Re: *chokes on water*

I have a lot I want to say in reply to this post:

https://theacetheist.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/chokes-on-water/

which, to try to clarify, is Coyote blogging about their reaction to a certain tumblr post, and more specifically I want to reply to epochryphal’s comments too (and Coyote’s replies to co as well).

This is not actually a real blog post. This is basically a mess of jumbled thoughts type way-too-long comment on someone else’s blog post, a way-too-long comment from luvtheheaven. (Whoops that didn’t make sense, did it?)

(To clarify:) This is basically something that started as a comment on someone else’s blog post and still basically is a REALLY long version of yes, a comment on someone else’s blog post.

And then because I was turning it into its own separate blog post, yeah, I made it way longer and just kept writing. Feel free to move along as if there is nothing to see here.


 

Wow. This is a lot to take in, you guys. Side note for Coyote: Because you linked it, I’ve just now (re?) read your “Models of Conceptualizing Morality” post and even if I did read the post itself before (and I do think I probably did?), well, for probably the first time I have now read the comments there too.

When you first posted this Coyote, epochryphal hadn’t commented yet. And I read just the post and tried to appreciate what you were saying. I went back and forth between the linked tumblr post and your blog post reaction to it here until I got through the whole thing, but of course I first looked at #12.

[Content Note for mentions of publicized news stories about gang rape:]

Continue reading “Re: *chokes on water*”

By nature of being asexual, I’m defying gender norms

[Content Note: Brief discussion of biphobia/inaccurate stereotypes about bisexual people which my dad apparently believes/believed, mentions of conservative Judaism and Christianity, and general discussion of heteronormativity, the gender binarist world we live in, etc. I am a 26-year-old cis female, non-libidoist, aromantic/wtfromantic asexual from the USA.]

This post was written for the March 2016 Carnival of Aces, which is themed around Gender Norms and Asexuality.


Last night, a discussion about how it feels like most of the aces I meet in the local meetup group are either non-religious, or Jewish, transformed into me mentioning to my dad that one of my friends (friendly acquaintances?) whom I met last year at an ace meetup was raised in a conservatively Jewish home. This meant, actually, that when she came out to her parents as bisexual, it didn’t go well, and that’s why she still hasn’t felt like coming out to them as ace.

I was explaining that she thought she was bisexual before she realized she was asexual, and my dad was really surprised.

That concept was difficult to wrap his mind around, because “it was like she went from hypersexual to non-sexual”. It seemed my dad was wondering how anyone could be so confused?! How could they jump around so much with their thoughts on their sexuality?

And I cocked my head at him. I shot him a look, surprised by his reaction for multiple reasons. Yes, I was surprised by his unchecked belief that bisexual people are all hypersexual. (Hadn’t he watched that ABC Family TV show Chasing Life with me? If that kind of bisexual representation didn’t help him imagine a world where some bisexual people have a pretty average-seeming sex drive, I’m not sure anything would’ve.) And the first thing I said was that that was not an accurate idea of what bisexuality really is. But the other thing that jumped to my mind was… Oh. For all that we talk about, for all that I try to discuss with my family, when it comes to nuanced issues it takes me a long time sometimes to really get around to bringing them up. I only recently tried to explain queerplatonic relationships to them, right around when I started to consider entering into one, really!!

And even now, I don’t think I’ve told anyone other than the people at the ace meetup group and also everyone who reads my posts on the internet that I had multiple fleeting instances of questioning if I might be bi. I explained to my dad something broader, but my own personal experience with it didn’t make it into the conversation. Maybe I’ll find a way to bring it up soon.

What I said to my dad was that actually, it was a pretty common narrative in the ace community for people to think they were bi before coming to the conclusion that they were ace. That I might’ve thought I was straight-by-default, but some people kind of think they’re bi-by-default, because if they really aren’t attracted to either gender, equally, then they feel the same way toward both genders, and that can be easily interpreted by someone who doesn’t know asexuality is a possibility as “I must be bi”.

Continue reading “By nature of being asexual, I’m defying gender norms”

I was not a mirror

I was just recently revisiting Siggy’s “You don’t need to be a mirror” post on The Asexual Agenda.

