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This is a small update, but I figured I'd toss it on here rather than try chaining things on twitter endlessly. :)


I just attended my local OFA (organizing for action) group, chaired by the head of the local democratic club. 3x city council members were there, as were a couple folks from the board of education. Three awesome speakers too, talking about a nearby republican district, running a campaign, and mental health.
Oh... And I actually chimed in at the end re: the last speaker's talk, which involved mental health, and got no less than five "Are you going to run for office?" XD That, and an invitation to go canvassing and a "You should totally sign up for this fellowship!" from the head of the group. XD
Guess talking about empathy is a thing! XD


May. 7th, 2017 05:26 pm
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CW: Violence, Anxiety, Depression
Time for another weird one. (Feel free to blame The History of Rome podcast, which I've been re-listening to over the last week. Or, if you want to go meta, feel free to blame my anxiety, which has been spinning out of control the last couple weeks and demanding constant unhealthy input leading to re-listening to The History of Rome podcast?) Anyways, here's a weird one. It's going to be a mix of my typical status blogs, and a bit of unexpected empathy yet again. Think something in the vein of Orlando.
Anxiety has been beating the fuck out of me lately. >.< I've had a few good days, but quite a lot more bad ones, and even though I'm making major progress in my therapy as of late, I'm just about ready to collapse. >.< From shame about my sexuality and very identity to depression that won't let me feel anything at all in the last two days, it just keeps coming. It feels like I'm being physically hammered on, as though someone is trying to break me with iron when they couldn't break me with tears. >.<
(Author's note: Yes, I am getting better, but it just doesn't feel like it right now. >.<)
Therapy on Thursday this week was particularly bad, and I was actually unable to get unstuck when we went searching through my past. (My therapist performs EMDR, meaning we go back and reprocess things, then return to the present.) In many ways, I'm still stuck there today, and it doesn't feel very good. >.< [VIOLENCE WARNING] I'm still lying there bleeding on the cold concrete floor, crying in a pool of my own blood and vomit, stab wounds oozing from my back, unable to do anything else but die. I'm still freezing, unable to see past the pain and tears, everything so, so dark. >.<
And so when I found an unexpected feeling of empathy yesterday, it really really shocked me. Because I wasn't the only one hurt, pressed into a life I only ever hated, and that ripped my soul apart. I wasn't the only one who wished she could hide from all the world, her music the only thing that kept her going. And you know what? I'd have made a terrible emperor too.
I feel very much like a dragon who's had her wings ripped off, and is bleeding out despite her best attempts. And it *hurts*. >.<
(Author's note: It feels out of place putting this here, but I know I'll be asked if I don't say. No, as far as I can recall, I've never been physically abused, but apparently that doesn't stop my dreams from ripping me apart. >.<)

On Love

Dec. 27th, 2015 07:22 pm
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So... This should hopefully be a bit lighter than some of my journals as of late, though it's still pretty heavy and emotional.  In a way, I'm writing this to kind of confess something that I've always known, but have had absolutely no idea how to deal with. (Bonus points: It is one of the chief causes of my anxiety.)

I have problems with emotional connection.

I don't have a problem *making* connections. I have a problem with *not* making them. There's a whole ton of ways I think about it, from having too much love (an introject response), to just not knowing how to maintain boundaries. (Even the second one doesn't ring completely true, though, because I can set up and maintain them for certain things, and they can be ultra-strong at times. I just don't have the mental energy to maintain them over the long term... or maybe, I'm fooling myself and don't really have them in the first place. (Hint: It's the latter.))

So let's talk about the "too much love" angle. Clearly, there's no such thing, despite what my brain might tell me. However, this thing (I don't know what the hell to call it) has some ramifications. The first how I make emotional connections, and the second is how deep those go.

I have a really funny(?) (I think/hope?) (from an outside perspective) way of making friends. I kind of run into someone I like, and then just start treating them as a friend, usually resulting in them going "Huh, this person is a little bit odd. I guess it's not hurting anything though." (Hands up if I've done this to you!) Usually that's accompanied by the other person acknowledging me as an acquaintance and shrugging it off. Over time, though, a friendship just kind of happens, often surprising the other person quite a bit. The simple act of treating someone as a friend causes a friendship to grow, even if it doesn't have a label. The thing that throws people for a hell of a loop is that I don't actually have a goal in this. Nothing is ever expected from my side. It's simply a "I'm going to treat you as a friend unless you give me a reason not to." If you never feel the same way, I will probably be slightly sad, but I'm just kind of like that.

