seven years

According to the “on this day” function on FB (which is so strangely addictive if only as an archive of my questionable fashion choices and that one year I tried to communicate almost exclusively in song lyrics), tomorrow marks seven years since an unexpectedly life-changing event.

I write about the person I refer to on here as Vulcan a lot because that whole mess was one of the turning points in my life. It made me realize a lot of things that wouldn’t have become apparent otherwise a bit earlier than might’ve been ideal, and my entire life changed because of that one moment seven years ago.

Okay, fine, that story spanned over the course of a year and a half. Maybe two and a half if you count the ACTUAL first time I met that boy, but I don’t because the person I wanted to chewtoy and the person who showed me unexpected kindness and caused a lot of unexpected problems… were quite different, honestly. But like all great almost-love-stories, this one had a beginning point, and this one occurred on a cold November Saturday when a boy I’d met exactly once before – and at the time, REALLY did not like based on that previous experience – suggested that I might want to do a content warning at the beginning of my interp.

Look, there were a lot of shitty experiences that came along with being midrange-conservative-Christian homeschooled through high school, but speech tournaments were not one of them. That’s the one part of my adolescence I can look back on and say was solidly GOOD. Maybe in part because the structure of the beast required a level of human decency a lot of us weren’t otherwise capable of, and the dress codes and strict scheduling prevented a lot of the behavior that otherwise went down when more than half a dozen homeschooled teenage girls were in the same space for more than ten minutes, but… whatever the causes, that activity WORKED for me. It got me out of the house and around other human beings, it gave me a valid excuse to cause a little lowkey drama without fallout (pretty sure a few moms reconsidered whether sheltering was such a good thing after watching my senior-year interp)… total win.

But again, back to that one unexpected turning point.

How the hell an 18-year-old male who’d grown up in that culture had ANY concept about content warnings, I will never know. There were a lot of questions I didn’t ask back then, when it mattered, ’cause I was too busy trying to get him to LIKE me. Or, well, assuming he did but also kinda wondering why he didn’t do anything about it. (There are still a lot of unasked questions, but people change and I’ve stopped actively wondering.)

And then a couple months later, another moment my brain goes back to when I need some kind of validation. Different competition, not a particularly good weekend for me ’cause I’d read a book over the holidays that had really screwed me up. Perfect timing on the part of one of two genuine friends I had among the three hundred or so of us… led to a near-death experience and what I realized a couple years later was my first-ever panic attack. And again, Vulcan was inhumanly chill. Calmed me down, made sure I was okay, and made sure I got safely inside before frostbite fully got through my floral fishnets. Again, no reason why someone with those origins and those brackets should’ve been THAT GOOD, and yet.

I’m realizing, as I write this, that all the people I’ve seriously fallen in love with have had that effect on me. They’ve been people who, with their very presence, can either make me melt or make me contemplate how they’d look spread out on the hood of my car. (Or both at once.) It’s pretty freaking rare that people can do that to me, but it has aftershocks that last for years. Pretty undying loyalty, for one thing.

It’s been… guh, I wanna say five years since I physically crossed paths with Vulcan. Dunno if I ever will again, or how awkward that would be. We’re still friends and occasionally talk about random stuff (I’ve accepted that one of my life’s purposes is to make sure that boy listens to decent music once in a while, and that’s a good conversation starter). My tendency to hang onto former crushes is a little weird – when I was talking to one of my female friends a couple weeks ago, I realized that like half the people I trust // go to in a crisis are guys I once thought I was gonna marry – but it works.

I mean, if nothing else… if someone ever seriously screws me over, they could end up facing down an Avengers worth of my sort-of-almost-exes. That’s pretty darn awesome.

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the brave girl

Content warning – this is a post about sexual harassment, assault, and general assholery in various forms.

(I wasn’t gonna do this post – I previously thought it was way too personal and complicated – but hell, it’s almost four in the morning and I decided not to sleep ’cause a longtime friend just got engaged and I’m all feelingsy about that so… here, have another one of my open wounds.)

A couple weeks ago, we had an Incident at my work. Of the “holy freaking hell, you’re almost 40, you should REALLY know better than to say that in public!!” variety. Of the “I would’ve physically attacked said dingbat if I hadn’t had the brains to tell one of my friends about it first and said friend came up with a better solution” variety. And of the “oh lookit FLASHBACKS” variety.

