Letter writing

My generation is not so big on handwritten letters. In general we stick to email. It’s easier, less effort, less waste, etc. But I believe that letters still have a place in society.

I’m not big on the traditional “rules” around when and how to write so I ignore those. I have come up with my own general guidelines for writing letters. A bit ago a friend asked me about how writing letters worked and this is my attempt to respond. (Sorry it took me so long. I was thinking about it.)

We live in a time and a place where there are thousands of things competing for your attention. Being on the computer at all is an exercise in distraction.

Why: Why bother writing letters? It’s a pain in the hand. Mostly it is because the thrill of getting a personal letter doesn’t go away. Everyone is used to post-mail being bills and horrible advertisements. Getting an honest-to-goodness letter feels thrilling and exciting. Someone cared enough about you to write a letter. It is like a tiny little micro-gift of love and attention.

When: When do you write them? I don’t believe in hard and fast rules. We have too many things competing for our attention. I think that it is good to look at your calendar and spot areas where you have a good solid two hours. You don’t need to use all that time, but futzing with addressing an envelope, finding a stamp, etc adds at least half an hour. You want more than an hour because when you sit down you need to organize your thoughts a bit. Do you have to write a letter when someone gets married? When they lose a job?

Write a letter when you want to let someone know that you have been thinking about them. That’s really the only when.

Who: Who should you write letters to? Anyone! Older people appreciate it the most. If you know someone over 60, chances are they would appreciate a letter. It is a throw back to their childhood when communication was that way or no way. (Yes they had phones… but they were *expensive*.)

Kids love letters. Kids will save them and think of you throughout their childhood. Kids will know that you are an adult who cared enough to notice them. They remember.

Your friends will feel special and loved. An email is nice, but letters are so much nicer.

And I despise handwriting. I think that writing letters is torture. But it makes other people so happy. Writing someone a letter is a way of consciously demonstrating that they are important in your life. Sometimes there isn’t another way of doing so. Sometimes you don’t have the spoons to pay as much physical attention to someone as you wish you could.

But they can get a letter in their home. They can feel loved and seen and cared for. And it doesn’t take that many spoons.

I love writing letters. I love the feeling that, unlike my normal for the masses babbling, I’m specifically trying to create a relationship with a person. I only write a letter to further serve a bond. If I write you a letter it is because I want to show you about as much respect as I can show for a person.

Hand-written letters will never go out of style. Email will never take the place of walking to your mail box and seeing a letter from a loved one. It’s just… not the same.

What: What do you write though? It depends on who you are writing. For my in-laws I stick to mostly recounting what the kids are up to. I understand that they aren’t that into me. When I write to close intimate friends I tend to share feelings. I write to tell them why I was thinking about them–how it made me feel. “I was thinking about you last night. I was thinking about when we did _____. I am so glad you are in my life.” Lots of variation is possible there.

Letters exist to help people feel more connected. Reminding someone of a memory means they are very likely to remember it better. They will remember you better. They will remember how they feel about you.

Only it is tinged with the rosy glow of memory. Science has proven that it is much harder for us to remember bad things than good things. When you remind friends of times gone by, they tend to forget the irritations. The difficulties. They remember that you stayed. They remember that you were there. They remember that you were their friend.

That’s the important part.

Sharing memories is a lot of what relationships are built on. The more memories you share the deeper your relationship. The more reminders of your memories you have the stronger you feel about them.

How much: How much do you have to write? I’ve gotten six word postcards that made my day. I have had the good luck to receive twelve page letters. Frankly, that got a little overwhelming. He was an intense guy.

You are just writing to them to remind them to think of you the way you think of them. If you can do that in a few words, feel free. It is just as meaningful.

Revolutionary Women

On Twitter two women I think well of asked what they talked about in front of me that had such an impact. Because thirteen years later I nearly genuflect when I see them and they aren’t sure how they caused such a good impression.

So here we go down memory lane. To set the stage: I was nineteen and I had been dating this guy for a few months. He was to become my Owner but he wasn’t yet. He asked me if I wanted to go with him to Seattle to meet his best friend. I said sure.

At that point in time I had been away from my family for a very brief period of time, just over a year. Most of my childhood and teen years my parents and siblings spent a fair bit of time telling me that my only future career option was to be a whore.

Not a prostitute, not a sex worker–this wasn’t about being PC. My family wanted to make sure I was very sure that I knew I was worthless.

Then I go up to Seattle. I was freshly involved in the bdsm community. The community I had met in the bay area up to that point was mostly male dominant/female submissive. Some women topped, but they tended to still be more or less socially submissive because the guys we spent time with were… pushy. I’ll use that word and be polite.

There weren’t very many fierce women when I showed up. They were pleasant and kind and meant well, but they didn’t inspire my fighting instincts.

Then I went to Seattle. I met my boyfriend’s best friend–who is a really nice guy. I like him a great deal.

But more importantly… I met his partner. His partner was a professional sex worker. By the time I met her she was pretty firmly in the realm of professional dominance and she had stopped doing other forms of sex work. Though she did do other things when she was younger.

Given that I knew I was “meant” to be a whore from when I was a preschooler meeting my first honest-to-goodness sex worker was revolutionary.

She took no shit from anyone. It was like seeing light come down from heaven and hearing the angels sing Hosanna.

She was really educated–self educated, but she could talk intelligently on just about any topic. She was like a cross between Veronica Franco and Florence King. She was a Southern Lady and she could tell you where and how to go fuck yourself while making you smile and say thank you for the honor.

She is a force of nature. I have rarely met anyone with as much force of personality combined with civility. I have nothing like her skill. I would give just about anything to have that much courtesy mixed with my “Go Fuck Yourself”.

Then I met her best friend. Also a sex worker. And I listened to these two women talk.

I had never heard real life women talk like them. They were so mercenary about meeting their own interests. They didn’t give a shit if you were disappointed in what they are willing to offer you. To quote: that is not their dog.

They were able to take care of themselves, tell other people to piss off and manage their own needs, and smile while sounding polite the whole time.

They were allowed to have preferences and requirements and they got to set hoops for dealing with them.

They saw their own value. They are not willing to compromise on their own self worth just because someone else wants to devalue them. I have not known very many women like that.

I’m still not sure I have ever met any other women who can swing a sword to defend themselves while smiling with such glee. They still inspire me.

It took meeting honest-to-goodness sex workers for me to find out that I was not required to go into that profession. They were very clear that I was not a good personality fit. They could rattle off what makes someone a good sex worker. They were quite clear I wasn’t it. They were right.

Sometimes I think I have such strong feelings about them because they were the first people to really tell me that I shouldn’t consider sex work. I’m not a good fit.

I was told: “No one should do sex work unless they have a high sense of the ridiculous and they are good at laughing at life.”

That isn’t me. It is them. And I love them for it.

Great news

The kids rode their bikes to and from the farmers market. I am so happy I’m about to shit glitter. This is epic progress. I’m so happy Shanna was willing to give it a shot.

It was pretty fun listening to Shanna during the trip. “I was super scared to even get on the bike today. But look! I’m doing it! I just needed to have my mom walk next to me. Then I’m good. Now the scared feeling isn’t scary it is exciting.”

She talks all the time. And she has this self-help/you-can-do it thing that… I have trouble not making fun of her when she gets going. When I was a kid I would have been mercilessly taunted if I had said 1/10 of what she says. I was not allowed to think of myself as competent.

I like my life so very much.

In other news

A friend borrowed the kids yesterday. In the process I got to trade vehicles with her for a brief time. I miss driving zippy little stick shifts. Oh I had so much fun driving home. Next car. Not an automatic. Driving is so much more interesting with a stick shift.

I didn’t run yesterday for no good reason at all. So today I need to do 4.5 miles. Oof. I’m feeling stiff. More stretching.

My arms are in general hating me right now. Thus blogging tapers a bit.

Yesterday I had a conversation that bothered me. Shanna and I were talking about the road trip, and the things we are going to do instead of Mommy watching The West Wing all the time. Shanna said, “But you are brining medication, right? You need that or things won’t go very well.”

I kind of feel like shit. I feel like a pathetic piece of shit that my six year old can fucking tell when I’m not medicated and she tells me to go do it. “Mom. You aren’t calming down. It’s time for medicine.”

What am I teaching her? That feels so broken and bad.

It feels as bad as when children of alcoholic parents enable the drinking because the parent is a nicer drunk.

Only this is a medication that medical professionals say I need. I have seen no less than three medication prescribing doctors who think this is the appropriate medication for me.

People who have diabetes show behavior changes without their meds? Do I think a diabetic who has a kid who helps them remember is a bad person? Do I think they are disgusting?

What if it was Ritalin? What if it was Prozac? What if it was…

Would I still feel so guilty? Probably. I don’t like the fact that my kids have an easier time with emotional regulation than I have. That feels wrong on so many levels. But they have good emotional regulation because I have worked like a dog to create an environment where they safely can work on such things.

I am cheerful, engaged, patient, mellow, flexible, and easy to get along with when I’m medicated. Sober I’m wired for sound. My kids notice. They like me stoned much more than they like me sober.

If I was on Lithium again… would that make me feel less bad about myself? Probably not.

I feel bad about needing help. Any help. All help that I need. I’m kind of a bad person for needing it.

I’m not sure how I’m going to handle medication. We are going to be gone a long time. I’m not sure I have the cojones to try looking for dealers in states where it isn’t legal. And traveling with a five month stash from the beginning seems like it is begging to get busted as a “dealer”. When I really have no such plans. This is all for me. Go away. Mine. Mine. Mine.

I haven’t figured that out yet.

The difference in my attitude is palpable. It is the difference between me being able to sit calmly in a chair and have a conversation versus me twitching and moving around the room constantly complaining about how people haven’t done enough cleaning.

I like pot so much. I wish I didn’t. I feel so much guilt. I wish I could just relax on my own. So far not so much.

I feel like I want to run today before the sun even comes up. I will probably be home before anyone else wakes up.

I wish I was better support for my family. I wish I were less needy. Can’t change that now.

Interview practice part the second

Hello, I’m Krissy. I’ve had a somewhat unusual life. My father started sexually assaulting me when I was between 14 months (when I potty trained) and when I was 3 years old (when my parents divorced). Those early, formative experiences have shaped most of my life.

The father/daughter incest in my family was only the tip of the ice burg in terms of our problems. My father raped 3/4 children so far as I have been told. He was a serious drug addict and alcoholic. Our family dealt with a lot of physical and emotional violence on top of the sexual assault. When my mom found out about the sexual abuse she divorced him. Then things got worse.

Running from domestic violence is not a life I would wish upon my worst enemy. We lived in dire poverty. We were homeless and dependent on charity for much of my childhood. My mother didn’t have job skills nor education. She truly did the best she could with a monster terrorizing her.

I didn’t grow up so well. I went to 25 schools before I dropped out of high school at 16. I did get a high school diploma through a continuation school experience. Then I went to a series of junior colleges culminating in a trip to university. I hold a BA in English Literature and an expired teaching credential. I did not complete the MA in English Literature I spent seven years working towards because the final exam was handwritten.

