Saturday, March 24, 2012

Substratum

     Love is a many-splendored thing, or so they say.

     I say that love is a many-layered thing.  There are so many components which make up love, separate things which are mashed together to create one whole object.  Some of those layers are easily visible, others are more hidden from the casual observer.  Some comprise the bedrock on which the rest of our love can exist.  Depending on the particular type of love, and the particular relationship between particular people, those layers can be very different indeed, and comprise formations of varying strength and benefit. 

     To take the equation of love and geology further... If what you want is sandstone, no granite will satisfy, and vice versa.

     I'm generally pretty flexible when it comes to expectations in relationships.  I like giving what is wanted from me, and like receiving what is freely given.  I speak all of the love languages pretty well, I like figuring out what makes one person different from another... and I enjoy what makes us truly unique.  I like finding a hunk of jade in a shale formation.  That said, sometimes, people still surprise me.

     And, holy pants, Horus continues to surprise me. 

     Actually, so does Ptah, with his amazing capacity for acceptance and being happy for other people. 

     Oh, and wait, I continue to surprise myself, as well. 

     I've been in some... interesting... relationships over the years, and I've taken on many roles in those relationships.  I've been a guide, and a healer, and a teacher, and a caretaker, and a therapist, and the lady in charge, and a servant, and an owner, and a pet, and something akin to a parent (but not in a creepy way), and someone who needed to be take care of the same way.  I've never been a part of a named power dynamic before.

     In fact, I always assumed I wouldn't go for that sort of thing.  As it turns out, I just knew the wrong people. 

     Now, I did specify named power dynamic.  I've been in several that were not named.  I'm comfortable with however expressing a relationship works best for the people in it.  For me, that can often change from moment to moment, let alone over the life of said relationship.  For that reason, and several others, the prospect of entering into a named power dynamic was rather nerve-wracking for me.  Okay, it still is a little, but pretty much all of my fears have been proven irrational, so I'm ignoring them for the time being.  You know, that whole "refusing to let fear run my life" thing I'm supposed to be doing.

     Horus identifies as dominant, and is heretofore the only person I've been sure exemplifies the title in a way I can respect (and, relate to in a lot of ways).  That doesn't mean that I don't think there are others out there, it just means that I either haven't met them, or haven't seen them prove themselves worthy of my respect in this particular way.  I, of course, have no identity in this regard, since I live in context.  But the context of this situation, the particulars involved, and the person I'm dealing with all conspire to mean that I found myself comfortable saying that while I wasn't a submissive, I would be his submissive.

     Typing it still gives me a bit of nervousness.  This is not because of anything to do with the present situation, or with Horus, but is entirely due to some people in the past being assholes.  And my own perception that with the title would come a set of expectations which are not and never were there, as well as a lack of flexibility which is also not there.  Basically, it doesn't change anything for me.  I behaved a certain way before, and I behave a certain way still.  There are no changes to how I feel about him or our relationship, but calling Horus my dominant would not be possible if it wasn't for all of the other layers of relationship we have.  At least, *I* would not be comfortable doing so.

     For me, naming a power dynamic is like the sedimentary layer on top of the rest of the relationship.  It's comprised of pieces of the rest of the parts of love, even though it might look uniform and different from the other layers without close inspection.  For him, it might be closer to the bedrock.  Recognizing that difference, while accepting that we didn't necessarily have to view the importance of the titles the same way in order to view the importance of the relationship the same way, was a large part of what helped me get over my irrational fears.  That, and every concern I've had so far has been proven to either be not really a concern, or plain silliness on my part.

     For the most part, I'm happy with my choice. We take care of each other in different ways, we both encourage growth and happiness and health.  We have love and attraction, connections in many forms, and excellent communication (most of the time).  I know that if an issue comes up, it will be solved as well as possible.  We have trust.  Trust in each other, and in our relationship.

     And that, my friends, is a solid piece of ground on which to stand.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Post 39: The One in Which I Impart My (Neurotic) Hingely Wisdom.

