When I started blogging I was super careful and cautious. Not with my words
because I'm usually always sassy but with my identity. I didnt say where we were, what our names were, or show any pictures. Eventually, I started a twitter page with a fake name and a cartoon avatar as my image. I started connecting with other women who were like me and started connecting with other bloggers. I got pregnant with my first and people online were genuinely excited for me. I had her and I just wanted to share my joy with everyone, so I shared parts of newborn pictures without her face in it. The internet had started to feel safe.
Eventually, my hubby and I decided it was safe to show my face around these parts and it was all very anticlimactic. I started #TheGirlBehindTheBlog and started to really get to know women online. I still didnt share my daughter's name but I shared her picture. Eventually, I went to an event
that shall not be named and spent the weekend with bloggers in real life. I met some really awesome women, one of whom is still a close friend up until this day. The internet felt a little safer.
I heard about The Influence Conference and just loved the heart behind it. I went to the first year and met AMAZING women. I even told some of them my daughter's name. Later, I got pregnant with my second child. I was offered a position on The Influence Network team. I got super close with these women (they are the real deal) and had actual real life friendships with them. A month before last year's conference we finally decided it would be ok to share the girl's names on here. The internet felt even safer.
It felt so safe, in fact, that my husband came with me to the conference. He saw with his own two eyes what I had known all along. THE INTERNET IS REAL. God is using The Influence Network to encourage women and spread the Good News and we got to tangibly touch it. The internet felt safer, and more than that, it felt good.
And it is. It is so so good.
But this week happened. And for many the internet felt empowering and like an awesome tool to reach out to others but for me? For my family? It started to feel unsafe again. I feel like I spend my time in this really beautiful online community and it has made me feel super safe and secure because I know it is real and I know that is what God had called me to. And to be honest y'all, I forget. I forget about what else is out there, about how some people really feel and how it can directly effect my family, due to our unique situation.
So I need to be safe again, for my family.. for my kids.. for my husband. Y'all, this decision has come through a lot of prayer and a lot of tears but I know that this is what God is calling me to right now. I don't super know what all of it will look like. I know I will definitely be shutting this site down (so if there are any recipes you want to save, do it now!). I will also be shutting down my twitter and have already shut down my facebook page. I am already in the process of making my instagram super private by removing followers, which let me tell you, is heart breaking with every single person.
I will still be at Influence Conference this year and this non-hugger will be handing out hugs instead of just awkwardly standing close to people. I promise its going to be SO awesome and I will again be SO a
wkward funny on stage. I'll just be attending the life track instead of the strategy track. My team has been so supportive and if y'all are looking for some women who will stand behind you, like when things get REAL, these women of the Influence Network are them.
This week, I am looking at all of your faces and feeling simultaneously blessed by all your friendship and support over the last few years and really really sad. I have had so many real and deep conversations online. I have grieved your losses and praised with you in your gains. We have laughed, and disagreed, and prayed for each other. I have made real and deep and true friendships. I have loved y'all and have felt loved by you. And I am so grateful.
This feels like that thing when high school is over and you love the people but you know you have to move on and you're not exactly sure what that looks like for everyone and you laugh and you cry and you write "keep in touch" because it feels better than saying "I'm sure but I'm scared and I care about you but I don't know what our relationship will look like in the future."
So, dear friends of the internet. Thank you and I love you.
KIT xoxo Ashley