“You think what people say is what matters, an older friend told me long ago. You think it’s all about words. Well, that’s natural, isn’t it? I’m a writer, I can float for hours on a word like “amethyst” or “broom” or the way so many words sound like what they are: “earth” so firm and basic, “air” so light, like a breath. [...] But of course what my friend meant was that I ignored inconvenient subtexts, the meaning behind the meaning: that someone might say he loved you, but what really mattered was the way he let your hand go after he said it. It did not occur to me, either, that somebody might just lie, that there are people who lie for pleasure, for the feeling of superiority and power. And yet it should have.” — Katha Pollitt in that great/crazy Webstalker essay
“You just bleed it out all over the place. Why can’t you keep yourself to yourself?” — my ex-boyfriend
“YOU should be password-protected!” — the dude who’s the reason parts of this blog are now password-protected
Today I got my ear-holes stretched two sizes bigger. I’ve been slowly stretching them for about 8 months now with no clear idea of why. At first it was because I thought it looked cool and badass but it turns out no one notices your earrings except you unless they are giant African tribesperson plugs, and I don’t ever plan to get there, though I actually don’t know how far I’ll go. The last time I got it done the lady at Sacred asked me how big I ultimately wanted them to be and I said I was “playing it by ear,” har. Now they’re a 6. Stretching one size bigger only twinges for a second but two sizes hurts and right now they are still dully throbbing. Also today I got very thoroughly bikini-waxed. In two weeks I’m going to get another big tattoo. I wonder wonder wonder why there’s a part of me that seeks out pain.
It’s not that I enjoy pain! Pain, you know, fucking hurts. I think it’s more about mastery of pain. I enjoy pain as long as I am in control of the pain, or I think that I am. And it’s this maybe-misguided impulse that compels me to do other things besides poke holes in myself and swim until I’m falling-down exhausted and have my hair torn out by the roots. Like, for example: put big chunks of my “personal, private” life on the internet for anyone to see.
Maybe it makes me feel safe to think that I think that if I tell you all my secrets you won’t have any ammo against me that I haven’t given you. Maybe it’s that I think that my pain and my pleasure are just that fucking important. Maybe I just like telling. Part of it, certainly, is that I don’t want to have these thoughts and feelings inside me. I want to get them out. But if it’s just about getting them out, why am I not just pouring them into a word document or some flower-printed dear Diary?
Because: I don’t believe that “private” exists anymore, if it ever really did. Privacy depends and always has depended on pretense. We politely pretend that the versions of themselves people present to the world are the ones we accept, but behind their backs we whisper. I hate that shit. For a long time it has been considered unseemly but tacitly acceptable to mock and examine and analyze the personal shortcomings and proclivities of celebrities but now everyone who achieves anything like prominence in any field is accessible to us in a thousand intimate ways online. We’re all “celebrities” now. It is futile and silly to pretend that we have “private” lives anymore, so why not just let everything hang out?
Well, for one thing, because other people besides me are involved in my secrets, and those people might still want to cling to the fragile little scrap of perceived privacy that is left to them, and might be sad or disappointed or angry to be portrayed in a public confessional. Also: their own reticence prevents anyone from ever knowing their side of the story. I can understand how shitty that must feel, which is why I’ve password protected some of the posts on this blog. (You can email me for the password and, quite possibly, I’ll give it to you.)
Here’s another thing, though: I know it is silly to imagine that, by preemptively spilling my secrets, I’ve been successful in controlling the pain. I might just have been letting the pain control me. And, perhaps, letting myself in for more pain. But ultimately, I don’t regret telling you anything. I’m glad you know. I’m glad you heard it here first.