polls/memes of wonder and fascination:
my generosity is sustained by appreciation & killed by expectation / asking for what I want
Lately I've been thinking about what it means to be generous. For me it's this flow that is sustained by appreciation; if I feel like someone really gets a lot out of me doing/giving something, then I feel a strong desire to do it. That can get out of balance sometimes and I've gotten super-sensitive to expectation because it changes the whole thing into guilt-avoidance. I'd rather resist the urge to give than have to deal with guilt. But like I first experienced with the Wynnes, even my most hated chore can become something I actively desire to do if I feel like it will bring real joy to someone I care about. I do dishes for Topaz sometimes (which is a big damn deal!). I get up EARLY when I don't have to for Topaz sometimes. And I feel happy doing these things and they don't feel like a chore because the relief/happiness it brings Topaz changes the context so completely, and ze doesn't expect them ever. If I never did them again ze wouldn't be bothered by that. That to me is the way to tell if someone expects something; if they'd get upset, angry, pouty, distant, etcetera if you didn't do it, that means they expect you to do it.
I've also been thinking that there have not been many instances in my life of people being generous to me -- by which I mean (1) doing something kind for me or giving to me, (2) of their own initiative, (3) with no other reason except to bring me joy. My parents, for instance, have never done this. ACTUALLY never. All gifts/acts of service have been because it was expected or because I was in need. One time I thought my ex-partner had done that, but it turned out that it was someone else's suggestion (thus not zir own initiative). This used to make me feel like I loved other people way more than they loved me, because it didn't make them happy just to make me happy. But I think maybe it's a skill. Part of me says "no, it's just natural" but I know 'natural' is bullshit. And I always think that I make it easy, that I make it clear what I want, but recently reflecting on that I've realized that I almost never ask for what I want directly. I address the issue directly, but not as a request but instead as a statement of feeling. For instance, if I want my person to initiate hugs, I will say, "I feel sad that you don't initiate hugs because it makes me feel like you don't desire my hugs, can we talk about this feeling" instead of just saying "I want you to initiate hugs more." This is partly because I want to get to a solution together -- perhaps the solution isn't the person initiating hugs more, but me changing my way of thinking, etc. But it's partly a duct-tape method of avoiding guilt-motivation, started with my ex-partner, who would have heard "I want you to initiate hugs more" and argued me out of it or followed the letter of the request without the spirit of it or just shut down in self-loathing that quickly turned into irritation at me. And good grief, if I had done that with my parents, they'd have used it as bribery or blackmail. And while it is a good thing to try to be sensitive to people who are easily swayed by requests, that's not true of Topaz and I need to trust that I can ask for things and get an honest response; to trust that ze's not going to do something ze doesn't want to do and then resent me for it. In not asking for what I want, I am acting in fear. I do not need to walk on eggshells and I need to get out of the habit of it because it's counter-productive. I've learned this but I keep forgetting because it has never been true before. I have a very forceful presence and I have to come up with all kinds of safety-shut-offs to make sure that I don't override other people's will accidentally. Topaz is the first person I've been with who is possibly as willful as I am. (Maybe Adi was too, but our relationship got interrupted so early that we never really got to that point)
processing through dreams / family (bio, Topaz's, and the Wynnes), inadequacy, threat, menstruation
For the past three nights I've slept extra long and had lots of dreaming time -- part of me feels guilty at "wasting time" but I know that this is a thing I need. I process in dreams, and my usual 7-hours-per-night only allows for one or two dreams if I'm lucky. And I have such a lot to process. I'm coming out of the most painful time of my life and the metamorphosis that began last fall
is coming to completion. (heh, I remember when I thought I had gone through my last exuviation! Silly young me) I didn't write much down from the dreams but I'll share some bits and pieces:
Topaz and I running from our friends who were zombies / crying over not being the photographer I want to be while everyone around me is making their dreams into reality / my bioparents moving my altar and taking the cover off of my windows / being in Alaska w Topaz and swimming in surprisingly warm water (with ice floes nearby!), above sharks, while menstruating / flying around a place that was partly the Wynnes' old neighborhood and was partly a tent city and partly a fenced-in military base / menstruating without a pad, feeling anxious about bleeding on my pants (I don't wear pants) / Topaz's grandmother & grandfather being best friends with Wynnes' grandmother & the three of them sitting together watching a film in a tiny house, me bursting in on them and feeling embarrassed but them smiling at me / talking to the Wynnes' old neighbor, thinking they were dead and crying before realizing that the neighbor was talking about someone else / babysitting and having forgotten basic things like putting the child's seat on the toilet before helping tiny child to go in the potty, also spilling things and making food wrong
A lot of family stuff, feeling inadequate (failing at BABYSITTING? what!?) and threatened, and menstruation. I am menstruating at the moment but I've never dreamed about it before... dreammoods.com says "To dream of menstruation indicates that you are releasing your pent-up tension and worry. It signals an end to the difficult times and the beginning of relaxation." Let's hope that's it. I wish I didn't have to deal with any family shit but at least my dream about Topaz' gparents was a positive one, as I've been feeling anxious that they don't respect/accept me as I am, that they won't welcome my intrusion into their space (Topaz' life). If I feel anxious about something in waking life and then have a positive dream about it, it's my subconscious telling me that my fear is unfounded.
slowly healing depression / living alone / spiritual growth - taking the lead, allowing judgement
It's been about six weeks on citalopram and I feel like I'm slowly healing. I have only had one spiral-into-weepy-self-hate in the past two weeks, which is such an improvement. I feel like I need at least a few months on this to get to the point where I actually have more energy than enough to rest and heal, but I'm starting to feel hopeful that the depression will not take up the rest of my life. I feel like I might get to a point of happiness and self-motivation again, instead of being pushed by guilt-avoidance and pain-avoidance. I feel like I understand what happened; I got stuck in a pattern of spending every bit of my energy every day and not self-caring, and it was not just psychological energy I was using but physical and emotional and spiritual as well. I had nothing left, and my brain went into starvation-mode and trapped all the serotonin every day, so even when good things happened I couldn't spend that positive energy. I'm hoping this SSRI will retrain my brain. I have no idea if that makes any scientific sense, obv, it's just my feeling about it. I feel like I've learned my lesson and won't be spending my energy like that again. No more playing the knight, Belenen, I mean it. If you're gonna give support, do so with at least as much space apart and regularly check in on your own self, because these past three months you were at your most useless ever and if you don't want to be a fucking lump again then PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE YOUR ENERGY IS GOING.
Living alone is so good for me right now. I miss Topaz intensely when I am trying to fall asleep (we sleep cuddled up and it's so sweet and nourishing and comfortable) but other than that it feels amazing to just exist, without considering anyone else, for a significant period of time. If I ever live with other people again, I will make sure that it is like the Maxwell house, with at least three people, at least one non-lover on the same level of the house and physical separation of my room, so that I don't feel obligated to interact. Now that I've learned that my favorite people will still visit me way out here, I probably will stay for as long as I can do so cheaply and with no housemates. I want to tend the land here and fill this house with enchantments. The initial cleansing ritual was very effective but the house hasn't reached equilibrium yet -- the living room and my room are filled with good energy but there are three rooms that I just keep closed off because they still have residue. Oh, and the initial ritual was this: We split up, one person in each room (or area) and did four five-second screams (breaking up bad/stale energy), one at each direction (N,E,S,W), with the scream starting with me. Then we gathered and had a spiral hug in each room, after which we threw the positive energy from it around before moving to the next one. I filled the house with burning myrrh, and people wrote positive words/drawings on the walls in chalk. I haven't had the energy to do more work solo, but I hope to do that soon (last week was finals so this is my first true resting day in a long time). I never would have thought I'd be living here again or that I could even make it livable but it's actually nourishing now.
