Bad Days

It's often on the worst days
   the ones where something catches me
   completely off-guard,
   when my brain freezes
    and then explodes in panic
  that i see the clearest.

 Those days,
   the ones i start spiraling
     out of the carefully
   the ones you catch
      when i reach out
  the days that
   i wind up
    with gratitude,
   limp with happiness
     feeling too needy for words,
    but so much calmer

   those are the days i see
    i am not a burden
        i am not too much,
   that it's okay
    for me to need support
    and that you don't resent
     my asking,
    that there are people out there
    who will meet my pleas
    for reassurance
     with care,
    with "we're here"
   with love.

The reminders that
   i don't have to bury myself
    in fear and doubt.

  And that stays
   on the days i want to hide,
   reminding me
   that the depression and anxiety
       that i'm a whole human being,
   and i am allowed
  to need you.


Lessons Learned

   complete alone,
  but happy with
     afraid, but constantly
   hedged about with protections
  emotionally motivated
   unwilling to talk/unable to shut
the owner of a mask that 90%
   of the people i meet
   will never
    past -
  and if you think you've seen
  behind the mask,
   trust me:
   unless you have seen me
  undone by emotion,
      held me
   while i dissolved in tears
   or in the aftermath
   of a panic attack
  or had
  a three am conversation
   about things in the center
   of both our beings,

i am
allowed to make my own choices
   about who i let in
i am
   too quick to accept guilt
    for denying the fantasies of strangers
   and i need to remember
     that while i am responsible
    for being honest
    and true to myself in my interactions
   with others,
  for making sure fantasies
   and reality
   ever match up.
i am
  quick to love
   and slow to let go,
   unable to forget
 but quick to forgive
and understand
   my forgiveness is for you
  but also
  for myself,
   because i refuse to hate
  no matter what is done.
i am
  a service-oriented
  and i am the only one
 who decides
 to whom
   i submit.
i am


Sex sex sex


i so often
   stand aloof,
  closed off, turned away
  because once i let you in,
  once we've met
  in that intimacy,
  the craving becomes a thing
  so strong
  the smell of your skin
     has me reacting,
  much less a casual touch
  or deliberate one; i
  can only let so many
  or i might
   explode with longing:

   Let me learn you
  with hands and lips and tongue,
  run your hands over
  of my body;
  let me find the places
   that bring gasps
   or moans,
  lose myself in you
   memorize your taste and smell.
  Find out
   what barely grazing my skin
  with your fingertips
  looks like under lamplight,
   day, and twilight casts,
how it makes me writhe,
  let my lips speak
  secrets on your skin -
Can we just
  be lost together
  buried in each other's flesh
  for a little while?



Since childhood
   she has learned
  that wishes, spoken aloud,
   can be twisted
  brought to life in horribly unexpected ways
   A child snatched by goblins,
    hearts ripped out
      or skin torn off,
  people twisted into
   caricatures of themselves
    by helpless, obsessive love wishes
   So she locks her wishes down
     keeps them behind her lips,
      inside her skull,
   someplace safe
     and warm
    and so private
  no one will ever, ever hear
    and twist
what she wants
   into some fucked up version
   of reality.


Why are we so gentle on those
   surrounding us
    and so hard on ourselves?

  Why express loathing, over and over,
      of the things we despise in ourselves
     the "weaknesses" or "flaws"
when we can see the beauty of them
   in those we care for?

  i tell my friends
    over and over
   they are lovely, wonderful, gorgeous,
   good enough
     for anyone or anything
  while fighting my own feeling
    that i must ask permission
   for everything -
    to talk,
   to exist,
    to take up space
      in others' lives
   to BE

i tell them
   "pay attention to your limits"
  while fighting my own
    until i force panic attacks,
    unraveling all the triggers
 because i want to be DONE.
   No more fragility
  no more feeling of being pathetic,
   ignored and left behind.

i tell them
  "you are never a burden,"
  "anything you want or need
    that i am capable of,
      just ask me"
"you don't have to isolate yourself"

while shutting myself down,
   feeling that if i reach out,
     if i expect attention from anyone
   a burden.

And while i know, logically,
   that i am not a burden,
    not pathetic or weak
      or a waste of space
   or resented for reaching out,
    burrowing into one's own head
   is so much harder
     than saying it to someone else.


