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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

it has really affected how I listen to music )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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belenen: (healing)
bad actions =/= bad person. absence of effort to reduce harm one causes/benefits from = bad person
icon: "healing (a photo of me and Hannah curled up together, naked, with Hannah's head resting on my legs and my arms around/over them. it's colored in violet with a fractal overlay of purple, blue, and green.)"

I've said much of this before, but I am going to try to make it more specific and plain-spoken.

If I judge your actions as bad, that does not mean I am judging you as bad. Almost every action I rail against as harmful in some way is a thing I have done in the past. I have believed wrongly and damaged people with my actions. I have been classist, racist, sexist, fatphobic, ableist, looksist, anti-sexworker, queerphobic, and gender essentialist, and acted on those ideologies in my actions toward others. I have believed in rape myths and imperialist dogma. I have manipulated and disrespected my partners.

---specific examples of my wrongs: CN/TW for violence, oppressive attitudes, and slurs---

I judged poor people if they bought a small luxury. I avoided people of color because I thought they were too different and I could not relate. I thought women should submit to their husbands. I thought fatness was ugly and that fat people should hide their bodies. I expected all people to be able to learn and perform in the way that I do. I thought cleverness and education made a person more worthwhile. I ranked people on a scale of attractive to not attractive. I assumed that people could not choose to sell sex and that if they did they were forced or acting out of damage. I compared queer sex to sticking your hand in a blender: 'misuse' of intended purpose. I assumed everyone's gender matched what they were assigned at birth, and I assumed that there were only two sexes. I used slurs, especially ableist ones like 'stupid' and 'crazy.'

I have violated people's consent (thankfully not in ways that caused lots of damage, but I was lucky). I have been invalidating of people's identities. I have considered myself to have the 'one true' god and dismissed others as false. I have made relationship expectations without discussion or agreement, and manipulated people into the performance I wanted. I have assumed the worst motives of people I loved and not bothered to check. I have screamed at partners. I have called names. I have hit children (I was a child also at the time, but it was damaging and terrible).

---end TW/CN---

All those things are things I consider deeply wrong and I am profoundly ashamed of them. I mention them because I do not think of myself as a bad person, yet I have done all these bad things. There is not a thing that I say "don't do this" that I haven't done to some extent. So, I cannot think of other people as bad because they do them.

For me, there is only one sin that makes you a bad person: not making any effort to reduce the harm you cause to others and the harms that you benefit from. You don't have to make the efforts I suggest; you just have to make SOME effort, repeatedly, to reduce the harm you cause and/or benefit from in order to not be a bad person. You have to consider carefully if your behavior needs changing when someone says that you are causing harm.

When it comes to creating justice, intention means nothing; your harm-reduction needs to be effective in order to matter at all. When it comes to a judgement of moral character, intention + effort is everything. If you keep on trying to get better, and you keep on trying to learn from a variety of sources, I believe you will eventually get to a place where your efforts are effective and you do reduce harm. So I don't care where you are now; I care if you are repeatedly learning and trying. The more you try, the better a person I think you are.

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belenen: (challenging)
relationship health check-up questions: abusive red flag questions & relative healthiness questions
icon: "challenging (photo of me lifting one eyebrow and slightly squinting my eyes, wearing "Red Queen" makeup: searingly red lips, darkened pointed eyebrows, black eyeliner, deep red & black eyeshadow accented with gold & silver, and black-outlined silver hearts & diamonds with red shadows on my cheeks)"

Someone recently asked me if I had any relationship check-in questions to determine a relationship's health. The closest thing I had was questions to determine if a relationship is difficult-but-worthwhile or possibly/definitely abusive, so I went through that list and expanded it into two larger sets of questions. The first is a set of yes/no questions, and any 'no' to these is a red flag for an abusive relationship. The second list is about the relative health of the relationship, and a 'no' is not necessarily a red flag but does mark a place that potentially needs work (a 'yellow' flag perhaps).

to determine if the relationship is abusive )

to determine if it is a worthwhile difficult relationship )

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belenen: (Renenutet)
relationship anarchy: we each only do what we want / my intentions & desires in all connections
icon: "Renenutet (a relief carving of Renenutet, represented as a winged cobra, overlaid with a fractal coloring)"

I read an article by [ profile] joreth the other day that got me thinking about how I have never posted about my identity as a relationship anarchist. I tend to refer to myself as polyamorous because I use that as an umbrella term (which is not correct, just habit), but I don't line up with mainstream polyamory. I use the term 'relationship anarchist' because I have the intention of building nothing but continuously voluntary associations where anyone is free to leave at any time for any reason, and only does what they want. This will remain true unless I decide to raise children (I consider it unethical to leave children after you made a decision to parent them).

Mainstream polyamory, as I interpret it, is monogamy* with add-ons. Most polyamorous people I have known structure their relationships in a role-based hierarchy with romantic relationships on top, just like monogamy except with more people. Many of them put those relationships into an additional hierarchy, with 'primary' and 'secondary' etc. In mainstream polyamory as with monogamy, a relationship is created by achieving certain milestones and/or agreeing on certain limitations: you are 'officially' in a relationship when you say I love you, or when you decide to be exclusive or partially exclusive. There is an end goal, and the progression generally looks the same. One rides the relationship escalator: initiating romance, determining roles (boyfriend, girlfriend, etc), changing to fit each other better, committing, becoming comfortable, creating a legacy. OR the relationship is defined by the absence of those things, and understood as lesser for not having them.

I don't want any of that. I don't want to choose a role with all the un-negotiated expectations that usually come along with it. I don't want to change to fit someone else or have them do that for me. I don't want to have external commitments which I count on rather than making the decision anew every day. My legacy is what I learn and what I teach and it happens along the way, not at some end point, and not through 'relationship milestones.' This is certainly not due to being lazy, irresponsible, selfish, or uncaring, though those are often the perceptions people have of those who don't want to tie themselves to others. Rather, it is because I have found that roles are giant bundles of un-negotiated expectations (which are unethical) and that changing for any external reason or doing something because I agreed to do it even though I don't want to is usually both ineffective and damaging. Conversely, I am simply not nourished by changeless connections: I need change and growth in my connections and I need that change to be internally motivated for each person.

I am defining 'want' not as in transitory desire, but as in overall goals. So, while partially I may not 'want' to be open with you because it is uncomfortable, in my larger goals I have a VERY strong desire to maintain openness and this is larger than my transitory desire to be comfortable: it makes it so that I actually desire the momentary discomfort in pursuit of my overall desire. If I did not have that very strong overall desire, then being open just because I had agreed to would be a terrible idea. I would resent the person and the relationship for making me uncomfortable when I didn't want to be. Each time I did it when I didn't want to, that resentment would increase until it became unbearable and I broke up with the person, feeling great animosity towards them for 'stealing' so much of my effort (which they have not actually done! but having given what I didn't want to give, I feel stolen from nonetheless).

I am convinced this process happens with the vast majority of humans, and the only way I know to have a healthy relationship is for each person to do only what they genuinely want to do and would do regardless of the person or the connection. So, the only things I do for my romantic relationships are things I have the goal to do in any connection. For my lifesharers and core tribe, I make these things a higher priority, but they are intentions I have with any person I am connected to. Whether the relationship is romantic or not, sexual or not, makes no difference. (my friendships are just as important as other relationships)

the intentions I have for myself in all connections, and what I desire from others )

*It is completely possible to be monogamous and negotiate your expectations of course. Or to have role-based polyamory where expectations are negotiated. It's just easier (though not less painful) to not negotiate them, so most people don't.

The post that introduced me to relationship anarchy: Relationship Anarchy Basics

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belenen: (honesty)
dear friend: please reconsider your use of that slur
icon: "honesty (me, outdoors, gazing straight at the camera with a solemn expression)"

If I gave you this link, please understand that it was motivated by affection and/or respect. I have this conversation over and over, and it takes a lot out of me, so I needed to create a less energy-intense way to communicate about it. If I didn't respect you and/or feel affection for you, I would not risk giving you this link. If I have already talked with you about it*, this is my low-energy way of reminding you (with bonus of allowing bystanders to also learn).

I give this link in response to people using slurs. You probably didn't realize that what you were saying was a slur, or maybe you didn't realize the harm. The most common mistakes I come across are use of the words stupid, lame, crazy, or insane. Usually I put asterisks in these to make it clear that I consider them slurs, but sometimes people can't tell what word I am referring to, so I'm writing them out here for clarity.

TW slurs--------

a full list of the slurs which I may be referring to:
stupid, idiot, dumb (if you mean the physical quality, the term is 'mute' or 'nonverbal'), derp, ermahgerd, duh, crazy, insane, psychotic, wacko, mental, psycho, cray-cray, bitch, douche, pussy, cunt, lame, ghetto, blind or deaf (when used to mean "not paying attention"), gay, retard/ed, nigger, jew or gyp (as in to swindle/cheat), tranny, shemale, cripple, slut, whore, fag/got

------------end TW

Here I explain what is harmful about using these words.

Here I explain why it is still a problem to use slurs even when you are not aiming them at a person.

Here I explain how you are not missing out by avoiding these words: you are becoming a better communicator.

If you read all of this and you still want to feel free to use slurs, please let me know. That is a dealbreaker for me with friendship. I can totally understand it being difficult and I won't hold it against you at all if you make mistakes, but if you have no intention of removing slurs from your communication, you are not a safe person for me and I do not want to invest in you.

*I find it almost impossible to remind people in more direct ways because I empathize so hard with trying and making mistakes and how embarrassing that is. If I give you this link and you have already decided to try not to use slurs, please feel no need to apologize or engage about it, just take it as a reminder. I promise I don't need an apology; I understand that it is a process.

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belenen: (voltaic)
rant: I hate the idea of 'honeymoon phase' or NRE / start with reality rather than fantasy / IFE
icon: "voltaic (me, face at a sharp angle staring out of one eye with a slight smile and streaks of rainbow light on my face)"

I LOATHE the idea of a 'honeymoon phase' or 'new relationship energy' (NRE). I hate it like I hate the idea of men being less emotional than women (which, in case you didn't know, is empirically untrue). It implies a lie. It is true that some relationships are only good for the first 1-2 years. What is false is the idea that this shift is naturally occurring or inevitable. It is NOT AT ALL 'natural' to stop being excited about your lover. It's a sign that one or both of you need to develop your intimacy skills and/or personhood (or it may be a symptom of general lack of nourishment, or lack of common ground). The only thing that you have at the beginning that you can't have forever is novelty. If you crave novelty, just call it novelty. Stop acting like it is a part of every relationship or that every relationship has a 'honeymoon' and 'post-honeymoon' stage.

Reality can't dull anything that is real. I realized today that probably some people begin relationships with a fantasy of perfection. Starting out with fantasies and trying to see how much of each others' fantasy you can fulfill is not remotely appealing to me. I prefer to start out with nothing but questions and figure out what potential currently exists based on who each person is now (not who they want to be, not who the other person imagines them to one day be). Starting out with the idea of 'perfect' and working backwards to 'possible' seems inherently disappointing to me. Of course you're going to lose excitement that way -- but it's a loss of your ability to pretend, not an actual loss of something real. This is why in my relationships, I want to figure out if I have compatible values, goals, skills, and needs with a person BEFORE I invest deeply in them. Otherwise I'm likely to end up putting pressure on them to be what I want and need, and vice versa, and we're both going to end up hungry and drained.

Going back to the idea of NRE -- I don't believe in it. What people call NRE is actually IFE -- intimate focus energy. The giddy, excited, highly-nourished 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). 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 (well, everyone who isn't evil). 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.

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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: (vivacious)
an 'about me' that is exceedingly dense and comprehensive.
icon: "vivacious (my face with bold cat-eye makeup, with my head tilted down and to the side, looking at the camera with a wide close-lipped smile, hugging myself)"

There is a steep learning curve for most people to be close with me because I am so different from the default in identity, values, and language.
photo of me

I have pale pink-toned skin, blue hazel eyes with light brown bushy eyebrows, and very dark brown hair with silver in it. My eyes are long and fairly narrow, my nose is medium-sized and upturned, my mouth is wide with full lips, and there is a gap between my two front teeth. I am wearing cat-eye liner that is very dramatic, with violet on my upper lids and shimmery white under my eyes down to the curve of my cheeks. I'm also wearing silver and violet jewels on one cheek and a goatee made of violet glitter. I don't wear foundation or lipstick, so you can see freckles on my cheeks and that my lips are a pale cherry red. I am making eye contact with the camera and grinning widely enough that you can see my upper teeth. I'm leaning against a scaly bright green plant so that it frames my face in the foreground and background.


my identity has many facets )

my values and qualities )

I am careful with language )

This on top of the fact that most people have to learn a whole new set of words/concepts to even start to understand me: queer, trans, agender, polyamorous, demisexual, fat & proud, nudist. To understand these things you have to break down the idea that gender is a continuum from male to female or that gender is any set of discrete categories, the idea that there are only two sexes, the idea that you can only be attracted to one gender, the idea that everyone has a gender, the idea that true love is exclusive, the idea that sexual attraction happens by appearance, the idea that fat is bad, the idea that nudity is sexual or scandalous -- for starters.

I'm invested in social justice and respond to injustice in every aspect of life )

I have non-average needs in communication )

I cherish art, I cherish creation )

I build my own spirituality )

I prioritize friendship )

I'm not an easy friend! but my friends have told me that I am trustworthy, compassionate, empathetic, generous, encouraging, insightful, creative, genuine, and growth-inspiring, so I think that I am worth the effort. Still, it's so much easier for someone to be comfortable with me if they are already careful with language and already self-educate on sex, gender, relationships, race, disability, etc.

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

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

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

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

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

(where I first talked about this)

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

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belenen: (powerful)
an analogy to explain why the privileged are responsible for ending oppression: racist babysitter
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)"

Imagine that a racist babysitter is watching after a white kid and a black kid. And she has two cookies that she's going to give to the kids. She likes the white kid better so she breaks one of the cookies in half and gives the white kid one and a half cookies while giving the black kid half a cookie. This isn't the white kids fault - they didn't ask for more cookie than the black kid, it just happened whether they wanted it or not. But if they don't give that extra half to the black kid then they are just as guilty as the racist babysitter of making the black kid's life worse.

It can be hard to give that extra piece back. After all it was just given to you, shouldn't you be able to keep what you were given? no, you shouldn't, because it wasn't just, it was wrong. Just because you didn't do the initial action of stealing the cookie, doesn't mean that it was okay for you to have one and a half cookies while the other kid gets only a half.

If that white kid doesn't want to benefit from racism, they have to not only give that extra half back, they have to tell their parents to fire the racist babysitter, and until they're fired, the kid has to keep giving it back every day and telling their parent every day. In this analogy, the white kid is white people of today, the black kid is the black people of today, the babysitter is the white people who started this shit, and the parents are the structure of institutional racism. If you as the white kid do nothing, you benefit from racism. This is why it is white people's responsibility to fix racism (which is way more complicated than the cookie situation).

It's white people's responsibility to undo racism.
It's men's responsibility to undo sexism.
It's cis people's responsibility to undo transphobia and cissexism.
It's non-disabled people's responsibility to undo ableism.
It's straight people's responsibility to undo homophobia and heterocentrism.
And so on.

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belenen: (distance)
lonely in any crowd / spirit-to-spirit contact / conflict is a tool of intimacy
icon: "distance (two hands (from a brown person and a white person) just barely apart, facing each other palm to palm)"

I feel like no one talks about the loneliness of rejecting oppression. It's like being a creature that looks like its surrounding creatures but isn't, while the surrounding creatures just don't have the ability to connect with you the way you need. How there's this missing piece in most interactions. Their words, their kindnesses, their touch, their thoughts, just don't reach.

