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)"

[media imbibed in 2016]

Stars are for re-watches

Switched at Birth (finished season 4)
New Girl season 4
Grey's Anatomy* (season 4, 5)
Lost Girl* (season 1, 2 [with skips])
Last Tango in Halifax (season 1)

Jenny's Wedding
Revenge of the Bridesmaids


Seinabo Sey -- "Pretend"



[icon descriptions]

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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 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. I certainly don't want to be static or comfortable. 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 -- 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), changing for any external reason or doing something because you agreed to do it even though you don't want to is usually both ineffective and damaging, and there is no such thing as a healthy static connection.

On doing a thing even though you don't want to: 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 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]
I do my best to always:

respect your personhood: never mock, belittle, or call you names; never shut you up or treat you dismissively; never talk about you behind your back; never assume rights to your things; never try to deliberately deceive you for my gain; never use your vulnerabilities against you; never deliberately or carelessly hurt you; never treat my convenience as more important than your need; never consider myself better than you; never break an agreement without explanation or apology; never use 'loopholes' to justify behavior that I know goes against the spirit of what was expressed.

respect your bodily autonomy: never to touch without consent and never to verbally disrespect or attempt to sway your choices on what to put in or on your body.

respect your agency: never to try to persuade you to do something you don't want to do; never to use emotional manipulation to get you to do something; never deliberately or carelessly make it difficult to say no.

(all of the 'respect' ones are my minimum requirements for friendly acquaintances)

harm none, if possible: do my best to not cause harm to others or myself, yet maintain willingness to cause slight harm to others if the cost of not doing so would be significant damage to myself. Considering not to whom the harm goes, but which harm would be greater.

negotiate expectations: never have any non-consensual expectations of you, nor tolerate you having them of me.

build expectations from desire, not fear: base expectations on practicality and the needs and desires of all affected rather than blocking out scary things.

allow relationships to grow or shrink on their own merit: never invest in or withdraw from a relationship due to its current role. be willing to take breaks or break up if there is a harmful pattern. note patterns and set boundaries if a pattern of behavior begins to cause me damage.

prioritize needs: consider who has the greater need when making decisions on who to give my energy to if I have to choose.

share with you: whatever resources I have to spare I will share with you.

allow you to be the only one responsible for your self-care: never to try to caretake you in a way that has not been negotiated. If you want or need me to caretake you in some way, you are responsible for explaining this and for accepting if I cannot do it. I will not try to read your mind or predict your desires.

support you in your self-care and growth to my best ability: encourage you spending time and energy on activities that nourish you and help you grow and learn, even when they are not at all beneficial to me.

be responsible for my own self-care: never to assume that you will caretake me in any circumstance, and to be prepared for you to be unavailable at any time. I will never expect you to read my mind or predict my desires.

respect my needs: check in with myself regularly on if I am getting my needs met, express it if there are unmet needs, accept help when it is offered and I want it. If one person cannot meet my need, seek another person instead of trying to get the first to change.

pay attention: absorb and try to fully engage with what you share with me. (also, express that this is a need for me!)

avoid bad judgement: assume best intentions and ask questions before assigning meaning to behavior.

compassionately work shit out: kindly and frankly express and resolve upsets before they become resentments or harmful patterns, and empathize and explain before problem-solving.

respect your other connections: make room for them to be nourished and grow.

express affection: when and how I feel it, with consideration for how you feel most loved.

balance kindness with firmness: easily forgive mistakes and be gentle with people's feelings whenever possible, but never invalidate my own experience because the other person is sorry. Be willing to affirm when someone says they acted badly, if it is true.

*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.

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

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

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

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

detailed description of the kind of kisses I likeCollapse )

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beginning romance as an erotic mirror/demisexual: after platonically in love I can fall romantically
icon: "osculant (photo of Hannah and I lying on our sides facing each other, our legs and shoulders slanted toward each other and the floor, so that our bodies together make the shape of a heart: our outstretched arms are the point and our bums are the two curves)"

I don't get romantic crushes on people before I know if it is possible for them to feel the same way. queerbychoice mentioned that this must make it practically impossible to connect if they're similar to me, and I just today realized how it still has managed to happen. I fall in love in a platonic way first, and then fall in romantic love because they usually interpret that as romantic love and 'reciprocate,' which to me initiates romantic love.

Falling in love in a platonic way looks like being fascinated with the person, enjoying everything I learn about them, craving to know more and be closer. Feeling adoring of their way of thinking and their idiosyncrasies. When I feel platonically in love, I want to celebrate their uniqueness, to brag about how amazing they are, to share my friends and my life, to give to them with my actions and (if they are someone I can predict) things I make or find that remind me of them.

I was feeling fatalistic about romantic potential before this realization, because of my need for mutuality. But I know of at least four people I could conceivably fall in platonic love with, and maybe they might fall romantically for me. I can't really imagine falling platonically in love with someone and them in romantic love for me and then me NOT falling romantically for them. I think the only thing between platonically in love and romantically in love is me deciding to add romance. Which I would only not do if they weren't into it or if it would hurt too much due to circumstances or if there was non-chosen power dynamic (if I was their boss or something like that).

I didn't realize it, but it has been bugging me for MONTHS that I didn't understand how falling in love worked for me, because this hasn't always been the case but looking back I just couldn't understand how I ended up falling for people.

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relationships: Topaz, Kylei, Heather, Hannah, Allison, Sande, Roger, Cass, Rocky, Arizona, Tinder
icon: "exuviate (photo of a dragonfly with shimmery green wings after its last metamorphosis, standing next to its previous exoskeleton)"

So I have a goal of examining all of my connections every 2-3 months, to help me stay aware and keep from getting into any ruts. I'm a bit late but I think that's because March was muddy for me with literally everyone, and I couldn't have explained much of anything.

