Posts Tagged ‘personal growth’

#triggerwarning #mentalhealth

Monday, June 19th, 2017

#triggerwarning #mentalhealth

I’ve been struggling badly with my mental health since last fall. It’s been pretty awful in general, and then the small shred of resource and sanity I felt I had — my van/house/freedom — did what vanhousefreedom things do when they have 204,000 miles on them, and started breaking things.

Expensive things. While I was 3000, 1400, and 800 miles from ‘home’, which is a place I don’t really identify much with anymore, that I can’t afford to stay in, but is the most familiar to me.

I’m broke, in quite a bit of credit card debt, which is rising as I’m trying to take care of my body, which is also really pissed, and enjoyed a ratio of playing shows that leaned toward the ‘really sad empty dive bar’ sorts of ways far, far too often for my tender worrysome heart.

I’ve got pals and a warm place to sleep, which is helping me not completely lose my shit. I’m also spending most of my time manically making slapdash art, or sobbing and paralyzed and thinking about how easy it would be to clip an aertery and be done with this shit.

Every day, though, I do something meaningful to get better. I’m seeing a chiropractor to take care of my spine. I got that horrible inflammatory IUD pulled out, and acknowledged my gratitude for the ten years of effective birth control that little angry shit provided me. I’m on antibiotics for an infection I’ve likely had for about 8 months. And for now, I am living somewhere I can actually stand up in.

For a while, I was taking classes to get my massage license back before recognizing the returns were not sustainable (and, let’s face it, I’d be much better off making sandwiches 8 hours a day than going back into the job of touching people). But I enjoyed the classes and I learned things. That’s what you take classes for, right?

I’m also working edges like usual, one of which being to get better at letting go of money when I spend it, rather than being attached to the notion that everything I spend money on be some sort of investment.

I’m having a particularly hard time working up the nerve to get back into therapy, though, and to get on meds, which I’ve recognized it’s time for me to do. Like, actually do, and go through with, this time. I have an appointment with my primary care person in July to talk about it, but frankly, I’m really worried I’m not going to make it that far.

I’ve attempted multiple times before when it’s gotten this bad, and self harm is becoming a regular thing to deal with the sobbing fits, like the one I am stuck in right now while attempting to get ready for the one damn thing I committed to doing today.

I spend so much effort holding in a wall of sadness behind my face, and when the dam breaks, relief doesn’t come with it. Just more pressure and exhaustion. I think about doing the morning walk-in freeforall at the clinic, or going to the ER, usually multiple times a day. But I don’t.

I’ve been trying to figure out why, after so many years of being capable of getting help after how hard I worked to get there, I’m so stuck now.

I feel like my spirit is broken and no one can help me.

I’m consumed with fear that hopping on a medication rollar coaster will make it worse, and I don’t think I can handle anything more.

It seems I’d rather smack at myself qnd bruise my own face to feel relief than walk outside and pull weeds out of the ground (and risk fucking up my back again, I say to myself. Oh, my back went out while putting my pants on a half hour before a band rehearsal about a month ago. Did I forget to tell you that? Probably).

It’s hard to remember a time I’ve felt so alone.

But even moreso, I am finding that I am deeply mistrusting of the health field now. The last two therapists I had (out of four) had pretty shit boundaries.

Both relationships were helpful in ways, but ultimately the situations were very messy and consisted of a lot of loss, especially the last one, which was long term and complicated and multifaceted and ended traumatically.

There are quite a few things I used to be interested in/enjoy that I no longer enjoy after realizing I had to get out of that relationship. And getting out at all kicked up so many self criticisms I have about my limitations in maintaining close connections, and so often being the one suffocated and scrambling to get away.

When that relationship broke, so did my last frayed ties to the ‘healing community’, my trust in it, and my trust in my abilities as someone who was once a teacher in that realm. It broke my confidence in my worthiness to continue to be any type of healing guide or mentor, too. For the best, maybe, but disorienting all the same.

Of course, as I have created distance, I have recognized where being in unethical ‘healer’ relationships enabled me to be unethical and damaging to others myself in my care practice.
For the bulk of my time in the scene, I was surrounded by and looking up to healers and mentors providing therapy to people they were fucking, providing therapy to people they then started fucking, providing therapy to friends who didn’t ask for therapy, incepting their own notions and beliefs into vulnerable people looking for their help, having unintegral boundries and phasing in and out of roles without communicating or garnering consent.. the list just went on and on. And I belonged there. That’s the kind of shit I did, too. I think about some of the things I chose to do now and cringe so god damn hard.

It was a shitshow and I’m glad to be out, but, I’ve not found an alternative for the positives being in those communities allowed me to receive. The modalities, when respected in safe containers, were very powerful and helpful to me.

My trust in writing, which in the past has brought me a lot of connection and relief in the absence of stable relationships, has also faded. I no longer feel empowered by posting vulnerable shit like this and writing about my mental health struggles here. Or anywhere really.

I no longer feel fueled or that I am ‘helping’ anyone by sharing my stories, after a lifetime relying on that to make finite connections while constantly growing and transforming and leaving people behind who were important in my life but wanted me to stay the same when I needed to move on.

I simultaneously feel like such a loud obnoxious burden, and that I’ve forgotten how to take up space.

I feel like a complete sticky fucked up projectile mess, and also like I’m so constricted I can barely breathe.

But maybe broaching the subject now that I’m onto this will shift something. I’ve got shit to do, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let today be another fucking day I beat myself in the head to stop crying long enough to get it done.

P.S. if you are like I’ve been in the past and have become again and are hurting yourself to deal with your overwhelming emotions, this might help you feel like a little less of a freak about it. It helped me to remember how normal this all is, for all of 5 minutes, anyway.

