Courage

I saw this on Facebook and wanted to share it here:

"went to the beach the other day, for the first time since I was a child, I didnt wear shorts or anything to cover up, this is a massive deal for me, I hate my body even without the scars, I believe I am fat and disgusting but, I pushed through the major anxiety, shaking and almost crying and made it to the water. Its a big deal, I did it. This took a whole lot of courage to post.."I wish I could tell this person how inspiring ze is. Ze must be in a lot of pain, have been in a lot of pain for a long time, to have that many scars. To show them at the beach – where there is no way to hide, everything is on display, and people tend to judge … that is courage! And to even take a picture, never mind posting it online where it is timeless and thousands of people will see and comment on it … This person is so strong. To break the chains keeping zir from the beach, from the ocean, to overcome that much anxiety, to keep moving through the shakes and threatening tears … I know what that feels like and I usually find it to be too hard. This is strength. This is truth. This is reality.

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PANIC!!!

This is it. Mom’s surgery is tomorrow; I have to get her to the hospital precisely 12 hours from the time I’m writing this! She needs me to do about a million things! Take care of the dog. Bring her clothes and food. Do her laundry and grocery shopping. Check on things. Possibly pay bills. Put out her garbage (I have a hard enough time remembering to put mine out!). Drive her places until she’s able to drive herself. Call everyone to let them know how the surgery went. I’m probably forgetting something.

I have to juggle all this with my own shit. Schoolwork; I have a paper due Thursday and I really don’t think I’m going to be able to work on it much before then. I tried the past couple days but the reading was too much for me. And for some reason my mother having DOUBLE KNEE REPLACEMENT SURGERY didn’t register as a scheduling conflict that I should report to my instructor in advance. *facepalm*

I can’t really tell if it’s meds or lack of sleep or strong emotions or dehydration or someone has a voodoo doll but my muscles keep tensing up. Sometimes they hold me in one position for a long time (during which I usually feel overwhelmed by or swept away in random, disjointed thoughts, but sometimes I’m hyper aware of the outside world with not much going on inside). Sometimes they cause my limbs to jerk. Sometimes I think I initiate a spasm to get myself out of being stuck. That was me “this morning” – aka 2:00pm when I finally became awake enough to contemplate getting out of bed. Talking to Fox on the phone helped, but soon after we hung up I was stuck again (for a short time).

And then … I had to cut my conversation with Mom short because I felt like I was on the verge of a panic attack. I needed to get away, I needed to ground myself. I knew then that I wasn’t going to get any work done on the paper tonight. Damnit!!! Mental images: a knife slashing my left arm. Possibly my neck.

WHY?!!!

I’m surprised my hair is still capable of looking normal after all the times I’ve run my fingers through it in frustration and anxiety. I can’t scream and I can’t cry. The light is too bright and the sound of my computer fan is driving me crazy! No amount of water can ever quench my thirst.

I want to let go but I’m too afraid to. To relax. To cry. To play music. Something. I’m suspended in space and time, forever exploding, fragmented, in pain, a silent scream.  I can’t live and I can’t die. And I can’t sleep.

Un-Memorizing the “Silence is Sexy” Date Script

This is a huge part of what makes my relationship with Fox so awesome.

Queer Guess Code

movie-date

A woman once told me pointedly something that has stayed with me to this day.  We were kissing.  Lying on the cold wood floor, my hand traveled across her stomach and she whispered, “I think we should take it slow.”  I agreed immediately.  Before moving in to kiss her again, I said, “Just tell me when to stop.”

This, I thought, was considerate.  Respectful.  Sexy.  But she quickly corrected my mistake.  Pulling away from me, her face took on a serious expression and the words she spoke illuminated a misunderstanding I had long nurtured, even as I knew myself to be a thoughtful feminist with much respect for other women.

In essence, what she said was, “Women are not given enough opportunities to say ‘yes.'”

Oh, I thought.  Huh.  What a wonderfully radical idea.  But I mean, isn’t it strange that this idea is so radical?  Women saying yes.  It’s…

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I Don’t Need to Be “Beautiful”

This random guy tried to call my attention to him as I walked down a busy street the other day. He said, “Hey, beautiful,” as I passed by. My first response was to feel harassed, but I tried to talk myself down from it: “Feel good – he thinks you’re beautiful!” “Maybe he wasn’t even talking to you. He was probably calling someone else beautiful.”

The thing is, I don’t want or need to care what a random stranger thinks of my appearance. I just want to go where I’m going in peace. That’s what it all comes down to: people just want to go about their lives without being subjected to everyone else’s (observable) appraisal of them. Half the population is (generally) able to do this. But the half with boobs (or the ability to grow them) are subjected to it so frequently it’s considered “normal.”

Even just having one’s attention drawn to one’s appearance is invasive: it distracts from more important thoughts such as where one is going, what’s going on in one’s surroundings, whatever else is on one’s mind – such as thoughts related to one’s job or family life or important social / political / economic issues, etc. In my case, I went from feeling confident and happy about the task I’d just completed to questioning whether anyone could possibly consider me “beautiful.”