I can never tell by looking. I can't tell by touching. I can't tell by smell or taste or sound. I have to investigate their mind, and it takes such work, and the longer I go the more it stings when suddenly I fall into a poisoned thornbush of defensive privilege and refusal to empathize or learn. It takes so very much risk for me to connect. There are so few people who are safe. There are some who are safer than others, because I know where the thornbushes are and there are few enough that I can avoid them. But it still takes work because conversation changes the landscape and I can't predict when a thornbush will show up. I can never relax.

I marvel and shake my head at people who don't have this experience. Getting to know people, for them, is just about shared hobbies and lack of deliberate attacks, plus good intentions. Those are so easy to find, comparatively. So EASY!

Most humans need skin-to-skin contact. If they lack it, they feel a thing called "skin hunger." I spent my minor years in such a state of skin hunger that I would feel rage when people touched me accidentally, because I blocked it out and the slightest touch would open it up, which HURT. I think there is a similar thing for spirit-to-spirit contact.

I need spirit-to-spirit contact. But I can't have it with most people because if I run into a thornbush in that state, it will shut me down. It's shocking and painful: a sudden dehumanization while being in the most vulnerable state. And so many people don't even know how to make that contact to begin with. So there's already almost no safe people. And then there's even fewer who know how to make this kind of contact; yet fewer who aren't in such a state of spirit hunger that they won't devour you accidentally.

Sometimes I find someone who I can tell could share this spirit-to-spirit contact with me, but they're surrounded by thornbushes. That's the worst, but it also crushes me when they're mostly free of thornbushes but the world sucks so much from them that they don't have the energy to connect. That happens almost every time, because people don't usually clear their thornbushes unless they have endured the trauma of oppression, and that trauma drains your energy.

(I feel like I just realized why mixed-status relationships are more common than I would expect- the effort it takes to call someone out (if they are empathetic and growth-focused) may be less than the effort it takes to support someone else through their oppression while daily dealing with your own. I've never been genuinely close to someone who didn't have at least two axis of oppression, but I can imagine it's a relief to rarely be called on to comfort your close ones' suffering.)

Every person with whom I have felt that 'click' that should allow for easier, deeper connection but did not because of  thornbushes or trauma or lack of energy or space or time -- every one of those people I feel a gap in my life. Even if I think they are full of awful hateful ideas, I can still feel what SHOULD be and I still crave it.

I'm so passionately dedicated to creating intimacy wherever I can because I feel the holes where it should be. I know that some people probably see me quite negatively for for my furious and often rude resistance of evil. But human intimacy cannot exist without conflict because humans vary and that causes conflict. And in a world full of oppression, there's a shitton of trauma connected to that variation, which makes conflict way more common and way more difficult.

I used to avoid conflict because I wanted to be seen as a loving person. I wanted to be seen as loving more than I wanted to change this hateful world to one where love could flourish. I have given up being seen as loving. People who understand intimacy will understand that I am loving and that is enough.

I need more connection. I need to not have to fight endlessly through barriers to feel connection. I need it to exist for me in more than just two or three people in my 32 years of life! This is part of the reason I work to do whatever I can to create justice. It is only in a more just world that I have any chance of having my needs met. I don't just crave a world that doesn't damage people. I crave a world where I can meet a person, feel a click with them, and explore that with joy, knowing that there will not be evil dysempathetic ideas lurking or so much trauma and energy-drain that I cannot connect with them.

I have not killed off my naive former self who literally wanted to be intimate with every human. I fight against those who attack intimacy with oppression and denial, so that maybe someday another spirit like mine will have more of a chance of doing what my child self wished. I fight for all those who suffer and I fight for that little part of me that can't help hoping. I won't ever stop. I will not avoid conflict. It is not only a necessary tool for creating intimacy, but perhaps the greatest one.

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belenen: (brewing)
4 elements needed for me to feel sexual attraction: consent, bodily respect, awareness, generosity
icon: "brewing (a photo of a ceramic mug with sticks of cinnamon poking out and steam rising up)"

As a demisexual, I need to feel some kind of emotional connection with the person for there to even be a chance of sexual attraction. Often this is a connection on the spirit, soul, or heart level, but sometimes it's purely a mental connection in that we have shared a lot of intimacy in our conversations. Once I have this, the following four elements together may create sexual desire (in order of importance, not chronology).

The number one thing that determines my sexual desire is consent, both ways. To desire someone I need them to tell me that they want sex with me. No, I don't mean say flirty things or act attracted, I mean actually flat-out say "I want to have sex with you" or say an unequivocal "yes" if I ask if they want to. I'm pretty sure I won't ever feel sexual desire for anyone who doesn't feel it for me. I might have in high school (before I ever had sex), but not since I became sexually active. I also need them to be fully invested in my consent, not just asking but also showing awareness of my reactions and adjusting accordingly.

Next in importance is bodily respect: them not having terrible ideas about bodies, sex, or gender. No assigning stereotyped personality traits to body parts including genitals. No assigning body types/parts as attractive or unattractive (this is gross no matter what shape you decide is best). No ideas about more or less legitimate kinds of bodies. No believing in rules for genders. Never imposing gender on me. Not interpreting my fat as a cause or effect of my personality. Basically, not being sexist, cissexist, or looksist.

Next is awareness; self-awareness, awareness of me, ability and desire to maintain this awareness and express it throughout. To feel sexual desire for someone I need to be able to sense them letting my touch reach them emotionally. (otherwise I will feel unappreciated and/or worried that they don't really want it) I need a balance of reactive and attentive. I do not want someone who always turns into pure reaction (sometimes I might want to provide that space but not often, as it's exhausting!), but I also don't want someone who isn't reactive. I want a person who can stay mentally, spiritually, and emotionally present while feeling intensely. Someone who will still notice if I seem 'done' even if they are in the throes of sexual ecstasy. Someone who can make eye contact with me or grip my hand during sex and I can feel the 'click' of that connection.

Last is generosity (desire to give). If you could be happy only receiving every time we have sex (while knowing that I love being touched) or if you never offer anything and only give when asked, I'm not interested. I know some people are scared of not being perfect and that's why they don't want to give, and I can empathize with that, but it is not a turn-on. People who have no desire to give sexually would not be people I'd be sexually compatible with. People also need to not be so full of need that they subconsciously pull at me. That one I can't really explain, it's just a thing I feel. I don't think I can feel desire for anyone who is looking for salvation outside themselves.

If these are all met, I can have satisfying sex with a person. But each of these four elements is fucking rare. Especially awareness. So many people check out when they have sex and go to a purely physical place or have sex as a mental escape. I just don't find that remotely appealing.

Usually for it to go from "I can feel sexual desire" to "I actually want this enough to deal with the hassle of the STD/trigger/expectations conversation and the potential concerns of my current partner(s), therefore I will flip my internal switch and become sexually attracted to them" I have to be in love with the person. I don't find sex more nourishing than cuddles or conversation, so it's not worth the bother unless I am in love and therefore want to experience all possible connecting activities and want to bring them joy in any way available to me.

In a world without oppression where people valued awareness and giving, there would be many opportunities for me to want sex with people. as it is I am unlikely to want new sex partners very often )

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belenen: (interconnectedness)
rant: friendships are important / my levels of relationship for everyone
icon: "interconnectedness (two bald purple-skinned people in the ocean: from Joan Slonczewski's "Door Into Ocean")"

No one expects that a romance will last if neither person ever bothers to set up a date. Yet somehow friendship is supposed to?? So many people are content with friendships which they would absolutely dump if it was a romance. I find this irrational double standard to be so frustrating. I think most people like to structure their relationships in binaries: family or not-family, romance or not-romance, my-everything or acquaintance. And then they put walls between these things and assign specific passwords to the doors. Family door only opens with blood, marriage or adoption. Romance door only opens with "I love you" and sex. My-everything only opens with romance or occasionally with "best friend." (I know these are not true of everyone; I'm talking about the average person) I think this is fucking gross and I don't want any damn walls involved in any of my relationship shifts. I want mine to be free to grow and shrink as is healthy for each. My relationships are on a spectrum and a person may move from one to the other from week to week. Whether relative, lover, or friend, these are your options. I will never give anyone a "better than the rest" pass. Having sex or romance with me gives you no automatic new level of connection, nor does being related to me.

Related: http://my minimum requirements for friendly acquaintances & actual friends / my ideal friend's qualities.

friendly acquaintances: Anyone I am connected with by choice in any way.
These people I put no special effort into, I just remain open to sharing with them and to what they might share with me. People only get kicked off of this for being willing to knowingly violate consent (of ANY kind, including consent to engage in a conversation); if someone says they want to stop doing something and you don't listen, consider yourself banned (but it does depend on whether the person whose boundaries they broke is upset about it).

friendly tribe-hopefuls: Everyone on my LJ friends list (including the defunct LJs), my aunt and one of my cousins, one of my siblings, people who come to crafty parties or cuddle communions or transparence parties or solstice gathers.
These people I make the effort to keep up with and when I am faced with a block to connection, I attempt to dismantle it if they will help me. Most of the time such a block is something like problematic language, but sometimes it's a hurt they may have caused me accidentally, or a worry I have that I have hurt them. My willingness to try is what makes them a tribe-hopeful, and often after I do, they become part of my extended tribe. If they are unwilling to adjust their behavior to avoid causing pain, they will never be more than friendly acquaintances.

extended tribe: Currently Kat, Elizabeth, Kels, J, Adi, Lisa, Angie, Rachel, Nicky, Gayle, Renee, Aubrey, Becky, Tina, Hannah, Abby, Nea, Arden, Lily, Ciara, Lana, Sydney. Saleena, Jezza, Hope, Serah, and AlisonB seem soon to be added to this group, as we have expressed mutual desire but not yet acted on it much. There are others I'd like to be here but they're either unavailable or I don't yet know if I could trust them to work shit out and be respectful in a conflict.
These are the people with whom I check in regularly (on whatever sharing they offer), work shit out, and mutually, deliberately build intimacy. People have to be willing & able & available to build with me, and willing & able to have compassionate conflict. LJ is such a beautiful platform for this -- without it, this list would be very short because sharing deeply with each person individually wouldn't be something I could do, simply thinking of time much less energy. I also can make conflict easier by posting about a general issue and working it out with several people in an indirect way that people react to better than me directly saying "this thing you did is a problem for me because ___." There are some in this group that I would like to be part of my core tribe, but I haven't made the overture for one reason or another. I feel like I have to be in a place where I know how much energy I can spare to add someone to my core tribe, because I don't want to offer something I can't follow through on. And long distance takes more energy than local.

core tribe (what I think of as the Rude Brood): Currently Anika, Jaime, and Allison.
These are people with whom I check in regularly, work shit out, mutually deliberately build intimacy, and make it a regular priority to spend time. For locals this means I try to hang out one-on-one once a month, for long-distance I try to have videochats at least twice a month. I include these people in events that are sacred to me, to the extent that they are willing. These are people that given the right situation (and their interest of course) would be lifesharers.

lifesharers: Currently Topaz, Kylei, and Heather (we call ourselves the Odd Squad).

These are people with whom I check in regularly, work shit out, mutually deliberately build intimacy, make it a regular priority to spend time, check in with about my major life decisions (if they would affect them), appreciate when they offer critique of my behavior, and turn to in my rare moments of need for comfort. Hannah was a lifesharer of mine and I would really like them to be again, but distance and time difference makes it hard. I have faith that it will happen one day. Anika is someone I would ideally be lifesharers with but they have too much focus elsewhere to build to that right now. The main shift between tribe and lifesharer is the amount of focus time: it takes a certain amount regularly to keep a person at the level of lifesharer, otherwise you're just not in sync enough and it doesn't work.


I would only co-parent with a lifesharer, but I would co-habitate with anyone who had similar living habits and goals, and I would be lovers with any person in my extended tribe, given mutual interest. You'll notice that only three of my relatives are mentioned on this list at all and they are tribe-hopefuls because they are unavailable and/or have not worked out conflict with me. My parents and other sibling are currently friendly acquaintances, though I would like them to be tribe if they could get their act together. ALSO there are people I love who I am not in contact with, so are not on this spectrum at all. So, regardless of the cause of the connection, anyone has a chance of being anywhere on the spectrum or not at all.

ETA Feb 17, 2016:
extended tribe: Currently Kat, Elizabeth, Kels, J, Adi, Lisa, Angie, Rachel, Nicky, Gayle, Becky, Tina, Abby, Nea, Arden, Lana, Sande, Jaime, Cass, Helena, Katy, Arizona, Ace.
core tribe: Currently Allison, Kylei, and Sydney.
lifesharers: Currently Topaz, Hannah, and Heather.

ETA Apr 20, 2016:
extended tribe: Currently Kat, Elizabeth, Kels, J, Adi, Lisa, Angie, Rachel, Nicky, Gayle, Becky, Tina, Abby, Nea, Arden, Lana, Helena, Katy, Arizona, Ace, Sande, Cass, Sydney.
core tribe: Currently Allison, Hannah, and Kylei.
lifesharers: Currently Topaz and Heather.
sounds: Halou - Blue Eye Smile Girl | Powered by
connecting: , , , ,

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belenen: (interconnectedness)
why I identify as demisexual / what makes sex worth the effort / sexual vs sensual touch / kissing
icon: "interconnectedness (two bald purple-skinned people in the ocean: from Joan Slonczewski's "Door Into Ocean")"

The main reason I consider myself demisexual is that the actual 'sex' part of sex doesn't interest me. It's the things that I get during sex other than physical stimulation that make sex valuable to me. Things that make sex worth it for me are...

1) energy play that is easier and more intense because my body is revved up (exercise or roughhousing play works for this too, or some drugs I'm sure).
2) the intimacy of having someone watch my body and listen to my sounds when I am totally uninhibited. (being very drunk and dancing would provide this too, but is more work and expense).
3) the emotional high that my allosexual partners get from sex which makes them more relaxed and affectionate, sometimes for days after.
4) learning about someone in a wordless way through their reactions and desires.
5) in-depth discussions of feelings. I don't get much out of sex despite the above unless we talk out the experience afterward. This has been a difficulty for me because frankly most people are really bad at talking about sex and not great at talking about their feelings either, but I've had the occasional lover who was naturally good at it and others deliberately built their skills.

I don't experience any particular touch as always sexual, not giving or receiving. Nor do I experience any touch as inherently non-sexual. For me, sex is about intention more than anything else. I can't stand for my non-sexually-meant touch to be taken as sexual by someone else. Even if I am in a sexual relationship with them and often enjoy sex with them, if I am not wanting and intending sex, I don't want my touch to be taken that way. Along the same lines, I can often miss "I wanna have sex" signals because I don't apply sexual thought to touch unless that is invited. Someone once literally put their face in between my breasts and I did not interpret this as an expression of sexual interest (later they told me that it was and I realized that most people would probably have taken it that way).

I sometimes enjoy giving/receiving touch that would usually be sexual as purely sensual instead. Touch with that level of intimacy minus the urgency of sex makes for the most tender touch I can imagine. But then, I am not sure this translates for other people because my body still responds in a sexual way eventually. It just feels completely different and makes me almost want to cry (not in a sad way, but like I'd cry at a particularly beautiful piece of music). I've experienced this with Topaz, Kylei, and (to a much lesser extent) my ex-spouse.

