Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

The Queerification of Me: Coming Out in the Wake of Pulse

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The first time I fell in love with another woman, she held my hair as I vomited violently into the toilet and then she held my secret while I came to terms with being pregnant at 17 years old.

And then she kept my secret for 10 more years after I had my first abortion.

She loved me unconditionally when my first husband demanded I sever ties with her.

A demand that came only after determining that we were too intimate and therefore too powerful to be allowed a relationship.

Women who love each other are dangerous, y’all.

She is my first love..

However you think I mean that I can pretty well guarantee has no relationship with reality.

She still loves me unconditionally. And it was never our time and maybe it never will be, but my assumption has always been the porch in a rocking chair with sweet tea and bourbon while we laugh at the tricks gravity has played on our once lithe bodies after our husbands die and our children go on with their lives.

I’ve never “come out” to anyone. I have used passing as a way to hide away from hard conversations. I have used passing as a way to advance my own privilege. I have used passing as a way to self-denial.

Not today, Satan.

I’m a queer, pansexual, cis-gendered white woman married to a cis-gendered white male…*

And I think I’m just about tired enough of participating in my own erasure.

My marriage looks straight to you, but it’s not, so let me say that again for those in the back–MY MARRIAGE AND NON-MONOGAMOUS RELATIONSHIPS ARE NOT STRAIGHT.

The love of women, genderqueer and non-conforming, and trans personalities and bodies and minds and souls will always be part of my relationships…if I’m fortunate enough to find those people who wish that with me.

Until someone threatened to out me at my job I let passing be enough…and then and ONLY then did I accept that I got to decide if I’m queer.

My family, my heart, my people and those families and hearts and peoples from communities I wish to ally and align myself with have been brutalized.

And I am broken.

But y’all, they done fucked around one too many times, though.

It’s always one too many times.

So, I’m broken, yes. I’m devastated and I don’t know moment to moment how I’m going to look the world in the eyes and say,  “Today I can.”

But I will.
Because I am tired and I am angry.

 

I’m here.

I’m queer.

 

You can get used to it, or we can burn it down.

 

 

This was my “coming out” statement on Facebook following the Pulse Nightclub shootings. I was on my way home from attending the NNAF abortion funds conference as a board member of the Magnolia Fund (please give them money). A radical, feminist, women of color centered space where I could #shoutyourabortion (well, should MY abortion) through the We Testify initiative. I could love on women and say #menaretrash and feel myself in all my feminist, loud, queer, awkward intelligence.

And then I got on the plane to go home and I saw.

And we sobbed silently on that plane all the way back to Atlanta from Houston.

I wrote about solidarity, but I also needed to be in solidarity with myself. With who I am.

As I prepare to go through relationship changes and personal changes and school and career changes, I acknowledge that I have a right to take up space in the queer community and in the world as a whole as a queer person.

Queer

 

*I realized after the fact that this might be read as thinking my cis-gender or race were being erased and that is absolutely not the case so while I leave this writing in its original form, the only parts of my identity I felt were being oppressed were those related to being a queer, non-monogamous woman.

Written by thelittlepecan

May 8, 2017 at 10:13 am

The Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and I Said Namascray, Bitches

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My friend Lisa has been asking me to go to yoga with her for going on three years. I did Pilates before and I really rebuffed the woo of yoga. 


I had been so wrapped up in my atheist identity that I left no space for anything that might be misconstrued as metaphysical or a threat to my non-belief. 


But I got to rehab and it was 12 Steps and find a higher power and honestly, my higher power is me! There’s nothing bigger than my own will to do right by myself.


I met Christine. She was our yoga and DBT instructor. Learning to sit with my own thoughts, listen to my own breath, stop worrying about who is checking out my ass in down dog was a very difficult task.


Christine invited me to be completely non-judgemental. With myself and with others. To laugh at myself if I fell out of tree pose. To cry when she touch my forehead during savasana. To feel my feelings and stop attributing those feelings to anything outside of myself, including god or whatever, that I am human and imperfect and that’s okay.


When Amy left and I was so alone, it was yoga class that helped me cope.


