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Do I Ever Feel Like I'm Skydiving Naked

When I started blogging back in August of 2003, I made the decision to do so under complete anonymity. I showed no photos of myself, I changed the names of everyone I mentioned, I did my best to hide my general location, and I did not use my real name to sign up for services anywhere. Googling my real name came up with little more than a wedding announcement.

the cat hold 1
(photo credit: the Palinode)

If photos like the one above from 2007 found their way online, they would send me into a panicked sweat. I worried that my employer and co-workers would find out about my online life. I worried that people from my past and my family would know. I worried that any connection between my online and offline lives would result in some kind of social and professional excommunication. I was an intensely private person suffering a heavy amount of personal shame who was slowly unfolding, following a path I couldn't not take, and the nakedness of being all of who I was out loud was nothing short of terrifying.

I have spent the last couple of years slowly coming out about my identity both online and in my real life. I've slipped my real name and location into the online spaces I inhabit, I've created a professional website using my own name, and I've gone so far as to include my online experience in my offline resume, but it wasn't until this last week that the final nail was hammered into my anonymity's coffin.

My parents watched my CBC television news segment this past week, and now the last stronghold of my anonymity has been breached.

My parents now know that I am a blogger.

This is an incredibly weighty revelation for me, because it is here in this space that I have come forward about so much of the truth about myself. I have talked openly on this website about religion, gender identity, depression and anxiety, alcoholism, and dozens of other matters that I have rarely if ever shared with the people who know me offline, and I have a strong urge to protect my parents from all of this, the things I have never told them before.

Back in 2009, six years into this blogging gig, I still thought that I would maintain my anonymity forever, and I even went on record with The Globe and Mail to talk about my online anonymity. I believed that Elan Morgan, my name by birth, need never surface in virtual waters. I could be Schmutzie and keep the rest of my life at bay where I had very unceremoniously shoved it.

Schmutzie in the newspaper

And then, because I needed to find happiness again that was not predicated on hiding who I was or getting drunk after a stressful job and a breakdown and cancer bullied me around for awhile, I got the brilliant idea that I needed to live an honest life. The more I considered what an honest life would look like for me, the clearer and clearer it became that my anonymity online was just one more self-imposed closet of many. It was something I had once held onto as a fun sidebar, something I referred to as my superhero alter-ego, but its real purpose was becoming clear: I was using it to hide from aspects of my life that intimidated me. It was borne by fear and shame. My fun superhero was really the poor hiding spot of a sad, self-described fraidy-cat.

Fear lives in the dark, so I had to make the terrifying decision to force the fear out of the pit of my stomach and walk away from the majority of people and things that populated my life. I had to stop pouring alcohol down my throat, and I had to face the things I had been avoiding. I had to face up to myself in front of all and sundry. I had marry the pieces of my life back together.

I felt like I'd asked myself to skydive naked when even standing on chairs gives me the jitters sometimes.

And now, here I am. I am sober and out of my many self-imposed closets, more or less. I am so out of my closets that I went on CBC television to talk about it. I am letting it all most of it hang out in a way that I never have before, and I feel like I am finally honouring myself and this space with a respect that is long, long overdue.

I spoke with my parents the other night on the phone. It was the first time we had spoken since they watched the CBC interview about my alcoholism. I could hear how moved they were by my confession. It was a pain I never wanted to have to share with them, but as we spoke, I felt honoured by their willingness to hear it and support me. Honoured. I was expecting to feel guilt, insecurity, lowliness even, but instead I felt honoured.

Honesty breeds surprising results. I seriously could never forecast this stuff.

After our phone call, my mother e-mailed me this photo of me and my dad from when I was about three-and-a-half years old. It's an old favourite of mine. She suggested that I doctor out some of the nicks and maybe put it on the internet to show my readers who my dad is, so here you go. This is my dad, and this is me:

Ted & Elan
Me and my father, possibly in the summer of 1976. (photo credit: Wallace Ewert, my late uncle)

Now, I have to admit, I'm at a bit of a loss for what to write here. My mojo got knocked off kilter with the knowledge that my parents might be here to witness my potty mouth and naked revelations. I mean, how can I say the F-word in front of my mother? It will happen eventually, because I have loose fingers, but now that my parents are here THAT F-WORD IS GOING TO HAPPEN IN FRONT OF MY MOTHER.

Consider this sentence an apology for all past and future F-bombs.

Boy howdy, DO I EVER FEEL LIKE I'M SKYDIVING NAKED. ON THE TEEVEE. IN HD.

Schmutzie skydiving naked

Thanks to all things sacred that similes are just similes, huh?

Hi, mom and dad!