Friday, July 4, 2014

A Year After Divorce: Confronting the Fireflies

Are you there, readers? I’ve missed you. A couple of conversations yesterday made me realize that even though I don’t fit into any scenes or anything anymore, my adventures are probably far from over. I’ve missed telling you stuff, so if you don’t mind that it might sometimes just be pictures of flowers, I’ll start posting every now and again.

Yesterday an old muse texted out of the blue with concerned questions, since it seemed like I’d ended the story on a down note—it didn’t seem that way to me but it WAS a rough spring, a hard transition from poly to post-poly, from unabashed to still-unabashed-but-with-pants-on. I freak out sometimes lately because I’m not sure where I fit into the world, but I do know that things are unequivocally better than they were a year ago.

Last Fourth of July, Sweetie and I went to watch some fireworks over the river. We were lazy and dawdled getting out, still in limbo out of the jumping-out-of-the-car incident, and I was all heartbreaky about Mr. Sweetheart. We pulled over to the side of the road and watched the fireworks, having missed meeting up with friends.

As we pulled away, families were streaming across the street, kids with glow bracelets and those light up toys that are always for sale at these things. I was supposed to meet Angel Face and his new boyfriend afterwards for dancing, but I was crying so hard on the way to being dropped off at the club that I had to ask them for a dancing raincheck. Sweetie and I went for a sad, slow, humid, beautiful walk in the woods instead. (We’re lucky enough to live in a city that magically has woods in the middle of it!) Gloomy as we were, the trees were not—they were completely full of lightning bugs, so bright and blinking that they rivaled Christmas trees. Like the girl in a movie that I sometimes am, even my heartbreaks tend to unspool in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Lightning bugs were always one of our things, so when they started to return this year, I was predictably grief-stricken. (It still comes, though a little less frequently.) The more she and I get along, the harder it is not to get nostalgic and want to go back. The trapped feeling, the name-calling, the feeling that I’m way too close to death, those are all gone, only the good parts are left. I pressed myself to do evening walks on my own, and was relieved to see that the lightning bugs are still there, and I still love them.

Last night I woke up in the night for no particular reason and saw, on my ersatz bedroom clothesline, a firefly. He lit up the front of a drying beach cover-up, flashed emphatically around the room, and was gone. Can’t confront the fireflies much more than that.

So today, I woke up happy. My life may still be in flux and missing some crucial elements, but the crisis part, knock wood, is over. I’ve been placed in a school for next year that seems, at least so far, to have a less mean-girl-oriented staff. I have the summer off and a season pass to the local fancy garden, and it’s sinking in that I can go and sit by the fountains all day long if I want to. My mom is planning me a 40th birthday party at the end of the summer and I’ll be overjoyed to blow out the candles with my niece and nephews, hopefully after a family trip to the comic shop.
And, accomplishment of accomplishments, Sweetie is now a best friend who lives a few blocks down and was persuaded to join me in being old ladies at our city’s Fourth of July concert, which features, among others, my avatar/hero Nikki Minaj. We will make no effort to be near the front. We will sit in chairs and watch people. Tomorrow maybe I’ll join my aunts and cousins at the beach.

I’m not awesome at singlehood. I do panic hard every few weeks or so at the prospect that I may have missed out on having my own family. A few weeks ago, I was staying with my sister and got to see her kids off on their second-to-last day of school, and that really lit up the family pangs inside me. Of course, it may have been less cute if I’d been trying to see myself off to school at the same time, but we’ll see what the future brings. I have no way of knowing.

My point is, dear reader (if you’re there) is that this is nowhere near being a down ending. There’s no ending here at all, just life moving forward in its gorgeous, mysterious, sometimes-aggravating way. There’s no more fighting-through-it to do for a while, and I am, for a few months, nothing but free.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

So Long and Thanks for All The…

“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown again into flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.”

As evidenced by the number of times I’ve turned the blog off and then back on again, this story is very hard to let go of, but my deepest desire right now is to no longer be a project at all, to no longer be worked on but simply cared for, and loved.

So much has changed since I started the project in 2012, yet in some ways, I’ve labyrinthed back to a similar place. Although when I was divorcing last summer I thought I wanted to marry a fellow sex-adventurer someday, it turns out that all I want in a spouse is a healthier (and, okay, more penis-y) version of what I had with Sweetie: someone to hike with, watch long swaths of TV with, cook meals for and take care of, someone to read in bed with on Sundays.

Although it had its share of frustrations and hurts, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty and specialness of my relationship with Sweetie. She and I are evolving into a real (if still a guilty pleasure) friendship, and it’s good to know there’s still someone in the world who knows me better than anyone, to whom I can say absolutely anything without fear of judgment. I hope in the long run we are able to remain friends. My mom would certainly prefer that Sweetie eventually rejoin family gatherings, so we’ll see.

Finishing this story, I feel like I am waking from a vivid, sometimes scary, and very productive dream, but I have the deep joy of actually having lived it. No one can ever accuse me of having an un-thorough midlife crisis, and as I set myself back on solid waking almost-40 ground, I feel sad to let the dream world go.

I’ve seen and felt things that most people only imagine, and I am so, so grateful to everyone who helped usher me to this new, strong place. I regret the projections that I sometimes made you wear, the pain that the interaction of my past with our present caused you, the mismatches I kept creating so I could live the same drama again and again. It wasn’t entirely ethical to let real folks play a part in a dream, however productive it was, but whatever real connections we created, lasting or fleeting, will stay part of me for the rest of my life, treasured forever.

Though it is a relief to let go of any real membership in the world of kink and poly, it’s also a very sad thing. I admire those who have the flexibility, imagination, and suspension of disbelief to walk safely in those worlds, and I’m deeply disappointed that I am not one of them.

There are parts of the journey that will stick with me, loves and epiphanies that will not lose their meaning. The new roles, skills, and even body parts (!) that I discovered will continue to bring great playfulness and joy both on my own and (I hope!) within eventual relationships.

More than sex, this journey was about claiming a place in the world, ceding no further emotional real estate to the archetypal Pretty Sister, accepting and surrendering to the thought that has been chiming through me for months:

I want my own stuff.

I don’t want to borrow or share a person, visit his hands when I’ve reached the front of the queue. I don’t want to compartmentalize any more than life already demands. I want (again) someone who wants me and loves me the best, someone who sees every aspect of me and shows every aspect of himself. I want genuine intimacy to happen through my life again someday, and it’s bittersweet to acknowledge that I don’t want to stopgap myself with anything less than real love.

It’s vulnerable not to know where I’ll land, but I suspect it will look something like sitting in a pretty garden with someone, in affectionate silence, reading a book.

I love you, readers, characters, and friends, and I’ll miss you very much. I hope you can forgive me for the ways I let you down when I was trying to fit, and that our real connections will stay true and happy in our hearts. I wish each person who has ever starred in these paragraphs every fulfillment, every thrill, and most especially, deep and lasting love.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The End of My Adventures? A Sparkly Festival of…Grief.

I was excited yesterday morning to pack up and get ready for the Sparkly Festival of Awesomeness, but I was also grumpy and space-issuey—even the shower curtain brushing up against my legs seemed invasive. I was thinking it might be better to stay home and rest and write, maybe even grade papers. I wanted some time to myself.