Those same friendships can deepen over time, though typically they won't without acknowledgement and acceptance from the other person involved. A lack of serious bond response from the other person might mean some slight heart-ache, depending, but if there is a response, that bond grows incredibly quickly. I suppose I should try to describe how this makes sense to me, but it might be slightly mind-boggling or incomprehensible, depending on how you form bonds...

Here's the truth.

I love *everyone*. I see the beauty in everyone's heart, as well as the potential that that beauty brings to the world. I even see it when people can't see it themselves (a discordance that is honestly one of the worst feelings in the world). When I look at you, I see you, the person, not the skin, not the gender... the whole. Each and every one of you is beautiful and amazing beyond your wildest dreams... and I see all of it.

As a result of this, the only way for me to maintain a level of emotional separation is distance. Physical separation keeps those bonds from growing too deep, too quickly, and (so my introject would have me believe) causing all kinds of havoc. If you've seen me flit close and then disappear, it's because of this, not because of anything you have done... especially since I've been afraid. I buried this deep, because my emotional core didn't fit with how the world said I should be. That said... I don't want to be afraid anymore, but I fear this will be my hardest lesson. I don't even know what the lesson to be learned is, but I fear it all the same. :S

On a scale of emotional connection from 0-10, I have zero through two, and then eleven. I could spend an afternoon with you and we could fall in love for a lifetime. I have done *exactly* that, and it scared me so deeply I had panic attacks for weeks, thinking I had destroyed an existing relationship in the process. (Luckily, I'm dating one of the most forgiving and generous-with-her-heart dragons on the planet, else things would have gone really badly. >.<)

In summary... I don't know where I'm going with this either. I am really sick of being afraid of my own heart, my own nature, my own music, but I am terrified to let it loose. The only boundary I've ever really held is not letting that fear go, but there's a big damned crack in that armor now. Part of me finally knows it isn't a bad thing. Here's the thing... Boundaries just kind of dissolve around me. Just like in the friendships above, the fact that they're weakening is not noticed until they're suddenly gone. And... this one is trying to, even as I write this.

My heart, my magic, my music, doesn't know how to say no, and maybe it shouldn't have to. It's wild, it's free, and it's caged. >.<


Apr. 25th, 2015 07:06 am
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This journal is about hope... but we're not going to start there.

Some days, the world just sucks.  Okay, maybe a lot of days.

Today, it seems like a toss-up between folks who say that we're going to hell in a hand-basket, folks who are *trying* to send us to hell in a hand-basket, and those of us just trying to make it through.  We're bombarded by elders relating nostalgia about "better times," paired with stories of violence and looming threats of societal surveillance and control. With all that, it's easy to lose our way, and to forget that things are a bit better, and quite a bit more chaotic than we usually admit to ourselves.

I just finished reading Poul Anderson's Harvest of Stars, and I'm here to tell you that they're not going to win. Not the assholes, not the totalitarians, not even those who think that juuust a little tweaking of the human state would somehow make us better people. (We know how that ends, too...)

Yes, there is immense suffering in parts of the world. Yes, there are things terribly broken in our governments, in our relationships with each other, and even our relationships with ourselves. But we are *learning*.  For the first time ever, we are collectively starting to pay attention and see the problems that abound, and our society is (more or less) stable enough that we can start to deal with them. Yeah, it's going to be brutal at times, and yeah, we'll lose our way more than once; but we *will* make it. The message of that novel, and of art in general, is that humanity *will* endure and learn and grow beyond the wildest dreams of those poor souls who seek to control its soul. The stars call to us, and that is a dream that no one can ever destroy.
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This is not going to be a happy post.  If it's not already obvious from some of my other journals, I have a pretty strange mental space, even when I'm ostensibly at peace.  I've come to terms with much of that, but sometimes I can't find that peace.  Tonight is one of those nights.

I'm an atheist.  I don't believe in much spiritually, and though I do respect the actual power those beliefs are given by those who hold them, that does have a significant impact on my world view.  It causes me to reflect on a wide variety of things, up to and including what I'd like to accomplish in my short time here.  (Early mid-life crisis triggered a few years ago.  :P)  That's a tough question to answer, especially when the goal-posts move as you try to chase them.  For now, though, I've settled on a short list.

