vulnerable

It’s been a long… month, year, I don’t even know…

I’m in externship now, running around a hospital three days a week. They like me, I think. Almost everyone I’ve worked with has said they’re impressed with my determination to always be doing something. I know I’m trying hard, because I want them to keep me, because I want this career transition thing to be easy and I don’t want to deal with applying for jobs at a point when half my current professional references have fallen apart. But turns out I like drawing blood a lot more than I thought.

I’m learning how to do my job, but I’m also learning so much about myself through this experience.

I watched someone die last week, I’m pretty sure. That was a very new experience for me, still haunting in the worst way. I watched on the edges, unable to get a good view, and I’m not sure what ultimately happened but I feel it in my heart in the worst way. Nothing prepares you for that, the black hole of sideline loss. Things happen. Maybe you get used to it. I don’t know.

I never thought I’d go into anything medical, but this week ish I get to figure out applying for nursing school because I’ve realized I’d be good at it and I want to. Maybe that happens, maybe it doesn’t.

I guess somewhere along the line I became a person I didn’t realize I was, and I ignored that because it didn’t fit what I thought I wanted, and then the cocoon burst a couple weeks ago and suddenly I have to deal with these new complexities. I am more gentle than I thought. I hate watching people in pain. I hate causing pain. I have a very vulnerable heart, and not in the way I thought I did. And strangest of all, none of that is bad anymore.

I spent so long trying to convince myself I was bulletproof. Acting like I was. Pushing some people away, treating others in ways I shouldn’t have. A phase I don’t regret, but I guess a theme here as I attempt to process my life in an internet journal is that I did not stay there. I am choosing to move forward and become human.

I’m realizing how many false fronts I put up, some towards people who don’t see through them as well as they once did. I think there’s a way to embrace this vulnerability thing, but I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m doing here anymore…

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self care for idiot lionesses

I am The Worst at self care as I understand that concept.

I’ve known this for years. I had to quit watching a favorite TV show a couple years ago because I read an analysis post someone did about a particular character’s tendency to deal with their problems by ignoring their own physical (and, to a lesser extent, emotional) needs in favor of GETTING THINGS DONE. I read that – little baby me, age 21 – and saw myself too reflected.

And that was four years ago. It’s only gotten worse since then. Especially in the past few months.

My moment of “oh shit maybe this has become a PROBLEM” happened a couple weeks ago. I was hanging out with one of my favorite people and we were in the midst of one of those long rambling convos we have sometimes, the kind that have no clear direction and cover everything each of us is over a couple hours, and I’m not sure how we got there but I remember saying something to the effect of “as long as I stay in a low-level manic episode, all of this works fine”. I remember VIVIDLY how my friend reacted. The kicked-puppy look. The reaction I’ve gotten only a handful of other times in the few years I’ve known him. The “this is going to end so badly and I’m gonna get stuck dealing with all of the fallout and I love you to death but you’re an idiot” look.

Like, a previous time I got that look from that person was the time I had temporary synesthesia because turns out my body REALLY does not react well to cold-brew coffee. This is not a post about that relationship, but let’s just say the dynamic involves a lot of support and superhuman patience and there have been many times I somehow DIDN’T cross lines, stuff that would’ve bothered anyone else. And only a few times I’ve gotten the kicked-puppy look.

All of this works as long as I stay in a low-level manic episode. Shit.

I don’t know how to not do this. I’m at a point where I’m accomplishing a lot and, for the most part, keeping my mental stuff on a good leash. This isn’t burnout like there have been thousands of articles about recently. I’m not the same type of imminent disaster as most people my age.

And most of it, I’ve done for years. I forget to eat, and when I do I don’t eat well, and at this point I have no idea how I’m still losing weight when my primary intake is sweets, caffeine, and twice-weekly Taco Bell after school. I’m back to not sleeping well and having vivid dreams about unlikely-but-plausible minor bad things – this morning I woke up in a panic because I knew I’d texted someone about a particular situation and I was really worried said someone might’ve been a friend I’m trying not to burden with all my issues right now. It wasn’t, but still.

I’m able to function. I’m able to pretend everything is fine. Because objectively, everything IS fine.

I’m just drowning. And not sure how to fix things, or what to fix, or if anything’s actually wrong.

Idk. If I survive the next month, pretty sure I can survive anything.

and then i decided to live

Getting older // getting my life together is weird.

I don’t write as much as I used to. I haven’t felt the need to dissect my personal life on here like I did a couple years ago, when that was a huge area of deprogramming for me. (There’s still some deprogramming going on in my heart, but I feel like that should be a separate post.) (And on that note, I need to go through and list every post I’ve threatened and then actually DO THEM because wow do I like to write down ideas and forget them.) I don’t write about current events because my perspective isn’t interesting, and I don’t write about other details of my life because… I don’t know, anymore.