Revisiting The Rape Song

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

I’m tired of pretending what you did wasn’t rape
I’m tired of making creepy shit be ok
With me
So I’m writing this song
Calling you out
I’m calling you out
I’ve been hoping too long
You’d get some help
Some psychological help
Cause fucking me while I was so drunk I couldn’t stand up
Negotiate no condom on a boundary I’d held steadfast for a year
That’s rape
Push your way inside of me I’m so dry disinterested
I’m curled in a fetal pose I’m glassy eyed and silent
That’s rape
Yeah, that’s rape
OH! Finger me while I’m asleep but never even asking
If it was ok with me
Well honey, there’s a word for that.
It’s rape.
Fuckin’ rape.
See it took me far too long to figure this out
Been so full of doubts
How we’re playing, it’s fucked up
And I’m calling you out
Calling you out.
So just in case you’re not pickin up what I’m puttin down I’m done with all you Rapey McRaperson rapers who rape
Nah. It’s not a date.
Yech.
No thanks
I wont pussyfoot around it I’m angry and fed up with softening my language around this shit fuck it it’s rape
The veil is raised
What I’m saying is I’m done helping you out
By keeping my mouth
Shut (Full)
Don’t believe me? look it up for yourself
Look it up for yourself
(Wow they actually wrote that down somewhere?) YEAH!
RCW
9a
.44
.050
Never. Again.

I wrote that song over three years ago, but I never, really, called him out. The glassy-eyed and fingering verses are references to periodic experiences I’ve had with many sexual partners in my life – starting with this one. The song, though motivated by certain incident, is not solely about him.

I said his common first name a few times #onhere, where I know virtually no one follows anymore. This blog, that isn’t indexed by search engines anymore, that I link to a handful of times a year, usually from my Patreon of 50 supporters, most of whom I’m pretty sure don’t actually read my posts. That was me ‘calling’ him out.

I am tired of protecting his identity and beating around the bush when I talk about the shit he pulled on me and how that effcted my life. I am tired of being what I claim to abhor; someone who protects predators in the sex positive community.

I am tired of carrying it in my guts, with me, I am tired of concerning myself with backlash by calling him out; because he is nice and charming, because he is a lawyer, because he didn’t come to my office that night maliciously intending to rape me, because I sucked it up and performed a house show for y’all with him days later, because I refused to focus my energy on reporting or prosecuting him rather than focusing on healing my own damn self.

I also didn’t trust the community to listen to me after Clayton Hibbert, who I experienced as being a selfish, vindictive, predatory, abusive, manipulating, intentionally deceitful, cheating, gaslighting, malicious, horrible excuse for a human being; Way worse than the guy I wrote this song about, frankly, and a lot more dangerous, too. But communities don’t really care all that much about that, and cared even less in 2007 when that shit happened.

But I am tired of refraining because what David did wasn’t as bad, as prolonged, as devastating as what other people have done. I am tired of avoiding validating any other women who experience similar with him because of the pain I still feel from people who were supposed to, I thought, stick the fuck up for me and didn’t.

I am tired of believing the apologist bullshit other people fucking said to me in order for them to avoid facing and dealing with what the fuck he did.

I am tired of being cagey out of fear that shitty things I’ve done in previous relationships will surface in retort; Which is fucking ridiculous, because one of the most challenging steps I took in my recovery included writing a god damn screed about it that’s been read tens of thousands of times. https://medium.com/@courtnee/i-dont-like-being-raped-4fcd0320dd5d#.fwpmkndt0

I am tired of holding this, insulting my own soul, and being a fucking coward. It’s high time I walked my talk of no longer viewing to rape victims as mothers and daughters and honestly calling out the men who have raped us as fathers and sons. And friends.

As of 2014, David Cohen was a serial boundary pusher toward me who eventually crossed over to date rapist. We had many conversations about his unsettling behavior over the years we dated, in which the pattern was his enthusiastic appreciation for the feedback, because he didn’t want to ‘be that guy’, gobbling up advice on alternative actions to take to replace the hurtful ones, and then going back to the same fucking thing again.

In addition to that seemingly well-meaning density, he confided in coercing an unsure women into having sex with him at an out of state blues dance convention (and questioned after the fact if she might have been a virgin because the sex sucked) and it literally made my skin crawl. There were other stories he shared that caused me discomfort, but that’s the one I really, truly remember, because it was toward the end of my relationship.

After he raped me without a condom while I was in hysterical emotional crisis, shitfaced stumbling drunk and suddenly saying I didn’t care about protection, he proceeded to make each of the few conversations we had about the incident thereafter a coredump about how awful he felt. This included the conversation in which he violated me again by contacting me after I’d told him not to, in order to tell me, for the third time, how badly he wanted to stay friends (we dont even have to keep having sex!) and how important it was, to him, to be a trusted fixture of my recovery… from him.

Oh, and I found out only after he’d raped me, that he’d stopped using protection with another partner months before. Cherry on top!

When I caught up with one of his friends months later, whom he had lived with for a notable amount of time, their reaction to the news when they asked me about him was a nod and a comment about having observed his ‘selfishness’ in that area (in-fucking-furiating). I, thusly, know at least some of y’all close to him have seen it.

Perhaps a year later, David was claiming to just not understand what he did to upset me, or why I won’t have anything the fuck to do with him now, to a mutual friend he was attempting to have sex with. She mentioned to me then that he still seemed upset and confused about me cutting him off.

How the fuck that man could possibly tell anyone he did not know? I left my primary partner over their tone policing of my angry, pointed, bitingly truthful, scathing fucking explanation of what an underhanded fucking asshole I thought he had been, how fucking infuriated I was at him contacting me. I emailed him a final email explaining why he would never hear from me again. I removed him from the show I was producing and avoided and ignored him when he showed up to that festival anyway like a selfish fucking weasel. He had been apologizing profusely and centering the living shit out of how bad he felt about what he’d done, but then he was playing the dumb butthurt victim while trying to get into my friends pants?

That is a simply fucking inexcusable and a flat out predatory Sanford frat boy rapist-level fucking lie. Surprise! Guess who went to Stanford?

This was my experience with someone who has been historically active in Seattle’s sex positive and social dance communities, and who in my both personal and professional option did not show promise of improving these harmful and unacceptable behaviors while we were still in contact.

David is intelligent, well liked, generous, well known, teaches dance. Regardless of those qualities we all appreciate about him, these are the memories that linger for me from that relationship. It was impressively traumatizing, subversive, and difficult to pin down or call out, even while I intuited that he was doing this shit with other people by the stories he would tell me.

