Searching for Chaos

I’ll get right to the point: My romantic relationship that I am currently in is going very well. Chelsea and I just moved in together and I’ve even told conservative family members about us. She makes me feel like I’ve got nothing to lose by being 100% myself.

We’ve been seeing each other for about 3.5 months and this is right about the point where things start to look questionable (I’m speaking about my past dating experiences). Three months always seems like the perfect time for people to give up the “I’ve got my shit together” act and then things go south from there.

I have not had this suspicion in this relationship. Like I said before, things have been going great.

This scares me.

My body and brain are just used to chaos. I’m used to chaos at work (this has changed since my new job), at school (mainly concerning class-load (my fault)), with family (it’s complicated), with friends (I am not involved in it, I just am surrounded by it), and, unfortunately, my romantic relationships have not been absent from chaos either.

Over the years, I’ve developed mad planning strategies to help me navigate my own busy life. In the cracks of free time, I was doing household things, school things, or helping friends or current romantic partner through their issues- all the while, of course, I was ignoring my own need for peace, quiet, and some time to deal with anxiety and past events.

Right here, right now, I am in the best mental health I’ve ever been. I can say that without doubt. But old habits die hard and my body is in defense mode in this current relationship because it just can’t be real. Or can it?

My fear is that being in a healthy and “normal” relationship will start to seem so foreign to me that I will unconsciously search for reasons to doubt it and an out in order to avoid repeating past experiences.

I don’t see red flags. Things are great. I am happy. I am so happy. I don’t want this to end. I don’t want my brain to get weird. In order to combat this particular fear, I’ve already discussed it with Chelsea, my therapist, and I will continue to check in with myself and make sure that I am not just creating chaos to have chaos.

Thanks for stopping by! Happy almost Halloween!

Dating with Intent

I did not come up with the title of the post. My friend told me about her recent dating experience and the topic of “taking dating more seriously” came up. We didn’t like that “title”, so she suggested “dating with intent”.

So, in regards to my friend, she explained that during her early college years she was partying, dating around, and not very focused on long term relationships/dating. Fast forward 5 years and she is now taking dating more seriously; she’s putting more thought into who she goes out with and she’s looking for someone to spend years with, not one or two nights.

I feel like I experienced a similar shift recently. I haven’t done a lot of short term dating. In fact, I’ve only dated one person for short term: 3 months. All other relationships have been 6 months- 2 years in length. However, I feel like my mindset through all of these was very scattered.

I’ve addressed my commitment issues before. In addition to those, I also had feelings of just not wanting to be in something long term. I just didn’t want it, so why did I keep falling into these things? I don’t have an answer for that.

My point is that even though I was in [mostly happy] long term relationships, I didn’t initially go into them wanting that. And, as the relationship progressed, I often found myself wanting to exit the situation for a variety of reasons. My body and mind is always go, go, go, and on to the next.

I’m not sure when the change in mindset or desires happens for people, but I think my own brain experienced a shift in the last 6 months. What I’m referring to is the “I wanna run around” mindset versus the “I want to settle down” mindset.

All of sudden, following the whirlwind that was my AmeriCorps NCCC experience, starting therapy, moving into a new house, starting a new job, and resuming my studies, I had the sudden and strong craving for stability and security.

I had moved countless times during 2018. After moving back home, I experienced daily anxiety and panic attacks caused by the simplest things. I entered a new work environment and stepped onto a changed university campus. And I kept up with it all, but I was tired. As the weeks went on, I accepted even more tasks and activities into my schedule, but it was exhausting.

Unexpectedly, I longed to slow down. I didn’t know how (that’s something I’m still working on), but I knew I needed to for my own mental and physical well-being. With this new feeling also came a daydream of coming home after work to a cozy house and to an unknown, blurry-faced, long-term partner.

Don’t ask me when, why, or how, but somewhere between May, June, and starting therapy, I was no longer interested running solo or running away.

