Monday, February 3, 2014

And then I realized the water was boiling.

It's been so long, I don't know where to start.  
     I don't know how to start.  
          It feels like I've forgotten how to breathe.

It's been one month and one day since I last saw him.

     I keep cycling between betrayal and depression, fear and determination, love and concern.

January shattered me.

    Now I am learning how to put the pieces back together.

I can't say I'm managing it well, 
but I have woven a small safety net of people who are In The Know and they have
offered me every bit of love and support I could hope for.
They bring glue and tape and welding torches and string and
all sorts of other pretty little things to try and bandage
what has happened here. 
To help me put it all back in place.

So...yes, I'm a jagged fucking mess.

But I am loved, all the same.

I just need to keep remembering that.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Love in the Time of Depression. (Or: How I Maintain My Relationship Status.)

In adulthood, I've seen more and more friends and lovers either diagnosed with depression or dating someone else who has been.  While there are several hundred treatments and symptom-reducers out there, I know that I have had the best luck with simple mind-over-matter techniques and a dash of stubbornness.  I can not let this change me.  I will not let this become me.  I will kick my feet out from under the covers this morning and plant them on the ground because DAMN IT, BRAIN, I HAVE THINGS TO DO TODAY.

Of course, there are still moments of despondency, where even my Irish pride seems like no match for the subtle-yet-overwhelming tedium of it all.  This is the point where I rely on two things:
1)  A plan
2)  A routine

The plan is usually something simple, but broad.  It covers some short-term and long-term goals to meet by specific deadlines, so regardless of what's going on (or not going on?) in my world, I have something to focus on and work toward.  I learned long ago that focusing on and working toward a specific future forces my brain to wrap around the concept that, yes, that future date DOES exist, and with all the work I'm putting toward that goal, I had better stick around and reap its fruits!

The routine is a specific thing or things that I make sure to do on a daily basis at a specific time, no matter how rushed or tired or anxious or depressed I am.  It's something altogether ordinary, but as I'm admittedly a control freak when I get more stressed, having a certain thing that must happen every day is comforting.  And, depending on the routine and the length of the depression, that routine act can become something to look forward to...something enjoyable, even when it feels like the rest of the world is off-kilter.

I'll focus specifically on the routine bit, because I noticed this same advice popping up in blogs and advice columns for couples who are struggling when they've "lost that lovin' feeling."  Come up with a routine (bonus points if it's about physical intimacy), and stick with it!  It's a couple that keeps "date night" sacred, or those who agree to have sex every Wednesday night (barring any serious illness or act of nature), or even my sister giving her husband a kiss on the cheek every morning before they leave for work.
For me, it's waking Scandium up with a long cuddle and a tender kiss for the last few minutes I'm at home before darting to work every weekday.  Even if I'm running late, I make sure that kiss is there.

It's my expression of love and appreciation for him, my reminder to us both that the world is worth waking up for.  It's my promise to him that I am here for him, just as he is for me.

May you have a happier June!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Steubenville, and Why It Just Feels Hopeless.

I meant to post this a few weeks ago, but the more this post developed, the more I needed time away to think some things through.  If this is no longer on the top of everyone's minds, I am here to simply should be.

* * * * *

The Steubenville rape trial delivered two guilty verdicts, and the media patted itself on the back and declared that we made progress this week on behalf of all rape victims.  Without any physical evidence on her side, a young female was able to use the photographic and video evidence originally posted to bring her further shame and pain in order to bring justice instead.  Hooray, Internet!  Pat yourselves on the back and go home-- this was a triumph.

"I would truly like to apologize to [the victim], her family, and the community...  No pictures should have been sent around, let alone taken."

Mays did not apologize for what he and his friends 

did to this girl.  He apologized that evidence of the attacks was saved on some phones.

And we smile and agree that justice was served...  Hooray, Internet.  Pat yourselves on the back...

I wonder why this kind of response is tolerated.  I wonder why the judge felt that this was an appropriate public statement.  I wonder why there has been little to no ridicule regarding these words.  I wonder why, after all this supposed "outrage" by the social media, that the nation is suddenly so happy and complacent to hear that these boys will spend at least some time behind bars.  Maybe.  If their attorneys don't successfully appeal their convictions/sentences.  

