I am a freak

I can’t even believe that this is taking up so much of my attention at this point in time, given everything else that’s going on.  But I can’t stop thinking about it, so I’m going to post about it and see if it helps.

I don’t think I’m as straight as I thought I could be/have been trying to be/etc.  If you don’t want to know, then read no further.

I have very little basis for determining much of anything, and I don’t know where to start.  I had a very brief relationship in college – all of 3 months, of which nearly a month’s worth was the two of us away at home over the holidays.  It was during that time that I figured out how bizarre our relationship was and decided to break up with her.  Yes, I said her – it was with another woman.  I was at a women’s college and it was actually a fairly accepted part of the culture, unlike out in the “real world”.

Backing up a little further – I was sexually abused as a child.  Initially by my mother, later by an older boy.  I find it interesting (if very odd) that I tend to feel safer with women, since my mother was anything but safe – but I also had to believe that she was perfect for the vast majority of my life, in other to survive growing up, so I assume that’s related.  Who knows.  Being “awakened” at the age of 8 or so was unfortunate.  It’s far too young to realize how incredibly different it feels to be touched by someone other than yourself.  I wound up with this lovely complex – a craving for sex, terror of giving in because I was too young and would get “in trouble”, a terror of intimacy, a craving for the taboo (since my “awakening” was in a situation where I felt trapped, powerless, and disgusted, and that all got wired together)…  It’s a mess.  Oh yeah, and TONS of shame around anything even remotely involving sex.  But only as it applies to myself, of course, or I could never do postpartum care. 😉

I spent most of my life single and untouched.  Had that girlfriend in college, but that was it for there.  Turned fairly slutty in my late 20s, but at a remove – messing around with people, just no relationships.  Men and women both in that time frame (and at the same time, once or twice).  Continued this a little bit after my move, but mostly went celibate again.  Became a Baha’i at one point, and they have strict rules – no sex outside of marriage and no homosexuality at all, period, end of story, so I figured “well, I’ve messed with both, and I’m equally slutty either way, so it should be no problem to play it straight”.

Had a VERY brief fling with dating through an online site – which I suspect may have played a role in my anorexia rearing its ugly head last year.  Somehow, the only guys I met were all still living with their mothers, which is very bad considering the state of my apartment and how I’m ashamed to have anyone here – and frankly is a little scary in our 30s.  I did quite like the last guy I was seeing, we dated several times and I enjoyed being with him – but we had NO chemistry.  And there were some specific issues I had, but it did make me wonder a bit.  But I was busy being anorexic, so I didn’t do much more thinking on it at the time.

In the past few months, it’s been much on my mind.  I already really don’t consider myself to be a Baha’i anymore – though I haven’t discussed that with any of my Baha’i friends.  Because I’m a big giant chicken.  Sigh.  One crisis at a time.  What I have been noticing of late is a definite trend in my fantasies – when I fantasize about men, they are always faceless, and at the *ahem* peak of the fantasy, I have a major rush of shame and the fantasy dissolves.  When I fantasize about women, they can be women I know (no, nobody who reads this, so don’t get all freaked out, I am not flirting with any of you), and there can be fantasized conversation and cuddling after – and while the inevitable rush of shame still shows up, it’s slower and weaker.

So what does any of this mean?  Who knows.  How much is related to my actual sexuality as opposed to my messed up emotional state.  Who knows.  I still don’t *want* to deal with the social ramifications of having a girlfriend (though that’s less of an issue in this metro area than in many other places), and of course I really don’t want to try to explain ANY of this to some of my Baha’i friends (though some won’t care at all, after the initial startlement).  Recently kind of came out to a friend of mine.  Mostly by accident (didn’t double-check all of my pronouns before I clicked “send”).  She recently turned standoffish – and I can’t help but wonder if it’s related.  Who knows; in the meantime, I also started completely losing my emotional balance, which she does not tend to handle well, so hard to know what was a factor and what wasn’t, and what is just me overreacting in the first place.  But none of that really matters because neither my current financial nor emotional states will even begin to permit me to pursue anybody of either gender.

But seriously, if I could, how does one even start?  “Hello, I have no idea if I am or could potentially be attracted to you or your gender in general, I’m just experimenting, even though we are now many years out of college – want to be my science project?”.  I think my pick up line needs work. :/

How the hell does everybody else figure this stuff out? (of course, for starters, they don’t wait until their mid 30s to make a START)

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Dreams

Had some interesting dreams the past two nights. Both about people from the studio, which is interesting considering what all has been going on in my crazy brain about that this past week.

