Vulnerability is Strength

As much as I love writing potential scenes between my and another character in my friends’ Exalted (tabletop role-playing / collective storytelling) game, I feel like I’ve been getting too far ahead of what has actually happened in the game. It’s been a difficult temptation to resist, so I tried to compromise by initiating a conversation with the player of the other character – in which I intended for us to discuss how the bond between our characters might develop. I figured if I’m gonna keep getting ahead of things, it’s better to do so with the other player’s input instead of allowing myself to become overly attached to an alternative / inaccurate version of his character.

Instead we ended up having an awesome, rather long conversation that included the friend who pulled him into the game and mostly had nothing to do with Exalted. We geeked out, laughed at ridiculous YouTube videos, and were otherwise very silly together – which was just what I needed, honestly; it was so much fun! At one point the conversation took a surprisingly personal turn, considering it was like maybe my fourth time talking to this individual and the first time that wasn’t primarily focused on gaming. We touched briefly on some of the trauma / loss we’ve each experienced, were honest and supportive of each other, and agreed that it’s important to be vulnerable. I shared that that’s something I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember: whether it was needing to suppress my grief in order to function in school, trying to “be strong” for my mom because (I thought) she couldn’t handle my emotions, or otherwise just wanting to ignore my depression and have a “normal” life, I have fairly consistently fallen into the trap of what my friends called stoicism and I’ve seen referred to online as toxic masculinity.

Vulnerability is a theme that’s gaining prominence in the scenes I’ve been writing between the two characters. My ‘healer’ character initially wants to ‘fix’ the ‘wounded’ character; they avoid touching this individual because doing so evokes overwhelming emotions that make them feel vulnerable, and that terrifies them. But even in the earliest scenes I wrote they tell their story and literally show their wounds (scars), revealing that in a way the two characters aren’t that different. In one scene they instinctively reach for the ‘wounded’ character’s hand as the latter leads them through the Underworld; the ‘wounded’ character responds by squeezing the ‘healer’ character’s hand reassuringly (and it works). In another scene my ‘healer’ character braves their fear of touch and vulnerability to hug the ‘wounded’ character, with the intention of supporting them through a particularly difficult and absolutely essential milestone. Both characters end up holding / supporting each other while crying on each other’s shoulders; in that moment the two characters are both simultaneously ‘wounded’ and ‘healer.’ It becomes a milestone in both characters’ growth, as well as the development of the relationship / bond.

In the most recent scene I’ve written, the ‘healer’ character is severely wounded in battle and ends up unconscious. The ‘wounded’ character holds them until they awake because that is the only way to keep them safe, warm, and relaxed enough to get the rest they need to heal. Upon waking, the ‘healer’ character is able not only to accept but to enjoy the touch, and is finally honest regarding their ambivalence toward intimacy / vulnerability with the ‘wounded’ character. While explaining this they begin to consciously acknowledge that they trust in the ‘wounded’ character as a result of that character’s actions, which are more important than the character’s status as a Deathknight instead of a Solar. The two are finally able to enjoy being close without the ambivalence / awkwardness that has defined their relationship up to this point. (Of course the scene is getting way, way ahead of the game and relies on my – not necessarily the other player’s – interpretation of how the ‘wounded’ character may develop.)

For so long my whole inner Committee has perceived the Wounded One as needing protection, incapable of fending for themself or really doing anything. We – especially the Healer – haven’t considered the Wounded One’s agency or strengths, to the point that they may not even be aware of them. But the Wounded One was the first out of all of us; they created many if not all of us. Maybe we need to trust them more.

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Loving Shadow – Part 3

This is Part 3 of a rather long journal entry I wrote recently and decided to break into 3 parts. Part 1 provides some background information that may be helpful for understanding this and the previous part. Part 2 introduces 2 characters who seem to represent aspects of my psyche that need to learn to work together: the Healer and the Wounded One. In this post I describe how I would like to see their relationship progress, particularly in terms of my character’s (the healer’s) role and development.

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Loving Shadow – Part 2

This is Part 2 of a rather long journal entry I wrote recently and decided to break into 3 parts. Part 1 provides some background information that may be helpful for understanding this and the next part. In this post I introduce 2 characters who seem to represent aspects of my psyche that need to learn to work together. I describe the current attitude my character, a healer, has toward another player’s character, a … well, severely wounded individual.

