Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

On minimization as patriarchal reflex

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

To follow up on that post about at least starting to learn about something that is painfully obvious to women: patriarchy inflicts the stress of constant bodily vigilance at best and acute terror at worse:

All the comments were amazing. So many stood out, like those that reported on strategies for increasing safety in taxis. Jesus.

One genre of comments sent me down a rabbit hole. The commenter would start with congratulations that I could be sensitive to this kind of thing, because the commenter commonly interacts with men who simply think they’re irrational, neurotic, angry or bitter.

But I could feel instantly that such a compliment was undeserved, because I know in my bones what minimizing the other feels like.

I’m an expert at minimizing, and I’ve used it with female partners in ways, often subtle, for most of my adult life, and I’ve only recently begun to listen to the call-outs on it, mainly from my partner, and also others.

My minimizing reflex is mobilized in an instant. The speed is a clue. My partner gives me feedback. Whatever the content is I instantly reframe it so I can feel like it’s either personal attack on me, or — and this is harder to see – as a problem that I am now responsible for, on behalf of someone who I instantly tell myself is overreacting. Both reframes are designed to render the incoming data dismissible. That data could be about real blindspots I have and real harm I’m causing, but I’m skilled at lumping it in with things I claim are insignificant, or flipping it into a character judgment on my partner.

It all happens automatically. Changing it can feel like changing the way I breathe. This is part of the reason why, I believe, men can be so insulted by descriptions of this stuff. We’re being asked to deconstruct something that feels essential to the way we are in the world. What would be left if those defenses were taken away?
How does that moment feel? Like I’ve been invaded and have to push out or strike back. My neck gets stiff with narcissism: I can’t let the other person have a legitimate problem without making it about me. I have to react instantly. I can’t pause, take it in, nod, reflect, try to differentiate the other’s feelings from my own. I can’t let it be, without fixing it, which really means casting it aside.
What do I do? Below the threshold of open conflict, I never do anything that I couldn’t justify according to some arbitrary spectrum of “normal emotional responses”. Maybe a little exasperated sigh, a tiny smirk that no-one but a partner would pick up on (so it’s even worse), an eye-roll. Maybe I change the subject too quickly. I might squint my eyes and shake my head. If I get going a little, my voice becomes irritated or more emphatic. This all happens within the realm of being able to pretend to be innocent. At least according to me. The net effect of all of these gestures, not to mention the verbal deflections I’m working up to, is to say that the problem my partner is bringing to me is hers alone. Past the conflict threshold, these things become more obvious.

What I’m getting at here is that the explicit minimizations I can verbalize are grounded in countless somatic reflexes that have been trained into me. I believe that before gaslighting becomes an institutional strategy, it is a nervous response. A lot of the vibrant discussion out there focuses on changing behaviors, and that’s as it should be. I’m trying to look into what drives the behavior.

I can hardly think of any men that I have these hair-trigger responses around (but more on that below); it’s a problem that comes up much more often in my relationships with partners. And if I track it to my immediately wider circle here and now, it’s of a piece with what the men at the community centre gym do when they talk about women.

The locker-room comments amongst my middle-aged cohort aren’t as sexually objectifying as they are gender-objectifying. When a woman partner is mentioned, there’s a general groan. There’s an expectation that a story of nagging or craziness is about to unfold. I get on edge when I feel this happen, because it’s hard to point to anything distinct to call out or in. If I’m feeling up for at least pretending to do ally work that day, the most I can say is “Well maybe she feels like x, because of y,” referring to some aspect of patriarchy that wouldn’t otherwise get discussed. This is always awkward, because I’m interrupting not only a discharge, but veering out of a well-worn groove.

I might feel superior about it in the sauna, but I’m no better. I know that groove from all-boys Catholic school, where it was hard-wired into me. It’s more like a drone, really, an underlying hum of misogyny, and it begins with belittling. Girls can be cute, but they’re not serious human beings. They waste their time with needlessly complex thoughts over petty concerns. They’re weak, neurotic, and will try to control you through seduction and emotional manipulation, which is all they have talent for. In other words, going to an all-boys Catholic school is like growing up in a politer, more disciplined or militarized version of a 4chan board. All these MRM losers these days are total lightweights in comparison. We made misogyny look good. Hell, we could even make it look liberal.

So the legacy confers an underlying, subconscious reflex to equate a woman’s (insert “gay man’s” or ‘transperson’s”) voice or ideas with irrationality, anxiousness, or lack of understanding the real issues of life. This is the baseline emotional reality of heteronormative men that the #metoo movement is charging at on the open field.

It’s a vicious feedback loop. Dehumanization escalates to outright rape, and minimization – the most socially-acceptable dehumanization tool – neutralizes the call-out of injustice. At the microlevel, when my partner suggests I take a cab at 3:30am, my ingrained response is to feel she’s infringing on my space. There are elements of personal and familial psychology at play for me here – some of them reasonable. But misogyny has hardwired me to belittle her concern, so that I can own more space.
In an instant, my response provides cover for rape culture: With a simple eye-roll, it says: “It really can’t be that bad. You’re exaggerating. I don’t believe you.”
I don’t have to assault women to participate in the normalization of assault. My learned, default responses are participation enough. Without that participation, could assault really be so prevalent?

(Likewise, I don’t have to commit overtly racist acts to participate in the structures of racism. Have you heard about those studies that show white doctors consistently underestimate the levels of pain that POC are in, and therefore undermedicate them? Same type of minimization.)

Where does it all come from? I don’t know, but I chant this famous bell hooks quote like a mantra (not saying I know much at all about her work):

“The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves. If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count on patriarchal men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.”
Why do I feel hooks is about 1000% right here? Because there’s only one other person in the world I know I have the reflex to belittle, who is not or has not been a female partner.

It’s my son, who turns five tomorrow.

When he gets the big emotions, something in my body wants him to stop, wants him to get over it, ignore it, shake it off, stop crying. It’s an ancient response. It goes back to Abraham and Isaac. I learned it from movie heroes, priests, music teachers, sports coaches, yoga teachers.

Then, it’s amazing how quickly needing my boy to stuff it down slides into offering strategies for sublimating it. Barely consciously, I think: “You could learn to use those feelings to express power, instead of vulnerability.”

Some days it’s like climbing a mountain to stop this reflex, to even begin to hold whatever he’s feeling, without trying to minimize or dismiss it. Or tell him he should use it for something else.

If I wasn’t climbing that mountain, I could easily wreck my relationship with him by the time he was ten. In place of listening, and counterbalancing his mother’s gifts, I might give him the armour and belligerence that I learned to carry and wield as defences against my own feelings, until I got lucky in this relationship, that therapy, this work.

I have to climb a mountain, forty years high, to look a little boy in the eye and tell him it’s okay to feel his pain and sorrow. To tell him it’s a good thing, actually. That it will help him learn to listen, and listening will help him let other people have their feelings as well.” — Matthew Remski

“I don’t have to assault [people] to participate in the normalization of assault. My learned, default responses are participation enough. Without that participation, could assault really be so prevalent?”

I was reminded of a recent conversation I had with a woman while reading this, wherein the person immediately responded to a third-party abuse allegation by minimizing the accuser. It was textbook minimization, to the core, complete with gaslighting by claiming that it wasn’t that, a classic “I don’t wanna sound like I’m victim blaming….” . I observed myself immediately fall in line — I observed myself not calling it out, not saying anything about how uncomfortable I was with their response, and even agreeing and coming up with my own versions of character minimization to chime in with. I became part of the problem I didn’t have the spoons to name.

I did it to get through to the other side of the conversation, to preserve the existing relationship, and to preserve my own energy. I did this because oftentimes, even when I recognize it happening to me in the moment, gaslighting WORKS to reduce the likelihood that blatant victim blaming will be called out, in part by making what already requires bravery require even more explanation, confrontation, and emotional labor to name — there is a reason why it is such an incredibly common (and often automatic) defense mechanism. I did it because I felt awkward, out of place, and had opened a pandoras box I wasn’t prepared for. I did it for lots of reasons.