He posted it in January 2015, so about 1 year & 2 months ago. It has had a pretty significant impact on my thoughts ever since he first wrote it, and it took me 4 more months before I’d write this and I still wish more people talked about these issues.

epochryphal’s thoughts on paper/stone dynamics have always fascinated me; cos writing had been my introduction to the entire concept and if I’m being honest, really whenever co brings it up is still my only time reading anything about stone/paper stuff, but especially cos comment on this post is important to me, because it helps conceptualize what I went through with my boyfriend at the time when I was experimenting sexually with him, and even at the time prior to that when I was considering it.

I was, at the time, inexplicably less comfortable with touching my boyfriend in sexual ways than I was with being touched by him, although it ALL made me uncomfortable, and it was confounded by the fact that he explicitly had told me his strongest desires and fantasies consisted mainly of what I guess are called “stone” tendencies.

I thought I’d be “indifferent” to sex until I tried it. When I tried it, almost instantly I realized I was “sex-averse”. I had, prior to giving it a try, thought that “of course,” since I wanted to make my boyfriend happy, I would enjoy the experience of being able to be the person to make him happy. (I also hoped maybe, just maybe, I might finally experience arousal, that what had never happened before would happen and I’d actually physically react to a sexual situation.) But I should’ve trusted my own instinctual negative reaction as soon as my boyfriend had admitted he found me sexy weeks prior. (I instead felt confused and torn by my own emotions, and tried to talk myself into feeling flattered.)

Sex is so different than anything else, and analogies only go so far lol. I can be a good person who cares about my boyfriend’s happiness, while still having these kinds of personal boundaries and aversions to sex.

Just like “An asexual’s body is perfectly functional. It reacts to touch just like anyone else’s…” isn’t actually something that helps someone like ME at all when I see it in visibility/education/ace 101 materials, the phrasing Siggy captured in this blog post, “Why would asexuals ever want to have sex?  Well, some people like pleasing their partners.” is just as harmful to someone like me. Because no one had ever pointed out, explicitly, to me the logical next step of “More importantly, what does it mean to not like pleasing your partner?”, and I was left with just this confused mess of feelings, of learning that sometimes aces “compromise” and/or “enjoy” sex even when that sex only makes their partner and not themselves happy. But as soon as I tried to do that, fully intending to make my partner happy through sex, the moment it was happening all I could think was “ah I actively dislike this experience, I don’t enjoy making my partner happy in this kind of way at all, I’m not feeling any kind of pleasure from making my partner happy. I really wish I was, but I’m not.”

I do know what it’s like to feel a rush of excitement from, as cinderace mentioned in their comment, giving someone a gift that they really enjoy. I know what it feels like to see someone else be happy and to just be happy FOR them, no real reason other than empathy kind of. There’s a reason why people talk about “infectious” laughter or happiness.

But it’s just not true that sex is that simple. It’s just not true that “Some people enjoy pleasing their partner” (while all the other people, the aces who don’t have sex, just don’t enjoy making their partner happy). And I’m really happy that Siggy brought this up a little over a year ago – that he brought it to the forefront of my mind – because it is so relevant to my life. Because yeah, I wish I could’ve enjoyed pleasing my partner in that way, but it’s really a lot more complicated than that. I ultimately broke up with my boyfriend because I really wanted him to be happy, and I knew, given his stone tendencies, how the only way for him to truly be fully happy was to be in a sexual relationship with a woman who really, intrinsically had those kinds of sexual desires. Someone who wouldn’t be doing stuff just for his sexual benefit, because the only real thing he wanted to be doing was something for my (or her) sexual benefit! Ah what an obstacle course we were having trouble navigating.

I wish I had known what I know now back when I was going through all that.

I wish I’d had more of a road-map.

But even if it was a bit late, it is nice to finally have a way to conceptualize the confusing territory I had navigated without-any-guide before. I love being able to look back on my life and finally have just the right lens to look through. To finally be able to really see it clearly – or at least, more clearly, than I could before.

What does it mean to “like” someone?

When I was 10 years old, in fifth grade (my final year of elementary school), waiting with my mom for my brother’s haircut to be over and for it to be my turn to trim off an inch or so of my hair, she asked me if I liked any boys in my class. (Truthfully, I’m only 25% sure this memory is factual, but please, go with it as if it really happened like this.)

Phrasing it like that, asking a young girl if they “like” any boys in class, plays into heteronormativity to the extreme, amatonormativity, etc. It assumes “like” in a sense that is rare, special, probably slightly-sexual but maybe not too sexual since I was barely entering puberty by then, and definitely a synonym for the term “crush”, with heavy romantic connotations.

