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About this blog

This is Bree's journal talking about how life changes, and how you grow with them (probably with the occasional freakout, I'm good at panic mode too!).  Life has been hard since day one, and not doing it alone is the key!

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Seriously, I lost gobs of time to Youtube.  It always starts out innocently. I want to hear a certain song.  Watch some tutorial videos so I know what Nikki wants me to buy.  In the mood for a laugh so look up news blooper videos (OMG nothing is funnier than news going wrong!).  The try guys people I like watching trying new things for the first time.  And then...it's there.  The bane of my existence.  That bar on the right with other videos linked, ones that tempt me into clicking, and the next thing I know I"m light years away from my original topic, and have just spent 2 to 3 hours on the journey from an eye makeup tutorial to crazy science magic tricks, from John Oliver into weird video game easter eggs, from news bloopers into strange porn things I had never heard of before. 

It's crazy how many things are out there in the world. 

I've had a friend for about a year.  Nikki and I met him online, and we all hit it off and became good friends.  Through the internet, they live several states away.  But still.  Ten years of chatting is a long time, and real friendships form.  So...several years ago he had a full on psych meltdown and vanished, and his wife reached out to me (thinking I was having an affair with him and he'd come to the other woman, unaware I was part of a couple and it wasn't like that) and she and I struck up a friendship because I was there for her while he was missing and the aftermath.  Then she was there for me after I was victimized with something else, and the friendship endured, back and forth every time something went crazy in our lives.  I don't have much in common with her as far as interests and hobbies, but we have a common ground of really bad ex husbands that left scars and the trials of life for us have been similar.  That creates a strong bond, even if we can't dish on the latest anime or tv show because we don't watch the same things.  Nikki doesn't have the relationship with her I do at all, she's just someone I know to him, but he's outraged by what is happening all the same because he's a good person who doesn't like seeing others hurt.  That makes me happy.  The rest makes me really sad.

So, as per the workings of our friendship, she reaches out to me because something stressy is going on.  And I settle down with a glass of coke zero ready to listen, offer any useful advice I may have, and just let her unload.  I had no idea what was coming.

My friend, my long term dearest friend who I trusted with SO many things in my head, he ATTACKED her and one of her CHILDREN.  *floored*  I was both completely stunned and not surprised at the same time.  I mean, I know the psych issue was bad, and I had been trying for months to talk him into getting into therapy, but you know, you can't force a person to get help.  You try because you have to, and I tried every logic and emotional appeal that I could, but it didn't matter.  And now here we are.  And it's gone into full on stalking like the kind that you see on the discovery channel tv shows because obviously she left him after the attack. 

And I'm just floored.  So I did giver her useful advice on what to do with a stalker, having endured that myself (although mine wasn't a relationship based stalking, mine was a crazy woman with borderline personality disorder), and tried to be what comfort I could.  You never see it coming, ya know?  Even knowing there were issues, there was nothing indicating this.  He'd had simple breakups with other women in the past, no crazy.  Maybe his condition degenerates with age?  I don't know.   No one involved would have ever dreamed this would happen.  And isn't that what they always say when you watch those shows?  It really is easy to be blindsided.  Even for people alert to odd behavior.  We were more worried about him harming himself than other people, and boy we were mistaken. 

But when I'm not trying to help her, I'm just sad.  Sad that someone I LIKED would be that kind of person.  Sad for the friendship that is obviously over, this is a huge dealbreaker for me given my history and the fear it's causing my other friend and the children (they are hers, not shared, so at least she can cut him out entirely and not have that complication!).  But...ten years of shared history and memories don't just vanish, and there is a mourning phase.  And sometimes I have an instinct to try to rationalize it away so I don't have to lose that.  I know better, but I do understand why so many people protect loved ones that might have done something, it's not that easy to throw away a person.  Especially parents. 

