Seriously considering doing an assessment or walk-in to a program that helps with eating disorders. I no longer need help getting anorexia under control in terms of starving myself, but now I’ve run into the problem of not knowing how to safely lose weight to feel healthier and happier, without resorting to the means I used before, and without letting myself go beyond an actually healthy level.

I’ve only gotten professional help one time, and even then it wasn’t actually about the ED. I was talking about other things but realized in that session that maybe I did have a problem. But that was a very brief experience in college, and after that I dealt with everything completely alone. Part of me thinks I would fail if I asked for help, but the larger part of me knows it shows more strength to know when you need help and ask for it than it does to isolate yourself unnecessarily.

This is the reason I post about things like this on and off, because publicly saying I might do a thing makes me more likely to do it or at least not just pass it off immediately in my mind. And there may be other people who read this who are going through the same thoughts, and seeing this may not feel alone.

To The Bone, and thoughts on anorexia

I just watched To The Bone… it’s a Netflix original movie about a group of people with eating disorders, especially anorexia because that’s what the main character has.

I remember hearing about this before it came out–people saying they thought it would be triggering and/or glamorize EDs, especially anorexia. For me, it wasn’t triggering at all. I didn’t think it glamorized it at all. It just told the story from a perspective rarely seen, in a snippet often glossed over in narratives.

For me, if I had any issues with it at all, it’s one part I can’t reference without a spoiler, but that is more of asexual me responding than anything, and the only other “issue” I would have is I wish it were longer. I would like to see a sequel to this, although I doubt they will make it.

Personally, I didn’t have any issues at all with the ED part of it. I thought overall the movie was quite funny in parts, sad in others, awkward where it was supposed to be awkward, hopeful in other aspects. Just like life. It wasn’t as tectonically moving as I expected it to be for me, but that isn’t because of a failure on the part of the movie.

Actually, I think it’s a good thing. I think this shows that I’ve come a long way since the last time I watched an anorexia-themed movie or show. I think the fact that it didn’t dig emotional claws into me deeper than would any other movie, shows I’ve learned to tell the voice to fuck off, as Dr Beckman says to do in the movie, and it shows that I’ve come far enough that I can watch something like this and see it as the story it is first and foremost, instead of everything bouncing all around my brain worrying about everything else.

I’m not sure if the way I explained that makes any sense…

But then, maybe a reason it doesn’t affect me as strongly is because I never went through therapy or got any sort of help for my issues. And the movie is set almost entirely during therapy. I liked the story a lot, though. I felt like they didn’t try to glamorize or dramatize anything, really. The main character’s story feels like something that could actually happen right now in real life, and I like that.

I still need to release the bits and pieces I’ve written so far about my own struggles with anorexia. I have some parts written. I keep thinking I’ll share some here on my blog, and then I keep not doing it. Not because I mind if people know everything that I cover in it, but because I don’t know the best way to release it without it being super random, or without potentially triggering anyone.

On the other hand, that’s what everyone feared about To The Bone, right? That it would trigger people with EDs. But it didn’t trigger me. Granted, I’m not as deep in anorexia as I used to be, but I don’t think those thoughts ever fully leave one’s mind. It’s all a matter of how you categorize them in your head; the weight you give the weight you have. Every day, I think at least 2-3 times that I would be “better” somehow if I were 30-40 pounds lighter. At least 20. And every day I ultimately dismiss or ignore that thought, or argue against the voice.

The thing is, if you have an ED, if you dealt with anorexia for any significant time, you can’t trust your own eyes, your own opinion. I look in the mirror and what I see may not be what everyone else sees. I think some people think I’m a lot smaller than I am, but maybe I also think I’m bigger than I am. That’s the point, isn’t it? Those numbers, they mean nothing. They’re numbers only, just some digits taken from a scale and set to mind. They’re as arbitrary and subjective as opinions and beauty are.