But the main one I am chewing on the most still, days out, is that I did this ultimately because I am practiced in doing this. Doing this is my default. I am practiced at minimizing abuse, my own and that of others. I am practiced at reducing emotional responses, wishing them away, and prioritizing dissipating immediate uncomfortable feelings over long-term harm reduction; and when challenged on this particular day, I chose the flow that was the path of least resistance. I chose the flow that I know to work to get the result I wanted: out of that conversation, and on with our day.

My soul deeply dislikes this, and I am working it out. Part of that process is acknowledging the idea that I can simply flip a switch and be perfectly on, all the time, and the fallacy that simple awareness of a learned behavior while remaining in the same environment is enough to change that response permanently, come into play regularly when examining and correcting this shit. I am so tired of holding myself and the people around me to this ridiculous standard, of being so afraid of fucking up I burn up half my fuel before I’ve even taxi’d the runway. I fucked up. I lived. I will continue to do and be better.

I don’t think we talk enough about the fact that unlearning oppressive behaviors and internalized oppression, particularly while remaining steeped in the culture that imparted them, is a life long commitment that never really ends.

I don’t think we talk enough about what accountability looks like in those terms, what to do when we stumble and fail in our work and say or do something shitty. I don’t think we talk enough about the distinction between integration and divorce. There will be times for all of us when we witness things that we don’t respond correctly to in the moment, and can only internalize after we’ve made that mistake.

Thankfully, this happened with a friend that I can return to about our conversation and clean at least some of it up, let her know what we said wasn’t cool and work to repair the harm that I perpetuated in how I chose to manuever our conversation — and I think that this is a good lesson to take away, a lesson I learned in another conversation a while back about race, gentrification, and social responsibility — sometimes that white hot urgent feeling moment is not the right moment to push back.

Sometimes it’s important to trust in our relationships and friendships, to utilize what seems like cowardice to sit with overwhelm and return to the subject with them another day. We do this consistently in other areas of our interpersonal lives, but in terms of social justice, I notice an intense pressure to be immediate, reactive, relentless. I notice an intense burden of being perfectly reflexive. That pressure is mainly what has driven me into the social evolutionary ground over the past few years, contributing to my exhaustion, inefficiency, and frankly, loneliness. None of us can take it all on, all the time.

But let’s also get really clear here — we do this to one another, my ladypeople. This subversive, dismantling shit. And sometimes when we do this to each other, our histories and collective understanding of the harm we’ve been subjected to serves as a scapegoat for holding ourselves accountable for reanimating our abuse. We adopted these mindsets as a means of gaining a semblance of control in this atmosphere, and when we pretend as though we are immune to the toxic teachings of patriarchy, when we pretend we aren’t conditioned to mimic them amongst ourselves, when we pretend we are not vulnerable to taking a lead down these deeply entrenched roads, we do a massive disservice to ourselves, and the people we are becoming.

We are and have been complicit in abuse culture, in rape culture, in racism, in ableism, and though the work looks different for us, the work, too, is ours to do.

Every time I go to bat against the curve balls of patriarchy under the lifetime conditioning of binary, cis-centric language and thinking, the tiny, quiet actuality of me shrivels and cries. I notice that when I address y’all from the position of my oppression as a woman, a small fetal me shudders from my peripheral vision, waiting for big me to care enough to stop the yelling and help them get warm.

Perhaps it is time to spend more of my efforts building up my Self — a solidly nonbinary person who has been socialized and perceived as a woman and thusly has experienced the impacts of that oppression — rather than continue stepping into the role of of a cis feminist woman because it seems ‘easier’, because it’s the way I’m perceived, because it seems strategic like it will make a bigger ‘difference’ for ‘society’ to ride the waves of cisfeminist groupthink and fall in line.

Perhaps it is time to address rather than simply continue to acknowledge my deep fear of further alienation; that I am not queer enough, not weird enough, not oppressed enough, not kind enough, not enough, to find a home for the person I truly am in any community.

Perhaps it is time to get real with myself about what actions accompany my realization that I do not belong where I have continued to orient myself. That perhaps I might be more effective, more secure, and stronger in my base while I push and resist and attempt to influence from the stances I take, if I were to make that effort, for myself.

Perhaps it is time to go to bat for the me that I am rather than atoning for the me that I’ve been told I was; to embrace the actuality of the causes that effect the deepest soul of me, rather than continue to animate the dynamics of patriarchy, sexism and abuse culture that I’ve come to see as significant in the bulk of the interpersonal and relational hardships I’ve endured in my weird little life.

Perhaps it is time to consider what might have been had I been raised to own my gender for myself, now that I’ve spent such a notable amount of time considering, embodying, and fighting againt what being socialized in the binary has done to me.

Maybe it’s time to really walk my talk, and say, fuck society, fuck the way y’all are doing this, fuck the scaffolding I’ve been handed, fuck the place I’ve been told by others I belong, and once again forge into the unknown, and figure out how to do it my way.

Maybe it’s time I stand up for myself, rather than standing for the damage and inflated sense of responsibility I carry for the consequences of being told by others what that was.

I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the main obstacles I face in dismantling my harmful binary thinking is the attachment I have to how I own my oppression as a woman under patriarchy.

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is one of the key factors in how massively I am triggered by accounts of abuse, and how difficult it is to maneuver the constant, relentless reminders of the disrespect, the entitlement, the dangers I face and the abuse I’ve experienced because of how the world perceives me.

I’ve come to the conclusion that this methodology stunts my growth, diminishes my spirit, and prevents me from the further dismantling of my unearned privilege.

I’ve also come to the conclusion that the damage to me from the bullshit I’ve put up with from men pales in comparison to the quiet corrosion I do to myself when I present as a cis woman in response to it.

The damage to me from patriarchy pales in comparison to what I choose to put myself though every day that I abandon myself to the identity that I think you’ll best respond to in order to convince you to address your position of power in your own fucking violence.

Fuck this ‘well, I’ve suffered like a woman, you see me as a woman, so a woman is what I must be’ horse shit, and fuck focusing on y’alls actions, y’alls motivations, y’alls work. Fuck your shitty dynamics and fuck me blaming them while simultaneously molding to their demands of what I am supposed to be.

I will remind myself of this again, and again, probably forever: I am through existing for the purpose of evolving men. I am as through as I know how to be with centering you, centering your impacts on my past, centering your improvement in response to the fucking shit y’all have put me through, and I will continue to learn how to more effectively be through with it. Fuck y’all. Fuck your mistakes, fuck your selfishness, fuck your willful ignorance, fuck your recovery, and fuck making you better. If you wanna be better men, if you wanna heal your toxic masculinity, if you wanna shed your internalized misogyny, you can learn a tip or two by fucking watching me do it for myself — if you’re lucky enough to be privy to my examples.

When I’ve been in therapy (I’m not, again, btw, for those following along — psyche wasn’t hip to placing me on meds and social worker was a low level sounding board/not particularly effective for my talk therapy needs. That’s why hotlines for now, and still stumbling along as an under-overdiagnosed self medicating pothead wierdo.) I have historically been irritated with the direction my therapists would generally go with things — my mother.

“I am having trouble with my boyfriend”
‘Hmm, I wonder about the commonalities here with your mother’

“I got cut off on the freeway today” ‘mmm, reminds me of your mother’

“I took a really awesome shit yesterday”
‘Mother.’

The relentless nature of the mother track in therapy is often the butt of jokes regarding the field, and for many years (and still sometimes even) it really fucking annoyed me. But it’s inarguable how deeply family of origin experiences shape the way we view the world, and shape our social tides as well. Everyone talks about how we need to teach the babies differently, and yet we resist challenging the identities we still manuever around conclusions we came to as them.

Imperfect and in some ways evoking of my new-cage skepticism, this is still one of the important poop-on-patriarchy links I keep handy for reshares and link drops. It focuses not on the masculine work at hand, but repairing our feminized relationships as daughters, which of course stem from… mother.

http://www.womboflight.com/why-its-crucial-for-women-to-heal-the-mother-wound/

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.

