Ah, a blank page. You know what this means? Time for more heresy.
My husband says I am only allowed to chew out one thing or person per day, so here we go. I’m meeting my limit. Hi, limit. My target of the day is something I have been meaning to rant on for a little while now, so here we go.
I am so happy for you if you are a member of a church and it works for you. There are some things I cannot abide by, though, in any doctrine it is found. I’m going to use my experiences in the Mormon church for reference because that is what I know. If anyone has any qualms with what I’m saying, feel free to chime in. This is an open forum.
One of the worst curses in Western literature I have found to date is found in the dying words of Queen Jocasta in the play OedipusTyrannus – “may you never know who you are.” I think about those words a lot, especially in the context of what I’m about to talk about.
I hate being told who I “should be”. If I don’t know who I am, what gives you the authority to tell me who I am? Spoiler: nobody has that authority. There was one time I bought into what people told me I was, and it had long-lasting effects. About every year or so, the kids are all wrangled up and are taught about “virtue” in Sunday School or in their classes by gender and year. I always hated that lesson because “virtue” really was a guilt trip about being sexually “pure” until marriage. It made me beat myself to a pulp for even being physically or sexually attracted to anyone, especially when it came to people of my same gender. That was a HUGE no-no, and I tormented myself with guilt over all of it.
I found out that I could be attracted to anyone, not just men, the hard way – I repressed all of the “impure” thoughts and refused to believe that there could be any option of that on the table. Ever. My church experience didn’t help, either, with “purity” shoved down my throat. Everything changed when I got into an abusive relationship. I went from being told that I was “pure” so long as I didn’t think, didn’t look, didn’t touch, that I was supposed to be a “good girl” or I would fail everyone to the “slippery slope” all of my church leaders had talked about where I slowly became “impure” by their standards. I didn’t know anything but the “only good girls allowed” culture, so when I was guilt tripped in other ways by my overgrown boy of a boyfriend, I tore myself to mental shreds. I felt that all of my worth had gone. When he left, I was rudderless. I had to go to church, and I felt so out of place. During the time I had been in that relationship, I confronted the fact that I was going to find people of any gender attractive, and there was no going back. I didn’t belong there anymore. The more I forced myself to go, the worse it got. I had been told two things about myself. On the one hand, I had been told that I must be a good girl to live up to standard, but on the other, I had been told that my attractions were fine, that it was okay to not be a good girl. I had lost my innocence and was trying to get it back. It never returned.
All the while, I started to gravitate towards my more masculine side, which my family shot down with such ruthlessness that I believed what they told me. It wasn’t me, it wasn’t me, I was just pretending, it was just a phase. Again and again, I let others tell me who to be. Nothing fit. Was I not trying hard enough? Who was I supposed to be? Why did the past call so loudly if it was just a phase?
Fast forward to this past November, when something hit me so hard I couldn’t mistake it for anything. I knew what it was – I had shed a weight. That was the first day I knew where my identity was. I tried to shake it for about the next month, but that feeling of lightness wouldn’t go away. So I kept it safe.
The next major breakthrough came when I started going off my meds a bit. Happiness replaced sadness, and I find that alarming at times. It feels like a fire started burning inside of me, and no matter how many buckets of water are dumped on it, it won’t go out. It’s kind of weird.
In short, when I started learning who I am for myself, things opened up. I hope they will continue to do so.
This is a poem I forgot about that I had written during my short-lived Poem a Day challenge last year. I was a long way away from believing in myself then, and I remember speaking poorly about myself in poetry and everywhere, really. I still don’t believe in myself in many ways, but I am coming to accept my mind on fire.
I’ve been working my way down on some of my meds, and I am feeling…alive. I am feeling. Feeling like myself, kicking the sadness in the pants, being my intense self and feeling mostly okay about it.
The one thing that bothers me is that I am able to laser focus, laser focus to nearly the point of obsession until my project is done. That bothers me because I want my ideas to come to fruition right now and that involves pestering people a lot. I don’t want to be annoying, but I need to get stuff done! According to my brain, that is. This has resulted in a pair of pieces that are nearly album-length apiece. You’ve already read about Light Steps, and last night’s jam resulted in Benson Boulevard Under Cover of Darkness.
