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True therapy

I had a really amazing session with my therapist on Wednesday.

It started out with her asking how I was doing, like she always does.  For me, this is a great way to get things started out, to get the ball rolling.  This Wednesday was no different.

There were a couple things that could have answered that question, as there have been a number of things occupying my mind lately.  I chose the more difficult answer to the question (we got to the other one eventually, when it felt right).

It was the first time I had told anyone else in my life about this issue – it has to do with existential dread, of an obsessive nature, but is more than that.  It usually comes up a few times a year (for the last 20 years), but had come up basically every day for about a week and a half before therapy, which was a bit disturbing to me.

It felt so good to finally be in a space that was safe enough that I could share this deepest secret and not only not be judged, but also have someone I trust with all of my issues who could help me.  We talked about it for awhile, which was not easy, but I cannot put in words how much much weight it took off my mind to have someone else know this.  She gave me a plausible idea about why it had come up now, which was very reassuring.

We talked about the nature of therapy – about how wonderful it is to have a therapist who you connect with on a personal level, about how weirdness is awesome, and about how truly amazing it was to me to find someone who created such a safe space that I could share something like this.  She said that it was great for her to hear that.

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NaNoWriMo 9 – Going Out

So after therapy, I decided to head out to the meet up that one of the larger local polya groups does in the city. This wasn’t exactly unprompted though… Ember had asked me the day before whether I was going, and I had been undecided, basically dependent on how I felt after therapy. After therapy I did a quick check-in with myself to see if I was good to go out (yup, had the energy to socialize) and I headed out.

I got myself parked, then got myself lost trying to find the place – sometimes Google Maps does not really help when you’re on foot, despite how much you want it to. After I got there, I shed my coat, and joined a group of my friends who were near the door, just to say hi. Ember spotted me and came over to greet me with a hug and a kiss and a whiskey to have a sip of (good stuff, but I like peaty). I went over to the bar, the bartender flirted a little with me and I flirted right back, and got myself a single of the same.

I hung out with Ember for awhile, after checking out the rest of the event upstairs. I bumped into three other friends at the bottom of the stairs on my way up, said hello and did hugs, and flirted a little bit with the second gal (she’s cute and I like her). Upstairs wasn’t fitting my mood, so I went back downstairs to put down my stuff and socialize. It is a marvel watching people being flirty and friendly with other people when that’s their element. I mean, it’s fun watching people in their element, period.

I drifted back towards Ember after a bit and we went to go say hi to his partner Seafoam, and I had a super awkward moment with her as we were waiting to talk to her when I went to look at something off the table. So, not a great thing – not sure if I’m deal with a case of genuine bad stuff or whether my anxiety brain is blowing it way out of proportion. Stood and chatted there for awhile, then Ember and Seafoam left and I kept chatting with people.

Eventually I finished my drink and went and got a rye Manhattan at the bar – the bartender asked if I’d ever tried one with Rittenhouse. I wasn’t sure, so I said no. And he made me quite a good Manhattan. I sat down at the bar for a bit and started chatting with the guy who was a couple seats down, mostly just small talk, him asking about the group, but engaging enough that I stayed there for longer than I had intended. After that I went back over and spent most of the next hour chatting with the group of friends who were by the door.

About 15 minutes before they left, in comes someone I haven’t seen for years. And she was happy and that was super infectious. So I stayed there and chatted for most of the rest of the night, listening to her stories about the good things that have been happening in her family medical dramas. The guy at the car eventually came over to join the group and we all stood and chatted for awhile before I started coughing. Something was irritating my throat, so I went over to the bar to get some water. Then other people in the same area started coughing too. The cute bartender went outside to see what was going on and found out that someone had pepper-sprayed someone else a block or so over and it had come in through the vents. So we moved our group back further into the bar and sat there and chatted until closing time.

I forget sometimes how much I like flirting with people I’m comfortable with, and after a drink or two, people I find cute. I can be an incorrigible flirt when I’m relaxed and comfortable in my surroundings. I wish I’d figured this out earlier in life – some of my early 20s might not have been quite so awkward.

