[New Year, New You] Week 8 – Asking for Help

I’m getting better at asking for help. Which is awesome, because this week’s writing prompt is about asking for help and I’ve already done it a few times in the past few weeks.

Here are the ways I’ve asked in the past few weeks:

  • asked a friend for help with writing check-ins so I can motivate my ass with some accountability
  • asked a friend for some help with spellwork
  • saw my therapist again and asked for help with figuring out what I’m looking for in terms of healthier relationships
  • asked nesting partner to take care of dinner twice this week and do a small round of grocery shopping
  • asked a friend for help with figuring out and talking about things I’m looking for in D/s and sex

I’ve also offered help to friends if they needed anything that I had bandwidth/spoons for, so it totally goes both ways. But I’m also learning not to just give and give until I have nothing left. It feels pretty damn good to be able to open up to accepting help from people I trust and also having them follow through.

There are a few other things coming up I know I’ll have to ask for help with, so I’m gearing up for that, as well. Overall, this might be a short post, but I’m glad for it’s being a writing prompt for this week. It’s important to be receptive to asking and accepting help on your path, especially if you’re on a path of discovery, adventure, change, and growth.

Song of the week: “Trouble Me” by 10,000 Maniacs

Trouble me, disturb me with all your cares and you worries.
Trouble me on the days when you feel spent.
Why let your shoulders bend underneath this burden when my back is sturdy and strong?
Trouble me.
****
Spare me? Don’t spare me anything troubling.
Trouble me, disturb me with all your cares and you worries.
Speak to me and let our words build a shelter from the storm.
Lastly, let me know what I can mend.
There’s more, honestly, than my sweet friend, you can see.
Trust is what I’m offering if you trouble me.

 

Advertisements

AFOG (Another Fucking Opportunity for Growth): Various Types of Breakups and Valid Reasons/Feelings

There’s rarely a Poly.Land post that doesn’t resonate with me, at least on some level. Sometimes I want to be Page Turner in another life. But Tuesday’s post about What People Get Wrong When They Talk About Partner Selection hit me directly in the feels.

Maybe it’s because I just went through a breakup. Like two days ago. Maybe it’s that the concept of “this just isn’t working for me” is one I’ve struggled with for the nearly two decades I’ve been polyamorous as a valid breakup reason, both for Relationships-with-a-capital-R and also their lowercase counterparts. Maybe it’s because “this doesn’t work for me” or “I’m not comfortable with this” has, quite literally, cost me relationships and jobs.

As I mentioned in my comment on that aforementioned post (the one that was originally posted to Fetlife and cross-posted to the link above), I agreed with Page in that about cultural scripts oversimplify breakups. Further, I said:

And also, they don’t encourage breaking up in amicable ways. There has to be a bad person, or a bad enough situation. “This just isn’t working for me anymore” isn’t considered valid, generally. We’re taught that you should fight for relationships, stay in them and work it out, especially in monogamous ones, especially when you’re on the relationship escalator. I’ve been unlearning a lot of that over the last few years. Kimchi Cuddles has helped a bunch. Tikva Wolf, the artist, has had some amazing strips about how sometimes relationships can last 5 minutes and be life changing. That instead of forever being a goal, shifting to “for as long as it’s good and healthy for all involved”.

This isn’t something I grew up learning. You were supposed to persevere. Fight for love. Tolerate abusive family members because they’re family. Stay on the relationship escalator until you get to the top (white picket fence with 2.5 children, a minivan, a McMansion you can’t afford…y’know…”happy”). Discovering polyamory revolutionized most of that for me, but there are still some holdovers and lacking skill sets.

For instance, I have no real breakup skills. Completely missed putting points into that skill set. Dumped a shit-ton into “giving to the point of exhaustion and complete depletion”. Burned a bunch on “I’m gonna ignore all the warning signs that I should get out”. And don’t let’s forget the buckets of points that went into empathy and “feeling all the damn things all the damn time”. I’ve stayed in relationships waaaaaaayyyy after it’s clearlys not working (at least for me), and usually to the point where it seems to not be working for anyone involved. And yet, sometimes, I/we’ve stayed longer. Since I think in song lyrics a lot of the time, “Louder Than Words” from the musical tick….Tick….BOOM! springs to mind:

Why do we stay with lovers
Who we know, down deep
Just aren’t right?
Why would we rather
Put ourselves through hell
Than sleep alone at night?

Seriously, why? One reason is the cultural scripts Page talked about. Another could be that it simply sucks to lose someone you love, even if it isn’t working. I mean, I could feel the breakup I just went through coming from a mile away (hell, if we’re honest, about two hundred miles away, but who’s counting, right?), and yet it didn’t stop my heart from breaking, me from crying, nor me from reaching for a a glass (or, um, a bottle) of St. Germain to dull the edges a little that first night. It didn’t help that work was a complete shitshow that day, as well, and the breakup happened at work. Cause that added a swell level of suck to the day.

But for some reason, beyond how much it sucks to lose someone, we’re still not supposed to leave unless there’s a “good enough Reason-with-a-capital-R”. And it has to pass muster for those around you. “It wasn’t working” is too vague for people. Not valid enough.

