December 2017
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when being yourself is dangerous: microaggressions as brushback pitches


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

A brushback pitch works because the batter's subconscious screams "it's gonna hit you!" The body reacts to a close call almost the same as to actual damage, dumping adrenaline and intensifying senses, increasing heart rate and respiration. It doesn't matter that your conscious mind is telling you "they want to scare you, not actually harm you."

This is what microaggressions are like, except that they're usually accidents. Someone thinks it's funny that a man wore a dress -- they're not attacking, but they find gender-non-conforming behavior to be so alien that it is funny and you know from long experience that if someone can't relate, they can be cruel. So a giggle becomes a near blow. Or someone uses a slur to describe an upsetting situation -- they're not attacking, but they're showing a lack of understanding that also allows for cruelty. So a bit of slang becomes a near blow. It doesn't have to be physical to cause intense physical reactions which use up your physical and mental reserve energy.

I used to be such a bold and brave person, back when being myself didn't cause constant flinching. Back before I knew [TW: general mention of violence against oppressed people]how many people get fired and beaten and raped and murdered for varying from the accepted norm, not to mention being ostracized and excluded by default. Before I knew the consequences and before I knew myself to be at risk, I was free. I was just a little bit different and people thought it was quirky and interesting, not threatening and overwhelming. It's easy and safe to be yourself when who you are does not disrupt people's belief systems.

Now my system is so exhausted from the constant jolts of adrenaline I endure in day-to-day interactions with people that being myself becomes almost impossible. My body doesn't even wait for people to say stuff anymore. It just dumps adrenaline as soon as I'm doing something that exposes me to people, no matter how small and innocuous. When it's about to be my turn to talk in front of people, my body is acting like I'm about to jump out of a plane. I'm not afraid in my conscious mind but my subconscious doesn't care. I'm not shy, reserved, or introverted, but I have become anxious and on the outside that looks the same. I have become literally unable to be myself thanks to an endless series of brushback pitches.

But after many years of having no financial safety, I finally have a job where I can take care of myself. I can afford to offend biofamily. And after many years of feeling unnourished and unvalued, I have people in my life who really do love me as I am and value what I offer. I can afford to lose friends. I still get thrown brushback pitches constantly, but I'm wearing some body armor now, and I don't flinch quite so hard. I plan to make armor for others, as well as dismantling the system that creates these pitchers who give us nothing but brushback pitches.

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Comments
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wanderipity ══╣╠══
"you know from long experience that if someone can't relate, they can be cruel. "

This.
belenen ══╣connate╠══
*resonance*
cactus_rs ══╣╠══
wait, wait, did you get the job? did I miss something??
belenen ══╣artless╠══
yes! and probably? I friends-lock stuff about work so if you weren't logged in you wouldn't have seen it.
cactus_rs ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣╠══
cactus_rs ══╣╠══
citrusjava ══╣╠══
That's wonderful, may things go on for you this well and better!!
belenen ══╣effervescent╠══
thank you!
fayriekisses ══╣╠══
Yes!
belenen ══╣effervescent╠══
*grins*
ragnarok_08 ══╣Original ★ yonder and dream╠══
That's wonderful to hear!!
belenen ══╣effervescent╠══
*beams*
kehlen_crow ══╣squib╠══
That fucking giggling always invokes one of my earlier "self-aware and disgusted with myself and others" memories. We were in law class and discussing some legal changes, protection regarding people who are outside the narrow soscital norm, or used to be. And all of the class, including the teacher, burst into these horrible "I am so lad I am not ~them" titters when we talked about the reasons that made such protection necessary. It felt very wrong at once, and I don't do it since, and I despise people who go, "but we are only joking" and then passive-aggressively "don't you have a sense of humour?". — Yes I do, but your joke's not funny, in fact, it not a joke at all.


I am sorry you have to deal with it all the times and to the extent you have developed this reaction :'(. Being financially dependent on abusers certainly added to it. I pray that your new job helps you re-balance your sense of self!

Edited because of typos and badly formulated thoughts
belenen ══╣connate╠══
thank you so much for the story, the empathy, and the well-wishes *hearts*
marchioness ══╣elegant╠══
This makes so many of my recent experiences make sense. Congratulations on the job!
belenen ══╣writing╠══
*nods* I feel ya!

thanks!
eternal_ot ══╣╠══
*Hugs* Good to know that things are on a right tract for you :) The second last paragraph was very relate-able for me. I mostly thrive in company where people like me and I haven't yet learnt to handle such brushback pitches which some people throw without much of a reason behind it.
belenen ══╣writing╠══
thank you! I feel you and hope you are able to find a way to navigate these things with less difficulty. I definitely empathize!
jeune_fleur ══╣╠══
God I feel so identified in everything you wrote!
belenen ══╣writing╠══
*hearts*
veritas_st ══╣╠══
Years and years of bad things take their toll. I hate that anyone in this world has the reaction to situations like you do. It must be terrible. I am glad though that you have found people that love you for who you are.

Thank you for sharing.

xx
belenen ══╣writing╠══
thanks for this response!
sinnamongirl ══╣╠══
Thank you for your entry!
belenen ══╣writing╠══
welks! *smiles*
penpusher ══╣╠══
Good use of the prompt and nicely crafted entry as well.
belenen ══╣writing╠══
thank you!
murielle ══╣╠══
Congratulations on your job! I wish you every success!

A very well written reflective work on a subject that needs to be addressed, often.

Kudos!
belenen ══╣writing╠══
thank you for the well-wishes and compliment!! glad you enjoyed it!
magazhchi ══╣╠══

Well written! Congrats for the job *smile*

belenen ══╣writing╠══
thanks!!
halfshellvenus ══╣╠══
It's easy and safe to be yourself when who you are does not disrupt people's belief systems.
In a nutshell. People are much more "tolerant" of things they don't really care about.

I'm glad you're creating an environment where you have the economic means to be more yourself in your everyday environment, though. That's a huge step.
belenen ══╣writing╠══
People are much more "tolerant" of things they don't really care about.
SO TRUE.

I feel amazingly lucky to have this job, beyond words.
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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.
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.