Perils of Divorced Pauline

The Names Have Been Changed, But the Story Is True


April 05
World-class gnarly divorce survivor. Custody Battle blogger with a sense of humor. Mom. Wife. Cat-Lover. Visit me at or on Twitter @divorcedpauline.


JANUARY 19, 2012 10:03AM

Dooce Divorce

Rate: 9 Flag

Heather Armstrong aka Dooce

"Dooce Divorce" was the search engine referral that began to appear on my site stats page a couple weeks ago. This was my first glimmer that the power-blogging husband and wife team Heather and Jon Armstrong, aka Dooce and Blurb, might be breaking up.

I didn't think much of it at first. Because I write a blog about divorce and I reference other bloggers and writers I admire, I often get odd search engine referrals incorporating the two. A lot of people, for instance, think that Anne Lamott is divorced, because terms such as "who is Anne Lamott's ex-husband?" lead to my site. Sometimes I wish search engine referrals came with an e-mail or twitter address so I could respond with, "if you actually read any of Anne Lamott's books, you would know she has never been married" or "honestly, I have no idea if Dooce is getting divorced."

Except that now I do, and so does the rest of the blogosphere. Or at least we know she and her husband are separating, as they announced in their respective blogs on January 17, Dooce here, and Blurbomat here. I suspected that there was more to the rumor than rumor yesterday went my traffic spiked from oodles of  "dooce divorce" and "dooce divorcing" search referral terms.

So I googled "dooce divorce," and saw the headlines from the Armstrongs' individual blogs announcing that they were, indeed, commencing a "trial separation." Both blogs were raw and poignant, Dooce's in an in-the-moment way, and Blurb's in a my-head-is-spinning-because-I-need-a-place-to-live-and-a-new-job kind of way.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Armstrongs, Heather is the writer and creative force behind Dooce, while her husband is the web designer and in-house techie. They are kind of the Ricky and Lucy of the internet, both ridiculously photogenic and possessed of star quality, while also being kooky, vulnerable, and uniquely engaging.

Dooce blogged her way through severe post-partum depression, a psychiatric hospitalization, the births of two fabulously good-looking children, and more mundane happenings such as broken refrigerators. And while blogging about every crevice of her personal life, she blogged her way into a one-woman blogging empire, a big fat house in Salt Lake City, and a six-figure income that supports her family.

Except now Jon appears to be out of work. But anyway.

I scanned the hundreds of comments in response to each of their blog posts and I had two reactions:

1. Relief, but surprise, that no trolls were casting judgment. All the comments that I have read have been sensitive, heartfelt and supportive. Considering all the divorce backlash skulking around the internet these days, I was really sort of stunned that no one was harpooning the characters of Dooce and Blurb. No one was deriding them for being selfish derelicts en route to ruining their kids for life. Which are the kinds of comments most divorced bloggers get. If you don't believe me, read here.

And so I got to wondering why everyone was making nice. Don't get me wrong -- I think couples announcing marital dissolution should only be offered gentle condolences. But, given the pervasive nastiness on the internet, it did strike me that people were perhaps colluding -- agreeing to things they did not actually agree with but were afraid to say otherwise.

But why?

Part of the answer, I think, has to do with the way Dooce draws readers in, makes us feel they we are guests in her living room. Her honest handling of her mental health issues made others feel less alone, and, I think, somewhat inspired: if Dooce cracked up but still hit the blogging motherlode, then there's hope for me!

I don't know what the other part of the answer is. But upon reading news of the Dooce-Blurb separation, this was my second observation:

2) Dooce is the blog version of Reality TV. We see this couple and their kids up close. All their foibles and weaknesses. She blogs about her separation because she blogs about everything: miscarriages, kitchen remodels, breastfeeding. Heather and Jon are younger than I am (in their 30s) and they belong to a generation that doesn't delineate private and public in the same way that do those of us in the geriatric set (okay, in the fumes of our forties).

So the thought that kept bouncing around in my head when I read their posts, and the torrents of sympathy comments, was: why would anyone want to go through a divorce publicly? Unless they're a Kardashian, which the Armstrongs are decidedly not.

What they are embarking on is wrenching, beyond description. Will they look back and regret exposing themselves? Will their kids (the older one is eight) read about their parents' separation online and be traumatized more than they already are? Of course their daughters have grown up knowing their parents only as celebrities, so this might not be as weird as it appears to me to be.

And what if their trial separation segues into a divorce, which then turns ugly? How would this development affect their following and Dooce's status as the ultimate Mommy Blogger? Will readers feel the need to take sides? Will there be a Team Dooce and a Team Blurb?

I blog about divorce, but mine is in the past. I blog about my son's issues, which are still unfolding, but I hide him -- and myself -- behind  pseudonyms. No one knows his name, where he lives, what he looks like. No one knows what anyone in my family looks like. I like the protection that the pseudonym offers us, and me-- that I can go about my day and no one has to know about the tawdry details of my train-wreck of a marriage and custody battle -- unless I choose to tell them.

