Good god, each week gets more and more interesting. This week (9/4-9/10) I had an emotional roller coaster with my Bumble Boy, started my job at Spicy and had a surprise outcome with Vanilla. I did some deep work in group and individual therapy with Mr. A regarding relational trauma and shame, and I attended my first group consultation meeting at Spicy. I skipped kickball to go to a night club dressed in drag with Buffy Adams, and I wasn’t able to Lyft during the first home game of the season, so I missed out on a making a lot of $$. I also met the owner of a poppin’ karaoke bar who’s gonna give me the hook up when celebrating mine and Meekachu’s birthdays in a couple weeks, and I met a DJ and nightclub promoter who’s getting me on the list for Ann Arbor’s Drag Wars Competition.
Yes, there’s a lot to my story. It’s always something with me. I’m quite a character and I live my life trying to navigate the edge of discomfort. If I’m tapping into my power and light, then I have to move through the fear. I am not only the traveler journeying but also the author narrating this story. I am the main protagonist and I get to choose some of the ways in which my life unfolds.
Also, side note: there hasn’t been a podcast episode in quite some time because my microphone malfunctioned and it appears that it cannot be fixed despite a visit to Best Buy and several phone calls to IT. I’ll have to invest in another one, but I’ll need to make up for it by Lyfting more often this week.
I can already tell it’s going to be a busy and taxing week, so I might as well be kind and care for myself as I would a child. I want my child to feel loved and safe, because essentially I am the only one who can ground myself. I cannot rely on anyone else to ground me because the power to ground myself is within my control.
This is important for me to know when I reflect on my attachment patterns. The field of psychology has identified several different attachment patterns that infants develop towards their caregivers. But, we can’t explain attachment patterns without first identifying the goodness of fit between infant and caregiver.
The infant’s temperament will determine the caregiver’s initial responses and subsequent associated feelings towards the infant. This dynamic has a strong influence on the caregiver’s parenting style. The infant may then either feel satisfied or dissatisfied having their needs met by the caregivers. But, infants can only get their physical needs met when certain psychological needs are met first. That is, they need to feel safe in the love delivered by a caregiver in order to survive.
So, if a baby is colicky because their body functioning is causing them distress and they’re unable to communicate what’s wrong, then it’s probably safe to assume that the parents’ ability to function is somewhat affected. Sleep deprivation among other life stressors may influence the perception of competence as a caregiver. What’s more interesting is that colic is a physical response to an allergy to the mother’s milk! In turn, the infants’ satisfaction with and responses to their caregivers’ parenting style may lead to a certain attachment style (i.e., secure vs. insecure). If left unaddressed, these attachment patterns play out roles of characters and archetypal storylines in our contemporary relationships.
Before I get into what this past week has been like, I want to share my deepest sorrows for the pain and suffering in the world right now. From political legislation that oppresses marginalized groups to the damages caused by natural disasters due to climate change. From domestic terrorism by radical, young, White men to countries testing out nuclear weapons. From war, genocide, starvation, and rape to lack of access to housing, healthcare, education, and employment. I’m sad and angry for all of it.
I hate to say it but our world is fuct. While there are enough of us brewing the pot of revolution for change, the mechanisms and logarithms of civilized human life will endure. It’s too powerful of a system to overthrow without complete reset. I suppose the more of us that awaken to the truth and fight against oppression then perhaps maybe we can be on the road to justice, equality, peace, and harmony, but then again, how realistic is that?
Who knows what’s gonna happen in the world. All I know is that I need and want to do something about it. I’ve been scared of activism for a long time because quite honestly it overwhelms me and I lose my ability to function. I need to protect myself from compassion fatigue and burnout, so I’m learning how to create healthier boundaries with my activism, which includes self-care and self-love as an act of socio-political rebellion. I’m doing this by being more creative with my activism, including the creation of my drag persona, Madame Kiki. #mtbr…
This morning I woke up feeling intensely lonely. My heart pounded through my hollow chest and I couldn’t breathe. I felt the aching pit of emptiness in my stomach and the feeling of being choked while also having to vomit. To calm myself down, I had to put my hand on my chest to automatically ground myself into my body for it to breathe deeply on its own. By doing that, I activated the caregiving mechanism that I have learned to cultivate and trust with the help of therapy, my support system, and practicing mindfulness self-compassion in moments of distress.
We all have certain parts of our brain that just instinctively knows how to help ourselves when in distress or crisis. However, it’s not as easily accessible if we aren’t actively practicing how to ground and center ourselves in order to endure and overcome that distress or crisis. For the past 2-3 years, I’ve been learning how to apply mindfulness self-compassion but I’ve also been having trouble accessing those skills when I happen to be in a moment of distress. That’s because my reptilian brain, or the autonomic and the sympathetic nervous systems, kicks into fight, flight, or freeze mode, and my logical, thinking brain goes dark. I’ve noticed that my natural patterns when reacting to distress is either flight or freeze. So I either want to avoid, freak out, or I’m completely immobilized.
