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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)
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: (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: (revolutionary)
me on LJ vs me on FB: beginning work to correct perceptions of me by being more open on FB
icon: "revolutionary (a gif flipping through four of my nude self-portraits in dancy poses lit by natural light, showing my soft rounded body)"

I had a conversation with Cass the other day about the way people perceive me through facebook. She told me that I come across as very judgemental and hasty to dismiss people as unworthy; that she in the past and others who she has talked to have this perception. At first I found this really baffling, because I am used to people who know me through the internet thinking of me as really accepting and emotionally warm, and anyone who has known me for a while knows that I always want to work shit out rather than throw people away. But it has been a long time since I took a 'fresh read' of people's opinions of me and even so, the last time I did I think people only responded if they had something nice to say (which wasn't my goal, but was nice to read). So maybe people's perceptions of me have changed in general and I just don't know it.

Anyway, there is a huge difference in my LJ presence versus my FB presence. Livejournal gets the best of me. Things I am sure I want to read again, I put on my LJ. Random comments go on twitter which cross-posts to facebook; those posts are automatically less nuanced just because they're 140 characters or less most of the time. I don't share my more warm-fuzzy or introspective stuff on FB because nobody responds so I expect that that means nobody is reading them. My tweet-sized comments usually get about a dozen likes/reactions, whereas my cross-posted LJ entries are lucky to get 3 likes/reactions.

But this means that people are never reading about how I am working out difficult friendships or how I am dealing with personal struggles, so they really don't get a good feel for who I am. And I don't want people to get the wrong impression of me, so I have decided to try and be more open on facebook, even if I get no feedback. Then at least it is not my fault if people have the wrong impression. I'm going to try to cross-post even the 'unimportant' 'too personal' stuff for a while and see if that helps.

There is also the fact that livejournal allows me to give responses to people's experiences rather than just dealing with the more surface stuff. On facebook most people do not bare their soul, so there isn't a lot of valuable reflection I can give; an "I read this and I care" means a lot more in response to a soul-baring than it does in response to a post that isn't very personal. So I can't show my caring so easily there, even with the same amount of effort. That, I do not think there is a remedy to. There are simply too many people and too many posts for me to be able to find the emotionally-deep posts that would be best for thoughtful responses.

ETA: Just realized that the fact that my comments on LJ have mood-appropriate icons (often of my face which makes me more relatable) and the fact that I am much more affectionate in my speech on LJ must also contribute to the difference in perception. The latter I can be conscious of and shift somewhat on facebook. I don't necessarily feel less affectionate toward people I know through FB, but I tend to be more reserved with affection there, not sure why. Perhaps because it does feel much more public. People can happen across my facebook pretty easily, whereas when people come to my LJ, it is a much more deliberate act of connection.


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belenen: (interconnectedness)
my lj patterns / job stress / Ace visits, explosion of social w biofam & friends / Sense8 marathon
icon: "interconnectedness (two bald purple-skinned people in the ocean: from Joan Slonczewski's "Door Into Ocean")"

reflecting on LJ patterns )

job hunt stress ) Also I was super social for like a solid week and am just now feeling like I can handle voluntary interaction with human beings. My youngest sibling, Ace, came in town with almost no warning and hasn't visited in at least four years, so I hastily threw together some plans so that Ace could meet my people and vice versa.

discomfort with biofam due to them not putting in any effort to connect with me )

Anyway, other than that discomfort, it was an okay visit. Ace wanted to go to a lesbian bar, so we did, but it was Monday night so not much was happening. Cass, Katie, Katie's person Molly, and Topaz hung out with me and Ace and just talked, and afterward Topaz and Ace and I went to dinner and Ace laid out some heavy questions. First Ace tested Topaz with a point-blank "so what do you feel about [livejournal.com profile] belenen?" (or something very close to that) and Topaz reeled briefly and then answered honestly and openly while looking me in the eyes, and Ace judged them as truthful. Ace is extraordinarily observant and blunt and doesn't fuck around when they want to know something.

Then Ace asked me "why do you hate our parents?" and I replied calmly that I don't hate them, I'm just not that attached. Topaz later told me that they were amazed at the full blast of the questions (because they got more pointed from there) and at how I handled them, and then I realized that they were some hard questions, but I appreciate bluntness and while Ace did ask very leading questions, I'm pretty good at not being lead. However, I was also way too literal in answering them, because I think what Ace was looking for was some empathy for their suffering, but what they were asking about was my suffering, which they were then comparing to theirs. I didn't realize this until later, talking about it with Topaz, who realized it during the conversation. I felt shitty that I didn't realize and thus missed the opportunity to connect there.

The next day I had planned a small gather which Topaz hosted, with Topaz, me, Ace, Allison, Elliot, Serenity, Kylei, Jaime, and my cousin. It was a wonderful group of people and I really enjoyed everyone's company, though my ADD got way out of hand when we all played Dixit together. I'm gonna trust the box next time and agree that more than 7 people is too many, unless everyone is a fairly quiet person. We had four or five boisterous people and I just couldn't manage it after a while. Nobody got mad when I said I needed a break or when we didn't end up returning to the game, though, so it was okay.

I was hoping to have more time with Ace but since they were smoking a lot of the time and thus were outside while I was inside we didn't really interact directly very much. They said they liked all my friends (said this to me multiple times) and said to Topaz "I love you for my [sibling]," which I was very pleased by because they're usually very suspicious of anyone I am close to. This was also the first time I got to introduce several people to each other (which I love doing) and people volunteered their positive impressions of each other to me which made me VERY happy.

Then Wednesday I spent time with Ace, my cousin, and my grandparent, very casual, working on a long-term art project of Ace's. I was so so so wiped out after that though -- family Sunday, family AND new scary place (I'd never been to a lesbian bar and I get very anxious about not looking queer enough) Monday, big social thing including family Tuesday, more family Wednesday. I took Thursday to recover and then spent Friday vacuuming the dust/dander/fur out of the rugs and then spending time with Topaz.