My project last night was getting them on Apple Music, Spotify, and the like. I was so focused that I didn’t write a proper blog post, I’m so sorry! They should be live in a few days, though!
Before that, my project was recording Light Steps to cassette, which failed miserably. I’m starting to question my cassette quest since the jams are so frequent, so I’m setting that idea aside. This is what happens when I don’t try and put out the fire in my brain, coupled with staying off social media. I’m probably going to record a few hours’ worth of music by the end of April. I feel a lot better about myself.
all these cars
in such a hurry to get somewhere
i spent the day drinking tea
and wondering what it would be
to be okay
the simple answer is that i do not know
maybe it’s like being so
tired you cannot sleep
seeing the thing for what it is
but being unable to touch it
or maybe it’s
something like the moment
of clarity a person
first has at the moment
they plunge into ice cold water
they feel alive, don’t they?
This poem is called “beauty from a burning house”, and that’s honestly how I saw myself – as a burning house. Nothing more. I was under the impression that that was all I deserved, to be put out by a rainstorm.
I felt for years like I had to summon the rainstorm in order to make beauty from the burning house that I was. I didn’t see that the burning inside was okay to have. It seemed that I had to moderate my emotions. I had to have a valid reason to be sad, angry, very happy, or else I’d see myself as crazy and I thought others would, too.
In hindsight, it doesn’t matter what others thought. I was so focused on “being okay” that I overlooked the times when I was “okay”, and even worse, was being my true self. These were opportunities where I should have been feeling alive, but I crushed them. I was trying to look without seeing. I was looking to feel alive in all the wrong places.
Writing this blog was the first step to feeling alive, but now I feel real.
Feeling real to me is being able to embrace who you are without fearing how others think and view you. It’s not putting on airs, it’s not doing stupid stunts just for attention. It’s being unafraid to be creative and inventive and to also care for yourself. It’s being able to say “this is who I am” and roll with that.
I know I’m weird. I know I’m eccentric as all hell. I am excitable, I am smart. I deserve far more than to be put out by a rainstorm. You don’t deserve that, either.
I’m back again, and today we’re gonna talk about being proud.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not usually proud of who I am. There are a few instances where I am, but they don’t come terribly often. My sense of worth generally comes from what the people closest to me think of me. I know that’s not good.
I believe, consciously or not, that only those whom I have hurt truly know me, and that anyone else only knows me on the surface. I suppose by that logic I truly know myself, because I self-sabotage often enough to qualify for it being classified as hurting myself. We all know that that’s not true. Not yet, at least.
I can remember the second to last time I was proud of myself. It was on the shooting range last Sunday. I don’t remember if I wrote about it or not, but I began shooting in the same spot over and over. As I may have written, that’s a big step in the direction of becoming a good shot. I was proud of myself for that.
The most recent time was this morning. I abandoned all social media except for the blog and told my friends to text me rather than message me on social media. I’ve known social media has been hurting me for awhile. I also know I spend far too much time on it. After I announced my decision to my friends, I received a slew of messages asking if I was okay. I explained to everyone that I simply need a break. I do need a break. And I’m proud of myself for making this decision. It will help me spend more time in the “real world”, as real as my world can be. It might also inspire me to dive back into the fictional world of my stories and to compose more music. I’ve needed that for awhile.
I think it’s the little things that stack up in one way or another that determine my confidence level. What have I done, no matter how small, that helped someone today? What have I done that has helped me grow? What have I done that will push me towards being the best self I can be in this moment?
I am glad for this social media break because it will give me time to grow. I am often tugged around by my Facebook feed, half of which is very liberal, with the other half being very conservative. It’s scary and often makes me wonder how long it will be before humanity implodes. This is not a good train of thought to take.
I was inspired to take this break by this piece from Longreads. It backs up the opinions of my husband and family, saying things that they have been saying for years. Although social media has been very inspiring and enlightening, especially when it comes to my identity. I didn’t know what nonbinary gender identities were until a Facebook friend invited me to a nonbinary group and I found that a lot of what people were going through I related to, also. That would have taken a long time to discover were it not for Facebook! I’m thankful for that.
