How to Get Lost

I missed my blog post last week.

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I know what I really need to do is write those heartfelt things, those real things, the kind of writing that’s worth sharing, and not some bogus fluff entertainment. Although sometimes it’s time for that bogus fluff entertainment just to remind you that I’m still here. Every week, I’m still here.

But I haven’t been here. And I don’t know if I will be here.

This will come in starts and stops.

I think I’m losing myself? Maybe? I think I haven’t figured out yet if losing myself is something I do. You know, those sorts of things you maybe kind of do on purpose because your brain is so huge and it does things to organize itself, to maintain itself and grow itself. It takes you awhile to figure out if getting lost is just part of your process, or it’s some sort of crisis, or if it’s a one-time transition.

I’m not really sure if I’m changing, or just the world around me. Oh, I call it “the world,” but it’s really only my world. I look up and the people surrounding me are different people.

Stop. Start again.

There’s this image, this vignette, this set of ideas and sometimes the same words that I return to, and it is… Three years ago on a moonlight night under the oak trees of Pauma Valley, I landed, not with the sense of arriving somewhere new, but of coming home. You could say I found myself. I still have my soaring highs and my dipping lows but I feel chained to this precipice, this night of landing, that gives me this vista. I sit on the rock above the city (my city of self) and look out at purple twilight.

So, maybe, right now, I’m down in the brambles again, getting scratched, pretending to lose myself. Yet I can follow the secure anchor to my lookout, I can tug the line, I can know its there.

Stop.

I’m blurring over the part where sometimes I am so scared.

Start.

Maybe getting older is knowing how to get lost. After a quarter century, I know the mind that waits at home for me. So, I do something completely different. Despite my voracity for change, I falter in it, every time. This faltering is a risk I take, to learn something new — to learn if I am capable of this. I think I am.

My dear, sweet readers… I need to make a little hole. A space for growth. And that means sometimes I won’t be here.

Write to me, this time.

—-
New posting schedule: Every other week, with occasional answered questions or other filler in between.

P.S. I’m going pink for one week because I #StandwithPP

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10 Things to Remember if You Don’t Want Me to Unfairly Compare You to Every Failed Relationship I’ve Ever Had

You may have seen some of the countless Lifehack articles coaching you on how to love people from the highly creative to the anxiety riddled (I’m sorry, I should say the more-neutral “those suffering with anxiety,” but, since I’m in that camp, I like to poke fun), and their knock-offs around the web. Ostensibly, Lifehack devised this listicle formula so that lonely and/or frustrated partners could improve their relationships (or just commiserate) by reading lists of X things to remember if you love someone with fuckin’ problems.

Yet I did not find these articles because I googled “My girlfriend is an introvert, halp!” I found them because people on facebook shared the links on their walls with the effective sentiment: “DUDE YES this is how you must love me and my special snowflake complex!!!” Like some sort of dating-pool memo.

I mean, I’m guilty more than anyone of wishing I could write an instruction manual on how to be my girlfriend. I actually have a small notebook in my night stand titled “A primer” which includes diagrams. I haven’t shown it to anyone for purposes of instruction, yet. Emphasis on yet.

Still, in honor of the self-serving bent of these articles, with much snark, I present:

15 Things to Remember if You Don’t Want Me to Unfairly Compare You to Every Failed Relationship I’ve Ever Had

  1. First of all, let me begin by asking you to remember that my flaws actually make me totally awesome. Or at least that’s what I think, because I’m obsessed with myself.victim-olympics-trophy-my-flaws-make-me-awesome
  2. My ex didn’t like how selfish I was. You will be my next ex if you also believe I need to change this about myself.
  3. Paradoxically, I’m going to ask you to “remember” that I do not have a really obvious and/or annoying bad habit that I do, in fact, have. Remember, I make the rules.
  4. I dated someone for 5 weeks who I found really boring, but kept trying because eye candy / I’m lonely / I needed the sex. Instead of examining how I should better select partners who actually are a good match for me, I will blame you if I am the slightest bit bored. Just FYI.
  5. Compromise is really important to me, just so long as you are the one doing all of the compromising.
  6. I will question you relentlessly for choosing to stay with me, because I have the self esteem of a cat forced into a clown hat. The moment you dump me, I will claim I was too good for you.self-esteem-of-a-cat-forced-clown-hat
  7. My “unique condition” happens to make me a really happy, well-balanced person. No I do not fall asleep with the dirty spoon from eating ice cream stuck in my hair, my laptop beside me on the bed with 20 open tabs evidence of my attempts at total internet oblivion so that I can avoid confronting who I have let myself become.
  8. I have strong beliefs about how my condition affects my physical health even though I have done little research besides a couple shallow internet searches and talking loudly about the possibilities with my bar friends.
  9. I swear to god I am datable.
  10. My ex pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone, which while I fundamentally understand I need from a partner, is something that will make me violently resent you for even trying to do.
  11. I need you to read this cheat sheet because I am desirably complex, not immature and needy. Read the statistics, duh.read-the-statistics-duh
  12. You will never understand me. Just like my ex never did. Which is why we broke up (not because I hooked up with that bartender on my summer vacation).
  13. If it seems like I’m not listening to you, it’s not my fault. I’m just dealing with the ramifications of my unique condition
  14. If it seems like I’m not communicating clearly, you are wrong. You are just being a terrible listener. Just try harder. God.
  15. Please be my mom.

4 Party Life Hacks I Have Actually Used

Slow the fuck down. Relax. Take the time necessary to fix your party emergency. You can sneak off to a side yard, a car, or, depending on the demand, chill out in the bathroom. The benefit of having an ‘emergency’ at a party is that most people will be too distracted to notice you. So, get yourself to calm down so that you don’t make matters worse.