The Hardest Lessons

The hardest lessons
   i have had to learn
   all involve myself.

  That it is okay
    to not be okay,
    even on the days that
  and i can no longer respond
   to even gentle humor.

That in spite of it being easier
  to blame myself than
  to acknowledge if someone i love
    is to blame for anything,
   i cannot blame myself
   for everything, and that
  the way i'm treated is NOT
    necessarily a reflection
   of who i am.

That i'm allowed to have emotions,
   that no one gets to dictate
    how deeply i feel, or about what,
     and that i'm not fucked up
    just because i react strongly.

That i'm human,
   allowed to expect
  the things the voice
   in the back of my head
   tells me i don't deserve,
  that i should never expect.

That my needs are valid,
   not problems
  and not issues i need to fix.
That i'm allowed to look
  into another person's eyes
  and say "No," clearly,
  and that it is their problem
 if they cannot accept it.

That i am worth loving
  even on the days
  i feel completely unlovable.
That the longing i feel
  is valid
  no matter what.


Frustration, or Wading Through the Crap

What no one tells you:

the sheer
sometimes frenzied

there is in healing
the loops
around and around
back through fears that surprise

The urge to connect,
to reach out
to beg
for attention
that will help silence the fear.
The overcoming of
that guilt
the conviction that he was right
that you're actually insane
and even once you're healing
even once you're mostly okay
even the times you feel
part of you remains convinced
that it will all come crashing down.

Being convinced
that everyone is
angry at you
tired of you
not knowing how or why
and that's part of it.

The inability to even articulate
what you want
because fuck if you know.
All you know is that you cycle
from fear of change
to fear of everything
and back again,
and even once you begin
to eradicate the fears,
they sneak up and
ambush you
at the most unexpected times
and with the people
you shouldn't be afraid of.

The simultaneous
fear of silence - shit, did i
just upset them? Did i do or say
something wrong?
Are they angry?
And urge to curl up
in a convenient hole
and just
come out,
because silence
can be so comforting
if you choose it.

And gods,
the acid taste
of bringing up the thoughts
anything that makes you

Having to remember:
you are not
a bad person
your friends are not angry
your concerns are valid.
No matter how hard it is
to remember any of that.

Though you can
let yourself be so
at the most surprising times
and in the oddest ways
when you are made unexpectedly
or when a stranger
calls you beautiful,
calls you good girl,
and you realize
as you crumple toward tears,
was all you wanted.



For Literaturesexual Wednesday: Write all the things? Writing is sometimes the best or only outlet i have, especially when i can't find words when trying to explain myself.
   caught at the intersection
of unexpected pain
   and equally unexpected happiness,
i freeze
  unable to fully acknowledge
      unsure of which way to turn
   to expose the pain in words
     because half the time
i cannot adequately verbalize it,
  and i am afraid
   of being met with judgement
    instead of understanding.
    And when i manage
      and am met with a casual "fix it"
i fight the urge to withdraw
    run away
   i don't see it as something
    that is a serious problem -
it is part of me
   the part that enables me to be so vulnerable
    the part that allows me to reach out
      the part that lets me connect
   to anyone at all,
the part
   that causes collapse
     into a flood of tears
      at unexpected kindness
and it does


A List of Reasons Why You Shouldn't Date Me:

   i'm often irritable
      or angry
   and i can't always explain why.

   i feel everything
   so deeply
     that i sometimes cannot
    completely control my emotional responses,
     and it's the little things
  that affect me most.

   between the anxiety
    and the depression
   there are days i desperately need
    i often cannot ask -
  i dread
  just an annoyance
  just a burden
  just a pain.

Because i'm a brat,
   and sometimes it's cute
   but other times
   i see the line
   and dance blithely across it,
   until smacked
    or reprimanded.

  while expensive presents
  make me incredibly uncomfortable,
  i am a downright whore
  for attention
  And like a cat,
  other times i just want
  to be left alone.

   i can talk for HOURS
  about fabric,
   or embroidery,
   or obscure historical facts
   or pretty much anything else
  but mostly
  i apologize too much
   for my own passions.

  i refuse connections
  or hand myself over
   without a second thought
and there is no telling
 which you'll get -
   and when i choose
  handing myself over,
 i often grow afraid
   after the fact,

   i am not
   everyone's cup of tea
  as the saying goes,
   but maybe
   i'm someone's
  shot of whiskey
  once in a while.