2018 was, perhaps, the year I got boring. And the year I realized I was more than I ever dreamed I would be.

For the first time, I don’t feel defined by my backstory. There are people in my life who have NO idea about some of the things that I used to use as armor, and I’m okay with that. I’m not Trauma Girl anymore.

I’m becoming more guarded. More human.

Summer 2017, I lost someone who used to be a very close friend because… the inciting incident was something I don’t feel comfortable discussing, and still an open wound, but the cause was ultimately that our stories didn’t match anymore. That person wanted to stay defined by their scars. I was starting to have hope that I’d learn to cover mine. Apparently that wasn’t okay.

I haven’t let anyone new in since that happened.

I started blogging at some point in 2015 (I think) and at that point was really fascinated by some of the other people I found who were writing about coming of age and surviving homeschool culture and becoming a person. As I’ve gotten older, I feel like I’ve lost that narrative. Like I didn’t do it right, didn’t fuck up loudly enough. It’s the same way I feel during those “not bi enough” moments, but even more of a rejection. These women (for the most part – I can’t remember ever seeing someone who was raised male in that background write about it), who I saw as role models, started drowning in their anger. It became all they were.

I’m realizing I’m not like that. I’m no poster child for anything. I’m nothing special, and that’s okay.

I think a lot about why I love someone in particular, and a lot of my fixation on that person is because they constantly affirm my humanity, both the good and the bad. And for me, that’s powerful. That’s what I want.

I want to live. That’s a key theme in a lot of the stuff I watch, the moment where a particular character realizes they have something worth living for. I’m not sure what that thing is for me yet, but I don’t think it’s the anger I’ve been dealing with for the past few years. I don’t think it’s the bitterness towards a world that never knew what to do with me and people I don’t know anymore. I don’t think it’s negative, whatever it is.

There’s a lot going on. There’s always a lot going on. I won’t list stuff ’cause the list changes so quickly, but there are projects and hopes and so much and I am not at all overwhelmed. I have to ask myself constantly if it’s a manic episode or if it’s real, and the answer I come to most of the time is it is completely real. All of this.

The bad things aren’t gone. I still have scars that aren’t fading as pretty as I wish they would, and my brain is still hostile sometimes. But the volume is lower, and for the first consistent time in my life I really do think I’m turning out okay.

Back when I started blogging, forever ago, I used to include a song that felt mood-appropriate at the end of every post. I’m gonna start doing that again on posts that aren’t just music, because I can and it seems very me. So, to that end:

“Better Place” – Rachel Platten

Not directly topic-relevant, but a lot of this determination is because of another human being… but that’s another post I’m saving for mid-May. And that one, at least, I know is gonna happen as planned.

softer things

I kinda hate start-of-year posts.

I’m historically bad at them, and equally bad at predicting the course of such a length of time. What I plan on doing and what I end up doing are often two different things. Last year I did well and gave myself almost no goals, and this turned out to be the right choice because 2018 went… not at all the direction I would’ve expected. At all.

Honestly, the only things that went as PLANNED were I went back to school and I continued my misadventures in costuming. Everything else happened along the way, without warning, and I ended the year a much different woman than I started it.

I had some unusual romantic entanglements. I blossomed in environments where I was wanted. I made a corset. I learned SO MUCH about who I actually am, in part because of two pieces of media that saved my tail (which are separate posts that may or may not happen). Little sister got married and nobody died!! We did have an incident with the hotel, but such is the joys of having a reasonably common last name, and “grandma out-stubborned security at one in the morning” is a good story and not a bad highlight from a chaotic weekend. I mourned a bit, missed people I shouldn’t have, re-defined a few relationships, lost part of my support system only to find it still existed but different, got to spend Thanksgiving thinking my best friend was dead (ALSO a post I need to do)… it was a long, exhausting, beautiful year. And my prediction that it would change me was one of the most accurate things I’ve ever written.

2019 is also going to be big. I have a lot of things in various levels of lined up, and a few goals I don’t want to talk about here because I don’t feel like jinxing them.

What I do want, what I will say publicly, is I want to be softer.

I know my personality veers towards “ice bitch”. It was a survival skill, the sort of thing a teenage girl learns as a midpoint between perfect conformity and death. But it is a skill that was created for environments much different than the ones I’m currently in and/or hope to be in soon. It’s not what I need anymore.

There’s fire in me. This past year has shown me EXACTLY what I am capable of, the strength I had hoped for since I was so young finally in glorious abundance. It’s time to be more than that. Not just strong but also… hell, probably never “kind”, but capable of gentleness towards the right people.