My relationship with Topaz is still quite muddy. Today our break ends and we're going to see each other for the first time in three weeks. I'm quite nervous actually. I feel like I've realized ways I can change to make our connection more healthy for both of us. One of the main things is that I go a bit too far in trying not to pressure them; if I think they may want something and be afraid to ask for it, I offer it as if I have no preference one way or the other. Often this is upsetting for them because it makes them feel like I don't care about something that I do care about, which is confusing and sometimes hurtful. I talked about it vaguely with Heather last week, and then today I did it out of habit and it hurt Topaz' feelings, and we talked about this habit and I told Topaz I would work on being more frank with them and practice trusting them to assert their needs and desires. Last week I also told Topaz, "I want to be able to trust that if I say 'I have a need' you will react by reflecting on what you can possibly do to meet that need, and then telling me what steps you will try and what you think the likely outcome will be." They said they can do that. I think these two things will help me to not get stuck in a pattern of subverting my needs.

I had a clash with Kylei that lasted way longer than usual (more than 2 weeks), because I kept trying to arrange time to talk about it and it kept not happening, which was the very thing I was upset about. We finally did talk about it -- I told them that usually when plans don't work out it is disappointing but not hurtful because it's true for everyone, but lately I have seen them prioritize other things but not me. And that it feels impossible to believe that I am important to them when with other things that are important to them, they find a way and make it happen but with me they don't. They agreed that they hadn't been prioritizing time with me and that they were sorry about it but didn't know why it was happening. We talked about making plans but this month is too full, so we have a maybe plan for the first week of May. I feel better, not angry or frustrated any more, but I still feel in limbo and I feel sad and a bit hopeless about the idea of ever being reliably close again. If there isn't a cause that can be found, there isn't a cure that can be found.

Heather and I have spent time together recently that was very nourishing for me (and hopefully for them). A few months ago at their birthday party I had the urge to kiss them, and asked -- they said yes and we kissed very briefly. Then about a week after that I asked to kiss them again and it was brief again and I felt some hesitation (at least this is how I remember it but my memory is not great) so I asked them if there was hesitation and why, and they said it was emotionally complicated and we should talk about it later. When we did get time to talk about it, they explained that they feel we are not compatible for a romantic relationship, because of what they see me wanting from a romantic connection. I talked with them a bit about it because I felt like they were going on outdated information, but the sum of it was that anything romantic is not desired for now, at least. I feel a little weird that there is this "off limits" bit just because I'm not used to it existing, but it doesn't reduce anything.

The next time we hung out we talked about how we process things, and Heather mentioned that the main thing they give is not a thing I value (validating people's feelings), but I don't consider that the main thing they offer me at all! I think the thing they give to me the most, which I value so intensely, is a new perspective on things. Almost every time (I don't have the memory to be able to say for sure every time) we have a significant conversation they tell me something that makes me go "oh wow I hadn't realized / didn't know that" and that is literally my favorite thing a person can do. Realizing or learning something new, especially about the way people work or the way I work, is the most nourishing thing for me. More than eye contact, more than cuddles, more than people showing curiosity about me. And this in itself is a new realization which I had because of this conversation with Heather. I feel very nourished by our friendship.

more - this is a long oneCollapse )

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I usually prefer to process alone, in writing: Heather explains why this is odd
icon: "pensive (photo of me with a dark purple glitter goatee, looking down pensively with sunny woods in the background)"

When I have an issue and people ask if I want to talk about it, I feel like they're asking if I would like to do the dishes -- they're offering me a chore like it's meant to be a gift. I can feel that it is a gift for them and so I appreciate the intention, but I find it baffling that other people seem to want this. I prefer to process in writing, alone, unless the thing I am processing is a conflict with another person (then I prefer to do it with only them). I will process things with other people sometimes because I recognize it as a way of building intimacy and I value that, but it is always a sacrifice (because then I lose the motivation for a more nuanced exploration of it in writing). The only time I have actively wanted to process something with another person is if I feel like that person will have questions or ideas that open up deeper understanding for me, and that is extremely rare. Usually people only mention things I've already considered. I do find it validating for people to say "yeah that's shitty" but I find it an equal amount of frustrating, because I don't like to focus on things that can't be improved.

I talked about this with Heather and they said that that's not so rare for most people because most people haven't invested hundreds of hours in considering external perspectives. Which was a total perspective shift for me, haha, because I can't imagine that! It would certainly make processing with others a lot more useful! This is one of the things Heather is fantastic at: explaining to me the "normal people" stuff that I don't understand. I think Heather sees my oddities as oddities and therefore can compare me to normal people more easily than Kylei or Topaz can, even. I didn't even realize that I practice perspective-taking so regularly; it's as habitual as making faces (which is something I'm noted for among my in-person friends).

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I need my social and alone time well-mixed / productive, good job me
icon: "hypnotiq (my fractal "Windwheel" -- an abstract swirl of yellow red and orange with a little green)"

So, this break has taught me that 5+ days in a row of intentional social is too much, and 3+ days with no intentional social is too much. At the end of day 2 with only my own company I start feeling lonely. Although, if I had forced unintentional social (like going to work or the store) every day, it would take way longer for me to get to the point of needing people.

I have been so productive yesterday and today. I did 5 loads of laundry, including washing the couch cover and my bedclothes; I consolidated all the recycling and took 4 bags to the drop-off; I tidied the downstairs bathroom and hung a pretty sheet to block off the view of one of the unfinished sides; tidied the living room; hung up and put away all my clothes including making sock pairs; chose my outfits for work next week; tidied the upstairs walkway and the cuddle room; cleaned half of the kitchen and did dishes; cleaned the cat box; changed out half a gallon of the fish's water; and kept my room tidy. My house is so pretty and welcoming now. It's still not done (I neglected it for months) and could do with a mopping, but I'm proud of myself.

