Saturday, March 9, 2013

I Am: Parade of Identities 3?

I know I wrote more of these, but I have no idea where the fuck the latest one went.  I went to look for the ones I already wrote so that I could write #4 and hopefully not repeat anything, and found that one I'd written that was actually really important to me has disappeared for reasons unknown.  So I'll re-write that one (It carries a self-harm trigger warning, but it's the last one so don't worry too much until it reaches that point.  I'll warn you again in a not-at-all subtle manner.)

I am a Moderately-Shitty Novelist.

I've written two novels.  One I self-published before taking it out of print, the other I had the sense not to have published at all.  The first is now somewhat a rare find, which apparently can be bought from Amazon merchants for over a hundred bucks, but I don't recommend it.  When I read it now, I'm embarrassed to the point of redness at the amount of sexism and racism in it, despite thinking as I was writing it that I was specifically doing justice to those issues.

The writing also was not very good, but that doesn't embarrass me nearly as much as the above issues.

However, I still write.  The book I'm currently writing I'm extremely happy with, but then again I was with the other one, too.

I am a Shapeshifter.

I incorporate a huge amount of animal spirituality into my personal Eclectic Pagan framework.  I'm that kind of Pagan who occasionally has made vegan Pagans uncomfortable with the number of animal parts in my chest of magickal ingredients.  A big component of that is shapeshifting, which for me is looking at the world through the lens of another animal from time to time.

This includes a lot of animals, and which animals I have shifted as have evolved through time.   Somewhat stereotypically I started out with wolves, then dogs, but others included cats, snakes, and various birds.  Currently I am most likely to shift into a Whitetailed Deer or some other medium-sized cervid, with tigers, cougars, dolphins, and eagles also being up there.

There are four main ways I shift.  The first is silent, stationary meditation, where I simply sit and picture myself engaging in an appropriate environment.  The second is  costumed dance, which involves putting on stylized garb based on that animal's spirit and dancing in a way reminiscent of that animal's gait.  The third is physical retreat, which is similar to meditation except is an in-person activity (swimming in a lake like some sort of aquatic animal, walking through the woods with my dogs).

The fourth is really kind of freaky to me and is what I was thinking about when I decided to write this.  It's a sort of spontaneous "switch" that has in the past flipped and caused me to engage in strange behavior I wouldn't normally engage in.  For example, I spent a summer living in a building in the woods with a group of people.  We were on break, sitting and chatting, and I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.  They all watched in horror as I sprinted to the far side of the room and killed a mouse.  I snapped out of it when the mouse was dead, and disposed of it before re-joining the group.

I do not have a non-human identity per se.  I am quite happy with every aspect of my humanity as far as I'm aware.  More importantly, I would have somewhat a difficult time believing I am truly part non-human animal because the primary animal I shift into is also one I intensely enjoy eating, although that's its own story.

I am Marriagefree.

Marriagefree is a term somewhat like childfree.  Adding "free" to a word was concocted as a way to explain that you don't have/aren't doing something without implying that you are actually missing anything from your life.  Marriagefree as an identification differs from unmarried because the latter assumes that marriage is something you actually want in your life (although unlike "childless" is to "childfree," I am fine with being called "unmarried."  Because I am.)

I am marriagefree because I do not believe the government should be policing relationships outside of certain legal things.  There is a big difference between being contractually obligated to share property with somebody and being contractually obligated to love somebody.  Legislating love should just never happen.

I have several reasons not to get legally married, so I won't, although I am interested in being handfasted as a religious but non-legal alternative and I vocally support alternatives to marriage.  More about this issue can be found at Unmarried Equality (which used to be called the Alternatives to Marriage Project).

I am Non-Monogamous.

This ties into my marriagefreedom because there's a chance I might not wind up with one singular person who I want to be with forever.  Maybe I wind up with two or three, or I wind up with one person, but that one person has two people.