There is no equation that solves all one’s problems. The only equation is living, and the only solution is continuing to live even when you think you can’t. Because those feelings will ebb and flow over time, like the tide at sea. Sometimes the ocean will recede, back and back and back into the horizon, and it feels like a drought will take over everything we know, and there will never again be water, there will never again be life. But the ocean always returns. The water will always be there again. Sometimes there’s too much water; the tide comes in too fiercely, and it’s not a drought of emotions, now it’s drowning in them, suffocating from an overabundance of something so ubiquitous it becomes inimical to life and living; a silent, unassuming partner for death. But that water, too, will eventually be drawn back out for tide. That water, too, will ebb. And if it goes out too far, if it comes back as a tsunami, it will take much longer to recover. But always, always, it will recede. If only you have the willingness and patience to wait for it, or to run and find the place where the tide is out if you don’t.

What is perfect? What is beautiful, or right, or wrong? What is humor? What makes one view of any of these more legitimate than another’s? If there is variation in the way humans view these things, why can there not be variation in how we see ourselves? Internally, on our own; a variegated, carbon-dated archaeological dig into our own self-view, self-worth, self-confidence, self-pity, just Self.

We all have stories we want to tell, and other stories we don’t. The dark stories we may not hide for any reason other than because they are hidden even from us, even though we may still feel them. Sick and slick and a dark balm on the soul. Something that feels like it’s helping us, healing us, but is hurting us, harming us; the slow dance down to a self-prescribed -cide, the only question being which it is. Suicide, homicide, fratricide, and more.

But why does that have to be the only end? Stories only start and end where you say. Give your story a little longer, and the line you choose to end on may give an entirely different meaning than even the one before it. Or the one after. We can’t choose what happens to us, we can’t always even choose how we react to what happens. But we can choose how we see that story, or how we make the story see us.

This world is not here to be perfect for you, so you don’t have to be perfect for the world.

You know… I write posts like this, and then I think about posting them, and sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. Do the words make sense? Am I conveying what I meant, or saying something unintentional that I don’t mean? Do I mean it after all and just didn’t know or realize?

Now when I think about anorexia, it makes me philosophical. Because inevitably it leads me to thinking about subjectivity. There was a time I thought the world was much more divided than it really is, as strange as that may sound given how divisive the norm has become.

But I believed in extremities. I don’t mean I believed extremities exist–of course they do–I mean, I saw the world in either/or fashion more than mediation. Black or white, right or wrong, good or evil. It wasn’t always that cut and dry, it wasn’t always that dismissive, but it was there. I didn’t believe solely in those concepts, because I’d lived so much of my life outside the norm. But maybe what I thought was accepted was only those extremities. Maybe I thought that to the general world, the general population, I only existed when my natural flow overlapped one of those pools of thought. Everywhere else, I was an in-between, a nothingness that existed because it breathed, but did not exist because it didn’t live the way it was supposed to.

And that was part of it, wasn’t it? “Supposed to” — an expectation, inexorable, unspoken but unavoidable, a question in every breath and a thought in every mind. That which we are expected to do, that which we are required. Being born so different, maybe on some level I thought it was my duty to align in some ways whenever I could, to give meaning to my life, maybe, or maybe to give context for myself.

I get philosophical because I think about all the things I thought, and all the things I think now, and they aren’t so different, honestly; I’ve always been pretty similar in some ways. But the way I see those thoughts is what has changed. I think.

The question is this: whose voice do you listen to, when you can listen to only one?

Is it the voice that tells you over and over you aren’t enough, you have to be more or less or better or different?

Is it the voice of others, not understanding or not trying, an accidental dismissal of everything you own and know and are?

Is it the voice of those who do understand, who do try, but don’t know the words to fix it, because they think they have to do the fixing even when they don’t?

Is it the voice inside, perilous and quavering and oh so uncertain about everything?

Is it the voice even deeper inside, quiet and questioning, unwilling to accept the status quo, unwilling to accept this is it?

For me, it was that deeper voice that made me always stop just before it went too far. That deeper voice that, for years, led to nights I cried alone, hushing my voice so the tears tracked my cheeks but even my gasps were silenced so I wouldn’t disturb anyone else. That deeper voice that would not let me accept the louder voices. That deeper voice that refused to give up on me.

If you were to ask what any of this means, what any of this matters, I couldn’t tell you. It’s just the thoughts I have when I watch movies like To The Bone. The philosophy that emerges when that deeper voice rises to the surface, once more discontent with the silence, once more questioning all that I thought I knew, and everything I accepted since the last time we conversed.

