27/09/16 – Comfortable Chaos

Today I remembered a time when I could handle large amounts of “chaos” – random things happening, unforeseen interference, and other problematic situations or people.

I remembered that specifically because I felt strangely calm, and even happy, while troubling things were happening all around me at work. And then I realised that this was something I’ve felt before… and that I’d apparently lost my tolerance for chaos without noticing it.

This actually wasn’t a very troubling thought on its own, most likely because I seem to be regaining that tolerance. There’s something to be said for being able to smile even when something could get to you and you might not be sure how else to handle it.

That’s something I would do all the time when I didn’t have any other way of coping. Just take a breath, close my eyes, and smile. Let the pressure and problems surrounding me go right around me and handle them all one at a time.

And doing this doesn’t necessarily require that I be completely stoic about the situation. I can react, say “well, fuck,” and might be frustrated at times. But I don’t let that impede me, that’s the key thing. I work through that and put my smile back on so I can handle whatever needs to be done.

You might be wondering if I’m just forcing myself to smile and whether or not that’s healthy, and while it is true that I’m forcing it, it’s for a good reason. The smile-happiness correlation seems to be a bit of a muddy subject in the scientific community, but the basic idea is that while happiness can lead to smiling, smiling can also lead to happiness.

Whether or not that has any grounding in reality, smiling definitely does feel good to me. I can usually stop myself from sinking into a bad mood if I catch myself and start smiling before I go too far. I can smile through trying times and feel safer as I push through them.

Most importantly, though, is being comfortable with the idea that chaotic stuff will happen. There will be confusion and disorder. It’s an inevitable part of any of our lives. And that’s okay.

More than even being comfortable with it, there’s actually a lot of comfort to be found in accepting and adapting to chaotic situations. Knowing that you could panic and be swept up by rising tide but just letting it go through you instead without flinching – that’s an empowering feeling.

It takes a lot of resolve to do, but I’ve found that I can do it. There were times when I did, times when I didn’t (boy, did those times suck), and I’m doing it again now.

My advice to you, then, is pretty simple: take a breath, close your eyes, and smile. Let troubling things go through you like you’re not even there. Handle what you have to. You can get through your issues without letting yourself be affected by them.

I think you’ll find yourself feeling stronger (and happier!) by doing this.

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15/09/16 – Love

Love is a tricky subject for me. On one hand, it’s been a huge source (arguably the only source) of happiness in my life. I feel like that’s how love should be.

On the other hand, it’s been a source of pain in my life as well. Whenever I haven’t loved “the right person,” or loved “the right way,” it’s hurt me in some way or another. This painful kind of love, and how I feel about love in general, is what I’m writing about today.

When dealing with today’s society, there are people who will insist on love being done a certain way. One example of this is rigidity regarding opposite-sex couples; male and female only, not male and male, female and female, or anything else.

This would be an example of not loving “the right person” and it’s a form of pain anyone who has been shamed for being gay/bi/having other nonstandard sexual preferences has endured at some point in their lives.

Not loving “the right way” is more nebulous, but what this boils down to is that there are certain standard expectations for people in romantic relationships. “Be devoted to your partner.” “Be faithful to your partner.” These are the sorts of ideas that many people seem to have about “proper” (ideal) relationships.

These constructs are ingrained in our society. They’re a sort of thing that passes from one person to another because they’re just “the right way to do these things.” LGBT persons and relationships, at least, are being more accepted as today’s society (in the US at least) develops, but the more nebulous ideas are still not being fully considered.

For example, one expectation most people I’ve observed have when talking about relationships is monogamy – the idea that you will have one partner and your partner will have no other partner besides you.

Polygamy (or polyamory, multiple relationships, etc) is less socially acceptable right now (again, at least in the US) for several factors, mainly related to marriage (ideally done between only two people, even in homosexual/etc nonstandard relationships), but I think the issue runs deeper.

