belenen: (Default)

June 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a little sample of the bullshit )

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

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

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

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

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

maintaining at good w Topaz )

slowly building w Serenity and Allison )

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

new buds w Jackie and Roger )

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

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

illustrations from recent tweets )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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belenen: (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 [ 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: (powerful)
bioparent M thinks love is a desire for ownership / feeling worthlessness is a sign of bad patterns
icon: "powerful (Frazetta's "Sun Goddess": a person with large breasts and belly and thick muscular thighs, standing with arms out and head back, knife in one hand, sabertooth tiger snarling by their side)"

prompt from [ profile] ragnarok_08: What was the most sobering thing your parents have said to you?

What comes to mind most strongly is my parent M telling me that no one would ever love me as much as M did. This bothered me at the time but it took me a while to fully understand why. For one thing, it felt like a threat; "I am your greatest source of love so you better value me because if you don't, you just won't get love." For another, M has almost never made me feel loved, so it felt like they were simply telling me I was unlovable and I should expect that people who claimed to love me would try to control my every action, disallow me to show negative feelings and demand that I placate their negative feelings, devalue the parts of me that I most loved, seek me out only to get me to do work for them, show no appreciation beyond a temporary cessation of criticism, and give to others what I crave while pretending to treat me the same. I think this is why when these patterns crop up (in far milder ways), they feel so normal that I do not realize them for a while. I simply get more and more convinced of my own worthlessness. I think I need to note feeling worthless as a sign that I'm falling into these expectations again.

Honestly when I look at my childhood I'm amazed that I managed to learn how to love at all. I always thought that I was relatively well-off as far as escaping abuse goes, but I didn't realize 1) that I was physically abused and 2) that I was almost entirely emotionally neglected and was emotionally abused. M would tell me that they loved me at least every other day and would give me a hug before bed. From at least the age of 8, I never wanted this hug and never felt any truth in those words; it was part of a ritual I had to perform to keep my parents from being mean to me in response to perceived rejection. I would feel angry that they were saying "I love you" when they never showed any care for my feelings at all and literally told me on several occasions "I don't care how you feel." For years, I refused to say the words "I love you" unless I was currently overwhelmed by a feeling of love (thus, never saying it in response) in order that I would be sure to never say it meaninglessly like M did.

M mistakes a desire to own as love. M wants to own me, to have me care about their opinion and want to please them, to build up the qualities that M values and erase the ones M does not, to behave in a way that makes M feel good about themselves, to enjoy and desire M's company. M in fact thinks that being my progenitor means that they have the right to these things. M was physically and emotionally abused by their parents, so I understand why they don't know what love is. However, I think they have a responsibility to learn in order to reduce the harm they cause others, and I consider it reprehensible that they choose to protect their pride at the cost of hurting everyone around them.

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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)
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)"

abstract fractal entitled 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.


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

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.

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

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.

-- 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 **

-- 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 **

-- 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 *

* 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

-- 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

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

** 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

-- 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: (progressing)
defense mechanisms of old: not showing gratitude, blocking emotion, not inviting myself, disclosing
icon: "progressing (a deeply, vividly green forest of thick vines and trees, with a tunnel running through where unused train tracks lay)"

Have any defense mechanisms you have created that seemed good at the time you created them turned inside out with time? (from here)

Most of my defense mechanisms date from childhood and were created subconsciously -- I suppose they must have been needed at the time but they aren't good for me anymore. Some of them are unethical (such as the thing I used to do where I would crush people with my vocabulary if they were trying to put me down) but most just really aren't needed among actually decent people.

For instance, I have a very hard time saying thank you because if I ever thanked my parents or expressed excitement at something, they would then take it away and use it to make me do things. An example: my parent says "let's go to pizza for dinner" and I say "yay! I love pizza!" and my parent would then say "well okay then, do this, this, and this and we will go, otherwise not" (and if they ended up not feeling like it, it wouldn't matter that I had already done the things they demanded). But if I did not respond happily, then it had a good chance of just happening without me having to earn it. So I learned that if I actually wanted the thing, I couldn't express any happiness or gratitude until after it could no longer be taken back. And usually by that time I wasn't feeling grateful anymore because I'd been holding my breath waiting to see if it would actually come true, so it felt like I earned it with the work of anxiety. I still have to push myself quite hard to be able to say thank you at the promise of something rather than after it has happened, but I have gotten better about reducing my anxiety and being able to actually say thank you after.

Another which is a bit more subtle is the difficulty I have in feeling like I belong and am wanted. Not only did my biofamily make me feel unwanted and like I didn't belong, my parent M told me over and over that no one else would ever love me as much. Since I never felt loved, that was the equivalent of telling me that I would never be loved. For a long time I coped with that by blocking out all feelings. I think I have overcome this one for the most part, but strong feelings of any kind usually bring up the fear that I'm not really loved, even if I can logically contradict it now. I just let them come and push through them, relying on logic.

In a way I don't fully understand, M's hangups about intruding in spaces they were not wanted rubbed off on me. So I coped by trying to never be in spaces where I wasn't 100% sure I was wanted -- which is not a helpful coping mechanism because you can never really be that sure and there are a lot of places where you won't get a specific invite. A lot of times you have to be an ambassador on your own behalf if you want to connect with people. That coping mechanism just made me more and more lonely. It still requires a massive effort to get myself to go to social gathers where there are any attendees that dislike me, or any where there isn't a person there who actively wants me there. It's still hard even if there are no dislikers and people who actively want me! I think Kylei was my biggest help breaking this one, but I have gotten out of the habit. I'm pushing myself to connect directly with people and to go to uncertain social gathers.

There's also the habit I have of disclosing everything that might be objectionable about me up front, "Hi nice to meet you by the way you probably won't like me because [reasons 1-25]." I probably scare off people who might be down with everything if I introduced it gradually, but at least this way I don't end up devoting years of my life to someone who thinks that the things that make me who I am are not valuable or even okay. Like I did with my ex-spouse (not by choice but because I hadn't learned myself before we got married). I think that this is sort of a 50/50 coping mechanism, which does the same amount of good and harm. I've started trying to be a LITTLE more gradual about it. do you notice they have and how do you work to put them right again/stop using them?

I notice only when someone else points it out, usually, or when I uncharacteristically don't use them for some reason and then realize how much better things are without it. I work on putting them right by trying to do the opposite often enough that the habit disintegrates: say thank you at the first sign of a thing I would be grateful for, allow all feelings, join gathers where I think I might be unwanted and talk to people without them giving welcome first, hold back after disclosing several things that people might need to process, etc.

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belenen: (dreamy)
dreams (lots w ex-in-laws & bodies of water & sex & escape & dealing w evil people)
icon: "dreamy (a painting by pupasoul of a human figure in a cage, holding a hand out from which radiates light and squiggly sparkly vines of energy)"

15-12-22: wanting to connect w ex-spouse )

15-12-23: hannah came to visit: we are chased, rescued by small boy )

16-1-8: dating two people, cuddling in church )

16-1-9: ex-in-laws give great gifts then punch me in the crotch, later I deal with an attacker who is impossible to kill )

16-1-10: ex-mum-in-law very happy to see me, then deal w roaches )

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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: (tenebrous)
really fucking terrible week (anika gabe biofam etc) - depressive crash
icon: "tenebrous (a shadowy orange-light photo of my face, looking down, with an achingly sad expression)"

This has been an incredibly hard week. Anika attacked me and scorned my efforts and was cruel to me. I feel drained and devalued every time I think about it.

Gabe (my little brother, emotionally, who I love more than any blood kin except Ace) revealed that he doesn't see me as a person and that he is transphobic. He posted a 'joke' about Caitlyn Jenner and when I commented (which took a herculean effort), he edited the post to fill it up with the reasons he thinks transphobia is fine. That is so much worse than I thought. I was assuming that he was just ignorant, but apparently he knows and simply chooses to believe that being queer or trans is wrong. I couldn't even deal with that. I tried to post a response comment but it either got deleted or didn't go through and I just couldn't post again. This is a sharp pain every time I remember it. It means I have no chance of being loved by the first people who ever made me feel appreciated and valued. It's effectively formal notice that if I were to reach out to them, I would be rejected without possibility of them reconsidering.

And then there was that realization I had on Christmas eve that my bioparent M (who is rich) suggested that my aunt give my cousin a flight to Japan for a graduation present (this was in a group email).  M did not offer such a gift to me and it seems to not even have occurred as a thought. Not only that, but I asked M for help with money this month because my work is closed for three weeks and then the pay cycle is exactly off so that the next paycheck I will get is three weeks into January.  Rather than responding, M forwarded an email from the terrible HOA who constantly complain about my yard.  No, I'm not going to fucking rake the leaves because that serves NO PURPOSE and DAMAGES the plants and the insects who need those leaves for cocooning.  Seriously.  M claims to give a shit about me, but can't be moved to help me when I need it, while giving money to my siblings and cousins etc who don't actually need it, because M wants their good opinion.  Also, while making more than 300% what P is making -- PLUS full military retirement -- M is requiring P to pay half of the bills at their place. They're married.  M is a fucking awful person -- the financial evil is honestly one of their lesser faults. 

Then my pibling and cousins (who live very close) call me on Christmas to tell me merry christmas, leaving a voicemail??? when they didn't fucking invite me and haven't, literally ever.  I just felt like that was a slap in the face.  Just pretend that you forgot I existed, like all the other times.  Don't rub my face in it.

Topaz' family reminded me how I have (almost) never gotten a thoughtful gift from my parents (because they gave me and Topaz thoughtful presents) and also gave me smelly presents (body spray, lotion) that reminded me of just how bad M's 'gifts' were. Plus I'm really fucking stressed about money and about not having the truck dealt with and I have to get my tag renewed which means I have to go talk to Jeff who has been on hold with the truck in their lot for more than a month, thanks to M not keeping their promise. And Kylei was gone which would have been minor except I really needed another close person this week.

