Caveat fuckin’ Empor

DG27124_053017_ComplexGrid_EC_CellPhones

So far, I’ve had pretty good luck on purchasing things on Kijiji/Craigslist. Granted, sometimes I end up paying more than I should, and there’s always the concern about an item being defective, or its advertisement dishonestly described.

My cell phone was stolen, as I left it somewhere unattended, and I was hunting for a replacement one. As I was still under contract and not made of money, to Kijiji I went. Scrolling through the listings, I found one that was the same model, and for a decent price. We arranged for a time to meet.

When I met the guy, he was awkward and elusive with his answers. I did my best to inspect the phone, but for the most part, it was wiped clean and seemed good to go. Payment made, and he scurried off in a hurry. Odd, I thought.

Turns out the phone was far from clean.

Buddy was using some sort of modified operating system (which did involve some complicated rolling back, but that’s irrelevant) and turns out his formatting didn’t scrub clean those hard-to-reach places.

As I scrolled through, I found porn. Ew, but whatever, that makes some sense. Dudes like naked chicks, oftentimes.

And then I found the women’s underwear.

Seems like our purveyor of phones enjoys carefully placing lacy underwear in a bathroom sink, and masturbating onto the fabric.

While phoning himself. I found video after video of him doing this.

I then yelped, and began to dunk my phone in hand sanitizer for hours, but could not wash off the dirt ON MY SOUL.

So uh, caveat empor.

To sleep, perchance, to dream.

Reality is beginning to bleed along the edges. Nothing to sound the alarms about, but things are getting increasingly muddled for me. Sleep has become a dreaded event, and im beginning to really fucking hate those “little slices of death.”
In fact, death would be welcomed, for at least I would have some peace and quiet, because right now, I feel as though I’m being plagued by bloodthirsty hounds, no matter where I go.
Nightmares happen, of that I’m aware. Thing is, whole I can cope with nightmares, the constant panic attacks that rouse me out of a dead sleep, are harder to deal with. Compound that with these horrific, emotionally rending dreams of exes trying to rape me, wolves attacking en masse, wave after wave, and me, screaming at my mother for every sin she committed in my childhood, and you’ve got eight hours of hell.
About three times a night, I awaken, heart pounding, disoriented and raw. During the day, I am a walking corpse, exhausted and fighting off the dream images that flood my mind, even when I’m awake.
There is no rest from the wicked, and I am becoming frayed, strand by strand.

Staring into the Void

Sometimes, I honestly have no idea who I am. Barring the trauma induced /naturally occurring existential unknowing, I also am perpetually amazed by how many different lives I’ve lived. Lost child, wayward party kid, stepford girlfriend, sleep deprived wannabe-slut, to the closest thing to normal I’ve ever resembled.

And the normal period of my life? I worked for a porn company.

Man, even from hour to hour, I change. I go from guileless ingenue, to lesbian biker vampire, often within the same evening. Sure, it’s all just clothes, but my everything changes. My features shift and harden, depending on how much hetero male attention I crave. Even my body language changes, sometimes I’ve got the sashay of an amorous secretary, or I’ve got the battle hardened stride of a woman who has roared. Other times, I slump and shrink, doing my best to disappear from this plane of existence.

Primarily because I measure my insides to another’s outsides, but it seems like I’m a real life shapeshifter, effortlessly shirking and taking on mantles as easily as one puts on socks. Maybe it’s a gift, I can empathize with another by imagining myself as another, and I can play hostess or whore with equal amounts ease.

Personally, I’ve thought of it as a curse. There feels like there is no acceptable core to my personality, and what is there, is a raw, screaming mess. I cover it in emotional nacre, refusing to let another soul to come near it. I adored playing pretend, as I was raised to believe that who I was, was unacceptable. My needs, tears, existence were meant to be scrubbed away, and painted over with something a little prettier, don’t you think, sweetheart?

