Zipline

My first time on a Zipline. Sweaty palms, increased heart rate. You aren’t quite sure what to expect. You double check your safety harness, you clip on and think to yourself, “What the hell am I doing?”.

The first few seconds are euphoric, everything slows down. You then begin to build speed,  faster and faster; you hit critical mass, you spin and terror begins to take foot. Out of control.

You hit the buffer to stop, a sudden jerk. You swing like a pendulum and quickly gain your footing. The first breath feels like the first in eternity, yet the ride is finished as quickly as it began.

Love sometimes feels like standing on a cliff. You and your partner are on opposite sides of a canyon, with the water below of untold depths. If you jump in alone, you drown. If your partner jumps in alone, they drown.

Not only was I running as quickly as I could towards the cliff, I went ahead and jumped right the fuck off the ledge without a shred of concern in my past relationship. I didn’t stop and see if my partner was at the canyon, I didn’t check if the water was deep enough.

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Yet, here I am again on the cliffside.

Or maybe it’s about finding someone that you don’t have to jump off cliffs for.

A nightmare and a metaphor for life

I find myself at 5:23 AM forced awake from the perils of a nightmare. In this dream, the human race is abducted by aliens and made immortal. We are shaped into whatever form, into an environment of their choosing.

At first, and this will sound bizarre, we were emojis. Once the initial freakout of our new forms was over, the aliens became bored. They started arranging us into groups.

When boredom again set in, we were transformed into our human shapes. It was a dark, wet night. I pumped my legs under the dimly amber lit roads, looking for a house to knock upon to call the police, an ambulance, anyone.

At a white house with peeling latex paint, an African American woman with a broad smile opened the door and allowed me to use the phone. I swiftly called emergency services and informed the operator to send anyone who would come.

Some time passed, and the uneasiness began to set in. More family members let themselves be known. Children were sitting in the loft, blocking the staircase going downstairs. I started feeling trapped.

Panic set in, I could feel my skin crawl. I tried running out the back door but was tackled and knocked out. When I came to, I was tied down to a creaky kitchen chair. The aliens in human form wore white plastic aprons, tall syringes in hand.

They began laughing and stabbing my thighs, chest with the syringes, injecting the fluid, then breaking off the needles in my body. Everything went black.

I awakened from this dream and sat up. The moment I felt my body, I knew I was back in the real. My bedroom was dark with the soft green glow of surge protectors. The hum of the fans, the gentle red glow of the television standby light, a point of reference of the size of the room I was in.

Life is a series of trainwrecks, a steady march into entropy. Much like this nightmare, one always knows, on some level, how much shit they are in, simply due to the virtue of life; the march of time.

Of the most importance is to find gratitude in the mundane. Boredom is a blessing, that life can be so ordinary, stable. Such is a miracle, considering the entropy of the universe.

When Manda met Lola

As a parent, there’s a special feeling you get when you introduce your child to your partner. It’s not something to be taken lightly, it’s the grand assumption that this person will be in your life for the foreseeable future.

The event shouldn’t be something that is overly stressful that one partner pushes for, while the other is hesitant to the situation. First meetings are awkward enough.

My previous partner met my child once, for an hour. This is after she had a rather complete breakdown of anxiety the day of and flipped out on her mother and sister, after canceling multiple plans for a first meeting. She then later used the experience to hurt me, that she was, “ready to be a step-mom” when we separated. Please, you have no idea what it’s like to be a parent.

Amanda and I have been together for two months. Yes, it’s soon. But is it too early? I don’t think so.

There’s a difference between attachment and love. Co-dependency and healthy independence. There’s love languages to be aware of, infatuation to wane. You have to really ask yourself if you are with this person for wholesome reasons, to love them as a separate entity, the other, instead of the desire to be taken care of as a child. You have to ask yourself if you are with this person simply because you don’t want to be alone.

When I met Amanda, actually our first communication was a question, “What are your greatest challenges and how do you work towards growing?”, “What are your short and long-term goals?”, “How do you approach problem-solving.”

Question after question. It was strange to lead with such things. Most people introduce themselves to each other with a funny pickup line, or a rather lame, “hey.” I went through quite a many interested people and told many people no.

Amanda and I approached things differently. We began with the real questions, followed up with a love languages quiz, finished things off with a Briggs-Meyers personality test. INFJs with much of the same love languages, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch. Although, I always tend to be more extroverted than your garden variety INFJs.

We both had our doses of poor relationships. Heck, she too knows what it feels like to go through a divorce. We both wanted something real and knew all too well what fire feels like.

