manifested nightmare

I’ve been realizing lately that I used to be a really shitty person.

Not that I’m doing all that much better now or anything, but at least over the last few years I’ve become aware of my flaws and my tendencies and I am slowly but surely putting leashes on them and teaching them how to sit and shut up. I make no claims about being a Good Human Being, but damn, at least I’m willing to admit I’m human.

Baby!me did not have that ability. Much to her peril. And it’s taken me almost a decade to admit it.

Blame an old friend for this, if you will. Beautiful thing about social media is sometimes people reappear out of nowhere after two years of awkward silence and it’s like the distance never existed at all. This one, he’s special. I’ve blogged about him in the past because he’s slightly more notable as the first love whose lack of interest in me led to me leaving the Bubble and ending up on antidepressants for the first time (wow, boy did a lot for me), but before that… before that, he was the only person who knew me in high school who did not want to fix me, let alone try.

I think I scared him. It’s been eight years since it happened, a third of my life, and I still vividly remember the cold November weekend our paths first crossed. Rarely do I have primal reactions to new people, and negative ones even less so, but I took one look at that boy and I wanted to bring him down. Over the two days and several hallway encounters that followed, I almost hit him several times – and not always by accident either. I’m pretty sure everyone has vague sociopathic tendencies at age sixteen or so, but I was something else entirely and I picked a pretty good victim.

Or so I thought. But in my chaotic brilliance, I’d picked the one Bubble boy in our region who could not only keep up with me but actually chose to. Chose to explain to me, a year and a lifetime later, that sometimes content warnings make life easier. (Not that I listened, but seventeen-year-old me was not good at following instructions.) Chose to reach out to me and treat me like a damn person, something I did not know how to respond to at the time (and still don’t, honestly). Chose to, in sweet Bubble-boy fashion, become the first real friend I managed to keep.

But oh, that doesn’t change how much of a bitch I was.

If it moved, I hated it. I was undiagnosed depressive, not to mention aforementioned sociopath-adjacent tendencies, and I’d been left in a perfect playground. A quick glance at the national news will inform any outsider of how succeptible such communities are to semi-outsider predators, but the young who aren’t eaten frequently grow up to be just as monstrous. I was merely more open and aiming in a slightly different direction than my peers. All of us were a bit feral, I think. I stood out as a lone wolf amidst the shifting pack of our homeschool group, but nobody survived unscathed.

Still, someone saw light in me. Someone my age, someone I never would’ve expected kindness from until it was shown. And that, more than anything else, is probably why I’m still alive.

(I’m gonna message this post to the person in question, for the record. I do follow the “if you write about them and you’re still on speaking terms, make sure they see it” rule. So… this could get awkward and lead to a follow-up post about how I’ve set my life on fire THIS month.)

I still have a lot of reflection to do, but at least I’m admitting it. That’s the first step.

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mid-case scenario

As of this past Saturday, all my contact with the Bubble going forward will be completely of my own free will. My little sister officially graduated high school the second time (it’s a long story and not mine to tell in detail but mostly features her primal concept of loyalty), my family survived some awkward conversations in a bizarrely small church gym, and it’s over. We’re done.

I know, I know – I myself graduated six years ago, so technically the past six years have been voluntary, but… it’s hard to run when you’ve got younger siblings. Especially when one of said younger siblings is friends with everyone. (Bean, if you’re reading this, I love how outgoing you are but sometimes I wonder how your brain handles it. Maybe with the space I would have if I’d stop obsessing about questionable genre shows??) So while I was out of the heart of the fire, I was still on the edges.

And now I am not. And that’s weird as hell and, like everything else, it’s got me brooding.

I am not the perfect Bubble girl, that much is obvious from my colorful vocabulary and the fact that, at almost 24, there’s no ring on my finger and my uterus has yet to have an occupant. But nor am I what they thought I’d become either. Sure, I’ve got a few more tattoos than would be considered ideal (okay fine I only have four SO FAR), but I don’t have bizarre piercings, my sexual orientation is only a relevant detail of my existence when I feel like hissing about that one girl I had a crush on two autumns back (one of those fabulously no-win crushes no less), I don’t have a criminal record or a child born out of wedlock, and I’m pretty harmless when I remember to take my meds.

So, I’m something else. A grayscale daughter of a black-and-white world. Weird, huh.

I got the chance to talk to an old friend last weekend who I hadn’t had any direct contact with in a year and a half (thank you Facebook chat for reminding me of the last time we’d both been broody enough to deal with each other) and it was the weirdest freaking thing. Six years ago, I thought I was gonna marry that boy. Mind you, I thought a lot of other shit then that also ended up being completely wrong, but… there’s a part of me that’s always gonna have a soft spot for Vulcan. Like most of the people I’ve loved, he sees right through people to their very cores. Even from the other side of the world, having noticed that I’d liked one too many of his vacation photos (which are AWESOME btw and I’m kinda jealous) and deciding to check in on me ’cause why the hell not, he saw through me.