Saturday was a day I had been planning for two months: a Sense8 marathon. Topaz, Sande, Evelyn, Serenity, and I watched it on the projector that I borrowed from Kylei. I don't remember how many episodes various people watched but it felt really wonderful to be with people that I feel such strong connections with, watching a show that feels like a part of me. And it was good that it was low-interaction because I certainly couldn't have handled more active social at the end of such a week!

It was really really wonderful to have Topaz in my house, after so long of them not being there due to allergies. I replaced the air filter very recently, dusted the week before, vacuumed the day before, and Serenity mopped the floors the day before too, and I turned the air conditioning high while Topaz was here (because cold helps). It all paid off -- Topaz didn't seem to have much of a reaction at all, and was able to stay for like five hours.


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belenen: (disconnected)
relationships review: Topaz, Kylei, Heather, Allison, Cass, Serenity, Arizona, Evelyn, Sande, etc
icon: "disconnected (a gif of the lovers from the tv show "Moonlight" standing on opposite sides of a door and both looking devastated. One leans their forehead on the door and the other leans their face on their hand on the doorsill. Underneath the repeating gif is the word 'pain' in a handwriting-font.)"

topaz )

kylei )

heather )

allison )

cass )

serenity )

arizona and evelyn and etc )

Last night was really wonderful. Topaz hosted a gather and Sande, Allison, Heather, Brian, Cass, and Jess came, and the 8 of us had alcohol and snacks and just hung out and talked. It was very relaxed. I got very drunk (first time in a long while, and more drunk than usual). I got sad at one point, thinking about Kylei and feeling abandoned, but people were kind to me and helped me feel better.

I loved watching everyone interact. I think this is the first time I felt like Allison was there for more than just me -- it's quite possible that happened before but this time I felt like Allison would still have attended if I didn't, and that made me happy. And I didn't catch much of what was being said, but Sande and Topaz seemed to have conversations with lots of resonance which pleased me lots. And I cuddled with Topaz and Sande and Cass and a little with Allison, all of which were sweet nourishing cuddles.

I'm realizing the more I think on it that I am really deeply sad about Kylei. I feel really lost and adrift. I feel a deep sadness in the loss of hope for being close with them anytime soon. I think it could still happen eventually but I no longer can trick myself into thinking it's just around the corner, next week maybe. It's not going to be soon. And I miss Kylei in particular, or rather, I miss the way we used to connect. I miss their magic. I miss doing magic together.


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belenen: (distance)
qualities from each of my friends I'd use to build my ideal friend / what I lack in friendships
icon: "distance (two hands (from a brown person and a white person) just barely apart, facing each other palm to palm)"

prompt from [livejournal.com profile] webgirluk: Imagine a new friend who was to become in your life and the person had one quality from each person in your core circle of friendships all rolled into one new person? What one quality would you choose from each person?

Topaz' self-awareness & cuddle skills/style
[livejournal.com profile] shioneh's skills at asking meaningful questions
[livejournal.com profile] hardigrin's ability to give me new perspectives
[livejournal.com profile] secret_keep's unedited openness
Allison's passionate, analytical love of art
Sydney's sincere connection with nature
[livejournal.com profile] kmiotutsie's outgoing yet take-no-shit attitude
[livejournal.com profile] sandracaprice's determined thoroughness
[livejournal.com profile] morwen_uial's perception of magic in everything
[livejournal.com profile] call_me_katya's critical, deliberate thinking
Cass' thoughtful generosity
[livejournal.com profile] volamonster's method of valuing people
[livejournal.com profile] chillychilly22's matter-of-fact assertiveness
[livejournal.com profile] tikva's habit of humorous phrasing

Prompt from [livejournal.com profile] webgirluk: Even though you seem to have a lot of rich friendships, is there one quality none can really bring you that makes you feel at times sad or something missing in connection needs, or can this be explained in a different way?

Not really any quality missing, but I am missing something in the sense that most of my friends have one situation or another that makes them mostly unavailable. Most of my friends have depression and/or anxiety and/or chronic pain and/or ADD, and/or they live far away, and/or they're busy with work and big life events like moving (4 people) or getting married (2 people, not to each other). I miiiight have one local friend whose life is not in a giant upheaval, but until a month ago it was, and it may be still. I don't lack in wonderful people in my life but I do lack the ability to actually have the company of wonderful people (with two exceptions, thankfully). I'd really love to be able to just make plans with friends and have them happen, but that hasn't been true in my life for years.


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belenen: (exuviate)
relationships: Topaz, Kylei, Heather, Hannah, Allison, Sande, Roger, Cass, Rocky, Arizona, Tinder
icon: "exuviate (photo of a dragonfly with shimmery green wings after its last metamorphosis, standing next to its previous exoskeleton)"

So I have a goal of examining all of my connections every 2-3 months, to help me stay aware and keep from getting into any ruts. I'm a bit late but I think that's because March was muddy for me with literally everyone, and I couldn't have explained much of anything.

My relationship with Topaz is still quite muddy. Today our break ends and we're going to see each other for the first time in three weeks. I'm quite nervous actually. I feel like I've realized ways I can change to make our connection more healthy for both of us. One of the main things is that I go a bit too far in trying not to pressure them; if I think they may want something and be afraid to ask for it, I offer it as if I have no preference one way or the other. Often this is upsetting for them because it makes them feel like I don't care about something that I do care about, which is confusing and sometimes hurtful. I talked about it vaguely with Heather last week, and then today I did it out of habit and it hurt Topaz' feelings, and we talked about this habit and I told Topaz I would work on being more frank with them and practice trusting them to assert their needs and desires. Last week I also told Topaz, "I want to be able to trust that if I say 'I have a need' you will react by reflecting on what you can possibly do to meet that need, and then telling me what steps you will try and what you think the likely outcome will be." They said they can do that. I think these two things will help me to not get stuck in a pattern of subverting my needs.

