Good god, what the fuck happened this week (9/25-10/1). First of all, it’s fucken fall, y’all. Let’s take a moment to realize what this means. For me, the season of Fall resembles reflection, connection, and celebration. My birthday is always the first day of Fall. I love how the leaves change colors over time. I even love how they sprinkle like confetti all over the earth’s surface. I love to play in the leaves, and I weirdly like it when they get stuck in my hair. It makes me feel quite wild and.. virile? Ahem, um.. I just like Fall, ok!
I’ve got to give myself props for being able to navigate a couple of stressful interactions that I had no realistic opportunity to prepare for. Some of these interactions were more unpleasant than others, but nevertheless, I’m proud of myself for showing up, stepping up, and leaning in to the discomfort of vulnerability. I had to work through some rather big emotions, like anger, disappointment, loneliness, and shame. I had to hold this emotional space while catching unhelpful beliefs (what I like to call stinkin’ thinkin’), and either challenging or accepting them. I also had to choose to approach the things that I would have previously avoided because I needed to place the value of my relationships and the hope for growth and connection over my pride, fears, and ego. These are all skills I’ve been intentionally working on for the past 6 years.
By documenting everyday for the past several weeks, I’m starting to learn more about my mood cycle and associated behavioral patterns. I can’t always predict when I’m going to have a good day or a bad day (yes sometimes it can be in extremes like that and it sucks that I don’t have 100% control over that), but so far I know that sleep, nutrition, hydration, movement, and laughter are all things in my control that helps to manage my stress and regulate my mood. Oh yes, and breathing and pausing. These are two very important mindfulness skills that I’ve been intentionally working on for the past 2 years. It’s made quite an impact on my life.
Also, I have no idea why but sometimes the font changes midway through a sentence. It’s something that’s too advanced for me to trouble shoot using WordPress’s coding language. I’m not a fan of the inconsistency, but it is what it is. Thanks for looking past that =)
The ego lives to reconcile it’s felt insecurities.
Today was jam packed. I had a my monthly allergy shot, got the access card for the dance studio, checked in with my eye doctor about my contacts and glasses, skyped with Dr. Darcy from VH-1’s “Famously Single,” had sushi with Meekachu for her birthday, and went to my last class of improv where I took the opportunity to confront a boundary issue with a class mate. It was a long ass mf day! You can watch it all in the snapchat video at the end of Monday’s segment if you don’t wanna read ahead, but then you’d be missing out on all the details.
Ready? Set? Let’s go!
For the past 6 months, I’ve been getting an allergy shot for a chronic condition I developed while doing internship in Tallahassee called “idiopathic angioedema” (IdioAngio). In other words, angioedema means deep layer swelling/inflammation, and idiopathic means an unknown cause. Between January and December 2016, it happened 13 times around my lip/mouth area, and 3 of those times resulted in me visiting the emergency room at 4am. Each ER visit cost $400, and each episode or flare up would last anywhere between 12 and 72 hours. It would always require 60mgs of prednisone that tapered off after 5 days. The side effects of prednisone was unbearable, for instance, irritability, increased energy and inadequate sleep, and painful constipation.
It was maddening because there were no triggers given its unpredictable nature. The only pattern was the majority of those instances happened in the middle of the night. When talking to my current allergist, Dr. IndianGuy, who specialized in angioedema, he determined that the likely cause is delayed inflammation that was pressure-induced (e.g., sleeping on my hand or up against the pillow face down). Eventually, the doctors in Tallahassee and Ann Arbor put me on a maintenance dose of prednisone for the last few months of 2016. I’ve been on till 0.5mgs a day for just about 10 months. I recently stopped the maintenance dose about two months ago once I started getting these monthly Xolair shots.
Luckily, I had really good health insurance from my recent job at a local university, but it took about 6 months to get an authorization because they were being finicky about details. I had to explain to them the course of this condition and all of the measures it took to get treatment using alternative methods. Throughout this time, I got extensive blood work done from Quest Diagnostics. One time I filled up 18 vials of blood! That was about $600, and the results didn’t tell me anything new accept that there was an undetected virus that may have been working my immune system harder while under all this situational stress.
To help me figure out what was going on and how to treat it, I visited two allergists while I was living in Tallahassee, FL:
One allergist, Dr. AbsentGuy, didn’t even see me and instead relied on his nurses or techs to give me a food allergy test. I knew the flare ups weren’t food allergy related because they didn’t happen while eating, nor did I expose myself to foods that would have had that reaction. I thought maybe it was chemical. They didn’t listen to me though because they still pricked my back 40 times and said they’d be back to check in on me after 20 minutes. Meanwhile, I was laying stomach down on the table and some random ass dude opened the door while my back was exposed.
By this time, 40 minutes went by and I had to actually call the front desk so that someone could come to check in on me. I was very irritated with them, which was compounded by the side effects from taking high dosages of prednisone. The results just reaffirmed what I had already known – I am deathly allergic to shellfish. They felt bad for my experience and ended up giving me two free epi pens. I saved ~$500 right there, so it wasn’t an all around terrible experience. I never went back to them, though.
The second allergist, Dr. WhiteGuy, was someone recommended by my internship supervisor. This dude met with me for an hour and treated me like a smart person. He explained the whole process to me- something about two human cells respond to allergens or foreign bodies, so the immune system creates antibodies to defend against sickness/inflammation (see his graphic below). Apparently, my basophil cells were getting confused thinking to defend against its own immune system, so essentially it’s attacking itself. He said it only happens on the face, hands, and feet, and that there’s no rhyme or reason these things happen but that it’s usually temporary. He also said that it is possible it might be stress-induced and (with good intentions) recommended that I get rid of stress in my life.
He sounded like every other doctor who says to eliminate stress from your life. The thing is, there was no amount of self-care that could prevent another flare up. It was more about shifting my attitude about the condition and treatment, mastering my ability to tolerate uncertainty and irritability, and coping more effectively when the next flare up happens.
For instance, I would often lose sleep at night because my mouth would feel stiff (a warning sign I’ve learned is the beginning of a flareup) and my mind would go in near-panic mode. I was living constantly in stress trying to sleep because of the traumatic ordeal these flareups caused in the middle of the night. The worst of it was that I was in the ER by myself. So the loneliness was another beast who tagged right alongside the anxiety.
Dr. WhiteGuy said that it’s not possible to completely get get rid of life stressors (e.g., the fact that I had just moved cross country to start a demanding internship- that’s stressful af!), and that my body is also adjusting to changes in my environment and the weather. He was more hopeful that my body would eventually figure itself out and the IdioAngio would go away on it’s own (this turned out to be true).
But before I knew about Mr. WhiteGuy, I went an alternative route by exploring all my options. I met a homeopathic practitioner, Nurse Hippie, whom I learned about when googling the ALCAT blood test to detect the causes of my chronic inflammation. They took several vials of blood and cost me $800!! As if this ordeal wasn’t already expensive! While awaiting results from the ALCAT test, I also paid $200 for biofeedback using what’s called the Scio. Apparently, it’s the all the medical rage in the UK but it’s “banned” (?) in the US because it’ll stiff pharmaceutical companies (??).
The Scio is connected through electrodes strapped to my head, wrists, and ankles, and it’s hooked up to a weird looking box and computer. It took about four hours to complete the test. The Scio can detect food insensitivities/intolerances and reactions to molds, bacteria, viruses, food coloring and other additives, pesticides, and other substances or elements not necessarily found in food. In fact, there’s portable sized Scio devices available so that you can do them on yourself whenever you want. The results indicated that I had what’s called “chronic stress” and “delayed inflammation.” They found heightened energy around my mouth area – coincidence? I think not!
But what do those results mean? Well, it means that they had to put me on a low-inflammatory diet and they prescribed organic medication including Argentyn23 (liquid silver) and Tumeric capsules for the next few months. To be honest, I didn’t notice much of a difference, mainly because I was still having flareups. Meanwhile, the ALCAT results came back and I learned that I have some intolerances and sensitivities to different foods, additives, and chemical substances, which was helpful for me to know! I had to eliminate certain foods from my diet for about three months so that my body could “reset” and I could slowly start to reintroduce them back into my diet. Some of these foods included poultry, avocado, and sugar.
