Practically a Lesbian: Being Ace/Aro and Female

This is kind of a silly post. Not in a laughing your butt off kind of a way (although, I am sure someone could pick this apart and think it’s hilariously awful. I will probably do that at some point. And then hate myself because why am I so ridiculous?)  but in that I’m overreacting a tad bit. But that’s the point of it.

I was overreacting to something and I couldn’t figure out why.

It was something that deserved a reaction, but not quite the reaction I wanted to give. If I hadn’t been at work with multiple people around, I probably would have started throwing things and shouting angrily at the top of my lungs and throw some curse words around. I was that pissed.

Something that both is and is not that hard to do. In general, I don’t get pissed off that easily. I’m something of a pushover. I’m too busy trying to be polite and nice and non-confrontational but if you say anything sexist/racist/so damn moronic I’m not sure how people talk to you, I become a little ball of fury.

Possibly the best way to piss me off is to invalidate asexuals and aromantics. I am really freaking touchy about that. But I’m really freaking touchy for a reason. Partially because it’s something  I personally experience but a large part of it is that there aren’t enough people saying things and when there aren’t enough people saying things and bringing attention to issues, the few people who do need to shout. Most people are still learning about ace/aros and quite a bit of the people who have learned they exist dismiss them and I’m really good at shouting so… Yeah, I’m going to have a strong reaction.

Before I even knew asexual and aromantic as terms (well, before I knew asexual as a term that didn’t mean an organism reproduces without help from a fellow organism), I was constantly being invalidated for what I would realize was my being asexual. I couldn’t say that I found sex to be gross or I didn’t want to get married or make a comment about how I didn’t understand sexual/romantic attraction without hearing something stupid. “You’ll grow out of it”. “You’re too young to know what you want”. “You just haven’t met the right guy”. Blah blah blah. All stupid, by the way, because I’m pretty sure that if you’re a teenager, at the height or hormones and all that, and you don’t understand the sexual/romantic world, you probably never will and there’s a reason for that (you’re probably ace or aro) (that could be a gross overgeneralization, but from what I’ve read/talked to people about/experienced myself it’s not).

Those were mostly well intentioned females. Then males happened. Thankfully, most guys  I talked to didn’t give a damn. If anything, awesome. If they aren’t going to get anywhere with me, it’s not nearly as ego-smashing because, hey, no one is going to get with me. But then there are the guys who get angry. I will never understand why guys take my being ace/aro as a personal affront to them, but they do.

Or they think they can make me romantic and/or sexual. Which… no. Just no. I have tried to make myself “normal”. All that did is drive myself and my ex and probably a friend or two crazy.

Or I’m being a crazy feminist who is making stuff up in my need to defy the patriarchy. I mean, sure, defying the patriarchy is definitely a plus, but I promise you, I could defy the patriarchy while being romantic and sexual (I write characters who do that for me since I can’t – well, I could, but not without awful personal repercussions).

Or I’m exaggerating. Or “that’s not possible/natural” – because everyone has to be sexual/romantic. (I’d like to point out that it was thought unnatural/insane for a woman to enjoy sex for any other reason than that it was another way for her to please her husband. By the same group of people who believed in God as Creator who would have endowed women with the ability to orgasm and feel pleasure and whatnot but nope, it’s totally unnatural to enjoy sex. So I’m not sure I’m going to believe anyone who tells me anything to do with my sexuality isn’t natural.)

Or, you know, it’s really not fair of me to take myself off the market (ew. That term. Just ew. Why do people still use that term? I’m not a goshdarn slab of meat at the butcher’s) when I’m so pretty/nice/fun/appealing to males (even though being in a monogamous relationship would also mean being “off the market”… So, what’s the big difference??). Or I’m such a tease for talking to guys when I’m not sexually/romantically interested in men.

But, I think my favorite one is the most recent one. That I am “practically a lesbian”.

I had seen various things on the internet trying to lump ace/aro people as straight/bi/homosexual/whatever the heck someone wanted them to be and was pretty annoyed. But then this past week happened and I’m a human and humans are really good at not getting mad about something until they experience it themselves.

During a conversation, someone who knows I am asexual and aromantic told me that I’m practically a lesbian and I immediately asked why. I couldn’t think of any reason why that would make sense. But, oh, right, I forgot that I, apparently live in a solely heterosexual male world because that was the answer. “To heterosexual males, you might as well be.” I was kind of pissed then, but just pointed out that’s not the only sexuality and walked away. And then it was brought up again two days later and, again, I was told that I am practically a lesbian because to the heterosexual world I might as well be and an argument commenced that ended in me walking away and trying to avoid conversation for the rest of the night because, well, furious Autumn is not exactly a pleasant person to behold.

The person who had said this is a friend of mine who had previously referred to me as his not-so-lesbian friend, because I’m like having a lesbian friend. I thought this was hilarious and probably pretty true.

But that doesn’t make me practically a lesbian. That means having a female friend who is ace/aro when you are a guy is like being friends with a lesbian. There will be no romantic interest and I will point out the really (aesthetically) attractive chicks while we’re watching movies. Granted, I’ll do the same with guys, but they’re a lot harder to find. Like The Avengers. Mostly male cast. They aren’t unattractive, but if I’m drooling over anyone, it’s Black Widow. Okay, there is no if. If I hated those movies, I would watch them just for her kick ass self. But, when watching Becoming Jane, I turned to my mother, pointed at James McAvoy and said “If you find me someone with that accent and those looks who meets my standards, you might actually get yourself those grandbabies you want. By might I mean, I’ll consider it and then laugh and platonically drink tea with him, but, hey, I considered it.” And since she was half asleep, she just sort of rolled her eyes at me instead of pointing out how entertaining my children would be and the world will be a more boring place without them.

But, while I find no shame in identifying as lesbian, I also find no shame in identifying as ace/aro. And when I am constantly being told that there’s something wrong with me in some way, shape, or form for not being attracted to people (or reciprocating their attraction. Blegh), I don’t want to be smushed into another category.

I am as attracted to women as I am to men.

So… aesthetically. As friends. As squishes. As people who are so awesome and attractive as individuals that they get me flustered and I walk into poles or trip over things or develop a stammer.

But not sexually and not romantically.

And that’s really freaking important to me.

Because that greatly impacts how I view and interact with the world. Because my goal and value hierarchy is (usually) somewhat different from most allosexuals. Because there are very few things I would say have shaped my entire life but my being ace/aro is definitely one of them.

So to try to take away my identity as ace/aro – especially if you’re someone I have a relationship with – is going to make me a tiny bit pissed.

 

But then to back it up by saying it’s because to the heterosexual male world, I might as well be lesbian – ahaha, no. I’m going to want to HulkSmash you through a wall.

Because that’s ignoring at least half, if not more, of the world’s population and since most of my friends are heterosexual males and can manage to respect the fact that I am not attracted to males without having to pretend I’m a lesbian (granted, the fact that they respect people for such things is why they are my friends), I’m pretty sure I might as well be straight, too. Or bi. Or pan. Or whatever. Because either way, we are friends. Either way, I am a person in their life that they enjoy and care about (or seem to, anyway, since why else would you be friends with someone you have to actively work at being friends with because of time and distance and the fact that I’m hard to have a relationship with because of social anxiety, self-defeating habits, and various other things). Because no matter who I am or am not dating, what matters is that I am happy and healthy.

