November 19th, 2013 by Professor Chaos
We met for coffee and immediately clicked. It may be because we have similar conversational styles, or that we are both squarely between being introverts/extroverts, or perhaps that he is just that wonderful. I was very excited to have a new friend in my new city.
The second time we hung out, he kindly accompanied me to a munch so I would have someone I knew (albeit barely) to make me more comfortable. We talked for hours, about many things. It continued to be easy to talk to him, and I continued to be amazed at how comfortable I felt with this boy that I had essentially just met. And I felt terrible about how much I wanted him.
I tried very hard not to flirt. I felt guilty. I felt elated. I kept having to remind myself that this was not a date, that he was in a relationship with someone, that I had to behave myself. And I did, for the most part. Still, when he dropped me off at my apartment, I made him get out of his car and give me a proper hug, and I reveled in the feeling of his arms around me.
When his relationship with Tavi ended, I felt sympathy for him. Break-ups suck, no matter what. I tried to quash any sort of hope that was kindling in my heart. When we made plans to hang out again, I told myself that it was as friends and that if something happened eventually, that it would happen, but that I shouldn’t actively pursue him, that I should give him time to heal.
We flirted a lot. I couldn’t tell if he simply liked the attention or if he was interested in me. (I am also remarkably dense. I am terrible at telling when someone is interested in me.)
I went to his house. I tried to teach him to dance. We talked. We walked to the dance venue and he teased me about my height. I jokingly threatened him. I took his arm as we walked in the venue. I wore my “dancing outfit”–pants which accentuate my butt, and are easy to dance in, and a top that leaves my shoulders bare. He complimented me and I wondered if he liked me.
Dancing with him was amazing. I spent the night with him in my arms, making him blush and stutter and stammer, unable to meet my eye, and it was delicious. When I feel comfortable with someone, when I have an indication that they’ll be receptive to it, I have a flirting style that is aggressive, almost predatory in nature. I let them know I want them, and give them a hint of just how much I want them.
At the end of the date, I wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t even sure it was a date. I am normally more than comfortable making the first move, but I didn’t think it was right, so I gave him a hug and awkwardly ran away (much like Clarice here).
Our next date, he cooked for me. I love to bake, but I can’t cook very well. I love it when a man cooks. Not only is it nice to eat home-cooked food, but it makes me feel special, somehow, worth care and effort.
I have a thing about foot rubs (I LOVE THEM). Knowing this, and knowing my feet had been aching from being on them all day, he offered to give me a foot rub. I sat on his bed and felt his fingers on my arches and looked at him kneeling on the floor in front of me. And I could no longer resist.
I asked him if I could be radically honest with him and he said yes. “Look,” I told him, “I know you just got out of a relationship, and I really want to be respectful of that, but I also want to throw you down on the bed and have my way with you.” He immediately became delightfully blushy again, and averted his eyes and muttered something along the lines of “Oh thank god” and “I think I like radical honesty.”
I told myself I wouldn’t kiss him till our third date. (For those who are wondering, it was REAAAAAAAAAAAALLY HARD to do that.) I kissed him, the way I always kiss boys, forcefully, aggressively, and hard. And then we spent most of our third date kissing. His lips are soft and wonderfully responsive, and he reacts to my touch in all of the ways I hunger for, the ways that spur me on to touch him more, kiss him more, hurt him more. Simply put, he is what I have always wanted, what I have always imagined and hoped and longed for in a partner.
Our dynamic feels very, very natural to me. I can be myself, every aspect of myself, around him. I haven’t felt like this about someone in a very long time, and I am so very happy.
November 18th, 2013 by Professor Chaos
I recently moved to a new city in a new state, to embark upon a new phase in my life.
I had decided not to date for my first six months here, to let myself get settled and concentrate on my career development and making new friends.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
As some of you reading this surely will already know, I’m dating someone. I call him H2O2.
I have dated a lot. It has been over a year since Shadow and I went our separate ways, and in that time I have dated a lot. And before Shadow, there was also quite a bit of dating. In all that time, I have rarely met someone with whom I felt such ease in talking to, and such chemistry with, than Peroxide.