So...even though it's kinda hurting, it's a good life lesson in perspective about not really understanding other people's choices until you're in the situation and learn how your own feelings and life experiences play out in how you deal with it.  I'm not sure how I would react if it was someone ever closer to me like my child or husband, or one of my lifelong friends.  I guess it's not surprising we can never really know what is in another person given we don't really know what is in OURSELVES until we are confronted with something and have to go through it and learn who we are in those moments.  It's so important to make choice, and not just act on instince I think.  My instinct says he's ill, not his fault, but I realize this is a defining moment of who I am and who I'm going to be.  Nothing in that was okay.  He was alerted to the fact that he needed help, ignored it, and hurt someone.  Even if it was driven by the illness, he wasn't so bad he didn't know he needed to do something, he just chose to not deal with it, and someone got hurt. That isn't okay, and even if I'll miss him, I can't condone it by going on.  So that is who I am in this, the one who chooses to say not okay, and we're done and support the victim.  Yay morality. 

We'd finally gotten settled with a good doctor, who knows about Nikki's issues and has been great with both his and mine, and the main office is closing our town's location.  ARGH!  Finding the right doctor and getting a comfortable relationship going is HARD.  *headdesk* 

So...making Nikki's computer dream a reality, which is the project I've been on since January pretty single-mindedly, has finally come to fruition today.  And those parts got here FAST.  Like laser fast.  So I cleaned out the dining room table so he has a work space (on the weekends that area is set up for gaming as there is a Friday night and a Sunday evening game), and he's like a little kind in a candy store right now.  It was worth every moment of locking myself in the bathroom at work to have a cry in private because it had gotten so crazy there.  I DID IT!  He's currently putting together his new baby, which is just like my baby.  Only because the parts aren't NEW NEW like they were last year he got his baby for about a $100 less.  Good bargain! 

And...my silly little virtual reality dream?  Well, apparently only $600 stands between me and that.  They had a tester program on the website for the top of the line one, the Occulus Rift, and my computer is compatible and meets or exceeds all requirements.  So...yeah.  It's possible, and my virtual world can be expanded.  We each get a small entertainment stipend in the new budget, and I am stuffing mine exclusively into the savings account, because I want to be entertained with sharks in my computer room.  Cuz I'm a raging dork.  But I really LOVED that feeling of being there with the sharks, which I'll never know because my asthma makes scuba outta reach for me, as I"m not really willing to risk dying for it.  Some dreams ARE worth persuing at any cost, but scuba isn't it for me.  But the ability to see what I would see like that...and the Egyptian tombs they are filming now...oh total geek. AND they have a really kinda awesome tabletop style dungeons and dragons app for this thing, so that you can play with people all over.  How cool is that?

On a more personal note, now that he's doing better from the dysthymia, which I am so grateful to his therapist for helping us sort out the complicated tangle of what is the disorder, what is current environmental, and what is childhood issues blocking him from the live he deserves to have, we are sorting out marital issues. 

I"m pretty sure i kicked strait into "OMG must fix Nikki Mode" and while the issues were too overwhelming not to feel, my response was to bottle a lot and focus on what was needed rather than actually sorting through things inside.  But there has been five or six years of gradual disconnects that triggered MY issues, and sometimes I"m just sorta...lost in myself.  There are days I don't even know if I"m really me, because of all the adaptation and throwing out the window parts of me that didn't fit with the life i was trying to build.  There are days when I'm full steam ahead on something and blinded to everything else.  There are days I absolutely panic that the new normal for our marriage is going to fall apart again and I'm going to lose everything.  I'm messy.  I am really really messy. 

BUT...now that he's better, he..I don't know how to phrase this exactly other than this...it's like he's remembered I'm there.  Like he'd forgotten while he was sick, but now he remembered.  And that is the start.  But he's still Nikki, and some of the disconnects and life choices are his personality mixing with mine, not all of it is our disorders.  So we're organizing.  Too many couples I know just let...life happen to them and don't do anything to manage their relationships as they go.  I'm going to learn from that.  We've set up a weekly 'serious' talk time, where we turn everything off, sit on the couch (preferably with a blanket under me, our couch is leather and it adheres to my skin in horrible ways) and we can both talk about anything, and the agreement is active listening, connection, and no one gets mad or defensive.  Or if you do, you squash it and try to think it through.  We set up a weekly game time for just doing something fun together, board games, d&d, card games, whatever.  And we set up a weekly movie night (on Saturday though, this isn't as inviolate as the other two if we are out doing a thing) to just sit on the couch and watch something together.  Reconnecting emotionally and rebuilding a slightly broken marriage. 

