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


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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: (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: (honesty)
How Loss of Alone Time, Constant Caretaking, & Medication Stigma Almost Killed Me
icon: "honesty (me, outdoors, gazing straight at the camera with a solemn expression)"

I've told this story many times now, though never as one piece: How Loss of Alone Time, Constant Caretaking, & Medication Stigma Almost Killed Me. In the worst period of my life, when I was suicidal for months and felt in more pain every day, I learned several vital things:

1) relationships don't have to be abusive to be profoundly damaging.
2) self-awareness is as necessary for safety as anything else.
3) I literally cannot handle living in a place where anyone wants my attention randomly every day.
4) just because you can caretake someone does not mean that you should.
5) giving doesn't have to be in huge pieces to take a huge toll.
6) once you are situationally depressed for long enough, your brain can forget how to be non-depressed and need chemical help.

I love Kylei as one of my favorite people, but living with them when they didn't have someone else to have casual social interaction with (and thus talked to me randomly through the day whenever we were both at home) was one of the most depressing and draining things I have ever experienced. It was just as bad for me -- if not worse than -- living with an abusive person.

It wasn't good for them either because the best I could offer was not enough to be nourishing, so it drained them also. Let me emphasize here: I was not doing anything that felt generous; I was not doing anything that was significantly helpful. I was allowing them to come into my room 3-4 times a day and randomly engage me in conversation for 1-3 minutes. That's it. I didn't think to tell them not to for months because it was 'such a small thing' that I could 'easily afford to give.' But it was torture for me. They were small gifts but they took superhuman effort from me.

I felt just as much need to hide as I did when I lived with my abusive parents. I had to be just as hypervigilant and seeing them became a stress to the point where we couldn't have any good interactions. Yet I missed them and was sad to have none of the connection that I wanted because there was too much of the unwanted! this made it even worse than when I was living with someone abusive who I didn't want to be around: that at least I could withdraw from and feel better. Withdrawing from Kylei made me feel worse because I missed them! But I just cannot deal with unexpected real-time interaction. It only took about six months of that for me to be drained to the point where I could not recognize myself.

There was additional stuff going on at the time, but most of the reason I can't handle this is because with my ADD-PI, that breaks down my ability to process anything; it literally shatters my ability to think. My thinking becomes disjointed and even more forgetful, like the thinking of a person who hasn't slept in three days. I can't do any art or reading or anything that matters to me at all, which rapidly increases any latent depression and makes me feel worthless.

I learned that I mustn't allow people to randomly talk to me when I am at home, that I mustn't take on responsibility as a person's only source of comfort (nor be more than 70% of their comfort), and that I mustn't be the only one initiating connection with anyone for more than a few months. I was doing all three of these things and together it made me drained to the point where I could not even feel the most basic motivation of my life: empathy.

I could no longer care about any suffering, human or otherwise. Even when I realized the problem and stopped it happening, nothing got better. My brain ran completely out of the chemicals necessary to feel happiness, and stayed there for about four months. Every day I would have said it couldn't hurt more and then the next day it did.


--------CN/TW: suicidal ideation, deep depression, medication, stigma against mental health medication (the rest of this entry)--------

I would have committed suicide if not for the fact that Topaz had already experienced too much tragedy for me to be able to handle the guilt of causing more pain for them. I daydreamed about making them hate me so that I could feel free from that guilt and able to kill myself, but that would have required me breaking my ethical code to do things that would cause them to hate me. I didn't think about anyone else. I didn't feel like anyone else would really care, even though I knew logically that people would mourn. I felt unloved and unloveable and it was only through Topaz proving daily that they cared that I managed to believe that they did love me.

Eventually I felt desperate enough that I went to get medication. I was put on citalopram, and after a month of slowly stepping it up, I stopped feeling worse every day. Just that was such a relief I can't even describe. After a few months, I started to feel better each day rather than just the same. A few months after that I started to feel aware of being numb and it started making me feel worse, so I weaned myself off of the drug. This all totaled maybe 8 months. Mental health medication saved my life.

There are people who push their personal quackery on others who are depressed, telling them to "just" exercise, meditate, think happy thoughts, take herbs, change their diet, etc. That might work if you're just feeling a little bad one day. It does not fucking work when your brain has worn a rut in the negative emotion pathways and forgotten that the positive emotion pathways even exist! Also, while talk therapy is effective and important, it only works if the problem is that you need to process your experiences -- it doesn't work if the problem is chemical!

I suffered so much longer and so much worse than I had to, because of the stigma against depression medication. If not for the coincidental timing of Topaz, stigma against medication would have killed me. I did not try to get medication until after I was already suicidal enough to go through with it. I will not take any of that quackery lightly because it literally kills people.


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belenen: (bel bites happy apple hannah)
play intimacy: sillinesses with Topaz
icon: "bel bites happy apple hannah (photo of Hannah and I from their first visit in 2006: they are smiling into the camera awaiting my kiss on their cheek but I'm biting it instead)"

^side note: holy shit it is exactly 10 years today that I first met Hannah in person *glowy hearts*

Topaz and I have a LOT of play intimacy. My connections with Hannah and Kylei were also very playful, but not this consistently. I think that part of the reason we have so much play is that Topaz really enjoys competition, and I hate it, but in play we can do it and both have fun.

A lot of our play is physical silliness. Topaz will bite me and I will bite back a little harder, and they'll bite again harder yet, and so on until they say "ow!" and we stop and rub our sore spots. Or they will try to kiss my cheek while I try to kiss theirs, both of us trying to avoid getting kissed, and landing kisses on random bits of face. Sometimes we will have raspberry-blowing battles where we both try to blow against the other person's skin to make a fart noise. Sometimes I will give them sloppy pets on their face and hair, which I would find unbearable but it makes them laugh, and I'm amused at how rude I'm being. Sometimes I will kiss all over their face, and they'll say "oh thanks, thanks, thanks!" while scrunching up to avoid the kisses. Sometimes I bite the apple of their cheeks.

Or they will try to kiss my neck, which tickles me, and so I will try to kiss theirs without baring mine, and we wrestle and giggle until we fall apart, laughing. The other day we were doing that and they accidentally blew in my ear, so I blew at theirs, which made them laugh harder than the kissfight, and they blew at mine, and we went back and forth hardly able to blow for the laughing.

We also do silly forms of affection like the 'flamingo hug' where we wrap our arms around each other and each lift one leg and wrap it around the other, so that we are both standing on one leg. It never lasts long because it is so awkward and unbalanced, but it always makes us laugh. And we will do 'puppy excitement' at each other because we decided that greeting each other as if we were lonely puppies whose human had just returned home was a fantastic way to show love. That always brings giant smiles and giggles.

And we sing silly made-up songs to each other, send poopin selfies, and poke at each other about our idiosyncrasies. We tell each other made-up stories, talk in silly voices, and color together. We used to play word association games but haven't done that in a while. We over-the-top complain about the other one's farts or bad breath, and laugh if we are the one creating the smell (but will also brush teeth or whatever if requested because we're considerate).

We also play in a more cuddly, animalistic way, where we make noises at each other and playfully demand attention like a cat (usually this is just through texting). I bunt (a feline gentle headbutt that expresses affection) and Topaz squeezes themself into my lap or between me and what I'm doing. We nip, and nuzzle, and do 'tooth hugs' (soft holding and gentle shaking with teeth). We wrestle, and sometimes when I start to get up they cling like a sloth. Sometimes I give them rides on my back (though not often lately as I am not very in shape right now). Sometimes I squeeze them until they squeak (happily).

Often after we have had a little play-bout they will hug me and say "You're so fun!" and I tell them they are so fun too.


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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: (feminist)
my experience at Atlanta's vigil for the slain at Pulse in Orlando: profound gratitude & joy & hope
icon: "feminist (the trans-feminist fist symbol colored in a rainbow gradient, with the words "intersectional or bullshit" on top)"

I went to a vigil at the Center for Civil and Human Rights for those slain in the Pulse massacre on Tuesday. I went because Topaz wanted to go, and didn't realize ahead of time but I was expecting it to be dissatisfying and maybe terrible, whitewashed normative cis gay stuff that was all fluff and no meaning. I have not had good experiences at any mass gathering and I expected this to be no different.

Instead, it was profoundly beautiful and very nourishing and actually gave me hope. It was held outdoors despite occasional rain, because there were more than 2,500 people there. It wasn't perfect of course but it had so few sour notes. I was overwhelmed with pride in my city over the fact that we were represented in our diversity -- and not as an afterthought, but truly throughout. The speakers were varied, with Latinx, Black, Muslim, Indigenous, Trans, Two-Spirit, & Jewish speakers as well as white Christian ones. There was Spanish translation over the same audio system (and one speaker spoke in Spanish followed by English translation) and there was ASL interpretation. One person from an Atlanta Muslim organization told us about reaching out to the LGBTQ community in Atlanta and being met with reciprocal concern (that people would use this as fuel for islamophobia) -- hearing that made me cry. And having Amina Abdul-Jalil, a Black, queer, Muslim woman, speak to us was a moment of profound hope for me because I felt such a kinship with her rareness and how she spoke of being rejected from each group for being part of another. "I know what it’s like to feel like you have to choose," she said, and my breath caught with such strong resonance. She also said that prayer was great, but "the work starts after the amen and after the ameen," and we all applauded.

I was also deeply moved and very grateful for the words of Two-Spirit Collective activist & Lambda legal organizer Holiday Simmons, who said "Remember, it was our Christian siblings who wiped out indigenous people in the U.S." It needed to be said, considering that people keep calling this the worst mass shooting in US history when in fact we've done far worse to Native peoples and to Black people. (Pulse Massacre Horrible. Not Largest Mass Shooting in US History. by Sam Diener) Simmons also said "We want to be mindful of using this word 'terrorist.' While in fact this was an act of terror, such words have become inflammatory in these times, and they only strengthen public Islamophobic sentiment."

Some articles with more info: Atlanta Vigil Held Tuesday To Honor Orlando Shooting Victims by Mary Claire Kelly (this one has some wonderful quotes from the speakers at the end). Atlanta 'We Are Orlando' Vigil Conveyed Message Of Inclusion by Lisa Hagen (this one has the quotes from Amina Abdul-Jalil). Atlantans say 'We are Orlando,' demand Pulse shooting not contribute to bigotry by Camille Pendley (this one has the quotes from Holiday Simmons).

