Worrying

I used to do this thing in college where I gnawed on the inside of my lip. It created a bump, and I just kept fucking chewing it. When I developed the “anxiety bean” in college, I was dealing with a bunch of fucked up shit, and I managed pretty well mentally, but the physical manifestation was a slight cause for concern. My dentist noticed the bump, and he called in his father, also a dentist at the practice and an absolute asshole to boot, to take a look. The guy glanced in my mouth for all of five seconds, looked me dead in the eye, said, “You’re giving yourself cancer,” and walked out.

Well, thanks Motherfucker, DDS, I’m just chewing the ever loving shit out of my mouth because I’m riddled with anxiety, but that news is like the sound of the ocean, the smell of lavender, and petting a cat all at once. Maybe that was just a scare tactic, but I did eventually stop and, as far as I know, didn’t develop oral or any other kind of cancer. But, exciting news, everyone: it’s back!

There was a short time earlier this month that I thought maybe it had never actually gone away. It seemed like it was a normal part of my mouth and like gnawing on it was what I was supposed to do, but I know the truth: there was a long stretch of time I didn’t have this–almost a fucking decade–and there’s a reason it’s back now.

I have almost none of the stressors I had back in college, and when I look around everything in my life is absolutely amazing. I still have anxiety, but it’s much more manageable than it’s ever been in the past. So what the fuck, anxiety bean? I thought you’d fucked off for good?

I may have figured it out today. I was reading an article about Roy Moore and the “school” he was part of that detailed all the ways that those involved believed that women were not their equals. And I was chewing like a fucking cow on cud. Moore has been accused of abhorrent behavior with underaged girls, as I’m sure you know since the news is everywhere, but he’s not the only abuser who’s been highlighted in the media. Every day something new comes out about someone, and I think that’s great (not that it happened, but that it’s being brought into the open), but apparently this is taking some kind of fucked up emotional toll on me that I was not prepared for at all.

As probably most women will admit, we already live with this little cloud following us all the time that reminds us to do things a certain way, and it’s extra fucked up because it’s basically reminding you to not be complicit in your own rape/murder because if it happens IT’S YOUR FAULT. Sometimes you can almost totally silence it, sometimes it’s looming and booming over you, but mostly it’s just kind of there, hovering on the horizon, prompting you to get your keys out before you head to the car. But now the sky always feels stormy. I’m no more afraid of anyone or more aware that this shit happens all the time, it’s just constant and so real and raw now.

I’m not advocating for these allegations to go away. This shit is important and in the end will hopefully lead to more openness and less harassment and assault, and my reaction to it doesn’t really matter, so fuck this blog post all together, but it’s just interesting how something like this can affect a person. When I compare me now to me about 10 years ago, my situation is so drastically different, and yet I’m having this same pretty intense stress reaction that I’ve only experienced one other time in my life. How are these things equitable?

And on top of that, I consider my experiences, while harrowing in their own right, to be nothing compared to what I know other women have faced, and yet my whole person is off. How are others coping? How have they coped all along? How have women stayed so sane for so long? (By so long I mean the history of the entire human race, by the way.)

Anyway, the point is, everything is the fucking worst, and I don’t know how to transition out of that to NaNoWriMo without making the above seem like an excuse for the below, so here goes: I FAILED.

I’m closing out NaNo at 31,882 words. I actually don’t consider that a failure since it’s more than I’ve written in probably a couple years, so I’m incredibly proud to have done that and to essentially be back on the writing wagon. But I’m so fucking glad it’s over. On the bright side, come January Vacancy will begin being posted again, and I’m pumped about all the content to come. Also, tomorrow is December 1st which means blogmas begins! Will I fail at that too? Will the anxiety bean grow? Only time will tell! So stay tuned for more upbeat posts about sexual assault and serials. (Shit, idea for a band name!)

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My Own Worst Enemy

I know I probably come off as a pretty angry person due to these posts, and you probably imagine me yelling at people a lot in real life, but, Dear Reader, I promise you, I’m actually pretty chill. Some might even call me nice. Too nice. Nice to the point where I let people walk all over me on occasion. And so nice I will walk all over myself.

Someone was on the phone while in the bathroom at work today. The public restroom. Talking. I really want to not care what people do, but I wish people wouldn’t try to hold phone conversations in echo chambers because I am such a spaz that I insist on being extra quiet so I don’t disturb them. How fucked up is that? The answer is: totally fucked.

And it’s no one’s problem but my own, I acknowledge that wholeheartedly, but this is the person that I am, and if bitching about it on the internet is my only reprieve then just let it be, okay?