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NaNoWriMo 9 – Therapy Breakthrough

My therapy schedule has not really been so much a schedule lately as a random assortment of dates scheduled somewhere between four and six weeks apart. And that really hasn’t been working for me, because the sessions I do have are at least a quarter catch-up. That’s a bit much for me.

This session we talked about what has happened with me over the last couple weeks – the death of my childhood caretaker, problems with partners, anxiety/anxiety-induced insomnia, my self-care kit, and what I’ve discovered and learned in the last couple weeks. We started it off special with a chai tea she has in her office that both of us love and that helped ease things in a bit.

When I was talking about setting boundaries and me figuring out what I need to do if I want to keep one of my relationships healthy and realistic for both of us, I mentioned that I finally actually grokked the idea of self as primary, that it finally resonated for me. I’ve done work in self-care and setting my own boundaries, but I’ve realized that I need to have a stronger base on which to grow my relationships and that some of the issues I’ve been running into have probably been as a result of not spending time on my base, on taking care of me. My therapist asked if this was the first time this had truly clicked with me. When I told her that it was, she stood up and gave me a standing ovation. She remarked that this is what progress looks like, and I am inclined to agree with her.

So I am scheduled on an every other week schedule, which I think will be better for me going into winter, when things get tough.

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NaNoWriMo 2 – Coping

How do you choose to deal with the pain in your life? The sad things that happen, although maybe not unexpectedly, still happen not on a schedule? I prefer to address them in a couple of manners – the first time completely sober, so I know what I’m looking at. The second time, I’m not sure that (sobriety) matters as much – I think because some of the pain has been addressed before. The third time and on? I tend to address it on a case to case basis, giving it space to be something that just is, in whatever other mindset it exists in or alongside.

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NaNoWriMo 1 – Weight

Or should I call it NaBloWriMo?  That would be more accurate, really.  But thus starts my third(?) year of blogging every day of November, as somehow today is November 1st.

So, it has become a complicated thing to explain why I have lost weight and why I eat the way I do.  Not a lot of people can understand my ambivalence very well.  The situation is odd enough, so I can understand why:

Yes, I lost somewhere between 15-20 pounds in the space of the last year.

It was due to finally getting on ADHD meds, which, at least the stimulant ones that work best for me, have an appetite suppressant effect.

No, I didn’t mean to lose the weight.  It was not on purpose.

Not all weight loss is good weight loss, even for someone who wants to lose weight.  This was not good weight loss for me, despite it being at a slow pace.

I had to spend a lot of money, that I didn’t have, to buy new clothes, new bras, new pants, because nothing fit anymore.

It was not good for me – I wanted to have some control over it, and I felt like my body was not anywhere near under my control.

So, in February of this year, prompted by Diplomat’s keto period, I decided that I would try going low carb to see if I could bring the weight loss  to a halt.  I’d tried a couple other strategies, to no avail.

And it has.  I’ve maintained the same weight since about March, with a couple three or four pound fluctuations when I wasn’t watching things so closely.

This weight, this eating style, is maintainable for me.  It actually works.  Plus, I have actually managed to pick up a wardrobe in this size.

People compliment me and it is hard for me to say thanks.  Mostly because I don’t like the idea that I am more worthy of admiration as a human being for having lost weight, for becoming skinnier, for becoming closer to the societal ideal.  It’s super icky.

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Update

So, as you may have noticed, I haven’t written in awhile. It’s not that I haven’t come up with a million awesome ideas for posts, including some awesome ones bragging about the cool people that I know and/or love, but I have been out doing things, doing people, doing work of all sorts. And clearly, not writing.

Depression hit. I struck back by starting light therapy in the mornings and getting more regular about taking Vitamin D. It seems to have died down quite a bit. My anxiety levels are still a bit higher than normal, but depression has mostly abated, giving me some more summer time to make connections and socialize before it gets bad. If it gets bad…. It feels fairly mild this year, honestly. We’ll see, come November through January.

