Sooo, about being Agender

This post has literally been sitting in my drafts since last June. For months I’ve been trying to think about how to explain what it’s like to be agender. I understand that not feeling romantic or sexual attraction is a tough concept for people to wrap their heads around and I understand that genders outside the binary are basically a totally alien idea to most people, but not having a gender at all? This obviously took some thinking.

I first realized I might not be connecting all the dots when I had to take a diversity training for work. The topic of two-spirit genders came up and I was very confused because the phrasing they used suggested that two-spirit wasn’t an assigned gender. Wait, what? Up until that point I assumed that all genders were assigned. I assumed gender was a cultural construct and so logically different cultures had different gender roles and gender types. I was very confused and kept thinking, “….wait… how do you feel two-spirited???” I was a “girl” because people in my Western culture told me I was, so I couldn’t understand how people “just knew” they were two-spirit. I didn’t want to embarrass myself any more than I already had and ask the seminar presenters more questions when the odds of it being relevant for my job were very slim, so I just let the matter go unanswered for about three years.

It wasn’t until I was able to talk to transgender aces in online chats that I was able to figure out that I didn’t have a gender. I’m not fully comfortable using “transgender” as a label and prefer “Nonbinary” when I’m not being specific. I also prefer to use “PFaB” (presumed female at birth) instead of AFaB (assumed/assigned female at birth).

So… what’s it like not having a gender? I’m not sure actuality since it’s not like I actually have a gender to compare it to. My gender dysphoria is (thankfully) fairly minor and I only get an occasional “WTF?”-out-of-body-experience feeling when I look in the mirror or my skin crawls when people call me a “girl” or “lady”. I’ve actually had dysphoria since I was a teenager, but I thought it was “normal” to have body dysphoria during puberty and I just ignored it until I realized I never “grew out of it” like I thought I would. It gets worse if I’m suffering from fatigue so it was easy for me to write it off for a long time. It wasn’t until I started reading about gender dysphoria and my reaction was, “oooooh, that’s what that is.”

My dysphoria basically feels like there’s a delay in my brain; when I look in the mirror it takes my brain longer to process that it’s my reflection that it’s looking at, which is trippy as hell and why I thought it was just a symptom of fatigue for a long time. Wearing my hair in my favorite hair style, making funny faces to distort the image, or wearing particular clothing styles or my unisex work uniform helps my brain to click faster that it’s “me” I’m looking at. 

I really don’t feel comfortable being called a “girl” anymore, but that might actually have more to do with me being 29 years old than my gender experience. My body type doesn’t really allow for me to look androgynous and looking more masculine wouldn’t really make me feel any better. 

There’s a lot of support for transitioning in the non-binary and transgender online communities as the best treatment for dysphoria, but what do I transition to? I hate that androgyny has such a skinny stereotype because I’m not going to be able to lose any weight anytime soon and my genetics really doesn’t allow for skinny. As my mom likes to put it, “We’re famine ready” Actually, the idea of being skinny freaks me out more than having a feminine body. I look at pictures of myself as a kid and my brain goes, “Jeepers, that kid needs a cheeseburger.”

So, if transitioning isn’t an effective treatment, what’s my next best option? For me it’s accepting that, yes, I’m going to feel uncomfortable about my body because of my perceived gender. People are still going to presume I’m a woman even though that’s definitely not the case. What’s really cool though is seeing how every so slowly people around me are becoming more and more aware of gender nuances and it’s totally possible that one day I’ll be able to put “nonbinary” or even “agender” on my DL and medical forms. Someday my coworkers will be comfortable calling me “Mx. Lib” instead of “Miss Lib.” Thinking about a hopeful future like that is what helps me get through the rough parts of looking in the mirror and knowing something just isn’t quite right. Basically, I’ve accepted that my dysphoria has very little to actually do with me and it’s mostly western culture’s fault for presuming I was a “girl” in the first place. 

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Escaping Reality, Expensive but Worth it?

So, I’ve been playing two mobile games non-stop (and boy does my paycheck know it). The games are Choices by Pixelberry and The Arcana by NixHydra. You can play for free, but it costs money to unlock extra scenes that reveal more of the story. But it’s not like I have any other major expenses or hobbies right now so I’m willing to accept this as my one vice.

