I recently read a book called The Atheist’s Way; the author of this book is named Eric Maisel. And TBH, reading this book came at the perfect time, meaning that given the turmoil that the entire world is in right now, reading a book about making one’s own meaning in life was literally just what I needed, to help me start thinking about how I’m going to create meaning for myself, given how drastically our world has changed within these past few weeks. Because honestly, I’ve been feeling tons of different emotions lately, from feeling calm, to feeling sad, to feeling totally hopeless…and I haven’t been looking forward to changing how I ensure that I continue to find meaning in life. And that’s a weird place for me to be at, because in nearly all other circumstances, I happily embrace change. In nearly all other circumstances, I even look for ways that I can change my life from one day to the next, or even change my life in long-term ways that allow me to live according to the principles I strongly believe in. But being forced to figure out how to make meaning out of something that’s depressing as fuck for me, is going to be challenging, for sure.
And so, this book talks about the fact that it’s an easy way out for human beings to pass off whatever they don’t understand to a higher power. But it can be difficult for folks to accept the truth that each individual has the power to create meaning for his or herself…and then to live their lives according to the things that they individually, value most. Because for many people, it can seem like a harsh truth when they hear an atheist such as myself tell them that there is in fact no way that the universe itself has any interest in us human beings. But if these folks took the time to really sit with the beautiful knowledge that each individual has the right, and even the duty, I would say, to create lives that they as individuals are happy with, they might not feel so hopeless anymore. And so, it deeply saddens me to constantly see religious people be unhappy with their lives yet feel that their unhappiness is God’s will. Like, that isn’t even logical!! Things will not, and do not, just happen to us. If we want to find true love, we have to actively do things to increase our chances of finding it. If we want a job in a particular industry, we have to actively do things to make that happen for ourselves. And lest anyone misunderstand where I’m coming from, I’m not saying that if we actively look for the things that we want, that will automatically make those things come to us. What I’m saying, is that we cannot just sit around, hoping that a higher power or a fellow human being will bring us exactly what we want. Although, if you’re someone who believes that that’s how the world works, you do you…because I wouldn’t want you to move through the world aimlessly, if you don’t actually want to be the driver in your life.
Another thing that this book The Atheist’s Way talked about, was the fact that the way many people see atheists, is very different to how folks who are atheists actually are. So the best example of this that I can think of for myself, is the misconception that by default, being an atheist makes me into someone who confronts people who are religious constantly…and that is flat out insulting. The reason that this belief about me/other atheists is insulting, is because no one in the world has the ability to fight every single battle that happens in their lives or that they see happening to others. And so, when religious people put that imagined pressure onto atheists, that gesture on the part of those religious folks, only helps bolster the harmful belief that atheists as a whole, are bad people. But the thing is, people who are religious, no matter what religion they are a part of, are not better human beings than us non-religious folks. Just because the majority of the religious world tries to instill in people that religion is what makes them moral, that doesn’t actually mean that that is really the way the world works. Just because the majority of the religious world tells people that if they do certain things that a sky-daddy decides are horrible, they will then go to hell, that doesn’t mean that that scare tactic is a valid way to create meaning for oneself. But it’s easy to just keep believing in things because people value traditions…and for whatever reason, many folks think that if you are an atheist, you can’t, or don’t, have traditions in your life.
Something else in The Atheist’s Way that I think it’s important to clarify here, is that if folks take the book’s title literally, that can lead them to have harmful thoughts about atheists right away. But as the author himself asserts, he titled this book The Atheist’s Way because he wanted people to sit with the fact that all atheists do not live life the exact same way as one another. He wanted people to fully understand that even though some folks use atheism to create a ton of meaning in their lives, other atheists make different decisions about how little, or how much, atheism influences who they are. And so, the short version of this, is that all atheists are different, just like all blind people are different, just like all sighted people are different. And also, just because some of us have atheism in common with each other, that doesn’t mean that we’re alike in other ways that matter. This concept can be applied to people who love Pokemon, being childfree, reading books…or any other thing that we can think of.
In the book I’ve been reading called Dyke Life, something that this book currently has me thinking about, is the numerous ways that lesbians choose to look. What I mean, is that people have told me before, something along the lines of “you don’t look gay!” And while I know that there are gay women in the world who look very manly, I’m not one of those people. In fact I’m a girly-girl, meaning that I not only identify as a woman…but I outwardly act very feminine in most ways. But until pretty recently, I hadn’t even thought much about the assorted labels that exist for lesbians in the world. And the thing is, the book Dyke Life has me thinking about the fact that I don’t look gay. And because I don’t even look gay, most people probably just assume that I’m heterosexual. And that assumption is wrong, for so many reasons. One reason it’s wrong, is because people’s looks don’t necessarily reflect their sexual preference. Because people for the most part, do whatever it is that makes them happy. But also, hearing such comments directed at me is infuriating because it’s bothersome that my sexual preference is automatically heterosexual, by default. This bothers me because that way of thinking/judging people is incredibly toxic. But this also bothers me because it isn’t just heterosexual folks who judge me as being straight, simply because I dress and act very feminine. But the thing is, I love the way I look. I love the way I feel personally, as well as in the world, as the feminine woman that I am. And there’s part of me that wishes that there will come a day when the world gives feminine women like me a chance to just be: to just exist in the world, unapologetically ourselves, without us women having to concern ourselves with incorrect ways that society at large perceives us to be, as sexual beings.