If you have a feeling about him being dangerous for you now, it might be because David Cohen is a rapist. I encourage you, to heed it.

#bloated

Friday, June 10th, 2016

I notice my body changing.

It happened in my 20’s also, in a specific shift, when I went from being sedentary to active.

This time, it’s the other way around. Things are softer and they are settling. I have begun to show my age. I notice it, especially, during the times in my cycle when I’m bloated and retaining water.

I’m so fucking thankful that I reached this stage in my life having done the work I needed to do not to be crushed by this hyperawareness. Long ago, I thought not being young and pretty would have been just about one of the most soul crushing things imaginable.

I rarely use mirrors anymore, and I am also the most well adjusted I’ve ever been.

The number of lives I’ve lead, even just so far, staggers me sometimes.

There is Nowhere

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

Just south of Green River, Wyoming

One thing that nearly a year on the road has shown me: There is nowhere.

There is nowhere to go. There is nowhere to outrun patriarchy. There is nowhere to outrun capitalism. Nowhere to feel safe. Nowhere to feel comfortable. It’s gone, along with my blissful ignorance. Anywhere I go will be touched by it, if not in any other way than by my being present there.

Another thing that nearly a year on the road has shown me: It is damn near fucking impossible for a person to understand something when their survival depends on them not understanding it.

This is why reform of capitalism won’t work. This is why people don’t see how bad their relationships are until they leave. This is why you can’t dismantle a system which pays your salary. This is why making a difference “from the inside” is ultimately a bunch of tyrannical horseshit. This is why there can be good in people, but there are no “good” cops or judges or politicians.

Y’all tell yourselves what you need to in order to deal with it, tell yourselves you’re somehow starting a revolution by playing the same fucking game you’ve always played. You and I always will be fooling ourselves to some degree, as long as we’re inside the machine.

As long as I’m using money, as long as I smile and thank that server who is obviously treating me differently because I’m fuckable in their eyes, as long as I’m alive and interacting with this society, so too will I be telling myself that somehow my participation is warranted and benevolent and different than everyone else’s. That for some reason my reluctance, my anger, my squeezing myself dry to avoid as much as I can changes the impact of my acts of compliance.

I shopped at Walmart today because they have the cheapest price on motor oil, which my van burns like a chain smoking gangster.

I put gas in my house twice today, and twice yesterday, blazing across Wyoming to beat a looming snow storm.

I paid my taxes. On time. But only because I fear being hunted.

These are the choices I have made, the things I hold onto in order to survive turncoating on the tech industry, on rape culture, on romance supremacy, to resist couples privilege, being kept.

There is nowhere.

The only way actually out of this mess is to stop going along with things that insult your fucking soul.

All The Things.

And that’s a life’s thankless, lonely fucking work, right there. Chipping away.

A whole life’s work, at least, planting seeds for more life’s works in the future. Slamming your head into the ceiling.

Existing is so fucking expensive

and so, fucking, exhausting.

Milestone acheived: A new mantra

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

For the last 6 months or so, my self mantra has been “I love myself”.

I say it to me randomly, I say it to me when I realize it’s been a while since I said it, I say it to me when I’m sick or feeling badly, I say it out loud in the mirror sometimes.

It works well for dealing with depression, too — I still feel tired and need rest and recovery, but being depressed is not an experience in being hopelessly sad as it once was, and I credit my self talk with that.

I also credit that new self talk with my recent experiences of basically never tearing myself down when I’ve made a mistake, the most notable incident being when I wiped my own blog database.

I’ve noticed lately a new mantra emerging. Not to replace this one (I’m keeping it) but to add to it. And it’s a doozy, for me, one that has taken a lot of growth to come to, and has been almost as hard to learn to say — for different reasons, including embarrassment, social conditioning and a deep sense of identity.

It is: “I am not poor.”

Because I’m not. And I never actually have been, actually, poor.

I’ve had to make hard decisions about what my money was going to pay for, and I’ve had to go without things, some of which many people view as integral to a basic life.

But I’ve never been so poor that I couldn’t maintain a bank account, and got caught up in the circular scam of high fee check cashing joints and payday loans.

I’ve never been so poor that I didn’t have ID.

I’ve never been so poor that I starved.

I’ve never been so poor that I didn’t have some form of transportation, be it public or a bicycle or a car or a motorcycle.

I’ve never been so poor that I couldn’t get at least a small line of credit, and I’ve never been so strapped that I had to get marred in using that line of credit for basic life needs for more than a small amount of time.

Part of why I’ve never been in those situations is because I’ve had help in those time periods where without support I would have needed to resort to those things, many of which are choices that are incredibly difficult to come back from. Much of that support until last year stemmed from my romantic relationships.

But when I am honest with myself, those situations were a matter of choice, no matter how limited in my options I may have felt at the time. Just like moving into the van and leaving Seattle was a choice, as much as it felt like the entire world was rejecting me and spitting me out of the city.

I was in the position to lean into the support of others to sustain my life not as a need, but as a privilege. A means to live my life the way I am compelled to live it and to contribute to larger society in the ways I discover I am best suited, which often fall outside of the normality of a financial structure that’s become a matter of course for most everyone else I know.

And that has not been easy, by any stretch, to accomplish, or to receive, or to ask for, or to maneuver. I do not live a comfortable life by many, many standards.

But what it really comes down to is that I’ve been lying to myself for a long time, about my situation, about my opportunities, and about my lot in life. Because all that time, from when I was 5 years old and understood but couldn’t hold my dad’s fears of being evicted, his constant struggle with earning and leveraging money, I’ve identified as being poor, as being class oppressed.

I’ve seen and read and experienced some of what poverty really, honestly, looks like. In real life, rather than just on paper as an arbitrary number.

I am not poor.

And I never was poor.

And that’s really just the truth of it.

Achievement: Unlocked

Monday, October 12th, 2015

“Twenty years ago, if you had told me I would be doing what I’m doing now I would have said you’re crazy. There is no way I would have believed you.