As similar as we are in some respects, Peroxide and I are very different, in many ways. Aside from the obvious dichotomies (female/male, dominant/submissive, atheist/Christian), he is a much more personal blogger than I am. I tend to blog more as a political tool than anything else, and, to be perfectly honest, I tend to write when I am pain. Writing is my way of opening up my chest and freeing whatever happens to be weighing heavily in my heart. I only write when I want to make a point about something. I sometimes read other people’s writing and say “So what?” I don’t want my writing to be that way.
I don’t write so much when I’m happy.
I’m not sure how I feel about that. I don’t know if I want to write just to tell people I am happy. I don’t know if I want to have a personal relationship with you, my readers. I would rather be an amorphous essence behind a screen than a real person. It helps me distance myself from the pain that I put out there, for anyone to read.
But I find that writing also helps me focus my thoughts and examine my feelings, to hold up a mirror to my inner self, as uncomfortable as it sometimes may be. But also, writing, journaling helps me chronicle things so I can go back to them one day.
My time thus far with Peroxide has been short, but it has been magical, and it’s something I want to keep, whatever may happen in the course of our relationship. My memory is not good, due to a combination of brain drugs and the stuff-that-I-need-the-brain-drugs-for-in-the-first-place.
There is nothing about this time that I don’t want to remember. I want to sear these things into my memory, to lock them forever in my heart. So my next few posts will be of a more personal nature, a journal so I can look back on this someday and remember all of the joys of the early days of our relationship.
August 24th, 2013 by Professor Chaos
I’ve been single for well over a year now, and dating has been proving to be an exceedingly difficult and troublesome task. Part of this is because I’m not quite sure what I want; an unusual experience for me. My relationship with Shadow was my first real long-term D/s relationship, and while, in many ways, it was wonderful and everything I had ever dreamed about, its amicable but ultimately heart-breaking cessure left me a little skittish about D/s.
Part of me longs for a D/s relationship again, but I also want a relationship that is based on romance, not rules. I want someone who does the things I like, the things I want them to do–but not because they have to. Because they love me.
One thing remains certain: I am an unabashed sexual top. My realization of this has make vanilla dating difficult and awkward. I don’t know how to tell the boy who flirts with me at the coffee shop “Look, you’re really cute, but I’m just not interested unless I can drag you home, tie you to my bed, and make you my fucktoy.”
I feel aimless. Purposeless. I dither about. I start up an OkCupid profile, and then shut it down the next day. I go on a date and then don’t follow-through. I go to a munch and flirt and don’t make any plans to play. I feel simultaneously kink-starved and burned out. I’m not sure what I want, but I am sure that I want something. I don’t know if I want a full blown D/s relationship, but there’s something holding me back from getting into a vanilla one.
I guess the real question I’ve been asking myself is: can I still be dominant if I am not with a submissive? If I am in a vanilla relationship, am I still dominant?
The reason why I want to be in a D/s relationship, to do D/s, is not only so I can actualize my own desires, but because I want someone who can accept me, all of me, including my deviant desires, my kinkiness, my dominance. I want someone who I can really be myself around, someone who will accept and love me, all of me. I worry that if I date a vanilla person, I will end up having to hide or minimize my dominance, that it will fade into the background of my life. After all the self-exploration I’ve done, having to do that feels like having to deny who I really am. But at the same time, I have to ask myself if I am willing to live a life devoid of love in order to stay true to myself? I’m uncertain how to proceed with this question, and, unanswered, it continues to gnaw at my heart and fester in my mind.
October 11th, 2012 by Fizz
Last year I wrote my own post here for National Coming Out Day, on why it’s important to me to be out. This year I wrote on some social media sites about why I would like anyone who feels safe doing so to come out as whatever they can, even if it’s just “I’m an ally to people with marginalized identities.” Instead of repeating myself again here, I offered this space as an anonymous platform for a friend on the other side of the closet door.
