Archive for December, 2010

December 31, 2010

I am not a selfish, energy vampire.

You know those people who just refuse to stop changing your life?  Who seemingly read your mind and know what to say even when you think it’s not what your mind wants them to say?  Those people who can get away with saying stuff that you don’t let anybody else say?  Those people who Keep Poking you Until You Think You’ll Crack?  Those people who you sit and ruminate on your conversations for hours or days after?

I have one of those people in my life.  She drives me up walls.  Multiple walls.  Multiple times a day, occasionally.  She’s REALLY good at it.

I love her for it, afterwards, but in the moment?  When she’s doing all that tricky life changing stuff?  Ugh, it’s hard!

The other night I cried on her (literally) while she told me that I was a good person, I wasn’t a failure, that I didn’t suck at life, that I was all manner of good things, from compassionate to kind to smart.  Sometimes I think she’s a little off in her assessment (and by “a little” I mean “on a different planet”).  And it’s really, really hard for me to hear those things because I’ve never been told those things.  And I’ve never had somebody who was OK with me crying, much less sat there and told me that it would be OK, that I’d come out of this slump, that I had the skills and the power to overcome the crap that was being thrown at me.

I don’t like it.  I have no idea how to respond to it and it makes me uncomfortable and it makes me shut down cos I’m half embarrassed and half confused.  That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing, but it’s really difficult for me to lay there and accept that.  Really, really difficult.

What is harder, though, is when I go home.  And I sit in my living room trying to match up what she’s been saying with how I’m feeling.  Trying to tie “you’re not a failure” in with feeling like a giant friggen failure, “you’re a good person” in with feeing like a selfish energy vampire.

But the fact is that somebody has said it.  Somebody who I love and trust and who doesn’t lie about other things so as much as the emotional part of my brain says “BULLSHIT!” the logical part of my brain basically knows she’s not completely lying about this stuff, either.

I feel like I’m taking up too much time.  Like I’m being an energy vampire to my friends, requiring so much from them.  And then I find myself pulling away because I do not want them to dump me on my ass because they get sick of my energy vapirical ways.  I just can’t trust that they aren’t going to completely shut me out soon because they are so sick of me.

So I’m breathing in and out, repeating the nice things other people are saying because my own mind certainly isn’t saying those things, and try to remember that I do love this world and that this is just a crappy time right now.  And it’s not working very well.  And repeating, over and over, that I am not an energy vampire, I am not an energy vampire.  It is Ok to need help, and needing help doesn’t make me an energy vampire.

December 17, 2010

Touch-a touch-a touch-a touch me… please?

I am not doing well. I am not doing well in that “there’s a diagnosis for this” kind of not doing well. Depression. Circustantial. There’s a lot of icky stuff going on in my life right now. I’m not exactly holding it together.

You know that game Kerplunk? Basically you have a tall cylinder with a band of small holes around the center. You put plastic sticks through those holes, and then put marbles on top of the sticks. Players take turns removing the sticks and the marbles start to fall, until eventually somebody removes a crucial stick and all the marbles fall out. Right now my life feels like a game of Kerplunk being played by 4 year olds with attention and impulse difficulties. Marbles are dropping, nobody is being particularly careful about which sticks they are yanking out, and meanwhile somebody is jostling the table and another person is running around the room with their underwear on their head, distracting everybody else.

I am not doing well.

I have been spending a lot of time with friends, because I know it’s unhealthy to just say in my unfabulous apartment all day long and dwell on the general suckage of life.

Days suck. Nights are way harder. I haven’t been sleeping well, if at all. We’re talking 2 hours on a good night. Coupled with not eating because I keep throwing up, and a complete lack of things to do I think most of my friends are in agreement that, yeah, I am not doing so hot.

So my friends are trying. They offer me food they think I might be able to keep down, they distract me, they leave me alone, they sorta kinda try to take my cues unless they think it’s the depression talking and not me at which point the promptly ignore me entirely. And I know they are worried so I try not to be too terribly annoyed by that.