Thanks for giving: a shit. 

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Third rockin’ass orgasm of the day. Enjoying the hell out of my solo day-long water fast. Fuck your oppressive shitass holidays. — https://instagram.com/p/BNNjpf5hffd/

Water fasting as of midnight last night. Had no idea when I decided to do this a year ago, take the next step in personally divesting from the lies and the cognitive dissonance, how apropos it would be as I closely follow Standing Rock.

This is the thing about trying to figure out how to meld my art with activism. I fasted today as a self care and development experience because I believe we must decolonize ourselves, and that includes, perhaps most importantly, the means and motivations for our connecting with each other. So we can stop passing up connecting with real friends to complain about being “alone”.

I could have made it into art, I could have organized people who wanted to do it together and bare witness in a collective. We could have decided to have made it disruptive and done it in the street, or in a plaza, or quietly somewhere for the groups healing and told our actual friends about it. Part of the reason I didn’t do any of those things, is because I didn’t realize this was art until now.

Art is how I sneak up on myself. It’s how I tell me my own story, and I warn myself of things, and the fucking CURSE of it (and also what makes it work?) is that most of the time I can’t see it until I’ve experienced my own fucking art! It’s like Westworld, I look at the poem or I sketch the choreography or I sew my own mouth shut in watercolor and I go ‘meh. doesn’t look like anything to me’. Until one day it does look like something, and I laugh at myself for not seeing it then.

Developing ourselves is art.

The world needs more art.

Make more art.

Serendipitous gifts

Friday, August 5th, 2016

“The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.”
James Baldwin

Just now, I texted everyone I have a current iMessage conversation with “Thank you for being human with me”. It is because I associate those people with the ones I maintain the closest friendships to because we share our phones messaging app between devices.

This is, invariably, a false equivalency, though it became more balanced when I changed my phone number and worked through (am still working through) who to tell.

The truth is there are many filters that would leave deserving people out of the loop about this mass, and yet personal, messaging spree I just went on, but what alarms me is to discover that the selection process is not as intentional as I’d like to think it is.

It’s not even a selection, really. It’s laziness, lack of awareness, automation, which causes me to turn to iMessage. The fucking automation. The fucking machine that plugs my supposed need for that kind of connectivity and false belonging to sell me unethical products that are not meant to last.

Look. There are people I will never talk to again who deserve to hear me say “Thank you for being human with me”. Every single person I’ve ever met deserves this recognition. And I deserve that recognition from all of you. And I think it’s fair to say that it seems pretty universal that we have all been unconsciously programmed not to acknowledge one another in this way, but to pretend that we do. Like the quotes in Embodied said on the walls of Fred Wildlife Refuge,

“I am the collective effort of everyone I’ve ever known.” — Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

Apart from never being able to truly trust anyone, I wasn’t a hacker, or a bone fide hardware geek. I appreciated that stuff, but I was drawn to hackers because I was a *communicator*, and I could relate to hackers. I like being clever and sneaky and destroying shit as much as I like creating it.

For a long time, being a part of the hacker community — and later the little red studio, specifically, had me feeling very special. I felt popular, I could say whatever the fuck I wanted, I threw weird parties, and I had a community with which to be creative.

In both those instances I’d locked societal woundings with whole communities, and the learning was fertile and priceless. We were communicators who wanted to build our own god damn platforms, to cultivate relationships with our expression forms, and with technology, that mattered.

Well, as far as I can tell, most of us still want to do that. But where the fuck are we? What the fuck are we doing? We are on facebook, and google, and twitter, and none of us trust these fuckers with the soul we give to them.

How is it that we got to the point that your fucking words, your thoughts, your fucking anniversaries, your fears, your personality scores, your rants, your sorrows, your calls for justice AREN’T YOURS, AREN’T OWNED BY YOU, instead being fucking manipulated and distilled and romanticized for profit.

What the fuck.

My space. My fucking space.

That’s fucking better.

I have a deep desire to be in structured school, with a goal, challenges, variation, and letters after my name. So many of us do, I think; we crave knowledge, a safe space to explore not already knowing, guidance, and we crave our own continued understanding. We crave the idea of education that the educational system abandoned in order to survive civilization.

For people like us, right now the best we can be doing is learning by teaching what we know to our communities, but more importantly to each other, our fellow activists; especially those of us who recognize that without drinking water, without being able to be naked outside in the sun, without food, without air, without the ancient peat bogs and rainforests holding so much carbon for us, we are fucking lost. Those of us waiting for the cleansing fire. The birth to the destruction to the birth.

It’s people like us that need to be learning from people like us who are focused on different parts of The Thing.

Start hosting workshops to teach the shit you know. Start risking your ego to make a difference, to open yourself up to learning by empowering others. Make that shit happen, and do it with fucking integrity. Give credit where it’s due and don’t make money off the backs of those society deems yours. Admit you don’t know it all. Explore. Let them come to you, and when they do; Teach.

Teach.

Y’all want fucking revolution? Then let’s use our fucking skills to prove it, and create one.

One day at a time, one habit at a time, ween yourself and take responsibility for your own shit.

Stop fucking leaning on the systems you recognize are corroding your fucking soul.

Learn what it is to nurture and toil the food you eat before you eat it. Learn what it means to be have less stuff. Explore options of supporting yourself that don’t rely solely on the internet, or invisible slave labor. Invite a friend over to your house to chat. Share your mentors with the people you love. And ffs stop fucking maneuvering your most precious relationships via fucking text messages, ya fearfulass Previous Me insufferable text-dumping asshole.

I’m not sure exactly what that looks like, but when I really sit with what it feels like to give facebook and even instagram the product of my mind, I feel a gross sense of self betrayal inside. I’ve grappled with it a long time, but I think I’ve made good headway lately.

And I’m fucking watching you, Patreon. Every greedy fuckshit mistake you make by us, I’m holding your asses accountable and taking fucking notes. You have to earn the shit out of my trust. The shit out of it. Do better.

The Notebook

I am noticing one of the blockages I experience around my writing, is that I rarely write. I type. And that’s different.

I have also noticed that my organization of ideas is scattered as shit. Self sent text messages, voice memos, emails to myself, google spreadsheets, soundcloud, patreon, my blog, the notes app on my phone, and hardcopy notebooks — all house my fractions, experiments, and prose. Ideas for my current album, Cold Front, span all of these mediums. Even if I wanted to work on it, just going through my fucking notes is like looking into a shattered mirror.

While I excel during projects when I allow the process to be messy, and I do best while fragmented and having multiple, different projects in the fire at once, I recognize that I lose myself in obsessive tracking and procrastination when I do not start those projects from a place of organization, grounding and levity.

It is time to carry a notebook. Everywhere. And to utilize technology as a backup, a failsafe should something happen to it, rather than.. Whatever the fuck it is I have been doing. Amusingly, I was just gifted one by a new pal.

I made him sign it. Oh, the pressure I put upon y’all.

One of the people who passed through my life at one time is a very famous, beloved author. He understands the value of a hand written page. I am thinking about him as I make this commitment to myself, and my work, to intentionally try things just a little bit differently, now.

Besides. I know how the brain works, at least in regards to how it processes information in the context of expression methods. I learned this as a student at Brian Utting. Writing, with my hands, on paper, making marks, will download the essence of what I want to capture into a place that is very unlikely to be taken away from me, even if something happens to my notebook.

And when I was out in the woods, exhausted, overwhelmed, spread to the breaking point while literally holding up another human being, losing my own mind and breaking my own heart and remembering what really fucking matters; the safe, private notes I drew to myself kept me going.

Keep Going.

I trust me, and my mind, which god damn fucking WORKS, to level up about the kind of care, thought, and and attention that goes into my functioning effectively. Efficiently. Conservation, restoration, nutrients; they are not just for the world around me, and not just applicable in the literal senses I am learning these skills via.

