Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Firewalls

When I first began this blog nearly five years ago, I had no conception of how anyone would find it, much less read it. I told a few friends about it. I knew only two sex blogs, each written by friends; I was new to sex blogs and anyway, there just weren’t that many around. Otherwise, I wrote into a void. Since no one read my blog, I felt I could write honestly, telling stories for a few friends and anyone who came upon them.

Pretty soon, though, that void took on a face. A reader wanted to meet me for sex. This surprised me. Was this even allowed, I wondered? I agreed to the date with her—and then another, and another—and before long, it turned out that my sex blog had found my new girlfriend.

Then my girlfriend started a sex blog. She invited me to have sex with her girlfriends, and they started sex blogs. Other sex bloggers caught wind of our burgeoning network and wanted to join in. Word got out among friends at my sex parties, and many of them started sex blogs. We all wrote stories about one another. Within a few months of beginning my blog, “Jefferson” was getting laid all over the Internet. It was all in fun, we felt, safely behind a filter of anonymity.

But then I transgressed on a taboo I didn’t know existed. I blogged love. This caused some upset in my new circle of friends, as my love was directed to someone no one knew. Some wished me well. Some were anxious that this new relationship would put the brakes on all the fun. Others were jealous. My girlfriend was understandably frustrated. The upset happened off blogs; everyone talked to each other and, with varying degrees of success, we worked it out. Love was okay. It didn’t mess us up.

Inevitably, as the number of sex bloggers grew, I encountered those who enjoyed the adrenaline rush of blog drama. In time, I learned to identify the red flags of bloggers driven by accusation, upset and vitriol (hint: this cohort is largely comprised of poor writers whose emotional vocabulary is routinely limited to extremes of elation or outrage). I learned to keep my distance.

In my personal life, I found my presence in so many sex blogs to be the cause for occasional upset among the people I cared about. Someone might reasonably be jealous to read about her lover having sex with someone else. This was exacerbated, in my circle, by the fact that so many women I dated had met one another at my sex parties. They had witnessed me having sex with other partners. They read about private moments in blogs. This was a given, but granted this access to my other relationships, they could watch closely, looking for giveaway signs of love and intimacy.

It was hard to predict what would trigger upset. A girlfriend read in a blog that a partner and I had hot sex and afterward, we went to a museum. The girlfriend was jealous: why had I never taken her to a museum? A girlfriend read in a blog that a partner and I had hot sex and afterward, I served scrambled eggs. The girlfriend was jealous: why had I never served her scrambled eggs?

I struggled to sort through such reactions. I could offer to rectify perceived slights with offers of field trips and scrambled eggs—and in this way, attempt to be all things to all people—but ultimately, it felt that anyone who regarded such minor revelations as indicators of favoritism was probably ill-suited to be in a relationship with me. My private life was just too public, and too much of it written by others in blogs over which I had no oversight. Over and again, I found myself repeating variations on a theme:

“I have sex with multiple partners. I write about it on the Internet. Some of my partners write about it on the Internet. I am single. I am bisexual. I am nonmonogamous. I am under no obligation to report my dates to anyone. Most people really enjoy knowing me. But if discovering evidence of these facts on your own will hurt you, please do not seek a relationship with me.” This is the truth. It must bear repeating, as I repeat it over and over.

Obviously, it is absurd that anyone would find evidence of favoritism in something so mundane as the serving of scrambled eggs, much less conclude that such favoritism means I don’t care about the person who went without scrambled eggs. In real life, not everyone gets the same thing. To want every single thing that everyone else gets, plus something else—something more and unique—is to assume a platinum-level membership in my life that doesn’t really exist.

Even as I tried to address these assertions of upset, I met people who were comfortable with what I had to offer. They knew about my blog; they generally met me through it, and if not, it was freely offered. They read about me in other blogs and appreciated that confirmation of my essential honesty. As promised, I was indeed having sex with other partners who were indeed writing about it. Some were pleased if I wrote about them in my blog. Others requested that I not do so.

In respecting the requests of those who preferred to remain off-blog, I found myself with a secret life within my secret life. Everyone knew about the partners at my sex parties. Everyone knew about partners who wrote about me in blogs. But in addition, I had sexual relationships that flew under the radar. I had sexual relationships in private. I had intimacy, just like anyone might.

This allowed me a better perspective on the public sex life I had introduced in this blog. Here, I knew to take care in blogging love. I adopted strategies of subterfuge by telling the truth without necessarily revealing chronology or naming full casts. In my private life, I could be less guarded. I wasn’t worried about truth or love being used against me. I could be more content in trust.

With my intimacies, as with my family life, I erected firewalls between the fa├žade of “Jefferson” and my private interiors.

This proved a good precaution during the upheavals of last summer. During a year-long custody case based entirely on my sexuality as revealed in this blog, I sat silently in court as my ex-wife’s attorneys tried to build a case against me, decrying a life they knew only from what I had chosen to reveal. As a few bloggers used my misfortune to stoke a flame war, a former drinking buddy claimed special insights based on our six-year association. She later admitted she really had no direct knowledge of my life in the preceding three years; her assertions, she confessed, were based on hearsay and second-hand gossip from biased sources. Her confession went unacknowledged by those distracted by the few busting more furniture for the bonfire.

The makeshift torches outside my firewalls burned out their fuel, scorching effigies without singeing flesh. I fretted about the flames before realizing, as embers cooled, that none of it had anything to do with real life. For me, real life and online life are clearly distinct from one another. Apparently, this is not always the case for others.

Now, I’d like to tell you a story. I’d like to talk about something that happened to real people, in a real time, in a real place. You’ll recognize some of the people in this story, but a few will come as a surprise. To tell it properly, I’ll need to breach my firewalls in certain areas. Rest assured, the interiors will remain intact.

5 comments:

Alisha said...

wow, what would happen if i talked about our marriage?

...oops.

Devani said...

Hmmmm...breaking radio silence and then leaving us hanging. You are such a tease :) And watch...you'll update while I'm at work and I'll have to wait alllll daaaayyy. Remind me why I've been missing you?

Wendy Blackheart said...

You never make me bacon anymore.

Also, jealousy in any relationship, no matter how casual, it natural. Its how it gets dealt with.

Evil Minx said...

Personally, I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to hear/read what you have to write.

So, you know, nothing new there, then. :-)

Detachment and compartmentalizing is essential, I find, in polyamory. Has to be. You seem to have a handle on that very well... kudos.

Love,
Minx x

Smalls said...

Wendy, I totally agree that it's how jealousy is dealt with, solo or together, that makes it possible.

Minx, I'm not sure detachment is a good idea. It seems too cold for very real people in a very real place.
Maybe in theory it sounds good, but not when you've got upset and hurting people.

J, I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment of the story too. At least your perspective of it.