And that's the lesson isn't it?  Things break.  Everything.  But you then make a choice after it breaks, you can throw it away and start over.  Or you can repair it.  It's always a choice.  We forget that.  I can't count how many times I've heard "it's broken, time to pitch it" and no question what would be involved in fixing a thing.  Anything that can be made can be repaired.  But the cost isn't always worth it.  Sometimes throwing a thing away is appropriate too, but if you just assume and don't make the choice...it's wasteful. 

I could sit around, say there is nothing I can do, people just change as they go.  Let's be honest, there is even a neat little shield of a 17 year old secret I could hide behind and NO ONE would look at me funny.  I could be all the other relationships in my blood family and scream it's not MY fault til the end of time. 

But I'm not.  Because..inside...I want more.  And these are the days I"m realizing despite all the poison I drank, all the horribleness I absorbed from them, and all the inner damage I'm still struggling to overcome from them...somehow I made it in some small way.  I'm not them, I got out, and I am going to improve things, instead of waving my hand in a 'what can you do' dismissive gesture.  Grandpa gave me wisdom, the knowledge, and the understanding that there IS more out there, that not everyone fails, and that the choices I will make every day, big and small, will matter and resonate the rest of my life.  My friends gave me the grace, understanding, and exposure to worlds and opinions beyond what I grew up with to navigate the hurdles in my marriage and my husbands struggle with depression and to adapt to who he is as a person, not who he told me he was.  I think I managed to be a better mother than my parents were, despite all the screw ups I made, and I let go and realize he's the one who has to live the day to day of his life better. 

As much as I'm often not okay between the self-esteem issues, the dismorphia, and the struggle to interact gracefully with others thanks to the add, I'm also really okay at the same time because I'm doing it.  And when I die, despite the mistakes I made massive and small, I don't think I"ll be able to look back with anything but "I couldn't have done anything else than what I did, because every choice I made at the time I made it was what I thought would make things better!". 

It cost a lot, but it was worth it.  So I don't have parents, okay.  I have Nikki.  I have my son.  I have my friends (including you guys!), and I have my self and my senses of right and wrong.  The bargain was made a long time ago, probably the day my son was born, I just managed to delay paying some of the bills, but now that they are paid, I realize trying to hold onto things that weren't really there wasn't helping anyone, and it was a good bargain.   That was the day I started turning my back on the narcissism of my father, the dead mushroomness of my mother, and started living.  Even though I had no idea where I wanted to go, I started going through any door I saw to get an idea what was out there.  And the mistakes were okay.

Except, of course, that cheese mousse from the Princess cruise.  Trying that was just a horror story.  It looked like poop.  It smelled like poop.  I don't know why I put that in my mouth. 

So I'm writing this one slowly, trying to gather the whole thing into a coherent narrative for Erica Ravenwood.  Because when I was first struggling with my new reality, and it was scary and terrifying and I didn't know what was going to happen, I went looking for the stories of other people in my shoes.  But...they were stunningly hard to find.  And when I did find them they were usually stories told  years later after a long period of painful adjustment framed in such a way as to show that marriages can survive gender reassignment and that 'leaving was not an option' for these partners.  Which is good, important, but...where were the other stories?  The ones like me that didn't know what was going to happen, what they wanted to happen, stories talking about the process of finding out and dealing with the secrets, the confusion, balancing our needs vs. theirs...during the time with  all the flying emotions to help us feel normal and okay and have a direction where to go?  I'm really grateful to Erica for inviting me to put my voice there too, it is validating to know that the partners matter also and our feelings and life experiences may help both sides of the relationship coins for others. 

