Thoughts from Group – The Pain of Admission

When J asked where we’d like to start, I said that I would because I wanted some feedback. So I started to explain some context about my selves – about how I have a conflict between the Adult and the Child selves. I also talked about something that I’ve found too embarrassing and even shameful to say – that I feel like I should be entitled to getting help from people, that I think that this world is so unfair, and that because I’ve had many traumas in my life, and that my life has been so difficult and painful, that I deserve to get help, that I deserve people to cut me some slack, and that I deserve a better life. I talked about how financial strain has caused me to reflect on how angry and bitter I am at my life – to be left with a $10K credit card debt, to not have money to do anything I need to do (and now that I don’t have any shifts at the restaurant, to feel like I’m going to be homeless as soon as I run out of my savings), to not be able to focus all that well in school because I had other adult responsibilities, and so on. I told the group how ashamed I feel and how guilty I feel for saying that I want attention. That I sometimes do things to get attention or to elicit sympathy and empathy.

A couple of the group members chimed in and told me that I shouldn’t feel ashamed for being who I am. That I shouldn’t be ashamed to feel like I deserve the things that I’ve mentioned. Brandon talked about how his life had been similar and how he could relate because of how horrible his life has been as well. Then he said that he got over it by learning to love himself better – that he was able to come up with reasons why he does deserve to be treated fairly, that he does deserve to be loved, and that he should never have to be ashamed of himself.

One of the new girls, let’s call her Kayla, told me that she’s a realist and that the way she sees it, that I shouldn’t expect so much from people because then I set myself up for disappointment. She also said that no one is entitled to anything except to be accepted as a human being. Beyond that, we are to make our own life. That we are not to expect help from anyone. She said that she will admit that she comes from a supportive middle-class well-off family and have never suffered from anything traumatic in her life so she didn’t know if her views are just her being a realist, or if it’s her privilege talking. I didn’t feel mad at her though I did feel a slight pull to argue, and to point out that she isn’t even trying to empathize. I refrained myself because I didn’t want to derail our current conversation and get into that. I wanted to get to the bottom of my issue first. I was being selfish.

About 45 minutes into the session, we were still analyzing my situation, analyzing my thoughts and emotion. J, the lead facilitator, chimed in and said, “I don’t know about you guys but I’m currently feeling like you’re not present. Like the things that you’re talking about are not here in this room but rather somewhere out there… Correct me if I’m wrong but does anyone else feel that way?”

I nodded because I realized that I had been distancing myself from the subject. That the way I had expressed my issue and how I’d asked for feedback had been devoid of emotion. I didn’t have any emotion in my voice except for one where I was playing an analytical scientist role. At that point, I knew that I was consciously doing it. I didn’t want to go near the emotions that was related to me feeling like I’m entitled to some attention, care, love, and help from others. Those emotions were messy because aside from the shame (which in itself is already a huge beast to slay), I also had feelings of guilt, anger, bitterness, betrayal, sadness, and confusion all mixed in.

I admitted that I didn’t want to feel any emotion.

Kyle, the guy that I had had a conflict with a while ago, offered his opinion. He said that the group had been dancing around the issue, and no one is really going to the root of things – that people are content to hear my issues, and then just analyze them and find out what they can do to help fix things. He talked about how he’s noticed this happening a lot more with group lately. That we are no longer willing to do the hard work of feeling the emotions we need to feel.

J asked, “How are you feeling towards Jules right now?”

I prepared myself to feel angry at Kyle because of how in the past, he’s never been willing to connect to me. I thought about how I knew what he would feel – that for sure, he would just dismiss my feelings the way he’s always done.

He didn’t. Instead he said, “I can see why you would feel like it’s a shameful thing. I mean… As you were talking, I realized that I do this too… That I also don’t want to feel that. That I wish people would just see my situation as well. How I’m just trying so hard and nobody realizes what I struggle with… I do it too…”

J encouraged Kyle to explain what ‘that’ was.

“Admitting that I want care and concern. That I want that too…” He said, after some hesitation.

I felt my heart fill with emotions. I started to cry because as I’d explained it to the group moments later, “My emotions are catching up and I’ve been keeping them at bay. But what Kyle said has unleashed them…”

I told the group that I felt the connection that Kyle was trying to make. That although I appreciate hearing the more philosophical, and more analytical arguments/suggestions from the others because I am myself so analytical, that I really did appreciate Kyle’s empathy. I didn’t expect it. I felt a warmth emanating from him.

J then offered how she felt that Kyle had come such a long way. That initially when group had started, he had seemed very stand offish, and that he didn’t care about emotions. That he wasn’t at group because he wanted to feel anything. She then pointed out how much he’s grown and how different he is now.

