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

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

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

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belenen: (exuviate)
feeling urges for friend changes / intimacy practice planning / bad dreams / relationship updates
icon: "exuviate (photo of a dragonfly with shimmery green wings after its last metamorphosis, standing next to its previous exoskeleton)"

I haven't felt fully seen by someone other than Topaz in a long time and I yearn for that. I don't know if I'm just bad at sharing or if most people have to feel romantic to actually try to see someone or if people just plain don't do it. I keep running into people who don't reciprocate or who want me to rescue them or who are just flat-out unavailable. I'm feeling strong urges for a friends overhaul. Not ending any friendships, but re-sorting all my priorities and finding some new people. Not that there ever are new people when I look. I'm feeling pretty fatalistic about it.

And the amount of effort it takes with every person, ugh. Can't I just have ONE easy friend who initiates at least 50% of the time? I think things are better generally on that front, but if I stopped initiating (yes, recurring plans that I set up count as me initiating, especially if I have to remind and organize) I think most of my friendships would drop off. And it's all understandable and I'm not upset at anyone in particular, but I want to feel like I'm not the only one trying to build something. I think most people I am close with just don't have the time/energy/interest to do more than maintain. Why am I trying to build when the other is just trying to maintain? That's not balanced and I need to fuckin quit it, I'm only making myself unhappy.

I have gotten quite annoyed with everyone about planning intimacy practice lately because no one fucking helps. We have had to move the regular day two months in a row and it is like pulling teeth getting people to respond. Don't just say "nope that doesn't work" and not offer another option! UGH! This is at least as much for everyone else as it is for me but no one takes responsibility. I don't mind leading most of the time but I do mind having to do it or lose it. And I mind the collection of people being kept as-is, especially with the lack of shared effort (just realizing this now).

These feelings might be the cause of or partially because of my dreams lately. I had one dream where this local casual friend was just plain mean to me, and another where I had a birthday gather and all of my friends came, but they chose a table that was long and narrow and put me at one end of it and no one talked to me. I felt hurt at first that they chose a table that showed that they weren't thinking about what would nourish me, and then I felt way more hurt when they refused to change it (the restaurant we were at had circular tables too) and just started ignoring me to talk to each other. Normally a dream like this only comes when I have consciously felt ignored, which I haven't, so I feel confused and distressed by it. dream symbol meanings )

This is also true of some LJ friends. I usually don't mind when people rarely comment, but there are some people I was hoping to build with who just aren't showing any interest. Should I take them off? But that means there is no chance. Should I stop emotionally investing until I can tell if they're ever going to give back? That usually means that nothing will happen. I dunno.

On the positive side, Allison has been reaching out a lot more and I feel like we are really building on our friendship. Sadly they're also terribly busy so I feel like the pace kinda has to stay slow (like, 1-2x a month). Heather has been awesome but I also feel really weird about them? I don't understand why but I keep meaning to bring it up so here's a placeholder. Kylei I have been feeling really positively about lately and last time I hung out with them it was incredibly sweet and nourishing but our plans keep getting cancelled and I feel helpless about it, especially since I only feel nourished when we hang out at my place or theirs because we don't seem to be able to really be fully present otherwise. Jaime has incidentally hung out with me several times recently and I have really felt pleased about their company but I feel slightly weird about them too. I am just now realizing this. Elizabeth has invested lots in building with me and I feel happy and hopeful about that but also frustrated because they live so far away. Hannah actually has randomly messaged me several times in the past few weeks and I feel tentatively hopeful that we might be able to have a videochat. Anika I've been feeling weird about for a week or two. We had a talk but nothing got settled really and then I upset them the other night with some careless miscommunication and I apologized and explained but they didn't respond so that's in limbo too. Abby I never hear from. Anita came in town and didn't tell me ahead of time and I had plans and couldn't see them, which made me feel awfully forgotten and unimportant. I would have moved so many things around to spend time with them. I guess I'm feeling a vast majority of uneasy or disconnected. It doesn't help that last IP was more than a month ago because the mid-month one didn't get planned, and that one was a tiny one.