So I tried to leave my voice on this site for others like me, and I will try to leave my voice on her site for people too.  Not because I'm special, I'm really not, I'm just a girl who loves her husband, son, animals, and all turtles of the world.  But because I'm not shy and I have no shame about any of this and think it should be talked about, and want to be there for the future Bree's to help them, and the future Nikki's.  Because calm Bree was way more helpful to him than flipping out falling apart Bree was.  :)   Partner sections on transgender forums are SO quiet.  I guess I dream that partners, both men and women, will realize it's okay to talk to each other and find support and answers and just camaraderie like our transgendered mates do on these sites.  I think it would help partners a lot, but so many of us are almost trained to just suffer in silence when marriage isn't the perfect cultural model of it. 
 

To be honest, throwing out that 'perfect' cultural model and letting our marriage evolve around our two individual personalities, including changing how it functions as we age and our needs changes, is what made it work.   We had a lot of talks before the wedding and after about defining what it would be for us, and dropping the cultural/media information about it, and we made a good go of it.  I met Nikki May 20, 1998.  Which was hilarious, as it was the same day of the year I met my first husband.  Apparently that is my 'marriage day'.  It's now 2016, and we're still going.  Problems come, problems go.  We get frustrated with each other, we support each other.  We drive each other batshit crazy, we make each other supremely happy.  The thing we don't do is be mean to each other, put each other down face to face or to others, or fail to prioritize us as a couple.  We learn what to do and what not to do from the examples of others, and we know when those examples don't apply to us. 

Life is good, even with all it's uncertainties.  Now if only I had some breakfast.

I was talking with Nikki about something today, and he called this his problem.  I didn't like that.  This isn't our problem, this is our lifestyle.  The dog constantly dumpster and litter box diving, cats peeing anywhere they please, those are problems.  Nikki enjoying dressing en femme and needing his body hair as gone as we can make it?  Lifestyle.  Because language does dictate thought.  Ideas form from words, and the choice of words colors the thought.  And the only problem my husband has inside himself is depression and anxiety fits, those do need to be and can be solved with time and therapy.  My understanding of crossdressing is simple, it's not a disease or the disorder, it's a complicated set of emotional and possibly physical needs that require meeting, and will always require this.  Just like my needs.  So problem is an ugly word for this.  I like lifestyle. 

And I have spent a lot of time self-examining, trying to figure out all the roadblocks that we will have to face if his needs change in the future because I want to be prepared, even if it never happens.  And realizing I'm not really inclined to join other women in bed anymore made me stop and try to figure out, well, what the hell happened? 

And I realized with the maturity and healthier mindset I have on life and myself what happened.  While I do have the ability to enjoy physical sex with partners of either gender, I never really got into a healthy commitment relationship with any of the women.  And I had always identified a strong preference for men, but now that i"m examining it all I wondered what was going on with the women.  WHY did I act on it?  And why do I really not want to now?  The answer lies in my complicated feelings for men after my abusive marriage.  I had stopped trusting them, and I didn't like to be alone.  And when the first female hit on me, and I physically responded, I thought why not?  I don't like being alone, and here I can defend myself.  And I set out to explore this new aspect of myself, but I didn't look into it too deeply.  So now after a long, healthy marriage with Nikki, I realize had it not been for a deep fear of men warping my choices, I probably would NOT have acted on it.  And the actions I took probably weren't healthy for me or my partners, but we learn from living.  I'm not embarrassed to have explored with them with them or by their place in my past, but I am embarrassed that i didn't really give them myself like I should have as a partner.  It wasn't fair, but I was too messed up to know then.  I'm sorry for anyone's feeling that I injured in my inability to love them back.  The men after I started opening that door again too.  Nikki met me at a time where I was starting to overcome my issues, and was able to actually love someone back with the baby steps he was willing to put up with from me while I relearned my way in relationships. 