Also, the experiences of this whole ordeal reminded me of the villain Archibald Snatcher from the movie “The Boxtrolls.” He was severely allergic to cheese but he just didn’t want to believe it, and the way he swells up is just comically relatable. Here’s a clip for you to enjoy:
Once I moved from Tallahassee, FL to Ann Arbor, MI, I faxed all of my medical information over to a new allergist, Dr. IndianGuy, who specializes in IdioAngio. He validated the frustration of sitting with uncertainty of triggers and the helplessness of being unable to prevent or control them. He normalized that IdioAngio occurs more often than not, which is why he specialized in it. He also mentioned that there’s a new drug on the market called Xolair. It’s specifically designed for folks who’s allergic reactions are hives, or inflammation.
Suddenly this condition wasn’t so mysterious. I cried in his office from the hope of relief. Even if there were no real answers and uncertainty was still looming. All I know was that I let go of my attachment to expectations and trusted my faith and resiliency. Part of this also includes the 6 month correspondence between the insurance company and Dr. IndianGuy due to denied requests (apparently it’s an expensive and scarce drug that must be rationed accordingly). With patience and hopefulness, we finally got the approval.
Today was my 6th shot. I stopped taking the maintenance dose of prednisone maybe about two months ago. Dr. IndianGuy mentioned that I’d only need about 6 shots for the immune system to regulate itself again. I’m going back in for a follow-up after 9 months next Monday, so mtbr about what’s to come in this arena. Fortunately, I haven’t had a flare up since last December (thank the lort). It’s been a blessing and something I do not take for granted. I have a newfound respect for folks who have to live with chronic health issues, particularly if there’s pain involved.
The psychological impact of a chronic health condition without answers (e.g., feelings of helplessness, frustration, irritability, anxiety), on top of the effects on my self-esteem (e.g., a swollen mouth doesn’t help when trying to talk to others let alone do therapy) was enough to put me in a low-grade depression (the worst was when I got a flareup just before I began a major radio interview with WGN in Chicago). It took about 1.5 years before I finally felt some relief and normalcy with my psychological health and overall self-esteem.
Dr. Darcy’s Calling
I was nervous as hell before skyping with Dr. Darcy this afternoon. It took us about 5 weeks to set up an informational interview, as she’s quite busy. I’ve developed some social anxiety that can make me terribly awkward and weird at times, like I’m not myself at all, so I was afraid that this part of me would come out. Well, it did. I’d hate to disappoint myself.
As always, my social anxiety was right on time and excited for the spotlight. It was hard to sit down in advance to formulate questions for the informational interview. It wasn’t until maybe 20 minutes before we spoke that I jotted down some things that I found important. I also wasn’t sure if we were going to do video or not, so I wanted to look as comfortable and as “me” as possible. She preferred to engage in a casual conversation rather than structured interview format, which helped to ease my anxiety.
After my talk with Dr. Darcy, I learned to reframe my podcast as a verbal memoir. I learned that it’d be wiser not to discuss content that I would process in supervision, and instead use analogies or metaphors to describe the human phenomenon only after pre-processing it in supervision. However, discussing content from my own personal therapy sessions shouldn’t be a concern when it comes to ethics or licensing.
I learned to be thoughtful about what I put out on the interwebs. I was reminded that we live in a day and age where we are “googleable.” We’re no longer this mystery to clients, because it’s quite possible that they can learn more intimate details about us than we can control. Yet in my profession, we’ve been conditioned not to disclose at all. In fact, the old way of doing things is to be seen as a blank slate thats void of personality so that the client can project whatever they need to on the therapist. This method was seen as the most productive and effective for treatment.
After talking with Dr. Darcy, I felt validated that this profession is much more conservative and oppressive than it needs to be (with regarding other marginalized clinicians in the field). So while I still gotta play smart in the field if I wanna get stuff done, I also have the right to exercise the freedom of self-expression as a professional in this field. Still, it was suggested to call the psychology board and ask them about this directly.
I also learned more about Dr. Darcy’s journey and how she’s been practicing in the field for 20 years while she’s been building her public media figure for the last 7 years. She took her time because she didn’t want to commit “professional suicide,” and it was a message for me to not rush the process. For instance, she turned down a few show ideas before agreeing to do VH-1’s “Famously Single” three years ago. She’s been able to be a celebrity clinician while also running a successful practice with her wife in New York City. They have a solid reputation that has taken a labor of love to establish and maintain. She also had to prepare herself for receiving negative feedback or criticism from the public and from colleagues to be able to withstand and sustain a life in the entertainment industry.
I loved that she got comfortable with me pretty quickly, as in, she was “bustin’ my balls” right from the start. Before I knew it, we’d been skyping for 55 minutes! She ended up being late for picking up one of her clients! That happens to us all. I really appreciated her honest feedback because it was nice to feel protected and guided by her. I’m also grateful for her willingness to make herself available to me as a mentor. She even consented that I could snapchat a picture of us for the blog!
The “Talk” with Mr. GGE
Tonight was our last class. We met up at the same local dive bar we went to after the show last week. I was feeling nervous because I knew that I had to have “the talk” with Mr. Green Googley Eyes (GGE), but I didn’t want to do it in the beginning or middle because I thought it’d just weirden the mood. I figured that I would share my feedback and assert my boundaries towards the end of Miss Lit delivering individual review from the improv show. By the way, Miss Lit’s feedback to me was 1) that I looked very comfortable on stage, 2) that I should keep taking the class series to eventually join a troupe, 3) that I need to stop being so dirty on stage because I’m better than that, and 4) that she’s finally gonna let me be her friend.
I’m really bad at confrontation, mainly because I’ve only had a handful of times that I’ve had to. It was modeled to me growing up in a way that may not be necessarily helpful or healthy. It’s taken over a year of group therapy to help with that, though. Of course, he came in right after us and ended up sitting next to me. It was weird. While Miss Lit was doing her individual reviews, my friend Bunny Beans remarked from across the length of the table to sit near her so that we could catch up (this was in an attempt to get physical distance between me and Mr. GGE).
I sat there nervous as hell, and I wasn’t drinking, so I was feeling a lot of things. I also didn’t want to pull him aside because I feared that would make it look more obvious to others that something was wrong. Instead, I tried to be discreet by going back to sit next to him and asking if he had a brief second to chat. He immediately sensed that something was up. Apparently, Mr. GGE was completely oblivious to why his comment was received negatively. I had to woman-splain that his inappropriate behaviors were due to white male privilege.
His initial response was sharing how badly he felt about himself and that he was disappointed and saddened to have made me feel uncomfortable. While I appreciated his recognition of the negative impact his behavior had on me, the conversation took a weird turn. He only treated me that way because he perceived me as a strong and funny woman who is formidable and invulnerable to commentary like that. He overestimated the comfort level in our relationship because of this, so he figured comments about sexual harassment would be well-received. He didn’t realize that he came across as creepy and was pushing me away rather than making me feel safe to connect.
We went back and forth for a bit because he was genuinely interested in learning about what he had done wrong and why it was wrong and how to not do it again. That was helpful and hopeful for me because it was telling me that he was open to feedback and willing to take accountability. He knows now that regardless of intent, it’s never okay to joke about sexual harassment with a female, especially if there is no safety or trust in the relationship. Even still, joking about sexual harassment isn’t a joke. Also, sexual content is off-limits.
Oh yea, the conversation took an even weirder turn. He said that he preferred me to respond with “fuck off, dude!”, or something similar. Basically, he wanted me to berate, demean, or degrade him in response. This is the kind of banter he’s looking for with me, which is quite specific and odd, to be honest. I joked and asked him if he wanted to be my slave, because the way he was making it sound was as if he’s into kink (BDSM relationships). I’ve always wanted a slave actually. I think there might be one in my new group of friends, a guy who loves drag and who I can tell wants me to like him. Essentially, I left feeling that Mr. GGE gets pleasure out of it.
