Category Archives: when I grow up

Trying to be a grown up

I’m not having a bad trip. I’m just trying to manage some feelings I’m having and I’m trying to figure out what set of behavior is what I consider an appropriate reaction to situations that have bumps.

Bumps are part of life.

I have been incredibly cordial on this trip. I have managed my moods beautifully, in my opinion. I’m proud of myself. But I’m feeling some feelings and processing them here helps me not explode inappropriately.

I want to learn how to save my explosions for appropriate situations where they are both effective and useful.

I don’t think I want to stop exploding… ever…

It’s a fucking useful tool to have in my tool box and I don’t care who thinks it isn’t nice. Life isn’t fucking nice.

But I want to learn to have better control over it. A tank is not a bad weapon for a military to have. It’s a shitty fucking tool for a police force to have.

Perspective. Context.

I mean… I don’t think we should make war in most of the places our country chooses to make war… but that’s a different conversation.

I’m a violent person. But my goal is that someday I will have such control that my violence only comes out when it is absolutely necessary for serious protection or someone says pretty pretty pretty please and they are very cute and my husband says it’s ok.

That seems reasonable.

I’m not completely there yet. But I’m getting closer.

I did not explode with violence last summer even though someone escalated to threatening physical violence to my family. I deescalated and just got her the hell out of there.

I’m irritated right now. I’m not threatened. No one is going to hurt me. Nothing bad is going to happen to me. I don’t have to like the way everyone behaves. I need to learn how to not give a shit.

Honestly… fuck. This is like when y’alls boyfriend who moves to Australia used to be in a room with me. I feel like I’m in his position. I want to pick and pick and pick and just point out little irritating things about the stuff that is bugging me.

This is why I don’t campaign against him. Because I know I’m irritating as shit and it makes sense that I irritate him and he wants to pick on me.

CAUSE I FEEL THE SAME FUCKING FEELING SOMETIMES.

I get it. Irritating people are irritating. Sigh. And I need to put my big girl panties on and deal with it. It’s fine. I can be nice.

24 more hours. If I feel like I might get rude I’ll just opt in to a hotel for the night.

I don’t need to be an asshole. It’s entirely optional here. I get to decide what kind of grown up I want to be. I am capable of changing the conditions if they stop working for me.

It will all be fine.

I want to be charming. In exactly that way that monsters are dangerous for being charming. Is it manipulative? Well… yes. Charming is more likely to coax the behavior I want.

Long term enlightened self-interest, mother fucker.

An interaction

Holy tomatoes on toast I hurt. So this’ll be brief.

I had an interesting interaction with a dude today. So I found a guy through my massage therapist who specializes in personal training to help people with injuries/problems. I figure that if I can’t get a doctor to prescribe honest to fucking god physical therapy for me so that I can heal some of my injuries… I can hunt on the outskirts of the system. I can find someone who doesn’t really mesh with the gate kept, abusive system.

Sure, I can try this out.

Thing is, he’s a white guy. You know how I am about getting my hackles up with white guys. Especially athletic white guys. I am hostile until I have a reason not to be.

But I desperately need someone who can do what this guy advertises. So I gotta put my personal shit in a box and shove it in a closet and see if I can handle dealing with him.

Sigh. Fuck being a grown up.

So I gotta say, he has an aura. He’s pretty clearly an orphan. The loss of all family came up several times in the conversation. He’s got that… edge of “I have to be cheerfully polite in order to earn money to survive because there’s not a person in the world who values me enough to support me but I’m so sad.”

I mean, he seemed genuinely sweet and caring. I’m not denigrating that at all. He seems incredibly sincere. He wants to help. And he wears grief like a mantle. He advertises his loss openly on his skin. He is reminded all day every day. Grief, even if you smile, leaves tracks on your face.

But he did something that crossed a boundary and it was interesting. I didn’t call it out. I didn’t assert the boundary so in one sense… he didn’t cross a boundary he nonverbally negotiated a boundary change and I didn’t rebuff it to indicate where my boundary actually was.

To be more clear: he asked me about my arm tattoo. I explained it and started tearing up, like I do sometimes. Suicide is sad, yo. And… he leaned in and gave me an incredibly respectful, incredibly gentle, incredibly touching hug. It was the hug of someone who works with bodies and knows how to make touch 100% NON SEXUAL, OKAY?!?!?!

He reminds me just a tad of Taylor. One of the few men I trust almost as much as Noah.

It was absolutely incredible to realize that in a moment of indecision of “should I panic and fight or should I accept this as connection?” in my head my brain wrapped around a man who has loved me as a friend for a long time.

I didn’t feel scared.

I felt uncertain. I felt like I needed to make a decision. I felt like I had a chance to… figure out how this is going to go. Is he allowed to touch me?

I desperately want this man to help me learn how to hold my body in ways that will hurt me less. I need to trust him. I need to trust that he is going to touch me in appropriate ways or this just isn’t going to work.

This, now that I think about it, is scary as shit.

I wasn’t scared in that moment. I just felt it as a moment of choice, “Am I going to surrender to this process or not?”

I used to lash out at dance teachers who wanted to correct my form. I wasn’t there to look perfect I was there to have a chance to talk to people for 2-4 minutes while I did something more healthy than be a slug staring at my god damn computer.

This is different. I know what my goals are here. I need this process.

I need to figure out how to be in less pain.

So maybe he didn’t cross a boundary. But maybe he and I will have a funny conversation about how I normally react to people in a few weeks and we will laugh. He will probably apologize and feel embarrassed. He strikes me as that sort.

It felt like Joey. The 7th Day Adventist boy who was best friends with my brother Tommy and with whom I later lived. (We were both boarders in a house owned by someone at the church–it wasn’t like we were romantic or anything. I was 13.)  He was the one who took me to church and taught me to sing about Jesus loving me no matter what.

I know I have a lot of issues with hating white men because some of them have been complete motherfucking pieces of shit.

But some of them genuinely don’t suck. #Notallmen and all that.

I really hope I’m not making a mistake. But here I am documenting it so that in the future I will have to remember: I made a choice.

I’m trying to surrender to a process.

Please, if any deity exists, let this not be an awful thing.

I’ve stacked the deck in my favor by receiving this personal training with my kids in the room and my husband in the house.

I know how the patriarchy works.

Fuck.

Do you understand how much of my childhood people denied? Something huge and dramatic would happen and folks flat denied it. I need to make sure I can never rewrite history.

I did what I did. Here, I wrote it down.

Family, opinions, planning

There isn’t much in this world I like as much as I like how much my children want to spend time with me. Last night they begged me to sleep in their room between them. I was there for six hours until my back was hurting enough that I needed to change beds. I was sad to leave them, but gosh I get to hurting.

I read a lot of development stuff. There are some seriously contradictory opinions out there. Some folks (who will remain nameless cause I ain’t sending support their way) really believe it is terrible for me to provide as much support and physical affection as I provide. “Children need to get used to being alone.”

I got used to being alone. It broke something inside of me I don’t know how to fix. Naw, I’m good with not doing that to my kids. We deal with the separation that we need to deal with, but I don’t force space between us. My kids ask for space as they desire more of it and I let go and give them a little push. “Sure! Try your wings! Jump out of the nest! Do it! Do it!” But I’m standing behind them at first before I fling myself headlong at the ground to be there to catch them if they need it.

My children aren’t really alone as they try things. Sometimes I stop and reflect that my children are some of the least-alone people I’ve ever personally known. I did that. Wait: I did that.

Holy tomato. I took this hole inside of me and I decided “Ok that piece is not getting passed on” and I haven’t. I have been able to do what I set out to do.

My kids treat one another like they are a matched set. They get whiny about how much time they are separate for camps a few times a year. They are together and happy about it every day. My constant harping on how they are a team must help. I tell myself. Because I want to feel useful. It’s working.

I have children who believe deep in their bones that we are happier, stronger, and better together as a group than we can be alone. After I grew up feeling like I poisoned everything I touched. How did that come to be?

It started with Noah. It started with the fact that I don’t poison him, I help him. I make him feel more motivated and alive and inspired than he has ever been in his whole life. Nothing ever jump started him like me.

That’s pretty cool because he was a neat guy when I met him. He’s grown up so beautifully. I’m not entirely sure I married a man. He really may have still been a boy. At this point, he’s a man and it is so beautiful. He’s responsible. He’s diligent. He’s caring. Where he has tendencies towards flakiness or fucking up he has devised elaborate systems of checks and balances so he can’t drop anything important on accident. He taught himself how to stop fucking up. That’s huge, yo.

I appreciate how self-reinforcing our family values are. We value hard work and the pursuit of health. We think exercise and outside time are necessary to health and if the grown ups are slacking and lazy the kids tell us to get off our butts and do it. It is a glorious system. My kids think that life is a balance of work and rest and if you do too much of one or the other you develop problems so you have to pay attention to your schedule. When I work too much, they come down on me to rest. “Mom you will get sick. Don’t act like this.” My kids will comment on how we need more protein and vegetables to balance out the sugar we eat.

They are going to be some micromanaging motherfuckers when they are grown. It will allow them to be excellent at a wide variety of careers.

My kids are fierce. They are always the most female-presenting looking kids in the fighting group at whatever kid event we go to. They love to fight and they are getting better and better at sportskidship. Less gloating over winning. More “that was a really fun game, thank you for playing with me”. It is a work in progress. I use the word fierce because that is the most common word that random parents observe about my kids. “Wow they are fierce.” “Yup, they are.”

My kids have never been taught to soften themselves because people expect that from folks born with a vulva. Psh. Whatever.

In our house we talk about what it means to be a person born with a vulva and a uterus and what it means to be a girl and a woman. We are very clear that there are some maintenance acts that happen to anyone with these body parts but that doesn’t make you a girl or a woman just like having long hair wouldn’t make you a boy or a girl. But whether you are a boy or a girl you have to care for long hair–it’s just something that takes effort. Bodies take work and the nature of that work does not define who you are.

I’m well aware that there are people in this world who do not approve of how I am raising my children. I’m well aware that there is no “right way” to parent. I don’t think I’m doing it th One Twue Way. I think I’m adapting to my quirks and issues and my childrens’ quirks and issues and my partner’s quirks and issues and devising a system that makes us happy. That doesn’t mean it applies to other people.

Sweet cheese I don’t think I know what you should be doing. You are so different from me. You have such wildly different needs from this parenting journey. If I told you what to do I would hurt you and I would probably hurt your kids.

I need to remind myself of that more often. Even when I have a very strong opinion about an aspect of other people’s parenting I need to shut my fucking mouth. I’ve been failing at that lately in a specific case. I need to back all the way off. I can’t control other peoples actions. I need to stop trying.

Sometimes it is haaaaaaaaaaaaaaard not sharing my opinion.

Suck it up, wench.

I know there are a multitude of reasons I would make different decisions. Just one small aspect of our life would have to change and I would believe I needed to alter almost everything. I don’t think my path is the right one. It’s just the one I’m on.

I ask my kids about school regularly. I am not married to home schooling (even though I love it for entirely selfish reasons and I would cheerfully keep them around forever) I am choosing it as the right path for now. I really didn’t want to send my children to school before the age of 7 or 8 for a variety of developmental reasons… but past that… school is probably fine or healthy unless you have reason to know that a specific school is a bad match for a given kid. I just seriously think the US fucks up early education.

Up until I started painting my house like mad I flat yelled at anyone who hinted in any way that I was an artist. Because in kindergarden I was told I couldn’t do art right and I would never be good at it.

I wanted my kids to skip the imprinting of kindergarden.

Achievement: unlocked.

Now what?

I’m pretty sure I should stop calling us unschoolers. We are eclectically home schooling. We aren’t following a formal curriculum but we are borrowing aspects of a bunch of different curriculums and wandering back and forth as I see fit. I’m also making a bunch up because I’m totally trained in how to do that.

This is getting way fun. Youngest Child is being allowed to very slowly work through first grade. Kiddo is in first grade and I don’t need to push at all. Kiddo opts in to doing work. (I said kiddo didn’t need to start till next year but they were bored.) So I pushed Eldest Child a bit and at this point she is solidly where she would be if she had been doing academics for the last three years.

The amount of progress they have both demonstrated this year kind of blows my mind. Eldest Child started off the year seriously delayed academically and she isn’t anymore. Holy crap. I have always been just praying I wasn’t fucking her over too much. I was totally taking it on faith that things would work the way they did.

Thank. Fucking. Goodness it worked out. That wasn’t actually guaranteed. Science experiments involve the possibility of complete failure.

I’ve been aware from day one that I’m not raising my children in a given cultural tradition. I’m raising them as a science experiment in which I get to control the variables. Yeah, yeah I researched a ton of theories first. I’m not just flying blind. I’m making conscious choices. This is a science experiment. Let’s see if I can hold it together for 20 or 30 years. 30 god damn years. I didn’t want that many years of parenting. I wanted to have kids closer together than that. Sigh.

I want more kids. I want them so much it is a constant ache inside of me. People tell me to adopt. People tell me to find “Chosen Family”.

I want more people who are related to me. Who come back. Who want to see me. There is a fierce ache inside of me.

I have so many cousins and aunts and uncles and a mother and a sister and a brother and nephews and a niece…

And they prefer loyalty to rapists over me.

I want to have children. This is my only chance at having the kind of family that other people get to have. I know people who adopt and have it go well. I know people who were adopted who had a shit show of a life experience because they never ever got over the fact that they didn’t get to stay with their mother.

It’s a roll of the dice with someone’s life. I respect people who can do it. I’m not in that place.

I wouldn’t write about it so often but someone or other brings it up with me every god damn week.

Noah and I talk about moving somewhere more rural in a few years. Somewhere we could have a much bigger house and spending a decade or two fostering kids. Fostering children is different. I have always felt a call towards fostering. But I’m not in the right place in my life for it for a variety of reasons.

I’m working towards it.

But I want more children and my window on that opportunity is not going to be open much longer. My body is not exactly in perfect working order and that’s not going to improve when I hit 40.

Hey I’ll be having kids in the same age range as most of my friends who have kids who are the same age as my older kids. See, I do want to emulate your life experiences. Sorta. In that way that my emulations usually barely resemble the originals.

I like that we are all different. I like that we need such different kinds of support. I learn so much from knowing you. I learn about things that I could never understand without your explanations. Thank you for your patience with me.

I try to not be too obnoxious with my lack of initial understanding.

Individuation is going to have to be a thing next year. I’ve subsumed in a way that is eating me. I noticed something yesterday. I completely flipped out and started dating when Pam left. I think that Pam was filling a huge intimacy hole in my life and I didn’t know or understand what that meant until she was gone.

I miss you Pam. I support you in what you are doing. I know it has value and I know you need to do it. You are learning things you need to learn. I miss you. You have value all the time. You have extreme value to me personally. I support you in not always prioritizing my needs. I really do. But I’m allowed to miss you. That’s ok.

Everyone who loves me is busy as fuck. It isn’t personal. It has nothing to do with me and I’m not allowed to be cranky about it, not really. I pick people who have a lot going on to love intensely. That’s something I do.

I need to figure out how to have consistent contact with folks. We are going to try some arrangements of inviting folks over. We’ll test some approaches. Some things will work. Some things will fail. Both results will teach us stuff.

It’s going to be an adventure to start trying harder to have non-sexual relationships with some folks I like having sex with. For a lot of the past ten years I have just avoided specific people at times when it wasn’t opportune to be jumping them. I have treated more than one man kinda like a meat stick and I need to stop that. I need to expand some of my comfort zone. I need to get better at enforcing boundaries other than with actual walls.

This will be a drama filled adventure. Oh fun.

I hope we don’t fuck up too badly. Erf. I hope that I manage to learn these lessons without more turnover of friendships.

like the people I know. I would prefer to keep them.

Sometimes people ask me with paranoia about my agenda for wanting to know them. What I want to get from you is pretty simple: understanding of how and why another person makes the choices they make. If you let me learn about you I will be able to make better, kinder decisions in the future because my understanding of what people might need will be expanded. Thank you.

And if there is anything I can do for you that helps reduce the pain you feel at being alive, let me know. I fucking live for that shit.

Life is hard. I need you. I am a selfish bastard and I wish you needed me too. Most of you don’t need me and I get that. I accept it because there really isn’t another option. But I wish you needed me the way I need you. I cannot be an understanding person without trying to understand you.

I really want to understand people as a larger group. As a collective. I have to do that through individuals. My data is entirely made up of anecdotes and I’m ok with that.

Only in the anecdotes do I hear the why behind peoples beliefs and actions.

I’m going to rewrite Outrunning Suicide next year and I’m going to do it through talking to children. I’m going to find some and work through the chapters one by one with kids. If I can’t explain it in a way that the younger kids can get… it is still too advanced. Right now it is challenging for some adults to read. That’s not the book I’m trying to write. So I need to rip it apart and break it down into smaller pieces.

It’s going to be a lot of work. That’s ok. It is worthy work.

I need to feel like I am doing more in this world than just being super nice to my crotch droppings. I mean, it’s a good thing to do… but I need more than that. Writing the books I have in my head is part of how I will establish the reputation and credibility I will need for building the incest database. My runway on that is extending by an extra ten years. I should put that time to good use and write some of the other books I need to write.

I know I have at least ten books in me and I’m still working on the second one. Time to get the lead out.

I’m getting closer to being able to understand how to tell Part 2.

I know there are several books in me about family dynamics aimed at children. Aimed at teaching them a vocabulary with which to seek out help.

I think I have a truly terrifying children’s board book to graphic novel series in me that slowly unveils layers of stories of abuse. It’s going to be really god damn disturbing. But educational. “When I was a child I spake as a child; when I became a man I put away childish things.” How does understanding of these topics grow and change and morph? What does the boogeyman mean? How is it used? How could it be useful? What is just… entertainment? What do we owe as family obligation?

Am I ever going to be the grownup I see in my head? Will I ever feel like I am a real person who deserves to be loved because they have ruddy well earned it?

I frequently see people espouse the view that no one should have to earn love. We all just deserve it. Well. I can see how you would want to believe that. Sure. I haven’t experienced a world where that is how it works. I could rail at the world for existing in this form or I could work really hard to try and earn love. I’m going to fuck up sometimes. It is going to backfire sometimes. Standing still and stomping my feet and saying, “But I deserve it so give it to me” hasn’t ever worked for me.

I’ve had to work on my behavior. My mood swings. My actions in the world. My fucking facial expressions. My kids won’t even let me fucking cuss much anymore. What the hell.

I have had to learn to tolerate types of touch that irritate me and I’ve had to learn how to reject types of touch I like a lot in order to have this life. It is a painstaking process.

There are people in this world who get to occupy positions they haven’t really earned. That hasn’t been my life experience very often. I work. That’s how I get things.

Time to stop typing. I missed you, internet.

A sandcastle for Noah

(Fiction)

I woke up early, as usual. The first thing I did was extend my hand towards the bedside table where I keep my glasses—this getting old stuff is rough. I can no longer even see the text on the white board without them. But I keep hearing that getting old is better than the alternative.

Once I finished squinting my eyes up sufficiently to see the wall at the foot of the bed I tried to narrow in on which little square represents today. It’s a good thing we erase the current day at the end of every day or this would be a challenging task to find the right square first thing in the morning. Ahh, Thursday. A work at home day. How perfectly lovely.

These work at home days sure don’t mean what they used to. I sit in bed for a few minutes thinking about what work needs to be accomplished. Today I’m going to be trying to find patterns in the data I’ve accumulated during our last trip. When I’m out in the field hearing story after story after story they feel like waves upon the sand. I can’t figure out what makes one wave similar or different from another… I just try to stand up to them and not get washed out to sea.

Luckily I get to come home to Wonderland and rest in between trips.

As I start to sit up I look over and see if Noah is awake yet, not yet. He always sleeps harder than normal for a few days when we get home. That’s good. He worries about me during travel and that makes it harder for his body to deal with the strain. He’s not getting any younger either.

Because I’m the first one up this morning I stumble into the kitchen and put the kettle on before going to the bathroom. In what has become my tradition I stop and say a prayer of thanksgiving when using the toilet is easy. Thank you Noah for all the lovely cooking. I haven’t had a nasty IBS flare in years, but I don’t forget. Thank you for loving me enough to take care of me.

When I get back to the kitchen (after carefully washing my hands, of course) I reach into the fridge and pull out a bagel and cream cheese. I cut the bagel in half and put everything in place to toast the bagel once Noah starts to stir. I get the tea pot ready. I set everything for tea out on the table. Just one cup with first breakfast.

I putter around tidying things as I wait for Noah. It won’t be long. He still never sleeps well when I’m not in bed.

A few minutes into puttering I hear the toilet flush and Noah appears. As usual the first thing he does when he sees me is smile. I’m so grateful for this man.

We kiss good morning and I pop the bagel into the toaster. When it is done and cream cheesed the tea is also ready and we both sit down to our half a bagel. I just can’t function in the morning without calories and he has adapted to me after so long.

First breakfast rarely involves much talking. We aren’t awake yet, not really. We sip our cups of tea and reach out to hold hands while we munch on our bagel. Sleepy smiles are most of what we have to offer one another.

After breakfast today it is Noah who nudges his head towards the living room and says, “Shall we get to it?”

“Yes, darling. We really should.” Long experience together has taught them that they will have a better day if they start off with meditating and stretching. They can no longer cruise on the resiliency of youth and they must do actual physical maintenance every day. How boring. Noah sets the timer for thirty minutes of meditating and assumes his posture. I grimace just a bit and settle after him.

