February 2018
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icon: "hopeful (close-up photo of me wearing cat-eye makeup, jewels on my cheek, and a violet glitter goatee. I'm gazing off to the side with a hopeful smile.)"

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my effusive verbal affectionateness feels lost to me

I was looking through old emails from 2007 the other day (trying to find contact info) and came across gtalk conversations with someone I was close friends with back then. Here's a bit from March 2007:

transcript of a chatCollapse )

This was my normal with close friends. I was highly effusive and constantly expressing affection and admiration. The person that I had this conversation with I was never in a romantic relationship with, yet we shared intensely affectionate expressions of love as a constant in our friendship. To an outside observer I probably seem really trusting now, but I am SO WARY compared to my natural self.

[experiences with ex-friends which broke me]
I feel like Ava, Kei-won-tia, and to some extent Aurilion and Evelyn broke something in me. Ava was someone I passionately adored and loved profoundly, who lied to me in profound ways and then cut me off completely when I called them on it. Kei-won-tia was someone who I thought shared my values, who I felt strong resonance with, and later I learned that they believed none of what they said and lied to me. They intentionally tricked me into loving who I thought they were. Aurilion told me over and over how important I was to them and how "this time I won't run away I promise" followed by them cutting me out of their life the second it got difficult. Evelyn did much the same, though for even shorter bits of time.

I feel wary of speaking of anyone with admiration for fear that they will reveal that everything I love is only a carefully created manipulation, or is a rug about to be snatched from underneath me. I would never have thought that people could keep up a facade for months on end but now I know better. Multiple people have done this to me. Now honestly I am suspicious of anyone who seems to agree with me on everything. I wait to see if they stay agreeing when they're mad at me, or if they express the same things when there is no prompt related to me. I can't bring myself to believe that they mean it independent of me unless they already expressed it before meeting me and I can find proof of that. The people who wounded me most were people who pretended to be changed by exposure to my words.

More recently, Cass and Heather both betrayed my trust and made me feel a fool for investing in them. I now have a great fear that people I love will trust the people I praise and then get hurt by those people. I don't want to enthuse over someone only to watch them harm my closest people. At the same time I desperately crave an interconnected web of friends, so I yearn to have my people invest in each other. But I won't be the vector of harm again if I can help it. I can vouch for Topaz and Allison but everyone else I'm unsure of, everyone. No matter how much I love them or how much I'm willing to trust them, myself.

My effusiveness is further withered by disuse and discouragement. For at least 5 years I haven't been close to anyone who is comfortable being complimented even a little bit, much less with the enthusiasm that is natural to me. Topaz allows it but disagrees with me every time, though they have at least become gentle in their disagreement. (and to be fair, we are effusive with each other and Topaz doesn't disagree with my expressions of love, only my expressions of admiration) Evelyn reacted to my effusiveness with discomfort or rejection, multiple times. Most people react with disagreement, embarrassment, by saying that other people disagree with me, or by telling me things they don't like about themselves.

Worse, some people react as if I am hitting on them, which is uncomfortable and upsetting for me because it shows such deep misunderstanding of me. If I adore you, that doesn't at all mean I want to have sex with you, and if I want to have sex with you I am not going to try to talk you into it with flattery! good god!

And it is difficult when I don't even know anyone else like this anymore. When they were in a self-love-focused place, some of my old friends had this effusiveness in them as well, and we could reflect each other in an ever-growing glow of adoration and just as importantly, acceptance and appreciation of that adoration. Can I even express how amazing it was to be able to say "I love this part of me" and have them look at that part closely and love it just as well, and express it even more than I had? To feel that my self-love wasn't just tolerated or envied or distance-venerated but actively, vibrantly, joyously supported and enjoyed! And even more so, to give that self-love support to others and watch the exquisite unfolding of new layers of selfhood in them.

They also had that way of seeing people truly and that almost irrepressible urge to express the delight of knowing. They also trusted me and took my emotion-words as truths. It felt so good to be so fearlessly affectionate. It felt so good to have my words taken with both hands, kissed, and put in a sacred place, rather than pushed back at me with a disgusted face.

I am still effusive with a small handful of people but it seems impossible to access with newer friends. I think about my current friends and I know there are at least 5 people who I have met in the past few years who past-me would have been SO effusive towards, but current-me is not. I'm waiting for some future safety that will never come.

My effusiveness was one of my favorite things about me and it crushes me that that part of me is so damaged and I have no access to it.

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goals update for January: lots of success! I'm amazing myself!

icon: "satisfaction (a graphic of a notebook with a photo taped to it: inside the photo is a gif of the character Beth from the show Moonlight, grinning and scrunching their nose and nodding. on the bottom of the photo is written "yessss!")"

[my goals short list]
1. More LJ!
2. Host more gathers. 
3. Work on my journal-book! 
4. Make some fractals! 
5. Be amazing at work. 
6. Be in nature more. 
7. Maintain and develop my relationship with Topaz. 
8. Strengthen my local connections.
9. Strengthen my long-distance connections. 
10. Keep life records.
11. Make new friends. 
12. More physical exertion & stronger muscles. 
13. Be more active with art. 
14. Touch more people and connect intimately with people. 
15. Invest in my home and self-decorating.
16. Reach out first. 
17. Do activism. 
18. Witness more art and write about it. 

I edited them slightly because number 14 and 15 were very similar so I combined those and made a new number 15, because it is a goal I have been working towards which is also important to me.

January successes:

1. More LJ! I had my longest streak in at least a year, 11 days, and I posted an average of every other day. I'm really getting back in again! I was worried I would never manage it.

2. Host more gathers. It was only one gather which was only me and one other person, but still definitely progress! And I did a lot of work on my crafting stuff organization, which gets me closer to being able to host more.

3. Work on my journal-book! I have decided to include my life timeline on this one, which was the thing I worked on this month. I created the event pieces for 2006 and the first half of 2007, and I attached them to the pages. Describing them would be a LOT of typing so I don't think I will post them, at least not in detail. I may take an overview photo.

5. Be amazing at work. I had my performance evaluation and earned full marks, plus praise on my interpersonal skills (which honestly I would not have expected since I can be so clueless, but apparently my empathy shines through). I feel like I am really making great contributions and I think everyone on the team wants me here.

7. Maintain and develop my relationship with Topaz. We started going swimming together once a week, which has been a great time for us to play and talk and simply share space in a place that is relatively stress-free. We can put aside the other responsibilities because they are impossible to do at the same time and because we are being productive by exercising our bodies. The pool where we swim is heated (otherwise HAHA AS IF I would swim in winter!) and it has a "lazy river" with a current. One of our exercises/games is running through the water while the other person holds on to us and gets a ride. The extra current makes it way more fun, and it is still a workout to try to go faster than the current!

8. Strengthen my local connections. I hosted a hearts and crafts gather and attended one that Allison hosted, which together was spending time with Quinn, Allison, and Sande. I also had an 11-day streak of snapchatting daily with Kylei, which was a lovely way of connecting, and have been snapping pretty regularly with Quinn and Jackie.

9. Strengthen my long-distance connections. I have been snapchatting with chillychilly22, bunnika, and a little with Adi (mostly me sending stuff). I have been reading my lj friends list more regularly and I'm starting to feel close with some new-ish friends, which is exciting!

10. Keep life records. I have been doing my daylio twice a day every day this month! and I also saved my dreams a number of times. mega fail on writing down my best/worst/weird but I will try again.

11. Make new friends. I added a bunch of new people on LJ and I think some of us will become real friends!

12. More physical exertion & stronger muscles. I achieved my activity goals 16 times! Very proud of that and I am starting to feel much stronger, and it takes longer for me to get worn out. I still sweat a ton but it takes more exertion before I start sweating. Most days my activity is a brisk 1.5 mile march while carrying about 20 pounds in my backpack. I may add ankle weights starting next week just to increase my lower leg muscles.

I've also been swimming once a week with Topaz -- we play the sleigh-pulling game I mentioned and also I generally just keep moving the whole time I am in the water, which is about 70-90 minutes. I like to do this thing where I spin around in the water without touching the bottom and without my head going in, which is both fun and challenging. I have already noticed significantly increased strength in my core from that! Afterwards I am ravenous but also feel good in every part of my body. I love that about swimming! It is the only exercise that easily uses my whole body, yet I never feel exhausted in a bad way after. I just feel relaxed and sleepy, like after a great massage.

13. Be more active with art. I have been posting photos and fractals on instagram, with image descriptions. It has been very rewarding!

15. Invest in my home and self-decorating. I've done a lot with this! I made my bathroom acceptably tidy and clean, and organized a good 75 percent of my craft stuff. I got some more baskets so I should be able to have it all looking very neat the next time I attack it. I had a lot of craft stuff at Topaz' which still needs sorting, but it should be easy now that everything has a potential home.

I've been keeping my room relatively tidy and I even FOLDED MY CLEAN CLOTHES and put them away. I made a hanging rack for my winter scarves because they are too heavy for my light-scarf rack. I re-organized my clothes so that it is easy to create outfits, and I have been self-decorating (putting together an intentional, creative outfit) every day since I did that (as opposed to just grabbing something work-appropriate). It makes me feel good to self-decorate and soon I plan to take photos of my outfits (on me) and share them.

16. Reach out first. I have been pretty great about this, but I need to set a limit because after a certain number of times of me reaching out and not getting a response, I feel unvalued.

17. Do activism. My activism this month was mainly writing about consent violations, vaccines and anti-autism attitudes, and my sexual identity, but another significant part was writing image descriptions on my instagram. I feel passionate about making visual art accessible to people who are blind or who have low vision, and I think that sharing my art in an accessible way is a good way to push the culture toward that. I also have instagram post to my work facebook, where all my biofamily and family-in-love are, and I hope to increase awareness of the need for a described internet this way.

Goals I missed in January:
4. Make fractals.
6. Be in nature more. 
14.  Touch more people and connect intimately with people. 
18. Witness & write about art.

I'm gonna try to do at least a little more of these this month. I'm reeeeeally hoping that my car doesn't cost too much to fix, so that I can buy Chaotica for rendering fractals without the program crashing.

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I'm forever shit at comments, sorry / stressed out about my car

icon: "giving (two cartoon figures: one fills in a heart with red marker on its chest while the other watches. Then the other points at it and "...?" appears as a thought above it. The one with the heart on it smiles and glomp-hugs the other, who looks startled, then blushes and hugs back. The first one pulls away again and the heart has been copied onto the second one's chest. both smile. image repeats.)"

Well I lost my streak but I'm gonna try again because it was really good for me. I got a bunch of stuff posted that had been half-finished for a long time and that felt good. And 11 days is the longest streak I have had in a REALLY long time. But I remembered that part of why I don't post every day is that there's this horrible paradox where if nobody comments then I feel invisible, but whenever people comment and I don't reply I feel guilty. But I also want to read and reply on my flist and I usually don't have time for both.

So, often I don't post because I have built up too much guilt about not replying to comments. I'm just going to have to accept that I do this, and until I get enough programming knowledge to make an app (that doesn't suck) for reading and replying on LJ, I will just have to warn people: I suck at replies and am only slightly better at commenting on other people's posts. I wish I was better but it is a mental thing that I don't seem able to control. It's related to my ADHD -- because it reloads the page after every comment, each one feels like a context switch, and context switches wear my brain out SO BADLY.

My car worked for a good three days after the last examination before it went out. I have been taking lyft to the bus stop every day, and while I'm grateful that I can do this and that I know how to handle myself when I don't have enough money, it is very stressful. Worse is that Jeff -- my mechanic who I have been taking my cars to for a decade and a half -- is now semi-retired and I couldn't get in touch with him when I needed to move my car from where it had been sitting in a friend's carport.

So I asked for recommendations from locals and picked the nearest one and talked with them. They seemed decent so I had it towed to them. Then they did not check out the part I said was the problem, quoted me a price that was easily $70 over what it should have been, and informed me after the fact that they were gonna charge me $50 for glancing at my engine. I was furious, but felt helpless because I don't know that anywhere else would be better, and I was literally about to give them the go-ahead when Jeff finally texted and begged me to call him. I did, and he recommended me someone else and offered to pay for another tow (because he felt bad about being out of touch when I needed help), so now I'm waiting to hear back about that.

I feel a lot better with Jeff helping me find someone else to trust. And Jeff knows that my car is vulnerable to unethical mechanics because I have my politics clearly written on my car (literally, with paint), and he assured me that this new guy will treat me right (he referenced that the new guy had grown up in a very non-conservative part of Atlanta). He thought about something that I would be worried about and reassured me without me even having to ask.

When I thought I was going to have to find a new mechanic on my own, I felt just hopeless about it, and I realized fully how lucky I am to have a mechanic who listens to me, respects me, and treats me as a friend. Jeff is a straight cis white man over 50 who puts most white men (including young or gay or trans white men) to shame when it comes to respecting people. And Jeff has told me to call him if I am ever stranded and need a ride (and he means it). I feel so lucky to know him.

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why it took me 3 decades to claim my identity as queer, non-binary, and demisexual

icon: "queer (the logo for Transcending Boundaries Conference overlaid with the words "genderfree, queer, + trans / never a 1 or 0")"

do you consider your own sexuality fluid? If so, how has it changed over time? Regardless, how did you come to discover and embrace your sexual identity(ies)?

I think my sexuality has always been the same, but my experience and understanding of it has evolved. When I was a teenager, I was so restricted from knowledge about sexuality that I identified as straight despite the fact that I had more than twice as many sex dreams about girls as I did about boys (and I didn't know any other kind of person existed). It literally did not occur to me that I could be anything other than straight, because I wasn't lacking in crushes on boys. I don't think I even heard the word bisexual until I was in college.

How is this possible? Well, I was in private christian schools until 4th grade, when I went to public school for one year before being homeschooled 5th to 10th. The internet was still a toddler (google didn't exist until I was in ninth grade and didn't become really useful until a few years later), my house didn't have cable tv, and I wasn't allowed to socialize outside of school, except with people who lived as restrictedly as I did (and even with them, only once or twice a month). I had only books to teach me about relationships, and there were no queer people in them.

I think it was actually Angelina Jolie who taught me the concept of bisexual and the concept of genderfucking, via quotes people shared about Jolie on livejournal. "Honestly, I like everything, boyish girls, girlish boys, the heavy and the skinny." Reading that quote was my first time relating to anyone who expressed attraction! and still, there are very few who feel this way, because even among people who don't identify as monosexual, most people don't consider genderfucking people or fat people to be attractive. We look "weird" or "wrong" to the average person due to sexist and cis-sexist assumptions.

It was a few years after I learned what bisexuality was that I came to identify as bisexual, because I was strongly influenced by the popular cultural myth that unless you had experiences with men and women, you couldn't identify as bisexual. I would guess that at about age 21 I learned that bisexual people exist and at 23 I began identifying as bisexual. At about age 25 I learned that non-binary people exist and changed my self-label to queer to make it clear that I liked non-binary people too. This was before bisexual people queered the definition of bisexual to its current meaning of "attracted to people of 1) my own and 2) other genders."

