What came before

The way I process large life changes and difficulties is by looking back. As you’ve seen I’ve been processing what happened in the days around my most recent transition. I’ve found myself wanting to understand more though, understand not how it ended, but how it all happened. How I found myself drawn into being apart of this family. How I found myself isolated from everyone I knew, rarely interacting with any adult including Clarity. As I read through my journal entries for 2015 and 2016 it becomes clear. I was struggling with both who I was and who I was friends with. I had a series of short, close friendships that fell apart and I had outgrown most of my older friendships. I was trying both to run away from myself and figure out who I was. All the while being terrified of anyone shattering my fragile little trans ego.

The first major thing I did in 2015 was starting hormones after being out as a transwoman for 5 months. I didn’t work for the first few months of 2015 I was struggling with depression and how to get much of anything done. The free time did help me process what had happened and make sense of who I was and how to move forward. Through the help of a therapist I delved into this much deeper. I worked through some feelings I had around self-hatred and internalized transphobia that made/makes me loathe my body and want to change things about it. I was so anxious to have the hormones feminize my body and consequently frustrated by how slow they take to affect your body and when I found out that there is only so much effect that have taking them post-puberty.

In March I got a job working for SEIU for some time and then a city council campaign before returning to SEIU. When I was working at the city council campaign I had a dream that made me realize I was molested and proceeded to struggle a lot around that realization. It haunted potential and actual physical relationships and I realized it had been haunting and affecting my past relationships, even causing a traumatic sexual encounter I had years before. I began meditating and eventually started to go to the Shambhala Buddhist Meditation Center a place I have recently returned to. I made some new friends there and happily found myself in their friend circle.

This was the first friend circle (Spaced, Chem and Hair) I had been in while being a lady and I felt like I was living a high school fantasy. I became completely intertwined and dependent on them as soon as they let me. They became my world, my reality and I became emotionally dependent upon them. I would try to hang out with them every moment I was free, spending time with them whether I enjoyed what activity we were doing or not. I just wanted to leave the reality of my constant thoughts, I wanted to be away from glitter gardens, the house I never fit into and had recently outgrown. I told them everything, I trusted them completely, even when I didn’t. I tried to heal them, and they tried to support my healing, we became intertwined and codependent.

Myself in the back and from the left Spaced, K, Chem and T ice skating downtown.

Myself in the back and from the left Spaced, K, Chem and T ice skating downtown.

On the good days Spaced would be happy and suck me up into her reality where I was an amazing person to her. We would frolic along, maybe Hair would join, maybe Chem. On the bad days I was full of jealousy and Spaced would ignore me, be rude to me and give me “bad love,” as she called it. It all unraveled in early 2016 when my coworker and new friend, Heart, started dating Chem’s ex and Chem and Spaced turned on me. This wasn’t the first time I had been hurt or hurt people in this relationship, but it was the last one I felt like taking part in. Those 8 months were hardly blissful, though I did enjoy many moments of them. In the end I felt lonely but overall more content without them.

I now had the time once again to focus on me, fixing myself, understanding myself, loving myself. I had grown a bit from being friends with them and I had conquered some things things I was struggling with but I was having a hard time. I’d have anxiety attacks at work, on bike rides and at home. I was terrified about what others thought about me, I was terrified of being judged and stared at. I was the tall translady, I stuck out like a sore thumb. And while I knew everyone was stared at and judged I couldn’t handle the degree I was and that I was being stared at for being myself. This wasn’t something I was dealing with because I lost my friends, I just was doing it alone now. I had tried desperately to control most social situations with Spaced and Chem ensuring there weren’t any people that were transphobic or even ignorant of trans people. I was worried about every transgression that could happen. Being without friends and feeling this paranoia was was very isolating. I would go on long bike rides, longboard rides, and long walks. No matter how long I was out the feeling always caught up to me I’d run out of energy and I’d cry. Lamenting the running I had just done. I wish I had the courage to just face myself, but I was running from something I had been running from for 25 years, myself and the trauma I’d experienced over the last 25 years because of living as a boy and because of being molested. I didn’t know how to face it, I knew how to keep running from it.