I trust me to fucking take care of myself, even though I have spent, and will still spend, effort and time struggling, and making mistakes, in that department.

I am ready to take another step towards strengthening me, so I can hold what it means to be bigger. Braver. More. Less.

Funny, how significant, this dumb little shit can be.

I’m Courtnee Fallon Rex, and this is only barely scratching the surface of what kind of writer, activist, teacher, and human being I can be when I am fulfilled in my work, selective with my friends, appreciative of my fans, careful how I spend my energy (and why), have the means to support and nurture myself, bathe, farm and harvest my own food, am seen, and paid, and create and perform my music on my terms for fans who truly appreciate my. Fucking. Work.

So thank you, for being human with me. I know I am not alone in this. I know I am not alone in my frustrations, my desire to see more empowerment outside of the constrained, incompetent systems that are all we’ve ever been truly encouraged to know ourselves by. In every career path I’ve taken, I’ve been the one standing up and asking: Why? Why are we bowing? Why do we immediately attempt to contort under these strains, these fucking invented, arbitrary oppressions? When the fuck are we going to stand up?

We are. It’s just.. slow. And I am going to keep doing what I need to do, respecting the influences, the tides, and the sheer fucking magnitude that is the task of standing up. Over, and over, and over again.

I am angry, at society. Today, and to some degree, every day. Today I also accept the possibility that this will not change.

Returning home has been a long, steady, breakthrough; a return on previous investments. Level: up.

Next challenge: learning how to respect my opponents.

Ugh.

me, Clayton, rape.

Friday, April 15th, 2016

me, Clayton, rape.

It wasn’t rape because that’s what he growled at me the first time he overwhelmed and coerced me when I’d just said I wanted to wait before we started having sex together.
It wasn’t rape because he’d only gone down on me and fingered me and heroically resisted sticking his cock in my body.
It wasn’t rape because when he walked out without fucking me, saying “That’s all I wanted”, licking his lips at my door, I smirked.

It wasn’t rape because if it had been rape it wouldn’t have signified the start of a long term relationship.
It wasn’t rape because I came so many times, every time.
It wasn’t rape because I’d agree to do things I’d said I was uncomfortable with after he said over and over that he needed them.
It wasn’t rape because I’d agree to try things I was scared of and it would be my fault he wasn’t satisfied with the outcome.
It wasn’t rape because we were “the power couple”
It wasn’t rape because he was the “top”

It wasn’t rape because I tried to leave him 7 fucking times and kept going back.
It wasn’t rape because I suspected I was with a sex addict and still stayed with him.
It wasn’t rape because I suspected he was a sociopath and still stayed with him.
It wasn’t rape, because he was cheating, and it has to be one or the other.
It wasn’t rape because gaslighting.
It wasn’t rape because manipulation.
It wasn’t rape because power struggle.

It wasn’t rape because ‘his sexual needs’
It wasn’t rape because I became accustomed to never not having sex when we were together.
It wasn’t rape because he made sure I got off before he did.
It wasn’t rape because any critique of his treatment of me was immediately escalated to my accusing him of it and rape is a bad, bad word.

It wasn’t rape because I’d done the same toward others and couldn’t face it.
It wasn’t rape because I knew I’d ‘met my match’ in him.
It wasn’t rape because I was trying to be less controlling — surrendering was the whole point.
It wasn’t rape because we were ‘sex positive’

It wasn’t rape because I was already damaged.
It wasn’t rape because I had to be Good, Giving and Game
It wasn’t rape because I was learning.
It wasn’t rape because I was getting what I deserved.
It wasn’t rape because love is hard.

It wasn’t rape because my life revolved around being good at sex.
It wasn’t rape because I suspected he was in love with Zita, and not me.
It wasn’t rape because he bought me dinners and marathon texted.
It wasn’t rape because he invited me to meet his family.
It wasn’t rape because there was something wrong with me.

It wasn’t rape because losing my mind in that relationship was my fault.
It wasn’t rape because I was the one who screamed and yelled
It wasn’t rape because I could see the scared little redhead boy he kept trying to cover up
It wasn’t rape because part of me wanted to make babies with him
It wasn’t rape because part of me wanted to marry him

It wasn’t rape because I let him get away with it.
It wasn’t rape because I knew no one would take my side.
It wasn’t rape because I’m not supposed to have to need anyone to take my side if I’m telling the truth.
It wasn’t rape because I didn’t want to be in love with a rapist.
It wasn’t rape because I didn’t want to have been a rapist.

It wasn’t rape because what about the theater we worked at together.
It wasn’t rape because it was my fault his ex’s wouldn’t talk with me about him
It wasn’t rape because all those other girls are just jealous of you, Courtnee.
It wasn’t rape because I was the dangerous one.
It wasn’t rape because I was the evil one.
It wasn’t rape because I was the powerful one.

It wasn’t rape because fighting for my sanity was exciting.
It wasn’t rape because I was the one who was so fucked up I’d get suicidal
It wasn’t rape because when it all came crashing down, I was the one the ‘sex positive’ community ditched.
It wasn’t rape because he succeeded at peopling and I failed.

It wasn’t rape because the Judge clearly hated me and sided with him.
It wasn’t rape because his pretty ex girlfriend made amends with him just in time to show up in court by his side.
It wasn’t rape because the other woman he raped and then pretended didn’t exist ran and hung me out to dry.
It wasn’t rape because I needed to burn the shit he had given me and that’s just crazy.

me, Clayton, rape.

So I watched Jessica Jones on binge a few months ago. Alone.

I shouldn’t have been alone for something like that, but I didn’t expect for it to bother me so terribly.

It bothered me so. Fucking. Much. I hated her so. Fucking. Much. I spent the second half of that show vehemently wishing she would kill herself. I kept wanting to see her kill herself and when she did it I would have woken the neighborhood celebrating. I fucking hated her fucking dramatic drinking and her stupid decisions and I fucking hated how fucking weak and pathetic she was. I wanted to see her die.

I knew when I was watching it it was bringing up some massive shit, but I couldn’t figure out from where. It couldn’t have been from David. David was a fucking meatheaded boundary pushing fucking emotional moron who finally went too fucking far, not a god damn Major of Psychological Warfare like Killgrave.

So what the fuck was it? What the fuck was triggering me so badly?

Yeah. OH.

How did I write this, without seeing ^^^^^^ this ^^^^^^? I don’t know. I’m not supposed to know everything. But I’m going to Keep Going. I am, perhaps naively, looking forward to a time in my life when my gnashy, suicidal trauma surfacings don’t revolve around figuring out/remembering who in my distant past fucking raped me. This broken record shit is getting really, really old.

HEALING UPDATE: When I am ready, I do NOT fuck around.

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

^^^^ This is what waking up clean, in a clean bed, that I can stretch out in, looks like. Thank you SO MUCH to my pals Michael and Jill for gifting me with a hotel room last night. I needed it. Lemmie tell ya why:

I’ve been coming to a clearing for a while, since I left Seattle of course, noticing the significance of the experiences I’ve been having. Playing a demigod version of myself possessed by a tormented 3000 year old genius intersex two spirit character for two solid months, for instance.

But I’ve really been feeling the true madness of it, since descending upon New Orleans.

I wrote my ex while there (agh fer fucks sake). And for a while, I thought my preoccupation with him meant many things, which maybe, they did. However, the process was moving so quickly that by the time I put a finger on it, what he represented for me had shifted again.

At the end of it, when I once again came to the conclusion that I’m not in any place to have any contact with that guy at all ever, I also realized that while I was healing and regaining traction after we split up, I had focused almost entirely on releasing — what did not belong to me, what did belong to me but was not serving me, on flushing out toxic shit and giving back positively in my wake, including a ritual burning of his letters and cards, which was focused on returning his soul to him so we could both move on.

I hadn’t considered that perhaps there was cause for me to take back fruits that belonged to ME. Things I needed, that could be fueling me were I to take ownership of them again.

