Belenen (belenen) wrote,

struggling with romantic rejection / thrilled about intimacy practice! / N/A* and intersectionality

Lately I've been seriously struggling with rejection -- the last five or so people I expressed romantic interest in did not feel the same way. I find it difficult in general to initiate romance with people and I feel like I've experienced this as a setback -- even though individually it all makes sense and I certainly don't resent anyone for not returning my feelings, I irrationally feel like it's a pattern and it somehow means that I am undesirable to people, especially female or femme folk. I fret that I am too femme-looking or too bold, and people are either attracted to one or the other of those but not both -- and I feel like the queer community values female butchness and male femmeness over other expressions. (while I don't dress to appear feminine, the self-decorations I choose are stereotyped as femme, so...) I fret that I'm just not physically attractive -- even though I like how I look, I want to be appealing to people that I am attracted to, and when they express that they appreciate my mental/emotional self but aren't interested in romance with me, I feel like that means that there must be something wrong with my physical self. I had a resurgence of discomfort with my fatness this year, after years of being totally happy with it. And it's persisting, though decreasing now. I think that has to do with lack of body-positive community nowadays; I can't resist internalizing without conscious dissent. (I realized this when I felt happier just reading about a fat-activist group called "Pretty, Porky, and Pissed Off") I need to be doing more modeling -- that's such a good way for me to connect with my body and appreciate it as perfect within itself.

So now I feel scared of expressing any interest, because I'm just getting over the string of disappointments, and more disappointment feels like it would be really harmful for me right now. But I want to explore new interests, and I don't want to be letting fear tell me what to do, and I want to practice seeking out my own interests instead of passively responding. So I'm torn.

A new development that I am verrrry excited about is this twice-monthly gather that I've started hosting. I call it intimacy practice night. Here's the description:
I've started hosting intimacy practice nights (non-sexual intimacy). These include things like: heart-circle sharing (where each person takes a turn sharing feelings/thoughts and decides if they want responses or just to be heard); games of truth-or-truth (if you haven't played it, lemme just say it is predictably awesome, always invoking laughter and closeness); laughter yoga ( -- very good example of what it's like! I'd forgotten some of those exercises, I'm so excited to do them again! bring a water bottle, btdubs, you'll need it!); cuddle party type practices like 3-5 minutes of silent eye contact; and whatever intimacy-building practices are suggested and agreed upon. After the first one we learned that two hours is not enough so this time we're planning for three, then we'll just hang out or disperse.

If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, the requirements for attending are 1) be willing to practice group activities with everyone who shows up, and be open to practicing one-on-one activities (those are opt-in). 2) do not share or repeat anyone else's experience/words during this time without explicit permission. 3) be respectful and kind to everyone involved -- if something upsets you, assume good intentions and share your feelings without judging or blaming. If someone is upset by you, empathize and explain before problem-solving. 4) accept that #3 is a set of intentions and people will be imperfect as they attempt to practice them. 5) please try to arrive on time -- if you can't, come in, wait in the back living room, and text me ([phone number]), so that we can bring you in at a natural pause instead of possibly interrupting a vulnerable moment.
That's from the invitation for this week's practice, which we capped at 8 people. I've been waffling on whether or not to cap, and at how many, because while I like the safety and depth of a small group, I want to be inclusive -- I think for the third one I might make it more of an open invite and not cap it, and if everyone agrees that that is still good, then have one regulars-only and one open-to-many per month.

I'm super excited about intimacy practice because after just ONE TIME I can already feel the shift in myself and in my relationships with the people who attended the first one. I went into the first one thinking it would help me get to know people, but probably wouldn't stretch me, and I was surprised by how much it DID stretch me. After two hours we took a pause and during that time I realized that I felt incredibly vibrant and nourished, then when we did the last hour I experienced a decided step outside my comfort zone. I shared something in spite of the fact that I was worried it would make people feel judged or unappreciated, and it was received with kindness and understanding. I felt incredibly relieved and it really helped me to move forward emotionally in that area. I feel like this is a really good way of building my connections with people and everyone else seemed to appreciate it and be excited about continuing. I feel rather stunned at how gloriously lucky I am to have so many people not just willing but eager to practice intimacy and openness with me and with each other.

Also KSU now has a queer group on campus -- Non-Normative Anti-Assimilationists -- which I've helped create! I'm a board member for the group, which is brand new -- we just had our second member meeting yesterday. I'm also incredibly excited about this, for three reasons -- 1) queer community yay! 2) real change! I never would have thought to form a student organization with the intent of changing the school (working within) but Angie and Gaius and Laura did, and now I'm aware of all kinds of opportunities to make KSU more inclusive. 3) intersectionality. I really can't express my delight with that enough. I'm so sick of listening to people who are anti-prejudice in some way be willfully ignorant about all other forms of oppression -- that is not the case here. Calling people out on unrealized privilege is in the agreement one has to make to be part of the group; I'm planning on taking some of that agreement that we made and incorporating it into house rules, with the input of my housemates of course.
(~) This group is intended as safe space and will be committed to peaceful and consensual gatherings.
(~) We will strive to provide safety from all manifestations of oppression, discrimination, and privilege. No discrimination of any sort will be tolerated.
(~) All members are expected to have a listening attitude, but should be aware of their right to speak out if they feel threatened or offended. Be mindful of your own comments and how they will affect others.
(~) While every precaution will be taken to make meetings comfortable and fun for everyone, all members should be prepared and willing to be made aware of your privileges.
They also have one about privacy, but privacy is not something I care to create in my space (except in the context of intimacy practice).

Speaking of intersectionality, this is a must-read: MY FEMINISM WILL BE INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSHIT! Yes, the caps are appropriate. Re-reading this this afternoon was balm to my soul after hearing some anti-racists be smugly sexist today. It also helps after queers are ableist or feminists are racist. ALL aspects of oppression need to be dealt with and if you say it is okay to overlook any of them, I call bullshit.
Tags: body image, gender, intimacy practice, n/a*, social justice / feminism

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