  part of me waits
 for any new
  to go sideways
regardless of what i do
  or don't do.



i am discovering
   that i do not know
     how to want
the things i'm told
  cannot exist.
   The things
    that my subconscious
   revisits in dreams
   but that may never
   see the light
   of day.
 But oh
  i miss them
  when i wake up
   and remember
  they were only



she spends her days
   in silence, stillness,
   content to be alone.
  she longs for contact
  acknowledgement that she IS.

  she knows where she stands
   and is content, even - when she feels it -
   she longs for something else,
not sure what, but something.

  she's adult
she's a child
   wild and silly
  capable of going so far
   that she gets smacked down.

she's loving
 unafraid of showing her feelings
she's silent
   and fearful of being
  so vulnerable
  with anyone.

she's terrified
  of everything
 but makes herself pretend
  to be brave
  because sometimes
"Fake it til you make it"
  actually works.

she doesn't ever want
  to hurt or upset anyone
 she cares for
   she can be a total
   pain in the ass.

she needs no approval
   no "Good job" or
  "good girl" or pats on the back
  from anyone
  to feel good about herself.
But if you want to see her
   when the right people
  use one of those phrases.

she forgets to say
  to anyone
  for weeks;
  she talks incessantly
   and can't remember
how to be still.

she is entirely
  she feels
like she cannot survive
  without that ring
 around her throat.

Take her apart,
  and you will find
  equal parts
prickly bitchiness
 and open love,
  and impulsiveness,
  something beautiful
 and strange
entirely accessible
and entirely beyond
anyone's grasp.



 physical and mental healing
   don't go well together.
Giving my body
   the time it needs to heal
  has given my mind
   time to turn in on itself
 and i can't get to the surface
   some days.
 Some days i'm fine,
  vegging on shows and
   cuddling with the pup and kitties;
 others i cannot escape my own brain
   and where the hell do you go
   to escape those insidious
  whispers at the back of your
   The constant anxiety,
   waiting to be told you're annoying
    or slapped away
  from everyone you know,
  the insistent voice that says
 you trusted your instincts
  and he fucked
 so don't get too comfortable now, bitch.
  Do it.
It isn't safe.
  i feel like a kitten
  curled up in a ball
  waiting for the petting hand
  to slap it
  this is so much more
 insidious than the physical was.
i have to reprogram my own brain
  remind myself that i DO have worth
 i'm worthy of being loved
 i'm a good person,
  i'm an interesting person
 i have been
into my brain for eight months
  and it's still hard to remember
and some days
 i want affection in the worst way
 but how do i ask anyone
  say "hey, i need reassurance"
  when i'm curled in a ball
 in a corner
 somewhere safe
 not reaching out
 because hey,

it's safer here.

The Dichotomy of Being an Introverted Empath

i get the funniest looks
 when i say "i'm an introvert."
  "i need alone time."
  "i'm shy."
No one seems to grasp
   that the outgoing friendliness is,
    for me,
  a defense mechanism; that every contact
   comes with a cost in bravery at
  opening up to anyone else.
  That the fight between
   the needs of every
   i meet
   and my own needs
   exhausts me, some days.
   That any time i open up
    and let another person in
  some part of their life,
   their story,
   their pain
 echoes in my own heart,
   that i choose
   so carefully
 who i let in
   and who i hold away.
No one sees
  that the inside of my head
  is a landscape made up of
    and mountains
   wild forests
 and all of it empty
   save for me
   and whomever i allow
   to enter.
That my emotions run on
   and whomever i let in,
    be they friend
  or lover
   or random stranger
 those people are so carefully
  because i cannot
   hold the pain of the entire world
but i can hold the pain of a few people.
  Never feel sorry
   for me.
 There are things in my head
  more beautiful and strange
 than most imagine exist
  inside of me,
  and the choosing i do
   is never a burden.
It isn't a question
   of who is worthy and who isn't,
  but of whose pain
  i'm strong enough to bear
  without once feeling burdened,
  who i can spend time with
   and not need to run home;
   who feels safe, trustworthy,
  and who
  It's a question
   of whose motivations i understand,
    not whether or not i am hurt.
   It's a question
   of where i choose
   to let my love go,
   regardless of whether
   that love is ever returned
    in any measure.
i once had a friend
   tell me
  that i was too patient, too understanding,
    too nice.
  i let in
   the people who need
 what i'm capable of giving.
The people who won't
  walk over me and then away,
   the ones who don't hit my flags
   in ways that tell me run away,
   the ones who need those
  moments of safety
    and i can't explain
  what makes me let one in
   and shut one out.
All i know
  is that if their lives
   are in any way improved
 through that contact,
   it is worth everything.