I also hadn’t considered, yet, that maybe he wasn’t the person I needed to take those things back from. That maybe, the atonement or apology or recognition or even an actual conversation in the same god damn language I’d been harboring a deep desire for in those first weeks in New Orleans, seemingly to complete something with him, didn’t have anything to do with him at all.

Today I head to the beach to rekindle my connection with self care ritual and constellating. I am experiencing a lot of resistance, both in emotional response and in things like forgetfulness and confusion tracking simple steps. I recognize this is a time I need to work through that and loosen up whatever is binding me. I also recognize that I have never actually had any practices like this that weren’t bolstered by consistent communal support and in-person witness before. It (falsely) feels like I have no fucking idea what I am doing by myself and that is combining with my usual level of self consciousness and paralyzing me.

When my bestie dumped me just before leaving Seattle, it coincided with her plummet into a sex-positive magic and witchcraft cult-looking thing along with her husband, adding to her years-long allegiance with a healing community which had always felt alienating and inaccessible to me (based on the cost of their training, their jargon, and my persistent creeped out feeling about their leadership).

She also, years ago, began seeing my former psychotherapist (at my referral), which became a feeling of inaccessibility and betrayal for me as our friendship strained and ended.

This combined with my years of willingness and sharing of therapy concepts, my practice, my healing space, and encouraging her healing and growth for over a decade left me feeling bitter and used and discarded and, in response to the content of her Dear John letter to me, blamed for it.

Along with less accessibility to guidance and comforts like bath tubs which for many years was my main source of regeneration, this was a major part of what I closed myself off from after finding out what this person really thought of me — my interest and abilities in healing modalities.

That relationship falling away coincided with taking the break I needed after burning out in my practice, however the betrayals and most importantly my judgements surrounding all of that happening have been significantly blocking me from returning to my own practices.

Thoughts and good juju while I dig through that pile of shit are appreciated today.

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I wrote that 4 days ago, and that day was magnificent.

I went to that beach, walked the white sands, collecting shells that spoke to me as my feet went cleansed, and slightly numb.

I chose representatives, or rather they showed themselves, for parts of me I didn’t even understand, and parts of me that I knew immediately. Representative for what belongs to others, that I’ve held on to needlessly — one for the darkness, one for the light. Representative for my judgement, the hard, complete shell that kept me from allowing these things to move, kept me from doing any of this stuff for myself for as long as I’ve been resisting it.

From the moment I got to that beach, the mantra was clear: My healing belongs to me.

My healing belongs to me.

My healing belongs to me.

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I took those shells and I set them up as an alter in the bowels of Bella Stinkbutt and I smudged the living fuck out of myself, my van, my psyche.

I gonged my Tibetan singing bowl, rich with its own intense and growing story, and rejoiced in memories of my safe, comfortable healing space that always smelled so good, that always provided me a safe haven to break the fuck down. The space I held that also served others.

I sat on the dunes where the ocean met the sand, creating a perfect shelf where I could sit in inches of calm, yet reconstituting water, until I was acclimated and ready to swim. My skin lit up in crisp sparkles as I rinsed months worth of head to toe fucking bullshit, exfoliated and swept away by the salt of the sea, while a few confused old white people in sweatshirts looked on.

The ocean
Is cold
In February

*bows*

And I cooked myself some nourishing, tasty food, after a good week of having been eating garbage because while I was shopping for food I’d bought garbage.

The sun went down. I slept. I dreamed. I woke. I felt the significance and subtlety of the shifts that had happened by reconnecting with myself. I felt my body alive with ache I’d been previously unaware of, or ignoring. Again with my right side. Again with the masculine, with severity.

I made more good food. I smudged a bit more. I saw some great music.

I’m at The Green Door in Fort Walton listening to a space jam that reminds me of my favorite band: Archive. Nik Flagstar can fuckin own some drums! Rad shit happening here.

I slept. I dreamed. I woke. I nourished myself. I walked the beach. I worked my aching back and arm periodically with my theracane and racketballs. I got dressed up in my I Poop On Rape Culture leggings, and wore The Key necklace for the first time in a couple weeks, not really thinking about the significance of either. I went to see Hank and Cupcakes play at The Green Door here in Fort Walton, where I will also play tonight.

And then, it came. Waves. Crashing.

First, I was profoundly triggered when I saw someone who reminded me very much of the former friend of mine who molested me in my sleep in my teens. I left the show, immediately, pacing and crying outside the venue before retreating to the van. I do not have memory of ever seeing a person, certainly not in the last 20 years or so, that caused me to return to that place like I had just then. It was overpowering and demanding of my full attention.

The story of this person was the one I most recently read my writing about and had to take a long, hard pause. I wasn’t taken aback by the events, per say — I am very familiar with them — but I was taken aback by my writing. How I had viewed it, when I wrote it, and how differently I view myself now. How painful it was to see part of me that responded to that happening to me with behaviors that hurt so, so many people.

It was also the story that, while working through what came up for me in revisiting it, brought clarity to the fact that the book project is about my healing, and virtually nothing else.

And once I worked through that trigger, literally coughing and dry heaving up what was presenting visually to me as black, sooty tendrils, what rose like oil on water was the layer of understanding that I had done, when that friend violated me at a time I was so vulnerable, what my ex had done when I had been raped.

I sympathized with him. Empathized with him. More than I did myself.
I refused to believe what he’d done was really that bad.
I voiced outrage, but in my cockles, I thought it was my fault. For being desirable. For being powerful. For being enticing, and asleep.
I felt conflicting emotions, but ultimately, I was convinced I wanted nothing more than I wanted for things to go back to the way they had been.
I pleaded with him to come back when he rightfully withdrew from me.
I was so desperate not to lose my friend, I refused to acknowledge he had already been lost.
I was so desperate for control, I refused to acknowledge that loss wasn’t my fault.

The dry heaves gave way. And under them, This:

It’s fairly universally frowned upon, at least in terms of people whose opinions I have tended to value on these sorts of matters, to dehumanize those who have hurt you with their behavior.

I struggle with this especially in terms of intimate relationships gone bad.

But personally, I’m developing an appreciation for my compulsion to do this. Part of me fucking hates humanizing, relating to people who have done some heinousass shit. Because while the draw is still there, while I’m still attached enough to be converting that attachment into anger, I am doing it out of protection.

The moment they are human to me again, rather than a one-dimensional fucking maliciously meatheaded hurtful fucking weasel, I am at great risk of also opening up again. Because that attachment still exists, and is still a strong force in the forefront of my psyche, which is fraught with decades of conditioning from abandonment, mental abuse, and scarcity.

Those moments of foreshadowing forgiveness, of understanding, of relating and humility so often open me up just enough to give them the opportunity to remind me in vivid, gory detail that they are, in fact, not fucking humane, at all.

My severity conceals and protects the level of mercy I am capable of.

Then, the next day, I discovered a message in my ‘you don’t actually wanna fuck wid dis’ folder on my facebook, from a creep statutory rapist I dated in my teens, whose account should have been fucking blocked, who still, twenty one god damn years later, periodically sends shit to me that starts like this:

“Hi there, person I thought would never turn on me. Do you still hate me for loving you? Giving you space after you dumped my ass? Taking the time to track you down now and then?”

This person, I’d all but forgotten about, until David Bowie died, and suddenly, people were finally keen on talking about the Lori Maddox interview that had been published for months. Even then, it was simply a recognition that my perceptions of that interview were colored by personal experience that I had not yet folded into my evolving definition of rape, or consent.

With my rekindled connection with myself, the support of people in my community who are familiar with the methods I use to process surfacing traumas and triggers, and the floodgates I opened by letting some of my walls move, these things passed. And once they had passed, mostly what was left was the feeling of being in sync, again.

In synch. A thing that I’ve felt like a privileged, entitled asshole at the thought of being in touch with in part as a side effect of the ways in which I have engaged in social justice the last few years. It took me disengaging from that cult of personality to be able to connect with this part of me again, a part of me that I had become ashamed of for having the resources to develop when others around me, who are just as deserving and worthy of that resource as me, do not.

