So I am up late…again. Many of you have probably noticed the span of the things I’m interested in…I’ve given thought to managing more than one blog, but at the same time, I’m not sure this is the greatest idea I’ve ever had. Right now I’ve got art, writing, and food going on as themes…all branching from my love of creation.
As a youth, I did deal a lot with the segmentation of myself. By this I mean that I belonged to a number of different groups which at least felt like they didn’t cross over with each other, except where it came to myself and others like me. I’m sure I wasn’t as isolated as I felt I was, though; after all, I knew a number of non-straight people of color, who must have been going through their own experiences of being included or disincluded from groups, based on the inclusiveness — and empathy — of said groups.
This has been an ongoing thread in my life, though I’ve recently — say within the past five years; the years I’ve been working — begun to get to know people who appreciate my versatility and complexity, rather than only seeking that of myself which is similar to them.
Really what it feels like is that when I was younger, and even somewhat now, when I look at some of the gender-based groups I no longer attend…others have sought me out not all the time because they appreciated me, but they sought me out for how my experience could affirm their experience. That is, I have been something of a tool or yardstick by which others could measure themselves and see themselves reflected — even when that “reflection” is more of their imagination than reality, and blinds them to who I actually am.
I’m not really intending to point out how this is or isn’t unhealthy (because I really don’t know; maybe it’s developmentally appropriate), but I’d say that I do appreciate being seen as a person and not just someone else’s self-affirmation.
Then again — five years ago, I was 28; and I’ve found more people to be more in the business of seeking affirmation of themselves in others, the younger I’ve been. I see it in the young people I attend community college classes with, now, and in some of the younger teachers in the community college system. It’s something that has made me actually think that I need to be out of there relatively soon, and finding what I really want to be doing.
(Hopefully, getting paid while doing it.)
I have the rest of my life to obtain a Master’s; but as things stand now, I don’t think I’m totally ready for it. When I started my Master’s in Library and Information Science in 2012, I certainly wasn’t ready for it. Working within the Public Library system and seeing what my co-workers endured, didn’t shine any more of a positive light on it.
Going to an e-school which had us visiting unknown sites all over the Web and still being dependent nearly totally on the functionality of our computer systems (including Flash, which before I upped my security and stopped watching certain videos, continually broke) in order to access and participate in classes (and having full functionality regularly go out); that put me under stress, too. Not to mention all of the group work which had us dependent on each other for Master’s candidacy. And we never saw each other. Should we want to hold each other accountable, the most we could do was report to the prof. Or, yell at each other over the Internet. Though the latter never happened, I can’t imagine it would have helped at all.
Did I mention I don’t remember what any of my classmates looked like, if I even ever did see a profile picture? (I honestly can’t remember if I ever posted an image of myself — facial recognition software, eh? Trails of information all over the Web, eh?)
What I learned in my first semester was in fact the reason I dropped out. (Well, were the reasons.) There are a lot of reasons not to get a Library Science Master’s. There has even been debate over whether a two-year program is necessary, when a one-year extension of a Bachelor’s will do. It’s not even certain that public libraries will be around in 15 years. If they are, they will certainly not look like they do now; and I might be better off going for a straight Information Science major than an MLIS, if I want to work in databases and cataloging/organization of information — which would have been my aim.
But in any case…that’s not what I started this post thinking about. What I started this post thinking about was compartmentalization. I use the latter term even though I’m fairly certain it’s charged, and I am fairly certain that I don’t know enough about the background of it to use it in a clinical sense.
Because I am innately a very creative person…I must have mentioned this before. Did I?…
When my creativity has no external outlet — like writing or drawing or painting or cooking or beading or guitar; or blogging (!), all of which, I’ve tried — it turns back upon me and starts to remake me. As much as I can see my own identity to be a continually evolving work of art, most of the populace, I suspect, doesn’t quite understand the concept.
If they did, there would probably be a lot less people being THAT GUY, out there.
Because we would understand that our own beauty and cohesion and direction can only be within our own control. Whether we have the power to achieve the blossoming of our desires is something that may be out of our hands — I say as someone who has some understanding of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and who has taken several University-level Sociology courses — as I understand that the playing field is not level. It takes more effort for some to get to the same place as others, through no fault of their own.
It’s not always talent or intelligence or skill that solely determines success (which I’m defining as the ability to achieve one’s full potential), but outside of this, there exist racism, sexism, fear, prejudice, hate, class boundaries, misogyny, economic boundaries, stigma, mental illness, access to quality health care, violence, abuse, predisposition to addiction, disability. The list goes on, and I’ve most likely left some out, but these latter factors play some role in determining how far any of us can manage to make it, because inevitably some of our energy is going to dealing with these. Those of us who are untouched by one or more of these factors are relatively privileged where it comes to that factor, but this does not necessarily apply to other factors.
But we aren’t entirely helpless. The person closest to you who can help you out most is yourself. For this to work, you have to not give up. Even given all of the above, you can’t start out defeated.
I have a number of stigmata going on. Not all of them are visible from the outside. Most of them I can’t control; some of them, I feel like I should have reined in, but my judgment wasn’t the best at the time. In reality, when I was a youth, I never expected to make it past 30. I wasn’t really thinking about a reputation or keeping face. I was just trying to survive. And live. Because I wanted to experience life, actually, for those ten years which I could envision before me.
That led to some decisions I still regret, but I can’t beat myself up for them, for the rest of my life. My reality is that I was blindsided by an illness I never knew to suspect, during the time when I was supposed to be setting a course for the rest of my life. That illness majorly screwed up my cognition, my judgment, and my perception — even though it took several years into recovery (ten?) to realize this.
It isn’t fake. It isn’t something to laugh about. “Glad I’m not you! Ha ha!” It’s real. It’s common. And despite that, most people don’t know anything about it.
But this post isn’t about that. Wasn’t intended to be about that, anyway.
Reasons I ended up majoring in Creative Writing?
- I knew I could do it, and do it well;
- I’d had relationships with what I’d considered to be “spirits” since I was 11;
- Writing was the only constant in my life.
It’s taken me years to work out a system to explain the spiritual angle of this, though as things stand now, it’s explained well enough — to me — that I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it. But maybe I should think about it more. Especially, now that I’m relatively stabilized.
What is happening with me, now, is that I’m coming back around to the realization that whatever my “spirits” are — even if they are simply compartmentalized aspects of myself — they’re still with me. It doesn’t do me a great favor to forget about that and pretend they aren’t there, because the underlying process of shifting between personae still goes on, even if I’m unaware of it.
At this point, I’m very certain that this is not linked to any mental illness that I legitimately have. It’s not the same thing as schizophrenia. The term “schizophrenia” (literally, “split brain”) refers to being split away from reality, not to being split away from oneself. I considered for a while the explanation of a dissociative disorder, but unless it’s DD-NOS (which is basically a catch-all category only meant to be used by a psych professional), that’s not it.
When I was younger, I was involved with a group of people who felt they experienced multiple identities. Let me make clear here that — so far as I know, DID notwithstanding — having an identity, or more than one identity, is not a mental illness, regardless of how other people feel about it.
I have not had particularly great relations with said community. The ratio of troublemakers to those with legitimate concerns is way too high for me to want to deal with it, right now. I haven’t even thought of myself as “plural” for at least six months, if not a year or longer.
I have thought of myself as a medium (I don’t do carnival tricks), but without external verification — from someone who is not out to make money off of me (or disingenuous, or obviously not stable) — whether my experience fits the actual experience of other “mediums”, I don’t know.
I know that the medication I’m on tempers the flow of information that otherwise kind of ricochets around my brain in what seems like a somewhat random manner (once the concept of well-worn neural pathways is taken into account; with a history of depression, this can be troublesome). The thing with randomness, though, is that I’ve found random events to be easily manipulated by spirits. I know there are too many examples for me to count here; I can think of one off the top of my head, but it’s a little involved and spooky (insofar as random coincidences can be spooky).
And yes, I did just think of seizures and how migraines are a form of seizure, and migraines run in my family…hmm.
After I began medication at 17, which quieted my thoughts (which is a reason I believe that “visions” are at least partially dependent on brain chemistry, predisposing some people to experience them, and not others)…I started looking at physically-existent coincidences as routes of communication. The parapsychological term for this is “synchronicity,” or a subjectively significant coincidence; the important part of which is the subjective significance.
The thing about these paradigms…medium as versus plural…is that in the latter paradigm, it’s taken as a given that my “spirits” would be part of me and thus could have a greater claim to the body than if I were a medium. If I’m a medium, I’m thinking that the goal would be to live my own life.
Then again, my nearest reference for mediumship is a local psychic school which was founded by an ex-cult member who was into removing “spirit attachments.” I’m not using the more accurate term because I don’t want to raise the attention of said cult (it’s kind of like naming He Who Must Not Be Named). I’ve read something parallel to my experience in a book by an energy worker, but he was friends with Fundamentalist Christians and had a negative spin on partnership with “discorporeals.”
But anyhow…I’m experiencing a shifting between different ego-states. Today I realized that when I go to work, as versus the days when I don’t, my gender presentation changes. That’s not really surprising if one takes into account the fact that I haven’t felt safe at work for a while, and have worn clothes which give me a full range of motion, as well as which deflect male sexual attention.
But there have been other little things happening as well — like my removing my 16-gauge earrings to let my piercings shrink back down again, after two months of stretching and being ready to go up to 14-gauge. The term “flesh tunnel” is making more sense now (seriously, do I permanently want that?), but besides that, I took the earrings out because I wanted to wear more feminine ones, without forging new earwires.
But there is a specific identity in me that I know of who likes to do stuff like this (wear feminine things of the style I’m referencing), and it’s her modus operandi to change things as they were changed. That is, without thought that at another time, someone else in me might want something different, and maybe it would be good to take others’ feelings into account as well, instead of just removing the earrings because she wanted to, in the moment. In turn, maybe I should have thought more about how she would feel if I put these earrings in as placeholders, and never changed them. (If I want to put in large-gauge jewelry, maybe I should get some sparkly femme earrings for her? Like gold and CZ?) 🙂
Reiteration: I do not have dissociative identities. Though I’m speaking of differing parts of myself in the third person, this is more for convenience than anything. It’s a given that everyone within my “system” (of subpersonalities, you could say) is me, but it’s also a given that my ground of being (or my ultimate identity/spirit) is the same as anyone else’s ground of being (Spirit). The differentiation which exists between my differing expressions of self, seem to come from differing weights placed on different experiences, and differing attitudes of facing the world. (I get the clue that with the differing genders, I’m also utilizing different sets of neural pathways, as well.)
For instance, someone new has spoken up recently in my thoughts, and has been encouraging me not to frighten myself by thinking about what could happen, or might happen, but isn’t happening. I could be scared of seeing certain people come in to my workplace, but the fact is that they rarely do, and I frighten myself far more than they have the power to. Being frightened is in essence handing over power to them (as in “you make me afraid” rather than “I am afraid”), which in turn disempowers me, which in turn makes me even more afraid of them because I feel like they have power over my emotional state: when they don’t. I do.
This is what I was trying to get around to talking about when I mentioned “compartmentalization.” It’s still hard to talk about now, especially since some people I know and really like, whom I haven’t opened up to about this yet, read this blog. In my case, I’m thinking that the compartmentalization is adaptive (and continues to adapt), but just with its own troubles of internal communication and cooperation. It’s hard to achieve these when one is too scared of judgment to be able to even face the thought that one’s brain might be working in a way that other people could think is crazy.
But maybe they won’t. I do work with people who work with books, after all, and it kind of requires a parallel thought process to be able to write, at least in fiction. (If you’re wondering, facing this aspect of my reality is another reason why I stopped writing fiction. But maybe it isn’t such a bad thing to deal with, as things go.)