Why should I care? That’s his opinion; they’re his thoughts. They have nothing to do with me, my strengths and weaknesses, what I’m doing with the rest of my day, my interpersonal relationships, my career, etc. Let his thoughts stay with him. I have enough thoughts of my own, thank-you-very-much! And, frankly, I have enough mental health issues to work through, without being plunged back into the insecurity about my appearance that plagued me in high school.

Why do men do this? The only answer I can think of is that they want that “beautiful” woman to pay attention to them, even if only by making eye contact for a moment. Why? To inflate their ego? To feel powerful?

But it’s not really fair to blame the man who does this on the street. Yes, he should choose not to do it, but he’s just repeating what society tells him is appropriate. He might not know about the potentially harmful aspects of what he’s doing. He probably thinks he’s paying me – or the woman behind me – a compliment.

The real problem is much bigger than he – or his ego! –  will ever be. Why is this man’s self-esteem dependent on a “beautiful” woman paying attention to him? Is his social, political, and/or economic power so limited that the only way he can feel powerful is by expressing his opinion of and demanding attention from women? Why does he feel entitled to solicit attention from a random stranger by breaking the usual unspoken rule: let people go about their day in peace!? Okay maybe he wanted to be friendly – there is certainly a place for that. But it’s better accomplished by saying “hello” or “good day” – some greeting that is appropriate between beings who regard each other as equals. There is no need for one such being to give hir opinion of the other, especially not regarding something as shallow as physical appearance.

And then we come to the other side: Why are those of us who have boobs programmed to feel flattered by the word, “beautiful,” to seek it out, to respond automatically when someone applies it to us? I know I am smart, creative, resilient, determined, compassionate, etc. Why should I need or want to be “beautiful,” too? All “beauty” does is make me – or a moment of my attention – desirable to someone who knows nothing about me. I don’t need that! Why would anyone want to draw that kind of selfish attention to zirself?

If I care that you think I’m “beautiful,” then I am acting as a mirror for you! I’m reflecting that your opinion of my appearance matters more (at least in that moment) than everything else that’s going on in my life. No! I’m not a mirror, I’m a person! I have places to be, people to interact with, things to do, thoughts to think, masterpieces to create, a royally fucked-up world to change. If you need a mirror, go buy one at the dollar store.

I don’t want to be “beautiful” and I don’t need it, because I’m already powerful. That is, I have a lot of personal power – my social and political power are limited by the structures of inequality that privilege the few at the expense of the many. But I can use my personal power to work through my difficulties, to weaken the foundation of those structures (e.g. cultural values such as “beauty” which limit one’s ability to tap into personal power), to empower myself and others, and to live a life that I find meaningful.

Marketing Domesticity

I highly recommend reading Nursing Clio‘s most recent post, Marketing Domesticity. It sheds light on an area of privilege that’s still relatively invisible: having someone else to clean up after one (whether it’s a sanitation worker, “cleaning lady,” or one’s spouse). Of particular importance is the gendering of domesticity and housework: especially in advertisements, women are always the ones (happily?) doing the cleaning. I also really love the song lyrics quoted at the end; my (someday) children might grow up knowing “Housework” by heart.

Honesty

Wakana and I had a very productive conversation yesterday, perhaps one of our most therapeutic sessions yet. She was completely straightforward and down to business; she wanted to know what was going on last Friday and why I didn’t feel comfortable talking to her – at the very least, letting her know I was still alive. Most importantly, she asked what it is I need from her that I feel like I’m not getting.

Friday. It’s like something is actively trying to block my access to what was going on that day. In a nutshell, I just didn’t want to be bothered – with her, or anyone, or anything. That’s not entirely true: I wanted to spend time with Fox and I did. But he came to me. I didn’t want to face the world, reality. I really didn’t want to go out in it. I didn’t want to put on shoes; none of the shoes I own were quite right for the weather that day. And I didn’t want to face whatever we’d reveal about myself.

And yes, I was more interested in focusing on The Sims 3. My escape. She’s really concerned about all the time playing that game, and the narrowing of my world. On some level, I’m concerned about it, too. But on some level I feel like it’s what I need all I can handle right now. Anything else requires me to wear the mask, and it’s just too heavy.

What do I need from her that I’m not getting? Music. I need to spend more time making music – and, more importantly, using the music to get at the heart of the matter. It’s hard, it’s painful, I don’t really want to do it most of the time. I guess I need her to push me a little more, or pull me, or … do more to help me feel safe. And to help me put my armor back on before I have to leave her room and face the world again. I hate being so vulnerable. But I think I can do it in front of her, as long as it’s contained within the session.

It felt good to be able to have that conversation with her. It was extremely uncomfortable, but just the fact that she really wanted to know and understand my experience – without judging it or telling me what to do – meant the world to me.