But maybe if I was the Internet's Sweetheart I wouldn't care.

What about you? Would you use your real name to blog about something as intimate as wrenching as divorce, while you're going through it? 

Or would you use a pseudonym so you could vent discreetly? 


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I feel bad for them, though I didn't know about their blogging empire. Divorce sucks for just about everyone. I hope they can work things out, or, at the very least, have as amicable a divorce as possible.

As for your question, I think I might blog about something like that (I use my real name already), unless it meant severely damaging my kids. If that were the case, I'd still blog about it, but use a pseudonym. I think the fact that we can be so open online is a great thing, because it can help bring comfort, perspective, and advice to others going through the same thing.

Thanks for another thoughtful - and thought-provoking - post.
Since you asked. . .

Even with a pseudonym it is hard for me to imagine writing publicly about something wrenching such as divorce or my children's problems. The fear of accidentally violating my loved ones' privacy keeps me from doing so. It might seem egotistical to think anyone would care to figure out who I am, but the world can be surprisingly small.

After reading your post I checked out the Dooce blog and I had such mixed feelings about it. On the one hand I have admire her for creating the life she wanted--so far, anyway--for herself and her family. On the other hand, at what cost? I used to have the same mixed feelings about Joyce Maynard, who shared quite personal information about her familiy and marriage in a very enjoyable newspaper column pre-internet.

But then, as a reader I'm the beneficiary of many wonderful blogs here on OS.
♥╚═══╝╚╝╚╝╚═══╩═══╝─╚ for making this divorce scenario oh so fascinating.
Dooce was the first blog I ever sort of "followed." She hooked me in when she reposted a hysterical letter she had received from a woman about Mormons and headless women. Had to be there I guess. Anyway, such sad news and who will get the dogs I wonder...
If I wrote under a pseudonym, my writing might be more revealing. But maybe not. I write about how things make me feel and it's only from my perspective. ~r
I don't judge people for their feelings or things they can't actually control. If others judge that and attack for it, then I assume the attacker has something wrong with them. Everyone makes mistakes but if someone truly has bad behavior, and others treat them badly because of it, then it's to be expected.

I don't think having an illness is a bad behavior and something to be ashamed of. I haven't read the blog but perhaps the bloggers in general treat their families and others well and readers are responding to that. Divorce is a painful wrenching and if the parties are trying to be respectful then they should be respected. Of course the net is full of disrespectful people.

Using a pseudonym I've still had people denigrate me for things I couldn't control, I just assume those are bad people and move on. I have the same thinking as daisy jane, there are too many dangerous people out there for me to expose myself freely.
Hi Pauline,
Thanks for sharing about this. I haven't visited Dooce in awhile and didn't know. Dooce was one of the reasons I got into blogging-- it fired up my competitive streak. I figured, she (and so many other mommy bloggers) are not even trained writers and they're having success, and I have been writing since I was a kid and have a journalism degree and lots of paid, published pieces to my credit, so... why not me, too? I also felt like all these women who were being so open and honest about the "travails" of babyhood and toddlerhood have no idea what "tough" is until those precious darlings reach the teen years, and so I thought some honesty about what I was going through with teenage daughters might be more relatable to a certain audience out there...and at the same time, it would help me in knowing I wasn't alone. Now that I've been doing this for three years, it's interesting that I usually get the most comments (and sympathy) when I'm brutally honest about what's going on around here, but I usually hold back on some of the details so as not to embarrass my kids too much-- another situation those mommy bloggers of young kids haven't had to face yet. Wonder how honest Dooce will be when her kids start using Facebook? When your kids are old enough to be Internet savvy, and read your blog once in awhile, and so do their friends, and yes, even their teachers and coaches, you have to be careful, if you care at all about your children. Which is why sometimes I wished I kept the blog's authorship private, as you do with your blog. My posts would sure be a lot more jaw dropping if I did! I don't put my name out there in bold letters, but it's not hard to find out with a few clicks, and I post photos as well... I guess one of the reasons I didn't hide the authorship was actually as a way to possibly help lessen all the angry teen outbursts around here, i.e., maybe they'll think twice about insulting me or screaming or cursing at me because it may just show up on my blog...but in the heat of the moment, I don't think they think about that!
I use other names because I like them. It probably would not be too hard to figure out who I am if somebody really wanted to. Sometimes I am too revealing on the internet and then regret it later.
I have very mixed feelings about using real names.

I'm not hesitant about using first names, but prefer to blog using a name I used to use in real life (another life forty years ago).

In the end, if you use photos in the blogs and reveal things in a way you have some control over you can be found if someone wants to.

I don't know the bloggers you mentioned, but then having a few of my own and just trying to read and comment on those who take their time to read me is enough of the blog-world for me. Maybe.

Thanks for coming by. I'll be back, you are now on my list!
Ummmm hello? You seriously think Dooce didn't get a single negative comment?!? She took them all down, of course, and only left up the ones from her groupies that fawn all over her no matter what she says or does. Search for "Dooce Divorce" again and you'll find them all.