Leaps of Faith

[Image] A scared turtle, shaking in their shell.So, um.. Hello there.

Did I forget about you? Not really. There has been this recognition in the back of my mind for a long time now that I haven’t been writing as much as I would like to. So.. I decided to try again.

Feel free to count down the days till I disappear again, if you wish.

[Gif] Countdown timer, 4 ... 3 ... timer dies.

About this time last year, I went out and got myself a job. At the time, I was proud of myself, and happy that I even managed. At the time, I hadn’t had an actual job yet. Rather, I was getting by financially through a combination of student loans, scholarships, and being a mooch on my parents.

A year on, everything has changed. You see, I am growing to hate my job. There isn’t a day of work that passes that doesn’t fill me with dread, anxiety, and depression. The store in which I work is starting to collapse around me. The emptiness of the shelves is apparent to all who have been through more than once over the years. My boss fails to respect the hard work of her employees and takes their skills completely for granted.

At the moment, I hate it there. … … … But, I am also completely terrified to leave.

You see, not only has this retail job been the first one that I have ever had, but it also happens to be a job in a field that I love. I work in a sex shop and, as my blogs should tell you, sexuality is kinda my thing. In this job, I have gotten the chance to run anal sex workshops with more than 100 people in attendance, I got paid (at times) to read sexual health information that I would do for fun, and I have gotten paid to learn new bondage ties and use them on complete strangers.

Those aspects of the job are super fun, exciting, and make me want to take on more. But, the time in between just drags on forever. Between these euphoric highs that I experience teaching and learning about sexuality, there is the doldrum of real life. There is stocking shelves, selling products, and dealing with the work environment. And, to be perfectly honest, the first two of those don’t bother me at all. It is the dealing with the work environment that really gets to me.

It has become a daily occurrence lately that my boss would make a completely unreasonable request of her staff. Whether it is doing drywall complete with sanding and painting, or intense computer configuration and IT, she so expects that her employees will bend over backwards for her that she doesn’t even say thank you when the task is completed.

And for all of this (plus some personality quirks that I just can’t stand), my colleagues and I make a poverty wage. Even if I worked full-time for every week of the year, I would not make it above the poverty without the help of a second job. That isn’t right. That isn’t fair to myself or my coworkers.

I just can’t stand it anymore. … … … But my fear paralyzes me.

What if I can’t find something in this field again? Worse, what if I can’t get a job that pays any better or if I can’t get a job that I can actually feel good doing?

And then I swing back to “Oh, maybe it isn’t so bad after all.” But, really, I know that it is. I know that I am more emotional, more depressed, more anxious than I have ever been. And, I know that the job is the reason why … …  but yet, that leap is so terrifying.

This fear makes me hate myself.

*sighs* So, that’s where I am. I am at the edge of a precipice, looking at the leap that I know I need to take. I am looking at how far there is to fall and visualizing the terrible result of doing just that. If only I hadn’t looked down. If only…

Update: Triggers and Aftermath.

Since my last post over on my more academic/serious type blog. I have been through a lot.

The first thing that really happened was that my paper (the one on The Killing of Sister George) did not go over well. I was told that I wasn’t give good mark on the paper because I didn’t examine Alice as anything more than a victim. The prof (my supervisor) then went on to say that there are some out there that would contend that Alice wasn’t a victim at all, but rather the true villain of the film.

At that point, something just exploded in my head. The movie was triggering enough to me (as a survivor of abuse that closely mirrored that Alice was subjected to), but for my supervisor to argue that she wasn’t a survivor at all. I just couldn’t take it. It felt like he was telling me that I wasn’t a survivor, or that what had happened to me had all been my fault. Considering that this is the same bullshit that everyone around me was trying to pull for years (“You should know better than to make him angry”), I just broke. I ran out of the classroom, across campus, collapsed in some high grass and cried. Sobbed uncontrollably. 

If you know me at all, you will know that this isn’t something that I do normally. In fact, I am pretty sure that I have mentioned it on this blog at least once that I don’t cry, even in situations that make most cry. So, you can tell that this really affected me.

After a few more rounds of crying, a long distance phone call to my partner in the UK, and some help from the Women’s Centre on campus, I managed to pick myself up again… or so I thought. However, the severity to which I was triggered through me into the deep-end of the depression pool. I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t convince myself to do my teeth or comb my hair, I couldn’t get any work done… Everything just felt completely pointless.