Two nights ago, it was about Diana. I was at the studio. It was the end of the day – but sunny out, so maybe it was a Saturday? I don’t know. Everyone was leaving and I was going to stay and clean (as happens a lot IRL), but for some reason I decided that I needed to learn to do a cartwheel on the right side – with right hand going down first/left leg kicking up first. Don’t know why, but it was suddenly super important. This is actually true, IRL I can only do left-sided cartwheels. So in this dream, it was suddenly really important that I get this figured out. So I try to do one – but it’s like my body got confused by it. As soon as my hands hit the floor, my arms gave out and I collapsed on the floor. Hadn’t kicked my legs off yet, so I can’t even use the term “fell”, it didn’t hurt. I think I was giggling about it. Diana had popped in just then to turn off the lights in the room, and of course asked what I was up to, if I was okay, etc. I explain that I’m trying to learn to do a cartwheel on the right side, and she thinks for a moment and then decides that she’s going to teach me. She grabs one of the tumbling mats and pulls it out, while she’s telling me that she doesn’t want me messing with tumbling on my own, especially after everyone has left, because what if I got hurt and nobody was around? But not upset or scolding-like, and in fact it felt really good that she cared enough to worry. So she gets a mat out and we work for a while. The only thing I remember clearly about that part is one attempt where I tried to kick off with my right leg first, like I do in the cartwheel I know how to do, and of course it totally didn’t work and we cracked up.

I guess I got it, at some point, because a little while later we were on the road. I think the teams were going on some kind of vacation trip, and I got to go along as a chaperon. We were going to Club Tahoe, which is again linked to real life – my family had a time share condo up there, a ski week. In the dream, we were in the Bay Area, so it wasn’t far to Tahoe (this may have come from catching up on Dance Moms – they were in Tahoe for the national competition). Everyone was on their own to get there, but I got to ride with Diana and her boyfriend. He was driving, she was riding shotgun, and I was in the back with… their golden retriever? LOL. No idea where the golden retriever came from, Diana does not have a dog. The dog decided that it didn’t want to ride in the other seat, it wanted to ride on my lap. So I’m behind Diana, with the dog curled up sleeping on my lap… we weren’t even talking about anything in particular, nothing would have been deeply memorable about that moment if it had been real, just this sweet moment of connection and belonging. Woke up feeling happy and relaxed and loved – which is unusual for me, but I liked it.

The other one was a little more typical of my dreams. A little darker, a little more disturbing. This one was last night, and it featured Jessica. For some reason, I had gone home for Christmas. Yes, home. As in, Bay Area. As in, the parents I haven’t spoken to in 5 years. Even in the dream, I couldn’t recall having *started* speaking to them again, and I didn’t know why I was there. We were talking, at least, but everything was uneasy. I couldn’t get a break, since my friends are all up here and I had no place to go (apparently I couldn’t get out to the library or anything). It was Christmas Eve and we were bringing the presents down (in our family, they don’t go under the tree until Christmas Eve). There were piles and piles of them, as there always were (my family loves Christmas) – but only one was for me. And it was a tiny little thing, small and flat, shabbily wrapped in newspaper with no ribbon or anything, amidst all the finery. It wasn’t about greed, but it HURT to just have that one crappy little package (and I think it was from Grandma and not from them anyway). It was a crystal clear message that after all this time, they didn’t WANT me back. But of course, nothing was being said – everyone was acting pleasant, but everything was quiet and strained and awful. Cut to Christmas morning and for some reason me and Dad and my brother are all going a movie, taking some kind of public transit. Like the Max, except that they don’t have that there. Like BART, but that’s not in the South Bay. Whatever. Oh, and there was snow on the ground. It DOES NOT snow in Saratoga, but hey – my brain is an odd place. Anyway, so we’re heading for the train station, on foot, and somehow I know that we aren’t all going to be able to be on the train – like there’s not enough space or something? Why wasn’t clear, and wasn’t the point. I told them to go on and I’d catch the next train, it would still get me there in time for the movie. There’s some desultory argument, but the train is leaving, so they get on. The minute it’s out of sight, I start walking away. I’m not even going anywhere in particular, I just feel like I’m going to explode – and I have no intention of going to the movie with them. I don’t want to go home either, because Mom is there. I’m just randomly walking, and crying my eyes out – there aren’t many people on the street, and even when I see someone, I’m too brokenhearted to stop. Then I hear a familiar voice, and I look up, and Jessica is there with her family. Her older son comes and gives me a hug (which I can’t even imagine happening IRL!) – oh, and in the dream, he’s taller than me. He and his brother and their dad then keep walking while Jess comes to hold me for a minute. Without any words exchanged, she somehow knows what’s going on and why I can’t stop crying, and I somehow know that she’s going to have me come stay with them until the holidays are over and I can come back home (to Oregon) – because she can’t stand the thought of me staying where I’m not wanted and where I’m hurting so badly.