So someone’s in the disabled stall on their phone having their conversation, and I’m being extra dainty in my stall, not that anything I’m doing would make that much noise, mind you, since I don’t shit at work. But I’m being delicate and quiet nonetheless.

It’s also the first day of my period, so I’ve got a tampon in my pocket. I pull it out extra quietly, and I open the wrapper even more quietly than I would normally because gods forbid the other women in the restroom know what you’re doing in the privacy of your own stall which happens to also be the only fucking place you could possibly change a tampon anyway.

So in taking extra care to be quiet, I inexplicable also am very soft-handed, barely gripping the plastic applicator. Don’t interrupt the woman speaking very loudly about her child to someone who is not doing a very good job watching them, I hiss at myself, disposing of the wrapper. And then, tragedy. A perfectly good tampon slips out of my hands and onto the disgusting public restroom floor.

I binned it, of course, and since it’s day one I had to create a makeshift toilet paper pad and waddle back to my desk where I decided to wait it out til I had to pee again which was inevitably less an hour later.

It ended up being totally fine because whatever, that’s life, right? But I’m really amazed at myself here. Amazed at the idiocy. Why did I let that happen? Why can my grip be so easily influenced by some stranger who I know, logically, would not care if they heard me fiddling with sanitary products and even if they did care THAT’S RIDICULOUS AND NOT MY PROBLEM? Why is this who I am?

I pondered this for way too long today. It even depressed me a little. But then, THEN, there was a tub of chocolates left out for our department and honestly, it mattered so very little after that. I almost stopped asking myself why I do this to myself.

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The Listener

This is an older piece, but has never been posted here before, so I figured, what the hell?

 

I am The Listener. You talk, I listen. What’s up? Nothing, nothing at all.

It’s at the core of my existence, something I’ve done for as long as I can remember, Listening. I can’t imagine being any other way, and frankly I can’t understand how you–how any of you–function as Talkers. I have no control over it; I don’t choose to Listen, and I don’t ask you to Talk, you just do. I take it all in, keeping it, remembering it, feeling the weight of every word. It’s more than hearing, what I do, more than acknowledging the sounds coming from your mouth–I am Listening to stories erupting from your soul, and they consume me without my consent. Is this what you want, Talkers? I’m never really sure, but then, you probably don’t even know it’s happening, the Listening. As the words slip off your tongue, their speed increasing with your newfound lightness and energy, I gather them up, pack them in tightly, tuck them away. Because they must go somewhere.

You love me for Listening. You tell me in the way you keep going like something in you is about to burst, the way your eyes light up with recognition that no one else has ever let you do this before, just talk. Just fucking Talk, man. But what speaks the loudest is when you return time and time again to give me your words, your experiences, your life. And maybe you realize that I too am giving you something: my time, my sympathy, or even the absence of something: advice, judgement. But you barely grasp it, what I’m actually giving away. You just think of me as cool, as kind, as a friend.

But why?

You barely know the husk into which you pour everything: your speeding ticket, your childhood abuse, your failing relationship. I suppose that husk is cool, barely expressing an opinion for you to disagree with, and she seems kind just letting you fucking Talk, man, and when your words are hammering at your throat to be set free into the only willing ears you know, she is your friend. But she’s not a real person. She’s not even a fake person–fake people are still people after all, with experiences to share, thoughts to express. But The Listener, she’s nothing. She is a void, and that’s all you’ll ever see.

But I see my reflection, and I wonder if ever she could be a Talker. She’d be good at it, Talking. She would tell you in excruciating detail her morning routine in twice as long as she takes to do it, and you would love every second. She’d be a freight train, derailing and barreling through your affirmative remarks, bowling you over with a flurry of words, a witty pun, a deep insight, and you would get lost in the way her lips curl, the frenzy that is her hands, the smooth alto of her voice. And she’d tell you all the things she’s never said to anyone before: the time in sixth grade she got her period on the one day she dared to wear a skirt, the engagement she broke off two weeks after saying yes under duress on a beach surrounded by his family, the wasting her body went through in college that she finally realized only after she gained sixty plus pounds back was an eating disorder that just mutated to fit her life and is never going away, the experience of being told at fourteen she’s “sexy” for the first time by a man thirty years her senior while he shoved his his hand down her pants and then made her feel like the villain for years afterwards, the way her thoughts are slowly eaten up by a Stygian blackness like a well of ink tipped over, spreading, staining, ruining, and how that scares her so intensely to her core that she’s worried she’ll never have a clean, new thought again.

But that–that’s only a reflection. I can’t fathom being a Talker. I am The Listener. You speak, I listen. And when you ask me what’s up, I will tell you:

nothing