We each walk a path that is our own. It isn’t always pretty. It can be painful. Messy. Destructive. And we experience things that shape us for better or for worse. I fought my path tooth and nail for a good chunk of my life. I tried to fill it with things that hurt me. Because I was hurting. I made choices that hurt people. I made choices that hurt myself.

Like many out there, I’ve survived terrible things. Seen things I shouldn’t have. Witnessed atrocious behavior and didn’t speak up.

Somewhere along the way I decided that I wanted to be happy and live a life I could be proud of. I wanted more than being a martyr or victim or to suffer in silence. It was lonely and very difficult. Many times I wanted to give up. I don’t know how I made it sometimes.

Experiencing hardship and challenges is what makes many of us more compassionate and accepting. It did me. And it showed me what I didn’t want in my life.

In my culture we call this kind of idea “ciillanguarteq”. To become aware or conscious of the world around us. We have many awakenings like that in our lifetime. It’s up to us to choose how we process and use those awakenings. It’s up to us to continue to evolve or to fight them.

One of the things I promised myself when I was younger and experiencing hardship was that I would become adept at being able to do as much as I could. Enhance the definition of our Yup’ik word: “cavesratuli”-Somebody who knows how to work on everything. I promised myself I would become an expert in as many things and types of work as I could so I would never be without a job or a way to support myself. That desire came from having nothing.

Another thing I promised myself was I would constantly work at being a better person. Learn. Grow. Change. Because I knew that who I wanted to be wasn’t who I was. That’s the difficult part. It means you have to be able to look at yourself critically and see what needs work. You have to admit your weaknesses. To yourself. And sometimes to others. It means you make the things that don’t work in your life obsolete.

What’s really hard about that, is that sometimes…it means you’ll be alone. If you’ve ever changed while others around you stayed the same, you know it’s a lonely thing to do.

I’m glad I chose the things I did. Even the mistakes.” — Estelle Thomson

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

“It never ceases to amaze me how authors in this field write the wisdoms they most need to read. I write about groundedness, because I have an ungrounded tendency. Many write about being in the now, because they have a tendency to dissociate. Others write about the containment of the ego, because their egos have run amok. Still others write about embodiment, because they can’t get out of their heads. We are not great knowers. We are merely travel agents for the particular trip we need to go on” — Jeff Brown

As you start to walk on the way, the way appears. – Rumi

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

“Beware of people whose spiritual credentials come from “study.” Look to (don’t follow) the ones who are figuring it out through their experiences, not the experiences of others. These people are born leaders, who probably reject the role of leadership. These people know suffering. They know courage. They have seen battle and survived.

Look to the ones who say “I don’t know.” Look to the ones with the scars on their faces. Look to the limping, not the shiny and new. Don’t look to the gurus who got to the top of the mountain by helicopter. Look to the ones who are climbing, dirty and exhausted. They are the ones who know the value of the journey. They are the ones carving a stairway from which they cannot benefit.” — Alison Nappi

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

At one point in my life, about 10 years ago now, I noticed a little distinction about myself that I commonly re-forget and remember a lot in my fumbling upwards — there was very little difference between being an actual hater, and the person who just strategically and cleverly used the language of haters that I considered myself to be.

The distinction hit me while riding as a passenger in my friends car. As we passed through Skagit county, I noticed the sign, and started saying it out loud.

“SKAGIT. HA. sounds like a bad word. ‘FUCKING SKAGIT’.” and repeated it a few more times.

This friend of mine had just ‘decided’ he was gay a year or three earlier, while we were, effectively, dating one another. I’d managed to bag him ONCE before this announcement, and for quite a while after that I was pretty well scorn, and feeling rejected.

Part of that rejection, I now understand, was my friends retreat into safe spaces where he could explore his identity and subculture with his boyfriend, whom I had introduced him to. I was, it seemed to me, rarely invited, and it pissed me off. That wasn’t so much true as that I did not belong and I did not fit in where my friend was going.

I saw my friend rejecting things I identified with, took his expressions of that personally, and that pissed me off too. I tried generating power in the situation by using ‘their’ insults, knowing that my history with my friend would mean I could get away with it even though they weren’t mine to use. I tried making jokes that I ‘turned’ him gay, centering myself in his journey and only half joking because I didn’t know shit about what the process of confirming ones gender identification is actually like, at the time.

It was one of the most memorable moments in my life that I’ve experienced that gutbomb — you probably know it — that feeling when something comes out of your mouth that unexpectedly turns your stomach inside out. It was when I realized “Skagit” sounded like a bad word to me because it sounded like “Faggot”. And that I was repeating it mockingly in the car with a gay person I supposedly loved.

I didn’t -really- understand how I was responsible for how that was fucked up, I externalized the rationale that swiftly came after the rush, that I probably looked like a real asshole to him even tho I of course was not actually an asshole.

I of course thought, long before I stopped using homophobic insults, that I was not homophobic.

I just recognized, you know, the proper way of things, the way the world just ‘was’. I just recognized that being gay wasn’t as good as being other things cuz ‘society’ — but not to ME, mind you. “Other” people. “Other” people who have power and are in charge of shit so it’s probably best to just confirm with and mimic them sometimes in order to maneuver.

So even after I recognized that I wanted to examine the preconceived notions I may have held under the surface about what would eventually evolve into the concept of gender non-conformance, I hid behind ‘language’ that ‘everybody’ uses, that I had and continued to use.

For a while, my excuses for not doing the work were numerous and made sense.

One in particular was tough to shake, and it settled in well with my view of what I was in the world to do — cause people to feel deeply. In communicating with other people, it stands to reason that you’d use language that will effect and resonate with them to make a point. Right? I mean, if you wanna insult someone, really make em FEEL it, wouldn’t you wanna use their bigotry or whatever against them?

So, yeah, dudebro: You’re a fuckin’ pussy, fucking fag. I’m a 20something white feminist with a close friend who newly came out and I’m insulting you with feminine devaluing homophobic language but that’s not on ME really. That’s on *gestures* everyone else who makes the language so EFFECTIVE.