In my lifetime I have had one in-theory monogamous relationship.  This relationship sprung from a tongue-in-cheek triad involving me, him, and another guy who was a mutual friend, and lasted for three years, during which time he repeatedly cheated on me.  The idea of him having sex with other women didn't necessarily bother me, but his repeated lying did.  We wound up breaking up over something entirely different.

From that point, I never stuck with monogamy, even though throughout most of this time I was seeking out monogamous relationships.  So I dated a woman who had a girlfriend probably six or seven years ago, and a man who had several boyfriends several years before that; these were casual relationships for me that I kind of fell into, but was fine with them.

Actually committing to non-monogamy, whatever I choose to call it at any given moment in time, happened after a series of crushes and "moments."  One was with a polyamorous girl who has a fetish that I simply could not handle participating in, although she had a long-term relationship with somebody who did participate.  Shockingly, my first thought upon seeing all this wasn't "Oh dear, she already has a partner," but "Oh Gods, I could never do that... oh, look, I wouldn't have to!"

I have been mostly committed to  non-monogamy ever since, because of the usefulness of that sort of thing, but there are a select few people I would extend monogamy to were they actually interested in me.

Trigger warning for graphic descriptions of self-harm.
Former and Occasionally-Current Self-Harmer

When I look through my mom's photo albums, what strikes me is the number of pictures in which I have bandages places most kids do not have bandages.  Rather than on the knees and elbows, there are multiple pictures showcasing me with bandages covering an entire cheek, an upper arm, or somewhere like this.

My parents viewed this as "picking," so if I had a small wound I would make it a big wound.  They were right, but they didn't really catch the full story of what was going on.

I was hugely depressed as a child.  I had no friends who would acknowledge me at school, especially after my teacher revealed to them I was seeing a psychiatrist and they began avoiding me, believing I was mentally ill and dangerous.  The few friends I did have visited me at home or went camping with me, but rarely acknowledged me at school to avoid my unpopularity rubbing off on them.  You know how in movies they soften the blow of an unpopular child by setting them up as friends with an equally unpopular child?  I didn't have that friend.

There were many ways this fucked with my socialization.  I couldn't even talk to customer service on the phone without having a panic attack until I was nineteen years old.  One of the ways I dealt with it was by gouging big wounds into my skin with my fingernails, which were jagged and sharp from years of biting them.

My upper right arm, for example, had four almost perfectly round sores that happened because I kept grabbing my arm and pushing my fingernails in.  Whenever I'd get a blemish, such as a mole or a pimple, it became an easy place to grab hold and gouge, and my face was the perfect place for that, especially when I started getting acne and when I got chicken pox.  Every pockmark on my face--and there are a lot of them, even if they're faded now--was in some way a result of self-harm.

I didn't register what I was actually doing, because "cutting" and other self-harm tactics were not popularly publicized in my community.   People didn't recognize it as self-harm; if anything, they believed my "quirkiness" in this regard (because attempting to tear off your face is apparently "quirky") was what was driving people away, and not a result of it.

When I was in sixth grade, I read an article in Seventeen Magazine about cutting.  The young women who were describing their issues explained that they had begun by doing things like popping zits and gouging scabs, which was exactly where I was.

I was horrified.  And I stopped.  In theory, anyway.

Sometimes I'd rationalize by saying things to myself like "well, as long as I don't use razor blades, it's not so bad," or making sure to minimize how big I allowed my wounds to get.  Eventually there were was some habitual wound-playing, but it largely went away.

Until I get really stressed.  Then I still do it.  Last year I had a very public, very embarrassing episode in which a group I was attending was airing a lot of grievances about another member of the group who was not present.  Criticizing her stressed me out and made me feel like an awful person, and I didn't notice until I looked at my fingers and saw blood that I had gouged a wound into my neck.  I explained to them that this is something that happens when I get very, very stressed out.  Throughout the meeting I tore open two other wounds, even though I was trying ridiculously hard to keep my hands where I could see them.

Which is all I really have to say about that at this point.  I rarely engage in this anymore, but occasionally it rears its ugly head and I wind up a bleeding mess.