Because I am not some object whose worth and meaning is dependent upon whether or not I am romantically/sexually available. I’m kind of tired of so many things I have been told as both a female and someone who is asexual and aromantic boiling down to my availability to men sexually and romantically.

You know, I might as well have been a lesbian when I was with my ex because I have always been ace/aro (or gray ace/aro, but like I’ve said before, there were very, very special circumstances around my ex. So outside of him, I’m pretty sure there isn’t even any grayness. It’s just a lot of “yup, definitely ace. Definitely aro. I’m going to go fantasize about quiche and dumplings and cheesecake now.”) and then on top of that, I was even more unavailable because I had a person. But no one would have said to me “you’re practically a lesbian” during that time of my life, even though the reasoning is exactly the same – my availability to the (single) heterosexual male world.

So maybe that’s only part of it? Maybe it’s also that, for whatever reason, quite a few allosexuals are made really uncomfortable by something that has absolutely no affect on them (unless you are dating an ace/aro, but otherwise, no) and really, it’s not something they necessarily need to know about. People need to know asexuals and aromantics exist, but is that something someone needs to know about you? Probably not. But if someone does tell you they’re asexual and/or aromantic, let’s not be idiots about it, ok?

And, maybe I need to stop over thinking everything, but maybe people could also try to figure out why what they’re saying could be offensive and we can meet somewhere in the middle (instead of insisting something isn’t offensive while someone is obviously upset. That goes for every offense, by the way).

(And maybe I need to stop using so many parentheses, eh?)

 

 

Broken

Broken. I have lived with this word hanging over my head, etched into my skin by my own hands and the hands of those who couldn’t see the tangled mess of broken windows and splintered doors hanging from their hinges, walls graffitied with broken promises and scrawled truths soured into lies, only the sad disrepair of shutters and the sunny paint peeling off in heavy chips.

Broken. Having been fractured; damaged; no longer in one piece; no longer in working order.

My face, uneasy, downcast eyes and wavering smile, plastered next to its spot in the dictionary.

I was a ship, lost out at sea, battered by storms, grounded along a rocky coast, waiting for rescuers to trail sorry pieces of driftwood, leading to a smashed, mangled hull, hollowed by reaching, hungry waves greedy under an angry sky.

To survive I told myself I was fine, until the lies I had cocooned myself in began to tremble and topple and smother me. I was broken. Beyond repair? Maybe. But such is the human condition.

And so I lived, struggling on, fighting, brittle, fractured bones managing to hold up mountains; punctured lungs dragging in breaths saturated with moisture that closed and covered and drowned.

I am broken,

I am bruised. 

I am shattered beyond repair. 

I am a sinkhole, a wreck.

I am a disaster. 

Until one day I realized – I wasn’t.

There I was, defining myself as broken – in pieces; unwhole – when I was merely chipped.

I was fractured and damaged the way mountains are.  Life had dragged her nails through my skin and her winds had unsettled me and Time had sailed over me, through me, the ebb and flow of his laughter shaping me the way the rains shape and kiss the earth.

I was marked, I was bent, but I was not broken.

 

I still find myself saying that every now and then; “I am broken”. Sometimes I believe it. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that I was wounded and still reeling from the way Life had smashed my beliefs in and I’m still carrying around scars from it. I have social anxiety and panic attacks, the constant worry that my depression will return and there are beliefs I have about myself that I’m not sure I will ever stop deconstructing. So it’s easy to still look in the mirror and see that word hanging over me, written in a pretty script for everyone to see.

It’s weird, not being able to go to my safety, to the words that for what seems like an eternity were my mantra. The label that I had been told was mine since I was 11. You are human and you are broken. Add on my life experiences, my brain, my chemistry, and I’m beyond repair.

I am human, though. Maybe humans are a little bit broken. Maybe we are inclined to stop working properly, to not function the way we should. We have times where we are hollow, where we are shattered, where we are like my phone. We work, but the colors are fuzzy and apps stop working and the memory is disintegrated and our ability to communicate with both the outside and internal world is at a (very roundabout, unexpected) minimal.

But unlike phones, we aren’t technology. We are living growing, dynamic beings. If we so choose. We are like trees. To be whole, to be healthy, we need to be changing and growing and reaching up and around, at times, embracing our wounds. We grow around obstacles or, sometimes, if we’re stubborn enough, we grow into them and they become a part of us, the way I have seen fences and trees become one. We are constantly reaching for the light. Sometimes –  sometimes that light is a blinking wavering thing and it’s cruel and it’s cold but it’s all we have. Then we are sad, desperate things, but always, there is a chance to discover a new light to make our weak limbs strong and to let us grow properly. We can grow through the night and we can survive seasons of drought and cold and blistering heat. We can lose limbs and all of our foliage can fall at our feet, but we live constantly with the hope of renewal and the strength, no matter how deep within it is buried, to make it through this storm, this season, this long night. And like a tree, we need that. We need those seasons and we need to react to those seasons, no matter how subtle, to be healthy. It is only when  a tree becomes static that is is unhealthy, that it is no longer functioning as a tree.

I can see that now. I can see my limbs and where they twisted, the knots, the hollows, where I lost a branch in a storm, where I cracked in two, the spot where lightening split through my bark and burnt my core. I am a living history. I am not broken. Never broken. I am – wonderfully, weirdly – whole.

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The Build Up

Snap.

Like a twig.

Like a string.

Like that time I tried to play guitar

and wound up with calloused fingers

and hands trembling

as I watched everything I touched

break.

It’s okay.

I’ll back away.

Retreat.

Curl up in my solitude

and wait.

 

Words

dancing

so I leap.

And find my face smashed in

by a sentence.

Reasonable.

Sane.

Heavy

on my chest.

Breathe,

smile,

brilliant,

false.

 

Fire

reaching towards the sky

the way

I reach

for you.

For promises,

for truth.

For beliefs

to be right.

Swallow.

Brace myself,

stand tall,

like a tree.

Syllables quiver,

sneak.

Are grasped tightly,

bled dry.

Silenced.

Oh well.

 

 

A noun,

simple,

edged,

spiked,

hard.

There’s a crack.

An explosion.

A chasm.

Stars circling,

sunspots.

Clear view.

 

 

 

1.07.16

Potential.

It’s a word that has haunted me since I graduated high school.

It sits on my shoulder, presses against my chest, lies curled up against my side, hot, too hot, as I try to fall asleep.

Potential.

So much of it.

Enough to have teachers, family, friends

excited about my future.

Waiting to see what I would do.

With the smarts.

The creativity.

The words bundled under my skin,

the ideas coursing through me,

the knowledge that seeped out of my pores.

The passion that wound itself up

and bounced through my being.

The potential.

The English professor at my community college who asked

Why are you here?

To save money.

That’s not a good enough reason. Not for you. 

I’m glad to have you as a student,

but you shouldn’t be here.