But I also knew it was time to start reaching out, and I was curious about whether I’d even be interested in a naked-outside adventure now that the Big Therapy Project had been completed. When I arrived, I immediately felt disincluded—the man at the gate couldn’t find my name on the list, and neither could the lady at registration, at first. Still, I was glad to be there and excited to see my friends.

I found Mr. and Ms. Sweetheart right away. Their tent was in the same place it was in last year, where I’d had all the fun with Mr. Sweetheart and Mr. Shiny Eyes. This time, all the front tent flaps were open and it had the feel of a veranda, a porch full of inflatable beds.

I got naked and fell easily in with them on their bed. I was warm from the gorgeous day and from the adrenaline and had lots of lovely snuggles and sexytimes in front of everyone, but Mr. Sweetheart got impatient with me for wanting to stop and put on sunscreen—he deemed it shady enough. After snuggles they were going to a workshop and he was getting annoyed with me for making them late, and I wasn’t okay with that. I wanted to go enjoy the woods anyway.

I felt post-coital tired and cranky as I set off on my own. I started out naked but kept adding more clothes as I went. My spray-on sunscreen wouldn’t work and everything all of a sudden felt sore. I added a skirt and then a bra, but still sure did like the sun on my skin. I found and walked the labyrinth where I’d had such a meaningful experience last year, then went to explore the pond. It was teeming with tadpoles, a fuck you to anything that would interfere with the flourishing of life. I found this vindicating, since the pond where I used to watch tadpoles as a child has fallen prey to frackers. It felt like the frogs were still winning.

I saw a tiny turtle and got very, very sad that Sweetie wasn’t there to see it with me.

I tried to have some self-adventures in the woods, that had long been a fantasy of mine, but my body felt raw and disconnected, guarded against touch, even my own. I started to realize that no matter how pretty the scenery, no matter how much everyone else was having fun, I didn’t belong here, maybe never would.

On the way back from the pond, who should I see but that harbinger of go-home-already, Steampunk Girl. She was, as always, perfectly at home, being chatted up by a guy who looked exactly like a young Weird Al Yankovic. She was directly in my path and I thought I should go talk to her, say my sorries and get in over with, but everything inside me finished shutting down and I found a way to get past them without being seen.

I found some nice grass to lie down in, looked up at the perfect cartoon clouds and thought about the Steampunks, who were probably here together and fitting in perfectly the way they always do, like I never would. I don’t know why I still feel so much pain about them, but there is. I’m still broken about them no matter how much progress I’ve made otherwise.

I started to sob and a couple of strangers came over to talk to me, but I couldn’t articulate it to strangers, I needed a real friend.

I spotted the Recurring Character and his wife sitting in lawn chairs and watching a nice couple fuck in the next tent over. I asked if I could just sit by them, but they got closed and guarded and he said “We’re having an alone moment right now.”

I think that was the moment that I clocked out of polyamory, or whatever community this was. The way they used boundaries as an excuse to ignore the real need of a hurting human being, this has been the essence of heartbreak after heartbreak for these past few years. It certainly wasn’t friendship. Like a child, I sobbed away across the field, in front of everyone, maybe even in front of Steampunks.

I eventually found the Sweethearts leaving their workshop, hugged them and told them what happened with Steampunk Girl. I lay down on the bed for a few minutes and when I closed my eyes, they were gone again. There was nothing and no one here for me, not even myself since I felt so disconnected.

I tried to get a cup of coffee in hopes that that would make me feel better, but even THAT felt exclusive—you had to be a member of the Coffee Club. Never has the universe been so unsubtle at telling me to get the heck out of someplace.

I headed home sad and wondering what hobbies would replace unicorning and nudity, if I’d ever find a place to belong. (Where does one go to meet monogamous available people, anyway?) I stopped at Gold Star Wing Girl’s house on the way home, and talking to her confirmed what I already sort of knew: My adventures of the past few years helped me to separate from Sweetie and successfully tackle the Big Therapy Project, and now that that’s done, they just don’t have the same meaning. Being a naked peripheral character feels bad because it’s already in the past and going backwards always hurts.

I hung onto the Sweethearts the longest probably because they’re the nicest, but it’s time to cop to the thing I said out loud to Sweetie in the ocean last summer—I didn’t say I wanted an FWB or a play partner or a couple. I said I wanted a husband. And because, unlikely as he is for giving such an insight, Steampunk Guy was the one who helped me realize it, maybe they’ll always be there to show me when I’m off track.

It’s lonely not belonging, but I can only refocus on ways to keep belonging with myself and hope the rest works out somehow.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Mischief Managed and May Goals

Mostly I'm job search girl for at least the next few weeks, so send me all the luck you've got, dears!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Backtrack, A Cliff, and a Buffy Sing-along

After the last post, all full of accomplishment and yoga-y goodwill, I was inspired to send a sorry-I-was-a-jerk note to Scrabble Boy—I’d been thinking of him because our dalliance was an April thing and because our friendship ended, as so many of mine have, with me getting superpissed. Since the divorce, I’ve been working my way through the list of people at whom I’ve misdirected anger.

He accepted my friend request right away, as if he’d been waiting for it, and was equally apologetic and forgiving. We planned to do a call after I got back from Easter. (Hey everybody! I drove up to my sister’s and back without having a breakdown for the first time post-Sweetie! Credit to my cute little red car, I think. And time.) A funny thing happened when I hit the road though—all kinds of daydreams started to unspool about him—holding hands under the flowering trees, throwing him into my pretty princess bed and finally having my way with him, running away to join his life in Ann Arbor. (Cue Get Up Kids song…)

Though I loved the idea of reuniting with my poet self through him and seeing the last three years’ adventures through his eyes, the adventures seemed to pale in comparison with him. He was, at least in those daydreams, still the best one for me, the guy I’d choose out of all of them if I were given a chance. I hadn’t so much gotten over him as put a bookmark in that day we spent together, and as soon as we were on good terms, love started bursting out like so many tree-petals.

Easter was SUCH a good trip. I played Mario Party with the kids and earned almost no mini-stars. I took my niece and nephews to their local comic shop and bought my niece some manga and my nephew a sonic screwdriver. After we finished lovingly perusing the old-school Star Wars figures, we all went out for cocoa. It’s finally sinking in that I can still have my family, even post-Sweetie.

When I got home, I knew I couldn’t really bear to be updated about Scrabble Boy’s life. I’ve come too far to pretend that I want to be just friends with someone I love. (Annoying) gold star for being honest with him about that, and in the process I learned that he’d found someone shortly after his divorce and was happy with her. I sent him a perfect, distant, congratulatory response and that was that, but I was completely devastated by the news. I don’t know why it hurt so badly, but it did. I sometimes feel like everyone just pairs (or whatevers) up so easily and it’s still just a mystery to me.

The more I dismantle the defensiveness and fear that came from The Bad Thing, the more I realize some of that stuff was what’s holding me up, so it’s hard to hold myself together without it. I will probably find more of these pockets of feeling that got stuck because I was ill-equipped to face them at the time—my heart might be a TARDIS ride for a little while.