No matter how long we do this, I always feel that little pull of resistance. I don’t wanna do what I’m supposed to do. But with a Noah here to suffer when I don’t take care of myself… I’m much better at doing what I’m supposed to do now.

We meditate and then when the timer goes off move into stretching. We try for an hour but one or the other of us usually gets bored about 45 minutes in and for some reason… the other stops within two or three minutes. It’s just not as fun alone.

By this point it is coming on eight o’clock. Time to get dressed for a run and go out. It’s a Thursday: a five mile day. Noah grouses just a bit, as usual, because he really prefers three mile days. I grin as he says for the eleven millionth time, ”You are built for distance… I prefer speed.” Some things are as predictable as the sun rising.

No matter who is in second place as they finish up the last half mile there are always comments about how worthwhile the run is because, “Look at the ass I get to look at.”

Runs around the neighborhood always feel like a special treat after they’ve been gone for a while. Getting back to a feeling of normal allows them to adapt with ease to any uncomfortable traveling situation. The discomfort is only for a little while. Soon they will go home.

The post-running shower involves some groping and promises for what will come later. When you are old it takes a little longer to get the motor running for sex, so we try to maintain flirtation throughout the day. That way we don’t forget.

After getting dressed Noah walks in to the kitchen to make second breakfast, the one with all the protein and vegetables. Someone has to be responsible around here.

I walk into the garage while he does this to start setting up my work station for the day. I’m particular and fussy so I always need to spend some time at this. I adjust my standing desk (the erectness of my posture on any given day impacts how high I want it) and play with the monitors and plug everything in. You’d think I’d have this down pat at this point… but I think the adjustments are part of feeling like I’m home. I pull up all the programs I’m going to need today.

I don’t start reading notes yet. It isn’t time. Instead when I’m done adjusting stuff I go into the kitchen and make our second pot of tea. This time we’ll each have three or so cups out of the pot. Ahhh, tea makes life better.

While he’s cooking Noah tells me stories that he has heard from the kids lately. They each tend to tell one parent about an event knowing that it will be passed along. They treat us like one person and sometimes it is funny. A kid will tell one of us the first part of a story and the other of us the second part of a story and it isn’t until we remember to tell one another that we figure out the whole story. It’s like a puzzle. I think they do it on purpose because they know we like to talk about them.

I’m just glad that they still call so often. None of them kept their promise of wanting to live with us forever, but they do come visit often. To be honest… I appreciate not having to carefully lock the bedroom door every time we have sex.

After breakfast we both walk out to our computer desks. We don’t talk a lot for a few hours. Noah continues to work on his railroad (his inner metaphor for building coherency in computer programming) and I work on trying to find commonalities in experience between incest participants.

I’m long past being able to think of folks as victims. Even in the cases where they clearly are and are severely traumatized by the experiences. We are all participants—willing or otherwise.

Maybe I work on bridge building; if you want to extend the engineering metaphors.

After a couple of hours of work Noah nudges me (I tend to get tunnel vision) and says, “Let’s go outside for a while.”

I continue to find it funny that he went from being someone who couldn’t follow a schedule to being the schedule keeper. But he likes pushing me through my day. I’m glad he finds it satisfying. We both put hats on. I walk into the yard first and look around for which area needs attention first. I’m long past having to water (thank goodness) but some area always needs weeding or tending.

Noah waits to see where I end up before dragging a chair over to sit near me. He waits while I gather whatever tools I want for right now and when I seem to be settled into work he asks, “Are you ready?” I smile in assent and he opens the book we are reading and launches into it.

Almost forty years of him reading to me and I still can’t take it for granted. I love hearing how he voices characters. I love that I get to interrupt him and ask questions—he is still my walking encyclopedia. “Why did they do that?” “Ahh! That’s an interesting question. They are reacting to this because…” I get the impression that some of his morning work is reading up on the history of whatever story we are currently reading. No one can just know everything as easily as he does. He must be cheating.

But I don’t mind.

Some days I only work for half an hour. Some days we stay out until he is unwilling to wait longer for lunch. It all depends on how much I feel I need to work out from my morning. Some days I cry through this whole period because my work is so sad. Sometimes I focus on the story and can be present. Noah is there no matter where I am emotionally.

When we come inside I usually head for the pornography. It’s a weird switch after reading about sexual trauma for hours in the morning but if I’m going to be emotionally present and able to have sex with Noah… I need the dichotomy. I have a few pornographers in particular I favor because I know that the participants are joyously having the sex I see on screen. I’m very happy to support people getting to make a living however they want to make a living. And it means that by the time Noah has lunch ready I’m usually ready to grope him and talk about what I want him to do with me after lunch.

Long years of marriage have taught us that waiting until the end of the day for sex means… we probably won’t have sex. When we are home we try hard to hit the early afternoon widow when we are both awake and lively enough to enjoy it.

One of the best parts of being married so long is that I no longer feel embarrassed about being where I am on a given day. Some days I want elaborate foreplay and roleplay. Some days I just want to be fucked without preliminaries (although lube—lube is just important). Some days I want to be tied up and spanked first because I need the catharsis. I continue to feel grateful that I have a partner who is so joyously versatile.

When we finish having sex we tend to grab our laptops and move to the couch so we can sit side by side. This is the time of day when we get to do our personal correspondence and catch up on social media. If we get started earlier in the day… we won’t make real work happen at all.

Of course Noah regularly interrupts my reading to say, “Oh look at this one.” His love of comics continues unabated. I don’t mind. At this point he knows which ones will make me grimace and he doesn’t share those.

After a while of sitting on the couch the phone rings. It is our fourth child calling to ask, “I know I should just check the calendar but I’d rather ask you: is it my turn to cook this week?” Our kids may have moved out but we are very lucky they chose to stay close by. Every Sunday everyone comes over. We take turns making dinner, that way everyone gets a chance of making sure they get what they really want at least some of the time. Of course our first child makes a point of inundating me with mushrooms. That’s ok. I get even by putting olives in everything. Fourth child is the family outlier. That kid likes onions. How oh how did you spring from my loins?

I don’t know. But the little turkey has made me get used to French Onion Soup. Ugh. Fine. Be that way.

“You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” My children mock me with this phrase often. I even eat fish now, sometimes. It took a long time for them to get me to adapt my palate… but I try to be a good sport.

They are worth it. I chat with fourth child for a while about work and friends until I hear another call coming in. “Oh! It’s Aunt Pam. Can I talk to you later?”

“Oh! Tell her to call me when you get off the phone. I want to talk to her about an event I’m working on.” This makes a lot of sense to me. Fourth child is the one who was inspired by Aunt Pam to go work on climate change policy. I promise to pass the message along.

When I get off the phone Noah is already in the kitchen working on dinner. I get up and ask if I can help. Sometimes he lets me, today he says, “Nah. Just keep me company.” So I stand behind him and lean my head on his back while he works. He asks questions about Pam and the kiddo and I relay what I learned.

After a while I move away to set the table and get water for us both.

After we eat Noah goes back to do a bit more work at his computer while I clean up the kitchen. When I finish tidying I go back to my work station and work for a while longer.

When we both feel done with work (sometimes earlier, sometimes later) we wander through the kitchen and have a few bits of chocolate. It’s nice to feel rewarded at the end of the day.

Then we brush our teeth and head to bed. We don’t fall asleep as soon as we should because we stay up talking. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever run out of things I want to say to Noah.

I hope not.

P.S. Hopefully I will write about other kinds of days too, because he is curious what I expect from the future. But these are the days I’m looking forward to the most.

White trash

I don’t know about you, but I am a social animal. I am so social that for many years I put myself in position after position to be abused because that was the only way I could understand social contact. I expected abuse. I would go so far as to say that I actively sought it out and tried to bring it into my life.

Abuse is… abuse is dramatic and exciting and volatile in a way I expected and needed from life. I went from periods of extreme isolation–the kind that is proven in prisons and mental hospitals and orphanages to cause extreme breaks in the mind–to periods of needing social contact so bad I would seek out the most extreme sorts I could find.

Is it my fault I was abused? Let us say that if abuse is a dance I was not always an unwilling partner.

Most of the men who raped me as an adult were people I wanted to have in my life. They were mostly people with whom I was eager to have sex. But I required a condom for my protection and theirs. I am one of the scariest vectors of potential disease in my community. The other trampiest people usually are around half my numbers. I default to safe choices because I love the people I sleep with and I need to consider their health.

I am thinking about this right now in context of how weird life is.

What does it mean to be treated like trash? It means that your life is not important. You are replaceable. You are just here to (be a hole/fill a role/do a piece of work) and when your usefulness is over you will be replaced.

I have dated more than one person who has shown me a series of photos from their past and all the women look the same and there are pictures of them doing the exact same thing… sometimes in the same clothing.

My family didn’t want me and made that clear. I’ve… been the fill in the blank woman.

I am hard because if I don’t maintain myself to a certain level so that I can find a different position somewhere else where I can be a differently effective tool…. Well this is the closest I have to a survival instinct. I still have work in me. Don’t throw me away yet. I know I’m not that shiny. I know I’m bent and deformed and prickly about how I am used… but I have value. Please need to have me around.

It has been fascinating over the last few weeks to have the din of self hatred in my head be gone. Worthless isn’t coursing through my neurons anymore. See, drugs aren’t all bad. I see much more clearly the various ways in which I am useful.

did get to grow up and be Mary Poppins. Only they are my children. Children do think their parents are perfect. Mine can now joke about knowing that I mess up and knowing that I’m not perfect… but they still express shock every time they witness a demonstration because in their heart I am perfect.

Holy shit.

I really like being a parent. I am grateful I get to be a parent with time and enough money and a secure place to live. We know a large majority of our neighborhood and they express happiness for our presence in the neighborhood.

I was given a tea plant for my birthday because I am nice to my neighbors. I feel like I have done something with the time I’ve had here.

I know that I was treated like I was disposable because now I have felt what it means to be treated like I have intense value. I know that my ability to have had the life I’ve had has largely been because of the color of my skin because I live in a racist system that will give a second chance to a piece of trash if it can pass into the main group without being visibly different.

I may be a bunch of weird things… but I don’t by and large look it. I look like I have been middle class or higher most of my life. I can code switch my language and sound knowledgable around a freakish variety of people.

I’m not treated like I’m disposable anymore. It is an odd experience.

It is odd knowing that I am raising children who have never had a single moment of feeling disposable. How can more people get to their level of safety? What about the kids who are growing up like me? How can they be seen more? I don’t know. But feeling a quietness inside my head makes me want to work a lot harder to find people who need help dealing with incest.

Once I grow up. Once I can actually have more of an idea what the stages of development feel like. I need to know what they mean for me so that I can hear what they mean for other people without interrupting. If I’m still trying to get to where they are… I will be self focused when I listen. It is part of my ability to be patient with children and not with adults who are older than me. I have a hard time being nice when I think someone “should” be better at something than me because they’ve had more time to practice. I am finally to the point where I am not a total asshole about t his because I’ve noticed that people are always asynchronous in their learning. Not knowing something is more normal than not. Just be glad they are trying to learn now.

But I’m impatient and an asshole so being nice is a challenge. When my friends are being kind they say I don’t suffer fools gladly.

I am feeling grateful for what I get to do with my house. I’m also feeling very narcissistic. Other people don’t demand turning their entire house into a lived art experience. But I am. I have had a kind of luck most people don’t get to have. I did figure out how to stop feeling like I deserved abuse and I have ended every relationship that was hurting me.

I may be impatient and chafe at boundaries in my life but by and large I have chosen them. I may have to figure out how to renegotiate some corners of the boundaries… I have really sucked at doing that this year. I have made a number of mistakes I need to make once.

What will the future look like? I don’t know. But I know it is from a perspective of not being even a little bit disposable. Really I am the linchpin. If I go the whole mechanism will break. Or really it will depend how I go.

I chose to bring children into the world knowing that I come from a whole many generations of intense abuse/mental health problems dna pool. I knew that the brain is malleable. I knew that as much as there are genetic predispositions but nurture matters too.

I’m not perfect. I’m not really supposed to be. I’m trying to show what it means to be good enough given the strictures of the world we live in. How do we go about changing this world? There are processes. Let’s talk about them.

What can we do to help other people know that they are not disposable either?

It’s a big hard topic. It’s going to take a lot of years to unpack. I need to think about it as I grow up. Growing up hurts. But if I want to be able to think about other people properly… I have to.

Words and asking

Yesterday Noah asked me why I didn’t use my words to ask him for something if I wanted it. I hissed, “How well does that go?” He said that I get a lot of little things I ask for and almost none of the big things. I just about screamed, “That’s why I didn’t fucking ask.”

There is this story about my mom that goes around and around in my head. My mom got tired of having her little boys play with their Matchbox cars in the kitchen, the only non-carpeted room. She knew my dad would tell her no to ripping the carpet out of their bedroom. “It would hurt the resale value of the house.” So she waited until he went to work (he worked graveyards), put the kids to sleep in her bed, took speed, and ripped the floor up by herself. She had the laminate mostly installed before he got home.

I asked my mom why she didn’t ask him. She snorted and said, “If I ask then I get told no, then the consequences are big. If I just do it… he’s not going to undo it.”

I think that’s a lot of why when I decided I couldn’t be monogamous right now I said I just couldn’t follow rules and I needed to try stuff. I needed to see what felt right and not say no to things before I even really decided what I felt about it.

And that backfires. Like such arrangements do.

Sometimes. And sometimes it is absolutely the only way to get what you want at all. Yeah, I was a serious asshole. I really was.

I feel like the fact that my sex life has been entirely measured in someone else’s satisfaction for many years now has broken something in me. Something I don’t know how to fix. I’m bitter about how much “taking one for the team” I’ve done.

I guess the thing I’m getting from the team is physical support through disability. Oh.

It is interesting having a friend visiting for the weekend (sorry I’m puking) who is an absolutely ardent feminist. Of the take-no-shit-variety. I was doing my expounding on trying to figure out what I “owe” Noah.

She looked so pissed. I said, “It’s ok. Say it. Even if it’s mean.”

“I want to punch you in the face. You don’t owe him shit.” She went on at more length. But that bit is enough.

An awful lot of our relationship is predicated on transactional trades. We spend a lot of time talking about how much we owe one another. It’s complicated. It is a lot of what allows both of us to feel safe.

But there is no fair.

How much of everything in life has to be changed just because of one shift. I don’t know.

Yesterday I emailed all of my folks and told them I am not going to go out on a date again in May. We need to actually negotiate. This is involving some really long, rough conversations in person and a shit ton of livejournal entries on our private filters. There are things my kids don’t need to see someday.

I am so weird about boundaries.

I think that part of the problem right now is I have made a lot of deals over the years I probably shouldn’t have made. Not how I did. They took from me in ways I didn’t really have that much to give. And I feel long term hurt by them. And I’m feeling bitter. And I’m holding it against Noah.

That list of done-me-wrongs never needs to be part of the public record. That’s kinda like crying rape because you didn’t like the sex. The fact that these are in retrospect not deals I should have made…

That’s not something I’m going to publicly take Noah to task for. That’s complicated.

I made choices. I made choices I shouldn’t have made, but I didn’t know that till it was too late. That isn’t something to punish Noah for. But I clearly do.

Recently Noah made a list of shit he was holding over me (good god that. STILL?!?!) and I should probably do the same.

That won’t be public.

Noah and I are in a funny place. We both understand very clearly that if we don’t make this marriage work… we will just not ever be ok again. We won’t get over this failure. Neither of us would remarry and have more kids. We would date and be complete assholes about never trusting anyone again. This is… one of those things about our personalities. We both walked into this not sure that it was really a good idea to be taking a risk on even one person when we have been burned and burned and burned and burned.

When you learn before age 3 that you are not loved, not likable and all you are worthy of is abuse and contempt…

Trying once is really what you have in you. Getting over that is brutally hard. You can try once. After that it will be broken in a way that can’t be got back.

We get one shot at happily ever after.

No pressure.

To be fair most of the first ten years have been excellent. This really has been a good marriage. But some things need to change and how they need to change and what that shape will look like is… in flux and that’s god damn terrifying. Change sucks donkey dick.

I find it… interesting… that Noah is really willing to talk about a third kid lately. Yeah. That would put me right back on a choke chain. It’s true. I would go home with my baby again.

I want another baby. I’d see a high risk OB. I’d be at a hospital the whole time. I’d follow orders so I wouldn’t die. But… yeah. I don’t think it is going to happen for lots of reasons.

I know my friends are starting to talk to me about adoption but I’m really not done grieving the son I wanted to give birth to.

This is complicated with a gender fluid kid who really… is on their own journey.

I wanted to work through my shit with a little boy. I know that isn’t “fair” either. But I did. I have to grieve not getting that. I mean, I have a great relationship with my Bonus Kid and I’m really happy he visits more lately. But it’s not the same.

I have never been allowed to love a little boy of my blood. My nephew was the closest I came to that and… complicated. My brothers were violent monsters. I had no other family contact.

This is just a thing.

I dreamed about my son for years. Sometimes I wonder if I was dreaming about the sons I could have had with previous partners and that just wasn’t meant to be part of this story with Noah. I don’t know.

It’s complicated.

Yes I know there are lots of kids who need homes. They are going to have different problems genetically than my family. I don’t already intimately know what needs to be done to correct their unavoidable issues; I have researched everything that has touched my family extensively over the past fifteen years. It is going to be a very different very hard problem to work with a different child.

I am so tired.

Now that I have an almost 8 year old and an almost 6 year old, do I really want another baby?

Yes. I really do. But it isn’t going to happen. Sometimes I wonder if wanting space away from Noah is part of grieving that. He doesn’t want another baby.

I get why. There are good reasons. I feel sad.

Being a mom is kinda the thing I think I’m best at. I get quiverfull. I get it.

This is all so complicated. Because if Noah was all “Fine let’s have a kid” I’d be all “Bye side-boys. I’ll see you in 5-7 years.”

Even though the rest of the deals are still not where I need them to be long-term. I wouldn’t care.

Life is so complicated.

My biology understands that I exist to breed even if the rest of me would like to do other things with this meat sack.

People are so fucking weird. Even though I don’t really have the spoons to have a baby I would. I’d start trying this month if Noah consented. He’s about to be 40. Time’s a wastin’. I turn 35 this year.

But that ship has sailed. We need to figure something different out. Shit. That’s hard. It hurts.

We construct these careful houses where we can be safe. Do this, don’t do this. So we try to draw as little negative attention and as much positive attention as possible while maintaining stasis. We accept limits that may not be sustainable in service to particular goals.

I don’t know what sustainable means. I am not the best sustainer in the world. I work best in sprints followed by periods of collapse. Parenting that way sucks. So I have to be more level for them. Which is an interesting thing to balance. I can stay level if I stay small. Or if I get bigger with support.

I can’t be a bigger person and take up more room and get no more support and stay completely level. I can’t. [delete text that doesn’t go into the record].

I’m having feelings.

Thank you to everyone for the extent of the “I know you two will solve this” message I’m getting from a variety of folks. From folks we date/play with to other friends. It’s kinda funny. I feel all y’all believe in us far more than I do right now.

Thank you. I need you to carry that belief for a bit. It is hard for me.

Part of being able to construct your own reality rests on the basic requirement that you must be able to believe in what you are doing. I have a pretty good reality distortion field. But it’s flickering and I feel like I am not able to believe in what I am trying to make true.

I don’t know how to feel more safe and open right now. I feel closed off, defensive, scared. I’m not negotiating from a mindset of generosity. I have a scarcity mindset and I feel so tired of always having to take one for the team.

But Noah takes a lot for the team too. I’m not acknowledging that enough. We have both been running deficits for years. It isn’t just me. I… I don’t even know where to begin in this negotiation. This is so hard. Do we make lists of things we have been missing/pining for and then rank them in importance?

How do we deal with time? Is it about how much time we spend together? Is it about “how dare you spend time with someone else?”

Honestly I was out too much at night in April. I wasn’t touching base with the kids the way I want to. I have arranged all the night time babysitting we are going to have till the end of July, I think. I’m not going to go out more than that. No matter what it is for.

This time with my children goes so fast. If I miss much of this time I can’t ever get it back. I don’t get a second chance. I do remember that priority.

But I don’t ever get back the chance to have the sex life I want to have in this life either. If I just… don’t… that’ll be a thing.

How much do I want? I don’t know. Honestly given how busy my life is… I literally don’t have time for as much independent dating as I did in April. That’s going to kill me. No hyperbole. My body will give out if I don’t sleep more than that.

What does sustainable mean?

What is a need and what is a want?

I feel like I need to have some kind of nonmonogamous contact in my life. What that is… I don’t know. I think the need level is probably actually fairly low. I think one date a month probably would be ok. I’d like to go to parties at other times and be allowed to play then. I could accept having to play together. That would be fun to figure out. It would change who we play with somewhat and what kind of play we do. Maybe?

I can deal with evolution. I don’t have to play how I used to play, not exactly. I don’t anyway. So much has changed.

I feel like I did need to go try. It was wonderful and I’m really glad I got to be reminded of what SM means to me. And I got off a lot.

I do need some of this in my life. I may increase how much I need as my children need me less.

For now I do know that my time and energy is still… mostly going into the kids. I choose this. I want this. This is who I want to be. When I finish growing up I will be able to look at incontrovertible proof that I can sustain something. I need to see the real evidence of that before I will believe it. I’m not even halfway there yet. Don’t get cocky, wench.

Hubris is dangerous.

I have about three more years till I hit the halfway point. I believe I have about four more years with Eldest Child and about six more years with Youngest Child to teach them what they need to know to keep themselves safe… or they will have to learn it on their own painfully. That’s my window. Either I help them establish the habits that will carry them through a lifetime… or they have to learn them later, painfully, on their own.