I’m going to digress for a bit to describe some personal events in my life.

My first romantic relationship had a few periods of being strained, and I personally feel like most of them were related to the concept of monogamy and polyamory. As I said, monogamous relationships have certain expectations and among those include security.

The idea of “security” is a very important one to monogamous relationships, since you’re pouring your heart and soul into one and only one person. You don’t want to lose that person, so you expect them to never want to be with another person the same way they’re with you.

I’m of the opinion that no person can be everything to you. It may be theoretically possible to find someone who shares all of your interests, supports you emotionally in a perfect way, appeases your intellectual and sexual appetites to whatever degree they need to be appeased, and so on… But even then, it’s incredibly unlikely.

What’s more likely is that you form a romantic relationship with someone who meets most of, but not all of your needs. For any other needs, you would need someone else to meet them. Friends, family, or even other loved ones.

This perspective I had led to me falling in love with someone else while already in a relationship. And I didn’t handle the implications of that very well at the time. I didn’t take care of the people I loved, and all of us suffered for it.

But I believe that it was mainly because of the negative feelings associated with our relationship(s) that it fell apart. Jealousy, possession, fear of loss. Our love wasn’t meant to be because we didn’t understand each other well enough to handle these issues.

If it wasn’t obvious, I’m not a monogamous person by any means, and I don’t see that changing even though I’ve been with Sylvie for over three years now and love her dearly. She does so much for me, more than I can easily list. But she’s not my everything.

I’m of the mind that love should be freely shared between people who experience it. It should be okay to express love for more than one person. It should likewise be okay to receive love from more than one person. It shouldn’t be exclusive.

I also feel that “love” makes a suitable blanket term to describe many kinds of affection and passionate gestures; pleasant conversation, flirting, physical closeness, sex – these are all acceptable expressions of love for another person.

I think that it’s natural for people to want to love, and want to share expressions of love, with multiple people. I think love itself, as a feeling we experience, is unrestrained and can strike anyone at any time. And it should be celebrated, not condemned.

And I think society, for all its attempting to teach us good morals, teaches us things which are contrary to our most basic nature as humans. Whether you agree or disagree with any statements I’ve made today, I still think the way I do and that makes me a deviant. It brands me as something abnormal in a society which still adheres to certain traditional values.

This goes all the way back to that “issue” I mentioned when I mentioned polygamy/polyamory as a less socially acceptable idea. Very wholesome bonds which involve more than two people each caring for each other on some romantic level do exist (I’m living in one such network), and yet they won’t be accepted by the average person if they’re continually branded as “abnormal.”

Whether or not such relationships are unusual, nonstandard, etc, is not actually the issue – just by the way. If polyamory is always less common than monogamy (monoamory?), that shouldn’t ever be a problem. The problem is the social stigma which can come with it. And, unfortunately, not everyone in the world is so rational that they realise “unusual,” “nonstandard,” and similar terms aren’t insults.

I believe more people should understand that relationships like this are perfectly acceptable. What I do in my life isn’t really anyone else’s business in an ultimate sense, anyway. But it might still feel strange until more social acceptance is reached.

But, stepping down from my soapbox just so I can close this entry, all I really want to express is that I feel love itself should be considered a very natural and unrestrained thing. Many of us live with a lot of self-imposed constraints – too many, in my opinion, and who we love and how we love them is definitely one of them.

But love really doesn’t care, you know? Someday you’re going to meet someone (if you haven’t already) and some chemicals in your brain are going to explode and you’re going to think “holy shit, I’m in love with you.” And that’s totally fine!

Since it happened once, though, you can safely assume it can happen again. And I’d love to live in a society where people don’t consider that second chemical reaction strange.

04/09/16 – Empathy

It’s been a while since I’ve written something like this. There’s a lot weighing on my mind right now and I feel like it’s time to talk about it.