I’m going to start with Choices. The stories I enjoyed the most were “Perfect Match” and “Most Eligible”. I’m willing to accept this as my guilty pleasure as an aromantic because actual dating squicks me out, but playing a totally censored PG13 game is absolutely fine. “Most Eligible” was probably the most fun because the storyline is your character is put on a trashy Reality TV show (based off Big Brother I think?) and the point of the game is to basically hook up with everyone. The bonus scenes are romantic dates and extra info to help your character win the challenges. At the end you have the option of buying an extra scene that you need to win, but if you lose you still win the audience vote if you stay in character during the interviews and get the consolation prize.

“Perfect Match” is the cheesiest scifi plot that I have no excuse for liking. Your character signs up for a dating service and surprise! Your perfect match is actually a super realistic android and the corporation that makes them is evil and you have to stop the evil corporation from taking over the world. Seriously uninspired villains. If that were a TV series synopsis I wouldn’t watch it, but the game turned out to be super fun because you get to choose how your character responds. I loved the ending I got and because it’s scifi, polyamorous relationships are perfectly fine (which thank goodness because I didn’t want to choose between the private detective and the android) and everyone is bi/pan/wtf-sexual. This one is fun to play even without the bonus scenes.

The Arcana is absolutely gorgeous. Rather than unlocking the bonus scenes it’s better to go ahead and just buy the individual chapters because it unlocks all the content and means you don’t need a key to replay the chapters. The individual chapters cost about ten dollars, but you’d be spending more than that if you kept refilling keys and paid to unlock all the bonus scenes individually (and the bonus scenes are basically just romantic fluff anyway soooo you don’t re~ally need it unless that’s your thing).

Not all of the chapters are out yet so it’s going to be a while until we see how the whole story ends. There are several story line choices and each story line has a different suitor and the plot is slightly different in each one too. There’s also a super cute mini-game that I enjoy playing daily. Best feature? You get to chose between she/her, he/him, and they/their pronouns. Asra, one of the characters, is also nonbinary according to the creators. I also happen to really like the story too. If this were a series I would totally watch it, but it’s definitely a perk of the format to have that reader-insert feeling.

The nice thing about both of these mobile games is it gives me a break from reality. The ban on transpersons in the military is definitely a low-point this past month, but on top of that my grandmother, my last living grandparent, is having some serious health problems lately so my mom is going to have to fly up somehow despite the government shutdown and all that mess. Having something fun, easy, and low-stress to do on my downtime is very beneficial to my mental health right now, so while my paycheck is definitely weeping, a little escapism right now is definitely worth it.

Carnival of Aces January 2019: Blessing or Indifferent?

This is my Carnival of Aces submission for January 2019 hosted this month by Demiandproud on the topic of Asexuality as a blessing

Actually this prompt is a real challenge for me (and not just because I’m kinda super tired right now). In my family we don’t really count our blessings anymore. My mom was raised Irish Catholic, but she stopped being religious many years ago. I remember when I was younger that my parents gave Church a valiant try because they know that strong community ties are important (and I agree) and are one of the many keys to a long healthy life, but my parents don’t tolerate ignorance well. A memorable example, according to them, was a minister was talking about Islam (and this was years and years ago) and he said that Muslims believed that the Earth rides on the backs of four elephants. Cue a double facepalm from both my parents. That was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back because we stopped going to church after that. Then one summer my parents took the time to teach us about ALL the world religions from Amish to Zoroastrianism and said “Pick one”. We have parental permission to believe whatever we want, but only if we get the facts right. The elephant thing is first of all from Hinduism and considering all the engineering professors at the local University are from India they might have something to say about painting all Hindus with the same back-woods-simple-folks brush.

My family’s mental health isn’t all that great. My mom probably could use therapy, but she refuses to acknowledge her problems. My dad is an alcoholic and all of my siblings have been treated for depression. I don’t think going to Church would have fixed that, but clearly they’re missing a healthy support system. Somehow, I’m actually doing okay. I’m not sure what secret sauce I got that helps me not go down the dark rabbit hole, but asexuality probably plays a role in that.