Development is a funny beast. I’ve studied it a lot. I have incredibly strong opinions about brain development and attachment and behaviorism and emotional health and mental health and…

And I get one chance to do this right. Period. If I fuck it up I will forever more be trying to heal damage I caused.

No pressure.

I love unschooling. I’m not even being sarcastic. This is my kind of pressure chamber. I thrive under this specific kind of “Succeed. There is no or else. Succeed” pressure. I just… do it. Ok.

If you can’t find a way you make a way. The most resilient people are the ones who believe they have no choice but to make something work.

This whole “owe” thing is complicated. I get the anti-feminist bits of it. I do. But you probably don’t see how much it gives too.

Ugh. Systems. They exist for reasons and some of those reasons are good and some are shitty. WTF

But I really do need to think about this “you don’t owe him shit” thing. What do we choose to owe and what is being extorted from us? I think that is the more crucial distinction. I think making conscious trades and feeling indebted for them is not specifically evil. I think that having someone extort recompense for trades… is a problem.

Where is the line?

Shit monogamy is easier. You give what you have to give and that is that. Kinda end of discussion.

I NEVER EVEN TOOK CALCULUS. FUCK THIS ADVANCED VARIABLE BULLSHIT.

My kids are asking me a lot of questions about Lemonade. Yes they get to hear it with the swearing. There are some fucking subjects that deserve swearing. The work is to figure out context. We talk about that a lot. Code switching is a big topic around here. If you maintain super formal “nice people” manners 100% of the time… a whole lot of people will think you are a snob. Having multiple kinds of approaches to talking to people is handy.

I said to a friend “We only fight about nonmonogamy.” The response: “So you only fight about sex.”

Ok, yeah. That’s true. Not money. Not kids. Not housework (if I start feeling peevish about not getting enough help I can ask for it and get it with great civility).

Sex.

Sex is so annoying.

WHY DO I LIKE HAVING SEX SO MUCH!??!?!?! Sigh.

I really do.

I like what happens in my body when I’m having sex with more than one person. I like it a lot. I like what it does to my general energy level. Is it worth this fight?

Yeah. It is.

If we are going to be married for many more decades… I’m not spending them always taking one for the team. I need my sex life to be about my pleasure.

And pain.

I’m pretty sure I know who I want to hurt on a longer term basis. I am less convinced I know for sure what I need from my bottoming/submitting/etc. I have some idea of pieces I’d like. But are those all needs? Not really. I could be pretty flexible. I could adapt.

I am weirdly conscious of how much of my sexuality formed around my Owner. I’m ok with lots of those buttons shifting. I have no attachment to them staying where they are. But I need them moved and not just… ignored. If that makes sense.

I am a cheerful situational pervert. I’m happy to please the one I’m with. I don’t need all aspects of my experiences to be the same.

I’m not the kind of fetishist who collects the garments and sized toys that all future partners will wear one right after another.

But I’ve sure worn a lot of them. For a little while. I have never been willing to do that for very long.

I don’t like anyone that much.

Do you know why some of the awful stuff between Noah and I really doesn’t need to be published? It’s bad enough that I’m an abusive bully. I don’t need to publicly humiliate him. That’s a very different sort of line. I say some awful things some times. It’s bad enough that he can hear it in his head. He doesn’t need to see it. And know that lots and lots and lots of his friends are going to see it. Know his children can read the things that hurt him the most.

Oh JesusFuckingChrist No.

No. There are things that can’t be taken back. I can say that things are hard for me. I can’t list done-me-wrongs. Not publicly. No.

owe my family better than that.

See how the owe is complicated?

It is useful and problematic at the same time. Just like me.

Hunting lessons

Exhaustion is a real thing. When I’m over tired I can’t read tone to save my life. I’m whiny, over-sensitive and I’m going to spend a lot of time crying. It’s not about a person saying something… it’s about being tired. I didn’t respect that yesterday. Given how much… pushing it I’ve done on sleep stuff lately I need to build better boundaries around this. Don’t respond to messages when I’m that tired.

I wrote about 7 pages in a word document yesterday. Notice how I’m not posting it? I don’t think I was even a little coherent. I was tired and scared.

I live with a kind of existential dread most people can’t understand. On one hand I’m one of the asking-ist people you’ll ever meet. I ask and ask and ask for things. On the other hand I live in mortal terror that I will rape someone again. That I will ask for something and someone won’t feel comfortable/safe saying no and I will be an evil monster as usual.

This is complicated for me. Because if you can’t say, “Hey do you want to do x?” and get a yes/no answer…how the fuck is life supposed to work?

I don’t know.

Folks tell me that I’m doing a good thing by giving people opportunities to refine their boundaries and decide what they do and don’t want.

I feel scared all the time that I’m on the verge of hurting people. I feel like I should withdraw a lot because I’m pushing too hard. Noah says this may be a bad time to assume that my bad reading of one persons tone means I should stop asking other people for things.

For some reason he seems to think that individual humans should be judged on their own behavior.

Whatever.

So it isn’t going to be a rule (because how the fuck well do I follow rules?!?!) but I think it should be a guideline to not respond to ambiguous messages at all when I’m tired. Once I’m not tired I can say, “Hey I’m not sure I’m getting your tone of voice here. Can you clarify?” Cause wouldn’t that be useful.

I don’t feel like I did yesterday. Glorious 8 hours of sleep. I hate sleep deprivation.

Many folks in the scene have been asking me, “Oh do you remember Mistress ___? She’s coming around more again.”

Goody. She likes to tell me that I’m a bigger bitch than her because I don’t handle sleep deprivation well. Can’t wait to run into her. weeeeeeeeeeee

I’ve gotten off overly lucky this hunting phase. Things have been going too smoothly. I’ve been getting too many ‘yes’ answers. Too many people telling me I’m doing it right. When I hit a bump it feels… big.

It isn’t. I’m going to get over it. But yesterday I couldn’t read tone and I spent a lot of time crying. Like I do.

Sleep. Dear goodness, sleep.

When I was a kid my sister used to tell me, repeatedly, that if I have the same problem over and over it is my fault and not other peoples fault.

I push boundaries. I do it globally. That makes it seem to me like it is all my fault and I’m a bad person. It means that when I feel spooked that I came too near a boundary with one person I want to globalize it and use it as a reason I should stay home and stop hurting people.

I want to use that experience as evidence that I am a monster who is unable to stop hurting people. I want to use the hint of possibility that I pushed too hard as evidence that I should stop asking for anything from anyone because I am not deserving.

I want to tell everyone that I know they don’t really want me and I should stay home.

I kinda got yelled at for that yesterday. Not “YELLED AT” but forcefully reminded that it isn’t my place to tell people what they think or want.

Yeah.

I’m sorry.

I feel bad for wanting you. I feel like I am placing a burden on you that I shouldn’t be placing. It isn’t fair. It isn’t appropriate. Just because I want you that means nothing about what you want and I don’t know what you want.

I don’t know and I’m not sure I’m good at reading people.

Noah makes sure to do over the top physical gestures to highlight how delighted he is by me constantly. Because otherwise I walk through my life feeling like an anvil of disappointment is about to drop on my head because I am not good enough to please anyone.

It isn’t fair to need people to be so demonstrative of their approval. I should just believe.

But I don’t. I’ve had too many years of wanting to die because I am not enough. I do need to feel like people really want me to be there.

Or I should go home and snuggle my kids. Because my kids really want me to be there.

I’m not saying I want to die right now. I don’t. I’m doing alright. I feel… whiny not suicidal. That’s fantastic progress for me. I feel sad and anxious and like I really want to figure out how to do this right some fucking year.

I want to stop messing up negotiating. I feel like there is no valid excuse for fucking up this way at this stage. I’m not a kid messing up out of ignorance. I’m a grown up who fucks up because I’m sloppy and I don’t dot all my i’s and cross all my t’s.

I feel ashamed of that.

But I don’t know how to find a happy medium on the herpes shit. It is… complicated. So many people have it but the few people who don’t know/haven’t been specifically told they are positive… it’s a thing. Should I tattoo “I have herpes” on my forehead so I don’t ever fuck up that bit of negotiating again?

Kissing is a big deal. My Owner didn’t kiss me. I’ve dated other guys who wouldn’t kiss me but who would allow me to provide some kind of service (sometimes sexual and sometimes not) for them.  I can’t do that any more. I just can’t. Maybe that section of the users guide should be rewritten.

I like kissing and I know I’m diseased. I’m sorry. I feel bad about existing in this dichotomy but here I am.

Thank you for not caring, Noah.

Kissing feels connecting and bonding. Kissing feels like the difference between just being an object and being a person having an intense shared experience. I need kissing at this point or I really shouldn’t be playing with someone at all.

I’m not negotiating this well and I need to change that.

Lessons hurt. I hate learning lessons. Fuck opportunities for growth. FUCK THEM WITH A POGO STICK.

Do you know what would make all of this easier? If I were less fucking hypersensitive. But if that were true in one area I’d be a lot less sensitive in other areas.

I don’t actually want to stop being who and what I am. I like being sensitive. I like that I react strongly to my perceptions of peoples feelings. That often goes well. But sometimes I’m tired and I read something wrong.

Yeah. That happens.

Uhh… I do better in person. Where I can look at facial expressions and eventually feel comfortable asking millions of questions. I do have to warm up to the questions though. I am actually kind of shy at first.

I don’t want to scare you off. I want you to volunteer stuff. No one ever tells me enough about themselves.

Oh they tell me more than enough about their hobbies. I want to hear about you.

I know it is kind of weird how much I actually like people. But I’m not playing. I do.

I don’t want you to be in a room with me so you can act out my fantasy. I want to be in a room with you so I can see you more fully developed as a character of your own. If you talk fast the whole time I get more of a picture of who you are. (I like turns to talk too. Don’t worry. I know how to talk fast.)

I’m high maintenance. I want understanding and that mandates intense communication. I’m not comfortable. I don’t exist near people to feel comfortable in their presence. That is not how life goes for me. I am not comfortable.

I am with you because I want to understand you. Because I find you compelling. Because I want to know you. Because I want you.

I may not understand what that means. I probably don’t. I will ask for things. I wish you would ask more so that every step of verbal negotiation didn’t come from me.

That is true so much and it scares me because when I am always always always the leader how do I know I am doing what people want instead of dragging them through things they may not be completely on board for doing?

Trust people to be grown ups?

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Sorry, gotta catch my breath.

Phew. Laughing that hard is dangerous. I’m going to bust a rib.

People laugh at me when I say “when I grow up” in reference to my future research. They ask me if I’m grown now. No. I’m not.

don’t know many grown ups. And I don’t know many people my age or younger. I chase an older crowd and I always have. Guess what. Most of them are not grown up. I mean, they are grown. They are “adults”.

We are all fucking up and growing.

We aren’t done growing up.

I know… a few. They are inspiring and intimidating as fuck to me.

Hands hurt too much to go into that.

Hunting lessons…

Wanting is hard. Wanting is scary. The rejection isn’t the scary part. The scary part is the terror that I will hurt people. I will hurt people. Not because I will hit them (though I will) but because I will say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing or ask for something in a way they don’t feel comfortable refusing and they will feel regret and I will feel shame.

That’s gonna happen.

That is part of hunting.

That fuck up. It is inherent. Other people minimize their risk by looking for one lifetime target and calling it good.

I… like to learn lessons. I have so much to learn. There is so much I want to know. There are so many situations I need to be able to have absolute control over my reaction no matter what physical or emotional stress is going on that I have to perfect this.

I have to. This is going to be necessary for me as a grown up. I am going to need to have 100% control over my reactions. I will need to know “I don’t open my email until I’ve had at least 20 hours of sleep out of 72.”

I need to know myself.

Noah didn’t think the messages sounded the way I read them. It took a lot of explaining and whining and telling back story before he went, “Oooooohhhh… ok. I can see how you read it that way.”

So it was a stretch that was only possible because I’m so awesome.

God I’m ridiculous.

No. I just have a long and complex story and I’m reacting as if all if it is true in every moment of every day and those filters are better and worse based on factors like sleep. Ahem.

Other people can handle sleep deprivation. Great for them.

I can’t.

But there is so much fun to be had in the middle of the night.

I have five solid nights in a row where I’m staying home and getting sleep before our next night out.

But then a different party is the next day.

Fuck. Ok. I need a break after that. I iz at capacity. Ow. I found it. Noah told me he thought I would.

I wanted to see where it was now. I found it. Ow. I’m old.

Why didn’t I want to go to a dark place? I don’t know. It wasn’t that the pain level was beyond my capacity. I never got near an 8. I just…

I don’t know.

It didn’t feel that way. It didn’t feel like that was what was appropriate in the setting? I don’t know.

I need help going on a journey. If I’m going to stand somewhere and just… do what I do… that…. uhhhh… varies.

It is wildly unpredictable.

I also have a really hard time with feeling like I am topping from the bottom. Noah and I have had a hard time figuring this out. I… don’t know how to gracefully lead as a bottom. I suck. So either I shut my fucking mouth and smile as the top decides what is going to happen next or… things get kind of awkward and tense and I spend the rest of the scene feeling bad.

So yes. Sometimes I don’t know what to say.

Even me. I get tongue tied. It is true. I feel like a jukebox waiting for someone to pick a song to play. I don’t know what to say. I don’t have any idea of what would be pleasing. I have such a short window of time in which to try to be pleasing…

I’m afraid of picking wrong.

It isn’t that I’m trying to make up a story to tell. It is that I don’t know which version of myself to start with. There are so many. The order in which I present them matters. It can lead to increased intimacy or it can lead to things like, “I need you to stop telling me about your background. I don’t really want to know.”

This is why Noah and I spend so much time during sex talking about previous sex we have had either with one another or with other people.

I know that I will only learn how to read these things better by running into these walls at full speed so I see all the signals all the way up to long past when I “should” have stopped so that in the future I will understand that danger signals much earlier and have a stronger need to distance myself fast. I know this is “safe” practice.

But I’m so tired of being disappointing. I’m so tired of having people forcefully shove me away because I am wrong.

Asking, wanting, desiring always means risk. It always means possible rejection or unmatched interest or pain.

Always.

Is it worth it?

Even though I’m still tired and even though I still have turbulent feelings…

Yes.

All of it. All of them. Every lesson. Every experience. I’m not sorry I asked. I’m sorry if me asking was done badly. I’m sorry if I asked in a way that did not support people telling me no when they should have or if they really wanted to in the fullness of time. I’m sorry that I will keep making mistakes.

But I’m not sorry enough to stop.

I want to learn this.

I will make mistakes. So will other people. I will get up. I will try again if they are game.

I want.

But first I want more sleep.

 

Not fair

I spend a lot of time worrying that what I want isn’t fair. Not to Noah, not to the people I am propositioning, not to my kids, maybe even not to me.

What is “fair”?

Noah is having some feelings about how much time I’m spending thinking about the folks I’m chasing. That is logical and reasonable. I haven’t spent much time with anyone yet. It’s mostly in my head and some IMing and letters and emails. It’s almost entirely emotional energy at this point. But he notices.

I feel like it isn’t fair that I forcefully reject the label of polyamorous because I just can’t take on being responsible for someone’s needs that way. This article reminds me that I don’t have much to offer.

The thing is… I actually do talk to my prey quite a bit. I think there is a big difference between one-offs I pick up at parties (where I usually will not even write down my email address or phone number or name: if you can remember my name to google me you can find me) and the people I…

am attached to.

Because this is love. I don’t want to call it polyamory because I have issues of my own. But this is love.

Why do I love my submissive? Because he is smart, funny, he’s a great father. I have barely met one of his children one time many many years ago in a waving from the car sort of thing (I think but I might be remembering wrong) so I’m judging from his self-descriptions.

But I know how much time he spends. I know what activities he engages in. I know how he encourages his kids to try and fail and get up again. I respect him.

Even though I disagree with some of the decisions that his personal beliefs lead him to make… I actually have respect for the fact that he has his faith and he is going to god damn act it out. It matters to him and I really respect that. I respect it when people take their faith (whatever that is) seriously.

My faith is it takes all kinds. And if we are going to all make it that will take money and help.

I love the way he has taken care of his slave. He has one of the longest term M/s relationships I know. They are so loving and considerate and caring. Being around them always makes me feel just a little bit happier that such people are in the world. I respect that they model how to talk to one another and be loving while having boundaries.

I even really respect the fact that even with ownership between them they get to do what they each need to do for their lives.

Because we are all different. We are all complicated. We all have such different needs. They show me one way of working out those different needs. They don’t switch together because that’s a complicated thing in a dynamic. But other people are different.

I can understand to some degree. I can’t switch with Noah. Sometimes that is hard. Sometimes I think it simplifies things and improves my life. I appreciate that Noah doesn’t have a strong need for me to turn on dominance with him when I’m totally not in the mood. That was hard with my Owner. He’s a very switchy person. He wanted to have ultimate control of what kind of stimulation he was getting when, but sometimes he wanted to be dominated on demand and that was serious work for me.

I have a deep, burning inner sadist but this dominance thing is different. No matter what my submissive is saying. He doesn’t know. Picture me sticking my tongue out but this is a smiley free zone.

Today I took youngest child to the penultimate ballet class of the series and I used the hour to exercise. I ran for 40 minutes then I did a bunch of crunches/push ups/planks/leg lifts/etc until I needed to get the kidlet.

I have an increasingly weird opinion of my body. Why can’t I get stronger and stay fat this isn’t fair. I do drop weight pretty fast when I start heavily exercising. I feel this awful feeling of “See. If you only cared about your looks you could be thin” and I want to scream back WATCH ME BUY 15 GALLONS OF ICE CREAM AND EAT IT ALL THIS WEEK MOTHERFUCKER I’LL SHOW YOU ‘CARES ABOUT LOOKS!”

Ahem. But I’m not sure that is actually good for my health. So I don’t know what I’m doing.

I want to be better able to ride Noah (or anyone else). So I want to get better at running. Because right now I want to do that. I’ve been having a lot of fun on top lately with Noah even though that is historically not much my thing.

Really lots has been changing about my sexual interests over the last few years. On one hand Noah is so ideal because he is up for trying anything with the merest suggestion. On the other hand I’ve kind of exhausted the things he really wants to try.

Even though people are constantly surprised that I’m not the top in the relationship… no… I like being a sexual follower. I like doing what you want to do err, but let’s be clear that is if you are in the mood to do what I like doing. Cause I’m a selfish shithead. I like being told what to do and how to do it. Even if what you like isn’t perfectly my favorite I really like that you want to tell me to do it.

So I’m in an interesting place with my submissive. He thinks I’ve been so dominant with him and I think I’ve been an incredibly perceptive service top. I say the things to you I wish someone was saying to me.

Sigh

I’m actually looking forward to Noah watching me top in a few weeks. He’s never seen me top Sarah. He’s never seen me seriously beat on anyone. I feel like… after ten years he gets to meet a whole new me.

This is terrifying and exciting at the same time.

I hope it doesn’t change how he sees me too much.

I need to review some anatomy lessons. Especially the bone structure of the face.

God I’m mean.

No marks anyone can see when you go to work. I’ll be good.

I may draw these lines with a bright red marker to remind me. And cross out the no-no areas on the body with bright red. Because I’m still learning new boundaries and it’s important I don’t fuck this up.

The amount of trust that is being placed in me, quite frankly, scares the shit out of me. Why would anyone put their physical safety in my hands like this? Why would anyone give me permission to do this much damage to their body?

Shit, why am I just about begging the Professor on my knees to be just as rough or worse with me?

Because I’m a masochist.

Because I’m a sadist.

Because I have wonderful, complimentary friends who can help take me to heights of ecstasy completely impossible in vanilla sex. I know. I’ve tried and tried and tried.

I want someone completely and totally pedantic to crawl inside my head and whisper pretty much whatever he wants because I have faith that he sees me better than I see myself and I think he will say things I should hear.

I hope my submissive trusts me for fairly similar reasons.

I know Sarah trusts me for that reason. Lots of history proving that I will tell you what you really need to get programmed into your inside voice as I cause your body to absolutely flood with chemicals so that these lessons can be beaten as deeply into your unconscious existence as possible.

You are good. You are worthy. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are so very necessary. You are wonderful. I see you. I am so happy you are here. Thank you for being here with me. Thank you for loving me. I love you. I love you. I love you.

The script varies and has different components but that’s kind of the basis of what I like to beat into people.

I don’t hit people because I want them to feel small or bad or wicked. I hit people because it is fucking hot and you are so fucking nice for letting me do this. Extra bonus points if it gets you off. I’m completely satisfied with you just enjoying it.

For me, and for some other perverts I know, bdsm is sex of the mind and the body but not necessarily of the genitals. It can involve the genitals but it doesn’t have to. It’s about the chemical experience of strong sensations in your body. It’s about the power dynamic of doing that to someone or letting someone do that to you. Submitting your body to someone else’s desires is hotter than the sun.

I mean, I think. But I’m highly sexually submissive. I just don’t do that without serious negotiation. I think those kinds of roles are things that must be highly explicitly stated. I think the expectations must be verbally agreed on or (preferably) written down so that can be reviewed as necessary.

Power exchange means permission to have expectations about how you will be treated. Without some serious verbal negotiation (or written for an ongoing relationship) it is inappropriate to get into a situation where you have serious expectations of how you will be treated.

Folks just don’t actually generally sign on for that. Not when it comes to pain play and power imbalanced relationships. Not anymore. Once upon a time such things were normal and expected but things have changed.

