So- how was it for you? After my first experience with this exercise, I asked myself the following questions:
How did this exercise go? Any regrets? Is this helpful? Are you learning? Looking back, do you see any trends?
At the time, I kept the responses private, but I am posting them here now, along with a reflection from this year’s experience.
This was wonderful. I want to go back over the next few days and edit my scribbles into sentences, preserve this picture of where I am now. Before I meet DJ as that may or may not change a lot. I am still nervous about it, but the exercise has helped. I feel I’ve gotten along well with the people I’ve interacted with over the last month, but meeting an internet-person in-person is new territory. Will the words flow as well over pints?
The commenting thing went so much better than I thought it would. I don’t feel nearly as nervous doing so anymore. I still freak out a bit and wake up in a cold sweat sometimes, panicked about something I’ve shared, but overall it’s going much better. I agonize less about what I write. Let it flow.
I’m surprised at how many of the questions I was able to answer. I also thought I might write to myself for all questions, but would only be able to post a couple. I thought I didn’t have enough/any experience to be able to comment publicly much.
And I was surprised at some of the questions that I struggled with (i.e. emotions and submission).
I find my answers changing somewhat from what I had planned to say after reading Poppy’s answers. Sometimes I just compose something alternate to publish, since I feel comments should be relevant to the post, but other times it has changed my whole perspective on the question (sexual submission, for example).
I also like how much I am learning from the comments. Poppy has some amazing friends and followers. . . and she called me one of them!!!
I am very grateful for this experience. It was a wonderful, gentle introduction to the commenting world.
I’ve learned that I have a lot to say. Enough that I think I need to get over myself and just say it. I like being quieter- it adds emphasis to what I do say. But I have more to say, and I should just do it.
This is a step. And I like it.
As before, this went far better than I thought it would.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the uptake on FetLife. I had assumed that I may receive a few comments on the blog posts, but expected the FetLife versions to wither. I’ve been thrilled at the responses, particularly from those I didn’t know before (looking at you @AllInBetweeen and @littlestar2 – thanks for joining! And I hope you keep in touch). I am also grateful to @BadShepherd @Enshackled @Gan_Anam and @NotsogentleBrian for sticking with this; sharing personal reflections on intimacy and sexuality, knowing that among those reading may be acquaintances one frequently meets in face to face takes courage and conviction.
In hindsight I’m not that surprised that the FetLife posts received more attention than the blog posts- the grass is greenest where it is watered, and my blog has suffered a bit as I devoted more attention to FetLife and my local scene. I will be taking steps to fix this. The notes from my blogging friends, particularly those received over the last month, have helped remind me that writing is important, that the friendships formed through it are still strong. Thank you each for your patience and understanding.
Parts of this exercise have felt like something of a seance- speaking to a character who no longer exists. Reading her words, remembering why I decided to start this, reorienting after the flurry and distraction of FetLife. I saved snippets of conversations I had in the comments- with Poppy and with others. There were names I’d not heard in years- some with whom I’ve lost touch, some who are no longer with us. The fond memories and words of wisdom endure.
There has been a deep satisfaction in revisiting the questions, to answer them with more confidence, more experience. However, I often had to remind myself that I am not fixing my previous answers but adding to them. I have tried to not be ashamed of who I was, to embrace my past self. I was struck by the sense of sadness and isolation that came through in my first answers, and marvelled at how much that has changed.
I also often reminded myself that is this was not an exercise in finishing something left undone; this is a continuous process of learning. Over the last five years I have done most of the things I had dreamed of when first answering these questions- and many more that I’d not even considered at the time- yet I know there are plenty more new and exciting things to come.