A few years later, age 28 I realized that I was trans and non-binary, which further complicated my sexual identity as most ideas of identity start with who you are -- for instance men who are attracted to men are called gay while women who are attracted to men are called straight. Fortunately, "queer" is an umbrella term that always means "not hetero" and otherwise can mean pretty much anything.

Despite identifying as bisexual and queer since age 23, it took me until age 30 to feel sure that I was right about my identity. Even though I had had a number of romantic and sexual relationships with non-men, there's this attitude among mainstream gays that until you've done certain sex acts or had 'primary' relationships with people who were assigned the same sex as you, you don't 'count' as queer. The sexuality-policing heterocentrism is as common and intense among binary gay people as it is among binary straight people. We should be able to claim our identities without having to perform, just like straight people who have never had sex do. But it is a struggle.

It was a few years after I began identifying as queer when I learned what asexual meant, but like with bisexual, I came across a very restrictive definition and it took a while before I even learned the word demisexual. I had to work up my courage to claiming that label as well, because while it is true that I need to feel emotionally intimate to begin to feel sexual attraction, I had a period in my life where that wasn't always true, so I had to deconstruct a binary to claim my demisexual identity. I was 30 when I finally claimed this part of my identity.

When I was a kid, a teen, and a young adult I didn't know what I was, because I didn't have words for it. Once I learned the words, in every case I had to unlearn the shitty gate-keeping definitions in order to claim my identity. When you think you are cis, straight, and allosexual (having an average or high sex drive), society will never pressure you with "are you SURE?" or "but WHY are you that way?" -- you just get affirmed as who you are. If you are not those things (especially if you are trans), you have to be more sure than you have ever been because people will question you and invalidate you constantly.

As you can tell by the fact that it took me three decades to learn who I am, representation is vital. I have seen trans people on tv now but they're never asexual, rarely non-binary, and usually straight. Maybe two characters that I have seen in my life are queer and non-binary (Vex from Lost Girl and Nomi from Sense8) and that is only a guess as their identity is never mentioned and they use typical gendered pronouns -- and both are shown as highly sexual. If I had ever seen a character like me on screen I would have instantly known "that's me!" but instead I had to fumble in the dark and each time I found a part of my identity it was taken away several times before I got a permanent hold on it. If I had had an example, that would never have happened.

Straight, cis, allosexual people should have their identities questioned at least by their intimate people (parents, best friends, lovers) to help them understand themselves and to increase their empathy with people who are not like them. Queer, trans, and asexual/demisexual people should be questioned less often in general and NEVER by non-intimate people. The same as you wouldn't ask someone who you're not intimate with about what they discuss in therapy or what they like in sex, you don't ask them why they identify the way they do. That is demanding a vulnerability from them that you have not earned the right to ask. If you feel like you need to know their why in order to accept their identity as legitimate, that's due to your ignorance and cis-sexism and you need to do some serious self-examining.

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You may value yourself very little, but please don't crush my expressions of admiration

icon: "artless (a painting of a nude person in sun-dappled shade, unselfconscioualy pulling off red stockings. They have a soft round belly and breasts that slope down)"

Disclaimer: all of this is within the context of us having a connection intimate enough that you value knowing my perception of you and vice versa. This does not apply to comments from non-intimates.

Part of the reason I have a hard time with my friends and lovers having a negative self-image is that it contradicts my perception of reality. And so, when I'm around them, I feel like I have to defend my perception of reality from them trying to tear it down or reshape it. I can't enjoy what I am experiencing as reality because the person that I'm with rejects the very existence of my reality. The way that many people feel when someone dumps all over their favorite show or book or movie is how I feel when my friend or lover dumps about themselves to me. It makes it so much harder to feel that same fresh excitement, because now there's this pain on top of it.

I do better with people who have an exaggeratedly positive value of their self worth because that's closer to how I see them, and it's erring in the right direction. My reality can easily stretch to encompass the idea that someone is better than they seem to me, but it breaks my reality to try to imagine that someone is worse than I perceive them to be.

None of this means that you can't share your feelings of low self-esteem with me, it just means that I need it to be framed as your feelings, and not as some kind of objective reality that you're trying to get me to accept. It's not an objective reality. It's not my reality, and your reality is not the only one that you are part of. If you are my friend or my lover, part of the fabric of my reality is you being a worthy person.

And frankly, I think it's just mean to respond to someone expressing happy feelings about something with telling them that they're wrong and the thing they like is terrible. If you think that the thing they like is terrible and they need to know, tell them at another moment, when you're not crushing their expression of happiness. Not that I am innocent of this!

I know that I sometimes crush people's happiness, but I don't do it on purpose. I don't do it if I realized what's happening. I do it because sometimes my thoughts pop out of my head without me considering whether or not I should say them. And once it happens once, I try to set a memory tag on that topic so I don't react that way again. That's all I ask of my friends, too: just try not to respond to my expressions of admiration by crushing them.

If you need to laugh it off by saying "ah yes I am the most enchantingly beautiful being ever to live" in an exaggerated manner that will be totally fine with me! I would actually love that even though I know you're not being earnest, because it feels playful and I can respond to it happily. Other good choices might be if you want to say "I'm glad you feel that way" or "okayyyyyy" or "there's no accounting for taste!" with a smile or just be silent in response, none of those things will crush my expression of happiness.

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sci-fi authors I plan to review

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)"

There was so much sci-fi and fantasy that I loved as a child that now reads as blatantly exoticizing, stereotyping, oppressively gendering, horridly ableist, fatphobic, and/or overtly white supremacist (Tolkein, Lewis) now that I am an adult educated on those things. It's strong enough that I don't re-read books because I don't want to ruin child me's experience. Some I cringe even thinking about re-reading.

But then I am reminded that authors like Cj Cherryh still have fan interactions and sometimes even listen to criticism. Maybe I have a responsibility to reach out to my estranged literary parents. I can't do a lot because I have so many other responsibilities, but maybe I can make it a goal to read one new book by an old favorite author (who is still alive) each year, review it with my current understanding and share that with the author.

Unfortunately a lot of them have died, but here is the list of still-alive favorite authors of pre-consciousness me that I have thought of so far:

Piers Anthony (this one I just can't ever read again. too pro-rape. AVOID. None of his pluses are worth the constant pro-rape thread in all of his work. I stopped reading this shitwad before I even discovered feminism)
CJ Cherryh
Alan Dean Foster
Terry Brooks
Tad Williams
Elizabeth Anne Scarborough
Sharon Shinn
Sarah Isidore
Emma Bull
Nick O'Donohoe
Kaaron Warren
Rebecca Lickiss
Louise Marley
Rachel Pollack

And more recent favs which still should be critically examined:
Stephen Leigh
Joan Slonczewski

This is a looong term project so we'll see if I manage or not.

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why it's fatphobic to congratulate someone on size loss

icon: "bodylove -- me (nude)" (my nude torso showing my large belly and breasts, with a lacy fractal overlay across me)

a question asked of me anonymously via sarahah: "Is it, or under what circumstances is it, fatphobic to congratulate someone on weight loss?"

Yes, it is always fatphobic to "congratulate" someone on weight loss or more accurately, size loss. First, it is never appropriate to comment on someone's bodily changes unless they have commented on it to you in a way that communicates their feelings about it and opens the space for you to comment also. Don't assume that anyone decreased in size on purpose. Don't assume that anyone is happy about decreasing in size. Don't assume that it is okay for you to comment on someone's body.

If someone tells you about their size loss in a way that shows they did it on purpose and they are happy about it, it is appropriate to make a positive comment. You can say something like "I am so happy you feel more comfortable in your skin now" or to express happiness for them about the positive causes or effects of this size loss. This is simply emphathizing with their feelings and there is nothing wrong with it.

Congratulating them, on the other hand, implies [all kinds of fat-phobic bullshit]

--- CN: fat-phobic ideas, this paragraph ---

that size loss is inherently a positive*, admirable* experience achievable* through hard work and perseverance, which is wrong, wrong, and WRONG. When people use nutrient-poor restrictive diets to lose size, this almost always causes health problems: this is not positive, even if they get the look they want for a short time. As for admirable, it is no more admirable than buying a new outfit. Changing your look is a personal decision and just like you wouldn't say congratulations if someone got a new haircut, you don't say congratulations when someone loses size.

--- end CN ---

Most of the factors that determine size are out of the control of a person, and size loss is mostly an accident or a fluke. Your body will return to what it is genetically comfortable with. Many people can achieve some form of athleticism but that does not usually mean a great size change. Fat bodies can be very athletic just as thin bodies can be very un-athletic, and your body thickness is almost as genetically determined as your height. Is it appropriate to congratulate someone for growing taller? no, because it is not an achievement. Size loss is not an achievement, it is merely a change.

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why I adore taking the bus

The difference between getting on the shuttle (filled with living-on-campus college students) and the bus is stark. On the shuttle, people are fucking selfish as shit, always shoving in front, crowding, stinking (god I hate axe), generally being rotten toddlers. People will literally shove by me when I have been waiting since before the last shuttle arrived. Dealing with 5-foot and 6-foot toddlers is just infuriating. I may start scolding them out loud.

On the bus, people wait kindly based on who arrived first, even if you didn't get in line. There's an awareness and a care for each other. People sometimes greet me, share information like when a bus is late, etc. It's this intense difference between rich and poor, really, because to live on campus here you have to be rich, and people riding the bus for an hour's commute like me are usually doing it at least in part to save money. I'm sure it also has to do with how recently people were released from the prison that is USian high school, where literally everything is a competition.

I've rearranged my schedule now to let me take the bus every day, and as I was walking to the bus stop recently I was reflecting on how much it affects me and had the thought that I feel more whole now. A bizarre thought! But I think it comes from feeling unable to take public transit for most of my life, due partly to stress about deadlines / timetables and partly to strong trigger reactions to being left stranded in a public place, or feeling like I am stranded. I don't know why I have a reaction to that and I may never know, but coming to feel competent at navigating transit feels like the long, long awaited final step in being able to manage the fallout of the childhood abuse I endured.

I also felt looked down on by people for not being able to do it. Like people would think I don't care about the environment, or am a snob, or am a suburbanite. Uncool, apathetic, and elitist. So I feel safer from judgement and I feel a kind of relief because part of me was like "well maybe I am apathetic, maybe I am selfish and lazy." No. I was unskilled and hadn't had a chance to practice in a way where I could overcome my trauma.

I honestly feel reluctance to ever take another route to/from work, even if someone else is driving, because I love being on the bus so much. It gives me dedicated time to write or read LJ, but I can also just close my eyes and meditate. At home I can't just randomly close my eyes and meditate because disentangling from my surroundings is too difficult. On the bus I am disentangled instantly if I turn my phone screen off. I think my fondness for the bus has to do with the length of time I am on the bus, as well, because it is long enough that I don't feel stressed by rapid context changes, but just short enough that I don't get impatient.

And I think there is something magic to me about buses, especially ones that ride on a loop. They make me think of being a cell in the bloodstream of the city; it makes me feel like I belong. It makes me feel like I can tap in to the heartbeat of the city and I feel nourished by it.

connecting: , , ,

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Aziz didn't make a mistake; he made an abusive choice to disregard consent

icon: "disassociative (a digital painting of a stylized person in profile with wide open screaming mouth and arms up with palms spread wide. Head and hands flow into strands like blood vessels)"

TW/CN: Aziz Ansari's sexually coercive behaviorCollapse )

Also highly relevant to this discussion:

the feigning ignorance consent violation tactic: if they care, they change their behavior. TW: rape

Why making it safe & comfortable to say 'no' is as necessary as respecting a plainly-stated 'no'

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moving my accumulated stuff back / ownership versus child-me the thief

icon: "gamine (a photo of me as a seven-year-old child, freckled with frizzy hair and a solemn expression, leaning against a tree)"

So Topaz is moving from the place they have lived the entire time I have known them, which is reminiscent of me moving because I spend probably a good half of my free time (or more) at their house. We have already taken 2 car loads to my house and there are still some things there that will need to be brought over. While it's sort of stressful and now my living room is once again filled with stuff that needs sorting and putting away, it also feels good to be pulling stuff back to my house.

I didn't realize that I felt sort of back-burner stressed about having so much stuff over there, but it makes sense because it felt disorganized, especially having my craft stuff over there. I feel low-level constant stress when my stuff is not organized, because it feels like I am not respecting it. Ever since I was a child, I have felt like things have feelings and all things want to be noticed and used. I feel like it is unethical to keep things you don't love or use because they could be with someone who will actually value them. That's why I am getting rid of so many of my books -- if I will literally never read it, I am disrespecting it by keeping it.

When I was a little kid I took this ethic of "whoever will love it most should have it" to an extreme, and I would steal from people if I felt they weren't loving their things enough. Some of my most prized possessions as a child were things I stole. I would also give away my things if I felt like someone else loved them more.

Now that I am an adult, I realize there are more things to consider than "who will love it most." While I still don't believe in ownership of anything you didn't make or customize, I know that other people do, and I know that people will feel violated by being stolen from, so of course I don't do it. But that's not because I think it is inherently wrong, but rather because of the effect it has within this society. I never want to cause someone to feel violated and that is a higher ethic to me than possibly anything else.

connecting: , ,

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18 goals for 2018

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 blue hands with pointy nails)"

I always make my goals too difficult and too specific, so this year I'm trying to make it simpler and include ideas under broad goals.

1. More LJ!
2. Host more gathers. 
3. Work on my journal-book! 
4. Make some fractals! 
5. Be amazing at work. 
6. Be in nature more. 
7. Maintain and develop my relationship with Topaz. 
8. Strengthen my local connections.
9. Strengthen my long-distance connections. 
10. Keep life records.
11. Make new friends. 
12. More physical exertion & stronger muscles. 
13. Be more active with art. 
14. Touch more people and connect intimately with people. 
15. Invest in my home and self-decorating.
16. Reach out first. 
17. Do activism. 
18. Witness more art and write about it. 

18 goals for 2018Collapse )


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executive function?!?!? organizing, tidying, cleaning

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

In the past two weeks I have:

list of accomplishments!Collapse )

I feel validated in my self-understanding by the amount I have been able to do recently. I am naturally a tidy person, but it has rarely been reflected in my surroundings over the past few years because I was so depressed and anxious I could hardly manage to do the most basic things.

In 2013 I had a depressive crash that I treated for 8 months with citalopram (quit using it when it became harmful rather than helpful). During that same time period I realized I needed treatment for ADHD but was prescribed inadequate meds for a year and a half, while I struggled with literally everything. Finally at the end of 2014 I was prescribed the correct medication, and 2015 was a pretty good year of having a job while being in interesting and growthful classes and having my meds, though I did not make enough money.

But in 2016 I was no longer able to work at my student worker job, and I could not find employment for more than 7 months despite trying my absolute hardest. I had no money and ran out of meds and was completely demoralized by the fact that I got zero call-backs for the first five months, plus there was god-awful stuff happening in Topaz' life that was breaking my heart. It completely erased all the progress I had made in 2015 and put me back into barely-surviving mode.