Now it’s abuse. If someone tries to control you or hurt you without extensively asking your permission they are an abuser and you need help.

Things change.

We have to adapt. Even if our wiring doesn’t want to. Even if we would be much more successful predators if we were more up front about our hunting.

Side note. There are many women in this world I’d like to meet and talk to. How does it feel to live in your world and have this many partners? I’m kinda a freak in my world.

I’m not sure they want to talk to me. Maybe I’ll find out some day.

You never know what might happen. Life is long.

It is weird how with every passing year I feel like I have more and more I want to do before I die. I feel so much more urgency to be busy and active and accomplish things. Shit. I might live to be as old as 80. That’s a lot of fucking time to fill. I’d better make lists. Or I’m going to be old and be pissed I wasted so much time.

Sometimes I’m quite angry with myself for how I spent my childhood. Then I try to find compassion. If I had been out trying to exercise by myself as I moved around as a child the horror stories I experienced would have been much more frequent.

It’s ok that I hid. I had good reasons. I need to stop hating myself for everything I had to do to get through hell.

It’s over. I can change now. I can do something different.

I feel guilty, Noah. I feel like I’m letting you down. I also feel like I’ve been dragging and dragging and dragging for a long time. I think you are filling my bucket with everything you have going spare.

I need a deluge from somewhere. So I have a nice safe deity lined up who will fuck me senseless and maybe eventually get around to hurting me; a nice safe Professor who will beat the shit out of me and (we’ll see); Sarah who wants me to gleefully beat on her while telling stupid jokes; and a nice submissive who wants me to make him bleed and bleed.

That’s a deluge if ever I’ve produced one. That’s a lot of energetic stuff going on.

I’ve never managed a line up that felt this intense this… instantly… before. April is going to be god damn intense.

Oh yeah, and I’ll be playing with Noah and our normal sex life will continue. Cause that’s not going to change.

I have a very hard time feeling like this is ok. But whether it is ok or not I am going to do it. Because Noah is the only person who could stop me (other than my proposed partners losing interest) and he’s… ok with it.

Maybe that’s over stating. He’s nervous right now.

I get it. I’m being a selfish bitch.

I feel like I am about to god damn explode out of this little box that my life is allowed to be. This is not all of who I am. I am big. I am so many things. I am so many people. I want so many experiences at so many intensity levels. I want all of it. I want all of you.

I’m a little surprised I managed to damn this for four years. That’s my longest stretch of monogamy in my life.

Watch the riverbanks flood. Just wait. Soon there will be so much green.

Speaking of which: I’m very happy with how the tile mosaics are coming along. As long as these people I already dislike manage to install this well… I will live in a gorgeous house. I’m a lot more talented than I thought, which is kind of funny.

I can make beautiful things. No, not perfect. No I don’t make pictures that look like photographs. But I help people feel feelings.

That’s all I’m trying to do.

Different people encourage me to look at myself in different ways. Yes, they may call me filthy names, but they also concretely say, “Let’s look at x, y, and z and talk about it objectively.”

Because the filthy names are at uhm, my request. It’s ok. It gets me off.

So the whore thing is so complicated. On one hand I want to stop having this negative thing in my head where I keep coming back to this awful place of feeling bad about who I am. On the other hand if someone is hurting me and fucking me and whispers that I’m a whore and I should come…

I will. Over. And over. And over.

I kinda don’t want to give that up just cause it isn’t pc? It is super hot.

But I want it to stop being part of my negative tape when I am having a bad day. I want to stop randomly feeling bad about myself and calling myself a whore because of it. That’s dumb.

I want to change that.

But eliminating the word whore from my life entirely isn’t it.

That would be easier. Avoiding this powder keg would be easier. But then I wouldn’t get to orgasm like that and I’m not that pc.

 

Peace

This morning I had a peaceful moment. One of those true, Zen moments of “I am happy and this is where I want to be.” Eldest Child woke up to use the restroom too early. I was awake doing chores, like usual. She asked me if I would climb in bed with her so she could sing me a lullaby. Twinkle Twinkle was the song of choice. Then she spent a while talking to me about why she likes me.

This is kind of a habit I have with the kids. I don’t put them to bed all the time, probably not even half the time these days at home. Maybe a quarter of the time? But we had the road trip and all the years before that of shared bed times. At bed time, what we do is we cuddle up close and spent 15-20 minutes talking about all the reasons we like each other. “You did ____ and I was so impressed with your thoughtfulness. You did ______ and I was shocked to see that you have made that developmental jump. I thought that was a (age inflation) thing and I’m really wow’ed. You said ______ word today and that was surprising because I didn’t know you knew that word!”

We bookend that with waking up to morning snuggles. During morning snuggles we talk about what we need to do today and how the schedule will work.

I can understand why my children insist I’m not an asshole and I just have bad moments. I don’t understand it so much from other people. Sometimes I feel like my children get to have a relationship with someone that no one else even gets to meet.

Sometimes I am capable of seeing myself as kind, giving, and loving.

That doesn’t change the fact that I’m an asshole.

Contradiction is necessary for life. For survival. You can be kind and an asshole.

Why am I so convinced I’m an asshole? Because I lawyer up fast when my contractors give me trouble. Because I find that swearing at men really harshly is one of the best ways to convince strange men I’m not interested in their attention. Because I find that sometimes it is necessary to kick people really hard to get them to let go and I’m willing to do it. Because I’m going to keep talking about why the word whore is eating my brain even though people with sex work careers twitch and feel really upset about it.

Want to hear something wild? Yesterday one of the most famous sex workers of our era gave me permission to use the word whore however I need to in my processing. She says if anyone questions me again I can send them to her.

That is… incredibly validating. Wow. Thanks.

I’m not sure I’m ever going to pull that card. But I may print out that tweet and cut it up small and put it in my wallet next to the permission slip from Noah. Just so that I think about it.

I have permission to look at this however hard I need to in order to get over it. She said so.

I am so fucking weird about permission. I’ve spent my whole life cringing, crying, and hurting myself because I felt that was the only thing I was allowed to do without permission. I need permission to stop. I need permission to feel something else about myself.

Why does that have to be the default? I mean, blame your parents yada yada, why does that have to be my default?

Why do I have to assume, in every moment, that I am the least valuable person present and if someone should die it should be me?

Not that I want to get to the point of wanting to sacrifice other people for myself.

Wait, maybe that is it.

I have never known a white person with really high self esteem who isn’t willing to throw other people under the bus for their own advancement. I have known people of color with high self esteem whom I have never seen sacrifice a friend. I know people of color who are exploitive assholes, too.

I’m trying to think through my white friends… y’all make very self absorbed choices. I do too. I’m not sitting on a high horse. I’m sitting flat on the ground. I’m not high and mighty here. I’m trying to figure out how this works.

I am willing to throw people under a bus if I feel I have to do so in order to be effective.

That’s why I’m an asshole. I need accurate labeling so other people know they have to protect themselves from me.

want to help you. I will try to help you. But if I feel I have to be effective in some area for Reasons…

I’m a selfish piece of shit. That’s why I’m alive. I’m willing to say that Safeway doesn’t matter as much as me, I’m stealing food. I’m willing to say, “Being around people who make choices like x is so problematic to me that I will bug and bug and bug people who make choices like that until they don’t want to know me any more.”

I’m an asshole because I make a lot of assumptions about people and I don’t check my privilege nearly often enough. I’m trying to get better. This is hard.

My life has been kind of hard to adjust to.

I spent my childhood moving like a ghost through different communities. I never stayed long enough to belong. I lived in a lot of neighborhoods where we were the only white family. I grew up feeling like being white was a bad thing. Know why? White people don’t care about their kids very much. That was how I experienced it as a child. I don’t think that is literally true across the board. That was my experience. In white neighborhoods there were always packs of unsupervised children doing horrifyingly inappropriate things. In neighborhoods of color there might be much older teenagers or 20-somethings causing trouble, but the kids were god damn watched.

I was chased out of so many homes for having bad behavior. I was told I was a bad girl dozens, maybe a hundred times.

It’s funny how my memories of these things change and drift. I remember them very differently as my understanding of the situation changes.

When I was 21ish I honestly didn’t remember all those lectures about being bad. I had kinda blocked them out. I knew I was bad but it was a fog hanging over my life. I didn’t have all those disparate voices going through my head.

As a parent watching my children be children (by which I mean breaking rules and fucking up) I hear those people in my head over and over more and more clearly. Oh. That was why they said that.

Click.

Now I get it.

Shit.

I have always felt like I was living in many ages at once. But I feel like my future selves have changed a lot over my life. My ability to perceive who I could be has changed.

These days I can picture having grandchildren who scornfully tell my children that they should be more patient, like Grammie. I will giggle. My children will say, “YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT SHE WAS LIKE TO GROW UP WITH.” I will giggle.

Do you have any idea what having that vision in my head means to me? I have the belief that I might be able to arrive at having the kind of experience of being in my body that I want to have. I believe that I might get to the point of being actually regulated and calm.

I have hope for something I was not capable of dreaming up 20 years ago.

It’s amazing what ten years of safety can do for a body. I see it in myself. I see it in my children. That is something that home schooling does for me that isn’t necessary for almost anyone else I know.

I require this specific time to be set aside in my adult life where the entire point of my day is to model how to have big emotions, get them under control, deal with them appropriately when they come up, and then keep working.

Not suppressing. Not denying. Not minimizing. Not avoiding until it comes crashing down on you at some inappropriate time in the future. Your feelings matter. They live in you and they serve a purpose. If you ignore them in the moment you will pay a price later. There are times and places where emotional displays are not appropriate, but get that stuff out as fast as possible so it doesn’t become a poison.

I am grateful every day for the life I am leading right now.

I have the safety, the money, the access to care providers, and the education to do something about the trauma in my body.

That is magical. This should be available to everyone who has experienced trauma. We would be a better world.

People deserve to be seen in context and understood. Most people who seem “crazy” to you wouldn’t seem so crazy if you knew more about their story. I tell my children all the time, “Weird just means you aren’t used to it yet; eventually it is just normal.”

My mom used to say, “The only norma people are the ones you don’t know very well.”

One of my neighbors is stepping up the offer of maternal-nature-friendship. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, Thank You Oh Universe, You Sure Do Like To Hear My Calls, Don’t You?

On the other hand… I’m scared of blowing up what we currently have if she finds out more about me. I’m not exactly the uhhhh conservative type and she is quite shy, scared, and sheltered. I don’t want to hurt her. She will need a lot of boundaries around the kinds of things she can handle hearing and I’m not sure how to find those boundaries without fucking up pretty badly. Once you say something it can never be unsaid.

We have a really solid, positive relationship. Losing it would be brutal. This feels really tricky. Our families are fairly strongly connected at the level we have now. I feel really like this is a big risk. Much bigger than telling all the strangers on the internet about my raunchy sex life and habit of beating people up for fun.

I’m kinda weird.

My superego is fucking developed at this point, ok? I’m growing up.

I’m an asshole and she is not. She wants to mother me. What will she do when she finds out I have approximately 500 x’s as much life experience as her?

There is a thing I think about. When I was in the bdsm community I was really serious about learning all I could as fast as I could. I played a lot with a lot of people. Basically I spent more time on bdsm than I spent on my college education, which I was pursuing simultaneously. Much Much Much more time on bdsm.

I was a serious slut and it was really fun and I have no regrets. I learned what I wanted to learn from that experience. I’m shocked at how often I find ways to apply the lessons I’ve learned, not in ways you’d expect.

I had more life experience at 25 than many people have at 50. It isn’t hyperbole, it is simple fact. I say yes to almost anything that comes up. I know very diverse people in many communities. I’m a moody bastard with a short attention span.

I’ve done a lot of things. It is something I notice when I meet new people these days. I sound like a lying braggart. Nope. I got receipts. I did all that. Why? Because I never felt like I had a better choice than to do what I was doing so I did it all in. As soon as something stops feeling like the best choice in the moment I break down, fall into a deep depression. Go home. Hurt myself until I figure out that the boundaries required in that community are not things I can maintain long-term. Then I heal. Then I try again.

It goes faster and faster as I age and get boundaries carved out of granite. It is harder to change them. I am less tolerant of my internal, “I need to conform by doing x in this environment” sensor and I just flee.

I have a home now. I have less reason to tolerate your bullshit rules. Wanna know why I know they are bullshit rules? Cause this ain’t my first rodeo. Don’t worry, I think the rules in my house are bullshit too. They are all weird and arbitrary. They are made to suit the moods of whichever asshole in the vicinity is loudest.

I know.

I used to know a man who liked to say, “I’m the only psycho in this relationship” or maybe he said he was the only one who gets to be crazy? I may be misremembering. I’ll cop to that.

I need to be the biggest asshole in the space I’m in. So Noah is an asshole, but I know that I’m much more likely to be the one to bulldoze than him.

It works for us. Picture a heart emoji here, but I have technically banned them so this will have to do.

He doesn’t think I’m an asshole. That’s part of why this works. I think we are both assholes and I’m just a bigger one. But he’s all mellow and tolerant so it works out. Do you however you need to, ok?

I’m going to be kinda passive aggressive here and say: if you are one of Noah’s friends… this is a great time to ask him to go out some time. He needs to talk. To more people than just me right now cause life is like that sometimes.

I can’t fill his tank as much as he needs me to right now. Because I’m dealing with the remodel and and and. His job is kinda hard.

I need to go beat the shit out of people. I don’t know what he needs. But right now, he’s wilting like a flower and that’s a serious bummer. I don’t know what it is that is missing right now, but clearly all the right nutrients aren’t in place.

This is the kind of micromanaging, paying attention that I want in my life. It is why I appreciate the people who have stuck with me and really got to know me so much. Because I’m more pushy like this by the year. Because people do it more with me. It’s a careful balance. How much controlling and influencing other people should we do?

I really don’t know where those boundaries ought to be. I’m not pulling up Noah’s email account and making plans for him. That’s over the line.

Where is the line?

Everyone is different. I want you to get to be who you need to be. I want to figure out who I need to be and I want to just do the shit out of it.

This feels like baby steps towards self love, doesn’t it? This morning feels good. I have to say that these piles of tile are inspiring. I may be jaunting off to get more sparkly tiles today. I’m really excited about the snow wall. I want to build that first because I have so much white and it would be nice to get it mostly used up and out of the way so I see how much I need to still buy in terms of tile for the rest of the bathroom. I really can’t tell yet.

It depends on how high up the walls I want to go, right? We’ll see!

Youngest child’s half bathroom is spring. Other half bathroom is summer. The bathing room is going to have autumn and winter. I can’t wait to look at the sparkly snow while I take baths in candle light at night. That will be so beautiful.

I’m serious my friends, if you want to come take a bath… let me know.

I’m thinking hard about how I want to make the tree of life that will climb up the wall over the bath tub. I need to look at more pictures. That will probably be that last bit I design because much of it might be painted, I haven’t decided.

I know that “traditionally speaking” you want flat walls. I’m not going to have flat walls with perfectly level tile. It’s going to be pretty rough and it will be on purpose and structured and artistic. I think it will work.

Oh please God let this work cause this puppy is going to be expensive if I fuck up.

Go big or go home, bitch.

Oh goodness what did I get myself into?!

Have I told you that the floor will have a stone path lined with green tiles to look like grass?

I’m having SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH FUN.

If only the roof weren’t uhm, being tricky. We are still negotiating. I’m blathering on Twitter but I won’t rehash it here. Just… gotta keep walking on. I’m trying to not be angry. At this point all of the guys in the company have apologized for making decisions without me when clearly they made the wrong choice at a critical juncture. I had preferences and they didn’t ask. Even though I’ve told them over and over and over I want to be asked.

Ok. Trying to move on. Have to get this shit finished. If it’s beautiful… I will still write positive reviews with caveats about how I had to be fierce in advocating for myself.

I made it very clear that from here on out the crew was not to dump their lunch garbage all over and leave it here for weeks. Saw blades are all over the ground and that’s not cool. My lawyer was at this meeting. I should stop talking about it for all kinds of reasons.

I wanted to write something down here for documenting purposes. Instead, I hit cut’n’paste and sent it to my lawyer.

That seems smart just now.

Past self, you picked this woman out based on proximity and hope. Well done!

Today will be a good day, I think. I hope. I believe. Oh yeah, a friend asked if she could come over to dinner. I should tell Noah. Ha. Surprise. We have six people coming over for dinner.

Roll with it. Life flows like that. If people ask to come over for dinner the next night and I have no plans…. I’m weak. I have no willpower for that kind of rejection. Because you hit my sweet spot. Basically no output of energy and lots of input of attention. Yeah, you can do that. Sounds awesome. I have to cook anyway. Don’t worry. I always have enough food around.

You never know who might be coming to dinner.

 

Too much, again. Damnit.

Stuff is creeping in. Today: having lunch with a friend then we are getting tattoos. Tonight I’m having dinner with a lovely friend. Tomorrow is all the massage. The kids also have stuff to get to.

It isn’t that what I’m doing is hard, it is that I’m having to switch gears on what I’m thinking about. I was thinking about that process lately: transitioning. I’ve been staring at the kids all week and thinking about the idea of transitioning from one activity to another and how do we do it?

A friend asked me how I feel about classes that my kids sign up for. Do I insist on attendance? Err… it doesn’t come up much? My kids aren’t very scheduled. Our classes are exciting treats that we are very happy to learn about. There is no dragging. It isn’t hard for us to get out of the house (mostly) because I start getting ready about three hours before we need to leave.

Most days we sit down at breakfast and talk about the structure of the day. What are we doing? Where are we going? I give the kids an idea of what to expect and when I’ll start prompting them to get ready.

Very rarely I run into the room and say, “Oh shoot! I didn’t look at a clock and I forgot _____ and we need to walk out the door RIGHT NOW!!!”

I am shocked that when I do this the kids usually jump up in the air and start rushing to get ready like someone is chasing them with a hot poker. They have bought in to “this is our life and we are obligated to show up when we say we will”.

I talk a lot about respecting teachers because they choose to share what they know with people who want to learn. That’s a gift and an honor. You must respect the efforts of teachers.

Kinda funny given how anti school I am, right? I’m not anti teachers. I’m anti-Industrial-Era-conformity-brainwashing.

That’s not the same thing as learning or education or teachers. In fact I have incredible respect for the process of learning.

Not that every school (public or otherwise) works the same way. I know. But it’s a crapshoot year by year. In “school” you don’t get to pick your teachers, mostly. In life you do. College is a weird hybrid of “school” and life because you have some choice but not that much. You pick your place of education more. (Not that most people research the teaching staff much before picking a university.) You get to drop classes and take a different teacher if you don’t like an approach… sometimes.

I have multiple bad grades (D or F) on my record because of personality conflicts with teachers. Does that mean I know nothing about those subjects? Nope. It means that bitch didn’t like me.

That happens.

School is about measuring how you jump through the random hoops that someone decides to set for you. You think it is even and fair how those hoops are divvied out? Ha. Ha. Ha.

Standardized tests are flat out abusive to most minority populations. Why? Because they say, “Hey, how quickly can you identify all this random shit from White American Culture? Not fast? Then you’re stupid.”

That’s abusive.

And school in America in the year 2016 is about, “How fast can you regurgitate facts about this culture to prove you are ‘smart’.

Yes there are exceptions. Yes there are good teachers in public schools and there are good private schools.

Are those private schools available to people who are very poor? No? Then school in America is about regurgitating facts. I don’t care that your kid might be getting away with having a good experience. The majority of American children are not.

How do I know this? Why am I so god damn confident of what I know? Because I went to 25 schools. Then 7 universities. Then I substituted in about 8 schools. Then I taught in 4 schools.

It’s not a huge sample size. But it’s big enough to let me see a diversity most people get to pretend doesn’t exist. I went to schools in rural areas, in neighborhoods of a predominate ethnic identity other than white, in rich schools, in poor schools, and many levels in between. I’ve seen Silicon Valley, Compton, and rural Oklahoma.

I can’t speak to the east coast from personal experience. But I read a lot of teachers. I’m pretty sure I’m right from coast to coast. Teachers are talking about the problems in the system. All you have to do is go look a little bit and you’ll find criticism. You’ll never run out of it to read.

I don’t think my way is right or mass actionable. I don’t think the solution to our broken schooling system is everyone opting out to home school. But I don’t know how to force the solutions that are necessary. I don’t know how to force a non-abusive mechanism on top of an abusive system and I just can’t be part of that abusive system any more. Not as a student and not as a parent.

Could I be a teacher in that system? Sure. Why? Because I’m subversive as fuck and I think the kids who are there need people like me whenever possible. Will I sacrifice everything in my life on the altar of helping other peoples kids?

No. I made these two people. I’m responsible for them.

Yesterday I cracked. I stopped asking the kids to help and I sent them outside to play. They had a glorious day and I got the house like 75% of the way to clean. Yes, I know people believe that I clean frantically full time and my house is always spotless so it isn’t that much work (or something). Well, actually…. (I find myself using that more often because it is now a banned phrase in many places. I try to only do it when I’m being a snot and refuting ideas about myself that annoy me.) I don’t clean that much. My house turns into a pit just like everyone else’s house. But I host big parties pretty frequently and I usually spend about a week cleaning before hand. So people think my house is always clean.

It’s a ruse.

I can usually flight of the bumblebee and feel presentable for dinner guests. And my kids have to pick up their toys before they get screens so our house doesn’t get that bad. Only mostly they clean by shoving whichever behind whatever and into wherever. So every so often we have to dump ever drawer, every shelf, every everything in order to find things. Because seriously after a while we can’t find anything and then everyone expects me to be a fucking homing beacon and they ask me 9,032 times a day where “x” is.

can’t.