Firstly, belonging to the asexual community gives me an extra rung in my support system that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It makes shopping for therapists a little tricky (especially since I’m also nonbinary), but I lean more towards self-help anyway since I don’t have a good track record with counselors (ugh). When I was just starting college (and didn’t know asexuality was a thing) I was part of a writing club and that was my healthy outlet because when I was writing anything was possible. My favorite character creation was an alien species where not having a gender or sex was normal and this character ended being one of the group’s favorites. Even if I didn’t know my gender or sexuality at the time I still found a way to safely express my doubts and feelings. My siblings didn’t have that because they’re “normal”.

Relationships are stressful. For every couple I see being cutesy and loving in public I feel like I see five couples arguing about dumb stuff. My brother and his girlfriend were arguing about dick tattoos while I was trapped in the car with them today, so…I’m actually really glad I don’t have that. My parents fight every day because they are literally an old married couple and it really takes the shine out of the long term relationship thing. Two of my coworkers just recently ended relationships that were at least borderline if not full on abusive. Does it make me sound cynical if I’d rather take myself to dinner and a movie than deal with another person. For every person who says I just “haven’t met the right one” I feel like my response should be, “Well, have you?”

I can’t say with absolute certainty that asexuality has actually had any positive impact on my life, but I can’t say for certain that it’s had any truly negative effects either. In Stoic philosophy there’s a term that isn’t easy to wrap your head around the first time you hear it; for me being asexual is an “indifferent”. This doesn’t mean that I don’t care that I’m asexual because it’s definitely a good thing to know. An indifferent is something that doesn’t affect your moral character. Being asexual doesn’t automatically make me a better person and it doesn’t make me a bad person. In Stoic philosophy things that matter are things that make you wiser, give you better self-control, ensure social justice, or help you overcome difficult circumstances. Since asexuality doesn’t meet that criteria, it’s not something I think about all the time (as seen by my infrequent posting habits).

I’m less concerned with my own asexuality and more concerned that all gender and sexuality minorities should be talked about, understood and celebrated. I’m less concerned about my lack of dating history and more concerned that all consenting adult relationships are celebrated and not just the boy-meets-girl ones. I’m concerned with people knowing what consent and power dynamics mean and that everyone gets the help they need when these things are ignored or abused.

Asexuality didn’t make me a better person, but it did give me a lens to see the world’s injustices from a specific point of view. Being asexual means connecting with so many amazing people and organizations that are trying to change the world for the better that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise if I was straight. Maybe that’s worth calling a “blessing”.

Is Stoicism Working?

Last month I did the Stoicism Mindfulness and Resilience Training (SMRT) created by the folks at Modern Stoicism, a multidisciplinary group of dedicated people committed to providing accurate and informative information about Stoic Philosophy. This is the second course I’ve done by them (I did Stoic Week back in October). So, did this four week guided practice actually do anything? Sort of.

Here’s a comparison of my before and after survey results:
-Satisfaction with Life:
Before: 21 “Slightly satisfied”
After: 19 “Slightly Dissatisfied”

-Scale of Positive and Negative Experience where -24 is least positive feelings and 24 is most positive feelings:
Before: -3
After: 13

-Flourishing Scale (score is obtained by adding up the scores for the all eight items giving a range from 8 to 56)
Before: 43
After: 46

After doing the SMRT course the most obvious improvement is the Positive vs. Negative emotions which makes sense since that was a major component of the course and the thing I was focusing on the most. The scoring system for that is actually very easy so I’ll probably track my progress on that as I go along.

Now to the main question: Has Stoicism actually been beneficial to me?

Hmmm, overall I would say “yes” because the biggest positive impact Stoicism has had on me is self acceptance. I mentioned in a previous post that reading Epictetus’s quote about power was actually very helpful because he specifically mentions that our bodies are not within out control. That helped me accept my asexuality and I finally clicked that it wasn’t “my fault” that I hadn’t done anything “wrong”. Obviously Epictetus didn’t have any knowledge of DNA or environmental triggers, but I needed it spelled out.

Another thing I gained was Stoic compassion. It’s a lot easier to…not accept, per say, but be more mindful of idiots. Stoicism likes to point out that it’s only by chance that I was born into a nice, moderate family that values education. Both my parents were the first in their families to go to college. My dad literally told me growing up that our family mission was to fight against ignorance. That had a major impact on me and how I interact with the world, but it all comes down to chance. I could have been born into a family that didn’t value formal education, that was afraid of immigrants, and watches Fox & Friends. Now instead of dismissing people as “just idiots” I ask them, “Why do you think that?” My end goal changed from trying to convince people they were wrong (which, let’s be honest never works anyway) to asking them through polite questioning to think critically about their beliefs.

