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Intrapersonal Investigations

Explorations into how we interpret actions, communicate intentions and can relate to the world in a healthy, uplifting manner.

What if all the things you love were never meant for you?

The older I get the more I realize how poorly I was situated in life to try succeeding. I always knew I was behind other people…. Not for lack of smarts, charm or anything else… But simply that other people have parents that were able to teach them how to survive.

How could I have expected to thrive in life having no notion of working as anything other than a draining exercise in futility that fires you because your life is beyond hard.

Rather. I was raised watching my mother quit or get fired from jobs; because childcare fell through or because our home life was unstable… Thanks again dad.

I spent my twenties leaving jobs because of my trauma issues. How could I believe that I could ever improve a bad situation if it seemed like it was turning bad. What even was a bad situation? I gave more of my soul than I could bear and fell apart constantly.

The system is designed to make people like me go away.

But if I go away. It will be for good.

And I still have this deep sense that I have something in me that could make the world a better place. It’s the kind of thing I need to be alive for.

I still. No matter how much I try to tell myself I don’t have to… I still have this strange obligation that I could be making the world better.

I want to help.

But it’s me that needs help.

Enshrining poor boundaries and poor self care: “Empowerment” and how it can entrench you into a toxic self relationship.

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This reads like the horror story of my life.
There was a time I’d have identified so hard with this I’d have broke my computer screen. Perhaps my heart grew cold in it’s own way, but I see the enshrinement of poor self care here as a big ol’ problem. Allow me to elucidate:
 
This meme reads to me like a recipe for “How to feel bad and lose friends”. 
Accept apologies they never gave.
  • Without talking to them about it so that they can never actually change their shitty behaviour. 
Make excuses they never gave an explanation to justify.
  • Because you’re totally a mind reader and can understand the gravity of their situation without them ever explaining it. Remember. When you can’t make exuses for them. Only then may you talk to them about it. But carry all the intolerance you’ve acquired by feeling trodden upon into the conversation so that they know it’s a big deal now. Not that they knew it was a big deal before… but living in the now is important. And now it’s a big deal.
See the best in someone who may not be showing you their best.
  • Clearly people only treat you badly because they have their reasons. They’re still great people because obviously you don’t matter because if their best doesn’t look very nice you can just believe differently and see other qualities that will CLEARLY justify how they’ve treated you. Remember. Don’t ever talk about trying to be our best to your friends, that might imply you don’t already think they are at their best and might hurt them.
Make time for others because you put off your own personal needs for the wants of others.
  • Busy is not in your vocabulary. If you feel bad or drained or tired you just lock that shit up in the bad feels box and disassociate until you get through the thing because YOU’RE A GOOD FRIEND.
And yet we wonder why we burn out when we live like this. We would NEVER expect our best friend to do this. We’d make excuses as to why they couldn’t do what we expect of ourselves. It’s terrible and horrifically bad to live this way. 
 
We wonder why we shift from one person to the next hoping to get the same things given back that we put into a relationship without ever explaining why or stating that getting as much as we give is a need that (unmet) will destroy us. We have good opinions of people until their actions can’t be reconciled anymore with our view of why a person is doing what they are doing to us… and it tends to be a pattern for people. It was for me. 
 
We stand in the rain, hold our flame outside our bodies and wonder why it goes out when we never took the time to refuel because we were so busy notifying other people their flame was about to go out and getting them to go refuel. We actively drop our flame and go refuel other people’s flames and feel broken when no one eventually does it for us. 
 
And yet, we don’t feel like good people when we try to have boundaries. We’re trapped in this dominant idea of selflessness as goodness; this idea of love as this overwhelming feeling that we cannot fight that ‘changes us’ to enmesh us to our partners… This toxic toxic toxic self relationship that harms us and NO ONE CAN PROTECT US BUT OURSELVES.

This is something I’ve heard in a lot of different ways from most of the best people in my life and felt myself… that I don’t feel like I’m behaving lovingly when I have effective personal boundaries.