Despite all of this hurt and pain I wrote in a blog post at the end of 2015, “I am reminded that 2015 was the best year I’ve lived, and 2016 is looking like it’s going to be so liberating.” And 2016 ended up being a even better year than 2015, despite how horrible it was. At the beginning of 2016 I really started to look into my pattens of running, patterns of codependency and patterns of finding refuge by losing myself in others. The same patterns that I’ve just been talking about. I finally saw them and I started working to change those patterns. With the extra space from having very few good friends I resumed working on myself and taking classes through the Shambhala Center. I worked to notice my habits and to break them. It was exhausting and rewarding work. I still remember leaving the Shambhala Center following a weekend long meditation retreat (Shambhala level one training). I went to the cool, dark Allegheny Cemetery near my house and I was just present. I took in what there was with a giddiness I don’t know if I’ve ever felt before. It’s what is known in Shambhala as “basic goodness” or the experience of reality.

My months of self work came to an end again when I met Half Elegant (previously known as Elegant Butch). She was a friend that could distract me from my constant anxiety, someone I could walk with for hours. And I did. It was nice to have a friend like that, it’d been a while. It only lasted for a day before she started making out with me. She was into me and it caught me off guard because I was sure she was straight. We dated for a week before I told her how I was struggling with my feelings about her. She had swept me off me feet and filled up all my time. She liked me, she thought I was hot, and being around someone that thought that way about me made me feel truly amazing. I had to tell her though that I didn’t like like her and that crushed her, but she didn’t give up home.

Picture of Elegant Butch

Elegant Butch

We proceeded to danced that dance between friends and lovers for 4 to 5 months. We became totally enveloped in each other, spending most moments of the day with each other. We had amazing sex, went on great adventures. She protected me like no one ever has by glaring at anyone who looked at me for too long and making sure no one gendered me wrong. Her protectiveness made me let down my guard and be free and live like the playful child I am. Our relationship was not good though, it was filled with chaos, confusion, fighting, jealousy, and hurt. She was so into me and I was not into her at all. She worked tirelessly to make me into her and I racked my brain for hours each day trying to understand why I didn’t like her like that, trying to force myself into having feelings I didn’t. As quickly as it started it ended, over and over again until I saw her through Jamie’s eyes. I saw her drunk, belligerent, careless and self-absorbed. I had only spent time with her alone and seeing her with someone else there made it clear, it wasn’t me that was problematic, it was her. I cut off all communication shortly after that and was once again alone.

About a month later I met Clarity. I liked spending time with her immediately. She was real and she would really listen and see things and people for how they were, or as she called it, she was a “knower.” I befriended her at work and only really saw her there at first. She made me look forward to going to work and the possibility of a brief interaction with her. She knew who Against Me! was and got jealous when I told her I went to see Against Me! in concert. I followed Against Me! to Philly and hung out with my friends there only to realize I had outgrown them as well. While they talked about what wine they like and their fancy jobs I felt alone and like an outcast among people I had called best friends. I came back from the trip and had dinner with coworkers and friends that I’ve had for years, an old lead organizer, Heart, Red Beard and handful of others. But there I was yet again, alone, a freak, an outcast.

I have felt like an outcast for most of my life with the exception of a few people who make me feel like I belong. I snuck out from the dinner with my coworkers and went over to Clarity’s house. I wrote of that night in my journal as, “I need to talk to Clarity right now because I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. I can’t handle feeling this anxiety anymore, feeling like an outcast anymore. I just want to feel at home.” When I got there I did feel at home. I felt like it was all better, she’s a freak and an outcast too. She’s a dyke who dated transmen in a time that this got her exiled from the queer community. She fought for her kids to wear dresses whether they were a boy or a girl, or both. She fought to protect them and to live how they wanted to. That night she told me I was a knower too, and that being able to see through people’s lies and bullshit threatens people. Living your truth threatens people too.

I loved feeling at home, and when Clarity got let go from our work I was furious and stopped going there. Instead I started to work for Clarity as her nanny to care for the kids. I was good at this job and Clarity made me feel like I was home. She had the same protective attributes of Elegant Butch that I loved and saw me for who I really was. It didn’t take long before I fell in love, with both that feeling and her.