Last weekend while drunk I messaged a casual friend about becoming closer friends and they didn't respond and now I feel painfully embarrassed about it (actual tears of embarrassment) but I'm trying to remind myself that it is something my truest self would absolutely have done so I should be proud of myself. That's just one of those things that either goes shockingly well or shockingly badly, usually. This is a weird not-really-either as far as I can tell.

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belenen: (shimmering)
Recently: talk w Ace / time w Topaz / Anika visits / Rant Jam / INTENSE Intimacy Practice / dreaming
Last Thursday I talked with my little sister for about 2 hours, which is the longest we've talked in ages. Ze seems to be in a healthy relationship, which is fantastic, but ze is surrounded by terrible people at zir work. I tried as per usual to convince zir to move and live with me, but I don't think that will happen. I hope ze will at least visit.

Friday Topaz came over to help me with the grass but I was feeling ill so ze just did it for me <3 <3 <3 then we went to zir place, picking up fireworks on the way. We built a bonfire and Topaz made silver turtles and lit fireworks and smoke bombs and we drank barefoot bubbly and it was really relaxing and cozy. Then we made talismans together, where I lost track of time and Topaz was super patient. (I thought it took an hour but it took 3)

That night I slept badly (which has been happening almost every night I spend at Topaz' lately, not sure why) and thus slept in. I started freaking out a little about time but Ashe and Anika were running late so once I found that out I got to have cuddles and Topaz made us breakfast and coffee (ze makes the best breakfast sandwiches). Then I went home and whirlwinded through the house, tidying and cleaning, and didn't stop until about 20 minutes after they arrived (hyperfocus sometimes makes me the worst at greeting people). I got to hang out with them for a little while, but Ashe was exhausted and had to leave right as Kei-Won-Tia arrived. Topaz and Zawn and Jeff arrived a little later, and we had some pretty awesome conversation, ranting about evils in the world (which was the purpose of the gather). I got a little drunk and felt super happy about all the interactions, especially since Topaz seemed relaxed. Zawn and Jeff brought pizza, which was a fabulous gift. The gather wasn't what I had pictured but I liked it better than what I had pictured. After Zawn and Jeff left and Anika crashed out, Kei-Won-Tia and Topaz and I played Personalogies, which had some good questions but frankly I could make a deck 47201x better. When they left, I missed them a lot and texted with Topaz for like an hour, because my missing zir got so strong it hurt. I feel really extra deeply in love with zir. I'm also not used to spending time with Topaz that isn't one-on-one or followed by one-on-one, so there's this subconscious expectation of that time and I want it to hurry up and get here.

Sunday I went grocery shopping with Anika and Suzu in the morning and then Kei-Won-Tia, Abby, Heather, Kylei, and Roger arrived for cuddle puddle. I pulled Abby away and talked with zir about zir relationship with Roger because they'd been having a painful time, and I felt upset by it. I was sort of getting up my courage, and then we went back. I told Roger that I felt a need to talk about Abby and Roger's relationship, and asked if ze'd prefer to talk alone or with everyone - ze said no preference so I asked zir to tell me about how ze had experienced the recent troubles. After ze did, I expressed my feelings about it (vague because not sure how much they want private) and I felt that Roger took them in. Even though nothing was really resolved, I felt that I had expressed myself fully to them both and I didn't feel stressed out and divided any more. I don't think I've ever done that before - it felt incredibly awkward and I was quite worried as to how it would go, but I think it was good, and Roger expressed appreciation for being able to talk openly about it. I cuddled Abby during it because ze was vibrating with anxiety. Afterwards we all had early dinner, during which Topaz arrived, and we began intimacy practice. It was super intense and really long and really great, even though we didn't get to everyone (argh we have got to restructure the large ones!). I felt like we all moved a lot closer to each other through this one. I usually feel we are closer afterward but this one was especially bonding. Everyone was so sweet and wonderful and I loved spending the day with everyone! Suzu was really good, interacting with us some but for age 7, being remarkably low-maintenance. This kid is pretty amazing. I want to explore the world with zir to notice what ze observes. So cool.