And then there's good, exciting, but nervousness-inducing stuff happening and people keep thinking that my upsetness is about that, which is also upsetting. (I'll explain in a locked post)

So I realized I'm in the midst of a depressive crash. I feel like a sodden lump of disgusting worthlessness. I keep flickering between desperately craving connection and wanting to avoid all people so that I don't inflict my irrational overemotional fearful upsetting energy on them. I'm dealing the best I can, putting my trust in my close ones to help me decide on the truth since I can't find it myself. I can't trust my memory or perceptions based on memory on a good day, and in depression it gets so much worse. The demons in my head jab at every sore spot, and I cannot rationalize them away because I can't remember facts that would counteract them.

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belenen: (ADD-PI)
my ADD-PI: stimming and prosopagnosia (difficulty recognising faces)
icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

Some people say ADD is on the autism spectrum, and I certainly see a lot of similarities between my experience as an ADD person and other people's experiences with autism. Someone with autism mentioned having trained out their stimming behaviors at age 12 and that suddenly brought back a memory of myself at age 12 or 13, at a family gathering. I had long hair and I twirled it around my fingers often (and had done this since age 3 or so) because it was comforting -- it made me feel like I had a bubble of protection somehow. My pibling P told me I shouldn't do it and gave me the impression that people seeing me thought it was a combination of grossness and proof of lack of intelligence. I felt like I had been caught doing something private (I don't think it had occurred to me that others could see me doing this) and I felt deeply shamed. I didn't do it in public any more, and didn't have the urge to do it in private unless I was going to sleep.

Thinking back, I feel very upset with my pibling P. They disrupted my relationship with my hair, my body, and the way I thought of how people looked at me. I hadn't considered that people might examine me for things to judge my intelligence. They stripped me of a protection that I didn't even know was there until they took it away. I remember being angry at the time that they dared to tell me what to do with my own body, but the anger didn't keep me from extrapolating that if they thought this, so might others. Since the only part of me that people ever expressed valuing was my 'smarts' I couldn't risk losing that.

Now I rub my fingernails when I am in public and overwhelmed and have nothing to distract myself with. I put the fingerpads of one hand on the bed of the fingernails of the other hand and stroke down hard, past the tips and down, then do the other hand, back and forth. If I feel like I shouldn't let people see me do this, I will do it with just my thumbs. Paying a little more attention to my movements today I have realized that I do this in a mild way (rubbing thumbnail and forefinger on the same hand) just generally. I also count steps when I am walking in public (usually just up to the thirties and then start over) especially at school (which is where I feel most watched) or when I am in a hurry. I hadn't thought of these as stimming behaviors but I definitely use them for the same reasons.

I was just reading thecaffeinatedautistic and they mentioned face-blindness as more common in autistic people... reading more on that I realize again how much a part of my life this is. Oliver Sacks says "I am particularly thrown if I see people out of context, even if I have been with them five minutes before... Many prosopagnosics recognize people by voice, posture, or gait; and, of course, context and expectation are paramount—one expects to see one’s students at school, one’s colleagues at the office, and so on."

This literally happens to me with even my most intimate people. I was married to someone for 8 years and had known them for 19 years and if I saw them unexpectedly I still wouldn't recognize them until I added up their features. That takes between 5 and 10 seconds: it doesn't sound like a lot, but imagine looking at someone's face while they look at yours and count 5 seconds before you greet them -- and meanwhile, you are making a confused expression. Fucking awkward as shit. I often am greeted by people and don't realize who they are until after we have passed each other -- then I feel terrible because I worry I have made them feel unimportant.

"The artist Chuck Close, who is famous for his gigantic portraits of faces, has severe, lifelong prosopagnosia. He believes it has played a crucial role in driving his unique artistic vision. 'I don’t know who anyone is and essentially have no memory at all for people in real space,' he says. 'But when I flatten them out in a photograph I can commit that image to memory.'" - Oliver Sacks in the New Yorker

HOLY SHIT. This! this is how it works for me! I literally cannot bring to mind the face of a person I love and stare at often -- I can bring to mind individual facial characteristics, but they swirl around like they're parts of an amoeba. But I can remember a photograph! Something about the 2-D visual is memorable while the 3-D just vanishes. This is why it is so important for me to have good (emotionally representative) photographs of people, and why I can recognize a photograph of a person fairly easily but have so much difficulty in person. And why I can recognize actors I have seen before in a different show with a very different character and look (I do this better than most people), but I cannot recognize people who I have met in person if they show up in an unexpected place, and often have difficulty recognizing someone if they significantly change their hair.

I just realized that this is part of why I find unique features and high-contrast features so attractive. If someone has a scar or large birthmark on their face, I don't have to add up more features to know who they are. If they have crooked teeth I can recognize that pattern very quickly. Essentially those faces are less work and less stress, so I associate them with relief and therefore like them more. (I also just like uniqueness in general)

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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: (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: (honesty)
people demonize spanking because of classism / how corporeal punishment damaged me
icon: "honesty (a photo of me in soft sunlight, gazing directly into the camera with a somber expression)"

If you were spanked as a kid, you have to accept it as morally OK in order to be able to cope with it. Growing up, you are told that you are spanked because you are loved, that this is intended to help you become a better person, that this is necessary for your growth. To reject that, you have to accept that your parents hurt you and they should not have. That's painful for a lot of people. I didn't even consider that there might be anything wrong with spanking in my early adulthood, and until meeting someone who had never been spanked I didn't even know that it was possible to actually raise children and have them become decent people without spanking. It is a damn good thing that I realized this before having kids, because it would be extremely difficult to acknowledge it as wrong after I had done it. A great lesson to teach, such a reversal of behavior, but facing the fact that I might have damaged my kids? Painful beyond imagining.

Spanking also gets blown out of proportion in relation to other suffering. Many common parental actions can be far more damaging, depending on the kind of spanking that is used. The stigma against spanking is purely in relation to class behaviors. Spanking is considered a lower class behavior - direct expressions are all treated this way. Abuses which are seen as upper class parenting are seen as more acceptable by society despite the fact that they can be every bit as damaging and in some cases more damaging. These abuses are dismissed or tacitly encouraged -- like forcing them to behave in cisgendered ways, calling them names, ignoring their needs or feelings, mocking/denigrating their bodies, encouraging them to reject empathy and see others as tools, teaching them racism and rape myths and ableism and classism etc.

Spanking after the age of eight (when a child is fully capable of reasoning) is a failure of communication and in my mind, it is abuse, ESPECIALLY after puberty. I don't know about before that - it might be useful but it may also be damaging. 

When I was about 5, I lied to my teacher. I went to a private christian school where the teachers were permitted to spank us. So my teacher took me into the bathroom, explained why lying was bad, spanked me with a ruler (not very hard) and then hugged me and emphasized that she did not want to cause me pain but wanted me to remember. I felt she was being sincere, and I felt more loved by her after that than I had before. And frankly I felt an increase of trust. I remember very little of my childhood but that memory is vivid. I don't think that caused me any damage at all. That was not the kind of spanking I got from my parents.

I have been thinking about this for the past few days and realizing how deeply this has affected me. TW: physical and psychological abuse )

What being spanked taught me was not anything related to right and wrong - I learned all that through logic, reading, and talking with people. What it taught me was 'don't piss off authority or it will overwhelm your will, humiliate, and violate you.' If I had not been physically hit and intimidated by my parents, I don't think I would struggle so much with visceral fear now. Even when I can logically understand that I am not in legitimate danger, I have a very hard time pushing myself to perform any resistance to people who are in relational authority to me or who legally can control my body (bosses, some professors, cops). I think I could do it if I felt it was necessary for someone else's safety, but not for my own. Resistance for someone else doesn't spark so much fear because I didn't get attacked on behalf of others. If I am being attacked by authority, I freeze and feel deep shame and fear, and if it seems to be a deliberate attempt to hurt me it will cause a full-on breakdown. I would flat-out be a better person had I not been trained into this deeply subconscious fear of people in authority.

Since I would want my children to feel willing to resist authority for good reasons, I would not spank them. I also don't fucking ever want to motivate people through fear, and I don't want my children to listen to me because I control them body and will. I want them to listen because they trust me through me proving that I have good ideas that make their life better, because they love me and want to make me happy, and because I show true appreciation (and when appropriate, give rewards).

Spanking is objectively harmful

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belenen: (ADD-PI)
biofamily visit: discussing add-pi, racism, sex, poly, cuddles / clash w Ace / sharing lovetech
icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

Earlier this week I explained ADD-PI to V and M, and they seemed to take it seriously which was a relief. I told M that I had learned some of my coping skills from them and explained, and M seemed to listen and feel pleased and connected.

Several times this week I've had discussions w Ace and M about race and they just... go nowhere. Ace doesn't seem willing/able to understand that their experience is not automatically representative of all experiences. I have tried to explain in several different ways. Also M had negative experiences as a white child in 80% black schools immediately following integration (and white flight into pop-up private schools) and they don't seem to be able to understand the misdirected anger any more than Ace. The worst is that every time I reference a fact M is not aware of, they dismiss it with "I don't know about that" and act like I didn't even say it. They told me they enjoy these arguments and when I merely raised my eyebrows in response, they asked if I enjoyed them. I said I would enjoy them if I could assign homework. They laughed. Since they didn't shake their head or offer rebuttle, there's actually a chance that I could do that and I may try.

Yesterday was fairly uneventful. Pibling L, cousin E, Ace, gparent V, and I went out shopping. We went to some thrift stores (I found several work-appropriate overshirts, two soup mugs, and an Upwords board game that was only missing 2 letter tiles) and a rocks/minerals touristy store. P had offered to put $20 towards getting me a present, and so I was able to get some stones shaped like eggs (which I'm going to use as meditation tools, rolling them in my hands).

Later P, E, L, Ace, V, M, and I played truth-or-truth again, this time just using the question sheets as backup. It was a good time, and interesting to have the contrast. A lot of questions centered around memories, some of which weren't at all personal, but everyone was enjoying it so it worked okay. At one point M asked me a question from the question sheets - (what are my thoughts on the parts of a person) and I gave a long rambly answer but people liked it and M later referred to us having green hearts as I mentioned I saw several of us that way. After M and V went to bed the rest of us kept on, and we did a merry-go-round of asking each person to list two qualities that they share with each other person. Everyone really loved that, and it gave me an idea for a similar project.

