I initially wanted this to be a vlog but the writing of ideas ran away with me and it became a blog. It’s my hope that at some point I can make blog posts and then somehow make condensed (5 minutes or less) videos of the good stuff. Brevity is a growing edge for me. It’s also my hope that the more I blog and vlog, the less packed-in stuff there will be inside me pushing to get said, and I can get more streamlined and snappy.
It does matter what other people think of you.
This is the whole basis of discrimination, bias, and prejudice. People with power absorb socialized and systemic ways of treating other people based on the cultural narrative, the way someone is depicted or talked about or the way their appearance or some other thing about them is characterized.
If people have more power than me and think that I don’t deserve or qualify for something I need, they can and will withhold it from me. Often there’s not a damn thing I can do about it except use my whiteness and my white-middle-class-upbringing capacity for whining on the internet and in emails. Since that’s all I got I tend to push down hard on that button. Just like an animal backed into a corner will fight with all it’s got.
To Disclose or Not to Disclose
Sometimes I will disclose and sometimes I won’t. Often I will infodump upfront about how I’m different. Sometimes this is because I’m exhausted and raw and I’m sick of playing stupid social games where we try to get them to show their cards without showing ours, and try to decide how much to show of how we feel and how long should we wait to call… ad nauseum. It’s also motivated by my desire to know right up front if we’re going to have a problem with something about me, or if the person I’m talking to is just way too not-woke to deal respectfully with my differences. I don’t want to waste our time.
I don’t want acquaintances. I don’t want casual friends. I spent a lot of time doing that, and that can’t be me without me wallpapering over some of my differences. Being different, some people can want to be friends with me because I’m so odd and unlike everyone else they know. But because of that lack of experience with people like me, they have zero capacity to understand that because I’d different, I need different things from friendship, have different boundaries, and there are some things around my differences that aren’t okay to ask or say. I don’t like being fetishized. I want to be with other people who are different and comfortable with their differences.
Show Me Your Strange!
I want to be around people who model the qualities I want to nurture and express more myself. Social proof is a real thing—meaning we take our cues from the people around us. I perhaps more than most, because I was raised in a cult, and have successfully masqueraded as something I’m not for most of my life.
I realized I can spend all the time I want to building up my self-image but if everywhere I go I’m treated like shit, my self-image is going into battle with a dragon sans armor and coming home extra crispy.
So I want people who treat me the way I want to be treated and the way I want to treat myself. I’m sick of excuses, I’m sick of conforming and getting used and treated like a toy. I want to show you my strange and I want you to turn right around and show me yours, and I want us to jump on the bed yelling out our strange pride. I want to break all the norms because norms are like Victorian corsets and are likely to cause you to wander around in an oxygen-deprived daze.
Consequences of Disclosing
However, disclosing can have unfortunate consequences both for me and the recipient. A lot of people feel their boundaries violated when I’m upfront about certain personal things. I personally feel my boundaries violated when people want to know things that for ordinary people of similar economic privilege and background to them are superficial—what do you do, where do you live, do you have family here—are things that I don’t want to talk about. And if I demur, that can be taken in a lot of different ways depending on the person, but most of them are not good, and already I have a red flag on this relationship that this person is too—for lack of a better term—mainstream, normal, in line with everything I’m not.
Sometimes when I disclose that person feels a false sense of intimacy with me. Sometimes they will offer the criticism cancer that is unsolicited advice or come off condescending. Sometimes they will judge me covertly and treat me in a heavy-handed way. Sometimes they will use what I disclose at some later date to hurt, humiliate, or expose me.
If I explain, or answer questions (especially ‘why’) this can often set up an expectation in that person that they are entitled to explanations and answers and understanding and that it is my job to educate them and help them understand. The more privileged they are, the more likely they are to exhibit these characteristics, and the less likely they are to actually work at hearing me and understanding me and meeting me halfway. This has led to me being really suspicious and uncomfortable of questions and sometimes just plain secretive and abrupt because I don’t want to set up that expectation with this person; I don’t want to be in that power dynamic. And I can’t actually say that to the person because 99% of the time they will have zero idea what I’m talking about and expect me to explain that.
I feel a lot of anger around all this. I’m angry at all the years I spent silent because of other people’s discomfort and shame and judgment. I’m angry that I internalized all that. I want to super-disclose. I’m tired of all the secrecy, it feels gangrenous and throttling to me. I think that maybe some of this is motivated by anger and a desire to push all this onto the people who are uncomfortable with it, out of resentment for their pristine-appearing bubbles. I want to shove reality in the faces of the privileged who have so long treated me like I deserve less respect for my feelings and experiences. I get that that’s aggressive, and I sit with that truth about me.
Mainly, though, it feels like I am shoveling out years and years of repressed shit that has been packed down and buried everything that was positive and enjoyable about my life. Infected with the judgment and condescension of those I turned to for compassion, empathy, humility. I feel like in order to be whole and who I am, and to strip off the insecurity that keeps me small, I have to push out, hard and whole, all the stuff that’s cramping me. The more I come out and talk about this stuff, the more it releases me from its thrall.
And yeah, I get that there’s still going to be judgment and nastiness, just as there ever was, but I’m not going to let it shut me up anymore. I have almost nothing left to lose anymore and I’m tired of fake friends and pretending and hiding and feeling ashamed.
Beyond Disclosing & Explaining
I’m inspired by people who are out there and open and not ashamed, and surrounded by people who like those things about them that other people judge, because it gives them permission to be who they really are. I want more of that in my life, and a lot less of these calculated and calculating conversations where we pretend we don’t have any skeletons in the closet. I have zero time for anyone who acts like they’re better or more evolved or wiser than me. The people who are wiser than me don’t act like that. They act like they’re interested in what I have to say. And I’m more than happy to share and reciprocate.
Because I don’t want this to be disclosing and explaining anymore. This whole air around coming out as disabled and poor—I hope it’s temporary. I hope after a while it won’t be like telling a secret or confessing a flaw or excusing a way in which I am less than someone, or can’t do something they can or that they want me to do.
I want to get beyond disclosing and explaining. I want to get to owning and pride in my uniqueness. Our uniqueness. Inclusive of everything we bring, not just the ‘socially acceptable’ bits. That is the only place where real love has ever happened for me and I think if it’s ever going to happen again, it’s going to happen there.