A Very Special Episode of Game of Thrones

I’m excited for Halloween this year. For the first time ever, I am making an effort and spending money on a costume. I’m going as season 7 Cersei from Game of Thrones. I’ve sunk about $300 in so far- $150 on a crown replica and $150 on a custom dress. I know, right? A dress? But if you watch the show or have read the books, understanding why I’m cosplaying Cersei is clear. She is abhorrently evil, yet I still relate. The later books in the series provide some context to her character. Cersei is born into a world (Westeros) where women are traded for boosting inter-familial relationships and financial gain, mostly without their consent. Treated like cattle. In the books, Cersei resents her lack of power over her own life, and wonders what it’s like to be a male. Other than Brienne, who I also relate to, Cersei is the character I feel closest to. Disregarding the twincest entirely.

When I read the books, watch the show, of course I root for the Starks and the Targaryens. No one wants Cersei to win the game of thrones, not even I do. She is a selfish woman who disregards everyone that cares about her, she is a terrible queen. But she is a great antagonist, and not everyone can be a protagonist. Especially not me.

After chopping off my hair and dyeing it slightly lighter, I saw that Cersei could be a look I might pull off. Since I am a fatty McFatterson, I’m going to carry a prop with me. A goblet, since the the character likes to drink, but instead of wine I will fill it with cheetos. It’ll take my costume to another level- instead of being Fat Cersei, I will be Funny Fat Cersei. I’m practicing my eyebrow maneuvers and my faintest look of disgust. Someone online pegged her facial expressions for me: she looks like she smells a nasty fart at all times.

I honestly can’t think of another person I could cosplay. Fat women are nearly invisible in media, and I insist on dressing to my body type for the most part, unless I can take it to another level. Of course, what I prefer isn’t right for everyone else- dress whatever way you like, cosplay as whoever you like.

Auguhh. I want the costume to be together right now. Waiting is difficult.. Especially with my new Facebook account set up.

I got tired of being pulled between my desire to be off-the-walls and filter-free on Facebook between the anxiety that I needed to be appropriate and proper online. Now I have an account where I can be myself, and the old one with my real name has been turned bland and sterile. I added back all the people I dropped back in January on my old account. On my new account, I went all Game of Thrones. I can’t wait until I have the costume together, and can post pictures of it there.

I’m aware I care far, far too much about social media. But the internet is and has always been my home, a haven where I can like what I want and be who I am. Real life demands certain things of me that I’m not willing to give. I don’t want to continue to be a dull, meek cow that assumes (wrongly) that people like her. Imma channel Cersei, and give no fucks. I don’t have a brother, so, stop right there. 🙂

 

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Dysphoria Plan

I felt kind of option-less in my last post. But after posting it, I thought of some things that I can do to help my dysphoria.

  1. Lift. Don’t care about whether other people think it’s odd. Wear non-flattering clothes to the gym. No one is going to talk to you there anyway. Feeling strong, being strong, will help.
  2. Draw and write. I can express my desire to live, be a male through fiction. It helps, believe it or not. I already live in my own head as a male character in the story I have been developing for more than a decade.
  3. Wear pants. Wear pants as much as I want. The next major family event? Wear pants, even if the other women are wearing dresses. Their disapproval doesn’t matter. Be yourself.
  4. Buy khakis and dress pants. Stop thinking about how with your short hair and masculine build you need to offset it with feminine clothes. Just wear what you want to work. They already know something is weird about you.
  5. Stop caring too much about the words that come out of your mouth. Stop agonizing over whether something is what a woman would say.
  6. Continue the minimum grooming you are doing. Shower and clean yourself every day but don’t agonize over hair or makeup.
  7. Speak in your natural speaking voice. Stop trying to sound like you have a higher voice when your voice is naturally lower.
  8. FIND OTHERS. You’ve made some exploratory searches on meetups and communities. Follow through.
  9. The most painful item at all: Discuss with husband that you are having gender dysphoria. Make pains to explain it doesn’t mean I am leaving him, or that my sexuality has changed. Emphasize that a happier, healthier me means more time spent in the bedroom, instead of a dead bedroom. If I stop feeling panicked about whether I am acting feminine enough, I will be able to express myself sexually.