When people say goodnight I offer them a hug before bed, and E and L liked this idea. L said they want to make the same habit.

Today I spent most of the day online, having a good but intense discussion with someone about energy work, and then a giant terrible discussion/argument on my wall about the definitions of trans/cis and identity. I cried a lot. I don't know if I was having an extra ADD day or what but I felt like I could not explain myself and after a certain point it was like I couldn't even understand the words in front of me.

During lunch/breakfast I suggested a project: we all write down 3 outstanding qualities for each other person. Everyone said it was a good idea but they didn't want to do it then, and they scattered like cats.
At one point just after lunch, Ace and E were making a smoothie and I asked if I could make suggestions. Ace said no, and it hurt my feelings because they had already been doing stuff without me all morning, and I said that it hurt my feelings because it felt like they didn't want me to talk to them. Then E immediately said I could give suggestions and that made me cry. P and E were nice to me and Ace was upset. I asked why and they said they only wanted to discuss it alone. So we went into the room we're sharing and they said that they felt like I was crying whenever I didn't get my way (manipulatively). I told them that it might not seem like it but this is taking a lot of effort from me and I only ever cry in front of people when I am so overwhelmed I can't control myself (also, this was only the second time I had cried in front of anyone). I talked about how I was feeling and Ace said they felt like I wasn't trying to connect with them, that I didn't like them any more. I told them that wasn't true, I was just having a harder time with them because they're guarded. We talked a bit more and hugged and went back to work on the smoothie.They were all at the pool or grocery store from after that until to dinner.

Then we all had dinner and afterward M went immediately to bed, with V following shortly. I felt very upset that they hadn't kept thier word, and more upset because E and L were talking about being tired and I'd had no time with them all day. But they said they wanted to stay up a bit, so I asked everyone to share the story of their best sexual experience. P and E were not comfortable with this, so I changed it to top 3 necessary elements for a good sexual experience, and they all answered. We went on to talk about sex, poly, bdsm, and cuddles. And I revealed yet another layer of difference in discussing my polyamory (which L really took in stride, so much so that I think they must know a poly person). We shared our favorite cuddles as I asked everyone what theirs was. When I asked for a volunteer to show my favorite cuddles with, L offered! I was surprised because I guess I see them as being reticent. Then they came over and just curled up on the floor next to me, adorably. I showed them my favorite way to hold someone and also the infinity cuddle. They were a little nervous but they really liked it at the same time. At the end of the time, I showed everyone how to do a spiral hug and they loved that.

Also the other day I taught everyone the -5 to +5 scale for making fairer decisions, and we've used it since then (but only at my prompting, so far). I hope my parents learn to do that because it's so much better than "I want this and you want that, I'm more powerful so we do my thing."

I really want someone to say to me "wow, you've really made this trip a time of deep connection, thanks!" but I doubt that will happen. I wonder if they can tell that this is different because of the things I'm bringing to it.

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belenen: (Ma'at)
visiting biofamily: Truth-or-Truth, intense discussions about race/class, coming out in stages
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")"

These past few days are a blur and I am baffled. Mostly in a good way.

Sunday we stayed in, mostly, and at the end of the evening we played Dixit and Truth-or-Truth For Newbies. Before I left Topaz printed my 188 questions out (by request) and I invented an easier way for people to play. On first play almost everyone finds it difficult to decide who to ask and difficult to come up with a question, so I randomized those choices. I also created a possibility for a point system because Topaz says it's not a real game without one, but everyone opted out of that so I'm gonna discard it I think. I think I might turn ToTfN into a physical game I can carry, by making the questions into color-coded cards and buying a dedicated set of dice and making number cards. But that's a load of work, so maybe not. Anyway, we played them and everyone really enjoyed both games. And, to my surprise, my gparent V and parent M both participated and gave it their best. V actually said today that playing the games was their favorite time so far this visit. I felt really pleased that it went over so well and I'm looking forward to playing again!

I looked up local Champion Trees and found a nature tour that showed off a bunch of old live oaks (my - AND cousin E's - favorite tree) and the state champion red cedar (among other things) and told everyone about it and asked if they wanted to go. They did, so we got up early on Monday to go. The tour was great except that it was scorching hot and the group kept scattering and we moved pretty fast around things, all of which kept me from being able to truly tune in. But we came by this one Loblolly pine that I just fell in love with and really want to go see again. I felt such a connection with it, but it was near the end and everyone was so tired and hot and hungry that I didn't want to hold them up, so I just marveled for a moment and took a quick photo for memory and that was it.

Then we went to a restaurant which was a mess of disorganization - M wanted Golden Corral, everyone else wanted mexican food, we were in two cars and got separated without a shared destination address and then there was a horrid speakerphone call where everyone was saying something different and finally E hung up and I just texted them telling them we decided on the simplest plan. Pibling L was super stressed out by this and so was Ace, which I found interesting and bizarre, as it annoyed me but didn't stress me out. I tried to ask why it was stressful and didn't get much of an answer but I think it has to do with wanting to make everyone happy? If it was my friends having a squabble and not talking out the plan in a kind and respectful manner I probably would have been bothered by it but I think i would have reacted the same way, by making the practical choice for myself and letting them deal or not as they would. I think I only care about making people happy while they are willing to try and help. If they're just going to dig in their heels and shout, I no longer care if I make them happy right now.

Later that day we were going to go to the beach but it started raining right as we headed there, and thundering meant no one else wanted to go. So we sat by the pool and watched the sky until it was no longer thundering, but then everyone just wanted to be at the pool. It was sprinkling lightly for a while and then there was a gorgeous double rainbow! Also E asked me about my ex-spouse and I told them that story, including the years I was working through childhood sexual abuse while my ex-spouse supported me. I also briefly explained poly. And we talked about E and their person, and churches. I told them about my experience with Liberty and how that informed my requirements for future choices. I talked about the Quaker meeting I like and they said they want to go with me sometime.

Later it was just me, P, E, and Ace after everyone went to bed, and we played two rounds of Blockus which was fun and I realized that E is a determined creature, because they were almost completely blocked off but they refused a free move and figured their way out. I would have been despairing of my choices in their position.

Today I woke up to the sounds of an argument about immigration. I hoped it was over before I came out but it was not, so I waded in by explaining the extreme poverty associated with being undocumented and how creating monetary requirements for citizenship (including in the form of fines plus amnesty) is never a solution. Then I mentioned widespread poverty in the US and exploitation of the poor and Ace went off about welfare 'abuses' (from buying alcohol or a car to shopping at a gas station) and I just couldn't get them to understand that them seeing it 20 times or even 100 times doesn't make it true of the average person on welfare. M was certain that welfare makes people lazy and I refuted that with the Mincome experiment and various other countries very successful systems with social safety nets. M then refused to believe in the existence of these things and demanded that I show sources. I told them no, you don't get to put more stringent requirements on my arguments than on your own, and you have shown no sources for your statements. That was the end of it because other people got impatient with the conversation.

Later we went to the beach, which was fun but not really worth it to me - I guess I got spoiled by the trip with Topaz to that pristine bay beach last year. This water felt like human soup - it was still fun to be in the waves but it wasn't a serene experience where I could connect with nature. It felt polluted and overwhelmed, and it was so salty that it stung my eyes from the barest of splashes. But I think that was also the time of day, and I want to try going again around 7p to get softer light and fewer people. I got to share my boogie board and goggles with people, which made me super happy.

After two hours we came back and went to the pool. Ace and E and I hung out for a while talking about sexuality and racism, and E's stories of their person getting stopped for driving while black and then E getting thrown to the ground for videoing it made way more of an impact on Ace than anything I ever said. So I felt like a failure, and also vindicated and also like I need to memorize some stories because damn, don't nobody take macro-level facts seriously.

I asked E what they wanted to get out of the trip and they said they wanted to build relationships that would be more than talking while on vacation. I asked Ace and they said they wanted to be able to relax and build up some strength and confidence. Then E asked me and I said that I wanted to feel able to be myself. L joined us somewhere during this and asked if I felt I hadn't been myself. I said no, I hadn't, because I didn't correct people and people assumed things about me that weren't true of me. I used the example of someone asking me if I have a boyfriend - if I just say no, I'm not being myself because that assumption left unchallenged makes it seem like I'm straight. They seemed to understand that and feel sad for me that I had not felt able to be myself. I mentioned that getting to know Topaz' family made me realize that maybe my family could handle the real me and I should give them a chance to. Somewhere in this conversation I talked about being trans and (in response to E's question) mentioned that I want to change my voice and facial hair.

E asked me how I first knew I was trans, and I told the story in a better way than I had last time someone asked me that, explaining that I felt pieces of it for a long time but it wasn't until I had a mild breakdown that I realized that it wasn't just a set of feelings, but part of my identity. L had a hard time understanding what exactly I meant by genderfree/agender, partly because they hang out with mainstream gay people who are all binary. They couldn't imagine sex outside the hetero script (since even their gay friends use it) or relationships outside of gender and I had no idea how to explain. It's hard to explain because there are no cultural references to non-binary people. How do you even explain an absence of something? My identity with gender is actually not a presence of something but the absence of it. If I were bigender it would be easier to explain, I feel, and easier to accept. I got lost and felt blathery. E took it in and without missing a damn beat started using gender-neutral pronouns. Holy fuckin shit y'all, I hadn't even asked for them. I was so impressed.

L and E exclaimed when I mentioned that being 'ladies'd bothered me and I hastily assured them that I wasn't upset by them and that I hadn't mentioned it because I figured one step at a time, that I know it's tough to absorb. E was appreciative of that and I think L was relieved. I also said that it's okay to call me stuff like 'girl' if you do that with literally all kinds of people.

