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belenen: (Default)
belenen

June 2017

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Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.

belenen: (Default)
How I hear with CAPD: everything is mondegreens and listening to words is constant translation work
icon: "confused (photo of a purple diamond-shaped sign with a line leading to four arrows all curving and pointing in different directions)"

I have central auditory processing disorder, CAPD, which means that listening to words is always hard work. A mondegreen is "a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning." This is a daily occurrence for me. My hearing is always blurred; I do a LOT of guess work when I don't know someone's cadence, style, and vocabulary. Listening to people talk is easier if I know them well and have a subconscious catalogue of what words they tend to use, what letters they tend to emphasize or drop, etc.

If you have ever trained a device to learn your voice for voice-to-text, you know that you have to invest a good number of hours before the computer successfully translates your sound to text, and before that it is a muddled mess of nonsense. And if there is a lot of ambient noise -- especially sibilant noise like the rushing of wind -- the computer will get it wrong even if it usually gets it perfect. That's my brain.

I rely a lot on the length of words and logical possibilities for what could fit. An example: I hear someone say "-ee ay m|by --o|a-t|d-t|d --eem|n" while they hold an empty cup with white remnants in it and point at someone else. From this I guess that they are saying "he ate my clotted cream" but without context it could be "the gate by spotted beans" or "she may cry fated seams" etc. It sounds very nearly the same to me. Some words don't have a lot of sound-alikes that make sense to switch out, but a LOT of adjectives do, and adjectives can be stuck into a sentence almost anywhere. It's extra difficult when it's a three word sentence out of context with only an article in the middle, because "____ is ____" could be almost ANYTHING, and I can't even tell how long the missing words are. Also, I almost always miss the first word or two someone says to me, because I hadn't tuned in yet, so I have to allow for a missing word at the beginning.

This also means that short, out-of-context phrases can be nearly impossible for me to figure out within a reasonable conversational pause. The other day someone walked by and said "___ __ ___ __-" with some of these letters: h d g. I initially interpreted this as "have your good day!" since I was getting in my car and I replied "you too!" I got in my car, then realized the sound pattern was actually "___ ___ ___ __-__?" and they had asked me "how's your day going?" They mumbled the last bit so I didn't notice the last syllable, and I transposed the d and g accidentally. The "r" I heard but assumed I mis-heard at first.

a bunch of stuff that will only make sense visually ) And a lot of people in the south drop their final g and r and t and b in consonant conjunctions so "passing your best curb pound stomp" becomes "passin yah bess curr poun- stom-," for instance, so wherever one of those might be tacked on I have to guess whether it should be there or not.

So, "have you heard that wild geese are flying west now?" would sound like "(-w|h*a|o|u*v|s|z) (w|y*oo-) (w|h*e|i*r-) (d|th|h*a*t|d|p) (y|w*i*l-) (g*ee*s-) (a*ah|r) (fl|l|bl|pl*y*ee*n|m|b-) (w|h*e|i*st) (m|n|b|w|d*ow-)?" I separated letters with asterisks and put each word in parenthesis but obviously when I hear it I don't get those markers -- it's even harder to read. The vertical lines mean that a sound could be any of those letters. The hyphens are dropped letters or places where dropped letters could be, based on the cadence of speaking. Without context I would have a VERY difficult time translating this. It could be "has your weird dad file-greased at lying best down?" and I only know it isn't because that doesn't make much sense. But also, if I hear it strongly like that, it makes it impossible to back up and re-run the sound to guess again because now that's all my brain wants to suggest.

Watching a person's face helps immensely, because I'm reading their lips and their expressions, which give additional context. If someone is very good at mouthing their words, I can understand them almost as well (or as badly) as I can when they're speaking aloud. Better than people who mumble! I realized this when watching people perform deaf poetry, some of whom mouthed the words very clearly. Even across the room, I could understand them better with no sound than someone who mumbles, even if they mumble loudly.

I have a co-worker who has an unpredictable speech pattern and also mumbles, and I mis-read them probably at least 3 times a week. Since we mostly communicate via text in chat and not audibly, that is a LOT. But at least I don't mind being laughed at, so I just repeat what I heard and that gets them to repeat it more clearly. I used to make the mistake of asking people to repeat themselves and that is almost never effective, because with the same speed and inflection, getting louder does not help. And a lot of times they won't repeat, they'll rephrase or summarize, which frustrates my curiosity to no end. But if I tell them what I misheard, they will repeat it and put emphasis on the bits I didn't get, which is exactly what I need. It's less frustrating to them too, which is good because I don't like for people to associate me with frustration.

This is why I can't deal with ambient noise and conversation at the same time. Understanding sound as words takes so much mental processing and when there is any ambient noise it is twice as hard or sometimes literally so hard that it is impossible. I can't have music with lyrics on at the same time as I write, read, or listen to anyone speak, because my mind automatically tries to translate it and it takes up all my ability to think. I really miss being able to listen to lyrical music while reading or writing or spending time with people, but I don't think I will ever have that again.

it has really affected how I listen to music )


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belenen: (Default)
2016 summary: some of the best weeks and worst months of my life.
icon: "confused (photo of a purple diamond-shaped sign with a line leading to four arrows all curving and pointing in different directions)"

I started 2016 with a lot of hope. In January I connected a lot with Kylei, Sande, and Hannah; I had two graduation parties and started making more plans to spend time with people, and I started meditating weekly-ish with Elizabeth. But by the end of January I ended up in a dark crash over how little I felt connected to people. The beginning of February was a little better -- I got to go to Big Trees with some of my favorite people, and Topaz hosted Heather's birthday which was also nourishing and fun. But then I went to a party at Kylei's and had a terrible anxiety crash which ended up leaking into the next day and causing a horrifically painful miscommunication with Topaz. Later that month I went to the activist meet-and-greet for the first time after meaning to go for ages, and met three awesome new people. But just introducing myself made my heart beat painfully hard. At the end of February I asked my psychiatrist to prescribe me anxiety meds and start being medicated for that for the first time.

In March I did a lot of social -- met with four friends as well as with my ex-mother-in-law. I also began a four-week break with Topaz, in an effort to re-set our relationship which had become too central for both of us. In April I had two tinder fails (one flaked and the other I could hardly talk with), made a new friend, hosted a crafty party and a cuddly communion, spent time with Roger and Serenity, and went to Euphoria where I gave a talk on intimacy and made a game with it. (yeah I'd say that the anxiety meds were helping!) In May I spent a lot of time with Serenity and Evelyn, hosted a cuddly communion, spent time with Katie, Allison, Serra, and Indie, and wrote a lot of important posts. In June I spent lots of time with Serenity, presented at APW and SFQP, hung out with Arizona, Sande, Allison, Kylei, Evelyn, and Cass, and had a truth-or-truth videochat with LJ friends, as well as writing a lot of important posts.

In July stuff started getting very stressful -- Topaz went through something really traumatic, Kanika had a medical emergency and I had to take her to the vet, my little sister came in town unexpectedly, and I ran out of money and had to start begging from my bioparents. But also I spent lots of good time with Serenity and had several gathers -- two with my lil sis, also Katie, Allison, Hannah, Kylei, Elliott, Evelyn, Sande, Cass, and even Adi, so that part was positive. But August brought a lot of painful stuff for Topaz, was when I ran out of ADD meds with no access to a doctor, and was the last time I saw Evelyn for months. Roger and Allison were supportive and helpful, and I went to a SONG membership meeting which gave me hope like nothing else except for TBC ever has.

September I got a job at Starbux and finally started getting call backs and interviews for a few of the hundreds of applications I had sent. My awful bioparents also invaded my house and stayed for a month, harassing me about money, rearranging my stuff and throwing some of it away without my permission, invading my bedroom, and being transphobic. October was mostly filled up with my awful bioparents and working at Starbux but at the very end I began doing LJ Idol again. In November things got still worse -- Evelyn officially broke things off with me and Kylei blew up at me and told me we can't be friends. Then later that month Evelyn invited me to a party at their house which ended up being an emotional disaster. I quit Starbux for my new job.

December was a very mixed bag. I started my new job, which was amazing; I got a new psychiatrist and finally got medicated for ADD again; I got to spend time with Arizona, Felix, Felix's people Blaire and Shay, Allison, Jonathan, Heather, Brian, Jessica, and my little sister. But also, my grandmother died and I had to spend time with my awful biofamily, and I was so emotionally drained that I couldn't really enjoy Solstice. It was also a sad reminder of my estrangement from Kylei and Evelyn, because I wanted them at Solstice so much.

detailed events )


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belenen: (analytical)
Why making it safe & comfortable to say 'no' is as necessary as respecting 'no'
icon: "analytical (a close-up photo of my eye in bright sunlight, showing the green and grey and roots-looking patterns)"

To be good at consent, you have to be able to take a 'no' without external displays of hurt or offense. Because the fact that you'd never do an act that someone said no to means NOTHING if they are too afraid to tell you no because your reaction is worse than enduring things they don't want. What good is saying no when it has worse consequences than the inner turmoil of not stating your desires? If I don't say no, I can at least tell myself that my suffering is my own fault, whereas if I say no and the person reacts badly, I have to face the fact that they're more invested in not being rejected than they are in helping me to feel safe.

Reactions that I or someone I know have endured unwanted touch rather than facing include:
  • withdrawing emotionally
  • expressing self-loathing
  • apologizing profusely as if they did something wrong
  • self-harming
  • sulking or pouting
  • acting resentful or angry or insulted
  • getting irritated at them over other things that are usually not a problem
  • ceasing to initiate
  • ceasing to play
  • ceasing to cuddle
  • ceasing to express romantic or sexual interest
  • expressing a wish to be dead or not exist
  • depreciation of self
  • acting afraid to touch the person who said no
  • making snarky comments at future similar moments like 'oh NOW you want me'
  • disbelieving in the continued romantic/sexual interest of the other person.

To summarize, negative reactions include self-directed negativity, emotional and sexual withdrawal, and emotional punishment. The first two things aren't necessarily damaging to others in general, but as a reaction to a no they very often create a dynamic where the other person can't say no, and that can be very damaging.

If someone can't say no to you without fear of fall-out, they can't say no freely. And if they can't say no freely, it's not full consent. It's the responsibility of each person to make it as easy as possible for the other person to say no. Which is difficult, because it is disappointing when people say no and if you're feeling fragile it can spark a lot of negative feelings about yourself. I'm not saying don't feel those feelings: I'm saying don't make them the other person's problem.

Do whatever you need to do to manage your reaction without forcing the other person to comfort or placate you. Maybe have a list of things to read that remind you that you are loved and wanted and worthy. Maybe do something distracting like playing a game or watching a show to get past the initial overwhelm. Maybe have a set of things your person can do for you (that are easy for them! Low-energy-cost things) that will reassure you; or a set of things you can do for them, even. Maybe have a mantra you can repeat in your head to block out the negative reaction until it is small enough to handle internally. Maybe figure out the best way for them to express a 'no' that doesn't spark your insecurities so hard. Maybe give them a sentence they can say to reassure you when they say no -- and then trust in them and believe it.

I won't pretend like it's easy: it can be VERY hard. But the alternative is that your person will sometimes be merely enduring your touch and wishing you would stop. Sometimes they will experience that as merely frustrating or annoying but other times they may experience it as sexual assault or even rape. So it is simply necessary to be able to handle being told no, without your reaction causing distress to the one who said no. Nobody is automatically good at this; it is a skill that everyone has to develop. At points in my past I have done several of these and I've had several done to me. I am certain that most people who have had significant sexual experience have reacted to a 'no' in at least one of these ways.