All day I was trying not to listen to thoughts from my inner tormentor (e.g., what is wrong with you? if only you weren’t such a pathetic coward. good luck with all that), a voice that’s more like a roar and was created from negative childhood experiences. I think this voice is more of a habit on overdrive. To combat this tormentor and break this ineffective and maladaptive habit, I’ve been trying to access the voice of my underdeveloped mentor (e.g., just pause and breathe it out. tell me what’s wrong, we can figure this out together), a voice that’s more grounded and only a whisper. This inner mentor is being cultivated and strengthened through years of therapeutic work, and it’s been a painful albeit growth-promoting process.
Today, my inner tormentor was telling me that my Bumble Boy, Antonio Banderas Jr (ABJr), was ignoring me because he was “too busy” to text me over the weekend. I felt old familiar feelings of “benign neglect,” a term I use to represent what it’s like when a gifted and sensitive child is inadvertently overlooked by caregivers because the child is seen as being capable to take care of themselves and is thought to effectively navigate life on their own. I describe that as my childhood experience because both of my parents worked a lot and were seemingly “too busy” to guide or take care of me. I identified myself as a “latchkey kid.”
Benign neglect can make a child feel alone and worthless. This is compounded when the majority of past caregiver interactions were also met with invalidation, criticism, and judgment, or disapproval, disappointment, and discouragement. So not only does the child learn that their reality and inner experiences are wrong, but they learn to doubt themselves and act from fear and insecurity. There are reasons for this too, such as turning the anger on themselves instead of the parent in efforts to protect and save the relationship. It’s adaptable and effective when we’re younger because it helped us to survive, but it becomes ineffective and maladaptive in adulthood, as it can worsen our mental health and relationships.
It’s only recently that I’ve been practicing mindfulness when in a moment of distress. Mindfulness to me means that I’m acutely aware of what’s happening in my mind/body in the here-and-now. Mindfulness is without judgment (e.g. this feeling is bad) or expectation (e.g., I shouldn’t be feeling this way). I must be curiously open and radically accepting of the experience. Acceptance doesn’t mean that I have to like or agree with what’s going on, I just have to come to terms with whatever’s happening (e.g., it is what it is) and learn to let go of the need for control if there’s something about the situation I cannot change. It’s hard to trust and have faith in order to do all of that. This is why it’s a process, and a painful one at that.
Mindfulness includes an attitude of curiosity and a tone of compassion. This practice is essentially reminding me to breathe and pause in a moment of distress, and to respond to myself with care, concern, and kindness. It helps me to regulate my nervous system and relax myself out of the fight/freeze/flight mode in order to assess the situation and proceed accordingly. I can’t think very well when I’m flooded with emotion.
Naturally, the old wounds from childhood were triggered when I didn’t receive any communication from ABJr over the weekend, which is uncharacteristic of our developing communication style. Previously, we’d each take maybe a few hours at most to respond back to each other, but all of that changed after our last date together. I know that he was very tired at work the next day because we were out so late the night before, so I didn’t expect much conversation that day. When we did exchange communication, it was to let each other know that we each had a good time the night before. Then, when we were on the phone the next day at 2am after I ended my Lyft shift and wanted company when driving home, ABJr said that he’d be busy this weekend but that we’d find a time to hang out soon. There was enough communication and reassurance there for me to know what to expect and where we stood.
So I knew going into this past weekend that he would have limited availability, not only to hang out but also to text. He didn’t tell me what his plans were, probably because he values his privacy and because he’s mentioned before that he doesn’t want to burden me about his responsibilities. I suppose I could have asked him what his plans were, but to me that sounds intrusive or nosey, even though this is how I get to know more about him. So despite the reassurance, there was an ambiguity I felt all throughout Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t think much of him on Saturday because I was busy myself, but then I started feeling sad and envious on Sunday night when thinking about my two good girl friends (Meekachu and Kasian) who were both spending the night with their Bumble Boys.
I reached out to him with a friendly text saying, “Morning! I hope you’re having a good weekend so far! I’ve got some crazy lyft stories for you and I think I found my drag name and aesthetic!” About 5 hours later he responds saying that his weekend was decent. He inquired about my weekend and what my drag name is. I took about 3 hours to respond and shared a story or two about lyfting this past weekend, as well as my drag name and backstory. Radio silence the rest of the night.
I share all this context because I believe this is what lead up to the feeling of loneliness this morning. I naively had a fairytale expectation that ABJr at least reach out to say something like “hey, thinking of u” when he happened to think of me. Maybe it’s not an expectation but a wish or a desire for a dating partner to share when I’m being thought of fondly. This makes me feel cared for and special – who doesn’t want to feel that way, especially with a developing crush?? But not receiving any communication over the course of this weekend was more negatively impactful on my mental health than I had realized, primarily because it was subconsciously triggering old, traumatic feelings experienced from childhood benign neglect.
It’s not ABJr’s fault I felt this way today; he just happens to be the new person in my life who’s activating these scary feelings from childhood. His presence is actually giving me an opportunity to work through my past. But I didn’t expect to feel this lonely at all, to be honest. I didn’t expect that the pain lingering beneath the surface was waiting to be felt. Clearly this pain wouldn’t let me ignore it anymore, so I had to suck it up and “feel it to heal it,” as I like to say. So I had to let myself sob on-and-off throughout the day. I was so exhausted from crying that I couldn’t get any work done. It felt like a largely unproductive day, which doesn’t make me feel any better about myself. Then, I have to remind myself that sometimes this is just a day for feeling things, and that I’m actually doing the inner work, so there’s an essence of productivity to help heal the psyche.