With that loss added to all the others and my defenses down, I felt like Wyle E. Coyote when he realizes he’s walked off a cliff. The bottom dropped out from under everything and for a few days, I was completely lost. I felt the loss not just of Scrabble Boy, but of my school, of Sweetie, of everyone I’ve lost in the past couple years’ adventures. I was so hyperventilatingly sad that I wondered if I did need a Girl Interrupted interruption, or shock treatment like Rory Gilmore got when she was on Mad Men. I thought I would never find love the way SB did because I would be tangled in this web of grief forever.

The feeling only lasted a couple of days—with yoga, sitcom episodes, and lots of writing, the devastation passed and I was able to get back on track. The main thing I learned from the Scrabble Boy thing is that hermit time is over, that reaching out has got to become the norm again. I’ve enjoyed these months of focusing on taking care of myself, but the loneliness is deep and wide and it’s time to rejoin the world.

So I did. Last night I joined some friends-of-friends for a Buffy sing-along and ice cream birthday party. (Can you believe that was a thing?!) I felt nervous because I’ve almost completely forgotten how to be social, but singing “Walk Through the Fire” with a bunch of cute near-strangers was as transcendent an experience as I’m ever gonna have, and I have been actually set on fire.

So I will. Walk through the fire, I mean. Though it seems impossible sometimes, I’ll keep moving forward until I work someplace safe and love someone(s) kind, until vulnerability and lightness and heart can thrive. Next weekend, everybody, is the Sparkly Festival of Awesomeness, not a moment too soon.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Momentous Therapy Milestone and Other Updates

It’s fitting that I’m writing this right before Easter because part of my psyche is starting a brand new life. For twenty-some years my high-school trauma has been a huge, stultifying influence, and I’ve finally begun to transform and heal away from it.

Last week was a rough one. Though I was already planning to transfer to a safer, more respectful school, the way my principal decided to officially notify me of her decision to force-transfer me was this:

Two years of giving it absolutely everything that I had, of tears and sacrifice and love and Sunday workdays, and all she thought I deserved was a form letter with seven words. I felt that familiar being-nothing feeling for a night, but as always the kids and the actual work took me through to solid ground again.

I can’t imagine why my soon-to-be-ex boss thinks I deserve so much contempt, but I decided that the way to say FUCK YOU to her without derailing my goals is to do as many kind and loving things for myself as I possibly can. So on Friday night, I went to a Yoga Nidra/Kirtan event at the yoga studio I was enjoying last summer. The Yoga Nidra part was an all-savasana guided meditation geared toward body awareness. It was an entire hour long. The lovely yoga teacher said a lot of things, but my favorite part was when she was focusing us on our chakras. When she said “heart chakra, green” I felt it and saw it and I’ve felt it and seen it on and off all week.

I spent Saturday in a fancy garden, further unwinding from the school week. As I walked among the topiaries and fields of tiny blue flowers, as clear directive came up inside me: “Let things change.”

Therapy was on Sunday, right after church. Each week, I’ve been telling her the Bad Thing story and each time my anxiety levels have lessened, like magic. This week, she had me focus on just the part where the rapist is inside me, the part that’s always been the most difficult to articulate.

I started off with the usual anger and fear but as I talked, something changed. I want from harsh, stubborn emotions to pillowy sadness. Behind my closed eyes, everything inside me went a lovely, soft spring green. I cried relievingly and gently for the fact that I hadn’t been kept safe, for the deeper abandonment that led to me being at that party instead of in a safe, loving home, for the fact that both he and I had to go through something so inhumane, so disconnected from our divine selves. I tried to address him but as I did, he just…evanesced, floated up off me as foggy green light and was gone.

I opened my eyes and blew out the candle, full of kind sadness and relief. I got there. After twenty years of holding on, all of the kindness and support and adventure and work had finally allowed me to let it go. The badness and horror I always thought was an essential part of me was moved to something outside me, something else.

The Bad Story was all about integrating with my inner teenage self, and I went on talking after story time, I landed on the next character who needs attention and care: little me. For the next part of therapy, I’ll find ways to connect with and heal the child in me, who is still stuck in fear and abuse. I get to care for her and get her all situated, and now I know I can do it.

To that end, on the way to my family’s today, I’ll stop and take a walk at my rural childhood home. I’ll look at the flowers and birds and hear the quiet. I’ll go to the small town where we did church and groceries and go to the drugstore where my brother and sister and I used to get our allotted 25 cents worth of penny candy every week after church, and I’ll get Little Me whatever she wants, probably something sparkly.

The best update of all is: last night I had a little gig! The Cute Church couple had me read some poems at their adorable music night, and Cute Church Guy backed me up on stand-up bass. Friends came and listened, and I even sold a couple of books.

I started with a poem that has a singing epigraph:

“There is more love somewhere.
There is more love somewhere.
I’m gonna keep on
‘til I find it.
There is more love somewhere.”

Hearing my whole voice telling me the truth, in a gorgeous historic room with my adorable friends, I started to believe it. I am not the nasty things that happened to me. I’m love all the way through, and the more I can admit that, the happier I’ll be. This feels like the end of a story and I’m so, so grateful for everything that got me here, especially, dear reader, you.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Yay, Still Spankable!

It's fantastic to know I'm (sometimes) past the part where I'm scared of sex and ready to both whale on somebody and get whaled on. I'm not supersure in the long term about the FWB-ness of my relationship with Mr. Sweetface (I'm kinda in a place where I want to graduate to romance. And, um, my own stuff.) but I am grateful for the kind, tingly way he ushered me back into the world of sexytimes last night.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Big Therapy Project, Week Seven: Let’s Be Hospitable to Anger

Last weekend was tough. After telling the story twice this time to the therapist, I was so immobile as to temporarily be unable to move my hand across the page. I was scared, jangled, and raw, and I got thoroughly convinced that she would never be back again, that she would abandon me and I’d be stuck in that surly, raw state forever. Of course she didn’t; by the end of the weekend I had two appointments, but the feeling that she was gone was no less real.

So guess what triggers me now: meditation. Are you kidding me with this? Sunday morning, I went with Gold Star Winggirl to try out the mindfulness group at church. I sat for a full twenty minutes (usually I average about five) and it was lovely—there was an emphatic robin trilling outside and rain on the window panes.

But then the fucking people started to talk. They talked about not being disciplined enough in their mindfulness, which strikes me as not just a first world problem, but a made up one at that—really?! Not enough of our lives are controlled, we have to make up ways to police our thoughts, too?

Then the woman to the right of me (I was secretly thinking of her as the Ignorant White Lady, since the week before we overheard her tell the anti-mass-incarceration speaker that she’d never heard of such a problem.) said that mindfulness helps her because sometimes she has feelings that she mistakes for anger when they’re really just vulnerability or pain. Others talked about mindfulness as a way to slow down their knee-jerk reactions. All of those things are reasonable to say, but they filled me with fury. I piped up (nicely) in favor of feeling all of our emotions and heeding our knee-jerk reactions sometimes.