Later I ended up in a conversation with M and P about homelessness, veterans, and the intimacy of facing death and trauma together. It was fairly on-topic and not too horribly full of wrongness (M made one comment about personal choice to which I said "I'm not going to talk about that"), and it lead to a moment of what felt like real vunerability from M. I was saying that lots of the people who go to war have no experience with real emotional intimacy, and then they go into an intensely intimate experience with others where they share responsibility for each others' lives as well as living space and work - coming back, part of the trauma is loss of that intimacy with no tools available to them to get it back. Nobody teaches intimacy in a meaningful way except in therapy and even then it's iffy, and men especially are taught by society to avoid intimacy with each other, so not even the people who were there with you and came back are available to you when you get back. I said that this was just my guess, and asked for M's thoughts on it. They said it was true, and mentioned their own loss. Something interrupted, and they said that they needed to go lay down and walked into the other room. They did this same abrupt ending last night so I didn't think anything of it at the time but now I'm a little worried I may have stepped on a very sore place.

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belenen: (overwhelmed)
Visiting parents, sibling, pibling, cousin, gparent: communication, priorities, name
icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"

This week I'm visiting my biofamily: parents M and P, sibling Ace, grandparent V, pibling (parents' sibling) L and cousin E. I don't have a laptop with me so I probably won't be able to read anything until September 2nd-ish, but I'm going to try to keep up with posting anyway.

Yesterday was the drive to meet my parents. Topaz brought me to my pibling's house and took me and Ace to coffee while we waited for everyone else to get ready. Parting with Topaz was difficult because we're both going to miss each other a lot, not least because we cuddle a LOT and they don't really cuddle with others and I am really particular about how I'm touched so negotiating cuddles with biofamily seems stressful and I fear I will just avoid touch (though, good job me, I asked for hugs this morning and got them). Wow run-on.

Before we left I was trying to convince Ace to consolidate their stuff into one bag to make space, and they got frustrated and told me that they were upset that I was bossing them around. I took that in and it took me like 30 seconds to respond, apologizing for being domineering. Usually when I see that my behavior is not ethical I immediately apologize without effort, but for some reason I had to really push myself to do it this time. I found that really weird. I know my biofamily tends to see that as 'losing' so maybe that made it harder. But once I did, Ace forgave me right away and it was done (and they were fine with consolidating stuff).

It took us forever to make the drive because we had to stop for a lot of different things. What we expected to take 4 hours took 8 and by the end my legs ached from being cramped up. But we had some good conversations while we were on the ride, about how to have a good partnership and lots of bits and pieces about memories.

I realized I get defensive when asked if I am hungry around my family, because I expect that they are asking because they think I eat a lot, as a fat person. (Actually part of the reason that I am fat is that I don't eat often enough and my body tries to store everything) But I think maybe they might be asking me for permission to eat. Especially my gparent, who is tinier than most 12 year olds and probably has the metabolism of a hummingbird. So I need to try to practice eating small snacks while I'm here, since I don't have to worry about running out of food.

Later P gave Ace a Canon DSLR. Ace was incredibly excited and I felt happy for them but at the same time I felt broken-hearted because it reminded me of being a kid, asking for a particular present, and being given a knock-off that did not even serve the same purpose, while my siblings got things that were more expensive and exactly what they asked for. I didn't handle it well, partly because I was already exhausted, and I went into my bedroom and cried. Ace came in and asked what was wrong and I explained, with a deliberate effort to be open. Then P came in and asked what was wrong and I explained that and that it reminded me of never being asked about my life as a child. P doesn't have the same memory, and I'm questioning my perceptions because I just don't remember shit. P told me that I won a science award for highest grade in my honors physics class which blew my mind.  Like, the way they told the story it sounded exactly like me (I didn't care about the award but wanted to win) and felt true, but I have literally no memory of it. I want to know who it was I was so invested in beating.

I also talked about how M spends money on stuff that isn't necessary while knowing that I am suffering and barely getting by. M just bought a new car, while telling me that they don't have the money to help me with stuff I need. If they're going to put their wants above my needs, they could at least do that across the board and not be more generous to my siblings than to me. I found out that I  get half of what my siblings do at christmas (each) and I just don't ask about birthdays. Mostly I put this stuff out of my mind. But when I can't, it really hurts. And it's why it is so fucking hard to even ask for the respect of being called by my name much less pronouns. If I ask and they refuse, they're not just being inconsiderate like now, they're telling me I don't matter every time they talk to or about me.

P was really defensive and I wish I knew if I  was wrong. I can't trust their perceptions any more than I can trust mine, because they cannot handle making mistakes and they do not admit when they did something they're ashamed of, or failed to do something they feel they should have. Somehow the conversation turned, I stopped crying, and P left the room (in a neutral way). Shortly after, L and E came in and asked me what was wrong, then P came in. I pushed myself and told them, as briefly as I could with as little blame to P as I could. I didn't want P to feel bad about giving Ace a camera because I am genuinely happy that they made such a huge sacrifice for Ace. (P is poor - they make minimum wage and M doesn't share their giant salary) I also wanted to be frank about my sadness and I think I did okay because P didn't get angry with me. E said they could feel my sadness from the other room and we made eye contact and I felt their sincerity and L gave me pats and empathy. I felt like they all (Ace, P, E, L) cared about my feelings and that was a new experience with my biofamily (except for Ace).

Later P said that they were going to get me a camera too, when they could, and I said that I appreciate the thought but before making such a huge purchase, talk with me because if I can't fix the bug that is breaking my renders, then tools for that would be a much better gift to me than a DSLR. I have wanted one for a long time, but I can take photos that I am proud of on my little camera, and not being able to render my fractals is eating my soul. I want to be seen as a photographer, but I am at least as much a fractal artist as photographer, and I feel like my fractal art gives more to the world. There are many people who can take good photos of nature but not many who can make fractals and almost none who make them in my style.

When everyone went to bed I started reading a book I got as a review copy from BloggingForBooks, and I couldn't put it down until I finished. Partly because I desperately needed brain rest, partly because I missed my second ADD-PI meds and therefore had less control over my focus, and partly because it was a really good read. I'm gonna try to do a review for it soon. But I didn't go to sleep until like 5am and slept badly because the bed was awful and then people started being loud at like 11am. E and L came in and tickled my arms and I grumbled at them. Ace came in and rubbed my feet which was a pretty great way to wake up, after they gentled up (I have extremely sensitive feet).  I got up and ready, slowly and tiredly.

I'm nervous about going swimming because walking around in a wet bathing suit gives me thigh chafing most of the time, and I super don't wanna deal with that. But I do really wanna go be in the ocean! So I'm gonna try it and hope for the best.

Ace uses my real name most of the time and E and L are trying. But that's because they asked me if I wanted them to call me by my chosen name and I said yes. I still haven't confronted anyone about my name. Yesterday I had a strange moment when Ace was introducing me to their girlfriend on skype and the girlfriend called me by my name and P said something like "they got your name right!" which felt really confusing because P usually gets it wrong. Maybe they aren't aware when they deadname me. M hasn't ever tried. Last time I talked to M about it was years ago and they didn't listen to me at all. I dunno how they'll react now but if the rest of the family is doing it they are more likely to be respectful.

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belenen: (progressing)
stress has lessened
icon: "progressing (a deeply, vividly green forest of thick vines and trees, with a tunnel running through where unused train tracks lay)"

Hosting gathers is good for me because it helps me motivate to get shit done. This week I did laundry, did dishes, took out recycling, finished setting up the cuddle room (except for the translucent fabric to soften the LEDs, that has to wait for money), tidied the entire house except for that one craft project (which I hope to get done Sunday night or Monday). I turned up the coldness in the refridgerator; hopefully that will help with the going-bad because I am sick of canned food. Kanika is being terribly picky but I have a plan to buy some mix-in treats that will hopefully solve that. My shoulder is still aching and I really can't understand why, it's been more than a week now. I may need to get an exercise ball for my office -- I think I slump too much in there because it is always cold and I subconsciously fold in (my boss has their own sitting ball so I know they won't mind).

Most of that stuff I did on Sunday before the gather, but yesterday I tidied my room which had been left undone for like two weeks which is WAY TOO LONG and I feel profound relief at having it tidy again. It is mind-boggling how much that affects me. It's not perfect but there's just one little pile of unsorted things instead of two big ones. I also brought in another lamp for more light with a daylight bulb and that seemed to make my eyes less tired and my general mood brighter. This room is actually much less sunny in the summer because all of the leaves are out. It's still bright but I don't get that same "almost as if I was outside" feeling.

The vacation with biofamily will cost me nothing except 3 days worth of pay -- which I can't afford but hopefully I can get my parents to give that to me in order to have me go with them. I want to go because my youngest sibling is going and I haven't seen them in literal years, much less spent good time with them, and they are important to me. I'm also hoping to have some good conversations with my aunt E. I have pretty much gotten over the idea that my grandmother is coming. I'm just going to bring some literature and maybe rehearse some bible verses in case of lecture.

By the way, I haven't responded yet but I appreciated all of your comments, as they made me realize that listing things is hugely helpful for me and I need a list that I keep hanging on the wall so that I can get obligations out of my head and also have the satisfaction of crossing them off. I think the stress is a lot worse when it is a big muddly mess than when it is an orderly list -- no matter how long or mostly-impossible the list.

