Tags: pibling l

interconnectedness

my lj patterns / job stress / Ace visits, explosion of social w biofam & friends / Sense8 marathon

icon: "interconnectedness (two bald purple-skinned people in the ocean: from Joan Slonczewski's "Door Into Ocean")"

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Collapse ) Also I was super social for like a solid week and am just now feeling like I can handle voluntary interaction with human beings. My youngest sibling, Ace, came in town with almost no warning and hasn't visited in at least four years, so I hastily threw together some plans so that Ace could meet my people and vice versa.

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Anyway, other than that discomfort, it was an okay visit. Ace wanted to go to a lesbian bar, so we did, but it was Monday night so not much was happening. Cass, Katie, Katie's person Molly, and Topaz hung out with me and Ace and just talked, and afterward Topaz and Ace and I went to dinner and Ace laid out some heavy questions. First Ace tested Topaz with a point-blank "so what do you feel about belenen?" (or something very close to that) and Topaz reeled briefly and then answered honestly and openly while looking me in the eyes, and Ace judged them as truthful. Ace is extraordinarily observant and blunt and doesn't fuck around when they want to know something.

Then Ace asked me "why do you hate our parents?" and I replied calmly that I don't hate them, I'm just not that attached. Topaz later told me that they were amazed at the full blast of the questions (because they got more pointed from there) and at how I handled them, and then I realized that they were some hard questions, but I appreciate bluntness and while Ace did ask very leading questions, I'm pretty good at not being lead. However, I was also way too literal in answering them, because I think what Ace was looking for was some empathy for their suffering, but what they were asking about was my suffering, which they were then comparing to theirs. I didn't realize this until later, talking about it with Topaz, who realized it during the conversation. I felt shitty that I didn't realize and thus missed the opportunity to connect there.

The next day I had planned a small gather which Topaz hosted, with Topaz, me, Ace, Allison, Elliot, Serenity, Kylei, Jaime, and my cousin. It was a wonderful group of people and I really enjoyed everyone's company, though my ADD got way out of hand when we all played Dixit together. I'm gonna trust the box next time and agree that more than 7 people is too many, unless everyone is a fairly quiet person. We had four or five boisterous people and I just couldn't manage it after a while. Nobody got mad when I said I needed a break or when we didn't end up returning to the game, though, so it was okay.

I was hoping to have more time with Ace but since they were smoking a lot of the time and thus were outside while I was inside we didn't really interact directly very much. They said they liked all my friends (said this to me multiple times) and said to Topaz "I love you for my [sibling]," which I was very pleased by because they're usually very suspicious of anyone I am close to. This was also the first time I got to introduce several people to each other (which I love doing) and people volunteered their positive impressions of each other to me which made me VERY happy.

Then Wednesday I spent time with Ace, my cousin, and my grandparent, very casual, working on a long-term art project of Ace's. I was so so so wiped out after that though -- family Sunday, family AND new scary place (I'd never been to a lesbian bar and I get very anxious about not looking queer enough) Monday, big social thing including family Tuesday, more family Wednesday. I took Thursday to recover and then spent Friday vacuuming the dust/dander/fur out of the rugs and then spending time with Topaz.

Saturday was a day I had been planning for two months: a Sense8 marathon. Topaz, Sande, Evelyn, Serenity, and I watched it on the projector that I borrowed from Kylei. I don't remember how many episodes various people watched but it felt really wonderful to be with people that I feel such strong connections with, watching a show that feels like a part of me. And it was good that it was low-interaction because I certainly couldn't have handled more active social at the end of such a week!