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yearning to be craved, desired, immersed, devoured.
icon: "concupiscent (a photo of Angelina Jolie, backlit in sunlight, licking honey off of their wrist while staring intensely into the camera)"

I yearn for someone to crave me. To want to put their hands on me and when they touch my skin, to forget themselves just a little and dig in with their fingertips because it feels so fucking good to have that contact. I want someone to intend just to give me a back pet in passing but then feel such magnetic pull that they stop, slide their hands around my waist, stroke my hips and grip them, kiss my shoulder, nuzzle my neck, wrap their arms around me, and bite me. I want someone to kiss me and get lost in it, forget everything else and revel in the sensation of my lips and tongue. I want someone to want to give me every pleasurable sensation, and to want to receive from me every pleasurable sensation. I want someone to want to be immersed in my energy, to want to feel my presence permeating theirs. I want someone to crave my hands on them and my lips on theirs and my body against theirs. I want them to want me to sink my teeth into them, to dig my claws into them. I want them to want to (for a short time) take over my self completely, and to want the inverse. I want them to want blending of energy within sex to the point that we're not sure which limb belongs to who, and I want them to be able to be present enough for that to be possible. I want them to want all of me, all of me, all of me, and I want them to want to share all of them, all. I want to intertwine with them and feel our breaths and our frequencies sync up.

All of this within the context of a mutually in-love relationship, not with any random person. I don't think I could want this with someone I wasn't in love with. I try imagining this with someone I am not currently in love with and my mind balks and throws darts at me. The feeling, if I am not in love, is that same jolt of badness that happens when I am touched with sexual intentions when I haven't had enough platonic loving touch. It's too shocking and intense to be enjoyable; the difference between sliding into a cool pool on a hot day or getting thrown into a cold pool on a freezing day.

I fall in love really easily, or at least I used to. I feel worried that that part of me is damaged with too many almosts that scalded me. I'm worried I've lost the knack of it. Strange I guess. I'm really afraid to hope.

If I can't fall in love again, if I've gotten too picky or too scared just too fuckin damaged, then I can't imagine wanting sex with other people any more. And I feel like there are so many things I barely got to try. The more I think about the idea of casual sex the more I hate it. I think it would make me feel nothing but a giant sense of loss and lack.

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the fictional characters I feel most affinity with: Chrysoberyl, ?, Maleficent, Joan, Alice, Sylvari
icon: "fish (my fractal "Strange Babies": an abstract glassy sphere missing pieces. At its center are three pink elongated ovals ending in flared yellow)"

prompt from lusimeles: which fictional character do you feel the most affinity with?
Books: Chrysoberyl from Brain Plague and the unnamed protagonist from Biting the Sun.
Movies: Maleficent from Maleficent and Joan from Playing by Heart.
Video Games: Alice from Alice: Madness Returns (also the Lewis Carroll books but less so) & the Sylvari from Guild Wars 2.
If you added these characters together, you would get pretty much exactly me. The only thing missing is a profound love of color.

cover for the book brain plague
[image description]
Image: cover art for "Brain Plague." In the foreground on the right is a person with pale ivory skin and vibrantly, shockingly red hair and blue eyes. Their hair is flying in front of their face and behind them, and as it drifts behind them it turns into streamers or ribbons. Behind them is a honeycomb lattice of red stone, with glass blocks filling up each hexagon. Through the glass blocks there is a volcano that is smoking as if it is soon to erupt, and the sky is red. In the foreground in front of all of this is a trail of butterflies and moths, fluttering toward the face of the person from the bottom left. The predominant color is RED and it gives a sickly, almost menacingly hot feeling that contrasted with the light, fluttery butterflies and streaming hair makes one feel off-balance. Art is by David M Switzer.

Chrysoberyl (Chrys) is an artist, a 'colorist' (because paint is obsolete in a digital world) who chooses to adopt a colony of sentient microbes to live in their brain. Throughout the novel Chrys engages with ideas of ethics that I think most people do not give a crap about, but I relate very intensely. This gets Chrys into a LOT of trouble, and not the cute kind. Also, when given a choice of any type of body imaginable, Chrys chooses to look their own age and be massively strong, not caring at all what that looks like or that most people will see a super-muscular woman as unattractive. Chrys cares more about creating art than anything else, and makes art that either comments on reality in a way that is too truthful to be appealing, or expresses a kind of connection that is unique and profoundly appealing. Chrys also is good at empathy and when they realize they're being judgmental about something (such as the way a particular kind of sentient robot looks) they work on changing their attitude.

cover art for the book biting the sun
[image description]
Image: illustration for "Biting the Sun." In the foreground a slender white person lounges on the ground, propped up on one arm with the other draped over their hip. They're wearing a wide red velvet headdress with a u-shaped hornlike ornament at the forehead, and a filmy yellow dress with a bronze metalic part cupping their breasts, which are mostly bare. Just behind them peering over their hip is a three-eyed duck-billed white-furred creature. Walking towards them are two peacocks, one of them albino. Behind all this is a sweeping darkness with starry spots on it: a wall with a gigantic round window. Outside the window you can see many mushroom-shaped buildings, fading into the distance. At the horizon is a transportation track on extremely high beams, and arching over it all is a dome, only marked by the join lines. Outside the dome are two suns. Art is by Celine Loup.

The unnamed protagonist from Biting the Sun is someone who I strongly identify with because they reject hedonism and seek to be themselves even though this makes them a pariah. They also have a terribly rude pet, and they are deeply moved by the act of caring for plants. They set out merely to change their own life, but others are drawn to them and they share what they know as they can.

this is a bit long and there are more imagesCollapse )

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the feigning ignorance consent violation tactic: if they care, they change their behavior. TW: rape
icon: "snarling (a photo of a snow leopard snarling in profile with teeth bared, whiskers back, and ears flattened)"

TW: discussion of boundary violation, manipulation, and lack of effort to avoid rapeCollapse )

[TW: brief but specific account of rape]Emma Lindsay writes about this tactic (TW: link contains descriptions of rape) -- "...despite whatever lie he told me or told himself, he knew I didn’t want to have sex with him. He knew I didn’t usually lie there like a dead fish. He could tell when I was wincing in pain. When I told him I had been in pain afterwards, he showed no surprise. I had only articulated what he already knew but was pretending he didn’t."