It feels the opposite of loving to me. 

How do we combat this?

I think part of the puzzle is to STOP enshrining poor communication, boundaries and self care.

A love post: My bike.

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My bike, when I lived in that one room apartment. I miss that stuff like… a lot. Most of it’s under my mother’s stairs at the moment. Someday.

My bike is one of my prized possessions. It’s a really fancy road bike that goes fast and rides smooth. We’ve been together for nine years and I love it dearly.

Over the years it’s had some upgrades. I generally try to do whatever I can to make it look undesirable but I’ll never be able to actually do that. Because it’s a rad bike. Most recently I strung some bells on it. So that if someone hits me it is super jolly. :O11960209_10153178032636247_8841232871923362172_n
But really. I like riding and I haven’t really ridden since I moved back where I’m living. It’s been icy… but that ceased being an excuse more than a few days ago. I’m just being lazy now.

As of the past ten minutes I’ve become fixated on the idea it needs a tune up (which it does) but that shouldn’t be a reason not to ride it either.

And really I could probably do a tune up or bribe a friend with offer of massage or other trade to tune it up for me. … I have means.

So. My glorious bike. I used to put a tuperware on the back and bike our empties to the bottle depot. To do this I drilled holes in the bottom of our ’empties bin’ which was really a decent storage bin. I’m terribly wasteful when I’m being ingenious sometimes. But after that it was a simple affair with zap straps to get something pretty stable going. The back rack on the bike has never been properly stable… but it’s always been stable enough.

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My bike making a feature behind costume photos. I was sad when we retired that hat. 
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Another lifetime ago, it was a decently set up bike. I’ve since lost the fenders. 
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Lookin’ fine bike. The red tire was nice but short lived in the grand scheme of things.
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Doing what it does best. 
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An early carrying method… it was a basket held on with hanger wire. 
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First picture of my beauty. 2008.

 

Equations for love:

I have a fairly specific world view, and I’ve long ago learned that finding people who have the same hobbies or beliefs or who come from a similar life circumstance as I have DOES NOT a great match make… unless their reasons for their beliefs are similar to my own and they have internalized their life circumstances in a similar way to the way I have.

And so I have a long list of bench mark things I seek that I have found often ensure my life is full of people who cherish what I cherish and who are against what I’m against. Echo chamber for the win. My benchmarks are equations.

Intellectualism divided by devil’s advocacy squared by contextual understandings of life’s complexity all multiplied by empathy.

Class circumstance multiplied by awareness of luck divided by class history all squared by class awareness.

Communication ability multiplied by (trauma squared by personal work done to overcome trauma)

Respect of friends/family divided by respect of strangers. Respect here is simply respecting their humanity and trying not to fuck with people. The aim here is to be as close to one as possible.

And then I try and consider what their standard deviation is.

If I consider the standard deviation of a person to be their ‘weirdness’, (and I do) then I seek people with a high degree of standard deviation (from the ‘norm’).

What does your interrelational system look like?

As I mentioned previously… I’ve been watching too many space documentaries.

If we consider ourselves as a planet within a wider star system (our interrelational system) that operates within a galaxy (society)… well. Lets give it a go.

I have a complex system. I’m a small planet that experienced a huge cataclysm in it’s native binary star system. One of my suns went supernova and now exists as a shadow of itself consuming everything within reach. The other has avoided being consumed through sheer force of will and I can’t help it. They’re both radiating deadly radiation. The event pushed me far away and for a while I was a dark sunless orphan planet moving through space. It damaged my personal capabilities to solve problems and deal with life… in a sense my world stopped turning. My magnetic sphere, generated from within designed to protect me were failing…Earth Magnetic Field ProtectionThe space metaphor is pretty dire but luckily I’m a human that can hopefully grow my own internal combustions and begin shining like the star I am so that I can exist within my galaxy properly. As I probably should. But let’s continue the metaphor.

