What does it mean to be broken? To be bent beyond repair? Is that item useless or does it just need to be reshaped and repurposed.
Are you talking to an American or someone living in Africa? I think you would get different answers. I want to find out.
No one lives because they are just so awesome. People live because they were born on accident because two people had sex. That means that none of us are all that special. We all come from exactly the same roots.
At least one person wanted to have sex.
That’s it. Nothing bigger. Nothing more important.
But once you are here what do you do? Do you consume things that other people make or do you make things? Do you pass on the hurt you have experienced or do you stop hurting people?
How do you stop hurting people? How do you change?
I read that the personality is mostly set by age five or six. I also read that there is no such thing as a personality trait you are stuck with–you can change anything if you want to badly enough.
That is one of the amazing things about human beings. More so than any other species I know of we can just decide to be something different and… do it.
I mean, we can’t just decide to be tall or short or fat or skinny or black or white or brown or yellow or red. You can’t change those things so much.
But you can decide if you want to be aggressive, assertive, or passive. You can just decide to change what you started out as. You can pick something. You can design something in your life and move towards it.
We are unique in this ability. Some individual people possess more natural talent in this arena than others.
Resiliency is about deciding that even though bad things have happened you aren’t dead yet so what the fuck are you going to do now? Resiliency means always looking for a new path. A new reason to keep walking.
Delayed gratification. I have a lot of delayed gratification fetish in my life. I am banking everything on future happiness. I have been doing so for as long as I can remember and I can remember almost thirty years now. By and large this has been a good proposition. My life when I was 18 was better than 17 was better than 16 was better than 15 was better than…
There hasn’t been a clear linear progression. There were up and down periods in each year, of course. And post-18 is becoming more and more of my life. I’ve been out for more than 14 years now.
My life is not always improving. Sometimes I get hit hard by something. If you continue to stay alive bad things will continue to happen to you. If you love other people then you will continue to have trauma. That’s just the price. Either pay it or shut the fuck up.
I know I will be hurt again. I know I will love people with great intensity and lose them. People will die on purpose and on accident. People will be hurt. My body is frail and I am clumsy. I will be hurt.
That is just life. Trying to avoid pain is trying to avoid life.
Lean into it. Yes. It hurts. Yes, sometimes you feel like you are insanely trying to climb the walls like a rat trying to escape an electric floor. There is nowhere to go to get away from the pain. It is every where.
So get used to it. Breathe it in. Take it deep within you and decide that this isn’t going to kill you.
Not today. You aren’t dying today. Even if it hurts.
Then all of a sudden it doesn’t hurt quite as much. You still know that injury is there, there is nothing you can do to make it go away.
But you aren’t dead yet. That’s enough. That is all there is, really.
Just keep walking. Keep wanting. Keep hoping. Even though it hurts. Even though it makes you cry.
That crying is part of life too. If you try to keep yourself from crying you are trying to keep yourself from feeling.
That feeling is life too. If you want to be alive, if you want to truly live then you have to feel. All the bad. You can’t have the good without the bad.
Just give me a reason. A little ones enough.
Put on the mask. Today you are going to a big party. Today you show that you are part of a community. Even though you don’t feel like it. Even though you feel like a visiting monster you aren’t.
Go find an outlandish costume. Dress up. You are a time traveler. Who do you want to be today? You can be anyone. You don’t have to be you. I promise.
Why does your three year old bite? Because she knows that she is allowed to get mad and she isn’t sure yet how to deal with it. That is part of the process. She isn’t bad. She’s young. She will learn. It is very hard to deal with the learning process sometimes.
Why is your five year old so bossy? Because children learn through modeling and she has one of the bossiest mothers in five counties. No shit she is bossy. Especially at five children latch on to being like their moms. Apparently this is the most bonded-attached-obsessed age. I’m going to be sad when she grows out of it.
I love that my children give me a chance to love myself. We are always solving yesterday’s problems. I can read child development books that go through the normal physical, emotional, and inter-relational development of children and see that my children are entirely within the normal curve and they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. They are right on schedule. It is what they are supposed to do.
I did what I was supposed to do. I wasn’t a predator. I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. I did what I was taught to do exactly on schedule. I have books. I could point out the paragraphs that explain that I was a very good girl. I did exactly as I was told.
How do you decide what to tell your kids? Do you tell them what your parents told you?
I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
Just give me a reason. I will be a good-enough mother. My children will have an age appropriate experience. My children will make it to 18 knowing that their body belongs to them and no one else. If I have any luck at all they will not be sexually assaulted as children. I can’t promise them a whole life of safety–I have no such hubris. I don’t know that I can teach someone how to have that without locking them in a cage.
I don’t want my children to live in a cage. I want my children to feel calm and safe and sure that they can handle themselves. I also want them to have the ability to break several bones if someone attacks them. I want them to understand that this is a world where sometimes you have to seriously hurt someone else in order to love yourself and that is ok.