I asked my mother about her response to all of this.  I soon learned that she, like many other rape survivors, spent as little time paying attention to the trial coverage as possible.

It triggered too many emotions.  It dug up too many memories that they would rather keep buried.  It was too much...

Not me.  I glued myself to the television screen during breaks at work, scoured the internet for updates at home-- I wanted so desperately to hear the right outcome from this trial; After all, the definition of rape wasn't in question here, it was how the testimony of others and the shared media could be used in place of concrete physical evidence to prove someone's guilt.  Game-changer!

What I heard and saw instead did not make me feel empowered.  I saw rape apologists.  I saw peers of the victim threaten HER for taking action against her violators.  I saw how quickly the world lost interest in the trial as soon as they thought it was was no longer newsworthy, according to the mass media, so of course it dropped out of the light.

Everyone is at fault here, when no one speaks up about the real issues behind these stories.  Our culture of "boys will be boys" and "girls must protect themselves," the self-defense classes we went to as preteens where we were told that "eventually you'll just have to give in," and this whole myth of the rapist as a cloaked figure in the night who jumps out behind the bushes...

I don't know how we begin to fix it

if we can't even continue the conversation

once NBC is through writing its catchy headlines.

Your homework this weekend is to help me regain my faith in humanity.  Remind me why we are deserving of ANY of the riches we are so blessed with.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Yes, there will be blood.

Busted knuckles, bruised shins, a mouth full of pennies and anger and self-doubt.
My 2012, figurative and literal.
Still, there is love for all of these scabs, patches, scars.  I look outside myself and acknowledge a kind, gentle world.  I look within myself and I

Angst-ridden overtures that rise within me are quickly subdued with just a scent.
Racing thoughts are calmed, tempo slows to match your heartbeat.
My fingers weave between yours, and even though the city lights are so bright from here...I see stars.

I would carve our initials into a tree.
I watch with delight as you take my broken flesh in your hands; Mold me into something lovely.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

To give your heart.

Tonight marks the 17 year anniversary of my father's heart transplant.  Forgive me, readers, if I'm a bit ramble-y and pensive.  

I will often complain to friends and strangers alike about how limited the English vocabulary is.
Case in point:
I love you.

Really, though, I probably do.  I love every damn one of you until you give me reason not to anymore, and even then it usually has to be a pretty good reason.  If you are my friend, or even my frienemy, I will worry about you constantly, and give you advice when you ask it of me (and often even when you don't-- sorry about that), and laugh at your weird jokes, and hold your shoulders tightly when you're having a panic attack and you need something tangible to focus on.  As one human speaking to another, I care deeply for you and wish for your success.  

I am not in love with you.

If I let myself feel that much for...all of you...maybe even ten of you...gods, even two of would probably crush me.

Don't take this the wrong way.  Being in love is something that I want very much, and the pursuit of it has led me down some rather interesting avenues, but there's a depth, a weight to that particular string of words that I doubt time and time again if I could handle at this stage in my life.  Beyond the commitment level: Can a person love others before zie loves zirself?  Zie cannot love zirself before zie knows zirself, right?  And how the fuck does a person KNOW all of that anyway?


The basic connection between those two key phrases is "love."  The broader connection is humanity.  What person checks the "organ donor" box on a driver's license application without at least feeling that basic connection to others of our species, and at least a little bit of love?  What person volunteers for a good cause, donates to a community organization, spends time educating others on safety, health, or finances, or even shares a great recipe without loving those recipients on a basic level?

Love one another, and let that love grow.
Even if you're not religious, your very nature commands it. 

I'll end with a shameless plug:
My father would not be alive today if it weren't for that seemingly-insignificant little symbol on a driver's license card.  I won't beat you about it, but I do ask that if you aren't already an organ donor, you contemplate becoming one.  If you are an organ donor, make sure you share that information with your friends and family as well, so they know about your choice if something were to happen.