i'm a writer

Give me a pen
  and enough paper
  and i can write you an impassioned
 on my thoughts
  my feelings
  everything about myself.
   i can be direct,
   discuss things that would normally
    terrify me to admit;
 i can be open about
   my feelings
everything there is.
Ask me to vocalize these things
  and i stumble
  the glottal stops i thought were trained
    out of me by a particularly neurotic
   high school English teacher
   becoming all my words
i will tell you ten thousand
  about everything and anything
   except what i'm supposed
   to be talking about.
i've never understood
   this disconnect
  between writing and speaking -
   surely either way
 it's the same words in the same brain
   and they ought to come out the same.
  But with paper,
   i can edit, re-edit, rewrite,
   perfect each line and word
   in ways that speech has never offered.
  i don't have to worry (and sometimes,
    worry becomes all i am)
    about misspeaking,
   making things seem less important
   than they are
   or more.
i have a chance to say precisely what i mean to,
   rather than a crude, stammered approximation
   of gratitude
   or pain
    or love
   or fear
or anything else.

i'm not everyone's toy

i've always had
   a break
    between the absence of boundaries
   with those i love and the bubble i erect
     with strangers.

 i am a pet; i blossom under the right touch
   and please let me know
    when i've been a good girl,
  and please put a hand
   on my head and love me
  and please
   touch my neck, trace the line of my shirt,
   but do not
  if i don't know you.

i am service-oriented;
   i will go to the ends of the damn earth
   if asked to by those who have earned the right

But you have to earn it.

Understand: i am not your toy
  not your plaything on which to foist
   your personal fantasy,
   Not not not
  anyone's for the taking
i answer only to those i deem worthy
  and it's a slippery slope
   between pleasant greeting and fuck off,
   if you take the wrong tone with me
   or try to apply rights or pet names
   where they are not welcome.

i choose to whom i belong
   or want to belong
i choose who i want touching me
   i. choose.
   and you do not have that right
unless i let you know you do.

i am a pet,
  and you will find out
 if you are not careful
just how fast
that door can slam.



Some days i'm fine
  functional, stable adulthood
   responding to emails
    making lists
  doing everything
  Able to communicate effortlessly,
    organized and brilliant and effective.
   Able to handle any situation
    get a grip on my emotions and do what i need to
      regardless of how scary it is.

 And the rest
  lost inside my head
 that i am hopeless,
  unable to ever explain myself
   peeling off my skin
   and revealing the layers
    unable to say Please
  unable to say
because silence,
   that's safer.
   And i am so scared
    terror that eats into the back
     of my brain,
    and i want to say "NO"
  And i get so angry
    at myself
   for believing that silence
   will ever accomplish
    anything. That avoidance
    of everything,
  all of it
 will ever

   and bewildered
 and feeling so
   for being this emotional.



i joke about the duality
   between normal!brain and
     Anxiety!Brain: Able to Leap to the Worst Conclusion in a Single Bound

But the reality is
   anxiety is the tiny voice in the back of your brain
     that never
 shuts off.

It is the voice that tells you
   that no, there ARE opinions that matter
    and it isn't going to care if
     your logical brain says that no, that one doesn't.

It's the shying from conversations
   the shutting off of your own emotion
     the refusal to see yourself
       the confusion once you do.

It is the voice that says You
   Are Not Allowed
   to have negative emotions,
   because if you do -
    if you do,
     you're nothing but a burden.

  It is the voice that says you are not -
    will never be -
     enjoyed for who, for what you are

that maybe who and what you are
   shouldn't exist

 and even when you manage to shunt
    most of that to the side,
      silence some,

  force yourself into some semblance
    of calm and reality and acceptance
   random moments
   will catch you utterly off-guard

Like the moment your friend says
   you have accepted him more fully
   than people he's known for decades,

  and you realize

it's because you want that, desperately,
   from those whose opinions actually matter.

