Yesterday I had a bad headache/migraine, so, almost last minute, I decided that it would be worth my time and energy to go get a massage. I am so glad that I did. I’m usually a little nervous with masculinely presenting massage therapists, but this guy really had the knack and was super appropriate. We chatted a little bit during the massage – figuring out pressure and good spots and talking about the benefits of massage and relaxation in general. He really met my mood – I had been thinking of massage as part of the very old idea of laying on of hands as a healing technique, and he very much had the healer feel to him. He beat the living crap out of my muscles (just as hard as I like it and as I find effective – I often have a problem with massage therapists who can’t maintain a constant deep pressure) and it felt so good. The greatest part was that he managed to get my neck muscles (trapezius, I think?) to soften up. That is super rare – I think only one other person has managed that before. Andy today, they’re still softer and very relaxed, which is some sort of miracle.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I read this article today and a lot of it really rang true to me (other than the second section): Kin Aesthetics – Excommunicate Me From the Church of Social Justice.
Two bits that stuck out:
There is an underlying current of fear in my activist communities, and it is separate from the daily fear of police brutality, eviction, discrimination, and street harassment. It is the fear of appearing impure. Social death follows when being labeled a “bad” activist or simply “problematic” enough times. I’ve had countless hushed conversations with friends about this anxiety and how it has led us to refrain from participation in activist events, conversations, and spaces because we feel inadequately radical…. I self-police what I say in activist spaces. I stopped commenting on social media with questions or pushback on leftist opinions for fear of being called out. I am always ready to apologize for anything I do that a community member deems wrong, oppressive, or inappropriate—no questions asked. The amount of energy I spend demonstrating purity in order to stay in the good graces of a fast-moving activist community is enormous.
Scrolling through my news feed sometimes feels Iike sliding into a pew to be blasted by a fragmented, frenzied sermon. I know that much of the media posted there means to discipline me to be a better activist and community member. But when dictates aren’t followed, a common procedure of punishment ensues. Punishments for saying/doing/believing the wrong thing include shaming, scolding, calling out, isolating, or eviscerating someone’s social standing. Discipline and punishment have been used for all of history to control and destroy people. Why is it being used in movements meant to liberate all of us? We all have made serious mistakes and hurt other people, intentionally or not. We get a chance to learn from them when those around us respond with kindness and patience. Where is our humility when examining the mistakes of others? Why do we position ourselves as morally superior to the lowly un-woke? Who of us came into the world fully awake?
I understand the desire to dismantle the systems that have held down anyone not white, straight, male, upper class, cisgender, etc. for a long time. That is my goal as well. And I understand that people are angry about being oppressed and I will never tell them that their anger is not justified, because, as student of political science and history, I damn well know it is more than justified. Hell, there are a number of things in our society I am very angry about.
I am really tired of the ideal of the perfect “woke” social justice activist. Someone who spends all day and all night participating in marches, protests, calling their congresspeople, and preaching the word to the “un-woke”. Someone who puts all their time and energy into fighting for all social justice causes. I remember commenting the other day to someone (…don’t remember exactly who…) that that term seems to exist exclusively to other people, to split the community apart, into the “woke” and “un-woke”. Anything that rips us into smaller and smaller groups makes it less likely that we’ll be able to accomplish anything. The whole “house divided” thing.
I am (in a minor way, becoming more major day by day) disabled and neurodivergent. I learn in different ways than other people. I take in information differently than other people. I am particularly sensitive to being rejected from communities and friend groups. I cannot participate in all the protests, marches, and rallies that people put together for both physical and mental health reasons. I despise the quiet implication that I am not as good an activist because I am not a loud activist. Or because I can’t really afford to take time off work (ya know, the work that pays for my insurance and medical bills, so I can stay sorta healthy and sane enough) to attend events during the work week. I go to what I can, I participate where I can, I spread the word where I can – but I can’t go everywhere or say everything, and sometimes I’m just exhausted and can’t do much of anything. And I don’t think I’m in the minority here, in the slightest. Expecting perfection sets you up for failure.