I then agreed with J because I was going to tell Kyle the same exact thing too – that I see a difference in him. He definitely has changed his perspective. I felt a little tug of anger, and jealousy as I said so. I didn’t like that J always paid him compliments like that. I wanted some of that too.

A little later, Kyle took over the topic because we had beaten the dead horse with mine. He talked about how he feels like he’s not cared for, that his friends don’t understand him, or try to empathize. He said that his friends just give him quick answers. And that he recently had been having a pull to feeling like he needs to get back together with his ex. As I listened to him, I realized that what he was saying isn’t too far from what I feel. I wanted to blurt out, “You’re going through something very similar to me!” but didn’t.

J then told Kyle how she felt like Kyle had a good way of bringing the group back to the processing piece of group. That somehow every week, he was just so good at doing that. It was interesting that J had mentioned that.

I said, “I agree with you, J!! I was just going to say that. That he’s the last person I expected to do this. I mean, judging from how he was in the beginning, I really didn’t think he would be the one who would be bringing everyone back on track every week. I think it’s so awesome!” I said. I started feeling empty. That what I was saying was just so forced. That I was trying to find some positivity instead of showing my grudge and bitterness towards him. “Although, a part of me does feel jealous. I mean, not jealous in a bad way, but envious I guess… I’m envious and I wish I could be good at that too”

“What’s that?” J asked me.

“Um, to be good at bringing the group back to processing. To be able to process and to know what that’s like…” I said. I felt myself burn with envy. And how I wished that J had told me something so powerful too – that I play a pivotal role in creating a positive time for group. “You know, Kyle, I feel like we are both going through so much that are similar. As you were talking, I thought to myself, ‘You know… You’re not that much different from me at all…’ and I realized that we really aren’t… I guess that’s why in the past, when we had that conflict, I felt so upset because I felt like you were just constantly pushing me away. I was trying to connect but you weren’t letting me. So I felt like I was getting the impression that you just didn’t want either of us to be the same. Like there’s something wrong with us being the same…”

Kyle reacted in a surprised manner. He looked like he was going to disagree.

The new girl, Kayla, interrupted.

“Can I just say just how much I loved that? That interaction was amazing! It was so sweet to see that. Wow… That was so cool how you were able to tell him all those things!” she’d said.

As she spoke, I felt a huge tug in my gut. I realized that I needed to recant my words. I needed to be truthful and I felt that it was time. I had been carrying the anger and bitterness around for 3 semesters now. It’s time for me to let it go. So I mustered up all the courage I had, and threw caution to the wind.

I said, interjecting Kayla as soon as she stopped, “Actually Matt… I want to take back what I said. I just realized, as Kayla was talking, that I want to take it back… The part I want to take back is the part where I said that I felt like you were constantly pushing me away because you don’t want to be like me” I hesitated. I was trying to find the right words but couldn’t. I didn’t want him to be mad at me. But then the other part of me said to myself, Just go for it. The worst that could happen is that he’ll stop talking to you.

So I did. “Kyle, I realize now that the reason why I said that is not because you were trying to push me away, but it’s because I was. I didn’t like you. I mean, not 100% didn’t like you because we do have good interactions, but I think in general, I just didn’t like you. I felt that your point of view was different than mine and how you approached empathy was so jarring for me that I felt like you were attacking me. I was wrong to say that and to put it on you because I realize now that it’s on me. I was projecting all these things on you because I didn’t want to change my views to look at yours. I wanted you to conform to me but since you didn’t, I was angry and bitter. I have been holding a secret grudge against you since we’ve met. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but I have. And I know that it hasn’t been overt but I want to apologize. It wasn’t right. And now I feel differently towards you. Today, when you reached out to me, I felt a connection. I felt like you were really trying to feel how I felt. I realize now that I had been bitter for no reason. I didn’t want to tell you this because I was afraid too. I was afraid that now that I’m being real with you, and telling you exactly how I’ve always felt, that since this is the beginning of a better relationship, that it would end because you’d be mad at me for saying all these things. I’m afraid of potentially losing this relationship because now I actually like you. And I realize that we’re not that different after all. I think the reason why I had not liked you before was because of how I realize that we are not actually pretty alike. And I hated that because I don’t like myself. So seeing how you are just like me, I hated you because I hated myself. I get that now. I’m expecting you to be mad at me…”

Kyle looked extremely shocked. J gave me the impression that she was smiling on the inside, and that she had not expected that either.

“How do you feel, Kyle? To hear that from Jules?”