Those moments you remember
   that one year,
  ten years ago,
   where every time
    your phone rang

it was someone else you loved dead
and it left you so irrational about phone calls
   and the thought of picking up the phone
  comes with a mix of "They'll think
    Something Bad Happened" and
  feeling like you need permission.

When you realize
   that one word can calm
     or twist your thoughts
into massive confusion
   and all it takes is one.

When you recognize
    that a lot of the plans you make
   on a day to day basis
on coping mechanisms

And when you know
   that opening up to anyone
     feels as though you are offering
   raw, flayed underbelly
    unless it doesn't,
    and that "doesn't"
  inevitably catches you

And you see clearly
  that you're simultaneously
   capable of infinite
But beneath the surface
  that damn voice is saying,


And that voice doesn't care
   if you happen to know for a fact
 that it isn't true.
It doesn't matter, nothing matters
   except the monologue behind your eyes
   that says
 You must be useful
  and if you're not, then


But you know better.
   You know your worth
  has never depended on
   your usefulness.
Not that anxietybrain
   cares any more about it.


The Unexpected Aftereffects of Emotional Abuse

You never know
   what will hit
   or when
 or how
until you're bent double
   or suddenly running,
   gasping under the weight
 of yet another unintentional comment
   and you never know
 who will hit,
   a random co-worker,
      a friend who would never want
   to hurt you,
  a stranger on the street
and suddenly the back of your brain,
     that part conditioned to believe
 that surely
   of course
    ANYTHING bad is true
 because when he presented all your "faults"
   he said "You want the truth? I'll give you the truth"
     and then he dropped bombs in your brain
   with the force of a fucking fighter plane
     and they were bad bad bad girl,
   playing the victim despite your feeling that
     everything was All Your Fault,
    casting blame on everyone around you
        never mind that three days after
    he was telling you that "everyone else"
      said it was your fault
 and hell, you already believed it
  that no one needed you,
   that you needed to be needed when you don't,
    that you had no worth
      without someone needing something
       from you
    too needy
    too emotional
       too much for him to handle
  and if the person who collared you can't,
   who else would want to, and why
      would anyone want you?

    And even now, months on,
     now that you've defused most of those triggers
  there are moments you still believe them
   How he built up good/bad girl to flying or falling
    how he used talking all the time as an "I love you" equivalent
     or ignoring you for punishment
   until you were begging
     (you swore you'd never beg)
until that sick pit
   in the bottom of your stomach
   Until you have to fight through all this shit
   to keep from projecting all his actions
     onto unsuspecting people who
     would never
Until you were so fucking desperate
   just to be told you were a decent person
     that the right voice saying "good girl"
  makes you cry.

But you can get back.
  You are not
   any of what he told you was "true"
   you are wondrous,
    strange and beautiful
   loving and child-like and adult
    lover and caretaker and wife and pet
    and you can go back there.
 You can be
    who you have always been,
     under all that insecurity.


Bad Days

Some days i'm fine
   and some,
 i feel flayed
   curling around that hole
   i didn't realize existed until
      it was already growing bigger.

The moments in which
    i realize



Twisting and turning
  i'm threading a Labyrinth
No string in my pocket
  to guide me back home
i got there somehow
   and one day i'll be home again
  Home in my heart
   in my mind
  in my soul
It's long and it's winding
 full of drop-traps
  and pitfalls
But my heart knows the way
  to take me back home.
  Even the days
  when i shrink into myself
even then i'm still moving
  still doggedly threading
  the twisted pathways
  to return to my home
And people i meet
  while threading the labyrinth
  they help me or hinder
but i keep moving on
 missing that hand
  or those eyes
  or that everything
 but i hope they'll be there
  when i get back home.
While all that i want
  is to stop here and rest
all that i need
  is your arm and your smile
i have to keep moving
  keep threading the labyrinth
by now i can see it,
  i see my way home.
He's waiting there for me,
  been waiting for years now
 for me to emerge and to
  find my way home
 and while i have hope
  that you'll meet me there someday
i have to keep moving
  to finally get home.


Conscious recognition

This isn't a request for advice; it's an "i can't possibly be the only one experiencing this particular dichotomy between friendship and romance; do you guys overcome or just accept fears? How do you feel about it? Does it weird anyone else out entirely?" post.