It was 20 minutes till 9pm before I decided to confront Mr. GGE. Boldy Locks and I wanted to catch the improv show of her friend, Mr. Funny Bonez, and we had planned to go together, but the conversation between Mr. GGE and I lasted about 45 minutes, so I ended up missing the entire show. I ended the convo with Mr. GGE by telling him that he’s lucky I’m a compassionate, understanding, generous, and forgiving person because he could have easily been reported on and booted from improv due to the strict no tolerance policy of sexual harassment. I told him to stop being a creep, basically, and he agreed to do his best.
I also assured him that this confrontation was more of a check-in between two classmates who happen to have comedic chemistry on the improv stage, and that I wouldn’t have even bothered if I didn’t care about him or the relationship. I told him that one way to connect and build a sense of safety and trust is through open communication. I paused to give myself credit for having the courage to be vulnerable with him in the way that I was, and for how I handled delivering feedback in a compassionate and respectful way, while also asserting my needs and placing healthy and appropriate boundaries in the relationship. We left with a short hug, so now I guess we’ll see how this all unfolds throughout Improv class 2 that starts in 2 weeks. (#mtbr).
PSA on Sexual Harassment and Conflict Resolution:
What can you do if you feel that you’re being sexually harassed at work or anywhere else for that matter? Google suggests this:
Don’t let anyone make you feel unsafe at work because of sexual harassment or any kind of discrimination or hostility. That shit is absolutely bonkers behavior and needs to be called out whenever possible. It’s not easy to have these kinds of conversations, but then again, it’s not about shaming the person either. If whomever on the receiving end of that feedback doesn’t feel some sense of guilt or remorse for recognition that their behaviors were wrong, that would be problematic. If they do feel some sense of shame already, then this is clearly someone worth connecting with through love rather than fear. I’ve been taking opportunities to practice this method when delivering constructive feedback that I judged was important and appropriate:
I believe I followed most of these suggestions when talking with Mr. GGE. I need to just take a second and say I‘m quite proud of myself for finally being able to do that! I’m glad to have group therapy and my support system. After reflecting on the interaction, I could also make the conversation briefer and delivering the feedback in a timely manner. By pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, I’m learning a lot about my psyche- the strengths, the areas of improvement or growth edges, the hopes, needs, and fears.
I’m trying to be more intentional on how I can cultivate and sustain healthy interactions in my relationships. All of this takes a willingness to want that, and for me it’s a bit easier because this lifestyle is aligned with my values. I think if we all learned some of these skills or were taught this in our youth, then it could potentially prevent unnecessary conflict, tension, or suffering. Dare I say that it could lead to transformative growth and even systemic change.. perhaps even world peace?? That’s why this plogcast of mine is so important. I’m using this platform to spread awareness, combat stigma, and plant seeds of growth and change by discussing my lived experiences as a fat and tattooed queer femme of color who happens to be a high-functioning, anxious and manic-depressive clinician, and who’s tired of keeping quiet about the bullshit.
This morning I woke up grumpy as hell. I didn’t get very good sleep last night because apparently this is how my depression and anxiety manifest. I knew I was going to have another heavy clinical day at work, so I had to really be grounded and centered. It’s not always easy because when I’m in the here-and-now present moment with a client, whatever I say or how I say it/don’t say it can either be received as a hit or a miss, especially when one’s going on a few hours of sleep.
I almost feel increased responsibility to be alert and engaged when I’m tired, which is sorta stressful and makes me anxious. So instead, I allowed myself to feel compassion for my tiredness and to let go of the need to control, trust that the moment will unfold organically as it should, and have faith in my capacities to navigate the therapeutic interaction well enough. I’m grounded in my overall intensions as a clinician (who happens to be a wounded healer that’s passionate about helping others heal and grow, not hurt and harm).
Anyway, what I love about the second office location is that this house has a beautiful backyard. There’s brick paved court yard with a fire pit and stairs leading into a wild, swampy and wooded area that’s secluded, private, and peaceful. I enjoyed having lunch by myself outside while writing up last week’s blog post. I’m going to take advantage of this connection with nature while I’m here. One of my colleagues later joined me for lunch. I might even use it as a space to hold a quiet therapy session. We’ll see.
Luckily, I had some time between clients and got to explore the house a bit. There was this amazing massage chair in one of our group therapy rooms. I kept the room dark by pulling the heavy red curtains closed. I probably sat in that chair for a good 45 minutes. I think I fell asleep actually, which upon waking, felt really fucken good because my body needed the rest. The rest of the afternoon went by quite well after that relaxing nap, which not only benefited me but my client’s experience as well!
The bathroom upstairs is by far the most beautiful out of all the bathrooms. When using it this afternoon, I wondered if the reason this house gets an uncomfortable amount of stink bugs is because it’s old? Idk, all I know is that I know those little fuckers can fly, and when there’s over a dozen of them on the walls in a bathroom, I can’t help but worry I’m going to end up like Sarah did after playing Jumanji as a kid- only with my pants around my ankles..
Man, writing these blog posts takes a lot of time. But that’s because I have standards! Have you even seen my powerpoints?? I won an award for this one:
ANYWAY- I wonder how realistic it is to write at the end of each day. At least maybe I could dictate a brief synopsis written in the notes app on my phone so that the text is already there. That would save a lot of time, but I talk too much so then I’d have to read and sift through a bunch of rambling. I’m just spending literally hours writing out some shit, finding pictures/gifs, and making/uploading videos, which all takes time and energy. I shouldn’t be complaining since these are my own standards I’m bitching about, but it’s because I’m a grump who cares! I’m “a bit” of a perfectionist, especially when it comes to writing.. or just producing anything, really.
Well, I should say that I consider myself a “recovering perfectionist” now. I’ve been learning how to let go of frivolous things that don’t really matter to me in the end. I’m learning to let go of expectations and assumptions and live freely in the moment. I was scared of voicing my thoughts and feelings about life before because I’ve been told that I have “strong convictions and emotions.” In order words, they’re saying I’m too much. I’m extra.
I have been invalidated and silenced because of that my whole life. I had to accept this oppression because I believed that was the only way I could survive it. I had no worth, so I had no voice, and I had no power. This familiar feeling of oppression soon grew within the walls of my own mind. This is what my inner tormentor makes me feel like unless I do something about it. Now that I’ve stepped into my own power and my light, I see myself as a warrior empress who’s befriending this Babadook to peacefully co-exist.
I’m also starting to learn more about my writing style because I’m starting to trust my authentic voice. There’s a yearning for neutrality as well as an integration of the positive and negative aspects of living and humanity. I’m realizing that this personal memoir is less social justice oriented than I had originally thought, perhaps because of this platform being a personal memoir. I’m figuring out if I should comment on what’s happening in the world, but then I get scared because I’m barely able to keep up with what I’m already producing. Some would say, well then why the fuck are you writing so much? Those are you fingers that keep clacking away when all you could do is literally stop typing. Stop. Stop typing!!!!
Whew, anyway… I’m warming up to commenting on socio-political issues, so mtbr…
I’ve also notice that I’m rushing therapy. It’s probably due to my past training experiences in brief treatment centers. Because I only had 1 year rotations at each training site, there really was no time to waste because treatment was time-limited. I had to quickly learn how to use the time and resources wisely and strategically. Now that I’m providing long term treatment in a private practice setting, there’s no real session limit (aside from certain insurance companies but that usually includes 20 sessions, which is fairly reasonable and can be renewed). I realize that I need to slow down my pace and take my time getting to know my clients as people.
What’s not usually talked about in doctoral programs and training centers is acknowledging the privilege in the room between client and clinician. Inherently, clinicians have some inherent power in the relationship because it’s essentially based on the services we provide that are in demand. So, private practice clinicians can control how long a session will be, or how long they’ll meet for treatment, or what theoretical orientation or treatment interventions they might use, or who they choose to see. They also get to control the environmental setting, like the layout of the office, the distance and texture of the kleenex, whether or not we even take insurance or credit cards, the temperature and light hue in the room.
