Anonymity, Duplicity, and Paranoia

My first published piece of writing was in the junior-high-school newspaper. I don’t remember how it ended up in the paper. My friend’s dog was run over, and I was devastated. The only thing that I knew to do with my young grief was to write. I simply needed to write.

That was also why I started blogging. I needed a place where I could give my feelings a voice. While I have never aspired to be a writer, I am a person who needs to write, to take pen and paper or keyboard and spill out what is inside in order to make sense of it all.

In the process of blogging, I healed, and I learned from all of the wonderful people who interacted with the things I shared.

Anonymity

It surprises me how many people blog under their real names. At first I was very afraid and worried that my blog would be discovered by people who knew me. Anonymity seemed necessary in order to journal in such a public realm.

I grew to treasure the freedom of expression without scrutiny. For several years this has been an oasis, a secret place to process my journey – thoughts that are unpolished and unedited, free to be wrong, and subject to change.

My real world has been skating dangerously close to my blog lately. I have prepared myself for the inevitability of discovery.

With friends reading The Shack and Pagan Christianity, I hear of them talking about the internet places that I tend to hang out. Blog searches on abuse, authority, and apostles are leading them to blogs that are very close to home.

My carefully constructed walls seem to be developing fault lines.

Duplicity

I have had to question whether I am willing to take responsibility for my words and to reconcile this secret life with my public life.

There is a disconnect between the person that the blog-readers know and the person that my friends know. The blog writer is a part of me that I have not given my friends a chance to know.

I don’t feel like I have been deceitful or unaccountable about who I am in my writing. The blog-readers with whom I have developed email relationships know my real name and, if circumstances allowed, would be welcome to visit my home. I am willing for them to know the real me and meet my family and friends.

Yet it is somewhat ironic to share your thoughts freely with random strangers. These strangers though have been incredibly trustworthy with my thoughts and feelings. I am not sure yet if I trust my acquaintances to be as gracious.

Paranoia

The fear of having my blog discovered is that I envision people reading it voyeuristically as if it were a tabloid, my words becoming fodder for the local gossip mill. If people are going to read and discuss my writing, I would rather it be done in relationship.

The blog puts more of my thoughts and feelings out there than I would normally share with the people I know. I think that we all sense the degree of openness we can have in various relationships and about specific topics.

In an earlier post, I once said:

“I think, to a degree, that all of us package ourselves in appropriate ways for the group we are with. Do you ever get the feeling that people couldn’t handle a full dose of you, a straight-out-of-the-bottle, unrefined, undiluted 100% dose of the real you?”

I worry that people may end up with a fuller dose of my thoughts than they ever wanted or expected.

Initially, I was in this journey alone. Now, I don’t really want to be responsible for influencing how others process their journey out of the CLB and into whatever is next for them.

Maybe that’s the bottom line. This is my journey and my process of figuring things out. I don’t want it to be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Risk, vulnerability, trust? We’ll see.

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50 thoughts on “Anonymity, Duplicity, and Paranoia

  1. Grace:
    The reason for your anonymity is clear to me. It’s not something I even question. If you’re pondering whether to “come out” now, maybe the time is right. Perhaps there’s something in your spirit that longs to be known. If you do, it will be interesting to hear how it is received by the people closest to you.

    I blog under my own name because I don’t want to have one more arena of life where I swallow my thoughts or hide my feelings. I laugh when I look at my reader stats because I wonder whether it makes any real difference.

  2. Grace,
    Oh, man, oh man! Did your post ever hit the spot with me!

    I’ve been online for years, known only as “Elle.” It was only three days ago that I finally decided to come out of the closet, so to speak, and put my real name on my blog and on comments in blogs like yours. Three days! So, you can imagine how timely your post today felt to me.

    My reason for staying anonymous for so long was that I had been beat up so badly when my husband and I left our paid positions “in the ministry” over a decade ago. We left just trying to seek a different way, something we felt might fit us better than the traditional model. We were lied about, slandered, shunned, etc. So, as a result of that experience, I just felt I could not take one more beating, I just couldn’t do it, and being anonymous allowed me to give voice to what I was going through without fear of retribution of some kind.

