I'm Getting Ready to Be Older

I'm kind of known for having wacky-ass parties on my birthday -- like my naked birthday when I turned 50, and my head-shaving nude beach party when I turned 40.

This year, everyone gets to keep their clothes on (if they want to).

This coming
Sunday, June 21st, 2009, I turn 53 — and I’m having a party — a musical party — and I thought I'd put my invite out there, so that you can celebrate with me in spirit, if not in the flesh.

The text of my birthday invite is below.

This year, when pondering what to “do” for my birthday, I was advised to do something I’d never done before — so here’s my plan:

I’ve been wanting to have more live music in my life. There was a time when live music (both playing and listening/dance to) was a huge part of my life, and I miss it.

I’m having a live music party on Sunday. A very intentional live music party — and I’m going to do what I can to help the attendees align with my intention, so that I can have the best chance of getting what I want out of it.

Here’s the roster for festivities:

11 am – Guidance Wander My Beloved will lead a “guidance wander” for anyone who wants to come along, from 11 - 11:30 AM. A Guided Wander is a walk where you let the Universe lead you on the path — you start without a destination and allow the signs and sygils take you from point to point on the way. It’s a ton of fun, and I think it will be a good start for a party where the whole idea is to be in the moment and let the music lead you. If you want to go on the guidance wander with us, please arrive no later than 11:00 am — cause we’ll be taking off then and God knows where we’ll be!
12 pm - 3 pmMusic Party The front two rooms of our house will be set up as a live music hall. There will be some spare instruments (we have several guitars, drums, a synthesizer, piano, tambourine, shakers, etc.) — but bring your own if you have them.

Here are the “rules” for the party:
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have an instrument. There will be an area where there are instruments that are available for anyone to play — if you bring your personal instruments and don’t want to share them (which I completely understand), don’t place them in this area (which will be marked).
    • Any instrument that is not in this area should be considered someone’s personal instrument — please don’t pick it up, play it, or even touch it without their specific permission.
  • The front two rooms of our house will be dedicated to music. If you want to have a conversation with someone else at the party, please take this out to the yard or into the kitchen, rather than carrying it on in the hall while music is being made. In the music hall, incidental verbal interactions such as “an-a-one-and-a-two”, “let’s try that in the key of G”, and “Here’s a good one” will be welcome.
  • Leave your ego and your judgments at the door (especially judgments you may have about yourself “I have a crappy voice”, or “I suck at playing guitar”). Refrain from “taking stage” and performing a personal concert — the point of this gathering is to have people make live music together — not for any individual to give a house concert. Expect that any song/music you start may end up being a group effort, and don’t get in a snit if someone else fires up a harmonica in the middle of your classical piece.
  • Join in. Yeah, you may not think of yourself as a musician, but that could end on Solstice, 2009, you know? Sing, shake a tambourine or maraca, pound on the drum kit in the synth, dance, listen — stretch your edges.
  • You may be recorded. I’m going to have the four track deck recording during the party, but it’ll be unobtrusive, and purely for my own enjoyment.
  • I reserve the right to throw everybody out at 3 pm, although I may not — just depends on how I feel — it’s my birthday, after all.
  • There will be tip jar out — proceeds will go to me — it’s my birthday, after all.
  • There will be potluck snack table up — it’s potluck — if you’re going to snack, please also bring a snack to share.
  • This party is strictly bring your own beverage. Alcohol is welcome, but mindless drunkeness is not (mindful and intentional intoxication to spur you on to heights of musical genius is welcome). If you want something to drink, bring it. I say this nearly every time I have a party, but people inevitably show up and ask: “Can I have one of your beers?” This year, I will be saying “No” in the nicest way, and pointing them down the street to Aldrichs, where there is a wide selection of excellent brewsky.
  • Come absolutely, positively fragrance free – if you don’t, I’ll probably ask you to leave, even if that feels embarrassing and awkward for either or both of us.
  • If you bring a friend that I don’t know, show them these rules before you bring them, and ask them to come only if they want to join in this intention:
    • The intention of the party is to celebrate and kick-off my 54th year on the planet by making music together that is dedicated to creative, enjoyable connection — and having fun while doing it.
Them’s the rules — if I sound like an old cranky codger, well, I’ve discovered that if I get the boundaries out of the way first, I tend to weed out the people who don’t want to play nice — heh, heh.

Seriously, it’s been my experience that clearly defining the container usually gives us a better shot at cooking up something lovely inside it.