It was really really wonderful to have Topaz in my house, after so long of them not being there due to allergies. I replaced the air filter very recently, dusted the week before, vacuumed the day before, and Serenity mopped the floors the day before too, and I turned the air conditioning high while Topaz was here (because cold helps). It all paid off -- Topaz didn't seem to have much of a reaction at all, and was able to stay for like five hours.
ADD-PI

biofamily visit: discussing add-pi, racism, sex, poly, cuddles / clash w Ace / sharing lovetech

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

Earlier this week I explained ADD-PI to V and M, and they seemed to take it seriously which was a relief. I told M that I had learned some of my coping skills from them and explained, and M seemed to listen and feel pleased and connected.

Several times this week I've had discussions w Ace and M about race and they just... go nowhere. Ace doesn't seem willing/able to understand that their experience is not automatically representative of all experiences. I have tried to explain in several different ways. Also M had negative experiences as a white child in 80% black schools immediately following integration (and white flight into pop-up private schools) and they don't seem to be able to understand the misdirected anger any more than Ace. The worst is that every time I reference a fact M is not aware of, they dismiss it with "I don't know about that" and act like I didn't even say it. They told me they enjoy these arguments and when I merely raised my eyebrows in response, they asked if I enjoyed them. I said I would enjoy them if I could assign homework. They laughed. Since they didn't shake their head or offer rebuttle, there's actually a chance that I could do that and I may try.

Yesterday was fairly uneventful. Pibling L, cousin E, Ace, gparent V, and I went out shopping. We went to some thrift stores (I found several work-appropriate overshirts, two soup mugs, and an Upwords board game that was only missing 2 letter tiles) and a rocks/minerals touristy store. P had offered to put $20 towards getting me a present, and so I was able to get some stones shaped like eggs (which I'm going to use as meditation tools, rolling them in my hands).

Later P, E, L, Ace, V, M, and I played truth-or-truth again, this time just using the question sheets as backup. It was a good time, and interesting to have the contrast. A lot of questions centered around memories, some of which weren't at all personal, but everyone was enjoying it so it worked okay. At one point M asked me a question from the question sheets - (what are my thoughts on the parts of a person) and I gave a long rambly answer but people liked it and M later referred to us having green hearts as I mentioned I saw several of us that way. After M and V went to bed the rest of us kept on, and we did a merry-go-round of asking each person to list two qualities that they share with each other person. Everyone really loved that, and it gave me an idea for a similar project.

When people say goodnight I offer them a hug before bed, and E and L liked this idea. L said they want to make the same habit.

Today I spent most of the day online, having a good but intense discussion with someone about energy work, and then a giant terrible discussion/argument on my wall about the definitions of trans/cis and identity. I cried a lot. I don't know if I was having an extra ADD day or what but I felt like I could not explain myself and after a certain point it was like I couldn't even understand the words in front of me.

During lunch/breakfast I suggested a project: we all write down 3 outstanding qualities for each other person. Everyone said it was a good idea but they didn't want to do it then, and they scattered like cats.
At one point just after lunch, Ace and E were making a smoothie and I asked if I could make suggestions. Ace said no, and it hurt my feelings because they had already been doing stuff without me all morning, and I said that it hurt my feelings because it felt like they didn't want me to talk to them. Then E immediately said I could give suggestions and that made me cry. P and E were nice to me and Ace was upset. I asked why and they said they only wanted to discuss it alone. So we went into the room we're sharing and they said that they felt like I was crying whenever I didn't get my way (manipulatively). I told them that it might not seem like it but this is taking a lot of effort from me and I only ever cry in front of people when I am so overwhelmed I can't control myself (also, this was only the second time I had cried in front of anyone). I talked about how I was feeling and Ace said they felt like I wasn't trying to connect with them, that I didn't like them any more. I told them that wasn't true, I was just having a harder time with them because they're guarded. We talked a bit more and hugged and went back to work on the smoothie.They were all at the pool or grocery store from after that until to dinner.