All my tears, my rage, and feelings of loneliness were ordered to be excised from my body and only palatable characteristics are permitted to remain. Maybe this is a socialization that all women, or maybe all people go through, the process of hiding our bad in order for everything to not fall apart. Maybe the new Snowflake movement is because for the first time in our civilization, we are not hiding all of our bullshit from the world.

Maybe I’m just a fuckup who can’t seem to hide it any longer.

Regardless, people laud me for my authenticity, which makes me cringe. What realness? Everything I put forth, feels like drag, and not particularly successful drag at that. My smiles, the quips that roll off my tongue (whether I want them to or not), and the ability to put others either at ease or discomfort, it all feels orchestrated and not honest in any sense of the word.

Through therapy, I’m toying with the notion that maybe these palatable, enjoyable characteristics are as real as the self-loathing and insecurities I harbour inside. My entire life, I’ve rejected what I’ve projected outwards, and kept all the messy insides buried deep within, for absolutely no one to see. It was simply safer that way. As a result, I’ve viewed my personality as a persona, a mask I put on to face the world. I don’t know what is real and what isn’t anymore.

I don’t think anyone does.

Under-Over Achiever

(From my paper blog, which is far less polished than what I’m used to putting forth.)

End of November is coming up.

Been working on/borderline struggling on processing three decades’ worth of experiences and emotions that are swimming around in my head. Calgary is now said and done, and I’m spending most of my mental energy trying to cope with how disparate my memories are, especially in comparison to my expectations I had of the place. It was where I grew, where I saw my wretched pettiness and insecurity truly rear its ugly head, the place where I took my first and last stand against abusive situations. Most importantly, it’s where I learned to learn.

Calgary was the city where I expected to both flourish and self-destruct. I recall babbling of my desire to dive headfirst into college life, of drinking and wanton lesbian sex. Gimme a break, I was sixteen.

In this city, I expected to be free to be me, or at least in the way my scrambled teenaged brain expected me to be. Something simple, something beautiful, that would inevitably burn bright and burn out. Calgary was were I wanted to find out what I truly wanted, without the emotional entanglements of an oppressive and abusive family and social environment. Before I left, I physically felt suffocated by all the trauma and restrictions on my self-expression, and I yearned for the day I could truly take flight, without the pebbles to boulders of bullshit others tied on me. But like some sort of dysfunctional security blanket, I physically carted my abusers and baggage to in the U-Haul I rented.

I feel a great deal of disappointment in my delay and inability to shake those monkeys off of my back. They damaged me and I feel like so much of my energy was spent trying to survive and trying to convince myself that this cloud of depression and abuse was perfectly normal. I suppose because for a very long time, it was my normal.

Part of me is terrified that perhaps I couldn’t have been much better if left to my own devices.

So much blame is placed on my choices in partners and life choices, yet there’s this underlying terror that perhaps this is the best I could do, ever. But maybe it was, and maybe that was enough. If I reframe it, I did all sorts of crazy-cool-courageous shit.

I attended and did well in a vicious design program that weeded out 1/3 of the students who applied, worked from 7am to 11pm in both schoolwork, freelance and part-time work (considered impossible to do in the program,) grew immensely as an artist by honing my technical drawing skills, learned the painful reality of time and financial management, quit my self harming (cutting, drinking, sleep deprivation,) and anoretic coping mechanisms, came out as queer, left two abusive relationships and finally put an end to my being a victim of the cycle of violence by beginning the journey in processing the trauma of my past.

All of this before I was 23 years of age.

Oh, and I graduated from my design program and began working full-time in what was the first step in the rest of my life, as a professional creator.

That’s a lot. That’s a lot for anyone, at any age, let alone a kid who had a very screwed up idea as to what she was worth, and still kept her wild dreams of being something great.

My still-active neuroticism makes me paranoid that perhaps I’ve peaked. Maybe I have lost those hard-won lesson that I accrued from my life in Trail and Calgary.