If you want to join in long-distance — play or sing or dance on June 21st — and think of me.

(Oh, and a note: In the past five years, I’ve usually been all “I want your presence, not your presents” — but fuck it — this year, I want some presents. If you want to get me something, drop a tip in the tip jar at the party — or leave something via the donation button up at the top of the page, or check out my Amazon wish-list.)

Happy Birthday to me!

Posted byPortlyDyke at 3:24 PM 6 comments Links to this post  

If It's Wednesday, It Must Be Time to Investigate Torture

Here's my weekly letter to congress-critters and President Obama -- feel free to cut and paste at will in sending your thoughts to your own reps.

Dear [Name]:

I am writing you again to request that you do everything within your power to investigate and bring to justice those who have violated US law and UN Conventions co-signed by the United States by perpetrating torture.

This week, the ACLU obtained newly released detainee statements which provide more evidence of torture programs -- and more evidence that they were as ineffective as they were inhumane.

As this evidence unfolds, the last pitiful refuge of excuse for this horrifying activity (performed in my name as a US citizen) -- that this was done for our protection in some kind of "ticking time bomb" situation -- falls apart completely.

It is not a surprise that these techniques are not effective -- the Pentagon was warned of this as early as 2002, and a host of experts in the field of interrogation techniques have clearly stated that the use of torture and inhumane/abusive techniques result in "false and misleading information".

In other words, the use of these techniques not only did not keep us safe -- it is most likely and logical that they have actually heightened the danger to our nation.

In order for us to be a nation governed by the rule of law, those who have broken the law must be brought to justice -- even if there are other pressing things to attend to such as health care, or the economy -- because the rule of law is the anchor of this nation.

What will it profit us if we get our economy fixed, or health care secured for our citizens, if we know that we live in a country where torture was performed, and is now condoned by our silence? What will it profit us if we move forward into some shining new day for our nation, if those who have broken the law and gotten away with it are in our midst?

I urge you, again, to investigate and seek prosecution for those who have broken the laws of this country and violated the UN Convention Against Torture to which this country is a signatory. I urge you to this action as a citizen, but most importantly, as a human being.

Thank you for your time in reading this. I welcome and await your response.


Posted byPortlyDyke at 12:12 PM 2 comments Links to this post  

Long-Winded Answer

So, today, I noticed in Google Reader that there was a new comment on a very old thread of mine at Shakesville -- the post in which I "came out" as myself.

I started to answer over there, but you know how I can go on -- when my response started squishing out the edges of the comment box, I thought it better to address it here at home (you may want to click through to read the question for full context, because it's pretty long, too). My summary of the question, though (and I may not have got it right -- be sure to tell me if that's so, swedishfisherman!) is this: What do I think and how do I feel about the use of the word "psychic", my choice to self-identify as such, and the way that some people use it as dismissive or pejorative.

Here's my response:

I don't generally find an honest question offensive, and I don't find anything about your question offensive at all. In fact, I find it a very engaging question and it's stimulated a lot of thought for me.

RE: The term "psychic". I don't particularly like that term, but it is a handy shorthand to communicate to people a general sense of what to expect when working with me or attending one of my events. It doesn't fully encompass for me everything that I think I'm doing, but explaining that would take several pages -- plus it keeps evolving.

One reason I don't like the phrase "I am a psychic" all that much is that I believe that everyone is "psychic", in the sense that I think that they have the ability to receive information that is clearly not being transmitted in physical 3-d -- whether they use that ability consciously or not. I train people (who want that kind of training) to develop those abilities, and I've never met a person in the course of that training who "couldn't" access others levels of perception, once they started exercising them.

Another reason I'm not fond of the phrase is because of the associations and assumptions which exist for some people, but I recognize that those are outside any realm of my control. (I think that's true of anything that exists in someone else's head, btw.)

My experience has been that most of those who eye-roll over the term psychic probably do so because of a broader set of beliefs and understandings that they hold which doesn't include belief in anything "supernatural" (another term I dislike, but will use here as a short-hand, as that's usually how people who hold these views express it when they talk to me about it). I respect each person's right to their particular personal beliefs and word-views, though, so this doesn't bother me at all.