You’re too good for this school.

I didn’t know how to put into words what I knew,

somewhere in that muddled brain of my 19 year old self,

that it wasn’t about money.

Money was important,

it was the deciding factor,

but it wasn’t the why.

The why was

fear.

The why was

a belief,

so certain and true and faithful,

that I would never

could never

be good enough.

I knew I had potential,

but what does potential mean?

Nothing.

At least not to my brain.

It meant that I would always be a point shy.

That I would brush against greatness

but never embrace it.

I could run as fast as I possibly could,

train hard,

break my lungs,

my back,

my knees,

but I would never make it to the finish line.

If I did,

I would be too broken

to make it to the next race.

So I curled into myself.

I rolled my dreams up

like an old carpet

and hid them away

in an attic

where only the dusty sound of their footsteps

overhead

as I try to sleep

can bother me.

I go back every now and again,

unroll them,

trace their worn patterns,

and wonder.

Wonder when I stashed them away

and how,

when other things have come to clutter my rooms,

I can ever make the space for them

to inhabit my life again.

 

 

A Small Victory

Yesterday, the females in my family stopped at a local eatery to grab some onion rings. Outside there was a Help Wanted sign. Two days after someone suggested I work there since I want to run my own business and said business would sell food.

So today after work I stopped by and asked about a job there. I have a test shift on Friday.

I got in the car and what I did hit me. I was victorious! I can conquer all!

And then I started driving home and lost most of the excitement coursing through me (most. Not all) because I really should not be feeling victorious about walking into a building, saying hello, and asking a few questions. People do that all the time. Most 21 year olds do not become thrilled at having managed something so simple (really. It was amazingly simple).

But gourds, was it a victory for me. I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t drive up, park, drive away, drive in a circle, then return to repeat the whole process five times. And then never apply. I didn’t stutter (something that has become a problem within the past year). I didn’t once start panicking. I didn’t choke. I didn’t need to call anyone for a pep talk. I didn’t even once consider that I’m an awful terrible being what am I doing thinking they would want me?

I did a normal Adult thing with ease.

It doesn’t sound like much. I applied for a job.

Wow. Okay. Look at me. Being a human being. Woohoo. I can function. Big whoop, ya moron.

But when I can barely manage a hello to my coworkers most days, when social anxiety is almost constantly gripping my throat when I’m around people (including friends I feel safe around), when I have had three panic/anxiety attacks this past week for no reason, when one of those attacks happened this morning and I could not move so I missed my train, when I spend most of my life feeling like a mouse because I squeak out words and then disappear because my brain can’t handle people…

Walking into a pub, saying hello, and asking about a job without any negative emotions happening was amazing.

That is cloud nine. That is my victory.

And it sucks that my brain is so dysfunctional that that’s a victory, but oh well. I did it. I did something I honestly did not expect myself to do or to be able to do if I tried.

I don’t know if I have the job and we’ll see how Friday goes (fingers crossed because I actually really really want this experience), but I have a little more faith in my abilities as a functioning adult. Something that I sorely needed.

So. *Victory Dances Everywhere*

~ Kiartha Qwon’um

When Earth Danced

Earth came to me the other day.

She was beautiful.
She was stunning.

She was covered in blood.
In wounds that ran red
And throbbed,
Infected,
Unholy,
Dirt ground into them.

Her eyes were broken.
Her skin chapped.
Her hair only patches,
Her dress ragged as the breath
Coming from her lungs.

Still, she was stunning.

She was strong.
Bruised and cut
And torn.
Abandoned.
Forgotten.
Trampled upon.
Laughed at.
Ridiculed.
And still, she stood,
Those broken eyes staring down the future,
The past,
The present.
Still she stood,
Majestic and strong,
Everlasting.

She brushed her fingers,
Fine and warm and
Lovely,
Against my cheek

And she crumbled.
She wrapped her arms around my legs
And clung to me.
She cried into my bones
So that my marrow was her tears.
She bleed into my veins
So that I burned with her fever.
Her hair on my skin
Stoked fires
And in the smoke I saw
Death.
Felt pain.
Heard the screams.
Hammers and
Nails
And panic.

My vision clouded
As she breathed
Humanity into my lungs.
Wars
Fires
Bloodshed.
Forests felled.
Kingdoms poisoned.
Century upon century
Blurred together
Until I saw only her
Sobbing into feet
That dare to trod
gently,
To care.
To listen
To the rhythm
Of a broken heart.

No more.
No more.
No more.

She stood,
Swaying,
Unbalanced.
Her lips parted, 
Broken teeth
Grinning.
But her eyes,
Oh her eyes,
Turquoise,
Beautiful,
And so
Terribly
Dead.

Fingers
Danced across
Her abdomen,
Swollen,
Taut,
Ready for birth.
She winced,
She breathed,
Harsh,
Jagged.
Soon. Soon.
It’s time.

Her hands lifted,
She spun,
Gracefully,
Elegantly,
A tornado sweeping
Across the sky.

And I wept.
For she danced.
Not as she once did,
In joyous celebration,
Kissing the sky
And twirling with the heavens.

O, did she dance;
She danced
To the rhythm
of death.

Media Monday: The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater, A Non-Review

A while ago, I picked up a hardcover book in perfect condition for $1. I had seen it all over social media and it was a hardcover for only one dollar that was in perfect condition. So, of course I bought it. I couldn’t really pass it up.

Then it sat somewhere in my room or my car for at least a year, possibly two. I’m not sure when exactly I purchased it. Just the where.

But then a Someone came into my life. She just sort of appeared. And then one day she shook her glorious mane, pointed at my bookshelf, and said “You will read books for me.” There were some obvious ones that she didn’t need to tell me I would be reading. But those came later. First and foremost she pointed at the white cover of a book I had been ignoring and, while I knew I would read it one day, didn’t think of unless I was looking right at it.

The Raven Boys.

With my necklaces because 1. a lame attempt at being artsy and 2. in my life, these three things belong together

With my necklaces because 1. a lame attempt at being artsy and 2. in my life, these three things belong together

I made some sarcastic comment under my breath and pulled it off of my shelf. Soon most of my Irish books joined it and a pile of Scary books (aka horror and thriller books I liked to pretend I didn’t own even though they intrigued me) joined it.

Because this was the beginning of October and Halloween was coming up, the Scary Book Pile came first (I made it through 3 of them). But then it was November and The Raven Boys was calling to me so I picked it up.

And I did not willingly put it down until I was on the last quarter and only then because I didn’t want it to be over.

It was one of those books that came at the perfect time and was completely relevant to my life.

(and this is where I get messy because I don’t normally write out reactions to books. I just talk my friends’ ears off)

Here’s a list… of things. They are why I needed this book and why I loved this book and why it was relevant to my life.

One. Gansey and Adam. Stiefvater has characters who are friends from entirely different backgrounds and instead of having everything be perfect, there are natural tensions there. Props to her for that.