    I realized this week, though, that my wounds are now healed from all we went through. I’ve seen the error of my own ways (and have repented) as well as forgiven those that did what they felt they had to do. It still feels scary to me, a huge risk in fact, to have my name out there, but the time has come for me to stop hiding and “own” what I believe and know to be true. Vulnerable? Yes. But for me I think it is just time to be so. I think your heart will know when it’s time for you! Seems like you’re getting close!

    Well, anyway, I just wanted to let you know you’re not alone if you decide to “come out!” I also completely understand your fears. If you need/want further support, feel free to email me anytime.

    Hugs,
    Tracy Simmons (formerly Elle!)

  3. Ron,
    You said…
    I blog under my own name because I don’t want to have one more arena of life where I swallow my thoughts or hide my feelings.
    …which is the exact reason I have been blogging anonymously. Interesting.

    I don’t plan on “coming out” voluntarily, but I am ready for the likelihood of being outed. I have no idea what the reaction will be.

    Elle,
    I just noticed you added your name. I hope your new vulnerability turns out to be a good experience for you.

  4. Grace, you wrote:
    “I just noticed you added your name. I hope your new vulnerability turns out to be a good experience for you.”

    I really do not expect it to be much of a good experience at all! :-) I guess I’m just ready for it to hit the fan if it must. I’m tired of hiding what I believe and just can’t do it anymore. Let the games begin!

    Tracy

  5. Grace, you said: Now, I don’t really want to be responsible for influencing how others process their journey out of the CLB and into whatever is next for them.

    I know though how very helpful it was to read the processes that you went through. I can’t say that you ever “directed” me or unduly “influenced” me but you did, with so much grace, give me hope. Hope that I was not crazy, hope that I may someday heal, hope that there were relationships that might one day be restored, and hope that there was a Father that loved and cared about me.

    I was asked directly the other day for counsel from a new blogger. I was so hesitant to give direct counsel and part of the reason was your example of not demanding that you knew your way was the right way. You have been a true example of reality and compassion.l

    I do know what you feel about your blog being discovered. I think that mine has. But you know what? I have heard enough stories out there about the hurt and abuse these authoratarian churches produce that I’m not afraid to encourage people to ask questions. I’m not ashamed of what I have written – and you know what? If any of those who had to find out what I think by reading my blog instead of having a relationship and talking to me….then so be it. I would have said the same to any one of them personally if they would have only let me.

    All that to say….thanks. I for one am indebted.

  6. I understand how you feel. When I came out about a year ago, there were a few people from real life that happened across my writing, but the fallout was minimal, less than I had anticipated. I had worried about it for so long, and was pleasantly surprised, for what I heard, instead of criticism, was “I’m so glad you know how I feel”. That was cool.

  7. Grace,
    I haven’t been reading your blog for a very long time. But I Feel encouraged by you thoughtful honesty and just reading about your walk with God has been a comfort to me.
    I hope that (for your sake ) your blog isn’t exposed ( if that is what you truly want) . I also hope that if it is, you will continue to put down your thoughts on here .
    Whether you like it or intend it you are influential in that 1. You are witty and smart and have a natural charisma in your writings that makes people want to read. (Sorry about the C word ) . 2. At least in your posts your self-examination and honesty are a refreshing change that people desire in this day and age. Truly I hope yo don’t go away because now I read every day. I for one would miss you .
    Peace Be With You Sister.

  8. Grace,

    I have been blessed to be able to blog under my real name, even writing about very personal areas of my life, without many serious consequences (a few, though). However, I think your reasons for anonymity are complete fair.

    You closed your post with the ever so honest:

    “Now, I don’t really want to be responsible for influencing how others process their journey out of the CLB and into whatever is next for them. Maybe that’s the bottom line. This is my journey and my process of figuring things out. I don’t want it to be misunderstood or misinterpreted.”

    Again, these are totally fair concerns. I really wanted to affirm you, though, as you have helped many people deeply through your writings, myself included. I know you have had to take risks to accomplish this, but know that it is appreciated.