A really good support skill for this is focusing on noticing non-verbal 'no's and asking if they actually want to continue when there is a strong change in tone, breathing, facial expression, body tension, body position, noises, etc. It is a lot easier for the person to say no when you opened the door for it, and it feels better to get a no when you opened the door for it, too. Instead of it feeling like rejection, it feels more mutual. However, even the most observant person in the world won't notice every non-verbal signal, so this is not enough on its own: it's just a good support skill. Even if you're great at noticing non-verbals (or think you are) you still need to create a dynamic where your lovers feel not just able to say 'no' or 'stop' in a dire situation, but comfortable enough to say 'nah, I don't feel like it' or 'okay I'm done now' at any time.


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belenen: (tenebrous)
the last few weeks have been loss, more loss, and the opening of old wounds.
icon: "tenebrous (a shadowy orange-light photo of my face, looking down, with an achingly sad expression)"

Within the past two weeks so fucking goddamn much has happened.
Papaw (Topaz' grandparent, an incredibly sweet and gentle person) died and not only was I really sad for the loss and how intense it is for all who were close to him, but I was reminded of how kind he was to me and how little of that kindness I got to experience. I felt so glad to have known him and be loved by him, because he did make me feel loved. We couldn't have said more than a hundred words to each other -- fewer than 40 if you don't count greetings and farewells. But he was always genuinely happy to see me and I never felt like he wished I was different in some way. And I love Topaz like he loved Topaz' grandmother, and they are so alike. They would enthuse together and Papaw and I would glance at each other and smile, knowing we were feeling the same thing. In another life we would have sat on a porch and smoked cigars together. We just clicked, in a very intuitive way. At the funeral the first hymn they chose was The Old Rugged Cross which was my favorite hymn as a kid, and that made me feel so connected to him and I cried as I sang along. People got up and spoke about how many memories they had of him and how steadily loving, thoughtful, and creative he was.


And I was reminded that I have no memories of the grandmother who died before I was born or the grandfather who died when I was 5, and only three memories of the one who died when I was 18, and they're all bad.

In the strongest memory, I'm about six years old and he's shouting furiously at me for touching his chair (which his other grandkids were allowed to sit in, but I was not permitted to touch). That one I remember clearly because I didn't know I wasn't supposed to touch it and I was terrified to be attacked for something I didn't know was 'wrong' and no one defended me except my mother (who he treated like garbage), and her tentatively because she was scared too. My dad was silent, my grandmother was silent. I cried, and I hardly ever cried as a child. In another, he's yelling at my grandmother because the A/C isn't up high enough. That one only stuck in my mind because my grandmother sassed him about his 'hot air' as she obeyed: one of only two good memories I have of her. And the last isn't so much a memory as a muddle of impressions of him acting so pious it made me sick after his stroke, when he started to fear death. It was all so fake and guilt-driven. My grandmother was someone I didn't really know and who definitely never knew me, nor did she want to. Being around her was like being around a pastel, rose-outlined blinking light-up sign that reads "are you acceptable yet?" She died in December and everyone else at the funeral sobbed about how accepting and supportive she was and I felt like I was at the wrong person's service.


So standing there at Papaw's funeral, realizing that the one person who felt like an accepting, loving grandparent to me was gone forever, and that I didn't even have a history to reflect on, brought up all this repressed pain about my terrible biofamily. And also guilt because who am I to mourn when people who have loved him all their lives are there? And what a terrible support to Topaz, focusing on my own shit while they're hurting. Ugh. Lots of mixed-up guts.

The two days before the funeral I was in a wedding for one of my best friends which involved a really intense two-full-day project of interacting with strangers and once-removeds who have Very Specific Ideas of What Is Proper (fortunately I really liked the other brides-minions, as my sweet friend called us rather than misgender me). That was also a whirlbang of emotions because it made me think about my own wedding so many years ago.


Slight scroogy tangent: I'm generally of the opinion that it's better to not get married since the institution of marriage is both rooted in patriarchy and a very powerful force for role-enforcing which can wreck the noblest of egalitarian intentions, but

I think Allison and Jonathan do have the makings of a lifelong healthy, mutually nourishing connection and I think they will manage to maintain their selfhoods despite the influence of marriage, so I can support them in this choice.

Jonathan loves Allison in a way that I have rarely seen a person love another, and I so deeply appreciate for Allison. He doesn't want to change Allison at all, and he beams at her when she enthuses over things, when she's loud and silly and flails for longer than is socially acceptable. He never looks embarrassed or like he's trying to tone her down. Never. Which, as a loud, silly, flailing person myself, makes me feel respected by proxy and so relieved that I can trust Jonathan not to mistreat Allison.

The thing I really didn't expect and that hit me hard was that their families are treating this marriage as a merge and creation of a new shared family, which is so rare and so precious. The side effect of seeing how truly Allison is accepted and valued by family and friends and spouse and how the families are taking their metamour relationships seriously reminded me of how much my spouse and family tried to change and silence me and how they never even saw me, much less appreciated the parts of me that are not socially acceptable. It was tolerated at best if they couldn't manage to ignore it or snuff it out. And I know Allison's family is not perfect! But they really do try to understand her, and they keep on trying until they get it at least partly. Allison walked down the aisle to the Star Wars intro music, and Allison's mom thought that was terrible at first but came around to it. And I like that even with a knee-jerk negative reaction, she still tries to understand.

I wouldn't have missed it for the world though, family issues or no. Being able to witness and be part of Allison and Jonathan committing to each other was beautiful and sacred to me and I was so honored to be included.

This week my landlord told me I have to get out of my house by the end of the month, and then he took it back but I definitely am not safe here so I still have to get out as soon as possible.


Last week after allll the things, I ran out of energy and I realized that I don't have any to spare right now, and that it had been at least three weeks since Evelyn and I had an interaction that was nourishing to me. I've been feeling a lot of stress trying to maintain contact because they've been vague and brusque in responses which says to me that they don't want to be talking to me (because their natural cadence is verbose and specific). But then they tell me that it's not that they don't want to talk to me, and I have to discount my own senses and logic to believe them. I can only do this for so long before it starts to wear on my relationship with myself.

They're struggling to claim their own right to self-care, which I can very much empathize with but I find it really difficult to maintain my own self-care in such a situation because all I want to do is Be the Rescuer but that is so bad for everyone involved. So basically I need them to take care of themself at least SOME else I get filled with anxious urges I then have to spend a lot of energy fighting.

They had set a goal a couple of weeks ago to have at least one hour to themself every day, but they hadn't kept up with it. They spend literally every waking hour devoted to work or another person (not by request, but from their own impulse) and this wears them out to an extreme measure, by any standards. So I told them that until they manage to have a habit of at least a small daily amount of self-care, I need to be more cautious in my investment, which I will do by not initiating conversations or plans. I told them that I'm still open to seeing them and I'm happy to respond to whatever texts/emails they might send, but that essentially I wasn't going to devote initiatory energy to them right now. I tried to put it as gently and kindly as I could, but I think it might still have read to them as "you're not good enough and I hate you, get out" because they seem to see boundary-setting for self-care as a violent act, which is part of why it is so hard for them to do.

So, since they haven't responded at all, I don't know if they are angry, or sad, or just not bothering, or what. I texted once after sending the email to ask if they would at least send me two words to let me know if they had read it or not, but they either didn't get the text (their phone has been losing random chunks of my texts) or even that was too much. I don't want to break my intention by texting again so I'll just assume they read it and didn't feel able to respond.


Feeling the connection with Evelyn crumble slowly over the past few weeks was really disheartening because I thought things were changing, and I think I had good reason to think that. They made significant progress but they just slid back as far as they went forward. They didn't dig in and stay put. And I feel loss and I fear how long this will last -- is this another Aurilion? They show up in my life for a brief beautiful period and then vanish entirely for months or years? They told me they wouldn't leave, and I believed them. But so did Aurilion promise, every time they came back. So.

Oh also yesterday was the 7-year anniversary of my divorce.


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belenen: (overwhelmed)
overwhelmed, so overwhelmed. a wedding and a funeral, stress and sprained tailbone
icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"

I'm in a wedding on Sunday as part of the bridal party of my longest-term friend and going to the funeral of someone who was more of a grandparent to me than any of my biological grandparents on Sunday. There are way too many feelings with all this and the unstable housing situation and loads of empathy-stress from pretty much everyone I love. Also, my exercise ball (the one I was using at work) exploded and I was so focused on my work I didn't realize I was falling until I was on the floor and I bruised my butt and sprained my tailbone, which has been hurting ever since (though, nothing as bad as that first day, so I know it isn't broken). I'm overloaded on every level. Turned most of my feelings off until later. My ADD has been going absolutely haywire and I can barely manage to do the basics. Actually I can't really manage, I have forgotten to eat for most of this past week and then thrown some half-assed non-nutritious thing in my mouth to keep from falling apart. Just holding on.


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belenen: (pensive)
un-chased
It still cuts that I've never been chased. It's just one of those things people don't do with me.

Every relationship I've ever had existed -- at least in the beginning -- because I never ceased to chase, to reach out. If I stopped chasing, the relationship stopped existing. And mostly I don't mind; I'm an active and determined person and initiating isn't that difficult for me anymore (since I have done it so much out of sheer desperation). But when I stop to think how many people I have lost the second I stopped trying, and how many people didn't lose me despite not trying... Do people even like me? Or am I just good at making myself into a habit, an addiction, that people feel the need for because of what I give, how I make them feel.

I know that I'm too scared to ever stop near the beginning, before the sunk cost is on my side. I know that I'm too scared to be passive and see if they pick up the slack. I know that some people have loved me deeply but if a gap developed that I did not bridge, it stayed, and grew, until love me as they might, they couldn't reach me nor I them.

I know this is likely not fact, but it feels like no one has ever fallen for me like I fall for others. "I fell for many, none fell for me." Hungry for every word, every movement, every creation, every emotion. I love with an incessant inner howling like a tornado in my chest, a seeking seeing pulsing power. It gusts and drifts sometimes, swirls quietly for a moment before shrieking a wild demand for release, expression in touch, in sound, in words, in acts, in presence. I can only calm it by sending in another wind against its spin, cancelling its force for long enough that I can shift its course. Without my cautious curation, it's back in motion before I even realize. I don't know that other people even like being loved like this, but it's just how I work. I don't think I am capable of a quiet, tame, calm love.

I hope most people don't have cyclones inside them. Otherwise, it's just that I don't evoke them for others. And that may be because their wind is being stolen or lost when they meet me, and there is not enough left to form such a whirlwind, but that is hard for me to grasp because even when I have not enough energy for basic functioning, I do this. It takes no noticable energy from me.

And it could be, I guess, that other people have cyclones they don't express, or that they tone down to gentle wisps. That just feels ridiculous though. To not express would take such massive effort, at least for me. I'd be constantly worn out.


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belenen: (distance)
I'm hypersensitive physically & energetically: takes work & time for me to enjoy touch / shielding
icon: "distance (two hands (from a brown person and a white person) just barely apart, facing each other palm to palm)"

I noticed a weird reaction in me the last two times I spent one-on-one time with Evelyn. I wondered why I hadn't done more sexy things because I had been looking forward to that aspect and in thinking back, realized that I was feeling some internal resistance in the moment while I was with them. I knew it wasn't lack of desire, so I found that feeling confusing the first time it happened and figured I was just in a weird mood or something. Then it happened again, so I took it as meaningful and examined it until I figured it out.