Then I started the job I have now, which was delightful but also a huge new burden of social interaction for 40 hours a week, as well as the work itself which I enjoy but is extremely mentally taxing. 2017 has been full of loss, as two people who were more my grandparents than my bio-grandparents died, someone I was in love with flaked out of my life, I lost the closest of my local friends to their shitty and/or unethical choices, and I experienced a painful separation from one of my spirit-kin. And much more shit has happened in Topaz' life which affects me a lot, both indirectly through their feelings and because I have reactions to the stuff itself.

I think it makes sense that with the constant drain, my progress has been slow. But I feel hopeful that maybe I can continue improving and get to the point where I can spend my free time on stuff I actually want to do, not just on recovering from daily stresses.

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starting a 22-day writing challenge to get myself back in the flow / lj friends

icon: "eccentric (a photo of me tilting my head and with raised eyebrows and a pursed-lipped smile)"

Last night I streamlined my profile (to the most stripped-down it has ever been), and while doing that I skimmed over the last few months of posts to make sure I was being accurate in listing the kinds of things I write about. I realized that I haven't been writing anything except for giant, in-depth posts about unified topics -- more like a blog than a journal. I'm sorry about this, for me and for you. Sorry for me because I have lost a lot of that history and sorry for you because I know I don't feel connected to people when they don't write anything but impersonal, philosophical type posts.

I feel like I can't put things in here unless they are really well-thought-out, complete, and important. But I need to get over that and go back to writing more often. If I write down things that don't matter, that's okay. If I end up never writing because I have set the bar for 'important enough' too high, that's a terrible loss for me.

So, I'm biting the bullet, and today begins my first 22-day challenge of 2018. I'm going to try to post every day from today through February 2nd. I'd love for you to join me!

I also want some more active people on LJ because a good half of my flist never or rarely posts, so recommend me your friends! I want to add anyone who posts entries that are kind of similar in style to these:

I like reading about people's daily lives and how their emotions weave with their experiences.

Usually I wouldn't post this because it's short and scattered but I'm pushing past that! here!

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playful complaint, tactless respectful disagreement, and real conflict: my dynamic with Topaz.

icon: "honesty (me, outdoors, gazing straight at the camera with a solemn expression)"

A few months ago I realized, through watching a friend who I see rarely react to my dynamic with Topaz, that Topaz and I argue -- or appear to argue -- a LOT. We use playful complaint to release irritation; this is not conflict but can look like it. We use tactless respectful disagreement to help us learn about each other, increase our knowledge, and broaden our understanding of each other and what we can teach each other. Our other arguments don't happen in front of other people, and are comparatively rare.

playful complaint: not conflictCollapse )

You can't mix play and passive aggressionCollapse )

lack of tact doesn't mean disrespectCollapse )

tactless discussions require COMPLETE trust

One thing you absolutely need in order to have tactless discussions without hurting each other is a MUTUAL, complete and sturdy trust that the other person considers your thoughts to be as important, accurate, and valid as their own. If there is any doubt that the other person truly respects the way you think or communicate, you must both use care and tact in phrasing so that you don't accidentally imply that the other person's ideas are inferior to yours. I have ruined friendships by being tactless when that trust was not there; the trust MUST COME FIRST and there is no forcing it. It is not okay to demand that someone trust you to respect them. You must prove it through repeated example. If the other person doesn't feel completely comfortable with you being tactless and vice versa, that trust is not there.

Other than playful complaint and tactless discussion, we rarely argue. Not to say that there are no difficulties; when we have an emotional clash it hurts a lot, but that happens pretty rarely and we usually learn something important from it. Also, it hurts only out of comparison to the unity and adoration we usually share, not due to any kind of meanness or carelessness with each other's feelings.

behaviors we avoid in conflict

We don't try to hurt each other emotionally -- it is so beyond the realm of what we think of as okay that I forget that some people do that. We don't call names, threaten, or yell. We don't make dismissive, disrespectful, callous, or derisive comments. We don't attack ourselves or engage in self-hate, especially not out loud where it hurts the other person also. We almost never assign motive rather than asking, and if we do we apologize sincerely after we realize. We don't assign blame to the other or ourselves. When we realize we hurt the other person, we do not defend our choices!!!

behaviors we practice in conflict

We trust each other to tell the truth about our own motives, emotions, and desires. We take responsibility for our mistakes by making plans to do better. When we realize we hurt the other person, we empathize first, then explain our motives for what we did (not defensively), then discuss how we will try to avoid hurting them this way again, and ask if there is anything the hurt person needs to help them feel better. Afterward we usually hug, sometimes go have a lay-down cuddle if it was really intense.

accepting their stated motives as true: exampleCollapse )

In that moment I thought to myself how torturous it would be to not be able to have healing re-connection after a painful misunderstanding. I don't know how other people manage to just not talk about their upsets and wait for time to dull the ache and hope that they can accidentally happen into some re-connection along the way. I want to feel 100% back to normal connectedness by the time the clash is over, and the vast majority of the time, that's what happens. The only time that isn't true is when we're both nearly out of energy and then we clash and we both go into the negative. Then we tiptoe around each other for a bit and do passive-connection things like watch a show until we get back to neutral.

arguments based on misunderstandingCollapse )

shelving an unresolved discussion is a necessary skillCollapse )

I have learned that for me to be fully intimate with someone, they must either be able to discuss right away OR be willing and able to reflect on the issue on their own time and then talk with me when they finish. Either works, and I am sure there are other possible solutions as well. The basic need is for my partner to be willing and able to take responsibility for their share of the emotional work and actually do it.

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Relationship update post: heather, cass, serenity, kylei, allison, quinn, sande, topaz, anika...

It's been over 6 months since I last did this... I have dealt with a lot of loss, but some healing has happened in some relationships too.

[not friends with Heather or Cass any more]
I don't think I posted about Heather and Cass. Cass did something I find profoundly unethical and harmful and then refused to take responsibility or make change, and Heather supported Cass in that choice, so I'm not friends with either of them any more. If I can't trust someone to be ethical, I'm sure as hell not going to invest in them. I consider Cass an unsafe person and I don't say that lightly. I couldn't post about it because it was still in semi-active conflict until a few months ago, and I just haven't known how much to explain. But I'm just going to leave it at that, so this can stay public. If you are connected to them and feel you need more details let me know and I will figure out if there is more I can share privately.

I find the loss of Heather so huge and intense that it makes me a little nauseated to think of it and I have mostly been avoiding thinking about it. Heather has been a major force in my life for years and I had expected that she would always be. But for me, if you value maintaining your connection with someone over holding them to a standard of bare decency, that's a fundamental difference that I can't get over. If my most cherished person did what Cass did I would have told them "act better or get out of my life." I have broken up with people for far milder breaches of my core values (usually lying). I just don't value loyalty above ethics, ever, and I can't understand or empathize with that choice.

[reconnecting with Kylei]I made two plans with Kylei in September; the first time we went to Fernbank Forest (an old-growth forest in the middle of Atlanta) and just walked around and talked. Kylei expressed that they now appreciate that I was trying to warn them that they were getting lost / burnt out, and I was glad they said that because it made me feel trusted again and like they value my input. Near the end of our walk Topaz met up with us and then the 3 of us went to my favorite organic vegetarian-friendly restaurant. We laughed a lot and it felt so nourishing and healing after the painful, wrenching fall-out due to their breakdown at the end of 2016.

Soon after we made another plan; I went to their house and we just hung out and talked a lot and ate and cuddled. (Cuddles make connecting so much easier for me. When I can't cuddle someone I feel like I have to be "proper" in a way, like there is a barrier between us. I am really frustrated that that is true but it's not getting any less true.) It is a testament to my social overwhelm that I only realized from writing this that it has been three months since then and we have yet to make another plan. We've texted a little bit since then and while we may not be super close right now, I feel we have healed the rift and I am really happy about that. Kylei is coming to Solstice and I'm so glad.

[connection w Serenity is strained due to my need for alone time at home]
Serenity and I haven't really talked in months, mainly because I never want to talk when I am at home and both of us are rarely up for making plans to go out lately. I've also realized that I really need to live alone for at least a year, because the amount of social I have to give to work is still near my max capabilities after a year of adjustment. So I talked with them about it and they said they'd work on finding a new place for them and Lily.

I think if I am able to spend one stretch of at least 18 hours each week with no risk of human interaction, I will be much more capable of many things. I really want to have more active local connections but I always have to initiate, and I only have so much energy, so I need to increase that energy. Other than with Topaz I haven't planned one-on-one friend-time in the past 2.5 months. I was doing pretty good at twice a month until it started getting cold and dark.

[summer blips of social]
At some point this summer I met with Katie, which was delightful but bittersweet because I found out they were moving, and then before I even realized it they were already gone (in October). I was disappointed with myself for not reaching out again and missing the opportunity to see them again before they left. I feel such a strong connection to them but because they are not connected to anyone else I know (which would keep them in my peripheral vision, so to speak) I keep forgetting to reach out.

In August I did get to meet a new friend for coffee (the one I thought was gonna be my writing buddy earlier this year). As usual it was great for sparking new thought pathways but we haven't really talked since then. Unfortunately when it is extra lovely to spend time with someone, I am extra disheartened when they vanish, though I know logically I shouldn't be. And it is hard for me to believe someone enjoys my company if they never request it -- and then if I don't think they want to, I'm not going to try to change their mind.

[Anika and I are working together to stay active with writing]
I've been having a little more regular interaction with Anika via text since we started prompting each other at the beginning of October. I appreciate the creative push and the sense of shared reflection, and I like that I feel more connected to them and to LJ. I'm glad that they texted me when I did my "I'm drunk ask me questions" thing at the beginning of September. We talked out a good bit from the last friend break-up though I'm still hazy on a good bit too; ultimately it lead to such a lovely thing (for me at least, and I hope for them), being able to write again.

[Evelyn reached out then vanished again]
Evelyn reached out recently which was surprising. I was pleased for a minute but then they didn't reply to my response so I guess they're still not up for time together or anything like that. Ah well, at least I didn't get my hopes up this time and have to deal with a crash. Doing better about managing my expectations there.

With several friends I think there is a lot of emotional support they need that I feel kinda bad that I can't provide but at the same time, I don't have the emotional stamina to do more than two social things a month right now so it's probably best. I know me, I'd shoot for the moon and land in a pile of cactus, damage myself getting out, and then be useless for months. I've become much more protective of myself than I used to be and it is becoming easier to acknowledge and center my own needs in my life. I look back on the amount of emotional labor I used to do as a matter of course and it's like that was a different person because I so can't imagine doing that. It looks like torture.

[loss in my family-by-proxy]
My lover's grandmother went into the hospital 2 days before thanksgiving and died the Sunday after. I feel for Topaz and their family about the timing, because they all value that holiday, but I feel glad for Memaw about how wonderful her last day was. She got to go home, see all her friends and family, have ice cream, and get fussed over. I'm sorry that I wasn't there because I would have liked to say goodbye but at least I do feel sure that she knew I loved her.

My relationship with Topaz is better than ever, same as last time I wrote about our relationship. I marvel over it often. We just passed our 5 year mark. I am so fucking lucky! I'm amazed that a single relationship can be simultaneously so comforting and so growthful. It's like getting into a ideal-temperature bath and relaxing and then getting out and realizing all of your muscles have been worked out. It's like taking a super-comfortable nap and waking up feeling like you had a 3-course meal of perfectly-prepared nutrition. The only drawback is that being with Topaz is addicting so it's easy for me to default to spending all my free time with them, which leaves no time for other friends and alone time. I have to be careful about it, but luckily they are very supportive of that. When I say I need time alone, they help me stick to my decision by actively encouraging me.

[time with Allison and Topaz]
I didn't have any one-on-one friend time in November but I did make a group plan with Allison and Topaz -- we went to the Fernbank forest which was gorgeous and amazing as always. I really adore Allison and I like the feel of hanging out with them and Topaz together a lot because the conversation is very lively and I can interrupt without anyone going silent, and I can talk unedited without any fear that if I mis-speak I won't be able to fix it. And I can just listen and not be bored because the conversation stays meaningful and creative. Earlier this year the three of us watched the eclipse together which was the perfect experience for that! I loved all the joy and wonder we shared.

[impressed by Sande]
In September I made a plan with Sande; we went out to an Ethiopian restaurant and ate and talked and it was a nourishing communion though I felt guilty that my brain was so fried I could only hang out for a little over an hour. Sande has accomplished so many major life changes in the past year that it is amazing and definitely impressive. I'm hoping we can spend more time together in the future.

[building connection with Quinn]
In October, SAD hit and I didn't manage anything until the very end of the month when I made a plan with Quinn; they brought a project up to my house and we crafted together. (I had invited Serenity and Sande as well but they couldn't go) I interact with Quinn probably more than anyone else except Topaz because we send our snapchats directly to each other and chat responses (mostly about cats). They've become a real bright spot in my life and I'm glad to be building a friendship with them.

I talked with Allison, Sande, and Quinn about doing a twice-monthly creative gather and we planned the first one already! I reached out to them because they are the locals that I feel like are most likely to really show up -- but even if it's just me and one other person some weeks, that will keep me motivated. I really hope this will help me to work on my long-term creative projects which always feel too big and I hope I can develop closer connections with them through this also. I'm going to start creating a book from my LJ. Every time I think about this I get a nervous-happy flutter in my chest, which I have never gotten for a creative project before. I've been super happy before, but never this fear-spark anticipatory.

My relationship with my body is decidedly better. I have been eating more often instead of fasting all day and having one uncomfortably large meal; I have been getting about 6 hours of sleep on work nights which is not ideal but is worlds better than the 4-5 hours I was getting; and I have been power-walking while wearing a heavy backpack 2 to 3 hours / 4 to 6 miles per week. I already feel much stronger and more myself, after just 2 weeks (I started 3 weeks ago but skipped a week during vacation). This weekend I got myself a mi band (a $30 version of the fitbit) and I'm excited about being able to track my activity and heart rate. I am so motivated by creating charts and graphs that it's ridic.

My relationship with my inner self is also much improved by the amount of writing I have been doing lately. I love riding the bus because it is far easier for me to concentrate on writing or reading LJ there than it is at home!

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8 things I learned from being depressed most of my life & going through trauma recovery. TW/CN

icon: "healing (a photo of me and Hannah curled up together, naked, with Hannah's head resting on my legs and my arms around/over them. it's colored in violet with a fractal overlay of purple, blue, and green.)"

  1. being triggered is literal torture, not mere dislike or discomfort.
  2. your thoughts can get stuck in loops that take outside intervention to fix.
  3. pressuring someone into a sensory experience (taste touch smell sound sight) may force people to relive trauma. don't.
  4. The wrong therapist is a waste of time and it will wear you down trying to get help from them. if you don't click, move on as quickly as you can.
  5. it can look like laziness when people are literally doing their best because people have different amounts of energy.
  6. falling in love or experiencing lots of joy doesn't cure chemical depression. Not even if it is literally the best thing you have ever experienced.
  7. after a depression crisis is over, the recovery starts, but it can be long.
  8. survival stress is cumulative and causes depression. If someone is scrambling to survive, expecting them to be reliable and present at any given point is unrealistic and sometimes cruel.