I feel like living alone also makes me realize things that I don't if I'm constantly overlapping energy with other people. I can feel my own self more. And I can hear the trees here when they whisper and maybe when this depression is gone I'll be able to feel rooted with them. And for whatever reason I feel empowered to take control of my spirituality for the first time maybe ever -- I think I needed to break from the idea of being led (or accompanied) and holy fuck did that take a long time. I think that being unable to believe in the reality of anything at all for a few months helped me feel it was possible to make those subconscious breaks, heh. I don't need someone else to validate my experience, to tell me that I'm doing the right thing or that what I feel is real. I can validate my own self. I can believe whatever I damn well please; if it's real to me, it's real in the only way that matters. I need to quit with the disclaimers that I use to deflect scorn from my "woo-woo hippy-dippy shit." Instead of being like "well there's this thing that I sorta kinda feel might be true but it might also be wrong and I don't know" I need to be like "this is what is true for me." I need to just do it, then deal with any judgement that might follow so that the fear of that judgement goes away. Hiding NEVER removes fear. Hiding NEVER EVER removes fear. (got that, self?) And that fear is blocking me from having the kind of experiences I want to have, from seeing things truly. I close my eyes to things because I don't want to experience what I cannot share and I don't share things that I fear people will roll their eyes at or worse, silently think me illogical/irrational. FUCK THAT. I don't want to live my life giving everyone I meet the power to shut me up by allowing them to rate my rationality or logic. I learned to dismantle those judgements regarding my socially unacceptable appearance and I need to learn it for my socially unacceptable thinking/philosophy/spirituality. Also I don't want to block myself from shared experience because I don't trust people to treat me honestly and respectfully at the same time. I must allow the possibility of judgement to allow the possibility of understanding and consonance.
ramblings: a good day / being medicated / unreality / trying to give time for healing / family
I feel good right now and that's fucking noteworthy. I finally got set up at Wishwood and it's been a warm day and Arizona pointed me to this (NSFW)
which made me feel hopeful that the world is not irreparably fucked up (the ubiquitous exploitative 'sexuality' surrounding me is one of the biggest drains on my energy) -- obv not all of it is my kink but seeing desire and joy together is nourishing.
I keep daydreaming about escaping. I know there's really nowhere to escape to (all of this racist sexist ableist looksist bullshit is everywhere), but pretending there is gives me a kind of comfort.
I've now been medicated for about two weeks and it seems to be helping. I can now push back a little instead of instantly falling into deep despair at the slightest bump. I feel like the meds are a dome over this part of my self which has been wounded really badly -- it still hurts but at least it's not getting worse every day, and maybe it can heal. I didn't even realize that feeling suicidal day after day would cause cumulative damage. I am so grateful that warmth is coming.
It's so fucking trippy to be in the house that has featured in so many of my dreams. I really thought I would never live here again and it makes it harder to believe that things are real. It also is hard to believe that people are real because I don't spend much time with them in comparison to last year. And it's hard to believe that I am real because the depression makes my body more numb so sometimes when I pinch myself to see if I'm dreaming, I can barely feel it. And it's hard to believe that life is real because so many of the things I cared deeply about I just have no interest in. Obligation is the primary reason for most of what I do lately, which is so shitty, but life would become infinitely more shitty if I did not follow through on those obligations... fuck.
and yet! I told the psychiatrist when we met that if it weren't for the depression, I'd be the happiest I've ever been. It's SO FUCKED that I can't feel the happiness I should be having. I feel completely nourished with Topaz, AND rarely drained. I was doing really well in school and in activist stuff, but some of that got fucked up by the depression and I put responsibility down before I made too much damage to be able to recover it... maybe. I can't fret about it right now, I have to just try to become okay, and I have to be patient or it won't work.
Topaz' family is huge and deeply intertwined with each other. I've gone to several family gatherings and it keeps bringing up old stuff from my ex-partner's family. I realized that they were more my family than my biofamily, who were emotionally just employers from the time I realized kind treatment from them was contingent on unquestioning obedience. I adopted my ex-partner's family and for the five years I was best friends with Rebecca, they adopted me, mostly. But then I hurt the golden child and compounded that by stealing the oldest boy and then I got weird, so they excluded me after that. For years I hoped to be treated like "real family" but when my ex-partner replaced me with a nice christian straight monogamous girly girl, they just didn't talk to me anymore. I'm sure it's partly due to my behavior but I was acting like a child and expecting them to reach out first. I have a super-visceral memory of the day I gave up on ever being part of them; it was some kind of anniversary/birthday party and I went without my partner (because ze was coming later) and when I got there, all anyone said to me was "where's [ex-partner]?" or "hi" depending on the person. I was taken aback but it was watching the slideshow of photos over the years and seeing so few photos of me, seeing photos I had taken as the one "non-family" person on various family trips, while seeing more photos of Rebecca's husband (who had been around 2 years to my 10+ years)... that made me feel profoundly rejected. All those years on the outside. That was a few months before the ex-partner ended it. So now, with Topaz' family, they seem so warm and welcoming and I want to be part of that, I want to be accepted as deeply connected with Topaz and also as myself, but what if it's going to be another decade of wishing and always being on the outside?
it's so easy to tip me into despair. I'm so tired of it.
depression, stopped caring about people & life / state of my relationships w Topaz, Kylei, friends
I haven't written in months because I've been dealing with a depression that is unlike any I've felt before. It started a while ago, not sure how long, but it hit hard with the new year and since then I've had a deep-weeping breakdown at least 8 times and have cried almost every day. It has been an absolutely epic struggle to motivate to do anything at all. I wrote this on January 2nd and it's been something I've felt ever since:
"People have been my reason for living for such a long time and now I just don't care about them. I don't know what direction to take my life now. I'm so frustrated with everyone and want to dump everyone out of my life except for Topaz. I've never experienced this before. What is the point of life if I don't give a shit about people? Is there anything that could even form a focus like that? Is this a symptom of depression? Have I gone too far in centering my life around people and am I now experiencing a backswing? Is there a way to reconnect with caring about them and should I try? Should I take a break from everyone? I don't remember what I centered around before this. Anger? Music? Escaping in books?"
Today I finally managed to message someone in the counseling center at my school about getting an appointment. This feels like a chemical problem in my brain because I haven't suffered any recent trauma and life has been easier than usual, not harder, but it feels near-impossible levels of difficult. I kept hoping it would just stop happening but it hasn't. I can't CARE. Finishing my degree seems pointless because I don't care about the people I could help. I don't feel like people are real (except Topaz). I don't feel like I can invest in a reality that I don't belong to. It's like watching TV; the idea of trying to help those people seems ridiculous because they are only illusions. I don't know why I keep living. I feel like I am waiting for something but I have no idea what and I can't think of anything to look forward to in the future. What the fuck. I feel like someone turned my hope off. The only thing that gives me any sense of hope is the idea of seeing Hannah again, but I know how fucking unlikely that is.
It's pretty weird to be experiencing this at the same time as being deeply in love. I feel so guilty and shitty for being this version of myself, weepy and useless and easy to upset and unable to give much. Topaz deserves the best version of me and I'm pretty sure this is the worst.
So one thing I wanted to start doing that I'm going to do right here and now while I have some motivation is to write monthly about the state of my relationships. I keep going off the rails with things and I want to get long-range views on my relationships before they go to shit.
With Kylei, things are very uncomfortable. We had coffee sometime in January and it seemed good. I felt like we were going to be able to start a fresh way of relating. But then at my birthday gather, after most of the evening had passed, Kylei told me that ze felt like I had been ignoring zir and like I hated zir. I had been just as friendly and interactive with zir as with anyone else (except Topaz), but it seemed very different to zir. I think that is because Kylei is not used to not being my lover, and still has expectations of what our interactions should be like. I do not want that. I don't want to give Kylei attention just because ze wants or expects it or will be unhappy without it. I want to be free to interact as little or as much as I want (but not more than ze wants obv). I can't even connect with affection for Kylei when I'm doing work just to keep Kylei from feeling bad. That's clumsy phrasing but I don't know how to explain it really. I don't want to be needed, I don't want my attention to be needed. There was an imbalance with us and Kylei was depending on me to have zir needs met and seems to still be in that habit. It's incredibly uncomfortable for me to not be able to make eye contact, but except for that coffee in January I haven't been able to handle eye contact with Kylei because it feels like ze's trying to pull something from me. I don't think there is any conscious attempt to do that but I also don't think that habit has been broken.
Relatedly I think that a lot of people who I thought were friends with me were really friends with me through Kylei. Either that or they've gotten tired of me not going to events and have given up on me. It's disappointing but if that's the case, oh well. I've been surprised and touched by those who have stayed in contact and come to my gathers since then.
With Topaz, things are so intense. I've never before gone in to a relationship with so little potential for shared life goals, and that sometimes scares me, but the fact that I can't picture the future doesn't mean that there is none. I fear that when zir career takes off and we're not spending so much time together, I will no longer be happy having no other partners and I fear that if I have other partners, Topaz will invest less in me. But that's a matter of trust, really. I would have trusted Hannah and I don't know why it is so hard for me to trust Topaz. I think I have a hard time believing that our us-ness is as important to Topaz as it is to me. Maybe that's just a function of this depression, maybe it's because we don't have the same safety net of commitment, probably it's both. Maybe it's because we've had so little time apart. I know it is deeply affected by the depression because when I think about it, I know factually that Topaz values me. I've seen the relief in zir when we reconnect, I've seen evidence of zir thinking about me (because of thoughtful gifts and actions), I've seen zir make efforts to understand me and communicate with me in ways that are new to zir. Most of all I have felt it in the way ze touches me; energy flows to me, not just from me. And I've felt it in the way ze responds to my touch -- ze opens up and gives back (to differing degrees, but there's never just a wall).