Gansey grew up with wealth and fortune and all that stuff and so has quite a vocabulary. One that he uses without thought. Adam, having not grown up in that sort of environment, takes Gansey’s vocabulary as a sort of personal affront. A reminder that Adam is not from the same social class as Gansey. Gansey can’t quite help the way he talks but attempts to (there are other issues happening besides just the vocab, but, this was the one I understood the most).

I have been called pretentious by people. A lot. Because of my vocabulary (which is nothing compared to some of my friends’. They put me to shame). Because of how much I read and what I read. Because of the food I eat. Because I expect people to know things (like where Wales is) and they don’t. This can, apparently, all be construed as pretentious. Maybe it is. I don’t really know.

So, while I definitely do not have Gansey’s background (I definitely do not have an unlimited amount of money. I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t worrying about money), there were moments of frustration for him that resonated with me. In a more subtle way, but still, I have found myself on the receiving end of a comment that was less than pleasant and focused on something trivial, like language.

It made me think about how I come off. I’ve had a lot of people assume I grew up without money issues. This could just be the area I live in (a rather wealthy one. All I have to do is drive half an hour to the next county to realize how nice my county is). The school district I went to was fairly sheltered from poverty. We had it, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t as blatantly in your face as most school districts. That applies to most of the towns/school districts I spent my time in. But it could be the way I approach food (I am something of a food snob) or the way I talk. I have had multiple people ask me to rephrase something because I used a word most people either haven’t heard of or do not use on a regular basis (well, when I can actually talk coherently because social anxiety likes to jumble all my words together).

I know some people have assumed I’m arrogant because I use “fancy” words (it’s so weird to think about because I am so often frustrated at how small my vocabulary is) but it never really set in before reading this that my vocabulary could be so influential. It’s really uncomfortable to realize that the words I use and the way I phrase things could, at times, influence someone’s perception of me to such a high degree and even more uncomfortable to realize that those could, depending on the individual, cause fissures between us.

(I know my eating habits have. I don’t eat foods from certain places and that bothered my ex and some of his friends a lot. I care about food so I am a snob about it. If I am consuming something, I want it to be enjoyable and to provide nourishment for my body. They took it as me thinking I was better than them. It was one of the weirder sources of tension in my life.)

Two. Adam’s family.

Adam Parrish has an abusive family. His father physically abuses him and he is constantly worried about the consequences his actions will bring about at him. His mother protects his father, rather than him. Again, props to Stiefvater for this being included. It was natural (sometimes abusive households feel really forced and it’s uncomfortable) and it was true to life. That is how abusive households are set up. Everything about how she handled that situation satisfied me (having been in one, I tend to rant for days when they aren’t portrayed accurately).

During the one scene, I had a personal moment of “Oh.”

I was never physically abused by my parents. I don’t think. My dad used the belt on my brother but I only remember that ever being a threat for me. But when Adam’s father started shouting about him using the money he was earning to pay for school rather than for the family’s needs – I had to put the book down and walk away for a moment (There was a lot more to that scene, but I didn’t get past the yelling right then).

My money going towards school or a car or gas or food for me rather than the family was a constant issue in my family. Before that moment I never wondered if that counted as abuse. If it even footed that line.

Because I was told, again and again and again, that was my duty, my responsibility as the oldest child, to help provide for the family.

I was never physically harmed for using my money for school and gas to get to classes and work, for clothes and food, but I was continually shamed for it. Only occasionally by my dad, but then constantly by my mother. I was an awful daughter and sister for not giving all of my money to the family. It was a constant pressure.

I have paid for various expenses in my family (family gas money, books, school supplies, the groceries for the week, electricity, gas) while struggling to pay for my own things – textbooks, school loans, gas to get to work and school, food for myself, car repairs (because I have never not been paying for something to do with a car) for years (not constantly, but fairly often. More than I can afford to). Partially because I want to (it’s unfair to my siblings that they shouldn’t have something relatively essential because my parents are awful at managing their money/are trying to punish one another but only punish the kids), but mostly because it has been so drilled into my head that I have to. That to not do so is to fail as a human being. And then, often, be reminded of that, often in shouting and really nasty comments (I’m lazy, I’m not doing enough, I don’t care about anyone, I’m selfish, I don’t deserve ____). Doing what I can financially (which, usually isn’t much because I can barely pay for my needs) is almost never enough as is (Well, I did what I could responded to with a “You should be doing more. You’re lucky I let you live here).

When I have brought up that I have my own expenses to pay and need to take care of myself and can you please stop treating me this way because it’s not healthy, I’ve just been told I’m crazy and/or that I am looking for excuses to hate everyone.

I don’t know if that crosses the line into abusive, but, still, having something similar to that come up in a book was something I needed. It confirmed my belief that this is not an okay thing on my parents’ part. When I am constantly told I am making everything up and that I’m just a drama queen who wants to be angry at everyone, I needed that. Cause I don’t think I want to be angry at everyone all the time and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be hurting for no one reason but she’s older than me and older people are supposed to be wiser and maybe I’m not so great at being self aware after all. But I also don’t want mistreatment to go unacknowledged because then I can’t address the problem it creates. So, for that situation, it solved most of my confusion over it.

Three. This:

DSC_1180

Or, in not awful handwriting: “She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was something so big that it felt like sadness. It was the way she felt when she looked at the stars.”

Isn’t it wonderful?

Four. Coincidence.

The same Someone who sat there and dictated a list of books to me that she wanted me to read smiled at me, a lovely smile full of spiders and moonlight and shadows that haunt you with their beauty and their possibilities, and said “You doubt so much. You will doubt no more.”

And then a ton of Coincidences happened. And she sat there and laughed because we both knew these weren’t coincidences.

Then I read The Raven Boys. After about a month of Coincidence after Coincidence happening. And the male characters in the book do this thing where when things line up perfectly, they say “Coincidence” meaning, of course, that they believe it’s anything but.

What a Coincidence that I should read this book right then.

And I sat there and laughed while the Universe and that Someone laughed with me.

Five. This book spoke to the part of me I locked away. The part that believed in magic and would stand on the hill in my front yard, my skirt whipping against my legs in the middle of a thunderstorm, staring at the sky and waiting, just waiting, for reality to break and for the magic I could feel waiting, just waiting to be released to be mine.

But nothing ever happened. And then my parents were divorcing and I was graduating and everything went awful and somewhere in all that I found myself staring at a lake reflecting back the sunset while dusk settled on the world and my heart didn’t beat a little faster, my chest didn’t warm with that familiar ache. I no longer believed magic – if it even existed – could be mine.

Some people might just say that’s part of growing up. That’s what happens. That’s good.

But I knew better. I had lost a very important part of me.

That belief in magic, in adventure, in something greater than this waiting for me, was what drove me, it was the passion that filled by bones and burned my veins.

Somehow, in reading The Raven Boys, something of that returned. I needed fire and it gave me a spark.

0c3b175f-7358-49a5-8982-6470294c8d74.jpg (900×636)

Not mine – http://www.playbuzz.com/jonathanz11/what-magic-element-is-in-your-control

It was Blue and it was Gansey. It was Ronan and his Chainsaw. It was the Blue yearned for something more than she had, to be part of what she caused – so similar to my own abandoned achings and longings. It was Gansey and his determination, his belief – no matter how many reasons he had to brush it aside – in magic and destiny. It was Ronan and his unwittingness and his power.

