Writing Resistance: RIP LiveJournal

I have been on LiveJournal since December 2003 when I first wrote an entry about the tender conflict of priorities I felt in looking up parenting advice for nursing my new baby, just a month after birth. What started as a simple, safe place to talk through my ideas about my own identity, became a community that nurtured and rejoiced with me, a community I’ve not seen the life of since. There was a way of interacting on that site that allowed for actual discourse, that encouraged community building and didn’t rely on the click bait tactics that saturate social media now.

That simple little blog witnessed the start of my polyamorous life, the confirmation of my bisexuality, the addition of my partner, Ted (audaciousgrowth.com) to my life. But it was also the vehicle that contained my insufferable pride, the worst of my conceit and the most damning of my recklessness. For years I’ve avoided dealing with it, avoided backing it up or revisiting old memories. Too much pain, too many ghosts of distorted grief over soul mates lost and broken trust revealed. I have done nothing but bury it for years.

It started with a simple post (Something’s Attached) about the conflicting feelings I had as a new mother, exhausted from trying to balance it all. I felt some catharsis and release from writing, so I wrote some more. It became a place for me to share my ideas and find others who felt similarly. For the next few months I documented the inherent conflicts I felt in the role between being a mother a lawyer and the imbalance of how we treat feminine sexuality. The Madonna-Whore complex runs deep with Latinx women and I was no exception. I chose to write about it…a LOT.

Collages of LiveJournal userpics in a beehive formation on the page with the word "Bella" written diagonally across the center.
A collection of some of my LiveJournal userpics over the years. I claim no ownership of any of the images on this page.
Made with Canva.

But when I was outed with that blog a few years later, the aftermath brought me only pain and trauma. I lost my voice and my will to write. Even when I started this site in 2011, I couldn’t really find the same love of writing that I did then. I was going through the robotic motions of skills that once flowed so naturally from me. The shame made me shut out everything about that time until they were just distant echoes of a past too painful to look at. I wish I knew then what I know now: the minute we start splitting ourselves up, making ourselves smaller to fit in, is the minute others know they can manipulate us into forgetting our true power.

I have to seize that opportunity now because I might not have another chance. Live Journal is owned by a Russian company and Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine is bringing global consequences to their door. The site could go away as soon as today or as late as next week. The universe is very clear right now: I can no longer pretend that my past will remain preserved in that format. I need to preserve the time-locked present sense impression of a cocky 20-something and reconcile the clue-by-four of fate that had to hit me, humble me into finally understanding my true role. I need to heal this one last wound.

Patriarchy Demands we all things at once.

Cherry and violet colored background with statue of Mother Mary on the left and a woman nude from the waist up with her hair covering her breasts in a seductive pose leaning back as if back to back with the statue. White text reads: Patriarchy  cleaves us apart demanding we inhabit two containers  at once each with heavy stigmas: 
"Madonna" / "Whore" 
In Dividing our energy between our sacred and sexual selves patriarchy locks us into an unwinnable fight where we are always both too much and never enough.
Made w/ Canva.

The day I started my mystyloca live journal (05-07-2004) was the day that I started to split myself apart. I siphoned off the sexual part of me to explore and store there, away from the prying eyes of judgy internet folk. I needed community and I needed at least the illusion of anonymity. It wasn’t that I was afraid of sex or even talking publicly about it. But knew enough that I had to be “discrete” because of my profession.

But if LJ taught me anything, it was that belonging to a community and maintaining true anonymity are rarely compatible. Communities, even alt-sex communities like kink and polyamory and swinging, are built on the trust that creates an implied social contract between people for a common interest, goal, or purpose. Anonymity defies that trust, showing only glimpses of someone’s motives, deflecting attention from honoring the bonds of shared vulnerability we need to create cohesive communities.

I wish I knew then what I know now: the minute we start splitting ourselves up, making ourselves smaller to fit in, is the minute others know they can manipulate us into forgetting our true power.

The more I talked about my life and my point-of-view there, the more I connected with people. And the more people I connected with, the more I felt strong enough to show more of myself, to explore more openly, to demonstrate the trust I needed to feel. I felt free to explore ideas that I couldn’t articulate outside of those deep conversations you have with kindred spirits at twilight. The friendships I forged have lasted nearly 20 years and seen me through my darkest days.