Of course, those who read my blog know that I have since found a beautiful and amazing partner who is making all of my daydreaming come true. I feel differently within myself when I am with her and I think a large part of my current mindset is thanks to therapy. I also think there’s the natural maturity and growing older that makes people crave security. Whatever it was, I’m happy it happened.

A Little Dark Cloud

As I was driving home from a very nice evening with Chelsea last night, a slightly terrifying thought crept into my mind. With it also came a familiar feeling from 2014. The things that were attracting me to her were very similar to the things that attracted me to my emotional abusive and manipulative ex.

My ex was very “guilt trippy” and manipulative. Chelsea is nothing like that, but neither was my ex in the first 4-6 months. I see in Chelsea many of the good parts of my ex. They are fundamentally very different people and their personalities are also quite different. Their approach to life, emotions, and conflict is very similar though. It’s also very similar to mine.

To be honest, though, the way I deal with my emotions and anxiety has changed profoundly since I started therapy. I’m much more prone to crying and just letting those sad feelings take over me for however long my body needs it. So, I see parts of my old self in Chelsea, too. I suppose every person is different and maybe what she’s doing works for her. She doesn’t seem to have any huge issues and she seems pretty self aware, so I guess I shouldn’t be concerned.

All in all, I’m not worried. If I see red flags, I leave. If I don’t, I look forward to seeing where this goes.

Mommy Issues

I didn’t have the best luck in past relationships when it came to my partners’ mothers liking me. The first two relationships that I was in were by far the most disastrous in the mother category, but the ones after that didn’t always work out how I had planned either.

My first girlfriend’s mother liked me just fine right up until she discovered that we were a thing. This first girlfriend of mine is who I consider to be my first love and our relationship was a complicated one. We were both discovering our sexualities and navigating what it meant to be “in a relationship”. In many ways, I felt protective of her because she was battling other demons that had no connection to “coming out” and I would try my best to be there and show her that I loved her. So, when her mother transferred her to another school, I was devastated. Her mother also insisted that there would be no contact between us. No texting, no email, no Facebook Messenger, nothing. Obviously, we found ways to communicate and that went on for over a year, maybe closer to two years. Every now and again, her mother discovered that we were talking and I would receive a simple message saying that Maya would no longer be responding to me. I’d wait a few days, sometimes weeks, and then I’d get a message somewhere.

I think the hardest thing for me was that Maya’s mother never gave me a reason as to why she didn’t want me interacting with her daughter. I gathered that she wasn’t a fan of lesbians, but I couldn’t understand why she had to take such drastic measures to separate us. I’m sure she thought she was doing what was best for her daughter. I’m also sure that it was partially to maintain her image in the community. Now that I’m older, I can say that it was all done out of fear and homophobia. I don’t care about the details. What she did was wrong and it took younger me years to not feel like fucking shit about myself.

Alright. Girlfriend #2’s mom. Girlfriend’s name is Mary. Mary’s mother LOVED me. She even loved me after she found out we were dating. She bought me holiday and birthday gifts. She was interested in my schooling and what I wanted to do in life. She said I was welcome to come over any time.

*Mary’s mother was addicted to opioids and suffered from unaddressed and untreated mental health issues. She was also abusive and manipulative towards Mary and Mary’s brother.*

Mary’s mother loved me. Then Mary and I broke up. Obviously, abusive relationships between parents and children are complicated. While Mary’s mother abused her children, she also felt protective of them. After catching wind of the apparent distress Mary was feeling post breakup, I received a message. I received many messages, actually. In addition to text messages, I also received phone calls at my place of work. I have attached those messages below.

I want to expand on the things mentioned in the texts.

  • After breaking up, I did go on a trip to Key West with Mary per her request. For anyone who’s been in an abusive relationship, you can probably relate to the struggle of cutting ties 100%. Mary told me that I did not owe her anything.
  • Something that was confusing for me was her insistence that there would be no phone calls or anyone coming to her house. As the person who broke up with her daughter, I had zero interest in calling or visiting. I’m not sure why she thought I was contacting her daughter.
  • We drank at my mom’s house and we drank at her mom’s house. All of our parents always knew because I’ve never liked to hide things. If there was any alcohol that was stolen, I never knew anything about it or I was told that it was okay to take.
  • I also don’t know what money she’s referring to that I supposedly took. My best guess is that she figures I tricked Mary into spending whatever money was spent on the Key West trip and she wanted me to reimburse her for everything.