Nothing bad happened at all, but after I piped up I felt like I’d gotten in trouble for something. I was terribly frightened, angry and nauseous. Maybe it was just that we were in a circle taking turns talking just like when we were being questioned by the police in the end of the Bad Thing story, or maybe it’s just what mindfulness brought. By the time we were taking a short second meditation, I was fully upset and wanted to run out, but stayed put so I didn’t disturb anyone’s peace.

I apologized to GSW for “letting her down.” That’s how it feels when I can’t adjust to things, when I can’t fit in. A lot of the time lately, I feel like I’m failing at some basic and easy human thing. I envy her her ability to mingle in groups, to take them or leave them instead of always feeling under attack. This fear of groups is something I’ve always had, but it’s getting worse and worse as the Bad Thing fights to leave my system.

In a touching and odd demonstration of friendship, GSW snuck her church coffee cup into her purse—I’ve never seen petty theft act as a gesture of solidarity before, but it worked. We skipped the regular church service in favor of catching up in a café, but I never did shake the feeling of having failed her, of being disconnected, and I “knew” she’d be gone like all the other friends.

Though I didn’t speak angrily in the meditation group, I felt saturated and poisoned by anger there, and strangely this is probably a good thing. Each time I tell the Bad Thing story and get to the rape part, I can’t address the anger I feel, it’s too vast. Perversely, I try to tell it as nicely and charmingly as possible so I don’t scare the therapist or get in trouble. I guess I’m glad the anger is coming out, even if it is in vexing circumstances.

Even if I do weirdly try to be sweet when I tell it, it is the nastiest and deepest anger. The closest I’ve come to actually expressing it was during the Scary Party fiasco, and though at that time I felt like I would drown in it, I was still coming at the real issue sideways. I want to look directly at the anger: I’m pissed off two decades later that someone was inside me unwanted, that I was too robotlike to fight and kick, that I was used in such a senseless and pleasureless way, and especially that the experience stayed there in my hoo-ha, a minefield waiting there for any man kind enough to fuck me. That someone so vile and thoughtless could inhabit part of my body for so long makes me frustrated and livid. I’m angry that I may never have a real relationship with a man, that PIV sex may never feel safe and normal, that I never found a way to get the experience out of my body before now.

I think I’d like to make friends with the anger that I was so move to defend in mindfulness class. Instead of being scared and ashamed and letting it make me feel like a monster, I want to embrace it. I’m angry. I’ve always been angry. It’s one of the emotions that humans have and it happens to be one that often motivates real change. Anger deserves just as much care and love and therapy hours as sadness does, maybe in this case, more.

All those years ago and since, I was so overwhelmed and terrified and ashamed by the anger that the Bad Story brought that the only way I thought I could protect myself and others from it was to turn it inwards, where it lived as self-hate and sadness. But, as we’ve seen from all of my various reenactments, it’s only making me angrier that way. If I can welcome it, make it safe, and draw it out, maybe the anger will release me and make way for other emotions, for the next adventures.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Best Calendar Item

Just wanted to celebrate the fact that Mr. Sweetface is coming over Saturday for Mad Men and snuggles. Maybe even spanks, if I'm up to it. Could use a nice release, if my dear psyche will cooperate. Either way, warmth and man-smell, mmmmmm.

March Checkmarks, April Goals: Good Job!

Even though the month often seemed impossibly dark, (Fancy new side-effect to the Big Therapy Project/work stress? Memory lapses that make me feel like my work's own Jerry Gurgitch.) I still overachieved on self-kindness. I hope to do the same next month!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Song of the Week: We Used to Be Friends

Oh Veronica Mars, you're no Buffy, but you do have pluck. Not quite tackling that List of Lost Things yet, but when I do, at least I'll have this good 'ol theme song.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Joyfully Bratty Mantra and a New Talisman

It’s standardized test time at work, and this means that school has been more stressful and shaming than usual. On Friday, our rooms were inspected and everyone who didn’t have every single thing off the walls, bookshelves covered, and students completely silent was subject to shaming announcements over the intercom and nasty write-ups.

When I opened my write-up and read it, something surprisingly joyful bubbled up in me. I don’t know if it was the awesomeness of my date the night before or the kind colleague who offered to stay after work and help me finish my room. Whatever it was, it added up to this bright phrase shining out of my heart: “Go fuck yourself.”

But it wasn’t the sort of “Go fuck yourself” that comes from anger or makes you want to fight. It was almost made out of love. In that moment, I knew that everything I’d given and everything I’d accomplished so far vastly outweighed any snotty letter or post-test chattiness. Even a month ago, I’d’ve been devastated by that day, and I’m sure I’ll be devastated by many more, but for now, what a surge of self-love.

One accomplishment that got me to this proud point was a fabulous student I’ll call R. He transferred to our school a few months ago and brought so much happiness to our often-snipey classroom. While I’m hesitant to categorize a third grader like this, the kid is clearly as gay as the day is long. He’s also one of the most centered and confident people I’ve ever met. He gleefully practices dance routines and cartwheels with the girls while the rest of the boys are trying to sneak in forbidden games of football.

He’s thoughtful and kind, participates in class, and has the neatest handwriting you’ve ever seen. Yet his behavior grades from his old school were low, as was his reading level. Working with R. really helped me to understand that it’s not just teaching skills that I have to offer, that what really can help a child to thrive is welcome and approval in the midst of a narrow-minded community that often offers none. That’s something I can do even on my worst day.

We do live in a very homophobic area, (and I’m pretty sure every school is a homophobic area) so he often tells me about the boys calling him names. The other day when we were lined up for lunch, he sadly told me that another student had called him gay. I had to choose my words carefully so as not to ruffle any school or parent feathers. I told him that anyone who makes fun of an entire category of people is a prejudiced knucklehead, that he’d meet gay people in his life and they might be good or bad, that being gay wouldn’t have anything to do with it.

I made him repeat all that back to me so I could be sure he’d heard it. He seemed satisfied with my explanation and went in to lunch. the next day, he brought me this very blingy ships-wheel ring that I immediately decided was my moral compass.

R’s behavior scores at his old school made me think of my own assessments and self-assessments, how someone or something good can be kept from thriving just by being in a hostile place. It reassures me that no matter where I am next school year, I will be able to learn and grow as a teacher and as a person, but the more barriers I remove and the kinder I am to myself, the better I will be able to blossom and be present for the R’s of the world, and I guess for the less-fabulous students too.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Happy Friday: Sweet Hallelujah, a Good Date

So it turns out there’s one guy I’m not currently afraid of: Mr. Sweetface! For the last month or so I haven’t known what to do with in. I was feeling hesitant about poly and we’re both going through a lot at home. For some reason, I was inspired this week to invite him to join me at the Cute Neighborhood Music Thing that my adorable alt-country duo church friends run. I liked the idea of listening to the music with my head on a nice warm shoulder, sidling up to his faintly leather-scented warmth.

So, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I put on makeup after work, curled up the ends of my needs-to-be dyed hair into a flip. I wore red lipstick and my red date-night raincoat, even though it’s still a little too chilly.

The venue’s a historic Mennonite meetinghouse; the Cute Church Couple live on its grounds. There are tall candles in all the windows and Cute Church Girl made vanilla cupcakes from scratch.

