On Trauma…

In the fall of 2009, I was sexually assaulted while walking to school. I know it was not the worst thing that could have happened, but it was devastating to me.

In the first few months that followed, I had a lot of anxiety and fear around what had happened. I couldn’t walk to school. I couldn’t go down the street where it happened. Little things triggered difficult memories.

Eventually, things started to get better. After a while, I could walk to school again. I could go down that street, but only on the other side. I wrote a poem that helped me get out the feelings a little bit. It never completely faded from my memory, but I thought about it less frequently and the anxiety lessened.

Now, it’s been almost nine years. Sometimes I think about it, but more in an abstract way than anything else. But tonight, it was like no time had passed.

I was walking and I smelled cologne. There was no one around, but I knew someone must’ve recently walked through. I kept walking and, after a few steps, it hit me again. I immediately felt sick. I’m sure it’s not the same, but my brain convinced me that this smell was how the man who assaulted me smelled. I started to have a panic attack.

I was an hour and nine years from where it happened but it felt like the space and time between those two moments disappeared and I was right there with him all over again.

I don’t really have a point in saying any of this. It felt like my brain was betraying me, like it wanted me to feel that pain again. Trauma is so strange and I thought I knew all my triggers for this but that cologne brought me back to a feeling of such fear that I hope I never have to experience again.

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On Questioning Gender, Part Three…

I’ve come out to ten people as nonbinary now, and they’ve been pretty supportive. I went to a group for LGBT young adults two weeks ago and that was really great because I had never gone to anything specifically for LGBT people before. We discussed a bunch of random topics, but it was nice to be in an environment where people kind of already got what I was going through.

I’m pretty committed to not telling anyone in my family, which sucks in some ways but is healthier in the long run. I don’t need their validation or approval so I’m not going to fret about it.

This whole thing has been a weird whirlwind of confusion for me, but I think I’m becoming more and more okay with it. I watched Love, Simon last week and watching it made me a little sad because I doubt I will be able to live as my authentic self, open about any of my LGBT identities, any time soon. However, I’m trying to let more people into the bubble of those who know so I can at least be myself around them.

As comfortable as I’m becoming, I’m still not entirely sure what words I want to use to label myself. Now, I really do know that labels can suck and be harmful when put on by others, but it is important for me to have a word to describe who I am, even if only to myself. This will probably continue to take some time but I’m going to keep working on it.

On Questioning Gender, Part Two…

Recap: I’m probably definitely pretty scared of using the words I want to but either way I’m not cis.

I told someone else how I’m feeling. She’s cis and straight and I told her even though I knew she wouldn’t be able to relate because she’s one of the least judgmental people I know and I knew she would be okay with me either way. I was right. She was supportive and honest about her lack of understanding but asked all sorts of really great questions that made me feel even better about having told her.

Each day that passes makes me feel more comfortable about the way I feel but less comfortable about telling the people in my life. I know there are people who won’t understand and won’t support me. There are people who will act supportive but still judge me. I’m sure there are some who will continue to love me, but I’m terrified of telling them because I don’t know which people will be which way.

People so often only understand gender as a binary that trying to tell them about being nonbinary seems like it could end very badly. I can’t even tell my best friend, as much as I would love to. She is trying to be more supportive of LGBT people but in the end, her beliefs are deep and she clings to them very tightly. That’s not to say she wouldn’t want to be supportive of me, just that I think it would take her a long time to grasp all of this.

I’m still figuring it all out too. But I’m feeling better about the situation in general.

On Questioning Gender, Part One (Probably)…

Let me start off by saying two things. One, this is 100% just my experience and I speak for nobody else. And two, I feel anxious about posting this but this is my blog and the one person I know in real life who knows about this blog also knows about what I’m going to talk about. So.

Let me also lay my cards on the table and say that I’ve really got nothing figured out yet, but I’m gonna talk about the fact that I have been and am questioning my gender and the labels that best help me understand my gender.

We can work backwards. The past few weeks, I’ve been having pretty incessant thoughts about my gender identity. I’ve been thinking about the possibility of putting they/them pronouns out there as an option for people to use for me in addition to she/her.