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

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

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

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

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

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A comic that made me realize something profound: say thank you, not sorry
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")"

image and description under cut because the image is VERY LARGECollapse )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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on the use of public bathrooms as a trans person: an illustration
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")"

CN/TW: anti-trans sentiment regarding use of public bathrooms.

I made an illustration:
[image description]
[image: a graphic with words and symbols in three panels.
At the top is printed: "laws like North Carolina's HB 2 enforce inequality at the most basic level:"

The first panel has the words "what it's like for cisgender people:" and two black rectangles with peg-shaped people in them. The first rectangle contains a green peg-person, and underneath it in brackets are [your gender] and [welcome]. The second rectangle contains a black peg-person, and underneath it in brackets are [not your gender] and [irrelevant]. Below these is a line of text in quotes and italics that says, "We understand that you are a human with needs. Safe, comfortable relief provided free of charge."

The second panel has the words "what it's like for binary transgender people who pass:" and two black triangles with red-outlined yellow exclamation marks in them. Underneath the first triangle in brackets are [your gender] and [risk arrest]. Underneath the second triangle in brackets are [not your gender] and [risk harassment]. Below these is a line of text in quotes and italics that says, "Use at your own risk. Maybe nothing bad will happen."

The third panel has the words "what it's like for nonbinary or nonpassing transgender people:" and two black circles with a diagonal line (the 'no' symbol), covering the words "you" repeated in red. Underneath both in brackets are [KEEP OUT] and [risk arrest, harassment, assault]. Below these is a line of text in quotes and italics that says, "Go find a bush. We don't want your kind here."]

Also, it was Trans Day of Visibility yesterday, and my first thought was "oh everyone knows I'm trans." But maybe not, so let me tell you: I am an agender/genderfree trans person.

I am willing to be your token friend as an example to any transphobe you want to talk to about transness, assuming you are trying to help them relate. Lots of people are unaware that they know a trans person, and people are massively terrible at empathizing without a personal connection, which is why it is important that cis people realize that they know a trans person. Even a once-removed connection is more than most people realize they have. So if you are a cis person and someone says to you something like "lolz that person is bad at gender, look at their xyz!" You can say, "that might be the perfect gender expression for them; not everyone is the same. One of my friends is trans and I respect their right to throw out gender norms."

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how to read everyone you want to on facebook without missing out (& portable bookmark) [tutorial]
icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

The point of facebook lists is that they make it so that your feed shows every single post by the people you want to see (at least, it's seemed very reliable to me). If you want to see every single post by every single one of your friends, you can do this by adding all of them to a list. As far as I can tell, lists are not rearranged and edited by facebook when they display in a feed. You can't edit your default feed to be like this, so you have to make a list and then bookmark it. (or you can follow steps 1 and 2 every time to get to your list)

Apologies to those who use screen readers -- facebook is terrible and I have no idea how I would do this without seeing it.

[tutorial with screenshots]
1. go to facebook.com and be sure you are logged in.  Then, scroll down and look on the left side for a header that says "FRIENDS." Hover over the empty space next to that and click on the little "More" that comes up.
screenshot of facebook side menu

2. You will be taken to a page that shows all of your lists (if you already have some).  At the top is a "Create List" button.  Click this.
screenshot of facebook

3. You will get a pop-up that says "Create New List." Give the list a name, then start typing names into the box below.  Don't worry if you can't think of everyone -- I will explain how to add people one by one later.  Once you have the names you want, click "Create" at the bottom (NOT the "x" at the top).
screenshot of facebook new list popup

4. Now the page will refresh with your new list displayed.  BOOKMARK THIS PAGE.  If you want a 'portable' bookmark, copy the url and go to tinyurl.com. Paste in this url and name it something you can remember, like below. Don't worry, your facebook list is locked so that only you can see it, so if someone else tries to use your url they won't get anywhere. Only if you are logged in will you be able to see this list.
screenshot of box on the tinyurl homepage

5. After you have saved your list url somehow, go to it (if you aren't already there). At the top of this page is a "manage list" button, and below that is a little group of icons of the friends you have on this list.  You can add new people from this page either by typing their name into the box under the little group, or by clicking "Manage List" and then clicking "Edit List."
screenshot of facebook

6. If you click "Edit List" you get a popup with all of the icons of the people you have on this list.  To add someone, click the drop-down box labeled "On This List" and click "Friends," then type their name in the box at the top or scroll to find them.  To take someone off, you can click on their icon or you can search for their name and then click on their icon.  Remember to click "Finish" or your work won't be saved.
screenshot of facebook

7. Now, to add someone to this list individually (say, as you add a new person), go to that person's profile.  Click the down arrow next to the button "Friends" and then click "Add to Another List."
screenshot of facebook

8. Scroll to the list you want to add them to, and click on it.  A checkmark should appear and once it does, they are added.  No further steps are needed (there is no "okay" or "finished" this time).
screenshot of facebook

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on talking about people behind their back
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")"

prompt from aliki: What was the most hurtful thing you have ever said behind someone's back?

I'm really not sure. It was probably something I said as a teen, because I remember being taken to task for saying that someone I met was shallow, when I would not have said that to the person's face, and I probably said other things that would have hurt people. I have very very few memories from my teenage years, but I was very angry and pretty ignorant and probably said mean things (I know I used ableist slurs). As far as I can remember I have always considered things-people-can't-help (like bodies) to be off limits for attacking, but I'm only 90% sure that has always been true.

If I have said something hurtful behind someone's back recently, it would be because I didn't realize that it would be hurtful. If I realize it would be hurtful, I either tell them directly or I keep it to myself. Well, that's not completely true, because I have had connections that lapsed where I then reflected on them and said to someone else that that person was selfish, but I have never told that person that I think they are selfish. It's that place where we're not building anything, so to go to them and say "I have this problem with you" doesn't make sense, but it's still a sore spot that I feel the need to talk about sometimes. I don't know if I have a tendency to be drawn to selfish people, if selfishness is common, if I have a higher bar for what is selfishness than most people, or if I tend to apply a selfish label unfairly (perhaps due to me not asking for what I want, or due to me not realizing their limitations), but I have more than two lapsed connections with people I now see as selfish. I think probably all of those things are true.

