Monthly Archives: November 2014

Day 23: Three Blind Lies #30Layers30Days

Name three things you have felt the need to hide or lie about in the past that you’ve had to overcome in order to move forward.

  1. My sexuality. This one I was hiding even from myself for a while, in a number of ways. Now I can comfortably call myself queer or a “babyqueer,” but this has been a long journey, pit-stopping along the way at “straight,” “straight-identified,” “bi-curious,” and “heteroflexible,” before landing here. I’m not sure if here is where I will stay in terms of labels, but the truth of the matter is that I experience attraction to women. Embracing that led me to discover that I enjoy sex with women, that I enjoy going on dates with women. Who knows where discovering those things might lead? But exploration in terms of my sexual orientation and my sexual preferences leads me to feel more authentically me, like I’m moving in the directions I want to go so that I and my loved ones know me fully. And in terms of preferences and behavior, I used to try to stifle or hide my sexual desires. I didn’t feel like I was allowed to have sexual agency. I used to let the men take control in the bedroom all the time. I used to be quiet. I used to be ashamed of, or at the very least uncomfortable with, talking about sex with the people I was actually having sex with. Overcoming those things (which, to a degree, starts anew with each new partner for me) has greatly improved the quality of my sex life overall.
  2. The fact that I have needs I can’t fulfill alone. I thought for so long that independence was the greatest quality a person could ever develop. I didn’t want to have obligations to anyone. I didn’t want to be held back or forced to give things up for a relationship: I didn’t want to combine living expenses, and changing cities because someone I’m with got a new job seemed absurd. MPW and JA especially tease me whenever I talk about JJ now, because pretty much everything about our relationship goes against everything I’d ever said about how I wanted to organize my life. But I started realizing that independence wasn’t a realistic goal long before I fell in love with him. I started asking for help. I had already been helping the people I cared about when I could. He and our relationship challenge me to talk about my needs on a deeper interpersonal level, to get comfortable discussing each others’ emotional needs as well as the practical ones. My understanding of interdependence has been completely reformed.
  3. My emotions, generally. If I’m not careful, I can be The Minimizer, the Queen of Downplaying. It’s not entirely intentional. I strive to be quite emotionally available. I don’t want to not talk about things. But it’s scary and hard and feels so much easier to wait until something is “really wrong” or “until the right time.” After all this time, putting myself out there doesn’t always come easily. I usually try to sit with my feelings until I can make sense of them, weave the things that have happened and my emotional reactions to the things into some sort of semi-coherent narrative, and then deliver them to the person I need to talk with (or to the internet) in a way that feels conducive to productivity. I have been told that this is helpful, even though to me it sort of feels like I’m dropping Emotion Bombs out of nowhere when I do this. Talking about my feelings helps so much — I often say that the only way to get through an uncomfortable feeling is to let yourself feel it — and yet I am on a constant quest to figure out precisely when an emotion is worth talking about and when I can shrug it off without hurting anything.

This too is a truth I am forcing myself to be more forthcoming about; that I am prideful. That I am bullheaded. That I do not, cannot seem to ask people to fill the gaps that I myself cannot cover. That I feel shame for needing, wanting help. That I feel like a failure for not being able to tend to myself and everyone else too. And that I am just as much to blame for being the sole proprietor of The Emotional State of La as the people who have failed me.

“Push and Pull” | La Bella Vita

Day 22: If They Knew #30Layers30Days

If they knew __________ , they would know why I __________.
(Interpret this however you like.)

If they knew how much I craved nurturing when I was growing up, they would know why I try to play that role in so many of my relationships now. I try to be the caretaker I needed for myself and for the people  I love.

If they knew how many times I didn’t have food in the kitchen or the electricity or the water got cut off due to non-payment in my childhood, they would know why I’ll do whatever I can to not let money fuck up the lives of the people I love.

If they knew how often I felt like an outsider, totally alone, they would know why I value being a “we,” a “team,” so much.

If they knew how often I was rejected for being too much or too intense, how often I’ve been told to turn it down a notch, they would know why I’m so scared of vulnerability sometimes. They might even get why I feel like I have to do it.

I love revising things, because you see how you can get the language to get closer to intention. You know there are three ways to say X thing, but one will say it better than the other two. And in saying it better, it gets you closer to something. When you achieve it fully, you create something that’s transparent—that people can move into and through their own experiences. As a writer, I don’t want people spending time thinking, “What does she mean?” I want, in a way, my text to go away. So that the words on the page become a door to one’s own internal investigation. It’s just a passage. If the work does its job, it just opens.

Claudia Rankine in “Blackness as the Second Person” Meara Sharma interviews Claudia Rankine

(via KEW)

Day 21: Rewards (Option 2) #30Layers30Days

What do you do when you are in need of attention or acknowledgement from someone outside of yourself?  Yes, we all know that we need to look within, but we’re human and sometimes we want attention.  Sometimes we get a little needy.  So what do you do?  

I ask? It’s an ability I’ve been developing over the past couple of years — reaching out when what I need is other people. I say hi. I vent. I set up Skype calls or phone calls. I ask, “Can I come over?”