Wisdom and age has taught me that when that voice crops up, all I need to say is “Shut the hell up, you’re killing it.”

Journal Entry #1: Puppet Master

This one is straight from the paper journal, so it’ll be a stream of consciousness type of entry and less polished.

Maybe I’m used to abandonment, pain, and rejection. Frankly, I view it as an understandable and inevitable outcome in all of my relationships. I go into a relationship with the exit strategy in mind.

That isn’t particularly sustainable. Certainly, I need to accept and allow for room to grow within any relationship, but that’s really difficult for me to do. My desire is to have relationships that are carefully cultivated and separated, like a neat row of plants in a garden. I want to keep myself, and them in a safe, easily understood (and therefore, easily controlled) parameter of existence, because the unknown often has yielded very painful results for me. It’s understandable, but ultimately limiting; the capacity and nuance of human emotion is near limitless, and this method I devised in my childhood years is stalling the evolution of my personal growth as a human being.

I don’t want to control people out of malicious or ego-driven/narcissistic intent, but rather, out of self-preservation. Understanding their needs before even they do, and moving the world around them prevents me from berating, beatings, or worse, historically-speaking. Easily predictable people mean easily predictable and managed outcomes. Limited risk, and I can play pretend at being vulnerable and emotional, like other people do.

Thing is, I’ve longsince outgrown this tactic. What worked then, doesn’t work now.

Being able to understand and manipulate (I would rather use, navigate) the adult world was a skill I had to learn quickly. I recall vividly the sharp and painful awakening of how cruel my mother could be, and it was extremely frightening. She became intensely unpredictable with her moods and rages; this was especially frightening to a child, as they need to know that there’s some pillar of safety and steadfastness in their life. Growing up is scary enough, and when you realize that you’re on your own, you turn to whatever means necessary to ensure your safety.

So, I learned how people worked, and how to work people.

Then and even now, I berate myself for it, for I felt it was dishonest, cruel and much like how my mother tried to control me (albeit, she was obtuse about it even to a pre-pre-teen.) It drove my self-esteem even lower, for I felt that I’m already unlikeable enough, and now I’m fake and evil, too?

This was a lot for a 9-14 year old to manage.

Nowadays, I’m trying to be more forgiving and understanding, while not allowing myself to slip back into old habits. I desperately want to placate people, as I fit the fawn archetype in the Complex PTSD structure; keeping myself safe, meant keeping others happy by predicting their needs and moods. Additionally, all children are manipulative to some degree–we come into this world fawned upon endlessly, and growing up means we have to learn that we are not the actual centre of the universe. Currently, I’m working quite diligently on ensuring my needs and boundaries are satisfied, while learning that complete control over outcomes isn’t ever going to be a certainty.

I guess I could get a Nintendog, instead.

Institutionalized Minimization

“We’re sorry, but your request for financial aid in regards to your sexual abuse case has been rejected. Unfortunately, you do not meet the parameters of this program, as while what you endured may have been traumatic, it does not qualify as sexual abuse..”

Upon reading this letter, my insides froze, just Iike they used to when my ex would touch me. There were no words to describe how much the world stood still in that moment.

(more…)

Ad Hymen-im

CW: This one’s a bit gross and a very vaginal-oriented one, so if you’re not into it, probably would be best if you toddled off to something else less…harrowing.

Many folks with vaginas often have hymens. For some reason, this little membrane of skin is held in freakishly high regard, usually by people without them. They apparently indicate chastity or some bullshit. Imagine if we had a flap of skin on our thumbs and index finger that indicate that we’d never taken a selfie, or texted someone? Yeah, basically that important.

Anyways, here’s the story of how I got my hypothetical dowry reduced from a cow to probably a very ill-tempered, barren chicken at age 5-6.