Now, I have no clue why my brain put Jessica and her family in the Bay Area when all of the rest of my friends were up here. Maybe because I know she used to live down there – heck, I saw her in a few musicals when I was in high school, though I didn’t know it at the time. Woke up in a strange blend of deep grief over being so thoroughly rejected by my family and yet a sweet feeling of being loved and supported by my friend. Made for a strange day – I think I’m just as glad that I didn’t get called in.

Needs

Talking about sex. Y’all have been warned. I’ll try to minimize the TMI factor.

So according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, sex is on a par with eating and breathing. Makes me wonder about the fact that I’m 33 and living like a nun. Coupled with the fact that my sexual partners have been VERY few and far between and I literally have not been touched with any kind of intimacy in over 5 years. I know that sex can do great things for one’s anxiety levels and general emotional state, so it does make me suspect I might be healthier if I wasn’t celibate.

It’s interesting to me how much we emphasize at work how infants need skin-to-skin contact – but it’s so bloody hard to even get a hug in this society. This is part of why I get massages whenever I can – not only do I need the stress reduction, but I just freaking need to be TOUCHED sometimes. I swear that I get as much benefit simply from the touch of her hands on my body as I do from the actual manipulation of my muscles.

I have a strong suspicion that most of my sexual issues, at this point, can’t really be solved without actually being in a sexual relationship. And yet a large part of why I can’t handle being a relationship is related to the degree of shame I have around sex. Quite a catch-22, there. I also don’t have anything even remotely resembling enough emotional maturity (or ego strength) to handle a relationship, so the point is moot anyway, but it’s an interesting conundrum. Right up there with how I suspect sex would lower my anxiety – but my anxiety is too high to handle the thought of sex.

My friend has been loaning me books in a series written by Ilona Andrews. Just read the one where the protagonist finally got her relationship with the lord of the shapeshifters started. I skimmed over the sex scene (very tastefully written, I did note), but what really caught my eye was a bit later in the book – when she’s in the bath and he joins her. They have sex later, but the part that really caught my mind was just the concept of her laying against his chest. Just that moment of connection. Not sexual, just intimate. THAT’S what I really want. Connection, contact, intimacy… That’s what made me long to be her, for just a second (though no longer, since she’s constantly fighting for her life – or someone else’s).

My Own Place In It All

So I was talking with Diana tonight after everyone left the studio, and one thing she mentioned was that if it weren’t for the studio, she would *never* choose to live here. The weather is really hard on her (she’s from San Diego, she’s a total sun goddess). I said that, selfishly, I was really glad that she was here – because for all that I love dance, it would not be the same without Studio One and without *her* in particular. She then said that I would eventually find my own place in it all, separate from my bond with her – which got me thinking about that bond and everything that feeds it and stems from it.

I didn’t get this kind of emotional reaction when I was dancing at CCC, nor at Vega. I think that it’s related to how intertwined everything is in my life. When I dance, it’s not “just” about dance – it’s also about my body image issues, my eating disorders, my safety and security issues, my ridiculously fragile ego and self-esteem… I can’t separate things out right now. It’s fun, when your own parents can’t be trusted and cross the line to abuse, it messes everything up – including leaving you all crazy needy, making it very hard to maintain friendships. I’m still impressed with how Diana managed to reset boundaries with me, *without* me freaking out and trying to hide. Well, I guess I did try – but she didn’t let me. And I love that. And that’s another long story that I won’t get into right now.

When kids have a secure family life, they can be brave and excited and explore the world. And I kind of feel like I’m making up for that with the studio now. She’s been willing to work with me even when my finances are bad, which means that I can at lest rely on being able to be there. It’s hard having had Kaitlyn leave – but I know that Diana and Rose will be around for the long haul. And most of all, I *know*, bone-deep, soul-deep, that I can trust Diana. The list of people I can say that about is amazingly short. Having that level of trust gives me the freedom to open up, to try, to experiment with stuff and be at least less terrified. At the start of this term, Diana asked me to demonstrate fouette turns in front of the class. I haven’t done a successful fouette turn since I was about 19 years old. Honestly, if Kaitlyn had asked me to demonstrate fouette turns (which would never have happened, but that’s a whole other story), I probably would have fallen apart, because no matter how much I loved her, I didn’t have that same kind of trust. With Diana, yeah I made a face, and had a moment of desperately wanting to hide – but I took a breath, and I tried it, and it actually *happened*! Which is still mind-boggling to me. And having had it work out gives me a base to be a little more willing to try again next time, you know? Baby steps. And I suspect that eventually, enough of these baby steps will pile up that I won’t get all freaked out and withdraw when there’s a new teacher being interviewed. Or when someone says something that sounds like it could apply to someone with no dance background, and I get all crazy self conscious about whether my technique looks *that* bad. Or whatever. And I’m betting that that’s what she meant by eventually finding my own place in it all – but me being me, I suspect that it wouldn’t happen, or would happen a LOT more slowly, if I didn’t have someone I could connect with and trust on this level.