I also had to fell the pain alone. I knew that I couldn’t solely rely on my support system to get me through it, although I did talk to my friends, Mama B and Kasian, and my mom to help me through some of it. All of them had valid points to help me gain some perspective. I tried to practice mindfulness self-compassion, but I wasn’t ready to sooth or comfort myself because the pain needed attention after many years of neglect and invalidation. I had to get it out of my system before going bowling with my improv class later.
Most of the class showed up but we ended up just drinking beer at the bar instead of bowling. I told one of my classmates, Boldy Locks (she helped investigate and discover that Mr. Blue Eyez, my crush, was actually gay and married), that I felt lonely today and she was surprised that I hadn’t called her for her support. I’ll have to remember to reach out to her next time my other support systems aren’t available. It felt good to know that she cares about me. Plus, she’s all about my drag persona and responds to my social media with gifs of drag queens.
Also, Mr. Green Eyez, the dude in class who’s got googley eyes for me, was telling the group how much he is amused by getting a rise out of me. I told him that I get creeped out by that and am intimidated when having someone so much taller than me basically tower himself over me to get that so-called rise. A couple girls in the group noticed how weird that was too, so it felt good to have others validate my experience. The girls and I are curious to see what unfolds during next Monday’s improv class, so more to be revealed.
I went to bed without any communication from ABJr. It was hard to fall asleep because of the anxiety, so I smoked some weed to calm my mind and lull me into sleep. Not something I’m proud of, but after the day I’ve had, I needed to take some of the edge off.
Today’s the start of the new Fall semester for students. I woke up again feeling terrible. Sometimes my anxiety of the unknown makes me dry heave. Particularly if this unknown has something to do with another person. Even though I started at my new job today, I couldn’t stop thinking about my Bumble Boy. I texted him in the morning saying “Hey! I hope you have a lovely Tuesday back at work! I know you’ve been busy and I wanna respect your time but I was wondering what your week looks like and if you’d want to hang out again.” I usually also send a funny picture or a link when reaching out to him to lighten the mood and bring some joy to both of our lives.
He took just 3 hours to respond with a longer text than usual explaining that this weekend was stressful for him because of health complications with his mother. This experience was intensified because his usual support system was out of the country and he had no guidance to get through it. Although I’m worried for him, I also felt relief that my fears of being rejected or abandoned weren’t true and that he had more stuff on his plate that demanded his attention. Before learning this though, I was thinking that maybe he’s creating distance because he’s trying to send me a message that he’s not looking to jump into a relationship and that maybe my texts were suggestive that I wanted more from him.
Once I learned what was going on, I responded about an hour later with this:Five hours later, he thanked me for the nice message and stated that he may take me up on that offer to come over but that he’s unsure of what his plans are because he’s trying to figure things out. What I appreciated, and what indicated his interest in me, was both last night and tonight he was still inquiring about when I start my new job and about how my first day was. I responded about 10 minutes later. At this point I was at Kasian’s place of employment drinking a strawberry ale out on the patio. I was enjoying myself because at least ABJr and I are communicating and I no longer have to guess what’s going on.
About two hours later he responds again, and things feel normal between us. He stated that we’d “work out a day soon” to hang out, and he inquired about what the day in the life as a psychologist looks like at this new job. I respond about a half hour later with a picture of a labradoodle I met, and I told him that I’d be texting him with random shit every day in an effort to lift his spirits. He’s told me before that he doesn’t mind my long texts or when I send him pictures/videos or links, so I figured I had the green light. But I didn’t know what to expect as far as his response to these messages. Maybe it would have been enough for him to say “hey I may not respond to your messages (right away or at all) but know that I like when you do.”
Also, this new job is already overwhelming. I received over a dozen emails from the referral coordinator with requests to set up therapy with potential clients. The clinical population I’d be working with are folx who identify as LGBTQIA and are involved in polyamory, kink, or BDSM relationships, all things I’m not entirely competent in and would need to study about it along the way. It’ll be an interesting experience going back into the role as a therapist after the adventurous month I’ve had. So, more to be revealed on how this new job unfolds.
So, this morning I received a phone call from the Vanilla job prospect stating that they’d be unable to offer me the position because of “space issues.” I knew it wasn’t because of that, let’s be honest. It’s because I’m too different and I had already signed part time with Spicy, a private practice they’re in competition with for clinicians. There was something in my heart and gut that already knew I wasn’t going to get the position, but when they confirmed it, I remember thinking how petty. I wasn’t butt hurt or disappointed, but I was a bit angry that they chose not to have me join them at all versus working 2 days a week to help with the case load. I was also angry because I feel like they mislead me to believe that they’d offer me a job.
I let ABJr know through text because he’s been just as interested as I was in learning the outcome of the conflict between these two jobs. He responded less than 2 hours later saying it may be a good thing now that I don’t have to worry about it anymore and I can use my time to settle in and get comfortable with the job I started. I felt very comforted by that message, and I wish I woulda said that, but I think I was feeling salty about how Vanilla relayed the news.