See, at least this time I was an innocent bystander who could only tolerate so much assholery. That’s my normal status at work. I started at my current job a month and a half after shaving my head during a manic episode (in the middle of winter no less) and it took various coworkers a couple months to figure out I was female. Worked out great for me, in the grand scheme of things. The boy I crushed on that year had no trouble seeing my details; meanwhile, the various creeps and reptiles missed whatever chance they would’ve had to sink their teeth into a pale-as-hell and ultra-naive 20-year-old woman. I got LUCKY,  and even after my hair grew out, that’s held pretty well. I’m not the girl who gets hit on by coinflip-sober customers or entwines herself in workplace romances gone horribly wrong. So again, in this particular case of wildlife who should’ve known better, I just happened to be close enough to overhear and not in the mood for putting up with bullshit on that scale that day.

But GOD, now I think I understand why most girls aren’t brave enough to report.

I had panic attacks about it after maybe the sixth time I had to repeat the exact same incident report to yet another person who agreed that yes the situation had an obvious solution but there was still PAPERWORK and forms to file to cover tails in case someone miraculously found enough money to start a lawsuit. I think I almost drove one of my friends crazy the day I figured out that most of our coworkers had traced the incident back to me – this, somehow, was the event that showed me the limits of superhuman patience. Never mind that everyone who’s spoken to me about it has been completely on my side and several have offered their own fixes for if something like that happens around me again. It’s still a LOT to be the victim on paper. More than I signed up for.

At least this time – perhaps because of the circumstances, perhaps because of who vouched for me, I don’t freaking know – people believed me.

Flashbacks are fun. Memories of being nineteen and telling my mother about an incident that had happened half a decade earlier, a boy in a homeschool group who had some interesting personal space issues but probably hadn’t meant actual HARM, and her practically laughing and then telling me how much worse it could’ve been. Because hey, at least the boy was around my age and not related to me (that we know of), at least all he did was put his hands on my questionably-existent thirteen-year-old breasts, at least I could still claim some form of innocence. To this day, I don’t think that boy knew at that time that he was doing something WRONG, but the fact that homeschool parents as a general species don’t teach their male offspring about moderation when in the same physical space as girls is a whole other monkey. I just… at nineteen, two or three years after I even realized that the incident even WAS an incident, I should’ve known better than to expect sympathy from my mother. And yet I did, because that situation screwed me up a bit and, despite me not knowing at the time, led to suicide attempt 0.5. And yet I didn’t get any. Figures.

Hell, I got a little more of a reaction when I almost got raped by another woman during the long weekend in the psych ward about a year later. At least that one was a bit harder to blame on me.

But still, I’m not used to being LISTENED TO. I enjoy my natural immunity and don’t question it, and I usually keep my secrets close to my chest because most people do. not. get. it.

Honestly, it’s a little ironic that the first incident that publicly bestowed the title of VICTIM upon me was the first one where I was barely even involved.

I’m still processing, but at this point I feel pretty badass. As much as my job frustrates me at times, I’m proud to work in an environment where that kind of shit gets taken very seriously. (Other incidents, not my story to tell, have confirmed that the harassment policy at my particular store holds a LOT of weight.) Obviously that ought to be standard in any environment, but the world sucks and it isn’t so let me have this one. We’re a zoo, but we don’t let anybody – outsider or insider, we don’t care – prey on our girls. First time I’ve ever felt loyal to the company I work for, honestly.

And going forward, when I herd around the teenage throwaway girls who imprint on me like the awkward baby ducklings they are, I have a few new points to make. Like a former coworker’s infamous “avoid if young and female” warning speech that all the other new girls of my era (but not me because again, awkward and accidentally butch), but so much better because this one has resources and battle plans.

So. Much. Better.

phantom limb syndrome

I lost a friend over the summer. They didn’t like some of my choices, and… okay, fair, one thing in particular was an interesting decision on my part, but at least everyone else who called me out on it saw the disaster for what it was. As opposed to my former bestie, who decided that another person in my life didn’t quite check off enough diversity//oppression boxes to be tolerated.

Ah, yes, because someone who’s knowingly screwed up someone else’s marriage should TOTALLY judge other people’s choices. Good grief, even the BUBBLE would draw the line against that one!!