Maybe I’ll finally get a chance to rebuild some of the trust and security that my mother so carelessly destroyed. Wouldn’t that be something?

On rules and restrictions

So I’m technically a Baha’i. I’ve never revoked my signature card. But I’m really not a Baha’i. I have some issues with the restrictions – it’s supposedly a progressive religion, and yet things like alcohol and drugs and sex outside of marriage are COMPLETELY forbidden. Did we learn nothing in the 20s during Prohibition about how well people respond to complete restrictions? I agree that addictions and promiscuity need to be addressed, but this isn’t the way to do it.

But my biggest issue is how it’s supposedly all about community and acceptance and not judging – yet homosexuality is also COMPLETELY forbidden. Never mind that homosexuality occurs in every species that mates for life, mammalian and avian alike. Never mind that we are supposedly created perfect – yet people with this variation of perfection are never allowed to fall in love and be together. Huh?

I got to thinking about this because last night I went to a concert of my favorite local musician – who happens to be transsexual, female to male. I couldn’t care less – he’s still a wonderful singer, and Alec is clearly happier and more comfortable in his skin than Heather ever was, so I’m happy for him. It’s that simple, in my world. But it got me to wondering what the “official” Baha’i stance “should” be. Heather was married to a man, Alec is married to a woman – so technically that should be fine, I guess. No homosexuality on either side. And what about serial monogamy? To me, that’s not a whole lot better than polygamy, adultery, or promiscuity – but technically, it would be “acceptable” to the Baha’i’s. Whereas I think I would benefit greatly from sessions with a sexual surrogate, if only a) such things were legal, and b) I could afford it, but that would be forbidden to me as a Baha’i, never mind my background and needs.

I have a friend who, after much intense self-work, fell in love with a woman. She had to relinquish her position on the LSA (local spiritual assembly) because of it, and I heard from mutual friends that she lost some close friendships because of it – because she had some Baha’i friends who couldn’t handle that she was now in a homosexual relationship. How is that something to be supported or condoned by a religion that says it’s all about love, community, and non-judgement?

I have another friend who went to consult with his LSA about the issue, because it’s one of many things that’s causing him to question his faith. He was told, point-blank, that this is exactly why people shouldn’t be talking/thinking/etc about it – because all it does is cause divisiveness and loss of faith. Um, even the military finally figured out that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” actively causes harm. We can’t just stick our heads in the dirt and pretend that alternative sexualities don’t occur.

I haven’t considered myself an actual Baha’i for quite some time. I drink again – in moderation, as always – and I do periodically toy with trying to find a sexual surrogate. And I don’t much care. I’ve never been one for religion anyway, no matter how I’ve wished for the comfort that I see others achieve from it, and I wasn’t an “active” Baha’i for long enough for it to have become particularly ingrained for me. My main issue is the friends I have who think I’m Baha’i – I’m still so low on self-esteem and such that I don’t want to deal with the confrontations when/if it comes up. But for this friend who went to the LSA about the homosexuality issue? It’s a much bigger deal. He’s been a Baha’i for a very long time. His wife is and they’ve been raising their children with the values. It’s a major piece of his personality, and would cause major upheaval both in his world and in his psyche. Is causing major upheaval in his world and his psyche.

Not sure where I’m going with any of this. I’m just frustrated by the whole thing, I guess.

On Birthdays

So today’s my birthday. Technically yesterday, I guess, since it’s after midnight.

I have serious birthday issues.

This is for a few reasons, I guess. The first and most obvious reason is the whole lack of family issue. Birthdays are family affairs, really, once you’re not a little kid anymore.

Also, while everyone is happy to make Facebook posts saying “happy birthday”, really very few people actually care. As crazy as my mother is, she was really good at birthdays. She’d organize a party, make a gorgeous cake, and get people to show up.

I can make decent cake. Not so much good-looking. Everything else I totally fail at.