Last night, though, I slept. I slept well, for over eight hours, without waking up or even tossing and turning too much. Last night I slept curled up in bed with a friend. Skin on skin contact, gentle caresses, reassuring whispers until I feel asleep (which happened damned fast once I stopped crying). Touch put me to sleep. I’m willing to say that it kept me asleep. It allowed me to feel secure enough to sleep through a night when that hasn’t happened in almost a month.

Touch is so important. I forget that, a lot. I like touch. I miss it. I’m not in college living with my friends and cuddling on the couch or getting hugs from people. I am missing that vital touch that my body craves. I often go days without touching another person. That sucks. It’s icky and it makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with us.

We need to touch and cuddle and hug and caress and kiss and hold hands and give back rubs. Sometimes you think you don’t want it, but it’s SO important – at least for me. I need that touch and that warmth and that solid knowledge that I’m not alone, that there are other people in the same sphere I’m in, occupying the same time and space that I do. Connecting our bodies and putting my mind at ease a little.

Go hug somebody today.

December 9, 2010

Teenage Parenting

That is to say parenting a teenager.

I have my sister’s permission to post this.

I never intended to become a parent at a young age. And, really, barring things completely out of my control, there was really no way it was going to happen. I was a female bodied person who slept with female bodied people, who was (even with the “no physical means of reproduction” thing) obsessive about protection.

All of that, I thought, would prevent my ever having to do things like parent/teacher meetings, buying school supplies for anybody but myself, or being the responsible party in talking about uncomfy topics.

I am currently raising my younger sister – it’s been a few months now and I’m, shall we say… having a rough time with it all. I have full on custody and everything. This is an “until she’s 18 at least” thing, not a few month stint to see if things work out.

I am, in essence, the parent of a teenager.

We are really different people. That’s great and fabulous and expected. I’m big into the activist, feminist, queer, changing the world scene. She’s into… drinking and sex and doing the minimum in school to get a passing grade.

I’m being massively unfair.

That’s how I see her. That’s how she sees me.

We have a hard time having deep conversations with each other. We haven’t lived together in years and even when we did we weren’t that close. A lot of the past few months have been just getting to re-know each other and realizing that we are no longer the same people that we were over six years ago when I left home. She’s 16. I last knew her before she was a teenager. When she was in elementary school. When she really was just a kid. She’s not anymore. And she knew me in the throws of major depression, dealing with the after effects of sexual and physical and mental abuse. She knew me as sobbing uncontrollably a lot of the time. She knew me as hiding almost everything in my life from my entire family, including her.

Now we live together, and not really as siblings.

It’s hard. Things come up that I’m just not really prepared for. Things I never had to think about suddenly are coming up. She found one of my lesbian erotica books one time – found is the wrong word, it was on the book shelf in the living room. I had to make the decision whether or not to move it to my room or keep it out there. I left it out. One night I finally just said “Hey, there are safer sex supplies under the bathroom sink. You can ask me any questions you need to.” She blushed and mumbled and the next day under the bathroom sink had definitely been searched.

But we’re learning other things about each other, too. She’s learning to call me Andy instead of Angie. She’s learning that, yeah, most of my friends are some flavor of queer but they are still pretty nifty people. She knows how I like my coffee and I know that she doesn’t actually like coffee but she drinks it with her friends cos she feels silly ordering hot chocolate. I know that she likes to iron her jeans, but almost never does.

And there are things from our childhood that I’d forgotten I knew. Her best friend’s name from kindergarten. The fight she had with her stepmom a few years back. The brief stint in Brownies that she did and the annoying songs that came with that. We aren’t total strangers. We have a mutual past.

We don’t talk an awful lot, but from talking to parents of teenagers that’s not all that surprising. And today, when something pretty big happened, she did come to me. And we were able to have a good talk about it, she felt better after, and she gave me a hug.

We still fight. We still have vastly different opinions on things. I don’t understand how she doesn’t care about the implications of the waves of feminism and she doesn’t understand how on earth I don’t own a television. But we ARE learning. One night I asked her what movie she watched with a friend and she said “you wouldn’t like it, it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test.” Another night I stopped by the video rental kiosk on my way home, remembered that she said she liked a certain actor I’d never heard of, and rented a movie with him in it for her. We are learning. It’s pretty painfully slow. But we’re learning.