     The highly technical term for my part in my relationships is "hinge."  Meaning, obviously, the flexible part which connects two other parts that are not otherwise joined together.  In this particular case, "hub" might be more accurate, but might bring up the image of "hubby," which is a common vernacular for "husband."  Some use "pivot" as well, but that word connotes to me "the point on which everything turns," which I do not wish to be for anyone but myself.  The "hinge" is the point which usually connects two "legs" of a "V" (or, "vee" as I believe I will use), although in my case, it might be more metaphorically fitting to call these relationships a "Y" with me at the point of intersection. 
 
     That's really up for more debate than usual, though, as the romantic portion of my relationship with Thoth is no longer active.  That said, there are many who believe (myself included) that relationships are defined by the people in them, and no one else.  And, since I consider Thoth to still be my partner in many ways, that relationship counts as well.  Some people will use other letters and shapes to give an idea of their relationship structures: an "N" or "Z" to denote a four-person unit in which two of the people share more than one connection and the other two do not.  A "triad" to denote an equilateral relationship between three people; then there are also terms like "emotional triad," which describes a relationship between three people in which they all share affection and care, but (likely only) one of the relationships does not involve romance or physical intimacy.

     These terms and structures can get massively complicated, depending on how the person defining them sees fit to define them.  Some people include close friendships, others only direct romantic involvement.  Some include their metamours in their personal relationship structure, others do not.  In my particular case, though, things are pretty simple since, at this point, no one I'm involved with is involved with anyone else... Yes, that is a change from recent posts.  That is not my story to tell.  How I feel about being a "hinge" in a "Y" is, though.

     In short, it is amazing and awesome and work and responsibility.

     Being who I am, I see my position as one of massive responsibility.  The job I've chosen is one which involves making sure that multiple people feel connected to me, do not feel any loss of time or affection in a negative way, feel secure in their position and relationship with me, and do not feel as though they are only getting "part" of a relationship.  I remain acutely aware that they have no one else to provide those things for them, while I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to meet my needs with each of them.  I have (by my own reckoning) to be the best communicator, the most secure, the most thankful, the happiest, the least needful... Yes, it is kind of ridiculous, but those are what I consider my hingely duties.

     Sometimes, I push aside my own needs and wants for reassurance and security because I feel that it isn't fair, being in the position I'm in and needing those things.  I'm the one who gets all of the benefits of the multiple relationships, right?

     Well, yes and no.  To be honest, my favorite moments in this adventure are the ones in which my partners express positive feelings toward each other.  They might not be connected if it wasn't for me, but they do share something special just by virtue of this life we've all chosen.  My partners are fantastic enough to recognize that I have these responsibilities and this work, and though I have *chosen* to take them so seriously, that is a part of what makes me who I am.  And who I am is why they choose to be with me.  They know that I don't just get a bunch of fun parts (though there are many fun parts), and they are able to appreciate that the others provide things which bring me happiness, and if I'm happy, they are able to see that as a good thing.

     My relationship preferences (the lack of rules, the lack of control, and many of the philosophies I've chosen) have sort of by accident decided their relationship preferences.  They do not expect to control my relationships, they know that I will honor my relationships (and that if I do not, they need to bring it up with me), and they recognize that they are not sharing me, but that I am choosing to share myself with them.  They do not expect me to come up with rigid schedules, or spend time with them if I don't want to (though that isn't really an issue).  They consent to my ideas of how to handle new physical relationships, my ideas of honesty and disclosure, and seem to agree on most concepts I've brought forth.  In general, I see it as my duty as a hinge to be *more* permissive with my partners than they are with me, but in reality if I were any more permissive (and honestly, if they were any more permissive with themselves), we would be getting into risky territory, and no one wants that.