And I thought about the boys in my class, none of whom I was actually “friends” with because of the societal gender binary splitting us off and only girls being considered for friendship. Who I talked to at lunch and at recess were pretty much just girls. So the guy I liked was the guy I had noticed reading all 50 books in the Animporphs series just like I was, but with whom I’d never gotten a chance to share a conversation. Was the guy that stood out to me because he was the one non-white guy in class and he was also one of the smartest of my classmates. I was a straight-A student in elementary school, and so was he. We both raised our hands really often to participate in class. And I respected him a lot for all of these reasons, and I decided he was the guy, I guess, that I had a crush on. Let’s call him Jeremy.

Continue reading “What does it mean to “like” someone?”

I Don’t (Meaningfully) Experience Platonic Attraction

This is my submission for the February 2016 Carnival of Aces, which was themed around Platonic Attraction. To see the original call for submissions, look here, and the round up of all the officially submitted blog posts is right here: http://sexyaussiekirkland.tumblr.com/post/140274580574/february-carnival-of-aces-roundup.

Sorry I’m late with this post.


For the December 2014 Carnival of Aces on “Touch, sensuality, and nonsexual intimacy”, I wrote about how I don’t experience sensual attraction.

The more I think about all the forms of attraction, the more I doubt I experience any of them.

Continue reading “I Don’t (Meaningfully) Experience Platonic Attraction”

Gaslighting & Santa Claus

This is part 2 of a series of posts I’m going to be writing on the topic of gaslighting (& my personal experiences with it). This particular post in the series  is more general and doesn’t dive into any specifics of my mother’s abuse, not really. I am not putting any trigger warnings on this blog post. If you think I need a content note/trigger warning, let me know.

Part 1 talked more about her abuse, specifically, and that post can be found here: Gaslighting & Crocodile Tears


Christmas was only a month-and-a-half ago, and every year, it brings its fair share of memories, both positive and negative, and also plenty of memories that just “are” – neutral memories, as well.

Something just hit me one morning a couple of weeks ago, though, and that’s just how much gaslighting was involved in things my mother did around Christmas in my childhood.

In the past, when I would read posts like this on the signs of emotional abuse: http://luvtheheaven.tumblr.com/post/138652549987/what-are-the-signs-of-emotional-abuse, I always thought my mom didn’t engage in the particular abusive tactic known as “gaslighting”. I’d been reading posts like that for a long while now, and I always though that if gaslighting is defined as:

A form of psychological abuse involving the manipulation of situations or events that cause a person to be confused or to doubt his perceptions and memories. Gaslighting causes victims to constantly second-guess themselves and wonder if they’re losing their minds.

then, well, I didn’t experience it. I never really second-guessed my experiences, and I definitely never thought I was losing my mind.

But then, a few weeks ago when I started the draft of this blog post, which I actually started writing before my post on Crocodile Tears, I did a Google search for more explanation on the abuse tactic that is gaslighting, and the first thing I clicked on was this Everyday Feminism article on the topic (“10 Things I’ve Learned About Gaslighting As An Abuse Tactic”), and… the degree to which I can relate to multiple aspects of this post when I think back on specific things with my mom is… um… actually a little scary.

Look at these quotes from the article:

Gaslighting does not require deliberate plotting. Gaslighting only requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality.

and…

I believe that gaslighting is happening culturally and interpersonally on an unprecedented scale, and that this is the result of a societal framework where we pretend everyone is equal while trying simultaneously to preserve inequality.

You can see it in the media constantly.

For instance, every time an obvious hate crime is portrayed as an isolated case of mental illness, this is gaslighting. The media is saying to you, What you know to be true is not true.

The quotes will become relevant soon.

In order for me to explain the relevance… I’m going to recount my experience with Santa Claus, because my lovely abusive mother (note the sarcasm dripping from my voice as I call her “lovely”) left me a voicemail on my cell phone on December 28th saying she remembers my reaction when she told me Santa wasn’t real.

She remembers that?!?

What?

Continue reading “Gaslighting & Santa Claus”

Gaslighting & Crocodile Tears

This is part 1 of a series of posts I’m going to be writing on the topic of gaslighting (& my personal experiences with it).