I am learning to understand that inner intensity, meditation and emotional literacy within myself is not connected to anything metaphysical if I don’t want it to be.

(Look! I can bloom my tree!)


I’ve got a long way to go. But I believe that this practice is saving my life, well, I believe that my choice to practice and commit is saving my life and is so much more useful than 12 step navel gazing and guilt and shame and war story sharing.


I am grateful for my mat. 

Written by thelittlepecan

May 7, 2017 at 2:26 pm

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and I Said: We Found Love in a Hopeless Place

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I didn’t even notice her the first day. She was in the bed and I was…well, terrified.

On the second day I saw her. I was smoking, still feeling really isolated. Trying to figure out my place amongst non-peers 15 years younger than me with no fucking clue the opportunity they were passing up. I know, because you couldn’t tell me shit as a 22 year old tweaker.

Black beanie. High-tops. Hoodie.

Smoking PallfuckingMalls.

(Oh, I wrote down words about it, but this one is from my memory.)

Swagger underneath a heavy cloak of insecurity. Chiseled cheekbones and clear hazel eyes. Really, they aren’t always hazel and I couldn’t even see them in that moment anyway.

In detox with me. The only other queer woman so far as I could tell, not that it would have mattered because I picked her.

I.Picked.Her.

In any other normal scenario I’d have been sidled up next to her at a bar, or making obnoxious googly eyes at this bad bitch hidden by the drums.

*look at me! look at me!*

I settled for an out of tune piece of shit guitar.

I don’t even know. I just knew she was the only person I had any interest in spending time with in that place. To find out that those feelings were reciprocated was the greatest gift I could have ever received there, besides the strength to stay sober. She was (and is) part of that strength.

When she has a moment of happiness, her face is the pure, innocent and unabashed joy of a child. Like wonder and excitement and newness all come together. She sparkles.

Of all the times I’ve ever wished someone could see themselves through my eyes, this is the most profound.

I found love and trust and companionship in one of the most hopeless places I’ve ever been in and it was one of the most ebullient experiences of my life.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 30, 2017 at 10:57 pm

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough

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You know what doesn’t survive a PhD?

What won’t survive alcoholism?
What won’t survive an out of control child?
What won’t survive a plague of trauma unexamined?

A marriage. That’s what.

I’m going to live tweet, live blog, live live the revolution of my heart. Where I learn to love myself and put the needs of my child and my soul and my body and my ambitions before anything or anyone else. It’s not their fault. I readily give others these permissions to expect things from me and there’s just no consent on what I expect in return. And now, here we are. The proverbial house on sinking sand.

It’s sad. I’m sad. Relationship loss and grief is every bit as awful as death. Maybe more so. But sobriety is life. It’s the only thing keeping me alive.

And if you don’t want to hear about that because I’m not amending the constitution of my life in the timeline you have determined, well, then that’s all right. I’ll still be moving on my own pace. I get that I have been undeniably, brutally, in many cases unforgivably, selfish in the past. I have so much guilt and shame about that, things I can never undo. But I will not be made to feel guilt for working through and toward sobriety at a speed dictated by anyone other than myself and the Universe.

I said yes, yes, yes. This is the outcome of that.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 30, 2017 at 10:42 pm

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and All I Found was this Nutty Bitch who Could Play Guitar

So she played and I sang. Tada!

Written by thelittlepecan

April 27, 2017 at 10:01 pm

Posted in Sociology

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and I said, “What the Fuck is Up with All this Gendered Sexist Bullshit?”

I’m sitting on a sofa in the upstairs room newly outfitted with IKEA living room furniture, a sign on the wall that reads “HUMBLE” in the style of an old gas station advert and a weird looking clock that is impossible to read which is really fucking annoying…I had to have my husband ship me a watch because TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.

I am waiting for class to begin.  And by class, I mean a 22 year old young middle class white woman who is triggered by Trap Music (the genre, not T.I.’s album with a ‘Z’) is going to speak to me and a room full of other women aged 19-40 somethings about…what?

Ah. Relationships with women. When we are in full blown addiction we will find women to be bitchy and take our boyfriends. I am not straight, but okay.  I never found my friends to betray me in that way, but…

Now we are learning about addictive behavior and…clothing?