    Grace, myself and many others walk more closely with Jesus because of your honesty and vulnerability. If you walked away from blogging now, you could still look back with a sense of genuine purpose and impact.

    Thanks!

    Peace,
    Jamie

  9. I think blogging lends itself to a certain tension between the freedom of anonymity and the desire to be known. I find myself still leaning toward the former. I love the freedom to put anything out there without risk of hurting someone who really knows me, and the encouragement of receiving feedback from a few online friends.

    It is your journey and your process, but I for one sure appreciate your sharing it. In the end, we don’t journey alone, and the honest sharing of others who are on a similar journey can be quite helpful. Don’t be afraid of “influencing” someone who comes looking for your blog — they’re obviously seeking some markers along the path of their own journey. As for being misunderstood, well, that’s pretty much going to happen wherever there are, as a friend of mine says, “humans with skin on.”

  10. I ALWAYS KNEW THOSE WEREN’T YOUR REAL FEET! (on your old blog)

    Grace,
    I use my real name, and it’s been both good and bad. I don’t have a recommendation either way for you, but as others have said, I hope you don’t feel like you HAVE to come out (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    I can certainly relate to what you said about the disconnect between your blogging self and the way your friends know you. That’s the biggest problem I face as a pastor and having a “personal” blog. There are some people in my church who have stumbled onto it. Some like it, and for some it has been a problem. It doesn’t help that I’m pretty much an idiot though – so that shouldn’t be a concern for you. :)

    Anyway, I think most of the people who read here regularly feel like we know you pretty well as “Grace,” and we’ll probably still like you no matter what you decide to call yourself. :)

    Oh, and I should probably say, I think I’m the one who outted Erin (sorry Lily). I’ll try not do that again.

    peace & blessings.

  11. Wow, your encouragement is overwhelming and so generous.

    Tracy,
    I am sorry that after all this time there will still be repercussions. It sounds like you are ready and able to deal with it now.

    Barb,
    I am always amazed, but grateful that sharing our story could help others. I know that you have also experienced this with your blog. I sometimes forget how amazingly validating it was to discover others who had experienced similar abuse.

    To be honest, the posts about our CLB, spiritual abuse, and how all of that affected me are the ones I worry about least. I am most concerned about the searching, don’t-have-it-figured-out-yet posts about church and where we fit. I am reluctant to drag others into my uncertainty.

    Erin,
    I’m glad that it was a positive experience for you, but I still don’t plan on going there willingly. ;)

    shaun,
    Thank you for your kind words. I have wondered if and how my voice will change if the blog is exposed.

    Jamie,
    Consider yourself hugged. :)
    Your words and your friendship have blessed me.

    Maria,
    So true, and perhaps I could even handle being misunderstood. That seems to be the fear lurking in the background.

  12. Dan,
    I never realized that I would ever be dealing with “coming out.” ;)

    And just for the record, those really were and still are my feet!

    But all other personal photos have been deleted from my archives, even the picture of the dog.

    I find it very interesting that people perceive you differently as a pastor than on your blog. I think it’s great that you are yourself on your blog without trying to present some other image.

    I still have trouble thinking of Erin as Lily. And now I have to start calling Elle Tracy. We’re going to need some sort of cheat sheets pretty soon to keep track of everyone’s aliases.

  13. grace- you’re still the only blogger I know with a double blind alias!

    i blog with my real name, as you know. i began at first by telling my skin friends. i later regretted telling them. i still use my name, but i no longer make reference to my blog to anyone whose skin i can see. i think most of them have gotten bored and stopped coming by, for which i am grateful. i wish i’d never told them, although i’m glad i didn’t use an alias. i think that i would have been too free with my words under an alias.

  14. I understand your feelings about not wanting to pull others into your uncertainty. But on the other hand, you model that it’s okay to live with a certain level of ambiguity, and it is actually an inevitable part of living with God. I think your ‘influence’ is one of modeling, (which is really more powerful in its authenticity) rather than trying to supply answers for people. You draw out of others what God has placed in them (through your questions, and your approach to dialogue). And I really like that! I’ve learned a lot here (from a lot of different people) as a result!

