Rocks, Hard Places, Awkwardness and a Game Called Jenga
I've just had another individual from Twitter politely note, "I just realized I don't know your real name". When I politely ignored that particular comment, she less passively (after politely waiting for one or two more exchanges) directly asked, "So... not gonna tell me your real name?"
There is only one person I've met on Twitter who knows my real name. My full real name. One other person knows my first name. That's it. (So, yes, you two, you should feel REALLY special, but you can do so quietly)
And that is not an easy decision. And by next week, that circle may increase.
The first one who I gave it to had shared some quite intimate details about herself by e-mail earlier in the day, and that evening we were chatting by g-chat, and twenty minutes into the conversation she stated, finally, near the end of the conversation: "You have to tell me your name. I can't call you the borg blog!"
Um, yes you can? And her argument, as go all the arguments I get, is "who am I going to tell?"
If she were to disclose herself (which I am asking her not to), she'd tell you that all she got for a long time was just my first name. In fact, the last name slipped really only because I sent her an e-mail from the wrong account. (Dratted iPhone and human error).
This is not easy for me. I do not like living in closets. I do not like hiding who I am. I have no desire to be the tiny "wizard" hiding behind some great contraption of fire and smoke appearing to be bigger than who I am. I HATE closets (except the big walk-in kinds where I can keep my clothes that I've never actually had the joy of having...).
I have written several blog entries already about anonymity. I don't know if I've tagged them all, but you'll see several of them if you click on the label over there on the right. This is something I've struggled with. And still struggle with.
At some level, in my last anonymity post, I acknowledged that I could not keep my two worlds separate forever. But that each time one side touches the other side, it's like taking out a piece in a game of Jenga. The first pieces are easy, and bring no significant threat to the structure. Really, only the dog wagging its tail will knock it down. As a side note, playing Jenga with a yellow lab puppy, by the way, is very hard to do! But there does come a time where you've taken out so many pieces it makes the structure very precarious, and even the slight vibrations from the plane taking off nearby or the train rumbling by (I've lived both near airports and train tracks) will knock it down while you aren't even looking.
Part of the reason for this blog, I've admitted openly, is as a way for me to heal from the loss of some important people in my life. People I've loved dearly. People I still love dearly. While really I am writing in here only about me, I'm not. And I live in a small enough town that you would know who (crap, what was the name I gave him, oh, yeah) Tom was, and you'd know who tulip girl was, and you'd know who a lot of people were if you knew who I was. And while Robin Sparkles doesn't live here in town, and is an old friend from college, it wouldn't necessarily take long to identify her. (It is true, though, that I don't feel a compelling need to protect Tom, but I also don't need someone telling him I'm writing about him and have him track down this blog, either! *smile!*)
And the reality is that one of my points from the beginning, and I still maintain today, is that we all could be you. Or someone you know just down the street. Who we are - name wise - is unimportant to understanding and enjoying (I hope) our story. And maybe you can take insight you learn from reading here to apply to that person down the street whom I remind you of. That reading about my struggles and my successes and reading my thoughts and ramblings might just help bring us all together as one loving society and community (Okay, there's that big ass guy full of smoke and mirrors, but....). That knowing who I am as an individual shouldn't affect your ability to relate to what I'm writing.
But last week, it got even more complicated and troublesome keeping these worlds separate. Because last week my tweeps did something that a lot of people in my real life have never done. Heard my call for "help" and came and supported me EVEN if they thought I was nuts to think I needed help, and/or thought I was being really irrational and over-reacting. EVEN when they didn't agree with me, they still supported me. Simply because I asked for it. And until they did it, I didn't realize how absent that had been, for the most part, in my life.
It was a real WOW moment. A real you-guys-are-really-special and where-have-you-been-all-my-life kind of moment!! And yet, I won't / can't / don't even tell them my name?
And this is the moment where I change the title of this post. I gave you the original title above so you can see the framework I started with, and understand where I am or was going. But somewhere along the line most of you have decided that I smell just as sweet, even if my name is Borg, instead of ________. And that's pretty darn special. And I'm pretty darn lucky!!
Have patience with me, then, my friends. Because so many of you have become my friends. This is not personal to you - it is my fears, my concerns, and my need and desire to protect others whom I care about, too. I know that you can respect me on this. I've seen how you support me, despite my name. And I appreciate you all.
If you're new to this somewhat one-sided conversation I keep having about this, I suggest you can read the following posts to catch up on some of my thoughts (if you've read everything I've written, you can skip this and go to the bottom of the entry, post your comment and collect your prize):
I addressed the topic on my very first day of writing this blog in a post called Assimilation.
There I wrote:
Our experiences while seeming unique to ourselves are also universal.
