Monday, October 28, 2013

Plastic Surgery

Part of me understands it's not my body; a person's personal decision to change their body has no effect on me.  

But another part of me argues that all bodies are beautiful and something as invasive and synthetic as surgery shouldn't be needed to see that.  I'm not saying that people who get plastic surgery are necessarily vain or vapid, but I do wonder why a person would do something so drastic to change their appearances.

And I admit a strong personal bias.  When I was 10-14 all I wanted was rhinoplasty, I thought it would solve all my problems: my peers would stop bullying me ("you're too ugly to rape" "you're so ugly you should kill yourself"), my teachers would stop telling me that I was failing as a future housewife, the family taking care of me would let me out of their basement, my mother would stop blaming me for how much she hated her job, etc.  I actively compared myself to models in magazines and celebrities and my popular peers, just like all the women I knew did.  And I figured that if I couldn't afford rhinoplasty by the time I'd turn 16 or if it wouldn't work - if my ugliness couldn't be fixed - I'd just kill myself.  Replacing these toxic people with friends and family who genuinely loved and supported me, and finding positive messages to replace the hate, saved me.

Of course I can't know whether each person getting plastic surgery is led to it for this reasoning...but nobody should have to go through that and no amount of surgery can fix toxic relationships and self-loathing.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Facebook Drama, Even Now

One of my closest friends, M, and my now-ex, E, started dating about 5 months ago.  When they first began, I said I was ok with it...but E was already on a downward spiral in our relationship.  I was hurt when they first hooked up not because they hooked up, but because he wasn't reassuring me and he was very controlling of me.  M was mad at me for being mad at E, and I explained to her a couple times that she had nothing to do with the issues between E and I: his behavior was not because of her.  Eventually my friendship with M resumed; whenever she brought E up I didn't say anything because I didn't want to have any influence on their relationship.  My friendship with M was separate, my relationship with E was separate, M's and E's relationship was separate.

Things between E and I worsened.  He told me one thing and M another and I happened to find out on accident, then was upset with me when I confronted him about it for not just accepting the contradiction.  He told me that I shouldn't have an emotional reaction to anything without checking in with him first.  There were good times, though isolated.  My closeness with his friends and family helped.
And probably the worst thing was whenever I told him we weren't communicating effectively, he didn't know what I was talking about.

After I broke up with E, I debated maintaining friendship with him.  He told me a few times that he views a breakup as an obstacle to getting back together again, and he's tried to get back together with nearly all his exes.  I didn't want that to be me, and there was such a long history of him neither understanding nor respecting my opinions/emotions/wants that I didn't think my word alone would rebuff his advances.  Also, it hurt seeing him say the same thing about new girls in his life, including M, that he'd initially said to me.  So I unfriended him on facebook.  I didn't tell anyone.  He texted me a bit about it between 2am and 9am a few days later, while I was sleeping, and finished it by telling me to have a great life.  Seemed like a conclusion to me.

A few days later, M confronted me, enraged.  She asked me why I unfriended him.  When I told her that he hurt me, she assumed that his family + our mutual friends + M herself were also reminders of him and I should unfriend all of them.  I explained that they're all separate individuals and have nothing to do with my terminating things with E.  Still, she was so offended that I'd unfriended E that she blocked me and hasn't spoken to me since.  A 5 year close friendship destroyed by a 5 month romance.

I woke up this morning to discover all of E's family and our mutual friends have unfriended me.  I don't know what happened, but it had to be big and stupid.  The way E talked so highly of M and his exes and other people, I worried when we were together that he'd replace me.  And he has, to the point of interfering with my friendships with others.  M was always so independent and diplomatic and a great communicator, this is an appalling change.

All this because I unfriended an ex who hurt me.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

On Jealousy

Jealousy is a normal emotion with which a person can have a healthy relationship.  Feeling jealousy is usually a sign of something bigger going on, primarily one's current situation and place in it.  It's extremely important to communicate about jealousy in any relationship, and gets even more important in polyamorous relationships.