I think that other people may actually believe that some things exist outside the purely physical perception of reality, but they may have had experiences with professional psychic practitioners that were damaging to them or made fraudulent claims (and I know full well that those kinds of practitioners exist). While I think that's unfortunate, and that some practitioners give the term"psychic" a bad name, I also think that people should listen to their own guidance over anyone else's, so if the very mention of the word gives them the heeby-geebies and they have the impulse to back away or disconnect, I encourage them to do so, rather than to override their own knowing -- so this doesn't bother me either.

In terms of using this word to refer to msyelf, I think of the intuitive abilities that I use in my work not as a "gift", but rather a developed skill-set. Someone may really like woodworking, and even excel at it, but not call themselves "a carpenter". I refer to myself as "a psychic" because I do this work in the world, not just for my own enjoyment (and there was a long time when exercising my intuitive abilities was more of a hobby for me).

My experience has been that most people who are drawn to the kind of work I do don't have usually have a particularly negative connection with the term "psychic" (even some who have had bad experiences with particular practitioners) -- in fact, they seem to be drawn to it -- so I rarely run into blanket dismissal or pejorative use of the word in my work-life. It is usually only when I interface with others outside my work-life and people ask "what do you do?" that I encounter these types of responses.

When that happens (and I tell them), some people simply say: "I don't believe in any of that stuff, but you seem a nice person. Let's talk about gardening." Others may decide on the spot that everything I have said up to that point and everything I might say in the future is now placed in doubt, because my belief in something beyond the purely physical means that I am certifiably crazy.

If I found anything offensive in the comment you mentioned (the one that led you to my coming out post), it is not that this person identified me as a psychic (I identify myself that way -- why would that be offensive to me?) -- but that s/he did so in a way that used my vulnerability in revealing that self-identification as a soft spot in which to poke me, in a context that had nothing to do with my profession. It was clearly a jab (that's not my interpretation alone -- the commenter emailed me after the event to apologize personally to me, and specifically characterized it as "a jab" and "mean-spirited").

My perception is that, when people use this term in a dismissive way (especially in a context outside a discussion of me or my work), it is usually in an attempt (conscious or unconscious) to discredit the other things I might be saying, or even an entire group I might be associated with. ("Well, what can you expect? They hang out with PortlyDyke, and she thinks she's psychic. *eyeroll*)

That second part is a concern for me -- I "came out" in that post with full understanding that some people would dismiss me because of it. That was a risk I was willing to take, but it is a concern to me that others might be similarly dismissed simply because they choose to be associated with me.

Because of this concern, when I decided to come out at Shakesville in the post where your question appeared, I discussed it with Melissa first and told her that I would understand completely if she didn't want me to post it there, or even if she didn't want me to continue as a contributor if I posted it here at my home blog (because a lot of Shakers read me here as well). She, in her usual embracing manner said I was welcome at Shakesville as the person I really am.

In fact, when Melissa McEwan initially invited me to become a contributor (I had only had contact with her as a frequent, but psuedonymous commenter up to that time), I told her what I did for a living before I accepted, and told her: "I wanted to come clean with you about all of this before we continued in confirming your invitation. I won't be at all offended or disturbed if this information is a "deal-killer" for you in terms of the invitation." I felt that it was only fair for me to let her know what she might end up dealing with, precisely because I understand how the judgment about who I am and what I do might be applied to Shakesville by association. Melissa responded that she was not the slightest bit dissuaded by my revelations.

I chose the term "coming out" in that post quite intentionally, because my process of "coming out" as a psychic has been exactly like my process of coming out as a Queer, and I think that this did contribute to a reclamation of the term "psychic" for me.

For one thing, "being psychic" was something that has always been true about me, and something that I do not perceive that I chose -- just something I chose to be out about or not (as with being queer). It was something that I really did not talk about with anyone for a long time (lest people think me "crazy"). I would sometimes flirt around the edges of this stuff in conversation, but would veer away from it at the first sign of any scoffing or disapproval.

Then, I started coming out, usually very cautiously and tentatively, to a few other people who I either knew or suspected also identified in this way -- people who had dropped hints in conversation, or whose bookshelf in their bedroom held tomes that indicated they might be into "woo-woo" stuff (and yes, I kept my early metaphysical books in my bedroom or private space in my younger years, just as I "straightened up" my apartment before my parents visited at that time).

Then, I began to understand that if I were going to become close to someone, I was probably going to need to share this information about myself in order to do so -- or they were going to find out anyway (if they got close enough to me).

Then, I got a little bolder and put it out there in the world in a tentative way, but tried to limit who might access this information by generally only putting the information out to people who I thought would be open to it (I had two business cards for example -- one that mentioned my psychic work and one that did not, a website that only the people who attended my events knew about, and which was visible only to registered members, etc.).