I realized that this was coming up for the first time because last time we were dating, it was summer and we could only have short dates, so I could flow in and out of being sexual with them without a lot of effort. That's only possible when 1) I am not hypersensitive and 2) it's a short burst of time. (and of course I have to have a strong connection with the person, but that alone doesn't do it)

Often -- I'd say most of the time -- my body and my energy system are both hypersensitive. This is especially true in winter because cold really affects me, both by bringing my emotional energy down and by making my whole body tense and uncomfortable the majority of my waking life. I also tend to get hypersensitive when I'm highly stressed, when I haven't had enough platonic touch lately, or whenever it has been more than two weeks since I had an energy reset (which is easiest to get from sex but I can also get it from energy work, sensation play, concerts of artists I love, ritual, or getting drunk). Unfortunately masturbation doesn't really help with regards to this because it's more about my energy system being shocked by contact with another energy system.*

When I am hypersensitive, touch feels about 10 times as strong as it should. If I am super hyped up, this can be fun, but most of the time it feels like everything is too rough and too cloying at the same time. When people touch me I want them to press harder AND I want it to be barely there AND I want them to just move ten feet away immediately; it creates really intense ambivalence. It's not too hard to make the hypersensitivity stop, but most of the time I expect that people don't want to help, so I usually either avoid touch or steel myself against it like when you jump into a cold pool.

I can manage my hypersensitivity by artificially raising my inner energy levels, but I can't do this for very long and it is exhausting and stressful. So usually what happens is that I feel the need to block sexual energy unless I am actively interacting with it. When I have to block, that makes it harder to get into it in the first place because I have to take the block down and it takes energy so I don't want to do it unless it's gonna be down for long enough to make it worth it. And part of me feels guilty at putting up a block at all, which makes me feel internally pressured to take it down immediately when I perceive a request, which makes my desire deflate -- a weird, frustrating little cycle.

This is true with nonsexual touch too, and is part of the reason that quick hugs or pecky kisses are often draining for me. I have to do this inner work to prepare my body so that it doesn't feel like the tactile version of a train brake screech, and if the person stops giving touch before I even finish the work, then I never get the nourishment and it was a huge amount of wasted effort. I've figured out that it takes at least four full seconds for me to even relax into a hug, and it takes at least two seconds for me to get into a kiss, and if it doesn't last at least as long as it took me to get there, then it is overall draining. I'm still willing to do it sometimes but I can't do it a lot. I'd far rather have a high-five or a nod than a short hug. I need to remember this and offer people a high five or 8-second hug rather than letting them grab me for one or maybe two seconds.

Anyway, it was interesting to realize that I was having this reaction, and that trying to deal with it alone was so not the way to go. When I mentioned this to Evelyn I said I'd probably need some help with bringing my sensitivity down at the beginning so that I didn't have to block and/or I would need to have sexual time separate from the rest of our time, and they responded supportively and casually mentioned that we could be more intentionally structured about our time together (which I find very exciting & hopeful), so I look forward to experimenting with that!

*This used to happen to me every time I left the house, because I had no shield against other people's energy and it would all just cling to me. I'd merely walk past someone and feel like bursting into tears because I felt their pain, and I didn't know how to get rid of it either so I would just feel terrible for days until it wore off. Now it only happens when I let my shields down, but I prefer to drop my shields with people I love even if it means I pick up some of their stuff. I prefer to cleanse it out later if need be and be able to connect fully in the meantime.


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belenen: (exuviate)
my blue hour with Topaz: a month of clashing, a month apart, several months mending.
icon: "exuviate (photo of a dragonfly with shimmery green wings after its last metamorphosis, standing next to its previous exoskeleton)"

The blue hour is the period of transition between night and day, between day and night, where it becomes hard to tell if the sun is rising or setting. I had a few months of being in this state last year, with my relationship with Topaz (my long-term lover). We had gotten in a really terrible pattern and we spent a month trying to sort it out without suspending our connection, but we were well and truly stuck.

Finally we decided to take a month where we had very little communication and no one-on-one time; I knew that I would end it wanting to be with them still but I didn't know if they would, because they'd never experienced that situation before and had no way to predict. That was a long time of wondering if they were going to still want to be with me romantically. When we got to the end of it they concluded that they did want to be with me romantically but needed to not jump back in the deep end because we didn't want the old patterns back, so for the next few months we made sure not to see each other more than three times a week.

It took a while before it felt like our emotional intimacy was restored but when it was, it was clear that that was a new beginning for us. I feel like for me personally, I broke a pattern of gradually-increasing-caretaking-until-it-takes-over-my-life and I have felt safe from that since then. When it got out of balance I think we both felt that as a trap and because Topaz is passionately independent, they were willing to reject the thing that feels good in the moment for the sake of both of us retaining our sense of self. I've never felt safe from my own desire to give before and it's amazing. I think it was a greatly trust-building time for Topaz too because they hoped but had no proof that I would want to reconnect with them just as much, and now they have actual proof that I mean it when I say I want to be romantic and sexual with them as long as they do, but more importantly, I still want to be continuously-connected with them even if or when they don't want to be romantic or sexual with me any more.

During the break I wrote about how I have this fear of love being taken away if I ever am not there for someone when they want comfort or help. I think this experience, these months of twilight followed by a brilliant dawn, has healed a great deal of that fear.
connecting:


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belenen: (intrigued)
time w Evelyn & Quinn: clearing tension, overcoming previous miscommunications, setting intentions
icon: "intrigued (a photo of a snow leopard with ears flattened, peering intently over a log)"

Back in early November Evelyn had told me that the reason they couldn't be with me was that it was too stressful for Quinn, and that Quinn felt somehow inferior to me and didn't want Evelyn to be with me. Evelyn has since told me that they told Quinn that they had set boundaries with me around touch (which they had not, but had thought about it so much that they felt like they had: not because they didn't want it but because they were afraid of Quinn's reaction) and that I had touched them anyway. Quinn was understandably resistant to the idea of Evelyn dating me with that idea in mind. Evelyn said they had cleared that up with Quinn but I was feeling like Quinn must have a terrible impression of me and I wanted very much to fix that.

I also just wanted to clear the sense of tension and establish that I feel a desire to community-build with Quinn, that I want to approach their feelings about me with compassion and be as helpful as I can be within my resources. I don't do the whole "keep your feelings about me to yourself" thing with metamours (lover-of-my-lover) and friends. I am not going to take responsibility for someone else's feelings, but I do want to know as much as possible so that if I am able to adjust my behavior to help someone feel more safe, I can. And it is my responsibility to take care of myself and let the other person know if I cannot meet their needs, NOT the other person's responsibility to guess what I can handle and not ask me for more than that.

So I went to Evelyn's yesterday after work to hang out with them and Quinn, who I hadn't ever had a real conversation with. I was so nervous I was shaking and driving distractedly, so I stopped on the way and got a coffee, which helped. (sooooo glad that it was payday and thus I could do this!) When I arrived, Quinn wasn't there yet because they had to do something before that went long. So Evelyn and I sat and talked a little but we were both so buzzing with nerves that we couldn't really connect. When Quinn did arrive, we sat around for like two hours talking about random stuff, while I tried to get up the guts to address the whole reason I was there. Evelyn talked a lot while we mostly sat silently. It was so stressful. At about an hour before I was supposed to leave I started feeling like I was going to end up leaving without ever doing what I came to do, having drained myself of days' worth of energy for literally nothing.

Finally Evelyn was distracted with looking something up on their phone and there was a long enough silence that I was able to ask Quinn, "can I ask you a really awkward and uncomfortable question?" (knowing that they'd already expected such a question) and they said yes, and I asked how they felt about me. They were taken aback but gamely attempted an answer. I don't remember exactly what they said, but it was sort of generally about feeling bad for having indirectly caused the distance between Evelyn and me. I assured them that I did not blame them for it, and we talked about the community-building emotional stuff I mentioned earlier in this post.

They then asked me if I remembered meeting them, and I did only in the most vague way (I remembered meeting someone by that name and I remembered the location). They told me that they had talked with me about polyamory and their personal situation, and that I said "oh, you're penis-monogamous" and laughed and then left shortly after. I was like holy shit, RUDE, so sorry! I have no memory of that conversation but it does sound like me. (the things I remember from that night were getting more drunk than I expected and leaving the party to go have sex with Kylei at the back of the apartment up against the wall: I was QUITE drunk) I can imagine that in my head, at the time, I was making a casual statement and then when they stopped talking to me I assumed they were done with the conversation and did not even realize I was rude. To me it was a summary of what I just heard, confirming that I was listening and making a joke by restating it in hyperbole. (this is why I usually don't make jokes, because god do I flop at them. My sense of humor makes no sense to other people) After Quinn mentioned this experience I was swamped with the realization that I've probably been unintentionally rude to a LOT of people. Especially during the time that I was dating Kylei because I met a lot of strangers then and it takes knowing me a little bit to be able to read me with any accuracy, since I express so differently than most.

Anyway, I was very impressed that Quinn brought that up because it was the only way for it to be recontextualized, but it is taboo to point out that someone has been rude. So I felt like they understood the need for telling me that, and they wanted to clear the static between us enough to break the taboo and tell me. And I was pleased that when I exclaimed over how rude I was to say that and apologized, they accepted my explanation without any resistance. It having been like five years ago, they could have built up a whole structure of belief in me as a dismissive, cruel person because I had seemingly mocked them when they were trying to connect in a way that was vulnerable, and they could have defended such a structure. Instead, they allowed me to be the one to give meaning to my actions, which is so utterly necessary for me to feel safe.

I'm really not talented at communicating. I know it seems like I am, especially here, but it's because I am so naturally terrible that I have built up amazing skills through LOADS of practice. In my most natural state, I say shit backwards and upside down to how most people talk. And my skills are mostly non-oral in that I am skilled in writing, not in speaking out loud. I can't organize my thoughts well enough to speak them most of the time and when I can, it's through dropping the filters that protect me from insulting people. My options are: communicate through text and say what I mean and be understood; communicate audibly and don't share anything meaningful but manage to avoid hurting or offending people; or communicate audibly and share meaningful things and definitely upset anyone who doesn't know me very well already and/or anyone who isn't willing to let me be the one to assign meaning to what I say. One has to be willing and able to say "it sounds to me like you're saying this ____. is that what you mean?"

This is part of why reading my LJ matters so much to me. You cannot know me if you don't read my LJ. Most people are really meatspace-centric and auditory-supremacist and they think that what you say out loud, in person, is the truest expression of what you think/feel. That is so fucking untrue when you have multiple lines of thought running all the time that often jump tracks AND you have an unbelievably glitched memory. When I go to a therapist without having written stuff down, it's completely useless. I usually can't have any important conversations without writing about it first. My LJ is more me than anything that comes out of my mouth, ever. Relatedly, Quinn also mentioned that they occasionally read my LJ and I instantly felt more understood and more trusting. I'm always surprised and flattered when someone reads my LJ without it being at least partly as a favor to me.

Since last night Quinn and I have texted back and forth a good bit and I feel like we could be really great friends. I feel excited and hopeful, but also nervous because it seems like every time I try to build connection with someone they leave my life, and that would be doubly upsetting if I became invested in them and then they cut me out. But things seem to be finally turning around for me after losing person after person last year. And Quinn and I relate in some ways that I don't have anyone else in my life to relate to (terrible biofam that's still trying to insert its unwanted self into our lives, for one) so I think that could be really nourishing for me.