As time went on though, I slowly recovered. It took my almost two weeks to make it back up to doing my entire routine or caring about school at all. Now, I seem to be mostly recovered from that; However, I have noticed that there is a lingering doubt about my writing (both in general and for this specific class).

I mean, I know that I am a decent writer. I know that I have thoughts and words that are worthy of being placed on paper, but, no matter what I do, I can’t seem to shake this feeling that they aren’t good enough or that they aren’t right enough. I just feel as though I want to not write, like ever. I know that isn’t realistic. I know that it isn’t even the truth. (I have liked writing in the past, and I am sure that I will again.) But, right now, it just feels like a chore.

 

Left Waiting: Alone

 

Some days are like this. Photo by: dragonflaiii

Some days are like this.
Photo by: dragonflaiii

Today is one of those days where I get randomly depressed.

I am not really sure why it happens, I just know that it does, and today is no real exception to that.

This morning, I seemed to be doing well. I was helping my mother deal with her asshat of a former landlord. It wasn’t exactly fun, but the emotions did give me this rush of adrenaline or something similar. But since then, I have basically been twiddling away the day sitting at the computer.

Admittedly, some of that was reading tenancy law… but still, it was all really passive and unproductive.

As the day went on, my mood declined, and now, I am feeling like complete shit, basically.

So where does that leave me? Well, mostly just thinking about things that I really should be.

I am sitting here thinking about all of the things that I didn’t do today. All of the things that I want to do. The life that I want to have, the relationship that I want to have… just everything that I don’t have.

… it sucks…

But, I can’t just drop the thoughts out of my mind. They just keep coming up over and over again.

I worry about the stupidest little things too. I worry that I am not connected enough on social media like facebook and twitter. I worry that I don’t have enough friends or that I don’t do enough to make them happy. I worry that I don’t play with my cat enough or that I am denying her a good life because I have decided to make her a house cat.

But, then again, I think about all of the big things too. I think about how it feels like my partner is drifting away. I wonder if I am holding her back or maybe the other way round. I think about all of the things that we used to do that we don’t anymore. I struggle with feelings of inadequacy. I fear that my social support network is going to collapse the day that I move to graduate.

And at the same time as all of those are playing, one after another, in my head. I feel like I can’t share this with anyone. I fee like if I told my mother she would just breakdown and start crying again. I feel like if even hint at it with my partner that she would breakdown and I would have to build her back up. I have never felt comfortable bring things like this up to my friends or other members of my family.

… I just feel so alone… I am surrounded by people, I am busy doing work/school things with them all the time, but I just don’t feel connected to them. I just feel like everything is so distant, everyone is so distant. And, what’s more, I feel as though I can’t reach out and bridge that gap because, in two months time, I am going to be leaving them to go to graduate school.

So, right now, I don’t know what else to do but to sit here and wait. Wait for everything to pass. Wait for my emotions to pick up again. Wait to feel like I have something again

Emotional Tug of War of My List of Wants

[Image] A man in blue tugging a rope with all his might

Tug of War
Photo by: scott1723


Over the last little while, I have been thinking a lot about the list of things that I would like to purchase. This may not seem like a big deal to most people, but to me, it is. You see, as most of my friends have noted at one time or another, I live a fairly frugal, minimalist lifestyle. The vast majority of the things that I own are things that have a deep, meaningful purpose to my life. This means that, should I find that I need something new, I don’t hesitate to purchase it, but, at the same time, should something no longer be useful, I tend to pass it to someone to whom it would be.

Thus far, this super utilitarian existence has trained me to not want things that aren’t necessary, and has allowed me a great deal of financial comfort in a financial situation most would not find comfortable. This has been quite nice. However, as of late, it would seem that this training has started to wear off, as I have started to want things again. This sudden change in approach to my financial life has really knocked me off balance and left me feeling rather guilty for my desires.

I mean, the feelings of guilt that I am currently experiencing aren’t something new. Rather, these feelings are ones which I have dealt with many times, and these feelings are ones which, I would argue, have long discouraged me from actually purchasing something that I desire. This is because my feelings of guilt tend to arise from my general feeling that I should not be wanting things that aren’t necessary. I honestly feel that the items that I need should be enough to keep me content for the time being. Given the course of my life up until this point, I really, honestly believe that. However, despite this belief, I still find myself wanting things that are not really necessary.