Because this is a wibbly wobbly metaphor ramble, we can imagine all of ourselves as a wee little system, the brightest stars in our life might be dwarf stars in someone else’s life. They might occupy your work system which is a relatively contained sphere from which you can only see them… but each person in your life has a system of their own, maybe you know some of it, maybe you don’t.

Right now I’m currently experiencing the gravity of a bright ass awesome star that’s holding me in place within the universe hopefully to give me time to get my shine on so I can start my system. I think this person is amazing and want to always have them on my gravitational radar but this situation is temporary and designed to get me shining with my gravitational field stable.

And then there’s all kinds of wonderful stars that seem so dim from where I am, burning brightly in their own systems. How they used to seem so close, I can’t say. This is the nature of the great cataclysm. When I was flung into space, its like I moved out of range of most of the people I considered friends or family. Once I start shining, I’ll have a gravitational field of my own that will make the distance seem so much less far because my influence will be greater. comet_west

There’s amazing people that act as comets (though they themselves are stars with a system of their own) in my system.

They come around every once in a while burning brightly and leaving a streak of colour and wonder in my life.

I exist as a comet and as a planet and possibly as a star and maybe someday I will be the galaxy itself. Maybe we’re all the galaxy.

l-k

What does your interrelational stellar system look like?

l-k

This is more a personal question for me. Because I’ve been watching space documentaries and I’ve just begun a new relationship and ended a job.

Humans are complex things. I have a *NUMBER* of metaphors through which I view the world… the newest of them is that the fabric of our lives is a strange dance between: how we stay afloat in the universe (our financial situations and what we need to do to maintain or continue those, and the people that operate within and affect that realm), who we were born with (our native family), who we choose to keep in our lives and how they operate within staying in our lives (found family, friends), and the wider social climate that we exist within (neighbouring systems really and places from which random things come).

And that we can abstract out these relationships and understand them as star systems in our galaxy, or if it pleases thee, you can absolutely abstract further and view yourself as an individual star system. I would understand someone who viewed themselves as a star system to have a relatively more stable life than my own. I occupy a weird and complex life and thus this is reflected in how I think about myself.

So for me, I’m a small galaxy that operates within a number of larger galaxies (we’re all interconnected) with a fair number of star systems and some serious problems. There’s a black hole in my galaxy from when my family system used to be. The person in question that now occupies the black hole space has been consuming my younger brother and has been for a long time… after attempting to consume my mother, her star is being held outside the black hole’s force through  sheer will and legislative assistance. The effects of this were felt throughout the system. I was right there when it happened and it consumed me for a long time.

The black hole put me somewhere else… somewhen else. And I am different than I was before. I’ve been finding my way back to my center for a long time. I might be here now. Or perhaps I rejected the notion that I have a center and have embraced the fact that I’m the god damned galaxy and a bit of complexity will never hurt me because I’ve corralled off the family system and they get to deal with the black hole all they want. It could consume them. It isn’t up to me. I won’t be affected like that ever again. I can counterbalance the black hole with the other stabilizing relationships in my life… as long as the gravitational forces in my galaxy remain stable. Which they aren’t. (see below)

I’m not really afloat in the fabric of space time. I’m not financially independent. Yet still a galaxy… its like the actual force of gravity that holds me together is falling apart. There’s a couple of bright stars holding everything together right now. My living situation is stable and the stability of that is affecting everything and keeping things in line… for now. It’a a new star in my system but the effect of them is amazing. My TOP scientists are working on the problem and will hopefully reestablish the gravitational force of fucking dollars in a consistent flow so that I don’t implode.

Perhaps it’s not the gravity of my system that is failing so much as the magnetism that protects the system from harsh intergalactic rays of deadly radiation in the form of disadvantage… I guess in this metaphor I’m also a planet as well as the whole galaxy. It’s not a perfect metaphor yet.