I do like the physical sensation of touching other people's genitals. If not for all the mental associations, I would probably like to touch them often in non-sexual ways. That is, not for sexual pleasure but because they feel nice, warm and soft and close. I could cup my hand around them and have it held in place by their thighs which would feel very intimate (whether they were clothed or not). If not for people being ticklish or otherwise uncomfortable with the idea, I'd probably enjoy putting my hands in people's armpits for the same reason.

kissing )

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belenen: photo of me with violet hair looking down, with a water-reflection overlay (ethereal)
energy work: 1st efforts, shielding / a funnel not a source / avoiding manipulation
icon: "ethereal (a photo of me looking at the camera from behind a lacy green plant, while wearing makeup that includes a glitter goatee)"

What do I think is happening when I do energy work? I think that people's electric fields get dirty and hungry just like bodies, but since people don't often think about them or practice tuning in, they get neglected a lot. I think that what I am doing is using my energy field to interact with theirs in a way that clears it and pulls in nourishment for them. I think that it's really pretty simple and small, but just like a snack can totally change your outlook if you really need it, or pulling a splinter out can provide huge relief, it can feel really intense. I don't think that anyone needs energy work from another person (except maybe in rare circumstances) because your subconscious is pretty good about pushing you toward things that your energetic self needs. It's just a help.


Before I ever deliberately practiced interacting with energy, I prayed and practiced "laying on of hands" which is christian-speak for energy work. I remember the first time was when I was maybe 6 or 7, and the pastor had me stand on the stage at the front of the church and put my hands on the head of a middle-aged man who stood below. I asked what I was supposed to be doing and the pastor said "just pray for God to help him." I was devout from the age of four so this was not uncomfortable or difficult for me. I prayed, and after a little while the man fell over. I was used to people being 'slain in the spirit' but I felt very surprised that my prayer could have such an effect.

----------TW/content warning for this paragraph: pregnancy/baby scare (everything turns out okay)-------------
Later when I was about 9 or 10, I was babysitting (as a "mother's helper") for a three year old when the pregnant mother started having pains. They were really worried while waiting for a ride to the hospital and I asked if I could put my hands on their belly and pray for them. They eagerly said yes, so I did, and it calmed them and helped them to feel better. Then they went to the hospital, and everything was okay after (no one told me any details). They later thanked me effusively. It might have just been that my faith was calming in a moment of panic, but their reaction made me feel like I did something profound.
---------END content warning--------

The next time I remember affecting someone was when I was maybe 21 and my mom's back was hurting, and I rubbed it. Afterward they asked me if I had used a hotpack or something because they were feeling so much heat out of my hands. A few years after that I was at a free energy healing and someone passed their hands in front of me and so much heat was radiating from their hands that I thought they were holding a candle up next to my face. I opened my eyes, prepared to stop them from waving open flame at me, but their hands were empty. I was still feeling just as much heat from them so I know it wasn't some kind of trick. Since then I felt sure that energy could be shifted in a physical way by thought alone.


I definitely have felt physical sensations in my hands when doing energy work, especially with migraines. They feel like really intense static most of the time, like a constant yet inaudible screeching. I feel like these are more workable than most physical ailments because they have possibly an electrical cause? I dunno, it might just be that I try to help with migraines more than other physical ailments because since nothing else will work, might as well try. I did have one experience with Abby where they started to have a migraine and were losing vision and I did energy work and stopped the migraine (either stopped it from getting worse or put it to the 'hangover' stage, I don't remember). They said that usually once they start to lose vision even their meds don't help, but this did. I was really glad to be able to do that. When Topaz has a migraine, I can sometimes help, but it varies. They described it thus: a migraine is usually like an exposed and splintered broken bone where someone is jabbing at the wound with a finger. I can't help with the broken bone, but I can stop the person from jabbing at it. Topaz says that usually they just feel relief while I am actively working but sometimes it lasts after. Sometimes when they have just a regular headache I can make it go away completely during, and feel somewhat better after.

The most pronounced physical sensation I ever experienced was when I was doing energy work unintentionally on someone with MS. They had asked me for a massage to help with their chronic pain and explained how to do it (in a way that I would now clearly envision as energy work): I was to do light sweeping rubs all over, in a direction from the outer limbs to the heart. I wish I could remember more specifically. Anyway, it was the second time I was doing it and my ears started ringing, I got intense vertigo and felt weak and I had to go lay down on the floor for like 15 minutes, while my head wouldn't stop spinning. I felt very bad about it but even though I tried to push through I just couldn't. I only recently learned (or remembered) that vertigo and physical weakness are symptoms of MS -- I think I was probably tapping in to their experience without realizing. All I knew was that it was kind of scary and I must have made some kind of mistake. This was before I had ever practiced shielding.

I used to have such a problem with picking up other people's energy that going out in public was hellishly draining. I went to a "woman's healing" group for survivors of sexual abuse and one of the things they taught us was how to not pick up other people's burdens. They emphasized that we couldn't help others by taking on their pain. Instead, they said that we should put up shields and if we wanted to help someone and that person wanted our help, act as a facilitator to let 'God' take their burden. I felt such a huge difference when I began to shield against the randomly broadcast emotions of others: I could go out in public without coming home feeling raw and wretched. Also, when I practiced being a funnel for Godde's love I could help others without making myself useless for days. Later (last year) I took a class on energy work and they said the same things in different words, affirming my experience.

I almost always do energy gifting/blessing as a funnel from the universe or from the person's own deity if they have one who wants to give to them at the time. When I do energy work on people, it's mostly me sensing where something has attached to their energy that is hurting/blocking them or sensing where they feel a lack, and then pulling out what doesn't belong or calling for what they need and sending it in. All of this is happening not with my eyes but with my hands - sort of. I use gestures because that helps me to focus my intention, but I don't often have a physical sensation in my hands unless the issue is something malignant or physical. I feel safe just feeling around and going by intuition because I don't think people can be damaged from energy work as long as the worker isn't trying to assert their own will.*

I consider it a very bad idea to try and give away my own energy. I consider doing that to be damaging myself and probably influencing the other person in ways I can't fathom. One of my early healing processes was pulling back the pieces of myself that had been given away or stolen by others, and it astonished me how much more control I had over my own thoughts and feelings without these constant influences from others. Considering this, I feel that it would be unethical of me to accept other people's energy if I feel that them giving it would damage them. So, if someone uses a method of energy work or prayer that involves them giving a piece of themselves, I am not okay with them doing energy work on my behalf.

Also, if someone wants something from me that I'm not wanting to give right now, I am not okay with them doing ANY kind of energy work or prayer on/about me, because I feel it's very likely that they'd end up subconsciously trying to manipulate me. I don't think it would work because I shield from that, but it would take energy from me to push that away. I got a birthday card from a relative once that seemed harmless enough, but just touching it made me feel terrible, and I think it's because they were trying to pray the gay away.

*I do my best to only do energy work that is NOT manipulative. What this means in practice is that I won't do energy work or prayer that involves choosing a particular path to a goal or anything that involves pushing someone toward a specific choice. For example, I consider it okay to do a spell for getting closer friends, but not okay to do a spell for a particular person to become a close friend. It's okay to do a spell for my work to be noticed, but not to do a spell for my boss to think that I am smart. I will do spells for anything that could happen by chance. I will not do spells that push on someone's will. I feel that a lot of magic is about chance, randomness, so I will always be vague enough that there are at LEAST three ways a 'yes' could happen.


Recently I asked who would want to be a name in a jar for me to occasionally send energy to, but I didn't explain. Here's how that would work:

I would sit in my sanctuary and pull a circle from the jar, read the name aloud a number of times while picturing the person, and then I would reflect on what I know about them and 'ask' what they need (or go check my list to see what they had said was okay to send to them). Whatever came to mind, I would envision coming their way. So, if I got the sense that they needed rest, I would picture them sighing in relief and relaxation and I would come up with a short phrase to repeat over and over while thinking about them, something like "all chances for rest are extra nourishing." (I would NOT say something like "plenty of sleep and plenty of down time" because that might be the opposite of what they need!) I'd then open up my crown and pull in energy from the universe which I would envision flowing into me, out of my hands, to them. I'd do this until I felt done.

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belenen: (strong)
on the 'rudeness' of canceling/lateness caused by chronic pain/fatigue/anxiety/depression and/or ADD
icon: "strong (a photo of me in warm light with my hair down around my face, staring intensely into the camera in a defiant mood)"

Note: if I say something problematic please mention it because I'm talking about some things I don't have personal experience with (chronic pain/fatigue/anxiety) so I may be off-base and have no idea.

Being late, cancelling plans, not being up for some activity; these things are called rude and that's fucking ableist. Why? because when people with chronic pain/fatigue/depression/anxiety/other disability can't make it on time or at all, that is not* because they don't care or aren't invested in you or don't respect you, it's because it would cause them damage to do it. When you value your own time so much that you would rather someone else be damaged than 'waste' your time, you are being incredibly selfish.

I get being an ignorant ableist poopsicle because I was one! )

So my basic, decent-human level of inclusion is to be prepared for something to interfere with plans, and not to take it personally. I communicate what I want (that you keep plans and let me know as far in advance as possible if you are cancelling), and believe you when you tell me you did your best. I ask for reassurance if I start to feel neglected or avoided or whatever, and I trust that when I do, you will tell me truthfully if you don't want to do the thing with me or if you didn't have the energy to do it. I will warn you if I need to keep to a particular schedule and if so, I will just continue without you, with no resentment. If I need someone to be there no matter what, I will tell you ahead of time and check in the day before to get a more accurate prediction of whether or not you will be up for it. If you are not up for it, I will find someone else to go with me or I'll postpone. I look at it like I would weather. It's just not something you can control and predicting it is notoriously unreliable. And I do this for nondisabled people as well because you can't have true consent if saying no at any point would result in punishment (pouting/passive-aggression is certainly punishment, btw).

For me, I forget things and run out of time despite trying my absolute hardest, and I need people to be understanding of that. My memory is so awful now that I often can't tie a person to a memory. So I will remember that someone I love deeply is allergic to that flower that starts with an H and is red, or that someone I love adores a particular band, but I often can't remember who. This is another thing that is often conflated with love, and I DEFINITELY used to do it. I used to express love by carefully memorizing things and mentioning them later when they were relevant. Now I worry people won't feel loved because I won't be able to remember the right things. I still try just as hard and care just as much, it just doesn't work. (I started keeping a list on my phone of things people especially love. Hopefully that will be helpful to my memory, since seeing things in print often helps me remember better than hearing them.) Unless it's in print or photo, I have ZERO control over what falls out of my sieve of a memory, and some of my most treasured experiences are gone. I may forget the best thing we ever did together if neither of us takes photos or writes it down (even then I'll forget until I read it or see the photos). That is unbearably tragic to me and I try not to reflect on it. Please, never assume that I love you less because I forgot something. It could literally be the best thing to ever happen in my life and I might still forget it. There are countless meaningful comments, emails, and messages that I have forgotten even though I appreciated them immensely. So many things I planned to do but forgot. And I put so many reminders on my calendar already, it's just not possible to do it for everything. And then, sometimes I fucking forget what I was doing when I pick up my phone and my intended reminder never gets made!!!

When I say run out of time, I mean that I planned enough time and then some, but then my brain wasn't up to the task, and it took an extra 10-30 minutes because I kept forgetting things and going back upstairs or back in the house, or I drove right past the exit, or I forgot that I was almost out of gas, or I got hyperfocused on something and lost the time (rare because I usually refuse to get deeply involved in anything before a plan, for this reason) or I forgot to eat and was feeling shaky and dizzy and unsafe to drive and had to sit down and eat a few bites to be able to go, or I forgot why I set my alarm for that time and snoozed it too much until I realized in a panic why it was going off! I have planned for an hour extra time and still been late (because I ended up hitting traffic or something). It is not lack of care or effort. If I say I care, I'm not fucking lying. And if I make a plan with you, it's because I love you enough to deal with the stress of trying to corral my brain and enough to accept the drain of energy it takes to go out (for so many reasons, not the least of which is my needs-repair car and the expense of gas) and/or give you my full focus. I am really fucking careful with how I plan my time.

*I mean, I'm sure there are some uncaring disabled people who like inconveniencing others and just don't value the time of others, but I've never met any. I haven't met many non-disabled people like that either. I think my pile of oddities scares off most of the people who are uncaring.

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belenen: (woven souls)
essential qualities to be a good cuddler: good at consent, emotionally present & aware, not in need

icon: "woven souls (a photo of me and Hannah laying nude on black fabric, holding hands and facing each other with legs intertwined at the knee. the photo is overlaid with a scarlet and violet color filter)"

The qualities that are most vital are being good at consent, being good at staying emotionally present, and not radiating need. Consent is vital because any touch needs to be consensual and a cuddler needs to know how to navigate that and give someone safety. Being emotionally present and aware is necessary because that is the building block for being able to give cuddles that are emotionally nourishing as well as physically pleasant. Not being full of need is necessary because even if you are otherwise perfect, if you have great need you may unintentionally drain people with your presence unless they know how to guard against that, or you are amazingly good at putting it in a box for a time. (for people who are full of need, guess what would be great for them? a professional cuddler!)

1) A cuddler needs to be good at consent: good at noticing non-verbal "no"s and asking clarifying, specific questions such as, "is there any part of your body that you would like me to avoid touching? Is there any particular kind of touch that you do not like?" and things like "would you like to be spooned? would you like me to stroke your arms? do you want me to play with your hair?"
2) A cuddler needs to not be touch-starved or affection-hungry. If they go into a session without their own tanks full, it is quite possible that their touch will drain the client rather than nourish them.
3) A cuddler needs to be good at boundaries. They need to be able to state their own comfort level and to be willing and able to say no and perhaps end the session if the client is not listening to those statements and honoring them.
4) A cuddler needs to have calm, settled energy about them, so that the cuddles they give will be relaxing and they won't transfer any stress to the client.
5) A cuddler needs to be comfortable with other people's emotions, able to listen, care, and hold space without getting swept along.
6) A (professional) cuddler needs to be good at separating sexual touch from affectionate touch, so that they can both offer touch with no sexual energy and they can read when a client is not being platonic and set boundaries accordingly.
7) A cuddler needs to be good at paying attention and good at reading people's reactions, so that they can tell how to adjust their touch according to what would be the most nourishing for the client.
8) A cuddler needs to be very comfortable with cuddling, so that they don't feel self-conscious and make their client feel awkward and uncomfortable about receiving their touch. They need to have a level of confidence and willingness to change something that is not working for the client.

Only the last one is really about physical aspects. The rest is all mental! Not all of it is stuff you can control -- obviously people don't have a lot of control over how much they need or how calm they are or even how emotionally present they are (some disabilities can break you out of being present no matter how hard you try). Some of this is skill, and some of it is just qualities that you might have or you might not, and some is a combination.

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belenen: (nuzzle)
emotional/artistic work is still work / types of cuddles: giving, receiving, sharing, passive
icon: "nuzzle (a photo of two snow leopards, one facing the camera and the other in profile, nuzzling the first so much that the first one is leaning over)"

I've been thinking about cuddling for a living since I found out that there is a service near where I live that is hiring. I posted on facebook asking people if they'd be interested or knew others who would be. Some said yes and some said "yes I want cuddles but I wouldn't pay for them" and I found myself getting really offended and upset about it. Even after working it out logically (I do understand that reaction and don't need it explained) it's still upsetting. It feels like people are saying my skills aren't valuable or worth me being able to live on, which really is something I get constantly about everything I do (except stats).

People do this about every skill that is emotional or artistic in nature. Sure, it is rewarding to make art or teach people emotional skills, etc. But it takes energy! no one has an endless supply of that. Further, energy spent on emotional/artistic work means less energy for making money. Money is a thing that can get me food and shelter. If you don't think my emotional/artistic work is real enough work to earn me food and shelter then no, I don't want to give it to you. And when I have put hundreds of hours into building my skills, no, it's not the same as some random person who has never worked on it. It is really unlikely that any random person can give the cuddles I do. Affection or connection doesn't cut it; this is a skill. I have worked on these skills consciously for many years on many people. Cuddle skills are not common and even the sweetest and most loving people often have very low cuddle skills.