I had a clash with Kylei that lasted way longer than usual (more than 2 weeks), because I kept trying to arrange time to talk about it and it kept not happening, which was the very thing I was upset about. We finally did talk about it -- I told them that usually when plans don't work out it is disappointing but not hurtful because it's true for everyone, but lately I have seen them prioritize other things but not me. And that it feels impossible to believe that I am important to them when with other things that are important to them, they find a way and make it happen but with me they don't. They agreed that they hadn't been prioritizing time with me and that they were sorry about it but didn't know why it was happening. We talked about making plans but this month is too full, so we have a maybe plan for the first week of May. I feel better, not angry or frustrated any more, but I still feel in limbo and I feel sad and a bit hopeless about the idea of ever being reliably close again. If there isn't a cause that can be found, there isn't a cure that can be found.

Heather and I have spent time together recently that was very nourishing for me (and hopefully for them). A few months ago at their birthday party I had the urge to kiss them, and asked -- they said yes and we kissed very briefly. Then about a week after that I asked to kiss them again and it was brief again and I felt some hesitation (at least this is how I remember it but my memory is not great) so I asked them if there was hesitation and why, and they said it was emotionally complicated and we should talk about it later. When we did get time to talk about it, they explained that they feel we are not compatible for a romantic relationship, because of what they see me wanting from a romantic connection. I talked with them a bit about it because I felt like they were going on outdated information, but the sum of it was that anything romantic is not desired for now, at least. I feel a little weird that there is this "off limits" bit just because I'm not used to it existing, but it doesn't reduce anything.

The next time we hung out we talked about how we process things, and Heather mentioned that the main thing they give is not a thing I value (validating people's feelings), but I don't consider that the main thing they offer me at all! I think the thing they give to me the most, which I value so intensely, is a new perspective on things. Almost every time (I don't have the memory to be able to say for sure every time) we have a significant conversation they tell me something that makes me go "oh wow I hadn't realized / didn't know that" and that is literally my favorite thing a person can do. Realizing or learning something new, especially about the way people work or the way I work, is the most nourishing thing for me. More than eye contact, more than cuddles, more than people showing curiosity about me. And this in itself is a new realization which I had because of this conversation with Heather. I feel very nourished by our friendship.

more - this is a long one )


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belenen: (progressing)
important events in 2015 / learning and growing in the midst of spiraling anxiety and loneliness
icon: "progressing (a deeply, vividly green forest of thick vines and trees, with a tunnel running through where unused train tracks lay)"

2015
abstract fractal entitled Shriek
"Shriek"

An abstract fractal in christmas green, coral orange, and bright rose red with accents of fuchsia, peach, and capri blue on a black background. At the top in the center is what looks like a snarling cat or hissing cobra, in profile facing left. Just underneath is another could-be face, this one like a dog, facing right and sniffing the 'air' of colored light, which you can see swirling into the dog's nose. In front of the dog's face is a bowing-out bubble of swirling blurry colors. Above that bubble behind the cat/cobra's head is a fragmented reflection that could be of the cat/cobra or the dog or both. In front of the cat/cobra's face is a misshapen cone of green light, with some flecks of other colors: it looks as if the cat/cobra is exhaling this and it is pouring down over the back of the dog's head. Neither creature has a body.

---



January
1-4 -- visiting biofam: racism, discussing sexual abuse history, misgendering, prompting family to grow
2 -- visiting Anika: having deep talks w Anika & energy work
* Unethical behavior: loopholes out of agreements, poking people's sore spots *
4 -- ritual for Nuit and Renenutet, Topaz keeps me company
7 -- I make a friending meme
-- trying to develop closeness with Anika
11 -- have a somewhat-disastrous crafty party where a new attendee says things that are very problematic and hurtful to Allison
17 -- I decide to require require gender-neutral pronouns in reference to me
18 -- ritual with LilyWolf for connections
24 -- met up with Cass and had our first meaningful one-on-one conversation
* 5-step educate or eliminate / when I realize I'm wrong / reducing privilege effects *
-- hung out with Heather at least once a week

February
2 -- Kei-won-tia has a major crisis, I find out through Abby, try to get in touch w KWT but can't.
4 -- meet Jezza for one-on-one conversation
6 -- have a great birthday night with Topaz, Kylei, Sydney, Heather, and Lilywolf; Allison, Nick, and Hannah drop in. I set up a photo-booth of sorts with weird colorful lighting and take some photos of people.
7 -- went to Heritage Park with Sydney & Topaz
9 -- met Kayla for dinner and conversation
* forms of intimacy and societal assumptions made: there is no highest form of intimacy *
11 -- my grandmother is in the hospital; I see my aunt and cousins for the first time in years
12 -- have intense conversation w Anika and Kei-won-tia about openness and intimacy and assumptions
* overwhelmed and ineffectual / cowardly and shit at making friends *
14 -- I get up in front of a huge number of people and speak a short poem about trans erasure.
** the intersection of openness, intimacy, and privacy as it relates to me **
20-24 -- Topaz and I go to the last Xenacon, which is worth it but emotionally very difficult because I can't bring myself to talk to anyone and I'm allergic to the air.
27 -- Heather casts runes for me on my next romantic relationship: I get 'wait wait wait'
28 -- art swap at Jezza's: my sorta-kinda first show of my fractals.
-- conflict with Kei-won-tia continues throughout the month, ends in them telling me they need to be able to lie to their friends.

March
7 -- I experience my first kirtan, with Heather.
* helping people figure out their desires without taking responsibility for their self-awareness *
11 -- march for Anthony Hill (with Jaime & Lilywolf)
13 -- meet Lisa in person for the first time! we hang out for the day.
15 -- mostly-online crafty party with Topaz, Jaime, Paige, Heather, Leah, Anika, Jezza, and Lilywolf.
** what nourishes me in friendship: self-care/growth/awareness, shared passion/enthusiasm, creating together, spiritual working together, asking me meaningful specific questions, cuddles/focused touch, gifts of effort **
28 -- Anika visits, Topaz and I take them to the Cherry Blossom Festival
** PSA: use of ableist slurs will cause me to unfriend you **
31 -- I pick up Anika from KWT's and take them to Big Trees and to my favorite metaphysical shop

April
2 -- do magic ritual with Anika, Topaz picks us up after
3 -- drinking and playing red dragon inn w Anika, Heather, Topaz, Kylei.
4-5 -- KWT is supposed to spend time w Anika but doesn't... lots of complex shit between Anika and KWT. KWT is supposed to take them to the airport but I do it instead.
9 -- crafty party: Lily & Fey & Alisha in-person, Anika & Paige & Allison online
** slurs are still very harmful when they are aimed at a situation/action/thing instead of a person **
** emotional/artistic work is still work / types of cuddles: giving, receiving, sharing, passive **
** essential qualities to be a good cuddler: good at consent, emotionally present & aware, not in need **
-- school stress
-- made a set of reflection beads
-- applied to be a professional cuddler: they wanted to exploit their workers, no thanks.