I went with Topaz and Serenity, and we met up with Hope and Allison and two of Topaz' relatives. Allison gave me hugs and pets when I got so overwhelmed that I started crying. I felt so full of love and connection and hope at an event with literal thousands of people. I've never felt anything like that except at TBC, and I have never felt that on that scale. I am so grateful to the organizers, so grateful to the speakers, so grateful to Topaz for driving us and paying for parking, because otherwise I could not have gone.


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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: (burn baby burn)
Euphoria 2016 / why I go to burns / new housemate feeds me, helps clean & tidy, & crafts with me!
icon: "burn baby burn (a photo of me silhouetted dancing in front of the effigy fire at my first burn)"

I went to Euphoria and camped with Topaz, Kylei, Heather, Brian, and Hope. It was a mix of pleasant and irritating, leaning a little to the irritating side. The best bits were sitting around the fire talking with people, smoking hookah with Topaz while petting Evelyn's hair, running an 'intimacy roulette' game, having people gift me and Topaz with exactly what we wanted, giving Rocky a meaningful hug when I came across them seeming in need of one, kissing Topaz, and kissing Evelyn.

The worst bits were our hugely inconsiderate dudebro neighbors who made loud noise and pointed floodlights at our tent all night, the unbelievably selfish shitsop who squeezed in front of me at the burn itself and blocked all my vision with their body which was a foot and a half taller than me, witnessing far too much waste and ableism, and getting sunburnt. I really was not expecting to get burnt because 1) I had been taking vitamin D religiously, and 2) I stayed in the shade the entire time. But I think that I didn't absorb what I had been taking, because I've been taking zinc and apparently it blocks magnesium sometimes, which is necessary for absorption of D (if I understood what I read on it). I started taking magnesium daily since then, and the purple-pink has turned tan far, FAR quicker than usual, so that's good at least. I ordered a calcium-magnesium supplement to balance out the zinc, and copper because the zinc I currently have doesn't contain copper and zinc can deplete copper. I recently started taking iron too, because I found a vegetarian source and I know that it is unlikely I get enough from my diet. Once all this stuff arrives I have to figure out what not to take with what, bleh. Never thought I'd be taking a bunch of supplements every day -- but I only take what I can actually feel an effect from, with the exception of these new minerals and curcumin, which I take because I've read that it helps with dementia, both prevention and cure.


I talked with Topaz after and realized that the reason I go to burns is purely to skill-share and/or for art. If I was not going to do that, I wouldn't be motivated enough to go, because I've never met a person at a burn who became important to me. Even though I have a lot of burner friends, I've met all of them in some other way. (technically I met Seth at a burn I think, but I met Seth through Abby so the burn was just a convenience) Other reasons to go to a burn are not relevant to me because they are already part of my daily life: self-expression, nudity, play, cuddles. For a lot of people burns are where they can really be themselves and feel accepted, but accepting me would require a lot of learning that people do not do, so I never feel accepted (it is nice that people try, but there's not much that can be done in the moment).

I go to burns because I like that people there are often willing to try new things, and so if I bring a skill I think will help make the world better and people are willing to practice, I can make change there in a way that is not possible elsewhere. This time I felt like I did kind of a bad job with planning, and that meant that the intimacy game I made did not reach many people, but it was still worthwhile. I think the few strangers that came and participated appreciated it.

In other news I have a temporary housemate, Serenity (also called Twilight) who has been WONDERFUL to have around. They were in need of a place to stay and I had a room which wasn't being used so I offered it to them. I didn't ask for anything, but they have cooked for me four times (delicious healthy vegetarian meals) since they got here 10 days ago, and have done dishes and swept! Also, having them around as a tidy person helps me to be better about tidying also, so the kitchen table is usable again for the first time in ages. And they wanted to craft which got me crafting too -- now I have a new project half-done that I think I will actually complete soon. They have a service dog who is INCREDIBLY sweet and Kanika is slowly adjusting to them. I am really enjoying having them stay with me. We've talked a lot and I feel a lot of resonance with them.


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belenen: (concupiscent)
break w Topaz is over, back to romantic / getting visuals from kissing / the kinds of kisses I like
icon: "concupiscent (a photo of Angelina Jolie, backlit in sunlight, licking honey off of their wrist while staring intensely into the camera)"

So Topaz and I are finished with the break, and back to being romantic. I think I have posted all the things I learned from it; quite a lot really. We have decided to put off sex a while longer. They said their reasons aren't there any more, but over the past week I realized that it might be a good idea for me. I realized that if we start having sex again before I have active practice with asserting my needs, then I may subvert my needs out of fear that being assertive may decrease my chances of having sex. Sex is usually not that big a miss for me but it has been a very long time, relatively speaking, and sex is the easiest way of being fully, passionately present and I really miss that sense of passionate presence. But I would like to practice being fully, passionately present in non-sexual ways, and this will be motivation for that practice.

Seeing Topaz again (on Monday) was a relief, but also didn't feel fully real. That day they got some deeply tragic news, so they were really sad. They were worried that I wouldn't want to see them but of course I did, I would always want to be there for them on such a day. We had really good, connected time despite the sad.


I had forgotten what kissing was like (when I say I have an awful memory I am not kidding). I was swept away, kissing them. I got images in my mind from the sensation and the emotion -- flowing brown watercolored silk with deep red, and brass roses with swirly flame-burnished colors at one point, and at another a sense of a green lush garden in Wonderland, with symbols floating and characters wandering. I don't know why I was getting visuals but I really love it and hope it continues. I was very wrapped up in the moment. I also forgot that I shudder with pleasure from kissing -- I mean, I forgot enough to be surprised, and then was surprised that I was surprised because it is something I would think I would be thoroughly aware of by now. I always feel just a little self-conscious about it, because even though it is involuntary I feel worried after that the person may think I'm 'being dramatic' or something.

I love kissing so much. My favorite kind of kiss is pressing lips softly together, with mouths open just enough for tongues to be able to caress each other -- maybe half an inch. I don't like it when people have their teeth together or when they have their mouth wide open. I like tongues to be relaxed, touching each other and lips and teeth, reaching at least to just inside the other person's mouth. I don't like it when I have to do all the reaching in, and I don't like it when people stick their tongue in my mouth like they're being rude to the back of my throat. And people have to be willing to suck their own tongue and swallow occasionally (which always is an awkward second) so that there isn't too much saliva. I like some closed-mouth kissing -- I like sucking on someone's lower lip and caressing their lips with the tip of my tongue, and I consider it the height of erotic to press the tip of my tongue in between someone's almost-but-not-quite-closed lips. And I like gently sliding my lips along their lips, just a little bit, and vice versa. I like very VERY gentle, broad lip biting (my lips split easily so it must be gentle, and it must be a large section not a tiny piece of my lip). I like to touch peoples' face when I kiss them and vice versa. I like to touch someone's lips with my fingers before kissing them, and sometimes during (just touching the corner of their mouth).


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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: (nascent)
fear of love being taken away if I'm not comforting & helpful / my worth / who I am vs what I do
icon: "nascent (a painting by Michael Whelan of a person with long flowing hair and large breasts sitting naked and cross-legged inside a green egg, which is being held against the sky by giant translucent blue hands with pointy nails)"


The weirdest thing about not dating Topaz right now is how I feel like I have an abundance of time. I take a leisurely route home, stop at the thrift store or grocery store, I make myself tea and read, I craft, I organize and tidy, and none of it in a hurry. These were things I did already but I always did them in a kind of defiant or splurge-y kind of way, and it didn't happen that often.

It's weird to realize how much I put restrictions on myself to be available for Topaz. It's a little scary, because it was an unconscious rule that I couldn't do things that would make me unavailable to Topaz unless I arranged it ahead of time. I know Topaz would never ask something like that of me, nor would I ask it of someone else, yet it was such a rule in my head that I had to work up a feeling of defiance in order to disobey it. And I know this isn't the first time I've had this subconscious rule, though it is the first time I feel sure that my person wouldn't be secretly wanting me to fall into that pattern (which is why I was able to break out of it at all).


I have this fear of love being taken away if I ever am not there for someone when they want comfort or help. I don't fear that the person will really suffer damage from me not giving to them one time -- rationally I think they will be okay (and if maybe not, then that is a completely different situation). I fear, selfishly, that if I don't do it, they will make a tally mark. Each "not there" tally mark crosses out four "good support" tally marks or eight "mediocre support" tally marks. Partly I don't want to have to make up for not being there because that's usually more work than the being there would be. I don't get afraid of this right away. It's only when it becomes a habit for me to be comforting/helpful that I get afraid of not doing it.

I think that I earn people's love and I find it very hard to resist the idea of a few more gold coins, even though I should have far more than I need. I feel a compulsion to hoard in case I make a mistake and that causes inflation that makes my previous earnings worthless. Ugh, I had no idea that my attitude toward love was so capitalist. I don't even know how to restructure it.

I can't really grasp the idea of someone not loving me less when I am not an automatic comfort/help. Of course they would! how could they not? I'm not sure where this fear came from, because I don't remember being a comfort to anyone as a child, and I don't remember having love withdrawn for not being a comfort (at least, not for the first 2 decades of my life). Although, thinking specifically on being helpful, my parents definitely withdrew love if I didn't 'help' by which they meant 'do what I want.' I think my understanding of help is muddied by their emotional abuse around 'gifted' labor.

Ultimately I think 'comforting/helpful' is the new 'smart' - the thing people value about me which is not part of my identity and which becomes a bigger deal than it should be. That feels close to the truth.

It doesn't help that almost always people refer to my various forms of giving when I ask why they love me. And it makes sense that people would love when I am generous, and I do want my giving to be appreciated, and I know that actions are part of the reason I love others. But it feels like the innate things are less important, like maybe they could take or leave those as long as I was giving. But for me, actions are almost never one of the first things I love about a person, except when they are an expression of something innate (like an artist making art).

What am I without giving? am I still worthwhile? I think I would be, to me, if I was someone else. I think if I was someone else I would feel nourished by my mere existence. I am actively nourished by myself, in that when I am being most myself, I enjoy my own company and I enjoy the space I create. Being in my bedroom (when I am in a good place and thus it is tidy) is like a constant cuddle from a rainbow and a forest together. I wish it felt that way to others. I want other people to be able to appreciate me in the way I do, because that is the way that feels like it's really about ME and not just about what I DO. I don't know how to explain this well.