1. I want to be comfortable being myself, and exploring what that means.
2. I want to grow and love and share my life with others, including one special one in particular.
3. I want to have the world I leave be a little more beautiful and a little less afraid than the one I entered.
4. At least part of #3, includes writing.  I'm an engineer, but I really want to write and inspire.

For a long time, I hadn't made progress on any of these, just kind of drifting along the paths set out for me by others.  I had tremendous opportunities, for certain, but when I finished the college track (for now) and emerged into the wider world, I started to realize that I hadn't really understood what living as on my own as a free member of society meant.  It turns out that, financial concerns aside for the moment, that's a pretty scary thing.  Following a nice, well-worn path and then finding yourself in the middle of an unknown field, still moving quite quickly, is a jarring experience.  Still, I can say with confidence that numbers one and two are in progress, and seem to be headed in a positive direction.

Number three?  That's the subject I really want to touch on tonight.  I've mentioned the extreme empathy thing before, and I'm not kidding.  I'm pretty severely off-balance tonight, because sometimes, I just can't handle the chaos and pain I see around me.  I don't quite shut down, but I feel paralyzed and frustrated, unable to do anything to help.  It doesn't matter the country, the location, or the reason, suffering anywhere really hits, and hits hard.

Recently, two things in particular have weighed on me particularly heavily, both of which have all sorts of complicated political ramifications.  The two issues are systemic economic insecurity/inequality and political repression/surveillance.  I realize these are topics that engender more than a few strong opinions, but I'm not looking for a debate just now.  This is more of a random thought-spew with a little brain-storming on the side.

I'm going to start with #1, economic insecurity/inequality...  I'm going to start off by saying that I have a pretty decent job myself, and barring my own stupid financial decisions, I'm more or less okay.  However...  I know a lot of folks, both in and out of the fandom, who struggle to get by on a day-to-day basis.  The ones lucky enough to have them work shit jobs, or multiple part-time jobs just to be able to live, and extreme hours leave them too drained to be able to actually do anything in their free hours.  This is insane, as far as I can tell, systemic, and I have no idea how to go about sanely fixing it.

Number 2 is an interesting animal as well.  I'm not going to touch on specifics of what's being done, why it's claimed to be necessary, or anything else.  What I want to touch on is the mindset of those making the decision, both here in the US, and those in other countries around the globe.  Re #1, there are a lot of very unhappy people around, and governments (our own included) seem to have gotten it into their heads that they can somehow learn about and control chaotic events.  In reality, the control they seek is not only imaginary but impossible.  People are inherently unpredictable, and no net, however vast, will catch everything and everyone.  It isn't impossible to seek out that control, however, or hurt a vast amount of people in the attempt.  Control is fundamentally something created by force, and one only has to look at repressive regimes, or chaotic ones like Iraq and Egypt, to see where that road leads.

I guess what I'm saying is this.  Problems, economic and otherwise, are causing chaos that we're (as a species, not the US in particular) attempting to deal with through surveillance and control.  That just doesn't work, so we need to find some way to build up support networks and trust in them.  We have to start being able to trust each other and recognize that our well-being is affected by not just ourselves!  How do we do that?  I don't know yet, but if you bother to read the news and know people who are hurting, you know it can't really wait very long.

Comments are welcome, but I do reserve the right to hide them if stuff gets nasty.  This isn't a discussion of whether these *are* problems.  I believe they are, and if you want to touch on that aspect, the rest of the Internet is open to you.  This place is for suggested solutions.
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I have two topics tonight, and I'm not quite sure how I'm going to spin them together.  I want to talk about compassion, but also about the year that is now past, and all the things that came with it.  My "2013 Overload" post focused a bit on the "Oh hell, this was crazy" bits, but there was a lot of good there too.  Due to that, and the fact that 2013 seemed to be overly hard on a lot of folks, I wanted to add at least some positive perspective on it.

Let's start with compassion.  A lot of people will tell you that compassion is easy.  I'm here to tell you that, sometimes, it is the hardest thing you can do.  The reason is that you have to open yourself to the potential of being hurt, and in some cases, being hurt terribly, in order to help someone else.  Often times, that window of vulnerability is small, hence the imagining that compassion is something easy, but more often than not, that difficulty level is a bit higher than we care to admit.  And so we avoid conversations; we look sideways at people we'd rather not lay eyes on; and sometimes, we pretend, trying to fool ourselves that within our walls we are strong.