We talk about our previous relationship experiences, to learn where things went sour, to grow, in all brutally honest detail. Our infidelities, our darkest moments.

Things just feel different. You think you know what love is, but then you meet someone and find that it shouldn’t be a compromise. You find that love is hard work and sweat. Love is what you can do for your partner, but they have to be willing to do the same. It’s trust, it’s friendship. It’s being able to have the hard discussions, yet laughing until you can’t breathe.

Love is vulnerability. Mutual vulnerability. The ultimate vulnerability.

Yet, most people aren’t willing to be vulnerable enough to experience something real.

“Someone can be madly in love with you and still not be ready. They can love you in a way you have never been loved and still not join you on the bridge. And whatever their reasons you must leave. Because you never ever have to inspire anyone to meet you on the bridge. You never ever have to convince someone to do the work to be ready. There is more extraordinary love, more love that you have never seen, out here in this wide and wild universe. And there is the love that will be ready.”

Nayyirah Waheed

Change

It’s crazy to think of how much has changed this year.

Anxiety

Anxiety has pretty much been moot. I’ve traveled for five hours today and got a few hundred miles in. Sure, there were a few tense moments on the interstate hauling the RV around, but nothing major. I can’t believe how far I’ve come, even from last winter.

Social

I continue to build genuine connections with others based on who I honestly am. I’m no longer trying to appease people and morph myself into what is wanted from me. This has led to being rejected and rejecting social relationships. Saying no is a new thing for me and is very empowering.

I am left with deeper connections with those whom I bond with. I’ve had some game nights, cookouts, Mario Kart and bonfires with people who I care about. It’s nurturing for the soul.

Romantic Relationships

I’m right where I want to be. I’ve done much healing and find myself in a loving partnership with someone who speaks much of the same love languages. To love and feel loved is rather effortless for us. We are very much Quality Time and Acts of Service people, which is perfect for us.

We both fall on the INFJ spectrum and have a genderfluid relationship. Communication is excellent, conflict resolution is on par. I’m happily monogamous and find that we have both of our needs met. Nothing feels forced, and we maintain our agency.

Independence, personal social relationships, personal goals are essential to us. While we spend much time together, I feel as if we do an excellent job at encouraging each other to work towards our priorities, even if it doesn’t directly involve the other partner.

We are mindful that we are introverts and encourage each other to take time alone to decompress, but not so much that we have to create some absurd schedule. I’m looking forward to getting some traveling in with them this summer!

Feminism

I’ve reapproached this social community/headspace carefully and have decided to label myself as someone who supports feminism. I feel as if I have a greater understanding of the core ethos and found a sect of the community that shares much of the same values.

I’m finding myself becoming friends with some from the trans community, some from the body positivity movement. It’s been interesting keeping an open mind and acknowledging that each person has their methods of expression.

I’m finding that there’s a spectrum and I find myself more easily aligned with the queer community in whole. So far it seems that the focus is more on love and acceptance, instead of hate and power. To each their own, eh?

Ethics

I’ve come to terms that I’ve handled my previous relationship rather poorly and have forgiven myself. I tried to force something that just wasn’t working from the start; we were too different. I invested so much, so soon and went off the deep end. By the time I discovered that it was toxic, felt alone and miserable, I felt trapped due to sunk costs. Baggage Reclaim has an excellent article on this.

There’s a staggering difference between attachment and love. co-dependency and healthy independence. I was fresh out of a five-year relationship; I never lived alone. I was terrified. I clung to the first person who was available, as I always did so I wouldn’t be alone.

Something inside of me shattered around the beginning of the year. I became so intensely irritated of this bastard cycle I found myself in. Changing myself to appease people, feeling desperate for connection so I wouldn’t be alone. I’ve been doing this for so long, and it’s no wonder, I didn’t have normative family structure growing up.

Hurting people sucks. Especially those whom you considered friends or once thought you were in love with. On the one hand, I’m a victim of circumstance, on the other I’m responsible for my actions. I’ve swiftly cut ties with anyone whom I believed that I associated with under pretenses, this people pleasing person who changed himself to be liked.

You never quite knew who I was, I didn’t know either. I’ve always had the best intentions and did the best that I could.

What I found to have the most positive impact on my self-worth is having rules and boundaries for myself that I hold myself accountable to. How you handle social relationships, finances, all of it. Try it out! It’s incredible how much you add to your self-love when you are respecting yourself.

Travel

Since Flordia, I’ve been in and out of the state and have accrued many thousands of miles and hours. I find myself increasingly comfortable traveling. I may have a trip coming up in May to fly to Dallas to lead some training. Nervous? Yes, of course. However, I do find myself excited!

