‘Only the united beat of sex and heart together can create ecstasy.’
– Anaïs Nin, Delta of Venus
After months of thinking about it and never quite getting around to it, I finally went to the Institute of Sexology at the Wellcome Collection last week, barely days before it closes. The whole exhibition was fascinating and I left with my mind buzzing with half formed questions that I have been mulling over ever since. The question that I returned to most often was one that was actually posed by the survey at the end of the exhibition and, in thinking about it in the days since the exhibition, I have come to a sort of epiphany! (And yes…the WW prompt did help guide the direction of this quite significantly!)
Q1: Would you say that you are generally honest about sex – or have you ever felt the need to hide part of your sexuality?
Am I honest about sex? My immediate response was yes, of course I’m honest. I know who I am and what I want. I don’t lie to myself, I haven’t struggled to accept who I am, I don’t feel that I have anything to hide. So yes, honest.
And then I remembered this blog. I remembered how I started it to better express my sexuality because I couldn’t make it fit with my every day life. I remembered how I now have a whole secret identity online, how I lie to my friends and family about exactly what I do online and how they have no idea that I write erotic stories or take naked photos. How it could quite easily be argued that I don’t just hide part of my sexuality, I hide it all!
I’ve written before about the reservations that I have about having a secret alter ego and my fears that, rather than bringing the two halves of me closer together, the two identities will drift further apart until neither can recognise the other. I hope these fears are groundless, however, as I wasn’t looking for something new within me and never thought my sexual side was missing, it was just disconnected and unclear. Exploring that part of me through this blog and the relationships that have developed because of it has brought me the clarity that I was missing, and I think it has made me much stronger and more confident.
But it seems that my external persona has some catching up to do! Just this month I shocked some old friends with casual glimpses at my sexual activities, and their astonishment made me realise quite how well I must normally hide them. The topic of social media came up over dinner and I, of course, praised Twitter and the fun that I have with it. When asked exactly why I enjoy it, I mentioned all the sex blogs and filthy hot erotica that I regularly read.
‘You read sex blogs?’
‘I’d never have imagined you reading that kind of thing.’
‘Why would you read them?’
It was really weird. For a start, who knew that reading sex blogs would ever be seen as deviant behaviour! And I’m not exactly an innocent flower nor are these friends who I would ever describe as sexually repressed. I may have been single for the majority of the time that I have known them but these were the friends with whom clothes and underwear swapping after a night out was not an unusual occurrence. We would talk and joke about sex and relationships all the time. In fact, one friend was so comfortable talking about sex that I knew about the size of her now husband’s cock almost before I knew his name!
And yet they were genuinely shocked that I read sex blogs. The idea of me as someone who enjoys reading erotica was completely at odds with their image of me. It was too sexual, too open. Such was their astonishment that there was no way that I could ever admit to writing one!
Their amazement surprised me because, if asked, I would describe myself as a sexual person – I write a sex blog now after all, I can hardly pretend to be otherwise! But even without that and even when I was rarely actually having sex, it has always been a huge part of my life. I have been reading erotica for years, masturbating for longer, and I think about sex all the time. I frequently make small decisions to make my day more exciting, be that secretly wearing stockings, never wearing underwear with jeans, reading erotica on the Tube, or scrolling down my definitely NSFW Twitter timeline in the office. I don’t flaunt my sex life, I don’t boast or kiss-and-tell, but I didn’t realise that my outward appearance was so different from how I see myself. That I would be thought of as innocent or prudish. That I would be able to shock my closest friends.
And it was as I was thinking about this that I had a lightning strike of an epiphany! Could the conflict between who I think I am and how I actually present myself have been unknowingly holding me back?
Could this explain why I have such trouble connecting with people on a more than superficial level? Could I have kept too much of myself hidden, making it difficult for anyone to really know me? And, even more pertinently, if I do not appear as I think I do, could this explain why I was single for so long? Not only were the men that I was dating having to battle passed all my self-protecting introversions, they were having to dig out my sexual side as well and, as I didn’t know it was hidden, it may have been quite difficult to find. Sex and my sexuality is such an important and all encompassing part of how I see myself that it never occurred to me that it might not be obvious to others. I never thought of myself as a challenging person to know.
It makes me wonder if that’s why I’m enjoying being with my current lover so much and why I find it so easy to be myself with him. He knows about my blog so my sexuality can hardly be hidden or a surprise when he’s read what I’ve written. He knows both The Other Livvy and my real life persona so there can’t be any inner conflict. There’s a chance that he knows all of me, my whole self, but is really possible that he’s the only person who does?
The problem with this epiphany is that I don’t really know what to do with it! Should I be concerned that I keep so much hidden from the people who are important to me? Should I try to be more open about my sexuality or the role sex plays in my life?
It’s tough because I do feel quite strongly that I should keep parts of my life separated. As much as porn and fantasy might suggest otherwise, I don’t think anyone genuinely wants a sexy doctor! Maybe I should be grateful that the liquid, lustful thoughts that rush into my mind during moments where I can allow myself to become distracted don’t show on the surface…
So in the end, I think the benefit of this great epiphany is insight. If I have a better idea of how I present myself and how I am seen, maybe I can change and be more open when necessary. Maybe it’s simply that each person only gets to know the parts of me that fit my relationship with them, whether that be more or less than the whole. Maybe I will always be a bit mysterious. I’m actually not sure that that’s entirely a bad thing…I quite like having the ability to astound my friends!
And I also love that I now look at everyone else around me differently and wonder what kind of depths and secrets they might be hiding…