Posts Tagged ‘tender strength’

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/

#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.

Well, here we are again.

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

After some time keeping my head barely above water, my hearts busted open into a suck wound of fuzzies and my brain is linking up solutions again. Good night! 

What will I wake up to, though? Ugh, I hate waking up. Maybe that adjustment today worked, but I can’t know until I sleep how things will be when I wake up. 

I need to work on trusting my body more, and relying on my mind less. My fatigue right now probably isn’t physical. I forget that my ballcurled psychic emergency cutoff is to be too exhausted to carry out the plan. I forget that I know how to not spin myself comatose with infinite looping worry when something is wrong with my body. 

Yes, somethings wrong with probably my nerves, and yeah, it hurts. And having my legs giving out on me periodically is not any kind of ok, I’m not gonna lie. 

All the same, I think it’s about time to look into what’s happened in the SSRI world since I visited it last. Aside from being back in a mental place where I must consider that I really could die from this; I cannot accomplish my goals while feeling this way.

Is it valid? Yes. I dont deny or begrudge it. But I’ve got shit to do, god damnit. Shit to do so I can be in a position to handle whatever this is without feeling like I’m waterboarding myself while reciting the most horrible things I can imagine people I love saying about me. 

I trust you, gut. And I can’t right now. You’ll have to wait. 

I’ll get to you, too, but you’ll just have to wait.

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.

Belonging

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

I used to think I would never find a place I belonged.

The lonliness filled me to the point that for a long time I didn’t even have the energy to wander anymore, looking for it, literally or figuratively.

I’d talk myself out of going anywhere I felt I might find my place before the possibility could take shape.

I talked myself out of distancing from people who I could feel saw me as projections of their fractured selves and believed they were smarter, better, and more worthy than me.

I struggled against a rising tide to stay where I was, even as it became clear while the life I’d built for myself fell away piece by piece that it was time.

For years, opportunity and the damn near limitless directions I could take overwhelmed and paralyzed me. And it seemed as though no matter where I went in the world, no matter how well my skills or personality fit into a certain group of other humans, I would never be free of that feeling; I don’t belong. Anywhere.

So in a way, it didn’t matter what the fuck I did. But I had to do something.

So I decided to belong to myself, even though I only felt it part way.

I decided before I was ready, before I really believed, that I had to figure out a way to believe that the possibility of belonging was someplace other than where I was told it was, where I had been encourage to look for it.

I decided to give up most of what I know the majority of the people in my life to work their entire existence stabilizing. I let go of things that I know friends of mine lose sleep over getting, having, and keeping.

I gave away massive amounts of expensive possessions, one of a kind art, things that had defined me for decades.

I flew the nest I’d spent 17 years building and tending as it smoldered behind me, wrought from the merciless determination of a universe demanding transformation, and I left.

One thing I’m quickly learning after doing that, one thing that keeps coming up for me as I look around Texas and camp and experience myself in this environment, is that I don’t actually ‘belong’ any more here and now than I have in any other time of my life.

Yes, it’s true, this camp is strangely well suited for my natural theatrical gifts. And yes, it’s true, the recycling mentality in Texas makes me actually cry sometimes. It’s a mixed bag. Seattle was a mixed bag, too.

But the path to belonging, that feeling I thought meant I was so close to having belonging for myself for so long, was actually control, and dominance. I felt I belonged when I was in charge, when I was leading, when I was on display, and when I was in power.

I learned a long time ago that sort of ‘belonging’ was not only fleeting, high maintenance, and high anxiety — but that I didn’t feel very good about myself once I was dethroned, either. The mist that rationalized the oppressive nature of my height and status, and the grief of having worn mask after mask to maintain the facade that I enjoyed it, once gone, paved a view of someone I was deeply ashamed of.

Belonging is something I now know as a learning.

It’s something that helps me grow, expand, and something I take with me in my soul when I move on.

It’s not popularity in high school, it’s not being the better half of a beguiling power couple, it’s not running a nonprofit — belonging is a muscle I work, that gets stronger and stronger when I am where I should be, experiencing and connecting in ways that feed my soul.

So much has changed in my life. Almost everything. But those changes aren’t why I belong where I ended up.

What’s changed is me.

I belong with me.

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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PTSD no moe

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

EXPERIMENT: Cognitive Process Therapy to address nearly 30 years of a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Fin.

Here are the results.

Full Circle

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

For many idealistic years, I vehemently declared that I would never, ever step foot in LA, certainly never to perform on a stage. Nope. And at one time, I fiercely convinced myself I hated Amanda Palmers guts, too.

This Saturday not only am I going to LA (for like a third time now.. shhhh), this time it’s to be on a stage, talking with Amanda Palmer as part of her Art of Asking book tour, in which our first encounter is mentioned.