Obviously, Mary’s mother had no idea what dating her daughter was like for me. And I had no reason to tell her because I was 99% sure that Mary got most of her issues from the way her mother treated her. I know that within myself I am a good person. I don’t take advantage of people. I don’t wish feelings of worthlessness on people. I’m not mean. I can’t and don’t “turn people gay”. I know that I am good. I know these things. It’s just difficult to keep telling myself that when several adults have told me the exact opposite.

So, between Mary’s mom’s known mental instability, her abusive history, her drug issues, and her current hatred for the person who made her daughter upset (me), I was very concerned about my safety. I went to the police with my “evidence” and worries in hopes of a restraining order or just some advice. They had nothing for me. I changed my phone number and blocked the entire family. Shortly after, I went to study abroad in Germany. When I returned from that, I signed up for 11 months of service with Americorps NCCC. Upon returning home in May, I immediately started house hunting and found my current home in Atlanta. I have many reasons for wanting to get out of my hometown, but that family was in the top 3.

Girlfriendish #3/girl-I-casually-dated-for-3-months-or-so’s mom wasn’t even really in the picture. I was told by the girl I was seeing that her mom was in denial and that her gayness just didn’t exist. It didn’t come up. It wasn’t bashed, but it also wasn’t at all acknowledged. So that was a great experience in comparison to the previous 2.

Partner #4 is unique in the fact that they’re a man. I will talk more about that choice later, but let’s all pretend it’s not a huge deal and let me get on with my story. Partner #4’s name is Rick. Woohoo! My first not “M” name! Rick’s mother was an absolute gem, truly. She is a fantastic woman. However, everything she thought she knew about me was a lie and she’ll never know the truth and that’s the part that’s irritating to me. She liked someone who didn’t exist. Had I told her that I identified as a lesbian and that I didn’t believe in God, she would have politely told her son to please halt the courtship. Funny enough, Rick knew that I was a lesbian and that I didn’t believe in God. At the end of the day, that’s all that mattered, and I tried not to let the whole mom thing bother me.

The last woman I dated is a beautiful human being. So is her mother. Her mother is my favorite mother. She accepted me completely and I wish I got to know her more. Her mother is also not well; she has COPD and it’s not looking great. Obviously, this woman and I are no longer together and that’s the reason I’m sad about losing contact with the lovely mother who took me as 100% me. They also live in Massachusetts, so an attempt at keeping in touch isn’t as easy as it could be.

So, those are my experiences with previous partners’ mothers. It’s a mixed bag and while the first two really fucking sucked, it did get better in a sense. When I go to date women now, some of the first questions I ask is “Are you out to your parents?”, “Are they comfortable with the LGBTQIA community?” and “How important is religion to you and your family?”. They’re big questions, but they determine a lot for me.

I hope this was insightful and interesting. Thank you for stopping by!

My second relationship with another woman.

I met Mary when I was in 2nd grade. We rode the same bus together and I remember us giggling on the ride home one day because all the girls had been given “menstrual kits”. We opened some pads and examined the tampons all while laughing like maniacs. I also remember attending a birthday party of hers and inviting her to one of mine.

Time went on and she moved elsewhere and started online school. The reasons aren’t really important and we lost touch.

Just a few months into my junior year of high school, I was at a football game (I was in the marching band) and it was 3rd quarter, so we got a break to eat and mingle. I ran into her at the food court. After quickly catching up on the past 5 years, for some weird reason, (I call it gaybie syndrome) I felt the need to immediately out myself and let her know that I was a flaming homo. Her physical appearance suggested to me that she, too, might be one. She did not disclose, but I wasn’t really fishing for an answer anyway.