Stigma:

Erving Goffman wrote an excellent wee book called Stigma: notes on the management of spoiled identity. I refer back to it.

Goffman begins explaining stigma: A part that I liked particularly was the fact that stigma is “a special kind of relationship between attribute and stereotype” … that “stigma and its synonyms conceal a double perspective: does the stigmatized individual assume his differentness is known about already or is evident on the spot, or does he assume it is neither known about by those present nor immediately perceivable by them? In the first case one deals with the plight of the discredited, in the second with that of the discreditable. This is an important difference, even though a particular stigmatized individual is likely to have experience with both situations.”

Lets unpack these a bit. A relationship between an attribute and a stereotype: stigma exists in the minds of the larger society exacting the stigma. Perhaps not everyone allows stigma to guide their actions but let me tell you, enough of them do. I am someone that considers themselves party to a NUMBER of discreditable identities… I can tell you from personal experience: It is the most painful thing to interact with someone who has a huge looming stereotype for how and why you are behaving the way you are that may or may not fly with your actual reasons and actual behaviour.

Lets move on to discredited versus discreditable…. I’ve now made a call out on my personal feed for people to help me find the term that describes this and had to wait a few minutes to be rewarded with someone reminding me the terms I was looking for within a context of identity politics is ‘visible minority’ versus ‘invisible minority’ and ‘ascribed statuses’, which are identities other people give you, versus ‘achieved status’ which is something you choose for yourself.

Our society experiences a couple of big problems with the fact that huge numbers of us discredit other huge numbers based on ascribed statuses we give them based on the visibility of their minority. The intersection of privileges and disadvantages conferred to people based on their relative place within this societal spectrum is kyriarchy which is something we all live under. We are all conferred benefits and disadvantages by this system relative to how we place on it.

Goffman identified three different types of stigma and by god I’m not directly quoting anything from this section because it was written in 1963 and the language in it is abominable. I’m just going to paraphrase as loosely as I can while still describing the things.

  • Body stigma: physical disability and difference.
  • Stigma on the character of an individual: ‘weaknesses of will’, dishonesty, treacherous or rigid beliefs, domineering or ‘unnatural’ passions, “all of these things being inferred from a known record of, for example, mental disorder, imprisonment, addiction, alcoholism, homosexuality, unemployment, suicide attempts, and radical political behaviour.”
  • Tribal stigma: of race, nation and religion.

Any of these three types of potentially stigmatizing attributes can be visible or invisible, ascribed or achieved.

I would argue that identity politics has worked to make racism and discrimination and profiteering a stigmatizing attribute on the basis of an individual’s poor character.

But here’s where there’s excess gears in our system. It’s impossible to change the dominant culture of a society without doing so very intentionally. It is COMPLETELY POSSIBLE; however, to fracture a culture by attempting to change the way certain people participate in stigma. We are experiencing it now.

Differing opinions of who should be stigmatized and how and why are what I see most of our cultural arguments boiling down to.

And this leads me back to the original point of this thought process. I saw someone mention that Martin Shkrelli might experience stigma as a result of their profiteering in the pharmaceutical industry.

I argue that while he might experience stigma from the population within America and Canada that views his actions as deplorable. I would argue that he has the power and finances available to him to almost never have to deal with anyone who would stigmatize him. I argue that the dominant overarching culture of capitalism in United States and Canada thinks he’s a clever person for his profiteering and he will never face consequences or stigma from anyone within his circle of people who might conceivably have power over his life.

This is not the case for people who have stigmatized identities and lack his power and prestige. There will always be a group of people with the money and power and prestige associated with their place in society bitching about how much stigma they have received from people who hate that they have done what they have…

But it will never affect their daily lives. That’s not stigma.

I believe that a global understanding of what stigma is and how we want to stigmatize is the key to using this tool that we have developed and evolved over thousands of years of collectively settling together…. for good.

Slowpoke.

You know as a teenager there is something wrong with you.