  15. I tried the alias thing, failed miserably, I was still found out and then people were even more pissed.

    and I got confused about myself, I don’t know how you do it but fully understand why.

    now everyone and anyone knows me, my blog, the whole shebang. It’s both good and bad like all things in life.

    because people in my brick and mortar life read my blog I have to be extra careful about the things I write about but in a way I think that’s good. It’s also kind of weird knowing that my friends – Christian and non alike – read my blog and will even strike up face to face conversations about it but it’s also refreshing.

    and everyone knows that I’m not good at the facade thing anymore – – I used to be but not so much now. I have found being out very freeing even with the self censorship but again, I think there are very real and valid reasons for people to blog under an alias.

  16. Grace, you wrote:
    “I am most concerned about the searching, don’t-have-it-figured-out-yet posts about church and where we fit. I am reluctant to drag others into my uncertainty.”

    I have the same fear of dragging people along while I wrestle with issues, not knowing where I’ll land in the end. I just keep telling people how uncertain I am about so many things and hope that they really HEAR me. I don’t want anyone “following” me while I’m playing with my theology. :-) And you know what? I also don’t really want to be challenged right off the bat, either. I welcome the challenges later, once I’ve found my footing, but when I am first looking into something new, I need to just LOOK, not judge it or be judged just because I’m looking and questioning and thinking. It needs to feel safe to take that long look and ask any questions I want to out loud. That is very safe with many fellow bloggers, but not always as safe with folks who know me in person. In the end, though, I’ve decided all I can do is keep repeating to folks where I’m at and then they have to do what they think best. If they choose to follow my path after repeated warnings to the contrary (from me!) and end up stranded in the desert somewhere, I cannot take responsibility for that, you know?

    Well, I’m just talking out loud here. You are really helping me define my own fears very clearly–thank you! You were one of the first bloggers I found when I started looking and I remember thinking, “There are other alien life forms like me out there!” I knew then that I wasn’t crazy (or if I was, I was in very good company!). You’ve been a gift to me in my life, so I’m glad you took the risk and blogged!

  17. I don’t think it’s appropriate to take responsibility for someone else’s process/journey. In “real” life or in the blog world. It’s frustrating to be misunderstood or to have people who don’t get that you’re in process but that’s their deal, not yours.

  18. Okay, I will go ahead and “out” you Grace.

    Grace is really Lindsay Roberts.
    There I said it. No worries.

    Seriously, I think there are really good reasons to be anonymous. There is only duplicity if you cannot be honest each day, to people around you. What you say on here seems to be totally transparent, and perhaps that anonymity means you can’t be that forthright in real life. Maybe that isn’t duplicity, but wisdom.

    Cheers.

  19. Cindy,
    Yes, I have a rolodex on my desk to keep track of my personalities. :)

    Thanks Sarah, I think you might be right, but I’m not sure.

    jonathan,
    Up to this point, I haven’t felt a need to own my thoughts as far as having people know them or getting some sort of credit for them. I think I placed greater value in the freedom to express without local critique.
    As far as value, the only thing that comes to mind is the potential of being known at a deeper level which of course comes with the risk of being rejected at a deeper level.

    mak,
    My husband, kids, and a couple of friends who shared our journey know about the blog. But they are also the same people that I could talk about this stuff with.
    Until recently, all of the things that I blogged about were off limits conversationally with my real-life friends, especially while they were still at the CLB.
    Because of that, it did not seem awkward to have the separate lives. The blog was simply an outlet for an aspect of my expression that wasn’t appropriate anywhere else at the time.
    I am actually fairly open in real life, but the circumstances didn’t fully allow that for a period of time. Now I’m dealing with if/how that dualism should be integrated.
    And realistically, maybe no one will give a hoot.

    Tracy,
    That is exactly how I feel. I agree with Mak that we aren’t really responsible, but I still don’t want to be responsible for creating confusion or dissatisfaction for someone else.

