Ben Bateman, Will You Marry Me?

You freak me the hell out. I love you so much that I believe to my core that I could live forever with you and never marry you and never love you any less. And I thought that was the plan.

I mean, sure, we’re going to pay lip service to this sexist, classist society that would seek to side-fuck it’s way into our family structure, which is personal and should never be the subject of tax law or special rights or any of the bullshit it currently is. We’re going to go to their City Hall and pay their little legitimacy fee so we can operate in their system the way we want to, but let’s get real, we’ve been married this whole time.

We’ve been living together, we’ve been devoted to each other and we’re more married than some married people we know. We’re the real thing. You’re so real a thing for me that I didn’t even believe in love before I met you. You’re the proof that I wasn’t even looking for.

I married you the day I decided I could trust you with my broken heart, that I could let you see this pile of dead meat inside of me and that you wouldn’t make it worse. My heart is so healed now. I don’t believe I’ve been this happy, or this real of a person ever.

You are so good, I knew from the start that I wanted to be good myself so I would always be good to you. I don’t think I’ve been living up to that lately. I try to take emotional responsibility for myself and solve my problems like a grown-up, but I’ve freaked out on you a lot over the last few months. This wedding stuff is seriously scaring me. I thought that full legal marriage was a trick we’d play on an otherwise inept and bigoted system, but as time passes, I’ve became worried that the trick is on me.

My fear has dominated my thoughts. What if the only thing keeping me from turning into my mother is the fact that we were never legally married? Every marriage in my family has been unhappy marriage. What if I tell the world how I feel about you and you leave me like everybody else did?

No one has ever been my family to the extent that you are my family. Being with you feels as safe as being alone. Most of the time, I am terrified that people will figure me out and either they will ask me to leave, or they will leave me. This has been especially strong since we moved to Portland, where every friend is a scary new friend and where I have no history and no roots. You figured me out a long time ago, and to my astonishment, you not only stayed, you told me you liked it.

I think you might actually revel in the fact that I can be pretty scary sometimes, but that you are amongst the incredibly small minority of people to see my custardy insides and know that I am just a fat, angry little cream puff. I’m pretty sure you taught me how to be compassionate. And I’m pretty sure I taught you how to be direct.

This might not be a big deal to people who dreamed of their wedding, who imagined the clothes and the colors, and the everything. Who had a road map for how to treat someone when you wake up one day nearly sick with the realization that you plan to get old with them. That they know the worst thing about you and you them and you love each other more for it. But I never planned for this because I didn’t think those things were real.

I’m not going to be a good wife, but somehow I don’t think you want that. I’m too angry and too manly to be the kind of mother to our future children that your mother was to you, but you embody so much of her gentleness and kindness that I can’t imagine they would suffer. All I can give you is my sincere promise that I will work with you and not against you, that I will support you in whatever you do, that I will take responsibility for my own emotional health, and that I will give you the space and time to do the same. I will tell you I love you every night when we go to sleep, I will be your sounding board, and your voice of reason when you need that because I know you would do that for me, and I will be your shoulder to cry on just like you are for me when I need it.

I don’t have anything in this world except myself, and that is already yours. Whatever happens, wherever we go from here I had to tell you this. And I wanted to say it on the blog because I was afraid to say it, and I didn’t want my egotistical fear to keep me from being completely honest. I love you so much that it scares me, but I’m not going to let that stop me from showing up for you today, on our wedding day, and every day after that in whatever fashion you need.

More Like Lakefront Socially Constructed Gender Binary Hunt

20160420_lakefrontI’ve been unreasonably obsessed with house buying shows lately and they’re giving me fucking heart palpitations, over how dumb they are, but also over some super obnoxious gender shit that’s being played as normal or even natural over here.

For example, I just watched an episode of Lakefront Bargain Hunt wherein inexplicably rich mid-westerners look for a vacation house for the basement budget price of twice what our actual house budget is in a fucking major city, but I digress (maybe this is why I might hate these assholes.) And in literally the same shot the husband was talking about how great it’ll be for him to spend all day fishing on the lake while the wife said “oh, it’ll be so nice to be able to see our son playing on the dock while I prepare food here in the kitchen.”

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

No, it’s super cool for you to do what you love all day long completely unburdened by the family you clearly started for some damn fool reason only you could know. I’ll just be here serving our cuntfruit and cleaning the kitchen where I belong. Thanks eversomuch for allowing me to help you buy this beautiful view from which I can attend to your needs. Do you want to savagely mouth fuck me now, or should we wait until after the kid’s asleep? I always appreciate the brief moment of silence after you pass out without even trying to get me off in return. It’s literally the only time I have left where someone isn’t demanding my servitude and I wish, in that moment, I could finally die.