When Mr. Sweetface joined me, a band with the working title “Poor No-Name Cat” was playing and I was enjoying the Breakfast at Tiffany’s reference and the soulful lady singer, singing torch songs in French like it was a café in a movie. I was nervous when he came in—we’ve never had a pants-on date before, so I didn’t know what to expect. He took my hand and I did put my head on his shoulder, kind of swooned along to the music and felt a kind of rest I hadn’t felt in a long time. “I missed you,” I whispered, and he said he’d missed me too.

After the show (They booked me to open next month! First time reading poetry in almost two years!) he drove me home and we curled up on the couch and talked about all the things—his family stuff, the Big Therapy Project (to tell a guy that story and have him hold me protectively is it’s own therapy…), our similarly LSD-fond pasts. We compared the perils of teaching with the perils of parenthood--both involve doing one’s best and feeling like a jerk a lot, it turns out. He got deeply emotional talking about his son and it felt good to take care of him a little, to reside for a moment in a story besides my own. It made me feel true and alive, so gratified that he was kind enough to share himself with me.

I told him I’m a ways away from sexytimes--he held me tight and told me to take all the time I need. I said I’d try to make it quick so I could get back to beating his ass before too long.

His second child is due this fall, so I know I can’t expect much time with him, but I liked inviting him into this new world I’m building and that he’s willing to share his world with me too. I think I’m still poly, given how much I like sharing him with my friend, how much I liked cozying up to a date with a wedding ring. The Mystery Family thing didn’t mean I’m not poly, I just meant I prefer sanity, and so far this seems pretty sane.

On the couch, wrapped up in a blanket with my head on his heart and his (newly beardy, yay!) chin on my head, as he told me his secrets, I felt the thing I love to feel the most—simple human connection. Warmth. Life. We’re getting to know each other in a way that makes my pants-on time seem like even more of a blessing.

Though my heart is still heavy with worry about work, it was lovely to go to sleep last night with an unequivocal smile, to have these gorgeous living moments in my heart, to fall asleep and dream in pretty neighborhood love songs.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Big Therapy Project, Week Five: Walking a Tightrope

I was gonna take a blog break for the privacy, but that felt too isolating and plus I need the creative outlet. I guess I just have to trust you to know I won’t always be as bleak as these weeks are.

The big challenge lately is the way that the Big Therapy Project has been making my work life tricky. As of right now, I haven’t been assigned a grade next year because the principal has some hesitations about me. It’s my first full school year as a teacher and she doesn’t feel like I’m progressing as quickly as I should in some areas and thinks (as will come as a surprise to exactly no one who reads this blog) that I can be too defensive sometimes. I wish I were learning quicker and I’m not defensive about my defensiveness, but it’s kind of hard going in every morning, knowing that I might have to let the place go.

It’s a hard job in a tough school, there may be someplace more hospitable and less triggering, where I could learn and grow faster, and now that I’m breaking myself of the habit of trying to prove that I’m a good person through sacrifice (now that I know I’m not a masochist) I don’t need to do the hardest job. I don’t like feeling that I’ve failed there, or that the next mistake might be the one to make her feel like I don’t belong. I’m really sad about all of my failures as a teacher, but also about how much time and energy it takes and how many of my actual talents aren’t usable there.

Life just feels like it’s so much about loss and futility and shame at work, and the Big Therapy Project, the one awesome thing that I am unequivocally accomplishing right now, is making the tightrope I’m walking at work a little harder. On one hand, a new sense of autonomy and groundedness is emerging, but on the other having The Bad Thing story so close to the surface often makes me want to scream at everybody to get away from me—I don’t, but I know I can often come across as anxious, and yes, defensive.

One of the major things I’m confronting about The Bad Thing is that it wasn’t my fault. All these years, I’ve been telling myself I chose my rapist, I’ve been beating myself up for the illusion that I somehow could have protected myself from what happened. But whether I was drunk or drugged, I was in no position to consent, and I didn’t. I lost my autonomy in that moment and I’ve long wanted to make sure that never happen again, giving me an inflated sense of everyday humiliations, a need to protect some imagined dignity. As I really come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t a choice, a new sense of being indignant marked IT WASN’T MY FAULT is starting to come out.

But the thing is, teaching means being held responsible for ALL KINDS of things that aren’t my fault: the child who has nine brothers and sisters and is so starved for attention that he disrupts or leaves class and often feels like he might eat me alive, the overworked special ed teacher who snaps at the grade team because her caseload is so overwhelming, the autistic child whose parents refuse to get him services, the child who is just now entering school in third grade and can’t read at all, all of those issues, along with the general awfulness of poverty violence and inequality, are things I can’t change, and they are all things that will effect my evaluations—that’s how the system is set up right now—fewer and fewer resources and more and more strict ways to judge teachers.

So the whole defensiveness thing kind of feels like a catch 22. I want to take responsibility for the things I can change and tell people to fuck off about the rest. I think that’s ultimately how I’ll be able to forgive myself if I end up getting let go. I made mistakes in a hard job, I did my best, but ultimately I can’t control if I’m a fit.

Anyway, in the course of feeling like I have to fight people off, (A character flaw that I’ve always had and which the Bad Thing exacerbated) I’ve had bouts of being very fearful and angry toward men, especially if they seem to be attracted to me. I asked the therapist about this and she said that it would probably get worse before it gets better.

My point is that two of the things I’ve found the most meaning in, my job and my body adventures, are kind of out of reach as sources for fulfillment for a while, and the work of the Big Therapy Project is slow and painstaking. Each appointment, (every two week) I tell the Bad Thing story again, sink a little deeper into it each time, and I can feel it leaving my body little by little. I take a lot of comfort in writing to/with my teenage self—I always sleep soundly afterwards and sometimes I wake up feeling like I’ve just done yoga, even though I didn’t.

I’m accomplishing something I’ve wanted to do for 20 years, but right now it’s hard to see the good sometimes. About eleven years ago, I quit smoking, and this is a very similar feeling—I stayed a way from people a lot because I was afraid I would yell at them, I felt sad all the time, I took a little too much comfort in sugar. I felt separated from the good parts of my personality for years. This is an even more loving thing than quitting smoking, I just hope it doesn’t do too much damage to my life in the process.

The therapist said to list all of the ways that loss relates to my current situation and to the Bad Thing, but every time I think about that list, I feel how big it is and I don’t know where I even could start listing. I feel blinded by it. I lost 20 years of feeling safe with men; maybe I’ll never get to feel that. I may be losing my job and all the things I love about it. I’ve lost so much of my life with Sweetie and I really don’t know which parts are okay to keep. I’ve lost so many friends from adventures gone wrong. It seems like I gave myself faith in the Mystery Family just so I could lose that faith. Dating has a necessary component of loss that I can’t handle right now, so thank goodness I’ve let that go.

How I’m dealing with it is that I’m doing my best. I’m chanting every day, taking long walks, eating lots of produce, hanging out with cute neighbor friends. Church and brunch afterwards have become my big social occasions. For all the loss, I’m free of the feeling that I’m slipping through the cracks—turning my attention to my teenage self is what I’ve been trying to convince myself to do all these years, and now I have. Sometimes it means staying home from something fun because I’m grumpy or panicky, but it also means taking responsibility for myself and settling into my own skin like I never have before. I’m doing my best. I hope I can see myself shining on the other side of it before too long.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Radio Silence for a Bit

Hi dears,

The deeper I get into the Big Therapy Project, the more I've been craving privacy, so I probably won't be posting very much over the next few months. I think this drawing inward is a very good sign.