May
-- exhausted
4 -- sweet nourishing time w Kylei
* my eating habits: what I don't eat at all, what I generally avoid, favorite meals & ingredients *
* realization: I need group intimacy as well as one-on-one *
13 -- meet Rachel in Atlanta for lunch
15 -- sleepover w Odd Squad and truth-or-truth w Nicky & Aubrey via ghangouts
17 -- first zikr w Kaleemi Khanqah Atlanta
20 -- start work at my uni
* 4 levels of friendship: fun, support, learning, mutual accountability *
26 -- truth-or-truth gchat w Aubrey, Vola, Elizabeth, Jaime
** on the 'rudeness' of canceling/lateness caused by chronic pain/fatigue/anxiety/depression and/or ADD **
** energy work: 1st efforts, shielding / a funnel not a source / avoiding manipulation **

June
-- stressssssss
1 -- TransParence gather at my house: Jaime, Jazz, Jude, Hope, Serah, Allison, Michelle
4-10 -- Elizabeth visits! we do alllllll the things
5 -- shopping & Kirtan at SEWA w Elizabeth
6 -- Etowah Mounds w Elizabeth & Jaime, then chill game night w Elizabeth, Heather, Jaime, Topaz, Allison, Jonathan
7 -- Big Trees w Elizabeth & Topaz, then Cracker Barrel for dinner & Breakfast on Pluto with dessert.
8 -- to Margaret Mitchell house and Marietta square with Elizabeth.
9 -- to carlos museum then revolution doughnuts with Elizabeth, then Topaz makes us dinner.
10 -- take Elizabeth to airport.
13 -- intense videochat w Anika about the lack of balanced investment in our relationship
-- scattered ???
** why I identify as demisexual / what makes sex worth the effort / sexual vs sensual touch / kissing **

July
-- very stressed, can't seem to do much
-- Heather is out of town the whole month
12 -- host cuddly communion #1 w Serah, Alison, Hope, Evelyn, Cass, Heather D, and Joey.
-- elsewise, nothing but work & rest & topaz & writing
** rant: friendships are important / my levels of relationship for everyone **
* what makes me fall in love & how it feels when I am in love *
*** on saving kids from 'broken hearts' & teaching kids about consent / red flags for bad-at-consent ***
* on changing the amount of fat on your body: cortisol, blood sugar, stress, food as fat/carb/protein *
** 4 elements needed for me to feel sexual attraction: consent, bodily respect, awareness, generosity **
* depression is not a cramp, it's a broken bone: a 'mild' situation has intense effects when depressed *

August
* Open letter to self-proclaimed reasonable white dudes *
13 -- see Arizona, we have very connected time
16 -- host an OPALS meeting which is just me and Johan, also have an amazing talk w Evelyn at Cool Beans
20 -- emotionally falling apart
* too many variations to out myself in a sentence / wordweaving & thought remodeling are central to me *
23-29 -- time at the beach w biofam
30 -- OPALS meeting w me, Saleena, Alison, and Serah

September
-- dealing with name change paperwork, lots of trips to courthouse and notary
-- exhausted and overwhelmed, lonely
-- topaz' family has health troubles
-- run out of hope for being close friends with Evelyn
* lonely in any crowd / spirit-to-spirit contact / conflict is a tool of intimacy *
23 -- feeling terribly unwanted
27 -- OPALS meeting w just me & Garnet
-- make chant booklet for my reflection beads

October
1 -- worst I felt in a year, unwanted, useless
15 -- present about appropriation at Sex Down South, no energy to go the other days
* how I manage my neuro-atypicality in relation to others *
31 -- walked Springer Mountain w Topaz, then had a bonfire at their place w Topaz, Heather, Brian, Cass, Kelsey, and Elliott
-- spending more time w Topaz' family
-- reading The History of White People

November
** an analogy to explain why the privileged are responsible for ending oppression: the racist babysitter **
*** after learning more about microbes, I no longer believe in an afterlife ***
** people demonize spanking because of classism / how corporeal punishment damaged me **
** trust: what builds it and what burns it, for me **
* the art of hugs *
** if you mourn only for the deaths of white people, your empathy is broken. and racist. **
16 -- cry for hours
17 -- see bell hooks & gloria stienem
19-22 TBC w Topaz
27 -- name change denied
-- investing more in getting to know Cass

December
-- loads of work on final papers, getting minors made official, getting my name sorted
* 5 qualities needed to practice polyamory: awareness, norm-breaking, security, energy, connection *
6 -- great connected time w Cass
15 -- graduation
** my ADD-PI: stimming and prosopagnosia (difficulty recognising faces) **
* creating your own moral code: a ritual for finding your core values & strengthening focus on them *
* ritual tool: reflection beads for my core values, desires, gratitudes, people, deities, & nature kin *
19 -- Solstice gather! Kat, Summer, Abby, Topaz, Kylei, Heather, Sydney, Jaime, Allison, & Jonathan came and Cass vidchatted in due to being sick
22 -- Arizona visited with me for a little while at my house
23 -- breakup w Anika
24 -- Gabe reveals their transphobia
25 -- Xmas at Topaz' family, exhausting, realize how much worse my family is
26 -- time w Abby in the morning, walking in nature and then cuddling at my house, then intense time w Abby & Topaz at Topaz'
27 -- breakfast, coffee, cuddles w Topaz & Abby
28 -- terrible crash of a morning, bad for Abby, bad for me, bad for Topaz. endless crying.
29 -- awful day, more endless crying. reach out to Allison for the first time, feel glad that that feels okay to do.
** prosopagnosia and memory as it relates to taking photos and believing in love **
30 -- recovering some
31 -- connected time w topaz



2015 started off in an intense but growthful way for me, as I had my first ever real conversation with my biosib S, visited Anika and had deep talks with them. I also did a ritual for deities (something I had never done before), and another ritual for connection, connected in new ways with Allison and Cass, and spent a lot of time with Heather. Then Kei-won-tia had a major crisis and I was very worried about them but didn't really get to talk to them until two weeks later. They got very upset with me for talking about my worries to Heather, and there was a whole huge mess which finally ended when they said that they need to be able to lie to their friends. During the same month as the KWT conflict, I had a bunch of other really intense experiences -- Xenacon, my first art show (sorta), speaking about trans erasure in front of loads of people, gma in hospital, interacting with family I hadn't seen in years.