God, I’d probably be miserable right now if he’d liked me back. If we’d been one of those Bubble couples – if you’ve ever dealt with the Bubble, you know the type, the ones that get married after six months of their version of dating ’cause it’d be a mortal sin to make out before marriage. We easily could’ve been. I’m sure there’s an alternate universe where Vulcan would’ve fallen for me because of how many feathers it would’ve ruffled for the golden boy to settle down with the bitchy black sheep. (And now that’s a story idea. Frack.) But we didn’t, and I can finally see how that was a good thing.

In the end, turned out neither of us did Perfect Bubble Young Adult that well. And it feels awesome to know stuff about a whole range of things that are perfect gibberish to someone whose mind used to amaze me (and to an extent still does). It feels awesome to know that that boy’s out there doing his thing, in his own orbit, keeping his head above water and finding happy moments here and there. I’m definitely one of those people who likes to keep an eye on former objects of affection – given that I’ve gone after some Real Winners, it’s almost necessary – but at least I don’t have to worry about Vulcan. Never have, never will.

I mean, my first instinct upon meeting that boy almost eight years ago was that I wanted to punch him. Even considering the Bubble doctrine of Universal Compatibility, there was no way that was gonna end well for me.

I feel like I’m in another transformative phase of my life. I know, I know, I’m in my twenties so like this entire decade is supposed to be transformative, but like… this current moment more so than usual. This summer, just beginning, like it could totally reshape everything I am and believe in.

Idk. I got a tattoo of a moon on my wrist two weeks ago because werewolves are the perfect analogy for everything about me, I’m attempting to plow through the works of CS Lewis in an effort to sort out my spirituality completely separate from my environment of origin (or the megachurches it seems like everyone my age goes to), and today I learned not to wear my super-modest dress when I’m going to a particular location ’cause that is how one gets harassed by drunk homeless people. It’s a weird week and I’m just shutting up and running with it.

an open letter about agency

Dear people I’m gonna be dealing with over the next three days, most of whom I’ve known since I was a little bug,

Yes, I’m gonna be wearing some interesting dresses that you might think are inappropriate. Yes, my arm tattoos are gonna be very visible; no, I will not explain what those quotes are from. Yes, I will probably recommend questionable TV to somebody’s 17-year-old. Yes, I have no verbal filter and will probably say quite a few things that’ll ruffle feathers. This is my fourth year working your event, and I’m a pretty predictable little creature.

Thing is, you need to have those problems with me. Not my mother. Me.

There seems to be a misconception in homeschool culture that an unmarried young woman cannot be held responsible for her behavior. I’m calling out homeschool culture specifically because I haven’t had this issue anywhere else. In my normal, mundane life – at my almost-full-time retail job – I am taken seriously. Yes, I’m 23 and don’t have a shiny object on my finger. The relevant detail is I’m 23. I’m a legal adult. What I do is mine.

But not to you people. No, ’cause I’m single as hell and still live with my parents, any and all of your issues with me get flung at my mother instead.

Look, I’m not gonna try to defend my mother here, but she gave up on controlling my behavior a decade ago. I’m my own entity and have been for a lot longer than your kids. Accept and move on.

I remember a couple years ago – I wanna say the summer I turned twenty – I posted on Facebook about this book I’d read. Harmless YA-level retelling of some fairytale, I don’t remember which one but it was from the fairy godmother’s perspective and it was super freaking cute. About a day later, my mother received a lovely email from a concerned family friend who legit asked if I was “dabbling in the occult”. Like, that’s an exact quote, and I will remember that for the rest of my life because it was one of the most WTF things I’ve ever experienced.

This person made no effort to say anything to me, mind you. They just assumed that my mother could solve the situation.

For the record, y’all, my mom realized she couldn’t keep up with my reading the summer I turned 14. (And then promptly banned me from telling anybody in the homeschool group about anything I was reading because it’d make her look bad if I mentioned the wrong thing to the wrong person, but whatev. She tried.)

I’m an adult. I know I don’t seem like one most of the time, but I am. If I do something, there’s a 98% chance it’s because I want to. So if it bugs you, say something to me.

If you’ve got some issue with my gorgeous red dress, I am wearing that because I know I look hot in it.

The inevitable trashy TV rec… my mom doesn’t even know what I watch anymore. The last time we talked about TV in any form was like six months ago when I mentioned that maaaaaybe Daredevil is a little more violent than she’d be into. She knows next to nothing about the stuff that has helped shape who I am as a person, and I mean to keep it that way.

And whatever bitchy comment I will probably make at some point in the next twelve hours… ever wonder where I got that talent from?? Only difference is my timing’s not as good, but hey, I’ve got another thirty years to figure that out.

So please, please, don’t set your massive flock of canaries loose on somebody who doesn’t deserve to get chew-toyed like that. Play nice, y’all, and I’ll try to do the same.

xoxo.

i am.

