Yes, It’s OK To Be Offended 

This insightful piece just broke open a bunch of shit from my childhood. I’ve been needing to hear this for 28 years now. Enjoy.

Dances With Fat

What a Load of CrapThere are many ways that people who like to bully and oppress others try to justify their behavior. One of those is the notion of “political correctness” which can be easily debunked when we substitute the phrase “being politically correct” with what is actually being asked of them: “treating people with respect,” as seen in this example from Donald Trump.

Another way is to try to make it seem as if the people pointing out the inappropriate/bullying/oppressive behavior are actually the ones doing the bullying/oppressing.  This is something that fat-hate trolls try all the time with fat activists, and I saw a perfect example of this on the “era of wisdom” facebook page:

That is Offensive A brown box with the following quote next to an outline of a person with bars (ostensibly to symbolize a jail) in front of their face. “To be offended by what someone else says is your own choice, as…

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You are the sky. Joy is the atmosphere. Everything else is just weather.

Danielle LaPorte on Roundhouse Radio’s Trying to Be Good talking about why she focuses on joy. (23:30) She describes it as not being the same as happiness, which is “sort of carbonated. Happiness moves, it’s the weather, it’s the clouds. But joy is the atmosphere.” I started floating a little bit when I heard this.

“Joy is so big that you can feel anything in the midst of it. You can feel joy and still feel rage.” And then she made me jump in my seat. “You can feel joy and feel grief.”

I was alarmed, jarred, startled by this statement while being flooded with hope that it might be true. I did a quick scan of her other assertions to discern the likelihood of the accuracy of this possibility. She says we can feel joy and still feel rage. Do I have any evidence to support/refute that claim? Cue a memory of the plate smashing exercise from last month. (Thanks, brain.) That was one of the most joy-rooted activities I’ve ever done. So, yes, I can say that joy and rage can simultaneous be true.

So, holy fuck, is it really possible that I can be rooted in joy and grieve at the same time? Joy is not going to be ripped away from me by my grief? That is news!

I just got a whole lot safer to put my cat to sleep when the day comes. And the dread in anticipation of that day and the future days of never being able to touch him again or hear him purr, the trembling dread is a little more still. Yes, I won’t have a Rufus to reward my sense of sight, touch, hearing, but I will still have joy.

Oh. Yes, please.

Whose truth is it?

God love Mara Glatzel. She says the things I know, but she says them in a way I will listen.

Started Ferocious Truth with her last week. Fucking head cannons everywhere. Starting with this one: “There will always be more than one version of the same story for you to pick up and play with at any one moment.”

My own personal revelations:

Tuesday: For the last 18 months now, I get knocked down to a comatose bag of guts every time I travel or even when friends I adore come to visit me for a few days. I’ve been judging the shit out of myself for that. I have been hearing my stepmom’s voice telling me that it’s unacceptable, the response my body has to these types of events. So, I’ve mainly tried limiting the negative effect it has on other people. I thought it was so radically accepting of me when I decided this year that I schedule an equal number of down-days as any trip I go on – but the whole point was to help me avoid disappointing other people when I got back and couldn’t function for a few days. So, finally, I decided to try owning my mess and I summoned the courage to tell a few people. Those people weren’t upset with me for being like this. They were worried that I was suffering and they were hopeful that maybe there was help so I could suffer less. So, I reached out to my homeopath and talked it out with him and my remedy is in the mail and we are going to start getting to the bottom of this. Massive.

Wednesday: Walked an hour at the lakefront before this truth finally started talking through my voice box.

ff2b004510d01601c465a30aa001fba9John and I don’t “fight.” What we do instead is live quite peacefully and happily until he misinterprets something completely benign that I’ve said as an attack. And he gets super defensive and then gets really upset with me for hurting him. I remember what it is like to live under constant assault. My stepmom terrorized me. I was regularly under attack and when I responded by being hurt or recoiling, I got attacked for that, too. So, when John is triggered by something random, and he thinks I am attacking him, I go into care-taker mode and try to get us back to safe ground ASAP, trying to resolve the misunderstanding and assure him that I don’t have these negative opinions toward him or his actions that he is accusing me of. But that damage-control response is also hugely motivated by my fear that having any emotional response from me will just escalate it, so I am terrified and he is terrified but blaming me, and all I want is to get safe again because I am worried he is about to leave forever over something that was a complete misunderstanding. But all this means that I’ve been lying to myself for 8+ years about being emotionally hurt when he accuses me of hurting him when I’M NOT HURTING ANYONE. So, here’s the truth: THIS IS FUCKING BULLSHIT AND I AM A GODDAMN HUMAN BEING SO I HAVE FEELINGS TOO AND BEING ACCUSED OF ATTACKING THE PERSON I LOVE IS A GODDAMN ATTACK IN ITSELF AND I AM FURIOUS THIS PATTERN IS PART OF MY LIFE AND I DEMAND BETTER. Luckily, I finally realize that I don’t have to act on this new realization yet, I get to process it and decide how I want to bring John into it at a future date when I decide I am ready. I was worried that acknowledging my anger and pain would mean I was required to act instantly and that scared the fuck out of me, so I wouldn’t go there. Mara reminds me that I don’t have to do jack shit until I decide to, so right now it’s huge just to FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY acknowledge how bad I get hurt when that pattern happens. BTW – it happens a few times a week. But we somehow continue with this narrative about how we don’t fight.