ABJr and I went back and forth texting throughout the day. I told him that my mom found a kitten in the backyard and I was begging her to keep it. And that I decided to continue leasing the apartment I have currently because it’s too stressful to move out in a short amount of time, plus the students are back so there’s limited availability anyway. I shared my current dilemma deciding which colored contacts would look best with my drag persona. Then I checked in with him about how his mom was doing. Radio silence for the rest of the day.
Luckily, I was finally able to talk with my Quangel, whom I met from my previous place of employment. I feel so bad for them because it’s only been the second day of the semester and they’re completely slammed with clients who’re seeking treatment. Not only that but Quangel has a lot of stuff going on in their personal life as well, and they’re just exhausted by the time they get home so it’s been hard for them to respond to anyone reaching out to them. Also, Quangel is absolutely terrible at social media or texting, and they know this about themselves! They prefer in-person contact, but since we no longer work together, we have to rely on these other methods of communication. It’s been challenging.
Anyway, Quangel was eager to hear what’s been unfolding in my life these past couple of weeks. I told him what’s been happening with me and my Bumble Boy. They said that it’s not so much the behavior of non-communication or “ghosting” but the message underneath it, such as you’re not important/special/worthy enough, I’m not as invested in the relationship as you are, I don’t care as much as you think I do. Quangel felt similarly when they began dating their current partner of 4 years. All it took was for their partner to say that he’d had negative experiences in past relationships, which helped Quangel gain some understanding and compassion. They were only able to learn that information by courageously checking in about sensing some distance and communicating how much they really liked him. That took vulnerability, which is a huge emotional risk.
Quangel was also reminding me to think of the bigger picture – when looking at the complete package of ABJr, he’s got more to offer me as far as compatibility than he does taking away from the relationship by withholding communication. Although, I needed to be honest with myself that withholding of communication feels a lot like benign neglect, and because of my past, it’d be damn triggering. So it’s an emotional need of mine for my partner to communicate with me, even if they’re busy to at least say I might not be able to respond but please know that I want/don’t want you to reach out. I was encouraged to just talk to ABJr about that, but I was too scared of being too needy/clingy (i.e., an insecurity of mine as being “too much”) and inadvertently pushing him away. I mean, we’re not in a relationship and he doesn’t owe me anything.
Quangel further mentioned that my Bumble Boy sounds a lot like their partner in that there is a personality difference between us. Our partners are more introverted, shy, reserved, private, anxious, or awkward, and we need to respect and accept that as part of who they are instead of wishing they’d be different or that they change. This was very helpful for me to anchor myself to when moving forward. And the thing is, I believe I do accept ABJr as he is. I don’t want him to change because I like who he is, flaws and all. All I wanted was for ABJr to say that he’s been spending time taking care of his mom at night and won’t be available to text back but that my texts to him are ok.
No matter who my partner is, I need reassurance because it’s been hard for me to know where I stand (even though ABJr has made it clear in his own way). I must have compassion for myself that of course it’s gonna be hard for me to look for positive things in the relationship because I’m so used to scanning my environment for negative shit so as to confirm my negative beliefs. All of this is part of the natural human condition, and it really sucks.
Yesterday and today I was feeling better about ABJr compared to Sunday and Monday. I knew that he was busy with mom and stressed with taking care of certain things. I texted him a short video of my cat and wished him a lovely Thursday because I knew that’d brighten his day. He responded an hour later saying my cat is funny and that his work brought over massage people, which had felt great because he’d never had a massage before. He asked how I was doing. We went back and forth for a few hours.
I told him some unfortunate news about my sister’s pregnancy, and I said that I didn’t mean to pry when checking in with him about mom and other stressful things the night before. He responded under an hour later with sympathy saying that I could tell him the sad news but that he understands if I don’t want to. He also said not to worry about me asking how he and mom are doing and that he didn’t take it as prying. I revealed some cool updates such as meeting the owner of a karaoke bar who’s gonna hook me up for my birthday and about getting ready for a photoshoot and launch party with Kasian in my drag persona in a few weeks. He continued to offer his sympathy and compassion, and he inquired about what a drag persona meant to me. I thought to respond that evening, but in between receiving his last text, I had a rather upsetting group therapy experience that derailed my mood.
Today the theme was about anger and the inner critic or tormentor. I shared that I’ve lived with this voice my whole life, and it’s the voice who’s told me before to kill myself because I’m worthless and that no one wants me. I revealed in group that I have two images that come to mind when thinking of my inner critic. The first is a suicidal gesture around 8-9 years old where I drew a bullseye target on my stomach and held a knife up to my skin. I recall that this was in response to feeling fat and ugly. The second was an image of me maybe at 12 years old writing over and over in my journal “I’m fat, I’m ugly, I’m stupid.” Pages and pages. Both images carried so much anger, sadness, and pain.
I didn’t get the reaction or feedback from the group that I was hoping for after revealing so much. In fact, I felt overlooked and dismissed. Benign neglect. I started shutting down and disengaging from the conversation. I was suddenly feeling very detached and struggling not to dissociate. Mr. A could see it all happening but failed to check in until it was too late.
