Sunday, December 02, 2012

151. I needed that...

I went to church tonight after having not been for a few weeks.  I was holding back tears almost from the minute I walked in.  Hadn't realized how much I needed it. 

It was an interesting service, the 'sermon' (if I can call it that... it was more of a talk) was about coming out as a sacrament. 

Oh, in case you are wondering, I have found a gay friendly church in Seoul... so yeah, coming out as a sacrament.

The guy who was speaking talked about how he had judged himself, and who God had made him to be as wrong, and as not good enough, and coming out for him meant more than just telling people that he was gay, it meant coming out of condemnation, out of self hatred and self judgement and coming into love, and knowing he was loved and valued. 

I've had a rough couple of weeks, I don't want to get into it really, cause most of the time I'm fine, but when I'm alone it's hard to keep my thoughts from going dark.  Not suicidal or anything, just... well, not happy thoughts. So, this sermon got me thinking about coming out in a new way... coming out of anything I feel shame about... I don't know if I can do it, honestly, but it's an interesting thought.



On a completely different note, I heard someone say something interesting this week that has been bouncing around my brain ever since, it's just so very true and so very relevant to my life.  Here it is:  You can think your comfort zone is a horrible place, and still be comfortable there.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

150. Is it just me?



I’m just curious…

When I was around 10, through a weird series of circumstances involving a very unusual fall, doctors discovered that there was something amiss with my muscles.  In order to narrow down what it was they did a test that involved sticking needles deep into my muscle tissue, moving them around, and listening to the sounds the tissue made as it tore.

Sounds painful, right?  …it was.

Now, the test didn’t really yield any results, I was borderline abnormal, so they basically told me I have a minor muscle disorder that somewhat limits the amount of physical activity I can engage in… but that’s it really. 

When I was 20, my mother talked me into having the test done again, just to see what was happening.  (My mother tends to always see the worst case scenario, and had somehow convinced herself that the doctors had told her I had a degenerative disorder, which frightened me a little because up until then, no one had said anything like that to me at all.)  So, I went in for the test again.  This time, though, I knew what I was in for… I knew that they would be jabbing needles deep into my calf muscles and purposely tearing my muscle tissue.  I spent the days leading up to it trying very hard not to think about it, but… well, that’s like trying not to think about ... oh, I don't know... ice cream.  See... you’re thinking about ice cream now, aren’t you?  It doesn’t work.

So when the day of the test came, I went in and the doctors could tell I was nervous and they asked me why, so I told them… They assured me that it wouldn’t be that bad, I had been a little kid when I got the test the first time, so my memory of the pain was probably worse than it actually was, and besides, this was 10 years later, the needles would be smaller, the test would be shorter… it would be better.  They promised.

So I tried to relax as they dug the needles into my muscles, took some deep breaths, thought calm thoughts… and then the needles began to move and it was… horrible.  Worse than I remembered it being the first time.  I lay there, on the bed, trying not to cry, and somehow feeling both the pain I was actually feeling, and the pain I had felt as a little girl getting this test.

You’d think that would be it, right?  I got the results, they were the same as before so why on earth would I ever go through that again?

Well, once again it was my mother, and once again it was her weird tendency to always see the worst possible outcome.  She had been with me for both of these tests and had listened as the doctors explained the results, and yet once again, about 10 years later, she was absolutely convinced that the doctors believed I had something that would land me in a wheelchair at some point.  In fact, this time she had the names of various disorders that she believed the doctors had been hinting at.  The fact that the second round of testing had occurred when I was legally an adult meant that no doctor should have said anything to my mother without me being there to hear it… but if you have read anything about my mother here (or have any personal knowledge of her) you can probably already guess what I’m about to say… it has happened to me on numerous occasions that my mother has somehow gotten access to information she shouldn’t have.  Doctors have given my mom my medical records (this has happened more than once since I have been an adult), banks have given my mom my financial information, and lawyers have discussed the details of our meetings with her… I don’t know how she does it, she just somehow convinces people to tell her things that they aren’t supposed to about me.  So… her absolute certainty about my medical situation after a while began to get to me.  Had the doctors told her something that they hadn’t told me?  After a few years of badgering I agreed to get the test again.