What keeps going on in my head right now, is that I didn’t have to let her into my office that day. I didn’t have to rearrange my schedule to be able to see her. I was genuinely busy, genuinely had every opportunity and, on the surface, reason to let her pass me by.

But I knew atmospherically that *I* was worth it. I knew *I* was worth more than the behaviors I had identified with, I knew *I* was worth growing into newer better behaviors, into newer better ways of thinking and relating. Even if it was fucking embarrassing and challenged my ego and was scary as all fuckin shit.

I really can’t imagine a better way for all of this to have happened with Amanda. I wouldn’t have been able to join her, be open to receiving this opportunity, unless it was specifically to talk about the transition in my perspective of her. How we grow and connect and heal each other and love ourselves as human beings, how we can forgive each other, but most importantly, how we can forgive ourselves.

At the time I met Amanda, she was shining a light on everything that was wrong with me, and also everything that could be right if I just stepped into it. Part of me wanted to stay “busy”. I knew I was going to have to face some big ugly shit in myself if I let her in, things I had identified with “being” for a long time, things I was confused and embarrassed about.

I knew being vulnerable to her, no matter what came of it, would just be the beginning of something new for me. I could feel it in the air and in my blood and up my back and in my overheated face. And I knew that maybe I was going to get the shit kicked out of me for it.

I am reminded of a span of 7 recent months I spent writhing in intense emotional pain, trying to show someone important to me how much their unconsciousness, their turtled up insistence of “THIS IS HOW I AM”, their utter self loathing, was hurting me, disrespecting me, and was finally irrevocably destroying our relationship.

I am reminded how much I wanted to do that same thing I witnessed him doing — to dig in my heels, say no, to stay willfully obtuse — when I was faced with the prospect of Amanda showing up on my doorstep.

I did face it. But no one else could have made me do that. And if there is one hard lesson I think I’ve finally, finally learned, it’s that I couldn’t make him, and I can’t make you, do the same.

But I can remind you that you are worth healing for. You are worth reconsidering. You are worth examining. You are worth forgiving. You are worth more than your patterns. You are worth healing what your defenses are covering up. You are worth a kick in your own ass. You are worth more than what you were taught. You are worth raising your standards. You are worth your own honesty. You are worth being seen. You are worth being supported. You are worth letting go of what doesn’t belong to you. You are worth going deeper. You are worth your love, your energy, and your commitment.

You are worth facing your shit. And no one else can do it for you. But when someone comes along who can help you along your way…

Take. The fucking. Doughnuts.

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

“The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die.” – Juliette Lewis

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

“How we call down judgment upon ourselves is simultaneously the most horrific and the most beautiful thing about us.” — Zadie Smith

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

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

What’s in a name?

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Identity. So, everything, basically.

Yesterday I started the transition of my identity from Courtnee Fallon Papastathis to Courtnee Fallon Rex.

I tried this name on briefly a while back when I was messing around with choosing one that left me harder to search for but also somewhat easy to recognize.

Interestingly, the email account I use only for domain registrations still had Courtnee Rex as the name when I logged into it to purchase domains today.

I like how Courtnee Fallon Rex sounds and flows. It’s badass. I like that Rex means Mighty counselor-ruler, King. I like that it’s a masculine name traditionally given to boys. I like that it reminds me of the big king dinosaur who also can’t pick his own nose.

Formidable and fallible. That’s me.

I like it for other, deeper reasons as well.

And suddenly, I am strangely, pleasantly, lighter.

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.”
– Pema Chödrön

Sketchbook update

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

First page with color in my tiny sketchbook. It will be full by summer, I’m betting.

EMFUCKINGBODIED

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

I swear I just saw myself for the first time

I told myself in the mirror

As I cried after connecting so incredibly profoundly with multiple people (And once again meeting another incredible man I can’t have in my life like I would prefer, god damn stupid growth opportunities)

“You are..

An amazing woman.

And you will ALWAYS be
An amazing woman.

No matter what
Anyone else thinks.

And when you die,
The world will be a better place

Because you
were in it.”

I am an artist.
And I am fucking amazing
And I am going to get what I want for myself.

Because I am worth it.
And there is no worthier cause than my happiness.

Thank you for showing me what is possible.
And thank you for believing in me.

Solidarity

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

I had a get last night. A pretty big one. A few of them really, but one in particular that brought about a bit of an ‘ugh’ along with the ‘ah ha!’.

It came about while reading the rather surprisingly amazing comments on this post, about a female artist who creates a series of self portraits while on an acid trip.

In a nutshell, I suspect that, though it often helped me to care a little bit less about what a weirdo I was, my choice to use psychedelics heavily during the intensely depressed and forlorn periods of my life actually trained my brain to stay in those places.