First and foremost, remember this, me: Living as who you are will isolate you. People seem drawn to those who are the epitome of gender stereotypes. Butch women are nearly invisible in media and society. Use that to your advantage in life.

Bra-Burning Brovaganza

I think I’m dealing with some pretty severe gender dysphoria.

I don’t know what to do. When I think about living as a man, my anxiety and discomfort go away. I’m 32 and married to a man. We live as husband and wife. He is annoyed, exasperated by my constant depression and anxiety, and I don’t blame him. He doesn’t know what the real cause is. He thinks it’s my childhood- and indeed my issues are largely due to that. But what he doesn’t know, and I fear won’t understand, is how it played into my understanding of what it is to be a woman.

I feel overwhelming pressure every day to play “woman.” Constant alertness of my appearance. Grating frustration at times when I have to wear makeup and pretend- weddings, family holidays, parties with feminine friends. Feigned submissive deference. Feeling coerced into patterns of behavior and speech that don’t feel natural. Being a woman feels like a cult to me- a cult I can’t leave.

Cutting my hair short helped. But I feel pressure to style it. I can’t just have clean, combed hair. I can’t just wear jeans, khakis, and polo shirts. I can’t wear boots. I have to think about these things. I am forced to bear a attractiveness mental load I don’t want. Have never wanted.

I just.. I just know if I said these things to someone else, they’d trot out the same old tired line-“You don’t have to wear makeup. You don’t have to style your hair.” Well, sure, if I wanted to guarantee social isolation. I barely play girl as it is and it isolates me. I also actively isolate myself because I know I can’t play girl well, and it shows. Someone would figure it out, I’m pretty certain friends of mine think I’m secretly gay. Which would be fine, if I was. I am attracted to men- so attracted I want their life. I know being a man has its own problems.

I don’t see a way out. My therapist is hilariously young- younger than me and fresh out of grad school. He’s not the one to talk to about this.

What’s weird is some days I do want to wear jewelry. I guess that’s okay. I don’t know. Going from one inflexible gender norm to another may not solve my issues. I just wonder what it would be like to have someone actually listen to me for once and not be intimidated and made uncomfortable by my thoughts and feelings.

Radical Acceptance

I found an article earlier this week discussing “radical acceptance.” Acknowledging that things are the way the are, without lingering on fairness, or practicing denial. When you accept reality, it doesn’t mean you’re giving up or giving in. Acceptance leads to the dissolution of pain. And pain is something always with me, a background process of my life.

I ponder on if I accept my childhood was ruled by narcissistic and incompetent adults, does it mean I need to accept those adults back into my life? If I accept they cannot practice empathy when it comes to me, do I accept that? Do I accept that everything about me, from my looks to my inclinations, are unacceptable to them? Should I think about what allowing them into my life will add or subtract to/from my life?

I am very certain that my father won’t listen to me. He will deflect, he will defend, he simply can’t register me as a human being with thoughts and feelings. It is his limitation.

My stepmother is not worth my time. All of my memories of her are negative. She is a net negative on my life and I foresee that she will continue to be.

My mother? She is barely a net positive. She never treated me like a burden. But her inability to care for me or herself is a major sticking point. She was never a provider, and her weakness put me in harm’s way.

Other things that cause pain. My inability to relate to many people. I feel, sometimes, that many people are barely above animals. Myself included, as I embrace self-destructive tendencies intended to self-soothe. Many societal ills, such as religious opposition to family planning, contribute to “humans as animals.” Not planning anything, but letting anything happen because “God has a plan.” But no one person is entirely to blame for the chaos of their lives, as appealing and easy as total blame in the name of “responsibility” is. If you don’t know better, if you aren’t lucky enough to be taught or have the ability to teach yourself critical thinking or long term planning, it’s inaccurate to say it’s entirely their fault. Society and education should be shaping the minds of young people who don’t have capable adults to learn from, but that effort is fractured and not funded to the extent it needs.

