One Singular Sensation

What is one word that describes you?

If I had to choose one word that describes me, it’s chaotic. I can’t control my feelings, my attention, or my outward emotions. It’s all on display, all the time. If I’m hurt about something, you’ll see it written all over my face because I wear my heart on my sleeve, always. It gets beaten up that way, but stronger for the long haul because scar tissue is a beautiful thing. It makes what was once weak strong again. All of the sudden, your heart has more tensile strength than it did previously, and you can handle bigger emotions without exploding emotional landmines.

It’s a hard thing to explain to people, handling large emotions. Most people just want me to be less. I encourage them to take a right and surround myself with people who think I’m amazing no matter what. And not in the way that says “praise me.” In the way that says “even when I have to kick your ass, you’re the love of my life.” Believe me when I say that’s a two way street, and I’ll always allow it, especially if you throw in jokes to release the pressure valve of being really, really uncomfortable.

Some people are better at being uncomfortable than others. I am actually pretty good about it, but there are caveats. Make everything clear, especially if you don’t have a timeframe for our next interaction. Ask for what you want, and don’t make me divine it. A guessing game pushes me away faster than anything else, because I don’t have the mental capacity to work in grey area 100% of the time, and shouldn’t have to do it at all when it comes to friends’ needs. My partner as well, I just don’t currently have one. I have ended a lot of romantic relationships due to the same problem. Yes, I can prepare for what you’re going to need later, but only up and to a point. Grow with me, not against me.

I can sit in cognitive dissonance for years on end if people let me know when we’re going to work on resolving it. I walk away when there’s an unwillingness to figure it out…. even when all of the nastiness is familiar and none was ever meant.

Unless someone hits a trigger, and then I will go scorched earth because I have to. It hits several things at once. Making me mad enough to walk away because I couldn’t do it otherwise. Realizing that there are very few people who actually listen to me the first time and don’t second guess what I’m saying, so keep those friends close and the other ones can take a right. In my haste to protect myself, I piss people off. It’s my superpower, apparently. The J part of INFJ is judgment, the opposite of perception. I call ’em like I see ’em. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong. I pay those taxes all day, every day. What I don’t do is let people walk all over me, because they have forever and I’m done.

Being a preacher’s kid was amazing and a rough gig. I don’t want to live in a fishbowl. I don’t want to care what other people think of me. I don’t want to dress appropriately, whatever that means. I don’t want to wear make-up because “it always looks like you don’t feel good.” And for the love of God, I do not have false eyelashes, especially when I was in seventh grade. Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, thank God you were there. Jesus has always had my back. We’re basically the same person. If you don’t think I would go after tax collectors with a whip, apparently you have not seen me in mad sprite mode. I have this image in my head of my anger reflex going off and having someone pick me up, put me on a shelf, and walk away.

“Angry sprite mode” will burn the whole world down, and has stopped caring. This is because it means something to me when someone hits a trigger if they’ve been warned over and over where it is. I would never do it to someone I’d just met, but if we’ve known each other since my original hair color, you probably know where all my landmines are. When you intentionally step on one when you’re in combat mode, I will end you. Just not physically. It’s much worse than that. You’ll hear me in your head forever, because my trauma reflex is a very good writer. It remembers what buttons to push so that if you hit mine, turnabout is fair play.

Rarely do I go off anymore, which makes the swings even bigger. It’s not that I mean more harm. It’s that I care so much less. Either you’re important enough to me to fight until we’re through the worst of it, or you’re not. You’re important enough to me to hash it out, or you’re not. If you don’t feel the same way about me, that’s fine. Just don’t expect me to be happy about it. I rarely leave room for grace because so few people are that precious to me. It’s seriously the most Jesus part about me, because he was so human. As I have said before, “we were never meant to be Jesus. Jesus was meant to be us.” And by that I mean that Jesus loved his friends with an intensity that’s unusual (he’s an INFJ. He gets it.), but it didn’t mean that he didn’t kick ass when he thought people deserved it. Jesus’s righteous anger doesn’t make me feel good about mine. It makes me feel more human, the experience Jesus was supposed to have in the first place.

I made a blink decision to cut someone out of my life because I needed them to leave me alone. I needed them to stop hurting me. I have a feeling they would argue that I should have stopped hurting them, and they’re not wrong. I am sorry. Just because I have trauma reflexes, that doesn’t make my words okay. It also doesn’t excuse anyone else for their bad behavior. It only apologizes for my part, because no problem is 100% all me or vice versa.

I also cannot abide people who think that working on issues is always bad. That I am only dredging up the past, not trying to clean the “junk drawer of the soul.” I am not putting out “nastiness.” I am saying “here is the problem. Here’s how I think we can fix it. How do you?” And, of course, when someone has hit a trigger, that reaction is sometimes accurate and sometimes buried under a lot of rage.

Rage is not my favorite emotion ever. It only happens when my trauma reflexes work faster than the others. If you say you’re out, I will HELP YOU PACK. Good luck moving home. In most cases, you’re just another person I don’t trust/respect/like because I don’t feel safe.

This is because like I’ve said before, if you agree to be a friend, you agree to be a lockbox. Once I don’t feel like you’re mine, bye Felicia…. Bye.

I wish I could be more loving, more open, all that. I just can’t until my trauma reflexes calm down, and that will come with time. It’s not that I don’t know there’s a problem. I do. I just can’t do anything about it right this moment because reflexes are ingrained. They will never change all at once. It’s a process.

Impatience will always eat my lunch, but only when I don’t know what’s going on. But do I regret throwing an actual emotional bomb that was meant because of it? No. Because their way of dealing with a problem was to not do anything to change it. Then, when I realize I’m giving too much energy to a problem and you seem uninterested, I don’t want that problem anymore because it takes two to fight and two to fix.

I am not going to fix anything anymore. I’m not going to do other people’s emotional work for them. I have before and haven’t regretted it until now, because what I realized is that I was taking on everyone’s pain and no one was taking on mine, but not in terms of everything everywhere all at once. In terms of defining the problem and the priority.

I don’t expect any of this if you’ve just walked into my life. I expect it from people who have known me long enough to see me.