I feel a little worried that Evelyn may lose interest now that I'm not essentially a symbol of the unattainable, but I think that's irrational? I think that they care about me for who I am and not just what I stand for. Also a little worried that they're gonna just want to hang out as a group and not want one-on-one time with me, and I don't have any proof to reassure myself about that so I'll just have to stick a pin in it and wait for time to tell.


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belenen: (connate)
time w Evelyn: they speak my language & believe in me / positively overwhelmed / playing by heart
icon: "connate (the characters Keenan and Joan from "Playing By Heart," facing each other with their faces so close that their noses almost touch, both with eyes almost closed, wearing slight smiles)"

So since I last wrote about them I've had two dates with Evelyn, and both times they came to my house AND there was no big struggle to plan or need to reschedule. There's not even been occasion to question whether or not they wanted to come over, because it required so little effort on my part, comparatively. Unfortunately a lot of it has fallen into the cracks of my memory already, so this is just gonna be a mishmash of impressions from what I can remember.

When they first arrived, I opened the door while standing behind it like I always do because my neighbors are terrible and I'm never wearing anything over my boobs at home unless I'm sick or really cold, so they walked in and there was a pause while I shut the door and then they made a tentative reaching motion while I started to ask if they wanted a hug -- I may have gotten it out or maybe not -- and I snatched them into a hug. And I wanted to cry because it felt like such a relief, but I was also in shock and not fully convinced they were actually there. I felt relief and gladness from them too.

At one point later when we were cuddling they said "you're real" in a tone of wonder and I felt so much resonance with it I felt like screaming, like there were not enough ways to express how extremely and exactly I felt that. Those few hours we spent together that day included a lot of cuddling and talking about the last time we saw each other in November and how it was painful for both of us, and expressions of gratitude on both sides for being reunited. A lot of kisses and sweetness and a lot of frank and occasionally painful discussion.

I once again feel able to be just utterly blunt with them. I don't have fear of being misunderstood )

I'm realizing in writing this that being trusted to be truthful even if it doesn't make logical sense is vital to me. Because I am truthful, but sometimes I don't make sense. I think that's one of the things that hurt me so much about Kylei -- they would never believe me when I told them how I valued them and wanted time with them, despite all the proof I offered. It just felt like a constant invalidation of my core self, to not trust in my love and my dedication. I need to know that the people I love believe in my love, believe in my dedication, believe in my truthfulness. Else being around them makes me feel a dissolving of my self-hood and my own faith in my worth.

I told them that I'm still building up my tolerance to their presence )

I also keep getting overwhelmed by all the experiences I want to have with them but I can't do them all at once and it feels like there is so little time. And I know a part of it is this fear in the back of my mind that they're going to disappear any moment and if I haven't done the things yet I won't ever have the chance, but I do not want to do any of the things out of fear, not even out of fear of no future chances. So I actually end up moving slower toward those things because I am resisting the shoving of fear. I know it hasn't even been two weeks yet and that fear will fade.

We watched Playing By Heart last time )

This Friday we have a plan for me to go to their house and hang out with them and their spouse, who I've yet to have any real conversation with. I started freaking out yesterday because Evelyn was talking to me in a way that made it seem like I was supposed to be on my best behavior, so to speak? being polite, talking about inconsequential shit? and I'm terrible at that and I already spend so much fucking time and energy on it with work and Topaz' family and to some extent my biofamily. The idea of adding respectability to the one part of my life that didn't yet have it in it was just awful. I expressed this (in less extreme terms) and they checked with their spouse and confirmed that it was okay for me to just be me in all my *waves hands* non-neurotypical impolite glory, I guess. So, I'm still nervous but not stressed out, and I feel hopeful that it could be really lovely.

I've more to say but it shall go in my sextalk filter. Opt in or out.


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belenen: (ADD-PI)
ADDeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

While I love my job, it takes up literally all of my ability to focus, most days. It's very detail-oriented and often tedious work and the past few projects I've worked on have been on stuff I find both boring and offensive (so-called history that's full of outright lies, and I have to describe it without adding commentary or arguing). So I get home and I have a very hard time controlling my brain as I have kept it on such a tight leash all day. Mostly it endlessly refreshes facebook and watches netflix. So I installed browser blocks for the first time in my life (leechblock for firefox and stayfocusd on chrome) and so far it's helped a lot, because my problem is not that that is what I actually want to be doing, but just that if I start at all I can't stop, and I need SOME down time to watch stuff and I want some time to catch up on facebook. So I gave myself 45 minutes for each one, and after that I can't use it the rest of the day. Thus, today I managed to come post! and not for LJ Idol!

But my brain still does its runaway carriage thing, as evidenced by the fact that I spent like five hours updating my layout the other day... and then as soon as I wrote that line I went and spent three hours more. (resize your browser for Fun Timez) annnnd there's still a thing I haven't figured out. oh well calling it a night since I'm overdue for sleep already arghhhh

ETA: figured it out the next day. SUPER PROUD of it right now.


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belenen: (garrulous)
LJI fav reads list, week 8
icon: "garrulous (a photo of my lips with the skin greyed out and the lips overlaid with a green and blue fractal pattern)"

list of recs! )


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belenen: (disassociative)
mental illness as a personal monster: being a responsible monster-keeper
icon: "disassociative (a digital painting of a stylized person in profile with wide open screaming mouth and arms up with palms spread wide. Head and hands flow into strands like blood vessels)"

When you have a mental illness, it's like you have an amorphous monster that follows you everywhere. If it's depression, it can sit on you like a lead onesie a lot of the time and make it damn hard to move, and it can cover your head and make everything dark and drab. If it's anxiety, it can whisper nasty things to you and sometimes shout them so loud you can't pay attention to anything else. If you have trauma flashbacks it can cover your whole body and force you to watch videos and listen to sound of awful things, and even if you can see through it, you can't stop it and you can't escape it. If you have a different illness I'm sure it does other things, but I can only speak about the ones I've experienced.

It can be awful to have this monster, especially when it contains multiple varieties of mental illness. But it can also be fucking awful to be around someone else who has a monster. It can be torture; at its worst it can be abuse. So people have a responsibility to manage their monster as best as they can to keep it from attacking other people. Just like if you have a pet who will attack people -- it's not your fault if they attack someone, but you need to do your best to care for them, train them on how to interact, and keep them on a leash when they're out. And if you know what sets them off, you need to warn people so that they don't end up getting bitten when it could have been avoided.

I have known people who have the most massive, powerful monsters and yet they keep that thing on a leash and it almost never bites anyone. It will blob over them and scream at them from every direction, and they will quietly tug on the leash and pull it away from people so that no one is hurt. They know that it lies and so when it tells them "that person doesn't like you" they don't accept this and they ask the person. They know it predicts things that won't happen and so they refuse to believe it. When their monster is incontinent they take it outside, and if it makes a mess they clean it up. Their monsters are not dainty or polite, but the way those people handle them you might think they are. Some people I know have monsters three stories tall yet I've barely heard a peep out of them.

And then I've known people who don't bother leashing their monster at all. Who will sit and watch while their monster rips someone to shreds, and later say "it wasn't me" or worse yet, have no comment and try to pretend that it didn't happen. I've known people who let the monster shit anxiety all over people, instead of taking it outside to poop -- and then complain when the person takes time away to go shower! I've known people who refuse to feed their monster and let it climb all over other people desperately begging for food. I've known people who get angry when someone who has been feeding their monster stops, because now the monster is grumpy and loud again and is turning to them for food when they had gotten used to ignoring it. I have been most of these people, as well. Sometimes I slack off in training and my monster starts getting rude and gross again.

It's never your fault when you have a monster like this attached to you. But it is your responsibility and no one else's. It's your job to feed and tame your monster so that it is as respectful and kind as possible. It's your job to take it to excrete waste away from other people, or perhaps with the attention of a monster vet. It's your job to keep it from attacking people with words or deeds.

If you have someone who has offered to help you tame your monster, that's awesome! Just don't try to leave it with them. It's not 'help' if the other person is fighting your monster while you do nothing. Just like a rowdy pet, if you don't train it, it will get worse and worse no matter what people try to do from outside. You have to tell it no. Every single time. And when your monster damages other people? That's on you. You are the only one who is responsible for your monster. It's shitty because nobody signed up to be a monster-keeper, but it's yours now. And if someone who usually helps is not up for it, don't complain to them about it and don't make them feel bad. Your monster is NEVER someone else's responsibility.

You can have terrible monsters without those monsters constantly hurting others. Training monsters is a learning process and no one does it right all the time, but if you don't do your personal best to keep your monster from hurting others, then you are just as guilty when it does. I'm not suggesting that you avoid all people if you have an unmanageable monster. I'm suggesting you use every tool you have to tame it, and in the meantime you warn people about how the monster sometimes acts, and when the monster does make a mess or cause damage, you do the cleaning up. On what is possible for any given person or situation, I cannot guess and certainly cannot comment; only the monster-keeper knows if they are doing their best.

I don't think I'd feel fully at ease around someone who had no monster at all, simply because I think it would be hard for them to understand monster-keeping which is always a pretty big part of my life. But I also know that my monster is very suggestible and if I spend too much time with someone who has an out-of-control monster, mine will get increasingly difficult to handle. And despite not having physical form, these monsters can kill. So for me, it doesn't matter the size or type of monster; I feel safest with people who have a monster, but keep it in line most of the time.


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belenen: (osculant)
phonetalk with Evelyn: resolving past hurts, setting intentions/goals for future interactions
icon: "osculant (photo of Hannah and I lying on our sides facing each other, our legs and shoulders slanted toward each other and the floor, so that our bodies together make the shape of a heart: our outstretched arms are the point and our bums are the two curves)"

I talked on the phone with Evelyn last night, impulsively, when I almost never talk on the phone. It was an intuitive instinct that I just followed, and I'm so glad I did. When I heard their voice my heart started glowing (by which I mean, I felt a sensation of radiating heat where I feel my heart energy center) and I felt unexpectedly overwhelmed with joy. We talked about stuff that we had been discussing via email, mostly affirming and clarifying things that had already been said. I felt relieved when they expressed that they had finally internalized (taken in as truth) the facts that 1) it is not a loving act to ignore one's own needs but rather is detrimental to oneself and those one loves and 2) it's not useful or loving to hide things from someone to protect them. I feel like denial/rejection of these facts was the core problem we were having last year, so I feel hopeful now. They apologized for hurting me, acknowledged that it was shitty and that I deserve honesty, openness, and kindness and said they'd do their best. And later that evening they shared with me a story that illustrated how they're working to put honesty first.

At one point they mentioned "you've forgiven me" just offhandedly, which pleased me to my core because it is usually very difficult or impossible for people to accept that my forgiveness has already happened. I usually end up feeling like I have to prove my love again. Which I know is not about me, but I can't help but feel a bit distrusted when that happens.

I referenced how they said they wanted to be in my life and asked what that looked like, and they said it looks like spending time together in person. Last year they were really impossible to plan with and I sort of expected a "not now, but sometime, eventually..." which would never actually happen, but they didn't make any backing out disclaimer-y comments! they seemed quite certain of what they wanted! and we made a plan to spend time together. Tomorrow.