I consider it unethical to talk negatively (or in a way that could be perceived as negative) about someone behind their back, so I do my best not to do it. (I'm not quite as intense about it as I used to be, but the gist of this post is still true) I consider it a form of lying, in that the assumption is that a friend does not have an issue with your behavior unless they say so. If I have an active connection with someone I won't do it unless it is in the context of preparing to talk to them about my issue with them (for example, talking to Heather about an issue I have with Kylei or vice versa, before talking to the person directly). If I can't bring myself to talk to the person about the problem, then I consider myself partly to blame (except in cases of abuse) as I have not given them the chance to realize or explain. It's okay if I can't talk to them or can't do it now, but I don't get to badmouth them in the meantime just to relieve my upsetness. I need to NOT vent because staying in that discomfort provides motivation and momentum for dealing with the person directly. Not to say I am always good at this! But it is always my goal, I live up to it I'd say at least 95% of the time, and I feel regret when I do not live up to it.

I do not consider it talking about someone behind their back to talk publicly about an issue I have with someone. It fits with my ethics to let them know at the same time I am letting everyone else know. This doesn't usually happen unless they have ended our relationship, because out of courtesy I prefer to tell someone first and have the chance to talk about it in the past tense with a solution on top rather than talk about it publicly before the working-out process. But if you stomped on my heart and I want to tell that story, it's my story to tell, and refraining is courtesy. If I know a person has strong privacy restrictions, I won't talk about them publicly in any specifics, and if I am upset with a person this may result in me writing about someone in a friends-locked entry. Usually I still have them added so that they can see, and otherwise I have offered to email entries to the people who they are about.

I can't stand people talking about me negatively in a way that they haven't told me about. I hate the idea of wandering around thinking that people have no problem with my behavior when they do, and I hate the idea of being ignorant of some failing I could be working on. While the idea of someone calling me out in public is scary, I'd far rather know than not know.

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reduced anxiety = increased sexual desire / recent experience with percussion play / need my claws!
icon: "brewing (a photo of a ceramic mug with sticks of cinnamon poking out and steam rising up)"

One of the effects of being on anxiety meds now is that my desire for sex is significantly increased. I now understand why most of the time when I get drunk, I want to have passionate kisses and maybe sex; drinking reduces my anxiety. This in combination with the circumstances in which I get drunk (celebrating with people I love, usually) means that I suddenly become aware of desire. I think that anxiety interrupts my sexual desire before it gets to the point of even being a conscious thought.

The unpleasant aspect of this is is that I am not currently in any sexual relationships. I think it is rather sad that when I had the people I did not have the skills to know and ask for what I wanted, and now that I am self-aware enough to know exactly what I want and be able to ask for it very clearly and without pressure or fear, I don't have anyone to ask. My previous lovers are unavailable in various ways (several live out of state now). I wish I was bold enough to invite someone to have sex with me outside of the context of a relationship but I'm not, partly because I have never done it and it's possible that without being in love I won't get much out of it? I'm so curious, but a complete unknown is not something I want to take such a risk for, at least not at this point.

My ideal lover is:
- anti-oppression & growth-focused & self-aware & good at self-care (so that we can be friends):
- good at using spiritual/emotional energy to create sensation and/or deepen connection
- good at negotiating expectations
- very communicative, especially about what they enjoy or dislike
- as good at initiating as they are at responding
- generous and skilled at adjusting touch based on reactions
- into planning a sexperience
- fond of being bitten, especially receiving marks
- into percussion play, giving and receiving

I had posted on fb about wanting to receive percussion, and a friend responded offering to give that to me. It took a long time to schedule it but we finally set a plan for last Sunday, and I went to their house (since I was already halfway there to meet another friend). The friend who offered lives with another friend of mine, and I ended up cuddling with them and then being flogged by one and paddled by the other. The flogger was long heavy slim strips of suede, mostly thuddy with some sting. The paddle was the size of a small ceiling fan blade but about an inch thick. I was intimidated at first but it didn't feel heavier than mine (which is the same thickness) and in fact was less intense because the impact was more spread out.. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable experience, very sensual without being sexual. It confirmed for me that the sensation of being flogged or thumped with heavy objects is magical for me. I had completely forgotten the sensation of the energy building up on my back until after I was flogged and then someone put a hand on my back and I felt it go through a layer of energy before touching me. I then asked that they let the energy sit for a while next time, and they of course obliged. The second time, the energy was even more palpable, and I felt exposed in a very unique way.

Later, one of them offered to let me try their steel finger claws and I did and HOLY FUCK I had the hardest time not digging in. I restrained myself pretty hard and still was giddy enough that one remarked to the other "was I this delighted when you gave them to me?" I felt like I finally could feel the physical manifestation of a spiritual part of me and it was a revelation. I need some for myself. Not need like I will suffer damage without them, but need as in to be my fullest self.

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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.

[a full list of the slurs which I may be referring to - TW slurs]
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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Topaz & I started a 21-day relationship break / relative cost of meeting strangers / social ventures
icon: "progressing (a deeply, vividly green forest of thick vines and trees, with a tunnel running through where unused train tracks lay)"

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

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

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

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moment by the river / not used to unintentional friendship
icon: "Hapi (an image of the Egyptian intersex deity Hapi (blue watery skin, round belly, full breasts, beard, and kilt), overlaid onto a macro photo I took of trees and sky reflecting distortedly in water on a leaf)"

I'm sitting by the Chattahoochee listening to the thickly rushing water and swinging slightly on a green metal bench swing. The air feels a little wet, cool, and charged, probably from the rain last night. Geese are flying near and honking, and I can hear when trucks downshift on the highway. It's just cool enough that I need my jacket here in the shade, but not enough that my hands are cold. The sun is falling on me brightly through bare branches speckled with new leaves. There are people around but they are all far enough away that while I can feel them, they are not intruding on my sense of freedom.