December 2, 2010

Do you use Boy Words or Girl Words? Or the other words, but I can’t ‘amember them.

I met Alec when he was 3 years old. I was coming over to babysit – I had met some of Alec’s parents (4 of the 7 of them) at a polyamory event. Seven parents, all over the gender and sexuality spectrum. Eleven children, ages five months through 12 years. Two big houses. Alec was the only kid in the living room when I knocked. He full on bounded toward the door.

“Hi I’m Alec are you the babysitter mommy said that we can go to the park if you want to and feed the ducks do you like legos?”

“Yep, hi, my name is Andy.” I said, kneeling down, “Let me talk to one of your parents first, ok?”

While I was saying this Alec was looking me up and down.

“Yeah ok, hey, Andy, do you use boy words or girl words, or the other words but I can’t really ‘amember them?”

I looked curiously at his mom, Amelia, who was busy tiding up the table.

“Oh,” she said, “he can’t remember the word pronouns.”

“Ah,” it clicked, “I use boy words. What about you?”

“I use boy words, too. Do you like legos?”

“Of course I do!”

In that 45 second exchange Alec showed me that he knew more about gender than most adults I’ve met in my 23 years on this planet. Alec was, of course, in a unique spot, having three parents who didn’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. But his question, “do you use boy words or girl words or other words” (he/him/his, she/her/hers, some gender neutral option) was really a variant of the “are you a boy or a girl?” that I hear from half the kids I meet. He wanted to know what to call me. I later learned that the kids asked this question of almost any adult who walked into the house, regardless of their gender presentation. They had learned that momma’s friend, who may have long blonde hair and big boobs and be wearing a pink dress, might not use the pronouns she/her/hers. The older kids even occasionally asked a person they knew again if their appearance had changed drastically since they last saw them.

These were kids who Got It.

Sure, these kids grew up living with multiple transgender people in their house. Some had breastfed from somebody they referred to as “daddy” and they had no mental disconnect with that. But that same level of comfort with asking about gender can be explained to a kid who grows up the child of a heterosexual couple.

I have known Dorian since he was a baby, and intermittently lived at his house for 3-7 week stretches (I will never, ever know why his parents tolerate me). I came out as trans to his parents when he was under 2 years old (I believe his mom’s response was “no worries” and his dad’s was “it wasn’t exactly a shock” – point being these are cool folks). Dorian has pretty much always known me as Andy and heard people use he/him/his to refer to me. But the last time I was over, I guess sometime in April, he seemed to have no idea what I was. At one point he asked his mom and she said, “Honey, do you remember what Aunt Sarah said to do if you can’t tell if somebody’s a boy or a girl?” he didn’t respond. “You ask.”

You. Ask.

You don’t guess or dance around the subject or hope somebody else clues you in or wait for another person to use a pronoun so you can use the same one. You ASK.

Sometimes when a kid asks I ask back, “well, what do you think?” sometimes, to save time or a pissed off parent, I just answer what I’m feeling that day (or, to be frank, what I think will piss off the parent less).

But my point is that kids get it. That this world is changing and that kids GET it. There are kids being raised to simply ask about gender if they are uncertain. Have you ever heard a person refrain from using a pronoun for an entire conversation instead of asking? It’s one of the most awkward things ever. Kids aren’t OK with that nonsense. They just ask.

And there are adults who get it, too. Adults who are OK with stopping mid-something and having conversations like this

“So Andy and I were talking and… Hey, I realize I don’t know, what are your preferred pronouns?”

“he, him, his”

“Thanks. And he said that he can house-sit on the 9th, so we can go do Tom and Carole’s wedding if you want.”

No OH MY GOD FREAK OUT, no evasion, no awkwardness, no Big Giant Deal. Just “Hey, I realize I never asked, what are your pronouns?”

If 3 year old Alec can get it, then you can, too.