[Content Note: discussion of emotional/verbal/psychological abuse from a mother.]


I had this stuffed animal when I was young that I slept with every night, that I even vaguely remember playing with. It was this teddy-bear-sized yellow thing that I believe was supposed to be a “chick” (baby rooster, probably, judging by the bow-tie sewn around his neck, very odd stuffed animal honestly), there was a little tag on the animal which said “chick”, but I, as a young kid who didn’t know how to read, called it (her? I don’t think I thought of the toy as a he but whether or not I gave it a gender I am unsure) by a name that clearly implied I had misinterpreted which type of bird it was. Lol.

I called my stuffed animal Baby Ducky.

And last night, while at a local atheist meetup, a man mentioned how his 16-year-old son is still very emotionally attached to his stuffed animals, and how he told his wife that they can never get rid of those, he knows it would crush his son. I mentioned how I was pretty upset when my mom told me I was too old to sleep with my stuffed animal.

What I didn’t mention though, was that my mom was my abuser. What I didn’t mention was that last night, for the first time in a surprising number of years, I remembered the fact that I had actually used that stuffed toy to sop up my tears on multiple occasions. I remember crying in my bedroom in the house we moved into in 4th grade, so I must’ve been no younger than 10 or so, lying in my bed, using that stuffed animal as a very poor excuse for comfort, and also using it much like people would normally use a tissue in these situations. Using it for both purposes.

Continue reading “Gaslighting & Crocodile Tears”

Relationships that lack stages

This is my third and final submission for the January 2016 Carnival of Aces, which had the theme “Relationship Stages”. I’m a day late with this one, yes. Oh well.😛 For more information on the Carnival of Aces, click here.


 

One thing that I think, traditionally, is so special about friendships is that they aren’t supposed to have stages, rules, limits, ultimate end goals, none of that. There are still ways friendships can go wrong, ways you can feel like you don’t have any friends or not enough, feel like you feel more attached to your friendships than your friends feel attached to you, etc. But it’s nothing like the distinction between being “single” vs “in a relationship”.

There are a ton of things that are special about friendships. They’re a kind of relationship that spans little kids (even toddlers) through old age. They aren’t relationships where you need to have a conversation about if you count as friends or not — you can just sort of let it happen and decide that you consider someone else your friend, regardless of how they feel about you. And there is a large array of different ways for friendships to play out that still feel “acceptable” in our society – there is not just one script for friendship.

If you Google “stages of friendship”, sure, plenty of things come up, often about the stages before reaching “best friend” status, and weirdly some results about specifically “female friendship”. But there isn’t a checklist for friendship the same way there is for romantic relationships. There isn’t a list of experiences most people expect to reach when they consider their own friendships, or consider entering into a new friendship. And when a friendship ends, there isn’t usually a need for a big significant “break up” — in fact most friendships just fade and these people couldn’t tell you the day they stopped being friends with that person.😛 You don’t really feel like your relationship “Failed”, just that it “ended”, because in general, there is no goal for “success” when it comes to friendships the same way there is that kind of “goal” in traditional monogamous romance.

There are other kinds of relationships that, to me, don’t feel like they have stages either. Something like a relationship a person has with their sibling, their aunt, their uncle, their cousin, their grandparent — most of their family members (except not their parent/guardians) these are bonds that may or may not really be bonds at all, you can have a family member and not know them, never spend any time with them, etc, but if you do have a relationship with them… there isn’t really a progression, a set of common experiences that is easy to generalize among all families… there are just so many differences in how people experience these relationships. And often, there is constancy in these bonds. It doesn’t feel like they go through stages. I could be wrong and other people do experience what seem like stages in their familial relationships of these types, but the general cultural narrative I’ve picked up from living the the USA is that there aren’t general ‘stages’ one is expected to go through in these relationships.

Also, temporary relationships, as in, ones meant to not last. A job that you know you’re only at for a summer and your relationships with your coworkers there. A year in high school where you develop a kind of relationship with most, if not all, of your teachers but you know after you leave their class, the relationship will be over. These also are definitely types of relationships that don’t really seem to have “Stages”. True there is the “first meeting”, a period when, if you’re lucky, you feel like you know them better and they know you better, and maybe a “Goodbye”, but… but I feel like these types of relationships are not usually considered in terms of separate stages, that people usually think back on it in simpler terms than that.