     One of the ways I consider myself extremely fortunate is that no one in our current situation seems to have any conflicting ideas or philosophies on how relationships should be conducted.  That makes things at least a billion times easier for all of us.  Some of the stuff Horus and I went through, though *we* were both confident in our ability to handle and negotiate things, gave me a clearer appreciation for the easy meshing of relationship styles that has been happening in my world.  Which also brings me to the idea that one of my duties is to make sure any future relationships mesh well with the ones already in place.  I already had a vague idea that this would be important, but that has also been proven to me more thoroughly as of late.  Even if my partners get along, any discomfort or chaos in one of their lives definitely affects the other(s), because of the fact that it affects me.  Ptah handled the chaos that I inadvertently brought him well, but I am still uncomfortable with the fact that I brought it to him.  Because another thing that I see as my responsibility is the idea that I should give peace and comfort to my partners as much as possible, and uncertainty and insecurity as little as possible.

     Some of the barriers involving expression and interaction between Horus and myself have been crossed lately, and that has all been going amazingly well.  In fact, so well that I have expressed the feeling that I keep expecting something disastrous to happen between us... and while some things have not gone as well for him as one might have hoped, all of the stuff between us is just awesome.  And though I have some guilt for that (because guilt is my thing, you know), much of that is gone when I express that awesomeness to Ptah and he is genuinely happy for us.  Not just for me, but also for Horus, and for our relationship.

     So while I see being a hinge as a huge job, and not always one I'm up to, the people I've chosen to have in my life give me much peace and happiness.  They make it easy to be in my position. 

     I know you guys will read this... so thank you. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Sing the Body Positively Charged

     I've been familiar with the concept of body positivity for a long time, since long before I had a vocabulary for it.  The earliest I can remember intentionally trying to help someone feel more comfortable with their physical self, I was around fourteen years old.  I spent a lot of time reading as a teenager, and not just fiction.  I read books on massage, so that I could learn to bring others pleasure.  I learned to pay attention to the physical responses of people, their breathing, their heart rate, the muscles that tense when I touch them a certain way or in a particular place.  I learned to intentionally pour positive energy into my hands, and to appreciate the parts of us that are often overlooked.

     I noticed that people would often say things like "The female body is beautiful, but the male body is all angles and function." And I started to wonder whether these people had ever really seen the male body the way I had, because it was sure as hell amazing and wondrous and beautiful to me.  I read things like I Sing the Body Electric, and said "Yes."

     So many of us are given shame for our bodies; shame that we even have bodies, let alone shame for how we use them, shame for our enjoyment of them, shame for talking frankly about them, shame for finding the bodies of others interesting.  Shame for the parts we were born with, shame for the way our ancestry bears out in us, shame for the blemishes we acquire through living, shame for the things that make us interesting and unique and worthy of appreciation.  I said "No." to that shame, and made a point of helping those I was intimate with learn to say "No." to it, as well.

     Except, of course, when it came to myself.

     I matured physically very early.  I had my first bra (a B cup, no less) in the third grade.  I had hips and breasts and a stereotypically desirable hourglass figure... at nine years old.  This is *not* a good thing for someone who is already starting life with self-esteem issues.  I didn't know that I looked more like a woman than a girl, I just knew that I was too big.  That idea, that I was "too big" carried through the majority of my teen years.  I looked at the other girls, who were just developing at fourteen and fifteen, and wished that I could have slender thighs like them, and that my clothes would actually fit, they way theirs did.  I always felt hideous, even while fitting pretty closely the societal idea of womanly perfection.

     Of course, it never helped that clothes are not actually made for that supposedly perfect shape.  So all I knew was that I was thicker in most places than the other girls my age, my shirts pulled too tight in various places, and I had to wear men's jeans, because women's pants went too high up for my short waist.  I found much relief when I discovered thrift store shopping.  Rather than be limited to what current trends were appealing to the slender set at the time, I found satiny camisoles and velvet jackets, button-up blouses which pulled across the chest in delicious ways, pants with wider legs, which helped me look less top-heavy... I finally started to realize that my shape wasn't all bad.