So, you know. I’m learning a lot about the house game.

From Pants to Goddesses

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Shirts vs. Pants

In the battle of shirts vs. pants, pants and skirts win. Primarily because I like a clean vagina and clothes on my bottom half keep stuff from getting in there. But also because I hate bras, and no clothes on my top half (I’m assuming) also means no bras. Because fuck bras.

Booze

I don’t know enough about booze to really talk about it. Except that well into adulthood I absent-mindedly have a habit of sniffing water before I drink it because I had enough times in childhood where I unexpectedly grabbed the wrong cup and took a huge gulp of straight vodka. Which is gross.

Mythology

I like the way that Athena sprang out of Zeus’ head fully formed, and I always felt like her virginity was too much interpreted in a Christian context in modern retellings of the myth. Adding the bullshit about purity and modesty that didn’t really belong to her. Athena doesn’t fuck or show men her body, not because of Christian shame or timidness, but because of feminist power. A person’s body, their sexual energy, and the knowledge of that is a privilege. Not because sex cheapens a person, but because knowledge is power.

Just Wedding Things

Friend Ruby found this modern bridal meditation on the true cost of perfectionism the other day and shared it with me, proto-bride.

My initial reaction to the visual of a sad pregnant woman crying quietly into her pillowey mom-to-be bosoms while some over-priced Palm Desert twat fucked up her wedding hair was to blame the patriarchy, as usual.

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But for serious you guys, what in the fucking fuck is up with weddings? At this point, all the stress of half-friends and strangers trying (sometimes desperately) to shove me into some fantasy wedding box has worn off, and the pre-event stress of having to see, converse with, and be polite to more than 3 people at once has yet to arrive.

If you’ll recall:

a sick drawing inspired by that -me alone- drawing from lilo and stitch except instead of being dead im smiling

I feel like a stray that peed on the rug. Everyone is very excited over something I did. And they’re making a lot of noise about it. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.

Not that I don’t like having noise made over me. As much as it baffles me, I think I like it a lot. But forgive me if I have no reaction, or seem slightly frightened by the concept. In a lot of ways, I am a stray.

I have less than no respect for the institution of marriage. If it weren’t for the incredibly unfair bias our legal and tax system has toward married people, this wouldn’t be happening. Therefore, I have even less respect for the wedding-industrial complex and for the concept of weddings altogether.

The fact that I would, or even worse, that I should have lived every second of my 31 years on this planet carefully planning for the day in which I will be expected to reenact a traditional goods for human capital exchange in front of everybody who ever loved me is totally fucking gross, not to mention really sad. And that I would be expected to buy them dinner and give them presents afterwards is also totally yucksville.

This is where I would usually backpedal and say that I’m not criticizing your traditional wedding, dear reader- except that almost every person I’ve talked to regrets the wasted, money, drama and time their traditional wedding cost them. It was a massive, stress-filled fight-fest with every person involved from the beginning to the end, and then there were years and years of paying off a debt no one was happy to create. I’m not saying this because a couple of people have said it to me. Virtually every person who had a fancy wedding regrets it as far as I can tell.

I don’t have the time or the energy for that. I already fight enough with enough of the rest of the world. So, anybody worried about me freaking out about anything about this ceremony, don’t worry. I’ll be more likely to freak out about how happy I am just to see my friends and how sad I’ll be that I can’t spend a solid weekend alone with each one of you at the same time because you know how I get in crowds.

I am the ladies room

I haven’t had the time, or frankly the emotional fortitude to read all this anti trans toilet law bullshit. But is there something in there about being able to press charges against some bathroom policing fuckstick if they get it wrong? Like, if someone is convinced that a cis gender person is in the “wrong”  bathroom and makes any attempt to prove their bigotry is at least legally valid, can they then be charged with assault when they attempt to force the issue with their victim?

Also,  how trans is trans? What about intersex people? Is this just a vagina vs penis thing? How vagina is vagina? How penis penis? What if I’m holding a dildo? 12 dildos. How many times can I hit a bathroom policer with a dildo before they themselves refuse to go to the bathroom in public for fear of the mad dildo avenger?

Important questions for our government officials.

2015 Year in Review

The previous years in review are here:
2014
2013
2012

You may have noticed that I’m not posting 5 days a week anymore. I might start again, but the truth is that the blog was a creative outlet in a world where I had no creative agency, or at least I felt like I didn’t. Since I started blogging, I started my own business, moved to Oregon, and have been doing a lot of creative work in my daily life, leaving very little time or imagination for anything else. In December the business turned three, and in May I’ll have been working at it full time for three years. I have plans in place, and fully expect to be more management than creative by that time, and I already have more free time to make long-term decisions and planning than I ever have before.