I think that being able to accept my asexuality and have constructive interactions with people I disagree with are worth taking the time to study Stoicism and I’ve become better at my customer service job and have been able to just deal better with people in general overall.

There is one thing Stoicism isn’t though. It’s not a magic wand that magically fixes all my problems and, oh boy, do I have problems. This past week if I had taken the survey again my results would have tanked. This has, for all intents and purposes, been a shitty week. The biggest problem is I’m not getting enough sleep.

Last Friday (my day off) my manager calls me an hour before my alarm goes off to ask if I can pick up a shift. Saturday my brother wakes me up an hour before my alarm goes off to give me some bullshit excuse of why there’s no gas in the car. Sunday/Monday are the first morning shifts I’ve worked in months so I’m waking up at 5am instead of my usual 9am. I make it to Tuesday thinking it’ll be okay because I get an easy closing shift with time and a half because of the holiday, but then my dad wakes me up two hours before my alarm goes off so we can take the dogs to the park. I keep telling myself, “It’ll be fine, I’m off on Wednesday.” Except Wednesday rolls around and bright and early my mom is yelling at us to high hell because we’re missing three car keys and it’s 200 dollars to make new spares.

Frankly, I’m just exhausted and there’s no Philosophy in the world that’s going to fix that. What I can credit Stoicism with is instead of thinking, “I’m so damn tired, I just want to die,” my thought process was actually very rational. My actual thought was, “I’m so damn tired I’m either going to a) use my work provided mental health benefits to see a counselor and kick them out of their office for an hour and take a god-damned nap; b) tell my family to ‘fuck-off’ and cash my holiday pay check to check into a motel six for two nights so I can finally sleep undisturbed; or I could c) pass out from exhaustion at work so I get workers comp, an overnight stay in a hospital, and a week’s worth of sleeping meds and a doctor’s note telling my family to ‘fuck-off and let me sleep.” Basically, I have options. I still have some control. Option b is looking very sexy right now. There’s like three hotels within walking distance to my choice movie theater. Dinner, movie, hotel, it’s like a date only it’s just me and Mr. Sandman. I could totally talk one of my coworkers into dropping me off or I could walk from work. Totally do-able. Oh, or I can just ask to crash at a coworker’s place for a few hours. See? Options.

Carefully examining what is within my power is an amazing tool. I haven’t perfected it yet, but I see it as a worthy practice. So, overall, I would say Stoicism is working out for me. I’m less miserable than I would be without it and it’s given me clarity over my real priorities, which it’s safe to say includes a well deserved nap.

Not stoic as in “Stiff Upper Lip”, but Stoic as in…I’m Working On it.

[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces for December 2018 hosted this month by Sennkestra on Next Step: Cake under the topic “Burn out”]

The topic of “Burn Out” is very appropriate because I’m in the middle of a burn out right now actually. I’m trying to finish school, but I ended up failing a class I needed twice so it’s obviously time to take a break. Every day while at work I’m constantly thinking, “I should not be this tired. This is not normal.” and when I talk about it to other people they’re like, “Tired and stressed? Welcome to adulthood,” or they break out into a story about how their grandmother survived as a single mother of five kids in 1934 during the Great Depression; Inspiring, yes. Helpful, no, but I’ll totally see the movie when it comes out.

I’ve burned out worse before several years ago to the point of more serious physical symptoms and thankfully I’m not to that point yet…I’m just tired. Very, very tired.

To deal with this I’ve been studying Stoicism through some free classes and by supporting the patreon accounts of my favorite Stoics. I’m currently doing a four week course called SMRT (Stoic Mindfulness and Resilience Training) where each week you’re putting a Stoic practice to use using the niffty audio recordings provided. I’ve been pairing that with the parteon articles and some youtube videos from the Stoi-con last October (and yes, there’s a Stoic Convention and someday I will attend). 