It was an author who knew, so well, what had danced across my heart, what was lying asleep against my ribcage.

Six. I was reminded of why I write and what I want to write.

I want to bring magic to people’s lives. I want to give them that spark. I want to let them know that they aren’t alone. I want to talk about things they aren’t going to hear about anywhere else. I want someone out there to read something I wrote and have an “oh” moment. I write stories that have carved themselves into my soul – that, perhaps, didn’t need to be carved because they were always there – and I want them to be what The Raven Boys was to me, a book that will stay, that will linger, that will find a space in someone’s heart and fill it. I want my book to be kept beside a bed because the bookshelf seems too distant and the story is now so familiar.

I forgot all of that.

I forgot a lot of things. But that, I think, is one of the worse ones.

I doubt Maggie Stiefvater will ever read this, but just in case, Thank you, in so many ways.

And to anyone who didn’t write the book and happens upon this, guys, read it. It’s wonderful. The characters are fantastic. I was never once bored. And I cannot wait to get my hands on the second one to continue the journey with characters I want to meet in person.

Without the dust jacket

Without the dust jacket

~Kiartha Qwon’um and Many Good Reads to You

Why I Did What I Did

I got some much needed sleep (hours upon hours of actually sleeping and making it into REM. It was wonderful) and somehow the insane dreams happening helped me figure out why this happened. And I feel a lot better about my actions (or lack thereof) because they actually make sense and knowing at least most of the why I can start working on fixing that.

So. The why.

1. I was taught that my discomfort is something to be ignored if it comes from older men.

I had older male family members who had weird habits that I wasn’t a fan of but when I was a tiny child and wriggled away, I was scolded. You know how little children can be against hugs and kisses and we try to get them to hug and kiss people (usually relatives) anyway? Like that. Except a tad more awkward. But not completely inappropriate, which is probably why, even when I was older, it was something that I was told to just put up with, it’s not doing anything harmful and saying something will just ruffle feathers and we don’t want that. Same thing applied to any older males at parties and whatnot. Or neighbors. Or anywhere there were other people. If he made me uncomfortable, I had to ignore that and stand there and be pretty (pretty quiet, pretty reserved, pretty good at pretending I didn’t want to run away).

Nothing harmful had actually happened and you don’t want to ruffle feathers. Until something harmful happens, you’re just overreacting.

2. I am a fairly peaceful person/I like making people happy.

In everything. But… I used to be a lot more vocal about things that crossed lines and boundaries. So, a natural tendency that really should be coupled with my very intense sense of justice/right vs. wrong/being quite the feminist to make me fight for those things and from that gain peace became magnified (in a bad way) by…

3. Standing up for myself never accomplishes anything. Usually, the end results are the exact opposite of what I wanted to accomplish. If I can smile and appease the person, I’ll be fine.

The Dad wasn’t exactly a nice person. Anytime anything went outside of his plans and his will, things got ugly. Yelling, screaming, breaking shit. Standing there thinking to yourself “Holy Hell, I just released a demon” because you went against his desire. Even if you did so by saying you weren’t going to wash that dish right this instant because you’re in the middle of your homework. Or if you walked away from the chore he gave you to do something Mom said to do. As I got older, I learned that shutting up, smiling, doing what is expected of you, all smiles (no matter how fake) is how you keep Demon Dad from appearing. Also: never just walk away. Never ask to be removed from the situation. You will be chased down. You will now have Demon Dad chasing after you and no one will help you (they will probably blame you) and the more you try to get away, the worse Demon Dad gets. Saying “no” in any way shape or form was a dangerous, scary thing, no matter how good of a reason I had. So that’s my main experience with men over a certain age.

The Mom. This is one long story because it’s a tad more complicated. But basically, one day I asked her to stop telling me every single detail about the pain in the ass that was her divorce from my father and my life at home became a living hell. One that managed to make the damage from my dad’s abuse pale in comparison. Suddenly the rules that applied to living with my dad (do everything perfectly. Meet every expectation, no matter how ridiculous) applied to her. With the added benefit that I was no longer a minor and she could kick me out of the house/threaten to do so whenever she pleased. After years of trying to fight for myself in a house that repeatedly told me (to my face, not just insinuated stuff) that I was worth nothing, that my education and my mental health meant nothing, that I am a slut/bitch/whore/ass/punk/ungrateful brat/bastard/lazy/fat/stupid/a ton of other shit, I gave up. I learned to keep my mouth shut. To say nothing. To walk away – if I could (this sometimes meant getting kicked out of my house or locked out for the day or being stranded at work or having to call work letting them know that I’m going to be hours late because my ride to work, five minutes before I needed to leave, just decided that I am undeserving and the train takes time). Eventually, this evolved into attempting to hide any unhappy emotions and going along with anything being said because that’s the only way to survive.

Church. Don’t ever say anything that is not approved by the leaders. Ever. including saying something is not an okay way to treat people. This was a small thing and alone would not have done any damage to my ability to stand up for myself, but it did reinforce what my household had already taught me.

Work. I was a lot better at saying no until work happened. I started having to say no to one of my managers and it was awful. I don’t have a car. I rely on public transportation because the people in my life who aren’t an hour away aren’t exactly reliable. I asked for certain days off and if I knew in advance I was going to have a really hard time making it to work I would let them know. I asked to change my availability from open to within the hours of public transportation/walking to the train in daylight because I was hit by a car and did not want that happening again and for Sundays off because it was a lot harder to get to work on those days. Nothing about that was unreasonable. I was harassed, constantly, for that. I was told I don’t care about my job, that I was making my manager’s life harder, repeatedly asked to change my availability. Along with other things that made me feel like complete shit for saying “this is what I can do. These are my limits. You are asking me to put my health and safety at risk for a job that pays less than $10 an hour. I am not going to do that anymore.”

4. I was in a relationship that lead to an avoidance of saying no and voicing my wants/needs.

This was only towards the end. There were questions (how are you today? We’re going to the movies, wanna join? Can we go out and do something today?) that I could not ask without being on the receiving end of stony silence, sometimes for hours. I very rarely said something made me uncomfortable, but when I did, I was made to feel stupid. I spent a couple of months trying to not upset someone who got upset unexpectedly and over random things. (I was a complete asshole for a while but at this point, I was a pretty damn good girlfriend. Not perfect, but I was actively working on being a better person and had been fixing my side of the relationship for long enough that at this point, I was guilt ridden but no longer an awful, or even kinda crappy, person to be dating, so, at this point, all of this was not a reciprocation of my actions). I could not say no, I could not voice my desires or wants without being made to feel like shit. I spent way too many days waiting for him to not be angry at me until I shut up. I banned no from my vocabulary and ignored my wants and desires. Wants and desires that were sometimes needs.

5. Once “no” no longer exists in your vocabulary, it is really hard to get back.

Unless you’re someone who gets it back and then uses it all the time. Without reason. I’m not that kind of a person. I tried that. It lasted two hours. I don’t know why it’s such a hard thing to get back, but it is. Brains are weird, how it’s so easy for all the bad to sink in and so hard for the good to filter through. I haven’t really had anyone I could say no to without things I try to avoid happening, but I still know that I have the right to say no and should. That just doesn’t filter through anymore.