National Coming Out Day makes me a little bit sad. Y’see, I’m not coming out.
It’s not that I don’t have anything to come out about — I’m queer, poly, and kinky. The typical narrative is that coming out is a joyous, amazing thing — the ability to live your life in a way that’s true to yourself and brings you the most happiness. But it’s not just that. Coming out can bring sadness. After all, the whole reason coming out is even a thing is because you’re coming out as being a part of some marginalized group. When’s the last time you heard someone come out as straight?
But fuck the haters, you say. Anyone who doesn’t love the real, true you isn’t worthy of your time, your attention, your thoughts. And hey, I even agree with you sometimes! When I meet new people, when I’m in a place that’s remotely safe for it, I will be openly myself. The problem isn’t those people, those anonymous others I didn’t know and don’t really care about. The problem is anyone I already do. My family has told me in as many words that they do not think polyamory or kinky sex are okay or normal. My extended family has told me the same thing about homosexuality, and I don’t know if they even believe in bisexuality.
It’s tempting to say “Screw them, too! PRIDE!”, but then I remember that I’m finally feeling like I can interact with my parents like a mature adult. Our relationship was rocky for years of my childhood, and now we can actually talk without getting angry at each other. That relationship, which increasingly has actual meaning to me, would probably be hugely damaged if I told them. The damage would be from their intolerance, but it would still come about via my choice. So I don’t come out, and every year that’s a choice I make again.
Similarly, I intend to be and stay employed/employable, with the option of going into professions where personal character matters more than most. I’m not sure where the lines are, but it’s safer to stay on one side — so I don’t holler this stuff at the internet, and I edit some conversations to make some relationships sound a bit more serial than they actually were. It’s the same for any other time I put on my public face — I choose a certain kind of effectiveness over truthfulness, and it’s still a bargain I choose to make.
For all this, I’m not in the closet either. All my friends know. People who randomly pass me on dates in my city know. People I meet at cons, on the internet, at my alma mater, they all know. I’ve achieved an awkward, imperfect, workable balance, wherein I’ve got enough space to live as myself but I’m not suffering from that openness. I wish I didn’t have to.
September 18th, 2012 by Professor Chaos
Don’t come to me on your knees
(If I want you there, rest assured, that’s where you’ll end up)
Come to me with your back straight, your head held high
As I find the thrill of victory so sweet
Don’t be afraid–
I won’t bite you (unless you like it)
I won’t hurt you (unless you like it)
I won’t mock you (unless you like it)
And unless we’ve talked about it first.
Don’t tell me how worthless you are
How pitiable you are
And then ask me to own you.
I only own things of value.
Don’t expect anything
Don’t presume anything
Don’t demand anything–
Remember that if this is going to work, then I am going to be the demanding one
Don’t treat me like a fantasy,
Don’t try to make me into your fantasy.
Maybe, if you are lucky, I will make you into mine.
Don’t tell me that you think I’d be good for you,
Show me why you would be good for me.
I may be a pervert, but I am also a romantic:
Take the time to learn who I am,
Then show me you are actually interested in me
Not just some image you have of me in your head
Come to me with a smile on your lips and your hand outstretched in friendship.
Remember that I’m a lady, but I’m also just a person,
I’m not inherently better than you, and that I want this as much as you do–
Perhaps even more.
Allow me the space to be who I am,
give me what I need, and I will take what I want–
May 11th, 2012 by Fizz
I want to have a penis. There, I said it.
This is not a new coming-out. I’m not a trans man. I don’t want to take testosterone, I don’t want to transition, I don’t want to cut off my breasts or sew up my vulva. There is no news here about my self or my gender identity; I’m just telling you something you might not have known about how it manifests.
It goes through cycles, you see. I’ll spend a while enjoying acting femme and content to look and be treated like a woman; then a month or two will pass and I’ll find myself wanting to bind every day, feeling uncomfortable being called “ma’am,” and considering packing (although not doing it, because I don’t have a soft packer and who wants to deal with a boner all day in class).