Related side story: a few years ago, a family member died. This person was a pedophile. Another family member called me and demanded to know when I would be there to help start making arrangements with them. That day, I decided not to go. (I was also slated to be flying out in a day or so to another family member’s wedding.) And it wasn’t that I chose one family member over another. It was that I could not make myself celebrate the life of a person who was going to be heralded as a hero. This person tore my family apart. Hurt people I love very dearly. Made me feel uncomfortable on multiple occasions but we weren’t supposed to talk about that. This situation/person was one of the biggest secrets in my family for years. Keeping up appearances was more important than actually dealing with shit.

So I took a deep breath and told my family member that I wouldn’t be coming for the funeral. They asked why. I said I didn’t feel comfortable with it. Their response?

“That’s not a real reason. I want a grown up, real reason.”

I had nothing left after that. At the time, I didn’t know how else to say it and was gutted; how I felt simply didn’t matter. So I kept repeating myself, and they did, too. We wound up in a stupid, crazy loop along the lines of Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. My reason was simply not valid. My discomfort was not valid. At the very least, it was not allowed to trump their pain in their time of need.

I was effectively disowned at that point. That person said they never wanted to speak to me again and two and a half years later, still have not (save for a bizarre FB photo that came at about 1am right after I had just finished a semi-interrogation scene at a kink convention. But that’s a story for another time).

My mind made an easy, awful conclusion: they chose the memory of a pedophile over a relationship with me, someone alive and hurting, as well. I felt disposable. Passed over for a pedophile. I didn’t matter. It threw me back to my childhood when there were many other instances where it didn’t matter how I felt:

  • when I was thrown into cars with drunk people driving to “get them home safely”
  • being taken down to bars and businesses at 2am to try and convince a family member to come home
  • getting phone calls from family members who said they wanted to see me and couldn’t explain why they weren’t able to nor why they suddenly disappeared
  • people I cared about ghosting me without any phone calls or reasons

When the adults were talking, whatever they said went. Even when it’s wrong. Even when it hurts. Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about. It’s not that big a deal. Stop being so dramatic.

I feel a great kinship with Amanda Fucking Palmer’s songs, but this one from “Ampersand” is ingrained in my heart:

I have wasted years of my life
Agonizing about the fires
It started when I thought that to be strong you must be flame retardant
And now to dress the wounds calls into question
How authentic they are
There is always someone criticizing me
“She just likes playing hospital”

It’s no wonder I have a hard time simply saying, “no, actually. This isn’t working for me. This needs to end now.” Hell, I even have a difficult time saying, “this is fucked up. I won’t/can’t do this anymore.”

And the hardest yet: “I deserve to be treated better than this.”

It took me way too long to leave one job where I was saying to myself on almost a daily basis “this is all so fucked up and broken. I’m not able to change/fix/improve anything anymore. I need to stop. This isn’t working for me.” Similarly, the relationship/aforementioned breakup seemed to not be working for either of us for a while, but it took a bit to actually call it. (Fittingly, just about a week after I started writing a song entitled “Call It.”)

This sucks. I want to learn more about how to level up my breakup skills. That sounds terrible, but in reality, I think it’s a great skill to have. If anyone’s got any suggestions, please feel free to drop them in the comments.

I like what Kimchi Cuddles has said about it, and this strip has helped my mentality about letting R/relationships progress or transition as they need to:

KimchiCuddles-672

I will say that I’m grateful that when my now former partner said they didn’t have many spoons for Relationships that require attention right now because of stuff in their own life, I didn’t just say “DON’T WORRY ABOUT ME. I DON’T NEED ANY ATTENTION. THAT’LL KEEP US TOGETHER, RIGHT? BECAUSE STAYING TOGETHER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, RIGHT?!?”

No. I honored what they were saying and agreed that transitioning to friends was for the best for me, too. Because I do need some attention. And me saying I didn’t just to hang onto the Relationship wasn’t going to help either of us. I’ve had enough bitterness in my life to last for eons, so I ain’t got the time nor energy for holding tight to things that aren’t working anymore. I have needs.

One of them is a higher level of attention than I was getting. Another is to figure out my damn life. Still others include healing from leaving an incredibly stressful and toxic job, re-evaluating the last twenty years of my life, figuring out how to make amends, and getting my health in order. I had already decided at the end of January that I was going through a personal evolution and as such, ain’t got time to be dating.

Also, I also have barely any energy left to sustain fairly decent romantic relationships. The past year drained and damaged me more than I realized. I’m still assessing it all and trying to figure out how to heal. Only thing I know right now is that I need to focus on creativity, my health, blood and chosen family, mourning/grief, and moving on. It’s actually part of my treatment plan in therapy now to evaluate current Relationships-with-a-capital-R and ending the ones that are no longer working for me. AND for the foreseeable future not seeking out new Relationships to fill the void that will leave. To instead focus on creativity and cultivating a strong support network of relationships. Because how I feel and what I need is fucking valid and it’s about time I believed that as much as I believe that what other people feel/need is valid.