So, of course, when I’m in situations where I have every right to say NO – no matter how polite and reasonable my no is – a part of my psychological makeup believes that appeasement (the smiling and agreeing and going along with everything) is the only thing I can do. That it is the proper response. That it is the only response that will avoid even more unpleasant things from happening.

So it’s not that I’m worried about being polite. Because that’s not the right term. I am worried about offending someone. Because – whether or not it is actually offensive – if my life has taught me one thing, it is that appeasement is the only way to survive. If I’m in a crappy situation, it will only be made worse by saying no and fighting it. If I do say no, a situation void of violence may become violent (Which is why, if violence is already presenting itself, I can say no. Because it’s too late. No point in appeasement now).

So that’s the why.

But, hopefully, I can combat it with two things.

1. The random people who have popped up to say I am worth more than that. Please start fighting for yourself (and stop walking on roads at night. But that’s mostly out of my control).

2. My knowledge of history. I am such a history person. It’s a part of my being. And history is a great example of how appeasement does not work. Ever. Maybe momentarily but that usually just makes things worse in the long run. If not for me, for someone else. Or, while this isn’t quite appeasement, but that whole Native American Tribes giving way a little bit to prevent America from doing worse damage and that didn’t stop America from violating them even more? Yeah. Basically my history right there and I’d like to create a more optimistic future (and thus future history) for myself.

So. That’s the why. My why, although, I’m sure (unfortunately) that there are plenty of people of out there with a similar problem and similar problems so if anyone reading this is in a similar boat, let’s paddle ourselves to a safe island. Let’s make our boat a warship. Or an extremely well guarded merchant vessel because I don’t actually want to be a warship. Speak up and speak out if you find yourself in a creepy situation. There are people who will support you, even if it is from afar. No can be a dangerous word, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good word. It’s a weapon that of used defensively is so damn valuable. It’s a weapon everyone has but not everyone knows how to use (like me. I’m convinced I’ll manage to stab my eye out. Sever a limb. Tear open the time and fabric of space and bring in the apocalypse).

So, *arms self with weapon. Looks pretty bad ass* I’m gonna go learn how to use this bad boy. *strikes epic pose*

(Although, I’m sure my inner pep talk will dissipate by the end of the day and at some point I’ll stare at the No I’m attempting to learn how to use and start freaking out because I’m a wimp).

What Happened, What I Did, and What I Wish I Did

I don’t really know how to start this. In ways, I don’t want to. The voice inside my head that likes to convince me I am stupid is rolling her eyes, convinced I am being melodramatic. In ways I feel like I am. Nothing terrible happened. Just awkward and creepy.

But something terrible could have happened. And I would have reacted in a very similar manner to the way I did.

And it would have been awful.