Thursday: Rufus is dying. Prognosis is his kidneys are way worse and I’m a goddamn wreck.Rufus and Heather

My stomach basically quit working the day he was at the vet last week. I can’t eat decent food, and for a bunch of nights I was having nightmares so I couldn’t sleep. I’m shaky and I cry a lot. It’s the physiological shakiness that I’ve been attacking myself over. I have reclaimed crying – I can defend it pretty easily when I hear Polly’s stupid fucking voice in my  head. But when it comes to what is happening inside my body, which, reminder: I HAVE NO GODDAMN CONTROL OVER, it’s Polly’s motherfucking voice just insisting that I am so, so bad for not being 1. in control of my own body, 2. controlling it in a way that makes it perfectly cooperative to what everyone else’s body would be able to do and 3. 100% sure all the commitments I’m making are going to get done because I’m pretty emotional and sometimes that makes it hard for my brain to concentrate on anything at all.

Today: So, I’m laying on the couch, crying about how “bad” I am. I am so upset that I am so bad, even though I have spent my whole life trying not to be bad. I am incapable of not being what Polly taught me is to be hated. And that is devastating. I am totally powerless to change that I am so, so bad. No wonder I was a suicidal 11 year old. What other conclusion is there?

Luckily, Who I Really Am spoke up a little while ago to remind me that the “bad” me isn’t the one we have a problem with. It’s the part of my that judges the rest of me that actually earns my wrath. This is already pretty relieving news. Makes enough space in my psyche for me to sit up and at least go get some Ensure from the fridge because only the judge thinks I don’t deserve nourishment and only the judge is confused about how much quicker I will “get with the program” if my basic nutritional needs aren’t met.

But here comes Mara. Telling me that I will never be anyone other than who I am. And that is like deliverance. It reminds me of one of the most meaningful exercises I did when I started recovering from my eating disorder 10 years ago. “Imagine a world in which no one’s body changes at all. Ever. No one can do anything to alter the appearance or condition of their body.” When I imagined this, I felt the iceberg of body-hatred in which I was encapsulated instantly melt and slosh to the floor in a crashing wave. If I literally COULDN’T change myself, then I wouldn’t believe that my entire life responsibility revolved around the obligation to successfully change myself. It would become a non-issue.

So it goes with being someone other than I am. I’ve been spending most of my life, desperately trying to become not-me. But, apparently, that is not possible. It’s not even an option. So, two things: 1) I can focus on something else because this goal is a non-starter, and 2) I AM NOT A FAILURE for never having become someone other than me – because it’s not possible.

I can live my life, give up that plan/dream/goal/intention of becoming not-me, and I don’t even have to accept the label of failure or even of disobedient (my attempt to reframe the label of failure because sometimes I willful fail at living up to the demands of the Polly that lives in my head).

This is what we have. It’s crazy how many different times and ways I have to learn the same lesson. But for real, getting more proficient at being this person I am, at being a person at all,

 

 

Today’s Disobedience, or, How to Make Me Come

It’s possible that I didn’t close the tab I was reading while video games dominated the TV.

It’s possible that when I opened my computer this morning to begin working, An Archive of Our Own was open to a collection of one-shots called Sherlollipops, in which Sherlock and his pathologist get into their (and mine and your) shares of smutty fun. And it’s possible that I glanced harmlessly at the words on the screen and then 90 minutes and 6 orgasms later, I’m finally beginning my work day quite a bit later than usual.

During that glorious interim, I may have read a few more one-shots in that collection, visited my Pinterest page of Benedict Cumbarbatch pics and gifs of him clearly prepared to have his way with me, and then listened twice to this little Youtube masterpiece of Benedict reciting Ode to a Nightingale accompanied by a series of photos of him clearly prepared to have his way with me. Oh, and that Pinterest page may also have interspersed gifs of exemplary spanking and satisfyingly realistic nipple teasing that I can play while Benedict looks impatiently into my eyes.

I could have just started working this morning instead of clicking the mouse and writing up this recap while my fingers are still tingling from handy Lelo Lily 1. This beats obedience any day. (Pun intended.)

