Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

Posts Tagged ‘Relationships

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

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 I said, “What the Fuck is Up with All this Gendered Sexist Bullshit?”

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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

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab and I Finally Said Yes: A Series

I don’t know how to start a description of deciding to go into rehab. I’d had years of meth use behind me…working on my second decade of being clean. I couldn’t stop drinking and eventually I found myself handcuffed on the side of the interstate with my 10 year old precious boy in my car.

Seemed like I should get my shit together.  This was clearly beyond acceptability.

You should see my admission photo. I look like Bambi met a MACK truck on a dark Smoky Mountain road and truly had no idea which way was left.

So, I went right.

I’m not a wallflower. I’m anything but. But you couldn’t force me to talk that first day, though force me they did.

I was frantic to find anyone who seemed like me. On the inside. I was determined to take this for all it was worth and force myself to ignore whatever bullshit I heard.

And heard it I did.

Racist, sexist, ableist, queerphobic, antitheistic, antiatheist bullshit.

It was horrific and traumatic and beautiful and freeing and stifling and one of the greatest experiences of my life.

I stopped having panic attacks. I leaned on people very different from me. I learned just how deep my racial and class and educational privilege is and how far that shit would carry me at the expense of others.

I fell in love.

I fell in love with myself.

 

These are my experiences. These are my analyses. These are my words.

 

Hold on.  I think I’m back, Bitches.

Written by thelittlepecan

April 22, 2017 at 10:08 pm

Facing How Others See You and Other Nonsense

Recently, I’ve been doing my best to support a friend going through a break-up.  At first, it was fairly straight forward.  Listen to the problems, try to give sound advice, attempt to maintain a friendship with both parties.

Somewhere in there, for a number of reasons, the “he” in that relationship decided I was a threat. Or something.  Even though I am very close to the “she” in this scenario, I’d like to think the feelings and advice I had about the relationship, subsequent make-ups and break-ups would have stayed basically the same.  Some people just become toxic together and the only way to deal with that, in my opinion, is to cauterize the wound.  Just cut the infection and burn the shit out of the traumatized area to seal it off from germs and further festering.

Easier said than done, right?

In any event, what was once a pretty basic friendly acquaintanceship with him has turned into something really ugly.

To be sure, I am not blameless…he irritates me and picks at me like a middle-school boy intentionally pulling hair and trying to bully a girl into crying.  A set of activities I generally feel should be met with sarcasm and “mouthiness” (which, quite honestly is some sexist bullshit, but whatever.)  

My point being, when drinking I have little ability to curb my comments.

Since this has turned sour for me as well, I’m being made aware of how this other person views me.  Vindictive, meddlesome, insincere, and rude.  

In general, I don’t think I’m any of those things.  However, if I put myself in his shoes, I can definitely see how he would think that.  I’ve given advice, advice that is in direct opposition to what he’d like to see happen, when asked by her.  I suppose that would be seen as meddlesome.  Maybe due to that advice and the closeness of my relationship to her the next logical step would be a need to get revenge on her behalf for wrongs I feel he has brought to bear on her entire mental well-being.  I’m not generally vengeful and I try very hard not to act on behalf of others unless they want me to…but maybe I do have ulterior motives.  I don’t think I do, but I’m willing to entertain the idea.

Insincerity is something I don’t have a lot of patience for, neither for rudeness.  Though, I will say, if I’m being outright rude, it’s generally because occasionally Southern charm takes a backseat to sincerity.

The problem is at this point, I’m completely incapable of objective opinion.  I can’t help her anymore without it being partially an attempt to help myself.  I can’t stand the idea of my name being in other people’s mouths, especially his.  At this moment, I can’t stand to talk about him anymore.

I’m not sure how I can continue to give anything but a sympathetic ear when I clearly have dog in this fight…as ridiculous and infuriating as that is. And to be honest, I’m not sure how sympathetic I even feel.  I feel slighted so I’m looking to project an expectation of loyalty on my friend…which really sucks.  I find the need to control others to be distasteful and usually fruitless.

In reality, all those things he rattled off about me are things I think about him and worse.  And since I can only view this situation through the lens of my own personal perception (which right now is colored with lots of trauma and anxiety and stress) he’s coming out looking quite like a pile of shit.  It’s real hard for me to take the opinions of those with no sense of personal responsibility seriously, except that in some way, he has the ear of someone I care for and now I feel threatened and that makes me feel weak.

Not sure how to move forward…guess I’ll take a note from my husband’s playbook and consider the possibilities of non-personhood for someone for whom I feel only contempt and loathing.

Now, doesn’t that paint a pretty picture of myself?

Written by thelittlepecan

August 24, 2013 at 11:55 am

A Belated Valentine

Last weekend, the weekend before Valentine’s Day, Jim and I took the kids to the park.

Last weekend, my patience, of which I seem to have very little lately, ran out.

And so, last weekend, on Sunday, I lost control of my temper and effectively ruined a day that may have been salvaged-if only in my head-had I been able to keep my cool.

I am not a patient person and when it comes to children, I often wonder why I was allowed to have one.  I care for little people very, very much, but being the primary care-giver to more than one is a daunting task and sometimes, even when I am not the primary care-giver I freak out in a way that is abhorrent to my uber-liberal wanna be crunch factory sensibilities.  I don’t spank my kid, but I yell a lot and well, when kids whine, it’s like nails on a chalkboard play Beethoven because that’s what I’d rather listen to than their squeaky unappreciative little bitch fests.

In my life, I have dated guys that wished they could figure me out.  The smart ones called my mother to beg for advice when my anxiety reached it’s boiling point and they couldn’t do anything but avoid the explosion.  The dumb ones exploded too,  or left.  Mostly they left.

And so, I have multiple reasons to fear abandonment (thank you Freud, Bob I hate psychoanalysis) and when the shit hits the fan I tend to freak out more, like, maybe, when I’m asked to leave because I have flipped out, I dip into the Seventh Circle of hell and make things infinitely worse.  And I have to leave anyway.

Sunday was bad.  Monday was worse.  I hate the feeling of eggshell walking around my best friend.

On Tuesday, my best friend was deciding on a Valentine’s Day gift that generally represents a different type of relationship than we have.  He chose a medium that represents the kind of relationship we do have and by doing so reminded me that my friend, who happens to also be my Valentine, is committed to our relationship just how it works for us.

During that day, on Tuesday, while he was doing this, I was worrying about the fate of our relationship and wondering if I had done the irreparable.

On Saturday, I got reassurance.  Like the best kind of sparkly reassurance evar.

I hope this doesn’t like, embarrass him or anything.  I just want it to be known that I get it when I’m wrong and I get it when I’m wrong not to trust the right thing and wind up listening to my inner Golem instead.

Those of you who hate teh squish, get over it for this one.

ETA: For those asking, no it was not a ring, which is sort of the point.  It looks like this and goes on my Pandora bracelet.



Written by thelittlepecan

February 15, 2011 at 9:49 pm