We’re in This Together

Listen to We’re in This Together by Leslie D. Lanagan

The last entry was about catharsis, but I didn’t put it up for that reason. I put it up because it shows a very specific pattern, common when both people have trauma reflexes. Here’s why. Some people react by feeling. Some people react by thinking. One or the other is attracted because of something I learned from my friend Donna Schuurman. Google her. She’s fantastic. Basically, the connection to each other is that one person is doing all the thinking and one person is doing all the feeling. We have compatible wounds. I know it to be true because every woman I’ve ever been with save Dana was the thinker. Dana was just as much a tenderheart bear as me, and we didn’t divide up emotional labor.

Relationships like that are amazing, but only for a short while. Then someone does something emotional or logical that makes the other one mad, because either one person didn’t think about it and one person didn’t feel.

I have a feeling that the reason I’m attracted to women like that is because they’re the other side of me. I have something they lack and vice versa. Everything goes great until one of them does something stupid and/or hurtful and the thinker can’t get over it because the feeler has no frame of reference for what that’s like, especially if you have ADHD and therefore no executive function or impulse control. It has to be managed.

But I’m not saying my friend participated. Maybe it’s something I did to myself based on past history, but I don’t think so. If it wasn’t my sexuality, it would have been something else, and I’d be stuck in a fixer/pleaser relationship where neither of us were happy. When you can’t share emotional labor, it gets old fast…. for a normal person. For an INFJ fixer/pleaser, that feeler goes to eleven.

Because my friend’s huge time commitment, I noticed that sometimes, she was the complete version of the thinkers I’ve either been friends with or married. Sometimes, she was tracking with me like white on rice. So I don’t really know if my analysis of the problem is correct. I only know my perceptions of what happened. My truth and and NOT Truth Almighty Amen, Spectacales, testicles, wallet, watch.

I can only speak to what I’ve been told, and it’s not like there’s magic tricks to find out what happened. I have to find my own closure, because I have definitely done enough to push her away, because I couldn’t stand being constantly in the dark for no reason except time. Thus, waiting it out unless either one of us were triggered by something that the other said, and we would inevitably fight about it, because I have never been invited to talk about anything. If there’s a problem, don’t even think about saying it. Once trust is broken, it’s always broken because both of us (the feeler and the thinker) turn on each other. Two things about that. If someone is determined to misunderstand you, they will. If someone is determined to be unwilling to accept love when it is offered, they will.

I said “I would bet dollars to donuts that you’re never going to like me, because I like you so much more than you do.” It’s true for some people, it’s not true for others, but when someone is hiding something from you, just run. Get your own closure. Leave room for grace or don’t. Hold them to your standards, and let them hold you to theirs. If they’re different, the pattern will never change because according to my Facebook wall, “don’t spend a lifetime translating your soul.” Therefore, I was constantly confused and left out, because I never knew whether she was trying to push me away or protect me. It was always up for grabs. If nothing else, it was unfair; a game of dirty pool I didn’t want to play.

Even if she didn’t see it, I felt it. I can believe it was all about time, or it might have been covering up a deeper issue. I have no idea. But what I do know is that it’s over for now. That’s solid, and I needed a break. We’re both too much for each other, and nothing will change until she does. It’s not because I blame her for what happened. I was telling her my perception of what was currently happening.

It bothered her that I gardened. It bothered me that I would get two or three words responding to a paragragh, and I didn’t know if something applied to one question or the whole thing. Automatically assuming often went sideways. But I had to guess. I didn’t have any information.

To me, that said more than anything else. I don’t like being treated unfairly, and I don’t like being confused. It didn’t bother me that my friend was straight and married a man. That’s a non-issue. It was that I got left out of everything, and I didn’t know if it was because I’d done something wrong or not. Again, when trust is broken, it’s almost impossible to win it back.

I tried so hard, but in the end it doesn’t even matter. Finding my own closure was better than being quixotic about everything. I don’t feel like I’m fighting a brick wall anymore, because it would have done as much good.

This is because I couldn’t get her to stop sugar coating and be out with it. Do you choose me as being your friend or not? What are the limits, what are the rules of engagement, anything that would have been helpful to know. Again, I will wait forever if she’s willing to lay it out, but I don’t think she’s capable, and not because she’s a thinker. I really think she doesn’t have time, and maybe she’ll come back and say what she meant and maybe she won’t.

Based on past history, though, I can guess that it’s over. That’s because traditionally it is either a PowerPoint presentation on what a judgmental dickhead I am, or three words I can’t understand if I speak in her love language. I don’t know if it’s an emotional or logical problem, or whether my gardening was such a problem that she ran. Traditionally, because of her determination to think that I am being an asshole to her when I write, she ignores me. I also know that she doesn’t have time to play games and wouldn’t, it just feels like it when the responses reading me the riot act are so long and the ones that love her up are so short.

What I know for sure is that I can’t make sense of it, and I’m done trying because I’ve offered all sorts of solutions to the problem, like creating a Google Docs folder instead of writing letters so that she could see what I was up to on her own time.

I also don’t think she knew that she was getting the first draft of something, and that I would pick and choose lines to publish from it later, but only from my work, never hers. If you agree to be a friend, you agree to be a lockbox, and that’s why I felt left out.

I never knew whether my words were being shared with other people or not, and she did until Dana and I broke up. I can only hope that I’m so uninteresting that it’s not worth it to her to talk about it.

Here’s the last two things. First of all, the answer we were looking for is “I’ve had your food” in terms of trading dick for a live-in chef. Whether it’s true or not is irrelevant. Secondly, if her husband is reading, the only thing I want from him is “man, does she ever have you pegged.” According to Facebook wisdom, we’re in this together, boo. I do…. whether she ever chooses me or not.

I’m just not hoping. I am just ready to say “welcome home” if she’s willing to do the work. I need her to go from A minor to C major, but it’s ok if the chord is suspended or diminished. The resolution is the best part.

The Heuristics and How to Swing ‘Em

Staying silent is like a slow growing cancer to the soul and a trait of a true coward. There is nothing intelligent about not standing up for yourself. You may not win every battle. However, everyone will at least know what you stood for- you. – Shannon L. Alder

There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis. – Malcolm Gladwell

“Blink” was a craze when it went it was published, and everyone got on board with the book’s philosophy. That given a second chance months later, you wouldn’t regret having made the decision you did. Sure. Hard data says that. When you actually put it into practice, though, people are concerned that something is wrong with you. In my particular case, people assume I’m on an “up,” and I’ll just regret things and apologize later.