We are not.  When we hide within those walls, we do it out of fear.  We fear that our heart, our most secret and treasured self, could not contain or comprehend the chaos that is the world we live in.  This is understandable, but it isn't enough.  It isn't enough for the heart we hide inside, and it sure as hell isn't enough for everyone else, many of whom are holed up in their own castles, looking out at the no-man's land between as though it was the breadth of the Pacific ocean.

Compassion is *powerful*.  In fact, I dare say that there is nothing more powerful than it, especially in its ultimate expression, love.  Unlike anger or hate or intolerance, compassion isn't a "force", persay.  It's more like water, ever flowing and eroding at the rough edges it encounters, and much like its physical analog, it's not something that you can really fight.  It just is, and everything else has to find a way to live with it; because it isn't going away any time soon.  This gives rise to its second quality...  It doesn't just change the person on the receiving end.  It changes the person who is giving too, because compassion always reflects back, even if only a little at first.  You can't open yourself on any serious level and not change a little yourself in the process.

What am I thankful for in the year 2013?  I'm thankful for compassion.  I'm thankful for my friends who were there when I needed them, even if I wasn't always smart enough to ask.  I'm thankful that I could be there for a few of them when they needed me, though I do wish I had been able to do more.  2013 may have been the worst year to date for a whole host of reasons, but it was also the best year for reasons as uncountable as the stars themselves.  I found something really special, someone special to share that with, and though I don't know what the future holds, I sure as hell know that it's brighter than it used to be.  I say that in spite of the fact that I'm still very much not entirely stable (a surprise to me too) as echoes of the past year are still haunting me at times.  I say that in spite of the fact that the chaos and pain I see in the world around me causes me to twitch and lose focus and want to cry when I least expect it.  I say it in spite of these things, because I've learned that I can make a difference, even if it's only a small one for now, and because I have hope that it may not always be as small as it is now.

2014...  This is going to be different...  I have never opened up to the level I now am, and honestly, I've no idea how I'm going to deal with the flood of emotional input and internal turmoil that's caused.  While still working on being comfortable expressing my gender and sexual side, I'm dealing with continued financial and other stresses that make it a bit hard to relax and just (find and) be myself.  On top of this, I'm also trying to write (something that means a great deal to me) and helping plan out the next year for AFC.  I'm trying not to be too spread out again this year, but that's starting to look unfortunately familiar.  :/

The good news is that I have support this year, and I'm going to try and lean on it a little more than I have in the past.  To all of you who've been there: Thank you.   And to all of those who will be there, thank you too.  Let's see if we can't make this year better than the last one, better than all that have come before.  Compassion is the key; you just have to be willing to open up yourself to see it.
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Apparently I'm writing another one!  Not sure exactly where this one's going, but since these help me put two and two together (equaling negative Pi, of course) I figured I'd go ahead and try.  There's a good chance that this post in particular may vacillate between happy-go-lucky and really serious, but that's only because that's sort of been my mental state as of late.

This time, we'll start with a link to a short video.  This one means a lot to me, and if you're interested in reading further, I'd suggest starting with it.  A good friend of mine, :icondakotawolf:, shared it with me a few days ago, and although it didn't start this train of thought, it definitely helped me go ahead and write this next one.  Link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSR4xuU07sc

Good stuff first...  I'm healing.  I know I keep saying that, but damn if it isn't true.  This has been a very difficult year for me, for every imaginable reason...  I was going to try and write a sentence here, but it's pretty much impossible, so I'm going to toss out a list and then touch on them one-by-one below.  Not all of them are bad, and most are at least somewhat resolved at this point, but it's been absolutely brutal both mentally and physically this year.  One common thread they do have is that I'm actually responsible for getting myself into these messes in the first place.  (No, there's no self-blame or anything like that.  They just happened, and I'm learning to deal with them, one at a time.)