With Abby and Adi, I feel like we're maintaining a slim connection and I'd like it to be stronger but I don't have the energy to make it so and they don't either. I feel like I'm developing friendships with some of Topaz' friends who spend a lot of time at Topaz' house (where I have been unofficially living since December, while paying rent elsewhere) -- I'm hoping that they'll be friendships that can stand on their own. I feel like my relationship with N/A* is suffering because I'm just not being as invested in it, mostly because of the depression and a little because I feel like individuals in the group don't want to invest in me, and that makes it harder to motivate myself to be involved.
I really really hope I can get some help for this brainbrokenness, because I'm spending all the energy I receive on surviving and that is such a waste.
trueself emerging / still depressed / progression of relationship w Topaz / poly? / ethics of desire
Topaz makes me feel more myself. I feel in touch with my badassness. I feel able to do all the scary things, I feel able to explore, I feel like nothing is too big, I feel like I can write and paint and create. I feel happy, connected, alive, nourished, seen, loved.
At the same time my exhaustion and depression are never far away. I feel my life is like traveling on narrow ledges between pits, and I can never go fast because I might slip. And most of the time I'm okay, if a little wobbly sometimes, but all it takes is the merest bump and boom, I'm over the edge and in the pit. Being nourished means that the pits are a little shallower and I can get out of them a bit faster, but the more often I have to recover the more exhausted I get, and the more exhausted I am the deeper the pits grow as well as the harder they are to deal with at all. I just want the ledges to widen, I want to be able to re-balance when I get bumped instead of falling. How long will this take? What do I need to do? more rest, more self-care, yes. How much of this is chemical? Am I hoping in vain for ledges to widen when they could only do so with medical help?
My relationship with Topaz is barely 2 and a half months old, and it's already where I was with Kylei after 9 months and Hannah after our first visit and where none of my other relationships have gone (including my 8-year marriage). We have a significant amount of minor but very emotional conflict, which I think we handle pretty well, and I'm amazed to see such rapid increase of skill. And yet some of the baby-new steps were just skipped -- we haven't actually negotiated our relationship. That's so strange and we've been intending to do it but we're so in harmony so much of the time that I actually forget about it (which has never happened to me before). And I know it is a wise thing to do and we have intended to do it but just haven't yet.
And Topaz is new to poly and I am new to this feeling of not really wanting to spend time with anyone else, and actively wanting to spend all my time with one person. For a while I was wondering if I had turned monogamous -- and that idea didn't even scare me. I'm starting to feel desire to spend time with other people, but it's slow and small (about once a week I'd like to spend 2-3 hours in one-on-one time with someone other than Topaz). I think it will be a while yet before I have any desire to build with someone other than Topaz, and I don't know how intensely it will return.
The only reasons I want to negotiate a poly relationship rather than a monogamous one is 1) I don't like the idea of prescriptive exclusivity 2) I don't want to take romantic aspects out of my other connections. I think going forward my 'rules' are going to be very different. I used to spend a shitton of energy trying to balance my relationships and make sure everyone felt equally loved and felt like they had a fair amount of my time. I don't EVER want to do that again. I want to follow desire. I want people in my life who understand that a 'fair' amount is an amount that is desired by both people. I want very clear statements of desire always. I do not want anyone to ever feel entitled to my time because that is how I end up wandering on narrow ledges between sharp slippery ditches; that is how I end up feeling completely unvalued and like nothing I do is ever good enough. That is how I end up spending every speck of energy I have and getting net-zero nourishment from my connections.
I want an ethics of desire. I want people to spend time with me only, ever, because they desire to spend time with ME, and I want clear communication about that. I want people to give to me their love and their energy and their bodies only, ever, because they desire to. And I want to be with people who desire to give as much as they want to get. I would rather be completely alone than have someone give to me out of obligation. I would rather push people away than watch myself give to them out of obligation.
uncertainty about what I thought permanent / building my center / reality without observation/proof
I feel like I am just starting to get a glimpse of the my current self; the alchemical process
is starting to coalesce, or maybe I'm recognizing the ingredients. I think I got very off-center for a while, and spent my energy like it was endless and then had neither the time or energy to really see myself. I don't regret it but I feel glad to be beginning this shift. Also pretty intensely scared and nervous because I don't know where my life is going. The only things I feel certain of are that I intend to continue school and I intend to continue spending time with Topaz. Things I feel uncertain of include: my polyness, my sexual identity, my level of community-building, my living situation, my cat caretaking, my Atlantianness... all things that had been stable for at least two years.
I had intended to spend the rest of my life with Kylei without any gaps, but the longer our break goes on the more I realize how lost I had become in the context of our relationship. I am not good at maintaining my center when someone else is off-balance; I compensate without even realizing what I am doing. I had lost part of my self because it didn't work with how we were living; I did this with Abby too, and before that with Arizona. I think if someone doesn't have a passion they center on, and I am passionately connected with them, we just sort of fall into orbiting each other, closer and closer until we collide and break (or until I see that coming and stop the relationship). I need to remember to be centered in myself. It feels like it's sort of naturally happening as I am with Topaz because ze has two very central very intense passions, which combine/conflict to form the path that ze sets intentions around. I feel free to center my life on my own, and I am remembering dreams which had faded to near-nothingness. This is why I have been writing more and making more long-time dreams happen and creating more. This is why I have lost the fear of losing people. Even Topaz -- I cannot imagine not wanting to spend tons of time with zir, but I can imagine myself without zir or anyone else, being okay, being alive, wandering the world and tasting it. I don't feel a horrible deathlike loneliness at the thought of losing all of my people, which was true until very recently. I think I went hungry for such a long time. I'm slowly coming back into focus in my own eyes. I missed me. I am still not back, I still do not feel passionate love for myself. I feel my healthiest state is when I can have a date with myself and feel as sexy and desirable and exciting and nourished and seen as I can when I am with someone external to my perceptions.
Relatedly, something that has only happened with Topaz is that I can feel the reality of us without documentation or external observation. I've realized that one of the ways I establish the real is through being seen, by myself in reflection or by others. I usually need some level of proof; I need photos to look at or words from others, unprompted by myself, in order to believe that I am not making it all up. My connection with Topaz feels more real than possibly anything else I've ever experienced, and I feel like a part of me that has been exhausted with constant searching for reality has come to rest. I still want to write and photograph and share, but I can believe fully without those things. And strangely at the same time dreams and illusions have become more real, and I have less trouble believing in all my own experiences, without needing someone else to say "yes that makes sense" or "yes I feel that too." I feel I am bringing my non-real and my real into a synthesis; I am closer to this than I have been since it was broken when I was a child.
the thought-work of building faith in love: focus on positive evidence, discuss ambiguous evidence
So four years ago almost exactly I made a set of three posts about faith: 1
, & 3
. There was a lot of pushback -- some people disliked the idea that it takes faith to believe in facts and others resisted the idea of faith being evidence-based. I think that series of reflections reflects a thing I have done for about 7 years now -- faith-building. Partly in a spiritual sense, but mostly in my relationships. I've just realized that this is a skill I have that enables me to feel more secure and happy in my relationships and I want to share it.
There are at least two parts to this (possibly more) -- the parts that I can articulate are these: 1) recognizing that fears are not reality, and not allowing them to attach and 2) squashing doubt with evidence. 2 is harder because it involves unlearning, but both are the same process. With 1, you feel your emotion, but you compare it to your set of knowledge and see that it does not make sense, and you acknowledge that it is not true. For instance, if some offhand comment by a lover made me worry that they did not want my company, I would consider how often they invite me to spend time with them, how happy they are to see me, how often they reach out to me, and if those things were all high level I would understand that the comment did not mean what it sounded like and dismiss it. If this was a 2 situation, I would have a previously-formed belief that people do not want my company, which would make it much harder to dismiss. If I did have that belief, I would acknowledge it to myself and realize that it would bias my views. Then, most importantly, I would keep a mental list of all the positive things that showed a desire for my company, and run over those again and again in my head, over and over, remembering and remembering -- OFTEN, not just in crisis -- until the time I spent thinking and experiencing that desire for my company outweighed the time I'd spent experiencing/thinking about how people did not want my company. 2 is a loooong process, and I do not think it can happen without deliberately changing thought patterns.
Other people can help you with these things, reminding you of positive things about yourself or love or whatever, but for one that only works if you're trying to build faith yourself, and for another, it's hard work for that person, especially if you don't practice on your own and therefore never get better at it. If you rely solely on their reminders, you're going to wear them out; it's too big a self-project to be all external.