Then we all had dinner and afterward M went immediately to bed, with V following shortly. I felt very upset that they hadn't kept thier word, and more upset because E and L were talking about being tired and I'd had no time with them all day. But they said they wanted to stay up a bit, so I asked everyone to share the story of their best sexual experience. P and E were not comfortable with this, so I changed it to top 3 necessary elements for a good sexual experience, and they all answered. We went on to talk about sex, poly, bdsm, and cuddles. And I revealed yet another layer of difference in discussing my polyamory (which L really took in stride, so much so that I think they must know a poly person). We shared our favorite cuddles as I asked everyone what theirs was. When I asked for a volunteer to show my favorite cuddles with, L offered! I was surprised because I guess I see them as being reticent. Then they came over and just curled up on the floor next to me, adorably. I showed them my favorite way to hold someone and also the infinity cuddle. They were a little nervous but they really liked it at the same time. At the end of the time, I showed everyone how to do a spiral hug and they loved that.

Also the other day I taught everyone the -5 to +5 scale for making fairer decisions, and we've used it since then (but only at my prompting, so far). I hope my parents learn to do that because it's so much better than "I want this and you want that, I'm more powerful so we do my thing."

I really want someone to say to me "wow, you've really made this trip a time of deep connection, thanks!" but I doubt that will happen. I wonder if they can tell that this is different because of the things I'm bringing to it.
Ma'at

visiting biofamily: Truth-or-Truth, intense discussions about race/class, coming out in stages

icon: "Ma'at (a photo of one side of a brass balance scale, with a feather inside the bowl. The background is sky blue. On the bottom of the image, below the photo, is the word "Ma'at")"

These past few days are a blur and I am baffled. Mostly in a good way.

Sunday we stayed in, mostly, and at the end of the evening we played Dixit and Truth-or-Truth For Newbies. Before I left Topaz printed my 188 questions out (by request) and I invented an easier way for people to play. On first play almost everyone finds it difficult to decide who to ask and difficult to come up with a question, so I randomized those choices. I also created a possibility for a point system because Topaz says it's not a real game without one, but everyone opted out of that so I'm gonna discard it I think. I think I might turn ToTfN into a physical game I can carry, by making the questions into color-coded cards and buying a dedicated set of dice and making number cards. But that's a load of work, so maybe not. Anyway, we played them and everyone really enjoyed both games. And, to my surprise, my gparent V and parent M both participated and gave it their best. V actually said today that playing the games was their favorite time so far this visit. I felt really pleased that it went over so well and I'm looking forward to playing again!

I looked up local Champion Trees and found a nature tour that showed off a bunch of old live oaks (my - AND cousin E's - favorite tree) and the state champion red cedar (among other things) and told everyone about it and asked if they wanted to go. They did, so we got up early on Monday to go. The tour was great except that it was scorching hot and the group kept scattering and we moved pretty fast around things, all of which kept me from being able to truly tune in. But we came by this one Loblolly pine that I just fell in love with and really want to go see again. I felt such a connection with it, but it was near the end and everyone was so tired and hot and hungry that I didn't want to hold them up, so I just marveled for a moment and took a quick photo for memory and that was it.

Then we went to a restaurant which was a mess of disorganization - M wanted Golden Corral, everyone else wanted mexican food, we were in two cars and got separated without a shared destination address and then there was a horrid speakerphone call where everyone was saying something different and finally E hung up and I just texted them telling them we decided on the simplest plan. Pibling L was super stressed out by this and so was Ace, which I found interesting and bizarre, as it annoyed me but didn't stress me out. I tried to ask why it was stressful and didn't get much of an answer but I think it has to do with wanting to make everyone happy? If it was my friends having a squabble and not talking out the plan in a kind and respectful manner I probably would have been bothered by it but I think i would have reacted the same way, by making the practical choice for myself and letting them deal or not as they would. I think I only care about making people happy while they are willing to try and help. If they're just going to dig in their heels and shout, I no longer care if I make them happy right now.