It is my feeling that “blink” doesn’t work if you don’t know yourself as well as you possibly can. It’s a disaster to blink on no information. It’s another to have 45 years of heuristics first.

I have only had one time in my life where the decision to cut someone out of my life has gone so poorly that I was miserable over it for years. So, the concept of a “Blink” decision is not foolproof. But my track record on good decisions for me is about average with everyone else who lives, works, and functions just like I do… which is in fact one person. Except without mental illness, but the part she gets, she gets hardcore.

Hypotonic cerebral palsy is a rough gig all on its own. We don’t have to talk about mental illness at all to say my life is hard. People punch down at me all the time without even thinking about it. I can’t change how my eyes work, especially on the fly. I’ve tried for years, and the closest I can get to 3D vision is that I can see both sides of my nose at once. Any further away, and things get messy fast. “What are you even looking at?” gets old very fast.

I don’t have an easy time of not looking like a crazy person with the way I move and watch, both from the outside in and vice versa. People think I’m staring at them all the time, but just because my eye is pointed at something above your head doesn’t mean that one of my eyes won’t drift. It happens in a way that I can’t even pay attention to it, because then it will take minutes to make myself look like I’m focusing and no one has the time for that.

Besides, people will fix it in PhotoShop if I’m ashamed of how I look. Except I’m not. They automatically assume that I would want it fixed. I don’t because I don’t want to present a curated version of who I am. It has made the price of entry into my circle of friends very, very high.

My mental health treats my body like crap… it’s really all the side effects of the medication I’m taking. I choose physical illness every day.

I choose physical illness every day.

I make that joke all the time, that I choose between sick and crazy without letting it affect me like I just did. I was diagnosed as Bipolar II/ADHD when I was about 21, then as PTSD set in a protocol was added for severe anxiety. I have been taking a pure, refined version of crystal meth for 20 years, and I have also tried agonists like Stratera and Cymbalta, which mimic the norepinephrine boosts that methylphenidate gives, but again… different med, different side effects. I was jumpy and nervous, heart rate sky high, couldn’t sit still. It was a worse ride than even an extended release dose of methylphenidate had ever given me, and I lived that way for six weeks until I gave up.

I was disheartened. With my medication, I had no appetite and a quiet brain… but it meant being on meth to cope.

Between it and my mood stabilizer, I have caused enormous damage to my physical body to remain sane to everyone else. This does not mean that I need to go off meds to get a baseline. That’s pretty much the worst idea anyone has ever had regarding my health. I just need better generics. Fewer side effects. A better understanding of the human body so I know that opioid agonists work on me and methamphetamine don’t. Why is it the same delivery method and two different results?

One chills me out like a Tylenol with codeine, the other makes me look like a schizophrenic heroin addict.

Here’s a joke I told Daniel that my medical people will get:

Is this a __ thing? Let me guess your diagnosis before you even say it…….. “It depends.”

In my experience, this is the correct medical diagnosis for everything. Every time. That’s why it’s called “practicing medicine” and often referred to as an art. It is still a better educated answer than you’ll get from someone who didn’t go to medical school, because what the doctor is really saying is “I need a whole lot more information, but if you can just give me your Google Search Terms I have like 50 things I can rule out that won’t kill you before you go on WebMD and scare yourself to death.” Doctors can only do “blink” decisions when they’re sure. It’s different when you’ve never seen a case before, what in med school would be a “fascinoma” and in law school would be a “prima facie” case.

Shows like “House” are built on doctors being wrong, and it happens all the time. I don’t mean in an intentionally malicious way, though you can find enough of those if you look for them. I’m talking about people going to doctors that have diseases so rare that it takes a detective years to figure it out, because the natural order of how something is supposed to go, well…. It isn’t.

It’s not even idiocy. I couldn’t have told the doctor on her way into a patient room that I thought a patient had shingles if I hadn’t seen the pattern in a book somewhere. It’s the same with an MD as opposed to me, a lowly MA (from whom you should never take advice. I’m a moron. And I know enough to tell you that). They’ve just seen thousands more patterns the higher you go up in terms of specialists. That’s why they’re specialists. They don’t necessarily study harder for anything. It’s that when they hear a herd of something coming, they know when to guess “horse” and when to guess “zebra” because they’ve seen enough to know the tiny, tiny, tiny differences, maybe down to one. Additionally, in those cases, a blink guess is necessary. Try Occam’s Razor first. If the patient gets better, don’t try anything more extreme. If the patient is worse, they don’t have what it’s most likely to be.

That’s when you get more eyes on it. People can go 15 years without an official diagnosis, and that’s what teams of doctors like the one portrayed on “House” is accurate. You also need different types of doctors, because rheumatology isn’t that different from endocrinology, dermatology, and oncology. You could argue that oncology falls under rheumatology, because cancer is also an autoimmune disease. It’s just that the need for oncologists surpasses the need for expertise in other autoimmune diseases that don’t have dedicated departments. I assume GRID/AIDS was first thought of as an autoimmune disease, rheumatological or oncological in nature. Then AIDS research, too, became its own department.

This is where the rubber hits the road. Blink and see if you’re right, but have an Option B. Doctors, particularly in Urgent Care and the Emergency Room, aren’t given time not to blink. They patch you up.

I’ve been patching myself up for decades because I have had the opposite problem. I have waited too long on a lot of things because I didn’t feel I was capable of them. In fact, I had seven years to do nothing but think about my motivations and goals. I’ve thought about the things I’ve done and left undone.

The dragons that circle my bed at night and let me lie on my back and watch the stars while we travel.

Who I wanted those dragons to be, and why, and why it should cost so much to be my friend. It costs something to be a friend that believes in a writer, because now they’re in the position of having to defend your writing whether they like it or not, because it’s your obsession, not theirs.

I chose one dragon in particular because not only is she the architect type of writer, she has also edited a few other things for me that have been successful (mostly book reviews). She also has the amazing ability to talk with me about craft and not plot. It works in our actual relationship as well as the one we have professionally. “I can’t fix this.” “You absolutely cannot fix this and I will be mad if you try.” Although I will say that sometimes I wish she could wave a magic wand because a good bit of the time listening to her goes better than whatever all THIS is (looking in mirror).

