Life updates, and more podcast reflections

A classmate from my American Sign Language class recently messaged me to ask me what some of my hobbies were, so they could use those facts about me for an assignment for said class. And given everything that’s going on in our world right now, this gesture of theirs truly made my day. But in addition to that, within the last week, several of my classmates from said class have messaged me, asking if I could help them with homework. And it’s been a bit awkward from my side because I’ve had to tell them that I couldn’t help them. It can be difficult for me to say “no” sometimes and the fact that I kinda felt like I had to share my business with them about how I couldn’t do the classwork, due to being an immune-compromised person who also happens to be blind, was honestly uncomfortable for me. But having this one classmate from said class who already knew the situation that I’m in, go out of their way to include me, really felt special.

Yesterday morning I had a phone appointment with my therapist. And not surprisingly, the first thing we talked with each other about, is how we’re each doing, given the way our world has currently changed. I explained that I’d been listening to tons of podcasts, reading books, watching Netflix and other media streaming sources and talking to people on the phone. We then talked about how my world has physically changed, given how I’d been taking American Sign Language this semester…and now, I can’t participate in said class any more. I told my therapist that sometimes that particular truth makes me sad; but I also told them that I’ve been great at keeping myself busy with all of the things that make me happy. But the big thing that I told them I’d like to work on in the future, is saying the word “no.” I told them how saying that word can be difficult for me, especially at times when I’m on the phone with someone and the person dominates the conversation. I told them that I’d had that exact experience recently and that I ended up feeling really uncomfortable, especially when I realized that the only way I could get off the phone with this person, would be for me to interrupt them. I also told my therapist that I’m very self-aware, in terms of knowing where my difficulty with saying “no” comes from. I told them that for most of my life, the person or people I talked to would get mad at me if I expressed desires that I as an individual had. I then explained that the way the woman who gave birth to me trained me to view my life, was that I was not to be an individual; I was supposed to follow her guidelines and abuse tactics, period. So, that childhood way of adapting to my circumstances is still with me; and I told my therapist that I’d love to work on bettering this particular thing. And so, my therapist and I agreed with one another that we’d have our follow-up appointment next week.

Along these same lines though, I had a talk with my caretaker about the difficulty I have of saying the word “no” to most people. Like, I explained to him that my discomfort happens because of the stories that my brain tells me about what others might perceive my “no” to mean. But a great point that he made to me, was that as long as I know what kinda person I am, it shouldn’t matter how people I don’t really associate with see me. And I think that’s true; but I wouldn’t say that I care what people I don’t associate with, think about me. It’s more that by default, I’ve learned to be the peacemaker. And honestly, that particular thing actually originated from my childhood, specifically from both sides of my family of origin. And it’s something that I’m now choosing to examine because I think that I can shift this unhelpful way of thinking, into something that is meaningful to who I am now.

So for example, when I had a housemate who couldn’t stand the fact that I always play music whenever I shower, I never told that person that I thought they were being unreasonable in making that demand of me. Instead, I worked around them in a sense, by texting them five minutes before I was going to shower, every single time I’d shower. Inwardly I thought that this was ridiculous but at the same time, I saw changing how I responded to this person as being a kind, non-confrontational solution. Because for me at that time, I didn’t want to confront this person directly. And in the end, they ended up moving out of the house anyway. But in thinking back on that specific situation, I don’t think I was fair to myself, because I didn’t believe that my way of being was just as important as being heard as this person’s demand was. And so, in writing about this now, I hope to become better at responding to things of this nature closer to the way I’d want to responde: assertively and confidently.

And yet another example that comes to my mind where a housemate has made me feel uncomfortable, was the day I’d gotten back from the hospital in February and our newest housemates talked my ear off. Even though I didn’t want to talk to them at that time, I didn’t feel comfortable speaking up and owning that truth. And along similar lines, when one of these housemates sat in the same room as my friend and I, the last time my friend had come to trim my hair. This housemate made me feel uncomfortable with this gesture because I didn’t want them to be near me. They’re nosy and rude literally all the time…and I want to feel comfortable enough within myself to speak up to them about my feelings. Because my caretaker is right: I know who I am and the people I care about know who I am…and that’s all that should matter.