      My therapist has been working with me to remove the blinders i put on myself years ago. i've always been a closet romantic, and when i was a teen i had some issues with seeing romantic intent via actions - i've always placed more reliance on body language/nonverbal communication than on words, because it's a lot harder to lie nonverbally. Because i got in trouble several times over it, i forced myself to write off any actions that didn't have words backing them up as people just being friendly; over the past 4 years, i also closed myself off so badly that i stopped being able to recognize my *own* feelings if they shifted.

     With her help, i've been regaining emotional control after having cracked that shell open wide immediately following my and X's breakup, as well as consciously acknowledging my feelings. i've dealt directly with some of them, specifically in regards to one couple i'm friends with. The other couple i'm still on the fence about even sleeping with, much less whether i could manage - or WANT - to shift from "these are friends i'm not doing anything with" to "these are people i'd be okay with dating." i've been on a date, which in and of itself was kind of a big step for my "relationship, THEN date" self :P.

    One block i'm running into is the idea of admitting my feelings to a person if they shift from friendship to romance. It isn't always easy for others to tell if that happens, as i'm overtly loving and cuddly with anyone i feel particularly close to whether i have romantic interest in them or not.

     When my therapist asked how i felt about telling a person if my feelings had shifted without them speaking up first, i had a full-on catatonic panic attack in her office. So now i'm having to figure out that divide - why do i have no issues at all telling friends i care, being affectionate, being loving, and yet flip my shit at the idea of admitting romantic love?

Is it that part of me still reacts to the whole societal ideal of love being a Huge Big Thing that will Change Your Entire Life, whereas it's unlikely that admitting to love would actually change much of anything, depending on the other person/myself/what (if anything) either of us wanted?

Is it that i'm an introvert who really doesn't like opening up to more than a few people at once?

Is it a holdover from the catastrophic experiences with X, this subconscious feeling that if i admit to romantic feeling, i'm setting myself up to end up shutting off and ignoring my instincts for someone because i'm too afraid to just let them go even if it becomes painfully obvious it needs to happen?

Is it as simple as - i don't feel i have a right to speak up, unless someone else approaches me first?

       i've been pondering a lot of questions and not finding many answers, but i feel like the only way i'm ever going to be able to progress in my own healing process, as a poly person, and in exploring potential partners and developing relationships is to somehow get over the fear/anxiety/sense of doom. i just haven't been able to figure out how to do that.


Welcome to the Clusterfuck

It feels so good
  to finally breathe
function without that horrible, sickening fear
   that "what's next?"
 Overshadowing every thought and word
   every waking moment -

but i need you to understand
   that while there are entire regions of my emotions
     the equivalent of mountains,
   lakes, rivers, oceans
 where all is beautiful and free
     where i love fiercely and deeply
    Where you can roam without worries, indulging
      in whatever expression of affection you find good

  There are also entire swaths of salted land
    and abandoned buildings
Filled with mines and booby traps
  over the past four years
   by someone who used "sorry" and "I love you"
      as if they were bandaids to cover the
 lies that were fed directly into the few insecurities
    i still had
      and expanded those insecurities
       into an actively suicidal mess
          who shut off
any possibility of connection
   because she wasn't worth
      caring about.

Why did it take me
   so long to see clearly
     so long that i'm still
  just now discovering
     new revelations
 and new shocks
   about his character and who he is
   that i told myself were totally wrong?

Love became blind fear and i covered
   all of it
 ignored my intuition
    ignored the voice that said
 for six months before we split
   that this was over,
 acknowledge it and move on
and my fear
    that feeling that he was right and i am this
    bad bad bad
   submissive and poly person
 and too emotional and too needy
  to handle
and all the bombs he dropped integrated into my being
   and it became so much easier
  to believe the lies he told
    than to see the good truths in myself
     because It Was All My Fault
   all of it
and it was so much easier to blame myself
   than to blame someone i loved,
   to listen to those outside the clusterfuck
    who told me it was not my fault.

And over the past six months
   i have been desperately working
 with an excellent bomb squad
   in the form of therapy and quality time spent
   discussing everything with my husband,
     my constant voice of reason
    to disarm and explode all that ordinance.