The problem was, of course, that I now had been through it twice and so I knew exactly how painful it was going to be, so once again I tried very hard not to think about it and once again I was completely unsuccessful.  The doctors once again tried to calm me down, but this time… I couldn’t stop myself from crying out in pain every time the needles moved.  It was so bad that the doctor actually refused to complete the test, saying he couldn’t continue torturing me for something that was basically a diagnostic test for a condition that wasn’t really all that bad and that there was no cure for so, yeah… that was the end of that.

Now, the medical part of this is not at all the point of why I am writing this down, but in case you are curious, my mother was wrong.  The third doctor took the time to go over all my medical records with me and yeah, it’s exactly what the first doctors said, a minor muscle disorder that limits me somewhat.  That’s all.  It won’t put me in a wheelchair, it’s not degenerative, it might be hereditary so if I ever have kids, I should probably have a biopsy… that’s it.

So, why did I write all that out?  Well, I’ve just been thinking about the nature of pain, both physical and emotional pain. Something happened recently that hurt me.  Badly.   Something I had entirely anticipated, it was in no way a shock, and it was not a new experience, but the intensity of the pain I felt did shock me.   I had known it was coming, but I had not expected to be completely knocked on my ass by it.  I’m somewhat recovered from, but I have started wondering if maybe the level of pain I felt was worsened by the fact that I knew it was coming, and that I knew what it was going to feel like. 

And well, that has also gotten me thinking about pleasure, and how that seems to work in the exact opposite way.  The most wonderful experiences are almost always surprises.  The first time I tasted Earl Grey Crème Brulee, my first glimpse of a canal in Venice, the first time my little sister said my name… the explosion of joy in those new experiences, can it be felt again?  Pleasure often seems to actually diminish the more an experience is repeated. 

Or… well, this is what I’m curious about… is it just me?  Is there something in me that magnifies pain and diminishes pleasure? 

Monday, November 12, 2012

149. Redacted

I'm trying to think if I've ever done this before... completely deleted a post I'd written... I don't think so. 

But I'm doing it now.  Writing things out often helps me process my thoughts, which was kind of why I started this blog in the first place, so I think I just needed to get my thoughts out of my head, but well, I'm not so sure they needed to be out on the internet so... sorry.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

148. Unlearning



It’s so hard to unlearn bad habits.  Even when you think you’ve long since gotten over something, it’s so easy to slip right back into it. 

Growing up with my mom was a difficult thing… for many reasons.  Her and I are just incredibly different people.  One of the most surreal seasons of my life was the summer I spent living with my dad and realized how alike we were.  Totally flipped my perspective on the whole nature versus nurture thing.  One of the biggest differences between me and my mom is our basic personality types.  I lean quite heavily towards the introvert side of things, whereas my mother is all extrovert.  Enjoying being alone is just not something she understands at all.  Living with her as a teenager there were some rules that were just… well, very difficult for me to live with as a young, closeted (even to myself), introverted lesbian.  The biggest one was that I wasn’t allowed to close my door.  Ever.  I knew that there was no where in our home where I could be assured of some alone time.  At any given moment my mother was likely to walk in, without knocking (“family doesn’t knock” she snapped at me once when I asked her if she could do me that courtesy) and just sit on my bed and start talking.  It was maddening.  And totally frustrating because, as I said, I’m pretty introverted.  I need my alone time to feel sane.  And with my mother, to this day, I feel like I need to be “on” the entire time.  It’s exhausting.  So, I developed a bad habit. 

Well, it probably wasn’t a bad habit originally, it was just a survival technique.  I learned that once I was in bed, she would usually leave me alone.  And I mean, I had be lying down with the lights out… if I was reading a book and she could see my beside lamp on, she was likely to come in and want to talk.  So, I would say goodnight to her, turn off my light, leave my door open (yes, it had to be open at night too) and lay there… awake.  For hours.  Just… thinking. Being alone with my thoughts.  It, quite frankly, was often the best part of my day.  I honestly looked forward to it. 