I am really fucking good at cuddling. I imagine that most people who are uncomfortable with the idea of paying for cuddles have in their mind the idea that cuddles are automatically mutual. They aren't. There are four kinds of cuddles as I see it - giving, receiving, sharing, and passive.

  • Giving (one-way) - this is where you are actively giving touch, such as stroking someone's hair or rubbing their back, and they aren't actively touching you, nor is there any plan for them to.

  • Receiving (one-way) - this is where you are not actively touching the other person while they are giving you touch, and there is no plan for you to give them touch.

  • Sharing (mutual) - this is where you and another person are engaged in mutually active and emotionally-present touch, such as both stroking each other's backs while lying together, or mouth-kissing, or hugging, or holding hands. It is only sharing touch if you are both actively, presently, and deliberately giving: it is quite common for one person to give a hug and the other receive it - that may look like sharing but it isn't.

  • Passive (can be mutual or one-way) - this is where you are touching the other person, but in an absent-minded or inactive way. An example would be leaning against someone while you both watch a show, or hugging while neither of you are focused on it.

If you have never just received without giving, you can't imagine how rejuvenating it is*. Shared cuddles are energizing but just receiving is like three times that intense. And it takes at least three times as much energy to just give: it's a huge investment of energy to just give fully-present cuddles, which is why I don't often do it for long stretches of time. I often brush Topaz' hair for hours on end because that is a less-present kind of giving that doesn't take much of my energy yet energizes them a lot. It's kinda halfway between passive and giving, because I shift in and out of being fully present in what I am doing (we're usually watching a show during this).

With people who do not give in cuddles for whatever reason, I only give if I am in a place where I can handle that much drain, or if I feel confident enough in their honesty & ability of response to request something that will help refill me. Mostly people are willing to give back, they just don't know how, because this is a learned skill. Sometimes I will have only passive cuddles with a person because that is something I can usually do without drain.

I probably seem arrogant, and I'm afraid someone's gonna be like "actually your cuddles stink" but I think that's an illogical fear. Though I think maybe I suck at cuddling Heather partly because I have been lazy the last few times we've hung out and partly because I don't think I've ever made them sigh in contentment, and after braggin on myself I'm also looking at all my cuddles given and thinking about my flaws.

I came up with a list of essential qualities for being good at cuddling, but I'm going to post that friends-locked because I sent it to the two places I applied to and I want to keep it under wraps until I get responses. If you're reading and you don't have an LJ, message me and I'll email it to you.

*I am sure that not all of this is true for all people, especially those who are not nourished by touch (less common, but certainly existing). Please take this with a grain of salt - I phrased it boldly because I feel strongly, not because I really think it is true for all people.

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belenen: (passionate)
slurs are still very harmful when they are aimed at a situation/action/thing instead of a person
icon: "passionate (a red stylized gas mask: the Benjamin Gate symbol)"

What does it mean to use a slur?

a slur is a word with derogatory meaning which gets its negative connotation from the 'undesirability' of a group of people. It's a word used to mean 'bad' because it refers to a group of people who are labeled 'bad' by society. It doesn't matter if it is being used against a person or not; it is still a slur. Slurs still cause harm when they are used about situations or actions, because they're still reinforcing the idea that a certain group of people is less worthy. The logic train is mostly subconscious, but it works like this: someone says "this situation is gay" and the implication is "this situation is bad like gay people are bad." If you said a situation was shitty, that would have no meaning if people didn't assume that shit was something unpleasant and unwanted.

So, if someone calls a situation 'gay' or an action 'st*pid' or a thing 'cr*zy' when they find the situation/action/thing upsetting and undesirable, they're (unintentionally) implying that anyone who is put in those categories is also upsetting and undesirable just for existing. When someone uses the word 'b*tching' to mean 'complaining' they are reinforcing misogyny. When someone uses the word 'id*ocy' to mean 'selfish evil' they are reinforcing ableism. (I see that last one so often in people speaking against oppression, and it fucking burns) Etc.

So please, don't call your actions st*pid, or use other slurs to describe things, situations, or actions. Usually what you mean is "illogical" or "thoughtless" or "careless" or "clumsy" anyway -- be more creative! be more accurate! Just take slurs out of your vocabulary completely. There is no acceptable way to use a slur.*

I can't be friends with people who use slurs. When I say I can't deal with this, I don't mean I can't deal with people who call names. That's a problem too, but it is WAY less common. I mean, every time you use these words in ANY WAY AT ALL it stabs me in the soul and there is only so much of that that I can take.

This is also inversely true (calling people 'fit' when you mean you find them attractive is fatphobic and saying 'be a man' when you mean 'be brave' is misogynistic, etc) but that's a next-level analysis and at least it doesn't involve slurs. I don't like it but I can tolerate it. it's more like you gave me a hard finger-jab in the soul rather than stabbing.

*except for reclaiming: that is, society puts you in a group labeled with a slur, and you self-identify with that as a way of rejecting the stigma. For instance, I have reclaimed the word "fat" and use it as a self-label. I do not ever use it to mean something negative.

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belenen: (plant magic)
what nourishes me in friendship: self-care/growth/awareness, shared passion/enthusiasm, creating...
icon: "plant magic (photo I took of a tree blossom cluster, still in buds)"

A friend asked me what nourishes me in friendship, and after thinking on it, this is how friends can nourish me:

1. self-care/growth/awareness. This is far and away the most important, the thing that nourishes me most in spending time with someone (whether virtually or in-person). A person can be the best person in the world, but if they aren't good at self-care it will not nourish me to be around them. I think this is partly because I sense the care that they need and I have to practice a lot of self-discipline to be around them without trying to fill that hole (a vast improvement over my previous self, but still an intense and draining struggle for me), and that struggle gets exponentially harder the more I care about them. So the skill of self-care prevents me from feeling a constant drain (due to that internal struggle) in their presence.

But the other side of that, growth, is actively nourishing to me when it is shared with me. When someone has been, for instance, going to therapy regularly and learning new skills that they are applying in their relationships or their daily habits, I can feel that and it subconsciously nourishes me. (or if they have simply been taking a walk everyday because it helps them feel mentally clear and less anxious, or they've been reading more, etc) Further, if they describe it to me, it nourishes me more because I learn more about them as they learn about themselves, and I also learn about myself as they share. Sometimes this is because they share something that teaches me something new, sometimes it's just as simple as noting my reaction to a particular aspect of something and realizing something new about myself from that.

I often spark this on my own by asking questions that prompt self-reflection and growth, but that is usually a much much smaller nourishment because it requires energy to put in. If I ask a simple question and then the person makes explores it carefully and thoughtfully, that can be really nourishing, but that requires a certain mental habit of critical analysis and a level of practiced openness that most people don't have, so it is rare.

2. shared passion and enthusiasm. This is more complex than it seems at first glance, because it involves the other person not only understanding and caring about the same thing I care about, but expressing that emphatically and emotionally, 'hyper'ly even. And this could be anger, joy, excitement, shock, wonder, etc, any passionate emotion. Kylei has always nourished me in this way, because Kylei is very VERY good at being enthusiastic and loud about it. On the flip side, if I share something I feel passionate about with someone and they have a calm or flat reaction to it, I will feel drained by having shared with them and will wish I hadn't, because if I had instead written about it I would have had a better reaction just from myself re-reading it.

3. creating together. I find creating to be nourishing in itself, and when someone creates with me I feel extra nourished because I feel like they are investing in their self-care/growth as well as my self-care and growth. Conversely, if someone sets the intention with me to create, and then doesn't, I sometimes feel worse than I would have if I had just created alone.

4. spiritual working together. This can be incredibly nourishing but it requires number 1, 2, and 3 or it takes more energy than it gives.

5. asking me meaningful specific questions. This can be nourishing from anyone, but has far more impact if the question is one that I hadn't considered, and/or if it is about something that I am currently positively emotionally invested in. (being asked about things that I find stressful is draining, not nourishing, though someone who is really good at questioning can sometimes make an overall nourishing conversation out of it) Vague questions like "how are you?" are not at all nourishing because they take so much work for me to organize my thoughts and answer. (my ADD-PI means I hate vagueness in general, btw)

6. cuddles/focused touch. This can make me feel REALLY nourished BUT it is only good for me if the person is 1) good at self-care AND 2) is good at noting my reactions and adjusting for the comfort of both of us AND 3) is generous. I am very physically sensitive and it is easy to make me feel bad, and if I give a lot of cuddles without also getting them it rapidly gets more draining than nourishing. I like drinking and cuddling because I get numbed and then it is not distressing to the point of emotional suffering to have someone brush a sensitive place accidentally. Otherwise, I exclusively give (which I do really love when it doesn't happen too often) or do some specific and boundaried touch (like let them rub my feet or pet my hair).

7. gifts of effort. This can be things like driving to see me when you live far away, or doing a chore I hate doing. But if you don't ask if I want it and get a yes first (or ask if I have a blanket answer for that particular thing), it can be upsetting, because I want to be able to measure my gratitude against your effort. If it is going to take a lot out of you but only give me a little, then it is not worth it and if you do it I will just feel bad for your loss rather than feeling happy for my gain.

Things that have low to no nourishment value for me: activities which don't involve the previous things (so, going to the movies together would not nourish me unless we deconstructed it after or something), people expressing empathy/sympathy for my negative feelings (I want them to care, but I'm okay just trusting that they care unless I am in a desperate place and if I am there, I will specifically request support), being told nice things about myself, being listened to without feedback. These are all nice and certainly don't have a negative effect, but they are not things that have a large emotional impact on me.

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belenen: (overwhelmed)
overwhelmed / my friendship needs and dealbreakers
icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"

Sorry for my absence; things have been wild but they should be settling now for at least a few weeks.

One of the major aspects of life taking my thoughts and energy lately has been my friendship with Kei-Won-Tia. I won't go into details for fear of betraying confidence, but we had a major, two-week clash over what it meant to be open, and then they expressed a need that I cannot meet and still be a whole person, so we can't be friends right now, and not in the future unless they no longer need that thing I cannot do.

It made me realize that I have a need from all of my friends, which I am not sure if I have expressed recently or clearly. I need to be able to trust that you are not going to lie to me -- that you are not going to deliberately deceive me. That is a dealbreaker for me. My dealbreakers are:
1) deceitfulness/insincerity
2) disrespect
3) manipulative behavior
4) destructiveness of self and/or others and/or living things (see original post for details)
5) indifference/apathy

and mapped out with more specificity: my minimum requirements for friendly acquaintances and actual friends / my ideal friend's qualities.

Hopefully I'll write something of more substance soon.

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belenen: (distance)
the intersection of openness, intimacy, and privacy as it relates to me
icon: "distance (two hands (from two people) just barely apart, facing each other palm to palm)"

So a friend of mine told me something that had an intense emotional impact on me (and was then unavailable for conversation), and I talked with another friend about it to try to process it. Several days later, the first friend told me that they wanted it kept secret. So as not to lie by omission, I told them that I had already told a mutual friend of ours as it literally did not occur to me to think of this as a secret, or to think of the friend as the wrong person to talk about my feelings with. The first friend is upset with me now because they feel I broke their confidence. So that this doesn't happen again, let me issue the following PSA:

I do not understand social assumptions regarding privacy. I do not know what qualifies as 'private' to you if you have never told me. If you have never told me that something you are sharing is private, expecting me to know that is not okay. If you want me to keep a secret, tell me it's a secret. I cannot know what you want to hide. And if you want me to keep things secret, don't tell me you want to be open with everyone.

In most cases this should be irrelevant. Most events are not going to affect me in a way that mentioning you specifically is important. For instance, if you describe a fight with your partner and that sparks memories and feelings in me, the specifics of your situation are not relevant and I wouldn't feel a desire to share them. However, if something happens between us or if something happens that could change or end our connection, then mentioning you specifically is relevant because our connection is unique and my feelings about it are going to change based on who you are and the history of our connection. If Kylei was moving away, that wouldn't feel at all the same as if Heather was moving away. If they didn't tell me "keep this a secret" then it wouldn't even occur to me to keep it to myself because I'd be thinking about it a lot and I'd want to discuss it and/or write about it.

If you ever ask me to keep something in confidence, I would do it as a matter of course. In any case whether you tell me it's private or not, I am not going to tell an abuser, authority figure, or dangerous person something that makes you vulnerable to them. That would not be me sharing my feelings with someone I love and trust, that would be me exposing you to danger for no reason. Of course I would not do that!! but if you have never told me that a person is dangerous to you, and I love and trust them, then I may unknowingly do that. This is why I must be told who not to talk to about something you want kept secret. In the rare case where I want to share something that involves you, I am willing to suffer a loss by not sharing if it will keep you from feeling hurt.

If you want me to default to not talking about you at all, tell me and I'll do that. That will seriously impact my desire to be close to you, because I loathe making secrets out of things that have personal meaning to me (like my close people). I would never have a secret lover, for instance, because that would feel torturous to me, and would disrupt my intimacy with everyone else I cared about. I don't want to be told lots of secrets, because the sheer amount will cause me extreme distress considering that my memory might make me fail at that point. But conversely, if you're gonna keep secrets from me about things that would impact our relationship, I can't trust you. So, secretive people do not work for me as close friends. I can be casual friends with secretive people and even love them, but I cannot be close to them.

For me, there are literally hundreds of people I am okay with knowing the details of my life. I warn my lovers that if they want to be a large force in my life they need to be okay with me writing about them (about their actions and their words to me) in my LJ. The exception I will make is that I will lock it if it is something they don't want shared publicly, and/or use a pseudonym. This is something I try to mention fairly early on, as it's extremely important to me. I spent my first relationship not talking about that person with anyone and it hindered my growth and nourishment extremely.

I have one friend who values privacy very much. They have made this clear to me. I ask them which people I can talk about them with and what I can talk about, unless I'm being very vague (vague being something like "a friend of mine was talking about media consumption"). This is possible mostly because we have a very specific methodology of sharing with each other. I could not be happy with that situation if we were in a more intimate relationship, because people who affect my daily life are part of my story. I would need at least to be able to talk about them (without checking) with a few people they had vetted. If I love you and invest continually in you, what happens in your life is a part of my life. I need to be free to be open about my life with the people I trust at the very least.

I value having a circle of people (most of those in intimacy practice) who all know each others' business, who all call each other out and point out when someone is getting off track. This is why I put myself in uncomfortable situations for intimacy practice and have conflict resolution that is witnessed. if I fuck up, I want everyone to know about it, so that if there is something I could learn, I have the greatest chance that someone will teach me. I would rather be embarrassed than ignorantly problematic.

In short, here are your privacy choices with me:
-anything is fine to share unless otherwise specified.
-anything is fine to share with identifying information removed. (this doesn't work if people know you well enough to guess)
-nothing specific is okay to share unless specific permission has been granted for what to share and with whom.

or come up with your own preference and ask me and I'll let you know if I can do it, and then you can make an informed decision.

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belenen: (queer)
why I use 'they' as my standard pronoun / I now require gender-neutral pronouns in reference to me
icon: "queer (the logo for Transcending Boundaries Conference overlaid with the words "genderfree, queer, + trans / never a 1 or 0")"

For many years I used ze/zir for everyone, and fairly recently I changed to they/them (still working on it, I have all of the slip-ups). I made the switch for several reasons. One is that even though ze/zir does not refer to a gender and is thus a term for any person, it is taken as meaning "something other than he or she" and I have to acknowledge the common perception even though it's inaccurate. So I use they/them because that is actually taken as gender-neutral. There is also the fact that I am not the clearest enunciator, and people sometimes hear my "zir" as her and my "ze" as he. That doesn't work either! And lastly and most importantly, they/them is inclusive of people who are bigender or multigender and plurals (people who are multiple systems, multiple people living in the same body. FAQ). And because of the misconception about ze/zir, using that set for all people can be hurtful to binary trans people because it may be perceived as stripping gender, but "they" is less likely to be perceived as an invalidation of identity. So, overall I switched to 'they' to communicate more accurately and to be more inclusive.