I shit you not.

Stop wearing short skirts and Holy Respectability Politics, Batman! Dammit, girls, if you’d just dress like a lady, you probably wouldn’t shoot up so much and get facedownplasteredinthecar.

I bet you’re surprised that there’s research on the gendered ways we deal with addiction, just like there are racialized and sexualized ways…and those things intersect. Insert shock and awe here please.

Cis/straight/middleclass/white men are the bulk of all addiction treatments from AA to Passages. They are overwhelmingly run by that same demographic. And women, who raise the bulk of our children, suffer far greater instances of domestic violence, need assistance (that is often tied to drug testing or treatment completion) from the social safety net more often and experience sexual assault related to drug or alcohol misuse and abuse at astronomical rates are often completely left out of conversations about how best to deal with very specific issues when it comes to addiction. Well, unless they are being drug tested and having their babies taken away by DFCS. Wait, only poor women and WoC?  Okay.  Then we talk a lot about it. Mainly about taking them to prison and chaining them to beds if they are pregnant.

But our skirts, yeah?

In the US, the ‘‘good woman’’ is a gendered construct characterised as one who upholds exceptional moral standards; the good woman embodies an image of sexual purity, trustworthiness and innocence (Harris-Perry, 2011; Raddon, 2002; Thetford, 2004). Some scholars articulate that these images are also racialised, placing white woman as the hallmark image of the ‘‘good woman’’ – a mutually reinforcing construct of sexual and racial purity characteristic of societal ideals of whiteness (Anderson, 2001; Harris-Perry, 2011; HillCollins, 2000). Though scholars have long critiqued these societal ideals of femininity as discriminatory and unrealistic, the good woman image persists as a cultural identity that both women and mene spouse (Hill-Collins, 1990; Raddon, 2002; Thetford, 2004).

It is these gendered understandings of morality that get in the way of good sobriety, of good treatment and of trauma healing inside a facility. Already treatment is viewed as a moral failing, a neo-liberal understanding of individual responsibility with little biological/medical understanding of addiction (See Dr. Carl Hart’s work on addiction) and a pseudopsychologic/sociologic misunderstanding of social and psychological behavior.  Basically, you are bad and you should feel bad.  Jesus can help. Go to another meeting.

And it did make me feel bad. Even though I knew it was bullshit.

I watched girls, young women really, but barely old enough to be out of my Mama range, who had been violently assaulted or engaged in sex work (for which they had no reason to be ashamed) or engaged in sex for reasons they felt ashamed of (for their own reasons that I would honor) already be further shamed by talks delivered by completely unqualified techs with nary a background in women’s studies, addiction treatment, sexuality, sociology…or social work.

We are nowhere near being able to distinguish the brains of addicted persons from those of non-addicted individuals. Despite this, the ‘diseased brain’ perspective has outsized influence on research funding and direction, as well as on how drug use and addiction are viewed in society. Dr. Carl Hart

Even though:

Your risk of experiencing intimate partner violence increases if you are:

  • Poor
  • Less educated
  • An adolescent or a young adult
  • Female
  • Living in a high-poverty neighborhood
  • Dependent on drugs or alcohol

I sat and listened to this talk and then an activity whereby a fictional woman on a fictional island is fictionally coerced into having sex with a man with more power and resources than she in order to go to the other fictional island where her fictional fiancè is located, who proceeds to abandon her and shame her for her rape and she is then rescued as a distressed damsel by a third man all while her mother encouraged the entire scenario.

I later found out that the worst person in the story according to the LICENSED ADDICTION COUNSELOR was the woman–for a lack of integrity.

These two instances happened on the same day, back to back.

I’ve been sexually assaulted in the context of addiction a number of times. I’ve been coerced into sex in the context of addiction a number of times. I’ve been RAPED UNDER THE INFLUENCE A NUMBER OF TIMES.  I’ve also been violently assaulted by a loved one in the context of addiction and I’ve had my mom counsel me to “carefully consider my options” when it came time to probably leave. I’ve had horrific and shameful encounters with women friends in the context of addiction. I’ve been blamed for all of these things as a woman and as an addict/alcoholic by any number of people throughout my time in that world.