Anika prompted me to share my experience with mental illness and how it has influenced [my] life or personality.

I don't know exactly when I first became depressed but it developed between age 8 and 12, and by the time I was 13 I was praying almost all day every day for God to kill me. I didn't feel like I had the right to end my life or I would have. It eased up somewhat when I finally got my first real friend at 13, but it was still a fairly constant state for me until after I got out of my parents' house, got married, and went through 2 years of therapy for the sexual abuse I experienced as a child.

[CN trigger: terror of unknown men, panic]
--- trigger: fear of unknown men, panic ---
During that 2 years, I was deeply afraid of all male strangers. When the apartment sent men around with leaf-blowers, I hid in the bedroom to put 2 doors between us. I held the axe and my breath and waited until I couldn't hear them any more. I knew, logically, that these people were unlikely to attack me. But logic didn't enter into it because I was in a state of triggered panic. I use the word triggered only very deliberately. Each time I knew men were within 10 feet of my doors or windows I was in a state of utter unthinking panic until they left. Heart pounding panic like you might feel if a bear is that close and staring right at you and growling. I couldn't go out alone. For months even going to the mailbox was too terrifying. (when I finally did go that 200 feet alone, I felt so proud of myself!).
--- end TW about terror of unknown men ---

[CN trigger: penetrative sex causing flashback-like thoughts]
--- trigger: penetrative sex causing flashback-like thoughts ---
The worst part was the triggers that would happen every time I had sex, starting with the first time I tried to have consensual penetrative sex. My body reacted by closing up. It felt horrible and I felt so guilty for not being able to do it, but I literally could not, no matter how much I wanted to! It got worse from there -- I started having horrible intrusive visions of children being violated whenever I would try to have sex that involved penetration. It was extremely difficult to think of sex as anything other than a source of pain, shame, loneliness, terror, and guilt. And I was so disappointed because with my conscious self, I wanted it! but my subconscious was much stronger.
--- end TW about penetrative sex ---

Relatedly, memories attach to weird things so don't ever insist that someone watch, listen to, smell, or taste things! because maybe that makes them feel a violation again in their mind, and they shouldn't have to tell you about it to get you to stop. Sometimes mental avoidance is an absolutely necessary coping strategy and if someone has to tell you "that makes me remember [traumatic event]" then you may be breaking their ability to stay out of a horrible loop of trauma replay.

The fear and intrusive thoughts were my main issue in that period of mental illness, but the amount of work I had to do on those things was so much that it made me feel hopeless. I felt like I would never get better. I wondered why bother living if every future day was going to involve reliving the worst feelings I had ever experienced. I kept going because I had a supportive partner who treated my healing as an important contribution he was making to the world.

Then about a year in, after three failed therapists and one therapist retiring, I found a therapist that I actually clicked with: one who had experienced worse trauma than I had and was now so free of triggers that they could sit next to their abuser without fear. The fact that they had healed that much made me feel that surely I could too, but it still was a long journey with a lot of pain in it.

Eventually we worked through a lot of previous traumas and I started to feel less scared and I was able to control my thoughts again. I started to feel normal, back to my old self. I still was sensitive to certain words, and movies with realistic (true to the experience of a victim, not glamorized rape myths) sexual abuse or rape would trigger me and make it so that my mind was trapped in a loop feeling that experience over and over, but those instances happened less and less often. I was able to go back to work. I was able to interact with strangers and go places by myself. I was able to perform the minimum required, like I had been before I started therapy.

[being not-depressed is amazing]
Then there came a day when I suddenly realized that doing things didn't feel like slogging through cold mud. I even had energy to spare! I could be cheerful in the face of grumpiness! I could be social with strangers for hours and still do stuff when I got home - LOTS of stuff! I suddenly realized that I had never been lazy -- it was actually that I had lacked the energy to do more. All my energy had been going to running coping programs for the abuse that I endured.

When I didn't need to spend energy coping because I had processed enough of it, all that energy welled up and sprang out of me. I was so magical, so loving, so creative. I was outgoing, as I always knew my true self was. I felt able. I was not-depressed from 2006 to 2010, then had 8 months of depression, then was not-depressed again from mid-2011 to mid-2012. I was so, so active and productive in those 6 years, to the point that it boggles my mind now.

So through all that I learned that sometimes a thing you think everyone can do is literally impossible for some people, and that when people say they can't, it's not just an irresponsible way of saying "won't." If you can understand only one thing about mental illness, I want you to understand that you can't tell WHY someone can't do a thing and there isn't always external proof. You just have to trust them.

Later, I went into depression again because I spent more energy than I had, day after day, without getting nourished. It sounds like nothing, but I was more depressed from that than I was about the abuse, because with the abuse at least I got a clear path to healing, I got reassurance that healing was possible, and all kind people were supportive. Even kind people are generally not supportive of healing from depression that has "no real reason" and the acceptable "real" reasons are very limited. The attitude is "get over it already."

Not long after I realized the cause of that depression, I fixed the cause and began the most nourishing and healing connection of my life -- the thing I had always yearned for since I was small. Even though I had this new source of brilliant joy, I couldn't really feel it because the pain had worn such a rut in my brain that I couldn't get out. I could not access the happiness I knew my experiences should be giving me.

[every day I thought it could not get worse]
Every day I thought surely this is the worst it can get -- and then the next day was worse. It was so bad that I could not access any feelings except despair; I could not even care about the suffering of others, which has always been one of my primary motivations. When I thought about injustice and suffering and had no emotional response, I felt I had died inside and was no longer a person.

Finally I got desperate enough to go to the clinic and get medicine, which formed a protective layer over the bottom of the rut and allowed me to slowly heal, layer by layer, until the rut was gone. But then the protective layer kept me from feeling things deeply which started to make me feel like life was pointless, so I weaned myself off against medical advice. I know my own brain and I knew I no longer needed it because it had started to cause me harm rather than good.

That experience taught me that even with a perfect situation, even in a time that should be your happiest, if the chemicals in your brain are messed up you are not going to be able to be happy. The chemistry of your brain is stronger than the strongest will. Just like you can't will yourself out of mono, you can't will yourself out of depression.

Even though the crisis-level depression was over after 8 months of medication, the depression was not gone. It's like after a long illness when it finally breaks -- the healing is not done because the sickness is over, because your body has to recover from the battle. My mind had to recover, and that process was slowed by the constant and massive amount of energy I had to put into surviving because my job didn't pay enough for me to live on. For a while that process was not just slowed but reversed by the exhaustion of scraping a survival on what I could beg from my biofamily while I tried to convince employers that I was a valuable person and they should hire me and pay me a living wage.

[survival stress]
When your ability to feed and shelter yourself is in constant doubt, there is no rest from the emotional and mental drain. Even when you are not actively worrying, it takes so much energy to keep it out of your conscious mind. Daily survival stress is cumulative and from myself and others I have seen, it always creates depression. Extra energy exists in a world of unicorns and dragons, and to think that you can have it while fighting to survive is a laugh.

A year ago I finally found a job that is perfect for me and pays me a living wage. Since then I have begun healing again, very slowly. I have only just now started feeling like I can actually count on this job, despite always doing my best and often getting appreciative comments from coworkers. I have only in the past few months started feeling like I can count on being able to stay in the place where I live.

I also have SAD (seasonal affective depression) but I have mostly learned how to cope with this so that it doesn't affect me too much. The most important part is that I have to get enough sleep on a fairly regular sleep schedule, and I HAVE to get up at LEAST three hours before dark. I have to get outside every day even if it's just 5 min, even if there is no sun. I need to drink lots of hot drinks (coffee, hot chocolate, tea) and try to stay as warm as possible. I need to eat regularly. I need to use my sunlight lamp as close to daily as I can manage.

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my self-labels, part 3: atheist Quaker spiritualist, energy-weaver, color/light worshipper...

What are the parts of your identity that you have labels for? (list and then define)

Part 3: my heart and spirit parts.

How I understand the world and express myself (heart): these are parts of me that form my lens for understanding myself and my tools for expressing myself.

[atheist / nontheist Quaker spiritualist]

atheist / nontheist Quaker spiritualist

I'll work backwards on this one: I am a spiritualist because I believe in finding meaning in things that are objectively meaningless. If I find a perfectly heart-shaped rock, I choose to assign the meaning that I am on the right path and the universe is affirming me. If I find a phallus-shaped mushroom, I choose to assign the meaning that a benificent magical being is jokingly reminding me of a dream I had once. If I want to make a change in my life I will write a spell and chant it because when I do that, I get what I asked for -- I don't care how it works and I'm not gonna disbelieve in my own experience. I don't care if these meanings only exist for me.

I'm a Quaker because I believe that everyone has the ability to find truth and create meaning. I value the same things that Quakers do, particularly equality and community. I love that Quakers literally will put their bodies on the line for equality, and are careful to consider it in their organizing: it's not just lip service. I love that Quakers believe in consensus decision-making and reject the practice of outsourcing their responsibility to a leader, whether religious or political. I feel very nourished by the Quaker practice of unprogrammed communal worship/meditation with optional sharing (if someone has a realization which may be helpful to others).

Technically I believe in what I call gods, but what I think many would not. I believe in ideas as forces of their own, which are created by shared thought. Sometimes these ideas can feel very person-like and some people can interact with them in beneficial or harmful ways; I call these deities. Deliberate worship is the most effective way to make one but it can be done accidentally, and most often is. I think the flying spaghetti monster has been made pretty real, which is hilarious. Other accidentally-created gods are every person depicted on money, many military leaders, everyone who has had multiple biographies written about them (including and especially hitler), the victoria's secret angel (who people worship by torturing their own bodies) and infinite others, some living only for a few weeks.

I choose to worship certain deities that I resonate with, and I have had strange and wondrous things happen as a result. I don't care if I am making it up and it is not true for anyone else: it is true for me and I like it, so I retain it. Deity worship is not a pillar of my belief system but it is a very soft warm rug that I sometimes lay on.

So if I believe in gods, by my definition, why am I an atheist? This one evolved very recently - as in, after I started writing this post. I was talking with a friend about why they don't consider me a theist, and why atheism is an important perspective, and that made me realize something new to me. Previously when discussing this I got stuck on the fact that I don't think there is anything inherently wrong in believing in gods, but while that is true it doesn't mean there is no harm done. An appeal to authority reinforces all appealing to authority, which I do not want to do. Since I think that I both believe and don't believe in gods, I have a choice to make identity-wise and I choose the anti-authority identity. I'm not yet sure if non-theist or atheist is more true of me, so I will keep both for now.



This relates to my spirituality: I sense idea-things in and on people that I can interact with if I choose to. Sometimes this is highly metaphysical; I might feel a string tied around someone's wrist or a shard in someone's energy center, when those don't exist in a visual reality. Sometimes it is more physical; I might feel static 'in' someone's head when they have a bad headache, or I might feel body parts that don't physically exist (one of my exes had dragon wings).

Weaving energy is when I do something like take the shard out of someone, or pet their wings. Some people can feel this when I do it, even when they have their eyes closed. People have told me that my energy weaving has eased their physical pain or soothed their emotional distress. One person thought I put a heated pad on them when it was just my hands. Another told me that I made a migraine go away at a point where medication usually would not work. An insomniac fell asleep as I worked on them. I haven't yet tried it on anyone who couldn't feel it, though it varies in effectiveness.

[color/light worshipper]

color/light worshipper

Light was my first word, and my first love. Color is an illusion created by the absorption of light, so I love it as an expression of light. I love light and color very much, and for me it ascends to worship because I make it a central aspect of how I design my space, clothe my body, and choose and customize my companion objects (like my water bottle and car). I also worship by creating art: light through photography and color through mixed media and digital art.

I also worship light through awed contemplation: I gaze at reflections and refractions of light, especially colored light. I love everything that glows in the dark. I love fairy lights and black lights and color-changey lights. I love everything that glows or shimmers, everything transparent and colorful. Glass connects to this because of the way it can hold light, cradle it, focus it, split it, direct it. I love all transparent glass and to a lesser extent translucent glass.



To me, a photographer is someone who documents life for the sake of memory and/or sharing truth or beauty. So people who take photos for money are not necessarily people that I would call photographers. I am not as much of a photographer now as I was years ago, but I am trying to be. I am more myself when I am a photographer.

[jewelry maker]

jewelry maker

I've been making beaded jewelry since I was about 8, and making complex, unique jewelry since I was introduced to nylon-coated flexible wire at 19 (15 years ago). I haven't done much of it in the past 3 years, but I am still very passionate about it and I generally don't wear or gift jewelry that I didn't make. I've played a little with natural stone beads but glass is my medium of choice. I make necklaces designed with reflected symmetry, with shape as much of a player as color and texture. I make earrings of many types but my favorite involve making a wire shape from which strands or chains dangle: I call these "chandelier" style earrings.

[digital/fractal artist]

digital/fractal artist

I have been using photoshop since about 2004; I am extremely good at photo editing and am skilled at graphic design as well. I fell in love with fractals after discovering them on deviantart, and began making them myself in 2012. I identify as a fractal artist because I feel that I have a distinctive style to my fractals and I feel that I can express myself in fractals more than I can in any other medium. I identify as a digital artist because most of my photos are digital as well as my fractals and I do post-work that is also digital.

[coffee clergyperson]

coffee clergyperson

I used to call myself a coffee snob or coffee geek but clergyperson is definitely more accurate. I know a lot -- a LOT -- about coffee and I love it dearly. The preparation ritual adds to it for me, whether I make it myself or go to a temple and pay for service. I have worked at a number of coffee temples and I have my own shrines at home, at work, and at Topaz'.

Inherently me (spirit); these are aspects of me that I think would always exist -- aspects which come from the truest part of me, which have existed as long as I was cognizant and which have never changed, even though I might not have specifically identified with them in the past. Everything else about me comes from these parts.

[curious questioner]

curious questioner

I think the very most core trait of mine is curiosity -- even more than justice, even more than love. One of the few stories that my parents tell about me as a child is when someone was reading a book to me and I asked "what's that?" so many times that the person reading to me got impatient and just started telling me before I had a chance to ask again.

I question everything and everyone as much as I can. Anyone who knows me at all, if you asked "who (among those you know) is the questioner?" I would instantly come to mind. Being asked questions -- real, meaningful questions that only I can answer where the person is invested in the answer -- makes me feel more loved than almost anything else.



This is a key part of my identity because it informs everything I do. I seek to grow and learn in every way I can, at every opportunity. I made a decision to consciously develop into a continuously better self 19 years ago and I have maintained my success. I don't have any particular aim, as long as I can always look at last year's self and notice improvement.

[content creator]

content creator

It took me a while to realize that most people don't do this. All my in-person friends were crafty and all my internet friends were writers and mostly artists too, so when I randomly met someone who didn't create at all, I thought they were the oddity. I've since been exposed to more normates and I would guess that at least the majority of USians don't create anything at all.