Kyle was flabbergasted. He couldn’t speak for a few moments. When he finally did he said, “I feel… A happiness in me. I feel happy that she said that to me. I never knew she had a grudge on me. I feel happy… This is what I’ve been wanting all along. I want people to be this way…”

“To be brutally honest?” J asked.

“Yeah! To just tell me how I really am. How they perceive me. I am happy because she told me exactly how she’s been perceiving me. I mean, I don’t know how to react to it yet… I’d have to think about it… But yeah… Wow… I didn’t know that at all. I’d rather someone tell me something like this than to pretend to like me!” Kyle said.

“How did it feel to hear that, Jules?”

“I’m glad that you didn’t take it badly, Kyle. It wasn’t my intention to start a conflict. I just felt a strong pull to say that. To let you know that… I also feel relieved because I’d been holding on to that for so long. That being real makes me feel better. I no longer feel the anger, and grudge the way I used to. And I hope that we can now be real friends. But I understand if you wouldn’t want that because I did say some horrible things…”

“You don’t seem to trust Kyle’s words…” J said.

“Well, not fully. I mean, part of me is hopeful that going forward things will be better, but at the same time, another part of me thinks that he’ll be angry. I mean, if someone told me something like that, maybe I’d be angry at them…” I said.

Then our attention turned to Brandon. I don’t know how we’d transitioned but we did. I wiped up all my tears, felt so much relief. It felt like I had let go of a heavy burden and now I’m able to walk better.

We started to talk about Brandon. He kept talking about the presidency issues, the civil right issues that are going on right now, and about how the world and society is just messed up. How he wishes he could just fix everything. He talked about how angry he is at the idiots who support Trump, and how paranoid he feels of his life now because of his LGBTQ+ status. I empathized. I knew how he felt. It’s painful. He also talked about how misanthropic he feels – how he just wants to withdraw and stop connecting with anyone. He also talked about how depressed, hopeless, confused, and desperate he was. He told us that he just doesn’t think that he can ever find such a vulnerability. He said that he was jealous of the vulnerability that both Kyle and I had showed each other. “I’m like an outsider looking in on that interaction, and here I am wishing that I could have that too… I don’t feel like I can feel that way. I’m just so unable to feel any kind of vulnerability…”

Kayla interjected and told him that she doesn’t believe that such a thing could ever be lost. Brandon snapped back at her and told her that he’s hard a difficult traumatic life. That his vulnerabilities had been beaten away by his rageful alcoholic father. That he just can’t feel anything a normal person can. I felt his pain. I realized where he was coming from. Brandon was standing in his own little island – wanting desperately to connect with people but also at the same time, vehemently denying that he wants anyone to care for him. He was concerned for humanity and the way we’re headed. He talked about his philosophies of life and how there are just so many simple solutions that if man were smart enough, they would realize how to fix our shitty lives. He started to float back into the upper strata of philosophizing this life, and society, etc. It was a good intellectual discussion topic, but J insisted that we stay down on Earth where all the feelings were.

Brandon was angry that J kept asking him how he felt and made him reconnect back to his emotions every time he floated up into the world of philosophy. I felt so bad for him. I see how hard he is working – how much of his passion is expended on trying to make people see the truth. How disappointed, and disillusioned he is with life, and with people. I get it because I used to be the same exact way. I felt a tug to tell him how I really felt about him though.

“I have something to say. And I wasn’t going to tell you at first but I figured since I’ve already been negative and said such horrible things to Kyle, why the heck not?”

Jenny sighed loudly and said, “Oh no…”

“Well as you were talking, I thought about something. And this might make you really mad but uh… I was thinking about how you sound like all those preachers who come to campus and tell people they’re going to hell. But instead of those things, you’re telling people they need to be vegan, and that they need to be awake to the political things that are happening… You’re out there screaming at people and no one gives you any care. And all you want is some recognition that you’ve worked hard. That you’ve done so much. It’s so lonely being there by yourself screaming at people who don’t care. It’s so painful… I totally see where you are and feel how you feel. It really really sucks…” I said.

“How did you hear that, Brandon?” J asked.

Brandon looked angry.

“It was painful. It was painful to hear that because I now have a similarity with the people I hate. The preachers I hate so much. I don’t like that. It’s definitely so painful…” Brandon said. Then as he mused some more, he started to philosophize again.

Kayla and Jenny jumped in to try and fix things for Brandon. I felt like it was too soon for them to do so. I felt like no one was pointing out the obvious.

“Okay, I have something else to add. It’s another bad thing. I mean, I hope not… But it kinda is, I think…” I said. I started to tremble.

“You seem like you’re having a hard time, Jules” J said.