I learned handwriting in a school where the teacher was allowed to beat me daily for my poor handwriting. Given that I was already a severely traumatized child the teacher hitting me ensured that I would never have reasonable handwriting. And I have paid the price long-term.

My life has been like that over and over. I have learned reactions or aversions that I developed because of severely abusive environments and now I get to be punished for the rest of my life for being the kind of person who has such reactions.

I wish the incest had been the extent of my sexual abuse. It wasn’t. My father told my brother he was allowed to rape me. Due to him having a severe traumatic brain injury (he was hit by a car when he was 12 and I was 8–it was a terrible accident) he was not physically capable of winning the fights. But I spent a lot of my childhood fighting my brother off of me.

Then I was sent out into a series of low-income neighborhoods with no supervision. All in all I have been raped by twelve men and boys. It took a very long time before I was capable of understanding what I was doing that created safe space for rapists in my life. It took a long time before I understood that the secrecy that was part of my innate behavior only protected bad people.

I have been a writer for a long time. I was given my first journal when I was seven. My sister was mean and terrible to me because she read my journal and mocked me for the contents, which is really sad when everyone is being severely sexually abused. I shouldn’t have been mocked. I should have been helped. But that wasn’t how my family worked.

I have had mixed experiences with trying to report things to law enforcement. With the incest and my father I got excellent support. The San Bernardino Sheriff Department was kind and supportive to me. Those men were some  of the best people I’ve dealt with in my whole life around sexual assault. They believed me. When the detectives came back to see me after interrogating my father for 72 hours straight (it took a long time for him to come down from all the drugs he was on) they were physically green. They told me they had never heard anything so horrible in their whole lives.

Yup, that was my childhood.

When I tried to report other sexual assaults I was given a range of responses from, “We won’t ruin that nice boy’s life for you” to “What else did you expect?” to “You clearly have problems and you should be in therapy not making false calls to the police.” I hate the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department with the fire of a thousand suns. If their office burnt to the ground I would dance on the cinders. I won’t set the fire but I’d dance.

The primary reason I am not dead is because I have been in court ordered therapy for nearly thirty years. I’m 32. I have seen 21 therapists over the course of my life. Only 4 of them have been truly excellent. I have gotten better at picking therapists as time goes by.

I have been suicidal for most of my life, not too surprising. I was institutionalized for suicide attempts twice as a teenager. Both times were before I got up the nerve to prosecute my father.

I prosecuted my father when I was 16. I had called him on the phone to ask him if I could have a computer for school. He told me I could have a computer if I spent a weekend at his house earning it. I slammed the phone down and called 911 and said, “I need to find out how to report my father for sexually molesting me” and I burst into tears.

Part of what made my life as hard was my lack of vocabulary to even talk about what was happening to me. I didn’t learn the word incest until I was a teenager. I didn’t think that what was happening to me was rape. I thought everyone just did those things.

I had to get old enough and read enough books that I understood that my life wasn’t normal.

So like everyone with a lot to figure out I have turned to writing. Writing allows me to gather my thoughts and figure out my overwhelming emotions. Writing is my lifeline.

Interview practice

I asked for some idea of the interview questions so I could get my thoughts in order. Here is what I got back: “your earliest memories of abuse, did you get to experience the justice system/think of it/attempt to get help, did you tell anyone, when did it end and how, how the following years were for you and when you decided to start writing, the reaction you got etc.”

My earliest memories of abuse were of sitting on my father’s lap. He would put his fingers under my dress and penetrate my body. We were often in public places or in large groups of people and I had to be as still as possible. I had to smile or I was punished. If I didn’t smile and act happy I was being “ungrateful”. It progressed on from there. My parents divorced when I was three because a neighbor came forward about my sister being raped by my father.

You would think that getting divorced over incest would mean that he wasn’t left alone with the other children. You would think wrong. I was put in court ordered therapy and still required to visit my father. The abuse continued and escalated.

The most extreme incident was when I was nine or ten years old, my memory always jumps around on this topic. It culminated with my father holding a gun to my head and asking me if I deserved to live after I gave him a blow job.

I prosecuted my father when I was sixteen. I did so when he upped the ante and wanted me to go further than I had gone before. Specifically I needed a computer for school and he told me I would have to come spend a weekend with him alone and earn it.

After a lifetime of hearing my mother talk about how she didn’t want to have sex with him in exchange for child support so we went hungry… I understood the trade.

I hung up the phone and called the police and said, “I need to find out how to report my father for molesting me” and I burst into tears.

The San Bernadino County Sheriffs I worked with earned their pay and treated me quite respectfully. They interviewed me before my mother got home from work, which was important because my mother would have derailed and interrupted. Denial and secrecy were the standard in my family. I knew I would pay for opening my mouth.

My father was arrested and interrogated for 72 hours. It took him a long time to come down from all the drugs in his system. He confessed to everything; he added detail upon detail to my stories so was placed on suicide watch. The sheriffs needed to talk to all the women in my family. My father’s sisters. My sister. There was a long list of crimes he could no longer be prosecuted for due to statute of limitations.

He killed himself the first day of his trial. He sat in his garage with the motor running and wrote note after note about how I was a liar and he was innocent.

It didn’t help that in the lead up between me starting the prosecution process and the court date my brother killed himself. Specifically he lit himself on fire. He had a severe traumatic brain injury and he needed a lot of care and he could not perceive a life past my father going to jail.

My family blames me for both deaths and we have no contact.

That all happened right around when I was turning seventeen. My birthday happened after my brother’s suicide and before my father’s. It wasn’t a happy event.

The best thing I can say about it happening then was I only had a year left to be with my family and endure their anger with me. I had broken all the rules about silence.

I moved almost 50 times as a child and I went to 25 schools. I dropped out of high school at 16 more or less concurrently with prosecuting my father–he stalked me during the run up to the trial and I stopped leaving my house. I entered into an alternative education program at 17 and I have a high school diploma I earned mostly through community college classes.

I have a bachelor’s degree. I have an expired teaching credential–I let it lapse when I stopped working to home school my kids. I spent 7 years in a masters program for English and I don’t have a degree because the entire thing rested on my ability to hand write quickly in a short period of time. I wish they had given classes on that skill instead of on writing research papers. I had a high GPA. I can type a great research paper.

I learned hand writing in a school that thought the best way to teach me was to hit me. Daily. I don’t hand write much and what I do is torturous and slow. I think very quickly and my normal typing speed ranges between 50 and 100 words/minute depending on how excited I am with a given topic. That my degree rested on handwriting is pretty much what living with PTSD means for my life. I was beaten a lot as a child and I will be punished for my learned aversions for the rest of my life. (This is going to feel off-topic.)

I’ve been blogging for about eleven years. I would intermittently journal before that. For me, part of the draw of writing is getting to exist in front of people. So much of my life has been kept secret that I needed to have a public way of acknowledging who I am and what I go through to counter the fact that I can’t talk about most of my issues with most people.

It is a hard fact that when you grow up with incest there are a lot of topics that you have to walk away from when “normal” people get to have a friendly conversation. It sucks knowing that you can traumatize people just be letting them know that you really exist.

Writing allows me to step outside of myself and outside of the current moment by moment experience I am having of the world. If I record what I am feeling, thinking about, processing, and how I am processing things then I am capable of determining when I am stuck in a rut. “Day #63 of sitting here watching The West Wing. This isn’t good.”

I hold myself accountable. Also it means that I give myself credit where credit is due. That’s an important part of the process most people overlook. If you don’t give yourself credit for what you do right, you are less likely to maintain it.

I have come a long way in my life. I was more or less a feral child.  Despite the fact that I will probably be in therapy for the rest of my life (30 years so far–many of them paid by the state of California because I was a victim of violent crime. Prosecuting does have benefits beyond the obvious ones.) I am reasonably happy at this stage.

I have a husband. Two precocious, delightful children who are growing up with a kind of safety and love I could not have imagined. I spent ten years researching child development and training as a teacher so that I could be a parent without doing it badly. Not everyone is as lucky as me when it comes to healing and resources post-incest.

 

Ok, around 1100 words. I have to go eat breakfast now.

Yelling at people isn’t so bad.

Apparently things with Noah’s family are very different than my previous perceptions. Yes, I got a preview of this last week at dinner. This week my sister in law came over for many hours and told story after story. Noah is absorbing the stories and thinking about implications.

Apparently my words are being used to slap my mother in law around. (There isn’t much, if any physical abuse in the house–it’s a verbal abuse sorta space.) I told my father in law that I wasn’t interested in trading one abusive mother for another. I’m sorry that has been used by a gaslighter to punish someone.

But on the upside apparently me being a bitch in that way spurred my mother in law into therapy and there have been dramatic strides in her behavior. Kinda like when I yelled at Rebecca’s dad all those years ago.

I find it kind of… funny… that when I yell at people it sometimes spurs life changes. That’s like negative reinforcement all over the place. See, I should yell at people. It’s good for them.

No, no it isn’t. Only my kids show lots of signs of resiliency and part of it is that they are non-jumpy because of how desensitized to noise they are. Sudden yelling isn’t scary. They know that nothing bad will happen but they need to change their behavior.

I’m kidding about yelling being good for them. I think that it actually is more of a big deal that I don’t yell that much. They don’t get tirades about their behavior. I cut that shit off after a couple of sentences. It’s not ok to berate kids. I can express that I don’t like something and then I need to move on.

I told my sister-in-law to brace herself for kind of a dump on the way to the house. I’ve seen the house she has grown up in. I saw the house she was visiting in Los Gatos. My house is kind of a dump in comparison. Small, dark, and messy. Not to mention the chips in the paint all over the walls from my obsessive furniture moving.

Her response was, “I like this. It’s cozy and homey. I want a house like this.”

Oh, I forgot. She has had to grow up with cleaning a huge, empty, unloved house. Oh. Of course she doesn’t value them much.

Noah and I had a talk this morning about how it is working out that he still doesn’t have much of a relationship with his family… but I do.

I talk to his aunts and grandmother and parents more than he does. I haven’t reached out as dramatically to his siblings, but that is partially because they have reached out less to me. All the older generation women have put effort into me. They just… did. They send presents and letters and they volunteer their interest.

It is a lot more than I have ever gotten from a family member. So I respond. Noah kind of tunes it out because he has never experienced anything else so he doesn’t value it.

Contrast is useful.

Oh. Wow. A journalist in the UK (not from a very well developed site–it looks like they are just getting off the ground) found my blog and asked to interview me. Sure. I can do that. Incest, PTSD, and how it effects my life. I’m grateful I didn’t have to track a reporter down and say, “Please interview me” so I’m glad to have the practice. I don’t have to start with the NY Times.

Life plugs along. It isn’t a good thing I yell at people. It is a good thing I am in the world. I say things that make people think. I am a useful data point. It is good to have extremes. Without them the middle gets very boring.

It is ok to have us progressives in the world. It gives the conservatives something to contrast with.

Comorbidity

That word is awesome. Comorbidity. It means the simultaneous presence of multiple conditions. Such a fabulous word. Like juxtaposition only in one spot.