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April 27th (How I got here Part 1)

On the night of April 26th I was feeling distraught in a very particular way, I felt the same energy that is present in my poem, “Today’s the day.” To shake myself of this feeling I utilized a powerful but rarely used coping mechanism that I have, writing a suicide note. This time the note felt stronger than normal, there was a clear reason I felt suicidal but it felt harder to argue with. Normally these notes highlight fears, this one felt like it highlighted two large difficult struggles I would have to embark on. This note I wrote felt like it prescribed the answer that is denoted by the name of such a note, suicide.

At the time I was overwhelmed with stress from the family and a lack of control. These stressors continued to grow and I began to fantasize more about my back up plan. My backup plan was to leave the family and resume some “semblance of coherence to a former self,” (Against Me!’s song Problems) But as I looked more and more into this fantasy I began to find a large wall of stressors there too. These sterssorts were, dypshoria. I have been long well aware of having dysphoria that I had not dealt with and was running way from those feelings by joining this family. They helped me mask and not deal with many things troubling me.

Then came along Against Me!’s song Searching for Former Clarity. I found it while embarking on my quest to listen to all of their old albums and then reread Laura’s book, “Tranny.” This song perfectly described feelings I have had and feelings I had at the time. It was describing gender dysphoria, 7 years before Laura transitioned. That song sung directly to those feelings and had me writhing around on the ground, kicking and screaming as I was overcome with hurt. The song is about Laura thinking she’s dying and the doctors telling her otherwise. This is exactly what gender dysphoria feels like, dying with no death in sight, just dying.

I began to realize my back up plan was as fraught with problems as my current plan, meaning, I had no backup plan, and my stressors were increasing by the day. Penning that note solidified my options for me, death. By the time I was done with the note I had expended enough energy that sleep was close upon me. I made a note to call my therapist in the morning and turned out the night.

After I dropped the kids off at school I drove to a nearby hill and figured I’d longboard for a little bit to brighten my day. But I got caught up with feelings and thoughts, some of which I tried to write down. I ended up laying on the ground and a picnic table before returning the longboard to the car and searching the car for some rope in vain. Today was the day, I told myself. A good day a happy day. A day where I say that was full life. A day where I say that was a good life. A day where one tear escapes my left eye and runs all the way down my cheek until it reaches my chin and then it hops off to land on and be absorbed into my shirt. A day where that tear has to run past a smile before I knock over my stump.

I put in my headphone and put the song Searching for Former Clarity on and began to walk with purpose and meaning. I walked the paths of Schenley park searching everywhere tirelessly for some rope. There was no tears, or hurt, there was no anger or fear, there was only drive. I continued to solidify in my understanding that today was the day. With Searching for Former Clarity on repeat playing in my ears I smiled and one tear escaped my left eye and had to run past a smile before it reached my chin and hopped off to land and be absorbed into my shirt. “Not yet Jenny,” I said to myself. I needed to be assured that today was the day and like the poem, my version of perfect would be no tears until I was atop a stump before knocking it over. .

I searched meticulously over the hills and in the valleys, all around the creeks until finally I reached a medium sized white tent set up for an event near a coffee shop. “That!” I realized excitedly. As I got closer I decided which ratchet strap to take of this 3” wide “rope” that I had found. I decided the back corner would be the best spot and that although this wasn’t the ideal rope I think one or two of them would be enough to get the job done and at this point after walking for 2 hours I just wanted the job do be done.

Right then my therapist called. I was clearly frustrated and told her so, that “she had called at the worst time I had finally found a rope,” I continued to be openly irritated with her as she talked to me. I explained that while I thought this was supposed to be an irrational act I was the most rational state I’ve felt in a long time. She talked with me for 45 minutes before tiring me out and convincing me to drive to her office for an appointment.