I know I certainly am a girl, but lately I’ve been thinking that it’s not so cut and dry for me. I identify with many female things, but I also feel happy being called “sir” and I felt really right today when I referred to myself as a “gentleman”. I don’t feel like a man at all, but rather quite gender neutral sometimes.

For about six or eight months now, I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with my chest and using other words besides “chest” to describe my own chest has started to cause a lot of dysphoria for me. It’s partly a disconnection, like what feels like an objective sort of feeling that it shouldn’t be there, but also a discomfort, a deep and personal feeling of “get these off of me”, I guess. I’ve considered binding but right now I can’t afford a good binder.

I actually had three conversations with a few different people about my chest issues, and all of them took it well. Two of them, however, I felt I had to start with, essentially, “I’m definitely a lady, okay?” I didn’t want those people to look at me and see something in me that they were not going to accept (they’re all Christians, like 90% of the people I’m friends with).

For a long time, I’ve had issues with being called a “woman”. Like, I’m totally okay with being called a girl or a lady, but the word woman in reference to me has felt wrong for a while, years actually. The jury is still out on whether this is related to my gender questioning or if it’s my internalization of how I know society feels about women.

That’s really all I know about my history of questioning my gender. Some of it goes back a while, some of it is very new. I’m going to keep thinking about it, looking into different gender words to see if any of them feels right for me. It’s all sort of scary for me and I know that a lot of people in my life are not going to be accepting, so I’m not going to tell them anything for a while, especially not until I have a better grasp on some of this.

So yeah. That’s where my brain is at right now. Questioning my gender. Terrifying but it also feels really okay to write it down and get it out of the repetitive thought cycle inside my head.

On Working…

I have been in school or working consistently since the fall of 2012. I had been in school all the years before that, literally since 1995, and I just stopped being in school in June. Also, I’m planning on going back to college this August.

When I left my ministry position in October, I had to move home with my mom. She was adamant on me getting a job because “adults work”. I got two seasonal jobs that started the first week in November. One ended at Christmas and the other is still going, though it’ll probably end soon. (I have a point to this, I promise.) I also applied for a summer job that would last at least from May to August, when I’ll presumably be going back to school.

I don’t want to start a job in February when I could actually be going away for my summer job in April. I think it’s rude to give so little of my time to a company (unless it’s seasonal or something). But my mom keeps bringing up this whole “adults work” thing.

Now, my mom worked when I was a kid, but she didn’t work from about 2008 to 2015 I think. Nothing. And now, she works for her best friend, who literally lets her stay on the clock even when her best friend takes her out to lunch or on errands unrelated to the job. Her friend is rich.

But I, at 25, having worked or been in college consistently for all my adult years, get ridiculed and judged because I don’t want to start something just to end it in two months. It’s not like I am not going back to work. I hate sitting around the house, doing nothing all day. The jobs I held from 2013 to 2017 were the sorts of jobs where you worked at least 14 hours a day, usually six or seven days a week. Not working sucks.

I’ve saved up enough to pay my bills for those months. I’m actively trying to start my summer job early (it’s at a summer camp). I’ve lived on my own for four and a half years, and I’m getting sick of not only the general abuse I get but this constant acting like I’m not mature enough to do something I’ve been doing all along.

Anyway, point is, my mom’s a hypocrite and I’m not a child and it was frustrating me so I wrote it down.

On 2017 Goals…

Since 2015, I have set goals for myself of consumption of different kinds of media (that sounds really weird but I couldn’t think of another way to phrase it). These include new movies, books, and television seasons. Each year, I’ve hit my new movie goal. 2016 was the first year that I set a goal for number of tv seasons to watch, but I smashed that both years. I always set a goal of new books to read and total books, and I usually fall short on both of these. I’m going to list out all of these for 2017, mostly for my own record, and set new goals for 2018.

A note- if there’s an asterisk * next to something, I really recommend other people checking it out.