“Yes I am! I’m shaking!” I said. I took a deep breath and just said it. “You know, it definitely sucks being there by yourself. To see others and to see the whole picture but no one else does. When no one else agrees with you. Yeah, it’s super hard… But… Uh… But…. Have you ever… I mean… What would it be like if you stepped down from the pedestal? I mean, yeah, I know it’s scary. It’s super scary because you don’t know what’s down here. But what if you tried? If you step down from the pedestal, then you can stop seeing everyone from just the perspective of someone really high up, but rather, face-to-face. Right now, all you see are everyone’s heads. How is that connecting to anyone?”

“That’s vulnerability!” J exclaimed as I said what I said.

Tears sprang to my eyes again and I started sobbing in my seat. I was terrified of saying that – to tell Brandon to get off his high horse and join us down here.

“Yeah!” I exclaimed too. I was afraid that this was the last time I’d speak to Brandon again.

“Well, it’s painful to hear that. And I don’t know if I can do that anyway. If I were to go to an activism group, no one would know me. I make things awkward for others. I don’t have any social skills. What if my friends don’t want to go with me? Yeah, I’ve also been doing meditation. You know, trying out some self-love because I know that will help…”

I was a little disappointed that Brandon didn’t catch my meaning – or perhaps he did and was trying even more to not feel it. To not feel my hand reaching out to him.

Jenny tried to help. She told Brandon that it seems like he’s just speeding off somewhere and that he’s not stopping to see the signs even though both Kyle, and I have been trying to reach him. That he’s not willing to pull over and get the help he needs.

Brandon’s anger flared up and he snapped, “What would you have me do?! I’m stressed, shut down, angry, depressed, not feeling anything… How can I do what you’re asking me to do? I told you I can’t!”

J said, “I want to take this opportunity to bring it all back to the beginning when Jules said, ‘You just want some recognition that you’re working your asses off’ and you are!”

I took a deep breath and spoke again, “Yeah. I see you, Brandon. I see you working hard. I see that you’re standing there yelling at people and you’re working so hard to have people look at you, and stop to listen. You are working so hard. I recognize that. And I know how hard it is to take that first step. I know it feels unreacheable right now. But at the same time, I can’t help but ask you if you could take the hand that I’m offering you. I’m reaching out to you. Let me help you take that first step. Let me help you get down from the pedestal so that you can see my face, and reconnect with people… I see you, Brandon…”

“I think instead of asking Brandon that he just needs to do this and that, that maybe we need to be on Brandon’s speed. I mean, it takes both sides to do something. And we’re all just telling him what to do. Maybe one of us needs to get up on the pedestal with him. And then help him down. We need to meet each other halfway.” Kayla interrupted.

I didn’t completely agree with her because I felt like I wasn’t trying to tell Brandon to do anything. I am already offering my help. I am already offering my love and care for him. All I wanted him to do was to hold the hand that I was offering. I could sense a reluctance.

“I have a lot I definitely need to think about. I want to get there. I do… I just don’t know how…” He said.

J then had to wrap up the session because we had gone 5 minutes over.

“You all did hard work today. But unfortunately we have to stop here because we’ve already gone over time…” J said regretfully. “We’ll meet same time next week though, right?”

We all nodded our assent.

I felt light as I stood up and collected my coat. Sure, I still was recovering from all the crying I was doing but I was definitely feeling a lot better than I have. Lately, I’ve been disconnected from my feelings and it felt good to feel them again. There were a lot of uncomfortable feelings today but at least, I had embraced them instead of pushing them away as I’ve been doing a lot lately.

I felt a lot more love for my group members than I’ve ever had. I realized that this was more evidence that just because you’re real with someone, or that if you call them out, or say something negative, that the relationship not only can continue, but will continue in a better, and stronger way because it means that we are all being brutally honest with each other.

I felt so proud of myself as I walked out of group today. It was incredible how I was able to stick through the uncomfortable, and terrifying feelings as I spoke my mind (something that I rarely do). I realized that this is how it feels to stop protecting people – to stop making excuses for them, or to just shield them from pain. It means to say tough things, and hope that the other person doesn’t blow up on you, and that you’ll be better friends/partners/colleagues/family/etc in the future.

I learned so much today in just an hour and a half. It was such an incredible session!

Quick Thought From Therapy – Therapy #102

I’m feeling pretty wiped out today because of my monthly blood loss so I’ll just plonk this one here until I have more time to expound on it:

Today’s wisdom from the psychologist’s couch is:
 
I’ve repeated many patterns in my life due to many different reasons – but one of the most notable one is the fact that I constantly feel the need to want protection from outside parties (in a very child-like manner). Today I realize that I don’t need that anymore because I am perfectly capable of protecting myself. However, I do not discount all the things that have happened in the past because all those things are the REASONS why I am able to get to today where I am able to self-love.
S approves of my “epiphany” and told me that what we’ve talked about before, about the Adult, the Child, and the Teen, are all leading up to this. That that is definitely the trend we’ve been going on.
It had definitely been an eye-opening session. Through it all, I kept saying, “Wow that’s interesting…” to which S noted that I might be trying to distance myself from feeling the extent of the moment. He promised that we will deal with that in future sessions!