     I never had a problem attracting the boys... and a few girls.  It never occurred to me that my womanly shape might be a part of that, until I was seventeen and was told as much.  Previously, and a couple of times since, I've gotten remarks about how my breasts should be perkier, or the stretchmarks on my hips (and now belly) must mean that I've been pregnant.  My butt should be rounder, my thighs (which were large even when I was slender) should be smaller, my big toes shouldn't have hair on them.  My thumbs shouldn't be so stubby, my belly (again, even when I was slender) shouldn't jiggle, I should wear more makeup, learn how to walk in heels, wear more dresses, have longer (or shorter, depending on who is judging me) hair, spend more time styling it, and paint my fingernails.

     I've spent a *lot* of time believing those things to one extent or another, even while I knew those opinions weren't worth a damn, and I didn't want to do things like wear heels, anyway.  I spent a lot of time hating my body, even while I extolled the virtues of body positivity.  I still do, really.  Mostly, though, I hate they way it's a betraying bastard at this point.  Gluten intolerance, the inability to lose weight without starvation and unhappiness, acne, joint pains, now a mystery rash which is spreading... Cluster headaches, chemical sensitivity, a nose that works too well.

     I don't exactly like how large I am now.  I don't like it at all, in fact, but I'm coming to terms with the fact that I won't *really* be able to change that.  The last time I lost any appreciable mass, I was consuming around 600 calories a day, and getting plenty of exercise.  I was unhappy, I was manic, I slept a lot... but hey, that image in the mirror is all that counts, right? Um, no.  As I am now, I am considered very overweight by most, but my blood pressure and cholesterol are good, I eat mostly real food as opposed to processed crap, and I'm happy.  I have a physical job which I love and am capable of doing.  I'm about as healthy as I'll ever be, and starving myself to lose weight would bring no benefit to me... not to mention that whatever I lost would come back as soon as I stopped starving myself.

     I've never minded extremely thin men, but I've long been disgusted by extremely thin women.  I think that has to do more with my own self-hate than anything... which I suppose should be pretty obvious.  While mega-skinny might be something I'm told to strive for, and something I could likely NEVER obtain, that's not really anyone's fault, is it? And the attitude that thin=healthy=beautiful, and everything else is bad/wrong/unattractive is *all* of us.  We all work together to perpetuate and allow this crap.  Every time someone makes a crack about how some fat person must be lazy and eat at McDonald's every day, and I say nothing, I am allowing these ideas to continue.  And the same goes for when someone makes a comment about how the skinny girl must be anorexic.

     We all have bodies.  Those bodies look and feel different.  All of those bodies are amazing things.

     The time comes when we have to ask ourselves if we'd really rather look like someone else, anyway.  I know that at this point, my body has become a part of my personality.  My squishiness is an outward symbol of my inner squishiness.  My large, soft breasts are great for comforting others and helping them feel safe and secure and loved.  (Our brains are, after all, hardwired to enjoy that sort of thing.)  I can clap a hand on my belly and get a great percussive sound... which, yes, I do enjoy doing.  This body means that most people who find me attractive will do so on the basis of my personality first. These hands, with the stubby fingers and all, have helped many people feel better about themselves.  My feet have carried me many places I've been glad to go... and away from the places I've been glad to leave.  These arms, these eyes, this brain, this torso, and these legs, all work together to complete the work which nourishes my soul. 

     The theoretical skinny girl would have her own list of benefits and challenges that come with her own body.  We *all* have those lists.  And still, every one of our bodies is worth celebrating.

     I sing the body positively charged.  Hairlines and eyebrows and hipbones and neck hollows, and that spot behind the ear, and the curl where nose meets cheek, foot arches and breastbones and elbows and ankles and knees, the insides of the wrists, and that place where trunk meets legs... pupils and irises and smile lines and lip curves, the shape of the calf muscle or the side of the neck.  The way you move when you are not conscious of yourself, only your action.  The way you move when hard at work.  The way all of your muscles and sinews and joints and bones function together to allow you to move.  The synapses which tell your lungs and heart to keep moving, so that I may know you, and you me.  The electrical impulses which form your thoughts and words and ideas and hopes and dreams.  I love them all.  I sing the body positively charged.