So, here’s to Another Fucking Opportunity for Growth.

[New Year, New You] Week 3 – Something You’ve Been Putting Off

DON’T WANNA!!!

That’s the refrain that’s slamming around in my brain and heart lately, for myriad reasons and pertaining to so many things. Chores what need doing, writing what needs to get writ, practice (magickal and musical) to…practice, bills that have to be paid, healthier choices to make, relationship decisions I have to face. You get the idea. Pretty much exactly where so many people find themselves this time of year, two weeks into the New Year that was so full of Possibilities and New Starts only twelve days ago. Or maybe you’re one of those lucky ones who have way more self-discipline and determination and you’re trucking along just fine with your resolutions.

If so, fuck you.

So sorry. My inner teenager stole my keyboard for a moment. The one who wants to sullenly flip off anyone who’s all wholesome, and has good advice (and even WORSE, backs it up with action), and just wants what’s BEST for me.

*Gag*

‘Scuse me. I’m just gonna lock the door to her bedroom and ignore the Smiths blaring at full volume.

Sometimes, it’s really hard to get motivated. Sometimes, your heart is breaking from a relationship issue you’re having and you find yourself sobbing into your keyboard at midnight about to send an email to someone you just shouldn’t instead of doing things you should be doing. Like any of the things I listed above. Or you had a longass day at work, your anxiety was working your last nerve for the latter part of it, and you came home to no one but your cats and all you want to do is watch an episode of The Crown and go the fuck to sleep. I mean, y’know, hypothetically.

Anyway.

I signed up for this damn writing prompt challenge and here the fuck I am.

And I had read ahead, so I knew this was the week dedicated to Something You’ve Been Putting Off. Fan-fugu-tastic. I also knew that in my last post, I had said that in this post I would make more concrete plans for my goals. S.M.A.R.T.en ’em up, if you will.

(For those who don’t know, S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym meaning Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Bound. It’s popped up a couple of times in my life this week. First, at work during training and then earlier today on Fetlife on a post someone made about goals. Those S.M.A.R.T. goals are gonna be part of the NEXT post, though. Yes, I’m putting something off in the Something You’ve Been Putting Off post. You wanna go listen to the Smiths with my inner teenager?)

So I’ve been thinking about those things, along with All The Things I’ve Been Putting Off.

I started listening to the song that was recommended for this week, which was awesome but also bittersweet because it referencing a song that was important to me and my ex-wife, but that’s fine. It’s not like the radio hasn’t been slapping me upside the heart with songs from my past lately or anything.

Moving along, the song she recommended was Regina Spektor’s “On the Radio”. I adore this song. But I’m also gonna offer another song that I found this week that seems pretty darned appropriate:

“Rescue” by Yuna

Yeah, she’s got a light in her face
She don’t need no rescue and she’s okay
Yeah, she’s got life in her veins.
She don’t need no rescue and she’s okay.

Which helped me get home from a ten hour day at work tonight, with my feet soaking wet because my fake suede boots aren’t waterproof and mother nature is dealing with some demons up in there and so it was 60 fucking degrees and monsoon-y today, and NOT watch The Crown. Nor have a gin and ginger. I did cry a bit around midnight, but I reached out to my best friend who thankfully leveled my heart with some hard truths I needed to hear.

Around all that, I:

  • brought the laundry up from the dryer
  • checked the basement for signs of water leaking in
  • made mac & cheese from scratch with hidden veggies so it’s marginally healthier, and also comforting and means I had dinner tonight, lunch for tomorrow at work, and some to bring to a friend I might be seeing on Sunday who loves mac & cheese
  • paid the one credit card bill I have
  • paid an overdue toll
  • paid my waaaay overdue and student loans (with about a week to spare before they reported my account as delinquent to credit reporting agencies)
  • pet the cats
  • fixed an extension cord/living room light issue
  • reached out to my sister and a friend I haven’t talked to in a while, just to say hi
  • messaged with another friend who’s having some anxiety issues
  • lit some incense
  • and am writing this post

And at work today, and on the previous days earlier this week I accomplished the following:

  • read a little every night
  • rewrote out the uke tabs/lyrics for a song I’m working on and a new song we’re working on with the band
  • oh, hey…started a band and had first rehearsal and scheduled the next one
  • passed my written and verbal tests for my new job
  • went “live” after passing them
  • threw away two pairs of shoes I’ve been carting around for over a decade (one pair were my Eddie boots from when I used to do Rocky Horror. Hard to let go of but they were literally deformed and cracking and flaking. Plus, I have a pair of Docs now. They’re MUCH better Eddie boots)
  • pulled seven things out of my closet that I’ve been holding onto for years but have never worn and am almost guaranteed to never wear. I mean, there’s one jacket that I might wear when I’m seventy, but fuck if I’m holding onto it that long
  • Started a pile of donate/sell/give away for clothes and costumes
  • went through one bin (of, like, eight) of costumes and burlesque outfits and started streamlining, including making plans to sell a Moresca pirate bodice I bought nearly ten years ago and wore twice
  • started looking at my books, DVDs, other stuff to see what I can get rid of

I’m tired just rereading all this, but I’m also sorta proud of myself. I’m doing things. I’m making shit happen. Slowly, but there’s a lot to sort through to get where I’m going. I’ve built walls and let shit slide for a while and now, the dismantling and cleaning and clearing is going to take some doing.

