[NOTE – this post is a little longer than usual but only becuase I was given so much to think about by some very cool people.]
I’ve been having a bit of an identity crisis lately. (No, I’m not.) Yes, I am.
I don't know what this photo has to do with this post, but I took while working in WY. Bare bones and cloudy sky. It just seems to fit.
It’s not easy, you see. I try — and try very hard — to be “authentic Stasha” all day, everyday, but since creating my blog I’ve been running into problems. When I first started writing I included my first and last name as well as links to my work blog because (I didn’t have anything to say) I really didn’t think anyone would read it. I was wrong.
Next thing I knew people were not only reading it but commenting on it so I became (swelled with pride) a bit more confident and started telling people about it, including friends and a family member. I included a little “Family Warning Label” in one section and believed that would prevent any hard feelings or family misunderstandings. (Ah, not quite but also, not too bad. Not yet.)
Soon, emboldened by my newfound (carelessness) confidence I was writing about my trips to nudist resorts, my tattoo, my issues with fatness, family, sex, Brazilian waxing, money. But I also wrote about a particularly painful incident satisfied that not using the person’s name (and the fact that I hadn’t discussed the incident with more than three fucking people) would allow me to write about what I’d learned but also protect me and them from further hurt. Again, I was (stupid) wrong. Shortly thereafter I received a six-page, single-spaced letter detailing my shortcomings, listing the many ways how I’d hurt the person, and to sum up was really (quite a fuckin’ bitch) very thoughtless.
In the meantime, in addition to people reading my blog, I’d started to follow a number of blogs of people I find fascinating — you’ll find some of them listed on the right side of the screen — not all of them, ahem, safe for work. I loved the perspectives, the mind-stretching, the challenge (Oh for Christ sake, just say it!), the titillation of their words. I wanted to engage back, to comment and question, but I didn’t dare because “what if.” What if someone reading MY blog clicks through to this blog and thinks I, like Goose, am a polyamorist? What if they click through to this one and assume I’m like Figleaf, a sex blogger? God knows what they’d think about this one! (So what if they do? Fuck ’em, I say!) I can’t just say to hell with people. I can’t. People know me. (Do they?)
Actually, I know plenty of people who would probably think poorly of me if they knew what I read (let alone what you do!) on a regular basis. (They most likely don’t like your perceived politics either. Idjits.) They’d make assumptions, take positions, and generally engage in speculative condemnation based on whispers of misinformation and unverified interpretations. I wonder though, if these same people would elevate their perception of me based on some of my other regular reads. You really can’t go wrong with Joan, Louis, or Kelly. Nothing controversial, not really, and still very thought-provoking. I mean, how outrageous could it really be? These people blog under their own names. Just like me. (Exactly. Just because they don’t write about the intimate details of their sex lives doesn’t mean they don’t have them.)
I find myself starting to split in two — an outer voice or “okay-for-public-consumption-Stasha “and (“keep-your-fuckin’-mouth-shut-Stasha”) and an inner voice which is exactly what I didn’t want to do when I started writing. You see, I don’t really know these “public” people any more than I know the anonymous ones. I know what they’ve each chosen to reveal and nothing more. All else, is purely speculation on my part.
My anonymous blogger friends (Really? You think you can call them friends? A bit presumptuous, don’t you think?) — OK, so I’m a fan! Shut it! — like Goose, Sadie, Figleaf, and Hubman among others reveal intimate moments of their inner and outer lives with a body of work that in some cases spans years and are created and presented through their “inner voice.” I’ve seen pictures of them half-neckid, read smokin’ hot excerpts from real life sex-capades along side of heart wrenching emotional revelations that in some cases make me ache with their pain and loss. By choosing to remain anonymous they have the freedom to reveal their souls, if they so desire. But I cannot touch or see them so it is hard for them to be real. Without the mundane context of daily life, it’s hard sometimes to see them as more than fictional characters in their own stories. As one wrote when I asked about their decision to blog anonymously she said “… anonymity was freeing but lonely,  the impact of outing was powerful but more inhibiting.” She went on to add “How free can I be if you can see me? How real is it if you don’t? How safe are we regardless?” To say I’m developing a love for this fierce woman who is both phantom and spirit would be an understatement (and fuck you if you have to take a prurient view of that just because she lives her life differently from you.) Hey! Back the hell up, inner voice! You don’t know what the heck people think! (Okaayyy. I’ll be quiet.)