My shrink and I were discussing my hypomania yesterday. Hypomania isn’t true mania. It means that you have an elevated activation of your nervous system but you aren’t necessarily doing anything rash or dangerous. I just flip between feeling happy and pissed off with a gentle breeze. I may be spending a “lot” of money but given that all of my big purchases in the last few months are things like “items I will use on cross-country trip” and “shed to prevent bicycles from disintegrating” I don’t really count as manic. I’m not blowing thousands of dollars on the lottery.

I have a lot going on. I have a lot of people in my life and I have dramatically different feelings about different people. Keeping all those feelings inside me and more or less cogent is really hard. It is very disruptive. If I knew fewer people maybe this would be easier… ha. Never happen.

The kids have been pretty explosive too. They are feeding off of me and I take responsibility. It’s like when Jenny copied my tone of voice and we had a bad first 24 hours. It sucks knowing that you are the one triggering the bad interactions in the whole house.

My attitude needs to change, and fast. I have about 18 people coming over in five hours. I haven’t made the food yet. I haven’t moved the tables yet. No biggie. That’s all there is left to do. It’ll get done. But I need to have a good attitude.

There is a family in our home school group who says that a lot when we are doing stuff like hiking and camping, “It’s important to have a good attitude.” I try really hard to listen to them. They have a good point.

So of course I woke up and at 5am I am standing at the freezer saying, “How should I medicate today?” Modern science is wonderful. The variety the dispensary has… it takes my breath away. I am thrilled. Cupcakes and rice crispy bars and brownies and cookies and about 10 different kinds of candy and chocolate bars and pills and oil and wax and ice cream and…

Whoa. All so I don’t have to give myself lung damage. Well done legalization industry.

I’m not a mellow person. I never have been. I am more calm and reflective than I used to be by a large measure. I no longer feel like someone not-paying-attention-to-me-right-now means death.

My shrink and I did several body-calming-exercises. Trying to help my central nervous system calm down. Sometimes I don’t think I could be more activated if I were hit by lightning. I’m already vibrating with energy. (Ok I know that actual lightning would be more… but you understand the metaphor.)

One of the things she had me do was visualize kicking someone. The thing is, that brings up my mental Rolodex of so-and-so and him and her and them and… Memory lane is a funny thing for me.

I will probably never do that again. I will probably never kick anyone in the nuts again. I will probably not kick someone in the chest hard enough to fracture ribs again.

Although I could do martial arts or kick boxing. Maybe that is a work around so that I can still beat the crap out of people but I’m being “monogamous”. As long as I claim I don’t get off on it–it’s fine, right?

Once my Owner watched a Famous Fetish Model/Educator (I’m capitalizing it because she’s a big deal in his little world and he nearly genuflects when he talks about her–whatever.) and her partner do a scene in which she only used her feet. Given how obsessed with feet my Owner was… well, nothing would do but that I do something similar to him. I learned that I liked it. I’ve done a lot of scenes where I didn’t touch someone with my hands.

Not to mention that I have literally had my ass kicked by many people. It feels awesome.

Bdsm gives me a fully consensual and appropriate space to work through my feelings of aggression. Not having it is hard. Cause seriously, if someone sidled up to me and begged me pretty please to knee them in the balls and slap them around right now… Oh I would have trouble saying no. That would be so much fun.

Ahem. Tea Party. Get your head on straight. Sweetness. Light. Gentle hands for the love of toast.

I’m irritated. That’s the only word I can come up with. My shrink wants to stick with activated. Wired for sound.

But these ups and downs, this is why there is so much conflicting opinion about my diagnosis. I’ve heard just PTSD. I’ve heard PTSD and GAD. I’ve heard bipolar. I’ve heard borderline personality disorder (but never from a qualified professional so I’m more doubtful of this one). While on a terrible psych medication I was told borderline schizophrenic but never while not on the evil psych med so that one I get to say isn’t mine.

I swing from depression and suicidal ideation to anxiety and hypomania. This is more tiresome for me than for you. I promise.  I can’t get away.

I’m a weird balance between extrovert and introvert. Finding the right balance is hard. I need people something fierce. But they are draining and tiring.

I am so very driven by my attachment needs. I am driven towards and away from people at the same time. It feels like a war inside my brain. I am afraid to attach too much to any one person. I’m afraid to not try with everyone because you never know who will fit.

But I have a full time job plus overtime of socializing and it is not actually good for me. But culling people feels brutal. Even just putting people on a longer rotation feels hard.

And now that my kids are bonding with my friends… kicking them out of my life is a whole different story. Just like I’m not real approving of polyfuckery in front of children I’m not that thrilled about the idea of a revolving character cast of friends. Kids need to know who is in their lives. Kids needs to have relationships that are not just instant-friends.

So I’m trying to be ok with some people being on a longer leash but not out of my life. It is a really hard transition in thinking.

I think Pam hit level 2 because I completely discounted her as a friend many times over the years and she kept reappearing. We would have intense conversations and I would assume that she never wanted to speak to me again after what I said and… there she was calling me again.

From across the world she kept calling me. So I developed the habit of dropping whatever I was doing because Pam wanted to talk to me.

It was like how Air Force Michael managed to call me from Turkey spontaneously several times while I was institutionalized as a teenager. Only I didn’t get to talk to AF Michael because… I wasn’t at home to take the calls. And he stopped calling after that.

So I fucking answer the phone for Pam. Because I can say whatever crack-brained shit that comes to mind and she keeps calling.

I don’t remember if I wrote what was so amazing about Shanna’s second birthday yesterday. I think I kind of hinted but didn’t get to the meat.

I emailed my friends and said: “My kid needs a party and I don’t want to do it. You do it.”

So they did. And I sat in a chair. And it felt like magic. I felt loved. I did feel supported in that net feeling.

I don’t know why I have such a violent need to hurt myself if I try to get that feeling from a party that is actually literally about me. But I have some suspicions.

I don’t want this feeling for the rest of my life. But you can’t decide to “just stop feeling something”.

You have to decide what you want and move towards it.

Time to go set up for the Tea Party.

Logistics

Thank you for all the comments. I certainly know I am not alone in experiencing social anxiety and group troubles. I read textbooks. I know how common my issues are. Heh. It is interesting seeing where other people are with handling it. I go in and out of phases where I can handle putting myself out there. Sometimes I can and sometimes not so much.

Tomorrow is a tea party at our house. The current RSVP count is maddening because it never stays the same in the last 24 hours. This group is… really big on changing their minds in the final hours. Which means if I start baking this afternoon there is a non-zero chance I will make two or three times as much food as I need because half or more of the people will cancel.

But the house is pretty much ready. I’ll choose to just be happy about that. I am ridiculously impressed by how helpful the kids are becoming. Shanna washes dishes now too. With every party that goes by they do more and more of the work.

My secret plan is working. My kids are going to be entirely adept at hosting before they are ten.

My kids are going to have very different issues than me. I really can’t predict what they will be like. But I know they will show up as adults with a large variety of skills.

We aren’t going to the park today because Shanna’s favorite girl in the neighborhood is only available to play on Tuesdays. Shanna asked if she could stay home to see her friend and that will make my life easier. I don’t know what it will mean about the whole shape of the day.

The kids were going to K’s while I have therapy before the park then Aqua Adventure. Now… I’m not so sure. We’ll see.

I finished all the invitations for Calli’s birthday yesterday. I feel on the ball on that one because I’m a month early. *phew*

I need to make a list of foods I’m making for tomorrow so I can email people. Folks always ask what they can do. The thing is, given how high the flake rate is for events… I hesitate to share duties. If someone decides not to show up at the last minute then I have to scramble and I don’t like that much. Tea parties aren’t like pot lucks. They aren’t events that can have a completely random menu. Says my little control freak brain.

I’m sorta thinking that I could say, “You can contribute $5-$10 on a sliding scale for what your family can afford per kid if you want to defray the costs. I do not require that any kid pay. If I couldn’t afford the parties I wouldn’t have them.”

I like them being just so. That makes it easier for me to get set up in advance. If I am reacting to an unpredictable amount and quantity of food from other people… I experience a lot of anxiety. What if someone else has a bad morning and brings their six kids without having made the food they agreed to make? I’d be uhhh up a creek. Either I would spend the whole party making food such that I didn’t get to talk to anyone or have fun, or kids would be standing there picking through my snack cart for the whole time. Neither option pleases me.

(I specifically said six kids because at this moment in time no one in the group has six kids. [Err, at least not that have all six active within the homeschool group...] So I’m not picking on anyone. It’s a metaphor. It could be one kid. But it would be more likely with six kids because man I have a lot of sympathy for moms with that many kids. I can’t imagine keeping up with that workload.)

I would be just as fussy with two or three kids.

I can create a smoothly ordered system if I am in control of all the pieces. I’m shitty at adjusting to, “Well I forgot to buy cucumbers so I made pb&j’s instead” when I already made the pb&j’s for the party and now that’s all we have to eat….

People are variable. And if I just do it then I don’t get mad at anyone for being human. I get that they are human and all. I need to be loving and accepting of people being where they are.

I’m probably better off saying that people can give $ if they really want to contribute. I totally don’t think I want help. Maybe some help. Not really. Go away. Don’t help me.

I’m kidding. Don’t go away. Come to my party. Enjoy yourself as a guest. Don’t pressure me to make-work for you because that’s hard. I’ll get to the work at a pace I can handle. Then I don’t have to stop my train of thoughts to create something for you to do. That can be pretty frustrating.

When I want help I ask for it. Shanna’s second birthday was awesome. I told my friends to come over and do everything for the party because I was very pregnant and I planned to sit in a chair.

They did.

It was really pretty breathtaking. The fact that I have social anxiety and insecurity about my relationships is pretty much horse shit. They show up. They work like dogs. I am so grateful.

I suppose that yesterday when I thought of the wedding reception and my 30th birthday I was looking for mass. At that quantity of people I start cracking.

The birthday parties for the kids have all been really great. I know that the parties aren’t for me so a lot of my anxiety goes away. I have a much narrower parameter of acceptable behavior “Ok for my kids” and that relieves the pressure of what to say to people.

As I look at the group of people who is working hard to know my kids throughout their lifetime… I feel quite humbled. My kids have an extensive network. There are a lot of grown ups who have been there over and over for six years running for Shanna. She trusts and loves them with absolutely no limits.

I feel so grateful that I get to see what that looks like. Even as I go through my feelings of rage that “chosen family is bullshit” these people show up for my kids. And they show up. And they show up.

Even my worry about an “appropriate place” for them to go should I die… they have options. They have lots of aunts who would make it work. My kids may not get to have the life I would give them, but they would be loved and cared for. They would be told good things about me.

I’m so grateful that I have gotten to this point. Even though sometimes I feel like I am going to have to leave because I am a monster who will hurt people.

Other people have to decide for themselves if I am hurting them or not. I should not proactively withdraw just to keep them safe. That isn’t actually what they want. They would rather tell me to knock it off if I start over-stepping. Well, maybe they don’t like doing that.