Also, I realized recently that as a person who only feels mild discomfort at people using gendered pronouns about me, I am relatively privileged, and I need to mobilize this privilege for the sake of those who feel deeply wounded by gendered pronouns. So I have decided to require people to refer to me in gender-neutral terms, because that will make it easier for others to require it when they need it. I am not entirely sure how to go about this, because I haven't done it before, but it's my intention. Please poke me if you notice me failing to do it; that will help me to remember and/or have the courage to do it. And if you do not care what pronouns people use in reference to you, I urge you to also require gender-neutral from those who refer to you. You won't be hurt if people tell you no, so your risk is much smaller and you can make the world a safer place, in a small way. You never know who around you is wincing inside every time someone says "he" or "she."

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belenen: (contemptuous)
Why I am rude to pripoi defaults on purpose
icon: "contemptuous (my face making the most horrified contemptuous frown, as though I just watched someone eat fresh shit)"

I have little understanding of 'common' etiquette because I have always lived in unusual subcultures. So if you think I am being rude to you, it is extremely likely that it is an accident. UNLESS you're a privileged person talking about oppression - then I am most likely being rude on purpose.

People seem to think that my recent development of rudeness toward defaults is a product of emotion or perhaps burnout. It isn't. I'm very skilled at remaining calm in conflict, and very skilled at phrasing things delicately when I feel the need. And I'm good at disengaging from unproductive conversations without emotional difficulty. It is much easier to just not engage at all with defaults. It's emotionally easier to obey their rules of conduct and thus deny them their favorite argument, "if you had been nice I might have let your thoughts matter."

My choice to be rude is deliberate. I know that a person truly wanting to be kind and decent will learn no matter the tone, so I say things partly for the silent observers.

But mostly, I do this because defaults (white cis etc men) never get called on their bullshit. They think they're right and they think people like them because no one ever tells them otherwise. I can do this safely because of my relative privilege, and so I will. If more people demanded evidence for their baseless claims and mocked them for their lack of skills at empathy and critical analysis, they might eventually start realizing that something is wrong with them. I can promise you that arguing politely is never going to change their mind. Scorn, dislike, and dismissal might, since it's a new experience. So, when I tell a white man that their opinions on things they haven't experienced are useless, ridiculous, and unwanted, I feel quite strongly that I am making the world a better place.

I know a few decent defaults, maybe 6 total. I know it is possible for me to be rude and for them to know that I value them and consider them worthy people. All it takes to be decent is to accept other people's experiences as reality, understand that you cannot understand oppression you don't experience without being taught, humbly seek to learn without being defensive, and apply what you learn.

(Pripoi means privilege-poisoned.)

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belenen: (passionate)
rules of engagement for my fb and lj: you are a guest not a resident.
icon: "passionate (the Benjamin Gate's symbol: a stylized gas mask inside a ring, both metal-looking, and all colored bright scarlet)"

My journal and my facebook wall are galleries of my thoughts. As the artist and curator I am NOT obligated to come talk to every viewer nor to listen to every response, and I'm certainly not obligated to allow others to put things up. You do not have a right to post your thoughts on my wall or your comments on my posts, because this is my space. Out of a desire to engage, I give initial permission which can and will be revoked if you don't respect my boundaries. If I say "don't comment about XYZ on this thread" or "stop bothering me about this," or "I am not interested in debating this" respect that and stop. I am willing to give you a warning, so 99.99% of the time I'm not going to get angry unless I said stop in that thread and you didn't do it. I think I have deleted a comment ONCE. I only do that when I specifically tell people to stop and they keep on. I like for people to share their thoughts and I like for future readers to have all the context.

If I don't want to 'debate', I still get to post on the internet. I don't have to pay for my expressions by publishing yours.

Defaults and near-defaults, there are spaces that are not for you. Live with it. Do what respectful people do when told not to invade someone's space with unwanted words: express them elsewhere. People who are used to getting their way and having their words treated with deference tend to think that is how it should always be. And privileged folk also seem to think that they should be able to use other people's space. I have never had a person who was not near the privilege pinnacle complain about me not letting them use my space for their expression.

For me, no matter what a person said, I would obey the rules they set for their page. I see it as a consent issue. My sites are my virtual being, my cyber body, and if you can't obey my rules for it, you're not fucking welcome.

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belenen: (incitement)
my minimum requirements for friendly acquaintances and actual friends / my ideal friend's qualities
minimum requirements for a friendly acquaintance:

Someone who is curious about me and/or who I am curious about, who does not attack people. I'm very permissive with acquaintances as I like to maintain a web of people I know, and I like to have the chance to find out if someone can be a decent friend. I will be acquaintances with people who are super problematic, who I would never trust, who I wouldn't want to spend much time with, and who I would not recommend others to befriend. There is always the chance that they grow into a person who can be a decent friend.

minimum requirements for an actual friend:

--- hurts you purposely or knowingly (only by accident and with growth after)
--- uses your vulnerabilities against you, even if they are furious or deeply wounded
--- defends oppression
--- talks about you behind your back
--- mocks you or calls you names or belittles you
--- shuts you up or treats you dismissively
--- tries to manipulate or otherwise violate consent
--- puts their convenience as more important than your need
--- tries to deliberately deceive* you for their gain in ANY way
--- assumes rights to things that belong to others
--- considers themself more important/evolved/inspired than others
--- flakes on an agreement without explanation or apology (both are not needed but at least one is)
--- chooses to benefit from their friend's loss (such as keeping the change if you buy something with their money)
--- uses 'rape' as slang after having been explained that it is harmful

--- treats you with respect
--- does their best to never use slurs
--- tries to tell the truth*
--- will discuss it with you if you upset them; does their best to listen and forgive mistakes
--- tries to give you help IFF they have the resources and you ask them for help
--- is fully respectful of any belief that does not cause harm to others, and is able to accept anything as true for someone else

*these two are both necessary because sometimes people fail to tell the truth even though they don't mean to.

these things are connected to my draws and dealbreakers: my reasons to fight for a relationship and my reasons to end one.

My ideal friend:
--- is all the decent friend stuff
--- never ever uses slurs, and if ever there is a slip up, feels remorse personally and not just because they hurt me
--- is working on shunning/dismantling ranking systems like sexism, racism, heterosexism, lookism, elitism, etc.
--- has carefully explored themselves with regards to sexuality, gender, and sex, to figure out what is right for them (this includes people who happen to be cisgender, cissexual, and/or hetero, as long as they sincerely questioned those defaults)
--- looks for opportunities to grow and mature, especially with regards to increasing compassion and unlearning prejudice.
--- expresses feelings with depth and clarity; tries to figure out the most complete answer to give to a question, not the minimum acceptable answer
--- is respectful of all life and refrains from causing unnecessary destruction, at the expense of convenience (for instance, carefully walking around a line of ants)
--- really understands themselves and has good strategies for dealing with their difficulties. For instance, I would prefer a friend who knows they will run out of energy if they come to my house and chooses not to, instead of a friend who pushes themselves beyond their limits and does the thing I seem to want
--- doesn't consider anything to be above suspicion (not church nor science nor celebrity nor spouse etc) and doesn't sacrifice truth on the altar of their idol
--- is willing to end (or hiatus) relationships that are damaging them (this is because I find it stressful/hurtful/triggering to be once-removed from damage, and after a certain point I can't take it and will end/hiatus my relationship with them)
--- is willing & able to put time & effort into the relationship (sometimes I can't be close with people because they are too busy or something, and this is okay but it is not ideal)
--- doesn't get angry or upset when I can't measure up in some way, especially when I can't be there for them or do the wrong thing when trying to be there
--- appreciates my efforts even when I fail
--- negotiates expectations clearly and on a continual basis
--- is good at accepting when they are wrong or mistaken, and in incorporating new information into their world view
--- treats animals and small children with the same respect as adult humans
--- actively creates a more nourished and nourishing self and world
--- is curious about everything
--- is creative in some way or another (including work as an art form)
--- shares thoughts/feelings/motives voluntarily and truthfully, with a goal of being fully known
--- is cuddly and/or verbally effusive with affection
--- prefers to give away things that other people could get more use out of rather than keep it 'just in case'
--- is deeply curious about me in particular
--- feels a spiritual connection with (and love for) plants and microbes
--- values wonder in themselves and others: never is dismissive or blase when it would crush someone's wonder
--- is especially in awe of old and large trees, and loves and venerates them very much.
--- is able to laugh at annoyances at least half of the time
--- forgives easily when given true remorse and effort to change (NOT THE SAME as trusting easily)
--- loves music and isn't snobby about it: doesn't consider any music to be 'bad' or worthless
--- prefers consuming media with critical analysis and consideration of meaning
--- loves art and values my art
--- doesn't ask me to hide parts of myself
--- values eye contact with me
--- dresses in bright colors (color has a huge effect on my happiness)
--- works on their attractions so that they are not reflections of social stigma
--- responds to me expressing that they have hurt me by empathizing THEN explaining and then problem-solving
--- thinks I contribute good to the world and would have a worthwhile life even if I never made enough money to live on
--- is willing and desirous to read, watch, and listen to media that is deeply important to me (it's okay if not able)
--- feels energy and likes to exchange/work with it on purpose
--- is willing to risk my upset for the sake of openness and honesty
--- challenges me to grow, by asking me questions and respectfully suggesting ways I can improve
--- lives close to me - within a 15 minute drive (this is ideal but has almost never been the case for me)
--- likes giving foot rubs ;-)

^ This is not a list of requirements! it takes only a few of these to make me want to be close to someone, and I don't expect that anyone will have them all. The slurs one is the most important. It actively hurts me for people to do that, so there is only so much I can take before I have to avoid the person.

Also, all of this is true of me except for the last two ;-) I don't mind giving food rubs, but I don't actively like it either.

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belenen: (pain)
TW: suicide, MH ableism - long conversation about suicide w Matt
In response to this post which I linked on facebook.

Allison Preach.
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Maureen And don't say it's "a permanent solution to a temporary problem." Some people's severe depression has lasted decades.
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Matt Wow, I've never disagreed with you so strongly on any issue before. It's also completely against public health standards for how to talk about suicide.
Belenen This is not at all the same thing. I'm not implying suicide is good, I'm saying that scolding people is bad.
Matt I read your LiveJournal post. There is never a point at which I would tell someone that if that's their decision, I'm just going to be okay with it and say goodbye. I don't believe that's right at all.
Belenen Well, that's you. If I was suicidal, such an act of kindness and respect would be far better for me than anything else. If someone decided to tell me not to do it or pep-talk me out of it that would make me want to do it WAY more because they'd be proving that the world is a selfish place that does not care about my feelings.
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Matt I don't think it's in any way selfish to try to stop someone from ending their life.
Matt And I don't see letting it happen as an act of kindness and respect at all.
Belenen So, don't tell me not to do it unless you want to push me closer. And I'm pretty sure that is true for a lot of people. Empathy is ALWAYS a better choice than scolding, bossing, and using platitudes.
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Matt I wouldn't scold or boss you or use platitudes. But I'd use all the tools I know of that might actually WORK to get you to stop. I don't believe it's ever okay to just let it happen.
Belenen I believe people have the right to their own bodies and deciding their own destiny. I will respect other people's choices even unto death, and I want that for me as well.
Matt I think that suicide is rarely, if ever, a "decision" that one makes if their full mental faculties are available to them at the time. I basically see it as a consent issue. Can you really consent to end your own life? I have very serious doubts about that.
Belenen I don't think people lose the rights to handle their own bodies because they might have impaired judgement. Yes, I absolutely can consent to end my life, because my consent is all that Matters! It's MY body, I decide whether or not I will continue to inhabit it.
H. D. I view suicidal ideation as a kind of stockholm syndrome of your own brain. It's one of the very very few instances (maybe only) in which I do think that helping someone could very well be doing the things they don't want. I would always do it compassionately, but I can't let someone I love hurt themselves because their brain is tricking them into hating themselves and their existence. I hope you know I don't take that attitude lightly, because I really highly value respecting people's autonomy.
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Matt When I was 19 years old, I had a good friend try to commit suicide while she was on the phone long distance with me. She was in Colorado and I was in Vermont. It was about 2 am and I had to call her mother, who had never spoken to me (or probably even heard of me) before, to wake her up and get her out of bed to take my friend to the hospital to get her stomach pumped to get rid of whatever she tried to OD on. I will never regret that decision, especially since we're still friends seventeen years later, she's now happily married, and has three awesome children.
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Belenen The point I am making is that you are not "letting" them do anything because it is not your choice.
Belenen Getting help for someone in crisis, if you have asked if it is okay to do so, is fine by me. Doing it against their will is a violation. It may be a violation you are okay with because you view the alternative as worse, but that doesn't make it right.
Matt I wouldn't use the term "Stockholm Syndrome" like Heather did, but I basically don't think that people who are pondering suicide are in full control of their own decision making abilities anymore. Mental illness is a disease. Would you let someone with paranoid schizophrenia injure themselves because they think the government implanted them with a tracking device, for example? I hope not, and I doubt you would. This is essentially the same thing. You're not in control of yourself if you're seriously contemplating suicide. You aren't making that decision with full access to your own brain. Therefore you can't give informed consent.
Matt If someone chooses to let me know they're thinking of suicide, they're giving me the option of getting them help, whether they claim to want it or not. I definitely do not see it as a violation, and even if it WAS one, it's a good one, because this is not a case of asserting your will, it's a case of a disease altering your will without your consent.
Belenen No. NO. People can sometimes impulsively commit suicide, but they can also do it with complete awareness. I CAN give informed consent to do any damn thing I want to my body because it is MINE and it never becomes someone elses. YES people CAN use their self-aware will to commit suicide.
Matt If someone is having suicidal thoughts and they let me know about it, they've given up some degree of control of the situation already. Once they do that, I'm going to make every effort to get them help, whether they think they want it or not.
Belenen That makes me feel incredibly unsafe around you. At any point if I seem suicidal to you you can just take actions I don't want? Not okay!
Matt I'm not setting up a dichotomy between impulsive or planned here because that's a false dichotomy. Most suicides are planned. It's rare for them to be a spur of the moment decision. I wonder how much actual knowledge you have of this issue. Whether or not you're committing suicide with "awareness," you're still not doing it with your full mental faculties intact, because depression or any mental illness alters your perception of life. It actually changes your brain in ways that can be viewed and studied.
Matt Of course I can. And I will, if I'm aware of it. As would pretty much anyone and everyone you know. Whether you think it's okay or not, people with clinical experience on this issue would vehemently disagree with you. It is never okay to just accept it when someone says they want to commit suicide.
Matt The ONE exception I can see in all this is when someone is terminally ill anyway and wants to end their life by physician assisted suicide. But that's a whole different kettle of worms that I'm not really prepared to go into right now.
Belenen my knowledge is firsthand. And I do not fucking care what the brain looks like. An altered perception does not give someone else the right to make decisions for my body, ever, and I don't give a flaming shit if people with 'clinical experience' would disagree.
Matt Should I have let my friend kill herself at 19 years old just because she wanted to and she made the decision to do it? I certainly will never be convinced that's the case.
Matt James, I would never let a mental illness influence you to take your own life if I became aware you wanted to do so. And that's because I care about you. I make no apology for that. I do not believe you can give informed consent to end your own life if you are depressed because the depression is actually stealing your ability to make healthy, informed decisions for yourself if it comes to that point.
Belenen Not your body, not your choice. This is so horrifying to me. I can't deal with you saying you would violate my consent because you thought you knew better than me how I should handle my life. I don't want you to know about my life anymore. I feel like I have to police myself so that I don't sound suicidal to you. Please unfollow me.
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Matt That is my position and I'm sticking to it. I think you'll find many of your friends will agree with me, or at least I hope so. James, I really like you, so I'm going to disengage from this conversation, but I hope you'll think about what I said, and maybe actually look into some academic/clinical research on clinical depression, its affects on the brain, and the treatment of suicidal ideation, because everything you're saying goes against established knowledge and practice on the issue.

