Saturday, June 21, 2014

Asexual Pride!

The world is full of energy, both positive and negative, that we take on. Unfortunately for me, I am pretty sensitive to the energy around me. I very easily lose control of my moods and mind depending on the energy around me. All too often, it is negative energy that takes over my mind and spirit. But I was so happy today that the Southern Maine Gay Pride Festival was such an atmosphere full of positivity - and that I had the confidence, gumption and tools to try to figure out how to access it.

My friend Lee and I handed out a letter and pamphlets on asexuality to as many organizations as we could find. Fortunately, we chose a very good year to do this, because Pride was bigger in Portland than it has ever as far as I know been. I was stunned. Usually, Pride is an ice cream truck, about a half dozen tables and some really loud and annoying music that I end up wondering why I'm even there after about half an hour. Despite that fact, I usually go every year. How could I not? It's the only outward manisfestation of pride for being different that I can find anywhere. 

This year, however, there were probably 30 or 40 tables and the energy was just electric. I had a mission, a very specific mission, and that probably helped me tolerate the chaos and very loud disco style music as well as I did. I was so focused, I could drown it out. Sometimes it would enter my consciousness and I would just be like, okay focus on the pamphlets. 

I wrote the letter last night, and found the pamphlet already ready to use on AVEN. The Kinko's in Monument Square worked very well for making copies. When we got there, I just decided the best way to deal with all was just to start. So we did. It was large and unwieldy and the tables were scattered seemingly everywhere, but we chose a direction and we started. The first table we came across was asking people how they could make pride more accessible to people. Well, what better place to start having conversations with people about asexuality? 

I wasn't sure how I'd start or how it'd work, but I knew I had to do it. I was doing it for my 13 year old self who had been so lonely and isolated, not knowing that asexuality was even a possible option. I couldn't fail, as long as I just tried. I chatted with the guys for a minute about Pride itself, and then said something like, "We're representing asexuality. We believe that the gay, lesbian and queer community is a natural place to raise awareness..." and I usually didn't have to say any more than that and their faces would kind of melt in a positive way and they'd say something like "Of course."  Of course. So simple but so profound. They all said something like "Yes, I agree!" "Of course!" "I have a friend who's asexual!"  "I think this is great! Thank you so much for your work!" The PFLAG people even seemed interested in having us speak at one of their meetings. 

Two people said they had friends - close friends, it seemed, from their body language and voice when they said the sentence "I have a friend who..." It seemed to resonate with them. Two out of 8, actually, is a pretty high percentage to be aware of this, to be closely connected with this. 

We gave out eight pamphlets. I believe we gave them to the following organizations. The organizers of gay pride in Portland, Equality Maine, GLSEN (gay lesbian education network), PFLAG, Outright (gay youth org), the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, and the Human Rights Center. People were so ..... They were wonderful. I didn't get a single quizzical look, a single "What the hell is she talking about" look. I had expected it... I think I felt more confident because my friend Lee was with me. I don't think I've ever felt so un-self conscious..... Ironic, because what I was doing was about the highest difficulty level you would think you could get to. Going up to people who represented sexuality, even if it was a different and, according to society, "divergent" sexuality, and saying to them "We don't want sex, and we want to be part of your community," to me would seem to be a very high difficulty level. And I think it would have been, if Lee hadn't been with me. Never underestimate the power of the support and community of another, even one other. I would have felt foolish by myself. I would have NEVER been able to do that. I mean, I might have done it, but I would have been meek, shy, stepping in with one foot in and one foot out, filled with anxiety.

**************************** Break to denote transition into more self-analysis and less about the actual Pride*********

And I probably would have gotten.... I think it is very likely that I might have gotten quizzical, worse responses then if only because people would be responding to my body language and not my words. It's hard for me to believe and to understand so late in life, but people seem to respond far more to body language than words. I wonder if all the times in my life where I got bad or quizzical responses from people, it was not because of the content of what I was saying, but because people couldn't figure out how to respond to the messages they were getting from my body language, that I wasn't even aware of sending. I know when my friends are exhibiting signs of high anxiety, I find it hard to be comfortable around them. Oh my God... so maybe all the people that never seem comfortable around me, maybe it has nothing to do with them. Maybe they're just so damn uncomfortable with my anxiety that they don't know what to do, just like I don't know what to do when my friends are anxious. I don't exactly know how to use that information to change my behavior, and of course no one can completely rid themselves of anxiety, but maybe I can use that to try to understand that a) it's not about me, and b) There's nothing wrong with me, and not only will the world go a lot more smoothly if I can be me, but I will be able to connect with the wonderful energy of others if I am me. 