I could feel my hold and importance in his life slip away, over the years, despite my firm belief in my lack of homophobeness, and my slow but sure improvement in my quality of personhood. I am sure there are lots of reasons for that, both that had to do with me and most that didn’t.

But it stuck with me, that car ride.

It took me a long time to begin to articulate what that gutbomb in Skagit country signified in me — it was probably 12 years ago now and this is the first I’ve written about it and I’m still not sure it’s complete.

But when I think now about the people I see who insist they’re not racist, or homophobic, or misogynist, but use the language of those oppressive, hateful populations to express themselves and interact with others, I think about that moment as a snapshot of who I was back then.

Whether I was saying what I was saying because I honestly hated my friend or not, whether I was cracking racist jokes back then because I honestly wanted to harm anyone with them or not, whether I was remaining ignorant to the lived experience of my friend out of malice or not, what I was doing was a cop out that perpetuated and strengthened the collective hate that I claimed to be against.

And by doing it that way, I was letting myself off a hook that I now recognize as being pretty much the absolute least I could have done to show up, and be a friend.

I love it here in Mexico

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

I’m finding I am curious about something, though.

When I drove through the tiny ghost towns of New Mexico, the derelict structures both horrified and haunted me.

Here, the similar negligence in the buildings has a vibrant life that is hard to explain. Most of these houses would appear abandoned in the states, but none of them are. And I am drawn to them.

I’m cautious to take at face value that I simply identify more with the culture and life style and enjoy seeing and experiencing it in person.

It’s odd to be thinking about digging around for unconscious racism when I’m actively enjoying and appreciating this place out of a sense of gratitude and respect, but even though I feel no contempt or even irritation toward this place (except for the mosquitos, and that doesn’t count.) I’m urked.

When I drove through those deserted American towns that looked like these places, I was bereft. I was horrified that the industries that once fueled the town were toppled and buried. But here, I’m not doing that, even though in many ways I am looking at the same thing.

Is there something to the difference in seeing derelict American towns vs. Mexican? Something other than the difference between a dead town and one that is living and breathing despite having so very little?

Is it that I simply see this place as poorer, that I’ve been raised to expect this place to be impoverished and dirty and violent (I have experienced/seen absolutely zero violence since entering Mexico) and so see the quality of life here unemotionally?

Or is it the flip side, maybe — that my antiracism work over the last two years has rid me of the supremacist mindset that these poor dirty broken brown people would need my help, somehow, or my pity? That they would ever need to rise to the level of capitalist ‘comfort’ I was accustomed to in order to be valid people? Is my lack of a sense of disturbance indication of my growth, rather than a callous indifference?

Maybe I’m looking at how two cultures manage poverty — one deserts in the constant rat race search of riches elsewhere within an inflated view of what constitutes a good life, while the other makes a simple relaxed one with their families? Maybe I’m not sad because they’re not sad?

So, I’m curious if I have more antiracism work to do because of what I’ve uncovered of myself in my reactions here. And I am really thankful to Previous Me for blowing the lid off of my corrosive, unconscious (and sometimes not) biases that were rooted in the white supremacy I formed among, and caused me to question myself in this way.

Nearing the Bosque

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

As is per usual for my cycles of things, I’ve spent the last two weeks or so in a weird funk, anticipating the next stage of my life, which has me leaving the van behind with friends in Texas and traveling to Mexico.

“So I’ve noticed a lot of procrastinative anxiety and difficulty articulating the source, even though I can sorta tell what it is.

And I get the sense that if I can get it out somehow, even imperfectly, that maybe I’ll feel some movement happening with the energy that’s been sitting in my fucking large intestines and backing me up doubled over in gas pain periodically for three days now. (I HATE WHEN MY BUTTHOLE BLEEDS ARGH takes FOREVER to heal stupid giant hardass shit..)

*ahrm*

I know that I write about stuff and talk about stuff and seem to be pretty clear and focused about looking at my own uglyass faults and dipshittary, but it’s hard. It hurts. Not like it used to when I was mostly uncovering the horrible crap I’d pulled in service to my unconscious avoiding bullshit, but it hurts. Worldviews are sacred and delicate, and even though I do challenge mine periodically, getting there fucking sucks. For every goosebumpy triumphant blog post imbibed in clarity and direction you may have read, there were weeks or months or more of petulant, painful fucking suffering to come to terms with what I wrote in it.

So, here’s the thing; for the last year or so I’ve been really focused on unpacking my role in a structurally oppressive hierarchy that favors, on a systemic basis, people who look like me and/or choose to maneuver socially the way I do. I can fill out spreadsheets and have a nice phone voice and charm people at social gatherings, I can easily look fitting for success, I am fluent in basic technology, I have a lot going for me — if I want to play the game, I can play it.

I’ve recognized I really don’t want to play it. I really just want to tell the whole system to fucking fuck itself, I want to dig a hole in a mountainside and never set foot in a city again, I want to be off the grid, I want to create a tribe with a new social order, I want to unplug, and I want to leave this entire festering pile of colonized bullshit behind.

In fact, in these fantasies, I don’t much mind if the way I do that equates to tearing the whole fucking thing down entirely. And in many ways I do think I am an abolitionist, but we’re talking like, bombs and shit, which in reality, I’m really not into. I’m more into tearing the system down by refusing to participate in it and starving it, and on many levels, my peeling away my belongings, getting out of residing in typical housing, and giving myself the freedom to move around has been a part of that life trajectory.

But there’s a thing, a nasty little thing, that keeps bugging me about this phase in my life right now. An aspect of my ‘privilege’ I haven’t really dug into, yet. The part where I grew up in tech, have tech at my disposal, and rely on tech as my avenue to receive my income — and simultaneously fucking hate it and everything I’ve come to see it standing for.

I can’t find the words to properly illustrate how uncomfortable I am — how uncomfortable I’ve been, under the surface. As I am looming over my trip to the Bosque — a move that was rooted in my desire to shed, to leave tech behind, but quickly became about my bringing tech and my technical skills to help the social reach of the forest expand and grow — it’s boiling over, hissing out from under a shuddering lid.