But I’m not shitty company all the time. Clearly folks like talking to me once in a while. I can stop pretending that I am torturing people just by existing near them. It is a really annoying habit of mine.

And I settled the menu for the tea party and followed up with sending my address to all the guests. Checking things off lists.

The kids have been staying up till 9 pretty consistently. Stupid Day Light Savings. They are sleeping later. It’s pretty awesome.

Oh, it’s official. I will not drink hard alcohol anymore. I had one fucking drink and it made me puke. I can have a glass of wine on rare occasions. When we run out of what is in the house I should probably stop buying it. Noah likes his rum and that’s his call. My body doesn’t like it. I had horrible diarrhea for more than 24 hours. It is time to recognize this limit. Yes, body. You win.

Ok. Time to go start the day.

Continuing on a theme

If the problem is that I just can’t scale my emotional connection rather than I can’t have individual connections with that many people, that is a very different flavor of possible. It’s not that I can’t love multiple people at once. (Maybe–hopefully) it is that I don’t feel it now. I can feel it with and for those people as pull-outs.

What is the problem with scaling and/or crowds?

I am probably more intentional with my behavior than average. I think really hard about what I can say and to whom. I mess up, sure, but I work very hard at being appropriate. It isn’t very natural for me. Noah says it isn’t for him either so I don’t know if it is easy for anyone.

I feel like I earn love in an ongoing way. On a daily, maybe hourly basis. I have to continue to behave in a way that will deserve someone loving me.

But I slip a lot. I’m not a polished person. I say things that are too harsh, things that are off-putting, things that are too intense. I’m a lot better than I used to be.

When I am in a group of more than four or five unrelated people (I do ok with a mom and her kids even if there are eight kids) I experience so much terror. Group think is so viscerally terrifying to me. It isn’t fear. It is terror. I shake.

Watch me at home school events. Or parties. It only happens when I feel like I “should” be able to be friendly and work the room but I don’t know what these people want from me. If I screw up I will be ejected from the group and everyone will hate me.

It is my perpetual new kid problem writ large. (25 schools before I dropped out of high school followed by five colleges/universities.)

Social group hopping is part of my problem. I only go to a given group long enough to get to know a very small number of people. Then I have a minor conflict with one person and I never come back. Because I’m scared.

Since I was 17, so in the last 15 years: theatre (first in college then moved on to the local community theatre crowd so this was two very distinct groups of people), bdsm (I have met people in dozens of states and multiple countries–my bdsm contacts are legion), a few different sex communities, vintage ballroom/ceili (they were very overlapping crowds but not identical), Renaissance Faire, Dickens Fair (some overlap but not identical), teaching (I worked at two schools longer-term and subbed at many more), libraries (I spent a lot of time in every school library–those librarians were big deals to me), Burning Man crowd, BaGG people (some overlap with bdsm crowd but mostly its own distinct group), home school groupings, the S&P crowd, poly people…

I have moved through a lot of groups. And they have such completely differing social values that anyone who can act the same way in every location… that person has super powers I don’t have. I act very differently from group to group. Social norms differ wildly.

You wouldn’t look at that list of group associations and assume that I have friends from every religion. Many of my friends are incredibly conservative. I walk quite the line with my friends. They are worth the effort.

Sometimes I feel weird about the degree to which I live in a bubble. I live in a unique time and place where someone like me is allowed to exist without continual punishment.

I am hyperaware that I live in a bubble. Bubbles can be popped.

The sufferance that allows me to be part of a given group can be revoked pretty fucking easily. Let me tell you.

Group think is terrifying to me. Groups are dangerous. Groups are very difficult to turn aside if they decide they are angry. Groups carry out lynchings and other reigns of terror. Individuals are… very differently dangerous. I can fight off an individual who has a problem with me, or I can run.

Groups are scary. Yes. Even groups of people who have been carefully selected to come to my house because I’m pretty sure they like me.

Want to know one of the problem with the wedding reception? We used it as a reunion of as many ex’s as we could invite. Noah and I are big whores (ok, I’m way friskier than him a few times over) so it was festive having all our men and women in one place. No potential for issues there. Some of my bio-family was there. That was awkward as fuck.

I think this problem is tractable. I may not ever get to the point where I can handle any group without terror but perhaps I could get to the point where my hand selected crowds are less intimidating.

I mean, good fucking grief.

I have had more than one woman over the years tell me that they dislike me because I am so bouncy and hyper around groups of people. I look like I am trying to get attention. I seem like I want to be the center of attention.

Err, my central nervous system is going haywire. My voice gets louder because I’m scared and I can’t keep it within a normal range when I am trying to control the shaking. Yes, I get up and move around a lot. I stand and sway. It’s better than trying to sit in a chair and letting everyone in the room hear it rattle because I am not physically capable of sitting still. I have to be so tired I can barely move before that goes away. Luckily I experience a lot of sleep deprivation at this point in my life.

Well, I can start consciously paying attention to what works and with whom. I can try to deliberately combine small groups of particular people. Perhaps if I can cross connect a couple of lines I can increase my feeling of safety.

The problem is that my friends are different. They vary from one another dramatically. It is hard to talk people into adding someone radically different from their norm into their life. I’m usually already the biggest aberration in their life.

It also doesn’t help that I’m not willing to blanket say, “If I know them that means they are wonderful and safe and a “good” person.” I try not to lie. I know a mix of people. Some of them are not actually “good” people.

I don’t require people to reach a certain level of “good” before I will know them. I simply interact with people differently based on how they interact with my neighbor.

I go from nice and friendly to hostile on a dime when my neighbor starts his racist shit. Sometimes I am pretty nasty. But when he minds his manners I’m happy to hang out with him.

I know more than one rapist. My boundaries with them vary dramatically based on the context of the rape that I know about.

I know a lot of drug addicts. I think it is a really hard situation to struggle with. I watch my boundaries and try to be a good friend when I can do so in a way that is healthy for me.

I even know conservative Christians and instead of alienating them as my more liberal friends urge me to do, I nurture them close. I like these people. They are working hard to manifest what they believe in the world. Rock on. I am similarly interested in the teachings of people from every other religion. If someone is willing to sit and tell me about their life and their family then I probably want to listen.

I don’t allow people to attack me, but I like aggressive people. Almost every other detail is negotiable.

When you put a large number of aggressive people in a room, especially when they are all aggressive in different directions….

Well the two men who used to shout down all of my female friends in the room won’t be at events any more for very complicated reasons. (Ok, one moved. That’s not so complicated.)

I hope that means that some women will come back. I know more than one woman who stopped coming to avoid them.

How do I create an environment that feels safe? What kind of overlap works?

I’m not interested in being a recluse for the rest of my life. What will work?

I will probably keep trying. Life is long. I tell myself pretty often that if something doesn’t work out with one person there are 7 billion people I haven’t met yet. I don’t need to assume that I have to be alone if one person doesn’t like me. Even if a dozen people don’t want to know me. Even if a hundred people. Thousands. Millions.

There are more than seven billion people on this planet. I don’t have to be alone.

Even if I am annoying. I don’t need to feel so terrified that people are going to hate me and tell me to go away at the first sign of being annoying. Most people don’t actually do that. Most people are kind of lonely too. They can overlook some failings.

Just make sure the failings fall within a given, limited range of acceptable issues. It’s ok that my voice gets a bit too loud sometimes. People can either not be in my life or ask me to soften it. I can if given feedback. I do require feedback. I’m sorry. I know that can be annoying.

How do you learn the right list of disclaimers. “I am too loud sometimes. If my voice bothers you, please ask me to soften it. I’m happy to. I used to stage manage little girl dance shows and it has had a permanent effect on the volume of my voice. Sorry.”

“I have had an unusual life. If I ever start on a topic that feels uncomfortable for you it is ALWAYS OK to say shiny change of topic and we can abruptly switch to a neutral topic. It’s ok. I promise. I won’t be mad. I will be grateful you helped me learn about your boundaries.”

I want to know people and it is hard. You always start viewing people through the filter of how like you they are. Projection is almost always part of a relationship–in both direction. It isn’t just me.

I learn about their differences when they show me their boundaries. It is a valuable opportunity.

Thing is, in a group situation it is much harder to say shiny change of topic when you feel intruded upon so people have to withdraw to deal with problems. It’s not a great cycle.

I will always talk about things like incest and rape. It is ok if you don’t want me to have much of a conversation with you about those topics. Or any other topic I’m obsessed with. You are allowed to have different interests.

But I’m going to walk away if the conversation turns to World of Warcraft or other games I don’t play or movies I don’t watch or tv I don’t watch or gets too technical for me. I’m not going to say you shouldn’t have those interests. I will let you stay and talk to the people who share them and I will go stand somewhere else.

It’s ok.

But when people walk away from me because I said something… it usually isn’t neutral. I’m not upset by the gaming or technical stuff I’m just kind of burnt out on social listening to such topics. It isn’t visceral or anxious. When people pull away from what I am saying, often it is with churning guts.

I feel pretty bad about that.

I’m not going to stop talking about these topics. There are people who need to hear what I have to say. Sometimes I am the first or only source of information people have had. I’m really happy to get the ball rolling for people. I make sure I represent multiple points of view when I talk about stuff. “So I tend to agree with ______ but there any many opposing views such as _____ and _______ and people have different preferences because of _______. You have to figure out what will work for you.”

Balance. There has to be a point of balance somewhere. Ok I haven’t found it yet. That doesn’t mean I won’t. That doesn’t mean the balance doesn’t exist. I just haven’t gotten there yet. I’m not dead yet. Nothing is set in stone until I do.

Today is not always. What I am feeling right now is not what I will feel for always.

Today I get to make invitations for a birthday party. We have a joint birthday party coming up soon. Calli has a birthday twin and luckily, they like each other. *phew* Most of their friends overlap and it would be super awkward if they didn’t get along. This year the other family is hosting but I’m helping. It’s going to be fun. She’s getting a bounce house. I’m pretty sure I will never rent a bounce house. So I’m super happy we have friends who will.

I think I’m not doing goody bags any more. I don’t like the waste involved. Even if people get mad at me. I can live with that. I don’t need to contribute to a system I think is broken. My whole life is kind of that. I opt out of a lot of things. That’s ok.

My kids break everything in the goody bags before we get home. I collect the now-trash into the bag and drop into the trash on the way into the house. The madness has to stop. Yes, my kids are more destructive than average. All of my friends are drowning in schtuff. I don’t need to make their lives worse.

I’m taking a stand. Goody-bag free zone.

Luckily the birthday twins mom agrees with me. *phew*

I don’t have anything against bouncy houses. I think they are fun. I just don’t think I will rent one. There are lots of things I like and don’t do.

I feel freaked out the whole time my neighbor works on his boat because of the motor. I can’t imagine having a bouncy thing that close to my house. The noise would send me up the wall. I handle noise better out. There I have a very different level of sensitivity to intrusion. At home I keep it pretty quiet. We hear our neighbors walking by if they talk. I like being able to hear who is coming and going. They stop to chat. It’s fun.

I like hearing the birds. I like the train noise off a ways

And my time is up. Have a day. Cause I’m not the boss of how it goes for you.