Oh, it is so horrible and wonderful at the same time. Because on the one hand, what a wonderful discovery! On the other hand, what do you with all the times, the majority of times, when being you is just too hard and you have meltdown after meltdown because of the sensory overload, emotion overload, lack of ability to connect with others, knowing that this is out there and not being able to connect with it?

But while I do have sensory and emotion overloads and meltdowns, I am doing much better at connecting with others. It is slow , so much slower than I would like, but on an almost daily basis I am finding at least one person who I have fairly meaningful connections with. Perhaps not every single day - if I say that I will get myself in trouble expecting it - but most of them. A five to 30 minute conversation is often sometimes not enough for me to deal with all the hours of the day when I don't feel connected, but in time I will hopefully find a way to make the feelings of connection last longer than when it is happening. 

What is most difficult for me is that my brain seems to "reset" itself when I go to sleep. All feelings of connection and calmness are wiped up the moment my brain is laid to sleep. I have to start from scratch the next day. Trying to find places where I can feel connected each day, it feels like murder most days trying to have the faith, hope and patience to find them. Especially because they're usually never in the same places. I know intellectually I will find a way to connect...somehow, but my emotions get extreme and the despair creeps back in. The first half of every day is almost always murder. Once I find that one connection, that one thing that makes me feel human again, that makes me feel a part of the human race, that makes me feel seen and heard and fills up my heart with enough energy to go on with the sensory and emotional onslaught of the rest of the day, I'm fine. But when that is , and what it is, is different every day. I can't predict it. I try to write it down when it happens - every word, every feeling - to keep it in my brain. It never stays as long as I want it to. But it makes me happy enough to get through each day and that is what matters, I suppose. Maybe one day..... all my isolated moments of connection will form a coherent whole. Maybe when I least expect it. Maybe the finished product will be marvelous, amazing, stunning. Maybe it is a work of progress in my soul. I hope .... it is done soon. 

Connection to music of course is the only thing that keeps me going in between the moments of connection with others. But connection to others is so much more important than connection to music. I've been using my Walkman a bit less this week and find that while in some ways it helps me feel more open to the energy and connection of others, which is good, in some other ways it leaves me even more raw and unprotected than usual and leaves me more prone to meltdowns . I actually wasn't able to use it for 3-4 days because of headphone problems and had meltdowns 3 of those 4 days. When I finally started to be able to connect to the music again, last night in a whole foods parking lot with a cop standing in the front probably wondering what the hell I was doing as I sang at the top of my lungs to the songs, feeling the edges of them, the emotions of them, the starts and stops and nuances, the tone and beat and rythm going straight to my soul and soothing all the broken parts..... it was a relief, to put it mildly. I can't put myself out there that much without something safe to come back to. Hopefully my headphone problems will not continue, but at least three days I was without them did show me how much I can survive without them... I just felt even more than usual that life felt like being in a meat grinder. I'm just thankful that Keith Urban's "Cop Car" didn't come on while I was there - that would have been an awkward song to sing around a cop. Seriously. lol. This part of being sensitive, emotional and needing to find a way to self-regulate may be hard for others to understand, but everyone needs an outlet, and mine just happens to be singing to country and 60s music in parking lots. I love the openness of parking lots. All the empty space makes me feel good, but being in civilization rather than nature seems to increase the feelings of connection. The Whole Foods parking lot makes me feel good. The sun hits it in just the right way. I have positive emotional feelings to the store. There are usually curbs to walk on, and this stimulates my vestibular sense and makes me feel so much more centered. I walked on a curb thingy around some trees that were planted, around and around for probably 15 minutes while singing. The trick is being open enough to your sensory needs and okay enough with yourself that you will do anything legal to fill them once you understand what you need to do to feel centered. 
Oh, but to be connected to and part of a flow - a flow of anything - instead of just trying to force your energy on something is really the only feeling worth living for. When a good song comes on the radio, which is what I listen to on the Walkman I carry, it shocks me out of my usual negative thinking and infuses in me a positive, connected energy (if I'm lucky). Sometimes this just makes me want to sing. So I do. The feeling of my voice, the vibrating of my voice as it sings every word, every nuance, connects with every word makes me feel so connected. It makes life feel manageable again. It shuts out all the bad and replaces it with good. It is the only thing I have found, other than the brief connections with people, that can. I believe it was Brad Paisley's "Alcohol" that came on to spur the good feelings in me this time (also slightly awkward to sing around a cop), and followed by things like Taylor Swift's "Mine", and the Four Tops' "Same Old Song," as well as Zach Brown Band's "Colder Weather"... songs that have a certain structure to them, easy to sing along to, very hyper-emotional, easy to lose yourself in. The safety of the structure of the songs... every note, every tone, every nuance exactly where you expect it to be, comforting you like a warm blanket. That's in part why I actually usually hate live versions... because they're not the same at all! I dig the sameness of studio music. At first... I said... I better restrain myself, there's a cop standing outside, singing in public is not a social norm. So I did...but I was still tense and not enjoying myself. I eventually gave up on restraining myself. I wandered to one side of the parking lot and I did my thing. I put myself and my ability to fill my emotional needs above what other people would think. I think, as long as what you're doing is legal!, that is the only way to survive. I need to own this life, myself and my differences. 

