Hitting the pause button

single contact person

I thought it would be good to write a spectacularly emotive piece today. I wanted to conjure up sentences that flowed smoothly together building up into a powerful picture.

But actually, the fact I cannot illustrates my point far better than they would.

I am tired. I am exhausted. I am doing too much. I am stopping blogging.

Yesterday was an abnormally busy day. I started writing that day’s post, on why I was giving up on my fundraising drive. And ended it writing a guest post for the God and Politics blog on the ludicrous new report out from the National Secular Society. And in between worked flat out.

That’s one day, and an unusual one at that. But I have realised I need space. I read yesterday on a slightly feminine blog about the need to keep the margins of life clear. My life has no margins.

I have tried, in these last few weeks, to find some smidgen of space to assess my busyness and what I can do about it. Except I haven’t had the time to

I have found I have not given to my relationships what I would like to give to them. I have avoided entanglement opting instead to keep things simple, superficial and easier to withdraw from. That’s why I wrote on Wednesday about the challenges I find with blogging and tweeting and the social side of social media. I don’t want to make claims that are too wide or accuse others where it is me at fault, but I have found it oppressive.

Sometimes I want the world to stop. Sometimes I want to pause the internet. I want time to think, work out how to respond, what to say and how to say it sensitively and clearly. Unfortunately I don’t have that power.

I need to spend time with people building relationships, not spend time writing about relationships.

I find it hard to know when to engage, when to step back, when to fight with all my might and when to ignore the latest controversy that would barely break the surface if it wasn’t for the response it generated.

The pressure to write a few times a week to keep the traffic levels up, to mix in stuff I know will get hits with the mellow thoughtful pieces read by 17 people. The challenge to be the spokesperson for Christian guys on relationships issues (next Sunday I think you’ll be able to hear my thoughts on singleness and the church for various local BBC stations).

It all became too much.

So I am walking away. This blog is officially on hiatus. I don’t have the power to pause the internet but I can pause writing and responding. And when I say officially I mean I have decided not to blog for a while. There’s really nothing official about it, I haven’t asked anyone’s permission. For how long I do not know, probably at least a few months, probably six. (But may change my mind if there’s something I really really must write about…)

I am taking the self imposed burden to write off my shoulders. And I hope to free up some space both in my mind and in my diary.

I’ll carry on writing, I owe a couple of people guest posts I promised months ago. And if you want me to write something I’m happy to consider it. But I have assessed my priorities, and I have decided that right now, this blog is not one of them.

I’m also contemplating a medium term break from twitter, but not quite ready to go cold turkey on that one yet!

Breaking up is hard to do

Dear readers,

Thank you for your time, attention, comments and shares over the past few months. It feels like I’ve thought and wrote more about relationships in these weeks than I have, well since last summer.

And like on that occasion it gets to a point when I have to step away from the keyboard. When I have to let the hum of keystrokes fall silent and the words pause their progress across the screen. There are times for creativity, there are times for searching out wisdom. There are times for humour, and times for the shedding of tears. I have felt all of these while writing these past few months.

There are times when tearing back the covers and exposing the frailty of the your soul is the strongest thing that you can do. And there are times when you need to rest, recuperate and recover the longings of your soul.

Because I am tired. I am spent from exerting the energy it takes to write words that comprehend what I have spent most of my life ignoring. I am exhausted from embracing the honesty that I have adopted as my trademark, an ever incremental appetite that is not quenched by the post that tells of more than you ever thought you would tell.

It was one day at work when I had been asked to write for a new site called threads (going live soon, sign up to learn more). ‘What should I write’ I inquired, ‘something like your blog’ came back the reply, the ping pong went on, ‘what is it about the blog you like’, I was hoping for direction and clarity to make the writing easier. ‘Your honesty’ she confirmed.

I’ve always set out to write as honestly and bravely as I could, I never wanted anything to be off limits. But in some of the early throws last year I wrote with a shield of abstraction cast around me. Everything was general, projected onto others, with carefully calculated asides into my own thoughts and processes to dust my writing with authenticity.

The more I thought about it, the harder it became, I was trying to manufacture authenticity, I was aiming to write in a way that would ease people into my story but only on terms I choose, which in turn I was plucking out of the air. So instead of authenticity I aimed for integrity. I wrote what I felt, and when that helped me clarify the turbulent waters of my emotions and thoughts, and shone light on the segue between my plans and my dreams, and the oceans that stood between them: I acted how I knew I must.

I write early in the morning, it’s when I think most clearly with the first waves of caffeine rushing through my veins. Before work a couple of times a week I’ll sit and find words to convey what I want to say, grateful for the delay not given when I try to speak the same thoughts which often end up in a muddled, confused, sometimes abrupt tone. I’ll head into work exhausted from the emotional energy I have expended on the words I schedule for display later in the day.

I’m taking a break. At the moment I’m off work, I’ve had a long weekend away from twitter, apart from the odd snap posted from Instagram. And tomorrow I head off again. It is good for my soul to disconnect because I don’t always manage my relationship with the online world particularly well.

This is a season for rest. I’ve got a few bits of writing to do, some long promised articles which have slipped below the bottom of the pile, so I won’t be entirely silent. But there will be nothing new on this blog until September. After a constant progression of growth in readership from February until now, August will be a fallow month. A time when the ground is cleared and left without manipulation or exertion. A time when abiding in what already is comes before seeking out what is to come next.

I want to cut off the need to check how many people have read the blog today. I want to remove the frustration when a post I have thrown my all into languishes in double digits.

I want to take an axe to the root of the jealousy when a beautifully crafted and impeccably timed post goes viral. I want to disconnect my worth from the attention I receive.

So this is not a good bye. And I value your words more than you can imagine. In the cliched words of most televised high school break ups, ‘it’s not you, it’s me’.

I need some time alone, some time to gather my thoughts and to recharge. To find emotional security away from affirmation. And to learn the lessons that my desire to be honest has uncovered in myself, and to address the weaknesses I’ve seen displayed as an excuse for bravery.

Until the autumn, you are my friends. And I’ll still be tweeting now and then.