One can only go through so many iterations of trying to plan a party, inviting people a month or two in advance (and then sending reminders), having them assure you they’ll be there, only to have them back out at the last minute. Usually for things like “oh, so-and-so wanted to have a drink”. Seriously? This is my BIRTHDAY. You promised me a month and a half ago that you’d come. You assured me that you wouldn’t miss it for the world. When I reminded you, you told me you couldn’t wait. Now somebody just randomly wants to hang out, and that’s somehow more important? What the fuck?

You know, I already have major self-esteem issues. And I already feel like I’m last priority for everybody in the world. It’s a hard place to be – most people at least have family or sweethearts or SOMEBODY with whom they can rank higher, but I have no family (yes, by choice, but still), no sweetheart, and I’m not family (and so not priority) for anybody. And yeah, I know this and mostly I’m used to it. But it hurts to have it rubbed in so hard on what’s “supposed” to be a special day.

So, fine. No more parties. And for most people that would be fine – at least they have family and can do a birthday dinner with them. Family’s a given, right? Oh wait, see above re: I have none. So then what do you do? Seems awfully rude to go to someone and be all “gee, I think you should make/buy me lunch/dinner for my birthday”… sigh. I did finally get over myself and tell Kat that I wanted to get together with her. Still felt like I was being all demanding, but she just laughed at that part. 🙂

Then there’s the general issue I have with holidays in general. I remember how excited I was as a kid over just about any holiday (even though my general lack of creativity was stressful at Halloween) – but now, while I desperately want to feel that again, I get to the holiday and all I can feel is “eh, it’s just another day, who cares?”. And this makes me very sad. I initially hoped that it was related to my depression – but my depression is under control now and it hasn’t shifted. Maybe it would be different if I lived with someone and we could feed off of each other’s anticipation and excitement, but that’s not an option at this point in time.

So… yeah. Birthdays stress me out. Today was actually quite sweet, for which I am grateful. I am happy that I had dance tonight, too – dance is the most important thing in my life at this point, my studio family is important to me, so it just seems appropriate.

My Dance, Finally

So for anybody who reads this who isn’t on my Facebook (does anybody even read this?), I have finally “finished” my dance. I don’t think that any creative work is every truly “complete”, but I haven’t made any major changes in a few months now. And I finally removed the worst of the things I can’t do at all.

Of course, I mostly still have issues with it. I watch it and all I want to say is “OMG did you see me fall out of that pique turn?” “Holy crap, I should have held that longer.” “Wow, that doesn’t look at ALL the way I pictured it.” Etc. Because I’m way too hard on myself, I know that, plus see above re: creative works never being truly “complete”. I’m trying to get out of my own way on this one – Diana was SUPER excited about this performance, and she’s seen it a fair few times. Got lots of positive feedback on Facebook too, but of course there’s a bit of “yeah, but, they’re my friends, and friends can lie to make each other feel better, plus they aren’t dancers, etc” – yeah, part of my brain is a snob. And it’s NOT that I don’t value their feedback, it’s just that part of me that has such a hard time actually believing anything good about myself. You all know that piece too, right? I think it’s a pretty common piece.

I got a fairly amazing email from someone I linked to this piece. I’m going to copy/paste here – not to toot my own horn, but to have it someplace where I’m less likely to lose it, and to remind myself to read it now and again.

Anyway, here’s the video. Sorry the sound is so crappy, my camera doesn’t have much of a microphone on it.

(and the email, for my own reference):

Well Uh, no WONDER she’s excited! Damn Shalora! I’m speechless! You are a different person on the floor, all purging your stuff but with this seasoned, obviously practiced grace and style and the most beautiful dramatic flair. I can feel your pain in the sad parts, and your joy in the exhilarant parts. And you came up with this yourself?? Of course you did, you are brilliant and I’m not saying that to make you feel better. No shit.

Let’s see, here’s what I was thinking while I watched:
Damn I wish I could move around on the floor like that! Especially going down – and then coming back up! All to music! Didn’t miss a beat!

Wow, I think she’s tapped into some serious creative juice here, she could have a future in choreography!

Damn there she goes rolling down onto the floor again and then up all in smooth flow like it was effortless. Wonder if she can teach me how to do that!

Did she loose weight too? Look how graceful her movements all are. Wowie! And look how she goes to each corner of the room the way that gymnasts do! And look how she points her toes so beautifully, like she’d been practicing for years, oh, right, she has. Well it sure does look normal on her. She has great style in all of this, great form. I’d give that like a 9.8 if she were in the olympics. She’s going to have to do more with this, choreograph more. She is GOOD.

Is that really Shalora or an alter self? She looks like a freed gazelle and a sad swan alternatingly. Wow I could never keep up with her! Wow, Shalora is Blooming! in all kinds of ways! Yay!!

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