The other two are more talkers than writers, so we make up for it with phone calls and quick texts to set up phone calls, or we video each other. As I have said before, that’s new. I’m finally okay with it… as previously mentioned but I feel it goes along here very well. I talked to one person, and then I talked to my audience, almost in quick succession. This is because I realized that if I treated a vlog like a FaceTime call, I wouldn’t get overwhelmed at the stats. Here’s what I do know, though. Every post I write resonates with someone. They just don’t all resonate with everyone. That’s true of every writer on Earth, even Stephen King. Most writers have a special place in their hearts for “On Writing,” even the ones that don’t like horror. Those realizations created a blink decision. I vlog, because talking to a million of you is the same as talking to one of you.

I blinked, and didn’t regret it. I had the heuristics.


My conversations with Daniel in preparing content are tough shit, and I am so glad that I’m a blogger because of it. When I go all up in my feelings, I have a place to express them without having to think about what he’s going to think when he reads the entry. It’s a mixture of fear and excitement, because if you get PTSD from combat, those are generally the only two emotions in a story.

And then there are things that make me bleed out, like telling Daniel why I have PTSD and Daniel explaining to me why mine was so much worse than his…… Daniel’s enemies were clearly defined. Mine were turncoats, both of them, at a time when I was too little to know that wasn’t okay and took it on as all my fault.

One of the things that’s so different with our two cases of PTSD is that I cannot define triggers before they happen. I’m fine one minute, and inconsolable the next. He actually has enough self awareness to say that he doesn’t like the sound of popping popcorn, because “that’s what M4s sound like when you put them on fully automatic.” He can do something that at this point, I cannot. He can tell me what his triggers are, and I can avoid them. I have tried to quantify what a trigger means to me for nine years, and I haven’t really come up with a good solution.

The biggest trigger I have is smell. Whether it’s my abuser’s old perfume, or the air smells just the way it did when I was standing there with that journal, asking what certain things meant. I think that is true for all trauma, the way the smell of the smoke in our recent house fire took me back to the one my family had when I was 11.

Music doesn’t bother me, generally, but there are a few choir pieces and opera arias that I have put away. If I’m in a church choir that is doing one of the pieces that for me, acts as a trigger, I don’t sing that day. I don’t even go to rehearsals that contain it.

One of the things that I’ve done for the last probably, ten years that I refuse to do now is minimize. Everything that has happened to me is now being given its full meaning and weight. I am no longer trying to make it look lesser than, that things weren’t as bad as I thought. In order to know how bad it was, you cannot just know my side of the story. You have to know the life story of the woman who emotionally abused me as well, and how that pathology affected me. I can only tell my story and a teeny, tiny part of hers. There’s so much more you will never find on this web site that you would find if you looked in other areas. For instance, none of our mutual friends except Dana has ever talked to my dad about what I was like as a teenager.

I can think of a few more I’d like to have him school. Some because I still don’t understand their reactions, some because I just want my people to know who I really am without pretense or bullshit.

I am coming into my power. I am 45 years old. Either this year or within a few years half of my life will be over, using my 92 year old grandfather as an example. A whole lot of shit I used to care about doesn’t even exist now in terms of my focus.

Like getting all upset because Daniel is in love with me and I know it. He has been for 36 years. Let me get this straight. A military doctor wants to be with me, and he’s telling me up front that he’s an alcoholic and has PTSD and is going to rehab to change himself and just wants another writer to lie next to in bed with both our laptops going…… and I’m going to freak out because he’s male and not female? I got this picture in my head of Jonna and Tony Mendez writing “The Moscow Rules” on a king-sized bed and thought, “why not?”

Here’s why I didn’t freak out, and it’s all my trans friends’ fault (I’m really grateful and I’m teasing). I realized that there was just enough man in me to be absolutely terrified that a straight dude wouldn’t like me AS A PARTNER. Straight dudes love me in general. Instead of thinking of myself as a bisexual woman, I had to game this relationship out as a trans man. This is because I knew that Daniel had never been in a gay relationship before, and so his reaction to my gender identity would never be negative, he just might be confused. I needed him to know that I express as male sometimes, and that has to be okay with him. Luckily, it very much is.

But this is just the beginning of a very, very long story. Please do not think that I have lost my fucking mind. Daniel doesn’t start rehab until January 5th. He lives in NE Texas. There is no possible way we will even see each other until his rehab is over, and that could take up to a few months. We’re talking about living separately for at least a year, because if he moves to DC we might screw ourselves over by skipping dating and just moving in. It wouldn’t be a deliberate screwover- DC is expensive and it might seem tempting to have one household “since we want to be together, anyway….” Eyeroll………

My perfect picture of Daniel and me is that we visit each other a few times in 2023, and then think seriously about stability after 2023 is over. This does not mean that we won’t be in contact at all, just not physically sharing the same space. Rediscovering each other through calls and letters for a year before going all in.

I am also not saying that Daniel is my forever person. I am saying that he’s one of them. Maybe it will be this fairy tale in which I suddenly transform into the perfect heterosexual wife. However, my money is not on that. My money is on Daniel becoming so important to me that he becomes a priority, and it is too damn early in our relationship to put constraints on what that actually looks like. Just be happy for me that I have someone that loves me and is in my corner. That if I get into a Situation, it’s handled. Don’t look into the future and try to pigeonhole us as friends or married. Let us decide that over the next few years on our own.

I am turning a corner in my sexuality. I am less sure about my gender than I ever have been, which has made me flexible about everything else. I was telling my friend Zac that I was feeling very non-binary, without the need to come out or change pronouns. How that plays out in my relationship with Daniel is that I feel like a partner, not the archetype one sees in their minds eye of a “wife.”

I have also been a wife before, but not to a man. My definition of “wife” comes from that context, and I don’t know enough about men to know whether my definition and theirs is similar. My saving grace is that Daniel is attracted to my personality. I don’t think he would have been attracted to me if I was male on the outside, because sexual orientation is a thing. But what I do know is that if I look at myself in the completely genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary but doesn’t give a crap about pronouns kind of way, Daniel still loves that person.

I’m not becoming less. He’s becoming more. He’s opening himself up to the possibility of not being with the picture and definition of “woman” he’s always known.