But content creating is something so necessary to who I am and who I have always been, even since a child, that I don't feel capable of relating to someone who does not create anything. I mean, even creating memes and putting rhinestones on your phone case counts to me. Writing reviews about media counts, making meals from random ingredients counts. Creating solo I can relate to in a distant way but I relate best to people who create content that is intended for sharing, like LJ posts or artwork that they share online and/or in person.

[critical analyst]

critical analyst

I analyze everything, both personally and academically. I'm really talented and skilled at using data analysis programs, and I have an intuitive understanding of statistics and surveying. I make spreadsheets for fun. I really love analytics. I also believe in critiquing media and human behavior, and I do both pretty much constantly. I don't really have the ability to turn this off, and I find it baffling (and very unappealing) that others just absorb and experience without analyzing.



I am a writer because I am not whole when I don't write. Writing is something I do to understand myself, to keep from losing important parts of me into the dark tangles of my memory, and to help others understand me, as well as to teach and explain things. I have come to the conclusion that if someone doesn't like writing/reading or isn't comfortable with reading/writing, it will be almost impossible for us to maintain closeness because so much of me is lost if a person tries to separate me from my LJ. In any lifetime with this level of sentience, I feel sure I would want to use shared symbols to record things I think, feel, and learn.

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why I am vegetarian but do not recommend it for everyone / why I won't ever go vegan

icon: "analytical (a close-up photo of my eye in bright sunlight, showing the green and grey and roots-looking patterns)"

Some facts:
1) Eating farmed meat is bad for the environment because it is usually done in a way that is an unsustainable overuse of resources.
2) Being vegan can actually be worse for the environment than not, due to the way a vegan diet uses land and the way that vegan substitutes such as almond milk are created.
3) Eating lots of meat can be bad for your health, but eating no meat and/or no animal products (eggs, dairy) can be even worse, due to lack of vital nutrients found primarily in meat and animal products.
4) Being in control of your own diet is a privilege that many poor people do not have, and it is unethical and cruel to tell them to cut necessary nutrients out of their diet whem they have no alternative way to get them.

I went vegetarian in April 2009, when it was first pointed out to me that even if you only consider water use, meat is an extremely resource-wasteful food. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to function without it, so I kept it a secret for 6 months so that if I failed, only I would know about it. I was able to maintain my energy levels without eating meat, so I didn't eat meat from then on.

It wasn't until April 2014, five years later, that I accidentally realized that I had a massive nutritional deficiency. I was on tumblr and saw a necklace with a molecule that the artist referred to as "memory." Since my memory had been getting exponentially worse over the past few years, I looked up this molecule, acetylcholine. I learned that a major building block of memory is choline, also called b-11, which is obtained through eating meat, especially fatty meats such as beef and pork. I have never really eaten pork, and quit eating beef years before because I didn't like the taste. However there is enough of it in meat in general that I probably wasn't deficient until I went vegetarian.

I immediately ordered choline supplements, and when I started taking them I saw a jump in my mental capacity. When I ran out I noticed it even more as without it my mind was slow and stuttery and constantly forgetting. I have been on a high dose since then. I have since learned that all medications for dementia that are currently used in the US work on choline. This affirmed what I already knew, that choline is incredibly vital for cognition. Further, eating fat with choline is necessary for good absorption, so a low-fat diet can create the same problems as a no-meat diet.

Now you can get enough choline in your diet without meat or supplements but the primary sources are going to be animal products such as eggs (2-3 eggs a day will do it) and dairy (whole milk, cheese, yogurt). Otherwise the amount of veggies, legumes, and/or beans you would need to eat daily to get the right amount of protein and nutrients is so extreme the vast majority of people would not be able to do it. I love spinach more than most but I'm not going to eat a pound of it every day. If you are not a nutritionist and meal planner, not able to hire a nutritionist and meal planner, and not able to spend hours and hours essentially learning to be those things, you can't eat vegan and be healthy, in my opinion. The problem is that deficiencies show up very slowly, so you're not going to notice them until they're pretty bad.

The other main nutritional deficiency I developed was for amino acids. I didn't know these are primarily sourced in meat, because nobody seems to have ever accounted for vegetarians in any of the nutritional literature I could find. I discovered my deficiency because after one outbreak of herpes 5 years ago, I had another in February 2016, and then I had another in March, and another in April. This was really weird because usually they increase in time between re-occurrence. So I started taking lysine supplements daily, and I haven't had an outbreak since.

However it didn't occur to me to look into other amino acids until a few months ago, when I realized I needed to supplement for histidine, phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, isoleucine & leucine as well (your body can't produce these). Fortunately some of these are easily available in full-fat dairy such as whole milk and cheddar cheese. For the ones that are not, and to be sure I am getting enough, I also ordered dried egg powder that I can mix into my morning protein shake. It has a good amount of all of them, it doesn't taste bad, and I found what seemed to me to be an ethical source.

If you are not prepared and able to buy and take supplements every day I would encourage you NOT to go vegetarian but simply to reduce the amount of meat you eat. Most US people eat more than they need: you only need an amount that is about the size of a deck of cards each day, and less than that if you eat other sources of protein -- and most people don't need meat every single day, so maybe skip one day a week. But when you do have it, please eat it with a fat so that you can properly absorb the choline.

(also, if there is ANYTHING that you eat a lot of on a daily basis, I urge you to look up its effects, especially if your hormones are sensitive. A lot of people suggest soy as a source of vegan protein, but it will disrupt your hormones so unless you need more estrogen I do not recommend it. I think eating soy every day for a year and a half contributed to one of the worst depressions I have ever experienced. Soy is getting to be well-known for increasing estrogen, but flaxseed, sesame seeds, and chickpeas have similar effects -- flaxseed to a much higher degree than soy.)

I will never go vegan because I find it difficult to eat as it is, and without eggs and dairy I would have to spend so much more time researching, shopping for, and preparing food. I would end up going hungry much of the time, I wouldn't be able to ever eat enough to get all my needed nutrients, and it would harm my health. And if I became poor again I would have to stop, and adjusting back to animal products would be hellish until I built up my microbial communities again.

If you do go vegan, please consider the environmental and human costs as well as the cost to animals. For example, I consider it far more ethical to drink local animal milk than to drink almond milk sourced from California almonds, since California is in drought and should not be producing such a water-greedy crop. When I looked it up, cashew and pea-protein milk are both more gentle on the environment, so you may want to look into those.

Another important consideration is that many farms which produce vegan imitations of dairy and meat products do not treat their human workers with dignity or offer safe working conditions, and these bad conditions disproportionately affect people of color, women, and children. So if you choose to be a vegan to reduce the suffering of living beings, you have an obligation to look into the sources of your food so that you're not simply shifting the suffering onto humans who do not have your privilege.

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my self-labels, part 2: consent advocate, communalist, social justice activist, polyamorous...

What are the parts of your identity that you have labels for? (list and then define)

Part 2: my soul parts. These are parts of my identity that relate to my purpose n the world and the way I interact with it.

My soul identites: consent advocate, communalist, social justice activist, polyamorous / relationship anarchist, creativity catalyst, Southern / ATLien, tree-hugger, vegetarian, nudist.

[consent advocate]

consent advocate

This is a big damn deal to me. Most people are really bad at consent because we live in a rape culture. I try to model good consent at every opportunity and I am very demanding of myself not to ever be careless with consent. Why making it safe & comfortable to say 'no' is as necessary as respecting 'no' I don't separate people into rapists and not-rapists, but rather into a spectrum of good at consent to bad at consent, with rapist as a separate category for people who knowingly make a choice to cross someone else's sexual boundary and people who sexually violate others due to not bothering to check what they want. People who do their best not to be a rapist can still be bad at consent! Everyone has to unlearn rape culture. how to be careful w sexual consent: discuss meaning, risk, safeword, triggers, roles, acts, sobriety, needs



This is what I call my radical anti-capitalist attitude toward money and other shareable resources. I share my resources; I give a portion of every paycheck to resist inequality and support oppressed people; I speak out against economic inequality; I consider the economic cost within my own relationships and events and do what I can to balance them.

[social justice activist]

social justice activist

I resist oppression and work to bring justice wherever I can. I call myself an activist rather than ally because to me, ally is passive: someone who will not attack you nor overtly support oppressors. I consider being an activist to be about taking action, first in self-educating, then in doing what you can where you are with what you have. More than anything else, social justice is about considering the meaning and impact of all my choices and trying to create the least harm and the most good.

[polyamorous/relationship anarchist]

polyamorous/relationship anarchist

I am polyamorous: for me this means being open to multiple simultaneous romantic relationships. More specifically I identify as a relationship anarchist because I will not make rules or commitments designed to protect the relationship at the cost of the individuals. My relationship anarchy: we each only do what we want / my intentions & desires in all connections

[creativity catalyst]

creativity catalyst

I feel that true creativity is sacred, that every human is capable of it (and many other animals are also), and that we need more of it in the world. I try to encourage this both indirectly through my example, (such as by painting on my car and customizing my companion objects) and directly by sharing my creative materials and methods, affirming when people are creative, and resisting when people are derogatory toward art based on its lack of technical skill or for other elitist bullshit reasons. I have catalyzed art in many people even if it was just once or twice, and I want to do it much more. I have needed art catalysts in my life and I want to be that thing that I need to exist in the world.

[Southern / ATLien]

Southern / ATLien

I love Atlanta deeply. A lot of people from other places have this idea that the South is all anti-queer anti-justice tradition-enforcers, but they are flat wrong, as you can tell if you look at any objective measurement. Atlanta, Georgia's capital, has the second highest percentage of self-identified lgbtqia people in the United States, at about 13%.

The best explanation I have ever heard was from a black queer southern woman who said "southerners are just like everyone else, only more so." Here, the bigots are loud, but so are the activists. I would say the majority of southern people I have known are not fence-sitters. You can pretty easily figure out if we are with you or against you, and I vastly prefer that to completely covert prejudice.

I also consider Atlanta and Georgia to be my responsibility in a "take care of your own house" kind of way. I will not abandon it to go somewhere that might be more friendly to me and people like me; I will stay here and make it better.

And I identify with Georgia specifically because of our trees. No other place I have been has had so many trees, and Atlanta's nickname is the City in a Forest. I treasure and worship trees and love that Georgia has so many.



I mean this literally and figuratively. Literally, I love trees more than almost anyone I know (I only come in second to a professional tree-lover: a botanist/naturalist who has catalogued hundreds of trees in Atlanta and Georgia). I read about them and practice identifying them for fun, I connect with them on a deep level and almost all my travel desires are about trees I want to meet. Figuratively, I try to create as little waste as possible by reducing the waste I create, reusing as much as possible, and recycling carefully.



I am a vegetarian because it takes much more resources to raise animals than to raise plants. It is also very very expensive to eat ethically raised or wild-caught animals and I just don't like meat enough to try and keep meat-processing microbes alive in my body, but neither do I want to contribute to harm caused to animals by buying from unethical sources. HOWEVER this is not about right/wrong, it is about reduction of harm. Why I am vegetarian but do not recommend it for everyone and why I won't ever go vegan.

I have learned the hard way how to supplement and if someone can't afford $50 a month in supplements as well as healthy proteins, they can't afford to be vegetarian. And being vegan can be bad for the planet in a lot of ways and is not a nutritionally sound choice for the vast majority of people, since you need either a lot of spare time and research skills or to hire a nutritionist to know how to supplement all the needed nutrients.



Simply put, I hate being forced to wear clothes and if I could get away with it I would be naked all the time except when it was cold or for occasional dress-up. I reject the idea that nudity is sexual; for me, it is simply the default human state.

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my self-labels, part 1: trans, agender, neurodivergent, fat (and proud) demisexual, queer

icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

What are the parts of your identity that you have labels for? (list and then define)

This got so long I had to turn it into multiple posts. I have split it into what I think of as the 5 parts of a person: body, mind, soul, heart, spirit. This post is about the body and mind parts.

External labels which affect my daily life (body):
[white, non-disabled, woman-read, cisgender passing, young-passing]

white, non-disabled, woman-read, cisgender passing, young-passing.

These are not self-labels but they are part of my identity because I am seen this way and treated this way. In the case of whiteness, non-disabled-ness, and cis-passing, this gives me countless advantages and it is my responsibility to question and dismantle those advantages, and to share the resources that come to me through them. In the case of being read as a woman, this is usually negative, except in cases where my whiteness combines with it to act as a protection.

In the case of appearing young, this can have a negative effect of people being inclined not to take me seriously, but my forceful speech patterns usually disrupt that. It can also have a positive effect of people thinking of me as a desirable person, which I only realize when I lose that effect because people learn my real age and suddenly distance themselves and do not pursue friendship or romance with me. That's depressing, through at the same time I don't mind because I'd rather they out themselves as ageist before I invest.

Differences from compulsory identity (mind):
trans, agender, neurodivergent, fat (and proud) demisexual, queer. These are ways that I exist which average people react to with embarrassment and many people react with punishment. It is not acceptable to be these things and people feel the need to avoid or ignore them if they're trying to be polite, or scold and convert me if they don't care about polite. The overwhelming message I get about these parts of my self is that they are shameful and abnormal. My identity is not a fart and it is not polite to ignore it. It's mean. If you are scared of saying the wrong thing, do your homework! there is enough on the internet to easily avoid the worst mistakes.



I identify as trans because I reject the gender I was assigned at birth. I am "on the other side" after having claimed my genderfree identity. I used to worry that I didn't "count" because I didn't want surgery, but now I know that's some binary bullshit. I know that I would have rejected gender sooner and more forcefully if I had been assigned male, cause that is associated with toxic masculinity and I want even less to do with that than with the fluffy meaninglessness that is toxic femininity. I have ejected the gender binary from my identity and that makes me trans. I am trans no matter what body I'm in. I do feel some dysphoria but that is not a necessary part of being trans.

[agender/genderfree ]


I do not have a gender. This means I am not okay with you assuming anything gender-related based on the way I dress, look, sound, or act. Nothing about me is masculine or feminine, ever, and nothing about me is ever "presenting" a gender. Use gender-neutral pronouns when referencing me.



I have ADHD, CAPD, profound memory issues, prosopagnosia, aphantasia, social anxiety, intermittent depression / seasonally-affective depression, and sensory sensitivity. I think differently than most people, I live with cognitive and emotional variances, and I experience speech, sound, and touch very differently than most people. in-depth explanation of my neurodivergence

[fat & proud]

fat & proud

This is a very important part of my identity, because I'm not just okay with my body -- I celebrate it. I will fight for my right to be fat. I identify with my fatness and even when I was small, I thought of myself as a fat person because I have always had a pokey belly. I was mocked and harrassed for my fatness starting when I was a preteen and lasting until after high school, when I began growing in size again.

I spent several years coming to love the various aspects of my body and now, honestly I would not trade this plush comfy body for a slender one if you paid me. Hugging me is amazing, because I'm so soft and supple. I fuckin love my sweet smushy curves. I can sometimes see people react to my unselfconscious easy fatness by becoming more comfortable in their own fatness, and I love that!