Because of this, some clinicians might then strive for eliminating power in the therapeutic dynamic by operating from a collaborative space. Both parties would then mutually agree to hold each other accountable and compassionately catch one another’s psychological slips through support and encouragement. It humbles the clinician to humanize themselves on the “level” of the client. It’s a space where trained professionals are no more or less than the person sitting before them. It’s an invitation to bring one’s humanity into the room and to use that as a grounding tool for re-centering. Idk, just some food for thought.
This article explains this inherent power dynamic well, in case you were interested to read more.
Lastly, I came home from work today to a lovely bouquet of red roses sent by my dad. That’s the third year in a row now, and it feels really good to be thought of and to receive such a sweet gesture of love. I spent the rest of the night looking up songs for Madame Kiki. That’s the only way I can occupy my time when I can’t sleep at night, so might as well put that restlessness to good use!
Well, thank the lort jebus I got better sleep last night. Getting that rest helped out sooo much actually. I also had deliciously nutritious and flavorful lunch with snacks, which always makes me feel good inside and out. This was all that was needed in order to sustain the energy to keep up with the day ahead. I was in the first office location downtown, but I hate the parking arrangements right now. I have to pay sometimes up to $20 for a full day of work downtown. It’s annoying because there’s a 3-12 month wait list for a parking permit in a structure. So I don’t really have any other choice if I want to drive myself to work.
I do like how conveniently located we are from everything else that’s usually poppin’ with some cool shit. For being a small community, Ann Arbor really get’s down with the fun. For instance, today I was able to meet Meekachu’s parents at one of the best deli’s in town, and it was only a 7 minute walk from work! I got to walk in the sun and observe all the separate human bodies living their lives. I gave my leftovers away to a transient man in a wheelchair on the corner of Washington and Main.
Supervision with Ms. HBIC
Every other Wednesday for lunch I’ll be meeting with my supervisor. Today I was feeling considerably less anxious than I have in previous weeks. I’m getting more acclimated to the agency system and culture, in addition to feeling more comfortable in my new role as an early-career limited licensed psychologist. After reflecting on some of these adjustments, I noticed that I surprisingly feel less competent to provide ongoing treatment for complex trauma. In previous training settings, I only provided what’s called “stage 1” of trauma treatment in which we basically only work on establishing safety by mastering coping skills.
We weren’t really allowed to see folks with trauma for longer than a certain number of sessions due to insurance or other institutional barriers. Most of the time, these folks were coming in and out of inpatient psychiatric hospitals, or they were students at a brief counseling center. There was no luxury of doing long-term work in those settings, especially with trauma survivors. These clients would always be referred out, which naturally reduced the opportunities to build my experience working with this clinical population. Still, it’s been recommended for clinicians not to oversaturate the number of clients with trauma work because there’s only so much one person can hold (which varies from person to person).
My Two Cents on Trauma:
Mastering coping mechanisms is part of stage one trauma treatment for a very good reason. It’s harmful to just dive right into the trauma work, but it also depends on how severe/long ago the trauma was, where the survivor is at emotionally, and how ready they are willing to do the work. It can take months to even years to establish that sense of safety and quality coping skills to effectively mitigate any kind of stress or reduce any unnecessary suffering. I want my clients to have those skills imprinted in their body memory so that when they finally do to dip their toes in the swampy work of trauma, they at least have the internal resources to love themselves through it.
That way, folks have a bit more in control of finding that inner safe space when they need an out from the work. Practicing mindfulness and grounding are two essential skills for doing trauma work. I’ve said to some clients before to pretend that we’re doing virtual reality and are removed observers going back in time to a moment stamped in time. We can then explore what happened in the situation, identify the vulnerability factors (what was and wasn’t in the client’s control), and process how/what we wanted to do differently. Essentially, we want to feel strong enough to expose ourselves into our trauma memories and be prepared for experiencing the same magnitude of the experience at the time in which it happened.
Traumatic memories are more impactful and lingering when they occur in the first three decades of a person’s life. Most importantly, no two people experience trauma in the same way. It seems that the number of traumatic incidents across the lifespan seems to have an influence on resiliency factors to survive whatever ordeal. Nurturing adaptive tendencies and reinforcing effective personality characteristics can help to cultivate meaningful relationships for mitigating the long-term effects of trauma. Essentially, the greater positive interpersonal experiences experienced throughout one’s lifetime (i.e., receiving validation, affirmation, affection, etc.), then the greater the resiliency (and wisdom).
There’s actually a test called the ACE, or Adverse Childhood Experiences, which measures the possible impact from having lived a “rough” childhood, at varying degrees. The number of ACEs from these three categories pictured below can increase the child’s impulsive behaviors because it’s hard to regulate intense emotions (often times because they were never taught to). Essentially, the only way folks with trauma will experience any relief or peace is through healthy and secure attachments with loving and caring people that they trust. This is not easy to do though when people are the primary reason for trauma. It’s quite a bit of work to get to that level of trust and safety, but once there with a safe person, the potential for transformative healing and growth is profound.
Of course, timing is everything. When we dive into the trauma work without having done the pre-requisites, then we’re at risk for becoming emotionally flooded with painful memories. At it’s worst, pre-maturely diving into trauma might even take us back to that moment and in so doing would elicit a panic or anxiety response. We’d be putting the body and mind into heightened distress, which would only reinforce the feelings of helplessness and powerlessness over the situation perceived as threatening. The goal is to take an offense position when confronting traumatic events. Taking a defensive position leaves us too vulnerable, so there’s a lot of training involved to get comfortable enough to do the deeper work.
Still, I’m scared to do that deep work with several different clients who each have their own distinct trauma narratives. That’s a lot to hold!! I’m considering getting trained in something called Psycho Drama, which to my understanding, is a form of treatment that incorporates theater (i.e., acting out a scene as a character), and trauma work (i.e., reenacting a memory to eventually re-write the narrative), which is pretty much stage three of trauma-informed treatment. There could be an opportunity to run a group with the folks with trauma on my case load who’ve mastered their coping skills and are motivated enough to do the deeper work with the support and safety of others.
The thing is, I’ve been doing my own trauma work for a while now, and I recognize that there are some things my client’s talk about that trigger me because of it. But I couldn’t have made it this far without my willingness to seek help. I had to find a good enough therapist and trust that they’re looking out for me. It was my third therapist who helped me on this journey. She suggested that we start small by focusing on what I can control with practice and intentionality, like basic self-care, mindfulness, self-compassion, and additional cognitive, emotional, and behavioral skills, so as to mitigate distress or manage a crisis. I’ll call her Gma Tala (the grandmother from Moana), because I truly felt her protection.
I trusted that she’s familiar with trauma work, not just because she’s been in the field for a minute, but also because she has her own trauma narrative that she’s had to work through. So, she gets professional and personal credibility. (This is actually the same therapist who recommended that I get into Psycho Drama.) Both she and Mr. A have some serious skill as clinicians; I’m truly fortunate and blessed to have had these life-changing relationships.
Moving on! After writing my last clinical therapy note, I met a new friend whom I’ll call Miss Theraphic. She’s into graphic design as a side job to working as a therapist. It’s nice to see other clinicians engaging in creative endeavors and identifying themselves outside of the professional role of a therapist.
Also, my good friend Quangel Belcher spontaneously called to hang out, so I invited them to join me and Miss Theraphic at the beer garden that Kasian was working at tonight. I think they were trying to make up for missing out on my birthday last week because they showed up with some gifts, which was of course well-received!
Two of us drank while the four of us discussed marketing and branding ideas for Madame Kiki. Miss Theraphic is pretty inspired after tonight, so she’ll be working on a few ideas to show me in the next couple of weeks. I want to make t-shirts for my glam squad (Kasian, Meekachu, Quangel, and Boldy Locks) just in time before the photo shoot on Friday 10/20.
Hey Mr. DJ
I didn’t expect meeting someone who’d make me belly laugh so much. He happened to be the best friend of the bumble boy that Kasian had invited over to hang with the crew while she finished her shift at the beer garden. Understandably, Kasian’s bumble boy doesn’t like that I call him bumble boy, but homeboy has to understand that the word is assigned to an ambiguous character playing an often times transient role in the story line. Please try not to take it personally, to any and all bumble boys out there. Also, I’m doing this plogcast, would you rather me use your real name? No. I use bumble boy and I assign a specific nickname for each. Right now, I’ve nicknamed this bumble boy Mr. AJ and his friend, who I vibed with, Mr. DJ.