Once I was out on my own it took me ages to realize I no longer needed to do that, I could take my alone time whenever I wanted and when it came time to go to bed, I could just… go to sleep.  I have tried for years to retrain my body to do that, and I’d say over the last decade or so I’ve done pretty well.  I can usually get to sleep within about 30 minutes of going to bed (I know for most people that’s a long time, but honestly, for me that’s nothing compared to the hours and hours I used to lay there).  The problem is, whenever anything of any significance happens to me, I slip right back into the bad habit I have worked so hard to break out of.  And it doesn’t have to be anything major.  A stimulating conversation, a crush, an idea for a story and suddenly I’m back to that old habit again.  I don’t need that time anymore, but I do it anyway, and it actually hurts me now because… well, I need my sleep.  When you look at the clock and it’s 3 AM and you realize you’ve been just thinking for the past 3 hours and you’ve only got 3 more before you have to get up… well, it’s a stupid habit, and I wish I could just stop.

So obviously, I’m writing this because I’ve been having a difficult week, sleep wise.  I’m exhausted, but I can’t seem to stop myself from doing this night after night. 

That’s really all I have to say.  I know it’s not ‘blog theme relevant’, but it’s what’s going on right now.  So… yeah.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

147. Korea again

So... yeah, it's been a while. And, as the title of this post indicates... I am in Korea. Again. I have decided to go back to school, and well, they generally want you to pay for that, so I've come here to save up some money. I always did plan to come back here, but life (ie: needing surgery and finding a job while waiting for said surgery) got in the way. So, here I am. And I have to say I'm loving it this time. Oh, I enjoyed myself last time, but so far this time is blowing it out of the water. I am in Seoul, instead of a suburb, so that has made a difference. I've already made friends outside of work, which is fantastic, and I've found a gay friendly church! If I get back in the swing of blogging I'll probably post more about that at some point. But for now I thought I'd post about something that happened to me the other day that one of my new friends thought would make a good blog post.
 
On Sunday night, I left church and was walking down the street in Itaewan (the foreigner ghetto of Seoul.) I decided to walk to one of the venders I had seen selling cell phone cases, I needed a new one, the one I got with my phone was pretty crappy. I started walking down the street and had the distinct feeling I was being followed. I was not exactly sure what to do, so I checked behind me a few times, but couldn't pick out who it was and just keep going, figuring I was in public and if anything happened I'd scream and people would hear me.

 Eventually the person following me caught up. I slowed down so he would have to keep walking, but well, he slowed down to and so I sped up. So did he. I gave up and returned to my regular pace. I could feel him looking at me, but I try to ignore him.

After about a minute of this he says "I like your look"

I say "thanks" without looking, I didn't want to be mean, but I was really not in the mood to even be flattered by this.

"Are you new to Korea?" He asks.

"Relatively" I reply, again, not looking.

 "Do you want to go somewhere?"

 "No thank you," this time I looked at him and stopped, gesturing for him to move on. He stopped too. I started walking again, he followed. I stopped again, he stops.

"Are you going somewhere?" He asks.

"I just want to buy a cell phone case, then go home."

"Where are you from?"

 I decided to just end this now. "I'm from Canada. And I'm a lesbian"

"Wow..." He says. I waited for him to walk away.

He didn't.

"Wow" he says again.

There's a moments silence then he says "Have you ever tried a man?"

I sigh. "Nope. Absolutely no desire to"

"It's only women you care about?"

"That's kind of what it means to be a lesbian."

"Wow, I can't believe I'm hearing this... "

"Yup," I say, "it happens."

"You're the second lady I hear this from"

 I nodded, "sorry"

"So, do you like that?"

I was confused, not sure what he was asking, "what?"

 "Do you like..." he made a weird gesture "...that?"

 Oh. "We'll, yeah..."

 "You don't want to try a man?"