They ask me to buy them new shoes because they can’t find any to wear. I clean their room and find four pairs. That kinda thing.

So a few times a year we face overwhelming chaos. For the love of toast I don’t know how families with two working parents ever clean at all. When it gets bad (like me being gone two weekends in a row so things kinda pile up extra hard, and we are remodeling, and school level transitioning) it will take a solid 8-10 days of me cleaning for 4-10 hours/day.

(There’s always a day in the middle where I clean for four hours then collapse in a heap and cry for a while.)

This cleaning is extra epic because Youngest child has to be entirely moved out of that bedroom indefinitely for the remodel. They are currently replacing the wall/window and that room is not sealed to the out doors. (They have built the new bathroom walls/front wall in front of it, but it’s not all done and everything.) Lots of construction debris in there. Kiddo can’t use that room.

So they are sharing again for a bit. Which was ridiculous extra cleaning and sorting. Frankly I think they were god damn awesome.

At one point Eldest Child started crying and said, “I’m just not good at cleaning. I’m not smart at this and I never will be.”

I laughed and laughed and laughed. She looked at me and said, “WHAT?!”

“You act like I fell out of my mother’s womb being able to clean. I couldn’t do it when I was seven. Frankly I think you have more skill than I had at that age.”

She blinked for a bit, dried her eyes, and got up and made tremendous progress all in a big burst. At the end she grinned at me and said, “Ok I am getting better.”

Cocky little thing. Yes, you are. Every day. Every year. You are getting better.

So I think about these things because transitioning eats into progress. The more times I have to transition in a day the less progress I make on all tasks. This is a well documented phenomena. You can spend four years taking a Spanish class, or four months of immersion. And after the immersion experience you will be far more fluent.

Some guys I know were bitching at me that I should really stop what I’m doing with my life and learn all about the influential music from 1968.

I told them I don’t have time and they demanded that I justify what is more important than that. I rattled off what I’m doing with my life. They kinda blinked at me and said, “Ok maybe you don’t have time.”

No shit, Sherlock.

Everyone has different stuff going on in their lives. Everyone has a different comfort level of transitions. I don’t need to judge what other people need in order to feel comfortable. That internal Holy Fucking Shit No reaction needs to be turned off. Ain’t nobody trying to tell me that I need to pick it up. Not really.

My inside voice is changing. I do hear you.

Chill. The. Fuck. Out.

Why do I talk to myself? Because over time I am changing how I react to different stimuli. It was said that a lot of what is interesting about me now is that I do fewer global freak outs. When something is upsetting to me I don’t scream about everyone and everything. I can say exactly what I’m upset about and why and I can usually trace it down to the root. That’s letting me pull the weeds. I can tell which tendrils are a problem.

It’s ok that I failed in the school environment. I mean, I was usually an A/B student (except for personality conflicts) and I’m still a failure in the school environment. It isn’t that I’m unintelligent. But I cannot conform in the ways required to go period to period learning in the teeny chunks that can hopefully be absorbed by a large enough percentage of people to not be a complete waste of time to everyone. Woo.

Do you know why I was a good teacher? Because I met before school, during breaks, after school, and on Saturdays with students who could not understand what I was teaching and I helped them catch up on foundational information they missed along the way.

I can’t give that much of myself to people outside my family right now. My kids need that time from me. Why? Because we have some fucked up brain chemistry and DNA from generations of trauma. We need to do what we are doing right now.

We are learning how to adapt to life. We are learning how to learn. We are learning shit loads of stuff that we will be able to use later. We are planning. We are growing.

And we are doing it slowly. We are doing it by concentrating on one thing at a time for a few weeks.

That way we can spend many hours a day on one task and make substantial progress at it instead of spending 15 minutes here and 15 minutes there.

It is hard. It is physically and mentally and emotionally taxing. But I enjoy it. I feel rewarded. I feel like my reward is the conversation I get to have around the table every meal. My kids fucking think.

I know so much intense analysis of My Little Pony characters that it is ridiculous because I don’t think I’ve ever watched an episode. I know their back stories, motivations, and things that are being foreshadowed. Yeah. My kid told me, “They are seriously foreshadowing something about her in this episode….” Then later I heard, “In this episode they broke the fourth wall to…”

I asked her if she knows what breaking the fourth wall actually means. Nope. So I explained. In great detail. With lots of examples. Afterwards she started rattling off examples.

Yup. Like that.

I treat my children like if they don’t know something yet it is because I have not yet done a good enough job of talking about it. So I’d better get on that.

I really like my life.

I like feeling responsible. Resiliency experts say that people are most likely to be successful if they internalize that they must be responsible. In other words: we must find a way or make a way. So we do.

I feel that way about anti-racist stuff. Incest research. Home schooling. Teaching my kids how to take care of their shit.

I believe I must make this work. Period. So I will.

What does that actually fucking mean? It means that I picked this life. Who the fuck knows why. So I’m going to live it to the absolute fullest. With great privilege comes great responsibility. I’m one of the luckiest mother fuckers born in the history of all time.

How did that happen?

Even with all the trauma. So fucking what. Every level of person experiences trauma. That’s universal. Not every being experiences trauma (lucky bastards) but every level of human experience has trauma.

What traumatizes one person is standard, normal, and appropriate to someone else. So check your fucking judgment, wench. (talking to myself…)

I have an idea for the tattoo. I’m not going to write it out in advance. But I’m going to have a wonderful time talking to my artist today. He’s so wonderful.

And I’m having lunch with a friend first. Then dinner with a different friend.

I don’t in any way want to complain about the fullness of my life. I am blessed. I am loved. People seek out my company on my terms. Because they consider the effort to be worth what they get in return.

I can’t judge that. I need to just say thank you.

I’m trying to slow down. Frankly the remodel is driving me batty. They are banging all day long. So every second all day long I have to process hitting sounds and decide they aren’t a threat.

That wears me out.

But I have to be home. For Reasons.

So I’m doing what I can to destress in the house. My anxiety is spiking like a motherfucker. But! I know it is temporary so I can have something I badly want and I’ll get to have it as long as I live here. Sounds worth putting up with.

But it hurts my body. It’ll end soon.

Every time I transition from thinking, “Is that the door?” back to whatever I’m doing… it takes a penalty spoon.

So I’m thinking about transitions like fuck right now. How many activities can I manage to get done in a day? How much work? How many different kinds of tasks? I think it is funny how different stages of cleaning feel different to me. I can’t declutter a room, organize it, then remove filth all in a go. I just can’t transition like that. I have to declutter the house. Then organize it. Then clean. I can’t go back and forth because I experience distress physically and psychiatrically.

Transitions are that hard for me. I will fall to the floor and sob and not be able to do whatever it is you want of me because I just can’t.

That’s something that has been a pattern in my life for a very long time and I’m just kind of recognizing what that means in my head. Oh. Flooding. Oh. That’s…

Oh.

Yeah. That.

I like intense connections with a lot of fucking bandwidth. So when I need to spread that bandwidth out between 37 different distractions instead of 2-3…

I hurt.

It isn’t anyone else’s fault. But I’m trying to figure out what managing that means. I need this to get better. I need to stop flooding when I walk near someone else’s life because I feel like I should try to conform and I can’t I can’t I can’t.

No one god damn asked you to. Chill. The. Fuck. Out.

I’m trying.

It’s funny to stop and think, “This is actually a huge improvement!”

Good grief.

There are a high number of specific high intensity things I want to get done in this life. I won’t get them done in 15 minutes of prep at a time. That’s ok. I don’t need to schedule my life how other people do. It is working for them. Stop projecting.

We all want different things. Health means something different to every person.

I’m trying to figure out what it means to me. This is proving to be more complicated than expected. Not sure if that is because I was naive to start with or what. Anything is possible.

I’m making a lot of progress with my pain stuff. (The overall refraining from typing is helping. Hey–it’s Friday. I kinda took a few days off… I am trying to moderate…)

I’m making progress on pain stuff. My bowels are… well… I’m told this is progress? I don’t fucking know. But it is weirder than hell. I mostly stopped with the pills for a few days (because obviously my body was freaking out) on the doctors recommendation and the freak out ended right away. This is supposedly a sign that things are working right on schedule. I will resume sloughing the parasites from my liver later today. Oh joy. But! I’m seeing… uhm… something fucking weird that I’m told is results?

Pooooooooooooooooooooop.

We talk about poop while eating all the time.

Muahahahaha

My kids are very comfortable saying, “I’m going to eat lots of vegetables because your body sucks.”

If you can’t be a good example, be a horrible warning. Do one or the other and then do that motherfucker.

I guess?

Yesterday I screwed up. I put in a load of laundry and I didn’t even think about what I was washing. A new dress up clothes thing was put in the basket. It had never been washed. It was bright fucking red. So all the martial arts uniforms were very pink.

Oooooops. Shit. Like rose colored pink. Dark rose. I was all, “NOOOOOOOO!”

Then I thought about my mama and I breathed a prayer of thanks. “Hey kids? Want to learn how to fix a mistake?” I used oxygen brightener and bleach and I boiled it on the stove top and those fuckers are white as snow once again.

Because my mama taught me what to do.

That’s a good memory. Thank you, mama.

Thank you for teaching me how to do my laundry on the stove because that was what we had and you were going to make sure I had the skills to be presentable no matter what happened to me or how bad my life was. You tried. Thank you.

During this process my friend was over and she asked if I wanted her to do the poking/stirring over the fire. I didn’t want her to. I felt entirely Zen in that moment. I am where I want to be doing what I want to do. I’m showing my kids how I fix a mistake. It takes time and effort. But it’ll be ok.

It was one of the most intensely blissful moments I’ve experienced in a while. That’s flow.

If I cared very much about getting out of my house and not being “stuck” with these experiences as the woman… I wouldn’t get to have that. I’m glad I get to have that. I’m glad I get to see the value in my mother.

I miss you, mama.

I miss all the friends I’m not reaching out to because I’m overwhelmed. I’ll come back. I’ll have spoons some day.

In March we have social stuff planned on the first two days. Then… uhm… I don’t know about the Easter party. Wonder how my bathroom will be? Err… I’ll let people know two weeks before?

I think that I need to not schedule anything else in March. Which is intimidating. I’m not resting. I’m working and socializing because I’m so desperate to catch up on the work. I need to rest and I won’t stop working so socializing needs to be back burnered for a few weeks. Just Do Eeeet.

What work do I feel so pressed to do? Well… we are transitioning from preschool to elementary school. Which is a fuck ton of work for me. (I don’t know how you folks who home school with kids in preschool, elementary, middle, & high school do it. How do you find space?! )

The thing I miss the most about teaching in a school is the prep time plus the right to control what everyone was going to be learning. This is much harder. I have to prepare on the fly for a range of topics. It’s brutal some days in terms of cognitive load. It is fucking hard breaking down every little thing into schemas and concepts and repeatable skill training.

This is why other sane people outsource this shit. But we have some genetic stuff to consider that will make us always on the edge of the bell curve. I’m glad the training exists for people in the center of the bell curve. Yay you!

Hi, I’m Krissy. I’m an outlier.

Name the metric.

I just uhm…. like to be difficult?

IT ISN’T PERSONAL, OK!?!

I should stop now. If I get up and start moving now I’ll have all my morning prep done before Noah finishes breakfast and I will be able to eat at the same time as them instead of sitting down as they finish eating. I’m a pain in the ass to take care of. I struggle to think the effort is really merited.

Know something that I find wacky? Youngest child just fucking loves to stand there and hand me pill after pill after pill. Kid says, “You have to fix the problems. You have to get your poop better so you can digest food. I want you to die when you are very very very old. So here.” It varies somewhat, but this entire experience is just…

validating as fuck.

I’m trying to figure out what I need. My issues are complicated, layered, and difficult to solve. I know you are doing what you need to do to solve your issues and it doesn’t look much like what I’m doing.

I need to figure out how to not feel so fucking bad about that. It’s ok that I need stuff other people don’t need. That doesn’t mean I’m bad. That doesn’t mean I should die so I stop stealing resources from more worthy people. It has to be ok that I need what I need.

It isn’t fair that I have the money to pay for it and other people don’t. There is no fair. There is no deserve. There is no way to have things come out even.

I had to believe there is no deserve when it was really bad. I have to believe it about the good stuff too. Or …. or I just can’t. I can’t do this. I can’t get fucking pompous and shitty and “Oh I have a good life because I deserve it. Because I worked harder than other people.”

Gag. Cough. Puke. Bullshit.

No. I really didn’t work harder than other people. Ok, I worked harder than some people. But not harder than everyone. Some people worked ten times as hard as me. They didn’t get where I am.

It’s not because I’m getting what I deserve.

Nothing is fair.

4,050 words. I should stop anyway. Oh my poor wrists. But I feel better. I feel like I’m finding the words to the parts I need to talk about without talking about what I don’t need to talk about.

That feels better.

How do I get to be me without hurting other people?

That’s the journey.

Totally flooded.

I haz big feelings. My stomach hurts. But I feel like I worked out this awful thing that has been in my neck/shoulder for years. I feel like I did a major trauma release in this class. That’s kinda intense. Exposure therapy for the win.

This is what exposure therapy means. The attackers are safe guys in suits who maintain their distance so they can maintain their aura of scary. But they are monitored by women the whole time. It isn’t some guy deciding to do something to a woman when he feels like it and she should have to react right. That’s not exposure therapy. Exposure therapy means a female coach kneeling with her face next to your face whispering, “Remember to breathe. Stop. Wait for the moment. You can do this.”

Stop calling real life abuse exposure therapy. It isn’t. Ok, digression over.

My second experience at Impact was fairly different from the first. I didn’t have a friend in the class. It felt like the group warmed up slower but then made more genuine connections once we did warm up. Everyone started off tentative and not too chatty but by the final day we were pretty friendly. That felt nice.

I took a risk the morning of the third day. I said that the cheering wasn’t making it through to me during my fights and I really needed the line to get louder and more encouraging because it’s scary to fight in quiet. I feel alone. I have to say, those women came through once I made a specific request. They did great.

I didn’t ask for more than one extended fight this time. I literally just… couldn’t. By the time I got through the one extended fight my body was saying, “Let the men make them easy from here on out.”

The guys… they have to work ridiculously hard to do an extended fight with the people who really want blood. They do extended fights to teach women that even when you feel exhausted (this is as close as they will get to the exhaustion of a fight where you will be dealing with someone hitting you) and tired and worn out you can still defend yourself. I think I have a better understanding of fighting from a place of exhaustion from the get go, so I didn’t need the exercise this weekend.

I chose to leave a few spoons in my drawer. Because today I seriously need to pay attention to the kids and if I had left it all out on the mat I would spend today in bed crying. I just couldn’t. This wasn’t a real fight to the death so it would have been inappropriate to wear myself out that hard so I couldn’t hang with the kids.

I pay attention to these things.

Topic switch. Back to hitting.

Yes, I think (upon further reflection) what I am doing with Noah unconsciously probably would be better termed a tap or a light smack… but that is still putting my hands on someone else’s body in a way I’m not paying attention to. In a way that he chooses to describe as being hit. Because he gets that choice. I need to stop it.

Just like people don’t get to tell me that when the kid kicked me in the throat it wasn’t assault. Yes, actually it was an assault. I’m not going to prosecute because I don’t think the kid had malicious intent. But it was an assault.

It is possible to hit and not be causing (permanent) damage. Not be hurting people. Still be a problem. Still need to stop.

I need to have so much fucking control over my body that I do not put my hands on people at all unless I am doing it in a way that I am highly conscious and in control of exactly what I’m doing. I can’t be muddy. I can’t be like “Close enough is good enough.” Not with what I want to do with my life.

So maybe I’m over reacting and maybe I’m understanding how much work I have left on this problem. I need to stop hitting people. Entirely. 100000% unless someone is directly threatening my physical safety.

I know I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to live in gray areas but this is a black and white thing. I’ve done too much hitting in my life. I need to get this under control.

I mean, not that I’m going to cancel that nice date with my friend. I’m going to do everything in my power to get to the point where I only hit people (even lightly) when they say, “Pretty please”. Or they start a fight.

I spent a lot of this class thinking about escalation. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I escalate.

I know it’s all victim blamey and shit, but yeah a lot of the fights, a lot of the rapes kinda happened because I had no ability to deescalate. It hurts seeing that so plainly over time. I am not good at managing peoples emotions in a deescalating way. I’m good at cranking the volume up. I stimulate feelings I don’t settle them. This is a problem.

I think about things like the neighbor who has been sexually harassing me. Did I encourage him? I don’t think so. 90%+ of the time I talk to him my kids are standing right there and I don’t encourage displays of sexuality in front of my children. So I’m inclined to believe this is his desperate fantasy that he isn’t dead yet and he’s still sexually interesting instead of this being about me. But do I deescalate properly when he brings stuff up? Mostly I call the kids and keep walking when he gets rude. What else should I be doing?

Well I think kicking the crap out of him then telling him I cannot be in control if a man grabs me may have been effective. He’s keeping more physical distance these days.

But is he going to creep again? My guess is yes. Because creepers gonna creep. Does it make it all my fault if it happens again because I’m stupid enough to talk to him?

You know what? I get to walk around my god damn neighborhood without having to physically fight off unwanted sexual advances. That’s fucking ridiculous. No this isn’t my fault and I should not have to avoid walking down my own god damn street to avoid being sexually harassed. That’s not reasonable. If he starts shit I’m not the one escalating. He is. I’m just not going to fucking be passive. I’m very friendly and non-threatening with him. I have no desire to hurt him. I’m just not going to let him do shit to me I don’t want to have done.

That has to be ok. No matter how old he is. No matter how much I like him. No matter if I know any man ever again.

I get to say yes to everything that happens to my body. Or I get to fucking hurt you. That’s the deal.

I’m getting closer to the point where I feel I could actually do it in a fight.

It was hard having Noah there. I asked him if he thought I could stop him if he tried to rape me at this point. He isn’t convinced.

I need to take more classes. It is 100% my goal to be able to so deeply scare men that they do not believe they could successfully do that again.

Not because I want to hurt men. Because I’m not going to be raped again. I’m done. The passive has been raped right the fuck out of me. I’ve taken all I can take.

It is quite literally my goal to die before letting someone rape me again. I want to fight to the point where someone has the choice to kill me or leave me alone.

I’m done.

Something broke and it can’t be fixed.

To be fair, Noah didn’t see my extended fight. He saw the easy peasy fights the instructors give you to blow off steam so you walk out of the room feeling strong so you don’t leave feeling like you should walk in front of a bus. They plan this shit. They know the roller coaster they put people on. Noah didn’t see quite how effective I am at kicking peoples skulls in. I practice from a variety of angles. I’m semi-worried that I will actually kill someone because I’m going to be kicking with such incredible force and anger. I may well shove someones face into their brain.

I won’t lose sleep over that. Ok, yes I will. I will be convinced I’m a monster who should be killed. Maybe I’ll go to jail and think that’s fair.

But I won’t be god damn raped that day.

I feel dangerous and horrible. But yes I am prepared to use deadly force to prevent someone from raping me again.

I have to believe I deserve that or I need to die today because I cannot endure another rape. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

I’m done. I have to believe I am allowed to kill someone to stop them if necessary. I know that in an actual fight I will have to use the minimum amount of force necessary to stop a fight. I know that. The chances I will get to a fight that results in death are incredibly freakishly low. Only I’m going to pursue a career that will make people hate me with the power of the sun.

So maybe my chances aren’t vanishingly small. Maybe they just aren’t that high?

I don’t know that I am yet at a point where I am capable of holding the adrenaline in and just doing the necessary hurting.

During one of my fights the suited instructor literally ran out of the room to get away from me because I was chasing too much.

I mean, I didn’t chase him off the mat. But I did take steps in his direction. I hear that the expression on my face was uhhhhh… terrifying.

I don’t know if that is a regular schtick of theirs to try and break the tension because it’s funny. Or if he felt like that is actually how an attacker would respond because holy shit.

I don’t know.

You never know.

They call the rape prevention moves “reversals”. Because you are reversing the power. Those are the ones where you have to stay still on the floor and use physics and it’s scary and complicated and fairly precise. I find them horrifyingly triggering.

It’s really hard to say, “I tried that and what happened was…” I failed. That’s what happened. I failed when I tried to do that. I didn’t prevent a rape that day.

Ahhh. I tried to move long before I felt weight. There was no physics to help me. Fuck everything. Well, specifically he fucked me. After slamming my head into the ground so hard I saw stars. I stopped fighting.

I don’t know if it would be different today. I don’t actually feel confident. That was just a fucking class. I was chanting to myself the whole time, “There is no chance this man would actually rape you. There are witnesses. He’s wearing very difficult clothing. This isn’t real.” Because I wanted to run screaming I was so fucking freaked out. But… that means it isn’t that real in my body.

Would I be able to access this when I’m scared? I’ve worked so hard for so many years to break the freeze response. I’m tired of going numb. But it is a genuine survival skill. I have worked hard to make it less likely I will survive.

I’m ready to die or assert myself. One or the other. But I do not yet know for sure that I’d win.

It is hard believing that I would kill to defend myself and that is part of why I am a disgusting person. I don’t know that I really believe I have the right. I am bad. I want to hurt people.

Not really. I’m just god damn done letting them hurt me.

That’s not true either. I do want to hurt people. I want to hurt people who like being hurt because it released kinetic energy from my body and it allows me to be more calm and gentle when necessary and appropriate.