    Nathan,
    I agree that it is sometimes wisdom to not be completely forthright.
    Now I’ll have to google who Lindsay Roberts is. Don’t laugh, I’m old.

  20. Grace,

    I’ve blogged with a “pen name”, but had my real name on the website. I haven’t had to worry too much about repercussions so it hasn’t been a problem. Most of the people who know me realize that I think a little off center anyway.

    I enjoy reading what you write and hope you continue, whether under your real name or not. Besides, if you didn’t it might tear a hole in the fabric of the universe or something. :)

  21. Hi Grace, Your blog is amazing and even though I only found it a few weeks ago, I was in tears when I read what you’d written about so called “authority” in our churches. I’m convinced HS directed me to your blog, as this is something I have grappled with (alone?) for over two years. My few attempts at questioning the authority within my local church failed, and I was made to feel that I was stupid for not recognising and submitting to their “annointed authority”. I left the church, and they lost no time in ostracizing me, telling the other members that I had a “rebellious spirit”. I felt so alone with this, and even praying to God to reveal to me my “rebellious heart”, and begging God to make me believe and accept what others in my church seemed to believe so easily. It sounds pathetic, but its tough being the outsider! Well, God didn’t “make me believe” what I already didn’t believe. Instead, He led me to your blog. That’s why my tears fell readily when I read what you had to write. I’m not the outsider – other people feel the same as me. And BTW, I don’t care if you use your own name, a pseudenom, a Martian name, a Greek name…. I only thank God that you write about how you really feel. Lots of us agree with you. Thank you, thank you and thank you again for blessing me with your blog! Keep writing, love from Jane. ps I probably won’t turn up on your doorstep as I live in Scotland. Never under-estimate the power of a good blog (God)! LOL!

  22. Grace,

    You can be old with me — I don’t know who Lindsay Robert’s is either! :)

    I blog as AbiSomeone but comment on other blogs as Peggy … but there is a pretty small group who know how to put all the dots together to me IRL.

    But that’s because my blog is processing the whole vision of CovenantClusters and what that means and just who this upstart abbess is. ;)

    It has also become a way for my introverted husband to hear what I’m thinking at his pace of reading rather than my in-living-color mode. He frequently reads it on the commuter bus to and from work. We are then able to have conversations with context that were not available to us before.

    Thanks for journeying in this space and for inviting us to go along with you, sister.

  23. I was tempted to blog using another name…but chose to try and be my own self.
    I have sometimes regretted it…especially when my guts are spilling out through my fingers….but I find myself just sighing and shrugging…oh well.
    I’m glad you write your blogs with the honesty you do…it’s helped me alot.
    Peace.

  24. Grace, ditto to all the positive comments above. I have been incredibly blessed by your blog. Though I can’t express that as articulately as you would, I can say that I am writing this through a few tears and those are rare. May your next weeks be filled with grace and peace and hugs from those who have the privilege of knowing you and seeing Christ in you.

  25. Excellent post.

    As someone who has created a persona in whose name I blog, I have found greater freedom of expression than I could have had blogging in my own name. “Pistol Pete” has helped me reveal more of who I am.

    Again, great post.

  26. Fred,
    LOL! Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m holding the universe together.

    jane,
    Throughout most of your post I was wondering if I actually knew you, until you added the bit about Scotland. It seems our experiences are eerily similar.

    Peggy,
    Love the thoughts you added about your husband. Mine keeps up with my blog also. It has helped to keep us communicating about where we each are at in this whole process, which is not always at identical places. It also has allowed him to get to “know” some of the friends who comment here. We frequently talk about the comments left on various posts.

    Thanks Deb, I’m glad you feel that way.

    Che,
    Gut-spilling is messy, isn’t it. ;)

    Thank you David!

    Pete,
    Freedom of expression is definitely one of the pluses of blogging anonymously. It is interesting to consider the dynamics of why we don’t always have that freedom in our real life relationships.

  27. Dear Grace,
    I just found your blog today.
    I posed all those questions when I began blogging. For me, I decided to blog as my public self, but use a pen name, knowing I’d signed up using my real life personal information. The thing I regret about that is I can’t write the deepest things tearing me up inside.