I’m also reminded of a hashtag I used to document an important time of my life – #TheGrandAdventure2015. I made it to try and feel better about a string of hard days and months. It worked. I think it can be applied to now in this period of self-discovery. I’m still on an adventure, and I’m proud of it.
I’m proud of my identity.
I’m proud of my ability to overcome the challenges I’ve been faced with.
I’m proud that I’m here today on this fabulous Agender Adventure.
Thank you for reading, as always!
Until next post,
PS. If you feel so inclined to look/buy, I made Agender Adventurer stickers. See below!
Agender Adventurer Sticker
A die cut sticker with the colors of the Agender pride flag with two triangles that reads "Agender Adventurer."
Good evening, good afternoon, good morning to you wherever you are!
I have a question for you this fine day.
What would you do if you had nothing in your way? What would you do if you found out that the mountains you have been climbing were just bumps in the road? What would you do if you didn’t fear judgment? What would you do if you wereunstoppable?
Unstoppable is a big word.
I don’t know about you, but I associate this big word with freedom, and I associate feeling free with running, singing, or dancing. You know the feeling where are all of your cares and worries fade into the background and it’s just you and the music? Yeah. That one.
There was one night when I was in Maryland where I grew very sad. I just took off running. I ran and ran, leaving the town behind. When I looked behind me, I saw the Maryland State House, which normally loomed above me, reduced to a tiny point on the horizon, three miles away. I had covered three miles. I felt free. It was almost a symbol of leaving my problems behind.
You might be asking, “why do you like to run? Running’s hard.”
The answer is that I like the satisfaction of having traveled a long (or somewhat long) distance and being able to see where I have gone and how far I’ve come. The truth also is that I can’t flat out run for more than probably fifty feet without stopping.
I could surely get discouraged that I can’t run more than 50 feet without the need to lose consciousness. Here’s what I do instead.
I set a goal. Something like “run to this next street corner”, and if I can successfully run to the next street corner from my current position, I pat myself on the back, walk a bit, then set another goal and achieve it.
I don’t tell myself I’m gonna run 4 miles nonstop. I’m not there yet. Instead, I do what I can. That makes me feel unstoppable. I’m not a wrecking ball or a bullet – I’m a slow, steady, consistent unstoppable. Things like this are just as powerful as bullets and wrecking balls. There’s power in consistency.
Another image I can give you is hiking. I’ve gone on since nice hikes. In Texas, my family and I hiked a short, scrubby mountain just for the hell of it. We were seriously like, “oooh, trailhead” and then found ourselves up a mountain before we knew it.
I was thirteen and terrified of heights. (I still am terrified of heights.) This climb was incredibly scary for me, and I wanted to turn back several times. But I didn’t stop. We were richly rewarded for it. The view was incredible. We could see the entire valley laid out before us. We could even see our campsite! This was one of the best views of my life.
In 2013, I fell into depression. It seemed like nothing helped. I wanted to give up many times. I kept going. Throughout that time, everything felt gray. I kept going. There were times when it felt like there was nothing to live for. It hurt. I kept going.
Eventually things got better, and I saw a purpose in what I had gone through. I am able to help others who are going through the same thing. I went (and am still going, to some extent) through it again when my dad died. That’s a tool to help that I wish I hadn’t gained, but there’s a reason behind it somehow. I don’t entirely know why I lost him, but good things have come along with the bad. That’s why I keep going.
No matter how far I go, I often lose track of the good things in my life because my inner bully/critic convinces me that there’s nothing but darkness. Sound familiar at all?
The only thing I can do here is what I can. The to do lists I make are good at helping me stay productive when I don’t want to do anything. They help me keep moving, to keep climbing. There are few things more satisfying to me than being able to cross things off my to do list. Anything to do to keep moving.
There are these incredible moments when I have a good day, or I get a bunch of stuff done, I learn a new skill, or I get a really interesting spiritual impression.
These are the views that are worth climbing for.
These are the rewards that are worth the run.
I don’t know exactly what’s going through your head and in your life. Nobody is the exact same. But if you’re anything like me, I want to encourage you to keep climbing, though. The view is incredible at the top.
I’m currently hanging out in a store while my husband geeks out.
I don’t have much to do here but think, and the thought I posed to Instagram is that it is okay to not be okay.