If you're feeling more adventurous (and the sight of needles doesn't make you faint) I also highly encourage checking out your local blood bank or Bloodmobile to donate to your local area's much-needed blood supply (a good FAQ for health restrictions can be found here ).

If you love your fellow humans as much as I do, you may consider living donor programs as well.  There are several resources available online based on the specific donation and how invasive you're willing to go.  I recently found out about (and signed up for- and sent back my buccal swab kit this morning) Be The Match to add my name to the living donor list for bone marrow.  It's a fairly quick process, the kit comes straight to your house without charge, and once you're in the system you can potentially save lives until you're 60 years of age-- they will contact you if you're a potential match for someone so that they can coordinate further testing.

Thank you all, and have a safe and happy solstice.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tracing jealousy back to its nest: A Snake-Charmer's Guide

Scandium has been taking up an impressive amount of my thoughts and emotional energy lately.  The exact nature of my preoccupation has already been touched on in my previous post, and I won't spend much time detailing our history (at least not tonight; that's a complicated tale to unravel and then reweave...)  Simply put: What began as Fucking quickly and fluidly developed into Passion.  Passion has now grown to what he fittingly called Vague (as neither of us seems comfortable using other terms we've been accustomed to in previous relationships).
In coining the term Vague last night, Scandium also brought up an element in our Vague-ness that I had not previously thought to address...
 He called it a "twinge of...egh."  
A twitch of emotional response to me pursuing some other less-than-platonic friendships.  
A trace of jealousy that snaked inside and coiled itself in the pit of his stomach,

Now, navigating through previous moments of confusion and concern, I know that jealousy is merely a symptom of a more basic need not being met; Whether it's stability, security, physical or emotional companionship, there are a number of reasons why the individual may feel that pang of "something isn't right."  The trick is to discover that reason, have an open and honest dialogue about it, and start to learn from it.  

When Scandium first brought his "twinge of egh" to my attention, we didn't have too much time to discuss it as Vague was the night's prime topic.  I admitted my own confusion about how much (or little) information he would be entitled to as a Vague sexual partner, and made a promise to us both to speak honestly and candidly about anything he requests.  Jealousy remains mostly unsettled until (at least) tomorrow night...

In preparation for this next conversation, I decided to revisit The Ethical Slut for more perspective from women far more experienced than I.  As I read the authors' accounts, I was surprised to recall my own pangs of jealousy that I had previously buried.  It's been long overdue to address these feelings (3 years, now?) and I'll be damned if I try to claim authority on overcoming a snake of jealousy when my own needs to be defined.

Q.  When did this feeling first begin?
     A.  I never felt strange about my relationship with Cadmium and Zinc.  As they were my first foray into an ethical open triad, I was fortunate enough to find a pair who cared for me and abided by Dan Savage's "Campsite Rule" as if it was law.  As for Palladium?  While our interactions weren't as impeccable, I had no qualms with being friends-with-benefits, a tertiary member of his large and loving network.  No, the roots of this worry lie in Mercury alone.

Q.  Why did this feeling begin?
     A.  I can recall Mercury's first (and only) out-of-town date well.  While I had been with Zinc after first starting to date Mercury, I had discussed my intentions beforehand and he had met both Cadmium and Zinc in person.  When Mercury lined up a date of his own, however, he told me about it almost as an afterthought.  I didn't know...anything...about the girl he was going to see.  Though I was excited for him go out with someone new, I felt apprehensive not having a chance to meet her myself and got the distinct impression that she wasn't interested in meeting me.  The girl ended up canceling on Mercury after all, but the strain set a precedent for other interactions to come.
I knew after meeting Mercury's second date that something was amiss.  Again, there was a lack of communication.  While I had the opportunity to speak with her, I could feel Mercury's agitation rise as I'd ask her about her personal life-- hobbies, interests, all very innocuous things.  They left together that evening, and I called him after I finished my shift at work that night to see how the rest of their date went.  I was stricken to hear that Mercury violated two of our core agreements:  First, he had both oral AND PiV sex without discussing it with me beforehand.  Second, he hadn't used any protection with her.  My emotional response was overwhelming.  I had been left out of the conversation entirely, my health and security had been breached (as I had to press him for a response to learn that, no, he hadn't used a condom-- he wouldn't have told me otherwise), and I no longer felt like I could trust him to make the right decisions for his own sexual health or mine.  I refused to have any sexual interaction with him again until he went in for a full battery of STI tests, and his infidelity eventually led to our breakup.  The short courtship we shared was wrought with other indiscretions and all kinds of physical and emotional abuses that I won't detail here, suffice it to say that I have been less trusting of others' intentions since.