So I am writing this for myself.  But I am writing this for every other woman  – and man. I am sure they are out there – who has tried to convince themselves it was nothing, while knowing that it was something.

~~~

I, usually, think of myself as this strong, independent character who will smite any man who dares to cross her.

I am learning otherwise.

The other night, I was walking home from work when a car came to a stop on the opposite side of the road, offering me a ride. Or, okay, there wasn’t an actual offer. There was a shout of “Get in”. I stared at the car because at that moment my sense hadn’t entirely drained away. Then came another shout. Saying the same thing. And, because I was desperate, I crossed the road and got in, despite the odd feeling in my stomach that was urging me to just keep on walking.

Why I didn’t listen to that gut feeling:

  1. I was, as I said, desperate. My shift had ended at 4. It was now somewhere between 10:30 and 10:45 at night. When I got out of work, I texted the Mother asking if she would be willing to pick me up either at the mall-thing I work at or at the bus stop closest to our house. She didn’t reply. The 4:45 bus didn’t show up and when the bus service was called, they said hello, and hung up. So, not having money to pay for the taxi to the train station (which is now a 1/2 hour walk to my house), I waited for the 8:24 bus. As we were leaving, my mother finally texted me. I sent her what time the bus was arriving. And then my phone died. The bus arrived. I set myself up at the nearest food place with an outlet, and charged my phone. It was past 10 and the Mother had still not appeared and there was no text from her. So I started on the 2 hour walk home. 6 hours after I got out of work. When I had to wake up at 6 in the morning to get to work on time the next day. A 2 hour walk home, after a long, annoying day, in the dark, when it was chilly and I didn’t have warm clothes on because I didn’t think I would be walking home at night, on a busy road with no shoulder was not, at all, appealing. This is also the road that a car hit me on (just my arm but, still, it hurt like hell), so I am somewhat afraid of this road.
  2. For months I have been walking home from various places because a lack of available/helpful people in my life and a lack of a car. I have accepted rides from numerous strangers and all of them have been lovely, nice people. So I hadn’t yet had a bad experience. (usually the creeps stuck to yelling at me from their car windows. Outside of the one guy who asked if I was a hooker and drove off when I glowered at him. Mostly because I was wearing loose jeans and a t-shirt. What kind of a hooker wears that?)
  3. I trust the Powers that Be. So in that moment I muttered a little prayer. This, I believe, is in part why nothing actually terrible (just vaguely terrifying) happened.
  4. And I was really, really tired. I just wanted to go home and sleep. I have a lovely romance with sleep and was missing her sweet embrace.

The voice from the car turned out to be a man, probably around my father’s age (35-45) who was friendly and spoke in broken English. This, I assumed (because I try to give people the benefit of the doubt), was the reason why the offer for a ride seemed to be more of a demand than anything else (a friendly demand, but a demand nonetheless).

Like most people, he asked my name, said it was pretty (really, it seems no one can hear my name without telling me it’s pretty. Unless they once dated a girl named Autumn and the person is in a band. Then I find out their ex-girlfriend’s name). Did not offer his name like most people did. I asked, to be polite and also because unless you are asking my name for Starbucks, there has to be an exchange. Something inside of me (intuition, not anything like the worm in Corpse Bride) said to lie about my name, but by the time I was paying attention to that, I had already answered truthfully.

I did lie about my age. I said I was 17 (I’m 21) because then I’d be a minor but not a ridiculously little minor. The guy thought that I was 15 or 16.

I lied about the store I work at.

I spent the next ten minutes lying about any possible ways to identify me.

I don’t normally lie.

Especially not to strangers (because what’s the point?).

The guy kept saying 3 things: Working at night is dangerous, the road I was on is dangerous, and “Are you scared?/There’s no reason to be scared/Stop being scared.”

I was not scared. In the least. Uncomfortable, because I was in a car with a male stranger, I was tired, and it had been a long day. But I was not scared. I was conversing. I was not being shy. My body language was not at ease, but it was not scared. So the first couple of times he said mentioned my being scared (especially the first time “you don’t have to be scared. I’m a nice guy”), I continued to not be scared, but I got a wonky feeling in the pit of my stomach. By the 4th time I was told not to be scared, I was beginning to panic a little bit.

Yes, it was creepy. But, like I said, I give people the benefit of the doubt, so instead of freaking out, I brushed it off. I don’t remember what justification I gave it, but I did try to justify it. I guess because it would have been natural for me to be a little scared, because I was alone in a car late at night with an older male I did not previously know so he was aware of that and wanted to… I dunno. I really don’t. I was just trying to not judge someone off of something that was odd, but not harmful.

About halfway to my house, he handed me his phone, the screen open to that area where you punch in the phone number (is there an actual word for that? And if there is, why don’t I know it?). I froze, staring at it. I was suddenly unable to ignore any of the discomfort threading it’s way through my intestines.

He explained that he wanted me to put my number in. He said, in case I needed a ride home again. I put my phone number in. Because it was the polite thing to do. Because I didn’t want to be rude. Because I’m a moron. My rational, non-idiotic brain, then kicked in and tried to figure out how to not have my phone number in his phone (My rational brain finally kicked in and realized how awkward this was because every other individual who offered to help me again gave me their number.). But then he asked – a couple of times – if I gave him the right number. Then he had me call my phone to make sure.

He was not being intimidating. He was not threatening violence. He was still being friendly and in good spirits. Which is part of why I didn’t know what to do. And part of what froze my brain.

I wish I had said, right there, “No. You cannot have my number. I appreciate your help and your offer of future help, but I’ll be fine.” But I was worried about being rude. I was worried about hurting his feelings. Also, he was an older male. If I was taught one thing when I was younger, it is that, especially as a younger female, you do what you are told to do. Unless it is something awful. You can say no if rape or murder is happening, but anything less, you do as you are told.

Anyway.

We were almost at my house and I said he could drop me off at the general store. He said no, which road. I then tried to get him to just drop me off at the end of my street, I could walk the rest of the way. I was going to get dropped off at my neighbor’s house, because it was lit and is on the road and he would see if anything happened, except that neighbor is included in the group of Creepy Middle Aged Men Who Have All But Said They Want to Have Sex With Me, so I had hoped the end of the road would do instead (because that gut feeling was more like a gut tsunami of LIE, AUTUMN, LIEEEEE).

I was not dropped off, He turned down the road. And, since none of the neighbor’s houses were lit up (unsurprisingly, it was late and a school night) and even if they were, I wasn’t sure any of them would actually be much help (one of the families used to throw dirty diapers at us as we played so I don’t have any hope for them ever helping someone in my family out. Ever), I gave up and pointed to my house.

The guy said he wanted to give me some money so that I could afford a taxi and not be walking home next time, and not exactly rolling in the dough, that sounded like a great offer, I waited for him to pull out his wallet once we stopped at the end of my driveway.

One hand holding the wallet, he turned to me. And that free hand started stroking my hair. Four times, from the top of my head to the bottom of my hair. I have hair that ends halfway down my back.

What I did: Froze. Deer in the headlights. Heard his friendly voice saying supposedly friendly words and managed to give him a watery, wavering, thin smile. Because I didn’t want to seem rude. Because. Because I was terrified and had no idea what to do but as long as I wasn’t rude maybe it would be okay? I don’t know.

What I wish I did: Slammed my elbow into his arm, slapped his face, and screamed “what the fuck are you doing? Do not touch me.”

His hand, finally, joined his other and he procured a 20. I accepted, grateful – even in those circumstances – for an unexpected 20. Then, as I took the 20, he held his hand out for a handshake (not a good one, either. His hand was in the submissive position. Which I found odd and I sort of stared at it for a moment before shaking his hand), he pulled me close to him for a hug saying “friends?” and then his face moved towards mine in a way that had never meant anything besides a kiss coming from anyone else. Or maybe he was leaning in to smell my hair. Either option is NOT OKAY.

What I did: Mumbled “yes” and ducked my head, turning it completely to the side. Not screaming. Not doing anything but trying to be polite.

What I wish I did: Jerked away and said No. No we are not Friends. No you cannot touch me. No you cannot assume that you can hug me and no you cannot put your face near mine.

What I did: Ignored the screaming in my head and flashed a smile and spouted some bubbly, friendly I’m-Fine-and-You’re-Fine words. Something about appreciating the ride and lots of grateful crap.

What I wish I did: Slammed the door and walked away, thanking him for the ride because I was home a hell of a lot faster than I would have been, but making it clear that the friendliness was not returned and that his actions were in no way permissable.

Like I said, nothing terrible happened. But it was terrifying. It could, easily, have been worse.

Almost a week later, I still don’t know entirely what was wrong with me. Not that I am blaming myself for his behavior, but why I couldn’t just say no. I mean, I could. I have working vocal chords and all that. I have said the word “no” multiple times. But something somewhere in my brain would not let me.

It’s not something new.

There have been so many times when something was happening to me that I didn’t directly say “no”. That I didn’t let the man know he was making me uncomfortable. That I didn’t say “This is not what I want. You need to respect that.” Or “This is inappropriate and it needs to stop”.

