Monday, December 16, 2013

Single Life, Week Two: Welcome to District 14



“There is no District 12.”

I am certainly no Mockingjay, and my cute, overheated, modestly Christmas-decorated apartment and tough-but-fulfilling job are not quite a bombed out dystopian village, but I related to Katniss at the end of Catching Fire. She’d done what she had to do, she’d been brave and good, but the woods that gave her comfort were gone and she was headed someplace she’d previously thought was a myth.

I only had to save myself, and there’s a lot left that gives me comfort, but my marriage is behind me, my family feels like a death-trap thanks to the looming presence of my creepy mother, and the social cushion I tried to create within the poly and kink community isn’t really making sense.

It may be heartbreak making the Regular Dungeon feel like the Scary Party, but I suspect it might be something else. I fit within the ideals of poly and kink, wherein it’s supposed to be about expression, honesty, and communication, but the way I’m finding it actually practiced doesn’t exhibit those ideals at all. Thought many of my experiences this year have been life-affirming and good, I’ve seen so much (unintentional, I think) cruelty, judgment, carelessness, and emotional perfectionism that I don’t quite see where I can fit.

After that conversation with my mom where she berated me for not “behaving correctly” by having emotions she didn’t approve of, I realized that that’s what a lot of my relationship experiences have been about—trying to correct my feelings so that people would think I was nice enough, detached enough, openminded enough, that I wasn’t a threat to people’s narrow expectations or (apparently fragile!) relationships. I had to ask one lady to stop reading me because she just couldn’t stand the moments of frustration and would send me paragraphs of emotional correction until I felt like I might lose my civility. The worst mistakes of the year were made when I tried to tamp down my emotions but they just kept pushing to the surface like demanding sidewalk dandelions.

It’s not just the negative or “needy” emotions that have been met with fear, it’s positive, playful emotions too. Look at the way Fireguy scrambled to control my writing about an amazing, life-changing scene because he was petrified of his submissive’s jealousy, at The Man deciding I was a Glenn-Close-grade-stalker because I was nervous about meeting his wife, at the Steampunks making being excited for a playdate into something shameful and threatening.

Even the functional playpal situations only work as long as I don’t write too rhapsodically about people. Being able to keep people in perspective is a wonderful skill that I may never master and that I’m very grateful to have practiced this year, but it’s kind of sad knowing that playing with Old-Timey Guy has only worked for all this time because I’ve never gotten excited enough about him to get Punk Rock Girl’s hackles up. Pretty Slave and Cute Master, wonderful as they are, would ditch me the second I fell for one of them. Which would make sense, actually, in the monogamous world, but feels hurty in one where I still sometimes kiss them. I do know it’s a real friendship, but one that comes with its own guillotine.

As the judgy voices of blog-reading not-quite-metamours simmer down, I think that openheartedness and enthusiasm are two of my best qualities. It’s just that I keep putting/finding myself in scenarios where they’re not matched or welcomed, and that’s when they start to feel like crazy. According to one of the many, MANY How I Met Your Mother episodes over the weekend, the “Dahmer/Dobbler divide” hinges only on whether the feeling is mutual—what looks romantic in requited attraction can certainly start to look creepy when the feeling isn’t returned. So I guess if I want to value my romantic side and not keep feeling grossed out by it, I need to get rid of unrequiteds before they become a thing—like, three texts in if possible. It’ll be hard but probably worth it.

So I’m not sure where it’ll leave me, but I want to stay out of situations that call for the artificial tamping-down of emotions. There’s enough of that in daily life, why opt for it in relationships? More than anything, I want to find myself in situations where openheartedness isn’t met with fear and distrust.

Anyway, so my therapist, who maybe doesn’t have time for dystopian young adult novels, suggested that we make a plan to get me to District 13, but I explained that the residents there are very guarded and conservative from their years of subsisting underground.

So here I am in District 14. So far its accomplishments are modest: A small but very sincere Christmas tree, getting the bills sent on paper because I like paying them with stamps and envelopes, trying to figure out a holiday that won’t be too much pain to take. It will take a long time to build something stable, authentic, and unoppressive, but this is a start.

In the meantime, two gold stars:

1. That night the dungeon didn’t work, I left. I didn’t force myself to stay and keep being a sparrow bashing into the plate glass window of them. I had a bad feeling and (with the help of my super adorable friend) got the heck out of there. That is always to be rewarded.

2. Saturday I got asked out (actually, asked in) by a tall, beardy Beatles fan (“I spend my time thinking about…What I would say to Paul McCartney if I met him.”) and I asked him if it could wait until after the holidays because I’m having a spate of introspection. He said sure and I was so, so proud of myself for slowing down and taking the time I need. I did have all of those very urgent sitcoms to watch!

There’s still the matter of what to do about Christmas. I don’t want to make the 5 ½ hour drive to my sister’s, but I’m worried I’ll miss my niece and nephews too much if I don’t.

Yesterday Sweetie and I were in the Target picking up nonperishables for the food drive at work and we strolled through the Christmas section. I got the most AWFUL feeling in my gut and lower back until we walked out of that section. Day to day, I have a fair amount of Christmas spirit going, but something about the day itself is making me sick and afraid.

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