Personal, first

I did go to Paganicon. I a)met people and was reminded that, flaws and all, b)for the most part people in my community like me and want me around. I may resist the idea of family because my experience of family is overwhelmingly negative, but I do have a tribe, motley crew though it may be.

I do have much to write about Paganicon, and since none of the attendees to my Artist’s Way workshop said anything (to my face) to the effect of, “I got up for this?” I am taking that as a sign of success. I was even fully reimbursed for the supplies I gave them, and was amused to see God jars appearing at random places throughout the conference. ((It occurred to me that while a cute idea, doing them had the massive flaw of leaving us day attendees stuck carrying a mason jar around all day. Good in theory, not great in practice, so if I repeat this workshop I won’t do that again.))

This post is more personal, as I did go see a very effective tarot reader at the conference who, rather than the mini-reading she advertised gave me a full reading and was quite generous and honest with me about what she saw both in the cards and in my energy. The jist was that I have become ungrounded in a deep, across-my-life way, and that the people closest to me have suppressed or drawn on my energy until I’m out of whack. In fact, the main problem has been my allowing other people to restrict my self-expression. So when I do express a feelings, I get a punishing response from these individuals ((Mike included)) , rather than what I’ve give them: the room to express their feelings, and a consideration of the content of their words within the context of the situation.

So basically, yes, I AM allowed to say that the friends that dumped on me so severely are being complete jerks, it’s not my fault, and their trying to convince me otherwise does not make it true. I am also right that they are doing what a high school German teacher did to me, and a lot of people do this with me: this teacher arbitrarily decided to grade me on a “tougher” scale than she did other students in the class. As it turned out, I was the only student in my class graded on that scale, and the way it worked was that my errors counted for 2-3 times against me whereas everyone else’s errors counted as a single error. She did not discuss this or obtain my consent in any way, and in fact there was no other effort to challenge me with different material. The end result was that I didn’t learn anything more than the other students, I was just treated more severely and given less support. My parents did this, assigning me much harsher punishments for transgressions than they assigned my sister – and they admitted to doing exactly that, with no explanation beyond “You’re different people and we treat you differently.” This excuse did stop being quoted to me when I told my mother, “That’s just your excuse for a double standard and it’s bullshit, and you know it.”

I am once again staring at the remains of an imploded  friendship where I am being held to a double standard. These people get to whine, control everyone else with mood swings and shitty behavior; I get bullied by one of them in an extremely tense situation and react like a person being bullied, and suddenly I am this horrible person who has “routinely threatened” someone who in fact has bullied me and others on a regular basis.

I was worried this might happen, and it’s not the first time something like this has happened. I recognize a pattern, and I do want a way to fix it. I also realize that these people have taken one hell of a lot from me, not just in material (that I didn’t mind sharing) but also in time, skill, headspace, and in dealing with their basic unwillingness to find tools for making their own lifestyle work better for them on their own. My inner critic (which is shaped like my sister, which tells me it’s just something that wants me to feel like shit and has no bearing on actual truth) is saying, “Maybe that’s because you’re refusing to recognize you’re an asshole!”

I’m not an asshole. I do have jarring and strong observations, but none are intended to control the behavior of others, simply to make people aware of what’s going on, sometimes with themselves. I do, however, have trouble finding, developing and keeping lasting friendships. I’ve gone so far as to take classes on active listening and conflict management, and I do spend a lot of time checking and reviewing boundaries with people. I’m not perfect – I do go over them, and when they are defined for me, I do honor them. But again that arbitrary “the grade scale is higher for you,” problem comes into view, and while I get my boundaries stomped on multiple times – and sometimes willfully ignored, ((example: a guy named Chad insisted that grabbing my ass was “flirting” rather than non-consensual ass-grabbing’s legal definition of “assault” just because that’s how HE wanted to see it when it was my boundaries being violated))  when I accidentally stumble across someone’s boundary, I’m called out for it and in fact expected, it seems like by most people, to be almost psychically aware of the sensitivities of others. People who tell me to “toughen up” all the time, or even ones who have told me to “grow up” are almost always immature and hypersensitive in their communications with me about these issues.

I don’t think it’s anything I actually do. I really think I’m picking wrong, or tolerating way too much way too early. I also have another “guide to destruction” voice shaped like my mother, who once fretted about how “short” my relationships were, and when a friend in high school was treating me like shit in a really obvious way,  insisted that because SHE liked the friend I should “be more tolerant” when I had tolerated the specific behavior pattern for more than five years. The message my mother instilled was that a)my feelings were always less important than my friend’s feelings, no matter how I was being treated and b)she believes I deserve to be treated poorly. She certainly treats me poorly.

The reader used the phrase “You’re not being authentic.” I’m not clear on what authenticity actually means, and I am suspicious of buzzword at this point – my usual reaction when stuff like this happens is not to act on my feelings, but to take the highest road I can find. Sometimes this is remaining silent while someone’s a complete shit to me. I’m certainly not two-faced with people, and I restrict lies to situations that avert harm or unnecessary drama. I don’t yell at the people I’m mad at unless I’m beyond a breaking point, and this does go back to childhood where my opinions and feelings were always treated as completely invalid and unwelcome: in fact, expressing anger, no matter how justified, always led to some punishment for me to the point where I still reflexively hide it. At the same time, I was forever at the mercy of my mother or sister’s latest mood swing: a simple greeting coming home from school was all too often met with a verbal attack, sometimes over something that had never actually been communicated to me and over things as minor as forgetting to move a laundry basket. I’ve been trained to accept being treated unfairly, and this is hard for me to overcome, especially as I then end up angry at myself for not standing up for myself.

At this point, I need to figure out the whole of the problem, but also I need to focus my energy on myself again. In truth, I am bored with the relentless drama and have been for a long time. I don’t enjoy or get high from being in crisis and people who do piss me off. When my life is externally boring, I am internally interested. That’s not what’s been happening.