 "Sorry. There's nothing you've going on down there I'm interested in"

"But a man can do everything a woman can do, and more."

"Really?"

"Yes!" emphatically.

"We'll then, maybe you should try that."

"What?"

"A man. I hear they can do everything a woman can do. And more."

"What?!? No... A man with a man? No!"

 "Well, if you don't want to try it, I guess I won't either."

At this point I was resigned to his presence and tried to change the subject, asking where he was from (Nigeria), how long he'd been here (1 1/2 years) and what he was doing (has his own business). He did not want to let this go though.

 "I would love the chance to change a lesbian..."

"Not gonna happen."
"No?"

 "Nope."

"But... The chance to make a lesbian see... "

"Seriously, you go try a man and come back and tell me how you feel about how that went and we'll talk then."

"Never! But to be with a lesbian..."

At this point we reached the cell phone vender and so I stopped. "Never gonna happen." I turned to the vender and told him what I was looking for and waved goodbye to the man over my shoulder. I checked a few seconds later and he was gone, about half a block down the street. And that's what just happened to me on Sunday evening.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

146. After a Long Absence

So, it’s entirely possible that I’m PMSing, -- the fact that I found myself in tears while watching a clip from To Kill a Mockingbird yesterday makes that even more likely, but I’m still feeling…. well, I’m feeling feelings and so I want to express them. It’s late, so I can’t call anyone – I tried making a call to a different time zone but no one’s home out West, so here I am. Blogging. I haven’t done this in ages.

I recently discovered the show Once and Again. I will admit, my ‘discovery’ of the show was entirely motivated by the fact that I heard that there was a sweet lesbian storyline in it. So I found copies of it and began watching right from the beginning. It is a remarkably good show, actually. Well written, good pacing, well acted (for the most part). Everyone who talks about that show talks about Sela Ward – she’s the person I always pictured when I thought about this show before I started watching it, not that I thought about it much – but the person I’ve been most impressed with acting wise is Susanna Thompson. She’s pretty impressive. It took me a while to figure out where I knew her from, and actually I didn’t figure it out on my own. Thank goodness for IMDB – she played the Borg Queen on Voyager. It’s no wonder I couldn’t figure it out, she looked human!

Anyway… none of that is what has caused these… feelings. I just watched the ‘big gay episode’ and found myself in tears. It really was a very sweet episode, a sweet, well played out storyline. Not overly dramatic or preachy, just… sweet. That really is the best word for it. A sweet, teenage coming out story. And I’m sitting here on my couch, in tears because… damn, I wish I’d experienced some of that. Innocent first love that doesn’t carry with it all of the baggage that comes with being 36 (seriously, I’m 36 years old now. Fuck.) I mean, I can’t just ‘date’ now because at this age people expect any sort of dating to be serious.

I’m going to tell you (write to you?) something I’ve actually never told anyone. Ever. I think I could have had a girlfriend in high school. There was a girl I was friends with my last semester, and we became really close. She had a boyfriend at the time, and he hated me. Which was fine, I hated him too, he treated her really badly. But his hatred of me was so odd. I remember being quite certain he was jealous of me. I also remember him telling me more that once that he was pretty sure that she was a lesbian. That alone would mean nothing, but well… our friendship was really intense, and I have really vivid memories of these moments that, well, make no sense otherwise. I remember one night, she was over at my house visiting, and for some reason, we went outside and it started to rain slightly. We didn’t go in, for some reason we were standing in the middle of the road (it was late, there were no cars), and she began to walk in circles around me, and the circles would get smaller and smaller, and she wouldn’t break eye contact. By the end, the circles she walked were so tight; she would brush past my arms as she walked. In retrospect I can totally identify what I was feeling, but at the time… I remember this rising sense of panic, but it wasn’t a bad panic. It felt good. And I couldn’t seem to remember how to breathe, and my arms felt like they belonged to someone else, and my heart was beating so loud.

I honestly don’t remember what happened after that. We didn’t kiss, I know that. We didn’t even talk it. We didn’t talk about that, or any of the other oddly intense and intimate moments we shared.