I'm excited to be reconnecting with someone that I have a spirit connection with. When I say spirit connection, I mean I can feel what they are feeling. When they tell me something they don't mean, I can feel the truth anyway. When they're upset, I feel it as if it were my own emotion many times even if I'm not involved in the situation at all. When they're thinking of me, I can feel it. It works whenever I am open to it whether we're around each other or not. I have this kind of connection with Topaz and I have had it with Hannah and Kylei and I had moments of it with others. Having this kind of magic in my life really matters to me and I always grow by leaps and bounds through being close to someone who is my spirit kin. And it is just such a relief to be with someone who I have both strong intuitive understanding of through a spirit connection AND strong logical understanding of through a mind connection. That has only happened before with Topaz and Hannah. I usually have to work so hard to understand people and I'm constantly second-guessing. Such a relief to just know.

I know some of y'all are like "why are you like this!? will you ever learn?? you silly creature tsk tsk" and to that I answer magic is rare and I'm gonna suffer anyway because this world is an endless crawl over broken glass and acidic shit. *shrugs* if I'm gonna survive I have to take magic where I can find it.


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belenen: (disassociative)
still thinking about Evelyn
icon: "disassociative (a digital painting of a stylized person in profile with wide open screaming mouth and arms up with palms spread wide. Head and hands flow into strands like blood vessels)"

Latest email from Evelyn had the mildest pushback and my immediate urge (which I resisted, for the most part) was to throw all my needs out the window and be like "nevermind I don't need anything I just want to be with you let's pretend everything is rainbows and I'm a superhuman who never feels pain and can give endlessly without replenishing" god I fucking hate that. I also hate that I can't stop thinking about this. Arrrgghhh what is wrong with me. STOP GETTING YOUR HOPES UP, SELF.


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belenen: (garrulous)
LJI fav reads list, week 7
icon: "garrulous(a photo of my lips with the skin greyed out and the lips overlaid with a green and blue fractal pattern)"

list of recs! )


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belenen: (oneness)
LJI topic 7, "where I'm from": I am from the Internet, from a little city called Livejournal.
icon: "oneness (the characters Keenan and Joan from "Playing By Heart," sitting very close together, both looking off to the side and laughing)"

My country is the internet; my state is the mid-90s to the mid-00s, and my city is Livejournal, though I have lived in other cities for short periods of time, and I visit other cities often.


My experience with the internet began with AOL on Windows 95. I used the internet to download midi files of music I liked, endlessly search for info on my favorite musical artists, and find people to chat eagerly with about music or about God (my two obsessions at the time). I made some pretty intense friendships, one with a white guy in Canada, and one with a black guy somewhere in the Midwest. I didn't seek out guys, I don't think, but there just weren't any girls my age that I could find (and at that point I didn't know that nonbinary people existed). My friendships with those two highly ethical and thoughtful people allowed me to create healthy expectations of male behavior, rather than accepting selfishness and disrespect as 'normal' which would have been the case if I did not have access to the internet.

During the early days of my interaction with the internet, my use was limited to chatting, searching for information, and exploring the Anotherworld MUD. Then at age 20 I took an intro computer course which was utter shit but one of the assignments changed my life: we had to make a simple webpage with the most basic coding. I found this really fun and started teaching myself HTML, building two websites from bare code. I probably spent more than 200 hours on them over the course of the next three years. No one I knew ever cared much about this project, but I loved it so much I didn't need external interest to keep it going. I did get interesting and meaningful responses in the guestbook of my site, particularly about my anti-racist stance. This is where I developed my ethic of content creation and self-education: I shared what I made, and when I wanted to do something I trained myself on how to do it. This was no small feat, because how-to resources were still scanty at the time.


At the same time, Allison (who is now my oldest friendship) introduced me to LiveJournal. I joined first as a way to stay in touch with Allison and it quickly took on an important role in my life. I met new people through add-me communities and through shared-interest communities. This is where I developed my norm for getting to know people: if I thought they were interesting I added them to my friends list and consumed their online content. If the interest was mutual and they added me back, I would respond to their posts and have turn-based conversations. I rarely had any direct interaction at first -- I only commented if they required it before adding them, and most of the time if they required that I just didn't add them.

That is how I would prefer to be able to get to know anyone; indirectly and not in real time but with intensely intimate levels of sharing. It's a strong enough norm for me that I can rarely have a lasting or nourishing connection with someone who doesn't share intimacies indirectly. It's usually too hard for me to sync up in real time, but I need that level of intense sharing to feel nourished and to maintain investment. But I've realized that in most places, getting to know someone indirectly first is considered 'weird' at best and people often refer to it as 'stalking' which I find utterly baffling. I accept that it's taboo and I don't talk about it to out-of-towners, but where I'm from, that's just how you do it! (obviously I don't look at anything that's not set to 'public' because that's creepy)

Also at this intense time of change, I started going to group therapy. Through the group therapy I started learning to be vulnerable with others, and within a few months I dedicated my journal to openness and honesty. It was a difficult project for a long time, because only a few months into my LJ life I started having flashbacks to childhood sexual abuse (sparked by having consensual penetrative sex for the first time). I began going to therapy weekly, and it got worse before it got better.

So for about two years I could not leave my house without someone by my side, and I had no local friends so I rarely went out. The internet saved me: I built real friendships to a depth I never had before. For the first time in my life, people sharing freely with me happened on a daily basis instead of once or twice a year. This was the first time in my life I truly felt like I belonged and like I understood how to interact in a way that would be appreciated. I rapidly dismantled my inner barriers to openness, and what I didn't dismantle was destroyed for me. It became important to me to share my own story in a public way, because I knew I was not the only one dealing with recovery from abuse. That built my immunity to trolling because when people mock you for being an abuse victim, there's not much lower they can go.


In late 2004 I also came across a community celebrating hourglass shapes and when the owner deleted it due to fighting over what counted, I decided to make a better version. I created a body-positive community with the idea of it being for medium people, like I was at the time (size 10) since there were fat positive communities but they had a minimum size requirement. But as people much smaller and larger than me joined, my idea rapidly changed, because the idea of excluding people for being 'too much' or 'not enough' was not okay to me. Within a few months, it was for anyone who self-identified as curvy, regardless of size or gender. This community was like a commune, a gathering of people who I mostly didn't know but who all were working together on the same beautiful project. It was home and work and family all at once; I took it from one person to more than 1,300, and it remained a thriving community for about four years.

That community was where I learned to love myself, and I got to watch lots of others do it too. It also brought me and Hannah together, which was a whole new experience because for the first time I met someone who was better at questioning and being open than I was. Hannah and I would regularly spend 9+ hours talking and sharing: we'd write on LJ and read each others' writing, we'd explore deviantart and share favorite works with each other, and just talk endlessly on gchat.



Deviantart was, for a time, almost as important as LJ to me. It's where I shared my artistic nudes and developed immunity about people expressing disgust toward my body. I also experienced so many people thanking me for sharing and telling me that it helped them to see their own beauty. DeviantArt is the town where I developed myself as a public artist, and I had some celebrity for a short time, but now my style has evolved so much that no one recognizes it as mine when I put up a new piece. It's a place I visit once in a blue moon to look at my old work on the walls, but all the artists I loved there moved away so even the nostalgia is dusty. I can't bring myself to stay long enough to get invested in the art circles there anymore.

Twitter was paramount for about a year in 2011; I kept up daily and interacted often. I was put off by the lack of reciprocity: I was following and interacting with people who never read my tweets and it felt cliquish. I learned a lot from the feminists there, esp the trans and WOC feminists, but it was more like a newspaper than like a social space. In a lot of ways it reminds me of my college experience: no matter how much effort I put in, no one wanted to connect at more than a surface level. Twitter is a city I drive through almost every day but never stop anymore; the roads where people live are confusing and parking is fucking torture, so I just go on through.



I got a facebook initially due to curiosity, kept it because of its value at organizing gathers, and slowly began spending more time there as my local activist network developed. Over the past two years it has become a more real space for me, as people have begun interacting with me more, but it still feels somewhat alien. Facebook feels like the building where I work: I go there often, but always in costume while leaving my more scandalous self at home. Without ever consciously deciding to, I had developed a habit of restricted my sharing on fb because fb culture is so pro-judgement. Once I realized this, I began working to bring more of myself into my facebook life because I don't actually want to make it more difficult to get to know me. Facebook will never be home, but I am making it into a workplace where I can be more of myself.


There were several shakeups here on LJ over the years and I lost friends to vox, wordpress, blogger, dreamwidth, and even facebook, but still I remain here. My LJ friends list is like a neighborhood where every single house is owned by a friend of mine. The idea of moving is absurd and always will be unless most of my friends move away. Even when it was mostly empty for a few years, I stayed in the hopes people would return, and eventually filled up those houses with new friends. Now, I have a small handful of friends who returned but most of my neighborhood is people I have met within the past three years (and I have been on LJ for more than 13 years).

I get so excited when I meet someone who is also from the internet, and even more so when I meet someone from livejournal. I imagine it is how other people feel when they live far from a hometown that they love, and then they meet someone from there. I might not get along with everyone from LJ, but if they have lived here a while, I immediately know we share similar values in a lot of ways. Especially if they love it here as much as I do.


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belenen: (challenging)
LJI fav reads list, week 6
icon: "challenging (photo of me lifting one eyebrow and slightly squinting my eyes, wearing "Red Queen" makeup: searingly red lips, darkened pointed eyebrows, black eyeliner, deep red & black eyeshadow accented with gold & silver, and black-outlined silver hearts & diamonds with red shadows on my cheeks)"

list of recs! )


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belenen: (gamine)
LJI topic 6, "heel turn": my unlucky feet, how I first heard Godde, & how I perceive that moment now
icon: "gamine (a photo of me as a seven-year-old child, freckled with frizzy hair and a solemn expression, leaning against a tree)"

My feet have always been the most unlucky part of me. I pulled a tendon in my foot so badly that I had to wear a cast; part of my heel got deeply scraped on a shell at the beach; the head of a nail made a hole in my heel when I was running down a boardwalk; I cut open the top of my foot falling down wooden stairs; and I almost sliced off my big big toe and second toe on the bottom of a broken bottle. But that last experience was the opposite of what you might think.

I was about 12 and my parents had taken me and my siblings to a park that had a waterfall and then a wide stretch of flat river. My dad made me give my water shoes to my brother because he was more accident prone (clearly they hadn't noticed the trend of my feet being unlucky) and so I was clambering around the rocks, barefoot. At one point I went to step on a mossy rock and I got a very strong internal "no" but having never experienced that before I ignored it and stepped. My foot slid right down into a hole between several rocks and I stumbled and realized that I had been cut. I called out to my parents, who were quite freaked out by the amount of blood gushing from my left foot, but I could only feel the small scrape on my right foot -- I think I was in shock.

As my dad carried me to the car and we drove to the nearest hospital (with the aid of a paper map), I was not thinking about the cuts at all. I was completely preoccupied with marveling that I had heard Godde's voice! I felt embarrassed that I hadn't listened, but I felt that I had been given proof that Godde loved me, not just generally but me in particular.

I have a very different perspective on that moment now, 22 years later. I can see a variety of alternate possibilities: my eyes took in information that I didn't consciously notice, and my subconscious sent a warning; nature spirits in the area knew of the danger and warned me; someone else had slipped there before and their pain had left an imprint that I subconsciously picked up on (this one I consider the most likely). Whatever the case, some being (even if it was just my self) was watching out for me and trying to communicate with me.

It still feels like a magical moment, and looking back I can see that it had a profound effect on my sense of self and the way that I perceived the world. Back then, it caused me to believe that Godde wanted to spare me pain because they loved me uniquely, and that I could listen on a deep level to get information that would keep me safe. As a kid who never felt safe or secure, that was something I really needed. I no longer believe in a singular, all-powerful deity who will magically keep me from harm, but I was able to believe in that throughout the most unsafe, unloved years of my life, and I'm very glad I had that experience.