  But i need you to understand
   there will be days where i'm either clingy
    or entirely shut off
There will be times that i absolutely believe
   that my interest and others'
   will forever be at odds;
  That my interest and theirs will never align
     long enough to form a bond
  that doesn't terrify one of the two of us,
   That no one i love
     except the man who has stuck with me
    through nine years and
      the implosion of a relationship
         based on illusion
   Will ever love me
   and for gods' sake, DO NOT
  make the mistake others have -
do not refuse to see this man's vitality and love
  and my love for him,
  do not refuse to see how he is my sanity
    and my voice of reason every day

That this is how i love,
    with that deep undercurrent of constant, unwavering affection
        and absolute determination that things will work,
    and that he met that trust and surpassed it
   and i believe utterly
         and absolutely
 in the reality
 of meeting halfway and building
     strength and love and understanding
  in other places, with other people,
and he supports me firmly in that belief.

There will be times that you encounter parts
   and pieces of that minefield
 and sometimes not even i know
    what will set off a panic-bomb.

And so much of the time
   i spend thinking that
   i am completely foolish,
     i have no right to ask anyone to love this mess
no right to think that anyone
   would want to climb into my head and heart
      and take any chance of hitting
all that ordinance
   inside the dark parts of my being.

There will be times that
  all i need
    is a word of reassurance
 or acknowledgement
 or care
But i won't always know how to ask
   and i will try
and there are entire continents in my being

That are still beautiful and undevastated
   and i am clearing the topsoil
    from the places the earth was salted
and every
you utter

Forms itself into a backhoe to help clear that salted earth.


Care and Feeding of Your Gwen

Congratulations, you've somehow acquired a Gwen! Perhaps that should be condolences, but either way, you'll need this guide. The Gwen is weird and tends to be contradictory, but will absolutely blossom under the right touch and is worth the work of caring for.

1. On friendship: this one's pretty variable. If you've acquired her as a friend, go gently. She likes you (trust us, you'd know if she didn't) but her needs may vary from frequent in-person contact to infrequent and erratic chats via text or messenger. She's unlikely to suggest getting together, because she often doesn't think about actually seeing other people (introverts, y'all), but will probably respond enthusiastically should you suggest it. If she doesn't, don't be discouraged; she may have used up all her emotional spoons that day and simply need alone time. If she does suggest getting together, she views you as important, period.

2. On habits: the Gwen picks up random habits (vaping, going to bed at a specific time, talking a lot, scratching her butt) and doesn't break with them easily. She's a creature of habit. If you are trying to break her of one or more habits with regards to either herself or you, be kind. She may get scared.

3. On brain chemistry: she has both clinical depression and anxiety disorder. She'll have good days and shitty days, and 99% of the time they'll have nothing to do with you. Please do not take it personally if she is silent one day, or grumpy, or sad; she'll be better eventually. Do not under any circumstances utter the phrases "just get over it" or "just calm down." This summons the Redheaded Bitch.

4. On communication: she's overly honest and open, or she's completely closed off. She may talk to you once every six months, or once every few weeks, or a lot. It will depend on several factors, including level of interest, type of conversation, and whether the stars align properly that day. She may dispense personal information right and left while sitting on how she feels about you, or something you've asked her about, or she may not.

5. On seduction: she'll figure out you want to sleep with her when one of two things happen - if you are actively kissing, fondling, and undressing her or if you tell her "i want to have sex with you." If she responds enthusiastically, great! If not, don't push. It's rude.

6. On dates: if you would like to go on a date with her, your best bet is to tell her this directly - preferably with enough lead time for her to adjust (her default assumption is no romantic interest until otherwise stated) but DO NOT GIVE HER ENOUGH TIME TO OVERTHINK IT. Just don't. Four days' warning is usually good. Hints such as "i need a girlfriend who isn't flighty," "we need a girlfriend," or "i like dates" don't work. She will sympathize and continue being oblivious. If she says no, accept the no. She'll just keep saying no, with increasing irritation levels, if you push.

7. On romantic interest: she is clumsy and often blind to her own and others' feelings. If you know her well enough to actually love her, chances are she feels the same way and either hasn't acknowledged it or hasn't said anything because she assumes friendship until otherwise stated. If you express romantic interest and she indicates that your interest is not returned, accept it. To do otherwise is to expect her to produce emotions she doesn't feel, and that isn't going to happen. She will accept it if she expresses romantic interest in you and you tell her you aren't interested, trust us.