I think that constantly exploring those parts of my psyche so deeply as my mind was still growing evolved me into the person who has struggled so much to resurface and keep my head above water since then.

Generally, when I think or talk about my drug related past, it is to ruminate about being an extreme meth abuser through years of suicidal tendencies and having somehow lived. Or, it’s to illustrate how the experience of pot changed for me over the years – I absolutely hated it when I was younger, and felt very alien and paranoid when I did it, but now, it’s calming and enjoyable for me. I haven’t really spoken in depth about my past psychedelics use, specifically, very much (Though I do occasionally write here after smoking pot, and it’s pretty awesome, allbeit slow going).

“Everything you can imagine is real.” – Pablo Picasso

My teenage psychedelic use (speaking of mainly acid, which I did an amazing amount of) was both deeply blissful and fucking horrifying. I rarely prepared my psyche for it, and almost always did at least twice the dose as would have been appropriate. I had some of the worst trips, the most horrendous visions, sinking horrible anxious torrents of emotional torture, and often was transported into a special brand of hell catered just for me when I dropped acid, the images and fears of which lingered with me long after the effects wore off.

I also found sanctuary, beauty, and joy through other trips, particularly E, when I was a bit older, which was starkly contrasted by a reality where I was nearly exclusively incapable of seeing those things.

Especially in those less frequently positive instances, tripping helped me discover and revisit a well of immense emotional intelligence (not to be confused with emotional maturity, which I’ve only recently developed). But they were atypical of my experiences in total, which were usually laced with anxiety and tension, even if I was having some fun/learning too, and the good trips still had difficult comedowns.

Rarities as they were, positive drug experiences opened doors to profound compassion and understanding for the human condition, and connection with other people, when I otherwise felt an incredible isolation from other human beings that constantly crushed me from the inside.

Like sex and probably other things, though I rightly appeared on the surface to be capable, knowledgable and deeply educated due to my experience, drugs were a responsibility I was not prepared, or even remotely ready for when I had adopted them heavily into my life.

My relationship with drugs was abusive, unstable, obsessive, and an utter codependent roller coaster – like all my intimate relationships were.

I honestly believe that I didn’t know of any better way to deal with what I was going through, and I feel compassion for my past self who was in the position to be making those kinds of decisions – the ones where you look between oblivion and burning alive and have to choose. I had a lot of those, and I did the best that I could.

Visiting all this hindsight caused me to wonder what it might be like to revisit using psychedelics again, now that I’m a lot better off and have healed from much of the self abuse I inflicted. Perhaps they could help repair the damage that perhaps they helped me inflict. I don’t feel the need to jump into anything, but the idea of trying proper doses of a few things to explore what they may have to offer me is appealing.

My psyche shifting into stronger foundations has been a big part of my life lately as I’ve charged bravely though another encompassing wave of progress in therapy. This is the main reason I would consider possibly maybe thinking about the potential of doing this now, after inhaling far more than any number of human’s fair share of drugs in the past. For the first time ever I am enjoying the emergence of a psychic foundation that is stable, expanding, and wholly mine.

I’ve been longing to write about these progressions, but been waiting for it to flow naturally. It’s taken a long time by my standards, even though I’ve used the drafts feature on here more in the last year than I’ve ever done – the concept of letting a post mature into a complete thing rather than S.O.C. writing is a relatively new one since v3.3 – but I like it.

At any rate, this line of thought is a great segue into finally posting about something I’ve had circulating in my drafts for the last few weeks. Yay, drugs (and art!)

Lately I have noticed this fracture in my personality, like I have managed to mostly dismantle my identification with the pain in my past. Where it used to be subconscious and simply immediately true and acted upon, now I sometimes hear the learned behaviors from the abuse speaking as if it weren’t actually me. It’s like I am in third person watching a kid version of myself that looks like an adult version of me saying/thinking disturbing shit. I saw that lost little girl a lot last night. Sorta heavy today.- Facebook Oct 26 2013

As previously mentioned, I’ve been in a pretty good groove as far as that whole personal progress shtick lately, illustrated in the Facebook update above as my increasingly natural ability to observe myself with curiosity and nonreaction/nonjudgement.

The development of my inner world into a multi-leveled compound, the discovery of the children in my underworld, and allowing my personality splits to flesh into characters has been very fruitful. So many things make sense when I view myself this way, and for the most part, I am impressed and fascinated with how my mind protected itself all those years ago. I admit, it’s pretty fucking weird, though.

I think, due in part to my personality being splintered, I generally will have a very specific type of overwhelming physical and emotional reactions to intensely connecting with another person sexually (and also things like very intense/vulnerable performances).