When he did check in with me, he said that it’s hard to ignore my “silent temper tantrum” in the corner because my emotional energy can be felt in the room. That was incredibly provocative and I instantly regressed to an emotional age of 12. I shared that I feel closed off and shut down right now, and group members were giving me feedback that they were concerned and sad for me. Another shared her frustration or annoyance that I was behaving in such a way, which is a familiar feeling when my parents would respond do my so-called temper tantrums.
The tantrums, by the way, serve a purpose because a need is not being met and this is the only way we as children know how to get the attention we need. However, this tactic doesn’t serve us well in adulthood. In fact, it can backfire and push people further away thereby reducing the chance of getting emotional needs met. Subconsciously, I was acting in such a way so that I could perpetuate the self-fulfilling prophecy that once people expressed their disapproval then I’d prove my worthlessness.
There was a point where I started to smile about something, and Mr. A pointed it out to the group that while I’m in my feelings of shame I’m also recognizing my connection to others in the group. Instead of seeing this as progress, I reacted to his smirk and said “this must be your M.O., you’re getting a kick outta this, aren’t you?” Mr. A called me out and said that I’m trying to demean him so that he can feel a sting of how hurt I felt. Disrespecting him made me feel like shit too, so it was all around terrible because I was now actively trying to sabotage my therapeutic relationship with Mr. A.
Mr. A tried to correct his earlier provocation by saying that I’m trying to metaphorically kill myself instead of him, whom I’m rightly angry with, because I don’t want to rupture the relationship. He sat at the edge of his seat and with a very direct and serious look said, “you can be angry with me and I’m still gonna be here.” This was shocking to the system. It was very hard to receive this form of therapeutic love from Mr. A because I wasn’t used to this reaction. This intervention was purposeful, it’s part of psychodynamic therapy that can be incredibly powerful and transformative. This is why I stick around with Mr. A is because he knows his shit and I’m actually getting the most I’ve ever gotten out of my eight years in therapy.
Still, I left group feeling ashamed for believing that something is wrong with me and angry about the ways people mistreat me for who I am. I was angry with this inner critic/tormentor for causing me to hate and mistreat myself for so long, and I’m angry that this inner critic has gotten in the way of me living my best life. That’s why I’m in this field and doing the therapeutic work for myself – because I don’t want to be ruled by this tormentor. All of these problems were created because of relationships, and what’s ironic is that relationships are the only way these problems get resolved. So I needed the relationships in group therapy to help me do just that. It’s an exhausting yet worthwhile process.
After group, I noticed that I missed a phone call from the trans woman who used to do drag (Buffy Adams – I gave her a lyft ride the week before). She invited me to go out with her and her friends tomorrow during Pride night at a local club. I already had kickball and lyfting planned for that evening, but because this opportunity was more aligned with my goals and values, I was debating if I should just skip kickball all together and lyft after midnight.
Since group therapy made me feel like shit, I needed time for me. So instead of responding to ABJr about what my drag persona meant, I went radio silent because I was preoccupied with my own shit and prepping for the club. I went to beauty supply stores to purchase a wig cap and other accessories needed to help with my drag look. I painted fake nails, organized my makeup, and I spoke with Meekachu and Kasian for two hours each (there’s a lot to talk about for each of us, so the two hours seemed appropriate, although four hours all together was a little much for me).
I thought, ABJr has kept me hanging all night before without a response, I wonder how he’d feel if I did that to him? This is a direct result of the residual feelings lingering from a shitty group experience – tit for tat, petty, and childish. I was still in mild regression and perhaps if I had responded who knows how it would have come out. I figured I’d respond with a clear head in the morning and was hopeful that we’d go right back at communicating like before.
Individual w Mr. A
I was dreading going into talk to Mr. A today because I didn’t want to talk about what had happened in group the evening before. Once I got there, I immediately apologized for disrespecting him in group and then I expressed gratitude for his help. We explored many different themes that emerged, and most of it centered around my childhood experiences influencing how I express my emotions and relate to others as an adult.
For the past couple of months I’ve been incredibly overwhelmed and so sometimes I’ll just sit in his office, stare at the floor, and try to hold myself back from sobbing. We’re trying to dig into the deeper stuff but I just had to admit that I feel like I’m drowning with everything that’s been going on, stepping into the arenas of the unknown, and feeling incapable of comforting myself or bouncing back quicker after working through shame and trauma.
I told him that I couldn’t control regressing back to an earlier developmental age that was significant for me growing up. I said that I didn’t want to keep myself from exploring a part of my psyche popping up and taking charge when I’m in a vulnerable situation. I think it’s meant for me to protect myself from feeling shame or harm. I had to give myself permission to feel it, to let go of control and certainty and love myself through it all. Hard af.
I also told him I wanted a break from group and individual therapy. Of course, he goes on to tell me the pros and cons of that. I interrupt him and say I don’t need to hear that right now, right now I want to feel like I have a way out of something that feels like it’s all just too much. He’s more accepting of that request now because he’s aware of how much I’m going through and does not want to push me too hard.