8. On moods: your Gwen does have a temper. If she gets overly snarky (not to be confused with normal snark levels, wherein she's generally silly and sarcastic), verify she's had enough food, sleep, caffeine, and nicotine lately. If necessary give her alone time. She will recover and go back to being sunny.

9. On affection: she loves it. Pet names, pets, cuddles, kisses, being told you care, all of the above are 100% good all day every day for as long as you feel like doling them out. Assuming she's comfy with you invading her weirdly flexible personal space. Keep in mind that spurts of affection interspersed with little/no expression of affection may result in her anxiety going haywire because she's unsure which side of that equation is accurate.

10. On fear: the Gwen has several fears. It goes with the territory of depression and anxiety. If you inadvertently hit a fear-trigger and she misbehaves, gentle but firm reminders that she's safe, you care, but the behavior is unacceptable will correct her behavior. If treated harshly, she will retreat into silent confusion and often wind up afraid to even bring up situations that bother her. If told you care in terms that are too generic, she will also retreat into silence and confusion. Be specific. Specificity is AWESOME.

11. Feelings do not equal relationships. Let's repeat that. For the Gwen, FEELINGS do NOT equal RELATIONSHIPS. If she talks about her feelings, she isn't saying "i want a relationship." If you talk to her about YOUR feelings, she will not assume you want a relationship. That has to be a totally separate conversation.

Good luck, godspeed, and remember: if cared for properly, your Gwen will be a loving, understanding, infinitely patient companion.



Suspicion. Meeting new people, my foremost emotion tends to be a mixture of caution and suspicion - i don't open up completely until i've formed a mental image of who someone is, what they want, and what motivates them. Often i don't open up even then. i tend to pick and choose who i let see anything beyond my cheerful, competent surface self. This doesn't apply as much in "safe" spaces - SCA events, conventions (specifically other volunteers; i view convention-goers as a whole as a loud bunch of scary people xD), small groups where i'm completely comfortable.

Wariness. If someone acts very familiar with me when they haven't interacted with me much, haven't actually gotten to know who i am, i stare from my corner and often wind up backing the hell away as fast as my legs will carry me.

Adult-to-adult. If i open up to someone else, it's generally on an adult level. Potential friends get the adult me, the me that acknowledges that yes, the clinical depression and anxiety exist, they're hellish some days, and DO NOT fucking call them cute, PLEASE - but i still often restrain the unbridled squealing that happens whenever i see something i love, the goofiness, and the child side.

Trust and safety. Once i've opened up completely, i will trust absolutely and feel completely safe until or unless i am shown that i'm not safe/shouldn't trust someone else. Generally the guaranteed way to completely destroy my trust and sense of safety is to lie to me. Confusing me, not being clear with me, can cause issues as well, but i tend to be a lot more understanding of confusion than of being lied to.

Child. If i hit emotional extremes - confusion, hurt, trying to figure out dichotomies in words vs. actions or some such, the child side comes out. i can go from adorable to annoying without realizing i've done so, and if i'm gently but firmly informed that no, that isn't okay, i'll generally be able to pull myself back together and recognize when i hit the edge of annoying. If i'm shoved away, i go into a spiral and end up afraid to do or say ANYTHING because something might be bad. It's exhausting and i really hate that my brain does this, but thanks to the anxiety and depression i can't always control it.

Reactions: i generally end up with people hitting several specific areas in the back of my brain upon either first meeting, or as we interact and build some sort of relationship or another.

     There are people who hit my brain as "this is someone i am not sure of." Those people may see glimpses of me but won't see all of me, ever.

      There are people who hit my brain as "this is a potential friend, but there's no chemistry whatsoever otherwise." Those i tend to interact with on varying levels, depending on how close we get, how often we spend time together, and what the time we spend together is like.

     There are people who hit my brain as "this is a potential friend, and there's potential for chemistry/a relationship/etc there too." They see just about everything, eventually, if we become close or if other levels start to develop.

   Finally, in a nod to my kink side: there are people who hit my brain as "this is someone who deserves submission and trust." These people tend to see every single aspect of me quickly, if/when i get to know them and open up. The cute brat, the bitchy brat, the childlike squealing in excitement, the adult, the comforter, the caretaker, the needy girl, all of it.

i think the point of this particular exercise was to have me consciously recognize the different ways i do or don't connect with others, and the positive sides of every way that i connect. i'm still looking for positives in the bitchy brat/neediness, but i figure i'll eventually find some.