When thrust into that sort of extreme emotional vulnerability, I can immediately retreat deep into often inarticulateable recesses of my psyche to attempt to return to myself as a reaction to it. It’s a common response after opening and allowing another person inside me and, more importantly, deep into my emotional world. I shake and cry and blubber things I don’t remember saying. In the past I’ve sometimes needed to detach physically from the other person in order to regain myself and calm down.

This is one of the reasons I am so very selective as to the people I pursue long lasting sexual relationships with. I, rightly, don’t trust a lot of people to be a successful container for that, even though it only happens a handful of times a year.

I had a breakthrough on Halloween which, incidentally, occurred while I was stoned (I also saw Liddell for the first time while stoned), directly after having very intense and connective sex. My experience was that I had just finished having a universe-hopping orgasm that essentially transported me into myself, and while I was there, my perspective changed.

Suddenly I was viewing through a holographic-like perception of a person I wasn’t familiar with. Sort of like when the optometrist swaps out those monocle-looking lenses to test your eyes – except it also manifested translucently in my spirit and my being, not just my vision. It was like my eyeballs had been magically swapped out for ones that saw a different (or additional, as it turned out) spectrum, and I felt a deep sadness I couldn’t explain.

It wasn’t that I became someone else. I was aware of myself and who I was and was conscious. But I wasn’t.. here, either. It was confusing. I was discombobulated and thrown off. I started to cry, and began searching for someone familiar inside me to direct my awareness to. I found Liddell, and started talking aloud to her (I don’t really do that very much..) repeating “It’s ok. It’s ok. We’re going to be ok. We’re in this together.” while I clutched my chest, crying, searching around in confusion, still on top of my lover.

At the time, I came to the conclusion that one of my shadow personalities on my upper level, the advisor level where the adults are, one of the ones I am aware of and can see a vague outline of but haven’t met yet, was now gone. I felt space where there wasn’t space before, the outline had changed from being solid and gray and having substance to its center to being whispy and white and open in the middle.

At the same time, there is nowhere else for this figment to go but within me – so, it seemed at the time that one split personality had fused with another. I thought Liddell, since she was the available one, and I lived under the assumption for about a week that Liddell had somehow sucked up another chunk of my personality like a little highlander.

A week or so later, I talked with my therapist about the experience. After explaining as best I could and being pretty befuddled about it she says to me, essentially, that if an absorption is what happened, it’s kind of the point of all this work.

The theory we currently work under is that consistent formative trauma split me up, but I didn’t go full MPD (now referred to as Dissociative Personality Disorder), probably because my dad stayed around. While he was his own brand of crazy and damaged, he was consistently there, and he fought hard to be that person in my life.

Though I have personally splits, and a history of dissociating into them, I also have threads that interconnect me to them all, and I don’t experience time loss or amnesia inherent in a true Multiple Personality Disorder.

I haven’t dissociated in months, really, save one time, and when it happens, it’s much easier to control and observe. I recognize that something that feels awful (it took a while to figure out what that feeling even was, or that it was a bad touch I could do something about) is controlling what I am saying/doing, usually in aggressive/standoffish text messages with my primary lover, and it takes me much less time to overpower the primate, apologize and begin interacting reasonably again.

Apparently as I heal psychically, eventually, they will all be reabsorbed somehow. I took the next week processing through the images and shifts in perceiving myself as having miraculously fused pieces of my mind together, as well as being a little put off by the idea of my Liddell being more beefy. I mean, she’s kind of a tunnelvisioned brute who caused me an awful lot of trouble.

I went back into my next therapy session wanting to talk about my experience sitting with the space that was created when it happened. How that space sometimes felt like an articulated single bubble in the intestinal caverns of my mind, and other times that space felt like the bubbles in carbonated soda, diffuse and impossible to hold. It was shifting and nebulous and I hadn’t put my finger on it.

Been feeling really good and focused and productive in my personal goals lately, in general. Lots of art progress as well as personal stuff, and my relationships with other people feel a lot more stable and safe. I am also periodically sad and kinda weepy right now.  After an entire life of extreme moods and feeling like about 20 fractured people, I only just became aware of the core personalities that have been motivating me a few months ago, and when I did, so many things about me started to actually make sense. It was sort of weird but also a tremendous relief to find my underground. – Pt. 1 of Failed Facebook update, saved in this draft version

I also talked about my various emotional reactions, which included a sense of sadness and abandonment. I’ve only just begun meeting these parts of me, and already, they are leaving? I’m so fucking disposable that even the voices in my head that I haven’t met yet go away?

And if the point of all this work is to get rid of them all.. where does that leave me, a person who knows nothing else but fractures and inner tensions stretching my mind and feelings to their conclusions? Despite enjoying frequent moments, and now a very quiet, subtle and lingering sense of a wholeness, I can’t even IMAGINE my inner world being one whole. I can’t even imagine it. It’s all I’ve ever known, even before I knew what it was – *I* don’t even possess the ability to *IMAGINE* being an entity without those inner pulls and conflicts. The fuck.