The thing is, most people employ these tactics already, very effectively, but in the opposite direction. They build their doubt in love or self-worth or whatever by reflecting only on the negative, over and over, and dismissing anything that would be evidence for good. I'm not saying don't talk about things that are negative: hell yes talk about them. Hell yes process them. This faith-building I am talking about is internal, self-talk: the thoughts you often don't even realize you're having, unless you watch for them.
And it's fucking hard when you don't think you deserve love, admiration, appreciation. That was the first thing I built faith in and maybe the most important. And part of it I built with a logic train based on faith: if love is necessary food for living beings (which I believe), every living thing deserves it. From there I practiced receiving love. It is very easy to block out love: it's kind of rare to be able to just accept it as your right as a living being. It takes faith to accept that when someone tells you you are amazing, it is because they are right. I don't really know how to articulate how I got from automatic rejection to acceptance because it was a leap. I decided to believe people's sincerity without edits
when they showed me appreciation (instead of mentally appending things like "but you don't ask for my time" or "but you don't know how much I stink at this important thing"), and to stop using people's dislike/etc as a stick to beat myself with. And it took lots of practice and lots of mental backtracking -- responding to my habitual mental doubt-statements with faith-statements.
Also, if you're in problematic relationships, this exercise may make you realize the problems in it. If, with my previous example, my lover did not invite me to spend time with them, seem excited to see me, or reach out to communicate with me, that would not be evidence for the idea that they did want to spend time with me. BUT it would not necessarily mean that they did NOT want to, either! I would need to discuss these things with my lover and find out what was the cause of these things. Concluding that they were evidence of my unwantedness would be a massive assumption (one which I have made before and try hard not to make now!), and one that would be VERY hard to disbelieve later. It's much harder to unlearn a belief than to simply not adopt it. When considering the evidence does not result in increased faith, that means that it is time for a talk to increase understanding, or possibly to renegotiate the way the relationship works.
I've been reflecting a lot on this lately and feel I have more to say, but this is long enough.
tons of time w Topaz / handling conflict / how ze grows / empathetic oneness / alchemical shifting
Other than homework my life has been filled to the brim with Topaz. I just came home tonight after spending probably two weeks or more at zir place (stopping by home occasionally to get things). I think we have spent one or MAYBE two nights apart since I got back from TBC, either at my place or at zirs, and this doesn't feel like too much. Partly we can spend time together while doing other things, partly we just miss each other when we're apart. The other people I have been comfortable spending this much time with from the beginning are Hannah and Kylei, but even with them I needed more breaks because we would have painful conflict more often. Topaz and I have had some painful conflicts but it's rarer and healing them is less draining. I don't know how to explain, exactly... We had this one conflict where I was being careless with my response to something that was very important to Topaz, and it hurt zir, and we thought we had this fundamental philosophical difference, which we didn't (we use opposite words to mean the same things in some ways), and the logical part was pretty quickly mended but then the feelings had to catch up, and afterward I felt tired but I didn't feel drained. That was our first real conflict and we have gotten better at it since, I feel. And starting out from "pretty good" conflict and rapidly improving is amazing.
also amazing to me is the way Topaz grows. Ze is very open but also new to sharing on the level that I practice, so it can be difficult for zir to answer when I ask what ze is thinking or feeling. But ze tries very hard (to the point of sometimes getting upset with zirself over lack of perfection) and it's amazing how quickly ze's growing in this area. I've been close with many people who had difficulty with this and usually the progress is very slow, so that contributes to my amazement. I don't remember the timeline of my own growth but I don't imagine that it was so fast, either.
There's also supremely amazing sex; I want to write about that but it will need to be locked. I'll just say that I am trying all kinds of delightful new things and that my flexibility and strength is improving markedly ;-)
We speak the same language and it is incredibly easy to feel our agreement or lack thereof... usually if I say some complex feeling or belief and someone else says "me too" I feel compelled to ask, "how so?" partly to clarify and partly to see if it is truly 90-100% shared or if it is just 51%(+) shared. With Topaz I can just tell, and it is often 90-100% shared and when it is not I ask for elaboration.
We are emotively sensitive to each other -- there was a time this past week where I went into distraction-mode and was more distant from Topaz and it was mild yet ze noticed and cared enough to ask me about it. I have NEVER had that happen before; I almost always notice before the other person, and the few times that hasn't been true it has been a pretty intense distance. Also there are occasional freaky moments where I wonder if I have said something I was thinking out loud because Topaz heard it and responded -- but I did not say anything. And we feel each other's emotions and influences.
The strange thing is that being with Topaz feels like it has changed the current of my life in an alchemical way; I feel constantly as though I might be dreaming. I have pinched myself every day, it seems. I don't know what this means, and it's not really that physically evident but it is intensely mentally different. I am adjusting, slowly, and I hope to be finding some sort of comfort with the shift soon; it feels amazing, but also like I am out of my depth. I am so used to being able to touch bottom and even though I am enjoying the freedom to dive and spin, it's also disorienting. I look back at my life and I just don't feel like the same person. I want to get to an equilibrium of change so that I can say "okay, I am this person now" because right now I change so intensely in such an unconscious way, every day, that I cannot say who I was yesterday or who I will be tomorrow. I know that I will be in school for the next year at least, and that I will be working with N/A*, but everything else is not just unpredictable but unfathomable in a whole new way.
ethical storytelling rating: Cloud Atlas (2012)
(2012 USA) [drama / sci-fi] Directors: Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski. Writers: David Mitchell, Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski.
I've never had such a strong reaction to a film. It's beyond words: I went in without even having seen the trailer and I am convinced that that is the correct way to see it. If you like meaningful thoughtful films, please go see it. I will leave you with only a quote:"Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present. And with each crime and every kindness, we birth our future."
on sex/gender: no stereotyped characters, 3D characters, passes the Bechdel test, is subversive, and actively calls out bullshit, +7
on race/ethnicity: inclusion without stereotyping, 3D characters, passes Bechdel, is subversive, and actively calls out bullshit, +7
on ableism/lookism: +2: questionable inclusion on abilities, but significant and respectful inclusion of people who are older, and nothing actively horrible that I could see.
fucking none. YEAH I KNOW, WHAT??? but out of the minuses I've come up with they had none. The only remotely sour note for me was ( very mild spoilerCollapse )
The more I think about the racial cross-dressing in the film the more problematic it seems. I don't know how to 'rate' that because it's an area of privilege for me but I don't feel like it makes the film useless, because I feel like there is some actively anti-oppression stuff too. So I'm going to just minus 7 because in race/ethnicity it's both worse and better.
total: +16! I didn't even think that was possible.
total: +9COMMENTS CONTAIN SPOILERS
Topaz and I were trying to decide when the two of us became an 'us.' I told Topaz that I was happy and excited about our romance and our sex but it was our friendship that was the primary thing for me. I'd be sad if the romance/sex ended but I'd be fucking crushed beyond measure to lose our friendship. Ze said ze felt the same way. So our 'launch date' was the 11th, that night when we talked for 9 hours straight and then had the most amazing hug. ♥
bits n pieces about Topaz <3
So since I've been back from TBC, Topaz and I haven't spent more than about 12 hours apart (at a time)... it's so intense. I don't really have words for it. Constant cuddles and lots of sensual touch and some of the most connected, intense sex I've ever had. It's a little weird to me to be spending so much time with one person but it feels right so I'm going with it, and I know this is zir last semester in school which means that the amount of time we're spending right now probably won't be possible again, not like this, so I'm soaking it the fuck up while I can. It's easy and comfortable and exciting and eternal. It feels like time with Hannah felt when ze would come to visit, so full of growth it's almost painful, almost. My heart occasionally goes "AGH I need a break, this expansion is more than I can handle." We can spend time together doing things like homework and writing, having down time without being separate. When I notice and mention disconnection ze responds by immediately opening up -- no defensiveness, no hesitancy, just renewal. That feels so good. And ze can go to places I thought only existed in my own head.
So I was doing the affirmation for a while and asking for a local person who had time and energy to invest in me and would want to invest it in me, who would inspire me spiritually and help my faith grow, who would be a social justice activist who got pissed off about inequality, and at first I was like "no it can't be Topaz, because ze doesn't have time/energy." but that was wrong, and Topaz is everything I asked for, everything and more. I think my current favorite thing about zir is that ze's so fucking brave. Most people when faced with a problem either hide or run or procrastinate, but Topaz just does it immediately.