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belenen: (curious)
quick question
icon: "curious (my face, looking straight forward with one eyebrow up and a sideways smile, head tilted down a little)"

[Poll #2061628]


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belenen: (challenging)
LJI fav reads list, week 5
icon: "challenging (photo of me lifting one eyebrow and slightly squinting my eyes, wearing "Red Queen" makeup: searingly red lips, darkened pointed eyebrows, black eyeliner, deep red & black eyeshadow accented with gold & silver, and black-outlined silver hearts & diamonds with red shadows on my cheeks)"

list of recs! )


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belenen: (polyamorous relationship anarchist)
LJI topic 5, "fear is the heart of love": love and the fear-spark, creating intimate focus energy
icon: "polyamorous relationship anarchist (a rainbow-colored heart with the 'anarchy' capital letter A cutting through it, over a brick texture that suggests the heart is graffiti)"

In Catholic school as vicious as Roman rule
I got my knuckles bruised by a lady in black
And I held my tongue as she told me,
"Son, fear is the heart of love."

- Death Cab For Cutie

There's this phenomenon most people experience when they first fall in love with someone; everything is more intense. One's lover seems like the best person ever to live. Just being in their presence is exciting and their touch feels magical. All conversations are filled with meaning and all shared experiences are filled with beauty. One craves the attention and time of one's lover; parting is difficult and reunions are joyous. Monogamous people call it "the honeymoon phase." Polyamorous people call it "new relationship energy" or NRE. Both sets of people assume that these feelings are a natural part of the beginning of a relationship but not a part of a mature relationship, as you can tell from the way they name it.

I call this experience "intimate focus energy" or IFE, and I know that it ends in most relationships not due to inevitable biology as the pop culture story goes, but due to a lack of understanding of what created that in the first place. At the beginning of any relationship there is what I call the fear-spark -- anxieties and fears that cause people to focus very intensely on each other. People worry that the other person won't like them, or that they will make a mistake, or that the other person will leave, and because of these fears they observe each other intently. It is this focus (when mutual), that allows for intensely intimate experiences.

But usually, when the fear-spark fades, people stop paying close attention. They stop noticing all the small things that make the other person a glorious creature; they stop being careful to be kind all the time; they stop watching for small signs of distress that they could soothe. And the IFE evaporates. Since they don't realize that it is their actions that have caused this, they can do nothing about it. Since they think it is natural for it to disappear, they let it stay gone.

People crave intimate focus energy and will do wild things to get it. They will induce fear in their lover in order for a fear-spark to create IFE again; they'll cheat, or try to make the other person jealous, or withdraw emotionally, or threaten to leave, or shove their anxieties on to the other person, or belittle, or invalidate, or make dangerous personal choices. I think most of the time they don't realize they're doing this -- they just have learned on some level that these behaviors can create the potential for IFE again through the fear-spark. Personally, I think the fear-spark is the worst possible way to build intimacy, especially when people are creating it through harmful behaviors.

I prefer to skip the fear-spark altogether. I know that I am more likely to get continued attention if I allow the other person to wonder about my intentions and desires, but that attention is not pure because it is motivated in part by fear. So I let people know my intentions, my desires, and my level of investment as soon as possible so that they don't have unknowns causing fear in those areas. I also do my best to avoid causing unnecessary fear in the other person. Sometimes this causes me to lose people, because they don't know how to maintain intimacy without the fear-spark, or they don't have enough desire in them to make up for the loss of the fear-spark. But it also means that the connections I do have can start out with a more mature and complete love, and that I can build positive IFE habits with them from the beginning.

There is no fear in love. On the contrary,
love that has achieved its goal gets rid of fear,
because fear has to do with punishment;
the person who keeps fearing
has not been brought to maturity in regard to love.

- 1 John 4:18


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belenen: (challenging)
LJI fav reads list, week 4
icon: "challenging (photo of me lifting one eyebrow and slightly squinting my eyes, wearing "Red Queen" makeup: searingly red lips, darkened pointed eyebrows, black eyeliner, deep red & black eyeshadow accented with gold & silver, and black-outlined silver hearts & diamonds with red shadows on my cheeks)"

list of recs! )


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belenen: (Ma'at)
LJI topic 4: successful prediction requires elimination of unlikely possibilities, which I can't do.
icon: "Ma'at (a photo of one side of a brass balance scale, with a feather inside the bowl. The background is sky blue. On the bottom of the image, below the photo, is the word "Ma'at")"

Some people can predict the future, at least a little bit, because they're good at recognizing the factors that come together for a result, and they can dismiss the unlikely ones and be confident in the most likely outcome. I'm not, mainly because I don't experience a sense of weighted likelihood. I can plan to be somewhere and be pretty sure I'll get there, but my car might break down or I might have some kind of emergency -- I can't know that that won't happen. (And of course there's being neuroatypical and having mental issues like depression and anxiety. I can't predict when I'm going to be suddenly wiped out and unable to function socially -- I just try to leave enough slack that when that happens it doesn't fuck up too much of my life.) I can sometimes give you 99.99% certainty but I'll never be 100% sure of anything -- yeah I mean literally anything. I'm not 100% sure that I exist.

So I almost never say "I will do this thing" I just say "I'm planning to do this thing" or "I'll do my best to do this thing." If there is something that could happen at any time outside of my control, I can't count that out just because it's unlikely. Other people get frustrated with my block about ruling out the unlikely, but my brain just doesn't work that way. I have to consider all possibilities, even the ones I know to be hugely unlikely. This makes it difficult for me to ever think about the future or plan more than a month out, especially since there has been no real stability in my life for years -- anything could happen.

I have been practicing acceptance of impermanence/cycling in my relationships for about a decade now. The person I've now been with for more than four years is someone I started dating thinking that it would end within the month. I had this expectation for the first two years of our relationship, because they warned me when we started that they hadn't done much long-term romance and they couldn't imagine it working for them. I think now that we're likely to continue for a while yet, and we have committed to friendship indefinitely but I can't predict how long we will be romantic and I wouldn't try.

Honestly I don't wanna know the future at all when it comes to the development of my connections. I want to decide each day on that, and not have any external false sense of security but rather the real security of knowing that no one is with me because they feel obligated or not up to the work of disentangling or nostalgic about the past, but only because they want to be with me right now. I would like to know how long it will be before I fall in love again but no one can tell me that.

Part of me would really like to have such a secure life that I can be like "Next year I'm going to ____." But every year for me has looked so different from what I would have guessed that I can't even imagine that.

For 2016, I never would have guessed that I would have this job, or that it would be handed to me like it was. I never would have guessed that I'd fall in love with someone who was spirit-kin with me and even less would I have guessed that that person would completely detach and break my heart. I never would have guessed that a spontaneous offer to someone in need would bring me one of my most cherished friendships, or that proximity would be the catalyst to end a friendship with someone who claimed distance as the primary reason for their lack of effort. I wouldn't have guessed that my relationship with Topaz would metamorphose into something even better than it had ever been before.

I'm never gonna be able to 'skate to where the puck is going to be' but that's okay; I'm good at going where the puck might be, and adjusting constantly with each moment. What I lack in prediction I make up for through adaptation.


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belenen: (bluestocking)

icon: "bluestocking (photo of a book lying open on a table with a bright window in the background, overlaid with a yellow fractal that looks like the sun shining through dust motes)"




Stars are for re-watches

SHOWS:
Switched at Birth (finished season 4)
New Girl season 4
Grey's Anatomy* (seasons 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, )
Lost Girl* (all seasons [with a few skips])
Last Tango in Halifax (seasons 1-3)
Better Off Ted*
Witches of East End*
Love (season 1)
Wentworth* (seasons 1-2 rewatch, plus 3)
IT Crowd* (all seasons)
Cristela (season 1)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (season 2)
The Messengers (part of season 1)
How to Get Away with Murder (season 2)
Grace and Frankie (season 2)
Bitten (seasons 1-3)
Zoo (season 1)
Lady Dynamite (season 1)
The Lizzie Borden Chronicles (complete)
Baby Daddy (seasons 4-5)
Good Witch (part of season 1)
Scandal (season 5)
Orange is the New Black (season 4)



FILMS (small screen):
Guidance
Jenny's Wedding
Revenge of the Bridesmaids
I Give It a Year
The Decoy Bride (wtf with all these wedding-themed movies)



FILMS (theatre):
Through the Looking Glass (Topaz treated me)



BOOKS:




ALBUMS:
Seinabo Sey -- "Pretend"



CONCERTS:




ARTICLES:






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belenen: (overwhelmed)
unintentional haitus? oops.
icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"

Hi friends!

I've gotten terribly behind and I miss all of you. I was unfriended by a few people, one of whom I really cared about. I don't think it was the content of the stuff I did post so much as the lack of other posts and comments on people's journals, because it's probably been at least two months since I was really keeping up. When I was working at starbux, I had no energy for anything because it took so much work to be social AND on my feet for many hours AND parsing sound constantly. I just watched netflix with my spare time, or did necessary chores or watched netflix w Topaz. My new job is amazing and I feel accomplished yet not drained at the end of the day, but it does take 52-60 hours a week including driving and time for lunch (I take a 30 min lunch). And I haven't worked 40 hours a week in like 10 years, haven't driven 10-15 hours a week in years also. So I'm still adjusting to that. It will help once work starts back up again because then I will have a set schedule -- starting in December meant having work broken up by off time since we follow the academic calendar to a certain extent. Once I am definitely working M-F I can pick time to dedicate to LJ and manage to do it.

Solstice was amazing and Xmas was relatively low-stress too, but all the hustle and bustle wore me out and I am glad to have this week to recover. I'm still emotionally exhausted and having stress dreams when I sleep, about things like writing a bunch of papers or getting trapped on the wrong floor in a giant building by someone who intended to put me in the 'playpen' which sounded epic levels of ominous.


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belenen: (overwhelmed)
when being yourself is dangerous: microaggressions as brushback pitches
icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"

A brushback pitch works because the batter's subconscious screams "it's gonna hit you!" The body reacts to a close call almost the same as to actual damage, dumping adrenaline and intensifying senses, increasing heart rate and respiration. It doesn't matter that your conscious mind is telling you "they want to scare you, not actually harm you."

This is what microaggressions are like, except that they're usually accidents. Someone thinks it's funny that a man wore a dress -- they're not attacking, but they find gender-non-conforming behavior to be so alien that it is funny and you know from long experience that if someone can't relate, they can be cruel. So a giggle becomes a near blow. Or someone uses a slur to describe an upsetting situation -- they're not attacking, but they're showing a lack of understanding that also allows for cruelty. So a bit of slang becomes a near blow. It doesn't have to be physical to cause intense physical reactions which use up your physical and mental reserve energy.

I used to be such a bold and brave person, back when being myself didn't cause constant flinching. Back before I knew how many people get fired and beaten and raped and murdered for varying from the accepted norm, not to mention being ostracized and excluded by default. Before I knew the consequences and before I knew myself to be at risk, I was free. I was just a little bit different and people thought it was quirky and interesting, not threatening and overwhelming. It's easy and safe to be yourself when who you are does not disrupt people's belief systems.