I bounce back and forth between thinking that I give too much and wondering if I give at all. And also always wondering if I could be loved without earning it. If I could be appreciated for just existing, like a tree.

I'm too scared that the answer is "no" to try it out. I don't really know how to do it. I am constantly working to earn love -- it's automatic. I feel like because I can avoid making people do work or feel bad, I should. I should always be careful in my phrasing, gentle with feelings, avoiding misunderstanding, offering solutions, helping. Sometimes I try to be 'natural' but I am almost always drained by such efforts and it seems counterproductive, as it makes me feel worse about myself, and usually it makes me feel disconnected because when a bad feeling happens the other person often simply leaves it there. Sometimes people attack me in response, because my behavior changed and it made them feel bad, and they think of it as me attacking them. Other times they drop out of my life because the thing they came for is not there.

This is part of the reason that when someone doesn't care one way or the other about my journal, I feel very suspicious of the idea that they could love me. How could you possibly love me if the purest expression of who I am is something you could take or leave? My LJ is as much who I am as my face is -- nay, more so. It is more me than my cuddles, more me than the way I move, more me than my sex, more me than my presents or my fractals or my photos. Literally the only thing that is more me than my journal is my consciousness and spirit, maybe my body but that's questionable as I didn't create my body. If people don't enjoy reading in general, I can intellectually understand that but emotionally I do not understand.


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belenen: (progressing)
Topaz & I started a 21-day relationship break / relative cost of meeting strangers / social ventures
icon: "progressing (a deeply, vividly green forest of thick vines and trees, with a tunnel running through where unused train tracks lay)"

It's 5 days into my relationship break with Topaz (I friends-locked my post about the reasons and such because it's a raw topic for them). I'm sad but I know it's the right idea. I just haven't been doing things like making plans with people I don't know, partly because time with Topaz takes less effort and gives more reward than most other situations.

Meeting with someone I'm not intimate with means I have to use energy on 1) initiating plans 2) working out a place and time 3) spending money and stress on driving at least 30 minutes if not an hour 4) pushing away the idea that they are not going to bother and any future interactions will require more effort from me than them 5) guiding the conversation 6) pushing myself to volunteer information because they don't ask questions 7) spending energy on being in public because I can't just invite myself to their house and no one wants to come to mine usually and 8) driving home again often while feeling more drained than I was when I left. Even people I am intimate with are difficult to spend time with because they all are very busy, have chronic pain that interferes with driving, and/or live more than 30 minutes away. In contrast, going to Topaz' involves only very low-key planning and a short drive, often shorter than driving home. And then I get cuddles most of the time and get fed delicious raw veggies or beautifully cooked meals. It's no wonder I have been spending too much time with them.

Add to all that the fact that my anxiety has been getting worse and worse, and you have a recipe for my social time being 90% focused on Topaz. But now I have been on anxiety meds for a month, and I have another 16 days which will be spent sans Topaz. I am planning to use these days as wisely as I can. Thus the coffee with new person yesterday (I had only had a 5 min conversation with them before) and three social plans for this weekend, possibly another on Monday. I met with my psychiatrist earlier this week and in the course of the conversation they said, "we'll know you're back at a good place when you're having crafty parties again." I had been working on plans for two of them this month! and when I went looking through fb events to grab the text from the last, I realized that I hadn't had one for literally a year. I set one up for May but cancelled it because no one was attending. So last March was the most recent one. I just couldn't handle the let-down if no one attended, because with my anxiety it would take like a weeks' worth of energy away from me. I feel like I could handle it now.


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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: (aquarius)
dreams (fish made of glass, IP on a ship, Abby, tables/clock conflict w Pat, Kylei, Lexi, ableism)
icon: "aquarius (a painting of someone with pale skin and long dark hair laying on their back in the surf, head tipped back grinning toward something above their head, with waves crashing behind/beyond their knees. by Guillaume Seignac)"

dreams from this month! )


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belenen: (effervescent)
birthday w Kylei Heather Topaz Sydney Allison Hannah Sande Jacqueline / BTFP & truth-or-truth jenga
icon: "effervescent (a cartoony gif of neon multicolored bubbles bouncing chaotically and occasionally falling to the bottom)"

I had maybe the best birthday of my life! Kylei came over to Topaz' the night before (great because I didn't have to worry about them being late) and on the morning of my birthday Sydney and Heather came over and the five of us went to Big Trees together. The energy in the car was almost too much! Odd Squad is me, Topaz, Heather, and Kylei, while me, Topaz, Kylei, and Sydney are all violet spirits, so it was this complex pattern of two overlapping quads that almost makes a pentagram, and every single one of us is a silly, playful person. Loud! bouncy! I haven't felt that much playful energy probably since I was in high school, maybe ever.

Allison met us there, with a present of dragonfly-shaped mirrors (dragonflies and mirrors are both sacred to me), but couldn't stay long because they had to go to work. We walked in a little ways, enough that Allison got an introduction, and they said they want to do plein air painting there (which would be very fun for me if I could come along with a book or something). Then they left and the rest of us wandered through the forest, taking photos and playing. Sydney and Kylei had stick swordfights, and Topaz got Kylei to hold sticks for them so they could kick them in two. It was not at all my usual kind of forest visit, but it was cute and fun and I enjoyed all the glowy energy.

Then we stopped at Trader Joe's because Topaz begged (and while there Topaz got me blueberries and dark chocolate peanut butter cups, and Heather got me ginger chews). We made it through and out in less than 20 minutes! Then went to Sweet Tomatoes (probly my favorite restaurant: I make a mountainous salad) and back to Topaz' where everyone sort of lay around with full bellies and snoozy brains. Sande and Jacqueline arrived and Sydney left (they had homework & other obligations). Kylei left not long after Jacqueline arrived because they wanted to go to another party (which I would have been annoyed by if they hadn't already spent like 7 hours with me). Sande brought blood orange & mango & kiwi & other fruit, and sliced it up for us when they arrived. It was my first taste of blood orange and WOW is it unique! I love it.

We started playing truth-or-truth jenga* with the intention to do crafts after, but it took way longer for the stack to fall than we expected! I belatedly remembered that Abby and Hannah were supposed to vidchat in, so I set up the hangout, but Abby didn't show (I figured they had assumed it wasn't happening when more than half an hour passed w no invite). Hannah did, and played with us (I pulled the blocks for them). It was really fantastic! Sande and Jacqueline hadn't ever played before, but they answered thoughtfully and openly (at least that was my impression). And it was so, so, so great to have Hannah there! It was Heather's first time meeting Hannah and they had a strong positive reaction, which made me happy. Sande and I had a 'sloof' (saying the same thing at the same time) which also made me happy because I'm rarely that in-sync mentally with someone. And Hannah explained that the word (which came from Hannah and Nick) is 'fools' backwards.

Overall it was very sweet and included nearly all of my favorite people and two of my favorite activities (being in nature and deep personal sharing) so I think it was my favorite birthday so far (it is hard to tell because my memory is so bad I only have vague ideas to compare it to.

*this is jenga with 2 questions on each block. You pull a block, read the two questions, and pick one to answer yourself or ask of someone else.


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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: (nascent)
work / sickness / snapchat / fb / bioparents / kylei / heather
icon: "nascent (a painting by Michael Whelan of a person with long flowing hair and large breasts sitting naked and cross-legged inside a green egg, which is being held against the sky by giant blue hands with pointy nails)"

Ugh I have my first ever sinus infection (so gross so gross sooo GROSSSSS) and it keeps making me want to puke. I hate it so much I bought a neti pot with my meagre funds to hopefully rinse out some of the oozing slime.

Work is odd, my boss keeps forgetting what I'm doing (???) but I am making some serious progress and I think I might actually be done by the end of the month. When I do finish (hopefully before), I have to get my name officially changed (I have a plan, send me luck pls). It has become a need because literally everything I have done in stats is in my real name, not my legal name. I've got the bones of my website ready and I think it looks really great. I designed it in html5 with lots of newer css tricks which was quite fun. It is as accessible as I could make it, and it should work very well on mobile when I finish. I'm proud of it. I wish I could design websites for money. I also have been working on my portfolio (basically the print version of my website) and I mostly need to figure out exactly what sort of fancy container I need, as I'm sure a 3-ring binder will not do. Then it's time to start applying to all the jobs. That's terrifying.

I have been not writing because first I was ridic busy and then Topaz was SO sick and needed tending and couldn't do more than watch netflix. I can't pay attention to other things when there is a show playing, especially one I like (we're watching Grey's Anatomy, my second time through and Topaz' first). So I did nothing but watch netflix and pet Topaz and fetch them things. But things should settle into a routine now that winter break is past and I hope to be able to meditate regularly and to write daily. I did manage to meditate last week! But I have a bunch of tabs open at home waiting for me to fully read, so I am not up-to-date on your lives yet (tomorrow I think).

Topaz introduced me to snapchat, which at first I hated because it sacrifices usability for streamlined esoteric bullshit which is VERY BAD DESIGN VERY BAD NO BISCUIT. But then Abby was all like 'yeah I do that because it's low stress and so I can actually keep in touch' so I thought I'd give it another shot. I had to google "how to use snapchat" - that's how terrible the design is. But I managed to reassure myself that I wasn't going to accidently break all the things, and also Hannah reinstalled it, and Sydney and Topaz use it regularly and Anita and Trevor and Kylei chat with me on it. Mostly it's Topaz and Hannah that snap with me, but I feel closer to everyone I listed and I actually feel more in touch with myself because I am more aware of what is going on in my life when I think of how to share it. So if you use snapchat as a little window into your daily life let me know your username *smiles*

Yesterday and today I got very stressed out over this argument on facebook that I really just don't want to engage with at all. It's just not worth it because it was my best guess, not an actual fact. I don't care if people disagree with my guess. But it was a bucket of discomfort and it stressed me out because I'm sick of being the voice of doom.

I think overall I am doing okay. My parent P has been helping me over the break (no work means no pay so it's not actually a relief at all) and we have been emailing back and forth with actual content. I think we might be able to connect this way, because with international calls being expensive, they're not going to try to push me to talk on the phone. It's a huge relief to have the help especially because M is being extra terrible and may have fucked up my relationship with my mechanic which is vital to my mobility (M is forcing my mechanic to house a vehicle that M had promised to gift me and then decided it was too much trouble to transfer the title). Such a selfish person. Anyway, P has been there for me, which is a new turn for our relationship, and we have had real conversations (that didn't revolve around M's abuse).