But I’m finally doing it.

[New Year, New You] Week 1 – Making Way

So a dear friend of mine, who is an author, crafter, and all around glamourous Amazon (or Glamazon, as RuPaul calls them), started a series of 23 writing prompts called New Year, New You designed to fix your situation. And she decided to start this a few years back, before the turn of the new year because why wait. Fix that shit now. 

The first prompt starts here, and it is all about making way for the change you are about to start working towards. She breaks it down into three bite-sized sections for week one:

Let’s start with the easy part.  Time to clean your house.

“Let’s start with the easy part.” Bitch, you almost made me laugh. I love her dearly, but FUUUUUCCCCKKKKKKK.

*whining*

I don’t wanna clean. I wanna keep living in the stacks of clothes and costumes and unpacked bags from this past year. This keeps all that shit in nice tidy piles where I don’t have to deal with it. Because I don’t wanna deal with the job that I left that I loved parts of but couldn’t stay at. Or the costumes pieces full of promise of burlesque routines and exercise I can’t seem to find time to put together or do. And pfffffttttt, what’s the use of putting away laundry? If it’s not put away, it’s much more handy. I mean, seriously…it’s much closer on the floor or piled on a chair than in the closet all the way over there. (for the record, my closet is about 10 feet from my bed. The chair is about 8 feet. I mean, c’mon. That’s TWO WHOLE FEET MORE.

What?

It’s just…I’ve been having such a mental block this past year, not wanting to deal with anything. Getting from day to day took most of my spoons, and now I have a new job to learn, and that new job takes more (but different) spoons than the last.

Urgh.

But she’s right. She’s fucking right. I can’t expect to move forward with a clear head and create good magical mojo when the space around me, that I live in, is chaotic.

Is your time being well spent?

Sometimes.

Next.

Just because someone hands you a big rock doesn’t mean you have to carry it.

Naaaaahhhhhhhh. I’m not carrying any big rocks. No secrets here. No heartbreak. No difficult decisions. No taking on another person’s shit as my own. No endlessly throwing energy into a void. No toxicity. No negativity. No seemingly endless confidences, only some of which I agreed to up front, that are weighing me down. No anger or disappointment or disillusionment or confusion or desperation or depression here. No health issues. No fear. None whatsoever.

*headdesk*

Alrrightee. Now that we know the mega shitstorm of situation fixing I need to do, the next part of her post was taking stock of what she’s done.

So.

Things I’ve done so far:

  1. Started tackling the piles. Eliminated a big one on the chair. Enlisted nesting partner’s help to put their laundry away while I packed away my summer clothes and then put most of my laundry away. Last week, I organized and condensed the pile of costumes and leftover event bags from this year. It’s not perfect, but it’s progress.
  2. Been thinking a lot about how I spend my time lately. Things that are important to me. This boils down to music, writing, spirituality, authentic connections, emotional support, constructive selfishness (a phrase I learned from my therapist today and holy fuck, is it a great concept. Like self care, but…bigger.), kink, creativity, becoming healthier. I spent Christmas Eve with a fantastic friend establishing the first annual Queermas Eve full of playing music (and then taking a deep breath and posting the cover on my FB. I’m contemplating creating a YouTube channel to start putting up my uke sessions in the new year, as a way to continue to push myself to play more and grow), really vulnerable talking & sharing, a Wawa adventure, and some cuddling with a side of kink. It was pretty fucking great. I felt seen, heard, supported and supportive, in turn. I felt an energetic connection, joy, excitement, peaceful. Again, pretty fucking great. And a great reminder of what I’m looking for. What’s important to me. I did a fairly in depth full moon ritual that I felt proud of. Have been practicing uke more. And clearly have picked up writing again. And reading. I didn’t accomplish the quarter Cannonball Run I signed up for for 2017, but I’ve forgiven myself. I’m just glad I started reading again this year at all. In previous years, I’ve read 52 books, or 26 books. Last year, it was something like…five? Which blows. Currently, though, I’m in the middle of a few books. The best is Brene Brown’s “Rising Strong”. So topical in my life right now. I’m going to a play party this weekend and have one topping scene set up and have reached out to a few people to see if I can get some a bottoming scene in before the new year. And I’m trying to own up to my mistakes, take responsibility for my fuck ups, and also seek out authentic connections and emotional support. Hafta cultivate that constructive selfishness. Also have to work towards scheduling time for things instead of flying by the seat of my pants on a regular basis in an attempt to Do Everything (and usually falling way the fuck short on that.)
  3. There are too many rocks. Just in case your sarcasm detector is broke, all you have to do is take everything I said above under the rock section and remove all the “no’s”. Then you’ll have all the rocks that have created an avalanche on top of me and might begin to understand why I feel like I have almost nothing left to give anyone anymore. I’m beyond tapped out. The immolation period of a phoenix fucking SUCKS.