Also also we went to see Cloud Atlas for Sagan's birthday (Sagan is a lodestar for Topaz) and it was the most profound experience I've ever had with a movie, and I could feel Topaz feeling it as much (Kylei and Adi and Roree too but less intensely), and the resonance shone. And I cried and shook with emotion afterward and Topaz was falling over... and I sort of expected for zir to consider zir connection with the film more profound (very strange reaction, not sure why) but ze so didn't, and ze got me a copy of the book the next day. And ze told me that this experience I had with zir the other day, that ze couldn't find words for, made zir feel like the film made zir feel, which pretty much made my heart explode.
physicist at a funeral (Aaron Freeman)
"You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.
And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly. Amen."
musicsharing: gifts for Topaz
intensely deep connection and love with Topaz
I have no idea how to sum up everything that has developed in my connection with Topaz in these last 10 days (ten days what the fuck!) but I'm gonna give it a shot. We first cuddled last Wednesday and it was AMAZING, so incredibly focused and present and intense and perfect, and I learned that ze was not monogamous (:D). Thursday morning I crashed HARD and realized that I hadn't felt more nourished than spent in at least five months, which made me realize I needed to restructure my relationships. Then I wrote a poem about zir and shared it with zir and we talked lots of wordmeaningmagic and then ze asked me how I understand the word love and we meta'd our way into love confessions <3 and then Friday and Saturday nights we had long phone conversations about the shifts in my other relationships and about life, the universe, and everything. Then Monday I reached out to zir when I was feeling shitty and ze was there for me. Then Tuesday!!! Ze came over! and we beamed at each other a lot and had amazing cuddles and I told zir that I wanted to kiss zir and ze said ze wanted to kiss me too but was nervous about it because it would mean intensification of already strong feelings. I told zir that I was totally sure I wanted to kiss zir so whenever ze was ready, to just go for it. Then there were AGES while ze worked up the courage, kissing my cheeks and touching my face and lips (fucking delicious torture), and finally ze kissed me and that turned into fucking mindblowing sex. I think what made it so intense was that it was the first time but it flowed so easily and sincerely without me feeling any insecurity or needing to guard my boundaries; I felt safe that ze would be present and deliberate with me, and I also felt zir wanting me and felt confident that my touch was being noticed and appreciated, and ze didn't get bothered by my billionty consent questions. Ze spent the night and we cuddle-slept and it was comfortable and cozy and so connected. Then Wednesday ze went to the Halloween ritual that N/A* hosted and we intended to part ways after but ze decided to come home with me <3 and we had more cuddles and talking and things started getting sexual and I interrupted to have the STI conversation (our previous sex was physically indirect), fretting that it would break the mood but it didn't (though it was zir first time having that conversation, which made it new and awkwarder than usual), and afterward we had intense sex and ze slept over and took me to school the next day (because my car stopped working on Wed) and we met up afterward and came back to my place and we drank rum together and played drums together (!!!!!!!!), and talked lots and lots and then eventually we went to bed and had an ( intense breaking-bonding experienceCollapse )
shedding, shifting, movement and temporary endings in my relationships.
Fuck. This past week has changed SO MUCH in my life. I realized on Thursday that I was creating all of the momentum in ALL of my romantic relationships, and that it was draining me entirely. I've been feeling incapable of happiness; even in moments of extreme joy I would suddenly crash and feel disconnected and apathetic. I was worrying that it was a chemical thing and that I needed some sort of medication, which is extremely scary for me because I know of the struggles my people have had in trying to find the right pill (one that didn't just make their problems worse).
I had a long conversation with Kylei on Thursday about our particular set of issues; things that were innocuous that became habits and thus problems; basically I had become Kylei's mood stabilizer, safety blanket, and braindump receptacle, because I often act those functions and without any intention for it, Kylei had grown to expect it. That, combined with Kylei not investing in zirself or in people other than me, led to this loop of need that meant we never got above neutral. I felt like it might be best for us to take a break, but we ended up deciding to try and shift expectations in another way, which is what we're living now. It feels weird but I am hoping it will lead to renewal. I was feeling / am feeling scared that we won't be able to renew our magic, but I am having faith and Kylei said ze was going to work on having faith too.
Then Friday I had a long conversation with Abby about the same thing, realizing that with zir and others I was constantly investing without realizing it, shoring up my feelings which would slowly slip with every day that I didn't hear from them, and fall dramatically every time I found out something significant had happened in their life that they didn't share with me. While I was logically okay with these things, emotionally they damaged my connection every time and I fixed that damage by pouring my own faith-energy into the cracks. It worked, but it left me neutral or negative on energy all the time, and it's been going on for so long that I've forgotten how to manage "more than neutral." I only realized these things after hanging out with Topaz and feeling nourished afterwards instead of sad or just okay. I thought to myself, "healthy connections create energy, this needs to change." So I shared all this with Abby, feeling super-worried that ze was going to be upset with me, but ze was just sad and caring for me, and we agreed to take a break from our relationship (because I can't manage to stop investing energy without that). I want to have a similar conversation with other people whom I'm 'dating' but haven't actually had any significant amount of time with since ... I don't even know. I can't keep trying to make the impossible happen.
And there's this weird selfishness in it where I don't want to give up because I don't want to have my world shrink, which is what it feels like will happen if I break up with people. But that is a shitty reason to stay with people. I need to let things happen in their own time instead of being like NOW NOW NOW GODDAMMIT. I want these things to blossom and flourish but I KNOW that is not going to happen right now and we're delaying the future joys by creating issues now that will have to be healed later.
I also had some fucking astonishing world-shifting beginnings this week, and loads of TBC learning, but those will have to go in further posts.
starting an amazing open&honest friendship with Topaz
So I have a new friendship that I am incredibly excited and happy about! I haven't been this excited about a new friendship since Hannah and I first started talking -- and if you've known me a long time or read back into my journal you know how big of a deal that is. I've tried to create close friendships nearby for a long time with little success, mostly because the people I tried it with either weren't interested in the amount of closeness I wanted or they were too busy (the latter more often). With my romantic relationships, I would say that I am very close with Kylei but my other connections are sporadic -- not for lack of interest but for lack of time, neurological difficulties, and/or lack of skill at reaching out. I've come to a level of acceptance of that; either things will change in my lovers' lives that will enable them to build that kind of thing with me, or they won't; either way I want them in my life to some extent. But this means that there is just not much deep connection in my life on a daily basis, or that there wasn't; and that is painful for me because I really crave close connection with multiple people for emotional and/or spiritual intimacy.
So about three weeks ago I posted loss and longing and lacking nourishment
and Topaz messaged me on facebook about being open and how it fucking hurts, and I wrote back and the exchange was really honest and open and we met up for coffee the next day and talked lots and since then have hung out really often and look at this excitable run-on sentence *giggles* I admire zir so much and it feels so incredibly good to be around someone who is so curious
(Godde I missed that!) and so open and so truth-focused and unflinchingly idealistic and dedicated to zir art. Also ze gives amazing hugs. And I feel like ze's living out loud and I just adore everything I know about zir.
Also, last week I had a day where I was dealing with feeling unappreciated/unwanted by some people who are really important to me, and I was upset to the point that I was crying while walking between classes. I tweeted about it and Topaz texted me asking if I wanted a hug; I said yes (thinking ze was on campus) and ze came to campus
just to give me a hug. I don't think I've ever had someone go out of their way like that for me for such a small thing, and it meant the world to me. I shared what was bothering me and ze took it in and empathized, and it was so exactly what I needed.
Then last Saturday we (Topaz, Kylei, and I) went to watch the meteor shower, and I felt strange the whole time, but didn't realize why until I left; I felt disconnected from Topaz for the first time since we'd started spending time together. So once I got home I texted asking if ze had felt that and if I had caused it somehow, and we had a pretty intense conversation that ended in us sharing that we both want to actively cultivate openness&honesty with each other. I was super nervous starting that conversation because it's "weird" to care about things like this with friends, but I decided to do it anyway because we'd started out open, dammit, and if I was feeling it I wanted to be able to share it. I am really glad that I did.
The timing and creation of this is so delicately strung together -- I wasn't intended to be at the event where I met zir, but I tagged along with some friends; I didn't really talk with zir directly at the event but memorized zir name and decided to add zir on facebook anyway because ze seemed awesome (and I coached myself, like I do: "if ze thinks this is too weird, ze wouldn't be a good choice for a friend anyway"); ze messaged me out of nowhere; I followed up with actual plans... and this is zir last semester at my school. It would have been SO EASY for that first event to never happen, or for any of the things to have dissolved. I feel so fucking happy that everything wove together for now. Just a little while after we started hanging out (I think it was after our nine-and-a-half hour conversation that felt like half that time) I remember telling Kylei that I felt confident that our friendship will last. And I am, but at the same time I'm nervous because there are elements that I worry could break things; it's a strange combination of certainty and insecurity.