Hyperbole

Yesterday I said that I have “never” had positive group identification. I’ve never felt like I belonged and knew everyone and they knew me. Then I spent the rest of the day rolling that around in my head. Is it true or is just how I feel right now?

The two big “what about …” that popped up were our wedding reception and my 30th birthday. Those were both large events at my house where the main draw was that people like me and/or Noah and they wanted to be there to show their love. Our wedding reception had more than one hundred people.

What the fuck can anyone expect?

The problem is the wedding reception overlapped with the last time I ever saw Anna. She came to visit me from out of state. Ostensibly to help get ready for the reception. We hadn’t seen one another for a few years. Then she got here and I found out she was a drug addict (all legal prescriptions) who was barely verbally aware of what was happening around her and her back problems (the reason for the prescriptions) made it so she couldn’t do much of any help. And she was the only help I had. And she spent 90% of her time talking about how important it was for her to be at the Harry Potter release party that weekend.

I was completely freaking out before the reception even started. It was hard getting all the work done. It was two or three people worth of work and it was 1.24 people available to work. I never relaxed during the party. I didn’t enjoy it. I spent most of the party trying not to cry.

I did enjoy when Noah and I got to read our vows in front of our friends. That felt like witnessing. But I did not have the feeling of being supported and loved and seen. It was, kinda like what I want, only not so much.

Anna and I had a horrible fight the next day and I haven’t spoken to her since. Almost seven years. I was a complete dick to her. The fight was my fault.

I told her that priorities were completely fucked. She was obsessed with buying a new iPod but she don’t have a real bed and she has had multiple back surgeries over the last few years and she was on so many pain meds that she couldn’t function. I said, “What the fuck is wrong with you that you prioritize a music player.” No one likes being told stuff like that. She couldn’t hold down a job because of pain and mental confusion from medications. She was living with her psychotic, evil, very abusive parents and all she cared about was the new Harry Potter and getting a new iPod.

I was not nice. I think it was probably a very healthy decision on her part to be done listening to me. Even if she is making bad choices, that’s not really my business and I shouldn’t be such a raging cunt.

So I didn’t walk away from my wedding reception feeling seen and important. I spent the morning beating my head on concrete and the evening crying. It was hard and draining and not a lot of fun.

Same with my 30th birthday. It was a huge party. So many people came. People do like me. I don’t know how to get past this feeling that people only like me if I perform just right because that trashes the parties for me. I was so scared I would do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, and then there would be a mass walk out because people are only here for the free food anyway.

I don’t like me very much. It is very hard for me to wrap my head around other people liking me.

So when I have this horrible feeling of alienation… I literally don’t know what someone else might do to get past this feeling. I’m trying.

Running with Blacksheep had the feeling. That was really wonderful. I do get the feeling of bonding and mattering on a one-to-one basis.

When I’m running and feeling bad about myself and I’m crying and I feel disgusting and I want to hurt myself, I think of Blacksheep singing silly songs and encouraging me. She was so fucking nice even though I was whiny and difficult and kind of a problem. She dragged me through that race.

I struggle really hard with the difference between “knowing” that people love me and feeling that people love me. The gap between those levels of existence create my problem. It is that gap that can kill me.

I went and looked for blog entries. I didn’t write about the blow up with Anna. I’m not surprised. That’s the kind of thing I can’t write about too soon after it happens. I didn’t write that much about my birthday party.

For my 30th birthday I wanted a two part party. The first part was all the lovely vanilla friends for a tea party and the second part was for a drug fueled orgy. I spent the morning before the first party began beating my head on concrete. I plastered a fake smile on my face for the tea party. I did a lot of drugs and freaked out all night anyway. Because even on heavy drugs designed to increase bonding feelings I feel like everyone standing near me is lying about liking me.

They really hate me. I’m disgusting. They are just being polite.

I keep trying because I keep hoping that this feeling will go away. There has to be some way of feeling connected with multiple people at once.

Sometimes I struggle with feeling connection with all three members of my household at once. This really is a deficient system in me. I have this hyper-focus for my feelings of attachment. I hyper-attach to one, maybe two people at once and I can’t really see or feel or experience attachment to other people. I have had to grow quite a bit. There have been periods where I’m all bond-y with the kids and I’m not nice to Noah for a while. Then things shift and Noah is on the inside and I kind of push one of the kids away for a bit (sometimes both).

How much “go play” is healthy? Unschoolers have very different tolerances on such things.

With my kids I’m pretty good (I think) at maintaining the professional engagement even if my emotional attachment comes and goes. There are days when I frankly dislike my children. Sometimes they can be raging assholes. Sometimes on those days I feel genuine empathy and I help them through the emotional bumps of life that must occur. Sometimes I hate their living breathing guts and I have to monitor my hands and my tone of voice and my facial expressions with great precision.

Just because I’m having a feeling that doesn’t mean I get to act on it. No matter how angry I am with them (for reasons or no reasons) I must control myself. My hands have to be gentle. I must not look too scary. I must project loving even when I feel none. Or at least more patience than I feel. I have to be patient. I have to be loving. I fucking picked my job. Don’t be a dick.

When I am in that space of being careful is when I feel the least attached. I don’t feel real. I don’t feel like my feelings matter. I am just there to be a support for other people having the experience they want to have.

This is the problem with group identity. I create this problem within my self as more and more people walk through the door.

I act very differently with different people. Some people think I am quiet and timid (I swear to G-d people say this to me on a regular basis–”Wow you are so quiet and so timid, it’s ok to talk”. I giggle.) No. This isn’t an environment where it is ok for me to talk. But thanks for playing. I think they say this because I stand there with my hand on my mouth to remind myself that I shouldn’t speak.

When I invite lots of people over because I want to be able to feel bonded with them it backfires. I experience horrible anxiety because I don’t know how to behave as the group size increases. I don’t know what will be ok. The things I talk about are on such a huge spectrum from mild to wild that I can’t figure out what to say. I physically hurt the whole time. My stomach is on fire and I want to cry.

I haven’t had a party that big since my 30th birthday. We’ve had much smaller parties and they’ve been a lot easier.

Our Christmas open house last year was unusually successful for my sense of emotional attachment. I had anxiety. I didn’t beat my head before the party. There were fewer people. There were manyfewer people I barely know. There was a higher percentage of people I have known for 10+ years than I usually have at parties. That was really nice. I had many moments of one-to-one bonding feeling. I didn’t ever get rid of the underlying feeling of, “If I fuck up everyone will stomp out and hate me forever” but I had moments of reprieve. I had moments of, “I am so glad to see you. Tell me how you have been.”

I did freak out about the token Asian thing. No party is perfect.

I really appreciate all of the people who continue to show up. Who like me enough to tolerate the fact that I don’t always feel like they like me, or like I physically can like them. When we get into the same room–the liking is there. In between visits it gets stored in a black hole very similar to Mary Poppins’ carpet bag. You can’t see what it is in from the outside. It seems like there is nothing of worth. Then you open it and reach inside and you magically find the feeling you need.

Oh. It’s you. I like you.

And we are off to the race horse.

Why do the group events with the home school group not count? Because they don’t know me very well and I have to be on really careful “work level” behavior at all times. Sure, L reads. I am pretty sure she is the only one in the group. I make other people uncomfortable and being near me is visible work. Being there isn’t about me anyway.

Why didn’t the reception count? It should have. By every criterion I’m an asshole for not thinking that my wedding reception counted as a time when many people demonstrated that they love and see me at the same time.

I don’t know. I don’t know why I feel so dead inside. I don’t know why I can’t feel that lots of people love me. I don’t know why I can only feel love from a small number of people before I default to absolute certainly that now that there is sufficient mass everyone is about to hate me. It’s fucking inconvenient.

I have a bad habit of acting like just because I believe I am unlovable that everyone agrees with me.

The bdsm community seems like it should have presented such a feeling, at least at some point. But I only really talked about myself to a few people. Only a few rare women actually knew much about my life. And my Owner was always clear that he was happier having my background be a closed book. He didn’t want to know what made me who I was or how I got to where I was.

So no, I didn’t feel seen or important or loved for me.

Noah has been such a dramatic force in my life. He was the very first person who ever wanted to know all my stories. Sometimes it feels like he gave me permission to live. My writing has gotten steadily more explicit and focused since I’ve known him. He wants to understand me. That means I have to figure out how to explain me.

When I went to Camp Everytown as a teacher and I had to publicly (though mostly silently) reveal all those details about my life to a large group of people… I ended up getting in a fight because the “bisexual” kids told me I was a disgusting bigot for describing myself as a queer. The other adults just about asked me to leave the event because I wasn’t keeping it together as a supportive adult well enough. I was not welcome to come back in later years so that I could adjust to the experience of having that many details of my life get revealed.

I’m different. Legitimately. Everyone is a special snowflake, yes I know. Even with weird people I’m weird.

I don’t feel seen very often. I feel like people see what they want to see. Someone who is more like them and probably softened. I try to be ok with that. I know that I see other people as being far sharper than they think they are. We like to see ourselves in others.

Yesterday we party hopped. A little kid birthday then a grown up birthday with some kids at the party. At the end of a very long day (the kids and I were out for a little over nine hours) there was a little issue with the baby at the party being grabby.

I happened to walk outside just in time to see the baby grab Calli’s face and pinch really hard. Calli screamed and cried. Then the baby did it again while I was walking over. I was nervous Calli would knock her block off.

I sat down and pulled her into my lap. She told me what happened and she told me how it felt and she told me about her feelings. I repeated all of it back to her and sympathized. Yup. It happened. Yup, it hurt a lot. Yup, you are sad. Would you like a hug?

Calli talked to the baby and asked for an apology. She said she accepted it after it was offered.

Then the baby squeezed Shanna’s arm. And around we go.

At this point I decided that it was time to go home. It was after seven and nearly bedtime and both of my kids are crying and not calming down and… time to go home.

Calli screamed the whole way home and the whole time while getting ready for bed. She didn’t want to go to bed. She didn’t want to do anything. So I went to bed with her. And I sat there and I talked to her about how proud I was of her behavior that day.

She calmed right down. She told me all about how “I showed the baby how to solve a problem. RULE NUMBER ONE: NO HITTING. Rule number two: use your words when you have a problem. Rule number three: tell people how they should touch you. RULE NUMBER FOUR: NO HITTING Rule number sixteen: use your words.” She went on for a bit. Then she calmed down and settled close to cuddle with me and things went better.

I do actually think I am pretty good at my job. I like them so much and they are worth the effort I put into this.

What is it that I need in order to feel connected? I don’t know.

That was an informative dinner.

Last night we got to have dinner with Noah’s baby sister. Oh man. She’s happy to tell All The Stories about the family. And she has a night and day different impression of Noah’s parents than Noah has.

Apparently mom has been going to therapy and making great strides. Dad has uhm gotten crazier. I’m not sure it is healthy for people to live off in the woods not talking to people much because they have enough money to shun society.

I am going to be picking up the baby sister and she is coming back to the house with me to tell me stories later in the week. I’m looking forward to this so much.