So, there you have it. There’s a lot of situation to fix, but I’ve begun to Make Way.

Tonight, I chose the pineapple.

So, there’s this thing I don’t talk about often. My anxiety manifests itself in various forms, most of which I’ve tried to transcend over the past three decades or so. Most commonly, it’s the “if I just have something sweet, I’ll be fine.” The sugar boost (usually with chocolate) helps calm me down, especially if there’s chocolate. I mean, c’mon. You can’t argue with Harry Potter AND Science.

If I’m going somewhere overnight that I’ve never been before, or I don’t know what the food situation will be, I’ll make sure to have something in my purse that will help me with anxiety. And sometimes, when I’m fighting an anxiety attack, or depression, I’ll crave something sweet. A cupcake, a brownie, a cookie. Rarely anymore do I crave regular candy. I’ve phased out and grown up out of most shit forms of sugar. Now I crave real bakery items, or high end chocolate, or other types of rarer things I have to make a special stop for.

Thankfully, I’ve left binging behind in my teens and mid- to late-twenties. It’s not that the feeling of a chasm in me that needed to be filled ever fully went away, I just gradually found other, better ways to fill it. Maybe some of them even helped to heal and close it a little bit at a time. Kink. Real, authentic connection to humans I liked. Music. Art. Dance. A job that at one time was one of the most fulfilling jobs I could’ve ever imagined. Being desired. Being partnered. Being married.

Some of these are great ways to heal old wounds, when applied well. Others…not so much. And lately, I’ve been taking stock of my life. My choices. Everything that’s led me here. It’s the holiday season and yet again, I’m left with very little holiday spirit and even less money than last year. I have no idea where to go from here in terms of finding fulfilling things in a career, in terms of kink, in relationships. There are big, scary things I have to deal with and I don’t know how.

But slowly…slowly, I’m finding answers. Slowly….slowly, I’m rediscovering the spirituality I allowed to be shamed out of me. I’m realizing that there are things I don’t want anymore, which is a step closer to figuring out what I do want. I’m grateful each day for the community of Amazon sisters which has sprung up around me over the past few years.

Still, each day is more of a struggle than I think most people know because I’m trying not to put it all over social media. I get that mental health awareness is and totally should be a Thing, but I also…don’t see the point in posting about all the negative things constantly. Especially when the intellectual part of my brain knows that anxiety and depression are lying to me and there isn’t much that is going to help by way of Fb comments of hugs, thoughts, and prayers. I’m not saying there isn’t healing and helping power in people putting good energy out for you…but there are also studies now showing that diminishing returns of social media. I want something real. My soul is desperate for connection and touch and creativity and kink. These things fuel me, help me burn bright, give me life. I feel like I’m suffocating lately from a dearth of them.

So every other day or so, I fight the urge to get a cookie. Or a cupcake. Or a brownie. Or ginger ale. Most days, I’m not happy to say I don’t win the fight. But I’ve been noticing recently that eating the cookie or the cupcake or the brownie has not been assuaging the anxiety anymore. In fact, I feel either the same or worse AND it tastes cloyingly sweet. Things that I used to adore. Are now…nothing to me.

I’m also not craving regular foods much anymore. Used to be that Vietnamese or Thai food would be my go-to, I-have-no-idea-what-to-eat-but-I-need-comfort meals. That’s not even there right now. I feel like I’m loosing touch with everything I used to hold dear and am floating somewhere, untethered.

Tonight, after a rough depression day, I steered my car towards a local bakery with THE BEST chocolate chip cookies ever. (And a cupcake that a metamour called “life changing”). I got there, parked right outside and then…then I remembered the fresh pineapple I had cut up in the fridge at home. For some reason, that seemed a helluva lot better an idea (1. free 2. my mouth said it would taste better 3. free) so…I went home. And had the pineapple. It’s not a major victory, but it’s something that I wanted to remember for myself and share for anyone else battling depression and anxiety.

I am not a means to an end.

I am NOT a means to an end.

Brain: But…

No, brain. I am not a means to an end.

Heart: Are you sure…

Hey…heart. I am not a means to an end.

Body: Really…?

Really, body. Fuckin’ listen up: I am not a means to an end.

The phrase “you are not a means to an end” came up in therapy recently and I can’t get it out of my head. When my therapist first said it, the room felt very still and I had to remind myself to breathe as the tears formed. Suddenly, I felt the need to both protect myself and be vulnerable.

It keeps popping up at inconvenient times, and suddenly I’m crying on a bench next to a stranger while waiting for my car to be done getting an oil change.

Why is this so hard to believe?

When did I stop thinking I was worthy of attention and affection just…for myself? When did that become so hard to accept, yet something that I crave to the point of near desperation lately?

I know I’m primarily a submissive, but I also know enough, learned enough, was trained well enough to know that submissive does not equal doormat, in the paraphrased words of my best friend. That yes, I love to serve. And while I’m also a switch, my core is pure submissive. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have needs and desires.