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Loving Shadow – Part 1

This is Part 1 of a rather long journal entry I wrote recently and decided to break into 3 parts. It is intended to provide the background necessary to understand the 2 subsequent parts, which explore themes that have basically taken over my life for most of the past month. The background given in this post is my understanding of / perspective on a fictional universe. It only focuses on the details that are salient to the points I needed to make.

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20 years

I’m too young for it to be 20 years since my dad died.

I’m sad.

I’m angry. At the cancer. At tobacco companies. At the hospital. At Dad.

I’m angry about how the new chair of my state Green Party is treating me, and I’m about ready to be done with it all together, but I care too much about the people in my local and resigning feels like abandoning them. And I don’t know whether my feelings like I’m not a very good chair and they’d be better off with someone else are a realistic assessment of the situation, or the depression, because it’s been really bad lately.

I’m not sure to what degree the two are related, but they’re happening at the same time, and it’s frustrating the hell outta me.

20 years and I’m still trying to squash my emotions and continue with business as usual, and when that fails I’m playing video games until my eyes bleed. And when I do want to focus on this ridiculous mess of emotions, I can’t help thinking about what certain people in the state party leadership have said to me, how they’re slandering Ron & me, how they’re disrespecting me and my local.

I need space for me but I’m struggling to create that space.

I’m tired. I’m sad. I’m angry.

I’m grateful for my mom stepping up as a single parent to raise me. She’s been there through thick and thin. She’s still supporting me and Fox. And she’s been working hard, learning a lot, coming to respect me more as a person and an adult. Whatever my relationship with my dad (and my mom) could have been, I kinda mourn it but it also doesn’t really matter (and I get the impression it would be worse).

My relationship with Mom, now, is what’s important. It’s something we’ve struggled with, something we’ve fought through, something we’ve cried and argued over, something I’ve dragged kicking and screaming out of the mud, something we’ve both worked our asses off for … and we’ve come out the better, closer, for it. And there’s still a lot of work and growth and that’ll probably be a lifetime effort … but it’s there and it’s REAL and it’s OURS.

Each year I’ve been counting how long it’s been, and I think it was last year that I realized I wasn’t really mourning missing wishing I still had him in my life … I’ve been celebrating. 20 years of survival. 20 years of LIFE. 20 years of me and my mom not killing each other, lol. 20 years of us CREATING our own relationship and our own lives.

In my last music therapy session Wakana got me to sing about all this. I sang/said that I had pulled myself together from the ashes, and when they say ‘rise from the ashes’ they don’t say how hard it is to pull each individual ash in and make something new from it. But it’s what I do, it’s my nature, even though it hurts and even though I’m tired. Whatever happens, I rise. I rise. I rise. I rise.

And it’s not just her it’s my wonderful family and friends. Fox & Banji were both here for me big time yesterday. My uncle & aunt (Mom’s brother & sister-in-law) came to visit while Mom was away; they took me to dinner and lunch the next day and we had some wonderful conversation. And over the holidays it was so wonderful to spend time with my family and friends.

I felt alive in a way I hadn’t since getting caught up in all this political bullshit.

I felt whole again.

It’s Happening Again

I spent yesterday on an emotional roller coaster: feeling sad, feeling angry, regretting my decision to resign, feeling angry, feeling powerless, being glad I resigned because I can focus on other things, feeling frustrated, feeling sad …

And on top of that I’ve been questioning whether what I’m doing has any basis in reality. But when I talk to other folks (besides Ron) and think about the other people who also resigned because of this, I feel vindicated. It’s necessary.

It just hurts to see my state party moving on without me – especially the ways in which they’re moving on without me. And their surrogates are pushing back with seemingly innocuous posts on social media expressing the very views Ron and I are most opposed to. And I feel powerless because no one was listening to me when I had a leadership role in the party, why in the world would they listen to me after I resigned and joined in calling them out on social media? The more we fight, the more they’re gonna dig in their heels.

I’ve spent the day haunted by the memory of the last time this happened, when my friend (whom I later assigned the pseudonym “Mo”) was basically forced to resign. Here’s what I wrote about it at the time:

I’ve watched 2 people I once considered friends attack the other folks I’m friends with in my state party, watched them (try to) cause all sorts of crazy drama and make the leadership look bad, basically turning friends into enemies. I feel caught in the middle, knowing there is good in each of these people but also knowing how one of them manipulated me and they’ve both hurt people I care about. And I love my friends, but it kills me to watch them talk trash about these people who’ve honestly done stuff to deserve it, but who are also hurting. Why else would they engage in such destructive behavior?

Some of the things that are going on have me wondering, if I ever do anything to annoy one or more of these folks, will they talk to me about it? Or will they alienate me and talk  trash about me behind my back?