I’m up for this and will face it head on and it also feels like no sooner did I make those strides to meet these little people in there, they’re leaving. I mean, I want to, but I am also scared and really don’t have any idea what the fuck I’m doing. Since I became ready to find my mom almost a year ago now, all this stuff has really accelerated, and sometimes I kinda feel like, hey, slow the fuck down, dude. – Pt. 2 Failed Facebook Update

After confiding this, my therapist asked if perhaps I could say goodbye to this ‘lost’ personality, to complete what had happened. I thought about it for a while and replied that though my emotional reaction told me that it would be a worthwhile process, I wasn’t able to because I could not visualize, either literally or in a figurative manner, who or what went away. Until I could do that, I wouldn’t be ready for the closure of a goodbye.

So she asked me to tell her about them. Look around and see if I could sense together what this personality had been about. I cleared my mind and waited. And waited. It seemed like a mile of blank, and I remember thinking how impatient and annoyed I would have been not long ago, and how I would have given up looking and changed the subject before the length of time I had already been waiting.

Not long after that, a visual flash hit me – a cartoon of a small, smooth, round, bubbly shaped, tiny little monster, peering part of his head around a corner, and immediately hiding again. He was jet black, with huge all-black marble eyes that both made him adorable and creepy. He purred and clicked when he moved.

He reminded me a little of Stitch, in his mannerisms and in that he was utterly alone. No one else like him, anywhere. Alien. So lonely, terrified of being discovered, dissected and tortured. Constantly hiding, curling up in tiny corners and shoving himself into little nooks that were so tight he couldn’t move his little body. Not a cell of violence in him, and not a cell of confidence either. Tender, agonizingly vulnerable, and completely afraid.

I spent a long while after that recalling just how lonely and small I felt growing up. I was too intelligent and insightful to tolerate my insufferable peers, too morbid and dark to fit in with the adults, extremely sexual very early in my life, and was just a weird messed up kid. I was also clearly being traumatized, hence forcing much of any perceptive adult to feeling immediately uncomfortable and helpless and often confused around me, which I of course sensed and internalized.

(Also of significance, he was a he – only the second male I’ve discovered thus far, the first being a small child who, until about a month ago, subconsciously bared the burden of serving as a conduit for the totality of the flow of my emotions. That was a hell of a therapy session, and I somewhat wish I’d written about it when it happened since I don’t much recall the details now, however I processed that by talking with my loved ones about it, so I’m ok with it. Maybe that one will come out a bit later. This is already a lot.)

As I described this little black alien cartoon I’d just discovered, I noticed behind where he had poked his head out for a moment was a hallway, propped in heavy slate grey walls of smoothish rock. Not machine smoothed, but worn smoothed, like the side of a mountain under a waterfall, but dry. As part of that wall of rock, I saw the space – a perfect outline of his little body.

This post is called Solidarity because when I began drafting it, I thought I had fused. Instead, it seems I have learned that my hider was an ethereal massless alien shape shifter; And, I can see him, now.

For some reason, the title still seems to fit.

Brothers: A tale of two sons

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

The game itself was equally amazing.

When I was just a little girl…

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Want to help me flesh out some specifics from a scene in my newest show?

Please respond with what immediately comes to mind when presented with the phrase “Inner Child”.

Mine was: Inconvenient asshole.

SEAF 2013

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Disclaimer: After a long week on my feet, I am a bit fried mentally, more than a bit exhausted physically, and yet still rather awake and energetic. My creativity is in the shitter, though, so if you’re hoping for poetry unfortunately I doubt you’ll find much this time. You will, however, find a blog entry about my experience performance directing for the Seattle Erotic Art Festival this year, and a little bit of a backstory as to why that’s kind of a Big Deal for me. Also; I speak only for myself on this blog, and do not represent any official stance of the FSPC or SEAF directorial committee here. Enjoy.

Well, that was really something!

This year’s Seattle Erotic Art Festival had us returning to one of my favorite festival venues – the Showbox Sodo – which, at the time of our last occupation in 2007, was the Fenix. The Showbox had the best facilities and friendliest staff of any venue I’ve worked in, ever. They were wonderful and contributed highly to my enjoyment this weekend.

After many years of vastness and what became a disproportionate focus on spectacle performance art and dance parties, it feels to me now that SEAF has again embraced its roots as an *ART* festival. Though the event wasn’t perfect (um, we seriously need to strike those walkway tables after 10pm next year – great when there’s 100 people, not so much when there’s more.), I would be hard pressed to be more pleased with the results of our hard work this year.

