We need to talk…

Dearly beloved,

I gather you here today to address some issues that I would (not) like to bring to light.

I’m going to try to pull some courage here from so many other women. I’m going to fight the urge to close shop and run away from the internets. I’m going to tell you about my fears and troubles in the hope that bringing them out with help me face them.

I’m having a really hard time lately expressing myself on my blog.  I guess there are a few things going on that are inhibiting my ability to write. But o, blog, writing right now. Pouring out my words. It feels so good. I’ve missed you.

It’s not that I don’t have anything to say (of course), it’s just that…well…(shame)(guilt)…I…(deep breath)… I have been writing under a pseudonym. My name is the only part of my blog that I haven’t been transparent and honest about.

Jackson is my maiden name so I guess that’s only a truth stretch. but Lyla isn’t my legal name. It’s a name I fell in love with in high school and scrawled all over my notebooks practicing my new signature. I actually dreamed of changing my name to Lyla Jackson. I always wanted to name my daughter Lyla but when it came time, it didn’t feel right.

So when I decided to start blogging under a pseudonym, Lyla Jackson felt right.

Why didn’t I write under my ‘real’ name? It started for a few basic reasons (protecting my kids and husband from being googled) but as my life took some nosedives (swandives?), I have been very happy to have a safe space where I can express myself without sharing with my mother, people I used to know or risking my career.

As Lyla, I have found amazing friends online and built social circles. I never could have found this level of honesty if I knew that my words could be googled by every person I went to high school with.

Lyla has represented my strong, honest persona. And she really is me. I am her.

When I order Starbucks and they ask my name, I always say Lyla. I actually looking into getting her a library card, health card, credit card…. just in case I needed an extra passport. (#possiblymanic) But that’s another story…

Over the years, I’ve slowly introduced my alter-ego and my blog to a few very close friends who I felt safe sharing with and who I knew I could trust. I know that they follow my blog and I feel okay with that because I chose to invite them.

But, a few weeks ago, I realized that my walls had been breached. My security had a leak. I know that my brother was told about my blog (without my consent) and read every page I’d ever written.

You know in those old spy movies where they spend the whole movie building up this complicated secret infrastructure and then, as soon as the secret trust is compromised, the guy pushes a red button and the whole compound self destructs and he jettisons out of the building as it explodes.

This is how I felt when I realized that he had been given (and read) my blog. I still feel the urge to initiate a scorched earth campaign. I feel like I need to ‘kill’ Lyla, dissociate from her, unpublish this entire blog that I’ve been pouring my heart into for 4 years.

But I DON’T WANT TO! I love Lyla. I love reading the words she wrote that I don’t remember writing. She is my memory and she dreams about my future. She does not exist in a vacuum. Through Lyla, I am social, I have deep relationships with my readers and many have become amazing new friends.

I don’t want to be bullied out of something amazing that I’ve created for myself. I hate hate hate that I was put in this situation. I know that my brother may read this. He should know that his actions have consequences.

I know that my blog is a public space but the fact that Lyla Jackson is me… that’s my secret. That’s my way of protecting my family (husband and children).

Writing honestly and without too much self consciousness is critical to the way I write my blog. But, lately, it is too hard writing about myself. I can’t feel free and honest, when I know that at any moment, my brother or someone else who I have not invited into my life, might think that they are being helpful by sharing my blog (and my secret identity) with my mother, a cousin, a friend, my boss, my children’s school, or anyone else.

I feel like my boundaries have been violated. I feel like my trust has been betrayed. I feel like someone thinks that I am not entitled to privacy in my private space. But I know that I am.

I have worked really really hard over the past days, months, years to protect my kids from my crazy. If my privacy in this space is violated, if my words are used against me, they will get hurt. I can’t let that happen.

So, I’m not sure what to do. I love this space. It tears me up that I might have to destroy my work, that I might have to leave people I love.  But if this is not a space of freedom, than I would be lying to us all and this would serve no purpose anyway.

Friends, what do you think?

Please don’t be mad that I lied about my name. I hope you understand now why I do that.

I don’t know what to do now.

Advice? Thank you.

painting of the words 'we negotiate with chaos'


Last week, I sat at work trying not to cry. I guess I do that often, but there was actually an external reason last week.

I was reading through the twitter hashtag that was trending, #yesallwomen. I was shocked at how overwhelmed I felt reading my sister(in the global sense)s’ honest words.

I’ve never spoken to anyone about feeling unsafe and vulnerable as a woman. And honestly, I just assumed that all of my personal safety fears were just part of my anxiety. I didn’t realize that all women feel these things. Last week I learned that #yesallwomen.

I am a 32 year old white Canadian woman. I am educated, liberated and I feel free. I truly have more personal freedom and opportunities than more than 95% of the women in the world.  But I walk through parking garages holding my keys like a weapon. (I’m not worried about getting my wallet stolen.)

Because there is a moment, daily, weekly, monthly, where you think: “Is today the day I get raped?” #yesallwomen

Reading through these messages, I realized that the daily fears that I have internalized and normalized of being attacked and raped, are something that #yesallwomen feel.

Because you get to a point where you can’t remember not being aware, alert, poised, keys between your knuckles. #yesallwomen

Because men don’t text eachother that they got home safe. #YesAllWomen

Learning that these deep fears are actually a product of me being a woman, and not all part of my personal distorted view of the world, I feel furious! It is NOT OKAY that women in the most “progressive” countries in the world, still have good reason to fear for their physical and sexual safety on a daily basis.

It’s NOT OKAY that I’m learning that I’m not the only woman.

Our culture shames those who try to speak up for their sisters and those who say that our society still stacks the deck against women. We are told that we are ungrateful. We are crazy feminists. Dirty hippies. We are reminded that women in poorer countries have it so much worse.

It’s true. Women in North America can do anything we want. We can even be President. We just can’t walk home alone at night.

Because every time I try to say that I want gender equality I have to explain that I don’t hate men. #yesallwomen

Because I had to explain to a 19 y/o girl what feminism is.. Her reply, I don’t want to be disliked or judged by guys though. #yesallwomen

Because this thread reminded me that the sexism I have come to view as “normal” in life should not be accepted anymore. #yesallwomen

Why do I have to walk down the street and be bombarded by huge photos of half naked women in every ad? It’s demeaning!!! It’s also a classic technique of establishing a group’s lower status in society by routine humiliation and objectification. Rape as a plot device in so many films? An entire cable tv show about different ways that women can get raped?

Why do I feel stupid and ashamed even admitting on my own blog that women are objectified in our society?

Even in Canada, politicians are starting to talk about “the abortion debate”. This infuriates me. Having to listen to debates over a woman’s right to protect herself and her physical health… over and over and over again. I feel so helpless. I feel scared. What if they create laws that won’t let me protect myself?

Because only the female body is legislated. #YesAllWomen

I am terrified for my young daughter’s body.  How can I protect her every day? How can I make sure that her body will always be her own? (I can’t.) How do I teach her to stand up for herself when I know that the world will be working hard against her? How do I prepare her to stay strong in the face of being subtly shamed daily for being a woman. Why do I have to?

How can we protect our daughters when they are being portrayed as fish to be caught?

Because by age 12, every girl knows a girl who has been assaulted. Sometimes that girl is themselves. #YesAllWomen

#notallmen practice violence against women but #YesAllWomen live with the threat of male violence. Every. Single. Day. All over the world.

I don’t want to feel unsafe anymore. Not now, not ever. #YesAllWomen

A painting of a woman curled up underground like a seed and growing like the roots of a tree.