A partner once wrote to me that “as much as it is your responsibility to serve me, it is my responsibility to make you feel loved and make sure you have what you need and sometimes what you want.”

When I first read it, I also cried.

There’s been a lot of crying lately.

There’s also this comic by the wonderful Sarah Andersen, making the rounds.

But this one really hit me as I stumbled across it on a friend’s FB feed. Caring for the animal within. 

And I have no problem telling other people, especially submissives, that they have to put their own oxygen mask on first.

As it came up in therapy, though, I’m so used to giving. Making sure the people I care about have what they want and need beyond my own natural warning signs of “Empty! Need refuel!” as a method of survival that it’s just…what I do. And there’s also the times when, I’ve tried repeatedly to communicate what I want and need to various partners and the many times it’s been misunderstood, delayed forever, or just completely ignored. Sometimes, I’ve stopped asking. I’m not proud of that. Sometimes, I keep trying and once finally asked a question that wound up setting off a domino effect of that particular relationship ending.

Earlier this year, I had some wonderful experiences with someone who wanted to…do things for/to me because they wanted to. And because I asked or made it clear that I wanted certain things. It was…difficult to relax into. My brain went into hyperdrive anxiety, wondering if I looked okay/attractive, if I smelled okay, if the noises I was making were okay, getting frustrated with myself for not coming “quick enough”, and I tried to keep all this under control and not go into a full on anxiety attack for experiences that were supposed to be, and largely were, good. Some times, I even succeeded. It was the closest I’ve come lately to enjoying the moment and savoring the hell out of those experiences, but I still…struggled.

To be very clear, these were all my own hang ups. None of it came from the other person. In fact, they were amazing beyond amazing with telling me that all the things were fine, good, appealing, and showing me that they actively wanted to be where they were and doing what they were doing. Which included waking up parts of me I didn’t even think were responsive (or, wait….how the hell did you do that?! That part of me never reacts like that!), introducing me to dropping into sub space briefly with someone who was not a Dominant or Master/Mistress to me (well, that was a cool brief dip into subspace with no melancholy for wishing things could be different with you or anyone else; how the fuck did that happen?), and showing me by example the joy of relishing the moment for what it is.

This wasn’t fueled by NRE, that I know of. We’d kind of ridden a lot of that out by starting to build a friendship. It wasn’t driven by a desire to get me back after a breakup. Nor was it done, to the best of my knowledge and belief about this person, as a means to an end. I wasn’t a means to an end. It was shared experiences. And I don’t think I realized until recently just how fucking hard it was for me.

I hate that.

I hate that it was so hard for me to follow good feelings, hard to be treated like I was desirable, hard to admit that I desired things, and accept those things once talked about and freely given. Sex in general can be difficult for me. I have strong cuckquean and con non-con fetishes that are actually fetishes…like I need to think about one of those two things to get off 95% of the time, both when I masturbate or when I’m with other people. Both of those are built around denial of my own needs and desires and other people using me, taking what they want. For the very (very) few people that I feel comfortable being sexual with, that’s where my mind goes. When I don’t have an established D/s connection with that person, or that person isn’t into either of those things…my brain apparently gets a little messed up. It doesn’t know how to process…”do this because it feels good. You said you wanted it, and this person wants to give it to you, and that’s okay.”

I don’t know if it’s tied to my difficulty practicing self care or if it’s something different, but it feels right now like it’s tied together somehow. Like maybe I eroticized difficult things that’ve happened in my life so that I could reclaim them. But if so, the pendulum has swung so wildly in the other direction and I’ve forgotten how to relax into feeling good.

There are, apparently, a lot of things I’ve forgotten or fallen out of practice with. Like practicing. Magic and music. Like writing. Like intense, regular exercise. Like eating well and drinking water.

Once upon a time, I didn’t drink enough water at an event I was working. I wound up having an episode and being taken to see the EMTs. They ordered me to rest and hydrate. At the end of the weekend, someone else ordered me to my knees, handed me a glass of water, and told me to stay that way for 10 minutes and that maybe that would help me remember the importance of staying hydrated.

For the next few months, I was the best hydrated I’d ever been in my life.

Last month, there was an event that I had to work and I knew it was going to be difficult for many reasons. So I set myself into self-care overdrive mode. I knew that I wouldn’t have my best friend & PA there to help make sure I ate and drank, so I arranged with a few different people to help me with that and made sure to get some fairly healthy snacks to also help. I reached out to my magic-minded friends (and the internets) to relearn how to set up a portable altar, because it’d been years since I’d done that. I made lists, brought extra things to nest my hotel room with, and as soon as I got there, set about putting it all into effect.

I set up a portable altar, nested beyond any nesting I’d ever done before for an event, and also since I knew the person who had once made me kneel with the water would be beyond hella busy, I took it upon myself to kneel every day holding a glass of water for five minutes, setting my intentions for the day, reminding myself that I was worthy of my own service.