It took me back a bit. All of the sudden, someone from my past reappeared, and I want to talk to her “privately.”

Dear Karen,

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday. We were out in the sun at Chuy’s on Westheimer, and I was completely suckered in by your preppy attire. I mean obviously, my wife teased me about seeing you and running into a door for like four years. What might have seemed schoolgirlish actually made me relax and find peace within myself. You were the first woman I’d ever met who identified as straight and also wore men’s clothes without making it a big deal. Nine times out of ten, it was men’s styles in a women’s cut. Every time I looked at you, I saw a little more of who I wanted to be on the outside. I saw a style that fit me on someone else.

You might think it’s because I thought you looked like a lesbian. Actually, that’s not it at all. I saw the way your husband looked at you and realized that I was putting too much emphasis on my clothes. That what I wore wasn’t advertising anything. That if a straight woman could out butch me any day of the week, then wear whatever I want. Nothing about my wardrobe says that I am seeking attention from men or women.

I know this because now I’m divorced, it’s eight years later, and now a man wants to be with me. I said yes. I said yes because I looked at you on that warm April day, and knew that he would love me no matter what. I saw a style that fit me on someone else.


What’s New in Breakups

As of today, Sam is a PNG. But I do want to talk about me and how I’m reacting to the most grief I’ve had since my mother died and how I’m doing right now. Sam is certainly involved, but that’s because I learned things about myself from her, not because I am trying to talk about her specifically. It just is.

I learned that the relationship was a much bigger deal to me than it was to her, or that’s how Sam made it look from the outside. She has kids, people who live in her house to give her affection. I do not. Even having someone hold my hand was legendary in my mind. Having someone look at me differently turned my world right side up. Having someone lovebomb me into submission was amazing. The thing is, though, I didn’t pick up any narcissistic vibes from her, but I should have.

I actually canceled our first date and she begged me to reconsider. That was the first red flag. She picked on me for not having a car, and I’ve lived without one most of the time in DC. I know how to get around. In fact, I know it so much better than she does that it never even occurred to her that public transportation is a thing that exists and that I’m used to it and I like it because I can read. From minute one, it was like “I don’t want to date someone without a car because I can’t handle those kind of logistics.” This is because she never let go of letting me handle my own logistics. Not once did she say, “I’m going to X. Meet me out there.” I would have. Now I have money on a Baltimore system that I have no idea what to do with, but I do have a free ticket to BWI any time I want and that’s no love lost.

So, anyway, I picked up on her apprehension about me not driving, and called her out on the carpet. She said that she was sorry she didn’t listen to me and that of course I was making the decision that was best for me and please still go out with me?

Against my better judgment, I went. And that’s when the first life lesson hit. My DV PTSD kicked in and I noticed how enormous her hands were. I imagined her fist coming at my face. I’ve never told anyone this before. Never. I should have. I have one friend in particular who would have kissed it and made it better. But I didn’t. I told Sam instead. I told her my biggest, deepest, darkest secret because I thought that as my girl, she ought to know. She told me that she would never raise her fist to me in anger, and I believed her. Of course that was true. Dana and I got into a heated situation and she lost it. I never got angry enough at Sam or she at me to even produce something close to my level of emotion in those first few moments, kneeling on the floor.

Also, now do you see why I don’t write about Dana? Why that toxic mess will be with me for the rest of my life? Nobody cares about two girls fighting. Lesbian DV is invisible.

So, I trusted Sam in a way that I’ve never trusted anyone. Our breakup didn’t have anything to do with it, only that she proved I was wrong to be so open and forthright because she was not a safe person to talk to. She’d never been through it, so she thought nothing of my issues surrounding it and whether abandonment might be one of them. So she broke up with me by text. Abandonment is a recurring theme in my life. People get sucked into my orbit (which I have only recently realized is a thing), and get caught up in all the ideas I have, and then realize they’re in too deep and I’m so emotionally intense that they can’t take it. I do not do this by choice. It is my personality type, and I know it sucks. Visionaries do what they do naturally, it isn’t malicious. We see pictures of the future and depending on future decisions, change. It’s “we could do this, or we could do this, or we could do this…..” ad nauseam.

I need people who can stand up to that, and say “I’m not ready for this” rather than “I’m out of here.” I am extraordinarily emotionally flexible and sensitive to the fact that my personality type is rare and exhausting. I’ll do whatever I can to make my loved ones comfortable with it, but they have to let me know that they’re having a problem for me to do anything about it. They wait until they’ve already made up their minds about who I am and what our relationship is like and it’s always going to be the same.

I am never the same across time. Never. I bend and adjust to what’s in front of me, and plan for the future based on the information I have. In a sense, I feel like The Doctor, because of Matt Smith’s one line, “I’ll never forget when The Doctor was me.” I have lived several lives by now, at least four regenerations, one for every decade. I just haven’t picked a new face to do it.

I am so emotionally complicated that it’s isolating and lonely. I know my emotional quotient is off the charts, that I would be in the Mensa of EQs if that were a thing that existed. I see patterns of behavior like most people breathe. One of the things that I said to Sam was, “don’t do this. Not only can I see how you’re wrecking my life, I can see how you’re wrecking yours.” I have seen true joy on her face. I have awakened something in her that wasn’t there before. I have changed her, and I have no illusions about that. She is every bit as miserable as I am, crying all the time just like I am, and it’s incredibly sad and depressing watching her be miserable and shooting her own foot repeatedly.

Or maybe not. She had a lot of conversations during our relationship with not only herself but friends as well that I wasn’t a part. There’s no way of knowing what I might have done to cause such a reaction. But what I do know is that she’ll regret the way she treated me for the rest of her life, because she set so much on fire that there’s nothing to reconcile. I don’t even trust her enough to be my friend, because my friendship runs so deep that my friends become a part of me, and I don’t want that with her, either. She told me who she was, and I am choosing to believe her the first time. I am not going to let this get any worse. And that’s another life lesson.