March was more nourishing and less draining, with my first kirtan, my first protest march, and my first time taking Anika to Big Trees. April turned sour with a huge conflict between KWT and Anika, and otherwise intense school stress. In May I had some good connected time with friends and experienced my first zikr, but overall I was exhausted. Lilywolf moved out which was sad and relieving and stressful, and I started working at my university as a student assistant. June started out with a bang, a trans-connection party followed by a wonderful visit from Elizabeth (which included my first visit to a Sikh service), and then became scattered and lost under stress, mostly shared/reflected stress from how awful Topaz' job is, I think. In July I hosted a 'cuddly communion' which was wonderful but otherwise that entire month was empty of nourishment. In August I had some connected times with friends, and spent 6 days with my biofamily which is both good and exhausting; August marked the first of monthly breakdowns, though I don't notice this pattern until later. In September Topaz' family started having health troubles, and I dealt with the laborious process of applying to change my name.

October I felt the worst I have felt in a year, managed to present at Sex Down South but felt so socially anxious I couldn't talk to anyone and couldn't participate in the conference; I went home crying. I started spending more time with Topaz' family (which is nourishing in some ways but a lot of added stress) because they all seemed to be feeling the need for more company with each other due to the health worries. I started actively building a friendship with Cass around this time. In November I was massively stressed and overwhelmed, but seeing bell hooks and getting to attend TBC gave me enough energy that I was able to give three talks and speak on a panel, and handle some very difficult emotional conversations and realizations with Topaz. But November ended with me finding out that my name change was denied, which is massively crushing. December started with me finishing my 2 huge final papers and giving a presentation for school, doing a shitton of paperwork and hoop-jumping to get my minors made official and my name read correctly at the ceremony, then finally graduating (where my biofamily mostly flaked out and I realized that my dad was planning for a graduation present for my cousin but didn't even congratulate me). I only had three days to recover before Solstice, which was the best ever though hugely energy-consuming. Then I had an intense conflict with Cass, then Arizona visited me briefly which made me miss them a lot, then Anika broke up our friendship by attacking me, then Gabe (my emotionally-adopted little brother) revealed that they're transphobic by choice not by ignorance, then I spent Xmas with Topaz' family which made me realize how bad my biofamily is, then I spent an intense morning with Abby and an intense evening with Abby and Topaz, and finally I had a massive terrible crash that negatively affected both Abby and Topaz and lasted almost through the end of the year. Honestly, reading over December I'm amazed that I made it through without falling apart much more. That was so much, way too much.

Looking back over this, I feel like losing KWT set off a sharp increase in my social anxiety because when we initially became friends, it was built on mutually valuing intimacy and openness -- I actually felt that KWT was better at being open than I was, that they were more willing to take risks in sharing. To have them do such a complete turnaround and say that they value lies in friendship and they want to control who knows what about them was so shocking and confusing that it made me feel like I can't know people, I can't believe them, and I can't find ones that I can genuinely connect with. A similar thing happened with Anika -- I can’t explain because it would be a breach of their privacy but even though it wasn’t the same on the surface, it felt very VERY similar. That followed by the OPALS meetings falling by the wayside and getting very hopeful about a new friend only to have that vanish -- by the time I got through September I was feeling so deeply sad about friendships that despite my repressing, I was having at least one multi-hour crying jag a month about it.

So overall, 2015 brought me a huge increase in social anxiety although the relationships that I currently have are mostly at all-time highs and are overall very nourishing. I think I learned a lot through my black feminisms class in the spring, my internship, my whiteness class in the fall, and TBC, and I made a lot of progress in designing my spiritual practice, but I feel like my interpersonal life stalled out in most ways, and I lost myself as far as my social self goes. This year I will regain my social self.


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belenen: (shows -- Xena happiness)
characters in the story of my life: present and past
icon: "shows -- xena happiness (Xena and Gabrielle looking at each other and smiling as they walk)"


It had been 2 years so it was way past time for an update. I didn't include all of the people from before but those are still available via tags *smiles*
If you're wondering what spirit-kin, heart-kin, soul-kin or mind-kin mean (or -twin, the stronger version), read this post.

If there is anyone I've mentioned often who is not included here, please remind me.

all of the people! it's pretty long )


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belenen: (vivacious)
Solstice 2015! cozy me, Topaz, Sydney, Kat, Summer, Heather, Kylei, Abby, Jaime, Allison, & Jonathan
icon: "vivacious (my face with bold cat-eye makeup, with my head tilted down and to the side, looking at the camera with a wide close-lipped smile, hugging myself)"

My tribe's Solstice celebration was this Saturday (since few could do a weekday) and it was amaaaaazing. Really, the best so far, so cozy and relaxed and lovely.

[livejournal.com profile] kmiotutsie (Kat) and their friend Summer arrived early, and even though they had just done a huge drive they offered to drive me as I ran a billion errands, and I got to catch up talking with them. I think Kat and I actually have a connection I hadn't realized before, a mind connection, because we finish each other's sentences and are rarely wrong. It's actually a relief to me because my ADD-PI often makes it hard to find the word.