Bit #1

Moss and I had a really tough conversation on this last Monday. I had hyped myself up to catastrophization levels and was sure we were done for. I even talked to my therapist about it pretty extensively – her two big remarks were to be ready to let go of the relationship if my boundaries couldn’t be met (I’m not sure I was, which is what I told him when he asked if I had been) and to talk about the difference between something being urgent and something being important. I talked to him briefly that weekend to nail down plans and asked if I had anything to worry about in regards to the conversation – no, no agenda.

We had a lovely picnic in the Arboretum by the water, first in the sun, then in the shade. We settled into our normal conversational cadence – smooth, easy, flowing, no pressure. Then we talked about the situation at hand, about what our needs were, what we wanted going forward. And my fears were eased – no, no break-up. In fact, I think we came out of the whole situation more solid than we’ve been for a month or so.

I had the overwhelming feeling I do sometimes, when I can’t hold a thought or a feeling back – that it is overwhelming my mouth and I can’t but speak its name and nature. And so I did – I told him that I loved him. In the five seconds that followed my brain did an amazing thing – Anxiety hyped me up “What if he doesn’t love me, what if that makes or breaks things, what if it is too big a feeling to handle?”, but Reason stepped in and said “So what? You’ll figure it out with him, you’ll communicate about it, everything will be fine”. And everything was fine. Everything was more than fine. And yes, not going to keep you in suspense – the feeling was very mutual.

So far things have been going well enough with Eve on his end, even after talking with her about the situation and what he and I had talked about together. It gives me great hope!

Bit #2

So, I’ve been trying the casual dating thing with a few people, each of which has been going very differently, but each has some continuing potential. In order of first dates:

#1: He’s super fun to talk about politics and the local poly community with. Decent kisser. Some sexual chemistry, but unsure where I want to go with that. Even if we just ended up as friends (maybe as friends who fuck? I don’t know where this is going, really), that would be a good thing.

#2: We knew each other through a local lunch group that I organized awhile back, so we’ve had opportunities to chat before. Quiet, but worth the listening to. He’s a bit hard for me to read, so I’m not 100% sure of the level of mutual interest, but he seems to keep wanting to see me and he spoke well of me to Lola at an event they both attended. Even if it only ends up being a friends who go out to things thing, it would be fun.

#3: We’ve known each other for a couple years, but yeah, life can be complicated, especially when it comes to poly. I always thought he was cute and enjoyed when I’d see him at events. He is actually one of the cutest poly stories I have – we were in the hot tub at a party together and we had been talking for a bit, flirting for a bit, and he leans over to whisper in my ear that he would really like to kiss me right then, but things were too complicated at the moment. A couple years later, let me tell you – that kiss was fabulous, if a bit delayed. Also, I was thinking about this later, but he’s the first person I’ve fucked on the first date (not counting people I fucked before the first date and people for whom there was never a date). So yeah… fun stuff. I will be glad to see where this goes.

Each of these has at least had second dates and has a third scheduled.

Bit #3

Inspired by my therapist I’ve been turning over in my head if I want to try to actually get a travelling notary public business off the ground. At my last session/my first session in awhile she had asked me about my work stuff and had suggested marketing my skills, as a paralegal and my notary public license, to GRSM (Gender, Relationship, and Sexual Minority) people, particularly the LGBTQ community, as having someone who is one of them around could be a big mark in my favor.

I would have to do a few things to even have a chance of getting it off the ground – stop procrastinating on getting my notary stamp/seal, look into getting a business license, get a phone number independent of my personal cell number, set up a separate email address and basic website, set up bank account stuff, and I am absolutely sure I am missing something – but I looked at the market in my area and it seems like there is space for more notaries before the saturation point is reached.

There is plenty of space for expanding services in different directions once I get stuff off the ground, but this seems like a possible and doable thing for me.

Bit #4

Things seem to have stabilized on the gender front, a bit – it tends to be fluid, but a lot of the time my gender ends up manifesting as, “Do I really have to pick a gender?” or as “Not today, thank you” or something ridiculous, like “fuck your binary gendered”. I am getting a bit more finicky about having people use my correct pronouns and am starting to go on mini-tirades in my head when I am in a situation where I am forced to pick one (bathrooms being my most common example). But yeah, I think this, like everything else about me, is going to remain fluid.

