thing I wish I would have done is save the posts before I deleted them. Oh well.

  20. Katherine

    Being true to who you are is most important. I always know when I see an email from you in my inbox, it comes from a real person who is growing, changing and learning just like me. I appreciate that fact that you don’t pretend to know it all or have it all figured out. That’s why I take the time to open your emails and read your thoughts. Your honesty is strength and oh, so powerful, not just for you, but for me as well. Thanks for being you, Susannah…bless your heart.

  21. Liv Lane

    I love this, Susannah! I never thought about the impact blogging could have on dating! But totally hear you on dragging around your story for years after those chapters are no longer representative of you. Clearing the archives sounds like a brilliant move. Here’s to your NOW.

  22. Elaine

    Take them all down – this is your house after all – you need to be comfy living here :)

  23. antonella

    At this point you really should read “Delete:
    The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age” by Mayer-Schönberger.

  24. mo

    the first thing that occurred to me was that i hope you don’t archive anything from the birth of your nephew forward. those posts and all the subsequent ones reveal so much about how much your family means to you, particularly your love for Noah. and that’s ongoing and definitely not a thing of the past. they reveal how much love you have in your heart and how much love you have to share.

  25. Tammy strobEl

    I loved this post! I’ve been blogging since 2007 and I deleted the majority of my older posts in 2011. Sometimes letting go of the old is the best way to move forward. :)

  26. susannah

    the Noah posts aren’t going anywhere :)

  27. anh

    Susanah, all the best! I cried with you when reading your book (so raw, real and emotional). But I am even happier to know and witness your bright present and future days. xoxo

  28. jane

    I love elephants. And trusting your instincts is an act of self love. in my best British accent “Tally Ho and onward.”

  29. Kerstin

    I completely get this. For me it’s always been the fine line between my professional and private life, I worry about people at work discovering my blog. Even though this is such a public forum I am never comfortable with that because I also share a lot of personal stuff on there. Purging is actually always a good idea, it can be quite cathartic. I was not ready to delete all my old posts so just put them into a “hidden” area of my blog, only accessible via a direct link. This way I can still refer to them as and when needed. You are “famous” because you have managed to stay authentic and true to yourself over the years, and you are a great writer and spectacular photographer. The “right” guy will see that, too :) Enjoy it all!

  30. Jo

    I abso-bloody-lutely LOVE this idea. You know me and clean slates. Best feeling ever. Go you. Onwards and upwards. xxx

  31. Kathleen

    Go for it…do what feels right. You’ve done all the hard work to pick yourself up and get yourself out there, this will be the easy part.

  32. helen

    Wow that last paragraph was like you were simply coming to stillness and BREATHING out. Well done Susannah. Cheering you on x

  33. Andrea

    Whoa! I could feel the magic and power of your choice all the way over here. This is exciting!

  34. Mary in VA

    I agree with archiving some of the archives and letting go of the past. You’ve grown so much since you first started, and the archives were a record of that growth. But I aalso believe that someone who wants to be in your life should want to be there knowing you – the warts, the beauty, the growth. If they are shallow enough to google you, you don’t really need them.

  35. TJ Wood

    S–Sounds like you have a good solution, but whatever you leave up is a part of you. Whoever is wonderful enough to snag your heart will be accepting of all of you–your past, present and future. And I LOVE the concept of this tribe of women and their words. So many of my favorites too. XO!

  36. Gerri

    Ahhh, sounds so refreshing…

  37. Cherie

    Never underestimate the power & freedom of a blank slate. Brilliant!

  38. Janice

    your stories and thoughts always give me something to think about, this post is no different. Your images are always inspirational, and have helped me to look at the world around me a little different. Hopefully we can still visit the old images on flickr?

  39. susannah

    absolutely! Flickr isn’t going anywhere… just archiving a bunch of posts from here :)

  40. ERIKA

    You have to do what feels right and what feels best… if you feel like those things are weighting you down, then do it.

    But I would like to offer this: while it could be overwhelming for someone to read at the beginning, isn’t it a nice litmus test for dating? Because anyone who would try to get to know you through the words of your past rather than through your face — maybe they aren’t meant for the kind of relationship you are looking to have?

    I used to be so scared about what my past would say about me on Facebook or even through my blog (nothing bad, just lots of nerdy and maybe some extra pounds). And then I met someone who wanted to get to know me face-to-face. Who didn’t even have a Facebook.

    I guess what I am saying is… sometimes we don’t have to change anything when we find someone. Maybe exactly what we are doing, exactly what we are is just fine. And I know love transforms and all that stuff and that’s good too. But I also know that sometimes our archives serve as roadmaps, as pieces that help people to understand where we are now.

    But again, it’s up to you and as always, this place has always been your space. You know the best way to proceed.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  41. Philippa

    Oh wow Susannah…this post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I too have built a blog and a loyal following from sharing a story that was very much the centre of who I was and what my life was focused around at the time….but it was the best part of a decade ago now. I have moved on, as you have. While no doubt everything you have shared has helped people, it will help people to see you evolve too. I am looking forward to the day when I am brave enough to write a post like this. It will be soon. Thank you for the push. To the future! x

  42. susannah

    it’s less hiding or disguising the past and more letting of the story in a symbolic way — through the blog posts. The dating has been the catalyst for this decision, but the desire to jettison the story and allow myself to be fully in the present has been tugging at my sleeve for a while now :)

  43. kelly

    I just did the same thing and it feels fantastic! There is freedom in letting go of clutter, baggage, attachment, etc… and I’m with you on the dating thing. Relationships grow over time by peeling back the layers of your heart together. It wouldn’t really be fair for someone to know your whole story while you’re still on chapter one of theirs. I’m really happy for you.

  44. Angela

    I’m sort of disappointed – I like looking through archives when I’m in certain moods (looking for something that will make me feel better), but it’s your history, and I’ve done this before with hand-held journals. So I do understand.

  45. michelle gd


  46. Annette Gendler

    You go girl!

  47. Sabine

    Hey Susannah, good for you. Sometimes this is the right solution and it feels so good, to finally let go of old memories, that most of the time only hurt. I did this too a few months ago, when I got rid of most of the stuff in my memory box. No need to remember everything, even the bad and sad things.
    So I wish you luck and happiness, that will hopefully come at the end of the process for you.

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