Hitting is all of these things. It is tapping Noah when I shouldn’t. Even though it doesn’t hurt I’m touching someone without consent in a way that can be described as hitting. My friend who is inviting me to a lovely session of testicle kicking, that’s hitting too. It is completely consensual. He’s going to have a good time, I’m going to have a good time–it’s going to be fun! And being willing to beat someone unconscious for trying to rape me.

It’s all hitting. It is all violence. But do they mean the same things? Should they be treated the same way legally? Should they be treated like trauma because “hitting”?

Everyone gets to decide for themselves what is traumatizing. I’ve done bdsm scenes that were WAY more intense/painful/fucking out there than my rapes. My rapes traumatized me. My rapes were an action that I did not consent to happening to my body in a way that proved to me that I do not have the right to have agency over myself or my life. My bdsm scenes were done with friends and they were fun. Even if they were painful and scary. I knew what I was signing on for. I did it on purpose. I did it with full force and vigor and choice.

That makes all the difference.

I don’t feel traumatized by the throat kick. I feel like I learned something about boundaries.

If you fuck up and assault someone… that isn’t the end of the world. How you respond afterwards is what matters.

If you fuck up and assault someone on purpose… that’s different.

I genuinely believe there are accidental assaults all the time. Just like there is involuntary manslaughter.

Ok, I have one specific complaint about the class this time: I really didn’t appreciate the “boogeyman homeless guy” thing. That fucking pissed me off. The vast majority of assaults are someone you know. Leave the fucking homeless guys alone. They are doing their fucking best and I’m god damn tired of the nastiness of housed people.

Being homeless does not mean you are a god damn rapist.

That’s the attitude though. Homeless guys are creepy and scary. Do you know why they creep you out? Because you feel like they aren’t like you and that’s gross. I feel like they are like me and they are in a hard place right now.

I don’t need to feel scared of someone who has so little power and authority in life compared to me. Am I prepared to defend myself if someone does start something? Sure. But I’ve been interacting with homeless people for decades. I’ve done so all over the country and in other countries.

I’m not scared of homeless people. They are scared of me.

Why? Because they know I can call the cops and have them put in jail. That’s how the power dynamic works. Can I really? Would the cops do it? Maybe. But it’s pretty likely. If any of you dressed-like-you-live-in-a-house-people called the police on a homeless person there is a high chance the homeless person is getting arrested.

For vagrancy. For loitering. For trespassing. For intimidation. For assault.

Even if that assault was accidental. Who cares? It’s a homeless person. They are creepy and icki. We don’t want them around, prosecute.

Stop. Calling. The. Cops. On. Creepy. Homeless. People.

Unless you see them commit a serious crime, just leave them the fuck alone. Ok? They have enough god damn problems without whiny people harassing them.

(I’m not really talking to a specific person or even the folks in the class. I’m mad at the universe over this one.)

I’M TALKING TO THOSE ASSHOLES ON NEXTDOOR.

“I saw a homeless person on my street so I called the police.” I hope you die slowly in a lot of pain.

Like those assholes who called the cops on me in Virginia. I looked suspicious. I had out of state license plates and camping gear. Clearly I was up to no good.

This is my cranky face.

It is weird trying to find a place where compassion and the right to break your face live right side by side. Because in being able to defend myself like this… I’m trying to have compassion for myself. I’m allowed to say that 12 rapists in one life is enough. I’m allowed to say that I was 25 when I was last raped and that’s god damn when it ended. I’m allowed to absolutely fucking harm anyone who tries again.

That is what compassion for myself means. Maybe another woman could passively permit a rape and not kill her attacker and later prosecute and that would be the most “ethical” choice of all… or something.

I can’t absorb any more.

I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

How do you get ready to actually be able to kill someone if you have to? I don’t want to. I really don’t want to.

Shit I already feel guilty that people seem to kill themselves after dealing with me.

(Yes, I know I am not “at fault” for any of these suicides. Life is complicated.)

In class someone thought it was funny to make a joke about fire. I sure know how to shut down jokes about fire. It was asked “Does anyone have any trauma around fire? No? Good….” Then I raised my hand. “Yeah, my brother self immolated.”

I bring all the fun jokes to an end.

God I suck.

Hell, I’m not even saying to stop using the joke. It’s ok to jokingly tease a group of people and tell them the final test will involve jumping through a fiery hoop. That’s not a bad joke. That’s not a real threat.

That’s ok.

But god I can kill any joke.

I am so not funny that it is really really funny. It is to the point where my litany of traumas is becoming almost hysterical. I have a trauma for any god damn situation.

It is kinda funny sometimes.

WHEN WILL THE INSANITY END?!?!!? is most of the joke.

Well, I’m still having an extraordinary life… but I’d say it is mostly no longer traumatic. I have boundary violation issues every so often that must be managed.

I don’t think I’ve been traumatized in while. I think the last trauma was severing with my family. (I think I traumatized Sarah after that… but that’s a different discussion.)

Why do I split hairs like this? Because my shrink tells me to break everything down into its smallest compartments and then sort them out.

What is hitting? What is violence? What is trauma? These things are so broad and yet so very specific.

Random defensive pissiness: I read an article yesterday. Don’t remember where or by whom and I don’t care. The person was pretty much saying, “Stop talking about your white privilege because you are just grand standing. If you were really doing anything to dismantle structural racism you would do it silently.” Oh fuck you.

I’m trying to fund the revolution, motherfucker. I am putting my money where my mouth is. I do more with every year and I track it better so that I can know that I am doing more with every year.

Recently Noah told me, “If you don’t feel like you do anything in the world… you are giving more and more money away every year. You are financially impacting the lives of more and more people. That is doing something.”

I don’t do this because I’m a nice person. I don’t do this to be good. I do this because I can never help the child I was. I do this because it needs to be done and other assholes aren’t stepping up.

I’m an asshole. I can live with that. But I want to be an asshole who has specific boundaries around where and how I hit people, how I escalate fights, and when it is appropriate for me to use force.

I think that hitting people to teach them is a shitty way to teach them if you want an ongoing relationship. That style of teaching instill anger, fear, distrust, and the belief in the person you are educating that they deserve to be hit.

Ask me how I’m feeling about Noah right now.

We need something different.

I do not feel traumatized. I feel like I discovered a boundary. I need something different. This isn’t working for me.

I have enough brain damage for one lifetime.

I think that hitting should be used when you are ok with ending the relationship and not before.

If you don’t think I should be packing to leave then we should not be in a physical fight. That needs to be a boundary. And no, that does not mean I should get free hits without retribution. That’s not what I’m saying.

I need to stop hitting casually. I need to be taught through repetition and mostly through words. This behavior will mostly be extinguished through catching the “taps” that “don’t count” because actually they do. They teach muscle memory. They remind me that hitting is ok.

I used to hit ineffectively so I thought it was fine for me to hit people. At this point I’m very effective and that means I need to treat my hands like weapons and be in full control of them.

Things change.

Noah hit back because I hurt him. He has the right. I’m not really mad that he believes he has the right to defend himself.

I’m mad that men start out able to defend themselves with so much force without having to take class after class after class and work and work and work.

I’m not sure that I’m mad at the men. I’m just mad.

I know that I need to get over all the shit that happened to me. But a lot of the places I hurt almost every day are from specific assaults.

Do you think you would be able to forget if you were reminded by your body every day?

Maybe if I can actually heal I stand a chance. Maybe.

Chiropractic appointment in 3.5 hours. I’m going to call and schedule acupuncture for this week. I don’t see a massage therapist for a while but I’ll be ok. Two weeks? I’ll live. Ha.

Cause the next time I see massage therapists I’m uhm seeing two in one day because I didn’t really look at the calendar before booking the second one. That’s ok. One person works on a very small area for the full hour and the other person does a more general massage for an hour and a half. It will feel like magic. I will need to drink so much water that day.

I’m really trying.

Some day I would like to spend less money on health care and spend more money on donating to communities of color. They need the money. I’d rather not need to spend it on my body.

I really don’t think I’m the best place to spend all these resources. But I recognize that it is literally necessary for a time if I am going to heal and be able to do the work I want to do. If I want to stop feeling suicidal because I cannot deal with how much pain I experience on a daily basis… I need to spend the money since I have it. I don’t have a justification for giving it away instead of fixing what is wrong.

Not at this point. Not really. I will be a more effective tool if I stop and do maintenance.

That’s just prudence.

Is that close enough to self love to count?

I’m trying.

Today I am going to spend with the kids. Except for the chiropractic appointment. They’ll do bookwork during that time. We’ll be together the rest of the time. I think we should garden. We’ll read. We’ll snuggle.

I will remind my body that despite these training exercises… I’m safe now. I am safe now.

We need to meditate tonight. During the class I was fucking whigging out for a while. Then I remembered what I’ve been saying to myself when we meditate. “I breathe in nothing that will pollute me; I breathe out the nothingness that has consumed me.” It helped. It helped a lot. The fact that I’ve been practicing at night has helped. I calmed down much faster than I used to be able to.

Jenny tells me that I look at how far I have to go. She looks at how far I have come. I write it down so I can see too.

The world is burning down.

There are bombings all over the world in the last few days. People are dying from no reason bigger than hatred that some people think differently.

There was an earthquake in Japan.

I’m… at Knott’s Berry Farm. Well, I was.

And now I’m rocking and crying. Today was horribly triggering. But it feels so very selfish and stupid and petty. God, my whole life is pretty fucking ridiculous these days. Yeah, it will take a whole book to figure out why this trip was worth this for me.

We get home in seven days. I’m triggered as all fuck. This place is hurting me.

We had a wonderful day. I completely held it together. I mediated like a god damn champ when they had a hard time.

And now I’m rocking and hurting because keeping it together today was so god damn hard.

That’s where my father used to finger me. I haven’t been there in more than ten years. I actually come to SoCal pretty frequently. I choose to not go there most of the time.

So, the song I’m listening to on repeat is this one.  

That’s my mood right now.

I think that I’m going to finally find the motivation to get the money from my father’s money that the state is holding. It has waited a lot of years. I think I’m ready to take my payment for what he put me through.

I don’t think the kids know how upset I was. I think I did well. They both gushed all the way back to the hotel about how absolutely fantastic today went. And I really agree.

But there is that part of me and this part of me and today I realized that I… completely missed the anniversaries this year. I think this is the first year I’ve ever just sailed right the fuck past them without noticing.

Am I who I thought I would be by 33?

Is my daddy still the monkey on my back?

What the fuck did I learn out in the Wild Wild West? Oh. Lots.

Hungry for a life I’m not ready to begin.

But it’s time to start anyway.

What does it mean. How forking shallow is it. I don’t know. I don’t know.

You know, it is fucking awesome that I learned how to cry completely silently a long time ago. Otherwise this crying in the room with the kids thing would be pretty fucking awkward.

I’m sorry James. I had to.

I hurt. I shouldn’t be typing nor looking down. And I should be sleeping.

But crying alone is hard. Thank you for keeping me company, internet. I love you.

Noah. I have so many stories.

My fingers hurt.

Must haz self control. Seven more days.

It was really hard going through layer after layer of memories of my father. I think they have substantially changed the area where he used to sit me on his lap. I want to write more. The basic allusion to this is in the book. But oh.my.god I could give a lot more details. Especially right this moment.

I’m having some really really really really really really really big feelings. And I have to just calm right the fuck back down and go to sleep. Tomorrow I have work to do. It is not yet time for me to rest. Only seven more days.

Almost home

Rape & privilege

I’ve been talking about rape a lot on Twitter lately. I want to organize my thoughts a bit more, even though my arms burn like fire. So this may be a bit choppier than I normally blog. The Twitter character limit formatting is changing my writing. I hope in a positive way. I know I get too verbose for most people a lot of the time.

Noah spends a lot of time telling me that I spend too much time trying to figure out “who is to blame” for various problems. He’s right and he isn’t.

Thing is, dealing with rape is complicated. It is complicated at a personal level and it is exponentially more complicated at the level of a city and … then try to solve that for a state or a country.

My therapist tells me that it isn’t a good thing that the only way I know how to keep myself safe is to keep actual walls between me and other people. Well, it is the only effective method I’ve ever discovered.

That said, I travel more than the vast majority of people ever do. It’s just too expensive for most people. So I put myself in lots of situations. I put myself in situations where I have to keep, not only myself, but my children safe. Am I willfully putting us into danger just to… I don’t know… prove some macho ass shit to myself?

I genuinely don’t think so. Stranger assault is statistically rare. We don’t invite people into our tent/room. We talk to people in crowded public places then move on. It genuinely doesn’t feel risky.

Do you know what was risky? The way I was taught to walk into bedrooms with people because you wanted “privacy” after just knowing them for a few hours. That was how I spent my childhood. Asking to go into peoples rooms and initiating as much sexual contact as I could get away with and only acknowledging rebuffs grudgingly.

Sometimes it makes my heart beat fast when I enforce boundaries with my kids. They are not allowed to walk up and sit on laps any more. Not with a complete stranger. They can’t jump on strange men. Playing for two minutes doesn’t make them close enough to jump on, nope. You have no idea what is going on with their bodies. You don’t know if they just had surgery on their back. Nope. Don’t jump on strange people.

It is really weird to feel like the biggest god damn hypocrite on the planet. Don’t do anything I did.

This experience is how I understand the neglect I experienced. I completely lacked a frame for it before I was a parent. The awareness comes in stages of dawning horror.

How fucking formative that trauma was. Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.

I’ve been acting like a bully with the kids. I’m not asking them to do things I’m ranting that I’m sick of them not doing the thing without being asked. We are talking about it.

I feel really guilty that Eldest Child said, “It’s getting to the point where it’s almost 50/50 nice and mean and that has to change. I know you are tired. Maybe we shouldn’t go out of the room much for a few days.”

I feel this horrible mixture of pride and guilt that she has to help manage me. She can be aware of those kinds of needs. That’s amazing. I don’t want her to parent me though. I’m not using emoticons even though I want to put like 75 frowny faces in a row.

I try to tell myself that the feelings of guilt and shame are because I was raised to believe it is not ok for anyone to ever have to pay attention to me and take care of me. It is not ok for me to want anyone to help me.

I try to tell myself that this is ok. It is a kind of enmeshment, yes, but we talk about how this is not her job and she is going to not be responsible for me long term. I thank her for feedback about her perception of being around me. I seem tired. I should rest. Yeah, thanks.

She acts like I am worthy of paying attention to. I wish that didn’t make me cry.

I’m going to jump back to rape. Why am I confident that my children will not have a life like mine? A kid kind of grabbed at my kids crotch. The instantaneous response was, “You do not have my consent! Get your hand off!”

I win.

I couldn’t save my niece nor my nephew. But my kids don’t think that anyone who wants to is allowed to have access to their crotch. They believe their consent is vitally important.

I win.

That doesn’t mean they will never be raped. I understand that. Let me tell you, I’m not done educating them. I’m just going at an age appropriate rate.

A lot of “staying safe” is a complex web of knowing the right words to say at the right time. If you have highly specific technical language you don’t seem like a good victim and any good predator will walk right by you. Obviously you have the support to protect you. You are not going to be easy to intimidate.

People comment, just about daily, that my children are so aware and ….themselves. It is funny how often the wording is almost exactly that. Another friend commented that it is amazing that people don’t think Eldest Child is bossy. She just has a good plan she wants everyone to follow.

I talk to them about what they want to get from life all the time.

Eldest Child and I have been talking a lot about what she wants to do school-wise when we get home. She has specific requests. She wants to work on languages more. She is frustrated by the limitations on who she can play with. She freaking asked if we can look for a Chinese class (I can hear Pam cheering from here) so she can work on that more consistently. She said we all should take Spanish together (I’ll see what I can do, Youngest child wants Spanish and is not up for Chinese). She said maybe on Hindi for a while. She said we should practice the alphabet and such at home but she thinks we don’t need that as a formal class. So I guess that will be some structure in our days.

We all want martial arts. The kids want gymnastics as well. I can’t teach them many skills like that. I’m happy to pay someone who can.

And she wants to play the violin.

I said we would add lessons one a month until we got up to the full load because all of that at once would crush her. She says that is probably smart.

I appreciate how often she tells me I’m smart.

You know… I think that’s why she does it. She’s a perceptive little thing.

My kids are not going to look like good victims. Not ever. They are going to seem like… they have all the support in the world. It’s only sorta true, but I’m going to give it my all.

But you know what? This option isn’t exactly available to most people. My kids get a full life of having a Ladies Illustrated Primer walking around with them. That’s not what most people experience.

Holy tomato I love my job.

My kids are in touch with their bodies. They know what they like and don’t like and they consider their preferences to be absolutely worthy of consideration at all times. Good prey act like it doesn’t matter what happens to them. They often don’t know what their preferences even are. And as much as we cannot guarantee our own safety in this life, we can build resilience to weather what may come.”

I can never guarantee that my children will be safe. Not truly. Not completely. But I can teach them a variety of skills that will increase their likelihood of not only escaping from a lot of traumas but being able to cope with the inevitable tragedies in life.

My children will experience loss and pain. That is a non-negotiable part of the human condition. I know that. I’m trying to teach them how to ride the waves.

We took a break from the screens. The kids begged me to go back to the beach. It’s supposed to start storming tonight and rain mostly till we leave so I said yes. Even though it scared the absolute shit out of me. The kids kept asking me to go sit with the grown ups and just let them play.

No. No. No.

I sat between them and the ocean. There were four good waves where they started getting dragged out to sea and I grabbed them and bodily pulled them back to shore. They stopped arguing with my presence after the second grab. But they really didn’t want to stop working on the dam they were building.

They are fucking obsessed with building dams this trip. They have built them in little itty bitty creeks, rivers, lakes, and the ocean. It was awesome watching them lecture much older girls about how “We have to find a variety of materials to help provide structural integrity! Just sand won’t hold!”

That was why I had a hard time stopping the play. It was so… intense for them. But that ocean doesn’t fuck around. Lots of places are currently flooded and people die from being swept into the ocean all the time. It’s not a game. There are no take backs. The ocean is bigger than all of us.

After the fourth time when I grabbed them and I felt like barely pulled out of the wave I said, “Ok! That’s it! I’m done!”

The kids didn’t really argue with me. They spent over an hour saying repetitively after we got back to the hotel room, “I think you just saved my life. Wow. You care that much. You are going to stand right there so you can save my life. I think you just saved my life.”

My response is, “I brought you into this world and I’m not giving up on you yet.”

They snuggled with me and looked a bit stunned.

The ocean is not something to fuck around with.

Want to know something kind of hilarious? I had a similar experience with the kid who kicked me in the throat at a group beach trip.

The ocean is bigger than you. I don’t give a shit how strong you think you are. The ocean is bigger than you. Never fight the ocean. You will lose.

So yeah. I think I’m done. If it is storming I am definitely not going down there with the kids. If we want to swim in between rain bursts they have a pool. That is risk enough with a damn thunderstorm.

You have no idea what you mean to me. No forking duh I am going to keep you out of the ocean when it is dragging you like that and you are screaming out in fear. That is my job.

It is both my job to teach you to respect that power and my job to protect you from it as you gain enough experience to have proper respect. It’s a complicated operation.

I think I am really feeling the need to cross reference all of these experiences because I am trying to understand the scope and effects and structure of rape culture. What does it even mean?

Do you know who really taught me I didn’t deserve rape? Sex workers. Grown ass women who were god damn sure what was and wasn’t ok to do to them. I know women who have been sex workers for decades and members of the kink communities for decades who have never been assaulted. I study them with a more than just friendly interest. I want to understand their instincts.

I want to teach those instincts to my children and people who aren’t sex workers have never been able to break them down in a way I can understand. They specifically can talk about what they do to manage risk. I know vanilla women who have never been assaulted. They don’t understand why that is true. They just got lucky.

So I talk to the people who can actually give me the information I seek. I am shameless and mercenary about it.

I’m not teaching my kids to be sex workers. I’m teaching them to think of their body as belonging only to them and never to anyone else.

I am doing my absolute best to raise people who will react indignantly if someone tries to abuse them. My kids interrupt me if they think my behavior is getting near a line. They are immediate in their ability to say what is or isn’t ok about what is happening to their body. It is stunning to see.

I have labored for so many years to try and develop those skills.

Sometimes I feel so jealous I want to shove my head through a window. Just to get that feeling away from me.

My brother used to put his head through windows. They made him wear a helmet whenever he wasn’t in a building with safety windows.

We have really liked hurting ourselves in my family for a long time. I feel so grateful that my children showed mild inclination and were quickly reassured that it is not the right decision to hurt yourself when you are upset. Ask for help figuring out how to handle your feelings when you feel overwhelmed to that point. Your parents will listen to you no matter what.

You don’t have to feel pain. We can maybe help.

I feel so grateful that I found a sperm donor who had excellent genetics and sincere interest in being a really involved parent. This is a wonderful experience to watch.

But Noah has committed rape. And so have I.

Do I think all rapists belong in jail?

Jimminy Christmas don’t ask me. 

This rape culture shit is complicated.

I want my children to be able to do better. I want all the children to have better. Education is the single best route to understanding diverse people and life experiences.

I honestly don’t know what else to do. I need to pick up the kids soon. I’m going to stop.

Bitch Better Have My Money

Thank you Rihanna, you inspire me. Nicki Minaj does too.

I’ve been thinking… it would be interesting to go through our financial records. Sometime in the next year before our 10th anniversary it would be interesting to see what we each started with, compare it to Noah’s salary, look at investments, look at the gains and losses for businesses tried and failed…

Who is responsible for which? Noah makes a pretty astronomical salary… but our investment portfolio is growing at a prodigious rate. Some of that is stuff he owned pre-me. Not all of it.