I'll leave the blog up, and when I'm feeling more sociable, I'll either post here or start a fresh blog. Don't know how much of a body adventurer I'll be when all is said and done, but I do know I'm making good progress.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Big Therapy Project, Week Four: Mini-Update

Well, the kids' interim reports are due tomorrow, so I'll just say it's been like this: panic, rest, write, repeat. As long as I keep the dishes up to date, keep writing reams, and! Outdoor recess! I think I can get where I'm going.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

One Year After the Scary Party: Better, Stronger, Still Pissed

You can read the Scary Party story here.

It’s funny that the only place it felt safe to sit and write this in my notebook was the Whole Foods where Sweetie and I had some of our last dates. I guess it makes a certain amount of sense to process trauma in the same place where I get my hopefully-less-cruel meats.

Ever since the ads started popping up around town for the local horticulture society’s annual flower show, the one I made Sweetie miss last year because I was too upset from the Scary Party (I still wish I could make it up to her somehow) I’ve been thinking about how I can piece that story together with everything that’s happened since.

I never forgave them, but I’ve accepted the fact that somewhere in the city, every second Saturday of the month, there’s an event where the head of security is a predator, where the entire team leapt to defend him and trash me because I was an outsider and a submissive who dared to want a say, where the mean kids happily have their nastiness rewarded with popularity and love. Basically, it’s high school with more interesting outfits and better-organized bullying.

I’ve always believed, entirely too much actually, that if I’m not part of the solution then I’m part of the problem. (This is how a desire to fight racism led me to a job in an inner-city school that frequently saps my strength and my soul. Not ever sure it’s the best strategy.) but I no longer feel guilty that I wasn’t able to change the corruption of the Scary Party, that they’re still walking around seeing outsiders as prey, seeing the players as their own personal buffet no matter what compromising position they’re in. It does make me angry that people I considered friends still attend and love the Scary party and what makes me EXTRA mad is that I couldn’t find a way to compromise with it, settle for it, make it all into a good time somehow. I feel that way about a lot of the things I’m leaving behind—I envy the women who have figured out how to be the right nothing to turn all of that pain into something fun and good. I couldn’t. For all that I know it’s a bad place, there’s still the primal sadness of being left out.

At the time, when everybody was slut-shaming and victim-blaming me on all those threads, I told myself that I kept one woman from going through what I went through, it would have been worth it. I didn’t find out until August, but one lovely friend of mine did see what I wrote and decided to opt out of that party. She’s very pretty and nice and I’m glad if I might have spared her some ugliness and fear.

On the other hand, trying to exact change at one party, keeping one nice girl away, seems almost pointless when the overall problem is so pernicious, both to me and out in the world at large.

Since the Bad Thing in high school, I don’t know how to approach any group of people without deep fear and mistrust, and I also don’t know how to stop loving people who are terrifying and untrustworthy, seemingly as a way to prove and re-prove my suspicions about the world. The Scary Party was a particularly vivid and irresponsible reenactment of the Bad Thing, and I know I keep acting it out as an attempt to fix it. Right now it’s sometimes hard to see the difference between working it out in therapy and the various re-traumas I’ve walked into, except that I’m facing all the fears with pants on, and with someone I know and trust very well. Hopefully that will make all the difference and I’ll see an end to this cycle before too long.

Since I began my adventures a couple of years ago, I’ve always wondered if BDSM was just a prettier and more quasi-empowered form of rape culture, and the answer is (SOMETIMES) emphatically yes. I HATED it when Sweetie would equate D/s to sexism and oppression and (given an actual, humanized power exchange) it doesn’t have to be. But just as with poly or with anything really, the stories we tell ourselves about what we’re doing, about negotiation and respect and mutual fulfillment, are not aligned with what is actually happening most of the time.

What upsets me the most about our local BDSM culture is how much horribleness people are willing to accept or just dismiss as “drama.” Last week I found out that a friend who hosted one of my favorite party series has a girlfriend who is on the Megan’s Law registry for child pornography. Child pornography! and the guy apparently feels fine about having her in his house. And I thought snuggling with an accused rapist was a big risk. It is absolutely both crazy and unsurprising in a community wherein people regularly engage in adult/child roleplay and men so EASILY admit to rape fantasies. I came in accepting and open-minded, but let me just come out and say that BDSM seems to make people think they have license to just go ahead and act like complete fucking creeps. I think we all have dark parts of ourselves that are not meant to be nourished and expressed. Sorry Brene Brown, but yes, I think people need a little more shame sometimes.

Aside from the not-okayness of the Man and his cohort, the thing that still sticks with me, the humiliation that hurts the most, is how much I liked him, how much I was fooled into thinking he liked me, how much I wanted to please him, how I clung to him for comfort after he treated me with so much contempt, how I was willing to give him a chance to try again. That’s what kept the (stupid, ignorant, sexist) management from believing what happened and what almost kept me from walking out of the situation with even one shred of pride.

In the end, it’s not how much the Scary Party disregarded me as a human being or how much the local kinky internet community thought I deserved to get fucked over, it’s how much I must’ve thought I deserved it. He gave off an I-don’t-care-about-your-limits vibe from one of the very earliest text conversations and I still let him put handcuffs on me, and worse, I still let him into my heart. I’m so empty and lonely and self-hating that it seems I’ll let anyone in, and that’s the void I am finally trying to address, to heal.

Even if I have to leave behind the hope of being part of a kink community, (there’s no telling where I’ll end up after the Big Therapy Project) the fact remains that I still get a great deal of satisfaction from submitting and without someone to serve, I still feel a deep loss. I’m not sure how those urges will find expression, but I hope that they will become part of a whole, integrated person, not someone willing to throw herself under every bus of a guy that comes along.

The flower show is the perfect regret: I never again want to miss something beautiful, genuine, and fleeting because I’m broken by something essentially meaningless. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I do (almost always) know that I exist and hope that I will love myself someday and that I will find a way to be free.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Her, The Circle, and the Meaning of Love

“That comment had 98,201 smiles and almost as many frowns, 80,198. But overall, as Mae scrolled through the messages, there was—as always when people were asked for their feelings—love.” –from The Circle, by Dave Eggers

I love a good dystopia. Her is not necessarily presented as such, it’s less judgmental than I am about the relationships people (including me) have with their devices and systems, but the when I saw it the month before last it made me see (but didn’t make me stop) the danger of disembodied love.

As everyone knows, Her is about a guy who falls in love with an operating system. You see him happily walking through the streets interacting with her, oblivious to the people present, many of whom are doing the same thing with their devices. We’ve all heard the lecture about technology making us too detached, but when it became a love story, I started to see the real horror in it. But the bad guy is not the technology; the bad guy is the void inside us that fuels the abstraction itself.