I knew I’ve expressed this thought before here, but it’s important to reiterate often.
I go through a series of bad days at times that often stem from me being cruel to myself. I beat the daylights out of myself for not being perfectly calm all of the time, for not being perfectly here all the time, for not being…perfect. I feel like a horrible wife, friend, and person at times just because I fall short and have bad times. I’m coming to learn that self acceptance is important. I worry that I keep making a massive fool of music on social media. I worry that all my efforts are for nothing. But mistakes will be made. It’s important to know and accept that.
This realization is especially important in my relationships and in running my Golden Apple projects. My husband mentioned today that I’m spreading myself too thin over all of my promotion efforts and that I don’t NEED six million Instagram accounts to promote all of my projects individually. It’s a waste of time. So I have started to unite all of the projects under one big Golden Apple banner with this blog as a hub. This should make me less stressed.
The key mission of the Golden Apple Projects is to help people in as many ways as I possibly can. With all of the promotion I’m throwing out into the world, it’s not going very far and I’m not helping people. I actually feel like I reach the most people through my tutoring, and I want to take that approach – getting to know people individually – and use it with my other projects. I don’t want to just have people who interact with me on a business level, I want to have relationships with them. That would be really cool.
I really want to buy a pair of my own Martin boots that I’ve designed and wear them around town. That would be awesome, especially if I find a place I can make friends. Maybe keep a spare pair in the back of my car.
Sometimes I find it hard to write when I’m away from my writing spot, and I sure am feeling the resistance today.
I’m sitting in my car in Anchorage and the sun hasn’t risen yet. It’s around 7:30 and will likely be around 8:30 by the time I finish this post. I’ve got at least two shots of espresso in me and still all I want to do is sleep. I would sleep soundly.
I think I am afraid to write outside of my usual spot in the basement because I now have bad associations with writing in the car. The last time I wrote in the car was when I wrote the the post about “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie in the parking lot at my old work. Here I am in a parking lot once again, it’s Valentine’s Day, I’m waiting for a friend to call, and I feel hollow.
I’m not yet hollow enough to cry, but I’m getting there. I think parking lots before sunrise are some of the loneliest places I can imagine.
The sky is turning dark blue, the world keeps turning somehow. I want to stop being so scared and be stronger, but my heart is still breaking from yesterday even though I don’t quite remember why my heart was breaking in the first place. I keep telling myself that I should be stronger than I am and beating the shit out of myself when I fall short of my own unrealistic expectations.
I want to leave Anchorage and go back home to the valley where I live, but that’s a long drive and I am not in a headspace where that’s safe. I don’t know how to calm down. I feel a great desire to be stronger than I am, as I have said before.
I beat myself up almost daily for quitting my old job. I feel I should have been able to handle it and I shame myself for not being able to.
I beat myself up for not being able to accomplish simple tasks that take 10-15 minutes for a healthy person to finish. I want to do things, it just hurts in my brain to even make myself move.
I beat myself up for being sad.
I beat myself up for still having waves of debilitating grief over my dad.
I beat myself up for oversleeping or sleeping too little.
I beat myself up for little things that I would give my best friend care and compassion for.
If she or my husband were hurting like this, I would do everything in my power to hear them out and encourage them to take it easy one day at a time. I would encourage them to talk it out with me and tell them to do only what they can and then help when I am needed or wanted. I would make sure that I hear them and make sure they didn’t think they were alone. I would be by their side.
It’s important to me that they are open with what’s going on because sometimes I can’t read them. My best friend is physically far away and sometimes my husband manifests pain differently than I do. So in the same way I want them to tell me what’s going on and keep me informed, perhaps I should listen to what my brain and body need. I need to rest, I know that for certain. I need to be easier on myself. Most of the people around me don’t expect of me what I expect of myself.
I was speaking with a friend of mine who understands what I’m going through. She gave me words of encouragement and said essentially that I’m okay to be where I’m at. I lost my dad three years ago, which is relatively recent. She understands the feeling of it being difficult to accomplish things that are simple to most. She understands me, and that is so important. She makes me feel heard.
So maybe I am strong even though I struggle. I would most certainly think a friend would be were they in the same situation. So why not me?.