*deep happy sigh*
finally catching up to the pace of my life
From February until April 2009, my life was VERY slow-paced. I had little pockets of fast-paced life, but most of the time I had nothing on my calendar, or only one thing (steady uncomplicated work and/or regular counseling sessions). Since then my life has gradually sped up and up and up, and right now I usually have at least one significant obligation every day, and I put everything on my calendar because if I don't, I will forget it. On my busiest days there is no break between 8am and 6:30pm. After years of slow regular life with almost zero face-to-face socializing, this has been a difficult adjustment, and one of the things that fell out of my life was my writing, and another was my long-distance relationships (there were other reasons as well, for that one). Writing requires space for me, it requires some down time where I am free of obligation, free of deadlines, and have energy left from the day. Long-distance relationships require me to be able to schedule time and not be so drained from busyness that I need that time to rest instead.
I feel like I have FINALLY caught up, within this past month. I finally am at the point where I can write, and I can invest in long-distance, and I can EDIT PHOTOS (Godde I missed that), and MAKE ICONS (look at my new one!), and I can add things to my schedule without them stressing me the fuck out. It's not easy yet, but it has become manageable. This is a Big Damn Deal. I've finally gotten to the point where I feel like I'm functional, instead of constantly on the edge of fucking everything up. It's even easier to talk on the phone or email or respond to comments. Those things are innately hard because of social anxiety AND when I need to cut something out to make space for rest time, those are easy to cut; so they are the first symptoms of overload.
I hope to spend more time writing and communicating in general. I miss my busy LJ days. I love y'all so much. *blows kisses*
my soul-heart-spirit garden / Aurilion, loss, Hannah, reconnection? longing
There are so many withered spots in the garden of my soul-heart-spirit, but I refuse to plow them under and pass them on to a new tender, because I love those plants, even if it hurts to watch them wilt. And I can always open new plots when I meet new people who say they want to tend one, or when I find new projects to plant on my own... But when I have no new plots to explore then I wander among the old ones. All of them have some spots of green, a tree here or there that was old enough when they left to be okay left alone. But there is so much wilt, and I miss the bustle of activity. I can't ever forget that patch of lavender or that bird of paradise cluster, but I also can't bring them back. Sometimes I can do the upkeep alone for a time but I always run out of water and fertilizer, and end up tending only the plots of my own creation, and the ones where I have helpers.
I'm realizing how much it hurts to stay open to people who love me, but can't invest time/energy/presence/communication in me. I refuse to react by closing off; for now (and intended for always), if any person I have a connection with comes back into my life they will be welcomed. But it fucking HURT this time when Aurilion cut contact, because I really believed it would be different. I'm mourning the loss of Aurilion; I expect this break to last a very long time. I'm tentatively connecting with Hannah now, and I'm afraid to believe in it because what if something happens and ze disappears? There will be nothing I can do about it. But maybe just maybe it will be a true renewal, not a single dash of water thrown over the hedge.
Something I wrote Hannah tonight: "After you came back [...] I couldn't recognize you in photos and it made me feel horribly separated from you. I couldn't tell if it was just because you physically looked different or if you had changed more fundamentally, and it scared me. And I didn't recognize the path you were taking and I felt like it was so hard to get to communicate with you, and I got scared when it didn't feel the same when we skyped either [...] I saw that photo of you hugging Ara and I realized that it was partly a physical thing but more than that it was that the "real you" was layered under in the less recent photos. I looked into your eyes in that picture and I could feel you again, and it felt like I was sitting across from you..."
Every day that passes without seeing Hannah in person is a little more heartbreak. It's been 4 years (FOUR YEARS), 3 months, and 17 days. That is just wrong. I put it out of my mind but it hurts quietly in the background, constantly. When we were closest we saw each other every year, and it was hard to wait in those between-times. *deep sigh*
new friend / coming out of shock / N/A* & navigating friendship / ritual & focused time w Kylei
I had a really nourishing conversation with a new friend today (one of the people who had messaged me). Ze's super open in a way that only Hannah and Kylei have been with me; not just truthful but self-exploratory and sharing without editing. It was so GOOD to feel that; I felt allowed to be naked in a way I haven't felt for a long time. We talked for four and a half hours. I hope that we can become strong friends. And I also feel scared of that because ze reminds me of Ava, and I just can't even imagine going through THAT
again. Not that it is even possible, but the fear is there anyway.
I'm still constantly on the verge of tears. But they're clean tears, not poison ones. I don't know how to explain that. I suppose it's that I feel like I'm hurting a lot but it's almost like I just came out of shock and the damage is not being done any more but it hasn't quite started healing yet either. I just want to curl up in watery roots and cry until something grows around me. I've just been missing so many people for so long. I need presence
N/A* is so good for me. I realize this anew every time I talk about it with someone. I've really learned how to advocate through N/A*, mostly through the practice it's given me. I've learned that my thoughts and efforts are useful and can create positive change. I've started to believe that what I have to give (teaching-wise) is worth offering. I feel such a strong bond with everyone who is active in N/A* -- which is awesome but also weird because I don't know how to navigate becoming real friends. I feel like people in N/A* are sort of forced to associate with me, so I don't know if they like me as a person or just appreciate my contributions. I'm hesitant to be like, "do you want to actively develop a friendship?" because if they don't want to there's a social pressure to hide that to preserve equilibrium and I don't know how to undo it. I don't think that people would necessarily agree despite not wanting it, but it's complicated because they can't just avoid me. I've sort of tried with two members but didn't feel a lot of interest back and don't want to push, so I just dropped it. :-[ I do feel nourished just by the group connection and working together on projects, so I suppose it's okay if deeper friendship doesn't come out of it. But I still want that, and I really want to cuddle everyone. That's definitely the worst part! With most of the people I know I can just be like, "I would like to go sit and cuddle together, how do you feel about that?" and know I'll get an unedited unpressured answer. But if you're not used to radical consent that might be a super-pressurey question, and even if it's not I don't think I could enjoy that very much at school, and spending time with people out of school seems impossible. BLEH. I did tell people I want more hugs in general and ask how they feel about it, and so far everyone's been open to that, at least as goodbyes.
In other news Kylei and I have started doing ritual daily-ish (we aim to do it daily but don't always have the energy), drawing the people and situations we want to us. I can feel it working already, which is a relief. It's very simple -- we light a candle, hold it together while touching each other, focus on what we want to bring in, and thank the universe in advance for it. Whether we do ritual or not we cuddle every day now -- for a while after ze started working we barely saw each other, until we realized what was happening and decided to aim for at least 15 minutes of focused time every day. I feel like we're starting to develop some forward motion again, which is encouraging.
cracked open and spilled out
Godde why is everything so fucking hard. I've cried so fucking much today; at school, at the auto shop when I got an oil change, at school again, at home. I had an intense discussion with Abby about the lack of communication between us and the imbalance in initiation, and I feel a sliver of hope now but also just so fucking sad. Why is it always so hard for people I love to come to me (emotionally and physically)? How can it be that even at the edge of ending it's a struggle?
I also got some wonderfully encouraging messages today, one from someone I had never really talked to and one from someone who has been important to me but for whatever reason we see each other very rarely and one from someone who's been a long-time LJ friend and one who I have a heart-on-thorns-in-paradise history with. And one from Nea, who always finds the perfect thing I need to hear, that I'm listening to over and over.
I feel like something cracked, like I had been holding myself together so hard, waiting and waiting and waiting for things to get better, and they didn't, and then finally I just couldn't wait anymore and I let go and this shell cracked and all of my pain came spilling out. And I feel more alive but SO FUCKING SAD.
loss and longing and lacking nourishment
crying right now. I feel such acute loss. Aurilion cut me out again and it hurt worse this time because I really thought things were going to be different. Everyone I've ever felt a strong connection with, except for Kylei, is not bonded with me. Ava disappeared, Anika left twice for reasons I still don't really know, Viv I can't connect with over distance, Aurilion is too scared of usness to connect again possibly ever, Hannah and Adi and Abby and Arizona and Chip are all too busy with their own lives that don't include me. Kylei is still with me but ze's so low energy all the time from work that doing more than maintaining our bond feels impossible. I need more than basic maintenance, I need magic, and I need to not have to do all the work of creating the space for it and spinning the other person into it. I can give more than I get but I need to get more. Godde, this hurts!
I am so rich in people yet so poor in nourishing time with them. What good does it do to know amazing people if they brush by in the night and that's it? I'm so tired of yearning for what I can't have.