Sorry. I’m back.
But the issue of safety is crucial. In fact, the need for folks to conceal their identities is directly related to being able to work and finances, social acceptance, being considered “good parents” (Dr. Phil, you’re an idiot), and in general to live an unmolested life. Another behind-the-curtain blogger wrote that some days he’d rather not be anonymous and that there are things “I’d like to talk about or comment on, but doing so would give away too much, so I refrain. That being said, as friendships develop with people I meet through my blog, I do let my guard down and have shared my real name, occupation, and even face pictures with those I trust.” (Emphasis added by your truly.)
I trusted the three people I mentioned previously, the ones to whom I revealed my friendship ending post. One of them was my Beloved, who I’m certain maintained the confidence, and the other two were close friends of mine as well as the person I wrote about. I don’t know who told the woman about my post (Shit, she couldv’e stumbled on it quite innocently. Hah!) but I doubt (No, you choose not to believe) the information was not revealed maliciously but revealed it was; and the damage is irreparable.
So there’s the rub. Words can wound and things said cannot be unsaid. (And people — friends, family — haven’t hurt you, on purpose or because of their own bullshit? Isn’t that exactly what your writing about? Isn’t that the freakin’ point of learning lessons and how you propose to grow?!) In some cases, as with the more risqué material, the risk to financial security is enough to warrant an iron curtain approach. But relationships are more precious, more fragile, so the discretion is not just advised, it’s required. In some cases, you just don’t want to drag someone into your lone version of a shared history. Figleaf, an erudite and prolific critical thinker, makes a wonderful case for not bringing former lovers into his musings while my friend Joan — a powerful, funny, and insightful writer — looks a little closer to home. She wrote “I don’t think I regret using my own name, although I admit I have made the internal commitment NOT to address certain subjects that would upset family members who will undoubtedly read it. I have been absolutely truthful with everything I have written thus far, because I’ve just avoided the stuff that I would LIKE to write, but I know will be hurtful.”
I don’t want to hurt anybody (not on purpose, anyway) but I don’t want to avoid writing about what I want to write about. But that’s just a bit selfish and shortsighted isn’t it? It isn’t just that my brother reads my words on occasion, apparently his co-workers do as well. And while it may not be too much to ask him to cut me some slack — after all, he did throw me out of a treehouse once — but to require people who don’t know our shared, fucked up, and in so many ways eternally bonded past to get that image out of their heads is just unrealistic. (Oh, and for fairness sake, I once bit him so badly I took a chunk out of his arm. Ah, sibling rivalry!)
However, Joan has something in common with a woman with whom she has almost nothing in common — Britni. Oh. My. God. That Britni’s shameless. Not only does Britni write about her life in BDSM she uses her own name and posts face pictures, nude pictures and, great googley-moogley, explicit SEX pictures of herself on her site. She’s admittedly “open, honest, blunt, sexual, and inappropriate” but her reasons for being “out” are… (fuckin’ fierce) elegant in their simplicity. After having an anonymous blog discovered and revealed and then a former, spiteful and determined boyfriend (asshole) “eventually found it, printed out a bunch of shit, and attempted to ruin my life with it. At that point, I decided that if people wanted to find the blog that badly, they would. And so, I said fuck it. And I decided to just be me. The content didn’t change, the only difference was that I showed my face.” But Britni, when asked if her family read her blog replied, in her deliciously succinct fashion “Haha! Hell no!! They know I’m sexually open but wouldn’t get the BDSM stuff.” Protection from hurt and rejection, as well as of the heart and feelings of our love ones, runs deep in us all.