I would like to believe my list of wants is just some passing craving for something new in my life. But, I fear that it may be something a bit stubborn and difficult than that. I fear that these desires are some deep internalization of the capitalistic, materialistic society in which we live. Or, even more complicated than that, I fear that these desires are actually things that would be somewhat useful afterall, even if only tangentially.

In this latter case, I could be fighting my feelings of desire and guilt, and weighing the pros and cons of purchasing these items for a long time to come. And, judging by the potential benefits that I could get out of the items on this list, this could be a realistic possibility. However, whether together or apart, these items are rather hefty financial commitments, and I am not really sure that they have a place in my budget at the moment. So, whatever the outcome of this emotional tug of war between my desires and my guilt, the outcome is likely to be the same: feelings of financial inadequacy and a continued life of minimalism.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Notes:

You may have noticed that I missed the featured fetish post for this Friday. I apologize for that; However, I was assigned a writing job for work, so I did that instead. I still love you all though

Also, you may have noticed that this post is shit. I apologize for that too, I don’t know why I can’t seem to write anything of quality at the moment.

Internet Addiction… I think not

[Image] A picture of Firefox with 3 tabs of Facebook open, one in focus

The root of all Internet Addictions.
Photo by: Life Mental Health


Considering the content of my last post–in which I talked about the positive and negative emotions I felt being forcefully disconnected from the Internet–it wouldn’t be surprising if at least a few of my readers thought that it sounded like a case of Internet addiction. So, before I allow that thought to go any further, I want to make this very clear: I do not have, nor have I ever had, an Internet addiction, and neither do you.

I can say this statement with such conviction because, to the best of my knowledge, such a condition does not exist. Of course, this isn’t to say everyone’s interaction with the Internet is perfectly healthy or even benign; Rather, it is to say that the term addiction, which seems to get bandied around quite a bit these days, is a very specific term meant for a very specific situation, and my usage of the Internet is not one of those situations.

So… Just what is addiction?

The term addiction refers to one’s unhealthy physiological dependance on a substance. Whether this dependance be on heroin, alcohol, caffeine, or something else entirely, one can only be said to be addicted to the substance in question if they satisfy the following three criteria:

1) Tolerance. In someone who is addicted to a substance, there must be a clear and increasing tolerance to the substance. This means that, to be said to be addicted to something, one’s body must begin to grow accustom to the substance as it gets used more often. This leads one to require a continuously increasing amount of the substance to achieve the same effect, whether positive or negative.

2) Withdraw. In someone who is addicted to a substance, physical withdraw symptoms must be present when one lacks the substance. These symptoms, which can range from cravings and emotional changes to seizures and death, are always worse than the use of the substance. This often encourages the person to continue using the substance, even if the desired effect has long since faded away.

3) Detrimental. Finally, the use of or means of acquiring that substance must have a clear detrimental impact on one’s physical, emotional, or social well-being. While this may seem like common sense given the negative connotations associated with the term addiction, it is important make this explicit as it often separates healthy actions and activities from far less healthy ones.

Assuming that all three of these conditions are met, it can be said that the person is addicted to the substance that they are using. If this is the case, the person in question more than likely will require treatment. However, if a single one of these isn’t met, the person is deemed not to be addicted to the substance. In these cases, the person in question may still request treatment to help meet their own personal goals regarding the substance, but in general, no clinical intervention is needed.

Internet Addiction…?

The problem with the very concept of Internet addictions is that, in using the Internet, there is little, if any, physical stimulation. In all other addictions, this physical stimulation is present and, even within the definition of addiction itself, needed. However, should we neglect this focus on the physical symptoms and consequences of addiction, the case for an addiction to the Internet doesn’t get much better.

As I mentioned above, for someone to be addicted to something, there must be a withdraw reaction from the stimulus being removed suddenly. Considering how much I used the Internet prior to my disconnection and considering how suddenly I was removed from the Internet, one would expect, should I have an addiction to the Internet, that I would have rather severe withdraw symptoms. This, however, was simply not the case. While I did feel some negative emotions, including loneliness, boredom, anger, and confusion, these emotions were not the cause of some physical change in my body (which in addictions, it would be). Rather, these negative emotions were a completely normal and natural reaction to a situation that had a large impact on my daily routine. Because of this, I would argue that it would have been considerably more unhealthy for me to have not felt these emotions, as this would indicate that, prior to my disconnection, I was not gaining anything from my routine as I had it.

