Traction

So, it’s clear to me that i’m gonna need to force this one out. Meh, it’s okay. Sometimes i’ve gotta drag out the first bits before it begins to flow. Sometimes the whole thing is pure straining effort, but not as often anymore.
(Did that sound like i’m constipated to you? Because i just read it and snarfled.)

The words aren’t so much stuck as i am maybe holding them back. I’m afraid to tell you this next bit. Not because it’s painful, or embarrassing, or ugly, or anything else like that. It’s because it’s good, and i’m afraid of good.

I’m afraid it’s a fluke.
I’m afraid i don’t deserve it.
I’m afraid someone will come and take it away from me.
I’m afraid it’s not real.
I’m afraid it won’t last, that something terrible will surely follow.

I’m certain i’m not the only one who struggles with good news. I was the receptacle for all my parents’ negativity. I was raised believing i was a bad seed, that i provoked the hatred and the rage and the disgust that spewed out at me. As a result i felt less than everyone around me. The teachers, preachers, caregivers, and of course, my fellow students, mostly confirmed for me that i was low and wretched, unworthy of the good things in life.

And yes, i was one of those people who would sabotage the good things. That is, if my mother didn’t do it first, so full of envy and jealousy, she was. I was approached a number of times to do commercials when i was a little girl – NO. Twice, my teachers suggested skipping me a grade – NO. Good families offered to take me in and raise me as their own – NO. By the time i left home i felt destined for a hardscrabble life. Looking back now, i see a dozen missed opportunities for really good things. At the time they were offered i didn’t even see them.

Things began to change once i started dealing with my problems, and the childhood abuse from which it all seemed to stem. I could see how badly i’d been hurt, how much wrong had been done me – having children of my own made it glaringly obvious how awful my mother had been. Although i wrestled with corporal punishment due to my continued affiliation with my religion, and when Bipolar Disorder got its teeth into me i was shamefully neglectful, but the sexual abuse, the terrible beatings, the constant manipulation of my thoughts and feelings – that was anathema to me.

Slowly, slowly, ever so slowly, i began to allow myself to want good things, and to think that maybe i even deserved them. Even typing that causes a reaction though. Still. It’s hard, but it is easier than it was, and i expect it to get better and better, as i continue to do the work that’s in front of me. I’m learning more about who i am and what i think, healing this skin suit i was born with and finally growing into it so it fits. It’s what i came into this life wearing, and it’s served me well. It’s held together despite some serious wear and tear. I’ve spent years now, stitching it up, patching the holes, mending burst seams and tacking up all the fallen hems. I’ve scrounged fabric from wherever i could get it, at first taking the stuff in the bargain bins, but working my way towards the fine and fancy bolts of cloth that are always displayed in the window. And why shouldn’t i have them? I can afford it now.

This skin suit i wear is now rather natty. I’m haute couture, y’all. I was ready to strut my stuff. Or march, as it were. And when i marched a couple of weeks ago, i felt like i belonged.
Well, maybe that’s not quite it. I still feel apart – different. I’m open to connecting with humans outside of my husband and children (and my treasured online friends), but i don’t quite have the knack of it yet. It’ll take more work and a lot of practise, i think, but that doesn’t trouble me anymore.
What i felt was that i had a right to be there. I know that that is a powerful, perhaps even crucial step in my development, and i can’t quite quantify why or how yet, but i will. I had a right to be there.

I HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE HERE.

After the march ended, my companion asked if i would go with her to the grand opening of a new refugee centre in our city. I said yes. And just like when i knew i was going to march, i knew i was going to offer to help if they would have me. And just like that i started volunteering.
The week following i was filled with this kind of simmering excitement, like i am bubbling to the surface. I’m ready to start being the person that i want to be, the person that i am, the person that i’ve always been. I acknowledged the wreckage and i cleaned up the mess, looking at every broken bit and deciding what could be fixed and what needed to be tossed. I arranged things to please myself, i brought order and functionality and let in the air and the light and made everything fresh, and i am good. to. go. Whether it’s strutting around town in my spiffy new suit (okay vintage, but revamped – like Molly Ringwald’s prom dress in Pretty in Pink), or inviting someone into my newly reno’ed home. I’m ready.

I do this blog for myself and my Peanut Gallery, #1, but a very close second is everyone out there who can relate to my experiences and struggles to be happy and functional. If i can encourage anyone to keep going, keep trying… If you struggle with your thoughts and emotions, if you think you’re worthless or hopelessly defective… I’ve been there, and i am living, breathing, functioning, reasonably happy proof that it can get better. Long term and consistently better.

Here is a list of the things i’ve done since the Women’s March on Washington:

-started volunteering,
-spent the day with my MIL at the senior’s home, with a firm commitment to do so bimonthly,
-asked my local community of friends for help with a problem (within 5mins i had offers!)
-asked a friend to come for lunch and take me and my doggie to the vet (he’s fine and so was lunch!)
-finally started work on a project i’ve had swimming around in my brain for a year or 2,
-set down some firm boundaries with someone very close,
-added more exercise to my daily than just dog-walking.