I had a wonderful weekend with Kylei last week. It was very low-key because I was wiped out and I think Kylei was too, but we had a few hours of focus time and a lot of mildly connecty shared-space time. Kylei said they really want to do this again (spend 32+ hours at my house w me) and I love that idea. Hopefully next time I won't be so wiped out and we can have more focus time.

And I had a super lovely hang out with Heather yesterday. We just hung out and talked, but all the talking was very full and nourishing. They shared some difficult and some magical stories with me, and I shared some difficult stories and some wistful feelings with them. At one point I was talking about spaces for public sex or power exchange, and said that the reason I like that and want it is not because of an audience. I would not feel any less happy if no one noticed, and it actually surprises me and throws me for a loop when people do watch (I don't mind, but I also never expect it). The reason I want public intimacies like that is because it is explicitly not-hidden, and that is the thing I want. (I was realizing this as I was saying it, processing it out loud) Heather got very excited and said that they felt the same way and hadn't previously been able to articulate it. We also talked about other things we have strong resonance on, like the experience of being perceived as not-polyamorous or not-queer because of situations external to our choices. And we also finished each others' sentences in a helpful way (not the annoying kind where you have to keep correcting them) and I realized that I feel like Heather and I have a mind connection too. There is some particular thing that makes them very difficult for me to predict sometimes and I'm not sure what it is but I'm very curious about it.


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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: (disassociative)
dream about familial exclusion / triggered about fam-by-love / craving touch
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)"

I dreamed last night that I happened to go to my ex-spouse's family's old house, and they were all there hanging out and playing, and my biofamily (aunts and cousins) were there too. And they were like "what are you doing here?" with surprise but not even embarrassed that they had left me out and I knew. If they had any emotions about it, it was slight annoyance that I was there. I hadn't consciously been thinking about family but apparently knowing that I was going to be hanging out with Topaz' family today was bringing stuff up already.

Then while we were there today there was a moment where I felt abandoned and it triggered old feelings (of being abandoned, ignored, and lied to) which apparently haven't lost their power? Must I go through this every time I am around someone's biofamily? I'm so tired of it. But I feel like I'm always on probation and always will be, because I can't be enough of myself to even tell if they would accept me if they actually knew me. So... forever uncertain, constantly on edge.

Sydney was there and they had some really good talks with Topaz and me. I wish they lived closer so that I could spend more time with them.

Today was just really hard. I'm craving touch but have a hard time asking for it because if I ask without being able to handle a 'no' that's pressurey and gross, but there are only so many 'no's I can handle per period of time. So if I ask and get a no, it takes a while before I can ask again. And I associate having to ask for touch with being unloved, so it's this tangled mess -- I feel the need for reassurance that I am loved if gifted touch doesn't just happen.

Because when I love someone I crave touching them, so even though I logically understand that that isn't true for everyone, I don't emotionally understand it. Lots of people feel a strong urge to pet a kitten or puppy when they are nearby - I feel this about humans I love. It can be physically difficult for me to hold back (if we are in public and they aren't comfortable with PDA for instance).


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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: (connate)
what i have learned from Topaz, from being w Topaz, and from the last 3 years in general
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)"

(from Topaz) What, if anything, do you think you've learned FROM me; And, what, if anything, do you feel you've learned from being with me; And, what, if any, big things have you learned since we got together?

Ummm... I have learned a huge lot and my memory is full of holes, so I'm not even gonna try to make this comprehensive.

From you?
I have learned what media really means. I learned that even hostile anti-theists can have understandings of the world that fit with my spiritual beliefs. I learned that nail polish can be butch. I learned that chameleoning can be a powerful tool against oppression and that it doesn't always touch your soul. I learned that Carl Sagan is wonderful, and that wonder is a core value of mine. I learned about and came to love Michael Jackson, M.I.A., Lowkey, Melissa Ferrick, Sonia Leigh, and Ani Difranco. I learned that I dearly love giving presents to people who love getting them and have a variety of interests. I learned that sometimes, doing dishes can be worth it. I learned that I can enjoy cauliflower. I learned that I like many kinds of sex that I hadn't been interested in before. I learned that sometimes climbing a mountain is not the worst thing. I learned what a migraine is, and why it is so not the same as a really bad headache.

From being with you?
I've learned to be more patient with communication, and that 'I can't tell you yet' is not necessarily code for 'I'm going to put this off until you forget.' I learned that I can't deal with much indirect communication, and I learned how to respond to it in a useful way. I learned that I really love sweetness. I learned that I can ask for what I want without fear of pressuring someone into giving it. I learned that I really value (maybe need) independence in a lover, mixed with willingness to express needs and desires. I learned that I can brush someone's hair for literal hours, and that I miss having hair long enough to brush.

Overall big things?
I learned I don't believe in an afterlife or in spanking (both from logical conversations with you). I learned a ridiculously huge amount about racism, cissexism, ableism, and oppression in general. I learned that I have talent in stats. I learned that my ADD is bad enough that I can't really function without meds. I learned that my fractals are beautiful to more people than just me. I learned that I suck at picking people and need to get input from my insightful friends. I learned that LJ is still alive and that I can be 'in' it like I did years ago. I learned that I can motivate myself to do things with colorful stickers. I learned that my mental health is negatively affected when I don't eat breakfast and lunch. I learned that I can forge on ahead with something completely new, even when my future rests on that thing. I learned that parts of my biofamily are kinda great and that my bioparent M is the most selfish person I've known. I learned that I need group focus time as well as one-on-one. I've learned that I need for my lover(s) to combine specific compliments with touch for me to feel desirable or aesthetically pleasing. I learned that nourishing connections are increasingly difficult for me to find. I learned that similarity of inner self or similarity of overall goals doesn't make a connection nourishing: that I need connections with people who are on a growth spiral and not too far away from me. I learned that my privilege as a colonizer race means that it would be inappropriate for me to profit from doing spiritual healings or divination (since I only have access to these things due to historical and modern spiritual theft). I learned that I can build spiritual practice that is more growth-inducing, challenging, and meaningful for me than any externally-created practice I have come across.


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belenen: (spiritual)
after learning more about microbes, I no longer believe in an afterlife
icon: "spiritual (a photo of a snow leopard with (edited) violet eyes staring straight into the camera)"

[livejournal.com profile] darkestgarden asked me: have you ever felt that you were just plain wrong somehow about prior [spiritual] beliefs?

Yes. I used to believe in an afterlife, because I believed human bodies contained one soul and that soul left the body at death and went to another existence. Then I began to think about the fact that I am made up of literal billions of creatures, and I see all creatures as having a soul, so there is more than one soul in my body. I don't remember the conversation, but sometime after considering that, Topaz and I were talking about an afterlife and I realized my previous beliefs no longer made sense with my understanding of myself. Since I have only ever lived together with these billions of souls, what makes me think I would be the same creature if I was no longer influenced by them in incomprehensible ways? The logical thought is that I would not. So, poof, an afterlife as I had imagined it doesn't exist. I am frankly very disappointed to realize this, as my perception of afterlife involved getting to create from the raw stuff of the universe. But I can't believe in it just because it sounds nice, it has to make sense to me.

However, I do believe all memories are stored in a shared consciousness, and so in some ways I would still exist, just not as a singular consciousness in a recognizable configuration. I think that sometimes a pattern of thinking matches previous patterns so closely that one can recall them easily (past lives). And sometimes a pattern is imprinted on a place or person so strongly that people coming near it are faced with that memory (ghosts). And I believe that when people die their memories are 'uploaded' and in near-death or technically-resurrected experiences, a person's consciousness is observing their memories be uploaded. I think that the reason that they often experience a transformation is because they can feel the interconnectedness of all things in that moment. I think they see their deity many times because that is a pattern of many memories that is really important to them. I think that it is possible to access this feeling without dying, but I have not done it.

I believe these things because they make intuitive sense to me and they explain a lot. If it somehow ceases to make sense to me, I will stop believing it.

(where I first talked about this)

ETA: also I consider thought to be a kind of energy which can affect other things, and I consider deities to be thought-beings, sort of like clouds -- they're not really an individual THING so much as they are a collection of things that seem like a single solid thing. However I don't think that the only deities that exist are ones which are acknowledged as such. For instance I consider the largest deity for the US to be Capitalism; people fight and kill and die for this deity, suffer their whole lives in holy servitude to the idea that if they sell their labor long enough and hard enough they will be rewarded with an afterlife called wealthy retirement.


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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: (overwhelmed)
overwhelmed exhausted / Topaz dealing w family / dear self, take down-time dammit! / links pls?
icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"


In case you couldn't tell from my sudden lack of presence here, I've been overwhelmed. I managed to post while visiting with my biofamily, which is a great accomplishment! but I never really got a rest, and I didn't get a chance to read my flist while I was there. It has been one thing after another. As soon as I got back, my car wouldn't start and my phone wasn't working and I was behind on bills so I was overwhelmed with money stress. At the same time, Topaz had two family members have serious health issues requiring hospitalization. Topaz was busy every day and on call when at home as both of their parents (who do all the caretaking in the family) were run ragged. So, I did my best to be supportive, but I didn't get the rest and healing time with Topaz that I was counting on after my family excursion.

We ended up having a fight near the end of the week, which only ever happens when we are both totally out of energy. Usually I can set aside any defensive or selfish reactions and empathize when Topaz tells me I upset them, but this time I didn't. I think I could have, but I was in the middle of the process when Topaz asked how I was feeling and the immature selfish part of me took that as an excuse to stop the process and talk about why I was feeling defensive instead of empathizing. And neither of us had the energy to do the self-calming necessary to pull it back to a calm discussion. We didn't do anything cruel like call names or attack character, but we had this whole unneccessary painful feedback loop where we both felt blamed and attacked. And really it was my fault, because I can look at the exact moment when I could have been more kind and I chose not to. I really hate that I reacted that way. And I know I wouldn't have if I had had more energy, because it's not what the majority of me would want to do, but getting defensive and focusing on my own feelings is SO much easier. We did get to a healing point and forgive each other, but I think we both felt upset at how much time was wasted on unneccessary pain.

