Masks After Halloween

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Last night I could have used someone to talk to.

I would have wanted someone to discuss something relevant with or maybe dive into a world of fantasy with. No small talk. No “how was your day”.

My day was the same as all my other days. How do I even answer that? It’s a weird question to me.

One thing about having anxiety is that there are nights where your heart flutters in your chest and your brain throbs like an infected silicon fluid sack stuffed in the already over-sized breast of a celebrity suffering body dysmorphic disorder. If you’re like me, to compensate for all the pent up energy, you might constantly move your limbs or twiddle your thumbs or watch a video on your computer while simultaneously watching a video on your phone, anything to block out the barking of your heart and the screeching of your mind.

I have a bad tendency to google search random diseases and tricking myself into thinking I have them. It’s an extremely bad habit.

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Anything to do with my heart gets me extra paranoid. One night I woke up in the middle of a panic attack at my boyfriend’s house and started freaking out. Somehow I got onto google and in the very vulnerable state of panic, convinced myself I had heart disease.

Just . . .

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The room started spinning and I woke him up and asked if he could get me water. He didn’t understand why until I was pacing across the floor, shaking, completely oblivious to everything around me.

When I sleep at other people’s houses, something out of my routine, my anxiety is at an all-time high. This was a little earlier in our relationship. I don’t have panic attacks at his house anymore, but I do have trouble sleeping sometimes. I’ll usually wake up about fifty times in the night and each time jump in my skin because I’d forgotten where I was.

The only way to quell my anxieties is to have a distraction. People are good distractions. Then I can focus on trying to figure out why they’re talking to me about their day instead of

Oh fuck oh Fuck a spider. FUCK. I knew it. I felt it under my skin, that’s why I looked up. It just crawled up the fucking wall behind my world poster. Why the fuck do they like it there? FUCK. Hold on a minute. Let me kill this sneaky, black motherfucker.

*INTERMISSION*

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Okay, it’s dead.

Anyway, I can focus on trying to figure out why people are telling me about their trip to the supermarket. I like talking about abstract concepts because people’s opinions fascinate me. They might say something I’ve never thought of and therefore expand my theories. That’s invaluable to me.

But I honestly don’t give two shits if you couldn’t find the soda you wanted and had to settle for Ginger Ale. How do you respond to stuff like that?

I compensate with humor. If you catch me in a group of people who I know well where small talk ensues, I’m not asking questions or participating, I’m cracking jokes about whatever they’re discussing just so I can be part of it. I have no other way of communicating. So I make due with what I’ve developed over the years.

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I learned that from my father. He’s very outgoing and good with people, but he’s also got a lot of humor and knows when to insert it in a proper conversation. I never understood the conversation part, so I picked up on how to make people laugh. It’s better than making them wary of my intelligence.

No one seems to mind–if they do, no one’s told me outright. It’s so ingrained within my personality that my comedic responses are 100% reflexive. Sometimes I wont even know what the conversation context is about.

Last night in the midst of all the swirling negativity I watched prank videos and a South African comedian by the name of Trevor Noah. Finally, a comedian who spoke on a topic I understood very thoroughly: Being mixed race and the propensity to identify as one race over the other.

Although I’ve never traveled outside of the U.S, I understand that gut feeling of wanting to “be black”. I also understand how annoying it is to be called “half” of a race.

I used to identify as “half black, half white” until I learned about all the races in my ancestry. I stick to “mixed” now. Other people say half black half white and I don’t correct them because I’ve corrected enough people to learn they get offended. THEY get offended.

You can’t be “half” a race. Genes don’t work like that. Sure you get half from your mother, half from your father, however I could have 20% of genes expressed from my mother, and 80% expressed from my father. I could have some genes that mutated together–that could be a reason for why I have straight-curly hair (straight at the top, curly towards the bottom, and just a ball of fuzz if I don’t put anything in it).

oreocookieoriginalI was called “Oreo” a lot.

 

If you know someone who is mixed race, please refrain from calling them “half” of something unless they are alright with calling themselves that. You wouldn’t like it if you were, say, Mexican, and I saw you sagging pants and wearing “bling” and I immediately assumed you were trying to “be black”, so I said “you’re not Mexican, you’re a wannabe”.

They’d run after me while spitting Spanish at a million miles an hour.

I don’t run after people spitting Ebonics at a million miles an hour, but at least I respect how a person identifies themselves.