The truth is, I’ve been doing “the work” for a very long time. I’m progressing more than any of the other group members, and sometimes I feel like no one else is in the arena with me. I find myself getting annoyed with that yet also feeling afraid of bringing it up in group to talk about. I’ll see how I feel next week whether I want to share or even attend. I guess we’ll see what happens.
Group Consult w Spicy
I went to my first group supervision/consultation at my new job. I met about a handful of other professionals who were all so welcoming and kind. I asked about what it’s like to work with a unique population that shares certain identities and how that impacts the quality of life by living in a small town that’s bound to carry overlap with different circles of people. They said that when working in this agency, that our world becomes very small and that some folks choose not to go out or do anything for fear of running into a client. I knew this would be a problem for me only because I’m heavily involved in the community in different ways and the likelihood of being exposed to a potential client is so great.
To circumvent anything negative, it was advised that I speak with clients about my identities and activities at the beginning of treatment when talking about informed consent and confidentiality. They recommended that disclosing these pieces of myself makes me human and relatable, but also models open communication to discuss whatever transpires. That reframe was helpful for me, especially considering the week I’ve had so far.
I revealed to the group that I’m engaging in creative endeavors that’s outside of my role as a psychologist, including improv, lyfting, and dragging. They were so accepting and supportive about all of that. They were interested and excited as well. They said for me to come as I am because they value self-expression. This was all foreign to me and I told them that it’s hard to receive this permission and affirmation that I’m worthy. They understood because they’ve also lived marginalized and oppressed just by being who they are. It’s already feeling like a safe space for me to be myself, which is exciting and terrifying.
Also, side note: I need to tell my new supervisor that I’m not interested in becoming licensed. It’s just not me and it doesn’t make me happy. In fact, it takes away from my quality of life. I’d rather offer my services but call myself something other than a therapist, counselor, or psychologist. Maybe a consultant? No. Guru?? No… I’m no master of anything. I’m Madame Kiki.. so what would she be if she was talking to others as she would her dear friends?
Maybe I can ask my supervisor if we could negotiate cash payment with a select group of people. So when the referral coordinator is making decisions on the matching process between client and clinician, perhaps we can screen for folx who would consent and approve of the services provided by me. There’s been chatter among my friends that I could do life coaching in drag! That’s a fun idea to entertain, because we’d still be able to see more people and enhance in business from the unique experience. Kasian, Meekachu, and I have discussed a longterm goal to open a community center where folx are involved in different therapeutic activities and modalities that promote mental wellness for all in addition to socio-political change.
Pride Night in Drag w Buffy Adams
I got to Buffy Adams apartment around 6pm. I had to let my kickball team know that something came up unexpectedly and wished them luck during tonight’s double header. I’m thinking I may just quit kickball because it was unrealistic of me to think I could commit my Friday nights when there’s so much other shit going on.
Buffy Adams agreed to be my “drag mother.” She gave me solid tips and tricks on how to achieve a particular look and how to work with my makeup in a creative way. I tried documenting it as best as I could (see video below). She had two black-and-white tuxedo cats that looked exactly like my boy at home. She also had a wig for me to wear. I eventually learned that she and her friends are all between the ages of 19-21, so I felt incredibly old and a bit awkward.
Buffy Adams was telling me about her experiences with drag and the trans community in Ann Arbor and the metro Detroit area. She mentioned that some queens will be shady or exclusive because of the competition and jealousy of attention. I told her about the photoshoot of me in drag with Kasian and asked her to consider joining me so that we can spread a bigger message and reach a larger audience.
We were also talking about her experiences as a trans woman, an identity she owns and is something she’s aware that I’m speaking about on this platform. Buffy Adams wanted information about how I can connect with someone at my new job on how to receive a doctor’s letter for her to start receiving hormone therapy for her transition. I told her I’d ask my supervisor next week and get back to her with something resourceful. She’s had a rough life and a remarkable story, so she’ll be the focus of a podcast episode soon (quick side bar: my podcasting equipment has malfunctioned and I’m trying to invest in something better but I need a good weekend of lyfting to afford it).
It took 5 hours to get ready. I felt fierce as fuck, but once I got to the club, it was difficult for me to feel connected or attached to my body. I didn’t even know that I was dissociating from the fear of attention considering the decade of attempts to being unseen and invisible. In the past when I’ve stepped into my light and power I was met with rejection or criticism, and I never understood why that was. Going to the club dressed in drag was a huge social exposure experiment that I didn’t prepare myself for adequately enough.
I had moments of accessing Madame Kiki but it didn’t last long because I became overwhelmed. I brought my new rose colored flask with me to help calm the nerves, but then I started getting paranoid that I’d lose control, so I stopped drinking. I also had a couple of my fake nails pop off, so I made sure to bring super glue with me to pop that shit back on. The wig was heavy and made my head hot. My contacts were bothering me. My heels kept getting caught on the back of my dress. It was hard to walk in my heels, I even lost my left one while walking down the stairs. I was a mess, Buffy Adams had to help me put my shoe back on in the middle of the steps. She proceeded to hold my hand and guide me the rest of the way.