Then, I made the decision to come out to my family of origin.

Then I got to the place where I started telling those who might be affected by the judgements of others by virtue of being associated with me (potential employers, people who blogged with me, etc.) before I accepted the associative position.

Then, I got to the place where I just said: Fuck it. I'm going to be out everywhere, and people are going to think what they think.

Then, I came to the stance of celebrating it as a huge gift in my life.

Finally, I came to where I am now -- this is something that is so much a part of who I am that I don't usually think about it until I run into someone's judgment, and I'm often kind of surprised when I do.

That is exactly -- same steps, in the same order -- the process I went through in coming out as a lesbian.

And the responses I received from others to my coming out were also the same in both cases (and in about the same proportions) -- listed below in no particular order:

Some people said: "So what? You're great."

Some people dismissed me out of hand. (Very few)

Some people felt betrayed that I hadn't told them sooner because if they had known, they wouldn't have chosen to associate with me, or they were hurt that I hadn't trusted them.

Some people told me they didn't understand or that they didn't agree with my world-view, but they didn't see this being an obstacle to our continued relating.

Some people told me they didn't understand, but they wanted to know more.

Some people said "Me too! And your coming out has given me encouragement to come out."

Some people said "Of course I don't care, but I think you're exposing yourself in a way that isn't safe."

Some people said that knowing me and then having me come out to them had motivated them to re-examine the judgments they had held previously, because they had liked and respected me before they knew, when they had believed that people like me were innately crazy or wrong and they would never be able to like or respect "someone like that". (This being one of the really good reasons to come out about anything which is attached to a societal stigma.)

There are parallels, too, in how "being psychic" and "being queer" have affected my life in terms of where I choose to live geographically, the impact on my relationships with certain members of my family (my fundamentalist sibling now believes that not only am I going to hell for being queer, but I am also possessed by the devil -- but she still talks to me at family gatherings), and choosing to spend the majority of my life within circles of people who have a certain basic level of acceptance of these realities about me.

As to how I feel about the dismissive/pejorative use of the word -- I take a "sticks and stones" attitude for the most part. I believe that the comment referenced above really says something more about the commenter than something about me.

As I found with being out as a queer, the more I claim the word and identity, the less effective it is as a tool intended to harm or silence me, even when people would like to try to use it to dismiss or discredit me -- and I understand that it's possible that some people may try to do that, and some people have.

For me, at this point, it's kind of like having someone yell "Lesbo!" at me derisively -- I can feel a bit of pain at first if it's someone I have previously known, respected, and thought liked me (this pain is usually followed by a period of reassessment on my part about whether that person is someone I want to know) -- but if it just pops up randomly from someone I don't know or don't know well, it's pretty easy for me to simply go: "Oh. OK. They have a judgment about me. Good to know."

I think that when people attempt to use this term to dismiss me, they are relying on what they assume is a shared, status-quo judgment, just as someone who yells "Lesbo" is hoping that others around them will share the opinion that that's a bad thing to be -- and hoping that I will buy into that opinion as well, which would be the only way that the word itself could hurt me.

Just as with being out as a queer, it's possible that some people will attempt to use my vulnerability in being out against me, I suppose -- and just as with being queer, I had to move through my own internalization of the social stigmas about psychic stuff that might give efficacy to those attempts.

If people want to discuss the validity of my world-view with me, I'm totally open to that. If they want to judge and dismiss me, that's their sovereign right, but it's unlikely I'll engage them in conversation about it -- because if they hold those attitudes, I imagine that they probably wouldn't want to talk to "someone like me" anyway.

In my own life, I've experienced things that defy any other explanation but that there is "something more" going on besides what I can perceive with my five physical senses -- and I've experienced enough of those things that I'm clear within myself that those things are "real" -- my need for proof is satisfied, and I accept completely that this may not be true for others.

I had to come to a place where I was satisfied that being queer was completely true, normal, and positive for me. I've also come to that place in terms of acceptance of my psychic skills as something that is true, normal, and positive for me. This comfort in my own skin has allowed me to let go of attempts to manage what others think of me, and that's a huge energy-saver.

I sometimes entertain fear when simple words start to turn to actions (as it recently did when someone dropped my profile into a comment thread elsewhere and my website suddenly sprouted derisive and demeaning comments on my other blog), but I try to remember that these, too, are only words -- unfortunately, words that require energy on my part to delete, but words nonetheless.