By the time I got there I was giggly and goofy, nearly all of my suicidal energy had been drained and I just felt the prosperousness of the moment. I wondered if anyone at her office knew that I was here for a special “emergency appointment” because I was trying to kill myself and I laughed at that prospect. I also thought it was hilarious that this is what happens when a therapist cancel for an “emergency.” I felt like I was mocking all of reality and in my conversation with her I promised that I would not kill myself before my next therapist appointment.

I proceeded to make deals with myself in the following weeks where I would not kill myself for blank days if I could… This often revolved around suicidal tendencies things like buying rope to hang myself with, or keeping rope to hang myself with in the car. The Rope was too expensive and I couldn’t find climbing rope that I was sure was in the house and would be my ideal rope to hang myself with. I started even getting fussy about it and wanted to make sure I died being hung by a nice cotton and polyester blend rope around my neck not some shitty big box store’s plastic rope that would be rough on my neck.

Dear Clarity

Dear Clarity,

I love you and the kids with all my heart. Nearly all of my energy over the past 20 months feels like it has been dedicated to healing you and the kids. It’s been rewarding and satisfying to watch your growth. It hasn’t been sustainable or healthy for me. As it continues it also doesn’t seem healthy of helpful for any of us.

I got to watch the littlest child come out of her shell, watch middle child emerge from the boy she was, watch the oldest begin to verbalize his emotions in a way that few adults can. And, of course, watch you grow immensely as you shed years of trauma and break through old patterns as you begin to remember the real you. You all are hardly the people I met, it makes me cry tears of overwhelming joy and hurt to think about it. I think I can confidently say there isn’t much I would trade for that.

All the while I have pushed and pushed myself to do my best, better than my best to show up for all of y’alls healing. This has caused me to deteriorate. Suicidal thoughts and self harm was nearly gone from my life but has now reemerged and is stronger now than it ever has been. I spend hours some days unable to move as I collapse on the ground, feeling like there is someone standing on my chest. Irritable, depressed and apathetic, I’m starting to see the kids trying to avoid me, trying to get away from my angst. I am starting to see this not only as unhealthy for me, but unhealthy for everyone involved. As I snap at you, as I distance myself from you, as I am unable to show any love towards the 4 people I love so much. Instead I feel myself growing increasingly irritated with you, and increasingly view y’all as burdens.

As I take a step back I realize just how overwhelmed and stressed I am. I step back and realize how unhealthy this is and how I have immersed myself in your family’s world to the point I feel like I have almost ceased to exist. This isn’t a new struggle, it’s an old one that’s tied in with being trans. It’s a clinging I did and still do to other people and getting lost in them and their problems.

I can’t do it anymore, I can’t do this anymore. I wanted to be everything you needed to help you grow and get better, I wanted to want to be a caregiver, a parent, to have 3 kids and a dog. I wanted to want all of these things I was given and all of this security. But I don’t, I just want me, I want my life back and I want you to be in it, but not be it.

It’s not about holding out for the next time we move, or the next routine we develop, or that break through in therapy or that new job. It’s about me needing to be Jenny, a person that has only existed in name for 4 years. I am not ready to be a parent. I’m not ready to have 3 kids a wife and a dog. I have so many dreams of my future and what it looks like. This life feels suffocating and I don’t want to have people I love so dearly feel like they are just burdens suffocating me. I want them to bring joy and desire to see them, I want to have glee playing with and seeing y’all. This is something I haven’t felt in a long time.

Now, I’m sure you want to talk logistics now that I got my feels out, you want to understand what I’m even asking for. I don’t have a solid grasp on a healthy and thoughtful way to make this transition work for everyone but I know what my soul needs and I need a break before I can plot out long term logistics, otherwise I’d be planning based on my current desires to be around y’all. My end goal is to be an auntie and a nanny at times. I love you all so much I can’t imagine being happy not seeing y’all.

I know I’m going to be needing days instead of hours. I know I desperately need to heal to feel like a person to have time to connect with my people. I don’t want to disappear. I want to step back and become less involved. I think that would be the healthiest thing for all of us. I don’t have a timeline, but I do know I want to live elsewhere within this year.

I hope you understand how much this has torn me apart thinking about how I do and don’t want to do this. But I know in my heart that this is what is the best for me and what i have to do. I think this will also be great for y’all though it’ll definitely be hard at first but it’ll allow for a lot of much needed growth.