The first few times I oscillated to one extreme or the other, it scared me. Unable to see past the way I felt at that moment, I was afraid that I’d been wrong all along: at one extreme, that I was just a girl who overthinks things, and at the other, that I was just a boy but couldn’t admit it. After two or three cycles I noticed the pattern and relaxed a little, trusting that the phases of strong feeling would pass and continuing to comfortably define myself by the variation itself.
And they do pass, back into my ground state of relative genderlessness and then eventually to the other extreme or even the same one again. But knowing that this will happen doesn’t make the experience of the peaks any less real. On the feminine side, it’s usually not a big deal; I’m socialized as a girl, I know how to do that and it matches the way that people expect to interact with me. The masculine side … is not so easy.
This hit home for me recently when I read Seth Fischer’s Notes From a Unicorn, an excellent and compelling essay about being bisexual in a world that doesn’t believe he exists. In it, he describes going through periods of trying to “just be straight” or “just be gay,” and towards the end details a particular bit of sex during one of the latter phases:
I moaned and screamed and made all the right noises … but I just couldn’t come. [I] was right on the edge. Right there. So I did what no one admits to their lovers they do but that everyone does: I closed my eyes and let my mind wander to other people. I [forced] myself to think about men, only men, men men men men men men, and then it slipped in there …. I thought, for a second, about Willow [and] I fucking erupted. I came so hard I was worried about getting enough air.
That moment, that slip, felt so familiar that my heart sank. How many times have I been trying to come, and trying to come, and flicking through my mental gallery of fantasies for the right thing to set me off, and then I hit the one where instead of rubbing my clit, like I’m actually doing, I’m running my fingers through someone’s hair as they suck my dick and it’s over in a second. I don’t feel guilty about this, or ashamed–I don’t think it’s wrong for me to want it. Instead, I feel helpless and sad. What I crave isn’t just something I don’t have; it’s something I can’t.
The worst it’s ever been was towards the end of a Skype call with Leon and Ali, after I think she’d already gotten off and he and I were still turned on and masturbating–watching each other and turning each other on, getting off on that–one of those delicious circles, except this time it wasn’t quite working for me. The sight of him stroking his hard cock made my clit swell and my pussy wet, but I was nowhere close to orgasm and not getting there. Eventually it hit me: the ache I was feeling wasn’t because I wanted to be playing with his cock (although I did). It was because I wanted to be playing with mine.
I wanted to be masturbating the way he was masturbating, sliding my hand along the length of a shaft instead of just pushing against my clit with my fingertips. The knowledge that it was impossible was suddenly so painful and so unsexy that I immediately gave it a hard shove out of my head, and found something generic and hot to think about to drag out the reluctant orgasm. He finished too, we said our good nights and signed off, and then I curled up on my bed and let the thoughts come back and felt like crying.
I talked to Ali about it over the next couple of days. While we don’t identify our genders the same way, we live near enough to each other in genderspace that my problem made a lot of sense to her, and she sympathized. Talking to Leon is harder. It’s not that I think he’d be repelled or disgusted; if I expected that from him, we wouldn’t be involved in the first place. He’s been receptive and patient, when I’ve brought it up as much as I dared. But while he accepts and respects my genderqueer identity, he is with the exception of his attraction to me a straight man, and let’s face it: while his conscious mind recognizes the difference between me and a woman, his unconscious libido probably doesn’t. But only because I have all the parts it expects.
I don’t fault him for that, because it’s not a choice. There’s a deep instinct which says “this one has breasts and a vulva and smells right, let’s have sex with her” and I hardly object to my body setting that off for him. On the contrary. What I’m afraid of is that if I had the body I want–or even if he completely understood how much I want it, how much the body doesn’t feel right–that I wouldn’t trigger that instinct any more. That for all his caring and respect on a conscious level, he could not still be instinctively sexually attracted to me. I am afraid that some day I will have to make a choice between having the body I want and the person I want to share it with, and there is no possible outcome of that situation which wouldn’t break my heart.