Now my system is so exhausted from the constant jolts of adrenaline I endure in day-to-day interactions with people that being myself becomes almost impossible. My body doesn't even wait for people to say stuff anymore. It just dumps adrenaline as soon as I'm doing something that exposes me to people, no matter how small and innocuous. When it's about to be my turn to talk in front of people, my body is acting like I'm about to jump out of a plane. I'm not afraid in my conscious mind but my subconscious doesn't care. I'm not shy, reserved, or introverted, but I have become anxious and on the outside that looks the same. I have become literally unable to be myself thanks to an endless series of brushback pitches.

But after many years of having no financial safety, I finally have a job where I can take care of myself. I can afford to offend biofamily. And after many years of feeling unnourished and unvalued, I have people in my life who really do love me as I am and value what I offer. I can afford to lose friends. I still get thrown brushback pitches constantly, but I'm wearing some body armor now, and I don't flinch quite so hard. I plan to make armor for others, as well as dismantling the system that creates these pitchers who give us nothing but brushback pitches.


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belenen: (challenging)
LJI fav reads list, week 2
Didn't think I was gonna make it in time to vote but here we go...

list of recs! )


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belenen: (garrulous)
tweets & fb posts, November 2016
it is very long )


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belenen: (challenging)
LJI topic 2, that one friend: when is it over? my 5 criteria for continued friendship investment
icon: "challenging (photo of me lifting one eyebrow and slightly squinting my eyes, wearing "Red Queen" makeup: searingly red lips, darkened pointed eyebrows, black eyeliner, deep red & black eyeshadow accented with gold & silver, and black-outlined silver hearts & diamonds with red shadows on my cheeks)"

I've always been the thrifty type: can't throw it out if there might still be some good in it! I'm like this with people to an often-detrimental extreme. I have a very hard time giving up and mostly can't manage to do it unless the other person already has. I was thinking about this tendency recently and asked myself "if I had no memory of this person before this year, would I put effort into connecting with them?" and realized that for one friend in particular the answer is "hell no." Then I tried to remember the last time there was a long stretch of them being a nourishing friend for me and realized that it had been years. I'm pretty sure they started thinking of me as "someone they used to be friends with" a long time ago -- while I was still trying to be their friend.

I might have more good people in my life if I hadn't spent so much time and energy trying to resurrect this friendship. I need a better cut-off point where I don't let literal years go by of me waiting for them to start being my friend in earnest. But what should the limit be? I know people go through hard times and I don't want to end a friendship because someone went through a period of low energy. I also don't want to continue one where the other person doesn't actually bother. I need criteria for me continuing to invest, and I need to actually and honestly evaluate where I am spending my energy. So tonight I am creating criteria:
1) nourishment: interacting with them is net-positive at least half of the time. (net-positive means I leave an interaction more nourished than drained).
2) shared effort: they put forth at least 1/3rd of the total effort for us to connect (I'm willing to adjust to meet them).
3) fair expectations: they don't expect me to do more than half of the emotional labor or more than half of the logistics labor.
4) building together: we have shared goals, and I can see actual evidence of this in their behavior and in where they devote their resources.
5) evidence of care: they take action to show that they care about my feelings and (without prompting) express a desire to help meet my needs.
If none of these criteria are true for more than three months, I should discuss this with the person and if nothing can be done to improve the situation, I should take a break from the person.

If I had used these criteria to evaluate my relationship with this one friend, I would have recognized that the relationship showed
1) lack of nourishment: it almost always was way more draining than nourishing.
2) lack of effort: they did less than 1/3rd of the total effort to connect us, probably less than 1/4th.
3) unfair expectations: they expected me to do way more than half and expected me to accommodate all their needs while they didn't do anything for mine.
4) minuscule building together: I saw very little evidence that they cared about what mattered to me.
5) no evidence of care: they never checked in about how their actions affected me, reacted defensively every time I tried to discuss it, and showed absolute disinterest in helping to meet my needs.

In contrast, my three closest people at the moment share these qualities:
1) nourishment: time together is net-positive way more than half of the time.
2) shared effort: they do way more than a third of connecting us (one of them actually does more than me on a fairly regular basis!).
3) fair expectations: they don't expect me to do more than half, and they offer to take half of the burden (or even more sometimes!) if they can.
4) building together: they show they care about community, justice, self-education, etc by hosting gathers with me, participating in protests, learning new things, etc.
5) evidence of care: they check in about how their actions affect me, and they offer to help me in whatever ways they can. They try to accommodate my communication needs and express appreciation when I move outside of my comfort zone for them.

I have to learn to accept when someone is not interested in investing in me, and I have to learn to stop pouring effort into them. I only have so much and I can't build good connections if I spend all my energy on people who do not want to create a positive feedback loop with me (wanting it to magically exist without them working for it doesn't count as 'wanting to create').

This one friend I'm talking about is someone who is in my top-five most-loved human beings of my entire 33+ years. I really wanted to be able to be connected with them. But I cannot. I will accept this and allow them to recede into my past, as I have receded into theirs.


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belenen: (challenging)

[Poll #2058480]
connecting:


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belenen: (slytherin)
could-be safety
icon: "slytherin (a closeup of the Slytherin crest: a rearing silver serpent in front of a green background patterned in stylized waves of water and plush upholstery)"


there are reasons to fear me
I am a clawed, fanged creature
with no shame
and far too much emotion
I will bite
(if you should earn it)
I'm brimming with fight
If you don't know yet
you'll learn it

but here I am )


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belenen: (intrigued)
LJ Idol signups still open! / LJI fav reads list, week 1: I need the struggle to feel alive
icon: "intrigued (a photo of a snow leopard with ears flattened, peering intently over a log)"

Signups for LJ Idol close at Wednesday, Nov 23rd at 8pm EST, the same time the first topic is due. I would looooove to have more of my flist participate, so if you're considering it, you still have a good 16 hours to sign up and post your first entry!

favorite posts from topic 1 )


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belenen: (feminist)
LJI topic 1, I need the struggle to feel alive: no, I feel alive despite the struggle. I seek safety
icon: "feminist (the trans-feminist fist symbol colored in a rainbow gradient, with the words "intersectional or bullshit" on top)"

I cannot relate to feeling like you need to add more danger or stress to your life in order to feel fully alive; I think you have to be damned cozy in your privilege to feel that way.* Certainly a lot of people are that cozy, which is why shit like volcano surfing exists. Some people actually get adrenaline jolts so rarely that they find them fun!? I can't imagine.

My daily life is a struggle. I struggle to maintain my identity through being constantly assigned gender and having my sexuality and relationships erased any time I am around people (other than my closest). I struggle to make enough money to feed myself and pay my bills. I struggle to maintain relationships because literally all of my people are drained constantly by oppression & other hardships. I struggle to understand what people are saying, both because of my auditory processing issues and because I am extremely literal. I struggle to feel understood and valued when the best parts of me seem to go undesired and unnoticed. I struggle to be social because it takes so much out of me and so often gives little back.

I am privileged in significant ways (being white, physically non-disabled, cis-passing, & college-educated) and yet still, I struggle every day. I don't want to struggle; the more I am struggling, the less I can give. I want my struggles to decrease so that I can give more. I want to be able to help others and not need to spend all of my resources on my own mere survival. I know that I will have to work to maintain empathy with others if/when my own struggles decrease, but I am not concerned because I am more dedicated to doing that than I am to life itself.

What makes me feel alive is not when I am wrestling with some issue. I feel most alive when I can put aside my struggles for a little while and rest in my little bubble with just my safe people who I know are going to do their best to not use slurs, infringe on consent, or enforce damaging norms. Oppressed and marginalized people don't get to feel fully alive very often. I want change this, so I create safer spaces when I organize events and I work to improve those spaces that I don't control.

---

*there are other reasons to seek out danger or the simulation of it, I know: depression for instance can be so numbing that a shock of any feeling is a relief.


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belenen: (bluestocking)
LJI fav reads list, week 0
icon: "bluestocking (photo of a book lying open on a table with a bright window in the background, overlaid with a yellow fractal that looks like the sun shining through dust motes)"

LJI week 0, Intro:


newbie favorites:

http://alohaanna.livejournal.com/972.html
http://devilz-workshop.livejournal.com/949.html
http://marlawentmad.livejournal.com/773.html
http://n8tastrophe.livejournal.com/961.html
http://quiltingdragon.livejournal.com/257014.html
http://tabloidscully.livejournal.com/554797.html
http://tinylegacies.livejournal.com/1135617.html



veteran favorites:
http://banana-galaxy.livejournal.com/1021.html
http://goldmourn.livejournal.com/1873556.html
http://kbr-shorts.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/therealljidol-season-10-topic-0_7.html
http://suesniffsglue.livejournal.com/478821.html
http://j0ydivided.livejournal.com/1172.html ***
http://theun4givables.livejournal.com/259095.html
http://dreamchaser.livejournal.com/366088.html
http://lilmissmagic71.livejournal.com/89773.html
http://eternal-ot.livejournal.com/13207.html
http://bewize.livejournal.com/926230.html
http://xo-kizzy-xo.livejournal.com/1395135.html
http://fodschwazzle.livejournal.com/17113.html
http://penpusher.livejournal.com/761488.html
http://tamaraland.livejournal.com/936742.html
http://furzicle.livejournal.com/435713.html
http://deza.livejournal.com/1414341.html
http://adpaz.livejournal.com/1160706.html *
http://favoritebean.livejournal.com/46046.html
http://bunnika.livejournal.com/331546.html
http://az-starshine.livejournal.com/1035466.html
http://shanns-ljidol.livejournal.com/21953.html
http://rswndrlst.livejournal.com/10074.html
http://saintegloire.livejournal.com/1181.html
http://lapis-lazuli615.livejournal.com/214079.html *
http://impoetry.livejournal.com/233029.html
http://alycewilson.livejournal.com/669840.html
http://kfp-rawr.livejournal.com/6394.html
http://murielle.livejournal.com/294203.html *
http://tonithegreat.livejournal.com/259269.html *


Some awesome writing already! this is going to be a fantastic season.


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belenen: (hopeful)
LJI topic 0, intro: my function is explaining, my motivation is compassion, my hope is understanding
icon: "hopeful (close-up photo of me wearing cat-eye makeup, jewels on my cheek, and a violet glitter goatee. I'm gazing off to the side with a hopeful smile.)"

I do a lot of explaining myself as a queer, demisexual, agender, trans, relationship anarchist, vegetarian, eclectic pagan Quaker with ADD-PI (attention deficit disorder - primarily inattentive) and CAPD (central auditory processing disorder). My communication methods can be alarmingly rude on accident (illustrated by my lack of understanding of why others appreciate empty words like "hi") but my goal is almost always to create the best understanding for the most people. If I have one main function, it is to explain: explain people to each other, explain systems to people, explain myself to those I care about, explain how things work to my own self, explain to others how to practice skills I've learned.

My primary motivation is compassion, and for me that is very complex. In a simple, wholesome world compassion is just being kind to the people around you. In a world of structural injustice, compassion takes much more work. It takes learning about systems and about anyone who is different from you, because otherwise you will hurt people no matter how wonderful your intentions are. So I spend a lot of time trying to learn about people who are different from me and trying to help others also learn, so that I can reduce the amount of suffering I cause and hopefully ripple out to reduce suffering in general.

I want to connect with living beings in a mutually nourishing way. I've learned that if a person wants to reduce suffering enough to do work for it, we will probably nourish each other and be great friends. My hope in life and in writing is to create more understanding that will allow for more nourishing connections.