  28. Grace, while I understand your dilemma this is your choice and no one else. Indeed, it has struck me reading this post and the comments that this says much more about others than it does about you. Particularly, among followers of Jesus, where love is to be the signal indicator to the rest of the world of our relationship with one another, it should be possible to be truly open and authentic with one another while exhibiting grace and mercy. I am amazed at how far Christians fall short of what Father intends in this area. Is it any wonder that those outside the “church” look at us and exclaim we want nothing to do with them!

    Thank you for how you have been an encouragement to others in a similar situation to your own. Though that is not my history I have learned a great deal about this type of experience that I did not undertand previously. Your experience does prove that one who has not been shown grace by others, but has been shown grace by Father, can also be grace herself through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. So, you will always be Grace to me.

  29. traveller,
    A friend and I were discussing this yesterday. I believe our openness and authenticity has to be guided by love.

    For example, I have some dear friends (besides our dinner companions the other night) who are Word of Faith believers. While my post the other night was transparent about how I felt, it would be offensive to them. Therefore, I temper my authentic feelings about that style of belief out of consideration and respect for them, and I would erase the post if I knew they were going to read it.

    Perhaps our relationships don’t become what they should be when I allow that degree of inauthenticity, but I tend to err on the side of protecting the relationship from the violence that “total truth” could cause.

    Thanks for your kind words.

  30. Grace,

    I have enjoyed your blog for some time now, and, as a quite old, very worn, retired-through-ill-health preacher/teacher (I won’t use the word ‘pastor’, Jesus is our only shepherd), also don’t use my real name so that I can write about past situations without individuals being identified and concern for where they are on their journey.

    I use the nom-de-plume also because my wife and family have had to live through vicious rumours and outright lies, for challenging the status quo, especially, as you do, in the area of so-called “pastoral authority”.

    Just keep on keeping on!

  31. Grace, you are correct about our openness and authenticity being guided by love as well. Until we are the complete new creation Father will bring about, we are still tainted with the result of the fall, so being fully “naked” creates many issues.

    I do believe that with love we can speak truth. (Credit to Paul for the original idea.) But that is the point, love will guide us to speak truth in a way that will be gentle with others. And, when others speak truth to us we will hear it in a way that is gentle even if it does not seem quite that way from their approach. I recognize that some people will not actually be speaking in love but one thing I have noticed is that a gentle, loving response often does have an amazing effect on the rest of the conversation. (Credit to David for that one.) Of course, quite sadly, there are those for whom no amount of love and gentleness seems to help. This is heartbreaking for me.

  32. Grace- I am guarded when blogging because people know my real name. There are many things I would love to write about, but am careful because I don’t want to offend anyone I may be writing about. I am not as “real” as I would like.

    You wrote:

    “I think, to a degree, that all of us package ourselves in appropriate ways for the group we are with. Do you ever get the feeling that people couldn’t handle a full dose of you, a straight-out-of-the-bottle, unrefined, undiluted 100% dose of the real you?”
    How true, how true. I am only this way, straight-out-of-the-bottle, unrefined, undiluted 100% dose of the real , with three people, one being my husband, and he can’t always take it. The other two people are two friends who have proven their love and commitment to me and my family!

  33. I’ll be honest. Sometimes the anonymity bugs me. I think I understand your reasons, but I do find that I feel a lot closer to bloggers who reveal their real name to me than people like yourself who blog under a pseudonym.

    You said that you don’t plan on outing yourself, but that you think at some point you will be outed by others.

    Might I encourage you to consider a planned “coming out” instead of waiting to be outed? The reason I say that is that if other people “blow your cover”, so to speak, you will have had no chance or opportunity to re-evaluate your writings, remove certain posts, etc. And you could possibly be made to look deceitful by those who out you.

    I dunno. I’m just “thinking out loud” here. I started out blogging as “Steve” and then “Steve S” and finally “Steve Sensenig”. It was a hard decision to put my last name on, but I decided that it would give me greater accountability as to what I wrote.