Q.  How did this feeling resurface?
     A.  I had a peculiar reaction to Lithium telling me he had a weekend-long date with another girl after he and I spent the previous weekend in Albert Lea.  Though I don't see our relationship as more than physical and friendly, I felt anxious about how much support was appropriate to provide to a play partner while he pursues relationships with others.  I didn't understand the full cause of my concern until Lithium was back in town that Sunday and ready to discuss his new experience.  I was relieved to see him so excited to share, discuss what his next steps may be, and get perspective and feedback from me.  Our conversation showed me what role I play in his life (as a friend and a mentor), and confirmed his respect for me and my feelings.  Once I was validated, I was happy again (and very excited to see him set up his next date with her!)

Scandium, my "twinge of egh" with you stems from our Vague-ness.  With the limits of our language and the worry we both put in any labels, we have also done ourselves the discourtesy of not defining our roles and our needs out of our blessed Vague time together.  While I understand that your reasons for feeling jealousy may differ, I hope that part of my Vague role for you will be to help you navigate and resolve these negative thoughts.  Let's charm that damn snake to death.

For lack of a more refined medium, I leave with this:

"I don't expect this to last a lifetime.  I understand that you see our expiration date.  
But let us have this burn for each other.  Let us be naked to each other.  
Let us have no reason to be jealous."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fucking < Passion < Dedication

This really shouldn't be so hard.

Whether it's with a friend, a stranger, a date or an ex, this is the "fun" one.  More often than not, it's a time-killer; a way to de-stress, try something new, enjoy others' company with a subtle "no strings attached" caveat.  The sex is good, maybe lackluster but still enjoyable for sex's sake.
I have a general rule that I won't fuck anyone that I wouldn't want to be friends with, and by the same token I would probably fuck ANY of my good (currently platonic) friends if given the right time and circumstance.

Alright, you've fucked.  The sex is great.  Amazing, even.  Perhaps it's not even the sex-- even the other person's scent makes you stand up straight.  This is more than mind-numbing adult encounters, this is practically an obsession.  Whether you're in awe of the person or just his or her sexual prowess, this is where things start to really rumble your heart-box, and it's bound to get messy.  It's essential to keep a healthy, objective perspective on the whole situation...though sometimes that can feel impossible.  A bad day, some misspoken words, maybe just misunderstanding the other's intentions...and suddenly you're back in middle school, screaming into a pillow and wondering what the damn point is.
I've had enough opportunistic lust in my life to know better.  Right?  Right.  I should CERTAINLY know better by now.  Absolutely.  That's what I'll keep telling myself...



Dedication is quietly watching the end of the world together.  It is sitting, hand in hand, simply loving and trusting in this absolutely certain thing.  It is not some wild, burning lust.  It is cool, calm, quiet.  It is every moment from when you first lock eyes from across the room until you are sitting on a porch somewhere, experiencing that last sunset with your mate.

It is easy to differentiate between Fucking and Passion.  In jilted lovers' hindsight, Passion and Dedication are worlds apart.  Why, then, is it so hard to see these differences when we first begin a new relationship?  Is it always so static from the start, or is there room for fluidity?  Can something that starts as Passion somehow become Dedication?  Is there ever a time when Dedication starts first, and THEN results in the other?  

More to the point; If there is no transition-- if there truly is only one path I'll ever take with a new friend or lover-- should I still seek Fucking and Passion if I crave Dedication most of all?  Where should my ethics stand?

The last four years have spurred countless conversations about acceptable risk, 
and the appropriate sum for casualties of war.  
But what have we learned about the casualties of love?