Shortly after I’d gotten off the phone with my therapist yesterday morning, another unknown phone number called me; and since I know that everyone is working from home right now, I went ahead and answered the call. It turned out that it was someone from the state vocational rehabilitation agency; they were calling so that we could do my annual assessment over the phone. So I told them that I’ve been getting fabulous grades in school as well as that I’ve been using the technology they’ve given me. I also let them know that I appreciate this agency’s services because they’ve really helped me meet my goal of maximizing my independence. Because quite frankly, I don’t think that we as a society thank people enough. And in particular, there are tons of blind people who are just entitled about receiving this and similar agency’s services…and what they fail to realize, is that these agencies don’t have to provide services to consumers, as they call us. But they do provide them because many of the people who do this kinda work have big hearts and they want to change people’s lives for the better. Hell, that’s definitely a huge reason why I want to become a therapist myself.

In an episode of Multiamory that I recently listened to, the show hosts talked about a concept that’s known as hierarchy; and for any of you dear blog readers who may not be familiar with this term, hierarchy simply refers to the different ways that people rank one another or rank members of a particular minority group. Put another way though, hierarchy is rigid and does not allow people to grow or to change their minds, at any time.

So one example of hierarchy that comes to my mind, is when people rank folks who are legally blind, from people who have no eyesight whatsoever, to folks who have light perception only, to folks who have some usable eyesight, to yet other folks who have quite a bit of usable eyesight. The place I saw this sort of thing happen a lot, was at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI). In fact, I vividly remember that when I took a science class in high school at TSBVI, being that I didn’t have eyesight that was considered usable, the teachers of this class partnered me up with classmates who had a lot more vision than me, any time there were visual things involved in assignments we had…which is something I want to talk about separately later on. For now though, I want to say that the hierarchy that was applied in this particular instance, was not beneficial for me in any way. Because I didn’t have access to the same information that my classmates who had usable eyesight, had access to. And along with that, no one spent time explaining the visual aspects of the class to me…and in fact, I’m pretty sure that because of these harsh truths of how this class was conducted, I barely even passed this class. And even though that wasn’t my fault, it still infuriates me to this day…because I know that I could’ve been given access to all of the information; people just chose to exclude me from that.

Yet another example of hierarchy I can think of, is that hierarchy has been present literally in every romantic relationship I’ve ever been in. So in this particular instance, hierarchy translated into my romantic partners and I placing our relationship with each other above every other relationship that existed before our relationship as a couple did. And as I’ve said in some recent blog entries I’ve written, I want to change the way I conduct any future romantic partnerships I have…because I don’t think that rules, or even certain expectations, do any good for anyone. Or at the very least, people should be given the knowledge that they can actually choose what they want all of their relationships to look like and feel like. Doing things consciously is the key here; it’s something that I’ve been unintentionally applying to my life lately. And I love it!!

So now, I’ll talk about why in my opinion, hierarchy never works. And while I realize that using the word “never” is a strong statement, I feel it’s perfect for this subject matter. Because whether we’re talking about hierarchy in non-monogamous relationships or whether we’re talking about hierarchy in other kinds of relationships, many people don’t like having tons of rules placed on them, when it comes down to it. And in fact, speaking for myself, hierarchy makes me feel smothered and restricted, even. Also, hierarchy reminds me that some people in the world really do believe that because I have no vision whatsoever, that that somehow means I’m less of a person. Or, people believe that having hierarchy in romantic relationships is the way things are done, period. And so, all this being said, hierarchy is deeply hurtful, for the reasons that I just mentioned. And in this particular episode of Multiamory, Emily, Jase and Dedeker also say that within their lives, hierarchy has mostly been painful.

Now, as for why I think that hierarchy as a whole should stop existing, I feel this way because no matter what form hierarchy takes, it (hierarchy) divides people. If hierarchy had the ability to speak, here’s what I think it would say to us human beings: “I, Hierarchy, don’t think that you as a society are divided enough. So, I’m going to divide you even more, not only to make you feel like you are less then others…but also to remind you that I, Hierarchy, have the final say in everything related to how you live your life.”