Topaz stayed a little late for me to take the braids out that Heather spent hours putting in as we were doing IP. Ze lay in my lap and I finger-combed zir hair for a while, which was really, really good for me because the day was so intense and I desperately wanted Topaz cuddles. Next cuddle puddle I'm going to make a nest in my room because the living room made it too linear.

Monday I hung out w Anika and Suzu for a while (Suzu painted several pictures) and then took them to meet Ashe at a coffeehouse. Suzu played with the kids there, expressing upset at the one terrible kid who was mean to insects but otherwise seeming to have a blast. Ashe and Anika and I talked for a while, about what I am not even sure now because my memory is out. We stopped by Ashe's house and ze introduced us to trees and cats and zir spouse, and we got back to my house late. Anika and I had tea and ice cream (rather, the approximations I had on hand) and talked for a good while before going to bed.

Tuesday we just stayed home. We were planning on doing a ritual while Anika was in town, but when one thing after another fell apart, I felt it just wasn't meant to be and cancelled it. I was relieved to relax, because I was getting pretty desperate for down time.

Eeeeeearly Wednesday morning I took them to the airport, came home and tried to nap (which became 8 hours of sleep). Afterwards I went to Topaz', we had dinner and cuddles and went to sleep, where I slept for over 15 hours. Usually I feel guilty and annoyed if I sleep more than 8 hours, but this time I decided it was important and that I needed the processing (because dreams are really good for me in that way). When I got up I got shit done in quick succession, including writing an entry for LJ Idol (which I'm super nervous about). I had dinner with Topaz and helped zir tidy a little and then we cuddled and I went home.

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belenen: (interconnectedness)
2 intimacy practices (Heather, Ariana, Anika, me, Abby, Kylei, Topaz, Camellia, Kei-Won-Tia, Roger)
We had two intimacy practices this week. Tuesday, Heather and Ariana and Anika and I had a small one (Topaz was there at the start but was feeling migrainey so had to go home). It was Ariana's first and Anika's 3rd, I think? Anyway the four of us talked about lots of things as per usual but the part that stuck out the most to me was the common thread of spirituality; during truth-or-truth I asked Heather and Ariana some questions and someone else asked Anika a question that also led to discussion of spirituality. I felt very resonant with Ariana when we talked about plants and the energy of the four of us was very... soft and mighty, like moss on a giant tree. I felt really connected to everyone and like I learned a lot about Ariana in a short time.

Then tonight we had another, with me and Abby, Anika, Kylei, Topaz, Camellia, Kei-Won-Tia, Roger, and of course me. This one felt so magical, partly because I got to cuddle with Topaz and Kei-Won-Tia and Camellia (really close cuddles that felt very open, which was new between me and Kei-Won-Tia and Camellia), and partly because I felt really in sync with Topaz and Kei-Won-Tia and Anika. The truth or truth was the best it has ever been, I think, with each question opening up the questionee and a really good balance of timing. At one point I was asked to reflect out loud on the new people in my life and I did, and then felt a burst of intensified connection, and at another point there was a resonance between Kei-Won-Tia and Topaz that I also felt (to a lesser extent) which made me feel so close, and loving, and appreciative of the sharing that allowed it. Sadly Kylei started feeling ill and had to go, which meant Roger did too as they were Kylei's ride, and Anika had to go to take care of the baby, and Topaz had to leave for Cosmos. That was sad to miss, but the second half was still great and people asked me questions that made me consider things I hadn't before, which is something I treasure.