For me, school helped, but I largely taught myself. I was driven into reading to escape a toxic household, and over time I learned empathy, nuance, and some critical thinking from my escapism. But many others don’t find my outlet of choice as gratifying or rewarding as I do, and that’s how it is. There are no easy and quick solutions to the problem.

Another thing to accept. If I don’t spend my life sexualizing myself, for myself and/or for others, I must accept there are a huge chunk of people who will have issues with that. For the vast majority, the difference in treatment will just be a generally more cold attitude, or more awkwardness as they don’t know how to react or relate. Some might even assume bad intentions of me, on appearance alone. There’s nothing I can do about that, unless I cave and begin sexualizing myself with makeup, hair products, and hyper-feminine clothing.

Of course I don’t want to be an outlier. I want the warm glow of the acceptance of others. It’s part and parcel with being a social animal. I am not a lone wolf, as much as I want to be sometimes. I simply have major philosophical issues with the very nature of what I’m supposed to be. Does that mean I have to be alone? It is likely but not absolutely certain. Acceptance and kindness, for those willing to accept it from someone like me, is what will get me through.

Back To Business (Self-Care)

General life update.

Two week’s leave was good. I didn’t get half of what I wanted to do done, but I did give myself a gift: the ability to feel free for a while. To just go do random things I wanted to do, fun things I wanted to do but always put off. I did get some housework and miscellaneous things done as well. I didn’t reform my sleep schedule; in fact, I let myself sleep as much as I wanted.

That’s messing with me hard on the first week back to work. I spend the entire day groggy, and then come home and do nothing.

I’m going to have to be militant about going to bed, even if Husband wants to stay up to cuddle and talk. He has the freedom of a workplace that is flexible on working from home and going in late. Me, I’m on work’s sh*tlist, I have to be in by 10am every day. So at 1:30AM, 2:00AM, I’m going to have to double down and be a b*tch, insisting I need to go to sleep. He tolerates less sleep better than I do, which is something I’ve tried to explain to him. Husband always seems to forget this, though. It takes me raising my voice to get him to retain things that pertain to me. If I don’t get a minimum of 8-9 hours of sleep, it takes only a day or two before I turn into a irritable sloth no one wants to be around.

Positives? I’ve ditched the hairpiece and I’m now going to work with short hair. Gotten a lot of compliments from various people at work, of course, I can’t know if it’s real or not. I’ll take it at face value, though. I’ve also begun showering in the mornings every other day, I notice a BIG difference in wakefulness on those days. I also notice I feel better about myself even if I am tired from getting up earlier to shower. Getting up later on a no-shower day doesn’t actually make me feel better.

So while I’m only three days in on the whole showering-consistently thing, I’ve noticed a positive trend for my mood. Whether or not I can continue the trend remains to be seen. I think things will gradually get better if I persist doing these activities that up my mood and not giving in to the depressive inner voice. I simply have to say to myself, you’re going to feel like sh*t if you get up late and don’t shower.  If you get up super late and don’t shower, it’s just giving in to misery, not alleviating it. If self-care is lounging around in pajamas, sleeping till noon, and not showering for a week, then why don’t you feel better? Self-care is doing things that are good for you, even if you don’t want to do it.

Oh, another plus of the whole showering-consistently thing: The background fear that I stink is gone. I know that I smell good. I know my hair looks clean, shiny and bouncy. The hairpiece wasn’t solely there to disguise my thin, limp hair, it was there to disguise my depressive lack of hygiene.

Self-care: taking care of yourself even when you want to “crash into slumber”, to borrow the words of my longtime favorite internet trainwreck. (Am I a trainwreck? Probably a lesser one. That’s why I enjoy CWC’s antics. There but for the grace of introspection go I.)

Now to expand self-care to other things I have been neglecting: exercise and diet. That will come eventually, just sleeping right and hygiene are my top priorities for now. Once I’ve become consistently better at caring for myself this way, I’ll start working in those things. One or two things at a time. Small steps.


I get the feeling that my obsessive, almost-stalkerish need to know what’s going on in the life of The Couple will end once I figure out how to start talking to them again.