There’s just so much here. The first is that I take good care of my relationships so that if they end, it’s without animosity or cruelty so that there’s a chance of rebuilding later. The way she left was monstrous, and there’s no coming back from it. She lied to me and said that everything was fine while she had all these dark conversations with herself about the things that were going wrong. She never let me in, because she never wanted me there in the first place. She wanted a magical experience for a weekend and couldn’t allow herself to just say that because she’s not that kind of girl. So she trumped up a relationship and then extracted herself in the most ugly way possible. It was childish and it will resonate with me for years. Because that was the moment I stood up and bent the spoon. I was not going to teach her to walk all over me. If she said she wanted to talk about the end of our relationship without being open to the possibility of rebuilding, then I never wanted to see her again in my whole life, and that if she contacted me or wrote to me, I would lose my shit. If she showed up at my house because she finally pulled her head out of her ass without telling me she was coming, I’d get the police involved and I wouldn’t deal with her directly.

I was clear about boundaries. If you walk out now, never come back. You’re going to set too much on fire. I am being clear and I want you to respond and tell me that you understand this is it. You will never see me again. I wanted to light a fire under her ass to DO SOMETHING. This is crazy. It makes no sense that we are each crying desperately for each other in our own houses instead of talking about what we’ve been through and what we each need. And now it’s too late. She’s been cut out of my life and thrown away like a bad penny. What she has done has been childish and painful. I am in no hurry for a repeat performance, but I know I’ll have one.

Because people are afraid to be vulnerable with me, and it’s easier to cut and run.


I have so much to do today that is banal, therefore I am sitting at my desk hoping to come up with something brilliant instead. Maybe if I have a creative flash, it will make taking care of the small stuff easier. I try to go from least desirable to most, because if I start with the thing I want to do most, the rest of my to-do list goes into “I can do it tomorrow” status, which generally runs ad infinitum amen.

I need to do some stuff around the house, and I also need to go to the pharmacy and grocery store. I should have thought ahead on this one and used the pharmacy at the grocery store from the beginning, but luckily, CVS and Giant are practically next door to each other. It takes about two minutes to walk between them if I’m feeling lazy, 45 seconds if I’m booking it…. usually dependent on how much I have to carry from one store to the other. I feel like taking this break to write is justified, because I don’t like to go anywhere without my phone, watch, and headphones completely charged. It helps me to be in crowds if everyone feels further away, so I’m usually listening to music or a podcast.

I never leave my watch at home because I have cerebral palsy and monocular vision. If my monocular vision is guilty, I have missed a step down (sometimes a step up) or a crack in the sidewalk. If it’s the CP, I have taken a spill a propos of nothing. My watch has fall detection, and if I don’t move in a certain amount of time, alerts 911. I’ve never needed it, but I am genuinely afraid of hitting my head, because in 90% of cases, the falls happen so fast I don’t have time to react. I’ve only had three falls in the last five years that have resulted in bruising or bleeding, but that’s enough, especially since I ripped my favorite pants at the knee…. khakis that would have looked horrible with patching even if I could have gotten all the blood out. No, wait. I have ripped two pairs of pants at $50 a pop. In one case, I thought I broke my hip. Luckily, I did not. The bone ached for days as I recovered, though.

While I was in more pain than worrying about my pants, I am reminded of an old Ryan Darlington story. He wrecked his bike and walked it back home because he was scraped up, road rash, bleeding, all the things. His dad took one look at him and, completely deadpan, said “geez…. is the bike okay? There’s nothing like the love of a parent for a child.

It helps to have a friend to help me watch out for that stuff, but mostly I just tumble ass over teakettle because I won’t say anything up front. I need to get to a place where it just is, and doesn’t make me feel embarrassed. It’s difficult, though, especially with new people in my life. If I fall once in front of them, it’s just an accident. Three or four times? Not so much.

What helped me the most was meeting Tracy Walder (link is to my question at her Q&A after her book talk- The Unexpected Spywe had a conversation when she signed my book), and learning that even with all she’s accomplished professionally, she still has her own body issues and doesn’t talk about it, either. Her hypotonia didn’t develop into CP, so our cases are different, but our internal monologues are the same.

I didn’t mean to put her on the spot, but I’d read a few pages of the book while I was waiting for her, and she mentions it, so I thought it was fair game.

I kicked myself later that I didn’t take her aside privately, because I think talking about it to an audience might have made her uncomfortable. I hope I was able to diffuse it by saying I had it, too, so she wouldn’t feel alone…. or maybe it was that I didn’t want to feel alone. Either way, it worked out.

I’d never met anyone with hypotonia before, so one of the best moments of my life was learning that there’s another person in the world that has the same feelings I do. I am sure there are plenty more, but neither of us know them. In fact, she says that she doesn’t think she’s ever met anyone outside her family that has it.

She gave me such a gift by opening up, because it raised my self-esteem when I realized that it was okay to feel how I feel, and just to let them come and go. Perhaps in the future I will feel more comfortable getting out of the house because of it. I tend to hole up (quarantine or not), because the layout of the house is familiar and safe. I purposely put off going to the grocery store and pharmacy until social interaction is needed to maintain isolation, because I don’t have to guess whether I’ll trip. I don’t have to guess that I’ll run into something. I don’t have to guess whether or not my shoulder will bang on a door frame unless it’s doubly wide. I just know.

It makes meeting people doubly hard, but during the quarantine, I did have one woman reach out to me that I managed to piss off in one day flat. That’s a record. However, I wasn’t upset about it because it was a conversation I knew was going to be way more trouble than it was worth. She grew up non-denominational/Pentecostal and still trying to live out her faith in that vein, which made me cringe because that framework is designed to keep people inside the fear of going to hell when they die………. and she can try until Jesus comes to fit in as a queer fundamentalist, but people will still talk behind her back if not directly to her face.

She spoke fluent “Christianese,” which is a language that I hear so much that I can understand it, but I won’t engage. People who take the Bible literally and those of us who take the Bible seriously are so different that there’s really no mesh. You will never catch me using the phrases “looking for a Godly marriage” or “raising kids in His word.” What pissed her off was me saying “I hear those words a lot, but I have no idea what they actually mean.”

Having spent a lot of time in the Bible Belt, I know to keep my views to myself (she was originally from Beaumont, TX). For that crowd, the resurrection is more important than anything Jesus ever did while he was alive…. and I do not enjoy the “sticky, sticky blood” interpretation.