We started by making a billion foods together - not a planned part of the gather but [livejournal.com profile] hardigrin (Heather) and I hadn't made our stuff yet oops. Kat and Sydney and Summer helped with all the chopping and washing and stuff - it was busy but surprisingly not stressful. We finished about the time that the rest of the people showed up - it was me, Topaz, Sydney, Kat, Summer, Heather, Kylei, [livejournal.com profile] rextrocular(Abby), [livejournal.com profile] jaime_blue (Jaime), Allison, and Jonathan.

Once we finished prep, we vidchatted Cass in (they were ill and couldn't attend) and then Topaz read us the story they wrote and illustrated about the Solstice Raccoon. It was unbelievably cute and everyone loved it and awwwwed at it! Then we had delicious food (Topaz made fruit cream tarts, Heather made roasted vegetables, Allison made rice & veggies & (separate) chicken, and I made my superfood dip) and opened presents!

I gave Heather a set of 3 cobalt blue stemmed glasses and a painting of a winter scene; Abby a large print of my "Gate to Tulgey Wood" framed and matted (I repurposed a frame & mat); Allison a mix CD of some of my favorite artists' songs that spoke to me about them; Topaz three pendants (a fox, a palm tree, and a microscope), a set of postcards that look like old fashioned flower seed packets, a tin with butterflies on it, tools for nail art, a tiny ceramic grey fox, and a hanayama metal puzzle (equa); Kylei four skirts (a twirly sleek pink one and three short colorful cotton ones) and a lamp with a base that looks like a country hill with buildings and plants and all; Jaime a canvas print of camellias with metal scroll work on top and bottom; and Sydney a sunflower light switch plate, a tiny metal teapot with butterflies on it, and a sun catcher made of meaningful stone beads and green glass. I also had a gift for Cass (a miniature Dali art print), but that had to wait of course.

Topaz gave me a plush Alice in Wonderland book (with the best quote on the back "I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then"), a cloudy-rainbow leopard print blanket, an 'adoption' of a snow leopard cub from the Snow Leopard Trust, a moisture-wicking pillowcase that they fabric-markered my favorite quotes on one side and drew my name and three favorite shapes (tree, teardrop, & 5-pointed star) on the other side, and (a few days ago) tickets to see Eddie Izzard! Heather gave me the softest spring green blanket (I cuddled it like a kitten), a bookmark of art from a social justice artist, and a dragonfly hook (which I am excited to use as my jacket-hanger). Allison gave me a 'rift' (part of an art project of theirs that represents portals into another world) which had inexplicably turned violet (which I found super magical) and the solstice card from last year which had the sweetest things written in it. Cass gave me a wire tree with jasper leaves and rocks in the bottom (that they had collected!) and a letter which was wonderfully thoughtful. Sydney painted me a little box and inside were mushrooms! made from acorns with the caps glued on the pointy end and painted with colors and spots -- so adorable. Abby gave me an incense burner that is a flat circle with a tree outline etched in it, four sticks of incense wood, and a roll of tie-dye duct tape. I felt very loved and understood by all these presents *heartglow* I also felt incredibly happy with several presents between other people. Topaz gave Abby a pillowcase which everyone wrote sweet love notes on so that they could have a physical object to be reminded of our love as they live far away. Heather gave Abby a shawl-loop (no idea what to call that) that was in just their colors. Topaz gave Allison an anti-migraine treat box full of safe candies with no dye or hfcs. Allison gave Topaz a tiny tin with 3D-looking space inside and a hand-painted Mars!

Over the course of the evening there were new cuddles that made me happy -- Topaz with Abby and Kylei with Sydney. I love getting to witness people growing closer. I played with Sydney's hair for a while and cuddled with Abby some but overall, the evening went by so very fast! I guess I was expecting it to start earlier or go later, but it was a lovely time anyhow. Abby got tired first and went off to bed and Jaime and Allison and Jonathan had to go home, and me, Kylei, Kat, Summer, Sydney, and Heather played a little truth-or-truth (Topaz was absorbed with their metal puzzle, which I wisely saved for the last present after previous years when the same thing happened). It didn't last very long because people got tired but it was good and connected.

This morning people got up much earlier than Topaz and I did, and shortly after we woke, Kat came and scratched and meowed at the door cutely and then a few minutes later Abby came and asked if they could come in. I left it up to Topaz as they are more timid than I am and they hemmed and hawed and muttered 'yesbutonlyoutside' and I translated that Abby could come cuddle with us but outside the covers, and so they did. I was in the middle and for most of the time they were laying on their sides facing me (Abby propped on an elbow) and I had my arms around each of them stroking their hair. It was so comfortable and happy and relaxed.

After we got up everyone gathered and wrote down what from the past year we wanted to get rid of. We gathered 'round my weird little metal vase outside and lit a fire in it and took turns burning our papers. Kylei wanted to go widdershins around the circle and have each person say something aloud, so we did. Kylei started it off with a poetic spell, and Topaz ended the circle with something like "fuck this!" It was perfect. At one point we started to hear a crackling noise and got pretty concerned, and it smelled bad -- Kat said the glaze was burning off. But it wasn't too bad and by the time everyone had put their paper in it had stopped. I'm gonna burn in it at least once before next time and I think after that there won't be anything terrible. I was worried that everyone would be bothered but I think I was the one most bothered (except maybe Topaz). I stayed out for a little bit after everyone went in, tossing in dead leaves and watching them burn, stirring to use up the rest of the coals.

Kat, Summer, Heather, and Abby left around noon and me and Sydney and Kylei and Topaz hung out. Topaz made us breakfast as they are wont to do, and we all just talked. We had some great cuddles -- Kylei, me, and Topaz sat on the couch and Sydney lounged across us and got hair pets from Kylei, back rubs from me, and calf massage from Topaz. After Sydney left, Topaz played Alice: Madness Returns while Kylei and I watched (so stressful, but so beautiful).

At one point I had a miscommunication with Heather and Cass via text that got me very upset, and Kylei and Topaz gave me pets and reassurance. I worked it out after that but at first I couldn't deal and just lay in bed and cried. I felt like my reaction was out of proportion, but I'm not sure why I had such a strong reaction. Usually I can figure it out... the closest I can get is maybe it hit that nerve of being left out of a family event? And I definitely have trauma around being left out of things that are important to me. I wasn't deliberately left out, but due to technical issues that was what I experienced.