Healthy Anger

I could feel the anger surging through my body as I read aloud my own handwriting on the back of a cute little plate, “Mom’s health insurance punishment.” I took aim, holding the china vertically, the stance of a competitor in a darts battle. And I heaved. With all my might. At the cinder block wall before me. The smash and splatter released the anger from my body instantaneously, like an overfilled water balloon. The sound was a friendly tinkling that suggested to me that I was on the right track.

And so it went for the next 5 minutes. Plate after plate. In the end, I laid down in them. Satisfied. At peace. Alive.

The morning after and I’m realizing that this isn’t about anger, at least not the way I thought it was. I had described the plates as each representing “some shit I’m not over.” And the exercise started as a way to release pent up anger.

Anger was off limits when I was growing up. It was unacceptable for me to show anger around any of the adults in my life. And I was paralyzed by my fear of abandonment, so when I got the message that anger would get me less love, I learned to try to avoid anger. And my folks were all quite adamant that I technically could control whether I had an emotion (so wrong!), so if I would just be more mature, then I could live up to these standards. Because only immature teenagers are ever angry, and their anger is self-indulgent – never actually warranted. So, maturity I sought. Desperately. It seemed to be the only thing that was welcome.

That’s not to say I wasn’t a thoroughly pissed off teenager. I was. But that anger was just pouring out of me, running me over and leaving destruction in its wake. And I didn’t have a model of how to be in a healthy relationship with anger, so I learned some really fucked up stuff, left to my own devices.

Essentially, I believed that anger is the last ditch effort you make before ending the relationship. Therefore, I believed that, if someone expressed anger at me, they were giving me my last chance before they left me forever. As one might imagine, anger scared the shit out of me. I fell apart when someone expressed anger toward me and scrambled in desperation to repair whatever could possibly be repaired – taking responsibility where it wasn’t mine, changing the narrative so that the anger could be resolved, often diminishing myself in the process. I loved turning things into my fault, because they I was in control of them and could vow that it would never happen again. People being angry at me for things that weren’t my fault was the worst – I wasn’t in control, so I was helpless. Anger = helplessness, which is the absolute worst. So, I have a long history of taking fault, particularly of assuming fault on behalf of my aggressor.

At the plate throwing ceremony, I thought I was finally honoring my anger about a number of things that “I’m not over yet.” And I did. But now that the anger has been honored, I can see what is underneath it.

I can see that I never admitted that I had been violated. Each of these plates in this stack represents a violation.

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They taught me as a kid that I had control over how I interpreted anything, and I took from that that there is no such thing as someone violating me. I believed that people got to do whatever they wanted and, if I chose to take it personally, especially since I was “too sensitive,” then that was on me. And the only way to get over taking something personally, was to change your thinking about the issue, to see it from the other person’s perspective, and to take their side.

I’ve been against myself, aligning with people who hurt me, all my life.

So, just admitting that I HAVE BEEN FUCKING VIOLATED AND NO ONE’S OPINION, NOT EVEN MINE, CHANGES THAT, is revolutionary.

How was I expecting to heal if I couldn’t admit there was damage??

For so long, I’ve been trying to get “stronger,” or to stop resisting reality, and start take things less personally. But all that strategy has done is perpetuate a state of fear. It has made me think that I’m the one who is out of line.

Good morning, paradigm shift.

What I could have used is this: You teach people how to treat you by what you tolerate.

And I have actually made some real headway in boundary-setting, which prevents a lot of unnecessary bullshit for me to get angry over. But I am still intimidated by the doling out of consequences when someone crosses my boundaries. I worry that if I let my anger out, it might become a cyclone and whip all of us up into it and hurt everyone.

What I learned yesterday: anger is just anger. I didn’t die from getting angry and neither did anyone else. It didn’t set up camp and take over my life. It surged and it dissipated. Like a wave. Like all of my other emotions. It is temporary! And it doesn’t equal the redefinition of an entire relationship, in which  I will get even more hurt. Rather, it indicates a need for course correction.

And here I am, reveling in the aftermath. Grounded, at peace. Smug with satisfaction in my disobedience. I didn’t just break plates yesterday. I broke open my terror of anger.

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Bring it.

Grief?

My best friend is dying. Rufus is my orange tabby. My rock.

To remind me it’s all going to be okay, today he gifted me a heart. Made of pee. And clumping cat litter.

We have had a pretty longstanding agreement that, as soon as he is ready to stop occupying a deteriorating cat body, he is free to go. 17.5 years and he is ready. My vet predicts between 1-6 months, if I can get him to take the godforsaken prednisone. That’s a big if.