I slept.

Woke up from dreams because of the sense of welling up to cry. I was feeling the metaphysical experience of letting go of something in a line of more something’s. I woke up to a perpetually long face, needing to poop and pee, with a desperate sense of needing to get to the beach. Here now. Oof.

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All this writhing, scrambling, sadness, defeat. All this expectation, impatience, discomfort. All this hope for belonging, wishing away my skin in an attempt to really feel. All this sanding off my edges, quieting my voice, stifling my role as a leader in an effort to know what it feels to fit inside your contours, your communities, your group thinking. All that shit.

Fuck that shit.

It takes a lifetime, to know yourself. But I know enough right now to understand that I am doing just fucking fine.

No more I Love You’s

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

“I am starting to tire of these memes and these standards. I am beginning to feel as though the stringent ‘enlightened’ perfectionism in what ‘relationship’ is supposed to look like and what love is supposed to look like is just as damaging as other dehumanizing expectations inherent in society. I look at these standards and I wonder where the hell the person is, and where the social environment comes into play. Who the fuck talks without intention? What even is that? If I wanted to approach life like an unattached non-structured ghost shell I would go be a fuckin monk in a vacuum where I might actually be able to accomplish reducing myself to that. Otherwise, I no longer see these ideals as attainable or even remotely empowering. I especially dislike these supposed values when they are placed in expectation upon women, who are historically supposed to somehow be whole people, but also be the empty containers of infinitely flexible nurturance for all of society. For whatever reasons and because of wherever I am at, this really rubbed me the wrong way.

And by ‘starting to tire’ I actually mean I am so fucking done.

Like seriously fuck this meme.” — Facebook

I’ve been contemplating my strengths lately.

Which is different from what I am usually doing, which is attempting to bolster and improve upon my deficiencies — enough so that I’d actually come to view the incessant practice of striving toward the improvement of my flaws as my core strength (it’s not).

You’d think, with how long and hard the road has been, and how many backslides I’ve experienced, that perhaps I wasn’t really designed for loving. And I’ve said/accepted as much, before, usually as a way to make myself feel like shit.

But funny, how I’ve not really come to terms with this objectively, in regards to what ‘love’ actually even MEANS.

When I am honest with myself, it is clear as day; To most anyone’s standards, including my own, I’ve never, ever ‘loved’ anyone. Not a single fucking person.

And yet, I’ve told people I loved them.

Whatever the hell that meant at the time…

And until now, I’d maintained that I had been in love, while also maintaining that I do not know how to love.

..Indeed.

I spent most of my young life putting up with shit from people who I knew didn’t meet my standards. Then I spent a chunk of my adult life markedly alone trying to calibrate my radar to detect even one person I could love with unconditional acceptance. So I could finally prove to myself and to all of you and to the people who’ve ditched me in my life for not being good enough that I had learned to ‘love’ the ‘right’ way, the enlightened selfless malleable accepting unattached spiritual perfection way everyone tells me, and themselves, is the correct way to do it.

Well, I am done with that horseshit. I’m done trying to do it your way.

My love is god damn fucking conditional. In fact, my love is downright fucking finicky. My love doesn’t look like the bosom of squishy motherly space making sacrifice that many people, including myself, seem to want love to look like.

My love doesn’t look like the fantasy love your mommy never gave you, and *it’s never fucking going to*.

My love looks like I give a fuck about you when generally I don’t bother with most people.

My love looks like I am intimately encouraging and engaged with you when I am not that for the rest of the fucking world.

My love looks like being invested in your growth.

My love looks like the truth when you wanna hear some kind of placating watered down bullshit.

My love looks like having your phone number saved in my phone for longer than a minute.

My love looks like dropping everything to help you when you’re fucked sideways or stranded somewhere.

My love looks like I actually reach out to you myself sometimes.

My love is for sale.

My love comes and goes, and at any point in time, you might be the direct recipient, or you might not.

My love doesn’t mean I set myself aside for you, or that my space is always your space. My love doesn’t mean I won’t swipe at you when you’re acting like a fucking asshat or playing out oppression dynamics on me. My love doesn’t mean I’m going to meld my everything with your everything and be attached to your hip. My love isn’t reserved to be focused in one way or in one direction. My love is a droplet of silkspun supermoon primordial spit trickling out of a unicorns cunt, not blasting like a fucking firehose 24/7 for your fucking convenience.

That’s what my love fucking looks like.

But in actuality, I’m also done with calling any of that ‘love’. Because that fucking word has caused me more interpersonal grief than any other word in our entire fucking language.

That word has been used against me to punish me for not loving right, completely enough, fast enough, long enough, for not doing what YOU wanted me to do.

That word is a fucking un-fileable non-entity with the weight of the entire fucking universe attached to it, and I ain’t got time for it.

I’ve used that word to project unrealistic and subconscious expectations on others. And myself. HOLY SHIT myself. I’ve used peoples inability to live up to my evershifting concept of that word as justification for punishing people who didn’t do things my way. And I have had the same done to me.

Aside from the impressive number of people who have used their ‘love’ for me as rationalization for doing shit like raping me, gaslighting me, lying to me, manipulating me, dumping me on my ass, stringing me along — or the impressive number of people for whom my ‘love’ has meant all of that and a sense of possession or resent-laden self sacrifice or both — when I say that word, there is an exceptionally high probability that whoever I am saying it to won’t actually know what the fuck I am talking about anyway.

They will instantly decide what my love means in a vacuum in their own heads. They will decide it means they’ve found a fantasy others never gave them or relate it in comparison to what other people who are nothing like me project love to look like and then punish themselves and me for not living the fuck up to it.

Hell, sometimes I don’t even know what the fuck I am talking about when I say it. Sometimes I say I love you to explain away, cop out, or to make my emotions or actions someone else’s problem to figure out. Cause ‘love’, a word that speaks of mental state, emotion, action, intention, and a whole clusterfuck of other intersecting ideals and performative concepts, is just something that’s supposed to be understood, somehow. Even though it doesn’t fucking MEAN anything concrete or directly referencable and it shows up differently in everyone.

And in my experience, even when the meanings behind ‘love’ are intentionally explored, that equates to fuckall in reality. Because all that unconscious heavy overrated fantasy crosscrossing shit that word holds uniquely for each person is engaged in their consciousness already, instantly, filtering, and selectively deciding how to fill in the rest.

So no more “I love you”s. No more of that lazy confusingass shit. I may not be great at ‘loving’ the right way but I AM great at expressing and articulating my emotions in terms that actually make fucking sense, mean something tangible, and don’t open a spring loaded door into my fucking face.

I need just one catchall word in my vocabulary, that can speak to a great many number of various things and bring me a constant stream of emphasis, expression and amusement. That glorious word, is fuck.

So that’s my current language exercise, now. No more “I love”. Instead, I am working on describing in detail, in words that illustrate actual things, what it is I actually mean.

Fuck ‘love’.

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

In so many ways, we were profoundly comfortable and well suited. And you were so nice to me. Affectionate, generous, caring. Dedicated. Loving. Available. Consistent.But too consistent. Frozen in carbonate consistent. Unwilling, if it meant loosening your utter strangle hold, the compulsive denial, the tamping down of your darkness, that actually ran the show.

You implied that you were imperfect, occasionally, with a heaviness that illustrated the shame you carry. Alluded once or maybe twice that you had vague flaws and sinister qualities. But save for superficial, polite faux paus, not once did you ever admit to one. Ever. Not once did you have that courage.

But I felt them. I knew they were there. They hurt me sometimes, but that never changed how I cared for you. You may think that because I am gone now they scared me, but they didn’t. You saw mine, also, and it never changed how you cared for me, either.

But the difference was that I acknowledged myself. You couldn’t give yourself that with me. So we couldn’t share in it together. The vulnerability and effort in that imperative bond only went one way.