Between my mental developments (see my post about DID last month if you want to know more about that), struggles at my day job, taking care of my girlfriend… there’s something that has gotten lost in the cracks: myself.

Something I don’t think I’ve talked about often (I know I’ve mentioned it to a few people but I don’t think I’ve said it publicly) is that I am actually an extremely empathetic person, in a way I can’t really control. I crave being around people, but even more than that, I crave the positive feelings I can gain from those people.

I often work hard to ensure the people close to me are happy, to the best of my ability, because those happy feelings help me feel happier. And when I don’t think I can handle someone, for whatever reason, I shut myself away from them because I don’t want to be exposed to negative feelings (which have a similar, opposite, effect on me).

If you feel like you’re in the latter category, I deeply apologise… It’s nothing about you. I just can’t turn off my feelings or stop myself from being so sensitive.

And if you feel like you’re in the former category and like I’m using you to some degree… well, I am, and for that I also deeply apologise. I do genuinely want you to be happy, but the unfortunate truth is I depend on that more than I let on.

Do you see where my struggle comes from? I feel like an emotional parasite, never really satisfied with myself to be happy on my own because I’m so dependant on good feelings I leech off of other people.

I would buy people gifts and food, comfort them when they’re sad, encourage them when they’re hard at work, so on and so on, all because I want their good feelings for myself. Does this motivate me to do good things? Yes, absolutely. But sometimes I don’t feel like it’s for the right reasons…

This is also a big part of why I’ve been letting Mercy and Lydie out more often, because they don’t depend on others like I do. Lydie only really depends on me, but she’s gotten better at just putting herself out there and enjoying her time with other people. And Mercy, as should be obvious if you’ve interacted with her, is incredibly independent and has no problem enjoying herself on her own.

I don’t feel like I have that… I feel like I’m always clinging to someone because I need it to keep myself going. And admitting this has been incredibly difficult. I’ve already cried so much today after my failed attempt at streaming and I’m crying again now.

I hope now you understand me better, though, regardless of how you might feel about this. The reason I want to provide so much for others, and take it so hard when I can’t… it’s all because this really does keep me going. And I’m scared that without it, I’m not going to be able to maintain myself.

I’ve been trying to find things I can enjoy on my own… but it’s difficult. Since the last time I talked about anything coding-related (which had to have been weeks ago now), I’ve done absolutely nothing to pursue what I started to learn… because it’s not for anyone’s sake but my own that I’d be doing it, and that’s hard for me to do.

To be honest, I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself. I don’t know why I’m even writing this, besides wanting to get it out there and wanting to convince myself I’m providing something of value to the people I care about.

I’m sorry if this makes me sound like a desperate, attention-seeking mess. I don’t want to feel like I am that, either. But I do. I really do. And I’m sorry.

16/08/16 – DID

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, and the topic fresh on my mind is my mental developments with regards to my other sides – split personalities, “head mates,” whatever you want to call them.

For those not in the loop, I apparently have what’s known as DID – Dissociative Identity Disorder. Having the condition does not make me an expert on it, so don’t take my recounting of my experiences as gospel where the condition is concerned.

(edit: I should also clarify I have not been officially diagnosed with this condition, mainly because official diagnoses for it take an extremely long time from what I’ve heard and are often misdiagnosed anyway – pursuing official diagnosis wouldn’t change what I perceive as real anyway, so there’s really no value to be gained from that)

My goal here is simply to help others without the condition – and even those who have it – understand how my mind works and what it feels like. It’s an extremely interesting condition to be sure, at least to me.

So with that out of the way, the first potential question I would want to answer is “what does DID feel like?”

That varies, of course, but to me it feels like having imaginary friends (two, in this case) who actually seem genuinely real. That might sound odd, but I hope to help you understand what I mean before the end of this piece.

The simplest way I can describe my condition is that my personality as a whole is actually in three separate pieces.