But don’t bite your sister. She’s not that kind of attacker. Unless she is. Then bite her until she god damn stops.
So my kids are going to have a problem with mixed messages.
“Treat your sister the way you want her to treat you. Do you want her to hit you? No? Then don’t hit her.”
I can’t teach “Don’t hurt anyone”. I can’t. I think that is tantamount to putting a bulls-eye on their foreheads and I can’t do that. Fuck that stupid notion. Sometimes you need to hurt people.
But might doesn’t make right. How do you decide when to hurt people?
You have to be very mercenary about evaluating whether or not someone is hurting you. Whether or not they are doing it on purpose doesn’t matter. That is irrelevant. How much hurt are they causing you? You have to decide. It doesn’t fucking matter if someone else thinks that is a perfectly acceptable amount of hurt. They won’t be the walking wounded.
How much hurt can you bear? How much hurt do you want to bear? Do you want to allow this person to hurt you in this way? Sometimes it is worth putting up with your mom hurting you just a little in an annoying way (like bugging you to go make grand kids) because the over all picture is so good and the hurt is so small. Sometimes the trade just isn’t worth it.
Every relationship involves trade. Every loving relationship between two people involves one person feeling more love than the other. The person who feels more love has less power. They will accept more hurt in trade for the love they feel.
It isn’t nice but it is true. Thinking about this balance in a mercenary fashion allows you to see that you hurt people all the time. You do it casually without paying any attention. You do it with your choice of words, your tone of voice, and how much time you choose to spend with someone. People never take your impact on them impersonally.
I mean, there are people who don’t feel much emotional connection so they don’t take it personally or care. But if they love you a whole lot then they feel more rejection than you notice. That’s just how it works.
I stay home because I don’t want to hurt people with my words and my tone of voice. People take my avoidance as rejection of them and a sign that I do not think they are worthy of my time or attention.
It’s a really nasty double bind.
I carefully manage my third tier. I know that I am only good at managing how I put out my neediness into the world if I manage how I spend my time. I know that most people can handle very little of my neediness. They can handle knowing that it exists and that I need to have people who kind of stand nearby pack-like and lend a supportive presence. They provide interactions for my children. They give me vague hand-wavey reassurance that makes both of us feel a little better. Not a lot better, a little better. But if you get a whole lot of a little better it does add up. It does matter. It is part of the process.
I manage the second tier carefully too. Most everyone on the second tier I only talk to a few times a year. I can say more painful and difficult things to them but I have to carefully limit their exposure to that intensity. No one lasts long if I overload them.
The first tier I just look at with terror because I know that this won’t last forever. I will lose this someday. I don’t know how or when. I know I will fuck up and lose that. I just never keep it very long. I hurt people too much. Brittney, Anna, Alex, Sarah, Grant, Elan. I think those are the ones I hurt the most. Those are all the people who have been first tier who don’t talk to me any more. I don’t know what is happening with Sarah. Life is very confusing.
Most of the first tier people probably fell out because I entirely walked away from those communities after they told me they didn’t want to ever see me again. I will see Sarah.
I very carefully make it so that people never have to think of me as one of those detestable people who are part of a community just because they can’t make me go away. If you hardly ever show up then people never develop that degree of dislike. I’ve watched this cycle a lot. Manipulating it is hard but can be done.
Bouncing between lots of different communities is hard. Pre-kids it was easier because I could maintain my behavior patterns between different communities was easier. I had fewer modes and they were less intense feeling.
Being around my kids takes so much of my attention that I have a very hard time acclimating up and down to other peoples comfort level. My finesse is all used up on people who cannot yet look at my boobs with a straight neck.
I feel like having children is teaching me a lot about rape culture. My kids think they have every right in the world to grab my boobs. Oh my fucking god. I have to teach them differently. It has to be a conscious decision if I am going to teach them that everyone gets to have their own body.
And I have to do it without blowing up or freaking out because then they miss the point of the message. Normal children can’t tune out random explosions of anger in order to learn a point of culture. They learn anger. Anger isn’t something that is learned in a highly specific and focused sort of way.
If I freak out and yell at my kids when they grab my boobs I am not teaching them that breasts are personal and you should ask permission before you touch them. I am teaching that sometimes mom is mean and scary and they really won’t understand what was so bad because they didn’t even do it on purpose.
It is really weird looking at them and knowing what I know about their stage of brain development.
I was punished so often for being “malicious”. I was told specifically that I was malicious all the fucking time. People were always telling me that I did things on purpose when I had no idea what they were talking about.
You don’t have to do something on purpose to do it. No one likes feeling blame though so people want to say, “But I didn’t do anything” whether they did anything or not. Then you can argue about lying. And nothing is solved.
Teach people how to treat you.