We’re a culture buried beneath proper labels and identities. It’s probably why we’re so uncooperative when it comes to understanding people who are Transgender. People who identify as someone we don’t outwardly see, as if our physical self is all we are. For fuck’s sake, there are cultures that identify with five or more genders. And we’re the civilized society? We need to stop kidding ourselves.

If people understood just how quirky the modern, deep physics of the universe is, they’d think twice about making judgments on something or someone based on a physical characteristic.

I understand the gut feeling of wanting to “be normal”, too. It’s ingrainednewscientist-30412015oct03 in us from the moment we’re born: Pink for girls, blue for boys remember? But I detest the word “normal” and moderately detest the word “Average”. But at least average indicates some statistical value. Normal is just a label created by disillusionment, misunderstanding, and a lack of empathy. Why would I ever want to call myself an illusion?

It’s why I’ve spent the majority of my life working so hard on my mask. It would be something equivalent to a sin to let someone in the physical world catch sight of how absolutely stumped I am by their world. If people saw just how confused I was in conversation–if I didn’t have my humorous compensation technique–I’d be thrown off the plank on the bow of the boat in a matter of seconds. If people listened to my obsessive, intrusive thoughts they’d think I had homicidal fantasies.

Just FYI, I have a lot of intrusive thoughts about death; if I pass a cross walk where someone was standing, I get anxious over imagining my car swerving out of control and running them over. Then I imagine the police and prison and court and I space out for a few good minutes lost in that fantasy. I don’t want to kill people, it just comes as a freaky accident in my mind.

If people saw how much emotional pain I was in when they spoke to me hoping for a good conversation or if they saw how much ATP my body burned just so I could sift through a million responses and choose one I hoped made sense, maybe they wouldn’t talk to me.

If people knew anything about respect, they wouldn’t look at me any differently when I say I prefer to be indoors alone than outdoors making a fool of myself.

transparent_beth_inhouseMy mask is my life. Without it I’d essentially transform into a floor mat. I made it through school as the quiet girl who never speaks over the girl who says weird shit and is probably “retarded”, by choice.

Everyone has some kind of mask for some reason in this world. Because being yourself is never enough.

We’re doing it to ourselves. I think that’s the damnedest thing.

 

Girls and Legos Go Together Like Chocolate In A Cookie

I only got one cookie today. What a bummer. They’re all gone now. If I was depressed, that would probably be a reason for me to crawl back into bed and sleep for another day.

Have you all heard about the transgender woman who committed suicide by stepping in front of traffic? It was on Wednesday, but this is the first I’m hearing about it. These are the words she wanted people to share after she died:

“These are going to be my final words. I can’t stand to live another day, so I’m committing suicide. The reason why I’ve decided to do this is because I’m transgender. For those of you that unsure of what that means, it means that even though I was born in a male body, I am and have always been female. I’ve known I was female for as far back as I can remember. This caused me to become severely depressed from a very young age. From a very young age I was told that people like me are freaks and abominations, that we are sick in the head and society hates us. This made me hate who I was. I tried so hard to be just like everyone else but this isn’t something you can change.

It wasn’t until I was 20 that I found out I wasn’t alone. I had hope that I would finally be able to live as and love who I am. I finally came out as transgender and began transitioning. For the first time in my life I could say I was genuinely happy. Despite this huge change in my life I never completely got over the depression being trans caused me. Everywhere I’d turn I’d see the hated that society had for us. I had already been poisoned by a society that didn’t understand us and, even worse, didn’t want to even try. I saw the pain it caused to people like me and going though this same hurt myself it has just become to much for me to take anymore. I wanted so much to help those going though what I had to because nobody should ever have to feel that they hate their life so much that they want to end it all just so they won’t have to experience another moment of this sadness. I’m not the first to feel this way and sadly I know I won’t be the last.

I’m writing all of this because I’ve need my story to be shared. I don’t want to be just another number of a tragic statistic. People need to know that I’m not just another face of someone they never met. I was alive. I have a family and friends that I love very much and I’m so sorry to them for the hurt this will cause them. I loved being around those that I love. I loved listening to music and singing. I loved going out to eat with friends and enjoying good food. I was a real person. I still want to help people and I believe I still can. Please share my final words. I believe my last words can help make the change that society needs to make so that one day there will be no others like me. Please help make this change because trans people are everywhere. You may never know who you’re hurting until it’s too late. Please help fix society.”