That’s what scared me. That’s what ultimately became my decision to be whole with myself, rather than fractioned, and forever reaching, for you.

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

“Letting go of a relationship is letting go of a form. It occurs when the love that you are cannot be expressed in the container of the relationship, in the form that it is in. For as your heart has continued to grow and expand, you may find that the current form of your relationship does not allow you to express all the love that you are. When this happens, your soul will find ways to free you, to help you build a new form. Wether it is you or the other person who physically draws away, it is always because the relationship has been a success and all the love that you can express has been expressed, and there now needs to be a new form for you to express all the love that you are now capable of giving. The purpose of every relationship is to open your heart, to allow you to become more loving to yourself and to others. Think now of how you have become more loving since you started this relationship… Congratulate yourself on the expansion of your heart, on your greater capacity to love. The ‘you’ that is even more open now, more loving, more kind, more gentle, more open, more understanding.” -Orin

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

“You torment yourself wondering how they could not love your burning heart; the answer is, darling, you are not the star you thought you were. You are the fucking universe, and not everyone is an astronaut.”

Thoughts on love

Friday, October 9th, 2015

For most of my life, it has seemed like the people who have claimed to love me have loved what were ultimately illusions.

Some loved my masks, my performance personas, the art I’ve made from the ashes of my self-discovery.

Some loved my blossoms when in bloom but quickly became confused and withdrawn when I went into hibernation.

Some loved my dark quiet roots but were threatened when the fragrant, colorful seasons came.

Some loved my looks, how I moved, how I fucked.

Still others loved the hologram they projected onto my skin, loved the fantasy of what could be were I to contort permanently into their self serving visions.

Many have loved the reflections of themselves they saw in my mirror, or were drawn like familiar magnets via our interlocking patterns motivated by deep, unconscious wounds.

I am not proud to say that it took me a long time to choose to forgive them for those abandonments I felt, when I found I could no longer ignore what I, when honest, had known all along: that their love wasn’t directed at my actual, existing self.

I am even less proud to admit how much work it still is, sometimes, to do that. How much work it likely will be again.

But my time alone and in my own unfettered integrity has helped me see that none of those disappointments were the failure of anyone else to truly love me. They were the result of my loves having valued the same particular aspects about me that I was actively acquainting my own self with during different stages of my ever-expanding life.

“Love” falling away from me has had nothing to do with losing others; It has had everything to do with gaining my Self.

“You torment yourself wondering how they could not love your burning heart; the answer is, darling, you are not the star you thought you were. You are the fucking universe, and not everyone is an astronaut.”

My time alone and in my own unfettered integrity has also helped me see that there’s nothing that’s gonna make the highs celebrated or the hurts bearable like knowing you’ve got your own back.

Knowing, not just in your brain and in intellectual obviousness, if you’ve made it that far yet; but also in the intangible experiential knowing of literally holding yourself. Of treating you how you treat someone you give a fuck about.

Washing your own scalp, purposefully, like you’d touch a kindred.

Kissing your own shoulder while you’re curled up in a ball crying. Or not crying.

Stroking your own hair while you struggle to fall asleep.

In my origins of self loathing and a learned emotional neglect that stood like a monolith in front of everything I tried to take in for the first 25 years of my life, the most horrible truth of all truths to me was knowing that I, in all my previously wretched worthlessness, am all I’ve REALLY got.

It’s literally impossible for us to see and feel and hear outside of our own perspectives, the way these stupid soul-vessel machines are designed.

So if it’s literally impossible for us to see and hear and experience outside of our own embodied perspectives, how the fuck will you know the first thing about what it feels like to be loved if you’ve never honestly and truthfully focused that attention on yourself?

Not sexualized or aggrandized or tough love pushy inner voice bullshit attention. Not even allyship and cheerleading when tough decisions need to be made attention. But tenderness. Space holding. Understanding.

Cradling and carefully rubbing your own belly when you’re sick and cramping diarrhea into the toilet.

Adding a fresh raspberry to your own water.

How is it that you could know the first thing about truly receiving love, or what your own love looks like; how much worth and power it has, how precious and unique and empowering that love is, how gracious it is to give, if you’ve never once felt it, yourself.

Friday, August 28th, 2015

“I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely. No one knows me or loves me completely. I have only myself” ― Simone de Beauvoir

For Kirsten

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

I told you so

There is nothing
So precious
As a sisterhood
That softly cautions
Of ones ability
To disregard
Our profound knowing
Instead, to fill
His jagged caverns
Brimmed in untapped dark
With the naive light
Of our hopeful
Imagination

Beauty in the Breakdown

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

I had come to the title for this piece while it was in progress a couple weeks ago.

It’s fitting that I finally finished it today, which was largely spent processing through a complex and incredibly irrational emotional trigger.

I figured it out, and figured a few side notes out, too. Like that my ex now represents abandonment for me rather than my mother — he shows up when my little is feeling desperate and lonely — and no matter how grown up I get or how professional I act or how ‘correct’ the response is, it hurts and is deeply scary as fuck when someone I care about doesn’t seem to care too much about losing access to our intimacy.

While I was finishing this watercolor, I sobbed and wept a lot, and I sipped through the last of the discontinued tea that marked intense bonding and sense memories from my last romantic relationship. It felt like the right time to officially complete that part of my life.

These hideous and beautiful and incredibly uncomfortable processes helped me figure out what was happening with me today, and what needed to be done to balance it. Hint: I’d forgotten an important step in completing a grief transition.

Always comes down to that, doesn’t it.

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Monday, January 5th, 2015

“Love is challenging in all its forms. Familial love, love in friendship, love in romance. Love in our relationships with ourselves. There are all sorts of definitions for love, all sorts of ideas about what love is. In All About Love, bell hooks talks about love as “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”. I like that definition, it sounds right. And simple enough in the way a definition of love off simple.

Only it isn’t simple at all. Because in order to extend one’s self for anyone’s spiritual growth, including one’s own, one has to first be capable of extending one’s self, and then be willing to choose to do so.

And extending oneself, for the purpose of anything, let alone love, is really fucking scary.” — Mia McKenzie

Bad/failed relationships? READ THIS.

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

Oof.

This AMAZING article is saying all the stuff I’m living but hadn’t articulated yet.

Preparing us for marriage is, ideally, an educational task that falls on culture as a whole. We have stopped believing in dynastic marriages. We are starting to see the drawbacks of Romantic marriages. Now comes the time for psychological marriages.

http://www.thebookoflife.org/how-we-end-up-marrying-the-wrong-people/

Consent is IDEAL

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

When I came up with Empathic Consent (aka DELI) back in May, one of the things I wrote about was that I had countless opportunities to practice DELI outside of my sex life.

Which is good, cause right now I’m celibate and uninterested in romance, and well, every relationship benefits from both parties understanding what’s being agreed to.

While I’ve formerly written mostly about rape and that trauma, those of you who follow elsewhere will probably already know I agree with this author (who is also a very good friend of mine): We need to rethink the importance of consent on a very basic level in all human interactions.

In fact, my most recent experience with the kind of consent ambiguity I’ve been talking about revolved around a completely unsexual friendship, when I accepted someones offer to half-live in their house when I knew damn well it wasn’t feeling right for either of us.

Consent is a fundamental element of shifting our culture around rape, in addition to addressing the sexism and patriarchal shaming elements of our society which make getting sex from others the most accepted means of belonging and validation.

And how do we get sex, usually? Sex that matters to us, and can seemingly fill those voids? We get it through relationships. How many relationships of mine have actually been consensual in the terms outlined below? Zero.

If we haven’t practiced skills in consent in areas outside of sex, and pressure to have it is coming from everywhere around us including our confusing and overwhelming bodily responses, how the fuck are we supposed to know we’re on the same page and not raping somebody? Even *without* intoxicants at play?

I really like this derivative of DELI consent, and not just cause the acronym IDEAL is like.. SO way better. It illustrates more succinctly the ’empathic’ part of the consent model that the original name I’d had for it spoke to, which was lost when I changed to an acronym — the part where you’re in touch with yourself, and are in touch with your empathy in regards to the other person, and you *stop to address it* if actions aren’t lining up with words.