Everyone thinks there’s something wrong with them as a teen. You are told this.

You reach adulthood and still feel deeply like something is wrong.

You have no idea what a stable situation is. You realize this by routinely finding yourself in unstable situations.

You realize you have no idea what healthy boundaries are as you piece together that the people you had good experiences with had excellent boundaries and the people you did not have good experiences with had boundaries like yours.

You move across from a school yard at the age of 24 and realize that the sounds of happy children are deeply psychologically distressing to you.

You realize almost everything you think is acceptable in an intimate relationship isn’t.

You start trying to figure it all out.

Your life falls apart.

Maybe you die. Having failed to realize what was going on your whole life. Slow poke.

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A cruel joke from the universe.

Vasovagal Syncope: If I pass out just make sure I get horizontal?

Here’s the London Cardiac Institute’s description.

Vasovagal syncope is something I was diagnosed with fairly informally by an emergency room doctor after the twelfth or so time I went in because I passed out or was in distress after passing out.

“This is a very common condition that results in fainting or a blackout in as many as half of people at least once in their life. Three percent of people develop it repeatedly.”

… So in the past ten years I’ve passed out or very narrowly avoided it about thirteen or fourteen times. Thanks body. I appreciate your fight flight shit fuck or die nerve is completely blown out and you think that the blood needs to be in my arms and legs so I can run away or fight but what you really did was take it from my brain and that’s not ok brah.

Serious props the the paramedic who took me to the hospital the last time this happened in too public a place to avoid someone calling an ambulance for me… As it turns out, really no one will let you crawl off the bus and lay on the side of the road till your weird medical event passes… specially if you can’t sit up to see where your stop is.

I can almost always avoid passing out these days. Sometimes I even avoid the massive sweating and overheating and then chilling and total exhaustion that follows. But not always. This time I wasn’t really able to get horizontal because I was on a bus seat and I was also pretty incoherent so I didn’t really have the language skills to convincingly let them know I was totally fine. Because it sure didn’t look or sound like I was fine.

So your fee for passing out on the bus (or in my case having to lay down lest ye pass the fuck out) is that they call an ambulance, you inconvenience a bunch of people and suffer utter humiliation as a bunch of firemen lift you off the ground and ask you if you’ve been taking drugs. Which you totally haven’t. You’ve literally just been doing the MOST WHOLESOME THING EVER which is going to a bar just to dance and drinking only water.

Paramedic immediately knew what Vasovagal Syncope was and we worked out how over the week at work I’d dehydrated to a serious level and then done the stupidest thing of dancing my face off at the blues jam and drinking a bunch of water thus fucking my sodium and other electrolyte levels. It was the dumb.

But let me repeat. Basically anything will make me pass out. If there’s a thing that will make humans pass out, I might well do the thing. From understanding of my own specific triggers, it’s rapid changes with no warm up that bring the Syncope on. So, dehydrated and hung over trying to hydrate back up? BAM Bathroom floor (which was thankfully heated) and I made my way down gracefully. 26

Climbing a steep hill while sledding? BAM. Laying down on the top thinkin’ I be dyin’ for real (this was one of the first, I was a teen, in the grips of a hyperactive thyroid which made my resting heart beat up around 170-180, which should have meant hill climbing was out the window). 14

Randomly for no reason while I was undergoing one of the more stressful things I’d ever endured. 27

Because an earring wasn’t going into the newly pierced cartilage in my ear. 22.

Because of intense abdominal pain. 19.

Because of period cramps. 24.

While intensely working out on a hill climbing function on a stationary bike. 23.

Dehydration and rehydration during and after work. 28.

And so on. And so on. And so on. Stress definitely causes the things that cause it. But hydration has been the thread of consistency between all these crazy weird events.

So part of my health is to seriously be srs about hydration.

ALSO THE LONDON CARDIAC INSTITUTE RECOMMENDS HANDSTANDS.

… So I guess that’s going to be a thing.

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