The problem is, I don’t see any way other than to be slavishly apologetic. But I just stopped talking to them, I didn’t kick their baby. I chalk that up to my childhood, I don’t know how to resolve these things in a healthy way. I guess I start slow, say hello, but practice restraint. I can see myself easily lapsing back into my uncontrolled enthusiasm if I don’t. Don’t act cold but don’t relapse into “omgyayTheCouple”, just act neutral. If I really care about them, they deserve my best acting abilities. Pretend, for a little while, to be a normal early 30s female who has her shit together. No one cares about what’s going on on the internet, no one cares about that video you watched that was so great, no one wants to hear about that book or album that blew your mind. It takes a certain set of circumstances to bond on interests, and I will get better at identifying them.

I’m going to a “nerdy girls” book club meeting tomorrow. Maybe that will help.

 

Femininity as Power

Something I have always railed about on this blog is the notion of femininity, conformity, consumerism, and how they all fit together. How you can’t have one without the other.

It’s complex. For so long, women have only had the power that a graceful build, a made-up face and thick, styled hair could give them. The more you strove to achieve physical perfection, the better marriage options you could get, the more money and power you could have, albeit indirectly through your husband.

The few people I have discussed this with in real life have seemed affronted, taken aback by my firm belief that femininity isn’t really power, just a means to achieve indirect power, perhaps. For me, it is true; a view created and colored by the fact I was born with an unflattering build: wide shoulders and hips, broad, flat cheeks lending to a round yet butch face, and thin, worthless hair. For me, femininity isn’t a source of power but a source of mockery. How many people have tried to convince me I looked beautiful dressed up, while they covered their grins with their hand?

I am stuck in the system, a misfit part.  I know what I should do. I should quietly acquiesce; grow my straggly hair back out, buy my way into acceptance with mascara and foundation, and just do what is meant for me. Place myself under the limits of femininity just as so many women before me have. But just as before, when I still strove to be accepted, my true nature will shine out and I will see people hiding their laughter as I cosplay as a woman.

It’s destined to be lonely, because deviation from the norm is seen as an indicator you will harm others. Yet loneliness is also guaranteed striving to match the ideal, and I have no inclination to be Sisyphus, eternally pushing a rock up a mountain.

I will always seem dangerous and weird to others. I will be lonely. But I won’t live what is, for me, a lie. I use the time I would have spent adjusting my appearance to gain power the only way I have available- my mind.

It’s been working out for me so far, financially and somewhat romantically. In terms of generic human connection? As you get older, not conforming becomes a disaster- people no longer assume the best of you. Maybe no one will ever get over the fact I don’t conform, and perhaps my husband will always be my only connection to “normal” people.

It’s okay. The zen of unconditional kindness to others will carry me; I simply need to practice it. I can’t change others, I can’t change the way the world works. I can only change how I react to it.

Suckerpunch of Loneliness

Today’s the first day of my leave. I woke up at 12:30pm.

And I’m in a rotten mood. Of course.

I had the thought today that the only place I’ve ever felt safe is in my own head. And that was kind of a blow.

I spent my childhood working up the courage to leave my bedroom. To head into a house where no one cared if I was sad or unhappy. Where no one was my advocate. Where I had to behave slavishly grateful for anything at all. Where I had to endure the random screaming of an unhinged woman, and the apathy of a self-worshipping father.

It still weighs heavily upon me. How do I build a sense of self-worth?

There’s no making up for the past. I can’t relate to people who were valued by their parents, and that’s how it’ll always be. This loneliness may always be present, and though I fantasize about building up someone else in a platonic way, someone who will accept my love, someone who will return it, it won’t happen. It’s best I don’t have children.

Focus instead, on doing.

I need to use this break to build a routine, like I said I would. I will pull an all-nighter tonight, and go to bed tomorrow around 8pm. I’ll wake up in the AM on Wednesday. And I’ll wake up at that time nearly every day; I think I’ll give myself Sunday to sleep in. Only until 10am or so, however.

I need to wake up early, and be productive. Rather than languish in my head in a cluttered, dirty house.

I need to be my own advocate.

Echoes

I just got out of a meeting with my team lead and the project lead. The meeting was supposed to be an hour, ended up being near two hours. Project lead, known as PL from here on out, spent about an hour-ish telling us about the disaster of her son’s engagement with a woman that was like me in an unsettling way.