[demisexual & erotic mirror]

demisexual & erotic mirror

I am demisexual: I don't experience sexual attraction unless I choose to, and I don't choose to unless I am already in a romantic relationship and the other person has told me that they would like to have sex with me. More explanation: How sexual attraction works in me as a demisexual person & why what makes sex worth the effort as a demisexual person / sexual vs sensual touch / kissing. I am also an erotic mirror: I do not have intrinsic desire for any role in sex. I also do not experience romantic attraction unless I choose to but I can fall in love in a non-romantic way.



These are all somewhat true as long as you assume the modern definition of bisexual which is "attracted to my own gender and to other genders" or in my case "attracted to genderfree people as well as gendered people." I am demisexual but the way I have sex is 100% queered, and I don't consider myself less queer than someone who is allosexual (allosexual means not-at-all-asexual). For me, sexual identity is more about how one makes sexual decisions than it is about who one has sex with. A binary cis man & woman who have sex where penetration is never assumed or centered is more queer to me than a binary cis pair of women who always assign leader/follower roles in their sex and assume if there is no penetration then it is "just foreplay." (gross)

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my neurodivergence: ADHD, CAPD, prosopagnosia, aphantasia, memory issues, anxiety, depression, etc

icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

When I say I am neurodivergent I mean my brain doesn't work like most people's. And I am not talking about small-difference variety, I'm talking the kind of difference where people express shock, dismay, or even disbelief when I tell them things about the way my brain works. There are a lot of pieces to this. I have ADHD, CAPD, prosopagnosia, aphantasia, profound memory issues, social anxiety, intermittent depression, sensory sensitivity, and very mild dyslexia.

My ADHD manifests primarily as what they call 'inattentive type' but if you have ever been the subject of my interest you know I don't lack for attentiveness. I think a better name for ADD would be ACD, attention control disorder. Because I and most of the other ADD people I know have basically 2 settings: completely focused and completely scattered. Without medication, it can be impossible to decide which one is going to happen, but with medication, some of us can use hyperfocus to great effect.

Before I was medicated, I used panic to turn on hyperfocus, but eventually I used that 'last resort' so much that I burned it out. I had a 4.0 over 4 years but if I hadn't gotten medication I would have flunked out in my last year, because I simply couldn't control my attention enough to realize when stuff was due, to plan for time to do it, or to actually start when I sat down to do so. how I cope with my ADD-PI (other than meds): supplements, caffeine, music, water, book, food, sleep.

Nowadays I am medicated and I can start stuff when I need to, but context-switching is still so difficult for me that I will hold my pee for hours and hours rather than interrupt what I am doing, even if what I am doing is completely unimportant. If there isn't some external factor, I almost cannot change gears, even when medicated. This is why I use external factors like plans with other people to help me do what I want to do when I want to do it. I don't know if I would ever manage to go out on my off days otherwise, because the context switch between "at home" and "out" is so intense. I often think about where else I could go when I am on my way home even though I don't actually want to be "out" I just want to put off the context switch.

A majorly noticeable effect my ADHD has on me is in speech. Audible speech takes lots of effort to make, and this is very apparent when I am tired and/or my meds have worn off or I am out of meds. I will get so frustrated just trying to make a simple 5 word sentence come out, and if I am interrupted it throws me so far off track I don't even want to bother trying to get back on and say the thing. I'd really rather not communicate with sound at all most days, which is part of why I need a lot of alone time because most people want you to talk and listen to them when they're around.

Another major effect of my ADHD is distractability. I am very distracted in conversations by rhetorical questions which I take literally and only realize after answering them that no one wanted an answer. I'm very distracted by anything that is readable, and can easily lose hours and hours and hours on the internet just reading whatever comes up. I'm very distracted by videos and I dislike the sensation of my brain being suction-cupped to a video so I generally don't watch them.

Listening brings us to CAPD, central auditory processing disorder. I can't process sound like most people. CAPD tends to go hand in hand with ADHD, and I think that they both have to do with the brain lacking the ability to partially block out stimulus. I can block out all sound while walking down the street, for instance, and I do in order to be able to think. But if I do that I can't hear people calling my name unless they are loud and do it several times.

I literally can't figure out what someone is saying if someone else is talking or lyrics are playing at a similar volume. And I rely so heavily on context that when someone says something to me outside of a conversation, it almost always sounds like complete nonsense. How I hear with CAPD: everything is mondegreens and listening to words is constant translation work.

Prosopagnosia is an impairment of the ability to recognize faces no matter how familiar they are. stimming and prosopagnosia (difficulty recognising faces). I was married to a person for 8 years after knowing them for 8 years previous to that and even during the last year of our marriage, if I saw them out of context it would take a moment for me to recognize them: at first I would think they were a stranger. There is no level of familiarity that allows me to recognize a face without effort. BUT seeing photos and especially videos of people does help me, perhaps because my 2D vision is stored in a different place, not sure. Prosopagnosia and my memory as it relates to taking photos and believing in love.

Aphantasia is the inability to create mental pictures. I only recently learned that other people can actually picture things in their head and I had much the same shocked and cheated feeling that Blake Ross describes. If I try to visualize a beach, for instance, the only thing that I manage is to mentally flip through photos I have taken at a beach -- and I can't see those clearly either, it's more like an emotional impression.

I cannot create a scene in my head. When I try, it's like everything is constantly warping size and angle, like a live-action surrealist painting but not in a fun way. I can't bring people's faces to mind, though I can bring up blurry impressions of certain features if I have looked at those features a lot. This is tied to my lack of memory, I think, because when I do take photos and thus temporarily flatten my perspective, I can remember things at least 4 times as well, if not better. Weirdly though, I experience my dreams more visually memorably than my waking life; they stick like my waking memories only do if I photograph or video them and then view the photo or video.

My memory is profoundly messed up. I can't recall things unless I have a visible memory tag like a photo or a written entry, and often I can't remember even then. I find this extremely upsetting, particularly when I have a profound experience that I fail to photograph or write about and it is then lost forever. Usually I realize this has happened when someone else refers happily to the memory, and then I can recall just enough to know that the memory is missing. What is more scary but less painful is when I literally have no memory at all of an event to the point where they could be talking about something that happened to someone else.

This is part of the reason I absolutely must only invest in people who loathe lies, because I can't tell if someone is lying to me about my own life. I usually will get a feeling that says yes or no, but the only thing I can know for sure is when I have a strong negative reaction. I will remember that if someone tells me the series of events. I wish it worked for positive events but it doesn't. It doesn't work for all negative events either.

I cry a lot about memory. I feel an intense loss of self due to my memory. If I ever forget something important to you, please know it is not by choice or carelessness. Remembering is important to me but I have very little power over what I can remember.

As to why my memory is fracked all to shit, I would guess that it is due to childhood trauma creating an automatic program of forgetting, plus an overload of stress for years on end and inadequate choline for the first four years of being vegetarian (PLEASE DON'T GO VEGETARIAN WITHOUT SUPPLEMENTATION).

I'm hoping that reduced stress and adequate food will eventually have a positive effect, but if they make the dementia ultrasound therapy somehow available to me I will do it so fast. (there are 2 kinds of dementia and one is caused by plaque on the brain which can be removed via ultrasound. I know what I have isn't dementia but I'm convinced it is caused by many of the same things).

[social anxiety]
I have social anxiety, which manifests mostly physically. I get sweaty and heart-poundy over talking in front of people, despite never being afraid to do it. As a kid, I always wanted the main role in every play and performance I was in, and I daydreamed about talking to huge auditoriums full of people. I like when people pay attention to me and I am not the least bit shy or worried that I will not perform well. It is so frustrating and it feels like a betrayal, because I am not nervous. But my body worries (probably thanks to a ridiculously constant flood of cortisol in my brain for 6 years).

In unstructured social events I also tend to get overwhelmed with how much I don't belong and then I get sad and then it all spirals with body worries into the worst experience. This stuff started only a few years ago and it doesn't feel like me at all and I very much hope it will eventually go away. Right now I am medicated for it and when I have my meds, it is manageable. When I don't, I can get stuck in a panic worry that I can't logic myself out of and sometimes can't even distract myself from.

[intermittent depression, seasonal affective depression]
I have intermittent depression -- sometimes it is deathly awful and other times it is mild. Depression for me manifests as an inability to motivate for anything but escape and absolute necessities. It has gone into remission twice and I really hope it will again. Right now it is fairly mild as long as I stay careful. I have SAD, seasonal affective depression, and the dark season can crush my spirit. I have to make sure to go outside EVERY day even if it is only a walk to the car to go through a fastfood drive through. A day that is 100% indoors is very bad for me in the dark season but also cold makes me want to stay inside and hibernate. A bad combination!

[sensory sensitivity]
Sensory sensitivity is what I call my sensory issues. Similar to how children get overwhelmed by loud noises or can't stand how shoes feel or cry when you wash their hands, I feel extreme reactions to sensations that a lot of people wouldn't notice or would enjoy. I'm hypersensitive physically & energetically: takes work & time for me to enjoy touch. I sometimes hate my breasts because my nipples are at exactly the worst spot for brushing up against things and that feels SO infuriating, like nails on a chalkboard but worse because it lingers and there is no way to block out the feeling. Like nails on a chalkboard that creates an itch on your nose that you can't scratch.

I get really incredibly frustrated when I am pushed or bumped into: it makes me want to scream and punch, even more so when it is happening accidentally like when someone presses hard on the brakes and it pushes me forward. When I write this stuff down it sounds like nothing but it stops me from cuddling as much as I want to because it is so easy for it to juat feel awful.

[mild dyslexia]
I say I have very mild dyslexia because I transpose numbers in any series unless I am extremely careful, and I transpose letters in any unfamiliar word. I also find acronyms extremely difficult, and I can't spell out loud because unless I can look at the word I don't know what goes where. Fortunately I have a massive vocabulary and was trained on greek and latin roots so I rarely come across a truly unfamiliar word. Mostly this affects me in that it increases my cognitive load by a huge amount when I'm reading long blocks of text that are not broken into paragraphs, which is why I ask that if people are willing, they give more spaces between paragraphs.

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My lj flow got slowed down, partly because I did a lot this past week, and partly because for one reason or another I haven't been able to ride the bus. But I just got a reusable card, which is fantastic! And I have actually been getting up early enough all this week, for which I am very proud of myself. Hopefully next week I will have a pattern down pat. Especially since my car still reeks of coolant even though not even Topaz can smell it. I'd be worried about my brain making it up but when it makes my sweat taste sweet and makes my skin sticky, I know I'm right! not sure what to do next except maybe have the heater coil replaced even though they couldn't find a leak. I know the leak is not in the engine because the smell is only in the cabin of the car. arghhh

I've been working on this prompt: What are the parts of your identity that you have labels for? (list and then define) and I'd love to read your answers too!

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public transit experiment / daylio

I mentioned that I was thinking of staying in the house I'm in for the next few years to save money, and in keeping with that I'm going to try public transit on my short days. Leaving at 4pm usually means at least an hour and fifteen minute drive home, and lately it has been almost 2 hours every damn time. So there's no reason NOT to take public transit since driving doesn't shorten my commute. And the best part of that is that I'll have hours every week of time to read or write. Today my car is still being worked on, so I'm trying out my route for the first time.

I just barely made it to the bus on time! Topaz dropped me off, and as soon as they drove off I realized I was at the wrong spot in the park and ride, so I called them. They came back, found me (I was walking to the right place just in case) and took me to the right spot. I was the last to get on! so lucky. it's nasty weather though, heavy rain w puddles everywhere. But now that I've successfully done it once it will be so much easier. I have huge anxiety with being alone in public without my car (it used to be to the level of a phobia) so this was a big step.

Also the extra speed-walking is good for me. When I have to be somewhere by a certain time I can't stroll, even if I know I have 30 minutes of leeway. So this morning I speed-marched to work for like 20 minutes and this afternoon I did the same. I don't remember if I mentioned it but my brain meds raise my blood pressure and that makes exertion SO unpleasant that I'm always looking for sorta "automatic" exertion that I don't have to think about or spend activation energy on.

I've been using this app called daylio for mood and goal tracking. I love the goals tracker - you can pick a symbol for each goal and then you have a grid of symbols that get filled in when you click them. This is a lot like my old sticker rewards project, but electronic. You can set reminders to make an entry -- I have it set to twice a day. I wish the mood tracker had more options because I need a 0-10 scale not just 1-5 but I have finally started to get enough of a baseline that I can think about it and figure out if I am neutral, positive, or negative. I had a really hard time doing that at first, because as a coping habit I tend to avoid thinking about how I am feeling since for so many years what I was feeling was CONSTANT MAXIMUM STRESS. But my stress is manageable now, and getting more so.

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my spiritual connections with my former betta, Hyacinthe, & current cat, Kanika

icon: "Kanika kitty (my cat in profile with a blown-out background. Kanika is stark black with golden eyes, and looks like a statue of Bastet)"

I'm now trading prompts with my local friend sandracaprice as well. They are new to LJ so hopefully this will help them grow into this space a bit! This first prompt they created:

Have you ever had a spiritual connection with an animal (domesticated or wild)? If yes, explain the circumstances and how the experience changed you.

Yes. With many to various extents, but more than most with my first betta fish, Hyacinthe, and with my current cat companion, Kanika. I had Hyacinthe for about 2 years, and during those years I started having dreams about fish. In some I was rescuing fish from shallow, gasping bits of water and in others, I was walking into rooms filled with water to share space with fish. I feel like Hyacinthe was a dream-traveler with me. Before I knew Hyacinthe I might not have guessed that a tiny fish could have such personality, but when I got to know Hya, I knew that creatures don't need a large brain to have their own personality. Fish became a huge part of my dreamworld due to Hyacinthe mostly.

Kanika has been my companion for 12 years now (13 in January). This cat is the wildest 'domesticated' cat I've ever met. I got Kanika when they were just a few weeks old and when we met, this super-active kitten let me pick them up and hold them, and lay on their back in my hands for a good 10 seconds making eye contact with me -- that was when I knew this was my cat. Such a trusting moment for such a suspicious little being!

Shortly before Kanika came to live with me, I started going through treatment for childhood sexual abuse, and uncovering that was traumatic. As I progressed I got worse before I got better: I became agoraphobic and paranoid about strangers, and Kanika being such an empathetic creature was terrified with me. Kanika still responds to a loud knock at the door with a jump-and-run response whenever it startles me, but now I can just say "it's okay, 'Nika" and make eye contact and they will calm down. When they are anxious I can almost always calm them by making eye contact and radiating calm at them, with or without soothing words.

Kanika has a very powerful spiritual/energetic presence, which has become profoundly clear to several people who were interacting with Kanika in a moment of full awareness. I consider Kanika to be my familiar, and I think they consider me their witch (whatever the cat equivalent of that is). They will check on me when I don't feel good and will tell me when it is time to go to sleep (though I don't often listen). Whenever I meditate/chant they want to be in my lap (which they otherwise don't ever want to be, as they don't like being surrounded) and they will participate in any ritual that I do if they're in the house when I do it. If I am feeling bad they will lay on me and/or knead me, much more than they do when I'm fine.

