30 September 2015

Freedom Day

Yesterday was Freedom Day. One year out. Halfway to divorce.

I keep feeling like I should write something, and finding no motivation to do it. I process this all the time. There's no reason for me to process it any more in-depth this week than I usually do.

Monday night was really hard. I started feeling all the feelings about it, and then feeling so much made me anxious. In a text message to someone who asked what kinds of feelings I was having, I used the word "traumatized," and it felt like the most honest thing I'd done all day. I need to remember that what happened to me was a trauma, and that I am recovering from trauma. That can take a very, very long time, and indeed forever. The anniversary of a trauma is likely to raise post-traumatic stress. Of course I was feeling all the feelings.

CBT works for me, because I was able to think about my feelings while I was having them and identify the reason for them. Having done that, I am able to move on.

"Congratulations on your new life," he said to me, apologizing because he hadn't made it out to celebrate last night. I was honored that so many people close to me--including a larger group of coworkers than I expected--recognize that this is something worth celebrating. This is the one-year anniversary of the day I chose myself over anyone else. The day I chose my right to happiness. The day I chose my right to freedom from abuse. I am pretty fucking amazing.

In this year of learning how to be alone, I have also learned how much I need other people. I am so grateful to each and every one of you in my support network. I truly could not have done it without you. Thank you to those who listened to me before I made the decision and immediately after. Thank you to the one and only person who ever said to me, "This sounds incredibly abusive." I needed to hear someone else say it before it became real. Thank you to the friend who came back to my house last night and listened to me talk for as long as I needed to. Thank you to the catalyst.

I am so lucky. I am free.

23 September 2015

My First LezFest

I spent Saturday into Sunday at the Ohio Lesbian Festival. I had never truly been in women's space before. What a transformative experience. 

I experienced radical welcome. Having had some concerns over the inclusivity of women's festivals, I was thrilled to see transfolk and gender non-conformists everywhere. Everyone was so genuinely happy to be together, whether they had camped together for 20 years or just met. Everyone offered support where they could, and everyone's needs were met.

The very first thing that happened to me at Lez Fest was an act of hospitality. We arrived at the gate, and the friendly women wearing bright orange vests directed us to a campsite. We parked in the unloading zone, started to set up the tent, and found that we had no tent poles. After diverting panic, we realized that sleeping in the back of my car might actually be more spacious, and planned to do so. I drove us back to the corner. "Here's the completely embarrassing thing that just happened to me," I said to Denise, the woman who had told us where we were likely to find a space. I proceeded to explain our situation, and asked her if she could point us towards car camping. She blinked once and replied, "I have an extra tent you can use." I was stunned. "Is this really happening?" I think I said out loud. Denise walked off and came back a minute later carrying a small tent that exactly meet our needs. We thanked her profusely, slept and nested in her tent, and returned it poorly folded before we left.

I experienced so much butch hospitality it melted my heart over and over. 

Festival Crushes
1) Elizabeth, the most important woman in the world, gave me my coffee on Sunday morning. I staggered down the roads from our campsite to the kitchen, grateful that everyone was aware we were all waking up and we had all probably had later nights than we are used to. All the women on the paths could tell who was at the nod level, who could manage "Good morning," and who wasn't even ready for eye contact yet. I reached the kitchen knowing that I could get what I needed with nothing more than, "Coffee please." Elizabeth reached for it and asked, "Room for cream?" I nodded. "Yes please." She overwhelmed me with the cream-ish selection, and I thought I had already said, "Half-and-half, please." I walked away to drink most of my coffee in solitude, took some next steps in my morning plan, and wandered back when I was ready to refill and get a cup for the friend I was preparing to wake up. We had a lovely conversation once I could combine more than two words at a time.

2) The blond-haired butch in the purple shirt who brought us zucchini bread.

Free the Nipple
I got to LezFest by way of a performance booking. (I've been doing burlesque lately.) I am so grateful for that opportunity, because I may never have gone to a lesbian festival otherwise. I found out the week before the festival that nudity requirements were a bit more relaxed than those where I live. So I performed without pasties on. This was very likely a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me, and I wasn't going to miss it. The public liberation of my body and its celebration by others has made such a positive influence on my life this year.

Mindfulness in my Body
Sunday morning, my friend wanted to go to a mindfulness meditation workshop. We parted and I did other things, then wandered her way. I joined the circle just as they stood up between segments of the workshop. Women opened the circle for me and created space in such a way that I felt welcomed and not disruptive. The woman leading the meditation had us focus on each part of our bodies from the feet up, first feeling the pressure where our feet met the earth and rocking back and forth to find center. When we sat back down, she helped us to find comfortable positions in which we felt centered and could support our breath. She spoke a lot about our low belly or deep belly. She described it as our "generative center," the seat of our creative energy and the center of our bodies. It was the most positively anyone has ever encouraged me to think of my belly, and I spent the rest of the festival and the weekend trying to physically center myself and honor my generative power. 

05 September 2015

evolving views on childbearing

I'm surrounded by pregnant women at work. I am fascinated, occasionally disgusted, and above all, deeply respectful. I honor the courage and the strength that it takes to use your body to bring a new life into the world.

Two women have accepted my hand on their bellies this year. The first was a peer, pregnant with her first child. I watched others touch her to feel her baby move for months before shyly asking, at the baby shower the day before she went on maternity leave, if I could feel the baby, because I hadn't yet. The baby fluttered just the tiniest bit. It was the first time I can remember feeling an infant before it was born. When I held her in my arms later, I sat in awe of this tiny life.

The second was a woman in her early forties who was pregnant with her third. At the impromptu cake send-off we had for her, she saw me standing in a corner, said, "You haven't felt her yet. Here," and placed both my hands on her belly. She then proceeded to shake it with her own hands to rouse the baby, who responded by squirming--not much, but definitely moving limbs. I have learned so much from her mother's openness.

In a way, I feel fortunate that I have frequent cause to consider my decisions about children. This way, I know that my choices are my own, and I feel confident in them. I used to be certain that I wanted to raise children, and now I'm not so sure. I have no interest in parenting alone. If I build a life with a partner who wants children, I am open to sharing parenthood. At this point, I feel no desire to carry and birth a baby. There are plenty of children in the world who need homes. I am committed to adopting rather than reproducing.

All things may change.


Sometimes I wonder if the cats remember him. If so, do they miss him? Do they understand?