Yes, please feel free to call me in if I’ve said or done something offensive to you. Hell, I encourage it. Not going to learn any other way. But if you try to shame me because I’ve erred, tell me that I should or should not do something – I am not a child, you are not my parent, and if you try to tell me that I “should” do something, then I am not likely to react well. Suggest it, make it a condition of participating, fine. That makes it my choice what I do, whether I choose to participate.
I am exhausted of staying silent for fear of being seen as lesser-than. Un-woker-than, one might say.
I am afraid of posting this.
Your favorite LGBT quote
This one really struck me the first time I saw it. To me, identifying as queer is important because of the reclaimed aspect of the word – you used this word against the LGBTIA community for so long, now we’re taking it back. There is power in our language and this quote really goes there for me.
I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts this afternoon as I was driving and they were talking about expanding sexual orientation in relation/response to non-monogamy. The idea came up about not being queer enough to claim queer. My first response is to call bullshit on this, but I know that I have internalized a lot of the “not enough” bullshit.
I do not feel “queer/bi enough” because I am currently a Kinsey 2. I have a female partner who I have sex with, and might be interested in having sex with another female partner, but am otherwise not really interested in pursuing any other women. In the past a great majority of my relationships have been with male or AMAB people. Am I queer enough?
I sometimes do not feel “poly enough” because my saturation point is fairly low and in the past I have chosen to only have one partner when I was not mentally stable. In that particular case I began doubting myself – not my identity, but myself, as being poly is rather central to being me – because I was not sure I would ever fall in love again. Fortunately, that did not end up being the case. But that still remains in the back corner of my head (more quiet than not these days). I am not loud and proud about being poly, but don’t make much effort to keep it any bit of a secret. Am I poly enough?
I sometimes do not feel “genderqueer/genderfluid/non-binary gendered enough” to claim that identity or to claim being transgender. I tend to look lazy femme or just tomboyish in my presentation. My dysphoria only flares up occasionally. I do not have any issues with how my genitals look or work or the fact that I have visible breasts and other curves that may not be easily disguisable. I strongly prefer they/them pronouns, but am willing to accept she/her in some contexts. I am not out about this identity to anyone except friends. Am I trans/NB enough?
I sometimes don’t feel “mentally ill or neurodivergent enough” to claim those. My depression is cyclical and my anxiety is, in at least half of cases, controlled enough not to show. Yes, I have sensory processing issues, but those tend to just come across as being a little weird to most people. My ADHD is moderately well managed and also just tends to come across as a bit odd or flighty when not. Am I mentally ill/neurodivergent enough?
I sometimes don’t feel “physically ill” or in pain enough to claim being a spoonie. But the truth is – I have an autoimmune condition that I will have to take medication for for the rest of my life and does have an effect on my energy levels. However, that’s under control and my migraines have mostly abated. My joint pain is getting worse and I’m starting to think it might be something other than the barometric pressure shifts to that pain (the remaining migraines are definitely just that though). My pain levels do affect my energy levels. Yes, there are many people who have it worse. It is hard to remember that my pain is also valid. Am I physically ill enough to be a spoonie?
Am I enough of a partner for my partners? The idea that I was defective because I was not the only partner a partner has, that they were looking for someone else because I am not enough never was an issue for me. Instead it is a matter of other measures. Am I available enough, physically or mentally? Am I stable enough (physically and mentally) to be in a relationship with them? Am I pretty enough to keep their attention? Am I satisfying enough in bed for them to still want to sleep with me? Can we build enough of a relationship to weather the years (can I contribute enough to the relationship to this building), if that is indeed something we want?
Am I enough? To myself I can be, that I know. And I am very glad that I am at a point in my life where this matters most. It was not easy getting here and sometimes I slip back into old thoughts.
CN: talk about illness, weight gain, neurodivergence, and pain