I want to talk more about this and can whenever you’d like. I was hoping to share this info last Monday at our group therapy since that didn’t happen I had to write it out. I will always love you in a way in a way I have never felt before.

Love, with all of my heart,

Jenny

Winter Solstice 2017

The first time I missed winter solstice in 7 years was December 21st 2016. Here I am sitting cross legged on a crushed Domino’s pizza box on a cement-floored, covered porch pressed in the corner against two cold brick walls of a house. Clarity, my platonic partner, is standing feet from me taking puffs from her cigarette and occasionally turning to blow them outside of the covered porch area we are in. She’s waiting for me to be present again, to talk to her. I’m absorbed in my phone frantically typing into the search bar of my web browser, “winter solstice 2016 time and date.” I press enter and the page promptly loads displaying a page that clearly says at the top of it, “Winter Solstice is on Wednesday, December 21, 2016 At 5:44 am EST.” It is currently Wednesday, December 21st at 12:18 pm EST.

I should be sleeping right now after staying up all night. I should have covered my windows with blinds, curtains and sheets to keep out the sun. The sun that came up because I stayed up all night with only candles to light my surrounding. My hands should be finally warm after a long brisk journey adventuring outside to see the sun rise from the top of a tree covered hill in the cemetery near my house.

But here I am sitting on a pizza box cursing, “fuck, fuck, fuck!” I didn’t stay up all night. I didn’t wish my friends “happy winter solstice.” I didn’t even know the date or time of Winter Solstice. Why, why, why, why, why!?

Because I am a mom now. Because I suddenly and abruptly have 3 small children. Because I have a house that needs cleaned, clothes that needs washed, dishes that need done, food that needs cooked, mouths that need fed, voices that need to be listened to. I may sometimes call myself their theraputic support staff, other times Clarity’s platonic femme dyke partner, but what I really am is a mom.

I am a mom to 3 kids, I am a partner to Clarity. They drove across this country and the country north of here to be in this city, my city, her city, our city, a place where she hopes to finally feel safe, a place where they are all finally free of his abuse. A first stopping spot where she will raise her kids in a safe environment where they can be who they are and not be mentally or physically abused any more.

And here they are starting to feel safe, starting to explore themselves more, starting to tell us that some of them are girls. Starting to get enough attention and not having to worry about words and fists being thrown. Instead we all are growing into the magical beings we are. And I am here as an essential part of this, part of them all processing what has happened to them. Giving them all the attention and support they need to overcome and finally cure generations of abuse that has happened to these 3 native kids and their amazing mother who has been through more than I can grasp.

Two of the three kids I care for

Two of the three kids I care for

So here I am on winter solstice thinking about how this is a time for reflecting, for staring into the darkness and seeing the sun rise out after 14 hours of darkness. I didn’t reflect on winter solstice, I didn’t even realize it was winter solstice. But here I am watching a family emerge from the darkness, watching myself emerge from the darkness. I may have watched the sun fall or rise, but over the past 3 months and more I have been watching 5 magical beings including myself emerge from darkness. We all been emerging whether it be from an abusive home, a male identity that isn’t ours, a controlling an abusive relationship, a shitty job, shitty friendships, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks and self harm.

We are all emerging from darkness to become powerful beings. And as I stand back and take time to reflect I can feel my chest filling up with strength, puffing out and taking up space in a way I never have before. I can feel my power bubbling up. I can feel my emotions and see others feelings with a new clarity, I can even grasp emotions that I don’t yet have words for. As I lift my arm I feel energy shoot out of it across sidewalk moving the leaves on the ground and shaking the trees. Energy flows from my head to my feet and into the earth as I ground myself on command. I am not just a person anymore, I am a being filled with magic, compassion, anger and love. And on this winter solstice I can’t say I saw the sunrise, or that I stayed up all night by candlelight, I can’t even say I knew when the solstice was. But I can say I am growing, I am reflecting. I am becoming Jenny, I’m not a flighty spaced out tranny who is insecure and unsure of herself. I am a magical being who has powers that few can grasp, call me awakened, call me an indigo child, or call me crazy. But I am Jenny and I move worlds, hear me roar.