No one told me to. That was really fucking difficult to do, but I did it. And I stayed hydrated. I also ate three meals a day during the event. Which never happens. I’m exceptionally lucky if I get two, and that’s with having a PA whose main purpose is to make sure I’m okay at events. So for this one event, I was able to throw much of my energy into self care enough to get through the event and serve the community. But afterward? It’s been really challenging to keep up that self care. To keep believing that I deserve my own service, to put on my own oxygen mask, to ask for the help I need, and the interactions I want. I’ve been building a lot of walls. It’s just…there’s been so much pain. So much confusion. So much fear and difficulty. So much longing.

My body meters are at an all time low in regards to D/s, touch, sex, romance, sensation, making out, dancing, creativity, exercising, and snuggling/cuddling. I’m having problems with my teeth, my stomach, my uterus. My sleep patterns, which are normally already fucked because of childhood issues, have been beyond borked. Life is changing and I just keep thinking, “how do I change with it?” How do I move through all the transitions I feel coming?

I don’t know how to fight for myself and claim my own power let alone move into the next phase of my life. I barely know how to not treat myself as a means to an end of just getting through each day, so how do I even begin to stand up for myself and tell others that I am not a means to an end, if I don’t believe it myself?

The best starting place, I guess, is to keep reminding myself.

No, really, self.

I AM NOT A MEANS TO AN END.

One of these days, I’ll hopefully even believe it.

Vulnerability: the Self-Vivisection of Music, Submission, and Love

“You know….you clearly don’t know what it takes for me to be bold.”
-from the song “I Found a Boat” by Scarlet Sails

Holy fuck, I sang on the boardwalk Sunday night. In front of people. I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen. I mean, some part of me knew it would eventually happen, but I wasn’t certain it was going to be this past Sunday.

See, I’ve been talking with a friend about performing; they invited me to join them on the boards since they have a busking license. A few months ago, I asked them if they would learn the guitar part of a song for me that I really feel the need to sing and hear every damn day. I’m trying to learn it on guitar, but it’s slow going, so I was hoping they could help me get out there. So we set up time to rehearse for this past Sunday. Spent some time singing the harmonies together on a song they wanted to sing lead on, a few times over, and I played some stuff for them, and we worked on the song I asked them to learn. It was great. It was beyond great. It was something I’d dreamed about for decades…singing and playing with another musician in this way.

And then they asked if I wanted to go out and busk. Like…right then. That day.

The “sure” that flew out of my mouth surprised both of us, apparently. It seems I just….had found a pocket of courage and decided to run with it. I’ve wanted this for so long. To sing in front of people like this.

Now, some of you who know me might be all like, “but you’re a burlesque dancer who sings!” Or, “but you’ve been in choirs and musicals!”

And you’re absolutely right. However, there’s always a kind of character involved. Always someone else. And even when I was myself, like in choirs, I was still…part of the choir. Which isn’t me, right? It’s a group. I can blend in. Even when I’ve done solos…I was a bundle of nervous…but, it’s still with the choir. I know, I know…it’s weird.

There are just so many facades; this way, I don’t have to actually, fully be vulnerable. Because obviously, the world would end. Or at least that’s what my fears and anxieties scream at me. I mean, the actual world we all live in wouldn’t end. Cause, duh. No matter how illogical my fears are, I know that the world does not revolve around me.

But my world, the world where I have people in my life that I care about, things I enjoy doing, (or people whom I enjoy doing and things that I care about…y’know six of one…)…it feels like it would all come crashing down. I battle Imposter Syndrome on a regular basis. I also have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, as well as clinical depression. On top of all that, I’m an introvert.

They’re all managed. Mostly. But management is not a cure. It doesn’t all just magically go away. I’ve worked my ass off for over two decades to learn, to grow, to manage, to adapt, to push myself outside of comfort zones and try to open up.

However, there’s still an underlying, paralyzing fear that all the people I care about would leave if they knew what I really felt. The crippling fear and panic I deal with every day that I try to bury under all the layers of socially acceptable I slather on. The smiles, the banter, the glamour, all like a duck trying to swim so smoothly on the surface, but hiding the frantic feet churning water as fast as possible to stay ahead of everything, seek out every possible threat, protect myself in all the ways I learned when I was a kid.

The thing is…I made a decision a long time ago that I didn’t want to hide from pain. Or fear. Or, basically who I am and the things I am passionate about. I wanted to face it all head on. I’ve learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the persistence to keep going, Do The Thing, even when you’re shaking and terrified. I’ve worked for years, on therapist’s couches, in cars on long drives talking with people I trust, over the course of hours and days in solitude crying and processing, and in so many other ways, to keep opening myself up. Over and over. Some things are easier than other to talk about, act on, be. I am very comfortable being a creative, polyamorous, kinky, pansexual gray ace.

However, I’ve realized there are three basic things that strip that all comfort away from me: submission, music, and love.

Writing, art, dance, and creativity in general are ways I peel off certain layers, but submission, music, and love are the ones that cut to the quick, tap a vein, and various other metaphors that try to explain how I feel like I’m cracking open my chest and leaving all my gooey innards on display in some weird self-vivisection. Making the parts that people don’t see completely vulnerable. The parts I try to hide, because life has taught me when you let people see those things, it hurts. They laugh, they leave, or…they let you know that it doesn’t matter to them. That is probably the one that hurts the most. The indifference. It sounds stupid to admit…but I want to matter. I want to be valued. And at certain times, in certain ways, with a few people…desired.