I just had a great conversation with a new friend, about nature, racism, places, gentrification, religion, activism, careers, burns, privilege, organizing, and other stuff. We packed a lot into 2 hours. I felt awkward but not direly so, having taken my meds already today. I think I mostly felt awkward because I usually have a set of intentions with any connection, and that's how I make decisions about things. I think most people just either treat everyone in roles (friend, lover, family, etc) or they don't set intentions. For at least a decade I haven't really had any accidental relationships, because I don't have the opportunity for those. The people I spend time with unintentionally are not people with whom I click. So I'm very out of my comfort zone just building connection without a plan, and I think about connection so continuously that I notice when something as small as a smile forms a link. I feel a strong impulse to message them and ask what they want from a connection with me, but I don't think they have this same habit (I mean, it is a damn rare person who does) and so it wouldn't likely be helpful.

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pushing back on cis bigotry using... confusion
icon: "confused (photo of a purple diamond-shaped sign with a line leading to four arrows all curving and pointing in different directions)"

Earlier today I had a strange interaction with a cashier at a farmers' market. The Killers song with the line "you had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend" was playing and the cashier said, "that would freak me out, if I had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend haha." I stood there silently for a minute (while they repeated themselves in different words, seemingly wondering why I wasn't laughing), toyed with the idea of walking away without another word, and then decided to just say whatever came out of my mouth.

Me: "Well that's my favorite kind of person, so..." *shrug*
Them: "what? A boyfriend who looks like a girlfriend?" *surprised*
Me: "Yeah, or the other way around. I like to mix it up."
Them: "a girlfriend who looks like a boyfriend?" *half mumbling now* "but what would they even be? A boy or a girl? Now I'm totally confused about gender."
Me: "well, that's my ultimate goal in life, to make people completely confused about gender" *walks off*
Them: *still mumbling confusedly about their confusion*

Not sure if they thought I was joking, but confusion is better than confident ignorance! The main thing that keeps me from talking back when people say transphobic shit is not knowing what to say, not being able to think fast enough. I don't think I said anything very meaningful and certainly I didn't give a clear understanding of my perception of gender, but I pushed back. Maybe that weird little interaction will plant a seed. If I had been able to think faster I could have said something that might have actually taught something, but I couldn't, and that's just going to have to be okay. My instinct at being attacked (however accidentally) is to freeze, and I don't know a way around that.

Who knows, maybe random blathering is more effective.

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poll: qualities a person must have for you to have sex with them
icon: "curious (my face, looking straight forward with one eyebrow up and a sideways smile, head tilted down a little)"

Random poll of a thing I've been wondering about -- what qualities must a person have for you to be interested in having sex with them (assuming of course that they want to have sex with you)?
Poll #2039642 qualities a person must have for you to have sex with them

I have no particular requirements.
They must know their STI status, get tested regularly, and practice safer sex.
They must have a certain kind of body (sex, gender, thickness, color, height, age, ability, bone structure, etc).
I must enjoy their company.
They must have a certain kind of energy or personality trait or world view.
They must be able to play a certain role in sex (male, female, dominant, submissive, etc).
I must have known them for a certain length of time.
I must be in love with them.
I must be pursuing a romantic relationship with them.
I must have negotiated the shape of our relationship for the foreseeable future or I must be in a committed relationship with them.

If there are other requirements you have, please comment with them! Comments are screened but will be unscreened unless you request they stay private.
connecting: ,

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dealing with disappointment in a respectful, consensual way.
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 you can't say no to someone without facing a negative reaction (such as pouting, begging, withdrawing, attacking, or response-blaming), they are not giving you the option of true consent. If someone can't say no to you without worrying about how they will deal with your reaction, you are not giving them the option of true consent. Coercion is the sneaky underpinning to this -- sometimes unintentional, but every bit as much a problem whether it is intentional or not. It doesn't become harmless just because someone isn't doing it on purpose.

Expressing disappointment is fine -- as long as you're not making the other person feel like they are responsible for making you feel better. Usually you will have to overtly take responsibility for handling your disappointment for this to work. For example: "I'm feeling disappointed that you don't want to [do the thing] with me. I'm gonna go [practice self care] to feel better; I'll be back" <- that is great as long as it isn't passive aggressive but is sincere effort to handle one's own emotions.

What is not okay is "I'm disappointed that you won't [do the thing] with me." *waits for the other person to make me feel better* or "I'm disappointed" *goes in another room to sulk and wait for them to come make me feel better*

That is effectively punishing them for saying no by making them do emotional work in order to have a positive environment. If you can't process out of your disappointment very very quickly, don't do it in their presence.
connecting: , ,

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an open letter to anyone who uses the words 'attractive' or 'ugly' like they have objective meaning
icon: "bodylove -- heart my belly (my bare, stretch-marked belly with my hands making a heart shape in front of it. There is an overlay of blue and violet radiating out from my navel)"

(This is modified from something I wrote to someone who says negative things about their looks -- but it applies even if you only do the 'positive' side of calling some people attractive.)

When you say you are ugly, I hear that you believe in a such thing as ugliness, and I know that I am not safe to be beautiful in your eyes. I know that if you call me beautiful, you might be using that as a way to harm your own self with comparison. How can I appreciate admiration if I know it might not be about me at all, but just the underside of you condemning yourself? I can't bear to be looked at through a lens of relative ugliness. If you hate your belly for not being flat, my poky belly is not safe in your gaze. If you take issue with the shape of your jawline, my 'double chin' is not safe in your gaze. You might not see it as ugly, but since you believe in ugly I can never be sure.