God love Cat vs. Human comics. Not a far stretch. Example, I had to get a tetanus booster shot today because I let him bite me the other morning while we were playing. My response to sighting my own blood; “Good show, old chap! Of course this strapping champion is going to outwit and best me from time to time.” I was totally impressed he’d slipped by me. (Let the record show that I had just woken up, and it was still dark in the room, so even with one eye, he technically had the advantage.)

I was 18 when he came home with me. Right when my relationship with my mom came crashing down and landed right next to my relationship with my dad. I was still trying to build my life around meeting their expectations; a child still looking desperately for the love that had been missing all those years. Cue Rufus. Cue the love. This cat raised me from a child to an adult. Who builds my life around my own expectations.

I had a super unstable bunch of years right after he moved in. Half my life ago. It’s taken him the same amount of time, showering me with love and loyalty, to undo the damage that was done before he arrived.

Only in the last year have I finally started to feel like an adult. Oddly, it started around the time when I started befriending my angry inner teenager. Point being: I feel like his work is done. I’m safe, I’m stable, I believe I will survive the grief of losing him, even though it will be immense.

I’m raised. And I finally understand unconditional love.

Shameless nostalgia:

When he was less than a year old, I was told to give him liquid Pepto Bismal with a dropper for some stomach trouble he had. The result resembled Jackson Pollock, going through a pink phase, using every surface of my bedroom as a canvas. If only the cat could have absorbed the medicine through his fur, because he ended up with as many pink streaks as he has orange stripes. In retrospect, I will say that I looked pretty rockin’ with the pink streaks that ended up in my hair. How I wish I was an artist, so I could do justice to the image that lingers from that event.

 

Lust-ful life

I’ve gotten 2 “get out of jail free” cards in my life.

  1. After 10 years of smoking, I woke up one morning and didn’t need a cigarette. That was 9 years ago. Haven’t had one since.
  2. Sometime last year, I woke up one morning and I was suddenly excited  about sex again. All my emotional baggage around sex had sloughed off overnight. Freedom.

Yes, these both qualify as miracles to me.

Over the last few years, my interest in sex had decreased to almost nothing. Oh, the shame that followed.

What I used sex for, according to my age:

11*-27 To try to get people to love me – Sometimes hot, often awful

27-31 To connect and bond with my amazing boyfriend/husband – Super hot

32-35 To resist embodying the reviled wife in a family sitcom – Sometimes hot, often eh, sometimes frustrating and embarrassing as fuck

35/36 For fun and pleasure – Hotter than a 1,000 fucking suns

*FYI – I wasn’t having sex at 11, but my breasts grew in early and that was how old I was the first time someone treated me differently because of it.

Is that a good enough reason to start a blog?

With this miraculous appearance of an enthusiastic interest in sex (unladen with societal expectations I’ve been absorbing for 35 years) has come courage. I was mired in shame about my disinterest and what it might mean about my worth, and I was so confused because my husband is fantastic – plus I’m a feminist, so I was further convinced that I wasn’t “supposed” to feel shame about what I wanted or didn’t want.

Only now have I had the courage to go back and investigate what the hell was going on when my interest was non-existent. So, I have immersed myself in all the material I can get my hands on.

Guess what I learned?

I was and continue to be 

perfectly fucking normal.

Ya heard?

I’m writing today because I wish I’d known how normal I was at the moment when I had the most doubt about myself.

Joseph Campbell has this great quote,

“Where you stumble and fall, there you fill find gold.” 

Metaphors about wings and flying speak more to me than treasure, so I’ve modified it to suit me better. Whenever I stumble, I’m tripping over a mound of soil hiding a pair of wings buried just beneath. Instead of running away, feeling defeated and shitty, I can pause long enough to wipe away the dirt and collect my wings. Plus, bonus time, with my wings on, I won’t have to stumble there anymore.

Hafiz tells us

The small man
Builds cages for everyone
He knows.
While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the
Beautiful
Rowdy
Prisoners.

Well, I was a rowdy prisoner. Today, I’m a disobedient…I don’t know, fugitive? I do know this: now that I’m free of some shit, just the thought of anyone else being as wrong as I used to be, and hating and fearing themselves despite being so, so whole, I can’t abide it.

This is a feminist blog about shame, anxiety, courage, finding liberation in the very things that scare us, and learning to simply fucking be. You will find shit about bodies, fat, sex, the patriarchy, shit I have successfully gotten over, and some shit I’m just not over yet. Oh, and as much swearing as I can possibly fit.

I believe in your wholeness and my wholeness. That we don’t feel whole every single moment of every day is nuts. I want to stop forgetting that I’m good and shit is okay. I want that for you, too.

Finally, yes, yes, yes, to this:

Relax, nothing is under control.” Adi Da Samraj