Pride Deserving of a Gryffindor

Today, I’m proud of myself.

Now, that’s quite a rare one, isn’t it?

If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you’d know that I have a high level of self-shame, self-hatred, and I find it hard to self-love.

Lately however, I’ve been coming to terms with how I feel about myself and learning what it means to self-love.

I said to S today, “Part of me can’t believe that I got to the realization that I need to cut off ties with my ex in order to heal in just a matter of days…” (I had come to terms with my decision early this week since having made said decision just a few days prior) and he said something that I’d known in the back of my mind but never really paid much attention to.

S said, “I want to challenge that notion that seems to undermine the amount of work you’ve done here. We’re coming up to 2 years of working together, and in that time, we’ve been dealing with the same things over and over again. You’ve worked incredibly hard!”

I thought hard as he said that and I realized that he was right.

Come April, it’ll have been 2 years of therapy. It’s almost unbelievable how long I’ve been grinding away at this, and how much I’ve worked. It still feels surreal. How could we have known each other that long?

Is that why I could just saunter into CAPS and say hi to everyone there as though I’ve been buddies with them for ages? I walk in through the doors and just casually say, “Hi D! How’s it going this week?” or “Hi K! Whatchu up to?” (K is the new receptionist that was hired to deal with the increasing demands of front desk work)

Is that why I could plop myself down in S’ client couch and just lean back like I was very comfortable? And is that why I can now ask him questions more plainly without having to ruminate over them for months before I bring anything up?

Wow. I don’t know why I am thinking like this is such a big deal – I mean, sure, I’ve been there almost 2 years now, so what, right?

That said, a part of me recognizes just how important this is – how important this journey has been thus far.

I keep undermining my efforts because I’m so short-sighted – I only see what’s immediately in front of me. S, on the other hand, had the privilege of being a third party observer who has his own informed perspective to use.

He said, “I don’t want you to sway you to my perspective but that’s how I see it. I see it as you, having put in so much time, energy, and effort into this recovery process, that it took you only a few days to come to terms with your decision because it’s been a long time coming. All those months of work have prepared you for this. You didn’t just wake up one day and decided that you were over the divorce…”

As I chewed on his words, I realized that I started to feel the warm feeling of pride inside. I started to realize how strong I’ve been – despite all the batterings I’ve endured last year, I emerged through that alive.

I started to realize that I am proud of myself for all that I’ve achieved.

I told S that. He beamed and assured me that I completely deserve to feel that way. He also told me how impressed he was with my ability to pull myself out of a suicidal thought 2 weeks ago.

It had been a rough time for me and I had reverted to the old habit of self-punishment, and suicidal tendency. I wanted to kill myself – I was triggered by my ex, and was led to believe that I was crap. That I should just die so that I didn’t have to feel the awful way that I do. I had also hurt Cherie’s feelings – something that I couldn’t believe I would do. I felt worthless.

While beating myself and telling myself that I deserve to hurt myself again, another voice chimed in. It was a different voice this time – it sounded nothing like the critical voice that I was used to hearing. It was a strong, confident, pleasant, and kind voice.

The voice said, “No! You’re not worthless. Why do you have to hurt yourself? Why do you have to die? If you do that, he wins. If you let him get to you, he wins. You’re better than that, Jules. You’re stronger than that! You’re worth more than what you’ve ever been told. You are too valuable to have to resort to self-harm, and suicide. Punishing yourself doesn’t do anything but hurt you more. You’ve already hurt enough”

When I had shared this with S last week, he had beamed so brightly, and told me several times how happy he is to hear that, and that I was able to get there. Today, he told me that he was impressed with my positive self-talk. He said that in the past, my pattern had been suicide –> self-depreciation –> worse thoughts of suicide –> visiting CAPS for emergency sessions –> have good sessions –> leave feeling better –> if lucky, the good feelings last for a couple of days –> get triggered again –> suicide –> rinse and repeat.

“So the fact that the affirmation didn’t come from me, or anyone here at CAPS, but rather, from yourself… That is very strong. It makes me happy to know that you’re reaching a stronger point”

I was already proud of myself but hearing his words made me even more proud. It added to my affirmative feelings and validated me.