So, that happened a while back, and it hit me this week how much I MISS said ex-friend. Like, I don’t miss the way they only liked me when our traumas mirrored each other, or the way they expected me to be SUPER SUPPORTIVE of *their* bizarre life choices while simultaneously guilt-tripping me about my own for TOTALLY BULLSHIT REASONS (yes, my wolf friend has both a dick and a personality; no, that does NOT make him pure evil)… but I miss the good parts. I miss having someone who’d experienced the bubble the exact same way I had and who understood that some things are just impossible to explain to outsiders.

A friend of a friend posted on FB this week that she didn’t find her husband attractive until after they were married and only accepted his interest in her ’cause of how spiritual he was. Every alarm bell in my body went off when I read that, and my first thought was that my ex-friend was probably the ONLY person in my circle who’d understand why that anecdote made me want to vomit. Except… ex-friend is ex-friend for REASONS. I don’t want them back in my life. I got a lot out of that friendship, but the lowkey manipulation and guilt were probably not worth the five years I sacrificed.

And yet there’s still that empty place where they used to be. Waiting, I guess, for someone else who managed to get out of the homeschool bubble WITHOUT drifting to an extreme. And hopefully the next person, the bionic arm in my future, will be a little less hypocritical. Fingers crossed.

slip week

I was doing so good and then I slipped the last couple of days.

It’s not my fault that my fight-or-flight reaction is a little screwy and sometimes my brain genuinely thinks that playing in traffic would solve problems. I’m not even sure if that was suicidal inclination or just wanting to be in a coma for like the next month so I don’t have to deal with the emotionally-manipulative bullshit parade that is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (Which is… another post I may actually do at some point between now and Christmas, and a pretty important part of my emotional journey, and probably gonna be my next tattoo since it’s the off-season for my preferred expensive hobby.) Yes, Monday was a shitshow and I’m not sure how I’m gonna apologize to my wolf for this one (or if I even need to), but I didn’t DO anything.

I didn’t DO anything yesterday either, when my week got derailed ten minutes before I was supposed to get off work. Yay family emergency. Unfortunately too many of y’all know my fam in real life, and I’m not sure how we’re publicly handling this one, but there’s some chaos going on there. Not my story to tell, but still stressing me out because right now I look like the normal child and that’s a little weird.

And I didn’t DO anything today either, unless you count crying for like half an hour because yet another of my casual acquaintances is pregnant. ANOTHER ONE. That makes… idk, I wanna say right now six or seven people spamming my social media feeds with their baby bumps?? And most of them are younger than me, which is so not helping. I’m 24. I still probably have fifteen years of fertility left. But I wanna USE those years, dammit. I want to BE the one obsessing over every little detail of my imminent tiny human. Not the jealous single girl watching.

So, I guess I’ve been good. Lot of bad brain stuff but all kept safely passive-aggressive. I need to find a way to make things right with one person in particular, but I’m pretty sure I’m gonna spend the rest of my life trying to balance out that relationship and I’m not sure it’s doable. Otherwise… yeah. It’s only Wednesday. Anything could happen.

sometimes an asshole is just an asshole

Earlier this week, my baby sister did something super awesome. Apparently her college has a bit of an infestation of “preachers” who like to harass anything that moves, and one of them attempted to have a go at my brother. Welp, little sister is nothing if not protective of her people, and she decided that the correct response to that kind of wildlife was to pick a fight with him. (For reference, my sister is an adorable skinny blonde white girl. NOT the sort of person one generally expects to be the brave one in this sort of situation.) And sure enough, tiny badass ended up having the last word and got a heck of a video of the incident to post on social media.

So what does that situation have to do with the title of this post, you ask?? Simple – various people, some of whom I know and some of whom I never will, responded to that video with “you should’ve been nicer to him, he’s probably mentally ill”.

Newsflash, buddy – mental illness is not an excuse for being that kind of trash in a public place. If you can form coherent enough sentences to harass dozens of innocent passers-by, then you’re mentally present enough to take responsibility for your actions.

Sometimes an asshole is just an asshole.

If you’ve followed this blog long enough, you’ve seen my own mental-health issues. I’ve written extensively about some of the stuff that goes on in my head. I am enough of a person to admit that a lot of the stupid shit I do has nothing to do with my depression and everything to do with my poor impulse control and maladaptive self-defense skills. Explanations that are character flaws I can fix (and am actively trying to). Not a screw loose or a hamster missing or one tiny screwed-up strand of DNA that gives me an excuse to do what I want without consequence.