Well, at least I don't have a lot of 'what if's' about my sex life.  I tried things.  LOL

So much for best laid plans.  Thanks to a sick cat spewing over the ENTIRE staircase top to bottom, Nikki and I had a quick meeting to figure out how best to deal with this mess, and the staircase IS on the renovation list...so... RENOVATIONS HAVE BEGUN!  I repeat, they have begun! This is not a drill!  Grab your emergency breathing masks!  *laughing*  At this point it's easier to just start early and toss the carpet than to clean that up, poor cat really didn't have a good night last night.  The vet thinks it's lingering damage from his starvation period, he's never been quite 'right', and while all cats are puke machines to some extent or another, this one apparently aspires to be an Olympic specialist in the sport. 

So...we did not get a pleasant surprise under the carpet, I admit I had a silly hope maybe it was nice under it, it wouldn't be the first time a homeowner removed carpet to find something pleasant underneath.  But it wasn't a horror show either, it is just a set of aging painted stairs in need of cleaning from sitting under slowly disintegrating padding.  Then probably it wouldn't hurt to trowel on some wood putty to smooth out all the nicks and tack holes from the carpet, and we can paint them so they don't look quite so bad.  The good news is that they do seem to be in decent condition, and the website I saved on how to redo them doesn't look like it will be necessary at this time, unless, of course, Nikki drives that hammer through them into the basement or something. 

So I watched about a billion youtube videos about doing the fairly simply, layered haircut I favor yourself.  And it is actually fairly idiot proof, you basically let your head do the work for you.  Ponytail it all at your forehead instead of your crown, cut teh ponytail at the desired length, and take the band out.  Voila.  The natural spaces on your head arrange the hair at different lengths as it takes further from the nap to your forehead than mid-head and crown, etc. etc.  It's faster, no awkward descriptions and miscommunications, and best of all, no product hard sell.  There is nothing a the salon I can't get cheaper elsewhere.  And my hair is long enough that if it doesn't work out for my texture(you never know, salon or at home really, what a particular cut will do with your individual hair I have learned the hard way, I look like a weird porcupine with some kinda bent quill birth defect if I try to rock the really short hair) I can go in and get the layered bob I was thinking of.  I'm going to cut it longer than I was thinking I would like it to see how it looks first, and then I can always do it a second time if it works for me.  Then I have to redye it green, it's fading into blond really fast now.

What is everyone else doing with their hair? 

Winter's Day

By Briannah,

I am so cold.  My job is cheap with the heat, and I sit by a window.  And I"m in the middle of a mass of office equipment, so a space heater is not practical.  So I'm freezing cold, struggling with the four new steps they decided to add to an overly complicated invoicing process on a day when apparently the pricing dude decided not to deal with it so I have two weeks backed up.  Stressed out.  SO...Nikki had mentioned girl mode today and playing with the clothing and the forms, so I told him to take selfies for me and show them to me after work so I had something to think about besides the rest of my office trying to kill me by death from a thousand paper cuts. 

I do like the pictures, but he looks so serious.  I think I bring more out in him than he does by himself, when I took photos the other night I got emotion all over the place from him in them and he was really into it.  So now I'm really considering what that means, and what i come up with is make Nikki feel safe and free in either mode.  He opens up when I'm around, always has in boy mode before I knew too compared to how he is when I'm not there.  Our freinds at the summer retreat used to tell me that when I went down to the lake with E to swim Nikki would quiet up and bury himself in a book or videos, it took a few years before that stopped happening and he got more comfortable in this group. 

But even one on one apparently I bring out the best in him.  And that is the best thing ever for a life partner to be able to do for each other. 

Now he's wrapped up in the new PJ"s we picked up from WomanWithin and I'm wrapped up in my new jacquard wrap, but the real reason I"m warm is Nikki loves me and needs me.  :)

So the more I read, the more I see a LOT of splintering and unkindness between the different groups under the big group umbrella.  It makes me sad.  All the groups under this umbrella are small population wise, logic dictates to me that banding together would be the way to go.  Rights for everyone, equality for everyone!  But instead there seems to be conflict everywhere.  Large groups of gay and lesbian hating each other, large groups of both of them hating trans people, a lot of transgender people looking down on crossdressers who are only cd, the asexuals feel like everyone hates them, everyone wanting to erase the bisexuals and force them into a choice, and other conflicts I don't even know about.  