When that fear crops up, I remember that if I had lived my life making a real attempt to people's criticism or judgment, I would, right now, probably be married to some poor man who knew I didn't really love him, going to a church that I didn't really believe in, and doing a job that I hated. Which I believe would be a misery for all involved and make the world a crappier place.

So, yes, I'm a psychic -- a lesbian psychic at that, and proud of it.

I hope that answers your question.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 2:00 PM 3 comments Links to this post  

Show Me Who You Are

Once I was in a relationship with someone who essentially started out our relationship by lying to me and someone else.

She had "good reasons" for lying (or so she convinced me), and the original lie was fairly harmless (or so I convinced myself) -- partly a lie of omission, and partly a "white lie", ostensibly created to "protect" the other person. I justified it in my mind with "that other person is fragile", and I was not, so my girlfriend would never need to lie to me in the same way.

Which I think was stupid of me, really, and not a little arrogant, as well -- because I watched her telling lies (small and large) to other people over the course of three years, and thought that somehow, I was the Special One who she would not lie to. Oh, the Specialness of me!

When our relationship fell apart amidst a whirlwind of dishonesties and betrayal, someone who I think is very wise said two things to me which I have attempted to keep in mind ever since:

  1. If you watch someone do something to someone else, or to many someone elses -- it is a virtual certainty that they will, one day, do the same thing to you, given the right circumstances.
  2. When what people say and what people do don't match -- trust what they do, not what they say. People can tell you all sorts of stories about themselves, prop up personal mythologies with words -- but their actions will show you who they are.
I realized that this particular person had started showing me who she was from the beginning, with that "little", "benign" lie. She was a person who would lie to someone she said she cared about, if it got her what she wanted.

In truth, I believe that every day I did not confront her about that first lie (and all the others), I ratified by behavior an agreement that I would participate with her in falsehood.

That relationship taught me a lot, even though the lesson was hard-won.

Today, I witnessed a conversation in which several of participants admitted directly that they knew that what they were doing was probably "wrong", even in their own estimation -- but they kept on doing it.

I've run into this a lot in my tiny little town, where gossip is something of a municipal sport -- it usually starts with something like: "OK -- now, I know this is gossip, but . . . ". (This usually comes from someone who says that they hate gossip, by the way -- at least, they hate to be gossiped about.) There's something extra-special fucked-up about starting an activity with a statement that indicates that you already know that what you're about to do is fucked-up -- as if saying it somehow will absolve you from what you know is an intentional fuck-up.

I've been steadily weaning myself off of gossip in recent years. The first step was recognizing when I was engaging in it, which actually wasn't that hard. Note: I believe that there is a difference between talking about someone I know from a place of concern and care when they are not present, and gossiping about them.

The "Warning! You Are About to Gossip!" signs are pretty clear for me.

If I'm about to engage in gossip, I'll notice that I tend to lean in in a conspiratorial manner and lower my voice ever so slightly, even though the subject of my gossip is nowhere in the vicinity. One of the key checks I give myself in order to stop gossiping is to ask myself the question: "Would I say this if the person I'm about to talk about in this way were in the room?"

If the answer to that question is "No", I do my very best to rein myself in.

Lately, I've been getting very clear mirrors in the external world that reveal stuff about my own internal processes.

Today I got to see why I don't want to gossip -- because it breaks trust.

I got to witness a conversation where someone I once thought of as an ally said things about someone else who I have heard them say they claim is an ally -- things that I know they had not, and probably would never, say to that person directly -- at least, certainly, not in the way they were saying it in their absence. This wasn't just that sort of "I'm bored and here's something to fill my time" kind of gossip, either -- it was that awful "gloating over someone else's trouble" kind of gossip.

A little while later, I witnessed that person's interaction with the "someone else" in question, which seemed completely different in tone and word from the conversation I'd witnessed earlier, and I noticed that there was this little *click* that went off in my gut -- a queasiness that I couldn't quite define, yet which was unmistakably present.

I sat down to think about that, and I realized: I no longer trust that person.

This realization didn't feel at all personal or even judgmental -- just factual and real.

They were showing me who they are, and, unless I cling to some kind of illusion that I'm the Special One to whom they would never do such a thing, I have to assume that, given the right circumstance, they would do it to me in the future.