So, just as I said I’d do in one of my most recent blog posts, I looked up Jewel’s music on Apple Music. And I have to say that while I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of her music, there are a few songs among her catalogue of music that I quite enjoy. But one thing I also discovered when listening to her music recently, was that she’s one of those people who can sing anything; the different styles of music she’s recorded are pop, folk, holiday songs and country. Now, in case I’ve never said this anywhere on my blog before, I cannot stand most country music; so it hopefully goes without saying, that I didn’t actually listen to Jewel’s country-styled songs. I also didn’t listen to Jewel’s Christmas/holiday songs, as I only like Christmas/holiday songs from a select few singers. But despite the number of times that I’ve tried to make myself listen to Jewel’s album called “Pieces of You” because that album was one of my favorite albums in my childhood, I just can’t bring myself to listen to it in full. And I think that’s mostly because it makes me think of being around my bio mom and learning what it meant to be in a constantly unstable household. And TBH, that’s an interesting transformation to me, to see how at one point, this particular album got me through tough times…to now, where listening to said album just figuratively puts me back in that awful environment.
I recently listened to an episode of Hidden Brain in which its host Shankar Vedantam talked with someone about how society has been through a pandemic before. And honestly, this episode of Hidden Brain was pretty boring to me; however I felt that it was important that I give it a listen anyway. That being said, I was also curious to learn about this pandemic that society had dealt with, prior to the current one that’s known as the Corona Virus. And the thing is, society was ill-prepared for the virus the world became infected with nearly 100 years ago…and even this time around, society was not prepared for the Corona Virus to happen. But something that’s different about the Corona Virus, is that the current United States President does not have anyone’s best interest in mind, except his own. And that makes things incredibly dangerous for the US.
In a recent TED Radio Hour episode, the new host of the show discussed why she believes that it’s crucial for us human beings to be bored from time to time. And she explains that being forced to stay home, could really be a perfect time for us to explore our creativity, in new and exciting ways. And TBH, this episode reminded me of how within these last couple years, I’ve realized the importance of listening to my body, all the time…and then following whatever my body is telling me to do. And I think of us human beings experiencing what it feels like to be bored as a similar eye-opening experience. And in fact, that’s one reason why I’m trying to make myself keep writing: because if I don’t exercise the muscle that is my brain and constantly think of new and exciting blog content to create, then I’ll lose the motivation to write. And I’d also lose readership, most likely…and that’s the last thing I want to happen.
In a recent episode of Multiamory, its hosts talked about the differences between how people process information. So for example, there are folks who process things inside themselves; but there are other individuals who process things by talking them out with people in their lives who they trust. And so, it was interesting for me to reflect on the kinda processor I am; because my truth is, the way I process things changes, depending on the situation and/or depending on my relationship with the people involved in my life situations. Like, when I made the decision to leave Texas for good, I didn’t tell most people what my plans were, ahead of time. I literally only told the people who were helping me sell all of my things and the folks who trained Planet Fitness members. I told the folks who were training me as a gym member about my plans because I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have to come up with a large amount of money or something, when I canceled my gym membership there. And the reason I chose not to involve people in this outside of these two instances, was because I didn’t want to have to hear people trying to talk me out of doing this. I didn’t want to listen to people doubting me because of my disabilities, or telling me five billion times that they thought I was making a bad decision for some other reason. Because truthfully, I’d made the decision to relocate years ago; but I had to wait until I wasn’t so sick that I could barely move, even around my own apartment. And just because I enjoy thinking about how many years in the making this decision was, I’d say it was nearly a decade in the making. Because going back to my time as an LCB student, I knew, at least on some level, that I could create a meaningful life for myself. And then in May 2009, I left my bio mom’s house for good. But ever since my journey as an LCB student had taken place, I knew that ultimately I wanted to end up living in a liberal-leaning state.
