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July 28, 2012

Snippet: One Night Over a Glass of Wine

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 5:23 pm

And apropos to several more recent conversations about owning power and hurting people…

HER: I have this rich fantasy life [in which I’m a dominant woman] but I wonder, when it really comes down to it, could I actually do it? Could I actually hit somebody?

ME: Oh, funny, I think I have the opposite problem: I’m absolutely certain I could do it and that I’d find doing it extremely hot — and that’s a real problem for me.

(Apparently, this is what “girl talk” looks like in my universe.)

SA: On Saying Yes to Complication — Or, At Least, On Saying Maybe.

SA: Sadomasochism in the Lesbian Community – Audre Lorde

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July 25, 2012

I can haz nap please?

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 3:03 pm

Can I just go back to sleep and sleep forever? I feel so melodramatic today. Like everything is just a heavy weight. What the fuck am I doing here?

I haven’t been taking care of myself. I know, I know. I feel quietly paralyzed. Do I have any insight to offer here? No. Probably not. I’m just writing ’cause I know writing is a form of self-care. Not, like, ice-cream and fantasy novels make-me-feel-good-when-I’m-sad self-care (tho that shit matters). The other kind. The doing-this-on-a-regular-basis-keeps-me-grounded-and-emotionally-even kind of self-care. The hard kind. Ugh.

What’s wrong with me? How am I the kind of person, at 30 years old, who seriously posts blog entries including phrases like, “What’s wrong with me?” Dear Livejournal…

Dear Livejournal, I’m trying to write my way out of depression and sleep deprivation and a lack of exercise, snuggles, sunshine, and healthy food. What do you think I should do?

Oh god. And I have a friend coming over from Antarctica this evening who I’m going to have to make small talk with. I’m happy to see her but…oh god.

I’m going to post this but I’m not gonna Tweet it ’cause there’s nothing in it. This is just for me. This is just…I don’t know what the fuck this is. Whatever.

ETA: Okay, weirdly, that actually helped. I feel a little less cloudy now.

July 23, 2012

An Analogy About Aiming with Arrows

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 12:01 pm

MATTHEW: You okay? You seemed a little…not okay just then.

ME: Yeah, I’m just having an epistemological crisis.

MATTHEW: Say more about that?

ME: Okay. Um…What’s a thing where you could be trying to do something specific but you can’t because your equipment is flawed?

MATTHEW: A bow and arrow?

ME: Okay. Say you have this bow and arrow that you’re trying to shoot targets with. You really like shooting targets, so you do it a lot. But something about the way the bow is strung means it’s impossible to shoot straight using it. You can’t really re-string the bow because you don’t know how. And, in fact, nobody knows how. Some people have some techniques for re-stringing bows that seem to work better than others — but nobody’s really got it down. Sometimes, you try to adjust it the string a little bit — which sometimes makes it better, and sometimes makes it worse, and sometimes just sends the arrows off in a different wrong direction than they were going before — but you don’t really want to fuck with the string too much ’cause you might snap it. So, mostly, you spend a lot of time trying to get familiar with the wonky way your bow works and calibrating so that you can adjust your aim accordingly. See where I’m going with this?

MATTHEW: You’re talking to a psychonaut, bro. Yes.

Right. So, obviously, the bow is my mind. The target is reality. The arrows are my perception. And the string is whatever cognitive distortions mediate between the two. It’s not like I can get RID of the cognitive distortions; they’re what facilitates as well as what fucks with my ability to perceive reality. If I unstrung the bow, it just wouldn’t work and I wouldn’t be able to shoot any arrows at all.

But here’s the thing: I get into this weird emotional cycle with my bow and arrows. Maybe it’s not a cycle. Maybe it’s more like a series of intermittent peaks and valleys. When I’m in the valley, I don’t give a shit that my bow can’t shoot straight. I’m sick of constantly futzing with it and I want to hit the goddamn target and I’m just going to fire as many arrows as I can as fast as I can until something goes *THUNK*. On the flipside, I get up to the peak and I start looking back and go, “Fuck. I shot the dog.” I didn’t mean to shoot the dog! I didn’t even know the dog was around! And now I feel so acutely conscious of my inability to control my aim, of the fact that I’m dealing with a ton of cognitive distortions that I understand very little about, that I get paralyzed and can’t loose any arrows at all.