What have I done in the last ten years? Sometimes I have a hard time believing that I have done much.

Ok… even I know that sounds stupid.

I have a hard time being a dependent. I know I “get” 50% of his salary. But what have our separate investment choices resulted in? At this point we can figure out data to see who is actually better at those sorts of decisions so we can assign more of that work in the correct direction to maximize for growth.

I’ve been talking to a lot of womyn about independence and I’ve been listening to a lot of very intelligent women who want me to get my money for my labor.

What has been my cut?

I think I’m going to do that. Oh dear. Another Fucking Project.

And y’all just know I’ll tell you all about it.

Family

Dealing with Noah’s family is complicated. I am not that inclined to shut my mouth and put up with awful because… I get no positive out of knowing them. I mean, his parents send money and his aunts send boxes of candy around holidays. If these windfalls evaporated from my life I wouldn’t miss them. I don’t plan for the money. I feel awkward about accepting it. I accept it because they are Noah’s family and they have the right to give him things.

I don’t care. If I never heard from any of them again I would be just fine. They are not integral to my sense of self. They aren’t my family. Why should I make myself smaller in order to make them feel like they are correct?

Nope.

I have nothing to gain by keeping my mouth shut and letting the status quo continue. The status quo is not a good place for me.

Silence in the face of atrocity is how I ended up with the horrifying childhood I had. I’m never going to be silent again. Even if it offends the shit out of everyone. Even if I never get another box of candy.

Right now I’m watching a movie about Grace of Monaco. It is fascinating watching Nicole Kidman pretend to learn the history of the country so she can take on the role of princess. I can see why she learns what she learns for the sake of her children.

My children don’t need me to learn how to be a serene highness. Thank G-d.

But I need to consciously try to facilitate them having relationships with these racist fuckers. Why? Because they are family. I’m not part of the family. Not really. I am a facilitator. I am an extension. I am Shanna and Calli and Noah’s family. I am not Aunt Cookie’s family. I am not Aunt Candy’s family. I’m the mother of their great-nieces which isn’t the same as family. I’m unavoidable but I am not likable.

So I drive the kids around the country. And I take dictation as they write letters to these people. I will help them make phone calls when they get just a bit older. And the whole damn time I will be arguing with the messages they receive.

No, your family is not superior to other people. The relatives who tell you that you are better are lying. You are just a person. A wonderful person, but just a person. You need to earn your own merit. It is not automatic based on your appearance.

We had an interesting conversation yesterday. The Godmamas came up again. In reference to some people are ok with mellow yellow and some people really aren’t. Shanna made a comment to the effect that we are better people if we are more worried about the drought than the cleanliness of our toilet.

I told her that the two have no relationship whatsoever and she is very wrong if she believes that one measure like that decides what makes a good person. I am *not* a better person than your Godmamas. Well, they aren’t the Godmamas any more. I’m still not a better person. I worry about different things. I focus on different things. I spend my time and energy in different ways. Doesn’t mean I’m better. I’m different.

I don’t think I’m better than Aunt Cookie or Candy either. Even if they have opinions that are distinctly racist. Even if they have dozens of opinions that make me sick to my stomach… that doesn’t mean I’m a better person.

I’m a person with giant flaws, just like everyone else.

I need people to call me on my flaws in order for me to grow and change and become better. I am better than I was. I’m not perfect. I never will be. I do not aspire to perfection. I’m an asshole and ok with that.

The difference between me and the aunts is… I know I’m an asshole. They would hotly deny that they are. Even though they believe that people who end up homeless deserve to suffer. They think that their beliefs are just “justice”.

But I’m the only one who knows I’m an asshole. I think that human beings deserve dignity and support so I’m an unconsciounable asshole. Good thing I can live with that. I can be the kind of rude where I challenge racists in my life. I can’t be the kind of rude where I just shut up and allow people to be awful. I do not choose going along with the flow for the good of bigots. I do not care about avoiding conflict. If you want to avoid conflict with me you can leave the room.

That is the assurance that men walk around with. If you want to avoid an argument with them you can leave the room. I’ve decided that it is a trait and I want it. So I adopted it. I don’t back off.

I wouldn’t be here if I were more namby pamby.

I’m not important. I’m not special. I’m not someone who changes things. My reality distortion field only extends as far as my voice can reach. Maybe that is why I am so fucking loud now.

I didn’t used to be loud. When I was a child I was constantly in trouble for mumbling. No one could ever hear me. I got yelled at by dozens of teachers because I would raise my hand and then no one could understand me.

I don’t have that problem now.

I’m also getting better about being able to challenge people without having to scream at them. It’s progress. Now I can challenge in a flat voice. That’s a big improvement and I’m happy about it.

I have no interest in learning to avoid conflict. I do have interest in learning how to have conflict without acting like a harpy. Conflict is fine. Conflict is about challenging the status quo. I have a serious problem with the status quo. I want to change it.

The status quo involves too many people suffering terribly because of structural inequalities. I’m not ok with that. Structural inequalities need to be addressed. We are at a point in history where we have no justification beyond pure greed for continuing to allow this many people to live with starvation and homelessness.

We have major structural racial problems in the world. Not just in my country. Acting like they aren’t real is… not something I can do. Not even to make someone feel more comfy about how short sighted their world is. Can’t do it.

I will always be willing to point out real, hard things. Even if that makes me an asshole. I think that is my role here. Sometimes I’m wrong about the things I think I see. That’s highly inconvenient.

Sometimes I don’t know how to translate what I see into useful words that other people can understand. Frequently I don’t know the approach that will spur other people into seeing things as I see them. I don’t know how to be the universal translator. I wish I could be.

I wish I could be.

Lots of big feelings

The trip is going well. I am so gosh darned tired I feel like I might slip into a puddle and never solidify into a solid being again.

I had a hard time with Noah’s aunts. They grew up in particular times and places and they believe what they believe. Unfortunately for them there is a whole bunch of evidence proving that their beliefs suck.

I am highly dysregulated. I am having a hard time calming down. Too many conversations about poverty and homelessness and race. I really don’t respect the opinions they have.

One aunt spent a long time telling me about how much she enjoys reading the journals of settlers and colonials. They only killed people when they had no choice.

Uhm… go read something written by the folks that the settlers barely avoided killing. You will hear a very different story.

No. The white assholes who showed up on this continent because they were being chased out of their European homes did not kill Native Americans because the Natives were trying to persecute the white people. No. No. No. No.

We are interlopers here. We do not get to claim that our existence here is just about our basic survival. We are stealing in order to survive.

Depending on how you look at it, all humans have been thieves since the beginning. We steal from plants and animals in order to survive. That’s complicated. It’s a hard ethical conundrum. Vegetarians believe that by not eating flesh that you are fine for how you are stealing. Vegans think it must be even more strict and milk and eggs are also over the line.

But no one ever objects to stealing from the artichokes or carrots or cauliflower. We’ve decided they can’t matter.

But that’s kind of funny.

Throughout history many groups of human beings have decided that other groups of human beings don’t matter in similar ways. Sometimes we make these evaluations based on race. Sometimes based on economic privilege. Sometimes based on work choices. If you look around the planet, folks feel free to shit on sex workers in almost every country that exists. Even though sex work is one of the most universal, oldest professions that exists. We still want to punish any individual who engages in it.

Why?

One of the aunts spent a lot of time telling me that she hated the Occupiers and she thinks folks who are homeless are just lazy and they need to get a job.

I told her, are you aware that it takes two or more full time jobs to afford rent, not including utilities or food or a car in most states for people who work minimum wage? You bought your property in 1981 with help. No, other people can’t do what you did. It is really awful for you to think that people who can’t do what you did are lazy. How dare you.

You bought a property for fairly cheap. You had help for 20 years of your mortgage. How dare you say that other people who can’t do what you did are lazy.

Are you aware that historically speaking black people have been shut out of owning property?

This is not about lazy.

Are you aware that the largest race riot in our American history was white people who were jealous that black people were doing too well? But we’ve had a lot of race riots. Mostly they erupt because white people are persecuting non-whites. It is bullshit.

I don’t deal well with people who are incapable of seeing the layers of privilege that built their lives. We are all made up of support and relationships with people. Unfortunately there are major demographics who have traditionally not received support. And they are currently struggling much more significantly than demographics that have traditionally received more support.

I want to equalize that. We can’t go back and fix everything bad that has ever happened. I don’t want to. That’s not the point of life. But we can make it so the people who are alive right now have more access to ways to better their lives.

We don’t have to punish people for being disadvantaged. We don’t have to punish people for being icki and poor and not what we want to look at. We can choose compassion. We can choose to help people just because they exist and they should exist.

I want you to exist. Even when I don’t like you. Even if I want to shout at you because your opinions are just flat terrible.  You do worthy things. Even if those things don’t benefit me in any way shape or form. Not everything is about me.

Not everyone has to benefit me in order to be worthy.

I’m getting better at defending the intensity of my opinions without having to scream at people and tell them how much I hate them for having the opinions they have. I’m glad for that. I am modeling better behavior for my children. I am teaching them to be fierce, but not mean.

I’m trying. I’m trying to model what I think should exist. Have strong opinions. They matter. They help. They are important. But try to express them in a way that will educate instead of alienate.

I really suck at that.

Last night was so awesome. Dad and I got stoned together and I unloaded on him. He’s not an emotional guy. He doesn’t really want to hear about feelings. Ha ha mother fucker. You adopt me and you get what you get. If you want to be my Dad you get to find out what I’m like. And that means listening to an hour or so of emotional unloading every other year or so. Suck it, buddy. Just cope. You can manage.

He did. He’s wonderful to me. I listened to what was going on with his life. He is struggling more than I am. That’s… kind of weird to me. He’s supposed to be the stable grown up. Only now I’m the stable grown up. How the fuck did that happen?

He’s had a hard time since his wife died. Things have been rocky. It makes sense. That has been seven years now. His business failed and that was really hard financially and emotionally. He likes his current job, but it doesn’t pay that much and he has a lot of bills. Complicated. He’s really depressed.

He expresses admiration for my obsessive saving. Which is awkward. I appreciate his positive feedback on my skills but it is uncomfortable too. I don’t think I should be doing better than other people. That is not my self-perception. If I do something well, emotionally, I want it to be because any one can do it and it isn’t very hard. That isn’t true any more though. I’m good at a lot of things that most people suck at. I am an incredibly skilled person.

That’s hard to accept sometimes. I don’t ever get to use the excuse that I just can’t any more. I can find a way. That’s daunting. Overwhelming. Too much pressure. I don’t want to be able to find a way. I want to have the excuse that I don’t have to.

But I’m exceptionally competent. If I don’t do something it is probably because I choose not to and not because I can’t. That’s…

Shit. I’m out of excuses. I like excuses.

Talking to Dad is intense on a variety of levels. As the years go by I am increasingly willing to share my opinion on what I see. “You are selfish in a short sighted way. If we could get your selfishness to see the long-view then I think your romantic life would improve.” He is strangely willing to listen to me now whereas ten years ago he snorted and said what the hell do I know.

Now he’s had two marriages go badly and mine is doing well and he’s willing to listen.

He spent a lot of time questioning whether I was on the road trip because my marriage is rocky. He had a really hard time believing that Noah would be ok with this kind of separation unless we were on the verge of divorce.

Nope, we are very happy together. Lots of sex. Lots of good conversation. We really enjoy one another’s company. But I’m a traveler and he’s not. He loves me anyway just like I love him for being a home body. We are ok with supporting one another through divergent experiences. We don’t have to do everything together. It’s ok if we are different.

It is part of why I am so very happy to be married to Noah. He doesn’t want a Mrs. Noah Gibbs who is there to facilitate his life. He wants to be partnered with Krissy Gibbs. Who is bad ass and does cool things.

He’s bummed when people think I’m cool because he married me. He thinks that is missing the point of me. I am not cool because he sticks his dick in me. I’m cool so he wants to stick his dick in me. People should get the order right.

I really like Noah. I am ridiculously happy to be married to someone who trusts me and who works as hard as he works. I like hard workers. I like people who pick goals and then put their head down and accomplish them come hell or high water. I really like Noah. He inspires me. He also taunts me and I want to punch him for it. But I don’t because we do not have that kind of relationship.

Noah causes me to think really hard about my ever expanding repertoire of skills. He isn’t ok with me minimizing my abilities. He says, “Nope. You don’t get to think you are incompetent any more. You probably never were but you don’t get to think it now.”

I cannot express what knowing him has meant to me. He believes in me. He believes in me the way other people believe in G-d. He thinks I can just do things. So I can.

Thank you.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen to the world if everyone had someone who believed in them as much as Noah believes in me. It would be a really incredible planet. I wish I could see that planet.

I want to be part of a world where people build one another up instead of tearing each other down. That was the hard part of dealing with the aunts. I didn’t want to tear them down in the process of educating them and that is hard. Tearing people down is so much easier than building them up.

How do you teach people to see that they are privileged because they grew up with a highly educated parent who had the ability to teach them a variety of skills that other people never know exists? How do you teach people to see that they are lucky and blessed because they got to have abusive help for a period of time?

Some people get no help at all. Not even packaged with abuse. No one wants to help them from the get-go.

Can we get over this idea that people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps? That’s a crock of shit. The people who survive and who do well are people who have neighbors who show up to help. Not people who do it alone.

I’ve tried doing it alone and I’ve tried finding a network of support. Finding the network is horrifyingly hard. It is emotionally draining and hurtful. There are hundreds of false starts. It feels hopeless most of the time. But then you notice that this time when you fell down someone was there to grab your elbow and keep you from landing on the concrete.

I believe in the MonkeySphere. I believe my connections to human beings are the reason I am alive. Mostly through Shanna and Calli and Noah, but my friends are important. My friends matter so much.

If I weren’t at Dad’s house I wouldn’t be able to see the extent of how much he loves me and would do if I needed it. He’s never going to be able to provide financial support–he might need it in the future. But he has been emotional support for almost 16 years. He has supported me through many different changes in my life. He adapts with me as I change radically and he really wishes he didn’t have to.

I see you. I appreciate you.

Looks like my kids are going to be his grandkid experience. His bio-kids are respectively one and two years younger than me. His son is only going to have children if there is a catastrophic accident and he’s considering pre meditative surgery. Just to be safe. Dad’s bio-daughter is 30 and doesn’t have a partner. Her mom would like her to have kids but she isn’t real interested in single parenting and things aren’t lining up.

It is weird seeing that I am creating a place for myself. I am in the middle of generations. I help interpret going up and going down. I really appreciate that I get to spend so much of my life teaching people how to get along. Kids and adults. That probably isn’t how other people see how I spend my time… but it is how I see what I’m doing. I give other adults a lot of feedback. I try to do it in ways that won’t cause them to turn around and yell at me to back off (I’m pretty deft) but I’m a bossy motherfucker. I’m going to volunteer my view whether you like it or not.

And there are people who keep me around even though I’m highly obnoxious. My life is great.

Last night I told Dad that I feel very safe unloading on him at this point because I know that he likes having me around. He laughed and asked why I am so sure. I said, “I’ve watched you for a lot of years. When you are done with people you get mean. Your jokes are more and more cutting. You point out their flaws more frequently and with more venom. It is hard to watch when you are doing it to people I like. It is part of why I don’t spend more time with you. I don’t want to wear out my welcome. You have never treated me that way and I want to continue this trend.”

He got quiet and thoughtful. After a while he nodded and said, “You are right. I do like you a lot. I’m not sick of you.” He didn’t say that much more about it. He’s not the sort.

I’m sitting in Dad’s back yard resting. I’m thinking about doing some weeding. He’s been really sad and just isn’t keeping up with the house and yard. I cleaned his pipes this morning. If you are going to pollute your lungs, at least don’t do it through an inch of tar, come on.

I’ll clean the kitchen after lunch and before I make dinner. Boy it needs it. I’ll probably clean the bathroom tomorrow because there is mildew starting. This house is more than twice the size of my house, I can see why he is having a hard time keeping up. He used to be able to pay help and now he can’t. I think he should down size but it’s complicated.

Everything is complicated.

Maybe the girls and I will come out here and weed his beds and run over to a nursery. We can put a handful of low-maintenance veggies in so he continues to feel loved after we leave. It is weird how plants do that. I don’t understand it, but I’m starting to see it and exploit the loop hole. Yay for exploitable techniques.

Holy moly we’ve been seeing great yards. Aunt Cookie and my friend W have gorgeous yards. These ladies are accomplished. It was a real treat to visit and see the results of their hard work. I feel so inspired. I need to touch some dirt. I need to put in more plants. The planet needs more plants.

Maybe I can ask him if one of his beds can be a wild flower seed mix for birds and butterflies. So when the flowers come up he can think of us.

We love you and we want you to be here.

I love pot. Today I’m not driving so I’m heavily medicated. Right in this moment I feel like if the biggest burdens in my life are dealing with some classist, racist, mostly decent people… I can work with that. I like educating people. I will learn how to talk about these topics. It is very important to me that people like them learn why they are wrong. I understand that they will be more likely to listen to someone they perceive as being like them. They see me as being like them.

They are wrong as fuck, but that’s ok.

It’s an exploitable loop hole. No, I’m not like you. But I know how to ape some of your class markers and I have learned to do so out of self-preservation. I have learned how to make people like you stop hitting me. I’m not like you.

I’m never going to stop being a fierce person. I believe it is necessary. But I want to learn how to temper it when I choose. I want it to be more under control. I want it to be a tool in my tool box and not the defining explanation of what I’m like. I believe that being capable of violence is necessary for self preservation. I’m going to get better at being lethal and learn how to stop the bullshit posturing.

I don’t need to win the dick contests. Even though mine is bigger.

I don’t like what I win. How is being the biggest dick a good thing?

Well, it’s a good thing when I can get men to back the fuck off of being bossy and/or controlling but quick. There has to be another way.

I struggle with the grey area of wanting to be more open and inviting and wanting to be all go the fuck away.

What is the path? Who knows. I’m just walking.

Whoa.

FYI: We will not be hosting Easter this year. Easter falls on the same weekend as the My Little Pony conference and our bathroom will be ripped apart for a remodel.

 

Mortgage is below $180,000 now. Whoa. And I am taking out a huge loan so I can be more in debt. Oh man that seems stupid. But I want to fix all this stuff. How am I going to pay off not only this $180,000 but an additional $100,000 in the next six years? Realistically… five years.

How am I going to do this? Technically, the HELOC is a lower interest rate than my mortgage. And the HELOC will have an early repayment penalty. It is kind of feeling like rolling a bunch into the mortgage is smartest. The HELOC has to take at least three years to pay off. And the more I send to the mortgage the faster I pay it off the less interest over time. I’m already to the point where each payment is way more than 50% principle.

I’m feeling ridiculously tempted to send $20k to the mortgage. I want to do it. I don’t want to do it. Oh man.

I have ~ $105k in cash and ~ $180k in current debt. That means that between where I want to be and where I am right now I need to come up with an extra $200k. Pretty much. In five years. On top of all the ridiculously expensive things I like to do, like travel.

To me, that sounds like this year I have to pay a minimum of $50k on combined mortgage/HELOC if I want to stay on track.

No pressure. It seems completely insane to me. I doubt my mom has ever made $50k in a year. I made that much money my first year working as a teacher, barely.

Hm. How is this going to work out?

And I will do this while maxing out 401Ks, IRAs, 529s, and doing some additional random mutual fund investing.

Ok, I just sent $10k to the mortgage. That means I’m flirting with $50k in our primary checking instead of $60k and I can live with that. That’s enough heading into the remodel and travel. At least $20k of that will go into the remodel and the traveling will be in the neighborhood of $10k. But the travel money will come out slowly and mostly just look like barely expensive months. By the end of this year I will probably be able to send an additional $10k to the mortgage. That means that by the end of the year my mortgage principle will be below $150k. With four years to go. I’m going to be paying $50k-$60k for the next few years. Ouch.

But then, before I’m 40 years old, we will all of a sudden have a place to live that is paid off. Our relative income requirements will drop through the floor. We will owe ~$6k/year for taxes and then whatever maintenance costs.

I’ve lived in the bay area my whole life and I’ve been poor for more than 2/3 of my life. Needing this much money is crazy to me. Some day my house maintenance plus taxes will be less than $1,000/month. That will include utilities because the solar on the roof is awesome. That’s an amount of money I can come up with to keep my family safe. Food will be a different challenge.

Right now mortgage plus taxes plus maintenance fees is more like $4k/month. I… I can’t be the sole wage earner and keep that ship afloat. I feel pathetic but I can’t.

I’m scared of the future. I believe this period of being rich will be brief. If I don’t secure my future I will be in a lot of trouble. I’d like to be relatively sure I will be able to live in the future on less than $30k/year. My garden is coming along! Not there yet, but I didn’t want to be there yet. I want my garden to be pretty much ready by the time I’m 50. I’ve got time.

Calli has been telling me frequently that I’m not allowed to die. When I raise an eyebrow at her and kind of smirk she says, “Well… you can die of old age when you are 90 or something. BUT NOT BEFORE THAT.”

That’s rather a big deal to someone like me.

I’m trying to prepare for a future even while I’m scared I won’t have one. Even while I’m scared I don’t deserve one. Even while I’m scared that some day I will be in too much pain to continue and I will kill myself early. I’m trying to live as if I will live until I am 90 so I must take steps. I’m trying to show my kids how to take care of yourself for your whole life.