One of the saddest parts of Her to me was when the OS, feeling bad about not having a body, strikes up a relationship with a “surrogate,” a woman whose dream it is to help human/Os couples consummate their love. The scene is unicorn-familiar, especially when the plan backfires and the surrogate is rushed to a cab and dismissed, more human than the love interest but already irrelevant to the story, even as she professes to love both of them forever. That scene made me ashamed of every attachment I’ve formed to what is not and will never be mine just because I don’t feel good enough to just go ahead and have my own stuff.

Eventually, he finds out that the OS, being as expansive and superhuman as she is, has something like 693 other love relationships going. This has been praised elsewhere as a happy poly moment, but to me it was a real horror. This man was right to realize that he wasn’t special, that he wasn’t really loved. She was, as he and the audience had nearly forgotten, a machine, and it didn’t mean the same thing to her as it did to him. It couldn’t have “meant” anything—he was loving a thing that couldn’t truly feel.

All of this takes place in an emotional landscape familiar to me: divorce grief. Like my own love-simulacra of late, I think he was making a way to find love in the midst of grief, a place that is (to me, at least) essentially isolating. To be able to be both in love and alone, to have a love we could turn off at night and who would be there every time we log on, would be such a gorgeous risk-free solution, but the proximity-craving realities of love just don’t allow it, and aloneness has to prevail, even if it feels horrible. Grief from a lost relationship feels a little like death, and death is necessarily a one-person affair.

When, at the end of a movie, the OS is gone and he finds himself on a rooftop with a real-life friend, we feel relieved for him. He may be lonely and sad, but he is embodied, and the opposite of embodied is dead.

The Circle is not so gentle and kind. It’s set in a not-too distant world where social networking has been taken to the most absurd degree. The main character works for some totalitarian version of Google and as her job progresses, she goes further and further away from authentic experience and her life is more consumed by an oppressive “sharing” that both fuels her and opens up a tear in her soul. She says that making her life “transparent” and letting her every moment be filmed, she is assuring herself that she is seen and therefore has proof that she exists, but who she is eroded and shaped by the ever-present audience.

In the end (SPOILER ALERT) she gives up her last chance at a real physical connection and really any kind of physical life at all, all to preserve the thread of comments that follows her everywhere she goes.

Though I’m still trying to understand the pain of being told I’m not “real life,” of being wanted but not wanted as a physical thing (and therefore really not wanted at all) what I’m writing about here is not the internet, but grief itself. Those two stories so perfectly mirrored my story, the way I used internet “love” and “support” to cope with the emptiness inside me and then was devastated to find that the love itself was empty. Though I am still very ashamed of what I went through with the Mystery Family, I can forgive myself—grief is very hard to face. Like the Valentine chocolate I’m still kicking, it sucks to be without those admittedly false prop-ups, the illusion of relationship I got from peering in at somebody else’s, the insincere stream of love-chemicals pulsing through me with no real release.

The worst part of facing grief is the feeling that I no longer have anything to offer. I’m not hot, or cute, or entertaining. Just as I couldn’t really serve the Mystery Man’s life in any meaningful or vital way, I worry that I no longer serve my readers.  I have nothing to offer you some weeks but pain and boredom, and I miss bringing you something fun and good. I want to have something to offer and share, and dealing with The Bad Thing feels supremely selfish, this project feels so far up its own ass sometimes I could scream. For so long I’ve found a sense of purpose and worth in being fun and sex-positive, and when I’m not I feel I’m not serving the world in the way I want to. Though it’s not the way I want to live my life, I want to only be something you’d want to read, and that’s really, really hard to let go of.

The point here, I think, is not that social networking “love” is evil or bad, but that being embodied hurts and I see the appeal of trying to escape from it. As much as it’s been my quest to settle in to my own skin, to live as close to home as I can, sometimes the pain is too much. But always, at its core, disembodiedness feels very much like sneaking a peek at what the world would look like if I weren’t here, and that, because for all my depression I do love life, is terrifying.

I’ve given a lot of thought in the last month to the meaning of love, and here’s what I’ve got so far: it’s nothing if not a physical, holistic emotion, putting real arms around a flawed, broken, sometimes unavailable human being. Real love is about farts, and tears, and dirty dishes, about joy and mess, mistakes and shame, sparkling revelations and lazy Sundays. Right now, that kind of love may be too far away to contemplate without being knocked-senseless by what I’ve lost, but, as a friend or romantically, love is in the body, where, from now on, I would like all of my experiences (Even the typed and posted ones) to take place.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Well Enough to Be Bored Silly!

Now that I'm starting to get used to living on my own, the learning curve on my life has diminished a great deal and I'm starting to have some left over energy. Doing chores that were formerly Sweetie's is getting less fraught with emotion and more routine, and I'm getting used to the fact that I'm a cute-car-having adult who can take care of myself.

The thought of going backward in ANY way makes my body feel seized-up and nauseated, so I know there's no backtracking to drama and hurt. Being pants-on for a while, I'm antsy and unsure of what to do with myself besides work, write, and sleep. As I look for the next healthy inspirations, though, I'm trying to see the boredom as an itch that tells me my insides are healing.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Big Therapy Project, Week Three: Four Very Creepy Words

Even though I’m walking around most days feeling like I have a low-grade emotional flu, it dawns on me sometimes that I’m doing something I’ve wished I could do for two decades—change my relationship to The Bad Thing, get it out of my body, move myself toward a life where I’m not hard, harsh and on the defensive quite so often. I love the idea that that one night when I was sixteen will stop leading me back to itself and crushing me in new and ever more creative ways. It feels like this is the ultimate body adventure and a big part of the point of this story.

Confronting the Bad Thing is a surprisingly physical experience and it’s hard to predict whether I feel warm and open or anxious and coiled up from day to day. It’s hard to imagine whether I might ever be a sex blogger again. For the past few weeks, my sex drive has been superwonky. I still have personal time, of course, but sometimes I’m rattled and upset afterwards, or just restless and vigilant. A couple of times I’ve gotten hives on my thighs or gotten strong urges to find a way to numb myself, especially after anything penetrating.

It seems like as good a time as any to admit that, with some exceptions, penis in vagina sex has been at least a little bit triggering each time I’ve had it in the past few years. As much as I enjoy it, it stirs up a deep anxiety that either leads to too-quick love and clinging or to fleeing, sometimes both at once. It’s sad that something I crave so much could have so much pain attached, and that’s something I hope to at least partly heal. For love and sex not to live so closely with paralyzing fear anymore, that seems like a worthy goal.

This appointment, she had me close my eyes (scary) and go through the story again. I sank further into the story this time, let myself feel where it lives in my body. I realized how much of that night was about not being able to move, that trapped and nauseous feeling. I came close to feeling the sickening humiliation of there being a penis inside me that I didn’t want there, a man on top of me that I was forced to choose. I can no longer pretend that I had any say there, that the sex part was anything like my fault. Even if I had not been drugged, I don’t feel in those moments any sense of agency, any power to consent. I was forced to have sex with him for the twisted amusement of the party, and nobody seems to have even had any fun.