I am, of course, unlikely to ever have to make it; having a body that does feel right for me will probably not ever be an option. Even if you simplify the problem to “I want to have SRS” (which isn’t entirely correct), it’s still out of reach on a few levels. Money is the obvious one. I couldn’t afford it out of pocket, which might some day change but not so certainly or so soon that I’ll hold my breath for it. I don’t have health insurance. If I did have health insurance–and that I probably will, eventually–it might or might not cover transition-related expenses at all. If it did, if I got really lucky and got coverage which takes gender transition seriously, it still probably wouldn’t take me seriously, because like I said, I’m not a man and I don’t want the body of one.
Transsexual people have fought so hard for so long to carve out a path for themselves, through the jungle of medical culture and industry, to get what they need. I’m so glad, genuinely glad, that more and more people are now able to follow it. But their path is not my path. The ways for nonbinary people to get care are still few, and irregular, and hard to see. It’s difficult just to get on hormones outside of a binary transition. I can’t even imagine what it would take to convince the gatekeepers of care that it’s right for me to have a penis, without lying and claiming I’m a man (which is out of the question).
Even if I got past all of that–if, say, I was gifted the money for surgery and also found a skilled doctor willing to do it–what could I get? To the best of my knowledge, the creation of a penis which looks, acts, and feels like the ones some people are born with is beyond the limits of current medical technology. The closest we get is with one of two surgeries.
Phalloplasty is the construction of a penis from scratch, using skin from elsewhere on the body. A penis built by phalloplasty can look very much like a cis man’s penis, but can’t become erect without prosthesis and will be much less sensitive if it retains sensation at all. Complications, most often related to extending the urethra, are common.
Alternatively, in metoidioplasty, the clitoris (already enlarged by hormone therapy) is released from the pubic bone, allowing it to lengthen further, and has a shaft constructed from labial tissue. A penis built by metoidioplasty almost always retains sensation, and can of course become somewhat erect (since the clitoris already could), but at an average length of around two inches is not usually long or hard enough to allow for penetrative sex.
Those would be my choices, if I somehow found the money and the access to get surgery: I could have a penis that looks good (but I can’t have intercourse with) or a penis that feels good (but I can’t have intercourse with). The latter is more appealing, but neither is what I want–after going through the expense, the bureaucratic hassle, and the physical trial of the most appropriate surgery currently available, my body still wouldn’t be capable of what I want from it.
So I feel helpless. Not frustrated, not overwhelmed by a difficult obstacle or a long wait or an obscure path, but actually, literally helpless, because as far as I can see (and I’ve done a lot of looking) it is actually, literally impossible for me to get what I need. The helplessness exacerbates the hurt, like helplessness always does; when I let myself dwell I get sad and I stay there.
I try not to dwell. Logically, the unlikelihood of the resolution should ameliorate the fear (why be afraid of a situation that can’t happen?) but it doesn’t. I’m just afraid instead of how strongly I feel about it sometimes. Afraid of being rejected, of being misunderstood, of being ignored. Afraid, more than anything, of being right–about the depth of my need and the impossibility of my solution–and of having no choice but to live with it.
April 8th, 2012 by Fizz
This is part of a series of Consent Culture Sex Stories: explicit posts describing real sex, including the communication around what happened, how we got what we wanted, things that didn’t go right and how we adapted. Their purpose is to make clear and enthusiastic consent more than an abstract idea discussed by sex nerds–to show how this actually works in real life, and that it’s hot. The first CCSS post is here.
I was at a play party with Robin, a casual partner, watching some friends of ours give another their first play piercing–more of a low-key demonstration than a serious scene. They were doing it in a small room, with only two places to sit: the medical chair that the bottom was using, and a low bench in the corner, built into a cage. Robin helped herself to the bench. I flicked my eyes from her, to the bars, to her again, and closed the cage door.
She looked at me with that head-down-eyes-up look that radiates submission. “If you’re going to close me in here,” she said, “you have to be the one to let me out. I don’t want to let myself out.”