When one becomes assimilated into the Collective, they become one with another, and all of their memories are now part of the collective. There is no unique "I" in Borg. There is just Borg.
So while you think you may know me, you probably don't. Or rather you may know me, because my experiences are similar to yours or those you do know. But you do not know my identity.
Three months later, I addressed the topic directly again in my post Clark Kent .. This is when I began to realize I might want Lois Lane to know that I was both Clark Kent and Superman so she'd know she was in love with me (well, maybe not quite that...). And what would I do at that point? Mostly I was looking for the Anonymous Anonymous support group. I was sure that Flash, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman and all the other caped (and not so caped) crusaders might be dealing with some of the same issues I was just starting to deal with.. (and this was before I ever even knew anything about Blogher and then began to wonder how could I ever go?)
The blog post titled simply Anonymity really does state some of the reasons above (protecting others, and also a little left over self-protection) and I think it was when I typed that post that I began to decide this recurring theme / topic needed to have a label of its own. I also described briefly a very unpleasant encounter I had with one twit (because frankly she was a twit) who got really upset and really rude when I gave her a generic answer in response to a direct question about where I lived. Frankly, given her response - and she was one of the first people to ask me anything so particular (which I realize is not that particular at all) - it reinforced my rationale to remain somewhat anonymous. This person, frankly, even now long after I've blocked her, still scares me. I'm glad she only has a narrow geographic region in which to ponder where she might find me.
I also talked briefly about the sensitivity I had about my identity / location after leaving an abusive relationship. There are, unfortunately, people who I have been close to in my life who don't have any idea where I am. For some of them, I wish I could change that. For some, eventually over time, I will. But for many, unfortunately, I just had to disappear. Facebook has managed to keep me in touch with many I might otherwise have lost touch with, but my in real life close friends (only one of which is on here from that period) will tell you it was still months - if not a year - before I revealed specifically where I was in even that closed environment of hand-picked friends. While MOSTLY I am over that, I admit my steadfast responses are cultivated / learned from that experience. As I wrote in Anonymity, murder-suicide was most certainly an option on the table at the end that many - including myself - were afraid could happen. I think enough time has passed that it is very minusculely likely to happen, but when you experience that possibility and that kind of fear, trust me, you learn to be a little protective.
(Wow, that took me back to such a lovely dark place - are any of you still here? ;) )
I wrote Anonymity Revisited after I told an in real life friend - not a local friend, of course! - about the blog since it and Twitter is becoming such a big part of my life - at least big parts that I am excited and enthused about. The world didn't fall apart when I told her. Although it did give her a bit more information about something she'd known a little bit about. And she didn't (to the best of my knowledge) rush off and plaster it all over Facebook. And she hasn't disowned me as a friend. Again, an early Jenga piece.
And then a month ago, I finally came up with the Jenga analogy after I felt safe enough to share this blog with a memory-impaired local friend (she will agree with me, if she ever does find the blog again, that "memory-impaired" is a fair term to use to describe her lately). It was somewhat safe because she's likely already forgotten about the blog, or if she remembers it, has no memory of how to find it or what it was called. It was also somewhat safe because the things that I write on here about local people would not be news to her, would not reveal any new "secrets" and she has already demonstrated, as such, that I can trust her not to hurt the people I love with the information that she knows.
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I have fallen in love with the Jenga analogy. It fits this perfectly. Because that one friend asking, "Who am I going to tell? What harm will it do?" is correct that telling just her alone will not cause my life or this separation to come crumbling down. It won't. But telling a lot of people, even one piece at a time, will make it harder to keep this construct up.
Basically, I've come to the conclusion that the wall will naturally come down as soon as I become as popular as Jenny The Bloggess - one of my "heroes". But until then, and until I have a book deal and a way to support myself through the publishing of this blog and my ramblings, I hope you won't mind if I try to preserve this delicate balance for as long as I can. Because I admit, if and when that happens, if and when the Jenga pieces all start crumbling down, I'm going to have to think long and hard about possibly pulling some of my more 'exposing' posts, even though, of course, they've all been out there. And I don't want to censor or edit myself.
As I said, I don't like hiding. All while writing this really, really long post about why I'm hiding.
Yeah, look over there, one of the labels, too, is "inconsistency" - what can't see it? It's right there wedged between "I'm human" and "insanity" (at least at the moment I type this! I'm sure over time I'll find some other 'i' label to add...)
For those of you who made it all the way to the end of this post - wow! Thank you. And congratulate yourselves - or give me an opportunity to congratulate you for reading this really long somewhat winding post - by posting a comment here, too. I promise to comment back and thank you, and add you to my list of REALLY loyal supporters! ;)
And in the meantime, I hope you accept this rose is named Borg... I swear I smell as sweet (I *did* take a shower this morning!) as whatever my "real life" name does.