Then Topaz went on their family vacation, and so I have been going back and forth from my house to theirs every day, taking care of my cat, the visiting cat, and Topaz' rat. I hadn't really seen Heather or Kylei for ages, so I made plans with them and spent time with Heather, Taz, and Hope on Saturday (at a book festival that was HUGE and full of people), then did Intimacy Practice with Heather and Anika on Sunday and met up with Kylei at a flow event (where people get together to hoop and spin fire and basically play with toys in a dancy way), spent time with a bunch of strangers, and spent the night with Kylei and hung out with them on Monday. Then Tuesday I got up early to go to the courthouse with Heather who accompanied me for moral support, picked up some paperwork, and then went to a thrift store that was having an outrageous sale and got some cool stuff for the free store I'm hosting next weekend.

Okay I'm feeling a little better about being so wiped out and drained, after I wrote all that out. I didn't realize I hadn't had a day free of intensity at all this week. It was too much. I must not plan anything else between now and Sunday, so that I can actually get the house in order (which I SOOO don't have the energy to do today).

I'm going to start back keeping up with LJ now, but please, if there is something that you wrote that 1) has great emotional significance to you, or 2) you think would be right up my alley, or 3) you want my input on, please do comment with links. I'm not going to be able to go back and catch up on everything.


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belenen: (summer in Georgia)
bits from lately: Topaz' stress, friendship w Allison, healing reconnecting w Topaz, Topaz' family
icon: "summer in Georgia (photo of a line of trees curving along the highway, with the sun shining through)"


July 29: I've been keeping up with daily posting which is a BIG deal for me. And while I'm still very stressed, I have realized that a lot of my ambient stress is worry about Topaz, who has endured more crises in a quarter century than most people live through in 50 years, and a lot of it has been in the past year. Since realizing that I've started trying to be more careful about how "fixit" I get. Apparently I'm not actually any better at taking on responsibility for other people's happiness, I've just figured out some workarounds (like a minimum amount of alone time) and I lucked into a relationship with someone who actively desires for me to NOT take on their suffering. I'm feeling a little annoyed at myself for not having gotten better at resisting the urge to throw my entire self into caretaking for the entire time the person is in crisis, but at least I have workarounds. I need to keep this in mind and stay firm about my alone time and at-home time. I keep feeling guilty about not helping more and I'm not really sure what to do with that except try to ignore it.

Had a great conversation with Allison last week and I feel like our friendship is becoming solid. I have felt increasing closeness for a while but always felt like it was tentative and might disappear. I guess I wasn't sure if they were invested enough to maintain indefinitely, and I have old habits (from high school! Allison has known me the longest) that kept me from even thinking of asking about their intentions, like I would with people I'd met in the last decade. But yeah, thinking about it now I feel like we've moved to a new level. And they said that their person genuinely likes my tribe, which is awesome for lots of reasons. They'd said something like it before but I didn't take it seriously, I guess because I felt worried they were just trying to be nice. But when Allison explained the specific things they like, I could tell it was sincere and that made me feel really happy.

Aug 10: So disappointed that I broke my daily writing streak! I was so pleased with myself :-<

This weekend Topaz and I were supposed to go visit Kat and one of Topaz' friends but the money escaped us (well, escaped Topaz, and I don't have transportation that can handle more than a 2-hour trip nor would I have the money for gas - I was pretty much along for the ride). But it was good to have some days off for Topaz, as their job is frankly abusive. And it was happy for me to have some time with them where they were neither exhausted nor heavy with dread about going back. We didn't do a whole lot, overall, because it was mostly recovery time. But we had a lot of really good talks about stuff OTHER than stresses, which had gotten pretty rare lately because it takes a certain level of energy to have those talks.

We spent an evening with their family, where I was much more relaxed than usual because there were fewer people and none of them that would be bothered by me wearing something comfortable (which with my body, means that my boobs are going to be pretty noticeable). I think that was the first time I was around Topaz' mom where they seemed to genuinely relax around me. We all played a game that's like a spectrum from taboo to charades, and I enjoyed it -- the only games I like are ones where people are being expressive or are practicing reading each other in some way.

Yesterday Topaz and I went to a coffeeshop on a river and spent a few hours there. I hadn't realized how long it had been since we did something so relaxed (even when we have gone to nature it has been with a time limit that made it a little stressful). This felt really nourishing and I could feel their happiness and contentment at putting their feet in the river, which I'm just now realizing is the first time in months I've felt that coming from them, the poor creature. I had planned to meet someone else there earlier but they had to reschedule, so I asked Topaz if they would go with me, and I am so glad I did. It feels like a very serendipitous plan change, because setting that up and it getting changed at the last minute is the only way we would have ended up doing that.


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belenen: (overwhelmed)
where has all my energy gone? / focus time / Kylei's wonderful conversations / stresses stressesssss
icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"

I've had a strange few weeks as I've been working at my new job and finding that I don't have the energy to do much besides work and maybe one outing a week. I got out and about more often than this when I was working at the awful job where I was harassed by my boss and that really perplexes me. Talking about it in Intimacy Practice last Sunday made me realize that even though I don't have a lot of actively or significantly negative things in my life, most of the things in my life are equaling out to neutral or slightly negative. Like hanging out with friends - if I go see someone, that takes effort and money stress, and then the interaction starts out already at a deficit. So I need the interaction to actively nourish me or else I spent too much energy. I talked with Topaz and realized it would be helpful if I figured out what would make me feel back in balance, energy-wise, and asked ahead of time if people would be willing to give that to me. I think eye contact and foot rubs (not at the same time) would do a lot. My friends are already good about trading off who drives to who, but that doesn't help in the moment. And probably I need to only meet halfway if we're not having focus time.

It was weird realizing that I needed to spend more time with Kylei that was in a house, because when we are in nature or in public there are so many distractions. We definitely can have focus time in those places but it is very difficult. And with Topaz it is the opposite -- we have gotten in a habit of watching netflix all the time and so being at home usually means we don't get focus time. We need to remember to set that time aside in the middle of the day, instead of waiting until we are exhausted and finally going to bed and then talking for an hour because we have hardly had a conversation all day. I don't think I have ever had deliberate focus time with any of my other local close friends. I want to change that.

Spending time with Kylei this week was so, so, so wonderful and nourishing. I went to their house, which was a VERY long drive, and I arrived frazzled and overheated. They gave me some orange juice and bread and sat with me while I took it in and settled, and then we went to their room and we had a short nap and then we hung out, just cuddling and talking and making lots of eye contact. Oh Godde, that was a relief. Lengthy eye contact that felt balanced in its flow, not interrupted or pushed or pulled. And talking with them I realized something I love so so so much about them -- that they reflect on things I say and take them further, and then share that with me. I can't think of an actual example, but what I mean is I'll say something like "I think you are happier now that XYZ is true" and they'll either ponder on that out loud with why they agree or disagree, or they'll reflect silently and then when I ask what they are thinking they'll tell me. I'd say most people are not responsive in that way. Most people will take in what I say, but not turn it over and play with it to see what new thing they could realize from it like Kylei does. It feels so good, it feels like a kind of affirmation that they value my thoughts and my sharing. And I love it the more because it's not for my sake, it's just how Kylei works.

I can't remember what it was I used to get out of going and spending time with people -- am I getting less or is there something wrong with me now? I feel like it's both. Like, I used to get more out of going to spend time with people because they gave more focused time because usually I was dating them. I hate that people just don't have a habit of doing that with those they aren't dating. Or really, with anyone. I mean, I don't even think of it myself except with people I already have that habit with.

Why on earth don't I have more energy?? I don't think I'm depressed. I worry that I'm developing or starting to exhibit some kind of anxiety issue because I never used to be so weighed down with the billion tiny stresses. I don't feel like I'm dealing with more than average, I'm just dealing badly with the average amount of stress. There are so many tiny stresses that are just bothering me SO MUCH. It my reaction is out of proportion, it's ridiculous. The refrigerator isn't working properly and is leaking and is making my food go bad quicker than it should (this just started and has ruined my smoothie streak) which makes me not want to buy anything that will go bad which means I eat stuff that isn't as healthy which means I feel worse. My upstairs bathroom is all wrecked and two of my indoor plants are dying despite my best efforts. My cat is being picky and I'm worried they're going to not eat the rest of the great big multi-pack of wet food I just got to help them not end up with bladder infections. So I'm worried I'll have to get more and then if they don't eat that then they might get seriously ill. The living room is covered in my last half-finished crafting project. I really want to finish that project but I really don't want to finish it and have it go nowhere just like all my other art. I have two giant piles of laundry in the hallway because I am putting off doing laundry because the dryer is not working properly and everything has to go through twice to get dry. There's a bunch of recycling I need to take out. I'm not finished setting up the cuddle room and I want to have it ready by this weekend because I'm having a gather in it. Also Topaz is dealing with a ton of actually bad shit and I can't do a damn thing about it and it makes me feel helpless and full of dread. Also my car needs to go to the shop but I don't have the money to take it. And I need to go to the dentist (I haven't been in 15 years) but I don't have the money. And I need to go to the dermatologist about what might be skin cancer but I don't have the money. And I need new bras (some are too small and some are too worn out) but I don't have the money. And I need new shoes (I only have one pair and they're over a year old now) but I don't have the money. And I realized that my camera takes blurry photos most of the time and I want to replace it with an older model that actually allows me to set things but that feels like a huge risk (I think I could trade it in for an older one for no extra cost but it would need to be old and unused as the inside parts die over even the most gentle use). Also my shoulder/neck has been hurting for like five days now, slowly getting a little better but ugh, it's awful. Also I'm planning to go on vacation in late August with my biofamily and just found out my grandmother is going -- I find it very hard to be relaxed around them because I feel so much judgement and just massive lack of understanding. I was looking forward to it before I found that out. Also I'm past due for an eye exam but have to put it off because I know I won't be able to pay a random hundred before my second job starts in September. I have several things I have promised to ship but I haven't had money and memory and time all at the same time and that makes me feel like the WORST PERSON. So fucking many of these stresses could be fixed with money. It makes me want to scream and cry.
sounds: Halou - Things Stay The Same | Powered by Last.fm
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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: (progressing)
Gonna use daily template / truth-or-truth, planning w jaime, relaxing w topaz
icon: "progressing (a deeply, vividly green forest of thick vines and trees, with a tunnel running through where unused train tracks lay)"

I'm gonna attempt to write more often and to bolster this effort, I'm gonna try to write daily summaries if I don't already have something else written. I hope that this doesn't make my LJ boring or make people less likely to comment on more substantial posts - but even so, I'm gonna act out of desire rather than avoid out of fear. I'm gonna use this template: what happened, what it meant, overall emotional arc, & realizations (what I learned, realized, or remembered, if anything significant).