The Equality of Differences (full text)

I had posted part of my Equality of Differences post here on my blog previously, but I wanted to post the full text here in case QRM ever needs to purge its old posts for space or something else happens that causes it to accidentally disappear.

While it’s still around, find it here: http://www.queerromancemonth.com/ais-lin-2015/

The Equality of Differences by Ais Lin

I have spent most of my life feeling like an alien on Earth. The main reason for this is because it has often felt like, at every step of the way, I was different than what society expected.

My earliest memory is of being at recess in elementary school and running up to a teacher to ask, “What’s a lesbian?” I know I asked that question because somebody called me one, but I don’t remember exactly what they said, nor what the teacher’s response was. All I know is whatever the teacher said gave me the impression it was something very bad, because I remember running back and yelling at the other kid that I wasn’t a lesbian at all.

I was too young back then to know I actually was a lesbian, and way too young to know I was asexual as well. Maybe if I’d known I wouldn’t have denied it to that kid, because later I would grow up to realize how important it is to be myself. Even when that means I feel like I don’t belong.

For anyone who’s interested, I wrote a blog post earlier this year called An Asexual’s View of Love which talks about how, to me, romance can seem like a fetishization of love. I don’t want to be repetitive so I focus on different topics in this post than I did in that one.

The topic of having romance be accessible to everyone is something very dear to me, as a woman who is definitely a romantic at heart but who also happens to be both asexual and a lesbian. I’ve often felt that the things that are expected of human beings, and especially female human beings in the US, are things that are utterly foreign to me.

There are different ways of feeling alienated or consistently “not normal.” For me, it’s always been a whole lot of little things that added up to me feeling like a freak of nature as far as mainstream is concerned. Stereotypes shouldn’t be expectations, but in aggregate they are.

Women are overtly sexualized in the US (which creeps me out as an asexual), with the expectation that men should get the most out of her and have some control of, or accessibility to, her beauty (which creeps me out as a lesbian), and with the further assumption that her end goal in life must be to have children, marry and settle down (which creeps me out as someone who didn’t like kids as a kid and doesn’t want to be around them any more as an adult).

In short, if you imagine what is assumed to be “normal,” I was almost always the opposite.

One of the most pervasive differences in my life has been related to what are expected to be basic experiences of all American youth. Unlike most people I knew growing up in high school, college, and beyond: I didn’t drink, smoke, use drugs, or party. To this day I’ve never smoked cigarettes nor tried anything even as low level as pot, and I have zero interest in doing so. I didn’t have my first full drink of alcohol until I was probably twenty-three, didn’t own a single wine glass until I was thirty, and generally could happily live my life without alcohol.

In a country that seems obsessed with religion, I was raised without religion but surrounded by various denominations of Christianity (some more hardcore than others). Yet, when I chose my own religion at age 14, I became Wiccan (Pagan) which, at the time, was very misunderstood and resulted in some religious persecution, mostly for my friend. Later, in college, the first time I found a group of people who understood the feeling of Otherness from not drinking/partying, was when I spoke to Sunni young Muslim women who struggled with the same issues. I came to have a lot of respect for Islam, and to day this naturally feel more comfortable around Muslims because they were the first group of people who both welcomed and understood that feeling.

At 14 I also became vegetarian, at a time and place when it was very uncommon to be so (and not entirely accepted). I became a Reiki Level I practitioner at 16, way before alternative healing was acknowledged in the US and I had to drive hours to find someone who could teach me. And when kids got in trouble for sneaking out, I got in trouble for staying up too late reading books.

There are more examples, but that’s a basic overview.

I was very fortunate to have a great family who told me to be myself, and a handful of close friends who didn’t question me being me. For that reason, I had some stability. But in the greater scheme of things, I always felt like I was damaged goods. Broken. In greater society, I felt a lot of pressure because I knew I was inherently wrong. I knew it would be easier if I conformed, but that was something I couldn’t do, even if I wanted to.

I’m proud of being different even though that also means I have often felt suffocated by it, and at times I wished to the depths of my soul that for once in my fucking life I could just be normal. For fucking once, I could fit in with mainstream.

Because a lot of stories are informed by mainstream expectations, I feel like it’s rare to find characters who represent me in any medium. The few times a character represents a piece of me, it often feels like their difference is dismissed or turned into a joke or sometimes even mocked.