She sat there and said, “And I can tell you everything. I’m a bastard so they all hate me and treat me like a non-entity so I have some interesting perspectives.” I’m going to fucking love this girl.

Apparently my mother in law feels very guilty for how things went when I visited Texas. (Ya know, how she refused to leave the house to have dinner with us once and when I went to the property she nodded then left the room.) Apparently she makes as many clothes as she does for the kids because she feels guilty for how she treated me and I respond so positively about the clothes in letters.

Not a dynamic I pictured coming up with my mother in law, I’ll tell you. This really makes the trip next year seem like it could be different than I previously expected. Some of the things she described Noah’s dad doing…

I have had a number of people respond about seeing us on the road trip. The respondents have been on a spectrum from, “PLEASE come sleep in my house” to “I would like to see you but you can’t sleep here.” I’m sorta thinking it will be better for the kids and I if we just know we are sleeping in the van. We will need to have our routine.

And it will give me a great reason to say, “Traveling this long is pretty hard, we need to have some consistent routines so thank you for dinner but we need to head outside now.” I won’t have to deal with anything in the middle of the night. If someone did to me what he is doing to them in the middle of the night I would get in a fist fight.

Oh man. Trading one crazy family for another. At least this crazy isn’t sexual abuse. *phew* I can handle just about anything else. Boundaries are my friends. I may get in a fist fight over crazy, but I won’t feel like I am too unsafe to live. I just can’t be around the sexual predators anymore. Just can’t.

My poor children. They stand such a high chance of being bat shit crazy. I sure hope that environment matters as much as genetics and my kids have a pretty nice life.

I don’t mean that they are financially secure. I mean that no one is allowed to hit them. They can clearly tell you WHY their body belongs to them alone and no one has the right to touch them without permission. They believe that someone who calls them a mean name is clearly having a bad day and they need to go deal with their feelings somewhere else.

They do not internalize negative messages. They have been so inundated with positive messages that they do not feel that negative statements apply to them.

Yet they will tell you in detail that everyone makes mistakes–if you don’t make mistakes you won’t learn. They will tell you (while sighing and rolling their eyes) that everyone is frustrating and obnoxious sometimes.

It’s ok. We love you anyway.

When I am grumpy they think *I* am grumpy. They don’t think they made me grumpy. My kids have a really nice life.

Noah said that I was teaching them noblesse oblige. I told him that I sort of am but mostly I’m not. I don’t think they are “better” than anyone around them. I think they were born lucky. I think they are one of the fortunate ones who was born having more than you need.

It is closer to “be your brother’s keeper”. If your brother needs something, you probably don’t make him go work a shitty ass job for years before you help him. He’s your brother. He’ll help you later. If you have extra, you share. Heck, even when you don’t have extra–share. Your needs are met. Over and over. Emotional, physical, maybe even spiritual. If for this one meal you aren’t full to complete satiation–don’t worry you will at the next one. Share with your brother.

Or sister, we are pretty equal opportunity here. And we have no brothers in the house. So I don’t actually call it brother’s keeper in the house. But that’s the traditional phrasing.

It is closer to the Christian belief that you cannot be saved through faith alone–you must do good works. (I know that most Protestants hate the idea of having to work for heaven. Whatever. Christian sects vary dramatically. It is all still under the umbrella.)

My children have such blessings in their lives. For all my insecurity and emotional volatility… I have a lot of consistent people in my life. Despite the fact that I hysterically move in and out of feeling attachment to people… I don’t actually cut most of the apron strings. I worry about any separations.

If I don’t talk to someone for a month I can grieve for them as hard as if I haven’t seen them in ten years. My hormonal cycle is really a bitch to live with. I have these periods of tunnel vision when I’m not capable of perceiving that people like me. I’m scared that some day in the midst of one of those days I’ll kill myself because I can’t see a way out.

So far there has always been a way out. And things have improved steadily over the last ten years. So I try to have patience with myself on those days. I’m still frantic-feeling. But my conscious self-talk has changed.

“These are feelings. I know you are scared. This will pass. It will be ok soon. Not everyone hates you. You don’t have to die today.”

That’s a lot of improvement. I’m pretty proud of getting to that point. When I am rocking and crying and I feel like a steaming pile of dog shit at least I don’t chant about what a worthless whore I am any more. I’ll take progress wherever I can.

It is very hard to have perspective on your own story. My shrink spends a lot of time being amazed at how many people have been in my life consistently for long periods of time.

Dude, my best friend from middle school made a big point of stopping at my house when he visited the state. Apparently I don’t make everyone run away in terror. Jenny is another middle school friend. I have plans with a friend from high school next week. I spent the 4th of July at a party that was a combination high school reunion for me and college reunion for Noah.

Clearly I *am* connected to people.

Dude, Sarah and I are tentatively trying to figure out what we can have as a relationship. That’s fucking huge. We learned some valuable lessons about not living together. But we had a seven year relationship before that. Not living together is a reasonable boundary. What else can exist there?

I don’t know. But I love her a lot. I have for ten years now.

Life is very complicated. I don’t lose everyone. Sometimes they move away. That doesn’t mean I really lose them. I may hurt and grieve and have terrible luck feeling attached. But then they show up again. And it’s bumpy for the first few hours (I have adjustment periods with almost everyone) but then I pull my head out of my ass and things are wonderful again. I remember what I love so very much about you. I remember how very glad I am that you are in this world.

I remember that you love me.

(Err, I don’t only like people who love me. But it is nice when it is a circle.)

Sometimes I feel like I must be very very stupid. I am not capable of maintaining the learning process. I have to have the same fucking epiphany millions of times. Wait–you like me?

I continue to struggle with the dichotomy between having a “friends group” and having friends. I have friends. I have many individual people I have pulled out of diverse communities. They don’t meld though. They are strangers to one another.

That seems to be a big problem for me and I’m not exactly sure why. It’s like I want to have the individual members of my extended web be connected to one another because that is a better net for me to fall into.

If all of my friendships are straight lines going out, that’s not exactly a net.

It isn’t like I don’t do group events. The home school group is becoming quite the hub of group events. Why doesn’t that “count”? Why am I discounting that? Why do I brush off what I have and decide it is valueless?

Well, I hope I don’t do that. There is some magic percentage of knowing people in a group I have never hit.

I have never had the experience of being surrounded by people and feeling very sure that they all knew me and liked me. Even when I did fucking MDMA at MY birthday party. I sat on the couch and had anxiety attack after anxiety attack about how I didn’t know how to perform for such a wide audience of people I didn’t know all that well.

That’s pretty fucking annoying. Let me tell you.

It isn’t anyone else’s fault that I am searching for this feeling I don’t know how to get.

There is something about a depth of relationship combined with a certain mass of people. I don’t know what it feels like to be known and actually liked by a group of people. And that’s a problem for me.

But at least if I am narrowing down the problem it looks more tractable.

I do group events. I am “part of” groups. I was part of the theatre community in high school. The problem was that a large percentage of the people there spent a lot of time talking very loudly about how much they disliked me and wanted me to go away. It wasn’t even half the group who did that, but the people were loud enough that I never felt safe or wanted.

When I go to parties at my friends houses I rarely know many people. Usually the host plus one or two people.

When I invite people to my house I do a lot of drag net fishing (as Noah describes it). I invite a lot of people I want to get to know. I don’t only invite people I already know well. So there is this feeling of tension. They like me enough to show up. Is that because of the free food and loneliness or is that because they want to develop a relationship?

As an adult it is hard to know what a relationship means.

Oh shit. I still haven’t emailed Tay about 2015 planning. And our next visit up north. *bang head*

H’okay. Took a half hour break to schedule with him through all of 2015. My life is kind of insane. If I don’t book him in the next couple of weeks… we won’t get him at all. He is so busy.

Anyway. Back to what I was bitching about. I don’t feel like a nice person for looking at the lovely friendships and relationships I am offered and saying, “But there aren’t enough of you standing in one place at one time so it doesn’t count.”

I think, in my head, that is kind of the ‘wedding’ thing. I think that is tied together. Most of my parties contain a low percentage of old-friends. Mostly my events have one or two long-term friends and a large number of people I am just getting to know. For some reason I think I have the belief that your wedding (or these group trips I imagine in my head) are full of a kind of depth of knowing that I don’t experience at events.

I can have this feeling one on one. I can occasionally have it two-on-one. I don’t know what it is like to feel known and seen by lots of people at once.

I babble about this because if I can figure out the shape of the problem, maybe I can design a solution. Because if the problem is that I haven’t had enough density… that’s tractable. That is a problem that can be solved. As the years go by I have fewer newbie friends. I don’t have much space for them. But I have deepened and extended a lot of older shallow relationships.

If the problem is that I have always moved too often so I never hit the density of knowing people in one location…. that’s a problem I can fix.

I love my neighborhood.

It’s not like I think that having the experience for one glorious day would wipe out my panic disorder, but it might be a novel change.

Neighborhood happenings

The tweens didn’t show up today. While telling their parents that they would be here. I know this because a parent showed up looking for them. Whoops.

We went for a walk to the dollar store. So Shanna could get a few things before the next tea party. She’s pretty obsessed with crepe paper and it is her allowance, so whatever.

Along the way we met a new family with a three year old and a nearly seven year old. Both boys, but still promising.

Made plans with another little girl who is a friend on the way home.

Even if I feel like a worthless piece of shit I can go out and still act like everything is fine. I’m the biggest fucking liar ever.

drowning in my own bile

I feel like I’m drowning in my own bile. I don’t even know what is going on. The last few days have been really emotionally tumultuous. Noah asked me what I thought triggered it.

I think that part of my problem is that my perceived expectation of my value is different than my perceived lived experiences of my value. Does that make sense?

I know I am dripping with financial privilege. I always thought that having more money would mean feeling more secure. I always thought that being able to buy any food I wanted would be the same thing as happiness.

Many of the women I spend time with have been discussing the same theme lately: are people in your life friendly or friends? I didn’t even bring it up so I feel a bit better about that. I’m not the only insecure one.

For example of drowning in ones own bile: I managed to run into a woman at the water park I like a great deal. I got to know her during swim lessons for the kids because we overlapped for a long time. I don’t know why but I’m totally drawn to her. I have been since I met her. Her personality makes me feel more calm and assured. She just has that competent “I know what I’m fucking doing so move out of my way” sort of vibe. God I love self-assured people.

She just got back from Hawaii. They went with friends. 14 people. They go together on a big trip every other year.

I told her, “The funny thing is, that’s why I bought a time share. And I don’t have enough friends to fill a trip so instead I go alone.”

This is choking in my own bile. I have weird pull out pieces of privilege. I want to share that so fucking bad because having privilege that you get to enjoy only while alone doesn’t really feel like privilege after a while. It disgustingly feels kind of like a punishment. Which makes me feel ungrateful and guilty and terrible. I am such a shitty person.

I have friends. What I don’t have is a friends group. I have lots of friends who are super busy doing their own things. It isn’t even that my friends can’t afford to join me on my adventures (though that is true) mostly it is that they already have the friends-group they are going to have. And I’m never really part of groups.