I felt sad, because I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that maybe they're just having a bad day when they do stuff like this -- but I can't deny that *click*, nor do I think it would be wise for me to ignore it.

For the past ten years, I've been working hard on a personal principle -- pledging not to say things about people behind their backs that I wouldn't say to their faces. It's a tough nut to crack sometimes, but it has vastly improved the quality of my internal environment and my external relationships.

I'm a pretty flexible person. I've worked out a lot of shit with friends and loved ones over the years, but one of the consistent deal-breakers for me in relationship has been what some people refer to as being two-faced. I have found it incredibly erosive to relationship (not to mention ineffective), both when I did it or when the other person did it.

I think that's what that *click* was -- a clear indicator that this person had shown me something that I absolutely do not want to be connected to. I want to be open, and trusting, and give people the benefit of the doubt, but I also want to be sensible about my expectations, and not ignore something that's right in front of me.

That click was some opening in me snapping shut, I suspect. I feel a bit sad about that, and a bit disappointed -- but I recognize that any expectation I had of the other person was my own -- they never agreed with me that they wouldn't do this, and obviously, they haven't agreed with themselves not to do it, either (which is probably the more important agreement in the end).

The good news is that I don't hammer myself anymore about having trusted them in the first place, which used to be my default. I wasn't stupid to give them the benefit of the doubt, or to risk disappointment -- and I'm glad that my internal self-care reflexes seem to be operating better than they used to be. I think that's a sign of health.

Obviously, I haven't kept up with my blog commitment (so, believe what I do, not what I say, right?) -- partly that has had to do with the stuff I talked about in my last post -- I've been dealing with a shitload of internal process. My blog may have been silent, but my mind and my life certainly hasn't been. Add a new roommate (which is a huge relief, as we've been carrying a large rent for nearly a year now with just the two of us), major events at a blog community that is near and dear to my heart, my upcoming birthday, taking on a new website-build, creating a short film for a non-profit I volunteer for (Yay, empowering kids!), and generally managing the accelerating energy of Summer -- and it's kind of a miracle that I'm finally posting at all.

That said, I suspect that the experience that I had today is somehow important to my next abuse-onion-peeling -- there's something about the whole "two-faced" thing that really pushes my buttons, and I suspect that it is tied up with the duplicity in the life of my perpetrator. I watched him present one way to the community we both lived in, and quite another way to me.

It's a miracle I trust anyone at all, really, when I think of that -- or that I can hope for a better world, and end this day, feeling my sadness and disappointed, but not feeling shattered by it.

I will celebrate that miracle.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 4:49 PM 1 comments Links to this post  

Here We Go Again

Recently, I've been revisiting a topic that I have spent, literally, thousands of hours and thousands of dollars dealing with -- my history of abuse.

I spent the better part of a decade dealing with nothing else. Over the course of the last 18 years, I somehow managed to transform myself from a blithering mess to a fairly functional being -- and there is nothing I would love more than to swish my palms together in that famous "dusting off" gesture and say: "Well, that's done!"

But it doesn't seem to work that way -- so far, at least.

For me, at least.

In the past few months, external circumstances and internal cues have signaled to me that it's time to take another look -- at ghosts I thought I'd vanquished, and scars I thought I'd healed.

When I started really working on my abuse shit, way back when, my greatest fear was that I was utterly and irrevocably "broken" -- that I would never and could never recover.

I didn't want to be the woman with the awful, dramatic history -- the terrible tale to tell. I didn't want to be a victim.

And I'm not.

I'm a survivor.

Still, each time I discover that there is another layer of this onion to peel, I go through some large or small ritual of resistance. Most recently, this arose when I, my Beloved, and a dear friend chose to do personal work together. We each chose an area of our lives that we knew we wanted to work on, and we did weekly check-ins and intention setting.

I chose the state of my relationship with my FOO (Family of Origin) -- especially with my parents. They are now in their mid-80's, and I in my mid-50's, and I know that they will not be around forever. I love them, and I know that they love me, but there are places in my relating with them that I know are not as deep as I would like them to be.

That's where the resistance came in. As my two compatriots checked in with verve and gusto on their chosen areas of focus, I found myself dragging my feet, making excuses, and bringing my energy to the assignments I'd given myself in a half-hearted, half-assed way.

That's when I began to suspect that that pesky onion was stinking up my psyche again.

Seriously, I've peeled more skins off that fucker than you can believe.

It's kinda funny though -- the closer I get to the core, the less traumatic each peeling seems to me. That's a hopeful thing.