All of this is yippee-skippy, for sure, but it is also scary stuff. I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid it’s too much and i’ll self-destruct. I’m afraid of letting others down. I’m afraid of growing out of some relationships. I’m afraid of gossip and ridicule. Most of all, i’m afraid of mania. This is fertile ground for my Little Miss Maniac to wanna come out and play. But the work i’ve done has provided me with not only this foresight, but also the tools with which to handle her, should she suddenly appear.

I can and will handle it, if it happens, to the best of my abilities, and if i stumble, i will do what i have learned is perhaps my best and most admirable quality.

I will pick myself up, dust myself off, survey the damage, make recompense wherever possible, and get back to work. You just watch me.
No seriously, i mean it. Watch me. Anyone who reads anything here that i have posted – know that you matter to me. You’re a great help to me. Knowing you’re reading, relating, empathising, witnessing. You’re tremendous, and i thank you.

Always,
~H~

I Need People, Ain’t I Lucky

On the evening of November 8th, i pulled the plug on the news. My anxiety flew right off the charts and i knew i had to take a break. I’m a Canadian, so my country has very close ties with the US, and personally speaking, some of my favourite people in the world live there. But since it isn’t my country it wasn’t my decision to make, i can’t change what happened, and it would be grandiose of me to think i could. It is an unhealthy and unhelpful way of thinking that i’m taking great pains to keep out of my precious head.

So i shut ‘er down.
I’m an adept skimmer, so social media wouldn’t pose a problem (i did take a short break, even from FB), and other than that, i just stopped watching the news. No big. Sometimes avoidance can be very wise, and it most certainly was in this particular case. To refer to a well known prayer, i accepted the things i couldn’t change and got about the business of the things i could.

When i returned to social media my eyes easily rolled past certain key words, articles from known political sources, and obvious imagery (the colour orange was not part of my personal rainbow for a few weeks, lemme tell ya). I enjoyed kitties and puppies and children and those 1-minute videos for how to make delicious food that i really shouldn’t eat very often. A certain image though, began appearing often enough on my feed that it penetrated my consciousness, and one day while watching the news last week (i still PVR so i can skip past any news about the new American president) i saw the image again – turns out it’s a graphic for this big dealio they’re calling the Women’s March on Washington. It was a local piece and they said there would be a march in my city.

Then this thing happened. This thing that i’ve come to know as confirmation that all the work i’ve done on myself, the mental and emotional roots are strong and set deep, and my tree is bearing good fruit.

I suddenly knew i was gonna go.
I was gonna leave my Crooked Little House and i was gonna go people.
I was gonna go WOMEN, and i have grown to loveloveloooove womening.

As i’ve learned more about who i am and what i think about things, i’ve been able to embrace my sex more warmly and tightly than i ever thought possible. My initial and primary abuser was female, and that can confuse relationships with same sex people. The fact that i’m bisexual complicated things more. My sexual identity has been hard-won, but no more so than any of the rest of who i am.

Now i know why i couldn’t quite be a tomboy or a froo-froo girly girl. I was trying to fit somewhere so that i might be safe, but they were only disguises. I didn’t know that i had never seen myself naked, and the reason nothing fit quite right is because i never took the last outfit off, i just slipped on another one over top. (I hope that metaphor makes sense – in my mind it’s pretty spiffy. Heh.)

So i’ve gone from a definition of women born of a religious upbringing, where i learned we were weak and inferior to men, to an egalitarian one that sprang naturally from my freshly naked loins. (SPIFFY!) Now i see women as just people. I dig men, like, a LOT (i’m very committed to and in love with the one i married), but i seek women for deep connection. I genuinely and profoundly feel like, “Yes, i belong here. This feels good and right,” when i am among women.

So yeah, i knew i was gonna go, and i knew exactly with whom. I┬ácontacted her right away and sure enough, she was going, and Yes of course! i could come along. She is an incredibly special person to me, and one day i’ll tell you about her, but for now, just know that i am s-m-r-t SMART, and she was the perfect person to be by my side on my first foray back into the scary world of interacting with other humans on the physical plane.

We marched together and it was invigorating.
I spoke to other women and not only was it fine, i didn’t obsess over every word and action afterwards.
I participated (clapping, shouting, laughing, booing, etc.) and i didn’t feel fake or even floaty.* I was surrounded by over 3,000 other feminists of all genders, gender identities, personalities, worldviews, creeds, politics – binary and non, intersectionality everywhere.

And i remained myself. I didn’t try to fit in with any group, i didn’t alter my speech or physicality according to where i was or with whom, and i wasn’t paranoid, self-conscious, or even afraid. My Peanut Gallery was relatively quiet, and i didn’t have to fight to stay in the face (maintain control of my system, for those of you who haven’t read the post immediately preceding this one).

When i withdrew from people over a year ago, it was for the express purpose of figuring out how to be my genuine self and maintain control of the way my brain works while in social situations.
But i wondered if i could really get there.
I feared that i might never again leave the safety and sanctity of my Little Crooked House.
I seriously considered that i just might not be able to conquer all of my coping mechanisms, so deeply ingrained and reflexive are they. Well reader, i’m telling you that i got there.

I came, i saw, i conquered.
In other words, i left my house, i hung out with real live humans, and i peopled.
I AM FREAKING VICTORIOUS.

Love, Peace, and Power to the People,

~H~

*Floaty is how i describe the feeling i get sometimes when i’m overwhelmed and about to either slide or switch.