The last thing I'll say is that it makes ME feel unsafe that you would apparently not try to help me if I said I was suicidal and managed to convince you that I meant it. Because sharing that kind of information with someone is basically always a cry for help, whether a person realizes it at the time or not. And apparently, you would be unwilling or unable to help me unless I was able to express in the moment that I needed it, which I would not likely be able to do at that point if was suicidal.
Matt Oh, actually, one last thing, you've thus far refused to address whether or not I should have let my friend OD on prescription pills when she was on the phone with me when I was 19 years old. Please think about that.
Belenen I have not refused to address it. UGH. I said you cannot "LET" them because it is not your authority! And I said that you might consider it a necessary evil but that doesn't make it less evil. If my friend had taken a shitton of pills and was ODing, I would ask, and beg, to fetch help, but if they said no, I would not do it. If I was overcome with emotion, I might do it, but I would consider that a terrible violation and I would be extremely remorseful.

I have plenty of friends who have been suicidal who feel the same way I do, so stop trying to bring my friends into it -- they're not on your side. I've been there for people who were suicidal, and they didn't choose to do it despite my not telling them what to do or calling in authorities -- and if they HAD chosen to do that it would have been THEIR choice alone. I do not give a SHIT about "established practice" for crying out loud we're barely past locking people up for mental illness. Just because it maintains social values doesn't make it good practice.
Belenen I don't want to block you, because I would like to maintain incidental contact, but I do not feel safe with you watching what I have to say, so please unfollow me so that I don't feel the need to block you.
Topaz It is possible for someone to tell another person "I am going to kill myself" for reasons other than to roundabout ask for your help. Some people have severe, incurable mental illness, that CAN NOT be treated. It's more rare than treatable or manageable mental illness, sure, but it definitely exists. I don't want anyone I know to kill themselves, ever. But I'd rather my friends be honest with me if they planned on it, so I'd have a chance to say goodbye, maybe ask why, and get closure, and tell them I loved them. Maybe, if they trusted me to not stop them, and they told me, and I responded by saying I loved them.. maybe that love and respect would be enough for them to not want to die. Unfortunately, most people don't trust others to respect them, so they don't tell, and they kill themselves without telling anyone before.

I'm sorry that one of your friends tried to commit suicide when you were 19, and I'm happy for you that you feel you made the right decision. I don't know if your friend gave you consent or not to help her, but I can image that if your friend died, you would feel a lot of guilt. So for your situation, you made the right choice for you. I've had 5 people in my life commit suicide in the past 7 years. The most recent was last week. A dear friend hung themselves with no warning to friends or family. I wish he had the strength to ask for help, I miss him.

The one before that, I had a dear friend move out of the state and put a gun in his mouth within weeks. And you know what? I think this friend's suicide was the most caring, brave thing he could've done. You see, for his entire life, he fought the most horrific depression I've ever seen. At 15 he sought help, and he continued for 10 years. He tried every single therapy, medicine, counseling and method to try and get better, For 10 years, he fought. He attempted suicide more than 5 times in those 10 years. He tried overdosing on heroin, but a cop found him and called 911. He tried cutting himself, but his mom found him. He tried everything to die, and someone always stopped him. Each time, he'd try to get help, sincerely. After going through all the medicines, he eventually was left with shock therapy as his final medical option. He tried it, and it had adverse effects, sending him spiraling into such a mad, horrible depression that he was in pain constantly. It was like watching an animal flail in pain after getting run over. All of his friends watched as he flailed in immense pain for ten years. Most people can find a drug or medicine or therapy that AT LEAST minimizes or helps manage their pain. My friend couldn't. When he killed himself, we all felt a sadness for our loss, and a sigh of relief for his peace. He finally stopped suffering.

None of my friends who successfully died have told someone when they planned to commit suicide. Maybe if people weren't scared to talk about it, out of fear they would be forced against their will to "get help," then people would actually talk about it, weigh options, and make informed choices. I will talk, and hug, and help to the extent someone gives me permission, and I may even be bad and try to talk them into (logically) getting help. But I will never go against the will of someone I love. In my PTSD and depression, if anyone had ever FORCED me to get help, I'd be worse off and maybe dead. Since I was respected, I've healed some and am doing fine. Offering is one thing, forcing without consent is another.

Finally, I've had quite a few other friends who confided in me that they wanted to kill themselves. I told them that, because I was selfish, I didn't want to lose them, but I also told them that if that was ever their sure choice, to please let me know so I could give them one last hug. All have agreed, none have killed themselves. I also have taken friends to mental hospitals for them to get help for their depression or suicidal thoughts, with their consent, and only at their request.

So, my firsthand knowledge dealing with 5 suicides and at least a dozen people who have been or are suicidal, doesn't fit with what you say experts believe. Trust me, I've heard what experts have to say.

I'd love to help my friends get help, if they want it or are willing.
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Matt If they confide in me that they're feeling that way, and I choose not to act, that is letting it happen. I consider that unethical and probably immoral. I'm really not interested in whether someone "wants" help when they're mentally ill. I'm going to get it for them whether they "want" it or not because they're not capable of making those decisions for themselves at that point. You CANNOT CONSENT when you are under the influence of mental illness. It's simply not possible.

I would imagine plenty of your friends are on "my side," as if there is really any such thing. I'm on the "side" of good mental health practice. We're talking about disease here, not making decisions when you're fully in possession of your faculties. It's two different things. We might be "barely past locking people up for mental illness," but we ARE past it, and if we have to wait a minimum amount of time before doing the right thing because we used to do the wrong thing, a lot of people are going to get hurt needlessly. It's got nothing to do with maintaining "social values." It has to do with treating people so they can overcome illness, which can't happen if they end their lives.

I'm not "following" you. We friended each other on here. I'm not interested in unfriending you, because I'm hoping we can continue to talk about this after we've both been able to take some time out to consider what's been said. But if you insist on not talking with anymore, go ahead and unfriend me. I won't "follow" you or bother you if you unfriend me, so you don't need to block me. But I would respectfully ask you to hold off on doing that, because I value your opinions on the issues we both care about. We disagree on this one, but I think we can still engage thoughtfully and constructively on it, or at least I hope so.
Belenen I don't want to hear any more from you on this topic Matt, you're making me feel incredibly depressed and unsafe, please STOP
Belenen by follow I mean the facebook follow where it shows you what I post
Belenen if I unfriend you it doesn't make you unfollow me because all my stuff is public
Matt I know what you meant. We're Facebook friends. I didn't just click "follow" on your profile. I said my position on unfriending you above. If you're determined not to interact with me, though, you can go ahead and unfriend me. But I hope you won't do that.
Matt If you unfriend me, I would have to hit "follow" on your profile to continue seeing your posts, which I wouldn't do. I'm not interested in bothering you, James, but I'm not interested in taking the active role of unfriending you, either. You'll need to be the one to do that if you feel the need to do so. If you do unfriend me, and I do continue to see your posts, I'll go ahead and "unfollow," but I don't think it works like that. But again, I hope you'll hold off, because I do enjoy talking to you and I consider you a friend. I just don't think you have the greatest take on this particular issue.
Anna What I find selfish is trying to make someone choose life when they don't want to. What one may think is a cry for help isn't always. I despise debating so I will not go back and forth on this.
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Lily You know how you like to be treated, you know what makes you feel loved. It sounds like consent is a higher value to you than it might be to some people (not to say they don't value consent but perhaps it's higher on the list for you compared to values such as, say, staying alive). Which is cool, that's your values. It sounds like you want people to honour your agency to make decisions about your own life, and death, to the end. And to have people hear this and know this about you and dishonour that when you were in a suicidal space would not feel like a loving act.

We all seem to have different needs around this. It's so hard not knowing anyone else's. It would be nice if we could make up some kind of suicide will about what we consent to and what we do not in that event. For example, despite the fact that it is common procedure, I do not give prior consent to be hospitalized or to have other people notified about my state. I know that would not be helpful to me and I want others to know that. And yet, this is what people assume is the proper thing to do but they cannot know my life and how unhelpful that could be... However, I do give prior consent to use loving coersion (not hospitalization or notification) if I am in a place where it looks like I may hurt myself, because I know from having been there that, for me, this is actually what I need in the moment and I do *not* have agency over myself when I am considering acting on such things. I think we both know ourselves here.

So how do we deal with the vast majority of circumstances where we just don't know? And then getting it wrong? Like, ideally ask all our friends for prior consent about how to handle these situations? I don't have an easy answer... when I was with someone who was acutely suicidal and had taken pills I didn't decide anything, I just went straight to my heart and completely let my intuition guide me. I let whatever came out of me that needed to come out of me in that moment. And... what needed to come out, actually, wasn't coercive, and she ended up throwing up the pills...
Belenen If it is loving and respectful, it's not coercion. Talking people down is okay, as long as they consent to listen.

(Apparently Matt is not good at consent in general, because after I finally unfriended zir, ze followed me, and then stayed in the conversation 'liking' things. That is NOT what I asked for and not what ze said ze would do.)

Death is a basic human right. To live or not to live should ALWAYS be the choice of the person (unless they are taking up residence in someone else's body).

If you would feel okay calling some authority because I seemed suicidal, unfriend me, and leave me alone. I'm not okay with people taking control of my body and mind just because they think I'm 'disturbed.' Violating my consent is NOT the way to convince me that the world is worth living in. Thank Godde for Topaz in this conversation -- my hands were going cold and numb and I was shaking, and I read zir comment and it helped.

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belenen: (passionate)
non-consensual expectations in relationships are not okay - ASK FIRST. Friendships, family, romance!
Do not assume that "everyone knows" that this is the "right way" to show love. NO. Some people believe giving space is the kindest thing to do, but for other people that can feel like abandonment. Some people believe that talking it out immediately is the most loving act, whereas for people who need silence in order to figure out their feelings, that can shatter their thoughts and harm their ability to communicate. Some people believe that cleaning for someone else is a kind act of love, but for others that can feel like a violation of their space and an insult to the way they manage their things. It is NEVER APPROPRIATE TO ASSUME that a person knows the way you want to be loved, or that they can in fact do the thing that will make you feel loved. Or vice versa -- you cannot assume that you know the right way to love someone else. This includes everything everything everything (except abuse).

I'm gonna quote myself with some bits added:
We can't pre-negotiate all our expectations (because most of them are subconscious!), but we can recognize when we have an expectation that has not been agreed on and then negotiate it without resentment for past lack-of-meeting that expectation. That means when your feelings are hurt by them acting in a way other than what you expected, asking yourself, "did this person agree to act this way for me?" and if the answer is no, saying to your person, "this is a thing I want in relationships. Are you comfortable with me relying on you to do this thing, and expecting it?" if they say yes, fantastic! then you discuss what that looks like and how you can both make sure it happens, and what to do if it doesn't. If they say "no," you need to examine within yourself and decide if that is something you can be okay without in that relationship. If it is, adjust your feelings, and perhaps look for that need to be met elsewhere. If it is not, you need to end the relationship*. Plain and fucking simple. It is NOT appropriate to stay in the relationship and hope that they will change their mind or start doing that thing you want or become okay with aspects of you that they currently judge -- that is disrespectful and pressuring at best, and it blocks off both people from potential healthy positive relationships.

In short, if you want to expect something, ask if it is okay for you to expect it. Otherwise don't expect it! To expect something without checking if it is okay is not consensual and can even be coercive.

I have this problem too, and if I ever get upset at you specifically about something that you didn't consent for me to expect, just point it out to me and I will check myself. If I do it, that doesn't mean I think it is appropriate! it just means that this thought pattern has a hold on me as well.
sounds: Stateless - Curtain Call | Powered by
connecting: , , , ,

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belenen: (musical -- poetic)
All the music that matters to me: Azure Ray, Cocorosie, M.I.A., Noe Venable, PJ Harvey, Neulander...
Life-changing, soul-etched, cynosure, trulymadlydeeply loved, would definitely cry a shitton at their shows, love the artists as well as the music:
Azure Ray -- indie dream-pop/folk -- Athens, GA
Bat For Lashes* -- indie rock/folktronica -- London, England
Cocorosie* -- experimental electric/folk -- France, Iowa, Hawaii, etc.
Dream Art Science -- electronic/reggae/kemetic -- San Francisco, CA
Massive Attack* -- trip-hop -- Bristol, England
M.I.A. -- hip-hop/electronic -- Hounslow, Greater London, England
Michael Jackson -- pop -- Gary, IN
Neulander -- electronica -- New York and London
Noe Venable -- folk -- San Francisco, CA
PJ Harvey* -- folk rock -- Bridport, Dorset, England
The Cranberries/Dolores O'Riordan -- alternative rock -- Limerick, Ireland

and alllllll the others )
*stars mean I have seen them live (1 star per occasion)

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belenen: (woven souls)
I no longer believe in an afterlife / beings are composed of memory, we are one consciousness
I used to believe in a self that existed as a whole after death, that moved to another kind of existence in an afterlife. As a tiny child I believed in heaven as envisioned by me -- a huge flat place, mixtures of gardens and clouds, with the occasional gem-encrusted castle and the most bright yet soft light. Later I believed in a more amorphous afterlife where I didn't care about most of it but part of it was a world which I had visited in dreams, a world where people could only come in if I choose to invite them, a world of flatness interrupted by cliffs covered by trees and channeled with rivers and streams, quiet and intensely, vibrantly expectant. I still believe that world exists because when I visited there in dreams it was more real than anything I have experienced in waking life, except for occasional moments with lovers or deep friends. But I no longer believe that it was part of an afterlife. I don't think I will go there when I die, though I hope to go there again in some way or another.

I was talking with Topaz about zir beliefs in what happens when you die and ze described going to be part of the world again in a new way, not as a whole (reincarnation) but split into basic elements and becoming part of many new lives. I suddenly realized that I didn't have an independent support for my belief in an afterlife. I have read a lot of books of people who died and came back, and they have remarkably similar experiences, but I don't want to base my belief on something someone else says, so for me to believe that I need to be able to find roots for it.

Does an afterlife make sense, given my sense of the universe as a sentient whole, and my understanding of living beings as being composed of memory? The being-composed-of-memory is a fairly new (to me) understanding of consciousness. I believe in a universal sentience and a shared universal memory, because this explains so many otherwise-unexplained things. I think it is possible to communicate with beings who lived in the past not because they still exist as a singular whole, but because their consciousness has been 'uploaded.' I don't know if that happens during life or after death, but considering that many people see a life review soon after they are technically dead, perhaps that is when the upload happens. Perhaps we have some control over it and can upload bits and pieces as we go? I think maybe the reason that people who die and come back become more compassionate is that they have a memory of all memories. If you were to take in another human's entire memory set, you could not help but feel utter compassion for them, I am convinced. This on a broader scale? obviously wouldn't fit into a single brain BUT the emotional memory of that overwhelming compassion WOULD remain. And would make you a better person. Perhaps this emotional memory is present in us when we have a new physical consciousness but it gets washed out as we age. Perhaps animals exhibit compassion (often better than humans) because they still have this emotional memory, even though some of them may not have the reasoning capabilities of humans. Maybe as very young kids we know how to connect to the universal memory? That would explain the often uncanny knowledge of children, and how they speak of life before their birth.