Submission is one of the quickest ways to, appropriately, bring me to my proverbial knees. Some people have made the mistake of thinking that submission is weakness. Which is bullshit. Submission is absolutely not weakness. It’s been said before, by multiple people in many places, but I will say it again: You cannot take power away from the powerless. There is a core of strength and solidity to submission that is anything but weak. There is also tremendous vulnerability in submission.

There have been very few people in my life with whom I resonated in any way as a submissive. For various life reasons, my submission is beyond back-burnered. I’m grateful for all the experiences and the people I have resonated with, as my submission is something I guard very closely and wound up shutting down for a few years because it just hurt too much and I also battled some serious “I’m a terrible submissive so why bother?” demons. I’m especially grateful for the people who helped bring my submissive out of hiding. There was a brilliant combination of some gentle coaxing, some distinct challenges issued, some blunt truth, and a hefty dose of magic involved and all that has given me the courage to be open to the rare times I do get to be submissive and also hold out hope that one day I will have opportunities to be submissive more regularly.

When it comes to love, you’d think I’d be more…skilled and less scared in regards to it, being polyamorous for over 15 years. But no. There’s still true terror. I continually push myself past it, as best I can, but it’s always there. I’m realizing lately that there is part of me that struggles to feel worthy of the people I love. Like…I think they’re wonderful. But why would they want me? Also, it’s fucking hard to admit that I…have desires. That I want things. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what they are, and then once I do….communicating them is terrifying. It’s one part being an adult and being prepared to hear “no” because that’s always a possibility and one should know how to hear that maturely, and one part, “omg, what if they want that, too?!” I mean, it should be awesome if they want the same thing, right? But then my brain goes, do they really want it? Why do they really want it? If they wanted it, why didn’t they say something? It all boils down to a baseline fear of do they really want me? And if signs are pointing to yes…why do they want me? Followed by, but sure and then they’re going to leave. There are some people who’ve come into my life that I constantly have to shout down the jackass parts of my brain about. I might’ve written a little about it here. Constant process, learning to love myself.

And then there’s music.

Dear *insert dieties here*, music. They say that scent is one of the most powerful memory triggers, but for me, the most powerful is music. A certain song can throw me backward 20 years. When I find myself falling in love with someone, I go on a quest for music (and sometimes the music gets delivered right to me, which is AWESOME) to help me understand what this particular type of love means to me. I also look to music to help me process most emotions or to amplify certain emotions. I’m forever grateful to people who’ve introduced me to types of music or certain groups/performers that I hadn’t experienced before. There are certain singers/bands that will always be entwined with specific people because they’re the ones that exposed me to that music. My best friend has said that I experience the world through music and I think it’s true. It’s my first filter. I often think in song lyrics. They’re flying around almost always in my head. Music is infused in all I do.

And when I write my own stuff, and sing it…it’s…it’s like stripping away everything and flashing the world with my soul. It’s immediate. Visceral. I can’t hide behind the covers, a computer screen, nor sprint for the nearest door. I mean, I guess I could run and hide. But if I’m committed staying there and singing…it means I’m actively choosing to stay and be seen. It’s one of the purest forms of sharing. It’s so raw.

Sometimes it feels obscene to be that raw. Like, surely there are propriety laws or at least common social mores to observe. Someone is going to accuse me of, like, corrupting minors or breaking a law, right?

And because the Universe works in mysterious wonderful ways and helps to keep you on the path of opening up when you decide to, I found this poem on a friend’s FB earlier this week when I started writing this post. I now need to look up the works of Nayyirah Waheed.

Aaaaaand speaking of the Universe and its mysterious wonderful ways, also as I was in the process of writing this, I was reintroduced to this quote:

“Most people believe vulnerability to be weakness, but really vulnerability is courage. We must ask ourselves, are we willing to show up and be seen?”
– Brene Brown

Sounds similar to what I had said above about not being able to take power from the powerless and how submission is not weakness, either. It’s all connected. And at least for me, in my heart…music, submission, and love are points of vulnerability. Opportunities for courage. Offering another fucking opportunity for growth.

And man, this year has been one of grieving, change, and growth. I sometimes can’t keep up with all the emotions/experiences and being an empath on top of it makes it even more challenging. I’ve also been traveling a lot lately, and it’s difficult to be traveling with people I care about and not always be sure what to do with all the conflicting things that I’m trying to process. The past and the present and the future all swirling together. There have been many tears and only a few answers so far, and I get so frustrated with myself when I can’t control the damn tears.

Vulnerability means that I can’t always close myself back up the way I used to. It means sitting with the grief and uncertainty and insecurity and figuring out how to proceed. Sometimes it fucking sucks. Sometimes, though, it means other things. Like creating music with someone you respect, trust, and care about and just…being seen. When it’s that, it’s fucking awesome.

Sunday was fucking awesome.