I’m no longer in Lafayette as of today. Lafayette was always the place that people in Frankfort went to hang out. I was born there; I once lived a block away from that hospital. My grandfather died there.

Finally.

Family

By golly, my daughter is growing up fast! Ugh, she’ll be 10 this year. I’m finding that technology is having a rather drastic impact on raising children these days. I find myself continually battling screen-time and setting boundaries for her. YouTube alone has brought so much new culture to the masses.

9 pm bedtime? Expect to hear of the latest “3 am, a challenge” that was posted on YouTube. A quick trip to the store? There’s a 24-hour challenge to discuss.

I got her a phone to take home with her to more easily keep in touch. This led to much fighting between kiddo and mother on screentime and distraction when she is already struggling in school. Sigh.

I always thought when I was growing up that I’d never have much “back in my day” moments. With cell phones and technology continuing to rapidly infest our lives, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Whatever happened to the “get off the internet, I need to use the phone” days? Now it’s all social media, Musically, hashtags and media. I can’t imagine what things will be like in a short few years.

Spirituality

I visited a psychic last weekend and found the experience to be rather interesting. I’ve previously had a perception that such an experience would be hokey snake oil. I’m finding myself more open to my spirituality in all forms and approached the experience with an open mind.

My objective assessment of the experience is that I believe that such an experience can be enlightening and helpful. My analytic mind goes to work and wants to put metrics around leading questions, perception management, and generalization.

On the other, I felt as if I had some genuine spiritual connection. One thing stood out to me; it was the way religion was explained, there are many ways to god, to enlightenment.

My partner performed a tarot card reading with me early on in our relationship. I found her method of approach interesting. We meditated for a bit, focused on channeling our energies. She led by writing her perceptions, what her guides were saying to her. Cards followed, in which her writing put them into context.

I found the experience to be healing and very enjoyable. I felt like we bonded and reached a deeper connection. I came to peace with specific experiences in the past, gained introspection as to why certain things happened, and things to look forward to in the future.

I think that when dealing with mysticism, there is always an element of interpretation. I think it’s lovely that such tools can be used to gain more in-depth introspection into ourselves. I remain open to the continued exploration into this side of myself, of course with an element of objectivity.

Overall

I find myself growing in love with myself, others, and my partner. It’s been painful, but I can say that I’m more independent. Anxiety continues to be a moot issue. Finally, I’m so incredibly excited to continue putting in the effort towards my goals!

She makes me feel extensional, in all of the right ways

Queer, Vegan, Feminist. Three words, three labels that I was unsure of. Such words invoke a sense of intensity. Feminism, such a label I was unsure of within myself.

Vulnerability. Creativity. Hugs/Physicality. Best friends. Intimacy. Stories. Radical notions. Openness. Meditation. Vulnerability. Tacos.
The queer label is a misnomer. A label to end all labels. Contradiction. A writer. A poet. I was interested.Eye contact. The first thing I noticed. So much intensity. So much vulnerability. So much was left unsaid. Empath. Reading between the lines.

There is something to be said about someone that you can feel instantly comfortable around. Someone who transcends through your barriers, your walls so easily as if they weren’t even there.

I see you in your queer sexy masculinity paired with feminine feelings and movements and that you hug me small and in all your vulnerability.

Communication. So. Much. Communication. Intensity, but in all of the right ways. Boundaries. Healthy independence.

 

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Lilac and gooseberries

Masculinity. Femininity.
Quagmire of emotion.
Goosebumps, gasps.
Boundaries, rules.
Walls, tumbling down.
The dam breaks,
the chasm overflows.
Dilated pupils.
Lilac and gooseberries.
Becoming.

Planted

You watch as I unfold
Flower petals brushing the wood 
floors I stand upon, barefoot
Dusty with my voice box 
but easy with my overflow
I can map my body
I can connect the dotted lines
of my freckles
point to what hurts
trace the parts that feel like sun
here is my river water
here are the eroded rocks
here are all the things I want to become
and am becoming
watch my telephone wires fall to the asphalt
then rise back up again, reconnected
I can bend myself backwards
while maintaining eye contact
do you know how many leaves
must fall from an oak before it is bare?
I am always giving myself away
to the cloud dust
to the seashells
to the places I have never been but lust
after in the dark of the night
pouring over images of mountains and streams
cacti, flocks of birds, bright painted buildings
there was once a girl that wrote a story
and in it, we were looking underneath lilypads
and her words were pretty and emotional and right
but you are real
you are not mist rising over a field
you are firmly present, planted, happening.
– Anonymous