    I don’t mention CLB’s by name (or even location), and sometimes I combine elements of different CLB’s so that it’s not obvious which one I’m talking about.

    I’m rambling. Sorry. Mostly just wanted to say that I kinda wish I knew you, not “grace”. :)

  34. I very much agree with outing yourself before you’re outed.

    are you in leadership right now? have you evaluated the worst case scenerio if you came out?

  35. aussiejohn,
    I recognize your name from Alan’s blog. I always appreciate your comments there. It is easier to talk about real life situations when you are anonymous. Even if one isn’t being malicious, I don’t think it’s possible to give specific examples when it is likely that the people you are talking about would be identifiable.

    traveller,
    Yep, fully naked can lead to all sorts of trouble.

    Lori,
    I wonder if it’s quite normal that the circle of people who know us 100% would be fairly small.

    Steve,
    I recently edited my archives. I have removed a few posts that had the potential to hurt people that I know. Surprisingly there is very little of what I said concerning our CLB that I regret or would change. While the individuals involved may disagree with my perspective, I am not ashamed to stand by what I have written.

    Over the time that you have been reading here, I think I have been fairly open about who I am, my life and family, etc. In fact, when I switched to wordpress I put a picture of myself (face, not feet) on the welcome page. I have since deleted most of the personal identifying information. I guess I would like to hold onto the possibility that even if someone who knew me ran across my blog, they might not immediately put together whose it is.

    Do you feel like you would know me better if you knew my name was Sally or Jane or Bob? ;) Okay now I’m laughing, imagining the reaction if I came out as Bob.

    Mak,
    No, I really have nothing to lose except possibly reputation and relationships. Perhaps the potential reaction seems magnified because this is a fairly small town. News of all kinds spreads like a grass fire. If one person finds out, I can flash through 200 different faces that would know soon after.

    The worst case scenario is that some friends may feel betrayed by the realization that I am not “normal.” Have you ever experienced that look that people get when you have stepped beyond the range of acceptable opinions? I am fairly certain that my blog is in that zone.

  36. Grace (if I may address you that way :-),

    Thanks for this blog. I was contemplating something related today; now I’ll *have* to blog about it. There’s a sense in which we are defined by our relationships: that can be why “coming out” (in whatever context) can be painful.

    But more generally, I have always had a number of different circles of friends, and they almost never overlap. (whether church, family, colleagues, other church, other friends, and now, online friends). I’m occasionally mildly anxious about what happens when the walls between these circles break down. But generally, it must be said, that works out well: I guess that means I’m reasonably consistent in “who I am”.

    I blog in my own name – even if the blog name is an alias – because I decided I needed the accountability (although few friends actually know about the blog). I have/had another blog on another site (on news and current affairs) with an alias. I’ve not really tried to hide anything, besides not mentioning my “real name” (whatever that is) but I’ve become aware that there’s enough there that anyone who wanted to identify me could. So the whole thing has made me uneasy: it seems somehow duplicitous. I’ve more-or-less stopped using that blog (though that alias tends to crop up when I comment on current affairs… the public “me” is very even-handed; the aliased “me” is rather more opinionated). Ho hum.

  37. Grace,

    As one of those who knows your secret identity, let me just say that the invitation to visit our home, spend time with my family and I, and even have me buy the first round of beers for you and your husband Antonio (now he’s got an alias, too! :) ) would be an honour for us.

    I’d just say don’t do anything more rash than delving through your entire blog and removing the incriminating evidence. Oh wait… you did that last week! :)

    Whichever way you decide to go, please keep blogging in your honest and well-written way. For someone who didn’t set out to be a writer, DANG you’re good at it!

  38. Know what I found out, Grace? People find you if they want to find you. I was taken aback when several readers (in different “conversations”) shared with me they knew my last name! That is the one thing I guarded (to protect my family); I underestimated how easy it was for someone to figure it out if they were curious.

    For six months I blogged without giving anyone my URL; I used my family’s real first names and wrote as if I were being read. Eventually, I shared the link w/a few…gradually others. I had moved to a new state and blogging was a creative outlet (not a means of exploring my faith and working through abuse….).