This, I believe, is my first step toward breaking more bad habits, and being a stronger individual. I know that I will regress – as S kept reminding me, “Progress and recovery is not a straight line upwards. It looks more like a zig zag upwards, where there will be times when you will slip. But that’s okay. All that matters is that you keep going”.

Being LGBTQ+

I was going to write a post to outline my thoughts from therapy today (the new semester just started on Monday, and thankfully, I was able to keep my Wednesday therapy session, and would still see S regularly until such a time that we both feel that I’m ready to rough life out by myself. Being able to keep the same session helps me keep some regularity to my often irregular schedule), but then new thoughts kept jumping out at me.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the LGBTQ community, and LGBTQ related topics – somehow, that and the topic of my divorce kept coming up in my mind. From today’s session, S and I learned that perhaps the reason that I keep fixating on those two topics is because these are two major issues in my life that I have yet to truly process.

I will have to write a separate post for my thoughts from therapy because in this post, I want to focus on a couple of thoughts that I have concerning LGBTQ stuff.

I was recently told by a coworker that the song “The Greatest” by Sia is actually a tribute to the victims of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL last June. I was intrigued and so I looked up the video.

What I witnessed for 5 minutes and 51 seconds shook me – the imagery was vivid and the lyrics resonated.

I then Googled for the meaning of the video – to see if I could find what other people’s interpretation sounded like. I was intrigued. I found an article that I felt was beautifully written:

Analysis of Sia’s “The Greatest”

A paragraph jumped out at me –

“As cathartic as it is for a gay person to assume their true identity, to free themselves, there will always be a bigger cage. In the modern ages, the cage takes many forms. It can manifest as an antagonistic bathroom bill or the outing of closeted gay athletes. Then, of course, there are the hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ community.”

It’s so true.

I feel, at the same time, a sense of relief when I came out last October as well as a sense of fear (for how people will treat me, or that their perception of me will somehow change), and restriction because despite the fact that the world is starting to become more tolerant, there are still plenty of examples of discrimination, and hate.

As a queer person (of color, no less!), everything’s always a challenge. You always have to advocate for yourself, to share your experiences, and to find courage to just be. There will be questions in the flavor of, “So…. Are you……. A lesbian?”, “Uh… What does queer mean?”, “Are you a boy or a girl?”, or “Isn’t bisexual just another word for ‘slut’? Like, you can’t make up your mind whether you’re gay or straight, so you just sleep with everyone?” There will be some form of microagression or another in our daily lives – as someone who is misgendered daily, I know what this is like, and how stressful it can get.

There is never a period of time in my queer life where I can relax, and just be who I am. I am constantly looking over my shoulder; censoring what I say or how I say it; wondering what I should wear or how people would perceive me if I wore this outfit, or that outfit; choosing who I could and couldn’t date; answering endless LGBTQ related question because your straight friend only knows the one queer friend (me); and so on.

It’s exhausting. On top of already dealing with depression, anxiety, and ADHD, coming out for me meant that I now have another thing I need to advocate for. It gave me a lot of relief when I came out, but at the same time, it also brought on a lot of other things – some of which I’ve described above.

With this in mind, who would choose this “lifestyle”?

I ask that because recently, someone asked me through a private message on Facebook if we could still be friends despite our differences of opinions regarding my “choice” to live a bisexual “lifestyle” – quotation marks, mine.

Yes, because I chose to be persecuted. I chose to be in anguish over who I am attracted to for the last 30 years of my life. I chose to be confused about my faith, and my sexuality all my life. I chose to feel like an outcast in society. I chose to not have friends that understand me. I chose to be hated, mocked, and vilified.

And of course, the paragraph above drips with sarcasm, in case someone didn’t get it.

I just want to make it clear that no one will choose a life like this. It’s a life of pain, and suffering. That said, for someone to imply that a queer person chose their sexuality/orientation is rude, at the very least, and savage, at the worst. Those who use religion and their faith to condemn a queer person are even more savage. Speaking as someone who is a Christian and who have doubted my faith my entire life (I could never believe that God loves me enough because if he did, then why am I ‘broken’?), it’s extremely distressing to hear someone say, “God hates f*gs”, or “You’re gay because God hates you!”, or “God doesn’t hear your prayers”, or “God will never forgive you. You’re going to hell!”. It’s as though I don’t already hate myself enough – these people help me add more reasons to why I don’t feel worthy.

I’m just so tired of all the hate. I’m tired of all the hypocrisy that a lot of Christians seem to exhibit towards people like me. I’m tired of all the violence aimed at my newfound community.

That’s my rant of the day. I just thought it was time I said my little piece in this narrative and share something I’ve had on my mind for a while now.