And I think that's a big part of what's kept me from blogging. Part of what marks me as the "New Improved Portly Dyke -- Now More Functional!!" (in my mind, at least), is that my abuse history is no longer the central issue of my life every single day -- and I think that when peeling time comes around again, I get scared that it will subsume my life as it did 18 years ago.

But truth is, this is a huge part of what I've been thinking and feeling about internally.

I've been carrying on with my routine and doing what I do. From outside, you probably wouldn't notice much difference, but inside, I'm having tectonic plate shifts and long talks with myself, and it all feels intensely personal and important -- but there's also a lot of self-talk that says that no. one. on. earth. would. be. interested. in. hearing. about. this.

And I talk back to that voice and hint that maybe, just maybe, it might be very important to communicate my experience to the world. For me. For someone else.

So, when I said that I was going to just let you in on what's been going on in Cranium-Portly, this is what I'll be letting you in on.

I have no idea whether it will be worth reading. I have great hope that, at the very least, it will be worth writing.

It all kind of came to a head a couple of weeks ago, when I was talking to my Beloved about how much the whole torture thing was bothering me.

Regular readers here will know that I don't blog that much purely political stuff -- the reasons for this are complex and more than I want to go into in this post -- suffice it to say that I was really surprised at how politically-activated I felt when I regarded the torture issue.

I talked about this with my Beloved, because I have strong feelings about being pro-active and working towards things rather than against things, and I wanted to find a way to take action without going into "fighting against" mode. I wanted her advice about approaches and actions, and I wanted to understand why I was so activated about it.

She said: "Well, I'm not surprised that it would be intense for you, given your history."

And I was stunned. Stunned because I had not even considered that angle. It felt a little scary to me that I hadn't seen it, and at the same time, it seemed a mark of healing.

I am a survivor of abuse that would be described -- with no hyperbole involved -- as torture.

It seems impossible that I could fail to see how that connected for me with the issue of state-sponsored torture authorized and perpetrated by my government, but I did fail to see it until she said it out loud.

Therein lies the onion-skin I'm peeling now.

Is it a sign of dissociation that I didn't see it, or is it a sign of healthy objectivity that I didn't see it?

It doesn't matter what the answer is -- I only know that I am compelled to get to that answer.

I have to peel this onion.

Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:21 PM 9 comments Links to this post  

In Good News Today -- Mr. Deity Shall Return!

Some of you may know my love of Mr. Deity. You can imagine my relief at this announcement:

Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:49 PM 3 comments Links to this post  

52 Years, 344 Days

My birthday's coming up. On June 21st, I'll be 53.

This seems ridiculous to me, in some ways -- but only when I hold up whatever enculturated idea I have about what it means to be "53" against my internal and external experience.

I'm doing some stuff to mark the next 21 days for myself -- making some changes in my work and play that have been nagging at me for some time. I don't have a clear answer to the question -- "Why now?" -- I only know that now seems to be the time.

I've really struggled with blogging over the past couple of months (or more) -- I either seem to have too much to say, or too little. I've tried a number of strategies to get myself kick-started back into more frequent blogging, but obviously, they haven't worked.

I think that I've fallen into that dreadful pit of self-editing, and that some of the things that have been in the forefront of my consciousness have just seemed so intensely personal that I've hesitated to put them out into the blogosphere.

I'm going to use the excuse of just three more weeks left before my birthday to get the fuck over that.

So, my pledge to myself is to blog at least once a day between now and June 21st -- the first day of Summer -- the longest day of the year -- my natal anniversary.

I'm writing this down here, not because it is earth-shattering news, but just so I will do it -- funny how putting the words to paper can motivate me, and how powerfully that "outside witness" (you, the reader) can affect me.

In the past few months, I've been experiencing a personal transformation which has challenged every facility of language that I possess. There is no way that I can call it subtle -- my internal experience is of a gigantic, tectonic motion -- and although it does seem to connect to some of my external experiences, these seem mere metaphors of what is happening within me.

So, I'm going to summon my guts and glory and attempt to write honestly about my internal reality.

It isn't simple. It isn't always comfortable -- but I think that I haven't been blogging because I haven't been willing to share the complexity of that internal process -- and if I'm not willing to share that, why blog at all?

Strap yourselves in. You're going to get (at least) 21 days of "What's Going On Inside Portly Dyke's Head".

Posted byPortlyDyke at 11:59 PM 4 comments Links to this post