There’s one relationship I’m specifically hoping to fix through this. Someone I loved for a long time, have written about too much and likely will continue to write about for a while yet because I can’t believe they’re even real, who I realized I have no future with in the depths of December. I have been a terrible… whatever I’ve been to that person. I want to be better, as I figure out a new role that’s not “the girl with the delusional crush”. And moving forward from that is also a restart for me. I’ve tried a few times, and we’ve torn each other apart over it, but in the past I focused on what is wrong with that dynamic. This time, my plan is more “what do I want MORE of with someone else down the line”. Because there are good things, much more than the bad.

I guess another goal for 2019 is to find a decent new love interest. I know I say this every year and get proved wrong, but I think I’m ready. I want someone who scares me a little and yet sees light in what I do, and I know what sorts of scars I’m attracted to, and I’m hopeful.

There are a bunch of projects afoot. I’m writing this as a teensy break from binge-knitting a cardigan, first major thing I’ve knit for myself since high school. There’s going to be historical costuming and at least one career change and better documentation of my projects and SO MUCH going forward. But hopefully, if all goes well, a different tone to it than before.

I’m not where I started or thought I’d be right now, but I think this could be better.

modern defiant trousseau, take two (and some life updates)

Earlier this year, I wrote about a huge crafty project I was working on. That, um… was deeply tied to a relationship that fell through (the most amicable heartbreak a girl could want but thankfully the red flags were noticed when they were) and thus I deleted the post. The project in question, however, has remained a thing. It’s just a little different now.

I’ve been radio silent on this blog this fall due to my determination to do ALL THE THINGS. Cosplay is eating most of my energy, and trying to gain a decent following on social media is a separate post I should do at some point. (I have a LIST of posts I wanna do and we’ll see if any of them happen.) I’ve been writing less fiction than usual but still some, school is going alright, and work is the usual fabulous trashfire of retail in that part of Ohio and I love it. Sleep is optional. Sanity is optional. I am GETTING SHIT DONE NOW (and likely enjoying the perks of a low-level manic episode – one of the bigger bombshells of this fall has been the creeping realization that my brain stuff has definitely shifted into some delightful form of bipolar and everything makes so much sense in that context).

So, the whole trousseau project and how I’m revamping the intention as a single-ish (look it’s complicated) twentysomething woman who likes big projects and pretty things and is a little bit of a creative masochist at times.

It actually started out six years ago, with the beginnings of the hexipuff blanket from hell. I make simple socks while watching TV or reading stuff online and give them to anyone I know on social media who is getting married or having a kid. Given my circles, that tends to be a LOT of people, and that meant I had a decent amount of sock yarn leftovers very quickly. Enter the beekeeper’s quilt. I stumbled across that on Ravelry and had a brilliant idea – make it, as large as possible, exactly three hexipuffs per pair of socks I make, as a wedding present for my future Person.

Look. I’m a romantic. This entire blog, as much as I try to pretend I’m creating a Legit Professional Presence so anybody who’s inclined to google me after reading one of my stories on an online lit mag finds something a little saner than my cosplay instagram, is me being a ROMANTIC and trying to deal with my emotional calamities. But this project seemed like the perfect way to balance my bubble-girl sensibilities, my ambition, my emotional masochism, and my hope. At the moment, it’s maaaaybe a quarter of the way done – I’m not actually sure, I haven’t pieced it in a while – and steadily in progress.

Then, early this year during the relationship fail (which I will NOT talk about in detail thank you very much), I came up with another idea – I want to make clothes for my hypothetical future domestic life. This coincided with me getting into sewing for cosplay purposes, and yet another crazy project was born.

This one is more… whatever I end up making, at whatever point it gets made, put in a bin for when I need it. I’m gonna be documenting it here on littlest lioness because that means semi-regular content for y’all. There will be knitted and sewn projects, picked to appeal to my aesthetic sensibilities, as I see fit. This version is not FOR anyone, and yet it is absolutely for Someone. I just, y’know, don’t know who they are yet. (I have vague hopeful thoughts that are going to inform a few details, but that’s here nor there.)

The way I see it, if I’m gonna put a lot of my emotional energy into wanting something I currently do not have, I might as well prepare for it. This project is me preparing, and I’m excited for the journey.

monsters and the women who love them

Happy Halloween! I’m taking a break from overkill posts about my personal life (which isn’t even that interesting right now anyways) and FINALLY writing about some of the media I consume. In this case, the titular trope, which has been one of my favorite things as long as I can remember.

I don’t know when that became my weakness. I know I’ve written before about how Beauty & The Beast was the Disney movie I broke the tape of from watching it too much (and I still believe whichever Disney movie a girl watched until the whole household had it memorized does decide her fate a little bit), so maybe that’s it. I have always had a thing for monsters who aren’t really monsters at all, who are that way due to circumstance but are still capable of the deepest humanity, and the mundane human women who see that. Where this actually originated, why it’s something that speaks to me, is irrelevant.