In yet another situation that I handled differently, when I left my bio mom’s house for good in May 2009, I knew that I couldn’t make her aware of my plans to finally make this happen for myself because if I did, she’d go ape-shit and hold me at her residence against my will. And so, I prepared months and months prior to May 2009; I bought myself a track phone and lots of storage containers. I’d purchased a track phone to make sure I’d still have a phone, in case she stole the phone from me that she’d given me a few years prior. And I’d purchased the storage containers so that I could gather everything of value that I possibly could. I even kept all of these things hidden away at a neighbor’s house, until the day came that I’d be leaving Austin Texas for good. So I bring this situation up because I had to handle it with lots of planning, figuring out literally what had to happen minute-to-minute. And so, it turned out that I didn’t tell my bio mom or her husband about my plans to leave their house, until the very day I actually made this happen. And then, once I’d gotten everything together that I could, I left their house…and then went to a neighbor’s house to wait for an aunt on my biological dad’s side of the family to pick me up. And TBH, I feel like there have been tons of situations throughout my life, that have had to be handled differently from one another. And so needless to say, that’s why I can’t say with certainty that I process most things talking them through or thinking about them in my own head. And the fact that I’m this way is mind-boggling to me because most people do have a straightforward answer about the kinda processor that they are.
But another situation in my life that comes to mind, that I handled differently, was something that had happened in my last relationship. In fact, the very day I started blogging publicly, was when I’d gotten back from a trip with my then-boyfriend and his family. And one of the traumatic things that happened to me while we were on that trip, was that a relative of my then-boyfriend’s told me that I was in the way…and so I should go into a room by myself, where I’d be out of the way of other people. And given the numerous previous traumatic experiences I’d had where my bio mom would tell me something along those same lines, I immediately started crying. And I then of course, did run into an empty room, just as this relative of my then-boyfriend’s had instructed me to do. And given that that had happened in December 2017, I didn’t have any language to explain to anyone, including myself, why this person’s comment had hurt me so deeply. And how I’d handled things differently in this situation, was that I took time to allow myself to process what had happened within myself. And given the complexity surrounding that situation, it took me at least a day or so to really get to the bottom of this traumatic event. And so, once I did that, I was able to tell my then-boyfriend about why I’d reacted by crying uncontrollably, when a relative of his had made that insensitive comment towards me. I was able to get into the specifics with him about how my bio mom used to say something identical to me, all the time. I explained to him that whenever his relative made that comment to me, I was immediately transported back to my bio mom’s house, in my mind. Because his relative making that shitty comment to me, immediately set off alarm bells. And so, when it came to how I processed that particular situation, I knew that it was necessary for me to reflect on my own, before I involved my then-boyfriend.
But yet another situation that comes to my mind, that I handled in yet a different way, was one that happened when I was in the hospital in early to mid-2015. The man I was dating at the time was incredibly possessive of me, not to mention abusive towards me. And through the time when he visited me in the hospital, some people who were taking care of me happened to be men. And when the guy I was dating found that specific information out, he became territorial of my body, saying something like “your body is mine. No other man is supposed to touch it.” Now, I’m pretty sure that I don’t have to spell out what happened here but I’ll do so because people need to see the full picture of what a piece of shit person this boyfriend of mine was.
So, the comment that this boyfriend of mine had made about my body being his body, was likely meant to scare me into submission. Because the thing was, this fool had the balls to sexualize the experience of me having medical professionals who were men, take care of me. He literally told me something like “these men are probably getting off because they’re interacting with your vagina. I think the fact that you’ve had emergency brain surgery has made you not think clearly…and that’s why you’re letting these men touch you!” Him saying that to me of course made me cry uncontrollably which felt very familiar to me, given how my bio mom always said things that also made me cry uncontrollably. But what was different about the situation with this boyfriend of mine though, was that I knew that if I didn’t get out of that relationship as soon as possible, this man might literally kill me. And so, it goes without saying, I think, that I broke up with him literally the same day I’d left the hospital for good. And once I was back in my apartment, I called him and broke up with him; being that he lived in another state, I prayed that that meant he’d leave me alone. And there were several times he’d tried calling me or emailing me afterwards…but I was totally done with him. And so, I tell that story to say that I internally processed what had happened with him in the hospital, literally as it was happening to me. And then from then on, I knew that there was only one way that my time with this guy would end: I’d have to sound firm and assertive, two things he hated to see me embody.
This morning I wrote the following thread on Twitter which reads:
Yesterday I found out some truly sad news: for the rest of the semester, my school will be moving every class online. As someone who’s blind&has other disabilities&chronic health conditions, who’s also an extrovert, I’m not happy about this. But given that I’m a medically fragile…person, I know that my school making this decision is the best choice…for me&others. Given that I’m taking American Sign Language 101 this semester though, I’m not sure whether my professor will take everything I’ve already done in this class&call my work completed…or if…something else will happen. But my hope is that my professor just takes the work I’ve done both in&outside of class&calls it success. Cuz being that I’m an imune-compromised person, I can’t imagine that anyone would tell me to put myself at risk by having someone come from…outside to help me…or even have me go to the campus. We’re still on extended spring break this week, so I probably won’t know anything until later in the week or even this weekend. I never thought I’d be a young person going through something like this though.