We exchanged numbers without any intent on starting a romance. Nevertheless, about 3 months passed and by the winter of 2014, we were an item.

She made the first “move” via text by letting me know that during our last visit she really wanted to kiss me. I remember being shocked and a little turned on at her forwardness because previous conversations never suggested any attraction from her end. It was unexpected.

So, the next time I drove over to her house, as I was leaving, I asked her if I could kiss her. It was obvious to me that she wasn’t going to actually make the first move and I didn’t have an issue with that. I was the first female she ever kissed and I’m sure she was quite nervous. She was not my first kiss, and I remember thinking about how the kiss was so bad. It really was. It was an awful kiss and I was rejoicing in that fact because the same night that we bumped into each other, I had just split with my first girlfriend of 1-2 years.

I wasn’t over my first girlfriend. I was hoping that there would be no “spark” with Mary because I secretly hoped that my heart would forever belong to Maya. My story with Maya is something I’ll share in a future post because it’s a good one. It’s a little crazy and not all pretty, but I look back on what was happening between us fondly.

*I have changed the names of both of my previous girlfriends for at least some privacy; however, I purposely made them both “M” names because that was the case for me- 3 girlfriends in a row, actually. It must be a curse of some sort.*

Back to the story:

I kissed her. It was awful. I was happy about it.

Eventually, I did fall in love with Mary and she with me. She was a little more dominant in everyday life than I was; however, I was still very much independent, opinionated, stubborn, and strong-willed. I thought it was nice to be with someone who acted like they knew what they wanted. I liked giving up some control for once.

We did EVERYTHING together. We would text all morning and day while I was at school and then we would hang out when I got out, as long as I didn’t go to work. Even when I had work, I would get off at 10pm and drive to her house.

I, truly, for a time, thought she was the one. It’s a story everybody has gone through- especially lesbians, I think. It’s just so easy to feel so connected to another woman. I thought I was going to marry her.

6 months into our relationship, most of my family had met her and they liked her. She bought me a $500 promise ring. We went on date nights and she would insist on paying. After 8 months, she even went to Germany with me and my family. She also bought a new car in this time because she cashed in on her VanGuard account (or something like that). In the Fall of 2015, I was attending college. She became my roommate for about 4-5 months. She eventually dropped out and started pursuing a certification/degree in aviation maintenance at a different college.

The red flags were there before 6 months hit. They became even more prominent at the 8 month and 1 year marks. I don’t know why I stayed so long. The flags were small at first and they progressively got more intense and more abusive as the relationship continued.

When she told me she loved me for the first time (over text, UGH), she freaked out because I wouldn’t say it back.

She ignored my texts and calls for an entire day because she was mad about something I didn’t do or say. When I got to her house (I was worried SICK), she was sitting on a riding mower just playing on her phone and she made me guess why she was mad. I don’t even remember what it was about.

When she gave me my promise ring (something we had NEVER discussed before), she started pressuring me to buy her one.

When I wanted to go to bed after work, she would guilt me into staying at her house longer than I wanted to by asking me “Don’t you love me?”, “Do you do everything your mother tells you to?” (My mother had a 12am curfew for me, and I gladly abided by it because I’ve always enjoyed going to bed early.)

She was constantly telling me that my family clearly hated her. Not just disliked, but hated. She would also say negative things about my mother, who I fucking love and who has never done ANYTHING to hurt me, ever.

She started pressuring me to pay for more of our dates, even though I made it clear that I didn’t want to eat out or go on expensive dates. She would say “Let’s go here!” I would say okay, because as the person invited, I wasn’t expecting to get the bill, but when the bill came around, she would look at me. I should also note that her family is old money and she had cash to blow that no 18 year old should have. I had next to nothing.

She went to Florida with me and my family for my mother’s wedding. She would not conform to what the group did or ate and insisted that we drive around town until we found a Burger King. It was the most stupid and embarrassing situation and I wish to this day that she had not come on that trip.

There was just so much guilt and manipulation in everything she did, I can’t even pick out all of the scenarios.