It is not fucking true that you are 'ugly'! If you are not willing to accept that it is a lie shoved into your head by cruel evil people, you can't get rid of the idea. It's a lie it's a lie it's a lie it's a LIE. Reject it. Even if you can't help that it repeats in your head, please decide it is a lie repeating instead of truth repeating. Please. You holding this lie close to your chest keeps people from being able to communicate with you about how they feel about you. It's like a giant shield that blocks out affection and admiration. You probably can't just throw it out. It probably feels like a kind of protection. But you can turn it sideways (decide it's a lie) so that people can get past it. You can accept that the people who love you are more honest than the people who want to abuse and control you. You can decide that all ratings are LIES. EVIL, CRUEL lies.

There is NO SUCH THING as ugly. There is no such thing as a body 'flaw.' YOU ARE PERFECT. Variety is beauty. You could not be more beautiful if you were different. People who think that there is a such thing as more attractive and less attractive have fucked up wrong perceptions that they need to change. No one gets to fucking rank people's attractiveness! NO ONE EVER. Not even you.

Also, that celebrity or model or whoever is NOT more attractive than you. This is as wrong to say as it is to say that they're uglier than you. It's creepy to compare like that. Nobody is more beautiful than you. There is no such thing as objective beauty. "You are beautiful" always and ONLY means "looking at you is enjoyable for me." Rotten people might get more enjoyment out of looking at people who resemble the societal ideal of the moment, but doesn't make it objective. Rotten people's opinions are irrelevant to actual life and love.

Do you compare you and me? do I gain attractiveness if I lose weight? If my belly is smaller? if my neck is thinner? if I wear makeup? If you judge everyone as more attractive than you or not, I have a really hard time believing that you don't judge me. I have a really hard time believing that you can do this comparison thing so often and yet have it not apply to me. Even if you did though, I would still be really bothered by the comparison for others. And because you believe in 'ugly' every time you use an attraction word (pretty beautiful cute gorgeous) as if it is objective, it feels AWFUL to me. I feel hurt for myself, for you, and for whoever you are judging as 'more attractive.' If attractiveness can be ranked, then I can only be beautiful at the expense of others. That is never something I want.

As with telling me you love me, only tell me I’m beautiful if you mean it. And challenge yourself to mean it. Recognize the way it stretches you to call a fat person beautiful, not as an exception, but as a shifting, growing rule. Feel all the things you are rejecting by saying such a simple, common word. - "What happens when you call your fat friend beautiful" by thefatshadow on Medium

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optimistic / my mindscape / kwt
icon: "progressing (a deeply, vividly green forest of thick vines and trees, with a tunnel running through where unused train tracks lay)"

I'm feeling oddly optimistic today. There is no particular reason, but my mindscape has more magic in it than usual. If I had a tablet, I would draw (my main problem with drawing nowadays is that mistakes are too hard to remove without ruining my momentum, and I couldn't bear to just waste).

My mind is a constantly shifting place, but the one thing that remains most constant is the sense of a garden, forest, and massive hedge labyrinth. The garden I can go into at almost any time. The forest brings me in only when it pleases, and the labyrinth I can only enter when I am hopeful and brave. Today, I can enter the labyrinth.

Tomorrow is my would-be friendiversary with KWT, and that's got me thinking about them. It's now been over a year since we've parted ways. I don't know anything about their life right now but I hope they are okay.

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on 'enabling' abuse:
icon: "garrulous(a photo of my lips with the skin greyed out and the lips overlaid with a green and blue fractal pattern)"

Most people don't REALLY have a choice about enabling because you have to 1) realize it is happening and 2) have enough resources to change it and 3) realize you CAN change it in order to actually have a choice. None of these things are easy in a world that pretends love = self-sacrifice! It's not just your own preconception that has to change, you have to manage to throw off the expectations of the entire world. It's a lot.

People are forced into enabling. It's something to avoid when you can, but in my mind it is not at all something to feel guilty about.

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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). 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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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
[image description]

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.


[year events in list form]

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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prompt me if you please: only ones that would be hard for you to answer!
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'm really proud of myself for having only missed 6 out of the 29 days last month. Even though it wasn't consecutive, I am counting it as a 22-day streak because it happened all in one month (one down, one to go). I also finally, laughably, finished the February question-a-day meme from last year. It's not my fault, they were hard questions! which I adored, btw, no complaints here.

I'm going to open the floor for more prompts, with the understanding that I will likely not finish them within a month. I will take 22! Ask as many as you like -- I shall take max 3 per person to begin and then if it is not filled I will use any extras you give. ONLY ask questions that if you were to ask them of yourself, you would have to think for a while before knowing the answer. You can use questions I have asked you before, if you want, and if I have already answered them I'll give you the link *smiles*


1. What was the most hurtful thing you have ever said behind someone's back?
2. What was the most sobering thing your parents have said to you?
3. do you have an 'aesthetic'? if so, how would you describe it?
4. which fictional character do you feel the most affinity with?
5. How would you spend your last day if you were to die tomorrow?
6. If your life turned into a movie, who will you choose to play as "you"?
7. If you become the President of the USA, what will be the first thing you would change?
8. Describe the one thing about yourself that makes you most proud.
9. What is the first step for you when resolving a conflict with someone?
10. What is your ideal first step when someone is trying to resolve a conflict with you?
11. what can make a social interaction easier for you? Harder for you? (ideally, answer for both 1on1 and group interaction.)
12. Imagine a new friend who was to become in your life and the person had one quality from each person in your core circle of friendships all rolled into one new person? What one quality would you choose from each person?
13. Even though you seem to have a lot of rich friendships, is there one quality none can really bring you that makes you feel at times sad or something missing in connection needs, or can this be explained in a different way?
14. Imagine you are placed in a room with two buttons and you have to press one. If you press button A, it will automatically end your life. However, if you press button B, you will end the lives of two people elsewhere in the world who are strangers to you and your closest. You won't ever read about the event in the news or what happened and your choice won't make the media, either. What button would you press? And if you do press button B, how many people would it be before you would press button A?
15. What is your most effective way of releasing stress? Is it also the one you use the most? If it isn't, why not?