Further, in order to have an addiction to the Internet, one would have to gain a tolerance to the Internet over time. But, how exactly does one develop a tolerance to the Internet? The simple answer, really, is that you can’t. This means that, as you use the Internet, your desire and self-reported need to use the Internet does not increase as a function of itself. Rather, any increase in your need and desire to use the Internet arises solely from outside sources, such as enjoyment of games, requirements of work or school, or desire to learn new information.

Of course, all of this isn’t to say that there aren’t people who could benefit from using the Internet less. In fact, I would argue that I would be one such person. However, in these cases, the main problem with the Internet is not that the person is addicted to it, but rather that the person has developed a bad habit of turning to the Internet for distraction or entertainment, and this has gotten out of hand. While this could still require treatment, to call this addiction, and to treat it as such, would be reckless and potentially dangerous.

Disconnection

[Image] An Ethernet cable cut clean through

Bad Internet, Bad!

You may have noticed that, since Saturday, I have been missing posts again. Worry not, however! I have not given up on my commitment to write or create. Rather, I have simply and unexpectedly been disconnected from the Internet for the last little while. As you can imagine, this has greatly disrupted my life and left me feeling a whole range of negative emotions. However, what you may not envision–as I hadn’t when it first happened–is that this trying experience has also been greeted by some much more positive emotions as well.

When this first happened, there was quite a bit of time where I only felt very negative emotions. The first of these was a sense of confusion around what was happening to my Internet. You see, unlike any normal ISP, my ISP decided to disconnect my household from the Internet without the slightest of warnings. In doing so, the only clue that they had left was a mysterious redirecting URL that kept coming up as I tried to fix the problem. While this may seem like it makes sense, that the ISP would redirect one to the reason they were blocked from the Internet, the fact that they used a redirecting URL instead of, say, a modified DNS output, meant that, with the most basic of protections, their message had no way to get through.
So after spending the better part of an hour trying to figure out what was happening with my Internet service, I finally figured out that it was blocked, with good reason (of which I had no part), by the ISP. At this point my emotions turned from feelings of confusion to feelings of fury, anger, and intense frustration at the root of the problem. Once I had been given the chance to cool down, my emotions shifted again, this time from feelings of anger to feelings of loneliness and boredom.

And this is where things started to get weird. With these two emotions, I suddenly started to realize just how much time I had on my hands now that I had no Internet service. At first, this realization was rather depressing as it meant that I had been piddling away a great deal of my time doing unproductive things online. However, soon after, I started to feel motivated, mostly by boredom, to find something a bit more positive and meaningful to do.

With this newly found motivation, I started to make plans for what I could do with the vast swathes of time that I now had available to me. In doing this, I found it easier than ever before to start, and keep, a change to my basic routine. This, while quite shocking to me, has offered me a chance to really turn some of the negative habits that I have into far more constructive and positive ones, including things that I should have been doing for ages now, such as eating better, getting outside more often, and exercising.

Apart from these, I have also begun to find that I am worrying less about every emotion that my partner has. This isn’t to say I am not caring about her or her situation, but rather, that, now that I have been placed in a position that forces me to have faith in her ability to manage her personal emotions, I have faith that she can manage the vast majority of her personal emotions. (Amazing, eh?) But that isn’t all! I have also noticed that, with the Internet disconnected, my cat is being played with more often, I am feeling more capable and willing to find yet more work to take on in the community, and that the space in which I live is staying cleaner than it has in a long time.

So, now that I find the end to my disconnection from the Internet looming, I am left feeling the exact opposite of what I thought I would at the beginning. Rather than being depressed, lonely, bored, and wanting for my Internet access to be restored, I am left feeling concerned that my soon-to-be reconnected Internet service will only serve to undermine the positive changes that I have made and push me back into habits that I should have forgotten long ago.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Notes:

While I say that I have been disconnected from the Internet, this is not entirely true. It is true that my household’s Internet access has been disconnected by the ISP. However, I still do have access to the Internet via my smartphone. This, I feel, offers me some of the best of both worlds, when it comes to Internet access. This is because having Internet access on my phone allows me the opportunity to know if/when I get an important email, to find important information as I need it, and to interact with my partner on some basic level; However, at the same time, the time, data, and battery restrictions of my phone, as well as the size and UI difficulties, make it so the Internet access that I have on my phone is used less for everything I do on the computer, and more for knowing and planing my activities (including running somewhere with Internet access) as they arise.