In the midst of making that transition from lone freelancer to manager, I basically scooped my entire brain out and documented every piece of it for our standard operating procedures, and I’m not totally done yet. As long as the business is mine, I will never be. Everything grows and changes, although I’m entering a period of less intensity than I have ever known, and it feels really good.

Does that mean I’ll come back to 5 days a week? I have no idea. I do know myself, and I know that I can’t stay dormant for very long. But I also feel really tired. Not just because the end of our “start up” phase is maybe not near, but at least conceivable, but also because I got in a car accident at right about the bottom of my recovery arc from writing the SOP and enacting those policies and processes. That was two weeks ago, and my back still hurts. Not excruciatingly, but enough to distract, and I’m still dealing with recovery, and insurance, and everything else. I went from tired to barely being able to function. It takes all my energy to do the bare minimum to keep my company running right now, and I am completely surprised at how much this has taken out of me.

I always wondered what would happen if I were to get sick or suffer some kind of physical issue, and this is just a tiny picture of what that must be like. The discipline with which a person has to budget out their energy and ability is baffling, and it’s really helping to highlight how I overwork and how tenuous a skill that really is. It’s more clear now than ever that I have to build a stable system that can operate largely without me if I ever want to be successful at this business.

I’ve also been having some intense dreams that are doing all that much more to hammer on the point that if I don’t stop working night and day, my life will be gone and I’ll have nothing to show for it. I dreampt the other day that I died, and instead of actually dying, I cut my skin off with a linoleum knife and went back to work. In the dream, I wasn’t really human, but my insides were made of clay, which would break off and stick in the keyboard while I typed. In the last part of the dream before I woke up, Ben was trying to get me to put my skin back on so we could go to my funeral and all I could think was that I had so many deadlines I needed to wrap up before I was really dead.

So what does this mean for the blog? I can tell you that the posts I wrote this year were a combination of the best and worst yet. The best because my writing has finally gotten to a place where I feel proud of my ability as an essayist and a commentator. I am definitely still completely terrified to try and write fiction and what I write in that regard is completely off the mark of what I want it to be, but that’s not what I would consider to be the worst. The worst posts were the ones I made myself write while half out of my mind with exhaustion, wasting the time and energy of everyone involved in order to make a piece of shit filler post that wasn’t good. All because I had an arbitrary and no longer useful mandate to publish 5 times a week. Whatever happens with the blog going forward, I’m definitely not going to do that again. If I ever publish 5 times a week again, it’ll be because I have something to say 5 times a week, and for no reason else.

As a result of me having nothing to say and blogging about it anyway, we had 72,000 pageviews this year. Down 7,000 from 79,000 last year. My most popular month was March, with 4,300 page views, followed by July with 2,900. February and April tied for third most popular month with 2,600 views each.

My most viewed day was Tuesday, March 24, when I got 1,800 pageviews. This is an increase of 400 pageviews from Monday, June 9, 2014, my most viewed day in 2014, which only received 1,400 views.

Unlike 2014, 2015 had less spikes in visits, which I attribute to me not posting the blog on Reddit after May. This is backed up in the fact that 40% of my social traffic (which was 26% of my total traffic) came from Reddit in 2014, and only 36% of social traffic (24% of my overall traffic this year) came from them in 2015, with almost no clicks happening after May. Both this year’s and last year’s most viewed days were blogs I linked to relevant Reddit threads, which is why they performed so well.

2016 won’t have any Reddit traffic unless someone else links to the blog for me, seeing as I was shadow-banned for self promotion, and only allowed back if I promised never to post my own blog again. Something I took a lot of exception to, since I did more writing on Reddit in those days than I did on my own site, in addition to moderating two subs, and posting a lot of other relevant information. Since then, and their subsequent firing of Victoria, the AMA manager that everyone has pretty much forgotten about, I couldn’t see clear to give them any more of my time, and have largely ignored Reddit. Especially as the company has been taking more and more of my time and energy.

Anyway.