Overall it was a beautiful evening but I think we need to start earlier next year and make sure that we do pre-Solstice introductions and meetings so that everyone at least knows four people who will be there. And figure out a way to speed up gift-giving because this year was too spread out -- I think maybe passing them all out at the beginning and then going in a rough circle with opening them would be better because the getting up and picking something and handing it to the person took up a lot of time (even though it was SO fun).

This year I did fortune cookies instead of the stone pull because I had not the money for stones *sadface* but that was pretty fun! They weren't as spot-on as the stones by a long shot but there was one or two that seemed very apropos.


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belenen: (disconnected)
emotion explosion - great intimacy practice but terrible stuff brought up, connection despair
icon: "disconnected (a gif of the lovers from the tv show "Moonlight" standing on opposite sides of a door and both looking devastated. One leans their forehead on the door and the other leans their face on their hand on the doorsill. Underneath the repeating gif is the word 'pain' in a handwriting-font.)"

Yesterday and today have been overwhelmingly emotional. Yesterday was emotional in general, but especially intimacy practice. We had two newbies and usually that means a somewhat low-key practice as newbies usually need at least one practice to get familiar enough to participate fully. But not this time! Everyone shared very openly and there was a lot of resonance around the circle. Everyone had intense topics and even truth-or-truth was intense, yet we finished in 3 hours and as far as I could tell everyone felt nourished. Topaz was actually energized! Afterward Topaz and Heather played "pump it up" (I graciously declined). It was the first time we'd had newbies in a long time, over a year I'm sure. I remembered/realized some things that I will explain when I do the intimacy practice talk at TBC.

But it brought up some stuff I had been repressing - my sense of failure at making new friends )


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belenen: (artistic)
Soothing social time?!? / the evolution of my relationship to art
icon: "artistic (a photo of a hand holding a glass heart, all of it colored in purple)"

This Saturday Topaz and I had a tiny bonfire with Heather, Brian, Cass, Kelsey, and Elliott. It was really relaxing and nourishing. I often feel worried in social situations if I think someone is uncomfortable or unhappy, but I didn't take responsibility for anyone's happiness this time, and I didn't try to facilitate connections. I think I was able to do this partially because Topaz seemed mostly at ease, and quite enjoyed some parts. (Heather and I grinned gleefully at each other while overhearing Topaz and Brian talk about being bros) I got to cuddle with Cass and Heather at different times. I think there was just a lot of similarity in communication styles and that made it really easy. I want more of this in my life. I want to feel an ease and a balance like that with a local group.

---

I've decided to try to finish the prompts given to me ages ago. This one was from Topaz.

Has your interest and preference for art changed over the years? What sort of art styles and genres were you interested in as a child, teen, in your 20s, vs now?
Yes, by a lot! When I was a child and teen, I liked realistic paintings of the ocean and dragons. Christian Reece Lassen and Michael Whelan were my favorite artists.  Lassen painted hyperreal epics with orcas, dolphins, and many kinds of fish, with waves that looked like glass.  More than anything else I loved the light and the water and the way they were magic together (I wouldn't have minded if the animals weren't there). When Whelan created a website where I could actually see all their art, I realized that more than the dragons, I loved their symbolic art. There is this one painting of a child sitting next to a tiny square of grass in an otherwise totally concrete space, with light coming through a slim crack in the wall. Another is a woman wearing only a hooded sand-colored cloak, holding their arm out straight with a red ribbon hanging from their hand, at the end of which which is a translucent red heart. The most powerful one for me is the one of a figure in flowing white from neck to ankle, running and dancing along a thin yet dense ridge of deep green brush that waves back and forth. I'm just now realizing that this stuff is very white. My only irritation at the time was that everyone was thin, but I felt that the women weren't sexualized, which I liked.

Then I discovered body positivity and with it, a yearning to see art of bodies that looked like mine. Anders Zorn and Tamara de Lempicka were my favorites; Zorn I loved for the nudes in nature, and the soft curve of bellies with deep navels, and Lempicka I loved for the luxuriant abandon of their subjects, who sprawled as though a self-conscious feeling had never touched them. I also really liked a lot of artists that I now understand to have reified white supremacy through the production of beauty norms. Sad and gross. And I liked a lot of terribly appropriative 'native' art.

I also discovered portrait photography and became enchanted with many artists on deviantart who shared their beings through their faces and bodies, often nude. Clothing is most often a distraction, I feel, and I don't like it in art. I see it as the same as having brand names or fast food in the art. Sure, sometimes that is part of the meaning, but in general it just takes the person from immediacy and places them into a time and culture. I don't think it should be included unless it is relevant to the meaning of the piece.

Deviantart also showed me that art didn't have to be photorealistic or even proportional to be meaningful. Pupasoul (real name unknown) painted many symbolic pieces with figures clearly intended to represent humans, but without faces or hands or feet, and never in any skin tone. I loved them, and finally stopped being snobbish about realism.

Through deviantart i also discovered fractals, though i did not think that I could ever make them. My favorite was sideoutman, mostly because they created asymmetrical fractals which spoke to me far more than others. This was the first time I had ever felt drawn to abstract art, which I previously thought very little of.  When I began making my own fractal art, it became very important to me. I love my own fractals and I love the fractals of others.

Has your interest range become more specific or has it widened, or both? Why?
I would say that both are true - I love many more styles now, but I specifically dislike art which uncritically reproduces white supremacy and unfortunately, that's most of the stuff that exists that includes white people as subjects. I used to love photorealistic art and disdain everything else. Now, I prefer abstract, surreal, and symbolic art, though I still enjoy photorealistic if it has an actually interesting subject, and I do love photography, especially self-portraits and nature.


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belenen: (healing)
cuddle communion #1! so nourishing! / consent agreements / cuddle list / leading to fill a need
icon: "healing (a photo of me and Hannah curled up together, naked, with Hannah's head resting on my legs and my arms around/over them. it's colored in violet with a fractal overlay of purple, blue, and green.)"


