Fear (Published on Feminine Collective)

We have a common enemy.
It is faceless. Animal. Instinctual.
It’s been hired, like a hitman,
by those who know it’s power.
It disguises itself,
hiding among our everyday lives.
It can appear as someone you envy
sitting too closely, or smiling too sweetly at your lover.
It can look like the justification
for your crimes and upturned noses.
It can can even look like love.

It’s the reason my sisters at salem were burned,
the reason radicals deem my kind abominations.
Why those seeking shelter from the horrors of their homeland
are gunned down at the border.
Ruthless.
Unmatched in its ability
to bring out the dirty, scheming children in us.

The most unnerving part
is knowing that it is inside all of us.
Borne from those we’ve lost,
trusted too much.
Born from every single time we’ve held out our hands
and learned to draw back sooner at each touch.

Fear.
Not the innocent smile of a stranger,
not your lovers,
not our neighbors.
Not even your anger.
Fear is our enemy

And fear is so afraid to be known
that it often wears a mask.

Mine hides in a need for control.
Constant schedules,
the comfort of knowing exactly when,
where, how or why.
The spitting image of ouroboros,
my need for control even tries to control itself.
Stemming from the fear
that anything less than a checkmate
will be the end of me.
Forgetting that my autonomy peaked
was when I was dislodged from my armory.
Stripped naked of my false power and splayed,
like a ragdoll to the flames.
Unhinging my grasp on a life and a love
that I could no longer control,
my strength was not the only thing I discovered.

There is no point in holding all of the cards
in a world that makes its own rules.
And I reminded myself
that birds could never soar freely
if we had any say in the wind.

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Hit Like A Girl (Published on Feminine Collective)

I’m proud to be a woman.
I’m proud to fuss over small details,
like my eyebrows, or the way you drive.
I’m proud of the women before me
who refused to lie down.
And of the men in my life
who have never looked at me
as more than a good friend.

What I’m not proud of?
The self-defense manual we’re assigned at birth,
convincing us that unless we’re armed,
we are to blame for the harm we are dealt.
That I feel more akin to a plastic mannequin,
than the men I work with.
Because I know that just like me,
she’s probably been the target of sexual insinuation.
She’s been tossed about,
placed below a man’s belt with laughter all around.
Because that’s all they can imagine
she’s good for.
Not realizing that their baiting
perpetuates centuries of our suffering.

And I’m sorry, but
I’m not sorry that being “appealing.”
doesn’t much interest me anymore.
I’ve heard enough.

Enough of being called “sweetie.”
By old men who see no harm in
the proverbial sugar cube
that signals I’ve gotten too rowdy for their tastes.
Enough of being expected to smile because
“I look prettier that way.”

Of the connotation behind “resting bitch face.”
I like to think of it as an adaptation, anyways.
Much like the batesian butterfly,
who mimics poison in its wings,
I, too, aim to ward off predators.

And why, like clockwork,
does fighting for equal ground signal a witch hunt?
So, for the last time.
I will say this slowly.
Before you have the chance
to make this a personal attack,
I am not talking about all men.

I’m talking about them:
The ones with the hungry eyes,
animal pools shining in them.
The ones who keep trying to convince us to stop fighting.
They are the face of aggression, of “masculinity,”
the ones who destroy young girls, palms outstretched, insisting
“she was asking for it!”
Not realizing that you can kill someone
without murder.
The poltergeists in every dark corner of the streets,
prowling for what they think belongs to them.
They are the reason that we fear for our lives.

They hide behind masks of congressman.
Leaders. Lovers. “Nice Guys.”
They laugh in the face of our oppression.
The very same ones with polished shoes planted firmly
at our backs, and while they lick their lips and obsess over our
soft skin, they insist that our screams for equality are
“asking for too much.”
“Look at all the rights you have, now, little girl,
isn’t that good enough?”

It’s not.
Because my trans sisters aren’t taken seriously.
Making light of the scrutiny they face
because they don’t look like the women
in the porno mags that they deny aren’t realistic.
It’s not [fucking] funny
when they are being murdered for it.

It’s not, because my sisters of color
are still treated like exotic game.
They are not your splash of variety.
There are not enough hours in the day
To list the ways that their sexuality
Is demonized, robbed of its validity.

And there is no such thing as equality
when we still have to convince the law
that we should have control of our own bodies.
44 years later and we are still trying to row and wade
through these thick swamps that are
sticky with the blood sweat and tears
of the women who came first.
We are not equal
when our nipples are illegal.
Except, of course,
when they want to sell beer and magazines.
When “feminism” is used like an insult.
And when we stomp down their consolation prize
they scream the “F” word with eagerness,
enraged that we are no longer content
with being their shadows.

It’s our turn.

Nightmare Storytime #7

Last night I had some shitty nightmare about my partner being awful to me. It was disturbing to see him so cruel. 

But that’s not quite the nightmare. I woke from the first one only to fall asleep directly into the second one. 