I’m unable to ignore the symbiosis, the reliance, how intrinsically the net and computers are a part of me and have been a part of me, how fucking privileged that makes me, and how deeply fucking conflicted I am about it. How fucking disgusted with myself I am that I use Apple products of slave labor whether they are handed down to me or not, that in attempting to extract myself from the machine my entire livelihood, even more so, revolves around using, leveraging, and myself slaving over technology that represents, to me, so much of what is profoundly, disturbingly, hopelessly fucking wrong; What is, quite literally, fucking destroying *everything*.

And I’m just really not fucking ok with it, right now.” — Facebook, Aug 25th

Just like the process I went through when I was choosing to leave Seattle and all the shit I was deciding that meant, I’ve been going through that again lately when processing my temporary move to The Bosque.

And, just like the process I went through when I came to a point where I broke through all the worry and displacement and inner voice naysaying that accompanied my new mobile life, I’m coming to the point now that I am starting to trust that I’ve actually got this thing maybe.

“I don’t think anyone will understand what I am trying to create until It has been created, and even then it will evolve.” – Brian Fey, regarding new ways of communicating, documenting and publishing The Bosque.

My response? “Proof of Concept; it’s a thing for a reason.”

I realize that is what I am doing, here. My proof of concept that I can survive, thrive, make a difference, live, and find some form of solace by doing things this way. I have to remind myself that this is brand new. I left Seattle 3 months ago. Each new step is a challenge in so many fashions, confronting my views of myself, my limits, what it is I need, why it is I chose this for myself.

I googled images of Patzcuaro, the small Michoacán town nearest The Bosque, for the first time today.

It is beautiful.

Fluid

Monday, April 13th, 2015

Identity. It’s ideally supposed to be fluid, but not too fluid. Stable, but not stagnant. A means of psychic survival, context, and reference. A way to form and rationalize our routines and habits.

A way to garner an illusion of a security and control in ones experience, and view of, life.

Part of my approach to that illusion of security has depended on figuring out, identifying, who the fuck, I, consistently, am. Or so it has been that I have told myself.

Thing is, I would think that someone who has spent the kind of effort and energy and focus scrutinizing themselves, changing shit, and showing the world exactly what they’re fucking made of, would have a bit better concept of who they are and what they’re about in their core than I seem to.

Instead, I have spent as long as I can remember struggling with shaping my identity, and in many ways resisting against the natural fluidity of my personality in the face of attempting to establish one.

One example of how I have struggled with identity is having seen my tendency for picking up the mannerisms, gestures, and accents of the people I admire as immature and shameful. As childish indication that I don’t know who I am, can’t be trusted to hold to my convictions, and don’t know how to be my own person already.

Another example is seeing my propensity for diving, passionate and headlong, into activities, communities, relationships, and cultures, as proof that I am not strong enough to maintain a selfhood of my own free from the frivolous influence of others.

Yet another example has been seeing the impermanence of these dives as being a fault I can work away somehow, a problem with my personality that needs to be solved.

And, worse, I have seen these sorts of things as confirmation that I just leech my messy hodgepodge selfhood off other people.

Which is sort of a fucked up way of looking at things since that’s how people.. you know. Grow. Which is sorta my thing, I think, maybe.

And yet on the flip side, I periodically ignore what I *have* come to know about myself.

For instance, I do things like experimenting with attempting to form myself into a person of routine and habit when I have never in my entire fucking life accomplished having the same fucking morning twice. As if that isn’t really me, I just, what.. haven’t found the right habits, yet? Am not disciplined enough, yet?

Sure. The person who kicked heroin, meth, cigarettes, and has transformed their existence on multiple levels multiple lives over with no end to the rebirth in sight just hasn’t picked up the *right fucking habits* to be a person who functions on a basis of reliable morning routine?

The fuck outta here.

I have yet to come to a balance between what I know myself to be, and what I expect to be able to convert of myself, with enough effort to ‘grow’ as a person. My self-dar in this way is broken.

Currently, I am in the midst of a deep personal transition, probably the most core and uncomfortable, uncertain one I’ve ever experienced.

In picking apart what I’m going through, limping along as this half-mutated caterpillar sprouting butterfly limbs thing with no fucking shelter to speak of as the life I built over the last 17 years crumbles away, I’ve started coming to a bit of clarity about this. A bit of clarity as to my hopelessness in attachments and love, and in my hot/cold fear complex that virtually guarantees the continuous re-enactment of abandonment in my life.

I’ve come to think I’ve been stuck, and resisted a lot of my self-knowing in this way, because I believe somewhere deep that it’s the reliable, steady ones who are, ultimately, deserving of love and longterm devotion.

Which sort of explains why I’ve always kinda hated people like that, the lazy stagnant self-avoiding fuckers.

I think it’s true, though — in my subfloor belief system, it’s the stable ones, who don’t move around much, don’t shift much, have a consistent manner, can be trusted to do the same things the same ways, who are the deserving ones.

Because somehow (kidding — I know exactly how.) I picked up the notion that it’s those people, the ones who stay forever, the ones who can be counted upon to be there, stationary, prepared to reflect that dedication back; Those people deserve love.

People who are me do not.

So I went along my merry way, thinking, I expect, that if I can just figure out what I am, consistently, and represent that accurately to others, I’ll finally be worthy and capable of lasting love, and finally be drawing people who appreciate and can joyfully roll with those things about me, to me. Right?

Except what happens when what you keep finding out about yourself is that you’re not conventionally consistent at fucking ALL?

What happens when you equate a fixed, resilient identity with personhood and worth, while simultaneously being of a personality that is a constant rolling boil of introspective challenge, experimentation, movement, transformation, and change?

I won’t bother describing it. Imagine it for yourself. If your stomach drops into your asshole and you feel like you have to cry, chances are you’re my people. Sup. *fistbump*

Ultimately, what I am finding is that identity is a piss poor reflection of personhood.

Regardless of what I identify myself as, whether it be a drug abuser, an artist, or a ‘healer’, or snarky, or someone without a racist bone in their body, at any moment that identification, if I’m paying any fucking attention at all to the world around me, can be utterly shattered.