Goal- 90 new movies; 97 total watched

1. The Wise Kids

2. Embers

3. The Mask You Live In

4. One Day

5. Natural Selection

6. Wildflower

7. The Invisible

8. The Iron Giant

9. Dope

10. Black or White

11. A Cinderella Story: If the Shoe Fits

12. Pete’s Dragon (2016 version)*

13. Growing Up Coy

14. Fifty Shades Darker

15. Gender Revolution

16. Trevor Noah: Afraid of the Dark

17. Hacksaw Ridge*

18. Finding Dory

19. I’m Not Ashamed

20. Edge of Seventeen*

21. Waffle Street

22. Power Rangers (2017 version)

23. Lion*

24. Lazy Eye

25. Little Boxes

26. Quand on a 17 Ans

27. Passengers

28. The BFG

29. My Little Pony: Equestrian Girls

30. Schindler’s List

31. My Little Pony: Rainbow Rocks

32. My Little Pony: Friendship Games

33. Twinsters

34. Tower

35. Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King

36. My Little Pony: Legend of Everfree

37. The Shack

38. Split

39. Suicide Squad

40. Beauty and the Beast (2017 version)

41. The Bourne Legacy

42. Jason Bourne

43. Kevin Hart: What Now?

44. Moana

45. The Theory of Everything

46. Tomorrowland

47. Wonder Woman

48. Hidden Figures*

49. Hotel Transylvania

50. Chris D’Elia: Man on Fire

51. Before I Fall

52. Logan

53. Hotel Transylvania 2

54. Loving*

55. Smurfs: The Lost Village

56. To the Bone

57. Flipped

58. The Stanford Prison Experiment*

59. Disney’s Descendants 2

60. Collateral Beauty*

61. The Fate of the Furious

62. The Conjuring

63. Once I was a Beehive

64. Everything, Everything*** (PLEASE WATCH THIS)

65. Victor Frankenstein

66. Handsome Devil

67. I am Michael

68. 1 Mile to You

69. The Bad Kids

70. Jessica Darling’s It List

71. Speech & Debate

72. The Great Gilly Hopkins*

73. Beautiful Creatures

74. 3 Generations

75. Berlin Syndrome

76. Bring It On: Worldwide #Smackdown

77. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

78. It

79. Foo Fighters: Back and Forth

80. Straight Outta Compton

81. A Monster Calls*

82. Naomi & Ely’s No Kiss List

83. My Little Pony: The Movie

84. The Foreigner

85. The Thinning

86. Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated

87. One of Us

88. SPF-18

89. Esteros

90. War for the Planet of the Apes

91. Le Voyage de Fanny

92. What Happened to Monday

93. Young Ones

94. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

95. Tini: El Gran Cambio de Violetta

96. Selma

97. Blade Runner

Goal- 5 new books; 6 total read

1. “Atlantia” by Ally Condie*

2. “Half Bad” by Sally Green

3. “Once and for All” by Sarah Dessen

4. “Dear Evan Hansen”

5. “Turtles All the Way Down” by John Green

6. “Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too” by Jonny Sun

Goal- 15 TV seasons; 28 total watched (season number in parentheses)

1. A Series of Unfortunate Events (1)*

2. The Magicians

3. How to Get Away with Murder (3)

4. Sense8 (2)

5. Riverdale (1)

6. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (1)

7. The 100 (4)*

8. 13 Reasons Why (1)

9. Avatar: The Last Airbender (1)

10. Avatar: The Last Airbender (2)

11. Avatar: The Last Airbender (3)

12. Quantico (2)*

13. Orphan Black (5)*

14. Atypical (1)

15. Game of Thrones (7)g

16. Humans (1)*

17. Humans (2)*

18. Orange is the New Black (5)

19. Daredevil (2)

20. Greenhouse Academy (1)

21. The State (1)

22. Mindhunter (1)

23. Stranger Things (2)*

24. The Handmaid’s Tale (1)***

25. Alias Grace

26. Shameless (6)*

27. Freakish (1)

28. Freakish (2)

So, I hit some goals. I failed to read the total ten books I aimed for, but that’s okay. Now, my goals for 2018…

100 new movies. 20 TV seasons, at least five in languages other than English. 10 new books. 15 books total. Here’s to hopefully hitting all of those goals.

