Wednesday, August 23, 2017

nothing new here

It's been almost a week since I finished my film and shared it with the world. Since I conquered those fears. Or at least, faced them. Sort of. Sometimes facing doesn't equal conquering.

Fuck that. There's no such thing. Because I'm back, shaking and crying and being in general the unhealthy, dysfunctional, disabled adult I'm known for being.

I love my film, even though I get embarrassed and cringe thinking about people watching it and worry about their reactions or if they think the camera's too shaky or the editing too choppy or they don't understand something I did purposefully, which means I didn't do it purposefully enough. I do love it and I loved making it and without a doubt it helped me.

But I'm so far from functional and I hate it. Right now the idea of sex makes me want to puke. When my body enjoys it I feel betrayed and distrustful not only of whoever I'm with but of myself as well. It's not like I'm a slut or anything. At least, I don't think so.

That doesn't stop me from feeling so fucking dirty. I sit here and think of just that one guy and I feel disgusting and broken, and then I think of my first boyfriend and feel worse, and then I think of my second and feel worse, and then I think of when I was just a little girl and I feel so fucking dirty and broken and twisted.

I don't have coherent thoughts right now. I don't have anything. I have nothing but myself and really that's all I ever have and oh how I hate myself. I hate this body for its physical and mental and spiritual weaknesses. I hate it for not wanting sex and I hate it for wanting it and I hate it for being so ugly and yet for still having those stupid traits that make people want to touch me in the dark and then wipe their hands clean of it.

That's victim mentality, that's survivor guilt. It has to all be my fault, doesn't it? I can't find another reason. Wouldn't that make more sense than there being a seemingly endless supply of people who just want to put their hands on me and maybe don't mind my brain so much, but it's not worth much on its own?

I must be the problem. I must be doing something wrong to attract these people, to let them do what they want, to fool myself into thinking they're something or not or that I'm not something I am. I'm just stupid enough to convince myself it won't happen again, that I'll be stronger, better, more mature, more assertive. That I'll know what I want and I'll say it. That I'll actually do something, anything.

I haven't even technically started grad school and already I just know I'm not going to make it. Sometimes I feel at home here, simply because it's a beautiful community of people who love dance and love art, but I don't feel like belong. They're all passionate and willing to speak. I'm passionate and willing to do nothing but sit and work in silence and solitude. I'm either weird or creepy or stupid or "not right in the head," which is technically true.

There's this conference going on right now for graduate students that essentially is preparing us for being teaching assistants or teachers or whatever other responsibilities that will be thrown our way during grad school (and beyond). Today there was an extremely long segment about discrimination and sexual misconduct.

While without a doubt that thing is needed (which in itself is just sad and awful), I also had a very hard time staying in my seat. At that  point I was doing my best to lose myself in a book, blatantly reading during a lecture. Trying not to shake too much or to bite the skin of my thumb or to pinch the inside of my arm too hard.

Why am I trying to get an MA and be a professor and be a real person?

It's obvious I'm unreliable and weak and dependent. I can't take care of myself and stress gets the better of me far too easily. When I'm stressed, I get even weaker and more prone to panic over things that under normal conditions I might be able to handle.

But I'm just so fucking broken and gross now. There is no part of me that has not been touched by someone else. There's nothing I have left to give. How are you supposed to tell someone that they're getting used goods? A damaged product? Someone who is graysexual, which for me means means sometimes I like sex but also sometimes I might freak out and suddenly burst into tears, so just please don't take it personally? Who sometimes has a hard time distinguishing between actual desire and the compulsion to please? Between passion and obligation?

I have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about anymore. Long story short:

I hate myself. Looks like that will never change.

--Dexter

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Consent

For those don't follow/stalk me on social media, I wanted to share the dance for film I recently completed. I made it for myself, but also for the world. For those who are braver than they think and stronger than they know, for those who have to be brave just to exist. And for those who don't realize just how many of us there are.

Consent.

--Dexter

Monday, August 14, 2017

Conquering Fears


Today I started editing an independent dance for film that I worked on over the summer. I filmed right before I moved, and haven't had a chance to fool around with it until now, nearly three weeks later. I was having the time of my life. I hadn't done anything creative in ages and, as always, forgot just how amazing it makes me feel. Fooling around and editing is cool and fun and frustrating and time consuming - really just like any artistic endeavor. I love it.

This film is something I've been trying to make for almost three years now. Every time I choreographed in undergrad, I would start out with this topic in mind, but end up switching. It just wasn't time and I wasn't ready. But as my time in Hattiesburg, MS came to a close, I realized that my time to make this project was also running out. And in some ways, doing it as an independent project gives me more control. I don't have a deadline (which also means it'll take forever, but oh well) so I can take my time, and I don't have to share it with anyone before I'm ready.