And it’s been my experience that if I am at all actually living my life, my identity is shattered in that way often.

I guess even my identification with identity wasn’t safe from my bulldozer personality.

Good.

Experiment: The June of Noncomplaint

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

The challenge: Stop complaining
The duration: A whole month

Compendious Result: Moderate success! I complain less, have an idea of the difference between social/productive complaints and the sticky grumpymaking kind, and am generally content to not only think less caustic-denouncingly, but express less of it too.

Yep. My goal, was to not complain for a month.

Keep laughing. It’s ok.

There are too many reasons why this was a good idea to list out. The most applicable one here, is that I think fighting fair, which is something I’ve discovered I am still rather abysmal at, starts with the little things, and the things I say to myself, which are mostly, frankly, still pretty awful.

The beginning

I’d like to say that I hit the ground running with my first month-long personal experiment as part of Year of the Nee and did really well with it. Boy, did that really not happen. At first.

The first few days of this challenge were awful; at every turn, I saw myself failing. I’d say, if I were to guess, about 75% of my unmanaged thoughts in the first week of June were complaints of some sort.

Mostly things like the stupid fuckers behind my apartment fighting, or something on my computer not working. My food not being warm enough. Stupid shit. Useless shit.

And roughly 20% of those, I wanted to post online. It was nearly a physical struggle to stop myself. Because my complaints are WITTY and BITING and FUNNY and SNARKY and BUUUURRRNN.

The first step was not to do that, to let the complaints come and go without honoring them by immortalizing and spreading them. But that wasn’t tempering the frequency that they were occurring as much as I wanted.

I realized I needed some help to succeed in this. So I adopted an oldie but goodie, and started documenting three good things that happened every day.

The conclusion

Documenting Three Things and Why helped me focus (and also observe that on particularly bad days I had to stop myself for backhand complaining even then..), and I think was integral to my success, in that it anchored me and helped me get through the hard part.

My goal is to continue to stick with this awareness, reverting to daily “3 things” documentation when required, to maintain a better relationship with complaining, and avoiding using it as a past time too automatically.

An ode to acrimony

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

https://soundcloud.com/soundofnee/blackasnightsoloeffectsbeta

 

Year of the Nee: 1 down, 11 to go.

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

It’s been just over a month since I began my year of celibacy and no intoxicants, coupled with the lesser goals of avoiding sugar and not cutting my hair, for the purpose of supporting and providing a foundation to integrate the metaphysical growth spurt I am going through.

The celibacy and lack of substances has been so natural I’ve barely noticed a change, other than to smile a little when I think about how much money I save by not having a drink when I eat out, which has only happened a couple times since I’m saving for a trailer and didn’t make ‘not obliviously starving myself’ a priority this time around.

Another observation I’ve had is the overwhelmingly positive response of people when I have occasion to share about this – usually when I’m being offered weed or a beer. They offer, or ask if I drink/smoke, and I say yes, that I do, but I’m a month into my year off. They invariably respond with pleasant surprise, immediate acceptance, and sometimes praise and pensiveness and questions.

Which is funny, since I had imagined being cajoled or mocked most of the time.

People aren’t doing that. They are interested and impressed and respectful. That in and of itself has felt very healing and grounding. And it’s been nice for my faith in humanity; It appears perhaps I am not the only one who has grown up some.

I will just mention briefly that I’m very glad not to be putting this aspect of things to the test regarding sex, and simply removing the option from my life has been ideal for me.

The hair cutting thing didn’t go as well, which is fine, because a) I cut my hair myself b) I left part of it the length it was and c) it looks completely awesome.

This will come as a shock to.. probably nobody. But it’s been unsettling for me, after 34 years of manufacturing identity reliant on the opposite. I am starting to get that I am, fundamentally, a really fucking genuinely nice person.

Like, painfully caring.

Perhaps it’s not so much that I’m only just now getting that; It’s likely more that I am starting to finally accept it.

Like, really accept it.

In my guts and in my cells and in my felt senses, rather than just carrying my squish around in the back of my head to fuel my general distaste for dumbfucks and mean people.

I am starting to experience with acute awareness and observation how the things I’ve come to automatically do to protect myself, like blame, and pick arguments, and being verbally abusive, have corroded my integrity and my ethics; I’ve moved beyond simply philosophizing and mentalizing about them to stewing in it — not wallowing, but stewing. Feeling it. Feeling what it really means and does to me to be that way.

Here’s the tip of what I’ve learned:

I value compassion and kindness more now than I used to. I’ve been seeing it in the people around me. In how I’ve suddenly become intolerant to witnessing anger and aggression, even justified anger and aggression, yet have been caught in the reality that I default to being that way myself if I’m not really careful.

I’ve been really fucking tormented by it. Really screaming about it and pushy and compassion baiting and disgusted with people, but struggling to accept my anger and own capacity for cruelty.

“When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people.” ― Abraham Joshua Heschel

I can admit that deep down I want everyone to be ok and for everyone to be harmonious; I can admit that my desire to blow up every fuckass government and financial facility full of fuckass government and financial people in the country is a wish rooted in the desire to do better for the world I live in.

However my sense of self hasn’t caught up to that. I am still in a deep state of transition and identity dysphoria (Ok well to be fair when am I not really THANKS MENTAL ILLNESS THANKS A LOT).

The problem is that while my admiration is shifting, and has been shifting for a very long time, and I’ve made strides in that direction, I still too often value my own intelligence and biting wit more than my kindness.

I’ve as yet been unwilling, and truthfully, unable, to give up and let go of my biting intellectual bratty truth teller call-you-on-your-shit tough love ‘fuck most everyone except you of course’ identity.

Plus, as with all significant personal transformations, most of the people in my life also identify me in that way, and largely unconsciously encourage me to stay there.

Moving further toward the balance point I am seeking there (the snark is staying, mmmkay.) has helped me see how this inner turmoil presented itself in my life; I’ve equated that need for harmony, with wanting people to like me.

Unpacking that has been a real bitch.