I think it really surprises me in particular with this umbrella because they all share the common theme of we deserve acceptance and normalcy.  With that mindset, why on earth would people deny others the same thing?  I know it happens.  I see it in my reading, I've seen it in the male-female social power dynamic.  There are a lot of feminists who do cross the line into Feminazi territory, who can't tell the difference between wanting to be equal and wanting to replace men as the group in power. 

Why doesn't the struggle to make the world a place that just accepts people unite us?  If it can't, does that mean something?  Does it mean our species in it's development of intellect and social behaviors isn't ready to give up the division of groups and the need to feel our group is right other groups are wrong?  Are we just not developed enough in brain power to overcome that self-interest only on a mass scale?  How much do we as a species NEED the external validation of others? 

And if we can't even do this on a smaller scale of people with alternative to the binary 'norms' (Male-female, gay-strait, mono-poly, etc.) then how can we ever hope as a species to overcome the cultural, racial, and religious divides and learn to exist peacefully and gracefully together if we can't even handle people making personal choices in their lives?  How far could mankind GO if we stopped trying to kill each other, control each other, and really learned to make peace between all the nations?  But we can't even manage it inside our individual nations. 

Sometimes it feels to me like the ENTIRE PLANET just collectively decided to ignore the truth that we're all human beings on the same planet and should be working together.  And yes, I have fallen into that trap too.  Especially when feeling threatened.  It's an easy trap. 

I wonder if Rodney King knew how really profound his "why can't we just get along" really was.

I keep seeing in group after group a demand to reject labels.  And I can't support it. 

History has made me really wary of this idea.  In Europe, most people couldn't read.  It wasn't just the expense of books, it was a choice by their leaders that they should not.  And the spread of literacy across Europe did indeed change everything, and directly influenced the various revolutions.  In America, very few slaves were allowed to learn to read and write, only those that their masters deemed required to know to do the work that the masters didn't want to.  And were punished if they shared.  Illiteracy is a chain.  They didn't understand why it worked the way it did back then I'm pretty sure.  One doesn't have to know why a thing works to apply the knowledge, the observance of a result to pattern is enough to make it a behavior that is socially taught to our children.

It works because there is a correlation between words and thought.  Literally, the more words you have, the deeper you can form your thoughts around anything.  This in no way implies that those with very limited vocabularies are in any way stupid, there are several factors that determine true intelligence, but if you had two brains with identical iq's (the ability to learn knowledge) and identical abilities to apply that knowledge, but a vast difference in the amount of words each was exposed to and learned, the one with more will be very much further ahead in terms of the complexity of the mental work.  It's how our brains work.  The more words we learn, the more concepts we have.  And because our brains are processors, that means the  more new concepts we can get to because we aren't working out the base concepts to have the thoughts.  It doesn't matter the language, the more words a speaker knows in his or her actual language the more she can do mentally.   This concept that people who don't speak english in our country are too stupid is idiotic.  That is an entirely separate brain issue. 

So labels are concepts.  Where my life experience has led me to conclude we get into trouble with them isn't their existance, but how we use them.  They are a thing.  A label is a word with a specific ascribed complex meaning.  Organic - both a word in scientific terms, and a also a label to the health conscious counter with a related but separate meaning for example. (Which is also how it gets financially abused, when some marketers use one term to mean the other, example no hormones or anything but seed fed to the chicken, and the buyer conflates the meanings to be the ethical organic free range, which the marketer KNOWS and hides that free range is not this chicken's life).  Anything can be abused. 

Labels can be abused on a mass or micro basis.  There are well known ones that send everyone into an instant rage.  I don't need to cite examples.  Their entire intended meaning is to cause harm to a group or individual.  However, that is not the inherent use of labels.  The inherent use is to convey complex meanings quickly, so that you can get on with the deeper concept you are trying to convey. 