Up until 11pm, patrons could browse, hold a conversation, ask about the artwork and purchase pieces without being interrupted, or having to scream over loud thumping music. During our after-parties when we’d raised the volume some, patrons never had the lights illuminating the artwork shut off on them and were still capable of browsing and buying, and were never forced to pay attention to anything they didn’t want to.

The artwork was the best I’ve ever seen at the festival, which is including the catalogues from previous years in which I did not attend. Most of the pieces that weren’t really my style had a clear validity and seemed to belong in the festival regardless of my personal preferences. I think I only truly disliked perhaps two. The film exhibition, which I unfortunately had absolutely no personal experience with due to it being offsite (I’d like to see the films onsite, or staggered next year with the visual art festival on another weekend), was spoken of incredibly highly and sold very well.

My absolute favorite parts?

In addition to this, I directed a suite of beautifully organic and diverse performances that included many shapes, sizes, and colors that complimented the art, captivated our audience and helped maintain a dignified, elegant and erotic atmosphere.

My team was impressive, I had an excellent stage manager, and every single one of my performers made me look really fucking good.

In addition to that, my workload was reasonable enough that I got to have a lot of fun at the festival, both during my tenor as a director and after my performances were finished. The vibe in the venue was positive, and everywhere I looked patrons were smiling and happily chatting. I even spent a bit of time at the bootblacking station overseeing most of the venue, smiling, watching people slowly pour in through the cash doors.

And boy do I fucking love being on a headset!

These are only my vanity pictures. To see the other amazing pictures of the festival check out SEAF’s flickr stream and be sure to log in to see the ‘adult’ ones with buttcrack and boob.

SEAF for me carries a long backstory with many deep layers, in regards to my individual growth in sexuality, as an event director/performer, and in terms of healing from an abusive relationship. I was first involved in the festival as a model in an accepted piece in 2003, and nearly every year since then.

From 2005-2008 I contributed to SEAF directly as a performer, patron and director. After the 2008 festival, in which I had directed aerial performances and performed, I stepped away from SEAF during a bad breakup with the Performance Director at the time, who had eyes on directing the Festival.

When we split up, we were both heavily involved in SEAF and the Little Red Studio together. In the separation, though we never officially divided things, I basically got LRS, and in turn got Obsidian (If you don’t know about that show, you probably should.), and he got SEAF, and with that, the Director title he’d wanted, eventually.

I was angry, hurting, mentally dismantled, and felt left out by cutting myself off. I was also busy with my own creative endeavors, and really, I had no choice but to leave given the circumstances.

Over the years, I heard through the grapevine of the changes being made to the festival, how it had become bigger, more glitzy, more stage show, bigger, bigger, bigger, and less focused on the artwork or feeling like an art festival.

In 2011, I submitted artwork, a performance proposal and returned in a limited capacity under the direction of Eva Luna as an ambient performance artist, with my most estranged year away being 2012 in which I strenuously returned to having no involvement.

I had no idea how much I missed SEAF, in part due to these changes I didn’t agree with and my bitterness toward the person making them, until I was capable of returning in a directorial capacity when my ex left on bad terms in December. I wrote after being invited to the first planning meeting I’d been to in 5 years;

It’s funny, when something is simply off the table, how disconnected with missing being involved in it you can be. – http://blog.neevita.net/archives/13498

I had forgotten that SEAF, when available to me, is one of the few places I absolutely, without doubt or apology, belong.

My reentry has been validating, satisfying and very fruitful after a rough start in preproduction earlier this year. I can attest with no hesitation that we pulled off a miracle given the circumstances and logistical/administrative turbulence we all went through.

One of my favorite things to do right now is marvel at how impressively all the people who remained involved stepped up and gave this event everything they had. We worked together naturally and without any pettiness, arguments or personal difficulty that I could see. Everyone was amazing at their jobs and awesome to work with.

I am so thrilled that I stuck with this through my storm of concerns over the last few months. I have learned a lot in the past 6 weeks and grown as an event director as well as personally through this experience. I really just can’t express in words how lovely it is to be back, or how proud I am of what the festival has become/returned to being.

As the smoke clears I can see that the occurrences which lead me away for a while had also saved me from the corrosive aspect of the learning experiences the org went through during the time my ex was in charge, and for that I’m thankful. Had I still been working on SEAF since 2009, regardless of my personal feelings regarding him, knowing myself as I do, I suspect I would have been worn of it and have moved on by now, just as it’s getting good again.

Instead, I get the best of both worlds – I didn’t have to continue working with him, didn’t have to be around him, I got to take a break and focus on my own work and artistry, put on some amazing shows, created an arts nonprofit, nurtured my massage and gallery business, and now I have the ability to reap the benefits of his work and what was learned from his mistakes regardless. Thanks, dude!