I’ve discovered that at the heart of this, I, the person in the room who most often says what others are thinking, who calls out the shit and the elephants, who asks the hard questions and gives the hard answers, absolutely hates confrontation (“Which is funny, since I had imagined being cajoled or mocked most of the time.”).

Yes. I do. I hate it. My face gets hot. My voice cracks and wavers. I shake and feel like I might cry. I feel as though I’m on a chopping block or in front of a firing squad. My guts knot up and I feel prone to attack and rejection and death. My legs shake. I want the ground to open my up and swallow me. It feels fucking horrible.

And I do it anyway. It’s part of who I am and it’s part of what I value about myself. At my best I stand up for myself and for other people and am the person who first says “This is wrong.”

Yet even asking a person to stop rudely yelling on their cellphone in the open lobby of my office building gives me a flowering anxiety deep in my guts, as though I were attempting to tweeze a chunk of corn from between a rabid demon lion’s teeth. With my face. With loaded guns pointed at my head.

Though I call it to me dozens of times in a day, and berate myself when I don’t engage in it (I kicked myself for weeks for not confronting a teenager who hit her dog in front of me; which I didn’t do because I would have been fucking batshit at her about it), I hate confrontation so much that I constantly prepare for it when it isn’t there.

Like the diarrhea inducing anxiety waves I ignored for years when I’d be putting on my face and armor to go out clubbing, a classic example of invented confrontation that I’ve since overcome by accepting myself as an introvert, I’ve known this for some time, but avoided really feeling it.

Ok. This moment, like the last few thousand moments today, might be a confrontation. So let’s armor up. Big breath, suck it down, be commanding, be rigid, be no bullshit, walk fierce and scowl a little, tell them to stop, stand up for yourself, what the fuck is that shaking in your voice, what kind of weakling are you anyway, why are you so afraid of some dumb stranger, you’re in the right, they’re annoying everyone else too you just have the balls to say something, you’re always the one who has the balls to say something, you’re the strong one why don’t you fucking feel like it, see it’s over now but you’re still freaked out, but nothing happened, but you’re still freaked out like 10 minutes after, you won! You’re a FUCKING LEADER! What the hell is wrong with you?

I know what’s wrong with me; Though I’ve cultivated esteem and self caring over the years, and yes, I am a natural leader, I’ve yet to master in myself the art of fighting fair.

And for me, as someone who has a lot of fucking fight in them, that is an absolutely vital foundation to have. And I DO NOT HAVE IT.

I’ve the skills, and knowledge, the drive, and I’ve done a lot of work here; but what I’ve been missing is consistent practice. Only in my direct work with clients, and in very important, long thought personal confrontations, or in rare-ish charmed instances when access to that toolkit was quick and easy, have I consistently actually incorporated my knowledge of compassionate asskicking.

So, confrontation — of any kind or scope — most often feels like an untamed wild card that could explode at any moment. Because I often handle it like an untamed wild card that could explode at any moment, and I desperately want for the person I am confronting to manage that for me; By liking me. And oftentimes I approach that by being, basically, as unlikable as possible.

“It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine.” – Byron Katie

Now that I’m settled into YotN a bit, the experiments can begin. Each month I am going to try to root something new and specific by going to an extreme of some sort. For June, my goal is to not complain for a month.

Yep. My goal, is to not complain for a month. Keep laughing. It’s ok.

There are too many reasons why this is a good idea to list out. The most applicable one here, is that I think fighting fair starts with the little things, and the things I say to myself, which are mostly, frankly, still pretty awful.

And, I don’t really know how to limit my complaining to doing so effectively. I mean, I do, I just.. don’t.

I’m doomed to repeat this pattern as long as the fight in my head stays the way it is; biting, judgmental, self righteous, intolerant, offensive, aggressive, dehumanizing, self-pitying, belittling, alienating and superior. So it’s time for a bath.

Approaching fighting with compassion and fairness is a life long practice. I will never be perfect at it and I don’t expect myself to be. I choose to live an intense life; I will devolve sometimes, understandably, and that’s ok.

But I have seen this as a hurdle to jump over all my life. In this quiet, in my healing cocoon nest space I’m evoking, I see it as a hurdle I can topple over, and start stomping on, instead.

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Quite possibly the most difficult aspect of personal growth: Making the hard decision over and over of giving up behavior you’re really fucking masterful at, for weird stuff you don’t know how to do already.

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.” – Brenè Brown

“Wow. Your [unsent attack responses to a troll email] are really ballsy. I couldn’t do it. I’d just be really hurt and cry.”

“You would get your feelings hurt and cry?”

Laura reluctantly responded, “Yes. Why?”

“Well…”, I hesitated “I’m thinking that crying and getting my feelings hurt would be the brave option for me”

Laura sounded surprised. “What do you mean?”

I explained as best I could. “Mean and nasty is my default setting. It doesn’t take courage for me to be shaming back. I can use my shame superpowers for evil in a split second. Letting myself feel hurt — that’s a totally different story. I think your default is my courage.”

We talked about it for a while and decided that Laura’s courage is acknowledging hurt without running from it, and my courage is acknowledging hurt without hurting back.

FUCK YOU, BRENÈ BROWN. *scowl*

Monday, April 28th, 2014

“Don’t argue with someone who chooses to remain foolish. Some people want to remain fools, only because the truth requires change.” Tony A. Gaskins Jr

Video: Zita Begins

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Performed June 9, 2010 for “There must be something in the Air”, a benefit for Versatile Arts, the aerial gym I call home.

The music is from the Batman Begins soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. Video footage courtesy of Block My Eye Films, which I edited over one insomniatic night.

This act is an illustration of the struggle to shed the defenses that bind us, finding strength in being vulnerable, and how sex contributes to the art of self discovery. This character is established earlier in the show as someone who is timid and quiet – until she finds herself seemingly alone with her obsession.

I have performed as Zita the Aerialist since 2005. During that time my focus has been to tell compelling stories through aerial performance, often as a mechanism to cope with the challenges in my life.

This act and its meaning continues to grow with me, over time.