Archive for February, 2012

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Altruism as Existence

20 February, 2012

2:34 pm
Alexandria, Virginia

Our existence is dependent on two conditions, which together, I call mutual validation. The idea here is for me to completely exist as a person I must be observed and I must be aware of the observation (that is, I must in turn observe the observation).

First, we must be observed. Our existence is only partial as long as people are unaware of the existence. Take my neighbours, for example, their behaviour should be dependent on the existence of the other people in the building. If they are aware of the others they limit the behaviour accordingly. Music is kept at a reasonable volume, voices are not unnecessarily raised, garbage is cleaned up. The awareness of the other means their behaviour is altered, in other words the other person’s existence is validated by the fact they have had direct influence on the neighbour’s behaviour. But if our neighbours play their music at excessive volume, leave trash outside the door, and they host an all night mosh pit and kegger in the hallway, then we don’t exist. They are not aware of us, we have no influence on their behaviour and we are as good as ghosted.

We see this also in discussions, for example a misogynist is telling a joke about women when he notices I am in the room and he elects not to tell the joke. My existence as a person, specifically a female person, has just been validated because it has had an impact on another person. If the misogynist told the joke to me in order to offend me, I would also exist because their behaviour has been altered, albeit negatively, by my presence. If, however, the misogynist is sitting at a table with a male colleague and me and he tells the joke to the male colleague without considering my potential reaction (positive or negative), I have been erased and thus do not exist.

It is also necessary for us to observe this acknowledgement. If we are not aware of the other person thinking of us then we have invalidated their existence. If their existence has been invalidated then there is nothing they can do to validate our existence, thus by denying the other person existence we deny ourself existence. So, if you are thinking of your Mum and she is thinking if you, you are engaged in mutual validation and are holding each other’s place in the world. But, if you are thinking of your mum and she is unaware of your thinking of her those thoughts have no substantial abilities, they do not impact the other person and have been erased, become non-existential.

I have not left my flat in three days. Because I have been unobserved by others my existence in the world is negated. I must interact with another being capable of perception to sustain my existence. So, I post a blog or a Facebook message. This message is seen by others and they reply or choose to “like” the post, which I then see. Now I exist, because I have had an impact outside of myself and I have observed the results of that impact, I have been validated and validated in return. Along those lines, when my cat is meowing for supper and I feed him, I again exist. But if I write someone and they do not respond, even though they have read the email, my existence is not sustained because I am unaware of the interaction with what I have put out as an extension of self. Likewise, should I choose to ignore the cat, his existence is denied and by denying him existence he is unable to validate my existence and thus through neglect of him I become less.

This speaks volumes to the idea of being in community and how we treat one another. When we assign value to the other person we are in turn assigning value to ourselves. By meeting another person where they are at we impact them, the impact is observed, and we observe the results of that impact. In other words altruism is literally the key to our survival, it affords the greatest possible positive reaction, which in turn gives us the greatest degree of validation and we exist as people.

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Irrational Anxiety

17 February, 2012

Tonight was group. I enjoy going to group. I enjoy having the opportunity to be social. Again, I was glad I was there. Well . . . except for the part where I said something stupid and offended someone I admire and respect. That part wasn’t so cool. Now, the moment I realised I had offended him, I apologised and he accepted the apology. Story over, right? Not for me.

Any sane and rational person would see it as a lapse or a mistake and move on from the apology a little wiser. But I am not a sane and rational person. My past has made me a little crazy and fairly irrational. I have been playing the role of the people-pleaser since I was four and first realised who I am and who others think I am are radically disparate. People-pleasing became my life, filling the role so as to escape notice. It was part of my disguise to be the kid who didn’t offend, who kept everyone else happy by denying who I was. It was essential that I not upset people; if I did it could make them upset with me and then they might start questioning things about me and then the truth about who I was would come out and then everyone would be really mad at me.

I lived in the midst of that paranoia for thirty years and it has made me a neurotic mess. I feel like everything rides on my being as non-offensive as possible. If I’m not I risk some ugly part of me getting out and driving anyone close to me away. This is how my relationships, friendships, and marriage ended. The weight of the world (it feels) resides on my being as inoffensive as possible.

When I screwed up and said something offensive, my social anxiety, which is never pleasant under the best of circumstances, erupted with the ferocity of a solar flare. I will spend my weekend regretting the boneheaded comment and imagining how angry this person might still be.

I wish my past hadn’t boned me so seriously.

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Panic Attack

10 February, 2012

Trigger Warning: Anxiety

I was heading out to my support group meeting when the anxiety hit. It was triggered when I entered the hall and saw my kitty-corner neighbours talking and drinking in the hall. They are the neighbours I believe to have defaced my door. And they were just standing there, five meters from my door and twice that from their door. Standing between me and the elevator. I would have been forced to go by them to leave. I knew I had to go soon, but I could not just go by them. I was immobilized and the panic was welling up inside me until I felt like I was going to vibrate into a trillion pieces if I did not do something.