This project is about sexual assault, mostly stemming from my own experience. Everything about the process was pretty terrifying, from creating the movement to sharing it with others. And of course, the brilliant idea to film it in the very place where I was date-raped.

I'd been by this place plenty of times before because it was right next to the tutoring center where I worked for a semester. It always made me nervous and I always walked quickly, but I could still do it. Long after my assaulter was gone, I still expected to see him hanging out there, waiting. Even when I stopped passing by, the place is engraved in my memory in incredible detail. I remember the dim lighting, the smell of a far off cigarette, the feeling of concrete. I remember studying for a dance history exam I had the next morning, I remember that it was slightly too warm for my sweater, I remember him trying to play "What Does the Fox Say" on his guitar.

I returned to this place almost four years later to see if it would actually be a good film site. I went by myself instead of waiting for the friend who said he'd go with me. It was exactly as I remembered it, minus the assaulter in the guise of a friend. It still made me nervous, and looking at it from the point of a videographer only gave me enough emotional distance to look around a bit before speed-walking back to my car.

And I showed up again the next day to actually film. I had my chill pills ready in case I needed them. Some strong coffee to give me comfort. The dancers who laughed and did stupid things together. And a job to do.

That day I conquered that place. I turned my terror into art (who knows if it'll be good or bad, though) and created something new to remember and associate with the site. Not necessarily to replace the bad, but to truly put it in the past.

Then, as I was packing for the big move, I found the ginormous sweater I was wearing when I was assaulted. I couldn't look at it without thinking about that night, but I still loved it enough to keep. I live in the south anyway, so it's not like I had a lot of opportunities to wear it. In the spirit of conquering old fears, I made a rather popular instagram post about it, challenging all of those people who say victims are asking for it by dressing provocatively.

So I was asking my friend to rape me because I was wearing jeans, a humongous sweater, and Doctor Who hat that hid most of my head?

Yeah, okay. Sure.

I love that sweater and I will always remember that night when I look at it, but that won't stop me from wearing it. It's not the sweater's fault and it's not mine, and I've had plenty of good memories in that sweater as well. Why can't those be as memorable? It's not really fair.

I was thinking about all of this while in the shower not too long ago, feeling pretty proud of myself for finally facing a few of my fears. I mean yeah, I'm still super duper anxious in public and don't like people behind me and get freaked out if people try to touch me too much and distrust anyone who claims they like me for something other than sex, but I'd still done something.

Then I go get on Facebook and end up clicking on an article about a woman who was assaulted and some of the horrifying replies she got after sharing her story. And I got scared again.

I am very, very honored to be surrounded by such good people who support and love and respect me, and yet all it takes are a few shaming comments to rip me apart. It's like I think I'm building a brick wall but then it turns to tissue paper; it barely takes a breath to make it disappear.

I feel very alone here in Florida. I have two friends and they're both great. But I'm only just starting to get to know them, and like I said: I just don't trust people very much.

None of my recent posts seem to make much sense anymore or have a decent conclusion, but hey, that's life.

Anyway, I'm still working on the film and grad school starts in one week. I like Tallahassee despite the roads' tendencies to switch around and make no sense. I miss Cane's, but they have Dunkin Donuts here and Steak n Shake, so it's not like I don't have access to comfort food. I have my two friends for now.

That's all I got right now.

--Dexter

ps. This shirt technically refers to suicide and came from Live Through This, so go check it out cause it's cool.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Why I Don't Talk To You

AUTHOR'S NOTE: It is recommended you listen to "Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence while reading this post. Please see the PS at the end of the post to see why. Thank you.


Just about any time I write a more honest post about how I feel, I get lots of offers from very kind of loving people to talk if I need to, and to know that they're always there for me. I always appreciate these messages. I look at them, appreciate them, feel a flutter of shame at what they know about me, and resolve to thank them later when the post isn't so fresh on my mind. And then of course I forget that I didn't actually respond. But I do that in a lot of situations.

I don't know how serious people are when they say they're there to talk of I need someone. I don't doubt their sincerity, I just feel like they underestimate the tornado they would be welcoming into their home, so to speak.

When I am having a bad day or having a panic attack or have a manic phase or anything like that, I do not sound like my blog posts. Maybe that's what it is. I'm not at all coherent or logical and I can vehemently and wildly deny anything I want to while swearing up and down that my own idea of self is absolutely true.

Right now I have two friends I talk to when I am in those moments, and I feel worse and worse and worse about it every time it happens. I talk to them because I trust them and because they make me feel at least a bit better, or at least like I'm not so alone. They don't panic (to my face, at least), but just kind of...accept it, and do what they can. They are rather amazing people.

But I don't just have a crisis every once in a while. I've been in a constant state of crisis for the past week, and even though it finally seems to be normalizing, just the events of the week have left me terrified, exhausted, and guilty.

In those moments, I am terrified and my first instinct is to find someone, but then I remember that people have their own lives and that just a few hours ago I was feeling the same way and bombarding people with my issues. And already, here I am again, doing the same thing to the same person.