Obviously, neither one of these is a functional strategy for interacting with reality. They both result in never hitting any targets. There’s a sort of middle way in which I know my cognition is distorted and I have some general sense of how and in what way, and that informs my decision-making but doesn’t prevent me from making decisions anyway.* But, when you found me earlier, I probably seemed not-okay because I was basically at the precipice of one of those peaks, looking down and being like, “Shit. I’m insane. And I think I just shot the dog.”

Incidentally, I happen to know that both these ineffective states of mind get exaggerated by being touch-starved. I’m really glad you came over right when you did.

MATTHEW: How come?

ME: Because, basically, I was just feeling crazy ‘cuz I needed a hug. Thanks.

MATTHEW: Oh. Yeah. Of course.


(*Incidentally, this makes me think of something Robyn told me the other day: Buddhist psychology is strange, because the goal of psychotherapy is supposed to be a healthy ego, but a “healthy ego” might be an oxymoron because ego is self-delusion. Perhaps the closest thing to a healthy ego is simply one in which we’re not in denial about deluding ourselves. SA: Bokononism)

July 17, 2012

Chocolate Covered Macaroons

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 9:27 am
Tags: , , ,

There’s this boy in my life who has my back in the way that I want to have yours. I’m going to tell you what that looks like, so that I can remember, too.

This boy has a lot more privilege than me in a particular way that matters to me a lot. Sometimes, he does things with that privilege that feel busted to me. And when I talk to him about that, he listens. And when I cry about it, he listens. And when I don’t know how to talk about it, or I can’t talk because I’m crying, he waits and sometimes offers to hold my hand or asks if I need anything, and if I don’t, he waits some more and then, when I can talk, he listens. This kind of patience helps me feel like I’m not crazy, like what I have to say matters enough to be worth hearing. It helps me take the time to be honest with myself about what’s going on for me.

This boy is fighting against (and inside) a System that hurts me and he’s been doing it for a long time. He isn’t doing it for me. He’s doing for him. He’s been doing it since long before he met me, and he’s doing it for reasons that have to do with his life, not mine. He’s been doing it so hard that sometimes I wish he’d stop — even though the way he’s fighting helps me, and helps him, and might be necessary for folks like us to survive. But, although I care about him enough to wish he didn’t have them, his battle scars make him easier for me to trust.

He knows the inner workings of this corner of the System better than I do. That doesn’t mean he understands my experience better than I do. But it means he understands the mechanisms of the power structure, because he’s spent years working to understand the mechanisms of the power structure, because it matters to him in a deeply personal way. Being inside that power structure has given him the access and the agency to learn about it that I don’t have and he shares that information freely with me and others. He is a double-agent.

This person lets me love him and hate his structural position simultaneously and doesn’t ask me to choose. He doesn’t expect me to sandwich my institutional critique in assurances that I’m not talking about him personally or that I understand that he’s a special case. He gets that sometimes I am talking about him personally, regardless of the ways that his personal case is also complicated, and he holds my pain without being ashamed of having been forced by the System into being its source. He doesn’t make absolution a condition of our care for one another.

And if, on the flipside, I ask him for reassurance about our relationship within the context of an oppression culture, he reassures me that we are okay. All of this helps me feel safe even when my feelings are messy and raw.

There’s this boy in my life. He can talk about the politics but he doesn’t have to talk about the politics if what I need to talk about is just plain feelings. He stays with me when I cry. And if I ask him to hold me, he holds me. And if I ask him not to touch me, he doesn’t touch me. He empathizes deeply without co-opting my experience. He understands things that people have rarely understood, and when I tell him that it’s hard for me to talk to him because he doesn’t understand, he understands that, too.

Last night, after I got triggered by something he didn’t even do and stormed off and slammed a door and went to bed, he left a note on top of a sweatshirt outside my room. I found it this morning when I woke up afraid that maybe, this time, I’d said too much. I found it and read it and clutched it in my hand and hugged my sweatshirt and cried. It said:

I didn’t want to disturb you, but I wanted you to have your hoodie.

(I care about you a lot and want to see you as you see yourself.)

I know I’m not supposed to give cookies for allyship. But that’s because most people are doing allyship wrong. Most “allies” are simply trying for basic human decency. That’s great, but it would be a resource-draining strategy to reward everybody all the time just for not fucking up. No, I don’t want to praise this person for dealing gracefully with his privilege; that’s something he’s doing for him, not me. I want to appreciate what that gracefulness, as a base layer, creates space for: It allows him to actually be my friend. It allows us to be friends in spite of a world that tells us there are a million reasons why we shouldn’t, wouldn’t want to, and can’t be. And being friends makes me want us to bake cookies and eat them together.

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