That was, what… 17 years ago now? Wow. A long time ago. She and I are still friends. Really good friends. In fact, she was the friend I tried to call out West. She’s married now. To a woman. So her boyfriend wasn’t too off after all. Knowing what I know now, I’m glad we didn’t kiss… because she’s married to an awesome woman, I quite frankly couldn’t be happier for her. For both of them. She’s one of the most important people in my life, and if something had happened back then it is highly likely we wouldn’t be friends now (knowing her for as long as I have, and loving her dearly, I know that we would be disastrous as a couple, and would have crashed and burned pretty quickly, even without all the guilt and shame baggage I would have carried back then).

But… I can’t help wishing that things had been different. How different would my life have been if I had allowed myself to be me in high school, would I have dated? Would I have experienced that rite of passage most kids go through? Young love…

Or how about when I was in university? I was a member of our university’s Christian Fellowship… I was on the ‘poster committee’, which basically meant I hung up posters. I would always hang them up next to the posters for the “Womyn’s Group” meetings, so I could read them. That’s where I learned the word ‘questioning’, a word that I would use in my deepest, most private thoughts when I would try and figure out what was going on with me. They met on Friday nights, which was when our group met. Every week I would hang a poster next to theirs and hope that maybe they would have a meeting on a different night, but they never did. And I could never bring myself to skip our Fellowship nights. Besides, they were fun. But what if I had? Would I have met someone then? How different would my life be?

And because I’m being so honest here, part of what I’m thinking is that back then I looked so much better. Not only was I younger, I was a lot thinner (although if you would have asked me then I would have told you I was fat). Now… well, getting down to a weight that is even remotely acceptable is so overwhelming – one of the things no one really talks about when it comes to losing weight is that while you are doing it, you’re still fat. You can be working out 3 mornings a week, getting up at 5 AM to go to the gym, eating all the right foods, and your scale and your personal trainer (who costs a fortune, so much so that 2 years after you’ve stopped seeing him, you’re still recovering from all the money you spent on him) can all be super happy with your progress, you are losing weight in a healthy way at a healthy rate… but during that time, you are still fat. People still look at you and think ‘fat’. I know, I did all of that. Felt all good about myself, went on a few dates, and they went no where. I could see it in their eyes when they looked at me. They didn’t want to go out with a fat girl. It was so discouraging. I gave up.

Oh… I suppose I should tell you that since I’ve last written… oh so long ago, yes… I’ve been on a few dates. I’ve tried this online dating thing and well… I’ve given up. I’ve tried other… less than ideal sites to try and meet people and met someone on one of those sites that I went out with a few times. We even kissed. That, I must say, was lovely. Turns out I thoroughly enjoy kissing women. But, well… that fizzled out rather quickly. It was all sort of a blur.

Anyway… I’m no longer feeling that tight feeling in my throat, so this has done its job, I guess. I’m just stuck in a ‘what if’ loop. How would my life be different if I had been able to be authentically me back then? Would I be happier? Would I be healthier? I know I pretty much gave up on my body a long time ago because I just didn’t see the point, and now that I actually see the point I’m mad at myself for letting it all get this bad. Mad at life for being so unfair.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

145. Oh, for a time machine!

AAARRRGGGHHH!

Okay, so I now want to go back in time and stop myself from ever having come out to my dad. And I’m sorry to anyone reading this because this blog has (for now) turned into the place I go to to vent about the aftermath. I’m writing this in the few minutes I have before work, and it is mostly venting so beware… rambling, incoherent post ahead…

First things first, I spoke to my dad the other night to once again ask him to stop discussing things with my mom because it is causing me problems, and he basically said no. He told me he’s trying to help me by forcing my mom to face the issue and ‘accept the possibility that this will not change’. Which is something I could actually understand and appreciate if the fallout for that in any way fell on him. Which, to be fair, it sort of is, but of course, most of it is landing directly on my head. I still think he has more of a problem with my being gay than he’s willing to admit to me, but I do think he thinks he’s helping. And maybe in the long run he is but for right now it’s hell.