- Releasing emotional barriers [99% there. *sigh of relief*]
- Coming to terms with being trans-gendered [resolved-ish - Will be a work in progress all my life, and I'm okay with that.]
- Family stresses (health, siblings, AND relationships with parents)
- Almost switching careers [resolved, though I'd still like to do it at some stage]
- Almost moving cities [resolved, though I'd still like to do it at some stage]
- Starting to write (and stressing about not being able to due to other stress!)
- Helping to start a convention (still have at least two years to stabilize fully)
- Financial stress [resolved]
- Personal health stresses [resolved]

Lets start with the first one, as it triggered a lot of the other ones.  This year (really, the last 18 months), I have finally managed to let down the emotional walls I'd built up around myself, finally dropping the last of them only days ago now.  I've alluded to this in prior journals, but I'm actually an incredibly emotional and, especially, and *empathic* person.  I feel the pain of others around me as though it's a knife in my own side, and even that of those I've never known in news reports thousands of miles away is sufficient to shake my mental state.  Because of that, for many years now, I'd cut myself off from my emotional center, not really allowing myself to touch that wellspring, for fear of losing control of it.  For a long time, I even feared writing, terrified that my own words would be filled with a sadness that would seem to drown the world.  Instead, I attempted, and even somewhat succeeded in building myself into a weapon that could protect those I cared about, at the expense of my own self.  In my last years of college, I became quite the militant as far as politics and current events went, and was quite angry at how cruel and cold the world seemed to be.  I was also frustrated by my inability to do anything to make it better, though I never quite despaired.

Now, that emotional empathy is not only, or even primarily, negative.  I've said a few times that "I'm happiest when other people are happy."  That statement is true, and I'd even extend that to "It's almost impossible for me to be happy (even when separated by distance) when others are not."  When they are happy, though, I share their joy, and I would not trade that loss for anything in this world.  Through that link, as it were, I've learned to appreciate the little beauty that's everywhere around us, seeing through others eyes when I couldn't find it using my own.  I've learned that life can be, and often is beautiful, despite the horrible things that are happening in some parts of the globe.  Having friends who can really help me through this is very new to me, as without letting those walls down, it was impossible for others to help previously, but I appreciate all the assistance I've been given both in letting those down, and now coming to terms with what that means.  I've used the words "I'm awake now", and other variants of, before, and I earnestly mean it.  It's like I grew up thinking I was happy and was really only seeing black and white, when the world is in fact, living color.

Back to this year.  2013 has been completely, loony-jacket, insane.  Even beyond the challenges themselves, I've been incredibly worn down and frustrated since every time I think I've made progress, I seem to find another obstacle in my path.  That has been *especially* true with the mental/emotional blocks, with my only realizing the next level once I'd passed through.  All of the other stresses have added in too, to the point where I pretty much went into shutdown on some of them for a while, as I was completely unable to deal with all of them at once.  As might be expected, the stress hit my physical health too, leading to me being out sick a total of two and a half weeks over the course of this year.  (I almost didn't have enough PPTO left to go to AFC!)

About midway through the year, I was inches from freaking out entirely.  I came to within inches of moving up to Phoenix (something I'd still like to do eventually) for a whole host of reasons both real and imaginary, and almost succeeded in making one of the largest mistakes of my life.  The timing was off, the job wasn't one I'd have been happy in, and the financial and living situations would have become untenable rather quickly on top of that.  On top of that, many of the (job-related) reasons and fears for the move turned out to be groundless, and I ended up being able to switch to a (mostly) 4/10 schedule so that I could spend more time up in Phoenix.  At the time, I had basically no friends in Tucson (didn't manage to hook up with some of the other furry groups for one, and emotional OMGWTFBBQ wasn't helping either.  I'm happy to say I have several good friends in Tucson now, and that's helped me stabilize quite a lot.  If I'd moved, it's possible that I'd never have met them, and I can't even imagine that at this point.  (Completely random tangent...  How the hell am I so lucky to know *any* of you guys?  (Phoenix included, of course!)  I sure as hell don't know, but I'm damned glad that I can call you that...)

I guess all I can do for now is conk out for the night, having vented a bit onto this poor page.  I'm doing a hell of a lot better, but holy flying flipping fuck, I could do with a sanity break in the near future.  (Still basically out of PPTO though.  >.<)

Oh, and one last thing.  I try to share books, videos, and other things that resonate with me, as stories are incredibly powerful at times.  Here's a few to give a touch of what I've been dealing with, the first of which was already linked above.  I've subtitled them with emotions / the thing they made me think about.  Maybe, just maybe, if someone else is going through some of this themselves, that can help.  I hope it does.

 - Coming Out of Your Closet (Meaning)
  - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSR4xuU07sc
 - Hands Held High (Sadness)
  - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PibXTko6VC4
 - Remember How We Forgot (Inspiration, Kindness)
  - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBVJuA0jr6Y
 - More Often Than Sometimes (Beauty, Love)
  - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX4s04wlxQA


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Zeta Syanthis

September 2017



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