I dreampt that I went to an entertainment complex or arcade mansion of some sort. I started getting a bad feeling, eventually wandering off around and leaving. 

But when I got to the parking lot, my car was gone. I went back inside to tell the staff, when suddenly no one was there but the staff. I was eventually directed to a manager’s office. He told me that I wasn’t getting it back, and basically was kidnapping me. He was older, with bright white hair, looked like a stereotypical Texan.

I argued with him and threatened him I’d kill him when he slapped me across the mouth. Hard. I decided two on one chances  ducked,as there was a body guard with him. He took me to the elevator to take me somewhere. I managed to keep my phone and was quietly but frantically trying to GPS my location to Eric, but the signal was bad. 

I texted him that I loved him and that I died fighting if I didn’t make it out. He texted back and said the location wasn’t showing up or didn’t exist, to find another way to show my location. The manager guy was taking me to a secluded room on the top floor. There was a fit, tall blonde guy my age laying on the bed, seemingly apathetic. I was to sleep in the same bed. 

It struck me by some photos that I was shown of him that looked nothing like him now that he was obviously gay. This was a conversion camp?! They must have looked me up and knew I was bi. I kept my phone under the guise of looking at his messages for emotional support before I possibly die (he also seemed like he might murder me) the whole time. I heard a racket outside. I saw what “mother” was doing and I knew the police must be here. 

I got him to take us downstairs for food or some thing but I broke off and went to the elevator myself. When I got to the bottom floor, I didn’t see anyone. Realizing they were still too far away to find me in time, I pretended I wasn’t running and waited for them, pretending to act cheerful and playful. When we stepped outside, it was as if there were a carnival or town party. People and cakes and bright colors everywhere.

I was looking around and texting Eric my surroundings and location. Finally, I see Eric come up the stairs like he owned the place, said something badass that I dont rememebr, and picked me up and ran. When we got lost we double backed inside to lose them there. While running through the now crowded halls, a man in a suit and sunglasses appeared next to me. He confirmed he was there for a distress call from me. I recognized him as the KGB.

And then I woke up. Weird, yeah?

I want out.

I want out of this head of mine. I don’t know anymore if it’s worth the trouble it puts me through. I get these thoughts , and sometimes they’re so small, but they loop in my head so much that they’re all I can see after a while.

I don’t know what’s wrong with the synapses in my brain that leave my usually very strong willpower seemingly helpless when I need it the most; when I need it to defeat my own demons. 

I don’t feel like I can talk to anyone about these thoughts except the one person they’re usually centered around. Which is worse, I think, to an extent, because it makes my anxiety even worse the more and more often I feel annoying or like a burden with them. 

But they’re so petty, so easily logically beaten in other parts of my brain that I feel ashamed even uttering their silliness to anyone else. It’s not just thoughts, it’s a feeling. It’s this crushing in the middle of my chest. It’s as if years and years of untreated psychological issues have decided to come out of hiding and place unbeatable amounts of doubt in my head. Like a fist wrapping it’s fingers around the muscles that hold my lungs suspended.

“You never used to be anxious, I don’t know where this came from.” I do. I don’t know how you don’t. If there is one good thing I can take from my overanalytical and detail -picking brain, it’s that I need to know the reasons for everything. So I guess I know “why”, just not the “how” in how to stop it. 

I’m sorry for all of the depressing  shit  lately. I’ve been working through a lot. 

The Dysmorphic Dip

I read an article the other day about a bodily development called a “hip dip.” It’s this apparently very common occurrence where your hips meet your legs and causes a “dip,” like a violin. It may not seem like much, but for a lot of us it is. I’ve had body dysmorphic disorder my entire adult life. Realistically, I’ve never been more than 140 lbs, which isn’t much when you consider that I’m 5’6’’ and have DDD’s. That and it’s just a number that doesn’t necessarily indicate much and has too many variables to really mean anything.

Yet I don’t keep a scale in my house. I don’t trust myself to have those positive thoughts when I step on it and see a pound more than what I want to see. There are many types of dysmorphia, mine obviously centers around my weight and body fat. I could literally not gain a single pound of fat, and the knowledge that I haven’t worked out in a week or that I ate too much sugar could convince me otherwise. I could look exactly the same and be so sure that I gained fat around my hips or legs or whatever it was that week. The power of the mind on human senses is astonishing.

Even now at 25, I’ll visit my parents, they’ll wrap their arms around me, and I’ll hold my breath in anticipation of the eventual “honey, you’re so skinny! Did you lose more weight?” This will sound like gold to me but I know that they are worried when they say it. I don’t know if either of them really knew that I was ever anorexic at any point, but I feel like these comments and them overfeeding me every time I’m home confirms that they do. At the same time, I chastise myself for worrying about something so meaningless. I’m healthy, probably more than the average person, and I have much much more important things to be worrying about. None of that seems to matter to that other voice in my head.