It used to be hard for me to say I need things from other people. I hated the idea of being “needy” or “clingy.” But pretending I didn’t have needs didn’t help me meet them. I had to accept that one of the things I need most regularly is, in fact, time with and attention from the people I love and care about. I need my people the way some people need alone time, and knowing that makes me feel way less self-conscious about consistently being the person to reach out in a lot of my relationships.

I really want to practice the art of removing the concept of domination from all my relationships and whoever I end up with romantically. Not living from a place of fear assuaged by the acquisition of power. Its really important for me to say what i am feeling and know that I am wanted/desired so that I dont end up trying to manipulate someone. And as queer femme of color manipulation comes easy to me. Its the only way Ive learned how to survive and make myself heard in many situations. Its been reinforced into many aspects of my identity. Using my voice is so important for me in decolonizing the way that I love.

A lot of people love to quote how relationships are power struggles in which someone is going to have the upper hand. This is not my vision of love, romantic or otherwise. Maybe we need to spent less time trying to quantify and rationalize love and more time making it into what we need from it/need it to be. I dont want to vie for attention or pretend to be disinterested to gauge your feelings and properly negotiate your waning interest or move you into the right position. I will tell you if I have been missing you, or that I want to talk to you. I won’t hide the smile that lights up my face when I see you. Or make it a secret that you have me rolled around your little finger. In a world that can be incredibly cruel and is so often lacking in love I think that  we deserve to be honest in that with one another. To shower one another in attention, love, care and to be unashamed that we so openly care for our partners and loved ones.

–Blackfoxx, “Thoughts on Love, Power Struggles, Domination, and Colonized Concepts of Love

(via come correct)

Abso-fucking-lutely all of this.

Patricia Alvarado, Deconstructing racism!!! Understanding complexities!!!

 

In this work, I deconstruct a seemingly innocent anonymous question I received asking “Where are you from bc your skin color is like different, I love it!” to speak to the complexities and pervasiveness of racism. I’m interested in revealing how deeply rooted racism is. I want to speak to issues such as cultural appropriation, white supremacy, the sexism + racism navigated by WoC and the exclusion of WoC in feminist discourse, the lack of positive representation for brown and black people, and other similar sentiments.

This work is still in progress, and will result in a performance taking place in December 2014.

Patricia Alvarado

(via the dopest ethiopienne)

Day 20: Impress Me #30Layers30Days

When you write, talk or present yourself in any way — are you more focused on being authentic at all costs or are you more focused on impressing people and being accepted?  How much do you rely on feedback and compliments to feel good about yourself?

It really depends on the space in which I’m presenting myself, and to whom. I would like to live in a world and have only relationships where I can be completely authentic with everyone that I interact with, but that’s not the way my life or the world I live in looks. So, like everything else in my life, there are levels to that shit, haha. I have a handful of relationships in which I can be my full, authentic self without fear of sustained judgment or repercussions. Then I have a larger number of people who get fully authentic representations of parts of me, and more constructed accounts of other parts for any number of reasons. And then I have people with whom I never really delve down past the surface level stuff.

For example, I talk to my parents all the time, but usually about things that are happening rather than about my feelings about the things or what they mean in the larger narrative of my life — we check in, sometimes almost daily, rather than have legitimate conversations. We communicate, but are not “in conversation” with one another on any significant level. And for the most part, I’m okay with that. I do not think that our relationship would be bettered by complete authenticity on either of our parts. My parents each have this idea of the person that I am, and being authentic would destroy parts of it, I think. I am not under the impression that we would like one another if we were really open.

But among the members of my chosen family? My closest friends and my partner? Authenticity is a challenge I strive to meet every day with them. I’ve committed myself to being vulnerable and saying things that are hard to say and asking questions whose answers I don’t know even if I’m scared of some of the possibilities. There are people I want to really know and really see me.

And then there are, like, the people who follow this blog who probably have a pretty accurate understanding of who I am as a person, but with whom my real life relationships (if they exist), wouldn’t suggest that deep a level of knowledge. I don’t really know what group to put those people into, but I like being open here and I like the idea that it makes more people in my life get me and what I’m about. I don’t try to impress people here.

I looooove compliments. Remember the highness of “words of affirmation” on my love language quiz results? But I don’t think I rely on them for self-esteem. I like me. I liked me before I had a boo telling me how awesome I am all the time, and before I had a paying job I was good at that brought a lot of positive performance-related feedback into my life. I have been working on liking me for years and years and years. It is an ongoing project. Other people deeply liking or even loving me helps, probably — at the very least, my relationships bring me spaces in which to develop myself in ways I like — but I don’t need them to say nice things about me to feel good about myself. I appreciate them for reminding me about my likeable things when I have forgotten them in moments of sadness, though. They’re really good at that. When boo tells me how he feels about me, I feel a rush of amazing feelings, but I don’t think it contributes to me feeling good about myself, so I’m not going to include that here. Feeling good about us isn’t the same as feeling good about me.