Early this morning Tasha came over to visit their cat Cupcake, who is staying in my basement room right now because Tasha can't keep them where they live and can't move yet. I stayed up way too late last night so after I unlocked the door for them I went back to bed. When I did get up I scurried out of the house to get groceries before truth-or-truth started (and made really good time running from one end of the store to the other). I felt bad about sleeping in but I felt really accomplished that I managed to get everything done in time.

At 3 I set up the truth-or-truth videochat and J and Aubrey and I started but neither of them had video so it was mostly like a call. Then Elizabeth came in (text only) and a little later Jaime joined in person. The experience was slightly awkward technologically but everyone was patient and so I didn't feel guilty. Whenever someone gets frustrated with technological difficulties I feel guilty for some reason I don't quite understand. But I didn't feel bad. Also everyone came up with such great questions and overall it was super nourishing and I am really happy everyone was able to come!

Afterward Jaime and I had a brief planning chat about the trans-centric gather we're having next week, and then they left. I feel really good about the fact that Jaime wanted to create this and is using my space to do it. I'd love to have all kinds of gathers at my house (as long as they weren't oppressive of course).

I made myself a smoothie for the first time in what seems like years. Topaz bought me a double-walled 30oz cup w straw and lid the other day and I think that made me feel able to make smoothies again, which is great because it's a way for me to consume more fresh fruits and veggies. I want to get chocolate whey protein and also start making smoothies with spinach or kale. In an odd way I feel like I was creatively blocked and am not any more.

Then I gathered my things and went to Topaz', where we watched netflix and made brownies. I put a SHITTON of Topaz' fresh mint in my corner of the pan and it turned out delicious! I brushed, combed, and played with Topaz' hair for a good while and then braided it.

Overall, I started the day with worry and rushing, then moved to happiness and nourishment, then rest and comfort. Soon, I'll get ready for bed and have some cuddles.

I remembered that when I was a kid I practiced expressions in the mirror, and was often read as hostile because my relaxed lip shape points down at the ends. I now get comments on how expressive my face is, but that was a thing I trained into myself as a means of communicating with others.

Also, I was thinking about autism and how it's looked at as a dysfunction, but I could see how it could be an evolutionary adaptation to an environment that is unacceptably busy and fake. Perhaps our species is evolving to be less prone to / capable of this capitalist bullshit because it's terrible for everyone. Or maybe I'm just universalizing my own feeling of increased safety around people on the autism spectrum.


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belenen: (exuviate)
tired and excited
icon: "exuviate (photo of a dragonfly with shimmery green wings after its last metamorphosis, standing next to its previous exoskeleton)"

whew, I'm so late going to bed but I finally caught up on LJ. And earlier this week I re-wrote my profile for the first time in years. It's not complete- I need to update the list of important posts - but it is way more reflective of who I am and what I want.

I'm really excited about tomorrow (later today); I'm gonna have a truth-or-truth night with alcohol and so many of my favorite people. Kylei and Heather are spending the night with me and Topaz and I think I am the most excited but I have felt excitement from each of them about it too, which makes me feel so happy and close and loved.

and I have used up too much brain for a longer post, bleh.
sounds: Stateless - I Shall Not Complain | Powered by Last.fm
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belenen: (pensive)
realization: I need group intimacy as well as one-on-one
icon: "pensive (photo of me with a glitter goatee, looking down pensively with woods in the background)"

realized yesterday that I was craving intimate time with multiple people simultaneously in person. I'm not sure if it has actually been a while since I've had this? it feels like it. I've had casual time with multiple people and intimate time one-on-one, but last intimacy practice was like a month ago and I think that was the last time I had in-person group intimacy. But it could be because I'm finally appropriately medicated yet no longer spending all my energy on school, so I actually have time/energy to reflect on what is causing my feelings.

I didn't even realize I had a need for this but yeah, I do. I've been feeling a weird kind of lonely that doesn't go away from anything else. So I made a plan w Heather and Kylei and Topaz to have a sleepover and I can't wait. I think that I need specifically this for two reasons: 1) it is a broad kind of love (that many people associate with 'family' which I have nearly never experienced in biofamily situations) which brings its own nourishment, and 2) only by spending time with mutual intimates can I be deeply nourished by seeing one person's love for another. and I think maybe 3) flowing back and forth in my focus from person to person makes me feel a harmony and unity I can't feel otherwise.
sounds: Heather Nova - Wicked Game | Powered by Last.fm
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belenen: (exuviate)
fuck you perfection I'm taking action: sweeping, crafting, gardening, tidying / time w Kylei / jobs
icon: "exuviate (photo of a dragonfly with shimmery green wings after its last metamorphosis, standing next to its previous exoskeleton)"

frustrated with myself because I've been writing, but not posting because I get to the 99% done point and stall out. Gotta edit, reread, edit, reread, wait and see if I think of something else, ugh. And then I don't write little random posts like this one because I have such a better one and I want to post THAT instead. Whyyyyyy do I get so fixated on perfection? Why do I break my own ethic of taking imperfect action?

Though, I did a number of things today where I didn't let perfect be the murderer of actually-getting-shit-done. Instead of thoroughly sweeping the back porch & stairs and getting every little flake of leaf off, I just did a quick and dirty job -- first time in ages that that porch & stairs has been swept. The pile was more massive than me, no hyperbole. I also set up a rig (not fancy, but sturdy) so that I can hang fabric along the side where there aren't enough trees to block the neighbors, so that I can sit out there in nature without having to think about my terrible neighbors or ever suffer their gaze. I'm sure not all of them are awful, but at least some of them are. Last year someone(s) deliberately smashed my two glass globe solar lights that were my shimmering joy (I took a photo because it smacked of hate crime (my car makes it super obvious that I'm queer) and I wanted evidence in case something worse happened) and recently someone sent me a nasty note for not having a tidy yard (it's since been tidied, because that has been my intention for months but I haven't had the spare energy).

Also I planted my newest garden baby, a sweet orange pepper that Topaz gave me. I also have a sweet green pepper (poblano I think), a Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumber and another that I don't remember the name of, Ititarod Red Dwarf tomato and some kind of small green tomato, a purple tomatillo, and cinnamon basil. Topaz has some seedlings for me that I'll hopefully be able to add soon.

I swept more things and watered and did lots of tidying and dishes, went to lunch with Lily and Tasha (whose cat is living in my basement room right now because Tasha can't keep them where they live and can't move yet), and spent time with Kylei. They were exhausted like always after a burn so they came over, took a nap (I made them up a bed) and then a shower, and then we had dinner (on plates at a table because Kylei wanted a ritual dinner; I enjoyed it more than I thought I would). We lay on my bed and stared at my fairy lights, which I tried on a new setting, slow glow (they have 8 patterns for flashing/fading). It was utterly hypnotizing and beautiful; definitely my new favorite. I can't believe I hadn't tried it before. When it went to red especially I felt like I was being bathed in healing. (I'll try to remember to get a video though I have no idea how I'd describe it!) We cuddled a little and Kylei told me about their burn experience. We hung out for a few hours and then Kylei went to bed but couldn't sleep, so I gave them melatonin and silent hair pets for a little while until they seemed almost asleep. I haven't heard them up and about since so I think it worked but now I'm afraid to go pee because I don't wanna wake them up *awkwardface*

I have two prospective jobs, one where I am 99.99% sure I have the job (waiting on paperwork) and another with an interview scheduled for tomorrow. I reeeeeeally want the one I'm interviewing for. It's an absolute dream.


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belenen: (feminist)
drained from all the things / speaking against trans erasure / need more SJ call to action / aunt KC
icon: "feminist(the trans-feminist fist symbol colored in a rainbow gradient, with the words "intersectional or bullshit" on top)"

I still fully intend to answer all of the prompts, but it is unlikely that they will all get answered this month *grimace* I'll just make my way through as I have time and energy. I've been dealing with a lot, particularly confusion and heartbreak-dread (that feeling where you are dreading heartbreak but have just enough hope that you can't resign yourself, ugh) as one of my friendships appears to be undergoing an intense and very unexpected change. Also homework has been heavy and I've had so. many. interactions that have taken a shitton of energy. I have met with biofamily FOUR TIMES, had at least four major conflicts with close friends, met two new people (who were both great, but meeting a new person always takes a PILE of energy) and attended two major public events where I got a lot of attention, all in the last three weeks. Last Saturday I participated in an event for the local chapter of One Billion Rising, where I spoke this (they wanted it close to tweet-length):

I'm rising for the transgender people who are hidden.
When you decide my gender based on how I look, you violate my identity.
Who I am is not decided by my body shape or my clothes.
Making assumptions based on the average erases those most vulnerable.


I at least managed to speak clearly, though my heart was beating so hard that it actually HURT and I felt shaky shaky shaky. I hate the feeling of adrenaline. But I was glad to be at that event partly because it was SO binary and SO trans erasing and me saying that ^ was SO needed. (those weren't the only issues) I felt a murmur of shock when I finished the first sentence, but Topaz told me that people applauded extra loud after (I was so out of it at that point that I had no idea), and several people came up to me and thanked me after. So at the least, they might be open to critique, and it was way better with regards to race and nationality than other reform-based feminist events I have witnessed.

Topaz shared with me their criticism of the event afterward, which was that there was no call to action. I heartily agree. I mentioned that those tend to come in the form of conferences rather than short events and Topaz said that shouldn't be the case, which kinda blew my mind with how fuckin true it is. You know what would be fantastic? a monthly meeting where all the SJ groups in the area come in and each share like a 15-minute blurb on what actions they are taking or planning and what their needs are for participation. Also, another monthly event that is just skill-sharing, people go and share solutions they have found and victories they have won or even recent victories they've heard of, or fuck, even old victories that have been erased from history. I could go to an event like that and get so much practical knowledge AND it would be so SO good for motivation, since I think the #1 motivation killer is the idea that we can't get anything done. People are getting shit done ALL AROUND us and also it is fucking insulting to the memory of people like Bayard Rustin and Sylvia Rivera for present-day people who care about social justice to refuse to use the tools of reform as well as the tools of revolution. VOTING MATTERS TOO.

