The thing is, I don't really believe in friends-locking. The whole point of a blog, for me, is to live openly, declaratively. I find that a tremendously valuable thing for my personal development, to try hard not to be ashamed of anything I experience or feel or do. Filtering is great for some people--everyone chooses how to run their online space--but for me it is an admission of not being able to talk about something, which means not having the kind of online life I want, where I can talk about anything, and I don't like that, on a visceral level.
This is obviously a more fraught issue since I started writing books and being on Twitter celebrity lists (what). There are endless debates on what level of self to share. But I want to share. Most of my relationships started and/or are continued online. I don't draw a distinction, socially, between the worlds. So I started to post this under a heavy filter and then decided I was only doing that because I don't want to hear (again) what a degenerate I am for one reason or another. And because LJ is so essay-geared, and sometimes I just don't have the answers, even at the end of the post.
But I refuse to let my life as a writer determine a level of secrecy I don't want. So here I go. There's a lot of self-outing in here, so run now if you don't want to know.
Reading passionandsoul 's post about his kink history brought up a lot of issues for me, about sex, partly, but mainly about identity.
I emphatically do not have that history. My early upbringing, as I've mentioned, was Christian Scientist, and though my adolescence was much more secular, and I understood about sex early on, my childhood was pretty damn sheltered and I just didn't develop that sexual muscle til much late. Add to that that I have this terrible habit of being attracted to severely repressed people and even when I wanted to lose my virginity as a teenager, my boyfriend felt it was wrong (he wasn't Christian or anything like it, pagan, in fact. Just deeply self-loathing and full of body-hate) and we should wait until we were 18 and legal. I couldn't give my virginity away, let alone lose it, like, just tripping over a guy and whoops. The first man I ended up marrying was slightly less repressed, but just body-hating and horrified by any steps I might have wanted to take outside the standard. So for me, sex could never be a journey--I never had anyone to take it with me, and for awhile, in my early twenties, I just decided I was frigid and cut sex out of my life entirely.
Obviously, things are different now. I got out of that mess. Though I still feel those old ghosts of denying anything but the activity of my mind and assuming by default that I am defective. But I look at that history and though there is horror there, there is also such tremendous self-knowledge, surety. And where there is not, there is a quest for it.
And this is a strange thing to realize about myself. Which is hard to put into words, and has to be approached in circles.
See, I like Leather. I like power play. I like bondage. I like boys and I like girls. I've been monogamous and I've been poly. I like all kinds of things. But nothing, not even kink as a whole or even sex itself, has ever driven me to the point where it became a massive portion of my identity. Or even a fair portion. The only thing I can point to that does is being a writer (and a reader)--but calling yourself a writer is still and forever fraught, and discussing it as an identity sounds arrogant. And who claims Reader as an identity? The point is, I could never even take those What Animal Are You? tests because to choose one image for myself, the way so many pagans seem to be able to do, is impossible for me. I float. I don't fix.
And while there's power in that, I envy knowing, with all your being, that something defines you. That you are part of a Leather Family and that fulfills something deep in you, that couldn't be fulfilled by anything else. That you are a shaman bound to a Bear God. That...anything, that anything definite. For someone who has spent the majority of their 30 years on earth being ambivalent about sex, even calling myself bisexual feels like a sticker slapped on something much more complicated. But, you know, stickers make everything easier, and having become involved in the kink and alternative sexuality communities, everyone seems to have a sticker. Seems driven. I want to be driven. But even in the journeys I've taken in my late twenties, nothing has seized me so hard that it became part of me. I, that which is I, always stands apart and intact.
Tangential, but related to all this is how passionandsoul talks about earning a Cap and Leather Jacket. I understand what these things mean in the Leather Community, why they're capitalized. And that's even harder to talk about. I have no particular attachment to Leather as a substance, as fabric, but the idea of earning clothing, earning vestments, that's attractive.
The path I've chosen in life is weirdly twofold. On the one hand, much of my progression and development is determined by publishers--what books get written, when. Much of the acknowledgment available for goals achieved and peaks surmounted is also determined by others--award committees, reviewers. But on the other hand, in the community my books create, in the chosen family of my world, I have a lot of personal authority. I has a shiny, so to speak. And I create, for others, fantastic landscapes and wonderful circumstances in which they, if I have done well, can find themselves. But I made them. I can find myself, a little, in the arc of them, in the larger orbit of my books as a whole--but man, I couldn't even write one book and let that stand. Everything is fractal with me, kaleidoscopic.
And who is out there who would ever turn to me and say: here, you've earned this cap, this coat, this jewel? You've leveled up, you've done something big enough to earn, not a plaque, not a statue, but this terribly personal emblem to mark your Self and your Striving?
Who would know me well enough to know when I had earned it?
I suppose that in part, when people bring me gifts to readings and shows, I am so intensely grateful, because I feel like in part that's what they're doing. Like when arianhwyvar gave me an amber lock and key necklace in Boston last week. But I still, like a child, crave approval from elders, from tribal leaders, from people who might know exactly what it means to confer such a thing. This is, of course, all satisfied by the traditional Leather Family structure, and that's a powerful thing, but not wholly, I think, for me. I don't know what is for me. I've never found an answer. There's no parade I could go to without feeling like a fraud.
Sometimes I feel like I'm all want, and no object. I envy those who found their objects early, who found them at all. In many ways, I am still so lost. I fear that books are all I'm good at and that's not enough. I fear that because no single identity, sexual or spiritual or otherwise has ever leapt up to claim me, I don't have an identity at all. I wish I'd been pre-loaded with all this software, but I just wasn't. And I don't know where you download patches now. And I'm done with this metaphor.
I don't really find the whole it's a journey thing to be a comfort. Of course it's a journey. I just wish I'd had a few more signposts. Way stations. Maps.