Even as I sympathized with PL about what the ex-fiancee put her, her son, and the rest of her family through, I thought to myself,”Ah, this is what I seem like from the outside. What I seem like to others.” I’m not entirely like this girl.. But there are echoes.

Ex-Fiancee came from a troubled family. For the first eight months of the relationship the girl seemed fine, but didn’t talk much about her family. The father was bipolar, very controlling and demanding, going so far as to monitor his wife’s car odometer and prevent her from the use of the car with a steering wheel lock. The girl’s brother was also bipolar. The mother? Probably Stockholm syndrome, very nice.

When PL’s son popped the question and the ring, everything changed. She became downright controlling and manipulative of the son. She became cold and standoffish to PL and PL’s daughter. She was even rude to PL’s 80-something mother. As PL put it, she was trying to put a wedge between PL’s son and PL’s family.

A few months ago, PL, her son, daughter and the Ex-Fiancee go on vacation together. From the family’s standpoint, this is Ex-Fiancee’s time to make amends. Ex-Fiancee is even explicit as to, this is your chance. But instead, Ex-Fiancee blew it. She blew small events wildly out of proportion, freaking out when the family placed their wet shoes on the opposite side of the deck from her wet shoes to dry. She thought it was a snub. Another event is when PL noted her son’s side looked blotchy while they were at the beach, and asked if he had applied sunscreen. Apparently, that was Ex-Fiancee’s job.

For the entirety of the trip, Ex-Fiancee barely spoke. She wouldn’t speak to PL or PL’s daughter when they entered the room, even when they greeted her. On the 13 hour trip back, Ex-Fiancee didn’t speak a word.

Needless to say, PL’s son told Ex-Fiancee,”Look, we need to put off the wedding. We need to work on these issues.” PL went hot and cold on this, saying at times “Yes, I’ll go to therapy with you” to straight up “No, the wedding is now or never.”

Rather than do the reasonable thing and go to couple’s therapy and put the wedding off, Ex-Fiancee refused. Refused to cancel anything. They had a bridal shower even while PL’s son was trying to get her to cool down and put off the wedding. Ex-Fiancee forced PL’s son to sit with her as she opened gifts, which was embarassing for PL’s son. And not a single picture of the bridal shower included PL or PL’s daughter. When PL’s son and Ex-Fiancee returned home, they found presents from people who couldn’t attend the bridal shower. Ex-Fiancee cursed and kicked the presents, saying she didn’t care about them. Then pretended, later on, that coming home to the presents was like Christmas.

Needless to say, the wedding is off. PL is dealing with the Ex-Fiancee demanding money for all the things they had to cancel and not get money back for. She refuses to return the ring as well. PL and PL’s son are out of a lot of money to get this girl out of their life.

What really struck me was Ex-Fiancee’s hot and cold disposition. Little things seem like huge insults, indicators of how people really feel about you. Being utterly silent, to a troubling degree, in the presence of others. Hiding her dysfunctional family. Being on best behavior for a long while, then slipping up, revealing the damage. These things, they are spot on between me and Ex-Fiancee.

What isn’t spot on is the outright selfishness. The attempts to wedge the Mother-in-law and family away from the son. Refusal to meet people in the middle on matters.

The difference between me and Ex-Fiancee seem to be self-awareness and a willingness to not hurt others. I do tend to discard relationships, however. I discarded my husband’s friends, based on the conflicted and flawed perspective of “I’ve made too many social blunders and can’t undo it” and also “knowing” they didn’t really like me and judged me negatively. I don’t think I’ve hurt them by doing this, as they never really cared about me. They care about Husband, and my presence at social events is not important to them. Now that I’m figuring out how to have casual acquaintances, I can start speaking to them again.

Husband’s friends might be one thing. But I would never discard Husband’s family, or force a wedge between him and them, because I care about Husband. I don’t want to hurt him, though I’m sure I have. Fourish-years in, we seem to still be working together.

Also, I’m self-aware enough to know that maybe these “slights” I perceive aren’t slights at all, or at the very least, not worth blowing up over.

