breaking upAlthough some may disagree with me, I think that writing about a painful experience — be it the death of a loved one, a difficult life challenge or even heartbreak — can be cathartic and an important part of the healing process. But, based on my own experience blogging about a painful breakup, I would caution anyone to think it over first, take time to heal a little and carefully consider the forum and the audience your story will reach.

Way back in 2008, before I was full-time blogger, I had a personal blog where I used to take out my frustrations, post pictures of vacations and write predictions about who would win Project Runway. It was just a little blogspot blog that only a few people read, most of them finding their way there from my Facebook page. My boyfriend’s dad was my most consistent reader, and over the course of my two-year-plus relationship we had bonded over the simple joys of blogging. When that boyfriend and I broke up in a most spectacular fashion, I wanted to send a note to his family telling them that I still cared about them and that I would miss them, but I thought it was too soon and too presumptuous of me to send a letter or an email. So, I put my thoughts down in my blog.

It took me over a month to write and edit the piece I eventually published (which I won’t link to here mostly because I’m too embarrassed to share it), and I had friends read it first to make sure I didn’t sound too bitter or hurt. I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to share my broken heart and bruised ego with the world, and I ultimately decided to do it because once I pressed “Publish” I felt a huge weight lift off of me. I had put into words all the ways I felt hurt without going into too much detail, and I had wished everyone well. I don’t regret it.

Since then, I have written about this same ex on occasion, but I think time and distance from the initial heartbreak has allowed me to gain some insight into the situation. I have not blogged about a more recent breakup (and I don’t really plan to), but the urge to unload some of my feelings might strike me at some point. If I think that other people might empathize with me, or I can offer some advice to others, than I will.

That’s ultimately the point in blogging — isn’t it? Yes, I find reading others’ stories about breakups fascinating, but in a trainwreck sort of way: I want to see if they felt the same way I did. Plus, I just can’t look away. But for a blog post to be meaningful without being self-indulgent, it needs to address some issue that other people can relate to while also offering hope or advice. It can’t just retell how awful your ex was and recount all the ways he was horrible to you. I can see how some would take issue with that sort of blog post.

Breakups are just one part of life that we can draw on to tell compelling and meaningful stories on the Internet. It may make us feel good to write about them, but that doesn’t mean that we should, especially in those first few hours and days when the wounds are fresh and our hearts are broken. Take a beat and consider whether it’s a good idea to share your hurt with the world. Keep in mind the Internet can be just as merciless as your ex, maybe even more.