Now Extrovert Entertainer Whip-cracking Chatty Me fades into the background, and Tender Introverted Drained Me begins her recovery from intense connection fatigue and activity of the last few days. I connected with a LOT of people in profound and significant ways, my feet are killing me, and I am very, very tired.

For now, I will be behind the scenes again for a while, tending to myself, my personal creative work, and processing through the emotional impact of a very big few days – which includes being rather elated and prideful of my accomplishments, and planning my strategy for next year.

It feels good to be back to what was my element for a long time, and to again embrace it as a keen expression of who I am and who I want to be in the world.

Looking out for #1

Monday, July 8th, 2013

The last year has been… hard. The last few weeks… have reminded me that sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall into place.

New client this morning, local 360 lunch and shopping for tea and sexkitten pretties with David, currently sipping sangria while awaiting a prescreening of Pacific Rim (mech vs. godzilla) action, which I was invited to by Mr. Neilhimself, who agreed to sign the copy of “Ocean..” I bought today for a friend. Smiling? Oh yes. – Facebook, July 4 2013. I caught the fireworks from the deck of a 27th floor highrise that night, too.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to write through a lens of inherently carefree positivity, for what seems like quite a change from my end.

The theme among those who share my journey is that of an “it’s about time” sort of bent, with some “ride the wave as long as you can because you deserve it” thrown in for good measure.

I agree. It is rare for my life to have this kind of ease and excitement to it, and I have committed to myself that I will unabashedly ride this wave for as long as I can.

The whole of my trip, including connecting profoundly and nearly seamlessly with my once-distant-now-close friends Per and Ingrid in Stockholm, and returning to Seattle (despite my reluctance to return to America) to the immense validation and opportunity I’ve experienced in the last week are taking their wonderful toll.

Even for the rough parts, including much of my time in New York where I was gritty, sick, depressed and fucking working while on vacation, bared impressive fruit in their opportunities to test the bounds of my courage and grace under fire. Which, I guess I was up for, this time.

A few important arrangements that were not working well in my life have since been addressed (skillfully, may I add – it doesn’t always happen that way) because of the time I had to be with myself and figure out what was going on, even if the experiences themselves were somewhat agonizing.

For the time being, it seems as though the floodgates I normally keep closed to this kind of feeling for whatever reasons (in order to focus on what I consider to be the important work in my life? Guilt? Self harm? Lack of space? Ignorance?) are open.

I am giddy and goofy and affected and expansive. I am thinking of others and able to reach out and help more. I am not worried about money. I am bathing myself in the affections of the wonderful men in my life, treating myself and allowing others to treat me, eating good food, cooking, snuggling my cat, sleeping in, enjoying my work, and playing.

Many thanks to Neil Gaiman for choosing to publicly attest to his excellent taste in massage practitioners ;)

Inside, I am wearing a sparkly tiara. A black one.

There is light shining in through cracks I’ve apparently been urgently stuffing dirty oily rags into for as long as the backscroll goes. The light from these spaces is illuminating the floating dust in the air, challenging my eyes, and killing bacteria.

All of the people in my head are on vacation, smiling, grazing, laying in the grass, resting, when I look to them. In comfort and relief, they are sighing. Sometimes, I cry a little. It is good.

I am finally figuring out how I want the key of my relationship map to look. Like, how I REALLY want it to look, in reality, not in some kind of socially perpetuated soulmate fantasy my childhood self created an eon ago. And I can see better why I have kept making the same mistakes, letting myself so often be drawn into vortex after vortex, letting them get in my way.

Though some of the changes I’ve made in my life, like releasing my most treasured lover from any form of fidelity to me, are scary, the part of me that yearns for a sense of security that I never find in partnerships is gaining some perspective about the definition of insanity.

Whether I manage to blackbox my way into doing it again, for now I am keenly aware that I have spent quite long enough martyring myself for my imperfections in relationships.

Why must I only be either the perfect smothered partner with someone, or hopelessly alone? Why is part of me so violently convinced of that? Some day, I will know the answer to that question, I am sure – for now, I am satisfied that this part of me is no longer captaining my emotional ship.

Currently, for whatever reasons I came to this place in my life, I am for myself, wholeheartedly, because I completely want to be, not because I am punishing, running, or protecting myself from the sickening vulnerability of being loved. Due to finding my place in that, I am also finding myself more open to the significance of others in my life than I have been in a very long time, and as such my relationships are blossoming again.

It seems I got precisely what I needed from my travels. Good reflections, revelations, time off, lots of food, the right kind of solitude, an appreciation of just how wide and far reaching my options are, and an equal amount of appreciation for my capacity to take any number of them by the balls and own the living fuck out of it.

While on vacation this time, I looked back to my takeaway from my big solo road trip in 2011, and was surprised to see that though I had forgotten I’d written a wishlist at all, I have made great strides in addressing all the wants and lacks I had discovered – most notably figuring out the Tiny House thing, and changing my perspective on a couple aspects of my life, like how much time to give myself between commitments in a given day.