I'm not sure what will happen when I die; perhaps enough of my energy signature will remain together that I could feel myself as an individual, and communicate. I would love to do that, and it is my intention that if I can, I will communicate with people who are still in these forms before the next step. I know that I am not currently a singular whole, that this is an illusion and I contain multitudes of living beings. I am a planet for microbes, who have significant impact on my thinking and desires. What happens when we are separated in the death of my body? what parts of me are microbe and what parts are human? I am unsure of the in-between part but I feel that eventually, my physical and non-physical parts will be reabsorbed and scattered and I will become new things. I feel this has happened over and over and perhaps the reason I feel such a bond with some people is that parts of us were the same tree, or cat, or dolphin, or moss, a few cycles ago. Maybe the people I feel lesser connections with are people I haven't shared a body with in a very long time, and I have less access to memory of them.

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belenen: (shimmering)
the Belenen survey, updated to be even more gloriously nosy and thought-provoking
Please comment with your answers! Do 'em all or pick and choose. All comments are screened but I will unscreen unless you ask for them to stay private.

Note: most people have to split their survey into multiple comments because of LJ's character limit. And actually, if it doesn't take you at least 2 comments, ur doin it rong.

01. what is the name you go by among friends? is it self-chosen or was it given by someone else?
02. what's the story behind your username?
03. age and sign of the zodiac (sun, rising, and moon if you know them):
04. what are your self-labels?
05. around which core values do you structure your morality?
06. what makes you cry actual tears of joy? what makes you cry actual tears of sorrow?
07. what qualities are you currently working on developing in yourself?
08. do you consider yourself anti-prejudice and anti-oppression? if so, in what ways do you help to create equality in the world?
09. If you could have three wishes granted, what would they be?
10. have you changed gender and/or sex? That is, did you once consider yourself a gender and/or sex that you no longer identify with?
11. Describe your sexuality: whether or not you like sex, how you like to have sex, what your best sexual experiences have been like, the elements that need to be present for you to enjoy sex, etc.
12. what's your preferred relationship structure: monogamous, polyamorous, polyfidelitous, other? Do you have/want (a) marriage-type life partner(s)?
13. how do you feel about fat? that is, how do you feel about the fat of your body and the fat of others' bodies?
14. how do you feel about 'little white lies'?
15. Who are the people you choose to spend the most time with/for, and why do they matter to you?
16. how do you feel about nudity (do you like being nude / being around others who are nude)?
17. how often do you push yourself to share thoughts and feelings that make you vulnerable to others?
18. do you often cuddle with friends (not just lovers) or would you if you had cuddly friends?
19. are you concerned with how humans treat the earth (and its creatures)? if so, what do you do to protect/restore it?
20. do you have a strong affinity with any particular part of the earth (a certain type of animal, plant, water body, landscape, and/or a particular place)?
21. do you consider yourself a spiritual person? if so, in what ways do you express this? do you worship, pray, do ritual, meditate, other? do you have a deity(-ies)? do you identify with a particular religion?
22. what do you believe about the parts of a person? are we just mind and body or is there more? if you believe in more, what do you call it?
23. where do you plan to spend most of your life? do you like to travel?
24. what sort of creative things do you like to do?
25. if someone made a deluxe action figure based on you, what 3 props and 3 outfits would they have? also, what would the deluxe playset look like?
26. if you could know everything about one subject, what would it be?
27. if you didn't need to earn money and you could have free training in anything as long as you were willing to give the time, what would you want to do with your life?
28. do you read for fun? if so, what're your favorite genre(s), favorite author(s) and favorite book(s)?
29. favorite color (be specific -- not just green, mint or lime or emerald):
30. favorite musical genre(s) / artists:
31. favorite movie(s) / show(s):
32. what activities make it easiest for you to connect with other people in a deep and intimate way?
33. Sum up your life philosophy in 8 words or less!
bonus: why do you read my journal (or, if you're new, what drew you to my journal)?

For copy-paste ease:

If you want to re-post this, that's fine, but please comment me a link so I can read your answers!

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belenen: (Ma'at)
interrupting the connection between dislike/discomfort and judgement
I'm often taken as judgmental, yet I consider myself one of the least judgmental* people I know. I think this is because of the connection between dislike/discomfort and judgement. For most, the first leads to the second with almost no separation. "I don't like that style of relationship so it's bad and people who live it are bad. I don't like that sex act so it's bad and people who do it are bad. I don't like that school so it's bad and the people who go there are lesser." Etc. But it is possible to separate one's dislike from judgement; it's just a hard habit to develop.

When one's dislike doesn't line up with a social judgement, it is easier for people to take words at face value. If I say cauliflower is gross and I don't want it anywhere near me, and people around me like cauliflower, they may feel disagreement with me or disappointment that we do not share a like for this kind of food, but they probably won't assume that I think they are a bad person for liking cauliflower. But if I express the same sentiment about scat play and they engage in that, they may assume that I do think they are a bad person for liking that, because my dislike** lines up with a social judgement against less common forms of bodily interactions.

I've learned that when I have a dislike that lines up with a social judgement, it may actually be an expression of that social judgement and not my own feelings at all, and I need to check. I used to think it was gross for some people to have armpit hair, and it wasn't until I consciously separated the social judgement I had absorbed from my actual thoughts that I realized I like it on everybody. I used to think that buying any non-necessity as a poor person was irresponsible and wrong, until I consciously separated it from the social judgement I had absorbed and realized that it was oppressive to say that only the wealthy deserve any fun or rest.

This also affects how I interpret other people's words. Sometimes someone will say something that initially sounds to me like they are judging me; but if I trust the person, then instead of taking that next step and assuming that the expression equals a judgement, I will ask them to rephrase or clarify, and if I am still unsure, I will say, "it sounds to me like you are judging me in this way, is that true?" 99% of the time, I am misinterpreting. I know how distant and unloved I used to feel when I just absorbed 'judgements' without checking to see if that is what they were and I would have ended relationships that I now cherish if I hadn't consciously worked on this skill.

So if I ever say to you something like "I feel like you are saying I am a shitty person for doing this thing," I'm not assuming you are actually saying that, or that it is even a possibility within your character. I am not making ANY assumptions as to your intent or true meaning. I'm just expressing my visceral reaction and opening the possibility of ending my discomfort.

There are a few things I judge: supporting oppressions, selfishness, violating consent. If I say that I judge something you do as bad, that does NOT mean I am judging YOU as bad. I don't speak up in order to try to help you be a 'better' person; that would be a waste of our time because you have to do that on your own. I speak up because for me, not objecting*** to the things I judge as wrong would be a violation of my ethics. My fight is with memes; you're just a bystander.

*if I do not state a judgement in the most blunt way possible, you can safely assume I am not making one.
**my first response is ick. But if I had a lover who was into it, I'd be down to try it, at least.
***which I do sometimes, because I haven't infinite time or energy.

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belenen: (progressing)
questions I ask myself if I'm not sure if the relationship is worth it
I've been thinking about this on and off for the last few months after I asked some questions of an ex about their relationship. I think it can be really hard to tell where the line is between "difficult, but a worthwhile relationship" and "not worth it / possibly/definitely abusive." And this is not just for romantic relationships. For me the line can be found with these questions.

The basic questions I ask to determine if the relationship is abusive:
Can I trust this person not to lie to me?
Can I trust this person not to deliberately OR carelessly attack me (with words or otherwise)?
Can I trust this person not to touch me in any way I do not want?
Can I trust this person not to try to manipulate or force my behavior?
Can I say no to or disagree with this person with very little fear or guilt?

And to determine if it is a worthwhile difficult relationship:
Does this person want to give to me at least as much as they want to get from me?
Can I share all parts of myself and feel respected, safe, accepted, and sometimes challenged by this person?
Does my time spent with this person make me feel nourished and fulfilled in the ways that are essential to me? For me these are in spiritual sharing, in empathy, in cuddles, in curiosity, in openness, and in growth.

If you ever see me in a situation that looks like I am not asking myself these questions, I would love if you would call me on it. I realize important things in times of good and forget them in times of bad, so often.

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belenen: (burn baby burn)
dear burners: practice radical inclusion by considering who is excluded by default & taking action
I have long been irritated with the burner community* for not living up to the 10 principles, especially radical inclusion. Radical means from the root; to radically include, you have to consider who is excluded by default, and why, and you must take action to get rid of those reasons. If you just fail to exclude, that is not radical at all. There will always be people self-selecting out for one reason or another. If you don't want that group to be those who are oppressed, you have to organize it so that those who would make it shitty for the oppressed self-select out instead.

Who is excluded by default and why? anyone who is not at the top of the privilege pyramid is excluded because of an oppression-based social structure. People of color, women, disabled people, non-neurotypical people, poor people, queer people, trans people, etc. When you are excluded by default, you know that most spaces will not be inclusive of you because they will not be safe for you. People will use slurs that attack you, they will expect you to speak for 'your group', they will either ignore your existence or only talk to you about your difference from them, they will make plans that you cannot do because of a disability or lack of funds, they will use language that erases you, they will ask invasive personal questions, they will not provide accommodations nor try to fulfill them on request, they will touch you without permission, they'll expect you to be 'socially appropriate' and judge you if you get socially anxious and go quiet, or if you stim, or if you fail to laugh at their stereotyping, etc.

A great example of missing the point is when the local burner community came together to create an all-terrain powered wheelchair for a disabled burner who is very active in the community. This was so beautiful -- and yet they didn't appear to consider other people who might also need an all-terrain personal vehicle in order to get around at a burn. They didn't appear to consider changing the venue so that all people who use wheelchairs could more easily get around. To be fair, I didn't ask, maybe they tried finding a more flat/accessible place to host the burn and couldn't (was there even a ramp to the showers? or an accessible portapotty? I don't remember, because I didn't need it <- privilege). But see, while this was generous and loving, it wasn't radically inclusive. It did not fix the greater problem or even discuss it (at least, not at the fundraiser I attended).

I value radical inclusion, which is why my house runs on these house agreements. I want people to know that they absolutely are included, right up to the point where they start excluding people by making the space unsafe. I want them to know ahead of time that they may have their behavior critiqued** (and that they are permitted to critique others including me). And I feel that if the burner community required people to agree to a code of conduct before buying tickets, and then kicked people out for not abiding (one warning, MAYBE two considering), they'd be about 500% closer to radical inclusion. And I would self-select in, for one.

One thing that is probably not possible for the organizers to get people to do but IS possible for individuals to do is to self-educate. So many of the exclusionary behaviors I mentioned come from sheer ignorance. If you have no access to the internet or spare time to read, then it's not on you, but if you do, and you fail to self-educate, you are guaranteeing that you are going to make someone feel excluded. The only path to making everyone feel included and safe is to learn what makes people feel unsafe and stop doing it.

* some individual burners do live up to them magnificently: I'm talking about broader trends.
** I really need to get better at this. Luckily my friends are better than I am and usually speak up when there is a language issue or something, but I freeze for like two minutes and have a very hard time bringing the focus back after I unfreeze. I know practice will help.

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belenen: (shimmering)
what I do when I feel like my person doesn't love me and I am going to be abandoned: 4 questions
A friend recently asked what I do if I feel insecure that my person does not love me and is going to leave, and reassurances don't help. In answering I realized my method might be helpful to others too, so I'm sharing it. If it doesn't resonate for you, throw it out.

My first step is to ask myself, "is there something they did that is making me feel rejected/forgotten/hurt?" if yes, I discuss that thing with the person: I ask them to explain the reason behind their action, because without explanation I may think the reason is lack of love. When they explain, I choose to accept their reason as the whole truth. If their actions are not the issue, or if I still feel bad, I ask myself,
"have I tried all my methods of self-care?" if no, I do whatever I can* (it is important that this step comes before the next one!), and if the feeling is still there I ask myself,
"how could this person make me feel more loved?" and then ask my person to do one of a handful of specific things** that would help me feel loved. If they do not want to do or do not feel capable of doing any of them, then I ask myself,
"is this a pattern or just a moment?" and if I can think back and realize that in another moment like this my person has made me feel loved, I can use that memory to make myself feel more loved (which is why I keep a log of love-memories!).

If on the other hand, this person does not ever respond to direct requests with taking loving action, I take a step back from the relationship. A person who is rarely/never capable/willing to make me feel loved is not a person who is safe for me to invest in; I have a finite amount of energy and I must invest it where I can create a mutually beneficial dynamic. Showing care in a way that translates to the other person as love is important; feelings without actions are not nourishing for the people being 'felt' about. If I want to be healthy and able to connect and give, I must be willing to press pause or stop on a relationship that is not nourishing me. I completely support someone pausing or stopping a relationship with me as well, and would welcome them right back if we got to a point where we could be mutually nourishing again.

And for me, if all of those immediate issues have been fulfilled and I still feel worried, I consider long-term issues, like chemical depression or a lack of daily investment in knowing and appreciating myself. Sometimes I need to have a self-date (or invest more in myself in general) and it isn't until I start feeling this way that I realize I have not been paying attention to myself.

* my "rescue remedy" self-care includes making sure I have eaten (my mood drops drastically when I haven't eaten in 5+ hours), watching a silly show, drinking coffee/tea, drinking plenty of water, and/or laying down and focusing on my breathing. If it's a mild bad feeling, going out to nature or to get coffee helps, but that also takes significant energy so it is not always possible.
** my specific "rescue remedy" care-from-others are giving me a foot rub, going out just to get me a latte and bringing it to me (or otherwise going out of their way for me), cuddling and kissing me while fully present, looking me in the eye and telling me what they value about me, lightly petting me from neck to ankle, and taking me out to nature.

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belenen: (passionate)
I'm getting to the end of my coping ability w/ people's use of slurs / [edited to add explanations]
If there is someone I want to be open with and they want to use slurs, I have to choose between feeling like they occasionally and without warning slap my face hard and then pretend it didn't happen, or I have to put up a wall to them and not connect. I don't want to have to make this choice over something as simple as a single word. As my self-care, I put up a block to people who refuse to make such a sacrifice, because to put up a block to feeling hurt over the word would be to cut off a part of my own soul. I experience hearing slurs with every bit as much pain and disrespect as if someone physically attacked me (more, really, at least I'd feel able to punch someone back if they slapped me). Some days I want to just drop contact with every single person I come across who uses slurs, even if I love them. I just want this shit out of my life. Maybe one day I’ll actually do it and then when people ask why, I’ll say I just couldn’t take the constant punching and maybe then they’ll finally get it. Or maybe they’ll be like “why don’t you value me more than a word?” and I’ll be like “clearly you don’t value ME more than a word. why do you think I should invest in someone who cares more about slurs than about me?”

These words are often connected to violence and abuse, and because of that they have trigger-power: they can make people relive abuse with almost as much pain as the first time. If you have been physically, sexually, or emotionally attacked by someone while they called you a slur, that word may be a damaging one for you to come across, especially in an angry or attacking context. cut for slurs, trigger warning ) Note: when I say slur, I mean that an oppressive word is being used in an insulting or negative way -- I'm not referring to self-labels.

To extrapolate and summarize: "does this word get its insulting power from an association with an oppressed group?" if the answer is yes, don't fucking use it that way. If you don't know what to call a person if you can't call them a bitch or a douche, look up 'bad' in the thesaurus (scroll down past the usage notes to find a shitton more). Or consider actually saying what you mean. On that note, for more eloquent and less me-centered examination of slurs: on use of 'lame' 'gay' 'retarded' etc. as insults or negative expressions.

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belenen: (feminist)
no, it's not in another castle: my attitude about money
So many people sitting in what is a CASTLE of wealth ignore their privilege and point in another direction -- "oh but that person has a castle twice as large as mine! I'm not wealthy!" No. Other castles are irrelevant. Pay attention and notice that for every castle there are TONS of ramshackle shelters. The fact that yours has a drawbridge with a hole in it and hasn't had a new moat dug in 20 years doesn't make it any less a castle. The fact that you've had to eat food you didn't like or skip eating out doesn't make your safe supply of food any less a gigantic privilege in light of the vast numbers of people that live with food insecurity or flat-out starve (one in EIGHT humans are suffering from chronic undernourishment). I've had many arguments with people about money because I stoutly believe that money is to be used for the best of all, and it is wrong to hoard it.