Anyway, me and Mr. DJ seemed to click. I think that’s because I’m always put in a playful sassy mood when I’m with my little Quangel. We just bring that out of each other! Also, we’re terribly morbid and just all around terrible human beings, but that’s what makes us laugh and we just get along so well because of that. Usually others who don’t know us or our dynamic will just watch and wonder are they joking? I can’t tell. Why would they joke about that? These people are truly disturbed and hilarious. We could tell Mr. DJ was familiar with this so-called humor-love language, and he just felt comfortable to play along and to “yes and” the conversation. It truly was a lot of fun and so appreciated! He added a different perspective, he was goofy and secure in himself, and he was kind and sweet.
Quangel bumped into the owner of the piercing parlor whom we met a few weeks ago. We think he may have seen our yelp review after being treated disrespectfully. Quangel observed them being passive aggressive and contrived in the over-the-top compensatory attempts to repair his image. Nah homeboy, we can see right through you.
I didn’t plan on staying out late at all. Miss Theraphic had left already, and Quangel was feeling tired from not having good enough sleep from the night before but was still wanting to hang out. Kasian was ending her shift, and both Mrs. AJ and DJ wanted to hit up the same karaoke bar I went to for my birthday last weekend. So, the five of us hung out until 2am! Mr. DJ was getting more and more intoxicated, though he seemed to handle himself well. I think he may have had to alleviate some drunkenness in the bathroom a few times but he was still standing upright and able to sing Prince really well.
The thing that stands out to me the most is what seemed like genuine and sincere disposition. This really became evident when my younger brother had been texting me to give him emotional support before starting his first day of college tomorrow. I told my brother that I was out with new friends and had been drinking, so I decided to call him and put him on speaker phone. Both Mrs. AJ and DJ had some playfully silly advice about college, but it wasn’t until Mr. DJ had some heartfelt guidance for my brother. It was completely unexpected, and it had instantly softened me to him.
The night kinda got away from us after eating at a local burrito joint that typically gets drunken college kids as customers. There was some small misunderstanding around Kasian’s reaction to chips.. I don’t know, but Mr. DJ and I never exchanged numbers, nor did we really say goodbye properly. I mean, we hugged and that’s about it. I didn’t think I’d ever see them again. Kasian insists that Mr. AJ has been texting with Mr. DJ while hanging out tonight and confirmed that Mr. DJ is interested in me. That’s really hard for me to tell, sometimes. I’m sorta just oblivious to it unless it’s pretty overt, in which case, as can be gathered from my experiences with Mr. GGE, is not received very well.
But even if we don’t see each other again, I can still say that I had a great time and I’m glad to have said yes to the opportunity. Who know’s what’ll happen, but it was fun while it lasted. It’s also a good bonding memory for me and my friends. I’m just glad I actually got to document my Quangel singing Karaoke!! That’s truly a rare sight, enjoy!
Confession time. I slept well last night, but I also had a very interesting “sex dream” about Mr. DJ. We were in a post-apocolyptic era and there happened to be a riot happening. Me and Mr. DJ were trying to escape these cyborg-wolf-zombies and find a private place to make out and touch our pleasure points. It’s not very common for me to have sex dreams like that about people I just met.. I guess this is what’s happening now that my sexuality has been reawakened.
I did do a better job with my energy and engagement level throughout today’s full clinical day. I really liked my outfit today, too, which also helped with my overall mood. It was nice having lunch at this delicious greek place with Kasian and my new friend, Gatino (he’s the guy I bumped into on the street during my last week of post-doc). We were discussing the night before and then came to learn that Kasian was actually called a bitch by the dude behind the counter of the burrito joint. This explains why we were confused when she reacted negatively while buying more chips for the table. Before going our separate ways last night, I told Kasian that it may have come across as abrasive the way she was treating this kid behind the counter. This new frame of context changes everything as far as how other’s might have perceived her behavior last night, and this new piece of data was worth sharing with the group.
Last night, Kasian also told me that she knows Mr. DJ is interested in me because of what she knows from what Mr. AJ, her bumble boy, said to her. While we were waiting in line for beer, she said that she was going to give my number to Mr. AJ to then pass along to Mr. DJ. Apparently, I also learned that sh gave out my number to the Uber guy who took us home during my birthday night!! I can’t believe she did that! I should note that when Mr. AJ and Mr. DJ first came in, she introduced me to them as “a famous drag queen” who’s got “a very successful podcast.” She walked away after that, and suddenly I’m sitting with two guys who’re not sure what to do with that information.
There was some talk that maybe there’s an opportunity to hang out with Mr. DJ again tonight. He’s from Chicago and was only in Ann Arbor visiting his best friend, Mr. AJ, for a couple of days before DJing at a wedding this weekend. We didn’t want to seem needy or desperate though, so Kasian was handling the texts with Mr. AJ to favor us in hanging out again. There was still more to come in the evening ahead before we’d find out an answer.
Group’s Got Me Wildin’
We had 2 weeks off from group and that felt really good. I fantasize walking away from group. I’m always on the fence of giving my 2 week notice. It’s never a good idea to just up-and-leave group therapy without first talking about it with the group and giving everyone time to process and express their experiences. This separation or termination of a relationship is usually ripe with opportunities to process grief and deal with change for growth, so it’s strongly recommended to follow this courtesy of giving advanced notice when terminating group so as to get the absolute best out of the experience.
Even though I’ve been tired from group for a short while now, today’s group still went well because most of us showed our vulnerability and had our moments to release emotionality, process some deep shit, and receive the love from the group to heal the pain. I brought in themes of disappointment and anger within the context of interpersonal relationships. I used last week’s bday as an example. I’m also noticing that my emotional suffering is largely due to an unhealthy attachment to unrealistic expectations or ideals. I’m just setting myself up for disappointment, and I wanna stop that shit!
I will say, though, that today I felt slighted by the group when I wasn’t met with the same respect they gave another member for reasons to leave the group. The thing is, I don’t want to necessarily leave permanently, I just wanted a break! I don’t know why my request wasn’t met with the same compassion or understanding. I feel an immense responsibility to hold the group just as much as Mr. A does, but that shifted today after someone gave me permission not to do so. I’ve been contemplating on the idea that I had outgrown the group. I can totally see how that can be perceived as if I’m too good for the group or that they’re not good enough for me. Well, I’m truly wondering, so what? What if that’s what I think? Is that bad? I ask, rhetorically.
From A Painting Party to A Euchre Party
Boldy Locks planned this casual girl’s night with me and Ms. Funny Bonez. We watched Hocus Pocus and halloween themed Disney clips. We painted, and they drank while I smoked. It’s ironic: the two of us who identify as artists had the most trouble creating a painting while the one who does not identify as an artist was joyfully making art.
I had so much fun painting. It’s been a long time since I just let myself go like that! I did make some errors that I needed to tolerate and be resourceful to make it all work out. Still, the act of painting with the good vibes of new friends was fulfilling and sustaining. Plus, I loved having paint stuck under my fingernails. It reminds me of when I used to paint when I was younger (e.g., an oil painting of my father).
While hanging out at Boldy Lock’s, I got a phone call from Kasian asking if I wanted to meet up with her bumble boy and his best friend, Mr. AJ and Mr. DJ (i.e., the same guys I met last night at the beer garden). Kasian picked me up from my house and we drove 30 minutes out to Mr. AJ’s house. We “partook” and played Euchre while listening to music with the images from the show Life from Netflix playing silently in the background.
I liked that Mr. DJ was “yes and”ing my conversation, especially when I told Mr. AJ that he needs to invest in business cards that say “I’m a great friend.” I added that he could sweeten the gesture by giving the card out with some chocolate. That’s when Mr. DJ became intrigued and added ideas on how it could marketed, etc. It was fun to have that banter with him. I don’t get that often, so I can see why I’m interested in hanging out with him again.