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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: (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: (dreamy)
dream: reject commands, organize stuff, see art & flirt, go to party & witness sex, rescue recycling
icon: "dreamy (painting of a person in a cage, reaching out with swirls of color and light coming from their hand)"

So, I failed to keep my streak going, so I'm starting my 22-day over again. Here's a dream from January 7th:

Dreamed about living with my parents, a small child escaping abuse with my help, they also drove a car. M told me to do something in a rude way and I refused, they got angry, I got angrier, screamed at them in front of their guests. I went to my room and worked on rearranging my stuff- I had like 10 pairs of boots (in waking life I have one pair of daily shoes and an interview pair and that's it: I do not own boots). I went outside and next door someone had hung a big print of two women of color kissing, and I wanted to know who lived there. An Indian woman who was pretty butch came up and put an arm around me and I asked who lived there (their aunt and niece) and who the artist was (Stan something). They were flirty with me, we both went outside (out from under the awning I was under, where the print was) to the party and lots of people were having public sex, in sometimes very odd ways (a pregnant woman climbed on a cage that was full of people and spread thier legs as all of those people started kissing/licking/ stroking). I talked with some people and watched some, and the butch person came up and I petted their arm. When they left I went inside and started tidying the kitchen, sorting the fridge and pulling the recycling from the trash.
connecting: , ,

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belenen: (sceptical)
Unethical behavior: loopholes out of agreements, poking people's sore spots
icon: "sceptical (my face, one eyebrow lowered and the other raised, one side of my mouth pulled back in a disbelieving look)"

Being around my biofamily made me realize all these things that used to be normal for me that I now consider super shitty behavior. Using loopholes to escape things you agreed to do: this is treating someone as your enemy. If you know what the point of their request was and you are deliberately looking for a way to avoid that, you shouldn't have agreed to do it in the first place. The ethical thing to do would be to go to them and say, "I know I agreed to do this but I'm not comfortable with it, let's renegotiate." You should be able to trust that if someone ends up breaking an agreement, it wasn't due to lack of effort to honor the spirit of the agreement or renegotiate to one they could honor. You should not have to think of all the ways people could say yes and then blame their not-doing-it on your phrasing in order to lock people into an agreement they can't wiggle out of. They shouldn't agree to things if they are willing to try to wiggle out of those agreements.

I hadn't realized that it was M who was responsible for inversely-teaching me to not poke people in their sore spots or say things just to irritate. That is disrespectful. If you know something causes someone upset, be sensitive if you HAVE to discuss it and if you don't have to discuss it, just don't do it. Deliberately causing distress for one's own amusement is not making a joke, it is being unkind and disrespectful. Also, I realized how effective my method of stopping that behavior is: describing it and explaining how it is unethical. If you protest with distress, that gives them the 'fun' they were looking for. M's 'jokes' may be technically harmless (implying to P that they resemble someone P thinks is unattractive/unpleasant) but the effect is where you know the ethics of a thing.

(meta-note: I haven't had time to do more than write lately but I promise I'm not ignoring anyone, I just want to keep momentum with writing. I will respond to posts and comments when I next have time)

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belenen: (exuviate)
Visiting biofamily and Anika: prompting family to grow, having deep talks w Anika & energy work
icon: "exuviate (a sparkly green dragonfly standing next to its just-shed previous skin)"

Yesterday I went on a walk in nature with P and we talked a lot about their relationship with M. As usual I was revolted by the presence of sexist norms and unethical treatment of each other, M taking advantage of P when they can and P doing it because M did it first. At least it's not as violent as it once was? But it's certainly not a positive relationship.

Anika picked me up from my biofamily's house in early evening. I really expected my biofamily to put up a fuss but there wasn't even a slight protest. Usually when I visit them, they are super greedy of my attention and do little else than spend time with me. This time, the first two nights after about 6-7 pm they all checked out, watching about 3 hours of the TV show they're currently on (without even trying to engage me) and then going to bed. It was really weird to me and I'm not sure how to take it. I like that they're being less controlling but it's like they're all addicted to escape. To be fair, M & P were sick and S did spend an evening talking with me very meaningfully. So maybe I just caught them at an off week. Anyway, I waited to tell them because I didn't want them to have much chance to manipulate me out of it (turns out it didn't matter).

So, I went with Anika and Suzu to their house and saw the dog again, met the rabbits, got sat on by the cats, watched the fish, and held the snake *grins* Menagerie is aptly named. Anika and I spent the evening talking, driniking, and eating ice cream. I got to see their altar and learn about the items that are a part of it.

They grimaced with pain at one point and I offered to rub their back, they accepted, and I did my best (probably not that great). I asked if I could energy them and they said yes, so I did some clearing out and then poured energy into their center, and tried to smooth/reconnect some shredded areas. Later I asked what they felt and they said they had been focusing all of their pain into one spot, which made me laugh because I have never had someone work to help while I was doing this, instead of just accepting. I think that was why it felt weird to me and I couldn't get much of a read on where the pain was (because they were moving it). I said that I want to try again sometime when Anika is not working simultaneously but is instead just receiving, and they said ruefully that they weren't very good at receiving but would give it a shot.

I felt really super happy to see Anika when they picked me up, happy in a glowy way. I'm sure some of it was the contrast between their lovely presence (and Suzu's) and my biofamily's sadness and exhausted hostility (between the parents), but I also think I felt more open and sensitive to their presence. I usually get discouraged when I can't easily (energetically) feel someone's affection for me, and get pulled out of the moment worrying that they don't really care or something, but that didn't happen this time. I didn't get distracted or fretful. Partly because they had just gone way out of their way for me and that makes me feel very loved and very sure of it. And partly, I think, because I felt a kind of subconscious understanding that only became conscious the next morning. As it did, I expressed that next time we have a few days together I would like to deliberately work on dropping the walls between us. I feel that there are some protections Anika has built after trauma that make it difficult for me to feel their spirit or connect fully. I sort of said these things while realizing them, speaking straight from intuition without editing. They said they feel that is true and they like the idea of trying that next time though it makes them nervous. I feel happy and relieved after sensing/realizing this because I had been perplexed that I couldn't feel what I felt years ago and worried that I had sensed wrong then or remembered wrong or that something had changed to make it impossible. Now I feel like I can be confident that it did and does exist and is reachable and I also feel like I have felt a piece of that again.

I also had a little talk with my parents about their habit of hostility and suggested that they try an experiment of not saying anything negative to or about each other for a week (and if they must express it for some reason, they have to write it not speak it). Including 'jokes' because M likes to say things to irritate P as entertainment for themselves. I suggested that if one of them slips up the other can kindly- not snarkily- say the code word "flower" to remind the other that they are trying to do this thing. They said they wanted to do it and were going to start right away. I'm taking that with a grain of salt, but if they really both earnestly try I think it would help so much (especially since they are going on a trip together tomorrow).

Also, I got them to finally hang artwork that they'd had sitting against the wall for probably at least a year, and after I asked if they had consecrated the house, P told me about the dog having seen spirits and a little later M decided to go ahead and do it. It wasn't the ritual I would have done by a long shot, but it seemed to be soothing for them and to help them to feel more settled and connected. It was immediately before I left so I didn't really have a chance to feel it out and see if I could feel a difference. I definitely felt the art made a difference (even though the quote one certainly wasn't what I would have chosen). I think P gets a lot of their sense of self-worth from their dedication to Christianity and that was how my parents connected initially so P takes M doing something Christian (like praying) as a sign of love or hope. Since they won't leave each other I hope they can manage to learn to be good to each other.

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belenen: (disassociative)
trauma response to not 'getting it' quickly enough / worth in performance / assume I'm doing my best
The other day I had an argument with a friend in which they got upset with me for not understanding what they were trying to say after they tried to explain a few times, and unfriended me. I realize now this is a place of old trauma, because I started weeping, and when Topaz asked, I realized it was because I felt punished for not thinking right/fast enough, when I was trying my best. This felt like a flashback, but I have no memory of being punished for thinking too slowly or not understanding. Maybe it was watching others be punished for that which taught me this fear. Whatever the cause, when people get impatient and angry towards those who are trying to understand, it makes me feel like a helpless child, and when it is me they are upset with I get just incapable of functioning, desperate for forgiveness, and cry with fear and hopelessness. If I am engaging at all, I'm always trying to understand: I am never being lazy or deliberately obtuse, and never ever ignoring what someone is saying. Luckily I'm good at it and most of the time people don't punish me for not getting it, but when I fail, its terrifying. It feels the same as when I am trying my best to be kind and I make a mistake and the person gets angry with me. I literally had no way to avoid my mistake, and I feel trapped and hopelessly not good enough. This is where my patience comes from, I think: doing my best to never make someone who is trying their best feel as though they will be punished for it.

It feels very tied to my sense of worth. As a child I was only valued for my "smarts" and I knew that this was conditional. My greatest fear was brain injury because I felt completely sure that I would no longer be valued by anyone. Later I think this morphed into a kind of emotional/intuitional "smarts" where I felt people valued me because I was good at making them feel safe and supported and understood, and if I fucked up at that, I would no longer be valued. This was affirmed by being abandoned at my first failure (that I was made aware of) several times. I think it was also compounded by living for 8 months with someone who expected me to read their mind and do what they wanted without them telling me, and when I failed I was treated with hostility and ostracized from all human contact (they had this power because my only friend was hours away). And then I was in a relationship for many years with someone who would radiate their stress and anger at me unless I figured out the source and helped them feel better about it somehow.

When I cannot understand, cannot show support in a way the person wants, or cannot give safe space, I feel that I am on the verge of true worthlessness, and my entire life depends on them forgiving me for fucking up and trusting my history of success enough to let me try again. It's not a logical thought progression but it feels unbearably real. When it happens with someone I like, it hurts for a little while: when it happens with someone I love, I can think of nothing else until I am forgiven or am certain that I have no chance of forgiveness.

With people I choose to have in my life, I always assume that they are doing their best, unless/until they tell me they do not want to try. I can't bear the idea of not affirming someone's best efforts. I can't bear the idea of someone offering up their best, and someone else not giving honor to that. I can't stand 'art critique' for this reason. The only person who can know if the artist didn't do their best is the artist themselves! And the only way for art to be bad is for the artist to not give full effort. It cannot be judged from the outside.

If I call you a friend, please always assume I am doing my best to offer understanding, support, and safety. If you doubt, ask if it is my best. If I could do better, tell me how. If you cannot start with the base assumption that I am doing my best with what I have, do not be friends with me. I need that assumption in all my friendships.

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belenen: (overwhelmed)
mixing money w art is hell / act of kindness and trust from M / stress tanglebrain is the worst
I feel like I've been dull in my posts of late. For a little while this was because I was swamped by the amount of posts on my suddenly super-active friends page (that hasn't been a thing for at LEAST five years and I can't even EXPRESS how much better it makes my life). Also I got really discouraged by my recent attempts to attract people to my art, especially in a financially supportive way. I still have two important steps to do but the next one incurs fees and I feel so stressed about money (especially money that may be 'wasted') that I keep putting it off. And that blocks me from writing because I feel like I need to do this other thing first, and also because I feel like over the years SO MANY people (literally thousands) have said that my writing and art has helped them a lot yet no one seems to feel a desire to give back even a little, which makes me feel like the gift must have not been very worthwhile, that they must have been exaggerating. And when I feel like my art and writing isn't valued I don't want to make it. Which is why I try to avoid mixing money with anything because when I do it invariably makes me feel worthless and it ruins my motivation. [p.s. please do NOT give me advice about this, I've heard it all before and it's not helpful] But if I want to make it happen I have to try, and I have one idea that seems good that I haven't tried yet so I have to try it or my failure might be all on me.