Later that day we were going to go to the beach but it started raining right as we headed there, and thundering meant no one else wanted to go. So we sat by the pool and watched the sky until it was no longer thundering, but then everyone just wanted to be at the pool. It was sprinkling lightly for a while and then there was a gorgeous double rainbow! Also E asked me about my ex-spouse and I told them that story, including the years I was working through childhood sexual abuse while my ex-spouse supported me. I also briefly explained poly. And we talked about E and their person, and churches. I told them about my experience with Liberty and how that informed my requirements for future choices. I talked about the Quaker meeting I like and they said they want to go with me sometime.

Later it was just me, P, E, and Ace after everyone went to bed, and we played two rounds of Blockus which was fun and I realized that E is a determined creature, because they were almost completely blocked off but they refused a free move and figured their way out. I would have been despairing of my choices in their position.

Today I woke up to the sounds of an argument about immigration. I hoped it was over before I came out but it was not, so I waded in by explaining the extreme poverty associated with being undocumented and how creating monetary requirements for citizenship (including in the form of fines plus amnesty) is never a solution. Then I mentioned widespread poverty in the US and exploitation of the poor and Ace went off about welfare 'abuses' (from buying alcohol or a car to shopping at a gas station) and I just couldn't get them to understand that them seeing it 20 times or even 100 times doesn't make it true of the average person on welfare. M was certain that welfare makes people lazy and I refuted that with the Mincome experiment and various other countries very successful systems with social safety nets. M then refused to believe in the existence of these things and demanded that I show sources. I told them no, you don't get to put more stringent requirements on my arguments than on your own, and you have shown no sources for your statements. That was the end of it because other people got impatient with the conversation.

Later we went to the beach, which was fun but not really worth it to me - I guess I got spoiled by the trip with Topaz to that pristine bay beach last year. This water felt like human soup - it was still fun to be in the waves but it wasn't a serene experience where I could connect with nature. It felt polluted and overwhelmed, and it was so salty that it stung my eyes from the barest of splashes. But I think that was also the time of day, and I want to try going again around 7p to get softer light and fewer people. I got to share my boogie board and goggles with people, which made me super happy.

After two hours we came back and went to the pool. Ace and E and I hung out for a while talking about sexuality and racism, and E's stories of their person getting stopped for driving while black and then E getting thrown to the ground for videoing it made way more of an impact on Ace than anything I ever said. So I felt like a failure, and also vindicated and also like I need to memorize some stories because damn, don't nobody take macro-level facts seriously.

I asked E what they wanted to get out of the trip and they said they wanted to build relationships that would be more than talking while on vacation. I asked Ace and they said they wanted to be able to relax and build up some strength and confidence. Then E asked me and I said that I wanted to feel able to be myself. L joined us somewhere during this and asked if I felt I hadn't been myself. I said no, I hadn't, because I didn't correct people and people assumed things about me that weren't true of me. I used the example of someone asking me if I have a boyfriend - if I just say no, I'm not being myself because that assumption left unchallenged makes it seem like I'm straight. They seemed to understand that and feel sad for me that I had not felt able to be myself. I mentioned that getting to know Topaz' family made me realize that maybe my family could handle the real me and I should give them a chance to. Somewhere in this conversation I talked about being trans and (in response to E's question) mentioned that I want to change my voice and facial hair.

E asked me how I first knew I was trans, and I told the story in a better way than I had last time someone asked me that, explaining that I felt pieces of it for a long time but it wasn't until I had a mild breakdown that I realized that it wasn't just a set of feelings, but part of my identity. L had a hard time understanding what exactly I meant by genderfree/agender, partly because they hang out with mainstream gay people who are all binary. They couldn't imagine sex outside the hetero script (since even their gay friends use it) or relationships outside of gender and I had no idea how to explain. It's hard to explain because there are no cultural references to non-binary people. How do you even explain an absence of something? My identity with gender is actually not a presence of something but the absence of it. If I were bigender it would be easier to explain, I feel, and easier to accept. I got lost and felt blathery. E took it in and without missing a damn beat started using gender-neutral pronouns. Holy fuckin shit y'all, I hadn't even asked for them. I was so impressed.