I’ll be honest, it was a little awkward being with everyone because we were all sitting so far apart and watching TV from the projector hanging from the ceiling. We didn’t drive 30 minutes to watch TV. I requested that we be more interactive, so Mr. AJ suggested Euchre. There was some shifting as the four of us sat around the coffee table. Kasian and Mr. AJ were on one team, while me and Mr. DJ were on the other.
I didn’t know how to play Euchre. The last time I did I was in Chicago with my cousin (Neanderthal) and my best friend from my doctorate program (Mama B) and her husband (Hickory Ham). So, I remember saying in the beginning that I was too stoned to remember anything or would likely not play very well. Mr. DJ gently reframed that by saying I will learn everything and that the group should be worried. That was really sweet of him to say, and very well-received.
I sat across from Mr. DJ and listened while he explained the game. I really locked into his eye contact and zeroed in on his voice. He guided me through the game very well. Kasian later told me that she observed how Mr. DJ was showing interest in me but that I was completely oblivious to it because I was too focused on learning the game. She thought it was adorable and believed it made Mr. DJ more interested to take the time to explain the game.
Mr. DJ and I made a great team. He made me feel capable and grounded. He took care of me and I trusted him. Our team was kicking the other team’s asses because we were vibing and playing so well. I wish I took a picture of that but I was barely performing well enough as a human person. Plus, I didn’t know these guys very well and I didn’t wanna put their shit on blast. Even though I received consent from the host that I could snapchat the tour of his house.
I didn’t get his number again because Kasian realized what time it was (1:30am) and abruptly ended the night by saying we needed to go home. It happened so fast, within a minute we were out the door. There was no proper goodbye other than brief chatter about the four of us tailgating together at next weekend’s football game.
On our ride home, Kasian expressed her excitement for the vibe felt between me and Mr. DJ. She’s keeping in contact with Mr. AJ so that me and Mr. DJ can hang out again and we can finally exchange numbers. He lives in Chicago, and I’m going there the weekend after this, so maybe we can meet up and see where things go?
I’m glad to have seen Mr. DJ today because I really wanted to share what my brother told me today. He said that he wants to meet Mr. AJ and Mr. DJ, and he wants to thank Mr. DJ for the helpful advice that got him through his first day of college. I could tell Mr. DJ appreciated hearing that, which warmed my heart, honestly. We’ll see what comes of next week’s tailgate, so mtbr!
Today felt like a recovery day. After therapy with Mr. A, I had lunch at Zingerman’s and bought some cute stuff at a fairy store. I washed my car and cleaned the interior, and then I bought some “Moonlight Breeze” scents from Fabreeze for Lyfting tonight. Since I knew that I’d be out for several hours, I came home and took a long ass nap. Before going out to Lyft, I decided to have fun – after all, it’s Friday! Also, I got some more stuff in the mail for Madame Kiki, so I might as well try it out and see how it feels!
Is Mr. A Confused?
I was hung over as all hell from blazing the night before. It’s been a while, probably since college, that I had a smoke session like that. It reminded me of the good ol’ days. Alotta my friends were bright, creative, and funny stoners- just how I would describe myself; it’s why we vibed so well. In therapy with Mr. A this morning, I had to make a genuine effort to stay alert and engaged. Plus, I was really, really hungry because I didn’t eat breakfast before our session. In fact, I was in a rush because I slept in longer than I wanted and I ended up leaving my banana on the counter.
I told Mr. A that I don’t want us to talk about treatment anymore because it’s a waste of my time right now, but that I would rather use our time more wisely by talking about what’s on my heart/mind right now- not the logistics of scheduling/treatment planning. I had a lot of ground to cover including the storyline of my birthday, the confrontation with Mr. GGE, and the vibe I had with Mr. DJ.
We dove deeper into the topic of relational betrayal, or attachment injury. I knew was going to open a box that I didn’t want to disturb. I realize that in order for me to move through the emotional pain that’s stored within the cells of my body, I have to muster the courage to step up and lean in. I shared a handful of relationships that I call “the long con,” in which there are friends/lovers who stay in my life until they get what they need/want and then they abandon me without any communication. I’ve had over a handful of these relationships, and each time I was left internalizing the blame and shame. It makes me wonder what is it about me that attracts these people?
Mr. A is always validating, and because he’s psychoanalytically trained, he knows how to access a depth to my psyche that not everyone can. I’m more vulnerable to Mr. A because I’ve been working with him for over a year and I’ve established safety and trust in the therapeutic relationship. When I dive deep into my psyche and finally feel the emotional pain for what it is, I know that I’m not alone. I know that he will not leave my side, and he will be there to repair and heal old wounds as well as plant seeds of hope and love.
What I’ve learned is that I’m capable of letting others in my heart because I feel safe in their love. A secure baseline or foundation has been established, and we can trust that the relationship will only deepen because both parties are attuned and engaged. Living in Ann Arbor has given me the opportunity to repair some of my childhood wounds through the bond strengthened from healthier relationships. This year was profoundly transformative because of the healing and growth I’ve experienced. It didn’t just happen, though. I had to take accountability and do the work.
The folks on my glam squad have really helped me feel capable, deserving, and worthy. It’s an unbelievable feeling, especially because these are unlike I’ve ever really experienced before. This isn’t to say that the close friend’s I’ve made along my journey didn’t provide an emotional safe haven, no. In fact, there’s just about a handful of women in my life, two of whom I bonded with in my sorority and another I bonded with in my doctorate program. Since that time, I’ve endured additional hardship that challenged me to mature, so I’m in an evolved developmental space when it comes to being a human person in today’s world and relating to other human people.
I didn’t expect Mr. A’s feedback today. Apparently, he perceives me as “provocative,” and, not in the sexual sense! More like, I’m this bold character that draws people in, but then I maintain control through keeping myself guarded. He interpreted this learned behavior as a protective mechanism that to keep others at a distance because it’s simply too painful to be hurt by them. It’s better to not have established such a deep connection/attachment so that the injury of loss isn’t too painful.
After many relational betrayals throughout my lifetime, it becomes less of a safe investment to open myself completely to another person. Just because it was protective before, meaning it was once adaptive and effective, doesn’t mean it’s particularly useful or effective now. Not addressing this issue will only interfere with the healthy relationships I’m in right now.
I really appreciate feedback from people I value, trust, and respect. It usually gives me something to consider and provides an opportunity to experiment or to make a decision for myself. I’m going to let this marinate for a bit and see what comes of it. I’m sure Mr. A and I will pick up from here when we meet again in two weeks (mtbr). That’s right, I put my foot down and said we’re meeting bi-weekly, and that’s that. We’ve literally spent the first 20 minutes of the past few sessions talking about scheduling! I had had enough. Every once in a while there comes a time when we have to disagree with our therapist and make a decision that they might disagree with. It’s an interesting experience, and one that can be lived through and learned from.
Lyft: Show Up, Pay Up, and Don’t Throw Up
I wore my grey colored contacts, false nails, septum piercing, and some thick eyelashes. It felt good to play dress up.. I didn’t put on a full face of makeup though, just eyeliner, blush, and tinted lip gloss. I was ready to have fun with my passengers because I was lookin extra nice for a Lyft driver. Oh yea, I forgot that one of my nails popped off in my car and I literally have no idea where it is. I pulled over on the side of the road and busted out my flashlight thinking it’d be easy to find, but it’s seriously gone!
As is a new custom before Lyfting, I fill up at the gas station and I get a big ass bottle of water, a small Redbull, some spicy chips, and cream filled cookies to keep me alert. Tonight, I Lyfted for 5 hours straight and made only ~$70. This is not what I expected. I’m actually quite disappointed because of all the effort I made earlier today. This is the part where I let go of my attachment to expectations – easier said than done.
I think what I need to invest in is learning about the college football schedule and party scene of the season. I mistakenly thought this weekend was a home game, so I assumed hordes of people would be out and I could make a couple hundred in a night. Turns out there was no game this weekend. But wouldn’t students still be partying?? I don’t understand!