One day, we were driving down from Atlanta from picking out her new bedroom furniture. I was trying to tell her something and she turned the music up. I turned it off and tried again, but she turned the music back up and refused to listen or talk to me the rest of the way home.

That same day ^^, we were almost at her house and I laughed at something I saw on my phone. She asked to see what was so funny. I said that we were almost home and I would show her when we arrived. She insisted on seeing it then and there and she leaned across the middle compartment to grab my phone, the car swerved and hit the curb, and she popped 2 tires. She blamed me for the popped tires and demanded that I pay for them both. I’m glad to say that this was about the time where I had had enough of the abuse and I did not pay for those tires.

There was a period of time when I didn’t want to have sex with her because I wasn’t finding it enjoyable anymore and I just wasn’t feeling well. She did not respect that at all and pressured me almost daily to have sex with her.

I felt isolated from my friends because she would get angry that I was spending time with them instead of with her. She would do the same thing even if it was family that I was spending time with.

There are more things and events, but they don’t matter. This relationship was abusive and I didn’t realize it until 1 year afterwards. I learned a lot about myself during this time. This relationship also affected how I function in current relationships, both romantic and platonic. It affected how I see people. It changed a lot for me.

We were together for about 1.5 years. I should’ve left after 6 months, but I didn’t have the courage, the words, or the support.

Internalized Homophobia

I had my first “Aha!” moment when I was in 6th grade. At that time, I didn’t even know what “gay” was.

The story goes like this: I was playing soccer with my team and an older girl named Caitlin was playing with us. She was from a more experienced team called Lightening and she had played with us many times before. This time, however, I found her in my vicinity more than usual and as she ran past me, I stopped in my tracks. I stopped running, I forgot the ball, I was just standing there like an idiot.

It was her smell. She smelled like flowers and it was intoxicating. I had NO IDEA what the fuck was happening, but I got it together and continued to play the game.

I told my mom about it immediately and she said to worry about those feelings when I was a little older and not to stress about it now.

I didn’t seriously evaluate what I felt that day until about 4 years later when I fell in love for the first time. It was incredible.

This post is about my internalized homophobia, though. So, let’s jump in. Between 6th and 10th grade, I learned more about what some of my family and community and a great deal of society thought about those who experienced same sex attraction. I learned more about God and his apparent disapproval of the same behavior. I learned more about sexism and double standards.

I learned that gay was not good.

Fast forward 2 serious relationships with other females plus a 3 month adventure with another girl. I was now 19. I found myself in a position to explore a relationship with a man. I took it.

I dated him for 8 months. I put everything into the relationship, but to no use. I was gay.

I have wished for my “gayness” to disappear before. I remember feelings of disappointment and irritation for not being a good person. Because gay people aren’t right. There’s something wrong.

I remember feeling angry and confused when people said that I was choosing this “lifestyle”. I still get so angry when I’m told it’s a choice. Who in their right fucking mind would choose to be looked at so disgustingly?

I feel like to my more conservative family members, they see me and think, “if only she would date men, she would be the perfect person, granddaughter, daughter, etc.” I’ve always done well in school. I don’t enjoy drugs and I don’t drink often either. I visit my relatives, I volunteer, I’m always employed, I have friends. I even went to church on my own accord for a few years and even now, even though I am not religious anymore, I have no problem going to church with family if they want me to join them.

But I’m gay.

I’m almost the perfect package. I’m almost the perfect granddaughter. Almost. There’s just that one little flaw. “If only she’d just come to her senses, accept the Lord, and realize that it’s unnatural to date the same sex. It’s disgusting. It’s not right. It’s not Christian. It’s not decent.”

“You turned my daughter gay”

“She wasn’t like this before you”

“You took advantage of her good nature”

“You’re disgusting”

“You’re too young to know this is who you are”

“You can be gay, you just shouldn’t act on your desires”

“I understand that you’re gay, but I don’t want to see it”

“It’s okay to be gay, just don’t wave it in my face”

“It’s only okay for women to be gay, but two dudes is fucking nasty”

After being told these things, it should come as no surprise that I found myself absolutely hating my sexuality. Everyone around me, it seemed, was telling me how wrong it was and how I shouldn’t act on it, especially not in public.