The top 5 posts of 2015 were:

1. The Prices of Organic Food at Three Major Supermarkets

2. How to Sync Samsung Note 3 with Evernote

3. The Joy of Storytelling, an Interview with Justin Lazaro

4. Female Masturbation Techniques (for the fourth year running)

5. Hickey Cover Up Tutorial

Only one of the most popular posts of 2015 was written in 2015. The other four most popular post of 2015 written in that year would be:

2. Dove Chooses Obnoxious

3. 5 Movies You Need to Netflix Before They’re Gone

4. The Fuckable Butch: An Commentary on Ruby Rose Fever

5. Sweet Bro Things: The latest chapter in Jake and Jessica

Last year, my goals were to write more commentary and I did, although not as much more as I’d have liked. I counted 44 entries in the category commentary for 2014 and 50, only six mroe in 2015, but I’ll take what I can get. I’m hoping for even more commentary going forward since I really enjoy that.

I also said that I wanted to separate the erotica reviews from the main part of the blog, which I did, but I also stopped writing them. I’m on the fence as to whether or not I want to start that up again. I haven’t even had time to read lately, and to be honest, now that my life is going a lot better and I feel happier and more secure in my career, I don’t have the impulse to hide inside books like I used to. They were an escape from a stressed out place where I was barely making enough money to live on, and that’s not my reality anymore.

I also said I wanted more professional security and an opportunity to work with communities again, which have both happened for me. The local business community has been amazing in providing meaningful relationships, and opportunities to feel connected and involved again.

Next year, I want the company to earn enough money to justify us becoming a true corporation, and I want to be able to hire and pay a living wage to at least one staff person. I have a pretty solid plan for at least one of my contractors to transition to full time employee, and I feel confident that we can get there. It’s going to be a lot more hard work on a level I haven’t worked at in a long time, if ever really, but I’m looking forward to this next phase of the business.

For the blog, I want more quality posts and less filler shit.

Smart Answers to Stupid Questions People Still Ask Me About My Mother

Most of us who have separated ourselves from the narcissistic, emotionally manipulative and abusive people in our lives have been asked some really dumb questions about that over the years. Especially if the person in question is a mother. I don’t know if it’s run of the mill misogyny (“but women are naturally nurturing, a woman could never be an abuser!”) or some deeper, sadder reality (it is possible that most mothers are really awesome and we got the unfathomable end of the stick), but the concept of a child who doesn’t speak to their mother is extremely difficult for most people to grasp. Especially once the person in question learns that my abusive mother is dying.

Why can’t you just forgive and forget?

It usually shocks people when I tell them that I have forgiven her. Years of shitty daytime dramas and moralizing cop shows have lead them to believe the way abusive relationships work is that when the abuser is dying, you come to their hospital bed, forgive them, and then they die peacefully while credits roll and everybody gets to feel safe in a world where consequences are largely rhetorical and people who love each other can’t possibly hurt one another.

Forgiveness and reason are not mutually exclusive. I can forgive the stove for burning my hand, that doesn’t mean I’m about to snuggle with it. My mother is a shark. She was very literally tortured from an early age. She’s been places no person would knowingly send their worst enemy. Only an idiot would forget that about her. That she does the things she does is understandable, that I would walk back into that situation with open arms is suicidal. I can forgive her, accept her, and still stay away from her. These things can and must coexist.

But don’t you love her?

For a long time, I felt like I shouldn’t. That only a moron would love someone who had been and continued to be intentionally mean to me. But my life isn’t a reaction to hers. For awhile it was, but it doesn’t have to be and it isn’t today. Loving someone or being loved by someone isn’t a license to treat them however you want, and it’s only the fact that I was raised by abusive people who were themselves abused that I would even think that.

But she loves you, doesn’t that matter?

Of course she loves me. Lots of people love me. I am extremely fucking lovable, but just like my love for her, her love for me does not make it okay to treat me like shit.

She used to tell me that no one would ever love me like she did, and it would scare me because I was legitimately worried that no one would. When I met her, no one had ever treated me like I was valuable, or like I mattered. She told me I was precious, that she loved me, and that she would always love me. For the first time since she abandoned me, I felt like I belonged to someone. So, when she started to criticize me, when she told me that she thought I was retarded, that I was emotionally unstable, that I was incapable of doing anything but staying with her and taking care of her, I started to think she was right. When she told me that I would die without her loving guidance, I totally believed it.

When I finally moved out of her house, it’s not because I realized that she was lying and manipulating me. It’s because I was going to kill her and myself anyway, and I thought I might as move out first and die a free woman.

She still texts me sometimes, and one string of angry condescending texts from a couple of years ago ended with an emotional reminder that no one would ever love me like she did. I just laughed. I fucking hope that no one ever loves me like she does. If I had one wish for the future of humanity, it would be that no one ever loves anyone anywhere the way she loved me.

Okay, but why do you have to tell everybody about it?