Overall, I gave 13 rides. Most were either drunk or stoned, or both. I picked up one group of college freshman who smelled like reefer. They tried to stuff themselves together into the backseat of my Prius. It’s annoying that Lyft doesn’t tell us how many people we’re giving a ride to when we accept a request. My Prius can comfortably fit three people in the backseat.
Luckily, two of four backseat passengers were petite af, so they were all actually quite comfortable. The person who requested the Lyft sat in the front seat, and he was a chatter box who was asking me a lot of questions. Later, I picked up a group of drunk grad students. They were giggling about something funny that happened to them earlier, but then they started making fun of how drunk everyone was. Their giggling was super contagious! It was hard not to giggle with them!
Some folks will barely say hello when they get in the car, whereas others, like Chatty McGee mentioned earlier, make the ride interesting, for sure. But it gets weird when they’re drunk and you’re not. One guy was Drunky McDrunkerson, he sat in the front seat and didn’t really look at me. Then when I dropped him off, he looked at me as he opened the car door and the lights came on. It was like he was shocked when he saw me. Probably because he didn’t expect the grey eyes? I don’t know, but he then had trouble leaving because suddenly he wanted to talk all of the sudden (rolls eyes). You better believe I was charging him for my time.
Last night’s lyfting took a lot out of me. It didn’t help that I didn’t make as much as I wanted to. I let myself have a slow start this morning even though I had plans in a few hours and I still wanted to finish and publish last week’s blog post. Writing takes a long time for me! I’ve gotta relive what happened that day when reflecting back to write about it. Thank god for snapchat honestly, because without that documentation idk think I’d remember at all. See, there I go again self-deprecating about my memory. Of course I have a bad memory- depression and anxiety fuck with my capacity to focus, concentrate, or process quickly. That’s compounded by the effects from having sustained a minor TBI from smashing the car door window with my head during the accident that should have killed me. Let’s not be so insensitive, shall we, dear?
Whatever, I got the damn blog post finished and published. I’ve been receiving some texts and snapchats from fans with feedback about their experiences or reactions to what they consumed from tuning in to my plogcast. Specifically, I know that I’m not the only therapist who suffers from mental health concerns yet also makes a fair attempt to show up, step up, and lean in to do their own work. I know that I’m not alone in feeling shame for my marginalized or oppressed intersecting identities (I’m a fat and tattooed queer femme of color). I also learned that my courageous efforts to learn and grow are inspiring others to do the same.
What I’m learning about myself is that curiosity and courage is all I need. I am focused on my intentionality- meaning, I’m learning not to react out of habit or impulse but instead to respond with deliberate behavior. I have to pause and breathe, take a moment to honor whatever’s transpiring and to accept whatever’s happening within and outside of me. I have to consider all perspectives and options, and I have to feel secure enough with myself for being able to handle whatever comes. I’m grateful for all of these messages through my connections with others because it motivates to keep me going. It provides my life with meaning and purpose, which is enough to keep me living. I don’t want to just survive, I want to thrive. I want that for others too. It just takes time and effort, all sacred things we have at our disposal. The question then becomes, how wisely would we like to use our time and energy with our one sacred life?
Anyway, I had a couple things planned for today. I went to a corn maze with Boldy Locks and her friend group. Then I had drinks at another beer garden with new friends from my improv class. I wasn’t able to visit Kasian’s friend’s launch party for their shared photography studio, nor was I able to lyft drive because I wasn’t in the mood after an interesting event took place. Read on to find out.
Children of the Corn Maze
I really liked my outfit of choice on today’s corn maze trip with Boldy Locks and her friend group. Mr. and Ms. Funny Bonez were also in attendance, plus one person I had met at the Kingsman movie last Saturday, and another I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time today. I felt cutely queer dolling up a plaid shirt by putting on some eyeliner and mascara, and wearing contacts, a septum ring, and a small jeweled necklace peeking under the collar.
I carpooled with Boldy Locks. In retrospect it may have been easier for her to just pick me up since my place was on the way to the corn maze. I don’t really care all that much, but it didn’t occur to me before until we drove past my exit. Anyway, I think 4-5 out of the 6 of us were virgins to the corn maze. It was $8 for entry, and there were a shit ton of interesting rules. We got to the entrance and decided to split up by gender after about 2 minutes. I don’t know why we chose to do that, but it was fun nonetheless.
Corn is an interesting crop. It’s weird to think just how long it’s been around for and what its value was back in the day. Us ladies thought we had it figured out when we got to an opening, but Boldy Locks insisted that it was the same entrance that we came in. Well, turns out, it was the exit all along!! It’s ok, it’s ok. We enjoyed ourselves regardless. If anyone says that we cheated by walking through the corn, don’t believe them! Even if that’s exactly what you see happening in my snapchat video below. I’m just really good at video editing and special effects.
Of course, all I was thinking about was Children of the Corn. And of course, there were four blonde haired and blue eyed children wandering around the maze unsupervised – rule violation. They walked up to us and asked, “have you seen seven?” No, mf! I ain’t seen nothin and I ain’t sayin shit to you murderous demon children! Suddenly, the girls and I were calling out for Seven thinking it was the name of a child who’s now become part of the corn crew.
Then, if it didn’t get more creepy, apparently these children aged into teenagers because that shit was real.. funny to joke about. It was getting way too hot out there; we all thought it was going to be a somewhat chilly day, but no.. I wasn’t the only one whose boobs were sweaty. That happens, people! Check your privilege.
While we were sitting out on a bench enjoying our apple cider slushies, I noticed something rather odd. I saw a father wearing a baby bjorn on his back, but something looked off about his baby. Honestly, it looked flat af, and it’s arms and legs were just dangling every time dad took a sharp twist or turn. We didn’t know if that baby was alive or dead because it looked so deflated! We named him “flat baby” or “baby2D.” For those reading this thinking I’m a terrible person, then clearly we don’t have the same sense of humor and you should probably just let it be and let it go if you’re gonna survive this plogcast (for the rest of my short life).
Our table couldn’t stop laughing about the visual. We were all terrible human beings for a good 30 minutes. I really needed that laughter, quite honestly. Boldy Locks was in hysterics, she was crying and making these noises of lung or diaphragm pain when laughing too hard. I’m pissed that I didn’t snapchat it because we were all so lost in laughter. Look for yourself and tell me that’s not something to laugh at. We’re thinking of making backpacks and selling it to Hot Topic. It’s also now become the new hashtag for the group (#baby2D #flatbaby2017).
We were getting hungry so we checked out a local restaurant. It was unreasonably expensive for being so bland and skimpy with the meat. The only decent food option was Mr. Funny Bonez friend pickle appetizer. I’m not a fan of pickles, well it depends on my mood, but usually I’m ok without them. I loved it when Boldy Locks and I were walking back to the car and we bonded over the need to pass gas the whole time we were at dinner. I think we solidified the bond during our subsequent and simultaneous crop dusting. It was a good moment for our relationship. Boldy Locks had the rest of my wine, so I drove her Prius back to her house. She had to get ready to go out with someone else that night (instead of coming out for drinks with me and a couple other improv mates).
Don’t Delete My Shit
It was almost 9pm. I went to have drinks with two of my improv friends: Bunny Beans, and another girl I’ll call Ratatat, who brought along her younger cousin. Everything was fine, normal, great, fabulous UNTIL….
Ratatat and I were commiserating about online dating while also agreeing that Bumble seemed to be one of the better apps. The conversation reminded me to check my Bumble because I’ve been talking with a few guys (honestly, none of them are gonna cut it because they’re too basic for me). To my surprise, I read the reply of a bumble boy, who I’ll just call RacistDouchBag (RDB). I was appalled! Here’s what the first part of our convo looked like:
As you can see, things are already kinda weird. So, I replied “curry momma?,” which was sincere! Well.. he replied to that inquiry with a very racist and sexist comment. Specifically, he told me about an Indian woman’s place, spoke negatively about Jewish people, and he used the “n” word when referring to Black people. Yes, that shit is bonkers as hell.