Oh! For folks who don’t know Stoicism is an ancient Hellenistic Philosophy that originated in Greece, but gained some major traction in Rome. Our three main sources of Stoic teachings come from “The Manual” and discourses from Epictetus who was a slave and later a teacher; Letters and essays by Lucius Seneca (usually as just called “Seneca” or “Seneca the younger”) who was a Roman Senator and adviser to Emperor Nero; and lastly Emperor Marcus Aurelius’s person diary which is today known as the “Meditations”. Each of these sources has their own flavor, but my personal favorite right now is Epictetus because it was actually his student who wrote everything down. A lot of ancient Philosophers were apparently allergic to writing because Socrates and Confucius also didn’t. write. that. shit. down. and it was their students who were like “….we should probably be taking notes.” seriously.

Epictetus is easier for me to understand because it’s geared more towards beginners. The modern Stoic guy I support on patreon is a college professor and he says he doesn’t always like or agree with what Epictetus is saying, but he sympathizes the frustration of keeping young minds engaged in less-than-exciting material. Seneca’s stuff is very formal, very knowledgeable, and obviously proof read (unlike this post) while Marcus Aurelius’s lack of punctuation makes me want to bang my head against the wall. To be fair the Meditations is his personal diary that he specifically asked TO BE BURNED after his death and now it’s never been out of print. So, if you want something done right…

Anywho, so how is adopting Stoicism helping my sanity? Well, for the first week of the resilience training we’re supposed to track our negative emotional episodes because as it turns out people don’t usually feel things willy-nilly, something usually triggers it. Like last week at work we’re busy as hell, I’m behind so I ask my coworker to do literally ONE THING for me, so we can catch up. He flat out refused and said, “That’s not my job.” Which, first of all, uh, yeah it is your job and secondly it would have taken five minutes that you would have spent goofing off anyway. Naturally I was pissed off so I wrote that down as a negative emotion incident. The goal is to become more aware of early warning signs, i.e. I’ll eventually be able (hopefully) to predict that “hey, it’s really busy today and that tends to stress me out so I should mentally prepare for that and plan for a timout if I need it.” The goal is to approach difficult situations as rationally as possible and anger doesn’t help rationality.

This week we’re supposed to be tracking how long we dwell on negative incidents. Normally, I’m not one to hold a grudge, but Oh. My. Gods. this lady yesterday. We’re in the middle of a lunch rush and my coworker (different one from above) is stuck on a big order and is quartering six whole grilled chickens which is taking up the whole cutting board. I’m dancing around him trying to get the single plate orders out of the way. This lady orders a half-chicken plate and easy-breezy I just reach in the display case with my metal tongs and with a simple twist snap a grilled chicken in half and toss it on the plate as is because my coworker still has six chickens on the cutting board. But then the lady says, “Oh, no, no, I wanted the fresh chicken.” I’m staring at her stupefied like, what the fuck lady??? I look over at the grills because I think that’s where she’s pointing and the chickens on the grill are obviously still raw. Then she points to where my coworker is cutting up the chickens for the big order and she says, “Like what he has.” ????? My coworker seeing that I’m having problems reaches into the display-case with his tongs and picks up THE OTHER HALF OF THE SAME GODDAMNED CHICKEN and says, “Will this one work?” and she says “Yes, that one.” The way my coworker tells it he’s cackling on the inside like a Disney-villain-reject because he knows it’s the same chicken meanwhile I’m off to the side having a miniature aneurysm. I was off-and-on dwelling on this incident for 29 hours minus the awesome 8 hour sleep I got after my two hours of self-care. I bought special soap and everything.

Alright, let’s break it down Stoically:

  1. Idiots exists. Therefore if I am adequately mentally prepared, encountering one during lunch rush or be scheduled to work with one should not surprise me.
  2. Whether or my customer or coworker is an idiot should not impact my ability to serve people lunch to the best of my knowledge and ability. 
  3. I can’t control whether someone is an idiot or not, but I can take the time to educate myself and take responsibility for my own pool of knowledge because if circumstances had been different, that idiot could easily have been me

This model of thinking also applies to trying to educate people about asexuality. Seriously, giving asexuality 101 is one of my least favorite things, but I have to understand that the majority people grew up being told every single day of their lives that there are only two genders, that boy meets girl and they live happily ever after. If circumstances were different, if I had been born into a different family or my biology had presented differently, I totally have could turned out to be that same ignorant asshole that makes me want to beat my head against the wall. I know for a fact that someday I will walk into a fast-food place that I’ve never been to before and drive some poor food service person crazy because I misinterpreted reality.  Some days you’re the woke asexual advocate on a mission to save humanity from itself, some days you’re the idiot that can’t order fast-food correctly, that’s life.