The more honest I get about my feelings, the harder it is to stop talking about them. I've almost always had them bottled up. I have rarely had someone to talk to about any of it, and the only way I could handle it would be writing it all out here, on a shitty blog. Having actual friends be with you turns out to be pretty different.

Plus, there are some things I cannot bring myself to write about on here. They may be huge sources of stress in my life, but they're also about someone else who certainly doesn't want their problems (or my problems with them) to be out in the open. It would be cruel to write about it.

I believe that is the main reasons my two friends have had so much to deal with lately. There are so many little things going on in my life that I can't vomit out into the world, but I have to get it out of me. But, being me, I don't even know how to have a normal conversation. So I skip around the subject because I don't want to whine or insist we talk about me, which results in a nonspecific depressing pity party hosted by me.

I consider myself a very open person because I like to talk about my problems, if only because they are real issues in the world that other people face as well. Some people will not speak out for themselves, and don't ask me why I feel that I have to do it for them. I feel responsible for being a voice, however soft and quivering.

But I also don't like to talk about me. I don't like to talk about my problems. If people ask specific questions and prove that they care and are interested, then yeah, I have no problem. I actually like that. It makes me feel human.

But if no one asks, then I feel vain bringing it up. I whine and I pity myself and force my "problems" on other people who surely have their own things to deal with. And so many times people have not told me their problems just because they knew I had too much going on. Even though I understand, it hurts. I don't want to be a friend who always needs help but never helps. I want to know how people are doing and if there's anything I can do.

So to kind of bring this back to where I started, there is a reason why I don't reach out to many of you beautiful people when I'm having a crisis.

I don't want to ruin anything.

I don't want to lose a friend when they realize how fucked up I am. I don't want to overwhelm a friend with all of my problems when I have no idea what they're going through at the same time. I don't want to turn a friendship into a one-sided therapy session.

Every single time, I try so hard not to reach out to those two friends. It used to be I would force myself to talk to someone because that's what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to ask for help. But I think in this perfect world, there is somehow always the best friend group where there will always be one person who somehow has a perfect life and is always able to help.

But it's not. I have two whole friends I trust and love and who I can count on to make me feel better (even if it's a little delayed). And I hate myself just as much when they are there for me, because am I ever there for them? Do I even have any idea what their lives are like right now? I want to. I want to know so badly. But then I start wondering if they'd even want to talk about it with me. I'm a "if they want to talk about it they'll bring it up" kind of person (even though obviously I don't bring shit up when I need to talk about it), which means I rely on vague "How is your day going?" questions.

I have been the sober friend trying to talk to a drunk, self-destructive, mentally ill person. While I would of course do it again, I don't want to make anyone else do that for me.

Sometimes I wish I could make them hate me, or admit that they don't like me or that they don't care, because then maybe I wouldn't care either and I could make myself stop talking to them.

I get so sick of friends, close or casual, telling me how amazing I am and that I'm cool or whatever. I sometimes believe those two friends. Sometimes. I never believe anyone else, because they don't know me. They read my blog and think they do, or they've gone through all of college with me and think they do, or they've had a few conversations with drunk Dexter (who is far more entertaining than sober Dexter) and think they do.

I guess now is where you could get philosophical and ask, "Well do you ever really know someone?"

Look I don't shit about that. But every time someone says I can talk to them, I think to myself, "Can I? What would you actually do if I called you crying mid-panic attack, or in the middle of the night when I'm drunker than I've ever been and have a knife, or if I'm in a manic phase and beg you to do something with me only to cancel five minutes later because I've fallen through that cloud like a brick? If I called you and just asked you to come sit in my house with me while I read, would you actually? If I showed you just how pitiful, dysfunctional, and fucked up I am, would you really still want to talk to me?"

I can guess that the answer would be yes. But I guess it's also something you have to see to believe. And no one's seen me in a very long time.

Out of sight, out of mind. I have always been rather forgettable (I grew up with a boy who I met for the first time at least ten times, so you really can't argue with me here).

I laugh and cry at the same time because I'm starting to look like Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

It's suffocating to wear long sleeves to go buy milk.

It's terrifying to have to find a cardigan before answering the door.

It's nauseating to visit an empty campus to go look at that little courtyard where you were date-raped because you are finally trying to get that story out of you and turn it into something artistic, to be that quivering voice for all of those other people who will talk to me but no one else.

I had planned a far more coherent post, but that just kind of proves my point, doesn't it.

I am a lot crazier than you think, and I'm afraid you will leave when you figure that out. Or that you will leave when you try and fail to "fix" me. Or you will leave when I do start feeling better and don't "need" you anymore.

I am so afraid of being alone that I'd rather just be alone.

-Dexter




PS. Evanescence just came on my Spotify and the angst is just too much to resist.