I also tend to withdraw when I have no money, as it feels like any extravagance of expression or motion will take the last of my resources. This works in practical ways like driving less to save gas, and in emotional ways (that make no sense) like feeling less able to have conversations and make art and be expressive. But a weird and altogether welcome thing happened this week where my bioparent M put a little money in my account without me asking. That has never happened before, because not only is M a pinchpenny, but usually when ze knows I have a need, ze withholds until I do something ze wants. So the money was not only filling a really important need, it was kind of an act of trust (that I would talk to zir even if I didn't have a desperate need) and kindness (that I didn't have to do the horribly stressful act of asking for money and justifying why I needed it). It made me cry, I was so touched and grateful. And now I could afford to go get my medication but that would take all of it and so I don't feel safe doing that :-[ ugh my stressbrain is so counterproductive. Also a friend is moving next week and offered money in exchange for help, which is a relief. I'm not going to fret if the money doesn't happen though, because I want to be able to help without payment, but I do hope they follow through.

So to wrap back around: despite money stress I want to keep writing, so I'm aiming for a post-every-day this month. And I'm going to try to remember to write first and THEN read my flist, so that I don't run out of time or words.

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belenen: (distance)
belonging: being part of a unit
A lot of the people I know consider their family a unit they are part of, even if they hate it. I don't think you can understand what it's like to not belong unless you haven't had that feeling (or haven't had it since before kindergarten). A dysfunctional unit is still a unit.

Since I was about 6, I didn't have a unit to belong to. Since I can't remember my childhood, it feels the same as never having felt that. I keep writing about this because I feel like people don't get it, like I can't find the words to express it. When people say stuff like, "sure, this person is terrible, but they're still my [dad/mom/(etc)]" they're expressing a feeling I cannot understand because I didn't feel like my bioparents were my parents. There was a point when I was very young where they gave me the impression that if I did not obey, they would take away the food and shelter they had been providing, and that I owed them my labor in exchange for these things. They were just my employers, and our relationship could end at any moment. From that point on (and I don't remember exactly when it was but it was before puberty) I felt myself as a nanny/housekeeper working for food and rent; they never gave me appreciation because I was just doing my job. This was why I was so much more obedient than my siblings. It certainly wasn't that I thought my parents had good ideas. My parents did not contradict this in word or deed until I was 26 and long out of their house. I was less a part of their unit than I was part of the Wynnes' family -- who I was actually a nanny/chauffeur for and worked for food and rent.

Belonging to a unit means that if one person stops contributing, the unit will still exist. It means that people aren't just committed to you, but to the unit as well. And there is something very different about being one of two or one of more than two. The latter is less fragile, it feels more safe, because if one person is lacking, there are two people who can fill the gap, cutting the burden in half. I had a unit with Hannah once, with Kylei once, with Topaz now, but it was/is not belonging because I feel it takes more than two to create that. I feel like belonging comes in with the sense that if one relationship in the unit is damaged, the rest of the unit can help it heal.

I have amazing people in my life and I deeply appreciate them and I know how fucking lucky I am to have so many people who are willing to interact with me in a meaningful way. Belonging isn't something I usually think about, but when I do it crushes me. I want to feel safe and kin in a circle that lives on its own because everyone in it maintains it. I want people to invest not just in me, not just in one-to-one connections, but as a unit. I just don't think that is going to happen for me. I'm processing it now and trying to let it go. Maybe I'll just have to be the many-armed creature holding people together if I want some imitation of this in my life.
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belenen: (tenebrous)
my relationships are not treated as valid / biofamily doesn't want to know me/ I have never belonged
Last night I brought up the idea to Topaz of having our parents meet and ze seemed hesitant about it. This upset me because it brought up feelings of invalidation. If we were engaged and one of us was assigned male, our parents would want to meet and expect to build a relationship because of the assumption that the kin of kin is important. But the fact is that because we won't be getting married and our commitment is to long-term friendship not romance and cohabitation, zir parents probably just don't see me as family (not to the level of their other kids' partners). And because ze's not male, my parents probably don't want anything to do with us as a couple much less kin-once-removed. I hate this so much. My relationships are more meaningful than most, because they're based on honesty, openness, constant respect, learning, compassion, and growth, yet I don't get treated as if they're even valid.  I shouldn't have to do them the same way as everyone else. And I HATE that friendship is so devalued. Sure, most friendships are not committed and intense, but when they are they should be given the same treatment as if they were romantic. A best friend should be treated like a spouse. If you consider me kin, you should invest in MY kin.

And that also got me thinking about the fact that my biofamily does not want to know me: they just want to see the parts of me that conform to their desires. They never wanted to know me: even when I was a child, the only thing they wanted to know about my life was if I was obeying and if I was performing in 'successful' ways (grades, scores). Now they've stopped trying to make me obey but those two things are still all they care about. I haven't said this to them and I feel I need to, but I can't do it in person because I will just cry, so I have to write a letter.

I have only felt like I belonged in some moments when I lived with the Wynnes (and I feel sure they wouldn't want me now because I was so much more normative then), and when I go to TBC. I have never felt belonging with biofamily because they never cared about who I really was. I yearned so much to belong with my ex-in-laws but I was never more than an accessory, first to Rebecca and then to Ben, nonexistent after divorce. I wanted to belong with Serendipity but there were expectations I couldn't meet and values I couldn't resonate with. I wanted to feel at home with burners but there are so many privilege-denying people in that world that it's super hostile and alienating to me. Ditto to every organized spiritual group I've known. I wanted to feel at home with queers but they're so fuckin urban-cliquey.  I feel at home with the people I draw to me but it is not belonging because it is not a unit: if I stopped holding it together it would cease to exist. I still ache to belong. I want to feel safe and kin in a circle that lives on its own because everyone in it maintains it. I feel I will never experience that and it hurts worse than any breakup.
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belenen: (hypnotiq)
May post every day / nervous about presentation / parents in town
I maybe should be asleep but I want to get something in here because I want to make May a post-every-day month. happiness or groans at this idea? Also I want to do this: 750 words but not every day, maybe every third day or maybe just randomly when I've got time.

I'm also procrastinating going to bed because I'm so nervous about tomorrow, I have to present a poster at a "very competitive" event. I didn't think it would be such a big deal when I decided to do it (it seemed more fun than a paper), but there are prizes and professionals speaking and aghhhhh SO NERVOUS. I've been warned (by my professor) that my poster will be picked apart, but my prof seemed to think it was pretty good so hopefully I'm not about to endure serious embarrassment. still, *jitters!* at least tomorrow afternoon it will be DONE (and then I have an exam immediately following of course).

My parents are in town (they picked the worst possible week) and they are staying in a hotel but they are doing stuff to the house and they are here every day, early until late. That adds a LOT to my stress level because I can't run around naked and I can't avoid interaction. They have been fairly civil which is nice I guess. Oh, and they threw out the big mattress because apparently it wasn't up to par, so now I only have one twin guest bed! but I do have a 4-foot cushion that is good enough to sleep on so hopefully Anika can still stay here and kidlet can sleep on the cushion? Also surprise the downstairs toilet does work, it just leaks a bit.

aghhhh I suppose I should try to sleep!

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belenen: (bluestocking)
identifying as a reader, growing up
When I was a kid I identified as a 'reader.' I think above anything else that was my self-image. From the time I started reading, every word that came within sight was fascinating: I read the toothpaste tube, sounding out the ridiculous ingredients. I tore through the beginner reading books my school made my parents get with wild delight and then, once I moved to a place with a library nearby, OH my world was changed. I always borrowed the maximum number of books and then ran out of them before the two weeks was up when my mom would take me back. I participated in Pizza Hut's BookIt program but I enjoyed eating my reading prize even more than the personal pan pizza, because it marked me as a reader. I carried books on my person at all times, at least one if not two or three (I usually read more than one at a time and switched based on my mood -- worked fine except for Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books, which were a bit too formulaic); I had a black leatherish purse I got at the thriftstore that was just the right size to carry them. I don't have many memories from my youth but one of my best ones is when my Aunt Mary took me to a used bookstore for the first time -- and ze had credit, and ze told me I could USE IT UP. I think that was the most exciting experience of my life up to that point. I wasn't that picky back then; I would read pretty much anything (as evidenced by my willingness to read Nancy Drew), but the longer the better. I always hated when a book ended, so when I got into a long one or a long series I loved it.

That reading streak was paused when I moved out of my parents house and did not have access to a library or money for used books, started again when I began self-educating in 2007, and was paused again at the end of 2009 when my life got too busy, and it finally started up again last October, when I was not too busy or depressed and had a stack of reliably good books. I reread a bunch of Joan Slonczewski and Torey Hayden's books and I've been reading a lot of Sheri S. Tepper. Also the amazing Ascension and an interesting stand-alone called "Walking The Tree." I've been sharing my favorite bits of them via my cell phone. I have been carrying a book around everywhere again, and I realized that it made me feel proud and self-secure, like I was as a kid (I was remarkably secure in many ways, considering). It also makes me feel safe, somehow, like I have a measure of control over how invested I have to be in my surroundings.

I really want to write some reviews -- it's been on my to-do list for about 18 ages. Hopefully I'll get to it soon.
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belenen: (christmassy)
Solstice with my tribe, Aurilion's visit, Topaz' family Christmas
Solstice was amazing -- definitely the best of my life. Topaz, Aurilion, Abby, Heather (& Brian), Kylei, Camellia, Jude, Roger, Allison (& Whitney), Locke, and myself made 13, perfect, delighted me. I was really happy to have everyone there and really happy to give presents. I got SO excited watching people open them, it was ridic, also Topaz flew across the room to hug me at one present and Abby got reality-broken by one so I felt extremely accomplished, and I felt reflected happiness from everyone I got/made gifts for so that was wonderful. And I made superfood pasta sauce and lots of people loved it <3 It made me feel so good to be able to feed people, I wish I could do that more often but it's expensive so I can't.