At its core Stoicism is a very empathetic philosophy. Wisdom is the ultimate virtue, ignorance is the ultimate vice, but we are born ignorant and must be taught to be wise. Nobody wakes up one morning and knows everything about the universe, or asexuality, or grilled chickens, so we have to either be taught or learn by experience. When you are trying to convince somebody that a core belief that they have is wrong you have to understand that you cannot convince them using logic, arguments or data; they have to be the ones to convince themselves. Nobody actually believes in something they do not think is true. Even when somebody is intentionally lying about it, they still believe the truth. The example Epictetus gives is he tells his students to try and convince themselves that day is night. Not gonna happen. Nobody wants to be flat out wrong and they will spend a lot of time and energy defending their beliefs. Check out this segment of the Q&A where the speaker’s talking about his friend from Tennessee. It’s totally worth fighting the good fight against ignorance, but jeepers it’s exhausting

Right now I’m laying down in my bed thinking to myself, “I should not be this tired,” but I am. I’m sitting on a dozen story ideas for novels I want to write before I’m sixty. I have two other blog posts sitting in my draft box from months back that I still haven’t finished. My finals are this week and I haven’t studied. Plus there’s a million other little projects I want to do, but it’s not going to happen. “The spirit is willing…” and all that. The hardest thing I’m going to have to do the next couple of months is give myself a break, cut myself some slack, and just keep learning lots. A fun fact a day, an educational youtube video on my lunch, a quick audio book chapter on my drive to class, little things that keep me growing as a person.

I don’t really have the energy to make the word a better place right now, but I can definitely the time to make myself a better, wiser, person and Stoicism is helping me do that. Here’s a fun fact; there are no sages in Stoicism. We all just strive to do our best with the ability we have with as much wisdom as possible. I’m going to finish off the post with an excerpt from the SMRT morning meditation exercise:

As Epictetus tells his Stoic students, imagine that you’re entering a festival each day, and preparing yourself to endure the rough and tumble, and appreciate the spectacle, while accepting that soon it must all come to an end, and that you must take nothing for granted…
Take time to plan your day ahead, calmly and with reason and wisdom. Think of the day ahead, the tasks you face, and what you would prefer to achieve, fate permitting…Prepare yourself to meet adversity with as much practical wisdom as you can muster, with justice or fairness to others, and with self-discipline when it comes to any unruly emotions and desires… Epictetus says you should ask yourself what inner resources nature has armed you with to deal with external events… How can you excel in your character, and make the best use of whatever befalls you?

Rest well, everyone!

I Need SMRT to Start Already

[I’m typing this on my phone so there will be errors]

So the same folks who did Stoic Week have put together are doing a Stoicism Resistance trainingand I need it, like, yesterday.

I’m pretty much stressed out of my mind and it’s making me exhausted all the time. At work the holidays are upon us and as a food service worker that means utter chaos. Then yesterday I was dropped for the entire semester. My Fall 2018 drop down was just GONE. Best excuse for not doing the homework ever, but totally not great for my stress levels, holy shit.

I was going over the email trail and the confirmation email shows that I only requested to withdraw from one class and I was. A week later I’m booted out of the semester completely and my other professor is emailing me asking why I withdrawaled.

I call the school asking what the hell and keep getting a “hmmm that’s weird” and I know! That’s what I said. I get passed around the different departments and finally have to show up in person and take a form to the department chair (who is really nice and I like her a lot) explain what happened, show her the email trail, and basically look pitiful.

So! What is actually stressing me out? I don’t want to look like an idiot. One of the things I was struggling with during Stoic week was identifying what roles I’m participating in. It’s obvious now, I’m a worker and a student. So, as these are my chosen rules I want to obtain “excellence” (which is a poor translation of a Greek word which actually refers to having a good attitude and having practical knowledge about what I want to obtain), but I’ve run into a problem where I’m still haven’t perfected my healthly internal monologue so I’m still clinging to my self image. I don’t want to look bad and I want to appear like I’m not struggling which goes against being Stoic.