As a teenager, I read about this hymen-thingy in books. It was supposed to be there in many vagina-havers, but I could never find mine, and I looked around. Not having an intact hymen didn’t really bother me, but like a trinket you misplaced, you end up absent-mindedly wondering where you put it, you know? It took me years and years until I linked a number of fuzzy memories together and then I had a lightbulb moment.

Followed by a facepalm.

So the tale isn’t that exciting – I wasn’t saving a kitten from a tree, or other typical ways people lose their hymens. It really stems from me being a giant klutz as a kid, and being obsessed with these weird side-by-side uneven bars at the school playground.

Yeah, you’re seeing where this story is going.

I guess I fancied myself an aspiring gymnast; I’d spend all day clambering up them, and trying to teach myself tricks, unsupervised. One day, I fucked up; like out of a cartoon, one ill-executed move meant I hit the bar, right up my alley.

CLANGGGGG!

White hot pain shot between my legs, and my brain was convinced some thing was terribly wrong. I burst out crying, and ran into the school bathroom. Sobbing, I looked down and there was blood.

Blood isn’t supposed to come out of there! (OH GOD, I wish that were the case, baby.)

Through snot, tears and blubbering, I managed to convey to the teachers that Something Was Wrong Down There, and they sent me home with my mother. Being only told to that “Tanya fell off some playground equipment,” she was terrified that I broke an arm or something. I imagine she must have been confused when she was handed a very shaken daughter, with tear-stained cheeks but no visible signs of injury. I imagine the teacher told her that Baby!Tanya hurt her Private Parts, and there was blood.

Oh. Ohhh, boy, she probably thought while trying to frantically trying to figure out a way to fix up her daughter’s chastity with Scotch tape and bubble gum. Sex education in 1970s Communist China was pretty terrible, and girls thought you could get pregnant if you sat in a spot previously occupied by a boy. (If we keep defunding sex ed and Planned Parenthood, we’re probably going back to that level of understanding of the human body)

Seems like Momma didn’t attempt a DIY vagina rejuvenation (Frankly, I was pretty juven, no need for a /re/juvenation) and she took me to the doctor – I have vague memories of an exceptionally bright light shining down on my prone body on a cold medical table.

I recall the Doctor’s big face hovering above, murmuring to my mother in a Charlie Brown-style Womp whomp womp Grownup Person Voice. I can’t remember what was exchanged in the conversation, but I distinctly remember my mom’s harried and hurried explanation of what happened to me, as she led me out of the doctor’s office by my hand.

My Chinese was pretty basic, I could figure out things like “I want juice” or “I have to pee.”

I missed that day of learning “Well Tanya, you ruptured your damn membrane in your vaginal opening, the one that culturally signifies your purity. Now you’ve been compromised and the social implications are far-reaching, when you become of marriageable age.”

Which is pretty close to “I want juice,” I guess.

So I never understood what had happened to me that day for many years after.

Except, I guess I didn’t lose it entirely.

Flash forward to like, 18 years– I’m a 23 year old person having first-time sex with someone who was, ahem, girthy. We were getting busy, and suddenly, Holy shit, ow.

A distinct tearing pain ripped through me, and I yelped. We stopped and tried for months to figure it out; was it position? Lubrication? The alignment of the different planetary houses? I had sex for the first time at 16, and while I’m not exactly the Red Baron, my body count was decent– respectable, even.

Months and months, no dice. I even tried to explain it to my doctor, who sent me to a urologist. Cue Tanya in stirrups, having a camera snaked up her urethra and four resident student doctors staring at my bladder doing its thing, on the high-def screen above me.

Absolutely not mortifying at all.

I’m someone who hates having photos taken of her, so this was next-level.

Also, turns out my bladder has plaque on it. Guess I should floss more.

Eventually my doctor has his brain reinstalled and sends me to a gynaecologist. She looks at it for half a second and goes “Oh! That’s just your hymen, there’s still some that remains.”

My brain screeched to a halt.

Is my hymen coming back from the dead?

And that’s the story of how I lost and found my hymen.