Throughout the night, people were coming up to me with admiration and awe, wanting to take pictures with me and follow me on snapchat. I met the DJ and club promoter who is going to connect me with other drag queens so that I can be part of Ann Arbor’s Drag Wars. I guess it’s a monthly competition and I’d be the only bio-queen competing. I just appreciated the opportunity to be on stage. But now I have to think about the music I want to perform to. So much more to do! I barely have the energy to do it all, but I’m gonna do the best I can.
I thought I’d have the energy to lyft tonight, but no. After getting home and taking my shoes off, it was over for me. It took about 30 minutes to properly clean my face and get out of my persona. I knew that I was gonna miss out on earning a lot of $$ because it’s the first home game of the season and students are out and about. Surge pricing woulda been my best friend, but I couldn’t endure it. Also, not hearing back from ABJr was really feeding into my anxiety.
I woke up this morning feeling very similar to Monday. I felt this painfully intense loneliness, this unbearable anxiety. Just, fearful. I sobbed off-and-on throughout the day. My face was swollen from crying so hard. I haven’t cried like that since my best friend Jennifer died unexpectedly in 2009. I couldn’t explain this sense of grief it seemed like. Both Meekachu and Kasian were with their Bumble Boys again last night and into today, which sparked sadness and envy again. Having all of these feelings together was overwhelming.
I hadn’t heard from ABJr yet, and I was feeling incredibly vulnerable to sharing more about my drag life, even though he had asked. I’m trying to maintain some consistency or stability in our communication style, but I can’t predict if/when he’s going to respond or engage in a conversation with me. I know that he’s busy with his mom, so I’m not expecting much. I’m going through another round of what happened on Monday and it was painfully annoying. So, I texted him wishing him a happy Saturday and checking in with a couple things:
Although I felt better for texting him what’s on my mind, I started to freak out that I was too much and am pushing him away. I thought for sure he’s never going to talk to me again because I’m sounding crazy. For some perspective and grounding, I texted my friend Mama B, the same friend I spoke on the phone with on Monday. She helped me realize a few things…
I’m so grateful for friends like Mama B, Quangel, Meekachu, and Kasian. Not only do they accept and support me, but they also challenge me and open my eyes to what’s going on with some pretty honest feedback. I know they do that because they care about me and are looking out for me. Still, even though I was feeling better than before, I was emotionally drained from the anxiety and was unsuccessful at being productive.
The exhaustion was so intense that I took a stress nap for a few hours. I awoke feeling less emotionally overwhelmed than before, perhaps because I was taxed.
I was actively counting down the hours until Meekachu came over to have dinner and hang out. I felt bad because I know she just had a fabulous getaway with her Bumble Boy and I didn’t want to bring down the energy or sour her mood. These feelings were uncontrollable, and ones that I haven’t let myself feel or experience in a long, long time. Meekachu makes me feel safe to be vulnerable, so she was willing and emotionally available to work it through with me.
We came to several insights and conclusions. I’m debating if I want to put all of this on a podcast episode because it’s quite vulnerable. She and I learned that my behaviors aren’t due to desperation for connection by itself, but it’s because of deprivation! I’ve deprived myself of romantic love for over 10 years because of past relational trauma that was too painful to work through, so I pushed it back in my mind.
I also don’t remember receiving consistent love from my caregivers growing up, so I never knew where I stood with them and that caused significant relational anxiety. Because I wasn’t able to communicate or express my feelings, or when I did it was invalidated or criticized, I learned not to trust or believe my experiences, so I turned whatever feeling of anger and powerlessness inwards. That’s when this inner tormentor was created and it’s been around reminding me of my worthlessness ever since. Meekachu says that it will be difficult for me to accept and receive the love from adult relationships because it’d be a painful reminder of all the times I didn’t get that in childhood.
I wonder if my inner tormentor and mentor are the same thing or entity. For instance, I grew up with a mother who was very irritable and stressed. She would show care, concern and compassion, but then it’d flip rather quickly and then she’d show criticism, disapproval, or she’d yell at me or give me the silent treatment. I wonder if after years of tormenting myself, the inner child in me who is deprived and starving for love and attention doesn’t feel secure in trusting the inner caregiver because of past experiences of disappointment and ultimately betrayal. I don’t blame her for not trusting me. I treated this inner child like shit for a very long time. It’s only recently that I started becoming aware that she exists within me, and she’s deeply wounded and in a lot of pain, but that she’s also the source of my light and inner wisdom and is the protector.
Writing this blog post has been really difficult. I had to relive some painful moments earlier this week, and still, even after I texted ABJr earlier yesterday morning, I haven’t heard from him. I’m worried that I messed things up, as is customary of my pattern of internalizing when relationships go silent. But I’m also learning that not everything is about me. ABJr has a plate full of overwhelming crap going on right now, the last thing he needs is for me to pressure him to talk to me or show me any attention than he can provide.
I’ve learned more about myself and why I do what I do, and I’m learning what I need to do to be there for myself as I figure things out. I’m learning how to be mindful of the moment, to validate my experiences and let myself feel whatever it is I’m feeling without judgment or expectation. I’m trying to wrap curiosity and compassion around these experiences and to anchor myself to the gift that these experiences provide in that there’s something to learn and grow or appreciate.