Most of my friends are the same. Most of the people I care about have bad brain of some sort, and all of them take ownership of their actions. I’m constantly amazed by my wolf, who has been through more than I knew a human being could even survive and yet remains the most gentle and kind person I know. And really, everyone I know who fights monsters in their head is focused on being a decent and functional human being.

So no, longtime “family friend”, putting some label on someone you’ve never met doesn’t justify inappropriate public behavior. Sometimes an asshole is just an asshole.

life goes on

I took a mostly accidental writing hiatus.

It’s been an intense couple weeks. Lots of personal stuff. Very little of which is suitable for public consumption. I learned a few unexpected things about myself and what I’m capable of. And a few completely unsurprising things. I am definitely a better and more self-aware person than I was six months ago.

I’ve been getting much more into cosplay and trying to do that on a semi-professional level. I post about all of that on FB at Blue Butterfly Cosplay, so if y’all are remotely interested in watching me be a human disaster with photographic proof of my misadventures, go over there. At this point that’s gonna be staying off this blog because clearly what I need is two TOTALLY DIFFERENT public personas, but ya never know. (The occasional con story might wander over here, idk. Con people are FUN.)

I’ve taken on a bunch of crafty projects. I’m trying to do some side ventures. I’m working full time. I’m stressed as hell and in a strange way I think I love it because stressed!me gets shit done.

I just need to figure out how to translate the new practical gifts of my stubbornness into everything else in my life.

I need to sew and/or piece together like six costumes I’m lowkey working on, plus a Handmaid dress that I’m gonna wear for something at some point but idk what at this point ’cause I meant to wear it for my sister’s graduation but then life happened and I didn’t get around to making the darn thing in time soooo I’m gonna do that for SOMETHING. Idk. Maybe the next wedding within the former group, assuming there are any left I’m even gonna get invited to. We’ll see.

I kinda need to lose weight but that would require effort and honestly I’m too tired and I can blame my antidepressants for my thighs so whatev.

I need to write so, so much.

I’m not sure if posting all of this here will make me DO IT, but here’s hoping.

the strangest thing i have ever read (so far)

I’ve been reading a bunch of “how to be the perfect conservative religious woman” books as research for a few projects. For the most part, said books aren’t generally that bad. Sure, the relationship advice is usually questionable at best, but there are usually good intentions and at least vague points in the right direction and… okay, I really do hate self-help books and the addition of Bible verses does not change that one bit, but most of that genre (at least that I’ve read so far) is at least… not as horrific as it could be, I guess??

But all categories have exceptions, and the first one I’ve found in this particular one is A Return To Modesty by Wendy Shalit.

I almost feel bad writing negatively about that book because like… when it’s good, as it is in places, it’s really good. There’s a chapter about how a significant part of the problem is that we as a culture are not socializing our sons to be decent human beings, which I appreciated and did not expect to find in a book that’s otherwise all “BLAME THE WOMAN!!”. And even when Shalit goes some questionable places, she has extensive citations, so the book isn’t just personal opinion gone awry.

Unfortunately, another of the chapters is devoted to the strangest conspiracy theory I’ve ever come across, which Shalit believes completely – doctors are putting young women on psychotropic medications to take away their natural femininity.

Remember, y’all – I grew up on the fringes of the homeschool movement. I have seen and listened to some weird shit (for example, a longtime family friend is convinced that the iPhone is the Mark Of The Beast). I am usually much more accepting of heartfelt-albeit-unusual beliefs than the average person. But that one?! I just… I don’t have words.

Like, I’ve seen that argument used about why birth control is evil. Not frequently, because people who believe that generally have way more interesting rationale, but I have seen it. Never before about antidepressants, though.

And sure, maybe I’m a bit biased. I’m coming up on six years on-and-off meeds, mostly and currently on, so maybe my particular cocktail’s warped my opinion of everything holy. But like, I’ve heard a lot of the super-religious arguments against the mere existence of mental health issues and… this is still new and bizarre and I can’t even.

Seriously. How damaged does one’s brain have to be in order for one to believe that?!

A Return To Modesty was published in 1999, so hopefully Shalit’s taken some time over the last two decades to reassess some of her views and minimize her confirmation bias, but… I’m not holding my breath, nor do I think the odds are good enough for me to poke around online and find out. Congratulations, though – a nonobservant Jewish woman (not a religious tradition I generally associate with this scale of crazy) managed to impress me with the audacity of her bullshit. Well done, lady, well done.