Thoughts of a Suicidal Person Who is Loved by the World

H: Jennyyyy.
J: Hearrrrt.
H: It’s so good to hear your voice.
J: I know doesn’t just about everyone want to hear my voice at the other end of a phone?
H: [Contemplative pause] I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t love to hear it.

I’m loved by my friends, I’m loved by acquaintances, I’m loved by total strangers. Not everyone but those people are exceptions. I have fed off this love for so long, I still feed off of this love. I have pointed to it for why not to kill myself countless times. I’ve changed so many people’s lives for the better. Yet this knowledge sometimes leaves me feeling hollow? Why does making someone else feel amazing leave me feeling empty.

When people try to kill themselves there are a few common argument against it. By thinking about how much you have bettered peoples lives. How good of a person you are in the world and how much you are loved and needed by others. And I know I am very loved and feel needed and wanted by lots of folks in my life I’ve changed countless people lives for the better. This knowledge and these feelings has never brought me down from the edge.

The thing that kept me most from the edge is something much different from this. My first time feeling suicidal to the degree of jumping off a building was 2008 and it scared me. After some googling I came to understand that suicidal thoughts are the logical step when you run out of coping mechanisms. Your dog dies, you’re sad but you can handle it. One of your friends stops talking to you, you’re sad but you can handle it. You start feeling isolated from the world, it hurts but you you can handle it. But compound these things and your sad, you’re filled with sadness and you hurt, you can’t handle it, it’s too much. What do you do?

If it’s too much to handle by definition you can’t handle it yourself. You have run out of coping mechanisms you have run out of ways to deal with it. This is when I stand atop a tall building. This is when I look over the edge. I can’t handle the stresses of life, I don’t feel like I belong I don’t feel like it’s going to get better, I don’t think I’m ever going to deal with it, It feels like it’s never going to end and I’m going to feel this forever. That’s why I look over the edge. That’s why I peer down and prepare to jump. I prepare to jump to make it go away. I don’t want to jump now, I didn’t want to jump 7 years ago when I got the closest I’ve ever been. I just wanted to know it was going to all work out, I just wanted all the hurt to go away because I couldn’t deal with it. I just wanted to know if I really needed to I could escape from all of my problems.

If you tell me I’m needed, I’d still want to jump. If you tell me I’m loved, I’d still want to jump. If you tell me you love me, I’d still want to jump. If you tell me the world will miss me, I’d still want to jump. If you tell me I’m strong, I’d still want to jump. If you tell me to follow my passion, I’d still want to jump. If you tell me I was an inspiration, I’d still want to jump. If you tell me it’s all going to be okay, I’d still want to jump. I’m not at the top of a building because I want listen, I’m at the top of a building because I can’t handle what’s going on because it’s too much.

I’m not standing at the edge because my day went well, I’m not standing on the edge because my week went well, I’m not standing on the edge because my life is going well. I’m standing on the edge because I’ve been slowly descending here. Because I’m slowly losing hope, slowly unable to handle my daily stresses. I will look at your messages and they will make me feel better, it’s nice to be needed, loved, and an inspiration, but it doesn’t fix my problems. I feel bad saying this because I know you’re only trying to help, I’m just trying to let you know it’s not going to help, not now, maybe earlier. But don’t worry it’s not your responsibility it’s mine. I feel alone and detached from the world. I’m having a hard time and I’m sure you are having a hard time in your life as well. I wish I could cope with it I wish I had asked for help earlier. It’s too late. I can’t. I need to stand atop a building and look down to make my problems small, smaller than the 8 stories I’m looking down. Small enough so I can step back off this ledge.

This is a story by Jenny where she is speaking more about her feelings historically than about her suicidal feelings currently. When she stood on that ledge and readied herself to jump her problems did get smaller, they did get small enough that she could step back off that ledge. She has since learned how to ask for help a little more and started to learn how to accept help. She is happily seeing a therapist and psychiatrist who are both monitoring her mental health closely.