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belenen: (polyamorous relationship anarchist)
why/how I make people a priority
icon: "polyamorous relationship anarchist (a rainbow-colored heart with the 'anarchy' capital letter A cutting through it, over a brick texture that suggests the heart is graffiti)"

What causes me to make someone a priority is one of two things: we decided together to deliberately build a connection, or we have an energetic connection that is unusually strong.

The first kind I do on purpose obviously, the second kind happens even when the other person puts no effort in at all. I have to try to deliberately shut that one off and when it comes to people who I feel are spirit-kin, it is as impossible for me to actually remove the impulse to make them a priority as it is for average people to not make blood kin a priority. I can keep myself from acting on it, but the urge is always there.

I actually have such a bad memory that I keep a list on my phone of people who I am currently prioritizing. It has been mostly useless for the past two months as I've been just scraping by, but I'm checking it again now.

I just took several people off the list, so it's very stripped down right now. It's usually 7-9 people but I don't have the energy within or coming in to make more people a priority right now. I think this list can help me illustrate the qualities that cause me to make someone a priority.

The list currently:

Topaz - because their company nourishes me (especially mentally and physically) & we have a shared goal of learning and creating.
Serenity - because their company nourishes me (especially spiritually) & ultimately we have an intention of becoming a community hub.
Allison - because their company nourishes me (especially artistically) & and I want a stronger friendship with them.
Sande - because their company nourishes me (especially spiritually) & I want to build a connection when that becomes possible.

They all have similar values to mine, they reach back when I reach out, they make efforts to spend time with me, and they try to stay in touch with me by reading what I share on LJ. Those aren't the only things I need to make someone a priority, but they are all necessary.

I tend to take people at their word. When I ask them if they make me a priority and they say yes, I treat all situations as though they're doing their best but other things are getting in the way. At some point though, I've got to stop acting like that's true. I want all my strong connections to be priorities but I'm sick of them forgetting that I fucking exist and not making any efforts of their own volition. I'm sick of literally everything else being more important.

So I'm not gonna do that. Right now, if you can't tell, I'm feeling angry and unimportant, especially to people who I've tried with over months and sometimes years while they put all their effort into other things, other people. At some point, they're just not valuing our connection. I shouldn't pour energy out trying to keep that connection alive. Fuck it. I should do what they're doing and treat them as part of my past not my present.


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belenen: (interconnectedness)
thanks for being wonderful, LJ friends / poll: where do you live?
icon: "interconnectedness (two bald purple-skinned people in the ocean: from Joan Slonczewski's "Door Into Ocean")"

Finally caught up on replying to comments today. I really do have just the sweetest friends list. In fact, overall I think my friends list right now actually has the highest number of meaningful connections that I've ever had. I really adore many of you and am excited about getting to know some of my newer friends. LJ is my beloved home and I'm pleased that we share this building *heartglow*

Speaking of home, I'm curious as to how my current readers are scattered (only I can see who chose what).
Please ONLY answer if you read my journal )


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belenen: (polyamorous relationship anarchist)
I'm joining LJ Idol once more
Season 10


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belenen: (Ma'at)
constant caretaking without sufficient rest is damaging for caretaker, caretaken, & the relationship
icon: "Ma'at (a photo of one side of a brass balance scale, with a feather inside the bowl. The background is sky blue. On the bottom of the image, below the photo, is the word "Ma'at")"

If I could teach every empathetic person one relational/emotional skill, it would be making self-care a priority that comes first at LEAST half of the time.

Earlier this year I wrote about how loss of alone time, constant caretaking, and medication stigma almost killed me and that is one of the most important things I've ever written. This will be focusing on how constant caretaking without sufficient rest is damaging for the caretaker, the one who is being taken care of, and the relationship itself.

People who are generous and strong and good at managing emotion often end up in a caretaking habit by default. We know that even at the end of a terrible day, if someone comes to us with a need we can pull energy seemingly out of nothing in order to take care of them. The thing is, we're not pulling that energy out of nothing, we're pulling it from our cognitive/emotional reserves and our future. That's a great skill for an emergency but it is not sustainable; it cannot be a way of life.

When I was married, I spent a good half of my cognitive/emotional resources on my spouse ) All my caretaking and compromising my needs for their feelings did not help them to grow emotionally -- in fact I think it hindered their growth significantly.

Since I was able to be so intensely caretaking for someone for so long, I imagined I had no limits to the help I could give others. Then I ended up in three relationships which all took far more energy than they provided (mutually, I believe, as none of us had compatible needs & abilities at the time), which stripped me so far down that I could not get back out of the hole without medical, chemical help. Until I experienced being suicidal and reality-broken for months, I did not admit to myself that I could not give to everyone whatever they wanted and still be a healthy person. Until it almost killed me, I refused to value my needs above even the desires of others, much less over others' needs. But you know what? I'm no good to anyone if I am dead. And emotional death is real. I was absolutely useless to the world for at least six months if not a year after I ran out of energy and if I hadn't had access to free doctor visits and cheap meds through my university, it would have been a lot longer of a period. To a certain extent I am STILL recovering from that awful crash in late 2012.

And you'd think I'd have learned my lesson, but I got in a pattern of caretaking without paying attention to my needs again )

I have found that when I sacrifice my mental health for another person, eventually my survival instincts will kick in -- in ways that I really don't want them to. Either I stop being able to feel empathy for them and develop a dread for their presence or I start escaping constantly in my every spare moment and cease being an actual person, or both. These things are obviously not helpful for the other person and they can destroy a relationship. Kylei and I had no good connection for a year after we broke up because the pattern had gotten so deep that it was still there for many months afterward. Had we broken up earlier instead of staying in that sacrificing mode for each other, I am certain we would have healed much faster.

So my point in all this is that caretaking another person at the expense of your own needs is not sustainable. It will at least destroy the relationship if it continues too long and I think it can also destroy the person sacrificing, AND it is ultimately damaging for the person who is being taken care of. Coming to depend on someone for your needs and then having that ripped suddenly away when they run out of ability is profoundly destabilizing and terrifying, and it is inevitable because no one has infinite energy or the ability to give endlessly without being nourished enough to refill. If you love the person you're caretaking and you want to help them the most you can, you MUST take care of yourself. Otherwise you are setting them up for a really, really awful crash (and setting yourself up for the same).

As I said to a friend, you don't actually have the choice of caretaking someone without rest forever -- that's an illusion or maybe a delusion. The only choice you have is in what the end of the pattern looks like. It's literally impossible to continue giving while your needs are not met, while you are not taking in nourishment. I feel as sure about this as I am about the fact that you can't go endlessly without food.

The problem is that caretaking others at one's own expense is not always bad. It's only unhealthy when it is the norm, which usually happens gradually. This is why you need to know what your needs are and pay attention to whether or not they are being met. I am sure everyone's tells are different, but usually there are things people do when they are nourished that they don't do when they are drained. To know if you're nourished it's important to keep some kind of log of those things if your memory is not that great (like mine), or check in with yourself every so often.

what I need to be mentally healthy, and my tells of being drained )


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belenen: (bloodcurdling)
horrible bioparents finally gone, maybe I can return to life
icon: "bloodcurdling (photo of me w wide-eyed snarling wild expression wearing "Red Queen" makeup: searingly red lips, darkened pointed eyebrows, black eyeliner, deep red & black eyeshadow accented with gold & silver, and black-outlined silver hearts & diamonds with red shadows on my cheeks)"

Despite my best efforts I've only managed to post a handful of times in the past six weeks.
I'm so far behind on LJ that I will miss things as I go to catch up -- please forgive me if I make some clueless comment or something.

Not only did I start a new job that is physically and mentally exhausting (I have to do a lot of physical labor, stand for hours at a time, and memorize many things), my parents being here really ruined my mental health. They lie, they invade, they break and ruin, and they make up utter bullshit to justify themselves.

To get through them torturing me this way for a solid month, I spent every spare moment escaping. I rewatched the entirety of Friends despite its problems, because nostalgia made it engaging enough for escape (when I was agoraphobic I watched hours of Friends on DVD every day because it gave me a sense of connection).

a little sample of the bullshit )

I'm about to try and do some clearing, kick their energy out. Hopefully soon I will be able to put my brain in order and not feel so gross.


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belenen: (disassociative)
relationships review: Topaz, Serenity, Allison, Evelyn, Sande, Heather, Kylei, Cass, Jackie, Roger
icon: "disassociative (a digital painting of a stylized person in profile with wide open screaming mouth and arms up with palms spread wide. Head and hands flow into strands like blood vessels)"

Haven't done this since July, which is pretty much the last time I felt mentally okay. Everything has been on hold for at least two months. I'm barely managing my current levels of anxiety. It was already at unprecedented levels due to not having a job yet and then my awful parents invaded my house. Them being in town and constantly in my fucking house makes me want to rip my own brain out. They've done more stressful shit since I last wrote but I just am so sick of talking about them. I want them gone, desperately want them GONE.

I haven't done anything social at all in September, and even my texting has dropped to near-nothing, and I still feel constantly overstimulated in the worst way. I'm going through all these fucking interviews AND working in a customer service job. TOO MUCH.

I'm sorry I haven't replied to comments for a while. I keep meaning to do it but for whatever reason that is the hardest part of LJ for me (I think due to fear of making someone feel slighted by missing their comment and responding to everyone but them) and I can't manage it at the moment. It is not a lack of care though -- I do very much appreciate the care and thoughtfulness you've all shown. It means a lot.

maintaining at good w Topaz )

slowly building w Serenity and Allison )

on hold w Evelyn, Sande, Heather, Kylei, Cass )

new buds w Jackie and Roger )


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belenen: (tenebrous)
recently: depressed, still job-hunting, home suddenly uncertain
icon: "tenebrous (a shadowy orange-light photo of my face, looking down, with an achingly sad expression)"

So, I guess I put off the depression as long as I could. About three weeks ago I stopped being able to fend it off. I've been completely overwhelmed.

illustrations from recent tweets )

I feel like there are blocks on every path but an increasing pressure pushing me forward against them. It seems like an endless succession of this-week-is-more-stressful-than-last, an endless series of needing to make efforts that I can't believe in. Every day that goes by with me not having a job feels like an additional punch of hopelessness and additional proof that I will never be valued by people in power enough to make even what I need to survive. I feel a need to protect myself from more punches so that I don't get too anxious/depressed to function or live, but I have no way to do so. So every day I feel more pressure to get a job immediately, which I have no real control over.

In five months of job hunting, I have applied to so many jobs, literally hundreds. I have gotten a response from no more than five. I have had one interview -- and not for one of the jobs that will actually pay a living wage, but from a cashiering job. Hopefully I will get that and it will tide me over until I can get something that will allow me to actually use my skills, live without excessive worry, and be able to help others. I suppose the good part of it is I have become much less afraid of applying in general. Constant rejection has burned out my sensitivity to it.

Most difficult is lacking something to look forward to. If there was something I could look forward to it would help, but literally every potential joy feels blocked off by one thing or another, and money is a large part of it of course. I can't imagine the future -- it is all greyed out and I feel completely helpless.

my parents might kick me out of the house I am in )

Apologies to new friends -- it's not a great time to be meeting me, but hopefully things will take a turn for the better soon.

No advice, please, but as always you are welcome to share stories from your life.


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belenen: (challenging)
MASSIVE BOOK POLL. I laboriously compiled a list of my formative books. pls check what you've read!
icon: "bluestocking (photo of a book lying open on a table with a bright window in the background, overlaid with a yellow fractal that looks like the sun shining through dust motes)"

under a cut to save your flist. Please do the poll if you have read even just one of them! )


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