This trip, I came home knowing how I would shift things and why my proposed changes, even with uncertain outcomes, would work – and my timing was perfect this year, returning just as the sun decided to come out. For me, of course. Duh. :P

So. This is what it’s like facing the world when *I* am taken care of already.

I see…

Violence and Silence: Jackson Katz, Ph.D

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Everything about this video is Good Shit. Everything.

Meeting the maker

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

I’m pretty sure I’m at another one of those places in my life where a big internal shift is about to click into place after multiple weeks of limping around funny, like when every step hurts your ankle because the bones aren’t lining up quite right.

I am transforming. It is intense and embarrassing and lonely and hard.

Any minute now I’m going to start those ankle circles again and this time, on maybe the second or third one, something is gonna snap and suddenly my leg will fizzle in relief and come back to life.

As part of this multifaceted, uncomfortable time, I am finding that the internet — which has been my line for social interaction for most of my life — especially in times like these, doesn’t seen to really work for me anymore. The interactions I do have online nowadays are weak and hollow feeling when all is said and done, like a fancy dinner you drive away from in a fancy car, but it’s in exchange for your soul and your health which are far more valuable. My relatedness with technology and the internet tastes like cheap chemical candy once the bulk of it has melted in my mouth.

Which brings me to the other piece of my skewed anklebone puzzle; My anger, which I often focused through online tirades, isn’t working for me anymore, either.

And dammit, I fucking like my anger! I didn’t run an early 00’s “Courtnee’s Hate Mail” column on stileproject for fuckin nothing!

The upshot is that my perspective has deepened to the point that I am uable to blast that adolescent, fiery hate without being distracted by the tender underbelly and potential consequences of slashing at it. As such, I don’t rant like I used to, as often as I used to, and for Previous Me that was a major stress outlet for a long time (not to mention a source of endless amusement).

I think the best example of this movement in my life, at least the most shattering one, would be an experience I had recently where I met a celebrity that I had previously foam-mouthed ranted about online, in person.

Not only did I meet this person, who I never imagined I would meet, I met them in the context of my massage practice. They had come to me for healing and support.

In that moment that I received the email reservation request, I thought maybe my friends were fucking with me. Kinda wanted that to be the case, but, I think I knew it wasn’t. I began the process of soul searching to determine how I would respond to it, every shitty, petty, mean thing I had said in my rant neutralized — Simply at the thought of potentially interacting with them face to face, things I had written in a vacuum, things I actually believed and meant at the time, vanished.

It was then that I remembered the little uncertain voice that had been whispering at me while I was writing, the one that caused me to take the rant down a day later. The one that tells me that the way I historically harness and point my anger isn’t working anymore. The one that tells me I have to go back to work and level up, again.

*sigh* again.

And I knew that this person contacting me was no joke, and no accident. I knew that I needed to step into the opportunity to take responsibility for what I had said, why I had said it, and to approach this client with integrity. And I had about a half hour to figure out how I was going to do it.

When Amanda Palmer arrived, I said there was something we needed to talk through, and I told her that I needed her to know that I had said some pretty shitty things about her on the internet.

I explained that while I had had some true disagreements with her, what I said was bullshit. Mostly, it was uncalled for vitriol from all sorts of places in my life that I had projected onto her image as a celebrity – and that was why I had said the things I had said.

I confided that I needed for her to know that about me before I could be comfortable sharing an intimate energetic connection, such as having my hands all over her. And I said I was sorry. Because I was.

The response to my emotional risk was overwhelming. Tears, relief, and “I was supposed to meet you today” kind of overwhelming. The massage was magical, as was the massage I gave Neil after working on Amanda.

After they had left my massage studio, I checked out Amanda’s blog, to gain some kind of insight into why she thought meeting me that day was kismet. I was taken aback by how powerful the experience had been for me, and as someone who is generally on the other side of the coin, invoking transformations and shifts for others, I was interested in what made this situation uniquely mutually beneficial.

I found a lot of similarity and relatedness there.

This person had come to me from a very vulnerable, familiar place, and we had deeply connected. That would not have happened had I not had the courage and insight to risk myself, cop to having been an asshole, and opened myself to the possibility of rawly connecting with the real person who had presented to me, as the real person I also am.

The night before I met Amanda, I was falling asleep on my office floor to a flimsy cocktail of a few pills on top of champagne. I had just sold a painting and been taken to an amazing meal, yet I was on my floor crying, fantasizing that by some miraculous fluke the chemicals might align just right and I wouldn’t wake up.

Clearly, the universe had other plans.

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” – Maya Angelou

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Yesterday, I believed I never would have done, what I did today.