What do I need from a community?

Resident guest author, Tim, gives his unique perspective on our differences, commonality and the importance of community.

Sometimes I need to be part of a community of folk just like me.

Only, since I am unique, and so is he, so is she, so are you, and so, most assuredly, is my M2F transgender cousin, and my other cousin who is camp as a row of tents and a nasty homophobic bigot, I have no idea what you and I have in common. And do I have anything in common with that list of folk?

When I think about it, though, we all have things in common despite, perhaps because of, our differences.


We all have hopes, aspirations, fears, terrors, emotional issues.


The community I need to be a part of has folk who, like me, each in their own way, expresses a little of themselves and does it both anonymously and in public.


This is not a “Let’s Big It Up for Bob’s Blog” post.


Instead, it’s a “Bob provides this unique place for us, whoever we are, to dare, just a little, to learn how to look at our hopes, fears, etc and to make some of those things public anonymously. Let’s use it.”


No one knows who I am, except those of my real life friends I show myself to.


I’m not going to change THE world by posting here. But I have already changed MY world a little by doing so. Everything I write, with the possible exception of this post, everything I write – I write for me. Then I share it with Bob in case he feels it might just help… YOU.

He’s no idea if you’ve taken anything useful away. I certainly have no idea. I wrote it for me, write it for me, to help me to get me into perspective, especially when I am having trouble surviving inside my own head.

I know I take something away from most things I read. I don’t always like the things I find. When it’s advice I see I read it, try to understand it, ask questions until I understand it, and then I either accept it or reject it, each of those routes with a good heart.


What I like especially are comments beneath the blog posts. Obviously, I like mine best.


Er, no. I know what’s in mine. I like YOURS best.

And that’s the ‘community’ I need to be part of. Sometimes slow, sometimes fast, often controversial, always opinionated, I need to be part of something that makes me think.

How about you?

To find out more about 13-year-old Tim, his older self has published Queer Me! Halfway between Flying and Crying


About the author

Bob Brotchie is a counsellor, mindset consultant and creator of "Conscious Living by Design"™. He writes for Anglia Counselling, is featured on various other websites and introduces us to many guest writers all covering topics related to mental health and wellbeing.

Bob provides bespoke counselling services to individuals and couples in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at his Anglia Counselling company office, located near Newmarket in Suffolk, England. Bob also provides professional online counselling, for local, national, and international clients. The therapeutic models offered are bespoke to the client’s needs, especially those in receipt of 'childhood emotional neglect' (CEN), whilst integrating a mindful approach to psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) principles. For clients experiencing trauma and/or phobia, Bob offers EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).


  1. Tim

    I have some questions for our host, for Bob. I’m going to ask them over a period of time. What I hope is that you, the community I hope I’m part of, ask him, me, each other some questions.

    It’s just fine if you don’t.

    But what if you did, and maybe revealed a little of the real you inside your suit of armour?

    • Thank you, Tim.

      I myself have often written about my own experiences and like many others who do so, find the process incredibly cathartic. It isn’t a panacea for complete resolution for our pains, but it definitely opens a door and allows even the smallest chink of light to be shone on what was once held so closely, heavily – as if guarded.

      When replies or acknowledgement about what is shared occurs, the weight lifts even more, just knowing that while we are all unique, we are often in the company of others suffering same or similar experiences which can give rise to our perspectives, associated emotions, and the subsequent behaviours.

  2. Tim

    My first question:

    Bob, what’s your experience of how people change their view of the things that beset them when they start to write about them?

    • Bob Brotchie

      Journalling is a hugely powerful resource when the individual is open to the idea. But I always respect that not everyone find this easy, for a number of reasons!

      See my reply below…

      • Tim

        I’m going to press you on that, because the questions are different! I may have to stamp my foot and insist on a unique answer 😉

  3. Tim

    My second question:

    Bob, how do the folk you talk to react when you suggest to them that they might start to write things down, especially their deepest, most personal things?

    • Robert Brotchie

      Journalling is a hugely powerful resource when the individual is open to the idea. But I always respect that not everyone find this easy, for a number of reasons!

      But those who do enjoy the suggestion I ask them to buy a special journal, something that feels special! This recorded journey can become the owners closest friend and confident and is a place where typo’s, spelling, and grammar matter not! In fact, a core purpose in addition to recording the individuals journey is to express exactly whatever they want to write. The more expressive the better, the more expletives the better!

      When, over time, we look back through our journals we can ‘see’ how things have moved on and situations that we thought would never pass – have.

      • Tim

        Does it need to be some form of Journal? I used something different. Actually, I used many different things. Some of that is to come in a later post, though 🙂

  4. Sonya

    Great post, Tim. I enjoy reading them all. However, your intro here did make me smile! 🙂

    • Tim

      I had to meet “row of tents’ boi last week at a family funeral. He chose to be civil, at least to my face. So did I, both to his and behind his bigoted back.

      It struck me then that despite he and I having hopes and fears and other possibly shared aspirations, he and I were not destined to be part of the same community.

      And yet, were he online here, sharing himself anonymously, I would both not know and not care *who* he is. I wonder of that is a virtue of online communities?

      We can be whoever we need to be when online. I happen to be as you see. Others not so much. I have met a gentleman my age in a forum who presented as his 13 year old self online. He used an online community to work out that, though he had been the subject of sexual abuse at that age, he had reached contentment about it. He asked the questions he ought to have been able to ask a trusted adult back then, and he received today’s answers from a variety of people.

      As he relaxed inside his 60 year old true self he found that he was able to resolve the abuse and decide on his personal route forward. He received advice, and chose not to tell us which advice he accepted and which he rejected. He was not a well man. He told me he was able to reach his death content that he had resolved his issues.

      Such is, to me, the benefit of online communities. The ability to interact with strangers.

      • Sonya

        That’s very interesting, Tim. Generally, we tend to rush passed all that goes on around us (online and in real life) but life and people are so much more interesting when we can take time to chill. I think it can help us to appreciate more and judge less; even if we don’t fully understand the ins and outs, it can make a difference.

  5. Tim

    Third question:

    Bob, Does it matter whether folk show what they’ve written to a trusted person or not? DO you see pros and cons of writing and sharing vs writing and keeping to one’s self?

    • We might baulk at the idea of sharing intimate experiences, emotions, beliefs, values and behaviours with someone not known to us, but no one has always been known to us! Every person, including our parents, were at the outset people we did not know! As a counsellor, individuals often pluck up the courage to visit me, knowing nothing tangible. But after the first session, they and I are conversing, exploring and challenging perceptions as if we’d known each other all our lives!

      But for some, the sensitivity and perhaps introversion is so strong, maybe it’s a sense of ‘shame’ holding them, that to write ‘anon’, or to oneself, is felt the only way at that time. But this is only my experience. I too wonder what others might think?

  6. Tim

    Fourth question:

    Bob, how similar do you think posting a comment here is to taking a decision to wrote down something personal?

    I feel emotionally that there is a difference, but I can’t put my finger on why.

    • Q:4 – I would suggest that writing to ourselves is helpful, but less validating than sharing with others!
      When we have our thoughts acknowledged, whether there is agreement, empathy, or other, we feel validated. There is no doubt, (or doubt can be removed), when I know I have been heard by a.n.other.

      • Tim

        What would you say to someone who is almost ready to press the “Post Comment” button but cannot quite yet do it?

        • Ooh!That IS a good question!

          I guess to ask them to consider how well smaller choices such as this have worked out before? E.g. Do they find themselves regularly regretting decisions such as these? But that question is very specific. We’re not talking about a marriage failure here!

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