I don’t even know where to begin.
John Brownstone and I came back from Eroticon and London exhausted but elated by the experience. It had been a long week away but a good one. We arrived at my mother’s house in the middle of night, when everyone was asleep and collapsed into bed, happy to be back.
The next morning, I saw my stepfather and said, “Good morning.” I didn’t get the typical response, but I didn’t think much of it. It was early. He seemed startled. Weird but whatever.
A few hours later, I stumbled into a conversation between him and JB. I didn’t hear it all, but I heard enough.
“You can’t do this.”
“It’s not right.”
“You’re harming the boys.”
It didn’t occur to me that the topic of the conversation was my blog. This space. I thought he meant “sex writing as work” and flippantly called out last year’s earnings as proof that yes the fuck I can do this thing I do.
After purposefully never giving this URL or my blogger name to my family, it had been discovered. He’d been pouring through it, shocked at what I do here.
What he saw upset him. Fair enough — sex blogging and BDSM aren’t for everyone. What he saw concerned him as a grandparent. Okay — without knowing how it all works or what safeguards we have in place, there should be questions.
But did we get questions? Were we respected as human beings, parents, family?
We were told, in no uncertain terms, that we weren’t welcome in his home (never mind that it’s also my mother’s home). He wanted nothing to do with us. Even the next day, when we left (yes, we stayed, because my mom wanted us there), when John Brownstone tried to politely say goodbye, we were told not to let the door hit us on the way out.
This is the family I’ve been given.
For 15 years, we’ve had a fraught relationship, my stepfather and I. Anytime I’ve done something he didn’t approve of, he assumed the worst of me. The absolute, literal worst — a caricature that doesn’t match the reality. God knows I’m not perfect, but I’m not the lazy, manipulative, bitch he thinks I am, either.
Yep, that’s how he saw me. Until he didn’t. One day, he decided I wasn’t that person (or so he said).
What changed? Not me. I continued to be who I was, and he had to admit (although never to me) that he had been wrong.
Now, I’ve done something else he doesn’t understand — baring my body and my sexuality on the internet for all to see, engaging in deviousness (aka BDSM). And I’m once again just as awful as I was 15 years ago.
Nothing has changed. Same shit, different day. I’m not happy, but his judgement (and condemnation) don’t hurt.
But my mother is different. And she’s my remaining parent. I’m an only child, and my aunt (her sister) never had kids. If we didn’t marry other people, it would be just the three of us. To say we’re fairly tight is an understatement.
Did she see me the way he did? Would she choose him over me and tell me I couldn’t visit her anymore? As the questions swirled in my mind, I swallowed frantic screams, afraid that if I started, I’d never stop. My biggest fear is that I wouldn’t be the one she chose. As a child, my father (flawed as he was) always won between us. Would it happen again? Could I survive it if it did?
But I also know that my mother is a fierce grandmother. No one can come between her and her grandbabies. They would be my saving grace.
I underestimated her and forgot her love for me runs just as deep. That she’s never tried to understand what I do, happy only that I’m happy and thriving. The look in her eyes spoke volumes — love, worry, determination.
“You are my daughter. I love you. You and I are fine, and we will always be fine.”
Thankfully, she is the family I’ve been given, too.
But the family you make is so important. And my made family is filled with kinksters, perverts, people who bare their souls and their bodies. This happened at the perfect time, after a weekend of being surrounded by a number of that family in London.
A tweet or two later, and an outpouring of love overwhelmed my heart and mind. People were quick to remind me that I was not alone in this.
If Eroticon lifted my spirits, this shot me straight to the moon.
As much as I want the love of my given family, the love of my made-by-me family was a balm to my tired soul.
John Brownstone is part of this family. We found each other and never let go. This isn’t just happening to me. It’s happening to him, too — after having been rejected by his own family, now mine is putting him through another round. I know he feels the ground shifting beneath him. Just as I hate that my mother is in the middle, I hate that he has to go through it again.
We reach for each other in tough moments, holding the other up, finding support and comfort in each other. He grabs my hand and guides me. I clutch his, hoping that I can transfer comfort through skin-to-skin contact.
I feel so many things but shame isn’t one of them.
When you put your body or your sex life on the internet, it’s inevitable that someone will disapprove. Maybe that’s why I never told my family my blog name even when I told them that I write about sex for a living. I didn’t want to deal with disapproval.
I find it ironic that the people I was most worried about (my mom and aunt) were the least upset about it. They love me, no matter who I am or what I do. Yes, I know how lucky I am.
But having someone that I’d thought accepted me flip out like this was stunning. I thought I’d dealt with this already, but in retrospect I feel like I should have known this day would come.
Had I been faced with this level of judgement, derision, and near-hatred a few years ago, I would have crumbled. Back in 2012, I likely would have closed up shop and there would be no Loving BDSM or Masturbation Monday today.
But in 2019, I’m a different woman, at a different point in my life. I’m proud of the work I do and the content I create. I love how I’ve touched people’s lives and inspired them to touch themselves. Fucking hell, I know for a fact I’ve made a difference in the world because people tell me I have. My experiences are why I can tell other sex bloggers and creators that they’re making a difference, too.
No one can take that away from me. And I won’t be shamed into hiding, cowering in fear, or giving into someone who refuses to ask basic questions or try to understand why I do what I do.
For better or worse, this is the path I chose and the one that’s helped shape me into the writer, entrepreneur, woman, and parent that I am today. Fuck anyone who thinks I should be ashamed of what I do here.
But what about the children?
We all know this “fear” right? When in doubt, pull the children into the conversation as a scapegoat to force people to change their sexual behavior.
So let’s talk about that…
My children are polite, open-minded, kind boys. They accept people who are different than them. They ask questions when they don’t understand. And yes, they know I write about sex although they think it’s weird. They’re sweet kids who still hug their mom, use their manners (most of the time), and like to tell jokes. Between John Brownstone and I, they’re turning out just fine.
And yes, I’ve put in safeguards to keep adult content away from them — as best we can in a digital world. They don’t get to see our sites but yes, I talk about sex with them in age-appropriate ways. Partly because I don’t want them to grow up as sexually repressed as I was or on the wrong side of #MeToo. But also, because I don’t want them to so repressed and filled with sexual shame that they treat someone else the way their grandfather is currently treating me.
Not that it matters, but for the curious, as I explained to my mother — 90 percent of what we do occurs while they’re at school, and the other 10 percent happens behind closed doors. Yes, I’m unabashedly sexual and kinky, but I’m their mother — first and always. A mother who’s not afraid to talk about sex, explain masturbation, or accept that her children are sexual beings now and in the future (wherever on the sexuality spectrum they may fall).
The family I’ve been given isn’t all bad. After deep conversations with my mom and my aunt, I know that I am loved and will be loved, no matter what I choose to do. The screams in my head have slowly subsided to a dull roar.
The family I’ve created is everything. Without readers, bloggers, kinksters, and everyone else in this space, John Brownstone and I would feel isolated. But we’re not. We’re loved and respected as fellow human beings. Maybe we’re all a bunch of misfits, but I’d pick y’all any fucking day of the week.