Stinky Pits

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(I forgot to put on deodorant because I forgot my normally non-sweaty body can produce smell.) Lock yourself in the bathroom, take off your top, and use hydrogen peroxide on your pits — it kills the smelly bacteria. If it’s your clothes that smell, you might be SOL, not only because you don’t want to be walking around with soggy pits but also because hydrogen peroxide can bleach clothing.

Bloodstains

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(I also forgot my body does that monthly thing it does.) Hydrogen peroxide again is good for getting these out, as well as spit.

Panic / Anxiety

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(I also forgot I do this sometimes.) Compression is an effective way to stop panic in its tracks, at least for me. It’s best if you’re prepared for this by training a friend or two, but I find in general if I just go up to someone I’m on hugging terms with and demand, “Squeeze me!” they’ll give me the tight embrace I need. If I’m lucky, I can get some group hug action. Full body squishes are even better…climb into a cuddle puddle? If you want to learn more about the science of why this works, look up “parasympathetic vs. sympathetic response.” Anyway, I know this can seem counterintuitive if you have social anxiety, but I like to think I’m just using the science and people just happen to make decent substitutes for a compression machine.

We Forgot To Put Out the Recycling…Again

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(The blue bins are full from last weeks kickback, and I just invited 20 people over.)  Invert a box over the recycling bin and cut a hole in it just big enough to fit crushed cans (and glass bottles). Decorate it to look like a monster, including a thought bubble that reads “YUMMMM CRUSHED CANS.” (This has become a permanent fixture at my house because it’s the only way to get people to crush their cans. If I simply tape a sign to the bin, it gets ignored.)

For more, read 6 Party Coping Mechanisms.

Is the Oppressed Life like PTSD?

I struggle with trigger-induced panic. Often, it is easiest to say I suffer from PTSD, though I haven’t been formally diagnosed and do not want to diminish the experiences of others who may have it worse than I do. I know I used to feel helpless when others threw around the word “depressed” as if one could become such by the mere awful occurrence of a bad grade. “Oh my god I got a C- I am depressed.” I promise my use of the label PTSD is not so cavalier.

Lost-panic-typewriter-drawing.jpgYou see, it is true I fit the rubric. Exposure to trauma: check. Subjective re-experiencing of the trauma … hmm, one aspect of it, quite a lot. Newfound hyper-vigilance: definitely. Duration of symptoms for more than 1 month: you betcha. Significant impairment: well, is not going home with the pretty girl significant impairment? Being afraid to be barefoot? Flinching violently when I am touched?

Living life through this lens of panic has changed me. I avoid the strangest things, yet so gracefully, habitually, that I go weeks without noticing. My triggers also, over the years, have spread over more and more stimuli like a sinister net. When I am my most terrified, I imagine the cobwebs of fear will spread until I am forced to be completely immobile, lest I stir my spider of panic.

Ferguson and “Shirtgate” and finishing writing my book (which delves a lot into my panic) (oh yeah by the way I finished writing that) got me wondering if living in oppression is not unlike living with PTSD. Seemingly small infractions, micro-aggressions, seem to illicit a “disproportionate” response. That is, people who don’t know what it’s like to live with triggers and oppression do not understand such reactions. A guy tells me “bitches are crazy,” and instead of feeling mildly annoyed, I feel really sad. A guy asks if he can “watch” me have sex with my girlfriend, and instead of being bored with something I’ve heard before, I feel like my party is ruined.

Granted, this “disproportionate” response tends to only happen when I have a false sense of security, and am startled back into the realization that sexism is, like, prevalent. I’m not going to be as frequently shocked or upset at sports-bro-dive-bars because I’m inured to their stench. When I think I’m having a grand ol’ time busting gender/sexuality norms at a groovy kickback and someone blindsides me with one of these things, then, yes, it shakes me a little. Or a lot.

Sometimes, also, the things that really get me are ones that I know others do not see. I feel helpless because OH LOOK AROUND THIS IS EVERYWHERE… but I know I’ll be hard-pressed to convince someone who doesn’t want to be convinced that the way that guy talked to me was totally indicative of a major sociological problem and not, as my opponent might put it, “just being friendly.”

Yet, to the person with triggers, there is a landslide of connections to cause such panic. Someone runs their hands over my hands in the wrong way, and that connects to one event, which connects to another event, which connects to all of the events ever that have made me feel the monolithic spider’s legs closing around me, her venom dripping on my forehead, and I am reduced to a scared, fight-wild and flight-wild animal.  “Reduced to?” More like detonated.

I know the people without triggers don’t exactly understand. I know this, because the most aware, most well-intentioned, most loving people in my life still require multiple reminders to steer around the land-mines embedded in my skin and in my psyche. They seriously don’t want to hurt me, want to do the opposite of hurt me, but because they lack my vigilance, my daily lived experience, they can’t help but tread on my toes sometimes. (Ouch, foot metaphor hurts for multiple reasons.)

The difference between this PTSD thing, and suffering caused by oppression, is the locus of responsibility. People close to me and who know about my ish ought to be considerate, but healing is pretty much on me. This is my own private monster. The onus of easing the pain of and eradicating oppression, however, belongs to everyone.

Besides that, though, the requests for support I make of intimate friends (for my PTSD) and those with privilege are very similar. 1. If you don’t understand, stop and listen and be receptive to my perspective / the perspective of the oppressed. 2. If you mess up, be willing to try better in the future. 3. Be mindful of the difficulty faced, and how its systematic nature means it can affect every aspect of (my) life. 4. Do not feel guilty per se, but do feel like you have the responsibility to be respectful. 5. Do your own research. Answering questions can sometimes be fatiguing for me / the oppressed, and I  / we don’t know everything.

At the end of the day, if you knew something seemingly-small that you keep doing really hurt someone, would you still want to do it?