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Why I’ve been quiet

I’ll be honest: I’m exhausted. There have been many years of different situations wearing me down in an ebb and flow but I’d mostly figured out how to manage that stress. The last several months have been far more exhausting for various reasons, though. In addition to personal circumstances that are stressing or tiring me, I’m also continually disappointed by humanity and the state of the world.

I don’t mean that as a dramatic statement, it’s just… as I’ve always said, I believe in humanity’s capability of change. I believe people all have the chance to choose positivity or empathy or at least not jump to hate or hurt, all of this of course very dependent on their specific circumstances at any given time. But that possibility regardless of its plausibility, I feel, is always there.

Being positive or kind or caring is not something that is always inherent. It’s a choice to try to see the best in people, it’s a choice to try to understand or try to reach out, just as it’s a choice to dismiss or distance other people, to belittle other’s opinions or belief systems or how they were born. It can be tiring sometimes to choose something more empathetic or positive, but I think it’s more important to try that than to take the easy route of hatred, which itself is a slippery slope downward.

I’ve always been used to feeling like an outsider to society, and I’ve been used to not always fully agreeing with other people on almost anything. That’s normal, really, to not see eye to eye on everything. It would be a boring world if we all did. But as the last few years have developed, I’ve grown increasingly disappointed by all sides of so many issues. I feel like so many people have become convinced they are in the right, morally superior to the Other they have designated in their mind, without recognizing that they are an Other to that person. And if they don’t like the way they are treated as an Other, why would they treat anyone else as an Other as well? If you believe in equality, for example, why is your loudest and most lasting message that of inequality?

The best way I can describe it is I feel like what I’m seeing in reality is becoming more and more Janus-like and I don’t think that’s a good thing. I don’t think this idea of reckless “RESIST” is good. Nor do I think it’s good to stay silent and complacent.

There’s a balance and frankly I don’t fully know what it is yet, which is why I haven’t been saying much because I think words have power. I do think it’s really important to fact check, fact check, fact check, because our “news” organizations for years have become entertainment bent on making money with little regard for actual journalism or truth, and yet at the same time that doesn’t mean they should all be disregarded with a broad stroke or even that a disreputable organization tells only lies or manipulated information. There could be phenomenal and fair, unbiased journalists in even the most biased of publications, and biased information put in allegedly neutral sources.

The trouble, I feel, is that more and more people are trying to turn everything into extremes. It’s black or it’s white. It’s good or it’s evil. It’s right or it’s wrong. Simultaneously, people seem to be blowing things up to be so much larger than they sometimes need to be, and other times ignoring things which should be looked at more closely. The fickleness of the public eye has become its own beast, where I fully believe you could have the exact same incident with the exact same things happening, but just flip one or two details of it and that will swing public outroar from one extreme to another. The hatred laid on this commercial or that brand or that person or that situation would easily have the exact opposite reaction if this or that part of it hadn’t already been deemed “good” or “evil” by the public eye–based, in part, on money, and based, in part, on convenience. What is a cute and funny meme can become an object of extreme disgust if only one or two pieces are different, and vice versa. The same words could be seen as sassy and endearing, or outrageously inappropriate, dependent on the bias the person reading it has toward the company or person saying it.

This idea of unified hatred speaking louder than anything else is incredibly distressing and disturbing to me. And yes, I do think the way people are constantly getting offended by things in massive waves is an outlier of hatred, because it seems more and more disconnected from a normal reaction to the instigating force. Therefore, my personal belief is that it’s a result of other anger or negativity being suppressed on individual levels, and then exploding out elsewhere disproportionate to the catalyst, feeding into a greater whole. Creating a mob mentality of swinging this way and that on the pendulum of public disgust.

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2017: voice, self-silencing, and circumstances

I just posted this also on tumblr – 2017: Voice – thoughts about self-silencing and circumstances

So, my friend Ashley (aka @smokesinatra) did some vlogs this month and she mentioned in one that she has a really interesting way of doing New Year’s resolutions. Instead of the usual “I’ll do or not do this thing!”, she chooses a word that is something that represents that year or what she needs to work on for that year and then every day she tries, in big or small ways, to do something related to that word. The word she’s chosen for 2017 is brave/bravery.