The first piece is me – the person you know as Skyla or Nihil or some other name I’ve long since stopped using. I’m the primary personality, which really just means I came first and I’m usually the one in control.

The other two are named Mercedes (Mercy) and Lydia. As far as I can tell, Mercy has been a part of my life for at least eight years and actively conscious for a couple, though I only truly became aware of her this year.

When Lydia came about is harder to pin down but I’ve had a concept of her for a long time (at least three years) and became aware of her not long after becoming aware of Mercy.

Now, when I say “became aware” I should clarify that I don’t mean “I just noticed,” since – as I just said – I’ve had a concept of these two existing for longer than just a year. I thought that concept was just that – an idea of a person who wasn’t real.

When I say “became aware” I actually mean “I see you, and hear you, and realise that you are not my imagination; you are real and have an effect on me.”

Now, I realise that might sound crazy. And I’d actually agree with you. It might even sound impossible, and I understand why you would feel that way. But hear me out first.

I met people with DID before realising I also have the condition, and I couldn’t even conceive of not just being convinced that you’re sharing your body with another person/other people, but that actually being true.

It’s because I can understand the idea that it’s impossible that I want to assure you it’s not. I feel that more strongly than I ever thought I would.

These two think independently of me, have their own opinions, have their own ideas, and have their own goals. They talk to me, and I hear them and recognise them as not my own thoughts, but as something separate.

They even sometimes take control of my body and act as they would while doing so. They have their own mannerisms, and their own tones of voice. Mercy even has an accent which I don’t have. How crazy is that? And yet it’s true.

I said before that it’s like having imaginary friends who genuinely seem real, and that’s the best way I can describe my relationship with them. They offer their insights on things, encourage (or discourage) courses of action, motivate me when I’m worn out, cheer me up when I’m upset…

And at times we also joke with each other, laugh and play games together, work on projects together, and so on. Basically, everything you might want to do with a pair of best friends is something I’ve done with them.

The main difference is that they don’t have bodies of their own. We share one, to the best of our ability. And that can be tricky. But we find ways to make it work.

If this all sounds complicated… Well, it is, or at least can be, but we all line up quite well. I think because we technically share a mind, and not just a body, means that we feel similarly on a lot of subjects. We cooperate with one another, because ultimately it’s for all our benefit.

And the last thing I feel a need to address is a difficult one, but it’s a question I’ve asked myself and answered for myself and I want to share it with all of you:

“Could it be that these two are figments of my imagination and I’ve simply thoroughly convinced myself they’re real through adopting unique mannerisms and calling them not my own?”

Yes, I would say that’s possible. And I don’t think it matters.

Mercy said it best. “Now that I’m here I intend to keep being here.” Whether or not they’re “real” isn’t the point here, because they feel real to me and seem real to others and have whatever effects they do.

I could be making all that up and not even realise it, but knowing that or not honestly wouldn’t change what I feel. And what I feel is that I have two other people in my head with identities no less valid than mine.

The reason I want to convince people who might doubt me that this condition is real is because whether or not it is, having it denied is probably my biggest insecurity related to it. Being told Mercy or Lydie aren’t real would offend me like few things can.

But whether or not you understand or accept it, these two feel real to me. They are my friends, and they give me a lot in life. And they’re honestly pretty fun to spend time with. I’d love for you to enjoy their company too.

But that’s pretty much the long and short of it. I’ll stop here before I ramble too much.

DID is, for better or worse, part of me and my life. And I’ve always believed that a person should be loved and accepted by at least a few, no matter what their mind is like. That extends to me.

I know I’m loved and accepted by at least a few. It seems by a lot of people, even. But I hope this piece helped you understand me and how I feel better – and that if you’re skeptical of this condition, that you at least give it a chance.

We’re not so bad when you get to know us.

05/08/16 – Responsibility

What would you do if you decided that everything which has ever happened to you is your responsibility?