Does this make sense to anyone besides me?


 

Anyway I enjoyed thinking through these things for the Carnival of Aces this month.😛 I used my blogging as a way to help me think through the issues. I hope maybe someone enjoyed reading my thoughts.

Stages in Relationships

This is my second submission for the January 2016 Carnival of Aces, which had the theme “Relationship Stages”. For more information on the Carnival of Aces, click here.

[Content Warnings/Notes: Mentions of death. Discussion of abusive relationships. Brief mentions of sexual assault in a section about virginity.]


 

If you go to Google and start searching for “Parenthood stages” you will find PDFs like this one on 6 distinct stages: http://arbetterbeginnings.com/sites/default/files/pdf_files/Six%20Stages%20of%20Parenthood.pdf or, to my dismay, an article from bigoted/anti-LGBT group Focus on the Family on there being four “phases”. You’ll find various books published on the topic and various academic articles at .edu websites on research people have conducted.

Clearly, it’s not just romantic relationships that either seem to have stages. I could think of many ways a relationship between a parent and a child seems to usually… “evolve”, “progress”, etc, much like it has its own kind of relationship escalator. There are ideal stages for kids and parents to be at depending on the age of the child, and this extends until the death of the parent, which is “supposed” to happen prior to the death of the child. Obviously the child dying first is one way the stages won’t happen “according to plan” or according to “how things should be”.

But in truth, there are many ways for parent and child relationships to not follow society’s ideals for the stages. A child having a disability or being neurodivergent can easily throw off the course of the stages, slow them down, prevent some from happening, and the same is true if the parent is like that. A parent dying too soon means not all stages can be completed. Sometimes people just don’t follow the stages for no obvious “Reason”, but the world around them still judges them as doing the whole “being a family” thing wrong. You’re supposed to be exactly the right level of aware of what is going on in your child’s life, but not be overprotective or overly strict or overly bragging, obsessing about your kid when in social contexts, etc, and also you can’t be neglectful, distant, not involved enough, “oblivious”, etc. As a child, you are supposed to respect your parents, but also not be a clingy child one could make fun of with terms like “momma’s boy”.

You’re supposed to become friends with your parent once you reach adulthood, and people who don’t have good relationships with their parents need a good explanation, need an excuse, as for why they don’t. The default is that you would. Deviating from that norm is not usually accepted. People will wonder why the deviation has occurred.

One common reason for a deviation from that, a reason to not have a good relationship with your parent(s), is if they were abusive to you.

Abuse is something that has stages too. More specifically, abusive relationships of many different types, from romantic to familial to queerplatonic and many other types of dynamics as well, have specific recognizable stages.

Continue reading “Stages in Relationships”

My abusive mother won’t leave me alone

[Content Note: NSFW/explicit language used (one word), discussion of an abusive parent… let me know if I should’ve warned for something specifically but didn’t. I can add it up here.]

It has been 8 years and 9 months since one particular fateful evening, at the end of April 2007, when my younger brother and I decided to take our mother up on her ultimatum that if we left her house and went with our father on a Wednesday night, went with him to a get a doctor to look at my brother’s broken hand, well… the ultimatum said we wouldn’t be allowed back in the house. We would literally be kicked out. She told us if we went with him, we better pack our bags. And so… we did. Then she made us give back our keys to get into the house.

It has been approximately 5 hours less than that since she has been trying to get us back. Around midnight that night, she started pretending she never uttered that ultimatum in the first place. Or perhaps by then she had become deeply delusional and truly did not remember that she spoke those words. I tried to remind her. Tried to tell her to just look at the keys she now was in possession of as proof of what had happened. Regardless, she did deliver that ultimatum. Many times. That had just been the time we decided to take her up on it, because that time — with my brother’s hand’s well being being at stake — it was worth it. Clearly our mom never imagined we’d ever actually take the “leave the house” option.

I’ve written about my mother being abusive on a number of occasions, most notably in a 3-part series of posts that starts here: https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/figuring-out-my-mother-was-an-abuser-part-1-of-3/

And you may want to read those to understand some of the context of what in the world I’m even talking about.

But yeah.

On my 18th birthday, in January 2008, almost exactly 8 years ago now, I cut my mother out of my life completely — putting all phone conversations and visits to an end — and I haven’t regretted it, not for one moment.

Continue reading “My abusive mother won’t leave me alone”