I could not go forward; I went back inside. I needed to feel sheltered, to feel safe. I laid on the floor between the ottoman and the couch with the lights off, the blinds shut, and the cat sitting on my sternum purring. After a lot of deep breathing and what felt like decades, but was less than thirty minutes, I began to feel better but it was too late to make it to my meeting.

Now, I am trying not to be down on myself. This was not my fault, I did not choose to have a panic attack, but I still feel guilty for missing group.

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Connections

8 February, 2012

7:18 pm
-76.99 E 38.76 N

It came over me again today. That magnificent feeling of connectedness. Not oneness. No, not oneness because that implies indistinguishability and a loss of self and there was not that. With this everything was distinct, more fully its ideal but while also having a non-perceptible but very real, very present connection to everything else. It was like being tuned into not only the vastness of the cosmos but also of the vibrations in the spaces between particles.

It first came over me while being interviewed by two ninth grade girls for their research paper on transsexualism and hate crimes. As we talked I felt the right words just flowed from me and that we were making a powerful connection as human doings (beings are too passive). That sense of connection stayed with me, like a low frequency vibration.

The sensation amplified again fourth period. We were discussing the piece “Montgomery Boycott” about the bus boycott following Rosa Parks’ arrest when I found myself urged by an awareness of timing to explain to the students exactly what was at stake then and how, though the focus has shifted, human rights and dignity are very much at stake today. I described for them the vandalism done to my door, we talked about the bigotry and hatred, the murder of trans women and homosexuals, we drew comparisons between that and the racial bigotry leading up to Rosa Parks saying no. We drew connections to the Holocaust, Rwanda, and Kosovo. I could see, in my mind, all of history laid out and the silky strands twining events into a brilliant tapestry.

The sensation continued to grow as we conducted interviews of potential National Honor Society members. I could feel the essence of the interviewees, the strength of personality, or lack of. It seemed to almost hang ephemerally in the empty spaces between those of us in the room.

I still feel it. The connectedness and the awareness of the infinite space between objects on a universal scale. And beneath it all is that low frequency, a vibration that feels alive, like breath.

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The Perfect Regeneration

5 February, 2012

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Why not a female Doctor? We have had eleven Time Lords, I think we are due to have a Time Lady manning the TARDIS. In Neil Gaiman’s episode, “The Doctor’s Wife,” it is implied that regenerations do not have to follow gender lines. I am fully for having a female Doctor for the twelfth incarnation and I think the Geek News suggestion of Rose Leslie is the perfect choice. Here was their reasoning:

She’s been dynamic, hilarious, and heartfelt on Downton Abbey. She’s about to play a major, crucial role on Game of Thrones as the “fire-kissed” Ygritte. So once she’s done there, why not bring Leslie back to the BBC to become the first female Doctor? Plus, she’s got the one thing the Doctor has always wanted: red hair. It’s a win-win all around.

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Transmisogyny

4 February, 2012

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Vandalism is the wonted destruction or tainting of another person’s property done out of sheer maliciousness. There are few feelings worse than learning you have been attacked by someone in what should be a safe place. We go home each day seeking a refuge from the events and catastrophes of the outer world. Home is meant to be somewhere we can let our guard down and relax. A violation of that space leaves a person feeling alone and vulnerable.

Misogyny is a prevalent attitude in which a number of (not all) men reserve a special ire for women who carry, present, or stand-up for themselves in any way that infringes on their male ego or sense of patriarchy. To be female is to be lesser than the male bodied, to be de-valued and erased.

Transmisogyny is a coupling of misogynistic attitudes with the prevailing transphobia. It is a hatred of trans women for who they are and the changing understanding of gender and patriarchy in regards to the rules of power and privilege. It is a double shot of hatred dumped on a minority that has been systematically denied equal rights and protection under the law and are still pathologised by the medical and psychiatric communities.

This morning I discovered I was at the crossroads of these actions and attitudes. Last night my door was vandalised by person(s) unknown. Their opinion of who I am was expressed in the most horrific and derogatory slur you can hurl at a trans woman. The slur was a message: we don’t like what you are and we know where you live. It is a threat. It is a promise to escalate. It is a warning for me to leave and a warning for others to disassociate with me. It is a reminder of my status: sub-human. Transsexuals, specifically trans women, stand out and are a visual threat to the patriarchal system that places one gender (male) as the superior and one (female) as the inferior. Trans men, says the patriarchy, are less of a threat because they are “women” expressing a healthy desire to be better, to be more than they are, even though they will never achieve it. The threat that trans women represent by nature of their existence, however, threatens the whole system because it means someone of “superior” status is “electing” to become of “inferior” status. This possibility cannot be given credence in the patriarchal view and the easy way of invalidating it is to dehumanise and pathologise the offending party. This is the same reason pathological transvestism is only defined as a male wearing female clothing, the reverse is not considered pathological, but as normal and acceptable.

What was written on my door is a threat against my person, but it is, also, an attempt to discredit, defame, and de-humanise me so they can feel more comfortable living in their skin with their prejudices.