Also, nothing in the Bible to literalists is a story from an ancient civilization trying to understand the world around them, but absolute truth- as if God sat down and wrote it all in pen. Don’t even mention to them that stories of Jesus were oral traditions not written down until 90 years after his death. No one had an eyewitness account, but literalists skip over that, as well, and will fight you in a way that you’ll always lose, because they go pretty quickly into righteousness- they follow Jesus and they have no idea what the hell you’re doing. They’re Christians, and you’re faking it…. as if no time has passed and thousands of years of exegesis and criticism are fake as well. My alarm bell went off when she said she went to Bible College. Here’s what I mean by alarm bell, taken from Wikipedia:

Many were established as a reaction against established theological colleges and seminaries, which conservatives believed were becoming increasingly liberal and undermining traditional Christian teachings, such as Biblical inerrancy [emphasis mine].

There’s a big difference between Bible College and say, getting into the divinity schools at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Emory, etc…. this is because the error is that seminaries were getting too liberal. It’s that the more they pieced history together, they could no longer support the idea that every single sentence in the Bible is a hundred percent factually accurate and needs no translation from then to now.

I am sure that my treatise on “inerrancy” could have been an entry all on its own, but everything ties together in terms of getting over myself and meeting new people, and knowing within a conversation or two whether it’s a relationship I’d like to continue. I know I’ll keep tripping and falling, but I’d like to know whether I’m going to land in the right hands.

For me, that person could be a different (non-literalist) denomination, a different religion altogether, or agnostic/atheist as long as they respect that I’m not going to change.

My beliefs about the Bible can be summed up in one sentence. I believe that all 66 books are stories that are all true, and some of them actually happened.

Get to Know Me: COVID-19 Edition

Why not take a break from COVID-19 and learn about each other… Hat tip to all the people who’ve filled it out on Facebook and I shamelessly stole it because I had nothin’ for today.

1. Who are you named after?

My name was originally supposed to be Amanda Jane, and my parents were going to call me “AJ.” Then, my mother was sitting in a church service and the organist was listed in the bulletin as “Leslie Diane.” The rest, as they say, is history.

2. Last time you cried?

Two weeks ago, when I attended church through Zoom at Bridgeport UCC in Portland, Oregon (link is to the service, 10:30 AM Pacific). I saw some of my oldest friends in the world, and heard their voices. It was magnificent, and I was crying because I was filled with grief at my mother dying, and how long it had taken me to get back to the place where I was comfortable going to church again. For the first time in three years, I have now gone to church two weeks in a row.

3. Do you like your handwriting?

Absolutely not- it is a carpal tunnel pile of garbage that keeps getting worse. I use Evernote/Microsoft OneNote to keep track of my thoughts because if I write them down in a notebook, I can’t read them later.

4. What is your favorite lunch meat?

It used to be the disastrously unpopular olive loaf, and now it is the plant-based version of honey-baked ham (made into sandwiches on bread infused with maple syrup with Swiss “cheez” and margarine). I’m not sure olive loaf is even made anymore, but when it was, the grocery store never ran out…………………

5. Longest relationship?

I’m sure my dad wins this one, but if you mean romantically, seven years and change.

6. Do you still have your tonsils?

Yes, but I’ve had tonsillitis enough that they probably should come out to avoid recurrence. It is so unpleasant. It’s a good thing antibiotics work fast.

7. Would you bungee jump?

It depends. I probably wouldn’t do it on my own, but I’d never turn down a dare.

8. What is your favorite kind cereal?

The brown puffed rice at Whole Foods with real chocolate.

9. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?

Mostly yes, because I wear Converse All-Stars high tops more than anything else.

10. Do you think you’re strong willed?

It depends on who you ask. I don’t think I’m particularly obstinate unless I’m standing up for someone else. My friends think I’m stronger than I do.

11. Favorite ice cream?

Every flavor of ice cream I’ve had with plant-based milk is my new favorite. Almond milk with almonds and chocolate is probably at the top of the list right now.

12. What is the first thing you notice about a person?

Whether they like small talk or not. I’m not attracted to the small questions.

13. Football or baseball?

If these are my only choices, it’s Baltimore Orioles baseball. My real favorite is soccer of any kind. Doesn’t matter the gender or the league. I collect national team jerseys, and interestingly enough, I don’t have the United States. Oh, and I have one MLS jersey… DC United, of course. 🙂

14. What color pants are you wearing?

Uniqlo Extra Warm leggings and lounge pants made of grey t-shirt material.

15. Last thing you ate?

A Nutella and strawberry jelly sandwich.

16. What are you listening to?

  • Miles Davis
  • Lots of podcasts- too many to list, but if you want recommendations, leave a comment.

17. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

Dark grey or Cornflower, the colors I use the most often in HTML. The grey is #333333, and the blue is #336699.

18. What is your favorite smell?

I have two- tea tree oil and lavender anything…. although I had to take a break from lavender while reading the Outlander series. It turned my stomach for a while.

19. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?

My sister, Lindsay. She’s cooler than you are.

20. Married?

I used to be, and it would take an act of God for me to do it again.

21. Hair color?

Brown, with a little grey and white mixed in…. which is such a blessing because it stops me from looking like a ten-year-old.

22. Eye Color?

Espresso… well, brown, but I’m being, ummm….. creative.

23. Favorite food to eat?

Anything I’ve cooked myself. I’m good at it, and I get immense satisfaction with that kind of accomplishment.

24. Scary movies or happy ending?

Why choose? My favorite scary movie is “Get Out.”

25. Last movie you watched in a theater?

This is one of the funniest things that has happened to me in a while. I went with my friend Jaime to see “Jojo Rabbit,” and since I’d already seen it, I went about halfway through the movie before I got ridiculously thirsty. I leaned over to Jaime and said, “I’m getting a Coke. Do you want one?” She nodded and I left. So I come back and it is the most heart-wrenching part of the film and here I am stumbling in the dark to my seat while the rest of the row would have murdered me if it wasn’t illegal.

26. What color shirt are you wearing?

White. It’s not my color, but it’s warm.

27. Favorite holiday?

Any that involve a three-day weekend.

28. Beer or Wine?

Not much of a drinker, but I love anything Belgian.

29. Night owl or morning person?

It depends. I have a lot of energy at both ends of the spectrum. I also enjoy when I can’t sleep, watching the sun come up when I’m normally “not there” to see it.

30. Favorite day of the week?

None right now- they all blend together.