Really happy to see the improvements and the continued conversation that’s been happening around all this since I wrote I Don’t Like Being Raped; Apparently That Makes Me a Weirdo. Nice work, Ava of Attractive Arts.

IDEAL (Informed Direct Engaged Aligned Lucid) Consent is:
INFORMED
I am fully aware that I am being propositioned, and what it is I am being propositioned for. I am aware of any surrounding circumstances that pose a risk to me. I am free to ask questions and am given clear and honest answers.
DIRECT
I have communicated clearly and emphatically through my words and/or actions “I want this.”
ENGAGED
I am interested in what we’re planning and I’m enrolled in that process as well as in the results. I am decisive; even if that means I have decided that I want you to decide what it is we do.
ALIGNED
My words and actions match up, there is no contradiction between what I say I want and how I am behaving. Furthermore, this activity is aligned with my values as I understand them; my overall feelings about participating in this activity are positive.
LUCID
Lucid means I am awake, I am conscious, and I have control of myself.

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

“Wounds are the means by which we enter each others hearts. Healing is the means by which we remain there.” – Courtnee Fallon Rex

Friday, September 12th, 2014

I am no longer
Paralyzed
By the prospect
Of outgrowing you

Monday, July 7th, 2014

“Do not fall in love with people like me. I will kiss you in every beautiful place, so that you can never go back to them without tasting me like blood in your mouth. I will destroy you in the most beautiful way possible. And when I leave, you will finally understand, why storms are named after people.” ― Caitlyn Siehl

You said I was safe

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Listening: The Secondary Trauma.

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

“If you are a man who is becoming upset/depressed/overwhelmed/hopeless/defensive when you listen to the women in the world/your life talk about their experiences, you need to talk about it. With another man.

I really, really mean this. You absolutely need to talk to another guy. A guy you are friends with and who you trust is ideal.

If you don’t have that kind of guy in your life- and, seriously, you are not alone in that area- then you have the very hard, critical work of figuring out how to make that kind of friendship ahead of you. If you are feeling a restless helplessness over all of this, that can be your challenge.

And if you are a guy who has already figured this out- if you’ve already figured out the circle thing and the male friendship and intimacy thing and how to be supportive of women thing- then my personal challenge to you is to go and find the guys in your world who haven’t totally made this connection, and pull them into your circle. Mentor them. Teach them how to do what you’ve figured out to do.

Seriously, I can’t do that. Your girlfriends and lady friends and moms and sisters and classmates and bosses can’t do that. But you can, and that is absolutely invaluable.

Women need men to learn how to be emotionally connected to other men. We need men to learn how to draw emotional support and nurturing from other men. Not to do that in absence of us, but in addition to us. Because men being isolated and lonely- it really, really is killing us.

Men and women, it is really killing us.”

Notallmen/Yesallwomen, secondary trauma and relearning everything for the sake of not killing each other

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

“The greatest gift you can give someone is your own personal development.” – Jim Rohn

Not all Men.

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

In the usual world, the occasional anomaly Elliot whatshisfucks not withstanding, it seems it’s always the ones who say “I’m not that guy” who fall the hardest when they behave like one; the ones who deny their darkness as from another breed are, of course, the least capable of fessing up and overcoming their embodiments of it.

But the fact of the matter is, in our culture, we are all covertly groomed to one degree or another into being sexist rapist fucks.

I’ve found immense power and clarity in facing and integrating my darkness around what I’m capable of. In there, I am that guy (and so are you).

I do my very best to make the choices not to behave like that guy, probably like you do, too. But when I fuck up, I am capable of seeing it and doing something about it.

That’s more than I can say for the entitled ‘nice guys’ I’ve encountered in my life.

So what to do about it?

Let’s take an example of a conversation on facebook that stemmed from this meme about men who interject in the conversations of women which depict their experiences of sexism with the age old defense “Not all men do that”. AKA, “I don’t do that”.

Let me first start by saying; bullshit. Yes, you do. In fact, you’re doing it right that second. *cough*maleprivilege*cough*

A person is exercising their privilege when they enter into a conversation regarding the experiencing of oppression by others who do not share that privilege and attempt to turn that conversation into one about them by interjecting their dismissive viewpoint.

AKA “No, that’s not what’s happening.”

In the case of men chiming in about women’s issues in being consistently marginalized in patriarchy soup, that tends to happen a lot. By pointing this out, I’m not discounting maleness. I’m discounting the use of maleness as privilege to dismiss the real experiences of women.

The answer is for the men who want to make the totality of the conversation about their kneejerk defensive argument that ‘not all men’ behave in the way that is being described, to shut the fuck up.

Literally, just keep your holy always-more-important voice to yourself. I know how hard that is. But just do it. Practice. It gets easier.

Instead, listen and do your best to empathize with what is being said about the experiences that are being had by the people who are complaining about the way they are being treated in a society you directly benefit from.

Jumping in to defend yourself says a lot more about your shame and need for validation than it does about the person who is expressing their distaste for their lifetime of being treated as subhuman, whether it’s worded more generally than you’ve deemed necessary or not.

It is not your job to express how someone has responded to their mistreatment in a way you as Automatic Arbiter Of Everything find unjustified.

Repeat: It is not your job to express how someone has responded to their mistreatment in a way you as Automatic Arbiter Of Everything find unjustified.

I’ll just throw in here that I learned what I said because I was once the dickhead who kept asking angry black feminist women why they were so pissed off at all the white feminist women, because as a white feminist woman who cares about race issues, I took it personally. *I* am not that guy!

Surely it was incredibly important that I stomp all over their conversations regarding the oppression and vindictiveness they’ve experienced from white feminists that plagiarize their work, and disrespect them over their semantic transgressions I have decided to knitpick them about.

Because I had FEELS, and I had privilege, so fuck these meanass bitches. So what that they deal with hate and racism every day of their life, I needed to say my righteous piece! Sexism effects me, too; I’m a feminist, too, so I must speak to this perceived injustice in how they are handling their injustice! It was so important for me to say what I was thinking!

I was used to my feelings and my important behavioral insights being the most important thing in the feminism room because that’s what society has told me all my life as a white woman with charisma and social power. MY voice MATTERS.

Newsflash: They aren’t. It doesn’t.

There’s real work to be done here, everywhere, and it starts with the people who are in socially groomed power positions shutting up, stepping back, and giving those who don’t have that power a voice, the opportunity to speak, to express their realities, and to exercise their own agency. Especially in the conversations THEY ARE FUCKING STARTING AMONGST THEMSELVES!

It’s incredibly painful to go through that process, to stand by and not be able to make a struggle or a triumph about you, straight white guy. I really feel for you and your confusion if you’re relating to this threat to your entitled position in the world.

And I get it. I’m skinny pretty straight white well-spoken cis girl. I’ve been there. I am still there. It sucks, it’s confusing, and none of us asked to be in the power positions we were born in. And we were all born in at least some.

But if you actually wanna do something about this, rather than leveraging angry marginalized voices to rationalize your clumsy privileged butthurt, you’re gonna have to sack up and learn that not every conversation is about you and your fucking feels and your fucking opinions.

My observations of others, and of myself, indicate that in general people grow by recognizing one extreme, trying on the opposite extreme, and then settling somewhere in the middle.

As for social justice, it seems to go: ‘Not my problem/don’t notice/I don’t see color’ to ‘ohmygod I am so freaking out here guys ohmygod here let me fix that for you also poor me I’m so INVESTED look at how invested I am in being on your side oh my god my privilege is choking me aahhh!!’ to, eventually, hopefully, actual allyship – which lies in the middle.

As for snapping out of being a perpetrator or aggressor yourself? Well, one fast track is getting caught, called out, and not being let off the hook.

You’re welcome.

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

“The reason I’m stronger is that I’ve done the work.” – nee