I’m questioning whether the fondness, camaraderie, desire to be close I feel toward these people is mutual, or even real. One friend in particular, I love him and he at least seemed to hold me in high regard, value my contributions, care about me as a person. But lately he’s been aloof,

I guess this time the roles of the “2 people I once considered friends” are played by Ron, myself, and maybe 1-3 other allies. We’re calling our former colleagues out for the drama they’ve caused, but I can see how some folks might see us as the ones causing the drama (especially the way it’s being spun). The “other folks I’m friends with” are practically the exact same people I’m having a problem with now. They talked trash about Ron and tried to manipulate me and others (with varying degrees of success) and I just couldn’t pretend to be in the middle again. So I’ve officially resigned from the state party; instead I’ll focus on local organizing. I know they’re talking trash about me behind my back; from what folks have said it’s been going on for a while now because they can’t deal with me being nonbinary. (In other words they’re transphobic.) And I’m kinda hurt by it but also like “whatever, they were never worth my time anyway” and that just breaks my heart.

And the “one friend in particular” is the person I later decided to call “Carl;” far as anyone can tell he’s at the center of this whole mess, which is essentially a giant power grab. I first caught on to it when he started taking control of the committee I chaired while a major component of his responsibilities unraveled. I feel like he’s been manipulating me for most of the year+ I’ve known him, but the first time I was really able to notice and say it was when he first started trying to get me to resign, about a month ago. He and Ron have been butting heads practically since Day 1, and Ron’s been calling him out on the problems he’s been causing, and he was the one who essentially turned everyone against Ron until ze resigned … if I remember correctly Carl was a driving force behind the demonization of Mo, too … wow …

Another thing that’s haunting me is a series of texts Mo sent me yesterday, basically saying that my actions contributed to the problem when he was going through this and helped create the situation I’m in now. He basically said our resignations won’t make a difference – not in the behavior of the current leadership and the folks they’re able to sway, at least. I’m a bit hurt that he didn’t seem interested in having a dialogue about it, but I have to agree with him. A major part of why I left is because they were showing no remorse, no self-reflection, no consideration or respect for Ron, nothing. Why would they do that now that they have nearly full control over my state Green Party? They can do whatever they want – just like high-ranking Republicans and Democrats.

5 Years!!!

a day with depression turned 5 years old on Tuesday!

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com! You registered on WordPress.com 5 years ago. Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

I’ll admit I haven’t gone back to look through my 5 years of blogging, and I’ve been posting a lot less regularly as of late, but this blog has been a real help for me. I’m glad I have a space to share experiences that people don’t always talk about (though it’s getting better), that can be rather isolating. I’m grateful for the community I found on WordPress, particularly other mental health bloggers. I miss Blog for Mental Health, maybe we can pick that up again.

In the time since starting this blog I have …

  • had the pleasure of “parenting” 3 pairs of rats
  • learned a great deal about intersectional feminism
  • socially transitioned from the gender I was assigned at birth to nonbinary / enby
  • gotten married
  • become a zillion times more confident and assertive
  • healed a great deal
  • come to accept that mental health “recovery” is a never-ending, nonlinear process
  • made some absolutely amazing friends
  • become engaged in activism and politics
  • learned so much
  • learned that I have so much more to learn
  • figured out what meds work for me – including that I don’t need the clonazepam
  • developed kickass coping skills for anxiety and depression

There’s been a lot of drama in the Green Party as of late, throughout the US and unfortunately also in my state. It breaks my heart, really, because we have much much more important things to focus on. I’ve been feeling incredibly overwhelmed and not focusing on what I need to do to live a fulfilling life.

(Ironically – or perhaps not – the latest drama in my state party is uncannily similar to what happened to someone else back in March:

it has to do with people he loved betraying him, and feeling powerless to change what’s going on in an organization he’s supposed to be a leader of. An organization he led very well, and changed for the better, but that’s not what some of its most powerful leaders – his former and my current friends – are focusing on.

(These same people – my “friends” – are now verbally wrecking the latest person they’ve forced to leave: Ron.)

So, I’ve decided to end my involvement in my state party. I will probably continue to help organize locally, and engage in nonpartisan activism, but I need to take a step back from this stuff and pick up the life I’ve put on hold for a year and a half. I’m grateful for the actual friendships I’ve made, my relationship with Ron, the experiences I’ve had, everything I’ve learned, the skills I’ve developed, all of it.

Now it’s time to start a new chapter.