Abused

I’ve been abused.

It happened to me as a child.

I’ve talked about it before here on Hitting Reset. I’m not afraid to talk about it anymore. I’ve processed the repeated trauma I sustained as a child with S back in June of 2016. I wrote about that experience in two places: Processing a Childhood Trauma – Thoughts From Therapy #61 AND Thoughts From Therapy – #66 – Childhood Trauma

Speaking about my experience had been frightening at the time, but it also empowered me to be brave. It taught me resilience, and it taught me self-love. I still have a lot to learn, but processing my trauma with S had been so helpful in making me a lot more confident in myself.

When I got older, I was convinced that I’m a wiser person than I was and thus, more capable of protecting myself. I mean, I didn’t have a reason to disbelieve that, or to think otherwise.

So it came as a shock to me then, in September of last year, that I found out that I had been abused again at an older age. And again, it was a repeated abuse. Regardless of someone’s age, I realize that they can still get themselves into abusive situations.

I didn’t realize that I was in one until years later. It is a story I deeply wish to share in hopes of helping others, but it is also a story that I’m still hesitant to share because of some privacy issues, as well as safety issues. I hope that I can build up the courage to get to that point, and still be able to publish the story publicly (as opposed to making this blog a private, invite-only blog because then it’d defeat the purpose of my writing – since my goal is to help others, if people can’t see my story, how is that helpful?) without any personal repercussions.

For now, I just had to get this off my chest – today was the Peer Educators’ Spring Retreat and I had just come back from yet another day of knowledge on health and wellness topics (sexual assault prevention, sexual health, ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs) and mental health were covered today), and subsequent thoughts about the things that we had discussed. The fact that I have a valid and justified story to tell came about from one of those thoughts but at the same time, also came concerns and anxiety over the story.

I’m just fearful of the possibility that my post be read by the people that I want no further association with. >_>

New Year

So it’s Day 5 into the new year – technically, as I type this it’s Day 6 but since I  don’t count a day as ending until I turn in to bed, it’s still Day 5 for me – and I’m happy to say that I’ve had an eventful holiday/semester break.

Ever since Christmas at Chérie’s family’s, we’ve been inseparable. Below are some photos of us to highlight our stay together. She left for home a few hours ago and this apartment has never been quieter. After she left, I thought about how perfect this woman is in my life, and how she fulfills all of my needs, and more.I can’t imagine how my 2016 would’ve ended had she not entered my life.

I also thought about how great of a positive impact she’s had on my mental health. She’s been very encouraging during all my lows – and I discover that I am able to be vulnerable with her, and allow her to see me at my weakest, as well as allow her to help me. Much of what she says is still hard to believe but with repetition, I’m starting to build the habit of listening to her and to trust her. It’s been quite an experience.

I realized that having her around for the holidays, the impact of my depression has definitely been dulled. I still get into my low moods but they’re not as bad as they were back in the period of April – October. I see how important it is to have a significant other who understands my struggle as well as woks hard to help me in my walk.

Between the two of us, I have a more severe anxiety disorder, while she has a more severe ADHD, so it really works out well because I provide for her the coping skills that she lacks, while she provides me the coping skills I lack. She’s always able to see past my anxiety and help me see past it as well, while I’m always able to remind her to do the things that she needs to do (having poor short term memory is pretty typical in ADHD sufferers).

I know I’ve talked about Chérie a lot lately, and it seems like I can’t talk about anything else but her. However, if you have someone who’s impacted your life so drastically, I don’t think you’d be able to stop talking about them either…

In any case, I’m going into 2017 with more positive feelings. I hope that things will continue to go smoothly – I can’t help but feel like after such a shitty 2016, I need a breather, and I need a year that won’t keep pounding me down.

I hope everyone else’s year started out right! I hope that I will be able to have more time to blog.

Much Needed Update

I know I’ve disappeared from here for a while. I didn’t want to but everything was too overwhelming to handle. I’m glad that 2016 is about to end. It’d been quite an awful year for me. 

Although extremely challenging, I’d definitely grown a lot as a person. I’d like to believe that I’m much stronger than I was before. I’m now able to recognize my positive traits – able to self validate a little better than I used to – and somewhat be okay with being who I am. 

School had finally let out for the semester so my greatest stressor for the past couple of months is gone for now. I ended up doing very badly in school and my cumulative GPA of 3.83 dropped to a 3.332 because this past semester, I’d gotten a D for Calculus, C- for Computing 2 and a C for Discrete Computational Structures for a total GPA of 1.733. I nearly didn’t sit for my Calculus final because I was so discouraged, and I barely did anything for my Computing final project. I’d been a consistent D student in Discrete as well throughout the semester. It’s a wonder I managed a 60/100 in my final exam! 