I feel like a fucking asshole. I know that this isn’t other peoples fault or problem or anything. I know that I am just a selfish asshole. I don’t like myself for being what I am very much.

I’m reading a horrible, terrible, no-good book. It’s about health in marriages. It is horrible because it spends a lot of time talking about emotional needs and how people should try to be vulnerable and bring their needs. It’s about attachment between adults the same way I’ve studied attachment with children. I’m so fucked.

No, I can’t bring all my cavernous needs to Noah. I can’t bring them to anyone. They are my fucking problems. They are problems inside of me and they aren’t anyone else’s problem.

And that makes me want to die. Noah says he wants to make my life so good that I never want to leave it. The problem is, the money really isn’t what matters. And he can’t give me a depth of relationship that covers all the holes inside me. Not because he doesn’t care, but because what I need doesn’t come from a person. It comes from a whole interconnected tribe and I don’t have one. I’ve never had one.

And so I drown in my own bile.

I feel so sad that I see people 4-7 days a week and it doesn’t help me feel like people see me or give a shit about me. I feel so sad that when I look at my life and interactions I can’t understand why anyone would miss me as anything other than a work horse.

I had a panic attack yesterday while driving. I really didn’t want to go socialize with people with whom I am friendly instead of friends. But I had pre-existing plans. And I don’t like to cancel. So when I got lost on the way to somewhere I have been dozens of times I started crying and hyperventilating and screaming and I had to pull off the road to calm down so I didn’t cause an accident. It’s been a while since I had a panic attack. I will choose to be happy about the gap in time instead of hating myself for having another. I’ll have more. Many more. That’s just how my body works.

I want group identity so badly that I drift through the feeling that I will die without it every so often. It has come up again and again in my life.

For a while I will have the energy to pursue someone for a closer relationship. The feeling of needing to die from lack of connection fades. Then I run out of energy for forcing a relationship and things kind of fade and I want to die. I want to die so much. My body hurts. My heart hurts.

It isn’t fair to my children. They should count now. They should be enough for group identity. I’m a fucking Gibbs girl now.

Only I know that if I stand next to anyone else named Gibbs, other than the ones who live in this house, I’m very much not part of the family.

I wish that my kids felt like more of a relationship. It feels so much like a job. A draining, hard job. I do get love back, but mixed in with a lot of hitting, screaming, and my needs being entirely unimportant.

Noah is so tired. I feel guilty for asking him for anything. He doesn’t have any more attention to give.

I hate myself for being such a whiny, needy baby. I want my mommy so bad.

Instead I will sit here and watch The West Wing and I’ll eat a cheese stick. I’ll cry.

Really, it’s for the best that I don’t have more of a friends group who wants to try group activities sorta under my umbrella. My group trips rarely go well. It’s usually my fault. I have a hard time with people shirking work. In most group trips there are people who work and people who don’t and I get into conflict with the non-workers. Most of the other worker-bees don’t complain and thus I’m a problem.

I know.

I’m selfish and entitled. I don’t like myself very much for it.

I’ve certainly been on group trips to things. They work out when I am barely known to everyone there and I don’t talk much.

I’m sorry that I am such an asshole. It has been so necessary on so many levels that I don’t really see that part of my personality going away.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m a sorry sack of shit.

Today is another day. Hanging out with the mothers’ helpers. Ice skating. Noah’s sister is in town and we are having dinner with her and her boyfriends’ family. Because she came to California to see her boyfriend, not her brother. We are going to Los Gatos. I will endeavor to pretend I am a first time visitor to the town because man that smoothes things over. No, “I have a diploma from your high school” because then it spirals into Stories. I know better than to tell Stories tonight.

Tomorrow is so busy. Birthday party. Other party.

I know so many people. Why do I feel so lonely? It’s the difference between being friends or being friendly. I’m very friendly with people. Mostly, lots of people like me. That’s because I keep my fat, stupid mouth shut about almost everything I think. My feelings don’t fucking matter and I know it. Yeah, I’m a whiny bitch. I know. I’m very sorry that I’m hurting. I’m very sorry that sometimes that is obnoxious to be around. I try my best to not make it anyones problem.

And I want to die. It is so pathetic. There isn’t anything going on right now that justifies my feelings. Nothing bad has happened. I feel lonely. I alternate between having pathetically low expectations and having expectations that are so high that only a blessed few ever see anything like that.

I want a family. I want grown ups who spend time with me and who are just there. I have a hard time with how much Noah works. I support it. I don’t bitch, well… I don’t let him work overtime.

We have discussed how my behavior would be a serious problem for him if he was in a less-impacted profession. My insistence that he work for 40 hours flat would cause career problems in almost any other career. Yeah. I’m a selfish piece of shit. Lots of women have it much harder than me and they aren’t whiny bitches.

I want to die. Because clearly there is someone more worthy waiting in the wings who would better appreciate the ridiculous privilege I have. Only there isn’t someone waiting in the wings. That isn’t how life works. I would fuck my children up for a very long time.

Missing my family is like a wound filled with gangrene. No good will come of this. It poisons every part of my life.

I know it is my responsibility to be pleasant to people. It is not their fault that I hurt. It would be a lot easier if I was still allowed to cut. I don’t blow up as much. It is like venting steam out to prevent an explosion.

What triggers it? I have some suspicions but I can’t write about it. Even I recognize some limits. The only reason I haven’t had a good session of head banging already is because I would have to admit that I did it and I would have to reset the clock on talking about my self harm.

I’ve been pretty good for a couple of years. Almost three years. I don’t want to slip now. I don’t want to have to tell anyone how broken and stupid and pathetic I am. And I won’t lie. That compulsive telling is probably why I am alive.

It feels like a betrayal of how hard Noah works to be this sad. He works hard to earn money and he works hard to be emotionally supportive. He does his very best. And I am an ungrateful piece of shit.

Future tripping as avoidance

I was talking to someone about FOGcon. It is in March. http://fogcon.org/ I’m considering going, mostly because I know so many people on staff. They are all people I trust and I believe that if I had an issue that is a group of people who would make sure I was ok.

They have child care on site…

Retail therapy

Despite the fact that I am not sure I “should” be doing this, but recently I have ended up near really cool toy stores a few times. I think it is funny that I have a super hard time buying things that are just fun for myself but I’m happy to buy toys I can claim are educational.

Magnets. Lego Boards. (We didn’t have any large bottom boards for building on and I don’t feel guilty about this.) Activity books for the car. Ok, this time I was smart and I put all the activity books up high where the kids can’t reach them. They can stay hidden until the road trip. I’m going to need a near-inexhaustible supply of things to distract them on that trip.

I was very happy this morning to hear the kids negotiate their iPad time. “Shanna, you had it first yesterday so today it is my turn to pick first.” “You are right. Sure, go ahead.”

They don’t always sound so pleasant as they negotiate.

I feel like we had several really grumpy days (not just me) then both kids decided that they wanted to repair all at once and we’ve all been nice to one another.

Today will be long. Hiking then the water park. Noah has a hair cut this afternoon so the girls and I will hang out alone till bed time. We will have fun.

The kids told me to go take time off while I can because they plan to run me into the ground later. I believe them.

Why can some people be forgiven and not others? This question haunts me.

Scheduling

Even though I am halfway through July I haven’t put August on the board yet. This doesn’t happen very often. I’m feeling so overwhelmed by life. Suck it up wench. Shit will happen whether you want it to or not. You will be more organized and less panicked if you do the schedule.

Ha. Ha. Fucking ha. Never worked before.

Try again

To be clear, I don’t think Noah deserves the ambient rage I sometimes want to direct at him. Even if he is sometimes infuriating (he is) he doesn’t do anything awful. He’s not horrible. He’s just…standing in a complex place.

I worry very much about my ability to maintain control over myself. I fly into rages. I am violent. I am really pretty awful. I have managed to successfully keep that mostly away from my kids and Noah. But I fuck up sometimes. My self-recriminations and regret don’t mean shit.

I’m scared that at some point the only way to ensure that I don’t fuck up in ways I can’t get back is to leave. Which is a fuck up of its own that I can’t take back.

It is hard when I feel like I don’t deserve to be here. I don’t deserve the civility or the kindness or the love.

In other news, the youngun’ from the neighborhood I recently recruited has an ambitious friend. He asked to come onboard for training and further work. We had a lovely twenty minute conversation about negotiation and initiation and money. For the first few visits I’m going to pay the one person rate. During this period the tweens (cause they are both 12–they aren’t even teenagers yet) will be looking around the house for shit they can do. Then we will write up a price list.

I told them that I have learned that I am an entitled bitch when it comes to paying people for their time. If I’m paying you… I need my life to be easier. If my life isn’t easier I’m not willing to pay for it. If my life gets way easier I’m willing to pay and pay and pay.

We talked about how, “If I have to keep coming up with stuff for you to do so you can earn money…. does that make my life easier? Sorta. Maybe. Not that much. You won’t get that much money for that.”

I told them both that they need to save up and take CPR and maybe 1st responder classes. I told them that doing so will jack up their hourly rate a lot. They both perked up at that. “Really?” “Yup.”

I told them that if they want to sit on the couch quietly and watch my kids play I will pay them a maximum of $5/hour. I am paying you to stimulate my children. Yes it is work. Very hard work. That’s why I’m willing to pay you to do it sometimes.

I’m hoping to develop a wider shallower net of support. If each kid can handle doing 3-5 hours/week then between multiple kids I can figure something out.

All you can do is keep trying.

My kids asked a friend if they can adopt her as an auntie last night. She asked what that entailed. I laughed. The role currently has an extremely broad application. It means “adult I will see again during my childhood”. Not necessarily often. Sometimes mostly you will see them over Skype. But these are the people who love you and think about you.

My kids have a much gentler application of “chosen family” than I do. I’m very glad for them. I’m glad they feel so much love. I wish that I had similar feelings. It isn’t the fault of any of my friends that I don’t.

Pam told me that I expect a lot of my BFFs. Yup. I really do. I’m not very fair towards whoever is currently filling that role in my head. Apparently I take the “forever” part very loosely. As life has changed I’ve had different people be closest. I hope that doesn’t devalue the relationships I have.

I expect a lot of the people I pull in closest. My expectations are not really attainable. They aren’t really healthy. I know. I want someone who wants to be my mother and my sister all in one. And I don’t really know anyone who actually has the spoons for that. So I mourn and mourn and mourn. And it isn’t anyones fault. Not mine. Not any of the poor women I get mad at for failing to meet what I need.

They can’t. And it isn’t reasonable or fair to ask it of them. I’m a fucking asshole for acting like anyone owes me that.

To be fair. I don’t think anyone owes me anything. I said this is what I need. It hurts and it sucks and it isn’t fair to anyone. It sucks that I have this huge hole in my heart where my mother and sister should be. It sucks that I am not good at containing the grief and it spills out onto wanting more than I can have from other people.

Part of what makes this so hard is: the people I pick for BFFs are people who want to be able to help me feel whole. They throw everything they have at me. And I walk away crying because it isn’t enough. And everyone feels like shit. It isn’t fair to anyone involved. It is so fucking hard. It feels like if I could just stop being an asshole then everything would be fine.