Universe, please bring into my life a local social-justice-minded person I have a strong spiritual connection with who is able and happy to invest intimate time and emotional energy into me, of their own initiative. If you want to throw some romance in there and maybe some sex that'd be a great bonus, but not necessary.
alchemy 2012: volunteering, gifting, leading talks, hosting an art project (all for the 1st time)
This burn experience was quite short (less than 40 hours) and super-productive. Kylei and I arrived at 10:30p Friday night, and at 11 I started a volunteer shift (my first at a burn) with greeters (who give people their schwag, explain parking, and give directions to the appropriate camping spot), which lasted until 1a. Then I wandered with Kylei for a while, sharing fresh-made guacamole with people (my first real gifting experience: Kylei bought the materials and I made it just before we drove up) and looking for Abby since I had a vague idea of where ze was camped. We didn't find zir (later I learned ze was asleep), and I went back to Fucking Awesome to take my 3a-5a shift as a dome monitor (in the Fucking Awesome dome, which is a public sex space).
The dome monitor shift was interesting and a little scary: my job was to watch people and make sure everything was consensual (as far as I could tell), keep people from interrupting others, and kick out anyone who was breaking the mood. There was only one case where I felt unsure if it was consensual; ( choice but not visible desireCollapse )
There was some heteronormative sex that I was uncomfortable just looking at, and some mixed-sex sex that I thought was beautiful, and some that I thought was hot (especially the stretched legs and pointed toes of one of them, a seemingly-subconscious body expression). And there was some same-sex male sex, which included audible consent questions including a quick STD talk (which made me happy). Kinsey had the best job. I want to study people fucking! I also talked with someone who came in and sat next to me (still cannot remember zir name!) about kinds of sex and social scripts and queerness and our experiences -- it was a pretty fascinating conversation, which ended when my shift ended because I went straight to "bed" (I slept in my car! ♥ an umbrella over the sunroof made a perfect vent :D).
I didn't get much sleep because I woke up to people talking, and then Abby came by after I 'called' each of my lovers emotionally (I was sad that Kylei and Adi didn't respond, but had enough spoons to manage it); ze left soon after but I was just glad that ze came. I got up and went to a camp that offered us breakfast, and then went back to Fucking Awesome and caught the end of the polyamory round table discussion, which bled over into the start of my workshop. After a bit I asked people to pause and if people had come for the intimacy workshop, to come inside. I was expecting maybe 5-6 people, but I started with TEN and more came in over time (and some left -- it stayed around 11 people at once). I just talked about the stuff in this post
, with occasional breaks for comments/questions, and it was really interesting to me to see people's responses. There was a lot of nodding and a few "oh yeah!" faces which made me happyyyyyy. After I finished talking I said that if you wanted to participate in the intimacy practice, please stay, and otherwise leave because it is harder to be intimate with an audience. One couple left, saying they had to be somewhere, but everyone else stayed (and more had arrived at that time). I was so surprised! and intimidated! Since we had so many people, I decided that for the intimacy practice we would just do laughter yoga and truth-or-truth. Laughter yoga is one of those things that is hard for people because being silly in front of others is not just intimate, but also associated with being a child, and it's only fun if everyone participates so I was really nervous about leading it, but everyone participated (some nervously). After we did a few of the "poses" made up by my tribe (Abby and Kylei and Adi and Rob were there so they led some), I asked the group to make up some and someone did (I forget what it is now, but I was so happy that they were into it enough to do that!). Then we started truth-or-truth, and changed 'venue' twice (because the poly group was still going, and then the masturbation party was starting so we had to leave the dome) and people were so into it that they followed the back-and-forth, which was awwwwesome. At the end of it I asked one person who had talked about being trans in the truth-or-truth game if ze wanted to help me lead the "ask the queers" panel later and ze said yes, and then another person said "me too!" which was great because I didn't want to lead it alone. Then I asked people to paint on my car, and lots of people did :D I put the paints away just before starting the "ask the queers" panel.
The panel wasn't at ALL what I was expecting, mainly because it was mostly seemingly-cis gay or bisexual men, but there were a few straight people. We talked about coming out, about gender expectations, flirtation signals, being trans and genderfree, quite a lot of topics. I feel like that ventured far from my expectations but was still worthwhile, for sure. People seemed to appreciate it.
From doing the intimacy workshop I learned a lot: I figured out how to focus it up and which bits definitely need to be included; next time I need to talk more about finding an intimacy partner, give more practical tips on how to practice things, maybe mention a list of signs that intimacy is waning, and include a full description of all the things we do at an intimacy practice usually (though I think the 2-part works best for a large group of strangers). I also want to make up a resource page that I can share the link to, with a description of intimacy practice and the 10 tips, and maybe some links to other things like the game imaginiff (which can be a useful tool in a group new to intimacy). Maybe I'll order the practical tips from least to most challenging, within the 10 categories.
For the "ask the queers" panel I'm going to change the title to "ask the trans and genderqueer people" because while the first one is snappy and catches attention, it's a little misleading because I think most people hear "gay" when you say "queer" (news to me!) and I think gender non-conformity and transness is something people are less aware of. I want to add more to the resources page I whipped up the night before
because it's heavily trans-focused and I want more specifically non-binary stuff (which is harder to find). Please share any suggestions!
After that panel I felt both exhausted and energized, and I asked Kylei to walk around with me and invite people to paint on my car on the way to find Abby. We did invite people but did not find Abby, and headed back. We waited around for a good while, eating and resting, and then made our way towards effigy hill for the burn. On the way we ran into Abby, who was going to zir camp for more layers (it got pretty cool but not aching cold, thank Godde), and ze told us where Seth was and to meet us there. On the way we collected John, Cat, Teri, and Nick, 'randomly' running into them in all that crowd, and then I found Seth and the rest of Abby's camp. When Abby got back I asked for a hug and told zir that I was really sad that ze hadn't spent much time with me that day, and ze said ze was sad about it too, that ze had intended to but had an emotional clash with Seth and spent a long time talking and healing it, and hugged me more. I cried a little bit and we just cuddled and then I felt a bit better and we had really lovely incredibly hot makeouts which made me feel lots better. Then there were lots of three-way hugs between me and Kylei and Abby as they both loved me up to make me feel better, and I was super-cuted, and then as we watched the burn Kylei hugged me who also hugged Abby who also hugged Seth and Seth and I smiled at each other and included each other in the hug too, so it was a line-hug :D and after the last posts of the effigy fell Abby and Kylei ran around the embers together ♥ ♥ ♥ and came back bouncing around hugging everybody shouting "happy burn!" I felt really connected to them and really happy about the connection between them and also cold and tired and sad that I probably wasn't going to get the time I wanted with Abby since I was planning on leaving when I woke up. Then Abby walked with us back to camp and spent some time in my car with me talking about things -- how we've stopped being as communicative recently and how we want that to change (I think part of it is that we've both been very busy and part is that when Abby is feeling bad ze withdraws) and both of us sharing some recent emotionally-relevant things. It was really connecting and positive and I felt good about us after but also a little panicky because Kylei had parted from us saying that ze felt left out and I was worried ze had run off and I really wanted time with Kylei also, but after a short time Abby came back with Kylei and said bye to me, promising to return in the morning. Then Kylei and I had a sweet time together, talking and being sensual but not sexual (I was mentally in the mood but physically super-not, so exhausted), and then I went to sleep.
The next morning lots of people painted on my car! and I found the person I talked to in the dome and gave zir my contact info, and had a short talk with Issa where I expressed how much I love zir blog LoveLiveGrow
("living a big fat life of belligerent self-acceptance" -- I love that!). If I have kids, Issa is one of my role models for how to parent. Speaking of which, Deb, the person I've known longest who is still in my life
(besides lil sis) was there just because Camellia (zir kid, who is now 18 I think) had asked zir to go (and so was Rusty, Camellia's dad!). I was SO impressed. They even seemed cool with the fact that I was topless* and obviously camping at the sex-positive camp, and gave me hugs. Deb is definitely also one of my parenting heroas -- anyone who cares enough about their offspring to step outside of their comfort zone is just fucking amazing to me. Deb has been going to Rainbow Gathering for many years now, so it's not an alien world, but still! I was so happy to see them and that they came by just to see me :D Also I really want to go to Rainbow Gathering, but it's never going to happen if I don't make it a priority. I don't know about next year because Montana? but I'll at least keep it in mind as summer approaches.
So, huge exhausting learning experience. I got a lot more out of it this time (and put a lot more in); and I feel like the burn has hit its stride as there were far fewer party-ers and more of what I call "real burners" (who live by the 10 principles
or at least do so at burns). I think that I want to continue going to Georgia's burns (but next time, I'll plan for more time and I'll space out my commitments or get a watch, ugh, keeping track of time SUCKED), partly because I do love Euphoria (which feels like a celebration of summer essence to me) and partly because many of my people will keep going and partly because I feel like I can have a positive effect. I want to build radical inclusion in people's minds from an "include yourself and don't exclude anyone" to a "learn about people so that you can actually be RADICALLY inclusive instead of passively non-exclusive."