Monday, March 5, 2012

In Your Face and on Your Countertop.

     Okay, so from the conditioner experiment, I had some avocado pits and lime peels I didn't want to let go to waste.  Here, I will show you what I did with them.

First, grate the avocado pits.  I used a rotary grater with a small grate.  Avocado pits, just like the flesh itself, are full of those mega-awesome plant fats that are really good for our bodies.

They also start turning brown really fast.  They look more like orange peels than anything within a few minutes.  That's okay, though, they're still fine for non-eating purposes.  Add some sugar (in my case, raw sugar), and some kind of tea.  I happened to think the Moroccan Mint would do well.

Add enough oil (I used olive oil, but flaxseed would be awesome) to bind everything together and mix it up.  And you have facial scrub!

The face scrub works very well.  My face has never felt so soft... the only thing I don't like is that the avocado pits don't exactly dissolve, so there are always bits of it left in the tub and the hair-catcher.  But, you know, I have to clean that stuff out anyway, so no big deal.

**********
Next! The lime peels from the conditioner experiment went into a pot, along with the pulp and seeds I strained out.

We also had a few oranges which had been sitting in the fridge too long, and were past the point that anyone would eat them, along with a couple lemons.  And, a bunch of rosemary I trimmed off of a client's plant some months ago.  Rosemary is one of several plants which has antimicrobial properties without being ridiculously over-effective.  It doesn't smell bad, either.

After the citrus is cut into slices, and the rosemary is in small enough hunks to fit into the pot, put it all in and add a bunch of water.  Don't worry too much, this is more of an art than an exact science.
Next, cook it on the stove.  I tend to get mine to boiling, then leave it on a low simmer for a couple hours with the lid on.  This time, I then let the pot of stuff sit overnight (not heated) before dealing with the rest of the process.

And then, strain everything.  squish the liquid out of the pulp and rinds, but not too hard, or it will all fall apart, and you'll have lots of solid matter in your liquid.  Which, wouldn't necessarily be a problem if you're not going to put it in a spray bottle like I did.

Again, we need a clean and empty bottle, and a funnel.  This particular bottle came from an inherited commercial product, as you can see.

If this product is going to be used for surfaces like counters and mirrors, like it will be in this house, you'll want to add some vinegar.  We happened to have this coconut vinegar, which I thought would mesh smell-wise better than apple cider vinegar.  So my bottle is about half citrus and rosemary concoction, one quarter coconut vinegar, and one quarter water.

Since I had more than enough for the one bottle, I put the rest of the citrus and rosemary stuff in other bottles we had around the house, and haven't added anything to those yet. 

The rinds, rosemary bits, and pulp that we cooked? That's right, we have a use for that, too.
Put all of the "waste" in a blender.
And blend it until well... blended.

Simmering and soaking didn't pull out nearly all of the compounds that make citrus fruits and rosemary great for cleaning.  What we have left here, combined with some baking soda, would make a really great scrubby paste for difficult cleaning jobs.  And if you really wanted to, you could eat it.  Fantastic stuff, eh?

  

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Right Now...

     Thoth's mom is up for a visit.  She had already bought her plane tickets when I talked to her about our relationship situation, and they were non-refundable, and she wanted to see both of us anyway.
    
     During that phone conversation, she said that she understood, and loved me.
    
     I was still concerned that having her here might be awkward, but we just had a lovely conversation while grocery shopping. She really does understand, truly does want the best for both of us, and agrees that Thoth needs to learn how to be an adult on his own.
    
     It is good to talk to people who understand.
    
     Now if only Thoth had done his job months ago, explained the poly situation here, and I didn't have to sleep on the couch. I think it might come up before she leaves, but I didn't want to hit her with that right away. I'm sure the fact that I'm separating from her only child is enough to deal with right now.