My LiveJournal chronicled my journey out of law school and into my first job. I can still pinpoint the entry where my husband and I chose to open our marriage and become polyamorous. I cringe at the entries made at the behest of my first D/s relationship, who unlocked a necessary skill set in me that I both resent and cherish — the ability to attract, confront and transform darkness in others. I still cry with a mixture of passion and remorse when I remember meeting and falling in love with my Texas Ex entirely on LiveJournal. I remember the writing collaborations and memes. It was where I could celebrate my successes and find support for my challenges. The more you shared your lives with me, the more I wanted to share my true self with you.

Dusty Pink background with 12 userpics in polaroid fashion "taped" to the background with the words "damn, I miss my userpics" in light pink handwriting.
A collection of some of my LiveJournal userpics over the years. I claim no ownership of any of the images on this page.
Made with Canva.

For a while there, it was a magical place. Sure, we had our LJDrama and I definitely faced one too many break-ups there. But without LiveJournal I might not have found the polyamory community or been connected to the DC kink community, who held my hand during my first kink event, securing my entry into the larger scene. The fact that I’m a trauma-informed kink and poly educator is entirely because of the connections that started there.

But the illusion of safety was shattered when someone used my public LJ entries to discredit me in my real-life job. Fifteen years ago (10-13-2006), I was outed as kinky, polyamorous, and bisexual — not to be trusted with something like education policy. Reporters called my work trying to confirm details. I demurred and distracted, buying myself time while making it clear that my personal life was not an issue I was willing to discuss with them. They tried to position themselves as my friends and then started calling my coworkers when I wouldn’t relent. My boss had a mob was descending on his inbox where followers of the fledgling wanna be Colo Wonkette openly speculated on my life, decrying that my children should be taken away while also emailing our nonprofit board with their fantasies about me framed as reality.

My board asked me to resign despite the unprecedented successes that my brand of honesty had brought us in our legislative agenda. I resigned in shame, burrowing into suicidal ideation when our health insurance ran out, when I could only get 3 interviews from the 100 applications I had put in. I spiraled so deeply into the trauma that it unlocked all the shame I had swallowed from every negative comment I’ve received my whole life, unleashing it into my body, infecting my goodness with guilt.

Silenced by Cancel Culture Trauma

I lost so much in those first eight months when I was unemployed. I took every rejection as proof that I was an awful person, a liability to anyone who knew me. My other relationships crumbled and at times my marriage was hanging on by a thread. At times I was too sick with self-centered worry to be there when my kids needed me. I flirted with suicide, a delicate and tender dance that kept me awake at night for years, unable to be alone, reaching out for anyone on the phone, yet making myself unreachable emotionally. I still wrote here but started questioning everything I did. Started feeling wholly contained within a knot in my stomach unable to shine as I once did. As I once carelessly did.

Never let conservatives forget that they originated cancel culture, they’re just not cool enough to come up with a name for it. But it’s been part of the Republican playbook the whole time I’ve been in politics. Using public shame and derision over personal issues to shift the narrative and public attention in whatever direction they choose. A deflection tactic (that I would later learn how to thwart as a mediator later in life) that conservative lobbyists would brag about being able to employ at a moment’s notice. A tactic that every sore-loser man uses when intimidated by a woman strong enough to say no to him: Just accuse her of being a whore. Because if the grand old party/boys club can keep the world focused on this patriarchal lie, then they’ll never have to be accountable for themselves.

maroon background with faint glitter with white text that reads: false paradigms of power crumble & collapse once we learn how to connect our radiant resilience to the divine purpose within - unleashing the full force of our sanguine songs of inequity's Destruction and our divine dances of collective creation.

What I couldn’t see through the fog of depression and PTSD was that this pompously arrogant and short-sighted strategy was a desperate move by those addicted to a dying source of power. Those two years I was a lobbyist taught me that when confronted with a strong, confident, witty, and openly empathetic woman, that even the most liberal among us can grow paranoid and defensive. Even moreso if we carry layers of intersecting identities beyond gender such as race, disability or sexual orientation.