Further, given that two of my three (Yes, I have three..) jobs at the moment require me to have Internet access on, at least, a semi-regular basis, I have been finding the need to run off to my father’s house so that I can get things done for work. This, while not frequent or convenient by any stretch, has allowed me to continue to keep up with my most needed and most productive activities online, including posting my Sunday Signal Boost for Princess’s Little Activist.

What is Asexuality if you don’t know what Sex is?

 

 

[Image] The Asexuality Flag. A rectangular flag with one stripe black, grey, white, and purple (from top to bottom)

Asexuality Flag

A couple days ago, I came across one of those inspirational pictures on facebook. You know the ones, random picture with some text saying about how awesome some group is. Yeah, well, for the most part, I just ignore those. But, this one just so happened to be a picture of the Asexuality flag with words like “You are not alone” and things of that sort. Knowing that I have a few friends on my facebook page who are also ace, I decided to share it.

Well, this turned a little bit awkward. It would seem that my partner and I hadn’t really talked about my recent shift in my sexual identities and she was a bit confused. I mean, she was completely fine with it, but she was still a bit confused. She thought that I really didn’t identify with the asexual community. And well, it’s complicated…

Over the past 7 years or so, I have thought on and off about labeling myself as asexual or something to that effect. However, each and every time the thought crossed my mind, I have ended up getting stuck on one question: “What is sex?” I mean, if I am truly going to identify with a label that tells the world that I don’t have an interest in sex, I should really know what it is that I am saying that I don’t have an interest in, right? But that is exactly the problem! There really is no clear, consistent definition of sex! Nor is there one for sexuality or romance, and, this is why I get stuck.

Without a clear, set in stone definition of sex or sexuality, there is no real way that I can tell if I “count” as asexual or not. I mean, to some people, I would most definitely be considered asexual as I don’t happen to have much interest in vaginal or anal penetration (giving or taking). However, for many others, my kinky spirit and my penchant for BDSM activities precludes me, in their mind, from the label of asexuality (1).

In the past, I tried to side step this a bit. I tried, and often failed, at separating out my desire for sex from my desire for sexuality. In doing this, I attempted to communicate with people that, for the most part, I don’t tend to enjoy “sex” as it is commonly described in vanilla circles, but I did still happen to enjoy activities that involved sexuality. Since I had surgery, however, this clear distinction between sex and sexuality has really evaporated for me. Part of the reason for this is, with my libido lowered to the extreme that it is, just about any arousal that I used to feel while engaging in acts of sexuality has been almost entirely erased (2). This change has really re-opened the debate in my mind and, likely, pushed me much closer to the label of asexuality than I have ever been.

But, even still, I am left wondering. Am I “really” asexual? Would I really “count” as ace if I asked people who have been identified that way for years (3)?

I really don’t know. Maybe it will just take some more time to find out the answers. Either way, I am quite content with my sexuality the way that it is, and that is what really matters here, I think.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

1) Don’t get me wrong here, I am not trying to say that one can have kink or asexuality, but not both. In fact, I know for a fact that there are quite a few people in the BDSM and kink communities that do identify as asexual. For these people, their exploration of their sexuality has led to those identities being intertwined. For me,  however, I am not sure if that is the case or if it is something else entirely.

2) Of course, this isn’t to say that my desire for BDSM or anything of that sort has dried up. All of that seems to be alive and well, I assure you. However, since I had surgery, the reason that I am interested in BDSM has changed. Before, I was really addicted to the feeling of getting really aroused and not having a way to express/lessen it. Now, however, my addiction seems to center more around the feelings that I get from the encounters: The feelings of squirminess, the feelings of submission, the feelings of control (or the loss there of).

3) I know, I know, this isn’t meant to be about what other people think of me! It is meant to be about my identity and mine alone. But, that is a problem for me. In my life, I am completely fine with the way that my sexuality is; whether that resembles that of an asexual person, a pansexual person, or something else, it doesn’t matter to me. The time when it really starts to matter is when I am talking to someone, especially if I have a romantic attraction to that person.

Suddenly, labels like “pansexual” or “panromantic” mean something. They are a shorthand to those who I am talking to, a way of explaining myself without giving them a booklet talking about all of my experiences, interests, limits, and issues (i.e. this blog), and that is why I keep coming back to this internal debate.