To deal with this I might need to branch out and look at Buddhism again. The mysticism of the Buddhist religions was not something I could relate to or believe in, but there are some really good core concepts that might help my anxiety.

The one I’m focused on right now is being “selfless” as in literally without self. There’s a Buddhist teaching where a king is visiting a monk and the monk asks “how did you get here?” and the king replies “I came in a chariot.” “Ah, and what is a chariot? Is it the wheels? The axle? The cushion?” “It is all of those things.” “And if you laid all those parts out on the ground, is it still a chariot?” “It is all those parts arranged in a particular configuration” And the teaching is a metaphor for what is the self. Realizing that helps me to remember that maintaining a self image is a waste of time and as Epictetus points out, not within my power.

Now if I could calm myself the fuck down in a few minutes instead of a few hours we’ll be in great shape. That’s what I’m hoping to get out of the resilience training.

“Emotional Cheating” aka WTF is this Heteronormative Bullshit?

Hi folks! It’s been a while (because I’ve been busy failing derivative calculus, again! and continuing my personal study of philosophy which is going much better than the calculus), but today I’m having a pity party and y’all are invited.

Alrighty, let’s begin with the context. I first heard about “emotional cheating” when it showed up in the last season of BBC’s Sherlock; John Watson is married to Mary, but he meets this pretty chick on the train, they swap numbers and it’s hinted that he shares a budding quasi-romantic relationship with pretty chick through texting. From what I understood the “cheating” part was that he was actively keeping the texting relationship a secret from his wife and that there were hints of romantic overtones to the texts. I was like “okay, cool. Emotional cheating is bad. I got-cha.”

But, no, oh no-no no. That apparently is not what emotional cheating is in RL. According to my coworkers it’s “if you are married and you go to someone other than your spouse for ANY emotional needs [not just romantic ones] first- that is emotional cheating”.

Like, Whut. The. Literal. Fuck. Is. This. CisHeteroNorm. Bull. Shit.

Like, are y’all okay? Every fiber of my being is screaming the Mental Health First Aid steps and I feel like I should be asking all my cis-hetero coworkers if they are having suicidal thoughts BECAUSE:

  1. That’s a LOT pressure to put on one person
  2. What the fuck do y’all think friends are for? Emotional needs/support are IN the friend job description, and-
  3. This is totally ace and aro erasure and I will not stand for it.

So, this very rigid definition of emotion cheating is a modern thing that has no historical precedent (that I could find in a quick Google Scholar with a paywall) before social media was a thing. It also pisses me off because how the hell am I supposed to make friends now??? I thought that my lack of friends was something I did or was some weird aro-quirk thing, but oh, ho, no-no no. Turns out there’s so much wtf.ness going on at my work (and probably other places) that I had no idea was even a thing.

A number of my coworkers are Hispanic (I live in San Antonio, so go figure right?) and very Catholic and one of my coworkers said that’s where the strict rules on marrage comes from but….I don’t think so? I need more data, but I don’t think the Church is completely to blame because my Irish Catholic relatives are crazy for different reasons. I was always super confused because these specific coworkers liked to take a personal interest in my relationship status and I was trying to figure out what the big deal was. Apparently they ascribe to several well-known relationship tenets such as 1) guys and gals can’t be “just friends” and 2) once you’re married you’re spouse is everything and all else are just polite acquaintances.

So, I literally can’t be friends with anybody. I can’t be friends with single people because we’ll all somehow magically start dating (or fucking) because we’re all actually living in a 90s sitcom or something(???) and I can’t be friends with my married coworkers outside of work because their wives will find out and divorce them for “emotionally cheating” on them with an aromantic-asexual. I totally [do not] see the logic. Basically dreams of forming and epic Bromance with my fellow philosophy nerd coworker have crumbled into dust because he literally can’t come to me for anything resembling an emotional connection without checking with the wife first.

I see now why my coworkers put so much emphasis on romantic relationships because at the end of the day, apparently that’s all they’re allowed to have, but the problem with that system is it’s taken away the possible, healthy and fulfilling platonic-relationships I could have had if it wasn’t for this ridiculous societal norm.

So, in light of that I’m going to do what any well-adjusted adult would do in this situation-
I’m going to cuddle my cat and cry about it. *tears*