The worst types of homophobia are the indirect moments of it. For example, 99% of my family NEVER asks me about who I’m seeing or if I’m interested in anyone. When I was presumed to be straight, there would always be questions about the current boy I was interested in.

I also recently went through a breakup. It sucked. The woman I was dating is an amazing person and our reasons for breaking up were primarily distance and conflicts in our future desires (children, mainly). There is no bad blood between us, so I had nothing to be angry at. I was just sad. My family knew that I had been seeing her. They even met her. When I returned back home without her or mention of her, there were no questions. There were no “how are you dealing with this” or “are you okay” questions. I was disappointed because I thought some of my family was more okay with my “lifestyle”, but apparently not interested enough in it to ask how I was handling something very emotional.

In the past 2 years, I have learned to truly love my sexuality and the community it allows me to have. Being around other people who are on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum makes me feel most loved and safe. I don’t have to act straight or omit information when telling a story or talking about my hopes and dreams. I don’t have to answer uncomfortable questions and I’m not gawked at when out with a partner. I am so thankful for that community.

It’s a daily obstacle to assure myself that I’m enough exactly how I am. I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not and I don’t have to change myself to make others more comfortable in their ignorance.

I’m learning to live my life with pride in myself and I hope you do, too.

Why Therapy?

I went to therapy for the first time when I was about 9 years old. It was shortly after my parents divorced. I had my first panic attack around that time as well. I think most of it stemmed from separation anxiety I had when my mother wasn’t close by.

When I got a little older, I didn’t continue therapy because I didn’t notice much change and I was also told that I would probably “grow out of it”. To some extent, I think I did. I don’t have separation anxiety anymore, but I do have anxiety towards other things.

Not dealing with loss and grief has been a huge issue for me that I was recently made aware of by my current therapist. If we define “loss” as the “ending of something” (not necessarily death), then I have experienced a lot of loss in my life that I have chosen not to emotionally or mentally process/deal with. As a result, my body stores those emotions as anxiety and it gets periodically released as symptoms of anxiety, such as panic attacks.

For a while, I thought I was able to track my triggers (loud music, crowds, thunderstorms, tornado sirens, yelling/shouting), but over time, the attacks seemed to be more random.

I was able to count the number attacks I had during 2018-2019 on one hand up until the end of May of this year. As I was looking for a home, a job, and I was also dealing with (I actually wasn’t dealing with it at all) a fresh breakup, I found myself hyperventilating at the nail salon. The old familiar feeling was back in full swing.

2 weeks, a house, and a job later, the panic attacks and anxious feelings subsided. I’m 99.9% sure that my anxiety was caused by the stress of not having a home or being employed.

Let’s fast forward to today- to today’s therapy session to be exact. Today was one of the best sessions I’ve had since starting. I’ve discovered a lot of things in the past 2 months. I’ve also acknowledged a lot of things in the past 2 months.

  • I am hard on myself.
  • I have a fear of failure.
  • To me, setting goals+achieving said goals=success/life purpose

Today was the first step of me including all parts of me in an acknowledgement. What that looks like is: “I acknowledge that when I think about [insert whatever makes you anxious/scared here (for me it was elaborate solo travel)], I get scared and nervous, but I also have powered through similar things that have also made me scared and nervous.

Instead of saying “X makes me feel scared”, I’m including the fact that yes, I feel this fear, but I’ve also fucking powered through fear before.

I’ve shut parts of myself down over the years. I’ve shut down Grieving Megan. I’ve shut down Angry Megan. I’ve shut down Sad Megan. I’ve even shut down Excited/Hopeful/Optimistic Megan because I have a fear of getting my hopes up and then being let down and feeling stupid for letting myself get them up in the first place. I’ve silenced all these parts of me and the voices that belong to them. Today was a step in letting them be heard.