I don’t know how to turn off this need. It feels like poison.

I told Noah this morning that he is wrong about blame. He thinks it is wasting a lot of space in my brain. I think that blame is very helpful to me. When I feel overwhelming rage towards Noah the fact that I rationally know and fully believe that he is not to blame for my emotions is the reason that I can have the level of control that I have. If I stopped considering whether or not he is to blame I would lose the frame for keeping him out of the blast radius. He kind of nodded.

Being crazy sucks. Having emotions this strong sucks. Learning to control your body after a lifetime of being very violent sucks.

The down side to the blame is if I ever run into my sister and she starts something I may beat her unconscious because there is a lot of rage over a lot of years and I have siphoned it off of other people onto her into a way that isn’t so fair.

There are downsides to everything. I kind of wish she would move far away: Kentucky might be ok. (We have a cousin there. She could join family.)

It doesn’t really matter how much I despise myself for having the emotional process I have, that doesn’t change it or make it better. Accepting that I have it and learning to work around the current system is the only effective way to move towards change I have ever found.

For every issue I have with Noah I’m aware that I can spend multiple weeks with him nearly 24/7 and we only have mild intellectual arguments. That’s not really how it works with other people. Noah is willing to work around my temperamental behavior in a way that strikes me as potentially problematic.

He tells me when I’m going too far. He has gotten me to stop hitting people. He has probably evoked most of the most-positive changes in my behavior this lifetime. He has boundaries and he defends them.

But he’s willing to sit down and learn about all of my weird little quirks. He’s willing to try things and discard them and then try them again when I ask. He works so hard to make sure I like being with him.

It is hard staying when I feel so unworthy. I deserve a dirty, non-working drug addict who will beat me. But not when I say “pretty please”. That would be sick.

Wandering off for quiet time before it is gone.

More time

I’m clearly on a down hormonal swing. I wonder how much my menstrual cycle figures in. I’ve been bleeding for five days. Barely enough to count as bleeding. I’m not filling up panty liners. I didn’t do the explode with rage thing right before my period. I suppose that is good. Instead I am weepy and scared and I feel like I am on the verge of terribly hurting Noah.

To be fair, he isn’t complaining. This is about my perceptions.

I’m not allowed to ask for divorce or separation within five days in front of or in back of my period. Many women are rational regardless of where they are in their cycle. I’m pretty fucked up near mine.

It’s not that he does anything so terrible. It isn’t that he says anything that is so bad. It is because I am such an asshole. I want to scream and shout and hit him. Not because he deserves it. Because I want to do it. Because I feel so fucking angry that he says the things he says.

It really doesn’t help that he is right pretty frequently. It is ridiculously easy to hate his guts when he is right. The thing is, he is right in his descriptions of how things are. He has a better grasp of reality than I have. He sees different points of view and he understands connections between things that I really don’t get. And he can explain it. Sometimes I hate his living breathing guts. And then I feel so guilty and ashamed.

I’m a lot better at figuring out what is wrong with what is. No, I don’t know how to fix it. Noah needs to have something that is the agreed upon path before he is going to change his course. And really there isn’t much that I’m asking him to do at this point. There is nothing I think he needs to change.

Even being pissy about the video game thing is transitory. He hasn’t always worked on video games. He won’t always work with video games. That’s just the thing of the year. I don’t have that much emotional investment in what company he works for.

I have class issues. And it isn’t Noah’s fault. And they aren’t about Noah. Unfortunately he is standing really close to me. Well, unfortunate is a tricky word.

I worry about whether or not I am capable of being what he needs. And I’m scared that someday I will decide I can’t.

Noah says he is working hard to give me such a nice deal that I will never want to leave. I don’t want him working hard to get love from an abusive harpy. That’s not really a fair deal in life.

Today is sad. Today will end. At the end of the day Noah will still be there. And even if I have big feelings I won’t be mean to him. Even though I feel so bad for having the feelings I have. I can just be quiet.

I’m sorry I am so negative. I’m sorry I don’t appreciate you as much as you deserve.

But there isn’t really much “deserve” is there?

Some days are like that.

I’m in a bad mood. So I’m out here to medicate and write and hope I can cheer myself up.

My arms hurt. That doesn’t help. It also means that writing is questionable.

Noah and I have been bickering. We don’t get all the way to fighting. Neither of us allow that. We walk away before it escalates. But there is a lot of tension right now. Noah looks at almost any problem as if you have to have a problem-proof solution before you can change things. I think that favors the people already in power (like him) and I think sometimes you blow shit up without knowing how things will work out. Might get better, might get worse.

Given how well his life is going for him I see why he doesn’t appreciate assholes like me. For the life of me I don’t understand why he wants to be married to me.

I’m feeling my feelings. I told him this morning that sometimes I wonder how long we will be married. It isn’t Noah’s fault that sometimes I look at him and see the enemy. I’m not the most rational person on my best days. I wonder if I will be able to get over myself. It isn’t that I think Noah is actually doing anything so bad. But he has a lot of opinions I’m openly contemptuous towards. That’s really hard on a marriage. He tries to be patient with me, but it is very hard to be nice to someone who is contemptuous.

Would I respect him more if he built houses or fixed cars instead of building video games? I clearly didn’t go marry someone in one of those professions. There isn’t a lot of ambition in most construction workers or mechanics. They solve the problem in front of them and that is good enough for today. I really like and admire ambition. How come it had to come packaged with video games? Because that is how it works for my generation. I like Noah. I like how his brain works. I do kind of wish that someone as smart and talented and basically competent did… I don’t know.

He wants to work with computers. I married someone who has been obsessed with computers since he was seven. He doesn’t want to work for the government and he does want to make money. That means you go to the highest bidding company and frequently those are places like… video games.

Just because I don’t play them doesn’t mean they have no financial value to someone.

I feel existentially bothered by video games and I don’t know how much of that is tied to my brothers beating me up when I asked to use their consoles.

I really am a fucking asshole.

This is compounded and escalated by feelings I’m having about friendships. I thought of someone it would be nice to see. I added her to a Google group. Well, I sent her an invite. She told me since she would never come to my events she wouldn’t bother to join the group. But I could come visit her some time if I wanted.

I know a lot about her life and surrounding circumstances. I get it. She has experienced rapid physical decline over the last few years. She is barely getting her job done and her social life has evaporated. It’s not about me. It is not personal at all.

But I have a lot of disabled recluses in my life. If I went from friend to friend every day I would only see a couple of people twice in a month. People who have their own disabilities tend to have more patience with my deficiencies. I have periods where I don’t go anywhere or see anyone for a long time and my friends wait them out.

But I know a lot of people. I can’t carry the weight of going from house to house visiting my friends. Even if I want to. Even if I put them on a rotation and only see 1-3 in a month it is hard.

I wish I had more spoons but I don’t. I have just over fourteen more years where parenting needs to get basically all of my patience and “give” to anyone other than myself.

I don’t feel like a very good friend. This person in particular has been very frank with me that the hourglass is running out on her life. She will not live with the kind of pain she has right now for much longer. I have a lot of respect for that. I think people get to decide for themselves when they hurt too much and they need it to stop. Even if that means suicide.

So I feel like a giant asshole for not wanting to prioritize a lot of visits to her house. I will only have the privilege of her presence for a few more years, at most. How dare I waste even one minute of that time?

But if I prioritize her pain over my own and over making sure I have a network of people who are good for my kids I will be doing the most important job I will ever have badly.

Some people in the Leather community are shitty about boundaries with children. I don’t take my kids around them much even if I love them a lot and think they offer great value to the world.

My kids don’t need to grow up in Leather. No thanks. They don’t need to know it is a culture. They don’t need to talk about being from a multi-generational kink family. (I met a cousin at a national bdsm conference. He says his father and grandfather are openly involved. Seriously. My brother and I have had conversations. My family is so fucked up.)

It is kind of hard to make mercenary choices about who I let my kids spend their time with. I feel really guilty and mean. But I’m going to do it anyway and live with the guilt.

It is hard to make real conscious choices about how my kids are spending their time. It is hard to step back and objectively evaluate “What kinds of relationships do they have and how are these relationships serving them?” My kids are treated very much like clients if I were a case manager. “What kind of care are they getting?”

It is hard to evaluate myself. Much harder than evaluating other people. I can’t see me objectively and my evaluations match my overall self-esteem which means I have more days where I think I am doing badly than days I feel like a good parent. But I persevere because I have a lot of external validators in place telling me to keep on keeping on because I’m doing ok.

I can’t evaluate myself. So I try to make sure my evaluators are people whose opinion is worth listening to. They need to have enough experience in doing what I’m doing that I will listen to them. I like older women a lot. I am a serious asshole about discounting the opinions of people who have never done what I am doing.

Meh. How can you judge. How do you know? When it’s not like everyone who has done stay at home parenting (or even home schooling) is really fit to judge anyway. I’m inconsistent. And an asshole.

I tried to get a bunch of yard work projects done this week. I entirely failed and I feel bad about myself. Part of the problem is lack of upper body strength. Part of the problem is that many of these projects are two person projects because you require three or four hands at times and…

I can’t ask the kids yet. I get too impatient and grumpy and it isn’t fair. I can’t ask.

So my lack of productivity (even though I kept up with house chores and nearly a full time job of socializing) means I feel really shitty about myself. Cause I’m like that.

“If you didn’t let blame take up so much space in your mind….”

Oh fuck you. Did you sit down with a catalogue and pick how your brain works? No? Then shut the fuck up.

I only hear such commentary from people who are highly successful in repressive regimes. By those standards the most success I have had under such a system was marrying well. I really think it’s kind of idiotic to think I am otherwise going to be like people who grew up to be successful in such a regime. I haven’t done so hot on my own.

I’m not financially secure because I’m good at the system. I had some lucky horrible luck. That’s uhh, not the same thing as being good in the system.

I had an extended runway in the form of an accident settlement. It’s not that I’m that good. How would anyone else do if they were given $250,000 slowly between 18 and 32?

I’m not that special. I’m not someone who has risen in this system. Expecting me to be supportive of the system and expecting me to think well of the system is… kind of dubious.

I’m aware that the rug can be yanked out from under me at any point. I’m not secure. My status is not my own. It’s borrowed at best. I’m not going to be real loyal to borrowed status. I don’t care that much if it is lost.

I wonder how long my marriage will last. I’m afraid I’m not going to be capable of being as nice as Noah deserves. I won’t stay and abuse him. If I get too bad I will just go. No one deserves to be punished for all the broken in me. And I’m not sure I can be nice forever to someone who is so supportive of the status quo.

Today I feel very scared and very sad.

Today I feel very sure that I can ruin any good thing and make it bad. It’s just a talent. I can drive anyone away. Just give me some time. And if I can’t drive them away I’ll run away. One way or another I am going to find a way to prove that I don’t deserve to be loved. I am too bad.

I should probably stop writing and stop crying. We need to leave for Hindi class in 15 minutes.