If you’re reading this, and you’re thinking “TMI,” you have the option to fuck right off, and you don’t have to ever come back. If you don’t want to hear this shit, that’s cool. It’s totally not for you.

In a perfect world, my mom is a freak anomaly; the only one of her kind. But I know for a fact that’s not true. Not only do other people with parents and partners like her contact me all the time and tell me that my writing helps them, new generations of abusers are being born every day and that’s why I write about this shit. Not everybody is safe where they live. Not everybody can talk about it yet, or maybe they’ll never talk about it like I do. If even one person reads this and it helps them, the other 7.125 billion of you can go to hell.

She’s dying, doesn’t that change everything?

What normal people don’t realize is that narcissistic abusers don’t play by the rules. No decent person would pretend to be terminally ill for attention, but we’re not dealing with decent people here. Sickness and death are both pretty great ways to control people and avoid consequences, especially the relationship consequences that come with being narcissistic, emotionally manipulative and abusive.

I met my mother in 1994, and one of the first things I remember her telling me was that she was sorry she wouldn’t be able to see me grow up, since she would be dead in two years.

So, for the last 22 years she’s been dying. Sometimes quickly, sometimes only when somebody wants her to do something she doesn’t want to do, but dying all the same. And the thing about lying about dying is that eventually, you’re telling the truth. She’s been diagnosed with cancer four times, each one more dire than the last.

At first, I did change my behavior. I asked myself what a good daughter would do in this situation, and I did my best to be the loving, responsible and supportive daughter I wanted to be. Not because of her, but because of me. I spent a lot of years reacting to her and using her shitty treatment of me as a justification for being a really terrible asshole to my own mother. But I don’t want to be the kind of person who blames other people for who I am and what I do.

So, I made exceptions to a lot of the boundaries I’d put in place in order to be supportive and available for her in her time of need, but then I realized that she was using her cancer the same way she used her health issues before cancer to manipulate people into doing what she wanted. And she would practically levitate off her “death bed” if someone didn’t fall in line. She’s been banned from one of the best cancer hospitals in the US for attacking a nurse there because they didn’t do things her way.

If dying had actually changed anything for her, it might change for me too. But it clearly hasn’t. Dying is just another tool she can use to control people and situations, and she’s using it to the best of her ability. It was naive to think that, after all she’s been through cancer would have any effect on her.

How would you feel if you had a daughter?

Sometimes people are asking this question because they want to see me realize that if I don’t reconcile with my mother, my future children won’t have a grandma. When, in fact, she’s probably the deciding factor in why I don’t have kids yet.

Other times people want to know what I would do if, in the future, my daughter refused to talk to me. But that’s a false equivalency. I am not my mother, my future children are not me. We’re going to have a completely different relationship than the one I have with my mother. I will say that if at any point, I think it is okay to neglect, abandon, abuse, allow other people to abuse my children, or if I ever choose drugs over them I will deserve it when they never speak to me again. And if they ever do decide to reconnect with me at any point after that, I will doubly deserve to have them leave me again if I continue to be abusive to them. Because that’s how relationships work.

How are you going to feel when she dies?

Obviously, I have no idea. How could anybody know that?

What I do know is how I feel today. I feel safe in my home today. I am confident in my abilities both personally and professionally today. I have self esteem and I have hope for the future, which are all things I earned since leaving her house and setting firm boundaries against her being able to come into my life and say abusive, shitty things to me, attack me or my family, or demand that I pay her bills, or whatever other crazy thing she thinks I am suddenly obligated to give her or do for her.

The space between us has been equal parts agonizing and liberating. At the end of the day, I’m just a person. I love my parents like anybody else does, but I don’t have any illusions about who they are.

For years I let the hope that she could change or had changed keep me in a holding pattern, close enough for her to lash out at, far enough away that I managed to dodge a lot of the really crazy behavior. But it was tearing me apart. I’ve done a lot of work to get to the point where I don’t openly hope anymore, but I know that when she does die, whatever is left of that feeling will be ripped out of me. And it will be horrible.

I still live a lot of my life on the incorrect assumption that if I could only say, do or be something more than I currently am, that I could cure her. That if I could somehow prove how smart, caring, strong, and capable I am that I could earn her kindness, her consideration. It’s only my heart that feels that way. My brain has spent thirty-one years studying her absence, her presence, her rage, and her pain.

It took me so long to accept her as she is. And love her as she is. And know that, just like the hot stove, she will always burn me. And I also know that a lot of other people have the same struggle that I do. So next time someone asks you a stupid question about your abusive mom (or dad, or partner or whatever), feel free to give them the link to this blog. Because it can get a little tiring telling strangers this kind of shit.