L and E exclaimed when I mentioned that being 'ladies'd bothered me and I hastily assured them that I wasn't upset by them and that I hadn't mentioned it because I figured one step at a time, that I know it's tough to absorb. E was appreciative of that and I think L was relieved. I also said that it's okay to call me stuff like 'girl' if you do that with literally all kinds of people.

Later I ended up in a conversation with M and P about homelessness, veterans, and the intimacy of facing death and trauma together. It was fairly on-topic and not too horribly full of wrongness (M made one comment about personal choice to which I said "I'm not going to talk about that"), and it lead to a moment of what felt like real vunerability from M. I was saying that lots of the people who go to war have no experience with real emotional intimacy, and then they go into an intensely intimate experience with others where they share responsibility for each others' lives as well as living space and work - coming back, part of the trauma is loss of that intimacy with no tools available to them to get it back. Nobody teaches intimacy in a meaningful way except in therapy and even then it's iffy, and men especially are taught by society to avoid intimacy with each other, so not even the people who were there with you and came back are available to you when you get back. I said that this was just my guess, and asked for M's thoughts on it. They said it was true, and mentioned their own loss. Something interrupted, and they said that they needed to go lay down and walked into the other room. They did this same abrupt ending last night so I didn't think anything of it at the time but now I'm a little worried I may have stepped on a very sore place.
overwhelmed

Visiting parents, sibling, pibling, cousin, gparent: communication, priorities, name

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

This week I'm visiting my biofamily: parents M and P, sibling Ace, grandparent V, pibling (parents' sibling) L and cousin E. I don't have a laptop with me so I probably won't be able to read anything until September 2nd-ish, but I'm going to try to keep up with posting anyway.

Yesterday was the drive to meet my parents. Topaz brought me to my pibling's house and took me and Ace to coffee while we waited for everyone else to get ready. Parting with Topaz was difficult because we're both going to miss each other a lot, not least because we cuddle a LOT and they don't really cuddle with others and I am really particular about how I'm touched so negotiating cuddles with biofamily seems stressful and I fear I will just avoid touch (though, good job me, I asked for hugs this morning and got them). Wow run-on.

Before we left I was trying to convince Ace to consolidate their stuff into one bag to make space, and they got frustrated and told me that they were upset that I was bossing them around. I took that in and it took me like 30 seconds to respond, apologizing for being domineering. Usually when I see that my behavior is not ethical I immediately apologize without effort, but for some reason I had to really push myself to do it this time. I found that really weird. I know my biofamily tends to see that as 'losing' so maybe that made it harder. But once I did, Ace forgave me right away and it was done (and they were fine with consolidating stuff).

It took us forever to make the drive because we had to stop for a lot of different things. What we expected to take 4 hours took 8 and by the end my legs ached from being cramped up. But we had some good conversations while we were on the ride, about how to have a good partnership and lots of bits and pieces about memories.

I realized I get defensive when asked if I am hungry around my family, because I expect that they are asking because they think I eat a lot, as a fat person. (Actually part of the reason that I am fat is that I don't eat often enough and my body tries to store everything) But I think maybe they might be asking me for permission to eat. Especially my gparent, who is tinier than most 12 year olds and probably has the metabolism of a hummingbird. So I need to try to practice eating small snacks while I'm here, since I don't have to worry about running out of food.