I assumed that at some point I would outgrow it, but so far I’ve been wrong. Variables don’t seem to matter, either. I have a very loving partner, who tells me on a constant basis that I’m beautiful and who makes me feel wanted. He’s even gotten me to start running (I have a very love/hate relationship with running but it’s something I’ve always wanted to get better at, from a survivalist point of view.) I’m learning very quickly that it’s not the opinion of others that determines the strength of this demon. It’s all me.

This is both comforting and completely terrifying. I wouldn’t really ever want to be the type of person who NEEDS the validation of others to determine my self esteem (that is not to say I don’t sometimes seek it, we all do.) The idea that I’m the only one who can tame this thing is still unsettling. On one hand, I have never understood the meaning of the words “give up,” in that exact order. On the other hand, it seems to not understand that either. It is possible that I will be battling it for the rest of my life.

I’m not sure what all of this sounds like to someone who has never dealt with body issues or eating disorders. I’m sure to some of you it sounds dramatic. Allow me to give you a few examples of how it affects my daily life; I’m notoriously the one at the bar or restaurant who can never seem to pick what I want. I’m always the one who orders last. I get picked on mercilessly by my favorite bartenders and my friends for it. I don’t mind. They don’t know that it’s because I am having an all out war in my head, even over just one drink. I’ll go with the intention of just ordering whatever. I’ll get a burger this time. I’ll get a mixed drink or a beer that I like. Seems simple, I convince myself that I will do this and it will be easy and it’s just one goddamn drink. But it never is. When the spotlight is on me and I’m the last person who hasn’t ordered, I freeze. I haven’t decided because there is a voice screaming inside me, saying “that’s too much sugar”, “you should get something without bread”, “vodka is gross, but it’s virtually void of calories and sugar,” etc.

Food is eons worse, though. The only time I’m seemingly able to eat in peace is when I’m stoned or completely wasted. And that’s probably because I forgot to eat before I went out drinking and my body goes into starvation mode and I will eat anything in sight. I realize that this is counterproductive, because alcohol metabolizes fat and sugar differently.

Picking out what I’m going to wear is definitely dependent on what I’m doing. Unfortunately, I have noticed that the level at which I begin worrying more about how I look raises exponentially if I am with my partner in public. It’s not difficult to guess that this is due to me comparing myself to other women. I have a few guesses as to why this is a thing, but that is for another time.

If you’ve ever heard someone tell a story about their LSD trip, you will most likely hear about the mirror effect; the first time they look in the mirror after hours of complete nonsense and adventure. Just a glance and it’s a strange sight, but you get on with your day. If you stare into your reflection long enough, it will begin to morph and twist with the hallucinatory effects of the LSD. It doesn’t bother everyone, but it is bound to be an unsettling experience; your pupils might start to look demonic in size, your hair might start moving on it’s own; you might start seeing little worms coming out of your pores. None of it is real, of course. But tell that to your hallucinating self at the time. The same goes for me. The longer I stare at my body’s reflection in the mirror, the more it morphs. The more flaws that I seemingly pull out of thin air. Until, much like people on a bad acid trip, I begin to itch at my own skin and lose my sanity (momentarily.)

Which brings me back to this hip-dip thing. I didn’t know something that had caused me so much pain and discomfort in my own skin was so common, let alone that it was the way my body grew, that it wasn’t even necessarily fat. There were so many responses to the single article that I came across, including fitness junkies who had worked every ounce of body fat off of their body had and it still wasn’t gone. No matter how hard they worked at it. It makes sense, I thought, I don’t have that much fat on my body, the idea of having love handles seemed a little unbelievable.

This knowledge that I wasn’t the only one relieved me at first; there is a certain amount of comfort in knowing that there are so many other people dealing with the same thing you are. As the day went on, I realized that this also meant that I would never likely get rid of this thing I’d vehemently hated my whole adult life. I’m trying to use that as a source of relief as well. I can’t get rid of it, so I might as well learn how to love it. 

I hope I can get there someday.

Nightmare Storytime #6

The dream unfolds as I realize that I am at my father’s house, in my childhood room. My partner is here. Now we are in an opera room with a lot of others; we are seeing…doubles of ourselves? Or are we seeing ghosts? I cannot tell, this part is hazy. There is mention of dead celebrities.

I’m now in a pond, looking for confirmation that Katy Perry is indeed dead, and I am somehow searching for this by wading through the shallow waters. I am finding and picking up dead cats, until I get freaked out and get out of the pond.

Now my partner and I are in a cave-like setting. We walk outside of it and into the watery moat that surrounded it. There is a puzzle here, etched into the rocks, that opened a drawer within the rocks. I cracked the code and picked up the rings inside, which were also a part of a puzzle. I put them together correctly just in time to see a game warden coming. We high-tailed it out of there on our boat, and then scaling a fence before he could see us. When he reached us, it appeared that it worked and he could do nothing. He asked about my partner’s dog, but it had been dead long ago.

The last part of this multi-dream was that I was in bed with my partner, similar to how I was actually asleep. But in the dream, someone or something was violently shaking the bed. I woke up terrified that it was real.