The whole thing is quite eye-opening. As many chances as PL and PL’s family gave Ex-Fiancee to make up with them, she kept thinking that there was no resolving what she’d said and done. I am certain that Ex-Fiancee is like me in that social failure weighs heavily on the heart, and while maybe they’d forgive her, they wouldn’t forget. And it’s that they won’t ever forget that burns the most. But we don’t get a new, blank slate with other people, though. We have to live with the slate we have.

Need to remember this. That while maybe forgetting isn’t an option, forgiveness is worthwhile. Working to keep the slate from filling up more is worthwhile.

Another Year, Another Birthday

Tomorrow’s my birthday. Husband’s leaving town tonight, to go to Gencon. I’ll be all by my lonesome from Thursday to Sunday. Which is okay, I might get a little lonely. Or, I might have kickass fun, derping around the house playing music and movies as loud as I want and not having to control myself. Or both.

I don’t know. I just always feel.. freer when alone. I always have. Probably a consequence of childhood, where everything I did when other people were around was just always.. wrong and bad. Reading books? Why aren’t you out socializing? What are you doing, skulking around the house like you belong here? It didn’t matter what I did, it was just wrong and bad. And that feeling has persisted to adulthood- other people won’t just let you be. You have to put on a performance any time someone else is around. Be proper. Be gender-appropriate. It doesn’t enure me to human contact when all human contact seems to be horrible.

But I do get lonely. I suppose I want to have my cake and eat it too- be alone as I please but have human contact at the drop of a hat. It doesn’t quite work that way though. You have to keep and maintain relationships to be able to sate that need. There seems to be a conflict between my need to live judgement free and my need for human contact. It’s not like I do anything too nuts when alone- I might derp around the house spazzing out and giggling, I enjoy being able to go from room to room without having to stop and have conversations every single time. I focus better, knowing there will be no interruptions.

So, plans for alone time.
1. Run around the house mostly naked while making idiot noises.
2. DRAW AND WRITE!!! I got the tablet Husband bought working, finally, after four days. It turns out doing what the manual explicitly tells you not to do is the trick.
3. Maybe do some cleaning and sorting of stuff in the garage and closets.
4. Maybe deep-clean the carpet in my office. Husband dropped a plate of curry chicken on the floor in there. Curry doesn’t come up. It dyes everything a faint shade of orange. As much as I’ve applied oxy-clean and hot water, the stain is still there and the room probably smells faintly of old curry. This idea is labor intensive, and involves dragging furniture out of my office.
5. Set up workout room.

Plans for my birthday? Slothful self-indulgence. Broken up by maybe going out to dinner with my half-sister and mother.

The next couple of days are gonna be gud.

300 > 150

So my nurse-practitioner upped me to 300mg of WB. When I told her some things are better but some things are the same, she said,”Well, we want a complete remission of symptoms so let’s up your dose.” I took the first one yesterday.

The different between 150 and 300 is pretty dope. The first day I took it, I showered. WOAH, HOLY SHIZ RIGHT? I’m feeling far more level. Almost a little manic, but not really. I’d say I’m at my optimal derpiness right now. I actually talked to people today while I was out testing my non-legit solar eclipse glasses. My focus is a lot better as well, though I’m prone to tunnel vision.

Another contributor to my good mood is that my birthday is in a couple of days. Husband is going to be away on my birthday for GenCon, though, so that makes me sad. He bought me a present – a 22 inch drawing tablet. The kind that is essentially a monitor, so you draw directly on the screen. Sadly, the drivers for it suck reallllly bad. If I can’t get the problem resolved today, I’m going to splurge on a Wacom Cintiq. Ungodly expensive, frighteningly expensive, but quality software and hardware. Hopefully the drivers for the existing, non-Wacom tablet their tech support sent me today will work. Otherwise… It’s Wacom o’clock.

Work is going okay. I just replied to my manager about the leave I’m going to take. I can shave three days off the unpaid ten days I plan to take by using vacation, floating holidays, and a paid holiday (Labor day). Unnghhhhh I can’t wait for that leave. My body is ready.