I still can't believe that Aurilion came to visit! we talked so much and mended all this old stuff, untangled all these old questions and assumptions. One thing was that near the end of our romantic relationship, there were a few months where we talked for like 2 hours almost every day and neither of us were happy about it but we didn't say so. I felt like an unpaid therapist and Aurilion felt like ze was giving all this openness and I wasn't giving any back. It's sort of astonishing and embarrassing to look back and see how easily that could have been resolved if I had just been blunt (I remember trying to express what I wanted but tiptoeing so much it didn't get through). Also it made me realize that somewhere along the way I lost the habit of openness. I stopped looking into myself to find things to share. I think maybe it happened last year (2012) because I feel like I spent that entire year silent, and mourning that no one sought me. I feel loved when people ask me interesting and prying questions in a way that shows they are looking at my thought process and I feel unloved when I share and get little to no response, or the person redirects the conversation to their own experience/thoughts. To avoid feeling unloved I stopped sharing. And I realized this but it's hard to change conversational habits alone. It was really fascinating and lovely to see how, once I realized that the voluble flow of words from Aurilion came with the expectation that I would share in the same way (instead of, as I thought, the expectation that I would just listen and engage with zir shares), I could reflect on my experiences and find interesting things to share. I still want people to ask me questions, but I also want to practice unprompted sharing again, and just be conscious of when it is not nourishing to do so, so that I don't get drained.

I really enjoyed the time I spent with Aurilion and it happened at a perfect time but I really hope that ze can visit again at a time that isn't so full of other things because I'd like to enter into the connection more. There was so much going on this time. But the biggest block to zir visiting has been overcome so hopefully there will be a smaller lag this time ;-) I really loved seeing zir interact with the people I love and they all enjoyed each others' company a lot too.

Also, Aurilion and I kissed a few times, and when I talked with Topaz about it ze reacted without worry or even surprise (the first time had surprised me as I had absolutely no expectations of what would happen!). I feel more confident that we can move forward together now, and I feel less stressed about the shift into me being more poly again. Also Topaz and I have been having the most amazing sex ever and I feel excited and fulfilled.

Also Topaz' parents spoiled me ridiculously much with Christmas presents; I cried. I have never been so thoughtfully treated at the holidays. My parents got me stuff I didn't want most of the time, stuff that said they didn't know me at all (M kept getting me perfume, which I hate, and FLORAL perfume at that! UGH, like a slap in the face. And I got no presents once I 'betrayed' the family by forcing them to do something about the abuse in it). My in-laws made me feel like an outsider (they have an only-blood-is-real-family kind of mindset). I spent so many years wanting to feel included and seen, and though I certainly got that from my tribe, I never got it from 'family' but Topaz' family treats me like I belong. The biggest thing was that it felt genuine, not just a 'well you're here so we gotta get you something so it doesn't seem like a snub.' They acted like it was no big deal and I think to them it really wasn't, they just included me without thinking hard about it, but it was a big damn deal to me. I wrote them a card and sent it in the mail.
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belenen: (honesty)
relearning vulnerability: uncomfortable sharing about internal and external shame
So I've been practicing openness and honesty for about 10 years now and for a while I thought I was done growing in that area. Becoming close with Topaz taught me that no, actually there are plenty of things I don't share. Mostly because I am worried they will upset someone. It's swung like a pendulum -- I pushed very hard toward complete naked truth, then swung back to learn care and kindness, and now I'm stuck in a place I don't really want to be, leaning more toward editing for the sake of protecting people. It is good to be kind but it is wrong (within my own ethic) to put that above being honest.

And there's the things I still feel weird shame about, like the fact that my bioparent M spanked me when I was 'bad' until I was 17 years old. After puberty I didn't have to pull my pants down when I was on my period, which I eventually just said was happening every time (I didn't get punished much because I was very obedient). I knew I was too old after I started feeling shamed and creeped out, but I didn't say anything for at least three years because when M spanked me, he forgave me afterwards, and if he didn't, he radiated the nastiest anger at me all day long. I could easily deal with a little physical pain but the emotional stress was horrible. I felt shame about not speaking up when it got creepy; still feel some shame about it but the more I talk about it the more I realize it was the right choice for me. People radiating anger at me is something I can't deal with, it feels so much worse than anything else (calling names, hitting, breaking my things, taking from me). It feels like I'm being poisoned spiritually.

Then there are the things I feel fine about but am sure that other people will judge me deeply for. Recently I realized one of them -- I not only voted for Bush twice, but I also voted against legalizing gay marriage in Georgia. (not because I thought it was wrong but because I thought all marriage should be a-legal and hadn't thought through the effects my choice would have) People who know me now would doubtless be shocked and appalled by this, but I don't feel ashamed. I would make very different choices now because I have so much more knowledge now. I really didn't understand much before I found livejournal, and through it feminism and social justice and the urge to self-educate.

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belenen: (gamine)
memory: the one time my parents encouraged me to be happy with myself as is
I had this intense realization the other day when I was reflecting on one of the rare memories I have from my childhood. I was in fourth grade and had been upset about having to wear glasses because I felt they made me look ugly (partly because my mom made me get the pink ones when I wanted the white ones with rainbow letters, fucking gender bullshit). I would often 'forget' them and then have to sit right up next to the board where, with squinting, I could make out what was written. So a few months in, my mom took me aside (I can even remember the lighting and the time of day, midafternoon in her bedroom with just a little window light) and told me a story. Ze told me that before I was born God made me and was like, "wait a minute, I made this kid too awesome with all this cleverness, it won't be fair and she'll get all proud. How can I help her be humble? I know, I'll give her bad eyesight." It was SO obvious and silly and I remember thinking that at the time, but I didn't say so, and afterward I wore my glasses every day. Looking back on that, I wondered, if I thought the story was bullshit why did it have the intended effect? and realized it was the ONLY time my parents had ever tried to make me feel better about myself as I was. EVER. They only commented on who I was and what I did when they were telling me to improve, except for that one moment. So I wore the glasses because I understood what ze wanted and appreciated the effort.

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belenen: (giving)
M's visit so far / seeing my aunt, grandma, cousins for the first time in years / feeling accepted
So when M walked in to my house, ze laughed. I hastened to assure zir that the drawings on the walls were chalk and would come right off and ze said something to the effect of "it's your house, it's up to you." Ze also admired my curtaining-off of the kitchen (to keep kitchen heat out of the rest of the house) and said that ze liked that I had made the place my own. I thought ze would pick at things I had done [chalking the walls, hanging a rainbow flag in the entryway, building the garden in the front yard in a terrace, putting their knicknacks & such in the master bedroom] or not done [cleaned things the old tenants left messy, mowed the yard] but ze hasn't done any of that. Instead ze mowed the yard, wiped off the old broken hose (which I wanted to use it for an art project but didn't want to touch because I was worried it had been in poison ivy), and spent a lot of time talking to me. It's been exhausting because it's a lot of interaction and a lot of listening without much that nourishes me in it, but it has been worth it. I've also realized that asking questions that encourage people to share themselves is a skill, one that I'm really good at but most people just aren't (including my therapist!). I don't think that M is trying to just share without listening, but ze doesn't create the space for me to share or invite me to. I think ze would like me to, but I don't feel safe doing that yet. I'd first have to feel like ze can accept me being queer, and that requires a frank conversation which requires M doing the homework of reading this first: because I do not want to get caught up in an argument of bad doctrine. I know that M knows that I'm not straight or monogamous but I'm pretty sure ze's in denial about it, which casts a pall over everything.

We went over to my aunt's house tonight and I saw my cousins who have each grown about a foot since I saw them last (it's been years) and my aunt and grandmother. I am not sure what I was expecting but they were all nice to me and seemed happy to see me and have me around, and I didn't feel any judgement from them. I think I was expecting them to be politely distant and treat me like I didn't belong (... damn. My ex-partner's family really messed with my expectations). I don't think they (biofamily) ever actually treated me like that -- I have one vague memory of feeling like that but it could have been about something other than me. My aunt and cousin E and grandmother went and looked at my car and exclaimed approvingly about it (even after seeing the bumper stickers, heh). I told my aunt and cousin E about my crafty parties and asked if they would like to come and they said yes and seemed interested. And when I talked I could feel people listening -- not just hearing, but taking in and considering. That felt really good. I haven't felt that from that many people (outside of intimacy practice) in a very long time. And my grandmother asked if I still drew, which I didn't even remember zir knowing about, and when I talked about the art I do, they seemed interested. And my aunt asked if I had a facebook, to which I said yes and gave my name (with some trepidation) -- ze was surprised and asked questions about it but it was just genuine curiosity as far as I could tell. And then ze read the whole long note I have on facebook about why I chose my name, and remarked that ze also felt a lot of connection with Ireland (which is related to why I chose my last name). I felt really listened to and accepted in that response.

I'm feeling pretty nervous about the idea of opening up more to relatives but so far it has been only good, so we'll see how it goes.
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belenen: (plant magic)
STRESS about bioparent visit and job and money / gardening happiness
My bioparent M is coming to visit and I've been pretty stressed about it, mainly because I feel like there are things I 'should' have done even though they are not my responsibility (cleaning up after the previous tenants), because I don't have a job yet, and because time with zir is inherently stressful as ze disapproves of pretty much everything I value about myself. Also I love the way I've set up the place and I feel sure ze won't like it and I don't want to feel compelled to change things. And I'm pretty sure I'll get a lecture on my body, on my lack of making money, and a vague lecture on my 'lifestyle.' Most of these stresses will disappear once ze gets here -- it's always the dread that is the worst, I can deal with the actuality. I dreamed that the whole damn family showed up instead of just M, and I had a crafty party planned, and I invited them, and it was super awkward but not horrible. whaaaat.