Okay, I don't think I could write a blog entry without tangents about emotional experiences to save my life, and this is no exception. I don't want to edit it because everything feels so valid and important, so I  will leave it. 


back to Pride

Where was I? So.... We spent 90 minutes, giving pamphlets to the organizations. Then we sat, tired but happy, on a bench nearby. Deering Oaks is such a freaking beautiful location to be, with the fountain in the background. 

Lee and I relaxed on a bench and ate our snacks after we gave the pamphlets out. At this point I became aware that the loud aggressive noise of the thing they called music was actually sounding familiar, although I could not hear the words from that far away. I asked Lee if she would mind if I went closer and went to investigate. IT WAS WAGON WHEEL! FOR THE SECOND TIME IN ONE WEEK I HEARD WAGON WHEEL SUNG LIVE IN PORTLAND. OMG! That song rules. I am going to have so many good memories of that song now. It is the ultimate sing along song. Oh, I started dancing and then other people started dancing, just like in the Old Port! Oh, it was so emotional and resonant and wonderful. Then they did Jackie DeShannon's Put a Little Love in Your Heart after that - an uptempo and really jazzy version that was a little hard to sing along with but not impossible. They did an original song, and then they did, omg, they did the best version of Sly and the Family Stone's "Everyday People" that I have ever heard. It might be the ONLY version I have ever heard live but it is still the best!

I was back with Lee at that point heard it and was like OMG. "different strokes for different folks and so on and so on and scooby dooby doo" it was also a more fast paced and uptempo version but in this case it really worked. the song was positively pulsating with wonderful positive amazing life affirming energy. I can't usually dance very much anymore due to physical issues but with all three songs but especially this one I did for at least like one line or length of the field... really danced, not just the mini version. Felt free... Felt like some sort of energy just took over and lifted my body and infused it with joy... and I danced across that lawn... like a bat out of hell... just pure energy and joy and love. So nice to be possessed by positive emotion instead of just negative once in a while. Oh, to hear that song and at a gay pride festival, so very cool. Such a wonderful experience. Of course they followed this song with RAP, the only kind of music that feels so intense and overwhelming to me that it can literally trigger a panic attack, and used to when I was a kid and it was played in the car. Message about how life has good and bad and goes between two extremes? Dunno, but we left and it was fine.

Hung out at gelato place with Lee a bit, got bus back. Got rainbow necklace and starfish necklace as well. So happy standing by door of apartment talking to her about future asexuality related plans. Feels so good to have SOMETHING IN COMMON WITH SOMEONE ELSE FOR LIKE THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, well, just to feel this concreteness of being passionate about the same thing .Oh, connection.

So I am going to bed soon and making a pledge as I always do try to remember the moments of connection and use them to fuel the moments of anxiety and despair, and to remember connection is possible. To remember in my worst moments that feeling okay is not far away if I can get thru it.

That is the first time I have ever actually enjoyed Pride! =) Hopefully the first of many. 

No comments:

Post a Comment