Why am I so loud about my boundaries? Because they are big and strong and have barbed wire all the way around them. I had to do that. I understand that you have not had to do so but we have had different life experiences and maybe you could think that I am like me because of my life rather than because of you?
Someone on the PTSD forum asked what people say when they are asked why they have PTSD. Most everyone responded that they are very defensive and private and they tell people that it is none of their business. My response? “As usual I go against the crowd opinion. I’m out. If someone asks me why I have PTSD I tell them that a lot of very bad things happened to me. Then I ask if they want details and 9/10 people back away slowly.”
I learned to be aggressive. I didn’t start out this way. I’m very curious about this whole “personality is set by five” thing. Do I feel such constant anxiety partially because I know that I am not “naturally” as aggressive as I act all the time? I want to hide under my bed. I come out harshly because that is what happens when you have to push so hard to say anything at all.
When people say, “Oh I couldn’t just walk up and talk to someone” I think “Well you could. You choose not to.” But I can’t say that. They think, “But I would be too scared.” I think that I go through a lot of my life shaking with fear. So what. It doesn’t matter that you feel scared. You still have the ability to force your body to move.
Bravery doesn’t mean you don’t feel fear. Bravery means you keep performing to spec even though you are terrified.
You learn how to keep performing to spec by practicing in low-pressure situations over and over and over and over until you have the muscle memory to carry you forward. But you can’t get stuck in feeling like you should hide and practice.
The best practice is to fail. In public. You will learn more. You will learn so much faster if the stakes are higher. Fail in front of people who don’t matter. Go try in public somewhere that you never have to see these people again. Travel. Talk to people you will never have to be responsible for knowing.
Make shit up.
Just try something different. Pretend to be someone you are not. If you were someone who could do ________ how would you act? If you send random emails to people who share your hobbies and interests there is a remarkably high response rate. Well, I’d say somewhere between a 3-7% response rate. Which is remarkably higher than 0! So send a few hundred emails. Personalize them. No form letters. Form letters = doom.
If you want to learn things and know things and grow you need help. You need to see the path. But the problem is you are making up the path as you go along. No one else knows what you need to do. You probably don’t even know until five minutes before you need to do it.
And yet. You have some ideas. The more plans you make, the more habits you work on the better off you will be in the future. Maybe you today will not benefit but tough shit. There is no use crying over spilt milk.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Who do you want to be?
It doesn’t matter how many times you have failed. Wait… no… that’s a lie. It does matter how many times you fail. You have to go fail thousands of times or you will never get anywhere. That is one of those things they don’t tell you very often.
Do it wrong. Just do it. Do it. Just… don’t sit in your house crying. Anything is better.
But you have to stop yelling. It isn’t nice. You have to treat people how you want to be treated.
I don’t want people to yell at me any more. Just like I don’t want people to hit me any more. (Husband excluded by pre-arrangement with specific sets of permission.)
I used to hit people a lot. Frequently. Almost every time I felt irritated. I don’t do that any more. I got tired of people flinching reflexively when they saw me. It made me feel bad about myself. I was acting like a bully. When you scream at people you are still acting like a bully.
And you can’t avoid being a bully just by finding a group of yes-men and staying there. That’s not a good answer either.
How do you consciously, always, de-escalate conflict? How do you do that while absolutely being prepared to break the face of someone who attacks you?
I want to live in that place.
And man I don’t think that is ok.
I don’t think it is ok because I am afraid that I am not good enough at knowing which attackers are a problem and which aren’t because my brain is pretty broken. My kids pretty frequently feel like attackers when they jump on me at the wrong moment and they are getting heavier and more triggering by the year.
I have to teach them how to treat me. I have to use my words. I have to do it while being nice and polite and calm or it won’t work.
When I know I have a problem to work on with my behavior I want to hide and practice. I want to stay home.
I can’t stay home. We are going fucking camping. Oh man. I freak the fuck out when I’m in unfamiliar environments where I have very little control. I can admit this. And I’m going to go hang out with Burners. I’m less confident in them being kid-appropriate than some people.
But I’ll stand next to my kids and I’ll smile. I’ll model appropriate group interactions. I won’t let anyone touch me too familiarly. More than likely I will run into someone who will. I have to be prepared with what I am going to say if I don’t want to freak out.
I was talking to Noah about the over-thinking every social interaction thing. I told him I’m not sure where I started that. He said, “You learned it because you were always fighting older and more experienced people. If you follow the default path you will get caught because they know how to manipulate the default path. You have to be able to out-think them and surprise them.”
I live in a world and in a place where if you want to be allowed to have body autonomy you need to be able to verbally and sometimes physically defend yourself. I didn’t make the system I just know what I experience over and over.
And it isn’t because I am that hot. Give me a break.
But now that I have kids I feel a lot more like the whole world is just full of people who haven’t been taught yet. And if I want them to know how to treat me I need to teach them. People learn best when you use a calm and civil tone of voice. I understand that