I became more conscious of it when I binge-read the entire Harry Potter series when I was 14. Eleven years ago. Typing that feels weird, like it’s simultaneously been much more and much less time than that. This was the point in my life that it became clear that the above is my TYPE, the thing I will go for if it is present in anything I’m otherwise casually into. This was the point where I saw things I wanted to become in a twentysomething human disaster and her love determined enough to work through obstacles. I think I knew, even then, that that was what I wanted. Didn’t know what I was gonna do with it – still don’t – but there was power.

My preferences ever since then have followed suit.

I could list countless shows I’ve enjoyed because of this theme. The monster doesn’t even need to be non-human – there are a few examples that easily come to mind where it’s merely a man who’s done things a person cannot come back from and then felt guilt crash upon him, and that also counts. The cliché is always male monster and female love interest, but the genders are switched in one of my current things (which is a whole other post that I’ll probably do next time ). I… unfortunately cannot think of any same-gender ships I’ve been into that have that dynamic, and I should add that to my list of stuff to write about because there could be SO MUCH POTENTIAL in something like that. Idk.

I think the reason I adore that dynamic is because I see myself in both sides, but especially in the women strong enough to accept issues and love anyways. I want to do that. I want to be that.

(On an unrelated housekeeping note, publication list is currently WILDLY out of date. I have stuff I need to add. If I haven’t by the next time I post, someone please meow at me, I need motivation.)

cocoon

It’s been a strange couple months.

I thought I fell in love, and then I realized that path wasn’t right for me. No damage done, friendship maintained (and so much closer than ever – I know I collect strays but this one I expected to run like hell after I came to my senses and broke off the relationship), surprisingly quiet downfall. That was a lot of my spring.

That, in turn, overlapped with one of my best friends getting married. And then my sister getting married – I was going to do a post about her tiny-badass bridesmaids, and I still might. And then a family friend’s kid getting married, and thankfully all we had to do for THAT one was show up but on the other hand I’ve been to twenty weddings and somehow THAT ONE was the first time I’ve seen an ambulance get called. (Life tip for anyone getting married – make absolutely damn sure you have your rings, and if something goes wrong and you DO end up having to borrow someone else’s, be gentle with them.) (Also, in that or any kind of emergency situation at a wedding, Auntie Alcoholic is not the person you want to hijack the DJ’s microphone and make the “does anyone have WD40 in their car??” announcement.) And there’s one more wedding on my schedule for the year, which is going to be entertaining, and weird how ONLY going to four is… well, weird.

Apparently most people in their mid-twenties haven’t been to anywhere near as many weddings as I have, and it’s even weirder that most of them were neither family nor people I’m close to. But hey, as long as social obligation gets me free food and generally free alcohol, I’m okay with it.

I watched yet another TV show at the perfect time, and I’m not even gonna threaten a post about it yet ’cause I am still working through what I learned from the female lead’s emotional journey. Sufficient to say, my gift for finding the right media exactly when I need it has remained impeccable and I have all the feelings about it.

I’ve been in my current position at work for nine months (minus like a week, whatev) and I’m still getting used to being around people who actually like me. I guess we can add “verbally abusive boss” to my trauma list now?? Idk.

School is… going. I am putting up effort, I am doing shit, I am TRYING. After this semester, I have three more classes – two in the spring and one in the summer – and then I get my certificate and try to get work in a hospital. Phlebotomy tech doesn’t pay a whole lot better than what I’m doing now, but the tradeoff is I’ll have sharp objects. It’ll be an adventure.

I now associate the acoustic version of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” with the sound of a close friend’s heart breaking. I am not ready to tell that story yet. I don’t know that I ever will be, but… it’s strange how you realize how much you love someone when they are at their most broken. When all hell breaks loose and all you can think is how much you wish you were enough to keep them safe. (I got to play “please don’t be dead!!” with the same person a couple months later, and came to the conclusion that even though it hurts, there IS no walking from this sort of entanglement.)

I tried to reconnect with a past flame – yes it’s been a fascinating couple months for my love life, and yes I’m writing about it in vague terms because it’s cathartic – and said things I shouldn’t have, and someone I’ve known for ten years got to deal with the worst of my jealousy even though I didn’t even want them. They were just THERE, and I wanted to make sure my bridges stayed burned.

I’ve gotten more stories published. I should update my page for that. Someone remind me to do that, please?

I’m roughly half done with a novel I’m determined to finish. Next year’s big adventure is going to be trying to get “All Is Bright” published. It’s a love story with an indie-comedy vibe and a bunch of teenagers with unresolved issues in the background, so stay tuned for that.

I don’t remember the last time I wanted to kill myself. Even when I was sobbing in the bathroom at three in the morning the day of my sister’s wedding, I have wanted to live.

And I am living.