Before I could reply or even screen shot it for this blog, I showed Ratatat who was equally as appalled as I. Her natural instinct was to show her cousin. What I did not expect at all was that her cousin felt bold as hell to DELETE the mf conversation and UNMATCH me with RDB. ????!?!??!?!?!!!!??!?!?!?!?!?!??!????
You better believe my blood pressure rose, my face got hot as hell, I was seeing red. Like whoooo is this bitch deletin’ shit off my phone??!?!?!???? I had to contain myself, honestly, because I was fantasizing about what I would do if I wasn’t afraid of the consequences and if I didn’t have ethical morals. So here I was. One drink in. Pissed as all fucking hell because this chick had the fucking nerve. I’m pissed because not only did she take away some fucking GOLD material for this plogcast, but she also stole a GOLDEN opportunity to respond to RDB, which would have been a huge milestone for me.
So, you see, she was blocking me from a goal AND she was taking away something of MINE. Of course I’d be angry and hurt, and of course I’m gonna tell her that she fucked up, even if she already knows it. I don’t want to intentionally shame her, because that’s hers to feel anyway, but I also don’t want to do what I’ve done in the past, which is to shut down, internalize, and basically be a fucking push over where my passive behaviors indicate that it’s okay to do that. No, fuck that, I don’t want to be that person anymore.
Naturally, this pattern was developed because if I had expressed my anger/hurt, it would be invalidated and dismissed, or I’d be gaslighted and I’d lose attention, affection, or approval. As a kid, that’s devastating! So to salvage the relationship and protect my sense of “belonging” and “worth,” I took the treatment delivered to me and blamed myself for having “wrong” feelings or needs. With all the work I’ve been doing the past few years in therapy, I felt courageous enough to express that it wasn’t okay what she did, and that it’s not sitting well with me. I’ve never really felt like I have been able to do that, especially in the moment as it’s happening!
Before she thought to apologize, she decided to defend herself instead. She said, “I’m triggered when I see the “n” word so I just react.” Ok. Understandable. AND, it’s not your phone. She then added, “I thought it was my cousin’s phone.” GIRL, really?? Ratatat’s phone is green with a cracked screen and mine is black and looks fine. You’re making this situation worse by not taking accountability and apologizing for what you did. So, I challenged her on these reasons, not to argue but to prove a point that we are free to choose but we’re not free from the consequences of our choices, AND our choices have an impact on other people, AND those people have every right to say “that impacted me in these ways..”, AND how can we make sure that doesn’t happen again?
Her excuses only heightened my legit anger towards her. I’m not completely blind to the fact that she’s young and was intoxicated, but #SorryNotSorry, it’s not enough of an excuse for me. I would NEVER do that to someone, nor do I know any adult in my life who would! I told her that, too! She needed to know that her impulsive reaction has a negative impact that has consequences, and that being young and drunk doesn’t justify her behaviors. I can be quite formidable, especially when I’m angry/hurt, and I know people don’t really wanna fuck with me when they’re the cause or it’s directed at them. So, because she wasn’t too drunk, she sensed my disappointment and disapproval of her actions and then profusely started apologizing because she knew her excuses were unjustifiable.
I later got feedback from Ratatat that this last comment (e.g., I don’t know anyone who would do that) was “harsh.” Ok, valid. And? See, here’s the thing. When someone does some stupid shit like that, my initial fantasy (not reaction) is to snap at them and then cut them out of my life. This is a natural protective reaction that many of us develop because of anger, fear, and distrust. I’m too grown to be acting that way, even if I’m provoked by a young drunk girl doing some stupid shit like that. But! With my experiences in group therapy, and just my overall growth this past year, I’ve been learning how to identify my anger/hurt, feel it for what it is, and try to understand what my anger is telling me so that I can express it in a somewhat healthier and more effective way, specifically with the person in question.
The table tried to mend the issue by posting this dude’s face on facebook and asking around if anyone knew him. They were also trying to find RDB on Bumble so that we could respond to him. C’mon, I know that’s not gonna work because Bumble isn’t designed that way. So I said more things like “I have every right to be angry with you right now, just like you have to sit with whatever it is that you’re feeling.” I said some more stuff but I can’t remember right now. Naturally, she shut down and disengaged from the group. She was on her phone the whole time. I had a fleeting fantasy of taking her phone and deleting something important to her. It’s not my wisdom or intuition talking, it’s the primitive beast in me that just wants retaliation.
I need to pause for a second and give myself some gd credit. I handled that very well considering my history and the amount of work I’ve put into growing in this area. The fact that I was able to mindfully hold my anger, while still very much feeling it throughout my body, and to recognize why I’m angry and hurt, and then be able to effectively communicate that with the person I’m angry with was pretty astonishing, actually. I couldn’t have anticipated that this would happen! If anything, I was thinking she was replying to the guy, not deleting the conversation! I was thinking of Cardi B’s new song “Bodak Yellow,” which was very fitting for my attitude:
I was in a salty mood and had ran out of patience for young and drunk people. So now I’m extra pissed about the situation because it took away an opportunity to make some good money Lyfting tonight. I was also supposed to stop by Kasian’s photography studio for her partner’s launch party. In fact, there were two people that I needed to connect with for Madame Kiki, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t in the mood. This something about me that I struggle with accepting- the fact that it’s hard to shake off a particularly sour, salty, or bitter mood, especially if it’s caused by someone else.
I don’t wanna make people feel like shit for things they’ve done that’s shitty. If they know it’s shitty then best bet is that they already feel shitty. It wasn’t my intention to make her feel bad, that’s opposite of who I am and who I’m tryna be. In retrospect, I could have taken another breath, specifically breathe in compassion for me and breathe out compassion for her. I could have felt my anger and then softened my body to not only allow the emotion to pass through but then soothe myself with my hand on my heart knowing that I validated my experiences and that I didn’t abandon myself in a moment of pain (these are all new skills I’ve been learning that are tough to master but are also worth the lessons). Let’s see where I’m at with this after sleeping on it.
Fuuuuck. It’s a lazy Sunday, for sure. I gotta finish writing this blog post, prep for nerd nite, get groceries, do some laundry, and clean my bathroom. I have absolutely no energy for any of that. So, I did the best that I could with the energy that I had. Most of the time I was putting in maybe 10-15 minutes here and there, and then taking a 15 minute break to lay down somewhere. Sometimes that’s just the way things go.
I’m learning to be more ok with that because I used to hold myself to very high expectations and standards and if I didn’t meet them, then I’d be incredibly disappointed in myself, which really didn’t help with my mood or my self-esteem. Since I’ve learned to let go of such standards and expectations, I now have more room or latitude to fuck up, make mistakes, or not do what I set out to because I’m better at forgiving, accepting, and loving myself.
I spoke with Kasian on the phone. She was dumbfounded about what happened to me the evening before. I appreciated her support and validation because I didn’t really feel that from Bunny Beans or Ratatat. I did text Ratatat explaining my snapchats that she watched after I left last night. I wanted her to know that I still value her perspective and feedback and that I’m invested in building a friendship with her. I even apologized if my snaps came off negatively because I didn’t want her to feel like her family was being attacked or talked shit on.
If anything, I was describing what I know happened and I was expressing my feelings/thoughts about it. I also said that the reason I snapchat the way I do is primarily for this blog, so there’s a strong likelihood that my thoughts/feelings will shift and evolve over time because I’m showing up to do the work.
Anyway, Kasian and I discussed stuff for Madame Kiki’s photoshoot on Friday 10/20 including connecting with the two people I was supposed to meet last night at her launch party. One person works at a plus size burlesque clothing store that has a boudoir studio upstairs, and the other is her wife who’s a DJ for drag night at a local club. So, I plan to reach out to them this Friday (mtbr).
No wonder I’m exhausted, it’s been a full week! And we’re only in the beginning of this momentum. October is gonna be jam packed with opportunities, so I’m reminded to take time to slow down, pause, and check-in with myself. I need to prioritize self-care in order for me to sustain the adventure ahead. While I have no idea what’s to come, I’m at least proud of myself for showing up, stepping up, and leaning in. That’s all I can really do, at the end of the day.
So, stay tuned on mtbr, and until then, continue exploring the unknown with a curious heart and a funny bone.