My heart squeezed, as did other things. She wasn’t just telling me it was okay, she was showing me that it pushed her sub buttons in a way that fit my dom ones perfectly–hitting that delicious intersection of sweet and sexy. No one else in the room took any notice when I slid the latches on the cage door closed. I pulled a few binder rings out of my toybag and used them to fasten the door; Robin watched, but said nothing. When I was done, I turned back to the demonstration. She followed suit, and for the duration of the needleplay scene I kept glancing over and seeing her there–my good girl–and smiling to myself. A few times I caught her glancing back, and she’d give me a shy smile before turning away.
When our friends were finished, some filtered out of the room while the rest started cleaning up. I leaned casually against the doorframe. Robin had stood when she saw the scene ending, but when I made no move to release her, she sat back down and waited patiently. When everyone else and finally left, I walked over to the cage door.
“Come here,” I said. She stood up again and took a small step forward, about all she had room for. I grabbed her by the belt, pulled her against the bars, and pressed my lips to hers. She melted into me and I held her there, kissing her with all the pent-up passion that had been waiting since I closed her in.
Unfortunately, the dungeon was about to close, so we didn’t have time to continue. I grudgingly opened the door, kissed her again, and led her upstairs. As we packed up to leave, I came across my collar in my bag and asked if she wanted to wear it.
“Now? But the party’s over.”
“Are you comfortable wearing it out to your car?” We had parked a few blocks away. The street was pretty quiet at this hour, and in San Francisco it was unlikely that anyone would bat an eyelash at someone in a leather collar and street clothes, but it was nevertheless her boundary to set.
She thought for a minute, and then nodded. I brushed her hair out of the way and fastened the collar around her neck. As we walked out, it was hard not to admire how good she looked in it–and when we got home, it was easy to pick up where we left off.
When she was naked but for the collar, I tied a bit of rope through it to make a quick leash. In tugging and playing with it, I experimentally wrapped the loose end a half-turn around the base of her cock and was immediately rewarded with a soft “Yesss.”
“Mm, I see,” I said, delighted, and pulled with a little more pressure. She moaned. I glanced around, confirmed that my EMT shears were handy, looped the rope around into an overhand knot, and very slowly tightened it.
“Tighter,” she encouraged, and I tightened it, keeping a finger on the tension and an eye on her skin under the rope, even while distracted by her happy moans and squirms. She kept asking for more, but because I wasn’t sure how far would be unsafe or how to tell, I stopped when she was only moderately constricted and doubled the knot so it would hold. I hope she wasn’t too disappointed when instead I gave the head of her cock one satisfied lick, put a condom on, and then climbed on top of her.
March 16th, 2012 by Professor Chaos
Trigger warning: needles
The first time I ever stuck a needle into myself was four years ago. I was twenty-two. I was terrified. I had just been diagnosed with yet another enigmatic, difficult to treat medical condition, and I had been prescribed a medication that required a subcutaneous (or sub-Q) injection, a shot into the layer of fat under the skin. After a long and tedious diagnostic process, I was looking forward to feeling better, but I was still petrified by the idea of that first needle stick.
I felt completely unprepared to administer it. No one wanted to show me how to properly do the damn thing. I knew there wasn’t a huge risk associated with subcutaneous injections–as far as methods of administering medications go, they’re pretty benign, apart from the sharp pointy bit going in your skin.
Last summer I had two of my friends put ten needles into my back and lace them up with ribbon. I didn’t particularly enjoy it–I’m not much of a masochist–but it didn’t bother me that much either. It was painful, but not terribly. It was emotionally uncomfortable, but no more so than many of the medical procedures I have endured. It was a little weird, a little scary. But that’s okay. As someone whose body has endured quite a bit in the name of medical science, I feel the need to balance that out by making art with my body.What I enjoy about artistic BDSM like decorative needle play is the chance to make a point. Putting needles in my back and lacing them up with ribbon is aesthetically pleasing and emotionally unsettling; when onlookers squirm with discomfort, I ask them: Why is this more upsetting to mainstream society than labioplasty? Or high heels? Or any other way people torture their bodies in the name of beauty?