Sitting on a pile of money so you feel secure (when you're a non-disabled white person) is NOT using it for the best of all. I am incensed by people who could easily support the life of someone they claim to love (who is contributing to the world through art or action), but they choose to keep their money in an account or 'invest it' or spend it on a new house, new car, expensive vacation, or other luxury. I've known several people with wealthy parents who think it is some kind of virtue to refrain from helping their offspring achieve some goal because the offspring 'should' do it the hard way. NO. That is fucking GROSS: exploitative work (which is the majority of jobs which might be available immediately) is NOT something everyone should experience! If it would be no effort to you to give someone the chance to escape (some level of) exploitation, how could you choose not to do it?

I think buying expensive things when a cheap one would do is gross because it is a waste. That extra money could have gone to feed someone, or get someone medication, etc. I am not saying all luxury is bad; some amount of luxury is self-kindness. However, I don't think there is ANY* excuse** for buying a piece of clothing that costs more than a minimum wage worker makes in a month, or half a month for that matter. That's some elitist classist revolting BULLSHIT. (*well, actually, I do think there are some instances where that is okay; if it is a sacred object to the person buying it, there is no price that I could say is too much. But in the vast majority of cases, FUCK THAT. **also sometimes it is necessary to use expensive objects to combat racism or other prejudice. I don't judge people who consciously use status symbols to level the playing field. If you're a white cisgender non-disabled neurotypical person, that ain't you.)

If I was wealthy enough (which I define as making 150% of what I need to survive, while living frugally) I would give the majority of my excess to everyone I knew who spent their time giving, or who needed healing time at home, etc (and if I was still more wealthy I would make it so that their necessities were all covered, and include people I didn't know). I would not be alive today if someone hadn't paid my necessities for the two years that I was agoraphobic while working through childhood sexual abuse. It is not okay that people have to labor for the basic necessities of life; food, shelter, water, health care, education, and internet should be available to everyone. (no, the internet one is not a joke: it is extremely important for access to so many resources) In my ideal world, everyone would get these things and then give to the community in whatever way they could. This is not likely to happen on a grand scale, but if I had the power to make it happen for some people I would, and I'd prioritize the least privileged.

I've recently realized (after expecting to be poor my whole life) that I may have a lucrative skill. I consider it my responsibility as a relatively privileged person to attempt to make money in this way so that I can support others. This may seem counterintuitive, but frankly I feel certain that taking action to help people who are being mangled by the system is better than opting out (which is something that only privileged people can do).

In the meantime, while not yet making 100% of what I need to survive, I give away 11% of everything I earn (not counting things borrowed or gifted) to social/ecological justice organizations and/or friends in need. This is vital to me, because there are so many people working for good, and I am not the best person to do direct action for a number of reasons (I will do it when I can but I can't be counted on). In many cases, me trying to 'help' directly would be a terrible idea: best to give to people who know what their community needs and let them handle it. I can afford this right now because if I were to run out of money and need help, I could count on people to give me food, shelter, etc. In this way I am incredibly privileged. Also, it is essential to me to remember that money is not mine and I cannot truly own anything but my own body and self: giving away from what I earn reminds me that 'earning' is an illusion because owning is an illusion.

In practical immediate terms, this translates to me being careful to communicate clearly and act with financial consideration in my relationships. If I want to go to some event with cost, I want my poorer friend to come, and I can afford to pay for both of us, I would consider it unethical to not sincerely offer to pay their way. Since I usually can't afford to do that, I just ask with up-front info about the cost and am careful to not push. I do not expect anyone to pay for me, but I do expect them to let me know the cost ahead of time and not try (at ALL, EVER) to push me to spend money. If I forget to tell someone about a cost for something and they get stuck in a situation where they feel pressured to pay, I consider it my responsibility to cover that or otherwise help them out of that situation (changing the plan, for instance).

inspired by [ profile] kmiotutsie's prompt and lj idol's topic.

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belenen: (shimmering)
my core values: justice, respect, reverence/wonder, connection, imperfection, honesty, curiosity
What are your core values? I would love to know. I figured out a trick for learning what they are: you get really upset when someone else does something that violates them, and feel deep regret if you violate them. Thus, I might like being vegetarian, but if it wouldn't make me feel regret to eat meat, then refraining from eating it is not a core value of mine. Considering it this way, I have come up with my core values:

Justice. I know this to be a core value because nothing upsets me more than the enactment of the idea that hierarchy is good or necessary; that's disrespect on a grand scale. Beyond the visceral reaction, I act to dismantle/resist oppressive structures around me and work to uproot all of the hierarchies implanted in my brain by society. It is imperative to me that I die having demolished some structures of injustice, even if I am only successful within my own brain. Unquestioned privilege is a great enemy of justice so I attempt to question my privilege as much as possible.

Respect. This one is closely tied to the first, but is more micro-scale. I define respect as: being careful not to manipulate the will of others and being careful not to hurt others, whether deliberately or through carelessness. This means only leading, touching, or otherwise intruding upon people if they have consented to it, and learning about people who are different from you so that you do not unintentionally insult or hurt others.

Reverence/wonder. I have put these together because I experience them in the same way. For me, all things (living or non-living) have feelings, and all things are important and magnificent if you consider them carefully. I feel a terrible shock and revulsion when someone reacts to wonder with a shut-it-down attitude (for example, a child sees an oil slick and says "look how pretty!" to their parent and their parent says something in a dismissive tone). Approaching all things with wonder and reverence -- treating them as if they are magic and as if they are alive (whether you believe it or not) -- is extremely important to me. Part of this is having a personal relationship with things I own, especially things I use daily. I do not want to have two items that serve the same purpose, unless I often need more than one of them at a time; thus I have one coat, one jacket, one pair of shoes (and a pair I wear only at interviews), one pair of sunglasses, one pair of glasses, etc. Another part of this is not harming any living thing any more than necessary for survival (though I am hypocritical about this and will use anti-bacterial and/or anti-viral chemicals for cleaning or medicine).

Connection/compassion. I see all parts of the universe(s) as one being, and the truest expression of that being as empathy. I feel this as the purpose of all life, and those top three I listed because they are the methods to this one. I feel equality, respect, and reverence/wonder are the values necessary for connection. I have seen inequality, disrespect, and irreverence destroy possibility of connection in spiritual, social, ecological, and other ways. Ways of honoring connection are important to me and I value them even when they are not ones I would want to do or feel capable of such as climbing a mountain or having sex with a stranger (did it once, that was enough). Refusing to attempt to empathize is deeply upsetting to me as a violation of this value.

Imperfection/action. I do not ask "what would fix this?" but instead "how can I make this better?" I allow myself to fail at my own values without judging myself; I just look at the instance and try to learn how to avoid it next time. I do not strive for perfection or reject any but the best, but instead take action. When people do not have this value they do things like say "well I can't fix the whole world so I'm just going to throw my cigarette butt or water bottle on the ground like everyone else." I think that comes from fear of self-loathing; they do not want to commit to a value that they cannot do perfectly because they would hate themselves for failing. I am okay with failure; it is the effort that matters to me. I want to take imperfect actions.

Honesty. I cannot stand lies, not from me or other people. Not in words or silence or deeds. I will not pretend to like someone who damages me on purpose, even if that would allow me to escape damage. I do not think it is acceptable to be silent when I know that my silence will be taken to mean something other than the truth (though I will hypocritically do this if I feel endangered).

Curiosity/questioning. Asking questions is a sacred value of mine, and I am hurt when people do not show curiosity towards me. (however, I recognize that the 'showing' is a kind of openness and there may be curiosity with no evidence for me to see) I am deeply upset when people squelch curiosity, especially of children. Part of this value is critical analysis: not just absorbing information but engaging with it, dismantling it and rebuilding it as one's own unique understanding.


And these are my secondary values, deeply important to me but not to the level that I am automatically repulsed by people who violate them:

Transparency/openness. I value the free flow of sharing and loathe when things are cloaked. I feel betrayed when I learn that people I feel close to have kept something hidden from me, even if they didn't make me think something untrue. I feel smothered and shrunk when I cannot share freely, and good when I can, even if I feel ashamed of the thing I am sharing. I feel disconnected and unloved when people do not share freely with me, and honored and loved when people do share freely with me.

Creativity. By this I don't mean being an artist: I mean creating. Taking some part of yourself and sharing it with the world; taking some fallow bit of the universe and making it sprout. I feel deeply upset when anyone disparages someone else's creation as inferior. Creation in and of itself is sacred. Whether you make macaroni necklaces or carve marble or decorate your notebook or whatever, it all matters.

Growth/change. I need to be able to look back on my life and see that I have become more of the me that I want to be. I am upset when people suggest that I should not concern myself with deliberate change (especially of my mind), should return to a former version of myself, or should alter my growth pattern to suit them. I 100% disagree with the statement "people don't change." This is an important value of mine because no matter what I might have accomplished, if I did not grow and change during the process, I would consider that part of my life wasted.

Thoroughness. This is one I only learned I had after I kept getting upset that others didn't have it. Once I realized it was a clash of values I was much more accepting. I value doing things carefully and fully. This can be a hindrance and it is incompatible with values like easygoingness (there's got to be a better word for that but I can't think of it). Tidiness falls in here (I also don't live up to my own value in this way sometimes).

(written for LJ Idol's topic 0) ETA: On further reflection I rearranged these for better accuracy and added "imperfection" because it is vital to me. As evidenced by this imperfect entry :D
sounds: Au Revoir Simone - The Lucky One | Powered by
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belenen: (Renenutet)
parts of a person: how I see people in spirit, heart, soul, mind, and body as they connect to me
It's not March yet but this has been on my mind a lot lately so I'm gonna go ahead and answer [ profile] darkestgarden's prompt. (and if you haven't yet, go give me prompts!)

could you talk about your color spirit classifications (when you say, for example, that someone is a violet spirit)? what are the differences between colors and how do you determine them for people? how well do you have to know someone before you make a definitive classification? have you ever labelled someone a color only to change it later? has anyone ever disagreed with you about the classification?

This is purely a my-sight thing, firstly, so its only meaning is in how I see people. I'm not claiming that this is the color of their aura or anything actually about them, just what I see and feel. The way I understand them is in relation to myself and then in relation to others. I see myself as having a vivid violet spirit, spring green heart, and bright scarlet soul. Then I feel a connection with people, and feel out whether that is more toward this direction or that on the color wheel, and then I compare one to another to guess if I don't have confidence. I have to know someone well enough to be able to tell where we connect or don't, and to see them enough to be able to compare them to others. Yes, I have labeled colors and changed them; the way I see it, the colors don't change but my perception can be skewed. Some people don't like themselves and try to appear as other. Sometimes I just can't get a good feel, and my perception is off. People have disagreed with me, but most people don't have a way of feeling people that is at all similar so they don't disagree because it's just not relevant to their life.

So for instance, I see Kylei as an orange soul. I feel this because it connects strongly to my red soul, but is different in some key ways, and is more similar to Ace (Ace disagrees because ze doesn't see zirself and Kylei as alike). I see Hannah as a yellow heart, again because of strong connection but different in some ways (seems to be more kin with animal than plant, for instance). I see Topaz as a violet spirit, similar to mine but darker and more red, which I figured out because I feel that Kylei is a violet spirit who is more blue than me, and I feel Kylei and I are more spirit-alike than Kylei and Topaz. Heather's soul is similar to mine, but closer to Kylei than I am (it should be oranger than it appears in the image). It's a complex web. I made a diagram (there are a few on here I am not sure of but the ways people connect to me I am sure of):

(click to see large - the colors work a lot better on Topaz's computer than on mine so this may not look as it should)

The interesting thing is that as I did this, I saw connections that hadn't been made but that could have been. For instance, Abby and Arizona are both blue souls and green hearts and only one tone off on spirit; I don't think they hung out much but I think they could have been the bondest of bonds because damn, they're alike (however, that may only be likeness in how they relate to me. More experimentation is necessary). And Firekat and Heather are very alike in spirit and soul and I bet they'd totally be besties if they lived close and knew each other. And Kate and my ex-partner are practically twins.

Here's the best short explanation of spirit, heart, and soul as I can come up with so far:
spirit: your core self, the ineffable you. Where your intuition, will, and desires come from. This part never changes and as far as I am concerned cannot be described in words.
heart: how you connect with the world. It determines where you find meaning, your spiritual/elemental identifications/totems (mountain, wind, cat, tree, etc). This part only changes in whether it is open or closed.
soul: how you interact with the world. It is affected by material interactions and knowledge, by insecurities and fears. Your personality 'type.' It can change a lot in saturation and brightness.

There's also mind and body connections. Mind connections I see as a pattern similarity when I see them (my mind pattern has a lot of branches and vines and sharp edges) but mostly they're not visual, and body connections are not at all visual for me. I have mind connections with Kate, Abby, Kylei, Topaz, Hannah, Ben, Anika, Nea, Ashe, and Allison, to varying extents; what this means is that we make similar logical connections, enjoy similar mental stimulation, and/or can weave words together for hours with little to no effort. I have body connections with Topaz, Heather, Kylei, Aurilion, Ace, Viv, Taz, Tamara, Chase (someone I knew super briefly years ago) and maybe Adi and Camellia. I see body connections as that feeling where hugging feels good beyond the physical sensation, and I feel drawn to touch constantly; where it feels like my body wants connection all by itself. I feel this when I'm in love with someone pretty much always but when it's a connection of its own, it exists regardless of logic or even my emotions about the person.
sounds: Grimes - Colour Of Moonlight (Antiochus) (Ft. Doldrums) | Powered by
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belenen: (writing)
refreshing my LJ by revamping my userinfo / most important post compilation
I finally, FINALLY, re-wrote and refreshed my userinfo. It had been over FOUR YEARS, not sure how many exactly, since I had substantially edited it. It feels so good -- like my living room had been completely untouched for four years as stacks of stuff accumulated and bits disappeared from shelves and everything got covered in dust, and then I just went in like a hurricane and dusted and rearranged everything into sparkling fresh tidiness. Except more so, because my userinfo is much more relevant to my identity than my living room. I feel so much more at home now in LJ, and I feel encouraged also because I found some awesome people to add, and I feel like maybe LJ is finally picking up again -- the addme communities are more prolific than they have been in a long time. I think I spent a total of 8+ hours doing all of that. A good chunk of that time was compiling a linklist of my most important posts, so I'm gonna go ahead and share most of those:

        · intimacy: ways of creating it & an outline of my intimacy practices
        · my relationship w/ language; my beliefs on words & how I speak
        · on use of 'lame' 'gay' 'retarded' etc. as insults or negative expressions
        · sexually violent language, the word 'rape' & 'curse words'
        · how I apologize when I hurt someone: empathize, explain, change
        · If I'm wrong, tell me - and check for misunderstandings
        · 6 principles to body-love: my experiences and methods
        · parts of a person -- spirit, heart, soul, mind, and body
        · how I value impermanence and infinity to equal degrees
        · tithing to my causes: equality, freedom (legal & spiritual), art, earth
        · my generosity is sustained by appreciation & killed by expectation
        · my spirit-shapes: snow leopard, egyptian cobra, american river otter
        · why break-ups should be treated like graduations, not like death
        · negotiating expectations / ending relationships is a vital skill
        · on jealousy, fear, loneliness, envy, threat, and disconnection
        · eye contact is intensely intimate and nourishing for me
        · the difference between openness and honesty
        · LJ journey to openness & honesty; my love for nudity

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