I think socially we have gotten away from communication and real literacy(exposure to a great many written words, there are now literally people who have a great deal of trouble communicating in non-'leet' speak for example).  We have started to demonize it, villify it, and abandon it.  I have seen people who can only type in 'leet' openly mocking the literate on an almost daily basis now for not understanding the world and being part of the 'advancement and change'.  And this movement to reject these things is a mistake.  These are the things that help us make the great leaps, help narrow the gap between the upper and lower classes, and help provide the famed American 'social mobility'.  Which is absolutely dying, we are slowly moving back to a 'lord and peasant' reality financially and socially.  And a big part of that is someone introduced this counter culture anti-word movement.  I don't know if it was done in all earnest good motivation at the start.  Look at the harm of the n word for example!  And these other ones!  Labels are bad!    And as I said, some are.  And some that are used every day that aren't culturally horrifying are also, like stupid(look at case studies of the damage it does to children being raised constantly told how stupid they are), ugly(there's a reason plastic surgery is a HUGE moneymaker), fat (think how harmful this is to our young people who are average size and weight and how often this leads to severe eating disorders).  Now, realize that kind, smart, generous, motivated, helpful, etc. are all also labels.  Transman or transwoman is a label, just like the tword. 

Label's aren't bad.  It's what we DO with the labels that matter.  Accepting new labels and meanings is also critical to our knowledge and progress as a society.  Example - I often seen the statement "We need to do away with the gender binary and create a society in which all genders are acknowledged and respected'.  This requires words for all those genders.  People can't acknowledge or respect what they don't understand or conceptualize. 

We need to expand our lingual base.  We need to stop being afraid of words, and start taking responsibility for the use of them.  Does the label political correctness mean anything to anyone reading this post?  Really think about what it means.  It's a way to sneer at having manners.  To sneer at treating people with respect.  Example: requiring people to say learning disabled instead of retarded.  One has a degree of respect and lack of insult the other doesn't.  African American instead of black.  African american has a connotation of a person who is of african ethical/cultural descent.  Black has a very complicated, often dehumanizing history.  I don't need to highlight the Transperson vs. xxx, but same effect.  When did treating people with basic respect and decency get reduced to a sneering 'have to be all politically correct now'?  When the majority solidarity in how to treat others started to disintegrate.  When I as a white, cis citizen tell someone who thinks any of the ethnical or social minorities in my country are not human that they are beneath me knowing and horrible people.  IT's a way out of the responsibility of their behavior to others, by trying to put the blame on me for expecting them to treat other human beings like...human beings.

We need more labels, and we need the understanding of what they are, and that a label does NOT limit our growth ever unless we let them, either personal or social, it's a building block to the next growth.  We need to increase our understanding of how words affect the human brain and psychology.  Language is not just a convenience, it literally effects brain development just as brain development effects language, ti's symbiotic.  Look at the studies done on feral human children found who were raised without contact or language.  Every culture in the world has a language, right down to the most isolated pockets of people in the Amazon who are largely unaware of what the rest of us are doing.  It's an important part in our development.  It terrifies me to realize how common, and how insidious, this call to voluntarily restrict our own thinking and expression is becoming.  If a label makes people uncomfortable, we need to define why.  Some individual labels DO need to be put away.  But a great many more need to lead to a set of new ones to give greater cultural understanding to the complexity of the human condition and increase awareness of those conditions so they can be recognized and normalized into our society.

This is why I will never agree with the people who say we need to do away with labels.  I feel we need to embrace them, understand them, and use them to reach greater heights in science, math, art, social equality, and technological advancements.

Embrace new words.  Embrace new thinking.  Be aware of the effect of your words on others, and their words on you. 

So... obviously right now gender is a spotlight conversation and understanding topic in our household while we're figuring out how to meet everyone's needs.  And now that I have time to think, I'm realizing he's confusing things in my head.  This is not a complaint or criticizing post, this is just me working out my thoughts way early in the morning.  I'm not usually up yet, and it's hard to articulate these feelings, so forgive me as I'm about to fail badly to express the mess in my head.