I definitely could’ve done better but at the same time, I had been so overwhelmed by my divorce, my sudden increase in bills which led to a serious financial problem, my juggling 3 jobs, my struggle with reconciling my faith and my sexual orientation, my suicidal ideations, and my lack of time to do any homework or studying, it’s a wonder I’m still alive. 

It’s hard for me to ditch my perfectionism trait. It causes me untold amounts of anxiety, but I can’t help it. I can’t stop the critical voice in my head that perpetually reminds me that I’m unworthy, I’m no good, I’m a loser, I’m not smart enough, and I’m a bad girlfriend. To be honest, I’m surprised that I feel at peace with my grades. I thought I’d be wracked with guilt but strangely, I feel okay. I think this is probably because I see my victory against my suicidality to be a major achievement, and so because of that, not getting good grades doesn’t seem to serious. 

Anyway, so I finally have some time to write an update. So school’s out for the next couple of weeks for the holidays. I’ve been spending the past week and a half with Chérie and it’s been a blessing. She helps me affirm myself, and helps me see my worth and purpose. She also helps me overcome all the negative things that I’ve been told – by myself, and by others – which then leads to a better perspective of myself. 

Group therapy is also taking a break and will begin again in January. To be honest, I’m so glad for us to take a break. I’m tired of some of the conflict, tired of hearing the same stories from everyone, and I’m also tired of my own self-imposed savior tendencies. It’s a relief to be able to not work so hard. 

My sessions with S have been more insightful than usual lately, perhaps because we’re finally moving away from my suicidality. The biggest achievement I’ve been able to attain in this aspect has been the fact that I’ve been able to lower S from the high pedestal that I’d placed him on for the longest time. Through the interactions I’ve had with the CAPS staff in my work as a Peer Educator, through reading their social media updates, through speaking to the CAPS interns, as well as interactions with S outside of his office, I’d been able to see that my psychologist is just as human as everyone else. I was able to see a different perspective – one that affirms that S is highly trained and is able to help me most of the time, but that he’s also just as fallible as I am. 

Lowering S from the pedestal has been a good progress because now I can reduce the amount of time I loiter around the lobby. I don’t obsess over S anymore, the way I used to. I don’t walk by his office just to catch glimpses of him. I don’t have a desperate need to talk to him outside of our scheduled appointments weekly. I also don’t feel as dependent as I used to. I still like hearing him say nice things, and to validate me, but I no longer hang on to every word he says like they’re all the gospel of life. In this aspect, I’m able to feel less anxious about seeing or talking to S. 

Besides that, I’d also been much more accepting of my own sexual orientation. I got myself a ring that is in the colors of the bisexual flag and I wear it with comfort and pride.

​So, I don’t know what Chérie and I were talking about recently but it ended up with her making the quip, “You’re so gay!” to me indicating my preferences. I laughed because though I identify as bisexual, I do lean more towards the gay side of bi. That said, tonight she pointed out that gay women were often associated with carabiner clips with keys on their belt loops. It made me realize something. 

I started to realize that a lot of the things I gravitate to or like are things that seem very gay. I like carabiner clips, I like my wallet chain, I like leather cuffs, short hair, jeans, plaid shirts, and many more things associated with queer women! Heck, I was even a softball player in high school! 

As I came to this realization, I felt much more validated for how I’ve always been and what I’ve always been interested in. Suddenly, things clicked in my mind and I understood why I was the way I was when I was younger. Things made much better sense now. I feel less like a freak. 

Despite the fact that 2016 had been so difficult for me, I actually feel like things may be on the mend. At the very least, things in my life are starting to go back on an upwards climb toward the more positive side of recovery. Unless some huge, and drastic things happen in my life in the near future, I don’t anticipate things to dip for me. 

I’m still depressed – especially now during the holiday season (being reminded that I haven’t seen my family in 5 years is painful) – but I’m definitely much better at managing my emotions, as well as make positive progress. 

I’m also at Chéries’ parents’ home to celebrate Christmas So, that helps me feel less lonely, and less hopeless about not having family. 

I hope that I’ll be able to have a good rest of the year. Chérie has definitely been a much needed plot twist for my 2016 story and ever since we got together, my life’s trajectory had been positively uphill! 

As much as I can, I’ll try to be more consistent in my blogging habits. 

Happy holidays to everyone! If you’re not feeling this season, or have terrible you have no choice but to be around, please know that I know how you feel. Please don’t hesitate to call a crisis line, or to reach out for help! I’m also happy to chat should you need to. 

Be safe everyone! Have a wonderful time!