Noah is home. I missed him. I feel very lucky that if I am going to be stuck on this stupid, hateful planet for 90 years–at least I get to do it while spending most of those years with Noah.

By the time I’m 90 I will have spent less than 2/9 of my life in horrible poverty. Whoa. Perspective shift.

If I live in this house when I’m 90 then I will have lived here for 65 years. Whoa. I’ve already lived here for 8 years and that feels wacky. In June, right before I run off on my road trip, I will have lived in this house for three times as long as I’ve ever lived anywhere else.

Wonderland is working for me.

Hindi study

Last year we somehow stumbled across an advertisement for Hindi lessons at the local temple. (It is on the end of our block.) All four of us went to the first round of classes and it was pretty fun. This year Shanna said she didn’t want to sit still every week and only Calli asked to enroll.

I find the study of Hindi to be stimulating in a way that few things have been. Having to memorize different letters and connect them to sounds that don’t exist in my language feels an order of magnitude different from studying languages with a similar alphabet (like Spanish). I’m not saying harder–I’m not sure if it is harder. But it feels different.

I studied Spanish in school–both high school and college. I am nothing near fluent. But the study of Hindi is teaching me that I have a significant vocabulary–my problem is verb conjugation. When the teacher asks us to create a sentence in Hindi to answer a question I always have a complete sentence in Spanish pop into my head and I have to consciously not say it. Wrong language. But having these little epiphanies over and over that I could probably actually go to South America and communicate fine after a month is pretty huge for me. I have lots of impostor syndrome. I think I am stupid and incapable of learning many things. Then I find out that I ALREADY KNOW THINGS!!!

It is hard to explain how exciting this feels. On one hand, people regularly tell me I am intimidating because I am smart/educated. On the other hand, I feel like I’m not talented nor smart nor educated because I know people who have gone way deeper into almost any topic than I have. I’m good at viewing things in the way that makes me look bad.

Hindi is causing me to feel pride in my ability to learn in a way that few things have. For one thing: I’m turning around and teaching Shanna once we get home. She is making progress as fast or faster than Calli and Calli is actually attending the class. It is like ASL only better. ASL was harder for me to feel pride in because Shanna picked it up at two or three times the rate I did and I always felt stupid and like I am too slow to be able to say what is happening in my mind. I just can’t make my hands go fast enough.

Hindi isn’t like this. I shouldn’t feel so much pride that I am picking up concepts faster than many of the 6-7-8 year old kids in the class.. but they are growing up in houses where this language is a daily occurrence. I do feel pride that I am managing to study on my own well enough that I am picking things up faster than people who are learning more about their native language. (They all speak English in most of their lives and Hindi almost exclusively at home based on what they say in class.)

I’m not competing with the kids. That’s not the point. But I have fairly clear proof that I am learning and I am not stupid. I’m progressing quickly. Having it be so crystal clear that I am learning is… it feels really good. I feel proud of myself.

Today we had kind of a weird class. Some of the teachers were ill so they combined levels 1, 2, 3, and 4. This meant that the class was too slow for half the people and way too fast for the other half. Ahhh group teaching. The teacher who teaching level 4 was disappointed in me that I couldn’t come up with a Hindi sentence describing what I will do on Halloween. Uhm, the only verb I know is “is”. I know colors. I can count. I’m on my way to knowing the alphabet. No… I don’t yet know how to say, “On October 31st we will dress up and go trick or treating.” Nope, don’t have that vocabulary yet. But I may work on it this week and write down the phonetic sentence and say it next week. Because she’d be thrilled I looked it up.

I find it strange that I feel so good about the positive affirmations from the teachers. Why do I care? They are strangers and it’s not like this is going on my permanent record. But I care.

Hindi requires a similar kind of discipline as training for the marathon. I have to show up consistently and do the study. Every single day. I have to train. I have to live my life as if attaining mastery of the language is a goal. Just like training for the marathon. I have to not skip runs because I feel whiny. I have to do it anyway or my body will not be ready on the crucial day. If I don’t study Hindi I won’t ever be able to go to India and study farming with people who have questionable English. I want it so bad I feel an ache in my bones.

I want to be able to talk to people in other countries about farming and incest. I’m kind of weird. I want to go meet people when I learn farming and build relationships and come back years later after they know me and trust me and then get their communities to talk to me about incest. I have a plan.

I feel grateful that some days I wake up and it doesn’t feel like I’m trapped in limbo. I’m on a journey. I’m not waiting for the future to happen to me. I’m living my future. I am doing what I always wanted to do. I am home schooling my children in security and love. I am learning languages so I can go learn from people who have entirely different life experiences than me. I am getting to enjoy the companionship and growth of my children such that I am truly getting to see a happy, healthy childhood up close. I am ridiculously blessed.

When I have conflicts with my kids and I feel very anxious about them it is important to keep in mind that I get along with them better than I’ve ever gotten along with anyone. That doesn’t mean it is always smooth sailing. I am pretty sure I will never have a relationship that is all smooth sailing. That doesn’t mean I should opt-out of relationships and it doesn’t mean I should try hard to keep people away from me.

Life is complicated. I’m grateful that this portion of my journey involves getting to engage in study that improves my sense of self esteem while also significantly furthering my life goals. Often those two aspects do not move in tandem. I am lucky.

Ok, now that I’ve done my Hindi for the day time to run. It’s a wonderfully easy Saturday. This is my shortest Saturday run until April. I should find joy in that. From here on out it gets harder.

Luckily, I can do it. I already have so I have no fear. The half marathon Thanksgiving weekend (my race is on Saturday) will be easy. My informalish goal is to manage a 11:50 or better pace. I was super close last time until mile 11 when my ankles seized. More stretching this training schedule. I’m also doing more weight lifting. Being stronger seems mandatory for more speed at this stage. And 26.2 miles just doesn’t sound that far any more. March will be here soon and I’ll run that far and be fine. It blows my mind.

I am more than I ever thought I could be.

The best things in life are free.

Noah and I were talking about my feeling that I don’t contribute enough. He disagrees, of course. He was fine with rattling off all the things I do to “contribute”. Yes my dear Mrs. Lincoln but how was the play?

If I can make our investments grow by even 5% a year I will eventually outpace Noah at earning money. Even though I feel he is so much “smarter” than me. I think he is more marketable. He has a much better memory. My memory comes and goes and surprises me. I can’t just memorize long blocks of text the way he does.

I know things he doesn’t, though. Things that do have value in the world even if they do not directly translate into me receiving a salary.

I should pay more attention to the investments because a)I have time b)I have motivation and c)having access to this kind of money is a gift, luxury, and privilege. With great privilege comes great responsibility.

The thing is, there is this balance I’m dealing with. The earlier I put money into investing the faster it will grow and the larger it will get. I could significantly out earn the benefit I get from over paying my mortgage. But having the house paid off is such a psychological thing for me that.. No. I’m not going to reduce my mortgage so I can “play” with investing faster. That’s not for me.

But I keep seeing the phrase “Even $100 a month can multiply to…”. I’m investing more than $100/month. Maxing out Noah’s 401k, maxing out an IRA in my name, $100/month to Shanna’s 529 and $350 to Calli’s account, and now $100 into a brokerage account that I’m picking. Gulp. We’ll see, right?

It is hard having this series of revelations, is that what being an adult means? You realize in layers oh shit–I’m also responsible for this other stuff that I never even knew existed.

I think that the plants help. Responsibility is seeming different now that I perceive it in terms of other living things will die if I don’t pay attention. It changes the perspective. My cat is also much more loving now that I take better care of her. Now that I am less neglectful.

I don’t think my self worth should come from what I do. But I believe that a lot of my life long safety will depend on my ability to create that safety for myself. I don’t have a fall back. I have the security that Noah and I build together.

It is no better or worse than anyone else has in the end. Families have problems. “Support” comes and goes. Your parents die. Medical problems come up.

What does taking care of yourself mean? What does providing for the future mean? Holy shit. How am I going to make sure I have a place to hang out when I’m old and not up for doing a lot of work? How will I eat?

Will I get old? Will I get cancer? Will I kill myself?

I’d really like to see what this house will look like when I’m sixty. It’s a deeply selfish wish. I have to not die even if I have no use to anyone else if I want to see it.

I noticed yesterday that I haven’t made progress on any of the suicide books since I was last experiencing ideation. It’s been a nice break.

I want to relate the change to being more fully medicated but that isn’t it. I have periods where I am suicidal even with medicating. The cycles are different. I think obsessing about money is a better distraction from feeling suicidal than most other tactics I’ve tried.

Tommy’s birthday didn’t trigger me this year. It was a decent day. I kind of talked to him all day long. I told him about my kids. I felt a little sad but ok.

Sissy’s birthday in January was harder but I still didn’t feel worthless.

This is such a deep puddle. Splash splash. Go eat breakfast.

Reflections

Today I took the girls to visit an old friend of mine. I haven’t seen her much since I had kids. She’s older than me and she has a grown daughter. Talking to her is different now than it used to be.

Now she actively tries to tell me not to use her as an example. I don’t know if she was simply unaware of how I tried to pattern match off of her in the past or if it seemed more harmless.

Now she adamantly tells me that I should not make similar choices to her. She is not all that happy with the far side of the parenting road and she thinks that she made a lot of wrong choices.

Given that she is a specialist who works with developmentally delayed children (wow I know a lot of them) I did my normal poke, “Several friends think I should have Calli evaluated as potentially somewhere on the spectrum or possibly a speech delay. What do you think?”

She snickered. She said, “I have a 3.5 year old client who can point and say “unh” when he wants something. She’s really not delayed.”

This was kind of weird because I realized how much I want to brush off the encouraging and/or positive comments I receive about my children. Instead I worry and worry about the outliers who tell me, “I think you should ____”.

I never know how to feel about that. I don’t spend a lot of time talking about it, but lots of strangers stop me to grab my shoulders and stare at me in a really intense way and say, “Do you know how exceptional your child is?”

It happens every few months. I uhhh don’t know how to react. This is usually after ten or so minutes talking to Shanna. Talking about that sounds like bragging but honestly it makes me uncomfortable.

It’s not like it only comes from the sweet old grandmothers. It comes from a wide variety of people in a wide variety of circumstances. They are a lot easier to brush off and not think about much. I worry about the criticisms.

I want to believe that people are seeing the real experience of my life when they see potential areas I’m fucking up and not when it’s going right. The going right must be a fluke, right? I don’t believe compliments or positive statements. Although I’m not looney–I know my oldest child is advanced in speaking. But yeah. Whatever. How’s that going to effect the price of tea in China?

When I first knew a lot of my friends as mothers they were still young-ish mothers. I knew them through the periods they talk of with regret. It’s weird to now hear that side of it because I didn’t know anything at the time. I thought they were so great. Now they tell me not so much.

I’m worried, like I am. What am I fucking up? What am I missing? What am I not catching that a competent professional would catch?

Then I went on to read a thread on a homeschool email list about the idea of seeing a speech pathologist/therapist/getting kids evaluated for autism/etc other labels. The point was made that many, most issues (like speech stuff) would naturally resolve around six but we put kids into therapy earlier than that “so they don’t get used to the stigma of being deficient”. (Not my phrasing–emphasis is mine.)

It was a long thread and I’m quoting a very small part and the person I’m quoting had many interesting ideas so I’m not trying to paint it badly. But it was one of those “howdy there, juxtaposition” moments. (I’m working my way through a book on how people reach insights. It’s fascinating how connections layer.)

Anyway. The point was I think it is kind of interesting that I’m dithering about getting Calli evaluated. I have not been able to make up my mind if I want to pursue it or not. If she has speech delay it is extremely minor and most kids resolve minor issues on their own by six. She doesn’t have a severe speech issue. That is clear. She seems to have some difficulty with some sounds, but we do exercises. I’m not sure speech therapy would have much to offer her. The pediatrician does the basic autism screening and has at every appointment. The pediatrician says Calli is fine. But I worry.

And I hesitate to put my sticky little feet near the waters of the system. Do I really want my local school system building a dossier on my kids so that they can pester me about what I’m doing and whether I’m doing it right?

I go back and forth about how I feel about working with charter schools and it comes down to, ultimately, the fact that if I got the wrong “supervising teacher” to work with I would explode with rage.

That’s not so healthy or functional, I know.

I don’t do well with people who have a small amount of arbitrary power and then are petty. It’s a super common trait though and not a situation I really want to deal with.

But I worry about the idea that I am flying blind with no one to supervise me. The trouble is finding someone I respect who would be in an appropriate position to work with me. Mostly I just ask different people who have different specialties for informal evaluations.

Yeah. I feel mixed about the “methodology” I’m following. It’s uhm. Well. It’s unschooling. I don’t have a rubric of right or wrong. I’m just… doing.

What I’m trying to do is teach me and Shanna and Calli how to be polite to people. We have very good manners together. We can go to a grown-up only house and behave exactly how we should because there are Rules and we gosh darn spend the whole car ride there going over them. There are different rules for different places

I consciously and deliberately always specify why a rule exists.

You know that obnoxious “why” phase parents bitch about? We don’t have much of that here. I explain why before they can ever stop to consider how to react to an arbitrary rule. We don’t have many arbitrary rules.

Even “no food on the carpet” is “except on party days or very rarely with something that has NO CRUMBS”.

I need my children to be able to pick up on subtle behavior clues. I need it like I need water. It is not normal or natural to be as obsessed with it as I am. That means that it is not acceptable for me to expect my children to just be able to do it.

It means I have to explicitly teach my children how to evaluate how to talk to people. It means I have to go through and explain detailed body language stuff. We work on it a lot.

It’s controlling and wacky and crazy. But I tell them a lot, “I’m teaching you what I have learned. I don’t know everything. Sometimes I’m just flat wrong. As you grow up you will have different experiences than I’ve had and you will decide that I’m very wrong about some things. That happens to the best of us. For now, try to get some idea of what I’m looking at. It will take time and practice and you are going to make some mistakes and feel embarrassed. Brush it off and try again. You have to fail a million times before you can be an expert at anything.”

I want my kids to have the self confidence that comes from being allowed to try 30 things that fail before you find something that works.

And that means I frustrate the shit out of them.

I sorta think of myself as aspiring to be a cross of Mary Poppins, Mr. Miyagi, and Professor McGonagall. But more cuddly than that list implies.

I’m very demanding and exacting and I expect that is going to suck to live with long-term. We’ll see.

I don’t like curriculum but we talk about history a lot. I believe that studying history is important because many of the mistakes that we might make were already made by other people–go see how it worked out for them and then decide if you want that kind of result. We talk about historical people and periods and events and we read biographies.

When Shanna makes a grammar error and I correct her she does actually say, “Why was that wrong?” so I guess I get some “Why” questions. Mostly she says “What does ____ mean?”

I set the framework in their heads. We talk about space and biology and evolution and chemistry and physics and botany.

We haven’t been seriously working on language stuff but our play sometimes includes bouncing between using all the words in our collective vocabulary in every language we know to name objects in a space. It’s fun. They teach me words. (I verify things on the internet…) That will only get bigger as they get older. It’s a great way of getting them to sit still and be patient. I start by pointing at something and I will say it’s name/color/some descriptive term and someone will respond with a variation or move to a new object.

Unschooling means we spend our lives learning. The kids have spontaneous jam sessions where they sit down and make up song lyrics for a half hour to an hour. I uhhh look askance from a distance as someone who has always felt excluded from the cliqueish world of playing music. Shanna really likes making music and making up lyrics to go with what she is playing. It is a lot of fun to watch. It’s not “serious learning” but I would argue that it’s also important. She’s only five. Yes, some disciplines believe you can force children to learn even younger than she is. There is also some reason to believe it is better to start at more like seven or eight when the kid will really understand the range of options.

For now I’m comfortable with dithering. Or maybe I just think eight because that is when public schools start music. Who knows.

Shanna’s learning enough right now. She really does have a lot she’s trying to do.

We play math games. I don’t start them. I would probably avoid math much more if I could. Ugh. Shanna is very focused on math to my jaundiced view. She probably sits down to spontaneously do math work every week or two. She’s not a prodigy or anything but she’s interested and she feels like she is successful at it and she knows that understanding math is important for many careers. She doesn’t have any opening for bias that might imply she might be potentially bad at math.

We spend our days moving back and forth between subjects all day long. Cooking is chemistry and math. We talk about how much food costs. We talk about why we make the choices we make with the money we spend on food. There are a lot of shoot-off topics from there. Sometimes I do sit down and draw out how something would visually look if I think it would be hard for them to imagine.

But it’s all organic. (I don’t mean the hippy dippy shit.) I mean it just kind of happens. I respond to their questions all day long. I alternate filling their heads with so much information they sometimes look like they might explode with telling them, “I don’t know how to do it. You figure it out.”

We are loud people. We want to be heard. That is the last trait I want to extinguish in my kids. Same with not punishing them for whining. *I* whine. I’m not going to forking punish my kids for doing what I model. That would make me a despicable hypocrite.

do not punish my kids for doing things I have taught them to do. Iron clad rule.

Does everyone live with rules? This many rules. So many rules. I feel like I am drowning in all the rules, rules, rules. Be this here. Be that there. Be something else someplace else. 

I like the Biblical phrase “a house divided”.

Fall. Fall. Fall.

Only I’m not divided. I promised me I’d never do that. I would never split off my memories so that only certain parts of me existed at a time. Apparently that is one of the main ways folks like me get out of childhood. That’s what the specialists tell me.

I’m not splitting. But I’m learning how to be polite in a wide variety of different cultures and it’s hard. I think I only get to like 70% correct anywhere I try.

I always say too much. I’m too forward. I’m too loud. I’m too inappropriate (although this one has faded now that I only over-share sexually with some of Noah’s random co-workers at Christmas parties. Surely that’s uhm not as bad as I’ve ever been before. That’s been it for the last several years running.

This is big.

And yet I shouldn’t talk about it because it is indiscreet. But controlling hypersexuality doesn’t go away when you are married and monogamous and having moderately good sex with your husband. (I post about bad spells and he goes, “Ahh. An opportunity. So if I put in more effort I get more sex? H’okay then!”) We’re too tired for the earth shattering kind of sex. Some day we’ll get back there. *cross fingers*

I feel like that is the main overwhelming fact of parenthood. Exhaustion. I actually sleep pretty well these days. What, I only miss 2-7 hours in the average week lately? I’ve been sleeping pretty well. I wake up when I want to and not because I have to. That’s doing ok. But I’m still exhausted.

Yes, it’s a running day and I’m tired after eight miles. But it’s not that. I think the running makes me feel better about being this tired because I am whether I run or not. At least when I run I get to have this macho swagger for a while as I feel my rock hard thighs. Holy crap. I didn’t know my legs did that. (They stopped being rock hard when I defrosted and relaxed after the run… but they had like an hour there.. Maybe I need more mid-run stretching breaks… hm.)

I think that the schedule I should keep is either run or edit seven days a week. I only predictably have till 6:30am to work. The whole rest of the day is too overwhelming with kid-need-to-communicate. I love them so much but sometimes I feel like a wrung out sponge.

When I look kind of deflated Noah says, “Well we didn’t pick the low intensity kind of parenting.”

Nope. Not so much.

If I get through this twenty year period and I end up with adult children who want to be my friends and who can go off into the world and have happy lives…

I don’t want a codependent relationship forever. I don’t want two dependents. I want to engage in loud, wild, crazy sex in the middle of my living room. You can move out some day, kiddos. I have plans.

But I hope and pray every day that they will want to be my friend. I want to hear about their lives. I want to know what happens to them. Sure, I hope that they will tell me sometimes that I am a good mom. Mostly I hope that I will look at what they do with their life and think quietly to myself “That was a good choice.” I should keep my mouth shut. It is not my job to judge who they become as adults. Not one way or another.

I don’t judge them much now. I evaluate them. But I describe everything in terms of progress and development. There is no “good” or “bad”. I’m just making sure you are doing what a three year old should be able to do.

I worry that if I decide to have her evaluated she will have a very small delay and I will be told that I “really should pay for therapy so she won’t be more delayed later” (when that is only a faint possibility).

Yeah, I over think things.

If she has a 10% or 20% delay then she is still in the range of normal. She’s just not right at the center line or above it. I don’t believe there is a chance that she is more delayed than that. And her expressive language is advanced. I think she just has to grow into her mouth.

I want to give her time. I think that is all I have to give her. I don’t want to think of her as “behind”. She’s Calli. She’s not the most advanced in every single part of human development but she is certainly not struggling to be understood.

If she starts having problems having conversations with strangers because they can’t understand her then I will take her in for an evaluation. That seems like a good bar. As long as strangers can understand her and have a pick up conversation she is doing well enough for three.

Ok. I think I can stop worrying about that now. (I can dream, can’t I? Actually I can’t because I’ve started having pot at night again. Thank you blissful slumber. Yes, my tolerance is lower.)

I feel like I am so tired I will go fall in my bowl of soup. Maybe time to start getting ready for dinner. I’m so glad it is a leftovers night.

I planned out dinners for February and March. I’m pretty good about sticking to my schedule if I make it. I’m hoping to uhm bring down my food budget a little. It’s hard given some of my food priority stuff. I do my best to buy my meat from actual farmers. I make a big exception for sausage. I’m going to hell for the sausage. I have some very strong feelings about the unsustainability of factory farmed meat. But man I know how expensive it is to be all prissy about “food ethics”. Maybe this year I should be better about tracking food spending. I wonder what I’m putting where. I could look at vendors. on Mint… Hmmm. Now I’m procrastinating. Put down the darn keyboard, Krissy.