I freaking love this idea and have been telling other people about it, and so far everyone has really liked it too. I thought about what I wanted to do for 2017 and my word, and I’ve decided on what it is:

My word for 2017 will be: Voice

Something you may or may not know about me is that I silence myself a lot. It’s the byproduct of simultaneously being so used to not being mainstream on just about anything that I know I almost never will agree with the majority of people on something, and literally having a personality which is called The Mediator. I don’t like confrontations, I don’t like hurting people or alienating people. I would rather silence myself to let other voices grow in my presence if that’s what it takes to make a harmonious interaction. I would rather let other people feel heard in my presence than have to always be heard, myself. (I mean, sometimes I’m sassy and don’t let them feel heard, especially if I’m worked up on something, but generally speaking I try to make sure people know their voices didn’t just fall into the chasms of silence)

I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing all the time, honestly. I get along with a lot of people who don’t really know each other because I try not to alienate people, and if I realize I did I try to make up for it if possible. I’ve been able to have really great conversations with people who believe the exact opposite than me, even convinced people to change their minds on controversial topics, because I respected their differences instead of alienating them from the start.

But at the same time, I’ve always been someone extremely unwilling to change myself to fit mainstream society because fuck that shit, I’d literally have to euthanize my entire personality and become a 100% different person for that to happen. Because there is so little about me that’s “normal” or fits together “normally.” Which means I struggle daily with not hurting others while still being true to myself. I’m outspoken on a lot of things but so many other things I silence myself on because I think it’s safer to hurt myself than others.

That’s not a good mindset to have and it feeds into a lot of the issues I have that I don’t know that I talk about often?

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I value you whether or not you value me, and other thoughts post-US election

I’ve tried to write this post so many times before and after the US presidential election, and every time it becomes way too long, or I get way too exhausted writing it, or I’m interrupted and don’t get back to it. But it’s really important to me to say this, so I’ve tried writing one or two versions of this post at least once a day since the election.

In the process, I’ve realized there’s no succinct way for me to properly explain all of my thoughts on this. Not with proper context. So I’m going to just try to say what I feel, knowing that it will be long, knowing it may be a bit confusing, knowing that people may misinterpret it in their emotional state. Please let me know if you want me to expand on anything. And if you don’t read further than this, then please be safe and happy in your own life. If you continue, know this:

For every single one of you, I welcome you, and you matter to me. And I mean every single one of you. I welcome and care about everyone regardless of their religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, disabilities, and more. It should be obvious from my blog and personality that I absolutely am including in that statement anyone who is a minority or whose voice isn’t usually heard–every demographic I have listed in the past and all of those I haven’t listed but still think about often. I love and support you all.

But I think it’s important to clarify that when I say everyone, I mean everyone.  If you are super conservative, if you voted for Trump or support him, if you are white, if you are male, if you are cis, if you are Christian, if you are anything that you sometimes see people on the far left ignore or dismiss, if you’re anything that’s more moderate, or anything else I’m not mentioning–I welcome you too. I love you too, because you are a fellow human being, and you may also be a fellow American.  I value you, whether or not you value me, because I don’t believe I can truly say I stand for tolerance and equality and kindness if I don’t do my best to always try to understand all viewpoints, even if I severely disagree with them. 

There is much, much more I have to say about this but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone’s dash so I’ve put it behind a cut. Please do click to read more, though, regardless of your political beliefs or lack thereof. I know this is long. I know. But I hope you find it in your heart to continue reading.

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What’s been happening

I posted a number of things this weekend because I was weirdly productive, but you may have missed some of it since most of it was released on tumblr late at night. I recently updated my site with a number of links if you lose this page.

New mailing list/newsletter

I now have my own mailing list/newsletter to send information about things going on in my creative world. I just released the first edition yesterday, and I only just let people knwo about how to subscribe the day before. So it’s brand new.

SUBSCRIBE:  http://eepurl.com/cjdren
FIRST ARCHIVED ISSUE: http://eepurl.com/cjio09

YouTube video on Scrivener

I made a video and posted it on YouTube about how I use Scrivener, in case it’s of use. Find it here: https://youtu.be/EFl0xkyUUA0

+  +  +

I feel like there was something else but right now I’m blanking on it so I’ll leave it at that.