I removed over 1,000 posts.
It was time.
I’ve done this before, whittling down the blog posts that live here. I’ve been writing on this blog since 2008, and we—this blog and myself—have seen some things.
In 2014 (I think?), I paid someone to redesign my blog and move it to a bigger server. While that was happening, I deleted about 100 blog posts. Just dumb stuff I had written as I tried to find my voice on the world wide web. I don’t regret taking them down, but I regret deleting them completely. Did I not know about reverting posts to drafts? Did I not understand I could take them down, but still keep them for myself?
That’s what I did this time: slowly read through over 1,400 blog posts and reverted most of them to drafts. They still exist, and I can access them anytime I want, but they’re not for public consumption anymore.
I did this for a number of reasons.
Some of the blog posts were just dumb. Why did I post that? Who cares about that? Why did I take the time to even write that nonsense?
Some of the blog posts were not who I am anymore. I took down most of the fashion/clothes posts. Remember when I tried to be a fashion blogger? I hope you don’t. I really hope you don’t. I’d taken down a ton of those a few years ago (Copycat Wednesday, anyone?), but many still existed. I left a few up for old times’ sake—to keep me humble and slightly embarrassed—but most of them are gone now. RIP fashionable Mary. You will not be missed.
Some of the blog posts were sponsored content I don’t care about anymore. Also, no one paid me enough money to keep those on my site for years. If Lenovo or Kindle or Thermos want those lame posts back up, they can send me another check. I’ll also accept PayPal or Venmo.
Some of the blog posts were things I don’t believe anymore.
As I figured out what I wanted to write about on the internet, I wrote about lots of things. Some of them don’t need to be read anymore. I’ve learned better ways, learned better truths, learned where I was wrong. I don’t want bad theology I once believed to harm people who might stumble across something I’ve read. It’s not helpful or needed. At times, I wrote things unaware of the privilege I was operating from. How my advice wasn’t as simple as I made it out to be.
I’m so glad I never wrote a book in my 20s or 30s. I’d die to know some of the things I had once believed were out there forever, and I couldn’t take them back. I know the internet is forever, but it’s a little less forever than a published book. (Right? Please say yes.)
Recently, I read a self-help book. The author is in her late twenties and full of life experiences she’s learned lessons from and feels like everyone else should know them too. I cringed a lot while I read her book. I already know she’s going to look back in a decade and wish she hadn’t written some of the things she did. Experience is a hard teacher, and we all have to do it one way or another. Hers will just be very, very public.
Reading my old blog posts through the lens of a 40-year-old woman who’s had years of therapy was uncomfortable. I could see how hard I was trying and failing, how much energy I was exerting to keep a failing marriage alive, how some of the things I was doing was enabling a really sick husband. I left a few of those posts up. Not because I loved them, but because if anyone spent the time to go back to them, they probably knew our marriage story, and it felt important to show some of the chaos and heartache in real time.
Maybe one day I’ll feel different and remove them. Maybe not. I reserve the right to change my mind about anything I post at anytime. I’m the one paying the bills to keep the lights on. [such a dad thing to say]
I’ve spend the past 3-ish years removing pictures of my daughters from the internet. I started with my Instagram account and archived all their little toddler and baby pictures. Then I removed most things they were featured in. I loved those pictures, but they’re for us and not the world. Last year, I deleted Facebook and all the images I’d posted of them there. I’d stopped posting their pictures on Facebook around 2018, but deleting my account took care of all the older ones.
The past few months, I removed most pictures of my girls from this space as well.
Some still exist, don’t get me wrong. There are a few family photos and travel posts still up. And some random other ones. But they don’t need to be on the internet because of me anymore. I don’t post their pictures on Instagram unless I have their permission and usually not in any permanent spots. I took away some of their autonomy when they were younger, and I wish I hadn’t. I’m part of the first generation of parents raising kids in a digital age, and I think most of us spent a little too much time posting pictures of our kids for people (and strangers) to see.
I’d do things differently now. I can’t change the past, but I can edit it from my WordPress dashboard. So I did.
I don’t want to disappear from the internet. I mostly like it here. But I want to show up in a new way.
Maybe you’ve noticed pictures of my children’s faces don’t really show up in blog posts much anymore. There are a lot of pictures of their backs. If they’re in pictures, they’re small and out of focus, they’re wearing masks or peeking out of water. That’s intentional. This is my blog, not theirs. Their peers are on the internet, and my kids should get to decide how they show up on it. Plus, I don’t want to give estranged family members access—in any form—to my children. They don’t deserve that. They don’t deserve even a glimpse of my magical children.
Truthfully, I didn’t think anyone would notice or care this happened. I didn’t even plan to mention it. But I forget that even though I have been very sporadic about writing here, people still read my words and pay attention to this space. I know it’s true because I see the blog stats each month when WordPress emails them to me. Every month, I’m surprised at the traffic to this dusty little place.
I had removed about 500 posts when I got a message from a loyal reader asking about a post she loved but couldn’t find. Her sister was getting married, and she wanted to send it to her. It’s gone, I said. I’m cleaning house and taking down things that might misrepresent what I believe now. I just don’t want to harm anyone with my bad theology.
She said she understood and appreciated it. Then she said, please don’t ever take down ‘My Grandmothers’ Hands.’ It’s one of my favorite posts.
I assured her it wasn’t going anywhere.
There’s still a lot of stuff here. About 300 posts, to be specific. Some of the writing is good. Some of the writing is not good. I’m glad I’ve learned and grown and gotten better at some things. I still have a lot to learn. I still have a lot of growing to do. Which means more posts might come down one day. I’m sure I’ve missed some things I should probably take down right now.
A lot of reading my old blog posts was a practice in giving myself grace.
I’ll give myself that going forward too, as I stretch my blog post muscles and find my footing here once again. I hope you’ll stick around to see how it goes.