Bit #5

The woman who took care of me from basically birth to kindergarten and occasionally after, is dying of cancer. She probably doesn’t have much longer. The common impression seems to be that we’re talking maybe double digit weeks, if not a few months, but soon. On Sunday there was a party in her honor held at the home/complex she’s living at – a “celebration of life” thing. So I drove about an hour and a half to get to see her, probably for the last time. It amazed me how small and frail she looked, like I could almost break her, but her mind and sense of humor were still as sharp as a tack.

The whole event gave me some perspective on how far life has taken me away from my early days. Her son, who is somewhere around a decade older than me always seemed so tall to me when I was a kid (and looking at the old pictures). But he is actually around my height, probably an inch or so shorter (and I am 5′ 3.5″), It left me wondering how much of who I am is because of this woman, and losing that will be a blow.

I’m still doing a fair amount of processing on this and probably will be, off and on, for awhile. But that’s what I have for now.

So yeah. I will try to write more often, but because we’re heading into winter I can’t exactly promise that.

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Gender Conversation

I had a lovely conversation with Moss while we were out on a date last night regarding gender, which as a fluid thing for me, can be a bit complicated to talk about, partially because it changes on each given day (roughly), our language lacks words to describe it some days, and some days I just don’t know.

He wanted to know more about my relationship with my gender and seemed to be in the place I often am – where do I start with the questions?

But the question that struck me was “why?”.  Probably because “why?” is always my favorite question and is, I’ve found in most cases, the hardest question to answer – possibly because it involves digging into motivations that aren’t always clear.  I love it because it digs in to what makes people tick, which has always been fascinating to me, both from a physiological and psychological perspective.

I digress.

I identify as non-binary trans because it fits right, like “queer” fits right.  I am bisexual and I am genderfluid – these identify facts about me.  Non-binary and queer, in a way, demonstrate my attitude about my identity: I don’t care what people think about them, I am who I am, and anyone who doesn’t like it, can just go hush themselves.  The trans part is difficult for me – I have just recently embraced that part of the non-binary thing – I don’t identify as the gender I was assigned at birth, that’s a basic definition of trans.  Sometime my gender does round or slide to one or the other – more often to female than male, by quite a long shot – but much more often it just hangs nebulously in the middle.  I also do occasionally experience bouts of gender dysphoria – more often when I am depressed and/or restricted in my presentation options.

But why?  I’ve never felt comfortable in boxes.  It took me a long time to learn to color within the lines.  I was a major tomboy growing up.  I was never the good hostess that my mother wanted me to be.  Grace has been a learned skill for me – it’s not an inherent thing, either physically or socially.  I spent most of my time growing up in the outdoors, wandering around, or in my room with a book.  Exploring comes naturally and easily to me, even if the unpredictability can occasionally set off my anxiety.  I am ok with being the weird kid who never quite fit in, but was close enough to normal that I was never shunned.

As an adult I learned to become comfortable with the more feminine aspects of my personality and style that I had rejected early on, for a number of reasons: 

  • Feminine clothing is not often designed for comfort or practicality (dresses with pockets are a major win for me – I wish I could afford more of them),
  • Foundation makes the patchy bits of my skin which are normally pretty unnoticeable super obvious (just don’t wear foundation, you can wear whatever makeup you like), 
  • Femininity is often read as weakness (I still struggle with this one), 
  • Long hair gets in my face and that drives me mad (so cut it)
  • Breasts get in the way – I did not like having them at all until midway through high school (having properly fitting bras and clothing that either accentuates or hides them based on my gender presentation feels is super helpful)
  • Femininity is often read as submissiveness (meeting strong, no-nonsense femmes has really helped with this)

So, here I am.  A genderfluid (non-binary) tomboy femme.  It fits comfortably enough to not be restrictive, but gives me a few labels that help me figure out my place in this world and in the queer community.