Also check out this previous post where she talks more about her artwork that addresses this topic.

Winter Solstice Card 2015

57 solstice

Dear Friends/Family,

This past year has been an amazing and challenging year. I started hormones on January 9th and legally changed my name on May 6th. I’ve been meditating for over a year and 6 months of it has been at a Shambhala Buddhist meditation center where I have learned a great deal. I started working again as an organizer, field director and currently doing data entry and just about everything else at SEIU.

During this past year I’ve also struggled with depression and anxiety. A week after my name change occurred I realized I was molested as a child. But from these experiences I opened up and finally asked for help. I have had tons of support from all I have told and found a strong bond with friends new and old. I have accepted and learned so much about myself and am appreciative of everyday I have. My life is so much more wonderful than a year ago, than a month ago. I’ve grown a huge amount in that time and looking back is a truly humbling experience. Thank you for being in my life and if I don’t regularly I hope to see you in the next year.

Love,
Jenny

This is the solstice card I sent out to family and friends and that I extend to y’all. This year has been an amazing year. One that has been terrific, horrible, freeing, paralyzing but despite all of the things that have happened this is the happiest I’ve ever been. Looking back on every other time of good feelings I can see that they are filled with feelings of despair, depression, and suicidal thoughts. These haven’t gone away but I’ve accepted them and started to address them. Knowing it has gotten so much better is relieving, because day to day I often only recognize problems that arrive.

Currently I’ve been struggling with how to relate to friends and what I want from them. But I am struggling with this because I am not just being what other people want from me I am figuring out what I want from other people and figuring out how I want to interact with them. Essentially I’m struggling a lot because a lot of what that I’ve “figured out” is wrong. I figured out how to serve and please other people now I’m figuring out what pleases me. I’m taking missteps every step I take but I’m learning so much from them.

I’m trying to be me. I’m focusing on me and it’s not always in a good way. I’m more selfish, impulsive, self-centered but like how a pendulum swings back and forth before reaching it’s center point. At least I imagine that is what I’m doing. It’s hard to explain it’s hard to understand I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing but this is how I conceptualize my current missteps. I am over being hard on myself, I’m over hyper-analyzing myself. Instead I’m letting myself do whatever I want and I dealing with the response in the moment, I’m relearning why I act the way I do. Is it for others? is it for me? Am I doing this to please people? or to please myself?

I don’t feel completely like myself but I feel like I’m becoming free. I feel my sense of obligation diminishing and my sense of commitment to being who I see myself as fading. I’m Jenny and that person knows who she is. I needn’t incessantly analyze myself I just need to do what feels right, and that what I’m doing. And all the while I’m trying to work on communications so I express why I’m doing what I am and how I feel. I’m just trying really hard to be me and it is a confusing disorienting journey. I will slight you on the way but don’t hold it against me, I’m pretty sure you won’t.

Who am I? I’m Jenny. What does that mean? Fuck if I know.

I Lost it and My Roommate Made Me Stay There

[NO BACK STORY]

Saturday afternoon:

I’m feeling really worked up and don’t know it. I go on a bike ride and end up suddenly feeling, feeling sane. My thoughts had been racing all day but I hadn’t minded it, now my mind is clear. I sit down on a bench and start reading In the Dust of This Planet. Sleepiness rolls over me and I finish the next page before laying down my head. I close my eyes, shortly afterward the world begins to shake. I let it. I feel my thoughts, my feelings and just let what happens happen. Twenty minutes later I wake up and bike home listening to Sylvan Esso. Nothing seems real.

A copy of a copy of a copy. The world is far away, just like the narrator describes in Fight Club.

I bike home.

Along the way I dash in and out of traffic, I’m mostly safe, but safe like you are when playing frogger – you obviously don’t want to die, but it’s not real. It’s only half real to me, I’m only half there.

To bring myself down I scream Could I Be by Sylvan Esso.

It only furthers the rift. The world isn’t real, but I know it is.

Two blocks from home a women is walking her dog, the dog is peeing. I look at her. She looks at me. She smiles. She’s real, I’m in the real world. I continue biking and she disappears. That moment is gone forever, just like how reality feels right now.