They are particular about what energy they like to be near -- they will only lay on me if they can lay on my sacral energy center on my back, or my willpower energy center on my front, and if I am on my side they will drape across me with their front paws so that their chest is aligned with the energy center they like rather than sitting on my side. In the past few years, their favorite spot has been to lie just above my head in my crown energy center. They appear in my dreams pretty regularly, especially when they sleep in my crown.

They are very sensitive to energy and I have learned that when Kanika says no, I should listen. Kanika is a better judge of who a person is at that moment, including what they are carrying, than I could ever hope to be. I tend to focus on intentions and possibilities sometimes to the exclusion of actions and realities and that gets me in trouble a lot. They will also bounce back my own energy so they can be snappish because I'm anxious or stressed, which helps me realize that my energy is being drained and then I can take action about it.

I don't know how I have been changed due to these connections. I think I have learned that all animals have feelings, but I learned that as much through reading as through my interactions. Kanika has been my companion for a third of my life! They've been around since I was with my first lover. Having Kanika has changed the course of my life because if I didn't have Kanika, I would probably have moved in with Topaz or into some shared hippie house by now, so in a way Kanika helps enforce my need for a truly solitary place where I can cocoon myself in my own beingness. Also for good or ill, they make it really important that people who direct their anxiety outward and people who are disrespectful of animals' boundaries not come to my house. I appreciate my furry little housemate for being a fierce, powerful guardian. I feel honored to be respected and defended by such a creature.

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8 important relational lessons I learned from my parents in the inverse: what never to do

What attitudes/behaviors have you feared inheriting from your bio family at any point in your life? How did/do you combat that fear?

I've actually never feared inheriting attitudes/behaviors from my bio family. I separated emotionally from them at a pretty young age, when my dad first told me that because they fed, clothed and sheltered me I owed them obedience. After that point I stopped thinking of them as my parents and thought of them as employers (who refused to pay me or allow me any autonomy). I stopped thinking of them as moral authorities at about age 12 because I watched them behave unethically -- and against their stated moral code -- over and over, while I obeyed my own moral code. I stopped thinking of them as any source of comfort when they gave away my cat (who was my best friend), told me to stop crying every night because it was disturbing their sleep, and when I finally made a friend, told me constantly that it wouldn't last and my friend didn't really love me. By the time I was 13, I knew that I was more developed than them in both ethics and relationship skills, and I just did what they told me to do so that I didn't get hit or sulked at. I no longer had any respect for them or thought of them as people I could or should emulate. On the contrary, many of the things I learned NOT to do I learned from my parents.

1) Don't ever try to make someone depend on you as their sole or best source of love.

So even if you think that your love is so big that no one else could ever match it, you do not say this! because if you do, you are threatening that person with never being well-loved if you stop loving them. That is something that an ethical person never threatens, and also something that only an extremely arrogant person could claim. There are plenty of people who are great at loving, and if you care about someone then you want them to be well-loved even if it is not by you. It is frankly abusive to claim that you are the best love someone will ever have.

2) Don't ever reference past gifts to try to get someone to do what you want.

This ruins the gift, crushes any sense of love that went with it, and turns it into a bribe with evil intent. It's manipulative and it reveals that you have no generosity; you are merely investing in future control. Once a gift is given, you should treat it as if it didn't even come from you: that will help keep you from tying strings to it.

3) Don't ever, EVER, reference in anger a fear, insecurity, longing, or other vulnerability that someone has shared with you.

This is a profound emotional violation which not only destroys any trust they had in you, it damages part of their ability to trust other people to hold their sharing in a sacred space.

4) Don't ever destroy someone's things because you are angry at them.

This is a symbolic violence that makes it clear you only are not hitting them because you fear repercussions, not because you actually consider it unacceptable. It is an implied threat of physical violence.

5) Don't try to bond with people without considering who they are and what they want; you cannot connect with a person if you are trying to make them be what they are not.

My dad wanted me to throw a football, play basketball, or play chess, none of which I wanted to do, none of which revealed anything about me. I think he genuinely wanted to connect, but he failed utterly because he was so focused on making me share his special interest. I don't think he ever even considered trying to learn about me in order to connect. If he had, he would have quickly learned that we shared a love of trees which would have easily leant itself to connecting activities.

6) Don't approach relationships as transactions, and don't try to get more than you give.

You cannot build a relationship with someone by trying to get them to give you something. My mom wanted me to tell her "poor baby" over how my dad treated her, to commiserate and console without asking her to make any changes. When I was really young I did pat and console and unintentionally relieve the discomfort that should have built to a breaking point in that relationship. At the age of 11 I started telling her to get a divorce, that it was not fair to force the three children in the house to have to live with a tyrant. I treated her like an adult and told her "yes it's wrong, and you have to defy, say no, take action. It will not get better if you do nothing." She never listened and just stopped talking to me at all. By the time my sister was 6, my mother had started using her for comfort and no longer had any interest in me.

7) Don't call names, and if you can't resist, never EVER use a name that reinforces the insecurities the person has about their self.

My parents had names they liked to call me when they were angry or just wanted to make me feel lesser. Some didn't matter to me because they were so obviously untrue (like when they called me a spoiled brat) but other names were used to deliberately mock the aspect I was most insecure about: my body. I watched them hurt me on purpose and I decided it was wrong and I would not do that to others. I have not been perfect but since I became an adult I have called people names very rarely, and never intentionally called a name that referenced someone's insecurity, if I was aware of it or even suspected it.

8) Do not contradict what other people say is true about their self; do not set yourself as a greater authority on them than they are.

At an early age, I saw something and told my parents about it and they told me it was impossible. That broke my sense of reality and I had to fight very hard to ever trust my own senses over what someone else says is true, if there is any subjectivity to the matter. Telling people that they are not who they say they are undermines their relationship with their self, and even if you are technically correct it is unacceptable to argue with someone about it. I have sometimes taken this aspect to an unhealthy extreme and let others define our shared experiences rather than contradict them, but I think the balance lies in not contradicting others about their emotions, motives, or identity, but still being willing to contradict them about the patterns or effects of their behavior.

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How sexual attraction works in me as a demisexual person

icon: "analytical (a close-up photo of my eye in bright sunlight, showing the green and grey and roots-looking patterns)"

Being demisexual means different things for different people. I identify as demisexual because I don't experience primary sexual attraction: that is, I never just want to have sex just for its own sake. I never get a physical tingle from looking at someone. I can feel aesthetic attraction to strangers but that just means I enjoy looking at them: I don't want to fuck them any more than I want to fuck a complex abstract painting. The painting is honestly more likely to give me a physical reaction (not a sexual one, but like a shiver down my back or something).

I think allosexual people (people who want to have sex for its own sake) tend to think that if people don't know if they want to have sex with someone, that means they don't really care, or that the sex will be tepid. But while I can't speak for all of my past sexual partners, I'm confident that at least half of them thought our sex was some of the hottest they'd experienced. For me, being demisexual doesn't mean my sex drive is low-power in general -- it means that most people can't even get to the key to turn it, but when it is turned, it's actually a very powerful engine. I would say that compared to average, I feel stronger sexual desire than most - I just only feel it about a very, VERY particular kind of person. I don't need any particular look, or body shape, or gender, or even personality, but my list is very specific nonetheless.

For me to experience sexual attraction, I need a potential partner to 1) be connected with me on an emotional/spiritual level; 2) be self-aware; 3) want to have sex with me and be good at consent; 4) be able to maintain mental/emotional presence during sex; 5) respect my body and not gender me; 6) be sexually compatible with me.

[being connected with me]
being connected with me:
I need to feel some kind of emotional connection with the person for there to even be a chance of sexual attraction. Often this is a connection on the spirit, soul, or heart level, but sometimes it's purely a mental connection in that we have shared a lot of intimacy in our conversations. I need emotional intimacy to want to have sex with someone because without that, sex is not fun for me. I need a reward beyond getting off. Emotional intimacy is something I am very good at creating as long as the other person is self-aware and wanting to know and be known; but that self-awareness is hard to find. Spiritual connection is one that is very hard to define, but it has to do with a certain kind of shared intuition. Where I can feel a person's emotional reactions as clearly as I can feel a physical reaction. This is something I can't create -- it either is there or it isn't. I have had this with everyone I can remember being sexually attracted to, so it is either necessary or it automatically goes with something else.

[being self-aware]
being self-aware:
I need them to be self-aware because people are rarely (if ever) able to express their boundaries when they don't even know what they are. I can't be sexual with someone who can't tell me what is and is not okay and good for them in sex, because I am not willing to take on the task of reading their mind in order to avoid violating them. I think this is far too much responsibility for any human and while I have taken that on in the past, it takes a massive toll on me mentally and emotionally and the last time I tried it I had a breakdown afterwards. I'm good at guessing but the cost of guessing wrong is just too high. If you must rely on your sex partner to guess what you want, I will not have sex with you.

[wanting to have sex with me and being good at consent]
wanting to have sex with me / good at consent:
If I have a connection with someone who is self-aware, that will make me curious if we could have a sexual connection, but curiosity is as far as it goes unless they express interest or curiosity of their own. For me to feel desire, I need them to actually flat-out say "I want to have sex with you" or say an unequivocal "yes" if I ask if they want to. If they are also demisexual or grey-asexual this can get a little convoluted, but if we are both curious and want to try it that works for me. I also need them to be fully invested in my consent, not just asking but also showing awareness of my reactions and adjusting accordingly.

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

[bodily respect]
bodily respect:
I need a partner to not assign stereotyped personality traits to body parts or looks. My body has no gender, and I won't have sex with someone who wants to gender me or my parts. My fatness has no meaning, and I won't have sex with someone who treats it as any more unusual than the fact that I have hands. You gotta be over that shit: I don't do 101-level sex. Be ready to approach my body as if I am the only creature of my species in the universe.

I need to be able to give and receive big chompy hard bites. I first discovered my penchant for biting with Kylei, and since exploring biting more with Topaz it has become as central to my sex as kissing. Kissing is a close second: I need someone who loves kissing and has a compatible kissing style with lots of lips a little bit of tongue and not too much spit. I could more easily give up genital touch than biting or kissing.

I need someone who is not more than 85% of any binary and is not primarily sexually attracted to binary traits. I need you to fully understand and know that not all my parts are physical but that doesn't make them less real. I need you to have at least a token amount of initiator/leader/giver and receiver/follower/taker. I don't want to only ever be one part of myself with you so you need to want all my aspects even if you don't want them all equally. I need to be able to wrestle and be fierce and wild. I also need sex to be taken seriously AND playfully -- don't be too proud for me to laugh at your farts, don't be too easygoing to say pause if something is uncomfortable, and don't be too cool to cry or be loud. And above all don't approach sex with me as something to cure you of what ails you. I can feel that as clearly as I can feel a physical tug and I can't stand it. I do not want to be a thing you need, ever. That is a huge turn-off.

If all of that is aligned, then I have strong curiosity about sex with this person and I want to try it. At this point I still don't feel actual desire for sex, but just for knowing what it is like. I start feeling desire for sex when I start being sexual with the person. I feel it when we're in it and I feel it after, inspired by memory. In a way, I am only sexually attracted to people I have had sex with before.

So with all these things I need to even want sex you may be asking how have I ever managed to find sex partners and the answer is -- mostly I don't. I have found 3, mayyyybe 4 people who match all of this and most of them are unavailable. So I feel both really lucky to have found the people I did, and really pessimistic about future possibilities.

Mostly I just don't try to find new sexual partners. There are a lot of experiences I am curious about and want to try, but Topaz is up for trying most of them and the others are not important enough to me to try to find a way to increase my chances. I am so lucky to have near-perfect compatibility with Topaz; our sex is still the most exciting every time, after five years. Honestly, I think that sex with anyone else is unlikely to reach the level of connection and compatibility that I have with Topaz.

Mostly the reason I want to still have sexual experiences with others is that when I have more than one sexual partner during a period of time, I am able to learn things about myself based on having similar experiences with different people. I can take the common denominator and realize what is all me. That's just not something you can do if you only have one sexual partner for a period of time. So I still want to have sexual experiences with others, but it's so far down on my list of priorities that it is unlikely I will ever devote effort to it.

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work schedule / ADHD vs 40 hours of intense work focus / exercise / lj friends

icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

My new schedule is so much better for my brain that it boggles my mind. Two long days followed by three short is good in both cases because feeling like I always have to rush at the end of the day or else get caught in terrible traffic is SO BAD for me. So on my long days I'm more relaxed because the later I leave the better traffic is, and the short days I'm more relaxed because it feels like they're over very quickly. Honestly I'd kinda like to stretch the difference more but I don't wanna get there any earlier and I don't like being there alone at night.

I'm adjusting to the reality that I am never going to do much that is productive after work. I keep thinking that I'm going to "get used to" 40 hours a week and start being able to do things in the evenings but maintaining focus on detailed work for so many hours is not going to get less draining, and I'm not willing to increase my ADHD meds more. I have to face it: I'm only going to be a person on the weekends.

[exercise]So I might as well spend some unperson time on developing my muscles and strengthening my heart and lungs. I may get a membership to my work's pool and try swimming on 2 of my short days, because that would decrease my deadline stress and increase my activity, and I don't think it would really take away from my life. But first, I have to find a comfortable bathing suit, which is a nearly impossible task since it hurts to smash my boobs or wear a halter top but I really need a one-piece because I can not stand for my bottom to fold down and 2-pieces all do that or are horrendously uncomfortable to put on/take off (all that I have found). In the meantime I brought my exercise machine upstairs and put it in front of my desk, so that I can use it while watching shows, which I do for at least 2 hours every time I have an evening at home. I've only had one evening at home since I did that but it was effective at keeping me moving! I really want some sort of stethoscope so I can more easily tell when my heart rate is elevated. From what I read, the best way to strengthen your heart is to do exercise that is not steady, but instead raises your heart rate and then rests, then repeats. I have this bad habit of holding my breath to try and hear my heartbeat when I take my pulse -- so silly and counterproductive but just habit!

I started a friendzy post but need more participants! if you have an active flist, please do share a link, or alternatively, recommend me some of your friends who you think I would get along with. or both!

link: https://belenen.livejournal.com/693011.html
pretty share:

LJ has become such a ghost town on the English-writing journals since the server move and new TOS, which I can totally understand but I tried to move and I just can't. I'd have to be forced out.

Currently working on a post about sex as it relates to my identity and relationships, for my and Anika's next shared prompt. It's gonna be long!

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8 answers to find your new best LJ friend

icon: "vivacious (my face with bold cat-eye makeup, with my head tilted down and to the side, looking at the camera with a wide close-lipped smile, hugging myself)"

two people back to back with their upper arms touching, and on each arm is half of a gold heart that reads besties

Looking for more active LJ friends? Post about yourself and find new people!

also please spread the word!