There was a man that I worked for at his home office. He often made comments that were extremely inappropriate for our kind of relationship (I babysat his kids since I was 12. I was a minor. I had a boyfriend. He was older than my father. I worked for him.). More than once he walked around in his underwear while I was there. Not in the same room as me, but with his door open. Or he’d walk around in his robe while I organized his files. He set up the office area in his bedroom one day. He sunbathed naked while I was there and informed me of it. His sunbathing was on the deck connected to the room I was in, the door open because there was no air conditioning.

I didn’t say anything.

For years.

I don’t know why.

It took my little sister mentioning, offhandedly, his behavior around her. Behavior that was as creepy as what I witnessed, except worse, because she was 12.

If it had happened to a friend, I would have to be convinced not to show up on this guy’s porch to punch him. I would drag her away from that house and try to convince her to inform the police. Even if there was nothing they could do, but if anyone else had any complaints, I wanted them to know this was a recurring problem.

In that specific situation, I felt ashamed. Of myself. I don’t know why. But if I opened my mouth and told someone, I was sure that I would suddenly be walking around dirty. That they would know (know what, I don’t know. Know that I was extremely uncomfortable with the father of the kids I babysat making thinly veiled advances? Knowing that I… I dunno).

I do know that both times (and every other time a male made me uncomfortable) I told myself it wasn’t a big deal.

Probably because when at a party my family went to and some guy tried to kiss me and kept putting his arm around me/grabbing me despite shoving him, kicking him, and verbally telling him no, I do not want to be kissed, I have a boyfriend, I was told it was my fault. I must have been flirting with him. I was inviting him to. It was just a joke. I was taking it too seriously. I wasn’t being direct enough. Boys will be boys. Even though I had to hide in a bedroom with little children. Even though he followed me to the bedroom and made extremely sexual comments directed at me from the doorway and when we locked him out he appeared at the window and tried to break in.

Probably because I have no self-worth. Probably because I have been taught since birth that standing up for yourself in those situations makes you a bitch, it makes you undesirable as a person, it lowers your value. It’s bad.

Probably because most of the time, the guys making advances on me/crossing lines and boundaries I did not invite them to cross in any way shape or form were all “nice guys”. They were friendly. They were helpful. They were creepy and awkward but I wasn’t worried about violence. At least, not the kind of violence that leaves bruises.

When the guy wasn’t nice, when he wasn’t friendly, when he was leering and drunk and so obviously an asshole – the kind of guy you are told will touch you inappropriately, the kind of guy you are warned about – it didn’t take much to say no, verbally and physically. And with force.

And I don’t know. Part of it, I think, is that even though I think for myself and I am, at heart, this fiercely headstrong, independent, feminist warrior woman, I also internalize what people say with their words and actions a lot. So, if a guy is nice and friendly, he can’t really be capable of raping/sexually harassing/violating me, right? Only bad guys do that. Right? Right?? ‘Cause no one ever warns you about the nice guys because the bad guys are never nice, RIGHT?

Maybe I don’t want to admit that I’m in an awful situation. Or, as family members have told, maybe I deserve it. Maybe I was asking for it. I mean, I am definitely idiotic enough to get myself into these situations.

But there is the thing that ties every experience together: until someone is very obviously not polite, I have to be polite. It’s this ingrained thing. I try to adhere to the social standards of friendliness, to put others first, to make them feel comfortable. To not be a burden. To not cause trouble.

And for some reason, if I say something – or if I were to, gods forbid, actually do something while in the situation – I would be betraying this person. Betraying them how, I don’t know. But that’s part of my non-warrior woman’s thinking process.

I don’t really know why I let a strange man stroke my hair when I was shuddering inside and terrified. I don’t know why I continued to smile. I don’t know why I didn’t punch him. I don’t know why almost every other time someone has crossed a line sexually, I force myself to pretend like I’m okay with it and go along with it.

But it scares me. It scares me so damn much. Because what if? What if next time I can’t escape the car before anything bad happens? What if next time I don’t duck my head in time? What if next time there is a physical forcefulness and I’m still too worried about him, about the other guy, about the person who doesn’t give a shit about me? What if I let myself be sexually assaulted because I am set up psychologically – for whatever reason – to not say no. To make weak attempts at protestations. To not actively fight back. And it wouldn’t be my fault, but I wouldn’t have reacted the way I should have. The way that I would be aching to react but wouldn’t let myself. And the guy might walk away, never knowing what he did to me, not realizing how in the wrong he was. Because I could not get myself to say no.

I just… I don’t know. Nothing terrible has happened yet, but, gods, does it terrify me that I don’t know what I will do if that changes. And I have no idea how to change that.

A Miserable, Pathetic Mess Attempts to Figure Out Why She is a Miserable, Pathetic Mess (Spoiler: She Fails)

There are times that I look at myself and want to kick myself. To pieces. I’m this miserable, pathetic mess of a person who needs to get over herself.

I mean, moldy cheese and crackers, I get wounded so easily.

And I don’t know why.

Is it just that I’m an oversensitive waste of a human being?

Is it that I have really high standards and so expect way too much from people? Which brings me to ask, am I just arrogant and walking around expecting everyone to treat me like the wonderful princess I want to believe I am when in reality I’m nothing but some scumbag peasant who is lucky she is treated with even a hint of kindness?

Is it that I over-analyze everything and misinterpret things so then I wind up stabbing myself with a knife no one else is holding?

Is it that I want to be miserable?

Or are these things actual, reasonable things to find myself upset/hurt over?

There are definitely things that make sense for me to get hurt by. But then other things? I don’t know. Something will seem unjust and unfair but then it also seems really trivial but then I take another step back and it’s not the worst thing in the world, but it still sucks a lot. Then I take another step back and man, am I a self-important fool. And almost every problem becomes this cycle of get over yourself/you shouldn’t, this is awful/get over yourself, this is stupid/ no, this is awful/this is stupid. 

And what do I do with that?

Get over everything and stop being such a miserable baby? Or acknowledge things that are hurting me and try to figure out why and address that? Not that either one works because eventually I will feel everything and it will be terrible and I will implode everywhere or I attempt to address the  problems and they don’t exist to the people causing them (this being said because problems that I know are not an instance of any possible arrogance/secret desire to be miserable/oversensitivity/over-analyzing everything are denied by the person(s) responsible. I’m not just being a melodramatic moron.) (Which makes sense. Humans don’t like owning up to being sucky people. don’t like owning up to being a sucky person. Partially because I’m really good at blaming myself for something for years upon years upon years so it’s self-preservation going on. If I don’t acknowledge I’m screwed up, I cannot practically kill myself with the guilt of it. Partially because I’m an arrogant jerk sometimes and like believing I’m a perfect person).

Or do I let this happen? Because I kept myself so calloused for years and didn’t let myself get hurt (consciously anyway) and only recently began to let myself feel any kind of vulnerability that oversensitivity is the natural reaction for right now? And one day (hopefully soon) this will all balance out and I’ll stop being a pathetic wreck?

Or maybe all of these things are papercuts but, like my physical body, you can break my bones and rip my skin off and I’m fine, but cut me the tiniest bit with a piece of paper or stub my toe and the pain is so intense I want to punch a wall?

And I don’t really know what the point of this is, except maybe to say, “Yo, guess what, ya’ll! I’m even more messed up than I think I am! So messed up I can’t even figure out if I’m messed up or how messed up I am! Wheeeee!” But I think I started writing this hoping to have some great epiphany by the end of getting all of my thoughts out. And while I have more possibilities and things to mull over, I’m still fairly uncertain about everything except that I’m a pathetic wreck (although, it would be really hard to dissuade me of that).

I do want to figure out what exactly is happening because if I’m being some arrogant, presumptuous snob, well, that has to change. If I’m being oversensitive, I want to know why so that I can stop being such an annoying wimp. If I’m overthinking everything, that won’t stop happening but maybe I can make sure I stop being so cynical in the process. If I want to be miserable, I can find other ways to do that. Like eating sushi and wearing makeup. Then I can be just a miserable wreck of a person getting lipstick all over her sushi, rather than a pathetic one chowing down on chocolate chip cookies while feeling sorry for herself because everything is terrible but not actually.

And if everything actually is as stupid and crappy as I keep perceiving it to be, well, damn, I have to figure out what the heck to do about that (besides glaring at the world while downing a giant bottle of elderberry lemonade in 15 minutes because it tastes vaguely like alcohol without any possible hangovers being involved) (I might have really weird coping mechanisms at this point. That aren’t necessarily unhealthy but that definitely aren’t healthy).

Urgh. I don’t like this nonsense.

P.S. November is swiftly approaching and November usually brings an onslaught of self-loathing and general loathing of the world because suddenly the sun is gone and I need the sun to survive so, if you follow this here blog, be prepared for some grumpy self-analyzation trying to make sure I figure out my crap in time to prevent what appears to be S.A.D.* from coming back this year. It might not happen, but just in case, I warned ya.

*seasonal-affective-disorder. And I say appears to be because I have not gone to a therapist because I’m a brat and you can’t really put a brat in the same room as a therapist. The only thing that happens is that both parties wind up wanting to scream. But. I have read up enough on S.A.D. to know that the definition/symptoms fit me fairly well.