Also, Kei-Won-Tia got confused about the date for another event and so showed up early, then kept me company as I cleaned lots. Since cleaning alone is hard for me this was a wondrous (if accidental) gift <3

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belenen: (distance)
intimacy practice / more about lack of belonging / raising kids / exhausted, discouraged
Today was intimacy practice and it was really wonderful; hard topics, but deep sharing and very nourishing. We've been at max capacity (8 people) for the past two sessions and it takes significantly longer, right under 4 hours this time, but (for me at least) it's worth it. But I think it might be a bit much for some people, so I'm trying to think of good ways to balance that... but I don't want anyone to miss it, bleh, and I don't want to set a time limit on heart circle sharing but maybe we could go two rounds or something and people could choose to stay for one round or two.

I talked about my lack of belonging and I felt understood, but it still hurts. The biggest ache is the fact that I have these amazing people, but if I don't put in the very hard work of pulling them together, we'd all fall separate and some people would fall out of my life completely. We might be committed in small dyads that interconnect, but we aren't committed to a central unity. I think when I was sharing that, part of me hoped someone would say "I want long-term unity too! I will help you make it!" but I don't think people want that. Which makes me sad because if I want it, I have to find people to invest in who also want it. It's shitty to try to push for it with people who don't want it. But it was so fucking hard to find these people that the idea of trying to find others seems exhausting and impossible. Another thing that has been on my mind lately is the idea of raising kids -- I kinda want that, but only if I have at least two co-parents, and while I have a gaggle of aunts/uncles/auntcles, I don't have anyone in my life I could raise kids with. And I don't see how to go about making that. Most of the people I know with poly families started out as a dyad and then added people, but that's not how I would want to do it. So I just don't see it happening for me. So then what? I dunno. I guess I hope the right people just happen into my life. Right now wouldn't be the right time to form a kid-raising unit anyway so it's sort of moot.

I'm feeling kinda discouraged on most of my goals right now. Crafty parties have been fail the past few times and I feel like the biggest problem is distance, so I need to find locals, but I'm feeling a lack of hope and a lot of intimidation about it. Hopefully part of this is just sheer exhaustion from the stress of these past few weeks and after a few days of rest I'll be better.

I gotta get on finding another job soon. I've been sending out and dropping off resumes at places I'd actually like, and this week I'm going to apply places I can tolerate, but I'm not going to be 'available' for at least a week because I am so so so exhausted, just wiped out. I feel like my emotions have been running higher this week too, maybe due to stress, or maybe causing part of the stress. Can I just cry and be held please? can someone tell me I won't be yearning with no hope forever and mean it? Can't ever EVER someone want the same thing?

metanote: sorry I've only been posting the past few days, haven't had time to catch up on reading but hope to do that tomorrow (Monday). I feel like the quality of this writing is super crap but ugh. I dunno, I just need a break SO BADLY.
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belenen: (overwhelmed)
reading lots / being sick forEVER / ridic huge school/work/research STRESS / missing intimacy
I have been INHALING books lately: one by Joan Slonczewski (a re-read of "A Door Into Ocean"), three by Sheri Tepper ("The Companions," "The Visitor," and "The Margarets"), one by Allie Brosh ("Hyperbole and a Half," obv) and today, one by Torey Hayden (a reread of "Somebody Else's Kids"). It's a little weird because this is happening after a very long time of reading tiny bits of books and being unable to keep going, unable to stay "in" it. It feels sorta good in that I feel like it is building up a part of my brain that was shrinking from disuse, but at the same time it feels like regressing, withdrawing from interaction into other worlds, turning into my teen loner self.