In yet another Multiamory episode, the hosts of the show talked about whether equality is achievable in people’s relationships with one another. And Dedeker had a great way of framing what it could mean for people to feel a sense of freedom and confidence within their relationships with other people, which was to say that there are certain characteristics relationships can have, that can lead all involved parties to feel safe and respected. So for example, I think that having open, constant communication with one’s partners is necessary, in order to create and maintain a healthy romantic relationship. To me, this means that even when conversations may be difficult for someone to have, it’s important to not let things fester. This was something that in my last romantic relationship, I was great at: I had conversations with my then-boyfriend that were difficult for me to have, such as possibly opening up our relationship because I needed to be with women. In fact, this particular conversation was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had…even though the same conversation was talked about between us over time. But I eventually realized that the relationship I’d had with him was not meant to last. Writing that now honestly feels great–and I say that because there was a period of time after his and my breakup with one another, that I felt like I wouldn’t survive. I was that hurt, and on so many levels, at that. But boy am I grateful that those sad feelings of mine went away, and quickly, at that.

But another hard decision I knew only I would change between my then-boyfriend and I, in terms of the way the two of us interacted with each other after our breakup, was that I’d have to completely cut ties with him. And making this particular move was incredibly hard for me to do, because I did care about him as a person. However ultimately, what helped me settle on that course of action as being the correct one, was that I wasn’t happy with him anymore. Like, being that I was his first romantic relationship, he had no concept of the fact that people usually need time away from each other after a breakup. And so, I stuck keeping him around out for awhile, which definitely didn’t help my healing. And that’s when I thought long and hard about why I was doing things this way; and once I’d come to the conclusion that I still wasn’t happy after our actual breakup, I knew that cutting ties with him was the best option. And that being said, I’ve definitely had my moments since our breakup over a year ago, when I think for a second that I’ll contact him. But then, I remember that I was miserable with him around, even though we’d broken up. And ultimately, I’m only going to do things in life that make me and others happy. And reminding myself of that part of my truth from time-to-time, is what helps get me back on the continued path of moving forward.

In another Multiamory episode, the hosts of the show talked about the concept of making our romantic relationships with people similar to how we play videogames, boardgames ETC. And one example of this that they gave that I actually found quite off-putting, was someone having marbles that they put in a jar every time that someone they’re in a romantic relationship with does something nice for them…or does something that’s helpful to them in some way. And the reason that I found this particular thing off-putting, was because it reminded me about people keeping score. Like, in many of my past romantic relationships, I felt like people would regularly keep score about who in the relationship had done the most for the other person. And while I hadn’t ever thought about why that particular thing bothered me, I’m glad I’m thinking about it now. Because honestly, this is even something that I’ve talked about with one of my local best friends: this idea that no matter the kinda relationship you have with someone, we should pay attention to the amount of things we’ve done for them because they owe us, is incredibly toxic. Like, I remember that one of the last in-person conversations I’d had with this local best friend, was telling them that I want to change how I respond to this idea in my relationships because I don’t think it’s even a little bit healthy. But I honestly hadn’t even thought of this concept again, until hearing it brought up in Multiamory.

Something else that Jase, Emily and Dedeker talked about in this Multiamory episode that made me think, was how there are companies who have figured out a neat marketing trick where they (the companies) apply game-related concepts to the businesses that they’ve created. So for example, in the game I love called Timecrest, said game has the ability for people to pay for Time Crystals with actual human money. And the way I see this concept within this particular game working, is that the game developers probably correctly anticipated that people would purchase Time Crystals if, for example, they’re aiming to purchase items in the game that they know will likely add to this adventure for them. And so, that type of situation would be a win-win for everyone: because the game developers would get money in their pockets whenever people purchase Time Crystals…but also, Timecrest players would win in a way, due to the fact that they can get even closer to making this big purchase within the game.

In another Multiamory episode, the hosts of the show talked about the ways in which the roles that society places on the male and female genders, can be toxic as fuck. And one way this can be true, is that there are people who believe that male and female are the only genders that exist in the world. But the thing is, language is constantly changing, just as human beings are constantly changing. And so, it’s important for society to normalize the numerous gender identifications that people have, along with normalizing the fact that however people tell you they identify, is how you should address them. Of course, most people understand that as humans, we all fuck up from time-to-time; but if someone knows how a person prefers to be identified…and that person still uses the excuse of “oh, I’m used to knowing you as this other identification so that identification is what I’m always going to call you,” that translates into disrespect. There is nothing else to call this kinda trreatment. Put another way, if you don’t fix your behavior, then not only are you part of the problem…but you’re also a fucking dick.