On Holidays…

Holidays in my family have rarely been great. There have been many great moments, but there’s always an overarching sense of tension or an argument or two and the whole thing ends up feeling sad and wrong.

Christmas is especially one of those times. My mom has always been concerned about giving as many presents as she can, and yet she somehow always finds a reason to be mad at some point. Maybe we didn’t seem grateful enough. Maybe we didn’t help enough. Maybe we didn’t get her what she wanted. It’s always something.

I used to find solace in knowing that my brothers and sister felt the same way as me, that at least we were together in knowing that our mom was the problem. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. With one brother completely absent from our lives (he couldn’t take any more of what my mother kept doing to him emotionally) and a brother who thinks I’m more the problem than my mom, I don’t really know how this Christmas is going to go.

I wish I could say I was looking forward to tomorrow with hope and joy, but I would be lying if I did. It’s more honest to say that I’m kind of dreading it. I can’t take much more of the yelling or the insults. I shouldn’t have to. Maybe it’ll be different… but I’m not holding my breath.

I know many other people go through situations just like mine and I hope they know they’re not alone. One day, we can (hopefully) all decide to leave our broken families and start new ones of our own, or spend holidays with friends, or maybe even alone, if it makes us happier. This isn’t forever.

On Abusive Parents…

Growing up, my mom became abusive. Verbally and emotionally, she destroyed mostly me but also my siblings, in varying amounts. She abused her romantic partners. She abused her mom. I had hoped she would grow out of it.

I hadn’t lived with my mom in four and a half years, and then in October I had no choice but to move back in with her when I quit my job. The speed with which she returned to her verbal abuse towards me astounded me. Here I am, twenty-five, getting ripped apart by the person who’s supposed to love you the most. Gosh.

My friends who know always tell me that what she’s saying isn’t true, that it’s not me and that she would just find something to be angry about anyway even if I did everything she wanted all the time. And while I understand that on some level, it still hurts when my mom says the awful things she says about me. I wish she could see what she’s doing and stop. Or maybe she knows and doesn’t care.

Something I’m trying to remember is that her words don’t dictate who I am. Her opinions are not the end all, be all of me. Some days this is a more difficult task, but I know I need to get it deep into my brain so I don’t let her ruin every single day that I have to live here.

For now, I do have to live here. I don’t have the means to live somewhere else. But someday, I know I will be able to leave again, and this time for good. I will not let her hurt me forever. My children, should I ever have some, will not be exposed to her toxicity. And I will heal, even if the wounds are deep and covered with many layers of bandages. I will heal.

On Least Favorite Days…

This is a hard one. Trigger warnings abound.

Six years ago today, I tried to kill myself. It wasn’t the first time, but it was the worst. I was the lowest I had ever been and my life dropped from under my feet in an instant. The reason I decided to kill myself isn’t important now, but then it felt like the only thing that mattered. And when I decided to do it, there was no changing my mind.

I broke that night. Everything inside me shattered. I failed, and nobody knew I had even done it. For months, for years even, only a handful of people had any idea that I’d tried to end my life that night. How I did it is also irrelevant now, but let’s just say it changed how I could interact with the world for a while.

Every year, when this day is approaching, I begin to think heavily about what I did and why I did it. I start to remember the feelings and the brokenness and how alone I felt through all of it. And it makes me dread living through this day.

November 11th, 2011 was a terrible day for me. And some November 11ths that followed have been pretty terrible too. But last year, on the fifth anniversary, some of my friends held a celebration of life for me. We had sparkling cider and just hung out and people said nice things about being in my life. It was so helpful, because it gave me a good memory of November 11th.

This year, I spent the day with two of those same friends. We went to some stores and baked (even though I’m terrible at it) and just spent the day doing happy things. And though it doesn’t take away the sting of what happened all those years ago, it’s nice to have a new day dedicated to love and friendship and joy rather than just the darkness of the past.

I hope in five years, in ten and twenty, I can always remember to celebrate life on November 11th. My own life, the lives of people I love, the life that we each get to have if we don’t take it for granted… life is important. I want to remember that.

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