It overlaps with an illness I've had for the past month -- mono (plus some kind of cold on top of it that I got last week). I've been weak and tired and unmotivated. I find it harder than usual to make myself do homework, I haven't been able to write or create. I worry that this sickness might be something that won't heal on its own but I don't want to make an appointment with the doctor because I already went to the fucking doctor and they were no help at all (beyond a note to let me rest, I guess). I think this sick is partly stress-induced. 5 classes (including one with a huge research project) plus work plus sick is too damn much. But I wasn't about to take a course on the sociology of class from the professor who is so racist and sexist and homophobic that I've heard this from AVERAGE students (not just the social justice activists). No way any of my money is going to that shitspewer if I can possibly help it, but the only other person who teaches this class only does so in the fall, as far as I can tell. So I am ridiculously busy while feeling like I am accomplishing nothing because my research is going slow and my personal projects are stalled.

And it's cold and I really hate the cold. Yet I haven't called the heater-fixer-person because it stresses me out so much, I feel so busy I can't bear to add another thing to my schedule. I arranged a meeting with them once and they flaked (making me miss classes and wait five hours for NOTHING) and didn't call and when I called it went straight to voicemail. I decided to go with someone else but I haven't arranged that yet.

I'm procrastinating a major paper right now but this is the first time I've been able to sit down and write about my life in forever. I feel anxious because I haven't had an intimacy practice in two months and I can't seem to plan one, it's too hard to mesh everyone's schedules. I just finally sent out another attempt and I'm hoping but ughhhh I just can't DEAL, if this one doesn't work I probably won't try again until school is out. I miss everybody a lot and I'm frustrated that I don't know what is going on in people's lives but I also feel like unless other people prioritize it, it's just not going to happen, and I'm starting to feel like I am the only one who cares. It's not true I know but it feels true.

Which brings me to something I realized about intimacy practice and crafty parties -- they are super important to me because interacting one-on-one with anyone that I don't have a secure bond with takes a lot of energy for me, especially if I really like the person. I feel worried the whole time that I'm going to bore them or make them feel like I don't care about them and I can get past it but that takes a lot of energy too. But in a group setting, I don't feel responsible for keeping people feeling noticed and entertained, so it's a much lower energy cost while giving me positive energy, either from creating or from sharing intimately. Without these gathers it becomes harder and harder for me to feel like interacting with people at all. Going to group events is low-cost but usually even lower in reward because people don't usually share intimate thoughts/feelings or create together at things other people host.
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belenen: (interconnectedness)
intimacy: general ways of creating it and a specific outline of my intimacy practices (open source)
Starting on January 30, 2012, I began leading what I call intimacy practice. I've now done it at least 30 times, I'd say, and given talks about building intimacy at Alchemy (the Georgia burn), TBC (a queer conference), and APW (a polyamory conference). I feel like I have a good enough understanding to summarize it so that it can be truly open-source.

First I want to explain the point of an intimacy practice. Most people don't create intimacy deliberately; instead it exists in their lives if they spend lots of time with someone (family, coworkers, high school friends, etc) or go through shared transformative experience like visiting another country together -- because this kind of intimacy is expensive in time or in money (or both), it's considered something you can't create on purpose. But if you want a relationship (friendship or romance or family/tribe) to have lasting intimacy, you have to both/all invest in it. It's not any more natural for intimacy to continue unfadingly on its own than it is for a pendulum to keep swinging just as hard without being pushed again. If it continues, it's because you are creating it.

So if you decide you want to have more intimacy in your life, how do you create it? It's simple, but not easy: find someone who also desires to create intimacy through honesty and openness, and practice together. General ways of practicing this are: 10 ways )

With intimacy practice, we use several of these methods. Occasionally #1 or #6 or #7, always #2, #5, and #10.

We start out with silliness: this is because you don't have to think about it, and it's a very quick way in to feeling close and vulnerable. In person we use a variant of laughter yoga: we make up silly poses and with noise-noise-fake laugh we start ourselves into real laughter. When we meet online we do things like make faces or take turns doing impressions of animals. After we've loosened up enough, we usually move to truth-or-truth (a very simple game I invented).