I went to this event because of my aunt KC, who a week ago led a shared art project in my city that I also participated in. I really like KC -- I don't feel like I have to hide things, and they understand a lot of social justice issues already so they have the framework for me explaining more things. They're also open to learning from me, which I find to be rare in people who are a generation older than me. I feel upset with my parents for having not really allowed them to be part of my life, because I feel like we could be super close if my parents had invested in them like they invested in other people who were not critical of my parents (KC wasn't directly critical but would point out some of their bullshit). My number one problem with my parents is that they don't try to learn and grow, instead they flee from criticism. There could have been SO MUCH LESS SUFFERING if they had ever been willing to admit their ignorance and mistakes. Anyway.

So, KC is a professional artist who works for social and ecological justice. Last week we went to coffee for just a little while, and I showed them my fractals which they liked very much. I wish I had had more time with them, but I was so swamped that I really had no chance to spend more one-on-one time with them. I found out that there is ADD on my mom's side of the family too, which makes me want to get to know that person (I find that people with ADD tend to be people I like, which is annoying because they also tend to be people who are hard to connect with). I am not entirely sure how to build a relationship with KC now but I intend to.


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belenen: (overwhelmed)
relationships: Kylei / Abby / Anika / Heather / KWT / Lilywolf / Topaz / Allison / Jaime / Adi / Kat
icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"

Reflecting on my relationships this past week, I realized that I have been pouring a lot of energy out and not getting much back. This isn't a problem when I'm in a period of abundance, because I don't mind it in and of itself, but I'm still recovering from my 2012 suicidal depression, and last November/ December were hugely draining - so it's not something I can healthily do right now. So I have to figure out how to spend less energy and/or get more, hopefully without hurting feelings or sparking resentment. I feel a bit of a failure about this, because I was working so hard on reconnecting with people I love, and I feel sure that if I stop putting so much in, some of those connections will wither. But this is a pattern, and it's a bad one. I have to stop doing this. I need to be okay. I've been crying pretty much every day this week, and wanting to cut everyone out of my life. That's not a practical desire or something I would actually do, but it is an urge I get when I am not being nourished. It's a very bad sign.

relationship updates )


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belenen: (shows -- Xena happiness)
Love memory bank: April through November 2014
icon: "shows -- xena happiness (Xena and Gabrielle looking at each other and smiling as they walk)"

love memory bank entries  )


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belenen: (night -- atlanta)
recently: time w Abby, Anika, Kat visiting / Solstice celebration & ritual / Mercury died / xmas
icon: "night -- atlanta (a photo I took of Atlanta at sunset viewed from an airplane window)"


Kylei and I attempted to make a plan for the first time since our big clash about lack of interactions, it failed but I decided to go to the park we'd made plans at anyway and it's on my list of favorites now. It was very well-wooded and though it is hilly, the switchbacks are gradual enough that I don't hate it for the incline. There was one spot that made me feel a sense of holiness. I can't wait to go back after the trees have put out leaves again.

I picked Abby up from the airport when they came into town and after we had dinner at my favorite restaurant and I petted their hair a bit they crashed out. The next day they ran errands with me (including an AWFUL stop at the incredibly crowded post office) and helped me talk with the new coffeeshop owner about putting up fractals for commission there. I felt cozy going around with them, though they were still frazzled from the day before and we spent a good bit of time in silence, especially while crafting (both finishing solstice gifts). Then Topaz and Abby and I all went to the grocery store, came back and had dinner together while watching a Xena, and I spent the night. The next morning we had breakfast and coffee together and then I went home to do all the preparation things (partially so they could have one-on-one time). When I came back I tidied Topaz' basement with Abby's help -- poor Abby was just wiped out, so we didn't hang out much.

Solstice was a giant bustle of activity, with me, Topaz, Abby, Anika, Matt, Suzu, Kei-Won-Tia, Christo, Kat and their friend Sause, Heather, Brian, Kylei, Allison & their person Jonathan, and Jaime. More people brought food than Topaz and I were expecting (Topaz made adorable delicious tiny sandwiches and got fruits and veggies and I made my superfood dip), so we actually ended up with more food than we needed. After most everyone arrived, we had ritual: a shared damiana shot (with damiana tea for the little one), writing down things to let go of and then burning them, a spiral hug, and then drawing stones from a bowl of water and water beads. I had brought a number of stones and written all the meanings in my book of magic, so after everyone drew a stone (without looking) I then told them what their stone meant. I was a bit disappointed at mine -- snowflake obsidian -- but then when I looked at the meaning I laughed out loud because it was so perfect. Anika chose the stone that I had gotten specifically thinking of them, and Kei-Won-Tia chose the stone that I had gotten specifically thinking of them, and Topaz chose the stone I had gotten thinking of them! I was pretty blown away by that, and pleased. I remember thinking that all of them were appropriate but I don't remember what the others got.

After ritual we started opening presents and it was WAYYYY too chaotic for me, I got very overwhelmed and almost had to leave the room, I just couldn't deal with all the things happening at once. Overall I learned that I need present opening to be more structured for me to enjoy it at all. Last year it was so much calmer just because everyone had been laying around cuddling I think, and only one person was walking around at a time. Next year I want to do Topaz' suggestion of having each person take turns giving out their gifts. I really like seeing people open my gifts and also present compersion -- watching Kylei open a gift from Heather, for instance. I hope everyone is okay with that, I think they would be but no one thought of it. Later we all had food and alcohol and played a little bit of truth or truth. Allison arrived and I gave them my present -- a fractal I'd made for them, mounted on canvas with a painted border. They seemed to really love it which made me happy and relieved (I'd never done it before and was worried that it wouldn't appeal). As things wound down, eventually it was me, Kat, Jaime, Allison (and their person, who seems to appreciate Allison exactly as they are which makes me SUPER happy), and Topaz (maybe someone else too??). I got super great cuddles, playing with Allison's hair and getting a hand massage from Kat. It's very blurry (I was drunk and exhausted) but I remember feeling so loved that these people were not just spending time with me but investing in learning about each other. I have no idea what we talked about but the energy and cuddles were very nourishing for me.

Next morning I got up and helped make pancakes, did a billion and a half dishes, had breakfast, and said
goodbye to Kat and Sause (who I didn't get to really talk with, but seems really easygoing and open; I feel like it would be fairly easy to connect with them in a much smaller setting). Then I tidied more, hung out with Jaime until they had to leave for work, and talked with Anika and Abby while massaging Abby (who had neck/shoulder pain). After Anika and Matt and Suzu left to go to Sanctuary with Kei-Won-Tia, Abby and I took off for the nearest park under grey and horrid skies -- right after we arrived it started raining, so we climbed a baseball tower (no idea what it is actually called) and watched the rain and talked about solstice.

We went home and I saw Mercury (one of my bettas) looking dead and freaked the fuck out -- turns out they weren't dead just very lethargic and with a giant wound. After flailing a while I set up a quarantine bowl and put them in it, still incredibly rattled and upset. Abby and I sat around talking for a little while as I tried to calm down, and then I drove through rain and dark with wiper blades that won't work properly, terrified, and arrived at Topaz' even more shaky, with my hands literally shaking. Abby asked how to help me, I didn't know, they gave me a hug which helped some. Then Topaz arrived and comforted me too, and I just started crying, overwhelmed. Topaz put their hand over my heart and gave energy (I checked to make sure they were pulling from elsewhere because I am not at all comfortable with people draining themselves for my sake) which helped hugely. I wouldn't have thought to ask for it but I was very grateful. I decided to go lay down for a while as Abby and Topaz made dinner. Once it was ready we watched "Playing By Heart" because apparently Abby had still never seen it??!??

Later I realized I felt sad and told Abby about it -- that I felt sad about not intentionally connecting. We talked about it and I explained that I wasn't blaming them or asking for an apology, that I just wanted a fix for the future. Eventually we felt agreement and I asked them to sit with me holding hands and put our foreheads together (I initially suggested that we make eye contact but they felt that was too intense). When we did this I felt relief, and connection, like that missing bit finally clicked.

Then suddenly Abby and Topaz were full of playful energy and played hide and go seek, I 'found' Topaz who wanted a backpack ride but when Topaz jumped on, they were too close to the wall and smashed their knee (which hurt for days and I felt SO bad, forever after the jump-on part only happens in the middle of the room). Abby went to talk to Darryl and Topaz and I wrestled and made out (which made me happy partly because in the past Topaz wouldn't have done that in the common area if there was another person anywhere in the house). Topaz had suggested 3-person cuddles and I asked Abby, who liked the idea, so we cuddled with Abby in the middle and then Topaz in the middle. I gave Abby face pets and they liked them (yay!). But then Abby was falling asleep so we just left them to it.

Next day Abby and I went over to Sanctuary to hang out with Kei-Won-Tia, Anika, Waylon, Matt, and Suzu -- Christo was supposed to join also but was busy. We played a long game of Truth or Truth and I got to know Waylon a bit; they seem like the most humbly-hungry-for-understanding person I think I have ever met, which I love. When it got near time for me and Anika to leave, I was sitting next to Abby and feeling sad that this would be the last time we saw each other for a while, not really sure what to do with that feeling. Kei-Won-Tia suggested that Abby and I go cuddle to say goodbye, which was so perfectly the thing needed. We had really sweet cuddles, very connected -- possibly the most connected cuddles we've ever had, at least to me. I felt a validation of my hope the night before that the intentional connection would have a lasting effect. Then Anika rode with me to my house in terrible dark rain again, and lounged on my bed talking and occasionally cuddling for about seven hours. It was really good to have one-on-one time and while I can't remember what we talked about (arghhh) it was meaningful and nourishing and I felt we built more connection.

The next day when I woke up my fish still wouldn't eat -- three days of not eating when this fish is usually very excited about food -- and the wound looked worse, and they seemed so depressed that I felt bad about their suffering. I looked online to see if there was some painless way I could help them die, and everywhere said that clove oil would work to make them go to sleep (it's used for fish surgery) and then a much larger dose would kill them. I had clove oil on hand so I tried it -- and they freaked out and swam all around and I felt like the worst creature ever to live, but there was no going back, so I felt trapped and had no idea what to do, I looked online again and they said to wait 10 minutes for it to work, ugh, I went back and they were still so I poured the lethal dose in, ugh, ugh, I feel like the worst person, gasping and crying, saying "I'm so sorry I'm so sorry." After, I found someone else who said they had the experience I had and apparently I either added it too quickly or had them in too large of a container or both, fuck. Never ever again. Apparently you can buy a euthenasia powder online, I'm going to do that as soon as I have money, in case this happens again. I just can't trust a method that caused distress, even if it was because I did it wrong. The video I watched about it had the fish so peacefully drifting off... *deep sad frown* Later that night Topaz picked me up and I spent the night with them, doing nothing I can remember.