Last week, on Thursday night my mom called me to tell me about a Christian retreat weekend that was happening in Northern Ontario that… well, basically ‘featured’ the ‘breaker annointing’. I have to say that the way she talks about spiritual things just sounds kind of insane to me sometimes. Like they’d booked a specific manifestation of the Holy Spirit which will be coming on Saturday morning between 10 and 12 or something. It’s all so… limiting. Anyway, I didn’t go, honestly not because of wanting to avoid going because we all know I’ll go to one of these things eventually, just to shut her up but because it was such short notice all it did was make me feel stressed about losing my weekend. Well, this morning she called me to give me notice about how last weekend was so good that they are doing it again this weekend. The thing is, this weekend is completely full for me… actually, this whole week. I’m tutoring tonight (Tuesday) and Thursday night, going to someone’s house for dinner on Wednesday night, Friday night is an Ani Difranco concert in Montreal, Saturday night I’ve got plans with a friend and then I’m babysitting, Sunday afternoon I’m getting together with an old pastor of mine and Sunday night I’ve got my book club. I’m full. So I can’t go. Well, first of all she doesn’t believe me that I’m going to Montreal by myself… I’m not even sure she believes I’m going. She thinks I’m avoiding her because I’m ‘hanging out with all my gay friends’… which is kind if sadly hilarious because I don’t really have any gay friends in Ottawa… I know 2 gay guys here, but I haven’t seen them for ages! I should really give them a call, actually, they are really nice guys! She tells me that she has been talking to my dad (a lot) and he is “really concerned” that I’m “running headlong into something” that I don’t understand… which again, is kind of hilarious to anyone who has been regularly reading this blog or knows me… I have been insanely slow and plodding with how I have been thinking about living out my life as a gay Christian. She wants me to go to this weekend because “there were women there who were delivered of things similar to what you suffer with” (“suffer with????” I don’t have a disease!). Which is revealing because last week she told me that it she wasn’t asking me to go to deal with the gay thing, but to deal with issues of shame and rejection that she thinks I have (and I probably do have to some degree, if I’m honest), but of course, that’s not what she really wanted.

I called dad right after I hung up with her to ask him point blank if he has a problem with my being gay because my mom keeps using him in her conversations with me to bolster her arguments and he told me that he doesn’t, that he never tells my mom that he ‘doesn’t like this about me’, but he’s not an expert and is still trying to process this, which I do have to give him leeway to do, of course, but I wish he wouldn’t do it with my mom because she uses everything he says against me. He did tell her that it would be a good idea for me to go to this weekend if only to somehow reinforce my beliefs on this issue, which is again, something I can understand him saying, but is irritating because I have been dealing with this for most of my life and at this point don’t feel the need to go and have some people attempt to ‘deliver’ me of my homosexuality in order to prove to myself that I’m really gay. And of course, my mom didn’t mention his reasoning, just that he wanted me to go.

She still doesn’t believe that I’m going to the concert by myself – now she’s latching onto the fact that I said “I’ve already bought tickets” – plural instead of singular… but isn’t that just how that is said? I don’t know, that’s how I say it… ‘I’ve got tickets to Ani Difranco’… whatever, I don’t care what she believes at this point, which I told her and made her angry once again.

I tried to convey to my dad that if he is trying to help then he needs to be careful what he says to my mom, but I don’t know that that is going to be possible, because, as he said “she’s bothering me more about this than you, I can guarantee you that…”, which is probably true. She hasn’t been able to talk to her friends about this since she first found out because she’s so ashamed, and dad already knows, plus she believes he shares some of the ‘blame’ so she doesn’t feel so ashamed talking to him about it. Plus she probably wants to prove to him that she is doing all she can, which is why this renewed level of conversation on this issue. So I don’t know how well he will be able to monitor what he says to her in light of how it will help/harm me. And as I know from experience, she will keep talking and talking and talking until you say something that sounds like what she wants to hear and then use that. I so so wish I could undo this. It’s driving me nuts.