On this same Multiamory episode, I loved the idea the hosts of the show had, regarding human beings working to change the problematic language that we often use. So for example, instead of speaking in terms of male and female genders only, trying to use more neutral terms like “tell me about this friend of yours,” or “how do they (your friends) prefer to be identified?” These kinda phrases indicate to people that you’re aware that there are multiple genders/multiple ways people can identify themselves. But also, we could have conversations with one another about the ways in which society has harmful views, such as: if you’re a grown-up, you should no longer like things you liked when you were a child. I’ve seen this particular thing play out with people I know, who are attacked because even as grown-ups, they still enjoy videogames or cartoons and on and on and on. And so, I’m talking about this on my blog because I want to give people the message that, no matter who you are, and no matter how you choose to identify, your choices are yours alone to make. No one else can criticize you or tell you how to live your life; they are living their own life and that is where their focus should be.

Something else that this particular episode of Multiamory encouraged me to think about, is this toxic belief many folks have that no one can actually have friends of the opposite sex. This is something that I’ve always found to be idiotic, not to mention controlling; however I haven’t always had the language to communicate my thoughts around this issue. But now that I do, I can say that this particular way of thinking has happened throughout my life, whether I’m in a romantic relationship with someone or not. Like, I’ve literally had men tell me that they couldn’t associate with me because I’m a female; and so, I guess the subtext of that would be that they couldn’t trust themselves to deny their sexual attraction to me. And one of the main reasons that this sort of belief is toxic, is because men are not the only humans who are sexual beings. We are all structured to have sex and to want sex; one gender does not have a higher sex drive than other genders…even though most of society tries to tell us otherwise.

In another episode of Multiamory, Jase, Emily and Dedeker talked about people fighting with one another. And for me personally, as soon as I hear the word “fight,” it brings up a negative connotation and makes me feel uncomfortable immediately. I know that that traces back to how I was raised but I also realize that being a grown-up, I don’t have to let my brain give this particular story power anymore. And what I want my future to look like, in terms of how I think of fighting, I want to step back and acknowledge whatever thoughts I may have about it at that time. If I need a gentle reminder to help my child-self feel safe and heard then, I’ll give myself that love. But also, and this would be huge for me, I want my whole being to understand and accept that human beings having disagreements or heated discussions with each other is a part of life…for everyone.

Something else the Multiamory podcast hosts talked about in this particular episode of the show that deeply resonated with me, was this idea that many people in the world have about it never being OK to leave a romantic relationship. So given how Christian-centric and monogamy-centric most human beings are, there’s a message that these folks hammer into others of “once you’re in a romantic relationship with someone, that means that you have to commit to them forever.” And it’s important to talk about this because thinking that way, no matter who you are, can be incredibly dangerous. Because some folks may be in relationships where their partner constantly cheats on them or is otherwise abusive towards them…and if you tell them that they’ve agreed to stay in something even if that something is unhealthy, then you’re a huge part of the problem. Because while conflict itself is a fact of life that we all deal with to some extent, abuse is NEVER OK!! And just to clarify, there can be physical abuse, financial abuse, verbal abuse ETC; and even though each human being probably has a different idea of what constitutes abuse, it’s important for us all to be mindful of taking care to not tell anyone to stay in a romantic relationship that is unhealthy.

In this week’s episode of Love Someone with Delilah, we listeners get to hear part two of Delilah’s interview with the singer Jewel; and honestly, Jewel reminds me of myself in some ways. What I mean by that, is that she’s very open about using all of the trauma she’s been through to make her a better person, rather than a bitter one. And also, she’s unafraid to be introspective and to then admit when she’s done things wrong. But yet, she also thinks about how she can share the life lessons she’s learned, with other people. And these things that I’ve just mentioned here, are also representative of who I am and how I choose to move through the world. And also like Jewel, I want to share what I’ve learned with other folks, with the hope that others will help create a better world and that ultimately, this sort of cycle will become a societal norm. Is that a lot to hope for? Some folks would say so; but my personal experiences thus far in my life have taught me that without hope, I have nothing.