Next: Topaz' biofamily christmas. LOADS OF PEOPLE ALL DAY and I had to be all demure and shit. The highlights were Topaz' parents giving me good coffee and gel pens, and me giving people small fractal prints in envelopes with the title on them. I was hoping that people would at least count it as a gift but didn't think there would be a strong reaction -- but almost everyone I gave them to exclaimed over them and seemed really happy about them! I felt so happy and gratified that they seemed to mean something to people. And I loved when they would point out ways they interpreted it. Later one of Topaz' parents referred to me as an artist which was the first time I think anyone has ever called me that (at least, to my face).

That night I had weirdly intense dreams about moving and school and Firekat and visiting a church (like, testing out a christian church to see if they were non-poopfaces). I had to pack all my things into a truck bed and I had 7 huge shelves of spices and way too many books. According to the internet, spices mean a yearning for variety, books mean calm slow progress, and packing means change ahead, putting the past behind you. My first thought was that I couldn't possibly take all of the spices, then I thought of selling some of them, and then of bringing only the ones in plastic jars (so they wouldn't break), and finally deciding fuck it, I want all of them, others wouldn't appreciate them enough. With the books, I was intrigued to see ones I hadn't read, but I didn't feel attached to any in particular (I had already packed my favorites). This all took place in the basement (subconscious). So, I'm taking that to mean I'm getting to the end of a learning phase and my focus is going to be more varied. That in rejecting limiting my options, I get to actually have it all. Later I talked about this with Topaz and they said it sounded to them like it was about me being poly (which was the same feeling I had gotten). Topaz expressed that they don't want me to hold back for their sake and I said that while I do feel I am getting to the point where I actually have the energy for additional romance, I don't have anyone in particular whom I want to pursue that with, but I will let them know if/when that changes.


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belenen: (overwhelmed)
overwhelmed: too much everything, school, relationships, car, art, work, families...
icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"

Whew. I have been so massively overwhelmed for SO LONG. Not all the overwhelming things are bad but they're just such a lot.

Since the first week of November I've had at least one gigantic stats project due every week. One with a presentation, two that were exams, one that took me over 24 hours (as in, counting the hours spent over a week) to complete... ugh. I think the shortest one was 6 hours, most were at least 8. So fucking much work, and the kind of work that takes all of my brain and leaves me exhausted after.

My car threw a belt at the beginning of October - luckily it was the AC belt so I could keep driving but I held my breath every time because the others were just as worn and if they broke my car would be hopelessly shitted and I might die if it broke at the wrong moment. Finally got that fixed last week but my car's been making a horrible scraping noise and I'm so tired of broken shit I haven't taken it back to get that checked.

In addition, working on some weekends for Topaz' parents (who I feel on high alert around because I have to act normal) to make some food money, a conflict w Kylei that kept getting put off because I was trying to do it in real-time (finally got settled this week because I gave up and sent an email), going to Topaz' family thanksgiving, cleaning/organizing/planning in preparation for solstice, getting/making presents, working a lot on my various art shops and (with Topaz' help) setting up a central facebook page for it, being a support to a friend going through intense trauma, going to Ashe's birthday where there was one person who has an unresolved conflict with me and another who I'm pretty sure hates me, oh, and the loads of hoop jumping for getting meds. And a houseguest who is still a very new person to me (they needed a safe place) - it has turned out wonderfully but I was pretty nervous about it and put a lot of energy into setting it up. Plus I'm sure some other things I can't think of because my memory is shit.

And I'm bad about journaling when I'm actually on LJ because I'm always "well I wanna read first" and then I run out of time. So. This is on my phone.

*deeeeeeep sigh* really hoping that my professors next semester are better organized and don't drop everything on me at the end of the semester.

Also, there's a kind of spiritual shift happening with me, which I haven't had a chance to really explore yet. And my fractal art makes me so fuckin happy, I feel like I have talent with it and I'm building skill quite fast lately. My amazing friend [livejournal.com profile] chillychilly22 is supporting my art via patreon and that keeps me motivated, but I have had so little time and I've felt bad about rendering because my stats programs take up just as much effort for the computer and I don't want to cause it damage by running it full throttle all the time. Overall though, I've been making stuff I'm super proud of, and I've even had two strangers buy my art! Can't wait to make new things over my (very short and busy) break. School ended late and starts early, what is that. And I'm going to visit my bioparents (and Anika) over New Years, which is a stress hanging over me. It'll mean a thirteen hour bus ride each way, which (except for visiting Anika) will be the fun part.

Next week, I have 6 things to make to finish up my solstice gifts, and I've gotta help Topaz finish preparing for guests. Also Abby is visiting, then Kat and Anika! SO MUCH HAPPEN.


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belenen: (vivacious)
winter holidays - thanksgiving, christmas, Solstice, new years
icon: "vivacious (my face, tilted 3/4ths, with a playful smile. you can just barely tell that I'm hugging myself)"

I was intrigued by the fact that when I asked y'all about winter holidays, you mentioned thanksgiving. (many thanks for the answers, btw!) I hadn't thought of it as a winter holiday, but I suppose it is. I loathe thanksgiving; I didn't like it as a child because it meant eating food I didn't really like (the only thing I ever liked was the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie) and doing a shitton of dishes, all for no particular reason, followed by people doing frenzied shopping. I didn't know then that it was based on a whitewashing racist lie, and when I found out the extent to which it was a lie I hated it more. It's fucking awful and shouldn't exist. But I go to Topaz's family gather because I want to show the family that I care about them and my presence at this food sharing day is a way that they can understand that.

I used to love christmas, but even though I was very christian as a child, I didn't associate it with Jesus (and I never believed in Santa as my parents didn't want to teach me a lie, and I never approved of any white american childhood myths except the tooth fairy). What I love is the fairy lights and giving spirit -- it is a capitalist holiday to be sure, but it is also a time when people do try harder than other times to be kind to each other, if they are given to kindness to begin with. I find light and color to be magical and seeing many people participate in sharing colorful light with each other is enchanting to me. I am glad that christmas exists because of this.

Christmas was important to me until I realized what Solstice was, and then all of my feeling for christmas transferred over to Solstice. The day the light begins to return -- there is really nothing more magical to me. Not only do I have SAD which is set off by dark days and cold, but I also worship light as the most tangible form of magic. I celebrate with lights, a decorated tree (living in a pot), presents, and connection with people I love. I love love love that so many of my favorite people have spent the past few solstices with me. I like that there is a nearby holiday that is NOT on my holiday because that means I don't have to work around people's familial obligations, but I still get to revel in all the reflected excitement from others at the same time.

In 2011 Kylei and I hosted Solstice, and it was amazing and cozy and magical and Adi made eggnog and there was a giant cuddle puddle. In 2012 Kylei and I hosted again and it was wonderful and there were fairy lights EVERYWHERE. Last year was my favorite so far -- I hosted and made a gigantic pot of spaghetti sauce (one of my 3 dishes that I am super good at making) and fed EVERYONE and people spent the night and had breakfast in the morning and it had the biggest cuddle puddle ever and a long game of truth-or-truth and I had such excellent presents for people. This year I think it will be even better, because I am closer to many of the people who are coming and they are closer to each other. Also, I won't have any newbies to babysit -- I liked that Aurilion came last year but it split my focus because I was so worried about them having no one but me that they knew, and also worried because they were not someone I could trust to know to ask people before touching, or value a different opinion as equal to their own. I didn't even realize this was a thing until the celebration had begun, which makes me realize how fucking lucky I am in my friendships: that's something I usually don't have to worry about. My house agreements are something I usually share with everyone before they come over but it just didn't occur to me that I might need to go over them with someone I already felt close to. Also I feel happy that Topaz will be able to more fully participate since it's at their house and they won't have to deal with terrible allergies or be sober due to a future drive.

Giving gifts is very important to me. I want to get people things that will have personal meaning to them, that will show them I know them and value who they are. My ideal gift for someone is something that is meaningful to them AND me, that is tailored to them yet something I would also enjoy owning (this is hard to find!). There is a little bit of sacrifice in my best gifts. I like receiving gifts but I like giving them more. If I could give each person something that would make them feel known and loved, I would be happy getting no gifts (as long as people assured me that it wasn't because they didn't care, because being left out stinks). It used to be that if I couldn't find you the perfect gift, you got nothing -- now I tend to try to find some consumable that the person will like, because I like that better.

I don't care much about New Years for myself, but it is very important to Kylei and Abby and thus has significance by proxy -- I like to celebrate with Kylei and Abby in whatever way feels best for them.


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belenen: (progressing)
a nourishing & emotionally exhausting 11 days! Kei-Won-Tia, Topaz, Sydney, Heather, Kylei, Abby, Kat
dealing with feeling disconnected and out of sync )

an exhausting intimacy practice )

8 - don't remember, didn't calendar it :-[ There was school stuff.

intense happy one-on-one time w Heather )

Kei-Won-Tia's birthday, meeting zir mom, playing truth-or-truth for four hours )

watching Alice In Wonderland w Kei-Won-Tia and zir mom, my feelings on Alice, run-in with neighbor, time w Topaz' parents )

12 - no idea, didn't calendar. My memory is the worst. School happened.

Kei-Won-Tia's birthday party and very-drunk me )

talks w Abby and Firekat )

lots of time w Kei-Won-Tia )

meds, talking w Kylei about making time )


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belenen: (overwhelmed)
old pain triggered, not new pain inflicted
While I appreciate the intentions of comments on the previous post, I feel like no one understood what I was saying. It wasn't about Topaz, ze was just the trigger for old pain. I really wanted some empathizing for the old suffering dredged up - each one of those events/situations hurt me so deeply, especially the one with my parents. Topaz is far and away the best person I've known for being there for me when I'm sad. Today I cried all over zir again and ze was completely supportive, which is the norm with us. It's really important to me that I make this clear - it was a few half-baked discussions that we didn't have the energy to finish and never went back to and hashed out. I've never been able to lay in anyone else's lap and cry and ask them endless questions for reassurance and have them give patient love. I am still scared that one of those situations will happen again, but it is not a rational fear, considering Topaz' behavior.

Please dont fret if you made a comment, i probably should have rearranged the paragraphs and put the conclusion first and then the spark that caused it.


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