Later P gave Ace a Canon DSLR. Ace was incredibly excited and I felt happy for them but at the same time I felt broken-hearted because it reminded me of being a kid, asking for a particular present, and being given a knock-off that did not even serve the same purpose, while my siblings got things that were more expensive and exactly what they asked for. I didn't handle it well, partly because I was already exhausted, and I went into my bedroom and cried. Ace came in and asked what was wrong and I explained, with a deliberate effort to be open. Then P came in and asked what was wrong and I explained that and that it reminded me of never being asked about my life as a child. P doesn't have the same memory, and I'm questioning my perceptions because I just don't remember shit. P told me that I won a science award for highest grade in my honors physics class which blew my mind.  Like, the way they told the story it sounded exactly like me (I didn't care about the award but wanted to win) and felt true, but I have literally no memory of it. I want to know who it was I was so invested in beating.

I also talked about how M spends money on stuff that isn't necessary while knowing that I am suffering and barely getting by. M just bought a new car, while telling me that they don't have the money to help me with stuff I need. If they're going to put their wants above my needs, they could at least do that across the board and not be more generous to my siblings than to me. I found out that I  get half of what my siblings do at christmas (each) and I just don't ask about birthdays. Mostly I put this stuff out of my mind. But when I can't, it really hurts. And it's why it is so fucking hard to even ask for the respect of being called by my name much less pronouns. If I ask and they refuse, they're not just being inconsiderate like now, they're telling me I don't matter every time they talk to or about me.

P was really defensive and I wish I knew if I  was wrong. I can't trust their perceptions any more than I can trust mine, because they cannot handle making mistakes and they do not admit when they did something they're ashamed of, or failed to do something they feel they should have. Somehow the conversation turned, I stopped crying, and P left the room (in a neutral way). Shortly after, L and E came in and asked me what was wrong, then P came in. I pushed myself and told them, as briefly as I could with as little blame to P as I could. I didn't want P to feel bad about giving Ace a camera because I am genuinely happy that they made such a huge sacrifice for Ace. (P is poor - they make minimum wage and M doesn't share their giant salary) I also wanted to be frank about my sadness and I think I did okay because P didn't get angry with me. E said they could feel my sadness from the other room and we made eye contact and I felt their sincerity and L gave me pats and empathy. I felt like they all (Ace, P, E, L) cared about my feelings and that was a new experience with my biofamily (except for Ace).

Later P said that they were going to get me a camera too, when they could, and I said that I appreciate the thought but before making such a huge purchase, talk with me because if I can't fix the bug that is breaking my renders, then tools for that would be a much better gift to me than a DSLR. I have wanted one for a long time, but I can take photos that I am proud of on my little camera, and not being able to render my fractals is eating my soul. I want to be seen as a photographer, but I am at least as much a fractal artist as photographer, and I feel like my fractal art gives more to the world. There are many people who can take good photos of nature but not many who can make fractals and almost none who make them in my style.

When everyone went to bed I started reading a book I got as a review copy from BloggingForBooks, and I couldn't put it down until I finished. Partly because I desperately needed brain rest, partly because I missed my second ADD-PI meds and therefore had less control over my focus, and partly because it was a really good read. I'm gonna try to do a review for it soon. But I didn't go to sleep until like 5am and slept badly because the bed was awful and then people started being loud at like 11am. E and L came in and tickled my arms and I grumbled at them. Ace came in and rubbed my feet which was a pretty great way to wake up, after they gentled up (I have extremely sensitive feet).  I got up and ready, slowly and tiredly.

I'm nervous about going swimming because walking around in a wet bathing suit gives me thigh chafing most of the time, and I super don't wanna deal with that. But I do really wanna go be in the ocean! So I'm gonna try it and hope for the best.

Ace uses my real name most of the time and E and L are trying. But that's because they asked me if I wanted them to call me by my chosen name and I said yes. I still haven't confronted anyone about my name. Yesterday I had a strange moment when Ace was introducing me to their girlfriend on skype and the girlfriend called me by my name and P said something like "they got your name right!" which felt really confusing because P usually gets it wrong. Maybe they aren't aware when they deadname me. M hasn't ever tried. Last time I talked to M about it was years ago and they didn't listen to me at all. I dunno how they'll react now but if the rest of the family is doing it they are more likely to be respectful.