I had a really lovely nourishing evening last Sunday. I hosted a gather I called "Cuddle Communion" which was based loosely on cuddle parties I'd been to in the past. I went over a short list of consent agreements to begin with, and then we did structured cuddles, had a break for snacks and coffee, and then had unstructured cuddles and played truth-or-truth. I felt really connected with almost everyone there, and I definitely want to do it again. Next time I'm going to set the structured part into a flow from least to most intense, because I just did them randomly this time and that was okay, but could have been way better. Also, I want to finish the structured cuddles before the break, because after it is too hard to get back into that. And I looooove that truth-or-truth was the mental focus of the unstructured part this time, but others might want something less intense, so I want to try to set up something to listen to or watch, at least as an option.

consent agreements )

structured cuddle list )

After most people left, I was hanging out and talking with Serah and Alison about social change and leading things. Serah used to lead a spiritual gather but got burnt out, and I understand that feeling so well. I mentioned that that is why my ideal leadership is at least three volunteers who take turns and step down when they get tired. Usually what I see happen is one person leads and no one helps, and the leader gets so burnt out that they quit forever and the group disintegrates. I really think that any good leader doesn't lead because they want to lead, they lead because they see a need that no one else is filling.

Speaking of which, I felt so supported a few weeks ago when I was too exhausted to participate in intimacy practice, and the others took leadership and made it happen without me. I don't want to feel like it's mine, I want to feel shared ownership and care of IP, and that definitely made me feel that way.

I was talking with Saleena a few days ago about the same thing (good leaders just filling a need). Saleena and I are going to run a local community discussion/connection group together. The original idea was that it would be for trans people, but we want to expand it to all othered people and make it a safe space to talk or listen. I'm worried about creating a safe space where strangers can attend, because if an unsafe person attends that can be horrible, but there is no perfect solution. I think as long as Saleena and I are willing to call people on being problematic, we can make something good and safer than life in general while being imperfect.


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belenen: (kissy)
Love memory bank (jan and feb and then i forgot)
icon: "kissy (a photo of me outside in soft light, blowing a kiss)"


love memory bank )

Gonna try to get back in the habit!


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belenen: (woven souls)
spiritually inspired/nourished / how I meditate / what eye contact feels like for me
icon: "woven souls (me and Hannah lying naked on black cloth, with legs entwined, laying on our sides facing each other with one set of hands entwined with each other's, and the top shoulder leaning back, relaxed. there is a red and violet overlay with the violet coloring me and the red coloring Hannah)"

I haven't been this regularly spiritually inspired and nourished -ever. I was gonna say "in a long time" but really, I think the previous longest streak that felt like this was a week and a half. I can't express how good it feels. I think part of what is fueling it is the fact that I've been keeping up with writing and daily photo-taking and daily unprompted openness and regular time with friends and time in nature. The flow of creativity and connection is very inspiring. Also I think I'm in a great place where I am starting to develop things that I have already discovered, and it builds much faster than when I'm initially just fumbling around.

This Wednesday I met up with Cass (a close friend of Heather's who I have known peripherally for a long time) and we had some great talks. Partway through we parted so that I could do my weekly meditation, and I sat on a dock next to the river and stared at the water for a while, and closed my eyes for a while, and had a difficult time settling in. Eventually I was able to get in the space (it is much harder for me when I am not in my sanctuary) and as I was meditating I realized that I want to re-make my sistrum with a heavier handle, perhaps with stones embedded. I felt really pleased with this prospect. After meditation Cass asked if they could ask me what my meditation was like. I said firstly, you can always ask me any question ever, and on the rare occasion when I don't wish to answer, I will just say so. Then I rambled about what I do and as I did so came to realize what it is that I do.

I don't ever do emptiness meditation. Sometimes I hold an object and focus on it, sometimes I gaze at something and focus intently on that, sometimes I look through a deck of oracle/tarot cards, sometimes I read a book, sometimes I chant, sometimes I dance, sometimes I focus on my breathing, sometimes I focus on a situation that I want to change. In a good number of these, I am thinking. But when I start going down a thought-trail I have already explored, I stop. And I just block off old thoughts, one by one, until new ones have a chance to come up. I developed this totally unintentionally but I really like it.

Cass also asked me what eye contact feels like for me, which was also a question I hadn't considered. I reflected, and said that with most people I become a mirror, they look in my eyes and see themselves reflected, but through a lens of compassion. The first time I did silent prolonged eye contact with someone, the person cried and cried (that one was at least 10 minutes). People always seem to have a strong emotional response. I tend to get a strong sense of their pain or longing when this happens, sometimes seeing bits of memories that aren't mine. I enjoy giving them feelings of being noticed, of being cared for.

I'd really like to get that feeling others seem to get, but I think that maybe that requires a skill most people don't have or maybe I unconsciously block off the flow in that direction or both. I know I need to trust the person on multiple levels: trust that they want to see me truly and without a role or pedestal, trust that when they see me they will be reverent, trust that they can handle my full self without crumbling, trust that they will not use what they learn to manipulate me whether on purpose or accidentally, trust that they will not attach to me or pull my energy from me. So, yeah, writing this out I realize why I have rarely had eye contact be so emotional for me; that list is a rare and extremely high level of trust. I have such a deep level of easy-vulnerability that the vulnerable-to-me level is something most don't seem to look for. Few people seem to realize that more exists, much less ask me to open that up for them.

I have had transcendent eye contact, mostly during sex. I feel like that is when people get in a space of focus where it is easier for them to try and see me without getting distracted by their reflection. Also, there was this barista I met in a coffeeshop when I was 19, who from the moment I met them locked eyes with me and it felt comfortable and easy and natural and loving, and we had amazing conversations for the 6 months that I frequented that coffeeshop. But between that person and now, I have had a number of experiences where people would make eye contact with me and try to attach to me or pull from me, both of which feel like someone trying to sneakily rub their genitals on you. It's awful. But then the people that I do trust tend to consider eye contact too difficult. So I don't make a lot of eye contact now, relative to me. Relative to your average person I make a SHITTON of eye contact.


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