But I digress–back to medical needles. My specialist couldn’t show me how to do the injection because of insurance reasons. My general practitioner didn’t want to do it because she felt uncomfortable dealing with specialty medications. The pharmacist wouldn’t show me how to do it because that wasn’t his job. I felt like of all of these people, all of whom were supposed to be on my team, no one was willing to go to bat for me. None of this did anything to assuage my fears. While I was used to getting needle sticks–frequent blood draws will do that to you–I still wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea of them, or the sharp pain that went with.
My specialist was the one who finally caved and extended me some kindness, the one to show me how to do it. She was very reassuring and willing to accommodate my uncertainty. First we practiced with some saline solution. I think I did it on an orange before I gave it to myself. She showed me how to uncap the bottle and disinfect it with alcohol. She showed me how to unshield the needle and draw up the liquid. She told me to hold it at a 45º angle to my skin. And then she told me it was my turn to do it.The moment of truth.
And I don’t remember it. I know I gave it to myself on the left side of my belly button and that it burned and was red afterwards, but it often burns and is red afterwards. The terrifying event itself–the poke in the skin, the push of the plunger–I have no memory of. I have given myself the same injection every night (more or less) since then. The memory of that first time has been blurred, washed away by a long and steady, day-by-day, stream of the same action.
I don’t remember the injection itself, but I do remember what happened afterwards with astonishing clarity. I remember being in the car on the way home with my mom. I remember the intersection we stopped at, because that’s when I started to panic. My heart raced and my breath came so fast and shallow that I wondered if I was having an allergic reaction to the medication. The hard part was over, and yet I was still terrified. That first needle stick that had scared me so much wasn’t such a big deal; what it represented was
. It meant a big change in my life. I felt scared and alone and overwhelmed with uncertainty of what my life was going to be like in the future. I felt weak and not at all brave.Needles have become mundane to me. Over one thousand injections later, the stick is still as painful as the first time. I barely notice it. It doesn’t phase me. It’s not because I am brave or tough or special. It’s because, if anything, I am normal. I’m human. The only super power I possess isn’t very super at all, but normal human resilience.
Soon, I will have to face another medical fear of mine. I’ll be getting a peripheral intravenous central catheter (PICC) line, a semi-permanent IV line that will start at an opening in my arm to snake through my veins into a major blood vessel and finally rest in my heart. This will be a contributing source of fluids and nutrition for me for the next two months, as my gastrointestinal tract can no longer do its job. There will be machines and bags of nondescript stuff that doesn’t intuitively seem very nutritious. There will be a hole in my body, and so there will be dressings to be changed and care to be taken not to infect the line, as line infections cause death in 15% of patients receiving this kind of nutrition. A bigger deal than a self-inflicted needle prick, to be sure, but you’d think with all I’ve been through, I could handle it. But I’m not that resilient. That statistic rings in my ears and hammers in my chest–I have a very real fear of central lines, because they end in your heart, and I need that thing to work, goddamnit. It’s one of the few parts of me that does these days.
People tell me “you’ve been through bad stuff before, you’ll be okay” and I want to hit them. I might be okay, eventually, I will probably be okay, eventually, but right now I am exceedinglynot okay. I’m suddenly transported back to that intersection in the car with my mom. I’m that twenty-two year old girl, feeling scared and overwhelmed and unready for a big life change. I feel weak and powerless and needy–all the things I hate feeling.
If courage is the ability to choose to face your fears, then strength is the quality of simply being able to ignore them. I don’t think of myself as being a particularly courageous or strong person. I’m just a person. A person who gets terrified of what the future holds and who tries to calm her fears and handle things as best as she can, but who still melts down and cries and gets unnecessarily angry at people. A person who writes emotional blog posts to try and process all the overwhelming things that are happening to her.“How do you keep going with all you have to live with?” People sometimes ask.
I always respond: “You keep going because there’s nothing else to do.”