I'm also stressed about getting a job. I REALLY want to work at the coffeeshop I just interviewed for but I haven't heard back yet *crumbles from nerves* and I'm about out of money. I ordered four boxes of food bars ( was having a 20% off sale, I pounce on those) and I'm hoping that M will buy me some groceries :-/ I am not gonna starve but I'd like to have some fresh things. The stress of these things has not been good for me, I've started having a harder time coping this week and I was worried that it was depression coming back but I think it's just the stress.

I have a garden and nothing has died!!! My spinach is doing some bizarre ivy-wannabe climbing thing and I transplanted it to hopefully give it more light, really hope it survives because I love eating leaves straight off the stem. My kale is doing well (but I think the ridiculously-bold deer have been EATING IT. #RUDE!) and my tomatoes are getting tall! I love love love love love having a garden. I can't wait to have tomatoes and peppers <3 I've been watering almost every day and taking vitamin D and I feel like my body is enjoying the regular sun. I feel like the worst shitlord ever when I weed though :-( I'm going to make little skirts out of thick black fabric for my plants so they don't have to compete and I don't have to rip pretty little living beings out of their home and kill them.
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belenen: (exuviate)
processing through dreams / family (bio, Topaz's, and the Wynnes), inadequacy, threat, menstruation
For the past three nights I've slept extra long and had lots of dreaming time -- part of me feels guilty at "wasting time" but I know that this is a thing I need. I process in dreams, and my usual 7-hours-per-night only allows for one or two dreams if I'm lucky. And I have such a lot to process. I'm coming out of the most painful time of my life and the metamorphosis that began last fall is coming to completion. (heh, I remember when I thought I had gone through my last exuviation! Silly young me) I didn't write much down from the dreams but I'll share some bits and pieces:

Topaz and I running from our friends who were zombies / crying over not being the photographer I want to be while everyone around me is making their dreams into reality / my bioparents moving my altar and taking the cover off of my windows / being in Alaska w Topaz and swimming in surprisingly warm water (with ice floes nearby!), above sharks, while menstruating / flying around a place that was partly the Wynnes' old neighborhood and was partly a tent city and partly a fenced-in military base / menstruating without a pad, feeling anxious about bleeding on my pants (I don't wear pants) / Topaz's grandmother & grandfather being best friends with Wynnes' grandmother & the three of them sitting together watching a film in a tiny house, me bursting in on them and feeling embarrassed but them smiling at me / talking to the Wynnes' old neighbor, thinking they were dead and crying before realizing that the neighbor was talking about someone else / babysitting and having forgotten basic things like putting the child's seat on the toilet before helping tiny child to go in the potty, also spilling things and making food wrong

A lot of family stuff, feeling inadequate (failing at BABYSITTING? what!?) and threatened, and menstruation. I am menstruating at the moment but I've never dreamed about it before... says "To dream of menstruation indicates that you are releasing your pent-up tension and worry. It signals an end to the difficult times and the beginning of relaxation." Let's hope that's it. I wish I didn't have to deal with any family shit but at least my dream about Topaz' gparents was a positive one, as I've been feeling anxious that they don't respect/accept me as I am, that they won't welcome my intrusion into their space (Topaz' life). If I feel anxious about something in waking life and then have a positive dream about it, it's my subconscious telling me that my fear is unfounded.
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belenen: (antagonistic)
discussing privilege with my bioparent / effects of pinnacle privilege / prebuilding social justice
Last week my bioparent M came in town and we spent an evening together. I don't remember how I got on the subject but I started talking about privilege, and trying to explain how it worked. At first M just straight up denied it, then moved sideways with the "but I don't discriminate" bit and then agreed that it existed and that ze benefited unfairly but said that ze didn't think there was anything wrong with it, that God gave people power and riches and those things were signs of God's favor. I then said, "well God is really bad at picking 'stewards' then." We went on for a while and eventually M asked why bother? I couldn't remember the start of the topic by that point so I said that I don't know why I started, but I continued because I can't just leave it be when someone is saying things that are wrong, that hurt people. We talked for probably about an hour and a half on this. M later commented that ze enjoyed talking with me. I didn't say anything because I did not enjoy chipping away at a mountain of privilege with a spoon. I already spend every day in critical thought -- it was not refreshing for me, it was the same old thing, with extra logic loops in that ze kept trying to use God to back up zir thought. Jesus wouldn't have stood for this bullshit. Things that pissed Jesus off: religious bullies, religious profiteers, and the selfish rich. People that Jesus enjoyed the company of: the poor, the socially-shunned (modern equivalents would be queers and convicts), the generous-spirited non-religious folk. If only so-called Christians would actually try to be like zir. I know WWJD is cliched at this point but that's pretty much the entire point. If you act like Jesus, you'll be a real Christian -- a pretty awesome person. If you act like the Pharisees, you're the average fundamentalist churchian.

Other things I mentioned were the wage gap (which ze disbelieved) the rape rate of women (ditto) false convictions of people of color proven false by DNA (ditto). I said that the US government admitted these things, asked if ze thought that they would have some reason to lie and ze said ze doesn't know, but it can't be true. That's one thing that infuriates me about privilege-pinnacle people: they feel that by sheer fact that they believe it, it's true. They don't hear a shocking statistic and think "well I should look into this" they think, "that contradicts my opinion therefore it cannot possibly be true (because I am The Authority)."

JUST ONCE I'd like to talk to a privilege-pinnacle person who actually responds with, "people MIGHT be hurting? I must look into this and see how I can help." Seriously, how hard is that? This massive, destructive selfishness is what happens when you train a group of people to equate adult behavior with a sociopathic (that's ableist) an inhuman (that's rude to animals!) a ??super-wrong??? lack of empathy. I don't even know. Many, many non-human animals show empathy and instinct to be helpful. This unlove training is horrific. Privilege-pinnacle people might not experience structural oppression but the kyriarchy wounds them psychologically -- having society train your empathy out is deeply abusive. Remembering that people are TRAINED to be this kind of evil is what keeps me trying, even with people like M.

Which reminds me, I was thinking of ways to pre-build social justice consciousness. You can't take most people from their ruts straight into the good stuff, so what are some rut-reducers? I think creativity is one, and genuinely serving people is another -- but they only work if you do them genuinely; if you get any kind of kickback (money, accolades) they are just as rutty as the rest of life. And being asked questions and pushed to think also works, but only if it's fairly constant and done by someone you respect.

Worlds Within Worlds
Worlds Within Worlds
(click to see larger pls!)

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belenen: (progressing)
important events in 2011 / becoming an effective catalyst for the change I want to see in the world

2011 was a whirlwind of growth and renewal; looking back, I cannot believe how much I've changed and how much my life has changed. I feel like I wouldn't even recognize my year-ago self. And yet so much has changed since the turn of the year... exponential change. I'm so much more fierce, nourished, confident, and aware than last year. I've created the sources for art, creativity, and intimacy that I want; I've found avenues for developing change; I've started stripping away the fear that blocked me from being a catalyst for equality.

In 2011 I gained a much deeper understanding of oppression, both historically and in its current manifestations; Kyle and I went through so many shifts, deepening our relationship and creating positive ways of managing conflict; Kyle became a feminist/equalist; I met lots of important new people; Kyle and I started doing energy work regularly on ourselves and each other; I was in continuous growth and needed rest which I didn't know how to take, so throughout the year I had several depressions and learned how to notice when I needed rest; I started hosting crafty parties! and now have a source of amazing creation in my life ♥; I met the Angel Oak, participated in a TreeSpirit shoot, and had so many incredible magical experiences with Kyle in Charleston; I realized my intersexedness in a profound way and began living it, though not sharing the details of meaning with folk (and it's still too scary to write about though I hope that will change soon); I experienced my first burn, Euphoria, and loved it -- then experienced my second, Alchemy, and did not like it; Aurilion and I had several bursts of intense connection; I fell in love with Abby and we started dating, quickly moving into a time-committed relationship; Arizona and I started dating again; Kyle and Adi started dating; I became part of the formation of a queer group on campus; I sortakinda dated Eanox for a short time; I had my first successful anti-oppression experience and felt thrilled with the possibilities of further action; I went to Transcending Boundaries with Kyle; I started forming tribe (a truly interconnected group of people all of whom were building connection with each other).

important events in 2011 )

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belenen: (progressing)
important events in 2011 / becoming an effective catalyst for the change I want to see in the world

2011 was a whirlwind of growth and renewal; looking back, I cannot believe how much I've changed and how much my life has changed. I feel like I wouldn't even recognize my year-ago self. And yet so much has changed since the turn of the year... exponential change. I'm so much more fierce, nourished, confident, and aware than last year. I've created the sources for art, creativity, and intimacy that I want; I've found avenues for developing change; I've started stripping away the fear that blocked me from being a catalyst for equality.

In 2011 I gained a much deeper understanding of oppression, both historically and in its current manifestations; Kyle and I went through so many shifts, deepening our relationship and creating positive ways of managing conflict; Kyle became a feminist/equalist; I met lots of important new people; Kyle and I started doing energy work regularly on ourselves and each other; I was in continuous growth and needed rest which I didn't know how to take, so throughout the year I had several depressions and learned how to notice when I needed rest; I started hosting crafty parties! and now have a source of amazing creation in my life ♥; I met the Angel Oak, participated in a TreeSpirit shoot, and had so many incredible magical experiences with Kyle in Charleston; I realized my intersexedness in a profound way and began living it, though not sharing the details of meaning with folk (and it's still too scary to write about though I hope that will change soon); I experienced my first burn, Euphoria, and loved it -- then experienced my second, Alchemy, and did not like it; Aurilion and I had several bursts of intense connection; I fell in love with Abby and we started dating, quickly moving into a time-committed relationship; Arizona and I started dating again; Kyle and Adi started dating; I became part of the formation of a queer group on campus; I sortakinda dated Eanox for a short time; I had my first successful anti-oppression experience and felt thrilled with the possibilities of further action; I went to Transcending Boundaries with Kyle; I started forming tribe (a truly interconnected group of people all of whom were building connection with each other).

important events in 2011 )

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