Truth-or-truth is a question game: the goal is to satisfy curiosity and to encourage people to share important truths about themselves. (You 'win' if your question makes everyone go "ooooh, good question" or if your answer makes everybody sit in reflection for a minute) The rules are simple: Either ask someone a question or pick a questioner and a questionee. Whoever answers then gets to do the same. If a question is ever too invasive (rarely happens) or too simple, the person being questioned can ask for another question. If you get picked as a questioner, you have to ask the question (it can't get passed twice). Bounce-backs are only allowed once (if Roger asks Camellia a question, Camellia can then ask Roger a question but after Roger answers ze has to pick someone else to ask next). I hope I explained that well enough, it's super simple if you watch it being played.

After truth-or-truth, we usually start heart circle. Each person takes a turn setting the guidelines for responses (usually people ask for others to raise their hand if they have a comment, or wait until the end), and then they share whatever is on their mind/heart lately. This is usually pretty intense; knowing that people are really listening helps you to share more than you otherwise would, I think, and knowing that no one is going to interrupt you and go off on their own stuff is also freeing. It's essential that this be a non-judgmental space -- I've been lucky with my people but I imagine that in a more average group, a facilitator would need to be prepared to interrupt if someone began responding judgmentally.

Then if we are in person, we usually have a spiral hug, which is where we hold hands in a line and one end of the line stays still while the others spiral around until they're in a clump of hug. We stay until someone says "break" -- usually the person in the center but sometimes someone else who got uncomfortable. Everyone who wants a turn in the center gets one. If we are not in person, we usually blow kisses and make hearts with our hands and say I love yous (we're an effusive group for the most part).

Please feel free to use anything, share anything from this post, or comment anything that you think would be a good intimacy practice exercise.
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belenen: (gender abolitionist)
struggling with romantic rejection / thrilled about intimacy practice! / N/A* and intersectionality
Lately I've been seriously struggling with rejection -- the last five or so people I expressed romantic interest in did not feel the same way. I find it difficult in general to initiate romance with people and I feel like I've experienced this as a setback -- even though individually it all makes sense and I certainly don't resent anyone for not returning my feelings, I irrationally feel like it's a pattern and it somehow means that I am undesirable to people, especially female or femme folk. I fret that I am too femme-looking or too bold, and people are either attracted to one or the other of those but not both -- and I feel like the queer community values female butchness and male femmeness over other expressions. (while I don't dress to appear feminine, the self-decorations I choose are stereotyped as femme, so...) I fret that I'm just not physically attractive -- even though I like how I look, I want to be appealing to people that I am attracted to, and when they express that they appreciate my mental/emotional self but aren't interested in romance with me, I feel like that means that there must be something wrong with my physical self. I had a resurgence of discomfort with my fatness this year, after years of being totally happy with it. And it's persisting, though decreasing now. I think that has to do with lack of body-positive community nowadays; I can't resist internalizing without conscious dissent. (I realized this when I felt happier just reading about a fat-activist group called "Pretty, Porky, and Pissed Off") I need to be doing more modeling -- that's such a good way for me to connect with my body and appreciate it as perfect within itself.

So now I feel scared of expressing any interest, because I'm just getting over the string of disappointments, and more disappointment feels like it would be really harmful for me right now. But I want to explore new interests, and I don't want to be letting fear tell me what to do, and I want to practice seeking out my own interests instead of passively responding. So I'm torn.

A new development that I am verrrry excited about is this twice-monthly gather that I've started hosting. I call it intimacy practice night. Here's the description: )

I'm super excited about intimacy practice because after just ONE TIME I can already feel the shift in myself and in my relationships with the people who attended the first one. I went into the first one thinking it would help me get to know people, but probably wouldn't stretch me, and I was surprised by how much it DID stretch me. After two hours we took a pause and during that time I realized that I felt incredibly vibrant and nourished, then when we did the last hour I experienced a decided step outside my comfort zone. I shared something in spite of the fact that I was worried it would make people feel judged or unappreciated, and it was received with kindness and understanding. I felt incredibly relieved and it really helped me to move forward emotionally in that area. I feel like this is a really good way of building my connections with people and everyone else seemed to appreciate it and be excited about continuing. I feel rather stunned at how gloriously lucky I am to have so many people not just willing but eager to practice intimacy and openness with me and with each other.