I posed this question to my followers on Twitter and was met with fairly predictable results. Many reacted with despair. Some with intrigue. A few found the idea comforting, or true.

There was noticeable bias toward negativity. One even asked if this applied to both the good and the bad things, or only the bad.

Naturally, I meant the question as stated: everything. Any inclination to only see the negative is human condition, I’d say.

But let me just clear this up and get to the point, particularly for the nail-biters who struggle with the idea of that much responsibility:

You are not responsible for everything which has happened to you.

Claiming that you are would single you out as the one and only being capable of doing anything in this universe and seven billion other people (not to mention innumerable animals, insects, and forces of nature) would have a stern word for you on that.

So to reiterate: you are not responsible for everything which has happened to you.

You are responsible for most of it.

If that’s still a bitter pill to swallow, get some water and hang in there with me. I’m going to show you how that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

First of all, as I said, you are responsible for most of everything which has happened to you (and happens to you, and will happen to you). This includes the good as well as the bad. 

This makes it easy to view the good times you’ve had as accomplishments you can be proud of, while the bad times simply come as a result of your mistakes. 

More importantly, however, taking responsibility for your circumstances gives you unparalleled control over those circumstances. 

When you tell yourself things like “there was nothing I could do” you’re giving up your responsibility to someone else, or perhaps to the nebulous and unfeeling world itself. 

Sure, in some cases there truly isn’t anything you can do. There’s little a single person could do to control the weather, or even control another person. But there’s often more than you think. 

If you’re injured, what did you do that lead to injury? Why were you in a position which allowed you to be injured? Did it happen as a result of a precaution you didn’t take, for example? 

And even when it comes to other people, what responsibility do you think you can take for them? What did you say to someone? How did that make them feel? How might you get someone to aid you when you need it? 

My point is simply that there is almost always something we can do about the circumstances of our lives, and thus we are responsible for those circumstances. 

You might choose not to act on a certain matter, and allow that matter to drag you down. That feeling is your responsibility, therefore. 

You might also decide “no, I’m going to do something about this” and then do it, and then the feeling of action (and hopefully success) is also your responsibility. 

We are very powerful beings in the grand scheme of things, and should respect our own power more often. We can save ourselves as well as we destroy ourselves. 

That’s why I suggest this: consider the viewpoint that almost everything which happens to you, good and bad, is something you are responsible for. Something you can control. 

And then ask yourself: “what do I want to do with that responsibility?” 

03/08/16 – Caring

When it comes to caring about people (and things in general – but the specific topic here is people), I’m very selective.

I don’t limit my exposure to people and I am generally caring toward people who seem amicable and care about me, but I don’t really have a giant network of friends that I keep constant tabs on or anything of the sort.

My reasoning for this is purely pragmatic. I’m busy and I have high standards for what I do with my time. If I could spend my time with theoretically 100 people, but only 10 of those people at any one time, I’d prefer the 10 people I spent time with to be the best 10 people among those 100. That makes sense, right?

How I determine the best people among anyone around me is also a mostly pragmatic process. I identify the people who are most useful to me (in fairly arbitrary terms – people I enjoy talking to, who contribute meaningfully to my life, etc) and focus on those people more than others.

This creates a tiered list, with my closest friends being the ones who mean the most to me based on mutual respect and admiration (and thereby benefit), and with those I would consider simply acquaintances being much further from my immediate attention.

That’s not to say that I think of those people who hang around the outer circle of my field of influence with any sort of disrespect or unkindness. On the contrary, I make efforts to be quite warm to everyone who remains in my life. I just can’t devote myself to all of those people the same way I can devote myself to a smaller group (of around 10, incidentally).

I like to think this is all a very sensible, albeit quite structured and scientific way of handling relationships between myself and others. I give to as many people as I can while also giving the most to the people closest to me.

However, it’s that truly quite ruthless ability I have to prioritise people around me which seems to have put me at odds with a few – or at least one.