Whether you’re on the jagged edge of “polite society” or its poster child, whether your family history is dark and painful or enviously open and supportive, it would take a special kind of person (bitch) to actively or thoughtlessly bring them pain. The question is, around what do you circle the wagons? For some, immediate family is the limit. For others, engendering ill-will in people you don’t like, who apparently don’t like you (and certainly behave as if they don’t), who aren’t even factors in your life, and whose “love” is so tenuous is requires complete suppression of your true self and the default abdication of your own happiness is simply too much to bear.
Another excellent point was added by Kelly. Like Joan she blogs under her own name and works hard not to invade the privacy of friends and loved ones as she navigates the life of being a modern-day Bachelor Girl. She adds “I don’t usually write about dates unless they’re horrid, and I know I would never want to see them again or even be friends with them, which is rare. But I can’t imagine that if I had a steady boyfriend, I wouldn’t write about him with some regularity. It’ll be interesting to see how the future Mr. Bachelor Girl feels about becoming blog fodder.” Yeah. Nobody asks to be blog fodder and there’s definitely a clear line between honest conveyance of people and events and just being downright fuckin’ rude.
So lately I’ve been giving some thought to starting another, anonymous, blog (Yes! I gotta be me!!) but I don’t have the time (Nooo!!! You idiot!!) and quite frankly, the interest. You see, I found the person who spoke most directly to me, who seemed to reach into my chest, grab my heart, rip it forward and show it to me, was a man I haven’t seen in 25 years. Louis and I were children together with nothing in common other than geography and the band. He, too, blogs under his own name (and not regularly enough! Get on it, soldier!) and he added this to the conversation. I included the whole thing; all emphasis added by me.
- “While I understand the urge (and need sometimes) to blog anonymously, I get a certain amount of self-satisfaction and therapeutic satisfaction out of blogging under my own name. Also, I am opposed to the notion of feeling “cowardly” by blogging anonymously. [(Did I mention Louis is a Marine?)] I always want to feel that I’m unafraid of the controversies that may arise from posting articles under my own name. My thought is that people will think what they want about you anyway; so why not tackle the taboo issues that affect our everyday living? Sex, violence, racism, etc., are REAL. So, why not allow a REAL person to express their feelings about it. You are a GREAT writer — a helluva lot better than I. You have a talent — a gift, no less! [(Blush)] Your subjects and your style are as unique as your fingerprints and it would be a crime (Did I also mention Louis is a lawyer?) for you not to associate your writings with your personality and your identity. I hope this has helped and encouraged you — but mostly, I hope that you are prompted to expand into areas where your sense of discretion has arisen in the past. DO YOUR THING!! Venture out of the “safe” issues and dive headlong into the cynical, controversial and down-right gritty if necessary. Whatever! As long as you stay uniquely . . . “Stasha.”
I have spent way, way too much time worrying about what people think, a lifetime in fact. Like so many of us, I have hidden my thoughts, hopes, dreams, desires, fears, failures, and triumphs from those who I would like to get to know (and who I would like to get to know me) and then sat around pickle-pussed and pouty-faced because “no one understands me.” I have lived my life to avoid pain (to myself and others) rather than embracing opportunity and adventure and respecting the rights (and obligations) of other to do the same. I have courted the high opinion of morons, and eschewed the company of those who were different, not of me, but different from what other people thought I should be.
So Stasha will remain “the Dogged Pursuit” though I might create a little nom-de-guerre for my more private comments (That’s right. I ain’t goin’ nowhere.) which might invade the privacy or have the potential to cause undue pain to those I love. I’ll let my anonymous friends know what it is so you’ll recognize me when I show up in your comment fields.
Finally, thank you to everyone who answered my little query — Goose, Hubman, Britni, Kelly, Joan, and Louis. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts, and most importantly, your stories and your hearts with me. We are, indeed, all in a dogged pursuit.
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