Most often, jealousy is a prominent aspect of the fear of abandonment.  So long as jealousy is kept in check and doesn't explode, this fear can be alleviated through reassurance from one's partner.  Dismissal, invalidation, and neglect all exacerbate jealousy as they reinforce the fear of abandonment.
Sometimes feeling jealousy is brought about due to the partner's behavior.  Communicating jealousy should include learning how each person wants to be reassured - this would best be done as part of the polyamory discussion (negotiating time and safety and boundaries, etc.) but may change as time goes on.  For some people, simply having sex more often is enough reassurance; for others, it works to have a date together for each date a partner has with other people.  And if you can't specifically name what would be reassuring for yourself, it's ok!  Experiment!  Eliminate what wouldn't work!  It's a process, like all aspects of relationships.  When one's partner isn't willing to work together or insists on using only their own reassurance method, there are more issues in addition to the fear of abandonment.

And sometimes feeling jealousy is brought about due to an individual's emotional state.  Many people feel the fear of abandonment at different times in our lives for many different reasons, regardless of the current relationship(s).  An unhealthy relationship can certainly worsen that fear and sometimes a very healthy, involved relationship can alleviate an individual's fear - I recommend against using relationships for that, though.  Overcoming one's own fear, especially when it's been validated in the past, is very difficult and scars can so easily be re-opened.  Small steps, self-care, distance from incompatible/disrespectful people, and intrapersonal communication help one overcome that fear and heal from whatever has brought it about.

And sometimes jealousy has nothing to do with fear, it's envy of another person's situation and that's it.  When one's partner is out of town and having fun for example, it's entirely possible to feel jealous without fear or resentment - this is neither unhealthy nor healthy, it just is.  It's possible to feel both happy for one's partner (and the people they see), jealous of them, and have fun on your own all at at the same time.  Usually treating oneself to something special can eliminate this envy, or at least push it to the background until the situation changes.

Above all, learning to listen to one's emotions, figuring out where they come from and what they're telling you, and handling them them in a healthy way (working out at the gym, partying, cuddling with kitties, crying over a pint of ice cream, whatever) are vital to functioning as both and individual and a partner.  We all mess up sometimes, learn and apologize and move on.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Actively Recovering Catholic

My life progression thusfar: Catholic, anti-Catholic, angry ex-Catholic, apathetic ex-Catholic, recovering Catholic, actively recovering Catholic.  My active recovery began as genuine interest in how most parishes differ from the abusive parish of my childhood (St. Monica's in Chicago), then how they differ from each other; eventually each Mass I attended became more personal as it was one not influenced by St. Monica's.  My Catholic identity never really went away, despite how rightfully opposed I was to it for a long time, and I want a more active healing than apathetic distance can offer.

And now I have no idea what I've gotten myself into or what I'm doing or where I'm going.  My stance on dogma hasn't changed: I just don't believe it.  I'm not Christian in any sense: Jesus was a cool guy according to the Gospels but the Messiah, salvation, sin, etc. aren't a part of my spirituality at all.  The theology absolutely fascinates me and I love learning it.  I do believe that something is going on, and attending a nonjudgmental Mass makes me feel just as connected to that something as hiking through the mountains does - just in very different ways.

Aside from my apathy regarding dogma, I do believe in the Catholic Church: when open-hearted people gather together in a sacred (sacred in the sense that it isn't mundane) setting to share a ritual passed on by generations, something is attained.  Yes, the Church hierarchy has done many terrible, awful things and I face those head-on and call people out on their bullshit.  And few people know better than I just how cruel  laypersons, even those who win community service awards in their parishes, can be to each other.  It is because I know the horrors in the Catholic Church that I value the goodness in it and seek it out and want to be a part of it.  Other religions have similar disparities and rituals of togetherness, Catholicism is just the religious language to which I'm attuned.

Of course I'm ready to become more involved in my local Catholic community AFTER moving to an area where there's almost none.
I really have no idea what I'm doing.