Such a person cannot exist in the wild as herself. For the empathy we carry is evidence that we can stand within our vulnerability and share something deeper and wider than the limitations of the world we live in now. That power exists as a reminder of all that we’ve given up to survive the harsh cruelties of a world we don’t have the willpower to fix. For if we are allowed to dance the earth, serenading the world with our sensual rhythms of intuitive wisdom, others might remember that they shouldn’t have to claw and scrape to compete, but that they can all live in harmony as shining and free as us.

We makes them confront the worst in ourselves in order to recover our highest and most ancient truth: we are all connected. They do everything in their power to rob us of the joys of our truly integrated peace.

No, women like us intimidate with our blessed gifts of freedom. Women like us magnetize integrity drawing in those whose light has been dimmed for far too long. We are the sirens at the margins of their comfort zones, tempting them to cross the line from what they have been told to be into Who They Really Are.

Human history is littered with the same reaction to women like us: capture, coerce and humble us. For we must be tamed, contained, molded into the only version of femininity that they want to survive in their world — an obedient handmaiden complicit in white supremacy’s worship of patriarchy’s inherent imbalance. The more free we are, the more violently they feel entitled to control and manipulate our sense of self. The more they make us forget our true source of power, the more complacently happy they become.

The Strength to reclaim my voice

I am not where I thought I would be by now when I started my LiveJournal. I thought by now I would be working in Washington DC or the state capitol, a passionate civil rights attorney changing the world. I thought I would be enacting policy, maybe even running for office. I imagined myself overripe with success, dripping in recognizable accomplishment.

I look at that paragraph and I immediately want to distract myself from feeling the full weight of it. I want to hide from the shame of not living up to what twenty-six-year-old me wanted, to the promises she made to herself and our calling. I can barely relate to her now — distant memories of self-righteous flirtation and callous pride. I became so ashamed of who I was then and the things I revealed about myself there that I buried the evidence of who I once was under layers of hidden tags and broken image links. I locked her up and chose to forget her without healing her. Each time I wanted to revisit my old posts where she was memorialized, locked in her present time…I always found reasons to stay away. The pain was just too great.

How could I revisit these pages when it also reminded me of the number of ways a soul mate broke my heart and I broke his? How could I reintegrate my voice if I felt too guilty to objectively examine my writing? How could I come back without also confronting the silly twenty-something who got cocky and careless? Who cost her family so much? Who let down her mentors and all who believed in her? I didn’t want to be reminded that I’m on this uncertain trajectory because she thought she was above the rules.

Dark teal background with a splash of gold across the center with polaroid type user pics taped to the background with the words "Bella Peligrosa" across the bottom.
A collection of some of my LiveJournal userpics over the years. I claim no ownership of any of the images on this page.
Made with Canva.

And yet…I am here today because of her courage. And my ode to her, my promise to her is to redeem her through the queertastic historical fantasy novel series I’m writing. Book 1 is her story. My main character, Moira, is the personification of my shadow self. She is MystryLoca. She is Magic Pussy. She is the path not taken. She is the fictionalized version of me that might have existed had I not been outed in 2006. She’s selfish and treats herself as if she’s above the law sometimes. But she’s a gifted healer of systems, a goddess at the crossroads of awakening, a passionate queen of divine love, much as what I aim to be in my current life.

Especially now while the future of LiveJournal is uncertain, it is time to heal and confront the vulnerability locked in these pages. I’ve just backed up the whole journal and will be spending some time with nineteen years of my history. Re-framing my past through the lens of compassionate redemption and honest accountability I hope to give my character.

In fact, that’s all my writing has always been: sharing the lens I have used to fall in love with humanity. Sometimes it’s broken with shady distortions dancing about, but sometimes it’s heartbreakingly beautiful, sparking fires of hope and enduring love. It’s a way to see ourselves and others in the cosmic fabric of our interconnectedness with nature.

I will be posting my progress to my patreon when I am ready to relaunch that at the end of the month. The private posts, the love letters, even the condemning evidence of my guilt in one drama after another. I’ll look at it all and do what Janet has always done: offer the hands of healing and unconditional love. A process that I will share as I am called.

I am finally ready to receive the healing I deserve, the same healing I give others: the gift of my own unconditional love.

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