 

A personal manifesto of sorts, because it feels like time.

I AM a lioness in my heart. I am protective as hell of the people I care about – sometimes too much so, sometimes at the wrong times, but that’s how I show my love. Protectiveness and worrying too much, and often both at once.

I AM a survivor in so many ways but I refuse to let that part of my identity define me. I’m an ex-Bubble girl, a survivor of attempted sexual assault (that’s a story for another day), a young woman who got diagnosed with depression five years ago and has been on and off meds ever since, a girl who had to define for herself what “normal” looked like… and you know what?? None of those things are ME. None of them is big enough to conceal the parts of me that aren’t so tragic. None of those should get the chance. I’m more than my scars.

I AM a hopeless romantic who’s learning not to let that define her either. Not all relationships need to be permanent. Sometimes it’s fun to kiss and be held by someone you know you don’t have a future with. Sometimes knowing it’s not gonna last is half the fun. Sometimes it’s okay to be wild and make up for lost time.

That said, I AM a romantic perhaps more than anything else, and I’m hopeful for the day I’m gonna meet someone worth having a life with and start on that adventure. Wherever you are, future darlin’, I’ve got big plans for what’s ahead of us. I like plans. But I wanna get proved wrong, so good luck with me babe.

I AM a bit quirky, prone to saying and doing things most people wouldn’t, and I’m a lot more aware of my behavior than most people seem to think. I had some holes poked in my defenses recently, and I’m working on figuring out what to do with that new information and how to use it to make myself better. Normal is a setting for machines, not humans, and I’ve got no aspirations on that front. I’d rather be happy than settle.

I AM undefinable in any specific stereotype or category, and I’m embracing that about myself. I can’t be pinned down. I am me. I don’t need cute tags to put on my sexual orientation or my mental illness, because those don’t define me either. Reduce me to “the bi chick” or “the depressed chick” at your own risk. I’ll use those labels if I have to, but they’re mine, not yours.

I AM chasing coping mechanisms that work for me, not necessarily expected stuff. I use cosplay as therapy (and apparently I’m getting a small reputation for my primary one and it’s been like a week since I found that out and I’m still squeeing over it). I have a complicated reward system for when I get stuff done writing-wise. I write fanfic because some things can’t be said in any form that will ever be read by someone I met in the physical world first. I look at wedding stuff on Pinterest when I get sad, and as jealous as I am when my Facebook feed is utterly flooded with it (most of this year’s brides are younger than me whyyyyyy), it still makes me happy that other people are hopefully finding and settling down with their Person. I am trying to embrace and work with the weirdness of my brain.

I AM on antidepressants and have been, on and off, for the last five years. This gets its own point because lately I’ve gotten really frustrated with a particular social attitude towards bad brain and I’ve decided to stop being subtle about it. I take a tiny white pill every morning so I have a better chance at fighting the darkness in my head, and it works a damn lot better than prayer or therapy ever did. I’m not sure what it says about the culture I grew up in that fully embracing modern medicine feels a little rebellious to me, but here we are I guess.

I AM passionate about the projects I work on and blessed with an attention span shorter than my cat’s when she’s just spent quality time with the latest catnip fish we got her from the animal shelter people. I’m learning not to focus on the end goals and focus instead on the journey. With the aforementioned attention span issue, trying to live fully in each moment is a step forward. It’s a new part of my journey and definitely a challenge – yay anxiety!! – but it’s gonna make things better.

I AM learning to be in love with life without becoming one of those obnoxious hipster-trash girls. I’m learning to be more private and not post every moment of my life on Instagram (but that might change when I remember my freaking password). I’m learning to choose light, to find the good in everything and focus on that. I will not be sunk by my instinctive pessimism.

I AM reclaiming my body. I’m tall, skinny but pear-shaped, and I have bad skin and huge feet. On a good day, I might be normal-person-pretty; on a normal day, I console myself with the fact that at least I understand that leggings are not pants (at least not if you intend to go further away from home than the end of your driveway). I’ve been blessed with the ability to see beauty in almost everyone else, but in myself?? That might be the biggest battle of all. I’ve only recently realized it even is a battle, but I’m trying. I am making a home within my own skin. I get tattoos like direction signs, I do what I want with makeup, I wear what I want, and most days I either completely don’t care what anyone thinks or I’m just doing it for one person’s attention (and even then – screw you, I LIKE bright red lipstick and I WILL wear it when I wanna feel badass).

I AM deeply afraid of never being loved the way I want to be loved, but I know that’s bullshit. I know there’s someone out there for me. I know that someday someone’s arms are gonna feel like a permanent home instead of a storm shelter. I know I’m gonna fall in actual love, and I have no idea what that fate’s gonna look like but I’ve got time to embrace the uncertainty.

I AM in a way better place than ever before, and it’s just gonna get better from here.