After I told the story and was relieved to have my eyes open again, the therapist gave me the list of words and told me to work through them in whatever way I could. After she left, having high-fived me for our accomplishments, immobilized is exactly what I felt. I got into bed and didn’t/couldn’t get up for at least three or four hours. I hadn’t been to the grocery store yet and I came really close to asking Sweetie to go to the store for me. But I eventually got up and got there.

So immobilized is the one I started with and I immediately recognized its stultifying, sabotaging influence in my life. Even what drove me crazy about Sweetie is what I often described as her “inertia” but oh, how immovable I am on the inside. Part of me, since that long-ago night, has been sitting against the wall on that party’s kitchen floor, unable to get up and get myself away someplace safe. The more I acknowledge its influence, the stronger it feels, like a vice of drugged fear, holding my whole self down. I’ve visited that feeling so often in the past few years, and each time it’s both a horror and a relief.

If my teenage self is stuck on that floor in that kitchen, all I can do is offer my love and support, to tell her that I and all of the people in this story so far (well, the ones she likes, anyway, which is most of them) are there and ready to help, ready to take her hand and help her up and out the door. I know I can’t rescue her or make any cute boys rescue her, I know it all happens no matter what, but I do want her to know how much she is loved, especially by me, and maybe that will take us forward, really forward and not just to the next void.

A Snow Day Prayer

I'm so grateful and relieved for today's snow day--yesterday's very productive therapy appointment left me flattened and in need of extra writing time.

But it's the first snow day without the Mystery Man, and I miss his companionship very much. I want to honor whatever part of our thing was real and hope for the day when I can see the good parts of that tangled, ethereal collision.

But meanwhile, very loving and accommodating weather, thank you for the extra time to love myself. Here's what I'm meditating on today:

"The truth is that the inner Self of every human being is supremely great and supremely lovable...The divine Principle that creates and sustains this world pulsates within us as our own self. It scintillates in the heart and shines through all our senses." --Swami Muktananda

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Checkmarks and March Goals: Loss and Recentering

I feel so much loss when I look at February's checkmarks. I started the month in the beginning of something new, with an admittedly illusory feeling of being surrounded and embraced, and I ended it more authentically but also with a bruised sense of reality and trust. I've learned so much and I wouldn't take back any of it, but I'm still so sad and lost about the Mystery Family's rejection, about how much they meant and how quickly it was erased. I can only hope that my real heart goals will prevail to take me forward into something real.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Happy Friday! 65% Less Rotten Inside

Since I'm curious about that nice energy that started moving around in me at the Big Poly Conference, I decided to see what would happen if I chanted daily. And here's my gold star for doing so every day this week!
In addition to doing my om namah shivayas every day before work, I've been belting out early Beatles songs every time I'm in the car. I think I'm making my way back to my joyful self.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More Songs of the Week:The Mountain Goats and Idina Menzel Want Me To...

Though I'd rather not meet the same fate as David Foster Wallace, I haven't learned to let go yet, but I enjoy the idea of being the only person who'd put these two songs together.

Worthiness and Whether I'm Not _______ Enough

Just would like to refer back to this the next time I'm tempted to ignore a genuine concern because it might not seem poly enough or anything else enough:

"When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible. Keep worthiness off the table. Your raise can be on the table, your promotion can be on the table, your title can be on the table, your grades can be on the table. But keep your worthiness for love and belonging off the table. And then ironically everything else just takes care of itself."--Brene Brown

Song of the Week: Graceland

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Big Therapy Project, Week Two: Ache and Gentle Progress

Heartwise, I’m still missing the Mysteries very much, and I probably will for a long time. I hope to never mix star-crossed love with internet-addiction again—I keep wanting to hurl my now-retweet-notification-less phone out the window for making me so lonesome for them. But I’m starting to forgive myself for taking comfort in a thing that didn’t make sense, because it also DID make sense. I wish I were still writing and receiving those “I love yous,” and now, in calm and quiet heartache, I still know I really meant them, so maybe somehow they did too.

I’m not really sure if I can go on identifying as poly, not because I don’t love a whole bunch of people at once but because I keep not asserting my real needs because I end up feeling guilty and ashamed of emotions and reactions that don’t seem poly enough. I keep pushing myself to accept more metamours than I can manage because not to do so doesn’t seem compersiony enough or something, and I try to power through and understand jealousy instead of recognizing it as the warning sign that it is for me. I should be able to identify and avoid things that don’t make me feel safe or cared for, but instead I try to process, change, and adapt to them lest I should not seem loving or understanding enough. When I type it out, those seem more like problems with my own boundary drawing than with poly, but I still don’t ever want to feel that nothing-feeling that I felt last Thursday night again, and I don’t know if there’s a way to avoid it in the poly world as I keep finding it. Relationships are a ways off for me anyway, so we’ll see.

Anyway, mental health: After last Thursday’s panic attack at school, my therapist made an extra house call Friday evening. By the time she got there I was in a pretty giddy state from being back in real life, but I had really worried myself the day before, so for the first time in my entire life, I broached the topic of being medicated. I wondered aloud if I should have an as-needed prescription for panicky times, but knowing how important it’s always been to me to not be medicated, she said it’s not necessary, that things aren’t serious enough to start messing around with my brain chemistry. I felt very validated, relieved and proud about that. (However, I threw a bottle of Tylenol in my work pocketbook—it’s been proven to ease existential despair, so maybe it works for temporary soul death too.)

Yesterday at work, another momentous mind-thing happened. I happened to witness something particularly ugly and triggering (in an inner-city school, this is a semi-weekly reality) and I didn’t scream or cry and my soul didn’t flee. I notified the proper people and teams and stopped downstairs after school to talk to my mentor about it. As we talked, I felt the experience physically leave my brain, like a little pain-butterfly. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t an important or upsetting event, but if I could not carry around every scary thing that happens in my body, that would be a very good thing.

The Big Therapy Project is to start a dialogue with my 16-year-old self, and I wasn’t sure if she’d talk to me. Last week, she showed up in a dream, surly and sniping, in the guise of an old not-quite-metamour. She said I’d never given her any reason to trust me and then completely shut me out, so I’ve been asking her all week what I could do to help her feel safer. Somewhat unsurprisingly, she asked for privacy. She liked what The Puncher’s Girl said to me the last time I was at the Regular Dungeon: “Let me get your clothes, you don’t need to be any more vulnerable.”

And since I’m finally making her a priority, keeping her from slipping through the cracks, no longer putting her at the bottom of the pile, now that she is my highest and deepest priority, I have to take care of her and do what she asked for. This is a pants-on operation for a while (except Mr. Sweetface, whom she likes) until she feels safe again. I un-RSVPed from some nakedy things as an act of love for her. I don’t know how long it will be, but I do know that it will be worth it.

16-year-old me is deeper and wiser than adult me in some ways, she’s even optimistic. As awesome as she was at the art of the zipless fuck, she’s the one who believes in sex for love and she would really like me to keep trying for it. Maybe it was that summer writing letters to that nice Catholic boy, or maybe she’s just where the heart part of me lives. After I spent about 45 minutes writing a conversation with her, I felt spent and warm, the way I did that weekend at the Big Poly Conference. I slept better than I had in a long time. If I can keep turning my attention to my own heart until it’s healed, I believe I can get better and be closer to the loving person I really want to be.