*not naked, because I get sick of carrying something to sit on or leaning on my hip instead of sitting (nudist etiquette in other people's spaces, in case you didn't know)
daily -- ramblings about productivity / dream (nightmare about TBC, Harlan, Hannah)
ex-partner awkwardness / mirrors and resonance
I saw my ex-partner at school today -- so strange and awkward! That's the one relationship of which there are no living remains. With everyone else there is at least a little connection or desire. I'm curious about zir life, but not in an emotionally-invested way, more in a "so that is what my life could have been like" kind of way.
And it made me think about mirrors. I think some people (like my bioparent P) are hammered into mirrors by being disallowed to have any independent thought or action, and others are mirrors because it is an easier kind of relationship than communication and self-awareness. I don't know about nowadays, but when my ex and I were together I thought we agreed on so many things because ze was a mirror. And when I spent time with Ash I thought we agreed too, but ze was just mirroring. And then I wonder about myself -- do I attract these people because I am an easy model to reproduce due to my transparency? Or a scarier thought, am I subconsciously attracted to them because I like being reflected? I think it's more likely that I seek real resonance and used to be fooled by the mirroring -- it has been a few years since then, and I have learned to tell the difference at least somewhat, I think. My current understanding of the way to tell is that if someone truly agrees with me on something, that is true whether I'm around them or not, and whether or not I have discussed it with them lately. If they're just mirroring, they won't spot nuances on their own, they won't seek out more information on their own, and they won't apply it to their lives in their own ways.
ETA: I think mirroring can be conscious or it can be habitual. It's is a really useful skill when talking to a boss or some other non-empathetic dispenser of resources; I think it's only a problem when it prevents intimacy or substitutes for it. I think if you are comfortable uttering disagreements with people, having constructive conflict, and maintaining boundaries that are good for you, it is unlikely that you have a habit of mirroring. But I don't have experience from the inside, myself, so I'm just guessing. I don't think I've ever mirrored successfully, though I certainly try when it comes to job interviews :-p
daily: meeting Cat / no homework today / TBC fundraising / Alchemy plans
what my appearance means (hint: not gender) / fuck you, queer dress code.
Despite constant assumptions, I am not femme or butch or "feminine" or "masculine" or "not-feminine" or "not-masculine" and I find being categorized like that to be infuriating. I'm genderfree: don't assign me a gender especially not via my self-covering/decoration. Don't assume I'm "presenting" a gender just because you associate something about my appearance with gender markers. My bright colors mean I like fucking bright colors okay. My skirt means I like air around my legs and crotch. My bra means I don't like my nipples to brush up against things unless I'm being sexual. My cleavage-y sleeveless shirt means I get overheated if there is too much fabric on my top half. My jewelry means I love glass and color and wearing art that I make. My makeup means I love color and painting myself. My tennis shoes mean that I like cushion under my feet and a sturdy base with less chance of twisting my ankle. My mismatched socks mean that I dislike fashion rules. My body hair means the same thing my skin and bones mean -- I'm a human being. My haircut means I like air on my scalp and the ability to braid/clip/twist/pull my hair. My unsquished unsculpted body means I'm fat and I like it. My glittergoatee means that I like glitter and I think a goatee belongs on my face. NONE of my appearance is about gender.
And while I'm at it, I'm sick of the fetishistic privileging of masculinity in queer culture. The 'androgynous' uniform I usually see is just an outfit that doesn't contain 'femme' elements except maybe a TINY bit more cling and accessory than average 'masculine' attire. We've moved from centering gender-conformity to centering 'masculine'-conformity; not an improvement. Now there is even less variety. DOWN WITH QUEER DRESS CODE.
dailypost 1 -- Aurilion, phonetalking, coffee w Sarah, short visit w Abby, creativestreak w earrings
I'm gonna try to do some daily-events posts for at least 13 days; I'll probably put them all under lj-cuts to prevent me worrying that they're not interesting enough.( Aurilion, phonetalking, coffee w Sarah, short visit w Abby, creativestreak w earringsCollapse )
My heart is hungry. My life is so ridiculously full right now; 30% N/A* and thinkingtryingthinking on how to build coalitions and become a more effective activist, 30% school (mostly frustrations at my uninspiring or problematic classmates/profs: though there are some cool and inspiring people), 20% Kylei and Abby and others, 10% art. Then that last 10% is this longing, this ravenous craving. It occasionally picks a person to fasten to and then I'm missing Ava or Aurilion or etc. so much it hurts. I don't know if it's just missing the easier time of my life when I was just exploring and creating endless art (I think that's at least part of it), or if it's a genuine longing/missing a person whom I've not met who is supposed to be part of my life. It feels the same as when I have just fallen for someone and I crave their presence, except I haven't actually fallen for someone. I have a terribly inappropriate crush going on right now but this feeling is separate from that and I can't really even fasten them if I want to (which I REALLY don't).
In the past this feeling heralds a soon-to-begin intense relationship (though, when I am feeling like this, a month or two does NOT feel soon). I don't even think I really have the time for it but my heart just doesn't give a shit, it wants wants wants. I think I've written about the stuck point in some of my relationships; distance and energy and time have just created this plateau, and I crave intense increase. There is a need that my relationships are just not meeting; which seems ridiculous to me considering how much good comes out of them, but maybe not, since everyone is so busy and tired. And maybe I couldn't even satisfy a person who actually had the free time and energy, maybe I'm longing for something that'll just end up causing stress and explosions, but fuck, I want it anyway. I'll bite the sun and if I burn my mouth, I burn it.Unashamed Desire -- Butterfly Boucher
My unashamed desire
Is an open fire
And I'm not afraid to love
Open up my chest and take what you like
Open up my chest if you like
I've nothing to hide
eta: and after writing this of course I go looking through the journals of the people I miss and it just makes everything so much sharper. :-( All so far away...
going to TBC! if you help!
I've created an indiegogo to help myself, Kylei, Abby, and Adi get to Transcending Boundaries: http://www.indiegogo.com/takeustoTBC
We're offering some pretty awesome perks, so please check it out! I'm hoping to be very busy making custom jewelry for this :D I'm very excited and nervous about it, and will probably be checking it many times per day, and the smallest amount would make me super happy (if you send it directly with your card instead of via paypal, which will eat it up in fees). If you can't donate but still want to help, please signal boost! share this with your friends and encourage them to give.http://www.indiegogo.com/takeustoTBC
dirt-level basics on how to be respectful of people who are different from you: a list of 3 don'ts
1) Don't make jokes about their difference from you. This means, if they have a different skin tone, don't make jokes about it. If they have a different gender identity, don't make jokes about it. (this includes "jokingly" or "affectionately" using slurs that refer to a group you're not in) If they have a different relationship style, don't make jokes about it. There are many reasons for this, but the very most basic is that it feels like you're saying "you're not one of us, isn't that funny?"
2) Don't make general statements about how "those people" who are different from you behave, look, think, etc. If you are not one of that group, you're probably just repeating stereotypes, so just don't make general statements. NO, knowing someone from that group -- even very very well -- DOES NOT change this. If you're quoting someone else's opinion on group A, make sure that person is a member of group A and make sure you state it as a quote of a specific person, not as a general fact.
3) Don't make assumptions, and don't put the burden of your ignorance on other people. If you don't know, educate yourself through the internet and the library/bookstore. Feel free to ask for resources, but don't demand free tutoring. You can ask IF the person WANTS to be extremely generous and give you free tutoring, but there is a reason we pay teachers, professors, and tutors -- it's WORK teaching someone, highly skilled and frustrating work.
on use of my writings: my permissions
Linking to my public posts is always* okay/encouraged!
Sharing my public posts via email or offline is always* okay!
Saving/archiving my posts (to your computer or memories or whatever) is always okay!
Quoting me is okay/encouraged as long as it is an exact quote with my name (Belenen) attached.
Summarizing a post of mine is okay/encouraged with a link to the original and my name (Belenen) attached.
Taking the ideas and modifying them to fit in your own mindspace is very much encouraged, as is writing about those ideas! If you write something that draws heavily from something I wrote, I would appreciate a linkback to the original, but it is not necessary as long as you put your own spin on it. IF you refer to me by name, please link to the original (so that people don't think I wrote something that I did not).
In all of these cases I'd really love if you let me know that you shared/referenced my writing, but it's not necessary. It just makes me happy :D
Rephrasing my writing and sharing that as your work is NEVER okay, with or without a link/reference. For it to be your work, it needs to differ significantly from mine. If it doesn't, just quote me and add your comments after.
*exception: unless you're doing it with intent to harm me (get me fired, expelled, arrested, etc).