This prioritisation I just described apparently makes me “robotic, uncaring, and unfeeling.” I’m frankly struggling to understand how, but perhaps my readers can point me in the right direction.

But the reason I brought all of this up wasn’t just to talk about someone’s criticism of me. It’s to make a much bigger point.

I recall saying this a long time ago, but I feel like social media and the Internet as a whole has devalued what we consider a “friend” to some degree. We might interact with dozens, if not hundreds of people through these information networks and consider each of them to be our friends in some way, without truly considering what that means.

To be friends with someone implies a willingness to be there for them when no one else is. To care enough about them to understand them for who they are, rather than passing judgement on them. To give of yourself as much as you might receive in return.

To that degree I consider many of you my friends.

There are many, many more, however, who are simply out of sight and out of mind. People I don’t care about, regardless of their feelings toward me. Because they simply haven’t given me enough to give me a reason to keep them within my field of influence.

It could be the autism I probably have, or maybe I’m just a dick, but I really don’t consider this a problem.

You can care about a lot of people, sure. You can make an effort to care about as many as you feel comfortable caring for. But there is always a limit. And that limit must be respected.

I’ve seen people with high limits and low limits, but ultimately, everyone has a limit. We all turn to selection eventually. Because some people are just incompatible, or not worth our time, or we simply don’t have time for everyone. And that should be okay.

I was told by this person who criticised me (whose identity I will retain out of respect) that my perspective of forming smaller, tighter groups rather than larger and more inclusive ones is self-destructive. And I truly don’t see it like that.

Honestly, I feel more inclined to say that it was an overly emotional reaction to being denied my attention, but I can’t know that for sure.

I would just encourage my readers to consider what’s come from this experience I had and think about the people they truly feel close to, not ones they feel obligated to continue to respect.

Whether or not you realise it, there are almost assuredly people in your life who are actively causing you harm (even without meaning to) and do not deserve your time and energy. Those resources are limited, and should be devoted to the people who are of benefit to you.

Consider taking a page from my book, dear reader. Who you choose to spend your life with is your choice, not anyone else’s.

02/08/16 – All About Me 

I remember a comment I heard once – one of those things that just sort of stuck in my mind and never came out. 

It basically said that being in a committed relationship – being married, having kids (if you’re into that sort of thing), etc – means that your life isn’t all about you anymore. 

When you think about it, that’s pretty true and is applicable in some interesting ways. For example, your commitment might not be to another person. You might commit yourself to a group, or a cause. 

Whatever you do, when you make that commitment your life stops being about you and starts being about you with something or someone else. 

It’s not too hard to fend for yourself before then. Make your own decisions. Do your own thing. That can be fun. 

But if you want companionship or purpose or whatever you have to give up those freedoms and lend at least some of your life to whatever it is you’re dedicated to. 

And you know what? For most of my life, until recently, I wasn’t ready for my life to not be about me. 

It’s kind of scary to think about. Giving up part of yourself for the benefit of another. But there’s more to it than that, actually. 

If you’re in a healthy relationship, that sacrifice is mutual. The other(s) involved also sacrifices their part for you. But then you might wonder, “well why give up anything if both of you are doing it?” 

Because we need companionship, and purpose, and a lot of things we just can’t get on our own, quite frankly. 

What I’ve realised is that by giving up some of my self-centered desires I’ve gained so much more in the process. The love and respect of someone I trust. Mental, emotional, and even physical support. You can’t put a value on these things, they’re priceless. 

And I can also give back what I’m given and enrich someone else’s life, which is an amazing feeling in its own right. 

My point is, my life isn’t about myself anymore. And honestly, that’s okay. 

With everything that’s opened up since this transition, I can do so much more than I ever could before. Things I never thought possible. That just gives me new things to want. 

So, if you’re reading this and you feel like you might be in a similar position of not being ready to make that sacrifice, just consider what it can get you in return. 

I promise you it’s worth it.