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

dreams from this month!Collapse )

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anxiety: starting mirtazapine, shifts in experiencing stress / adrenaline
icon: "hypnotiq (my fractal "Windwheel" -- an abstract swirl of yellow red and orange with a little green)"

I saw my psychiatrist earlier this week and talked about my symptoms and how I felt like I have anxiety. They said that it does sound like that, and mentioned that when I first came to see them (September 2012) I scored a 37 on the social anxiety scale and my latest one was a 92. I was somewhat surprised but it also made perfect sense, as I have seen my ability to handle social slowly slip away. It's hard to tell because it's always somewhat stressful - it's a matter of the quantity of the feeling rather than the quality.

We talked about meds and they said that they'd prefer to prescribe sertraline, but that mirtazapine should work and it would be fine to try that, as it's a relatively safe drug. I feel so very grateful to have a doctor who listens to me and doesn't try to push me towards what they think is best. I do my homework about brain-altering meds, and while I am sure that sertraline isn't the exact same as citalopram, they're both SSRIs and I suspect that sertraline would make me feel numb too (which I find very depressing and wish to avoid!).

So my doc prescribed the mirtazapine and gave me instructions to step down my bupropion while stepping up the new med. Now I'm off bupropion and just on mirtazapine, waiting for it to build up in my system because apparently it takes 1-3 weeks for full effect.

I immediately felt an effect on my reaction to stress. Right after I took it the first time, I almost knocked over my toothbrush holder and when I did, I felt a jolt of adrenaline that didn't make me feel awful. Usually anything that sparks adrenaline makes me feel edgy and angry and shaky for a good while after, I think because it's like it's scraping the bottom of the barrel. But this felt so different, almost good. And since then I have noticed that happening again and again, where adrenaline has a whole new feeling in my head and doesn't make me feel sick and like I want to attack things. I also realized how ridiculously often throughout the day I get startled and stressed. Unexpected noises do it, even nice ones. I am constantly on alert. I can tell when the meds start to wear off because I will have a startle response that doesn't come with that almost-pleasant split-second-dizzy feeling. I can't tell you what a relief it is to not have bad adrenaline responses all day long. This would be worth it just for that effect, and the energy I save from not having to avoid and fight off my bad adrenaline responses may be enough, alone, to build back my ability to be social. I am still hoping for more help than this though.

It has a somnolent effect, so it is supposed to be taken before bed. Since I take a stimulant for ADD mid-day, I am taking 1/4th of the pill with that medication and the other 3/4ths at night. So far it seems to be working well that way, but I am going to have to be more careful to get enough sleep because if I miss an hour of sleep after taking this I feel SO SLEEPY. It also has an effect on my metabolism, bringing back my appetite - which is great because my ADD meds suppress it and then I don't eat, which makes my ADD worse and is generally bad for me. I feel like this med will help me to be more healthy just by pushing me to better sleeping and eating habits.

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poll: self-labels, core values, yearnings, connecting activities, creation
icon: "analytical (a close-up photo of my eye in bright sunlight, showing the green and grey and roots-looking patterns)"

Poll #2038198 you, in 150 words or less

what are your self-labels? (gender, sexual, romantic, spiritual, bodily, class, occupation, etc)

what are your core values? (hint: you get really upset when someone else does something that violates them, AND you feel deep regret if you violate them)

What do you most yearn for in your life right now?

what activities make you feel most able to connect deeply with others?

What do you most often create? (ANYTHING that would not exist without you, including writing, memes, organization or decoration, rock stacking, etc)

If you run out of room, feel free to comment!

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spirituality: growth hopes / effects on my daily life / identity / benefits & opposite / challenges
icon: "Renenutet (a relief carving of Renenutet, represented as a winged cobra, overlaid with a fractal coloring)"

how do you hope to grow as a spiritual being? what direction(s) do you wish to go for the future? (from here)

I hope to become more intuitive, more skilled at energy work and divination, more able to sense people's spirits and intentions, more able to clear my own issues and moderate my energy flow. My morality is separate from my spirituality (I would still have my morals if I wasn't spiritual), but I of course hope to grow as a moral being and usually the lessons I learn there teach me something about spirituality, and/or unlock new spiritual skills. Direction? I think I want to aim for more spiritual interaction -- less one-way or solo stuff and more back-and-forth and group stuff.

how does (and has) your spirituality shape(d) your day-to-day existence?

It shapes my day-to-day existence in that it gives me a reason to live. That bit of positive surprise and hope that happens when I link up with another being accidentally and that feeling of euphoria and meaning that I get when I link up with another being on purpose are the things that make me able to handle all the struggle and effort.

Even though I'd consider it immoral to abandon my responsibility to make the world better, if I didn't feel like there was a possibility of connecting with other beings in a way that is emotionally meaningful to me, I'd likely kill myself. And by beings I don't mean humans; I mean all beings. However, if I could only connect with non-humans, I probably would abandon my responsibility to make the world better and go live away from humans. I don't think this is the moral choice, but it is likely the one I would make in that case.

how does it intersect with your own concepts of identity? how much or little has this fluctuated over the course of your life?

It doesn't interact very much with my concept of identity now. I consider identity to be the way that you define yourself to help others understand you. Even though my spirituality is essential to me living, understanding my spirituality is not necessary to understand the vast majority of me.

People use different words and intellectual concepts for this thing that fuels my life; I don't need them to identify as spiritual to feel the kind of connection with them that fuels me. I feel positive that I could have felt very connected with Carl Sagan, because of the value they placed on recognizing interconnectedness and the wonder they expressed so freely. I don't care what words one uses has as long as one can do the thing where I feel connected.

how do you benefit from your beliefs? on the other hand, are you disadvantaged in any way by them?

I don't think I necessarily benefit or am disadvantaged by my beliefs. My beliefs morph as needed to suit my growth. I do not have spiritual beliefs that I build my selfhood on, which I think is the way to benefit or be disadvantaged by beliefs. I think most people use beliefs as the foundation for their house of self, but for me they're more like a collection of tents, any of which can be taken down without me having to rebuild everything else -- and it is extremely unlikely that all of them would get smashed at once.

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on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. 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.