It's been years, time for another go! please share this around, the more the merrier!

connecting: ,

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being utterly fooled by a dangerously dishonest person taught me to trust myself over others

icon: "cobra spirit (a leucistic (lacking scale pigment, whitish) Egyptian cobra rearing up, with a fractal overlay that looks like energy radiating out)"

Describe something positive you took away from a negative situation. Was the gain worth the pain?

The negative situation that comes to mind is investing in a person who I'll refer to as Kwt. Kwt was someone who I was close friends with for about 6 months in 2014, followed by 3 months of awkward half-friendship, and ending with 2 months of conflict. We have not spoken since and unlike most people I stop talking to, I have no intention of ever speaking to Kwt again.

Our friendship started with me feeling desperate for connection and mentioning this publicly. Kwt reached out and invited me to come visit kittens that were at their apartment, and I did. We had some intense, deep conversations about our core values, our needs, and our goals. I was really excited to have found someone else who wanted to grow in similar ways and to also create community. I distinctly remember thinking "wow, this person is actually even more into openness, honesty, and interconnected social-justice-focused community than I am!"

But as time went by, some of Kwt's actions really bothered me, and the first time I asked them to stop an action (whispering to one person when others are around) they withdrew rather than changing (thus began the 3 months of half-friendship). After that I did something that upset them -- told a mutual friend about an action of theirs that scared me -- and after 6 weeks of discussion they finally said "I need to be able to lie to my friends" and I said, essentially, "hard pass." This "need" to lie and need for me to not talk about them was a complete contradiction to everything they had told me they stood for -- total openness and honesty at all times with everyone. I felt baffled and betrayed. They later went on to repeatedly engage in blatant pressuring of others to do all kinds of things that damaged those people for Kwt's benefit. I can't go into all of it because it isn't my story, but I feel strong regret (a rare emotion for me) for having introduced Kwt to my people and encouraged them to invest in this person, because it caused significant harm.

So that was the negative of it. The positive is that this taught me that taking people at their word is not appropriate unless they have proven that they will never intentionally lie to me AND that they are self-aware enough to know if they are telling the truth. I think I felt truth in what Kwt said because they really believed it when they were saying it, but it wasn't actually true. And if I had looked at their actions for confirmation I would have noticed a pattern of coercion and dishonesty and hiding WAY before the eventual blow-up.

I used to be so insistent on letting people be the ones to give meaning to their behavior that I would erase my experience in order to line up with the meaning they provided. This choice I made was cruel to me, dismissive and disrespectful. I can acknowledge that there are things beyond my ability to guess while also stating firmly that, for example, I will not tolerate being made to feel excluded, or being used to make someone else feel excluded. That is at best inconsiderate and quite likely was a manipulation tactic intended to make everyone want to be the one person being whispered to. I'm kinda mad at myself for not stating out loud what it seemed like to me, because stating a manipulation tactic out loud weakens it so much that it is a good deterrent. And if it wasn't the intent, it shows how negatively it comes across which is also a good deterrent. Note to self: describe manipulations out loud when you see an action that may be one.

I think at least this taught me to put a little more faith in my own observations with people in general because most people aren't very self-aware. So they can tell you what they think is the truth, without any intent to deceive you, but that doesn't make it the truth. Alternatively, if I trust everyone to do their best to always tell the truth, I have no protection whatsoever against deliberate manipulation. A much more sensible choice is to make sure, by observation over time, that they are completely opposed to lying to me BEFORE I trust that they are never going to lie to me.

I think that learning this lesson helped me earlier this year when I wanted to invest in someone whose words told me one thing and actions told me another. Eventually I chose to trust myself and that was definitely the right choice: if I had not I would have spent a much longer time pouring out my energy, and eventually I would have gotten the same result. I hope to get quicker about trusting myself, but the necessary first step was learning that sometimes people are wrong about their own selves (intentionally or not) and if their actions do not line up with their words, that may be what is happening.

It is okay and good to trust my observations and protect myself by refusing to believe someone else above myself, if necessary. The first person I have to trust is me, and when someone makes me feel like shit, I need to fucking take that seriously. I wouldn't tolerate it toward someone else and I need to take as good care of me as I would of someone else.

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my parents never wanted to know me -- realizing they would have erased me if I died

icon: "tenebrous (a shadowy orange-light photo of my face, looking down, with an achingly sad expression)"

possible tw/cn for childhood neglect and abuse

Yesterday I was watching a documentary with this family whose kin had died at age 19, and they saved all her art and poetry and they had several small boxes of artifacts she had created. Suddenly it hit me that if I had died at 19, I would have died having never really been loved or known. I spent 2 years dealing with the sexual abuse I endured as a child, but I never worked through the neglect. it doesn't seem like a big deal logically, yet it hurts so much. And it just hits me out of nowhere especially when I see a family treating the "weirdo" in their family like they matter and are welcome and loved as-is. When I see someone being valued by bio-family for who they actually ARE, it just rips my heart out.

My family would have thrown away my journals and poetry like old homework. They would have invented lies to tell about what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be, because they never had any interest in the truth. They wouldn't have had anything real to say about me at the funeral because they literally didn't know one thing I was passionate about. They wouldn't have even invited the people I loved to my funeral because they didn't know who those people were and they didn't care. They preached that family is the only thing that matters and none of them valued friendship and they probably didn't notice or care that I did.

So watching this other family handle the artifacts as precious, honored items, I just started crying because I felt so sad for rejected and neglected child-me, and I can't imagine what it would have been like to grow up feeling that loved and accepted. I was certain that I had been an accidental pregnancy, because I felt so unwanted. But apparently they did want a baby, just not really this one. They wanted someone they could sculpt into their ideal person, and I have never been sculpt-able. It wasn't enough to control my actions; they wanted to control my mind and they resented me for not allowing them to do that.

I almost never disobeyed them -- I didn't even passive-aggressively disobey by following orders badly -- but they called me "rebellious" because I didn't want to do what they wanted. Even though I literally always did my best with any chore they assigned me. When I would clean the kitchen they never thanked me for doing such a thorough, perfect job, always picking up the jars on the counter just in case an errant crumb had rolled behind -- instead they complained that I didn't do it fast enough (while my next sibling would do a half-assed job and they would say nothing).

I now realize that at least some of my parents' greater care for my siblings was guilt about the trauma my siblings went through, but that doesn't erase the years of watching them get what they asked for for Christmas while I almost never did. I still remember how much it hurt to open the right size package for the computer program I asked for and find something completely different, clearly from the clearance rack, and then see my next sibling open something much more expensive. Trying to act grateful and not hurt while I felt like they were saying "you just don't matter as much to us, but since we're not saying that out loud, you can't get upset." Then opening some awful gendered present -- perfume, or fucking plain colorless delicate jewelry -- which I had been very vocal about hating, and literally never wore. They didn't give to the person I was, they gave to the person they wanted me to be. And the person they wanted me to be was a girl who wore floral scents and subtle jewelry and was grateful for whatever they bothered to pick up.

They literally never expressed any pride in anything I did until I won some award in senior year of high school for my SAT score. And that, I knew, was because they were taking credit for it. One of them would talk about how they found out about the last retest date just in time (for me to win the award) and the other would talk about how they drilled me on the practice tests. Neither of them said anything about my efforts on those tests, just bragged about their input. I got a perfect score on the English section, but they never mentioned that. If they knew me literally at all, they would have known that I wanted to be a writer, and they would have told me that this was proof I could do it.

They loved to tell me how smart I was, but only ever as a reason for something they were demanding of me, never as a reaction to something creative or intellectually rigorous that I did. I got to the point where I hated being called smart; if I am clever, it is an accident of biology and no achievement of mine. You might as well praise me for having brown hair. But my actual achievements did not matter to my parents. So I guess, at least my parents helped keep me from becoming an elitist by highlighting how wrong it is to praise someone for their intellect rather than considering their efforts.

They loved to tell me how pretty I was for having long hair, when they weren't busy calling me names for being fat, suggesting that I should never have treats, and buying me weight-loss meds. Getting a doctor to lie to me about how digestion works so that I would wait many hours between meals, which fucked up my metabolism of course. Telling me my clothes were too tight, my jewelry too gaudy, and that I had to wear a bra at home because it was "too distracting" to my male sibling. The fact that it was my father who told me this made me feel dirty and violated; I wasn't just a person being comfortable at home, I was being looked at as a sexual object by my relatives and to protect myself I had to wear a bra even in my pajamas. Before that moment I never felt even self-conscious without a bra: after it, I never felt safe without one (unless I was in a nudist-friendly space).

Ugh. This just gets worse the more I think about it. Mostly my parents neglected me but when they did turn their attention to me it was never a good thing. I worked to be invisible throughout my teens and it wasn't difficult because they preferred it that way. I honestly felt far more like the hired help in my own home than I did when I actually worked as a live-in nanny. The first time I ever got thanked by someone I lived with for doing the dishes was when I was working, which is when I realized I was literally never thanked as a child. And I did my best with chores as a child partly to avoid getting hit but partly I think because some little part of me never gave up hope that if I did it just right, they would appreciate me.

I keep trying to end this post but there is no end. it's just a terrible knot of unresolved pain.

connecting: ,

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writing buddy! / ex-envy / readership / vulnerability respected & consensual

icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

So bunnika and I are gonna be writing buddies and take turns coming up with prompts that we both write on. I'm surprised that we haven't done this before in our dozen-ish years of LJing together (or if we did, that memory is lost) but I feel hopeful. We're gonna aim for twice a week, and try to comment thoughtfully on each other's posts also. Anika is someone whose posts give me the writing itch in general so if we can really stay on it, this could be so lovely, hopefully for us both. Anyone who wants to also write on these prompts is of course welcome to, and feel free to comment with a link if you do.

The first prompt is things/ qualities /situations /experiences you've had that your lovers have envied, or what you have envied from your lovers..  I came up with this one because I randomly remembered how envious Aurilion was, and then I was curious about Anika's experience with that, if relevant. I'm just using it as a jumping off point for some wild rambles.

Aurilion was so envious of my readership here on LJ. I have never had a huge following, but I have had a steady readership of about 150 unique visits per week for many years now. Most of these readers never interact with me, even though some have been reading for literally years. I'm terribly curious, and fascinated by the fact that some of my regular readers are based in countries where I know no one. Occasionally I find out that someone is a reader because they tell me, after two or three years of silent reading, so I never assume I can get an accurate idea of how many people or who reads my LJ.  In my experience there are usually at least 5 silent readers for every commenter, so I don't take it as 'no one is reading' if I only get one or two comments. (Zero comments/reactions still makes me think maybe nobody read it, though)

I never actually talked about that with Aurilion though -- they based their ideas of my readership off of comments I get. They would get envious and have an attitude of "I deserve more comments than you" though they never said that -- they just exclaimed "how do you have so much!? Why do I have so little??" as if we wrote identical things and people inexplicably liked mine better. I tried to figure out why this happened for me, so that I could explain and help them get what they wanted, but they didn't want to change anything about how they wrote -- they just wanted to magically transfer my readers to them. And honestly back then, always eager to please, I urged everyone who read me to add them.

They weren't the first one to feel miffed that they didn't have as many readers as me. My ex-partner Ben also identified as a writer, and wanted to have people invested in what he wrote. I think he also thought I deserved readers and wanted me to have them as well, though.

Thinking back, it's been many years since I actively tried to find readers.  Back in the day, my LJ was the only way I felt I could change the world for good, so it was important to me that as many people read it as possible. And I think I also needed the validation of people affirming that they did read it through comments. That made me feel noticed and valued.

Now, I mostly affect the world through facebook and resource-sharing, and I write in LJ because it is literally the only way I can really remember my life, and because it is my truest way of connecting with people and with myself. When I write, I learn who I am in that moment, on that day, and when I don't, I can easily go months of intense change and become a new version of myself without realizing it, and by then I have forgotten the old me. Until there are literally brain upgrades, I will need this or something like it to have any sense of who I am and what I want and need.

To bounce back though, I am just guessing what drew people to me because like I said, most of my readers never talk to me. I think the thing that I offer is simply a unique way of looking at things and I think everyone can offer that-- it just takes the effort to really reflect rather than reacting automatically, and the effort to share openly and risk hurt rather than sharing only what isn't scary to share. If it doesn't scare you a little bit, you're probably not sharing anything very close to your heart. People can feel when you're sharing something vulnerable, and it means a lot. At least, it means a lot to me when people share with me like that, and many people have told me the same about when I do it, so I imagine it as broadly true of good (non-abusive) people.

Side note: anyone who uses someone's true vulnerability against them on purpose is not a safe person and not a person I can respect. If someone came to me and shared in a humble and vulnerable way, I would not be willing to use it against them even if it was the person I hate most in the world. If it was that person, I would tell them "I'm glad you're trying to be open but I am not the person for you to talk to this about; find someone else." I would not hold it over them, or use it to manipulate them, or otherwise take advantage of that moment. To me it's just such a heinous violation to accept the gift of that most innocent part of a person and then lock that innocent part in chains, or crush it, etc.

Vulnerability should be honored. But it should also be consensual! No one has to accept that gift and people who are not willing and able to accept the responsibility of holding a kind and respectful space should say so. And when you are sharing something very vulnerable, it is also important to check in and be sure the other person CAN hold that space. I have learned the hard way that if something is super important to me, I can't just blurt it out whenever or I am gonna be hurt! I have to say something like "this is hard to express and important. are you in a space to take it in?" and that is within relationships that are based on an ideal of complete openness and honestly. Outside of those I have to be a lot MORE careful.

Which is part of why I share on LJ. People can easily take whatever time they need to process something I have shared, and if they are not interested, they can just not read. I don't have to worry that my vulnerability is too much, and I don't have to feel bad if the response is tepid, because I can re-read it and give my own self that validation of "wow, yes I expressed this exactly how I meant to and it feels true all over again reading it." There is a set of posts I wrote on two or three different times with no response, and it was SO very important to me but I think people couldn't relate -- I still feel really really glad to have written them because they were about such a major shift in my understanding of my self and the universe. In a lot of ways, LJ lets me be my own best friend in a way I simply couldn't without it.

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yay it hasn't been a month-long gap!

icon: "eccentric (a photo of me tilting my head and with raised eyebrows and a pursed-lipped smile)"

Sure enough, this new schedule is helping me do more LJ! it hasn't shown up yet but I have written several partial entries last week and I have been reading more. I am setting my priority like this: read at least 3 times a week, write every lunch even if it is small and I don't share it, post at least twice a week, reply to comments, comment on others' entries. I feel bad to put that at the bottom but I can bring it up more when I have repaired my connection with LJ more. I'm also allowing myself to be "sloppy" and reply to comments and posts here and there without trying to be perfectly fair and never miss anything, because that just sets me up for failing.

I think I also need to do some switching up of my list, because there are some lovely people who I just can't keep up with and there are a lot of defunct journals. For me to really connect with people I need them to post 2-20 times a month. Much more than that and I start feeling really guilty that I can't keep up, but any less than 2x a month and I feel like we can't build any momentum. It also helps me when there are a few new people on my flist because the extra curiosity boosts my ability to read everyone. So if you know any good friending memes or if you know people who I don't know who post reflections on their lives and relationships, please let me know.

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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.