    Now, more and more people in my life are reading me…and it affects how I write. There’s a sense of lost freedom from being accountable to so many. There are stories I’d like to tell, but because they involve people who know each other (who may not know about the stories), I’m reluctant even to broach them.

    Of course, yours is a very different tale…very different motive.

    If your friends, acquaintances read you, they will begin to see you differently. Because of the depth of your writing and your talent in communicating cohesive thought, they’ll probably take a step back and see you in new ways.

    IMHO, I think it would be nice for YOU to control your outing; an almost preemptive strike kinda sorta.

    There’s also a part of me that imagines how my blog conversations would have gone had I been living my faith online, so to speak. I consciously rebelled against being a “mommy blogger” or “God blogger”, and I think in the process lost out on some wonderful conversation.

    Anyway……..is the name I’ve seen you use else where your real name??? Now I’m curious, daggum it, and wish I were in email convo with you ;).

    peace :)

  39. Grace,

    Just some observations from a guy who’s been reading here less than a year.

    In this post you refer to people you know in “real life” three different ways; people who knew me, my friends, my acquaintances. The first and the last groups don’t seem too personal. The middle catagory, “my friends”, already know you, if they really are Friends.

    Last observation; I appreciate and enjoy your honesty, transparentness, and astute articulation that is demonstrably “YOU”.

    Tom

  40. “Lindsay Roberts”…

    WHAT A HOOT!!

    Heck, she lives almost next door….LOL

    T

    (Had to do a search to make the connection.)

  41. Wow, I always miss the best discussions and have to come in late. I started blogging because I could not get those I serve in the church to listen to my meanderings. I have found this site (feet got my attention :o) ) and have been lead to lots of great stuff because of it.
    I don’t care who you are in reality, I need the conversation as I care for many friends who have met abuses in the church.
    I am not even sure what I have for my profile and if it is misleading. I have encouraged many to read bloggs because of all the things mentioned above.
    I have come to feel part of this family that shares the deepest of thoughts and hurts with the world.
    Keep on keepin on whoever you choose to be.
    WaynO

  42. Andrew,
    I read both of your posts, relationality and duplicity. I agree with you that it usually isn’t helpful in most cases to rattle people’s cages in an attempt to be more authentic.

    I find that I know my various friends paradigms (WOF, charismatic, evangelical) and filter my expression accordingly.

    Robby,
    Me and the very fair-skinned, very blond Antonio would love to have a beer with you and Wendy. And in your honor, I might actually drink a beer.

    Thanks for your friendship and encouragement!

    Robin,
    It’s great that you are a multi-dimensional blogger. I think you do contribute to the faith conversation. I appreciate the thoughtful posts you’ve written about your parents, and I really enjoyed hearing about your prison experience. You just have a great way of weaving it all together with the rest of life.

    As far as outing myself, I would like to stay in denial. “People will never find my blog. My kids don’t know about happy trails.” Don’t pop my bubble! ;)

    Shamefully I can’t remember what names I’ve used elsewhere, although I may have used my real name at Fr’nklin’s blog. If I said it was real, it was, because even though I uses aliases, I don’t lie.

    Even though we haven’t emailed, you would certainly be welcome in my home. I have enjoyed getting to know you through the blogs. And if you have any burning questions, my email is on the welcome page.

    Thanks Tom,
    I finally googled. Lindsay is a different type of celebrity than I imagined. LOL. There is a slight resemblance in appearance since we are both middle-aged brunettes.

    Wayne,
    I think that transparency and being known are both more difficult for those in the pastor position. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Lori,
    We have a few of our 100% friends coming over this evening. Good times!

  43. You have a gift for bringing grace out in your readers. It’s a gift I do not share, so I’m reading your blog to be trained. I believe you will retain this gift regardless of whether you are outed, and I want you to know that each your posts leaves me grateful.

  44. So I’m away from the blog world for a week and MISS THIS. As I’ve said to you off-line, keep doing what you’re doing and people will keep being freed to talk. I have great faith that you’ll know when it’s time to step out from behind the curtain.

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