Ashley Hallstrom

When I was a teenager, I had a few friends who were gay. They were mostly male but they were funny and smart and a joy to be around, despite the obvious pain from being discriminated against. I didn’t know what transgender was and honestly when I learned what it was I just didn’t understand. It wasn’t a matter of disliking people who were transgender, it was a matter of confusion. Why would someone who was born this gender want to be this gender? I spent days as a child wishing I was a boy so it would be alright for me to roll around in the mud at school or play sports at school or hit people at school (I’m crazy, remember?) but I never yearned to be a boy; I didn’t ever feel like I was in the wrong body. I didn’t know how you could  feel like you were in the wrong body.

Like I’ve said, I’m a very logical person so I saw it as a logical issue within myself. I saw transgender people, I saw what they wanted, and I couldn’t connect the dots. It wasn’t until I took a biopsychology class that I finally got a glimpse of what these people deal with.

Now, I’m not one for saying everything about the body is purely biological, but once I learned about the delicate process of hormones, of development, and how gender is really pretty coincidental and wishy-washy, I became an advocate for these people 110%. In the womb, your brain can develop with “male” traits, male hormones and such, but your body, an almost separate process, can develop with female hormones, female parts, female everything else. Of course these things are still being studied, I believe, but the evidence is pretty obvious.

Yes, male brains are a little different from female brains, but they pretty much work the same. The only difference is the hormones and that’s what makes the difference for these people (if you choose to look at it on a biological stance). When I got into sociology I became an even larger advocate after learning 1 in 100 babies are born with both female and male parts. I learned gender is a spectrum. It’s not black and white, as much as traditional southern families would want it to be. There are very rarely 100% “Straight” people.

There’s a man at my college who straightens his hair, wears tight leather skirts, flats, and tank tops and really the only way I could tell he wasn’t “born female” was the fact that his calves were pretty “maleish”. Plus he’s about six foot three.

But why do we make these assumptions? I found my eyes looking for evidence that she was in fact a biological male instead of a biological female. But why did I feel the need to do that? Why have we as a society developed traits we feel should be considered masculine and traits we feel should be considered feminine? Who gives a shit is my real question. Why is pink for girls and blue for boys? Sociologist talk a lot about all the things we’ve constructed as a society (like gender), which are obvious and important to look at, but what are we going to do about it? Deal with it? Fuck that. We created it, we can un-create it.

It’s not a matter of hating these people, it’s a matter of not understanding why they feel the way they do. Honestly, we shouldn’t have to understand why they feel the way they do, we need to just accept that they do. That they’re human and it doesn’t really matter. But that’s not going to happen in this world, so it’s better to just help people understand.

When I was a kid I tussled around in the mud all the time at home. I had a collection of hot wheels. Some people gave me barbies. I hated barbies. My parents had to tell people that I didn’t like dolls so they’d stop buying them. I had some dolls and I had some stuffed animals. I had the barbie airplane because I wanted the plane. I had the barbie car because I wanted the car and I wanted them both in blue because I hated pink. I fucking hated it. Honestly, I hated it because everyone said I was supposed to like it. I was defying society before I even knew what society or defying meant.

My previous sociology professor is a lesbian and she has two girls. She let them pick the toys they want, the colors they want, and tries not to force anything upon them. One girl loves pink and dolls and pretty things, one doesn’t. It’s a matter of personal preference.

They also don’t watch Disney in their house. Disney is . . . ug, don’t even get me started.

Lego put a message in their toys in the seventies about how girls playing with legos is just as important as boys playing with legos as it helps develop problem solving skills and math related things. There’s a reason why so many men go into engineering and so many women don’t. We’re doing this to our children.

Teachers are more inclined to comment on a girl’s appearance (oh, you look so pretty today!) and on a boy’s performance (good job on that test!). Because of influences like that, studies have shown somewhere around the age nine and ten, girl’s academic skills drop off where as boy’s skills continue to rise. We’re doing this to our children. Girls are more likely to do worse on a math test if the math test or professor says “this will test your true math skills” or something equivalent. How many people know the saying “girls aren’t good at math?” It’s what I was told. We’re doing this to our children.

This isn’t some attack on men or society, this is just fact. This is what our strict bullshit rules on “gender” have done to our society. It’s a good way to keep women in a non-threatening positions and it’s a good way to keep society on a “straight” and narrow path.

It’s a good way to make people like Ashley Hallstrom of Logan, Utah feel the need to end her life.

Congratulations, society: