This week, for various reasons, my anxiety has edged far too close to intolerable. Much of my response to it involves my trying to minimise the outward appearance of said anxiety, which saves me from judgement but denies me the release of expressing it. I’m falling apart so terrifically inside this membrane of skin while Western society is structured in such a way that I have limited ability to safely voice this experience outside it. Not only do I have to survive the pain of a brain that is disabling me, I have to survive both the lack of support this disability gets and that lack making it difficult to try and talk even to those few willing to listen.
In a way the ordinariness of anxiety, as something so common a significant percentage of people suffer it at least at one time, makes it difficult for those of us with severe forms (especially severe forms complicated by other diagnoses, like autism) to be acknowledged and treated as such. In therapy, I’m more often handed things that work for people with mild to moderate anxiety, with the expectation that’s all that’s needed to help me. The psychologists think I’m not trying hard enough, while I don’t feel seen or understood. I’m going back to a normal psychology program to be treated for my current peak of anxiety (this way I don’t have to ring or email anyone, just show up) but I am anxious (oh hear the bitter laughter) that this is going to be another disaster with another psychologist who treats my anxiety as moderate and ignores the autism.
I’ve had a good psychologist in the mix, and I like my current psychiatrist a lot, but that hasn’t erased my trauma. In many ways, it makes me feel that my trauma response is invalid or absurd. I know good medical professionals exist, so why do I panic so much about seeing them? Why can’t I trust that a new one will also be good? But I do and I can’t. New medical professionals terrify me, especially new mental health medical professionals.
I’m thinking about pausing my current projects to work on Ein’s next story (the sequel to The King of Gears and Bone). It might be more distressing than is good for me: that story cut far too close to the bone to write even at a time when I felt (more) stable. It might also give me a way of talking through my character at a time when I am so silenced. I’m feeling the pitch of anxiety, distrust and isolation, so if I must endure this again, perhaps I should make what use of it I can by channelling it into my character.
It’s not as though I’m accomplishing anything off my to-do-list right now, so if writing that out gives me somewhere to go with it all, maybe that won’t be a bad thing.
Ask: Ace, One Word with Many Meanings – In which an anon ace (who doesn’t use the split attraction model) talks to me about their struggles with folks assuming they are alloromantic or correcting their definition of ace. We have different approaches on how to solve this, as I don’t think coining individual words for each combination of split attraction experiences is the answer, and I’m curious to see how folks who don’t use the SAM take this. As someone who needs the SAM, I don’t want to overstep or intrude on deciding language, but we in the a-spec community need to look at how we use our words, because we are causing harm to our own and the anon’s pain here is real.
Reply: Amatonormativity and Language – In which @techno-trashcan makes a point in response to the above, and I start talking on how it seems to me that the aro-spec community talks more about how we are aro-spec instead of assuming that aro means any particular one thing.
Reblog: Why We Need to Stop Using Love as a Metric of Aro Worth – This is my pet distaste towards an often-unquestioned tendency to use “but we still love, just not romantically” as a way to say that aros don’t deserve hate and erasure. I have become that annoying blogger who pipes up on this point whenever it crosses my path–namely that just being aro is reason to not be a target of hate, one’s ability to love or neurotypically perform (Western notions of) love irrelevant. On that point, I’ve got most of Paide’s next story first-drafted in which he talks love, the harm love has caused him and Ein, and the harm his love for his country has caused Ihrne. I’ve enjoyed writing a man who’s generally a sympathetic protagonist talking about feelings that, in most other stories, would mark him as an irredeemable villain, and as someone preaching this point on love, I have a pressing need to see it in representation.
(I’m writing Fletcher Ace in the same way, for different reasons. I plan to give hir connection, as discussed below, but never will I name it love.)
Reblog: Aro-Ace Erasure By Allo-Aces – In which I am @ mentioned by a follower on a rather explicit example of where aromantic asexuality is deemed, by allo-aros, as ineligible for representing asexuality as a whole on a pride art post. So I talk about how centering the alloromantic side of allo-aro folks under the asexuality banner actually results in two instances of inclusion (at least for LGBP allo-aces) while erasing aro-aces entirely. There’s also a side mention of the fact that Tamora Pierce’s The Circle of Magic is my go-to series for romance-free escape reading.
Post: Alloromantic Asexual Erasure in -Sexual Pride – In which I say what should have been said in the post above, namely that expecting all alloromantic aces to find pride in art that explicitly labels bi/ply/pan pride as -sexual can be erasing, and my commentary was made in the context of a post that doesn’t do that. I talk enough about erasure; I don’t want to contribute to it from another direction.
Ask: Being Aggressively and Apologetically Aro in Ace Spaces – In which an anon asker talks to me about their fear of being explicitly aro-ace on an a-spec community blog that centres on the ace, and I spend time talking about how activism isn’t required for being proudly aro but, if anon chooses, here’s how I’d slowly introduce aro content into ace spaces. Sometimes I think a good part of my activism on this blog lies in validating people’s feelings and experiences, but since I know too keenly what it feels to lack it, it’s an important thing to offer.
I started @aroworlds as a place to promote and celebrate aromantic creative media, in part because I did not feel ace enough (in the sense of being content with the ace being centred over the aro) to be supported in the ace community’s equivalent offerings. I do not forget, though, what it means that we’re now having so many other conversations about aro experience on this blog. I don’t know where this outpouring will lead us, and I do fear that our conversations might lead to widening the gulf between the sections of the a-spec community instead of closing it, if we are not careful and frustration hardens into hatred. I am privileged in that people think I am a safe person to talk to and listen to, but I wonder what damage I can and will wreck through my own biases and ignorance. For the first time as a blogger and writer, I have this twisted, nauseating concern that I can be dangerous, and as someone who has spent more of my life being quiet in the face of the danger wrought by others’ words, it is … disconcerting.
Fletcher Ace and the Draconis Stratagem – I’ve finished the first section of the novelette/novella and moderately edited it, in the sense that it isn’t too raw but, because I’m unsure what changes the later sections might bring to the first, I’m not calling it a final draft. I’m also undecided as to what to do with it–keep going with the next section? Post this here? Post it somewhere else? Do I post this as a free read or do I publish it as a book? Do I post this as a draft now for folks to check out and then publish the rest as a book?
(Not to mention the current inability for carrythrough, which is likely behind said indecision.)
The story has become far less comedic than I intended on, in the sense that I’ve found more seriousness in the concept and its execution than I initially considered possible. There’s more rumination on love, narrative and happy endings, mermaids as certain kinds of characters in storytelling and Fletch’s uncle stepping up to keep hir company on hir quest.
Once one reaches a certain age, romantic relationships are deemed the du jour in genre fiction; platonic and familial relationships are deemed either less than necessary or not in need of development and exploration. There’s this assumption in genre stories that once we’re adult our familial relationships are stable and don’t evolve or change, which doesn’t match anything related to my life experience. I like the idea of Fletch’s character arc revolving around forming deeper connections with hir kin, since ze is to some extent detached from them in hir preference of unruffled organisation and book-reading quiet, even though ze is leaving most of them behind. Through Archer, even though they’re both far from Shadowdale, ze binds hirself a little tighter to the people for whom ze is making such sacrifice. There is a tendency creeping into my work for the exploration of familial relationships, or platonic relationships that become familial in a chosen-family way, over non-familial platonic ones, and I don’t think I mind it.
If you have a few dollars to spare and you’d like to help me survive to keep on doing the work I do in the online neurodiverse and aro-spec communities as well as my fiction writing, not to mention aiding in the purchase of expensive adaptive equipment so I can better function as a disabled activist and creator, please consider donating to my ko-fi.