I make it home. I see my roommates and I make it clear to them that I’m crazy. I refuse eye contact, now they aren’t real either.

In my room I finish listening to Sylvan Esso’s album while lying in my bed trying to take a nap. Instead thoughts start badgering me, memories start coming at me, Diane starts trying to molest me. “Get the fuck away from me!” I yell, “Leave me the fuck alone.” The thoughts are trying to get me to do things I know I don’t want to do. They are trying to take things I like and exploit them to make me do harmful things like cut a upside down cross into arm. “Get the fuck away!” I yell.

My thoughts are racing again and my perfectly organized room starts to get to me. I throw off the covers and run over to my dresser. Pulling out two drawers I throw them on the ground kicking around the clothes that fall onto the floor. “Almost enough,” I think. Then I go over to the bookshelf and toss all the fiction and spiritual books on the floor. Success.

I begin listen to The Weakerthan’s song Watermark on repeat. Now I know what I have to do.

I run down stairs and slam onto the floor as I slip on the wooden floor. Laughing hysterically I get up and run to the basement. I find the lavender paint, some painting equipment and sheepishly bring it upstairs, hiding it so my roomies don’t see it. I again refuse eye contact, I’m in another world and cannot be brought back, not right now.

I scamper upstairs once I find everything and begin my project. Two song lyrics are inspiring me.
“We sit and watch the wall you painted purple.” – Weakerthans
“Paint the black whole blacker.” – St. Vincent

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“It’s just lavender, it needs to be darker!” I think. So I run downstairs slipping again on the floor and falling down. I get back up and grab brown a black paint and return to my project. Blending the lavender and brown I get a nice dark color in the center. Building the circle bigger and bigger I switch the song on repeat to The Strangers by St. Vincent. I’ve waited 3 years for this moment. I grab the black paint a tub to stand on and begin painting the title of this piece: “Paint the Black Hole Blacker.”

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The black paint isn’t as black as I’d like, it’s to thin. I keep putting more and more on and realizing the paint is running. “Yes!” I scream as I see the amazing look the running paint gives to this piece. I keep painting more and more, bigger and bigger. I add more brown, I begin splattering brown, black, lavender all over it. Just what I’ve always wanted, It’s done.

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I show it to my roommates and they are not sure what to think. They are fearful, excited, happy and concerned. The new one, Da Hottie, sides with crazied happiness, the feeling I’m expressing. Jamie sticks with concern longer, but eventually gets happier. They both take pictures of it and Jamie begins sharing it. My friend Von begins expressing concern, simply texting “shit” as a response to seeing the picture that Jamie sent them.

After a little while of laying in my room alone basking in the glory of this piece and the feeling of being crazed Jamie comes in. They sit partial on me and ask, “Why is Von worried about you?” I pause and realize I’ve finally been caught, and am relieved. As we start talking Jesse helps me realize I am not losing it, I am not caught, I am free, I have gained something from this whole experience. I have been trying to paint this on my wall for years. I always resisted it. Now I’m becoming more impulsive and more real, more aligned with the true me.

I haven’t lost anything I gained this painting on the wall. I sit with that a while, Jamie leaves and I keep sitting with it. I lay down and try to take a nap, listening to music and relaxing I realize that I need to leave, I need to run. I pack up my stuff and get ready for some sort of outing. I go to leave and Jamie stops me. They ask me where I’m going, why I’m going and when I’m coming back. I can’t answer any question but I still want to leave. I say I’m anxious, and hungry and just need to get out of the house. They ask how they’ll know if I’m safe. I say I just will be, and that they can call me and I can call them.

After a protracted fight about whether I should run or not Jamie reluctantly gets me to stay. I stay with my pain and crazy and tell them what has been going on in my head. I stay with my feelings and am forced to acknowledge what is going on, forced to treat my body with respect, forced to be present. They force me to face my pattern of running and to be with myself.

I eat some food and I find a quote of where I am:

Only now are you going your way to greatness. Peaks and abyss, they are now joined together for all things are baptized in a well of eternity, and lie beyond good and evil.
-Nietzche