So. Yeah. Triggered. Sobbing.  And attempted to make some kind of headway with the head of program direction…but, you know, as an addict/alcoholic my word really didn’t mean shit. As a victim. As a survivor. AS A FUCKING SOCIOLOGIST.

“What can you do to gain knowledge in these situations?
Honestly, I dunno you ignorant fuck, what can you do to protect your clients from further trauma and respect the knowledge we have as experts in our own lives and hey these degrees that are costing me three times your fucking yearly salary?  Yeah?

Okay no then.

I heard the words slut, bitch, and whore more times than I can count and I don’t mean in a take back the night wild hairy underarmed feminist kind of way either.

I listened as male clients inspected the bodies of female clients, who touched them inappropriately, who bragged about having sex on property with young women who were clearly vulnerable and had limited opportunities for non-sexual physical contact (more on that and the rampant queerphobia later).

I know of at least two women kicked out for what amounted to specifically labeled gendered behavior that was not allowed and women shamed for not being ladylike and women who relapsed immediately after their discharge.

There was only one group who regularly “succeeded” and I’m not even sure we can call it that.

Source Material

A. J. Gunn & K. E. 2015. “Intra-group stigma: Examining peer relationships among women in recovery for addictions.” Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy. 22(3): 281–292.

Babcock, Marguerite L and Connor, Bernadette. 1981. “Sexism and treatment of the female alcoholic: a review.” Social Work. 26(3):233-238. 

McKim, Allison. 2014. “Roxanne’s Dress: Governing Gender and Marginality through Addiction Treatment.” Signs: Journal Of Women In Culture & Society 39(2): 433-458.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 25, 2017 at 11:16 pm

There’s Nothing Between the World and Me

https://twitter.com/_WeAreBlack/status/856151211577405440

I often wonder what it is like to live in real fear for your child. A mental exercise steeped in racial and class privilege.  I don’t live in fear of much of anything. I have fear of what others think of me, but even as I face legal issues related to alcoholism, I have almost no fear of jail, or social consequences.  I certainly do not fear the loss of my child’s life at the hands of those meant to protect him. I do not fear that he will be seen as a threat.  I only ever hear that he is well-mannered and sweet, his occasional outbursts or rude behaviors seen as quirky or normal.

Color-blind racism is an academic notion with real, devastating human consequences. We discuss it as something to quantify and research, to count and run t-tests of what policy is working and which white groups are “disenchanted”.   Opposite Bizzarro World, Ta-Nehisi Coates  explains to a willfully ignorant nation that this well intentioned attempt to dismiss race and along with it the history of brutality and oppression is futile.  More than futility, though, it is strategic denial of responsibility.

Black bodies have never been autonomous. How to explain to your child that their body is not their own?  I talk about consent with my son.  I tell him he doesn’t have to hug anyone he doesn’t want to and Meme can’t demand a smooch if he isn’t feeling like it.  I explain to him that he should not touch others without asking and that no one should touch him without an invitation.  I do not have to see him watch the torture porn of black bodies on television, bodies brutalized and replayed over and over so that white audiences will understand the reality of the situation.  He does not need “The Talk” except that one about the birds and the bees (Coates 2015:12).

I drove last summer to see my niece.  She’s a graduate student in Tennessee. We had a rental car with Texas plates.  I was driving with my husband and two very tall teenaged boys.  We headed home and it was late, after midnight.  I was pulled over for speeding or not using my turn-signal, something mundane.  My husband reached into the glove box without warning as I rolled down my window…and nothing happened.  My sons were not seen as threatening even though they are pushing six feet the both of them.  My husband’s sudden movements were not viewed as dangerous or that of a person reaching for a weapon.  I was warned to slow down or be careful and with a charming smile, sent on my way.

A mile down the road a Black man was pulled off his motorcycle by that same officer.

I had a conversation with my boys about their rights and how to interact with police.  And I told them that this conversation was wildly different than the conversations their friend’s parents had with their friends.  But, I didn’t fear.

What a privilege it is to only wonder about fear and to never panic for your children for existing in the world as children.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 23, 2017 at 10:39 am