Also KSU now has a queer group on campus -- Non-Normative Anti-Assimilationists -- which I've helped create! I'm a board member for the group, which is brand new -- we just had our second member meeting yesterday. I'm also incredibly excited about this, for three reasons -- 1) queer community yay! 2) real change! I never would have thought to form a student organization with the intent of changing the school (working within) but Angie and Gaius and Laura did, and now I'm aware of all kinds of opportunities to make KSU more inclusive. 3) intersectionality. I really can't express my delight with that enough. I'm so sick of listening to people who are anti-prejudice in some way be willfully ignorant about all other forms of oppression -- that is not the case here. Calling people out on unrealized privilege is in the agreement one has to make to be part of the group; I'm planning on taking some of that agreement that we made and incorporating it into house rules, with the input of my housemates of course. the safe space agreements for N/A* )

Speaking of intersectionality, this is a must-read: MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT! Yes, the caps are appropriate. Re-reading this this afternoon was balm to my soul after hearing some anti-racists be smugly sexist today. It also helps after queers are ableist or feminists are racist. ALL aspects of oppression need to be dealt with and if you say it is okay to overlook any of them, I call bullshit.

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belenen: (analytical)
on excitement and nourishment in romantic relationships -- NRE versus IFE
NRE (new relationship energy) is this thing you hear about a lot in poly circles -- it's accepted as fact that when you start a new relationship, you get more energy out of it. You get excited and giddy and have the ability to sink tons of energy into the new relationship without feeling drained because there's so much NRE coming in. And then it fades, and there is nothing you can do about it.

I think that's total bullshit. I don't believe in NRE. What people call NRE is actually IFE -- intimate focus energy. The giddiness, excitement, high-nourishment state is not caused by novelty, and does not have to dissipate with time. It gets associated with newness because in the beginning of a relationship there is a lot of fear and anxiety -- fear of losing this person, anxiety about making mistakes, etc -- and that gets channeled into focusing intensely on the other person (Abby coined the term "fear-spark" to describe this :D). You watch their every move because you're trying to figure out how to interact with them in a safely intimate way, and BECAUSE you're watching their every move, you're enchanted by them. Everyone is amazing if you look closely enough. Then, when you know them well enough to feel safely intimate, you stop looking so closely, and you stop noticing their amazingness. You take them for granted, because you can. And you call that the end of NRE and assume it is a natural phase of relationships. It's common, but it is NOT inevitable and it is NOT biological (and I would really like to destroy the idea that those two things are synonymous).

People tend to feel very intimate and safe with me quickly. I like that in and of itself but I don't like the fact that it usually has the effect of intimate focus ending on the part of the other person. I remember near the beginning of my relationship with Arizona, ze told me that ze felt very comfortable with me and I was very disappointed to hear that, expecting it to end the giddy excitement between us. It didn't, I think because Arizona already saw IFE as a process to engage in, not a fickle self-creation.

It wasn't until the past few weeks that I finally found the words to explain this -- previously I'd frustratedly concentrated on the symptoms, saying that I need intimate focused time in order to be romantic with someone. I finally realized that it's not just about lacking that intimate focus time, it's about the attitude that people have about whether romantic giddy high-nourishment can be created or whether it "just happens." If they don't think it can be created then they won't see the lack of it as a symptom that there is not enough intimate focus in the relationship. I cannot be in a romantic relationship without IFE, not because I'm "just in it for the excitement", but because I value that intimate focus, and I know it can be created any amount of time into the relationship. ways of creating it )

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