31. Favorite animal?

I am absolutely over the top crazy about Fiona the hippo. When it’s nice outside, I like taking my tablet and Bluetooth keyboard to the zoo and sitting in front of the giraffe enclosure.

32. Do you have any pets?

None of my own, but there are several dogs that live in my house. It’s the best of both worlds- puppy love and no responsibility.

33. Where would you like to travel?

I am consumed by the Middle East, both in terms of “walking the Bible,” and seeing things in movies I’d like to experience for real, like the Blue Mosque in Iran, the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon, and the mountains of Afghanistan. My mom and dad went when I was very small, because it was safe to travel there for tourists (at least to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt). I’m not holding my breath in terms of my lifetime.


Living Water

I’m starting to wonder if I’m ever going to figure out what to do with my life, because I can see where it is I want to go with such clarity… but there’s a deep chasm between here and there. The staircase has cracks and is, in some places, completely broken. For the longest time, I’ve wanted to work with the homeless, to be pastor of my own church, to be a writer tagged as more theologian than blogger, to help others heal themselves by laying out my own broken pieces and hoping that something I’ve said will trigger an “A-ha!” moment. I am thankful that I’ve done at least a small bit of the latter with this web site; the rest of me wonders constantly if I am healthy enough to work with other people in 3D.

It’s a question that not enough people ask themselves when considering careers as pastors, social workers, therapists, etc. Three years ago, I was in the psych ward at Methodist hospital… but I have trouble deciding how much of my depressed and anxious state was current and how much of it was a delayed reaction. While it was great to find an anti-anxiety medication that worked, and indeed, to learn I needed to add it to my already-established protocol, that was just psychiatry. Once my brain chemicals were sorted, that didn’t mean anything in terms of correcting behaviors that began as unhealthy in childhood, and proceeded to self-destructive as an adult. The difference, of course, being depth. When those behaviors were new, they would have been a hell of a lot easier to fix. And then I got old…. er.

I thought I was doing fine, and then the dam broke. All of the lies I’d used to convince myself that I was fine stopped working, and as I have said before, I just started emotionally vomiting trauma. I was a grand total of 36 years old, and I still felt like an arrested teenager, especially in my smallest moments. 36 should be old enough to know better, do better. I’d simply folded most of my hands as I watched my same-age friends come in Kings full over Aces.

I’ve never been in doubt about the fact that I was bright, had talent in multiple areas, etc. I just haven’t known how to collate that into success… and when I’ve achieved it, how to learn to live there. Every time I’ve had money and nice houses and retirement accounts and the whole nine yards, I have sabotaged myself in so many ways, torching it all to the ground.

I know how to live on no money and self-worth. I don’t yet know how to rise above it… but I’m learning. It’s probably why I made terrible marriage material… for which I owe two women an apology for being married to them and one other (okay, two… but we don’t talk about two) for thinking I could. So many of my absolutely brilliant ideas live on hope, which is why therapy is so important. It helps me to turn the abstract into logic. As a spazzbasket of creative diva energy, being logical is not my forté. Dana was right in that I tend to jump from one great idea to the next without finishing any of them, except for one. I have been faithful to a fault about cataloging everything I feel on this web site, and to me, 6.13.1_Pensieve_merged_blackthat’s the dependency I’ve needed to see up close & personal where all my flaws and failures lie. It has been a life-changing experience on so many levels to be able to go back over what I’ve written and see where I’ve changed and what still needs work. My friend Kristie calls it my “pensieve.”

She is not wrong.

I have said from the very beginning that I write for me, and you’re invited. It is so true you can take those words to the bank and cash them. Nothing I’ve ever written was meant more for an audience than it was for me, even the marriage article that got more shares and retweets than I ever expected. I wrote it when my own marriage was sometimes doing really well, and sometimes crumbling into pieces. I couched it in sharing common ground with Evangelical Christians, but in reality it was to remind myself of the things I could control in my own life, and what I couldn’t. I couldn’t make my partners do anything, but I could improve myself and hope that they followed suit… and if they didn’t, I was probably in the wrong relationship and trying to make it fit.

I cannot say that the relationship with Dana was wrong for me, only that it became so. Neither one of us really got the short end of the stick. We both participated in our own destruction, not really one person’s fault or the other, just a mishmash of problems that we thought we could solve and didn’t.

If I had it all to do over again, there would have been professional help involved. It also would have been good to either go and visit Argo or have her come and visit us, so that there was relationship on the ground between all three of us, and not a secluded bubble with swells of operatic emotion on the page. My writer personality is so different than the one I have on the ground, and it would have been good for all three of us to make that connection. Had Argo been a part of our daily lives, she would have ceased to be my “Raggedy Man.” My friends would have ceased to call her “The Doctor,” because she would have been real to them instead of seemingly this person I made up. It also would have made her concrete in my own mind, because speaking of self-destruction, the wall of anonymity between us kept even me from really seeing her in three dimensions. My lips were too loose, always. It is not lost on me that because we didn’t know each other on the ground, I was capable of more love and anger with her than anyone in my life, before or since.

That’s probably the biggest take-home message I’ve gotten from this web site…. that I need tighter boundaries with emotions all the way around. I don’t always need to be a loose cannon jackass who spouts off and regrets… or in the case of love, spouts off without really thinking of the consequences my words will inevitably bring. At this point, my life has to be all about learning to think critically while leaving my emotions on the back burner.

It’s a back and forth sort of process… one step forward and two steps back sometimes, a giant leap for mankind at others. I find myself watching TED Talks on motivation, and I haven’t found anything better for thinking while mobile than Tim Ferris’ podcast. Both deal with great thinkers- TED Talks are presentations, Tim Ferris interviews industry giants on how they do what they do. I feel stronger and more strident after listening to them, which is something I desperately need. Most of the time, I feel about thisbig, because depression and anxiety whisper, let’s think about everything you’ve ever done wrong in your whole life. My coping mechanism is to, most of the time, have something going in my headphones to drown out what my AA friends call “The Committee.” The Committee is the collection of tapes in your head that stop you from moving forward because it continually drags you into the past. Instead of how do I get there from here? it’s you’ll never get there because we won’t let you. It is the well of worthlessness from which The Committee continually tries to get you to drink.

There are better sources of living water out there, and my goal is to find them. At this point, there’s no other choice.