I’ve had the urge all day to text ABJr apologizing for sounding insecure and clingy/needy. I have to be honest with myself and admit that I can be clingy and needy because I attached quickly to my Bumble Boy who made me feel safe. I am afraid of losing that, so I attach even deeper. When I sense distance, I cling even more. This pushes others away because it’s simply just too much. I don’t see this at the time, only until I’ve realized what I’m doing.
I found an article about the art of detachment. Here’s an excerpt that I find very relevant:
When we are attached, our thoughts and emotions focus solely on the object of our attachment. We give away our power to them. We behold them as something that we need, in order to strive or to become happy.
If we wish to make a healthy detachment, we should shift our focus from the object of attachment to ourselves. We can engage in activities and do things that strengthen the relationship with ourselves.
When we become our own greatest friend, the relationship we have with others and the universe flourishes. Instead of expecting people to fill our missing voids, we fill them ourselves and then share our completeness with them. We stop needing them, and we start choosing to want them.
I was supposed to hang out with Kasian and go to Zumba tonight but I ignored her calls and skipped class last minute. I don’t suppose I already knew that I was going to miss it. I sign up for things like that and chicken out because it’s related to my body and what I can do with it. I used to be a dancer and then I gained a bunch a wait after getting back surgery my senior year of college. Life hasn’t been the same since in many domains, not just relationships with others in my life but also the relationship with my body and my mind. I know that exercise is important, or any physical movement really, towards one’s mental health, but I just can’t seem to shake the beliefs behind why I’m experiencing some inertia.
The last time I lost weight fairly I received a lot of unsolicited attention and it was really difficult for me to feel safe in the world. I happened to take a trauma class when I had lost nearly 50 pounds and it just halted everything once again. I was so triggered in that class when talking about different traumas that I was dissociating from trying not to become emotionally flooded. That was the only way I could survive through that class. And my professor was brilliant in the area of trauma work, but she was also intimidating af and I just didn’t feel safe to begin with in that class to be able to come to her when I was struggling.
But for so long I have been irritatingly stubborn by not letting this body free to release some energy. This includes sexually! I haven’t let anyone touch me in my lady parts for over 10 years. Well, Mr. ABJr took a swish swish swipe up front during our last date and I was like whoaaa buddy why don’t you tell me how you really feel? It was nice to feel the passion and lust to sweeten the emotional and psychological connection to each other. That experience I had with ABJr had awakened my sexuality and unlocked my heart to open.
I can see myself working it out with ABJr. I just think it’s a timing thing. He happened to have a pretty shitty summer with a series of awful events that would lower anyone’s spirit. He intrigues me because despite some of the cards he’s been dealt with, he seems to have this unique character of sorts. He’s an archetype of someone I’ve dated before. When living in San Diego while getting my masters I had developed a flirtatious and romantic relationship with a handsome architect. I had adored that man, and I saw myself settling down because he is the type of guy you want as your husband – if you believe in marriage.
ABJr is open to marriage but he doesn’t seem to care either way. I’m sorta 50/50. There’s this social contract that holds both parties accountable to some degree and there’s security for everyone in case shit hits the fan. But I’m also not opposed to a ceremony with close loved ones at a destination that signifies celebrating our love. ABJr also doesn’t want kids. He clarified that he doesn’t have a problem with kids themselves, he just doesn’t want any of the responsibility. I totally agree. I don’t want to have children either, and it’s primarily because of the added responsibility. Not only that but I’m incredibly cynical of bringing a child into today’s day and age. What would be the purpose of that? The world is going to shit, there’s nothing we can really do to change it. Might as well live the life we have now.
I’ve been trying to get back into Blue Apron since I’m paying for that shit. But this week both my dishes include egg plants and the same type of noodles, which just feels like overkill at that point. Also, sometimes there isn’t all the ingredients in the package to complete a recipe and I end up going to the store. I did go grocery shopping yesterday and got some breakfast items and fruit. I’ll have to make another grocery run tomorrow and get the full list of ingredients so that I can start preparing lunch and snacks for work. If I’m going to get back into a routine, I might as well start fresh.
When it comes to movement.. well I know I have to get in with a studio to rent a place, and I could have connected with the teacher tonight to help me out with incorporating Bollywood zumba in my routine for my drag persona. I had signed up for many classes previously but it was almost always never a guarantee that the class would run because she would email last minute to cancel. Anyway, I didn’t go. I suppose I have to wait for the next Meet Up invitation or I can email her and see what happens from there.
Over the course of this past week, I’ve experienced many ups and downs. I’ve had to confront painful feelings and memories that I’ve repressed for years, and I’ve had to admit to myself that I actually really care about and want a relationship with my Bumble Boy, which scares me. I’ve entered into several domains of the unknown and I must remember to be patient and gentle with myself as I continue to navigate this life as it unfolds.
I’m proud of myself for enduring the pain and working through it with my support system. I’ll need to do better at caring for my body just as much as I do my mind and spirit. One day at a time, one task at a time, one moment at a time. All things will happen when they’re meant to. I just need to let go of certainty, trust in the process, and have faith in my resilience.