Nikki has real trouble communicating thoughts and feelings (something that doing is inherently female to me, this throws my ability to see his inner girl but I keep trying) so maybe he's just not expressing himself well, but what he does express boils down being a girl to....boobs, makeup, and clothing.  So we talk about those things a lot, but...they're all superficial to me.  They are not what make me female.  I didn't get a choice about the boobs(and would shrink them by half if he wouldn't have a massive sad and there was a nonsurgical option), and I ditched the makeup the minute I realized I DON'T need to do what society tells me to and I don't care for doing it much(but I don't mind Nikki doing it, but it triggers my I'm not artistic and I don't want to do this attitude), and I grab whatever I can find in clothing.  But Nikki only ever says "I feel girly" if it's physical.  Sometimes I try to interact with him like I did past girlfriends and he just gets weirded out.  Granted I wasn't a very good partner in a girl/girl relationship, so maybe I"m doing it weird and that was part of why they all failed, but still... And that is making me question the whole thing.  Not Nikki's needs, but the whole gender thing, and what IS my place in the world as a female?  Is it just what I look like?  Surely it can't be.  Spent my whole life and equality stance on the idea that it's more.  Was I wrong? 

I thought it was the strength to deal with all the ugly emotions, the flexibility in thought and beliefs to alter with every new understanding of the world, my ability to relate and maintain those relationships with others, my emotional barometer, and even the general softness of behaviors that i and most women I know exhibit.  The physical stuff is just what I'm stuck with.  Everytime I try to talk about these things with Nikki, he looks at me like I just grew a second evil head.  He listens, but he stares at me utterly confused and it goes back to the phsyical conversation again. 

Option A: It's like he's idealizing what it is to be a woman based on what men perceive women to be, instead of feeling like one and trying to make his outside match his inside.

Option B: I really don't understand what it is to be female, and have fallen into a trap looking for it to mean more than my outside to deal with societies judgement that i"m part of the lesser population, and am trying to attach strengths and behaviors and meanings to it that aren't there to counteract that feeling of lesser in my head.   

With time it will all get sorted out.  I will keep telling myself that.  But I had no idea this was going to make these kind of internal questions come up.  I thought my part in this was to help him sort himself out, not have my own sense of self challenged to this degree.  Although the psychologial websites say this is a normal phase for the spouse, so I guess I just got to it a wee bit late.

There are some broad tendency (probably from social upbringing) differences between men and women.  And one of those differences is staring at me from catching up on Deadly women (and other forensic shows, I have some weird obsession with forensics, I don't even know why).  This is in regard to premeditated murder, not heat of the moment kind where everyone male or female has just lost their minds for a minute.

When a guy is going to kill you, most of the time he just does it, and fairly quickly upon deciding it has to be done.  When a woman is going to kill you, it reaches some insane levels of crazy detail planning and some really long term patience.  And we tend to like poisons in general.  Sometimes accidents, but we seem to have picked that up from the guys who often try to use accidents to cover it up and in a general sweep (or at least what cases they decided to feature) we really like poison.  Not suprising I guess, we know a lot about them in our day to day role as keepers of the house.  Very few women don''t know the dangers of the household chemicals and pest controls we use.

Why do they still get caught?  Because male and female murderers share a similar thought processes again; most of them don't think or plan beyond the actual murder to what to do with the body and evidence. 

I'll just not kill anyone and make my life easier both without all the time and mental effort required to plan and then physical effort to carry out and clean up and the jail part. 

Still cold ridden, but Nikki fed me chicken soup, I have my plush turtle, my favorite Halloween microfiber blanket, this cushy recliner, my Ipad, and more episodes of Deadly Women to entertain me while my head feels like it weights a few extra tons.  I think I'll make it.  :) 

Tangent - this is why that commercial for the flu shot is so stupid.  They keep showing this commercial showing people missing out on life moments because they are sick, and they imply that if they had their flue shot it wouldn't have happened.  So while hopefully they got the flu strains in the shot right this year and I won't get the flu (because I got the real influenza a couple of years ago, not the stomach 'flu' or heavy cold 'flu' people associate with the word and I heartily respect flu now, and now understand why it can kill people) it doesn't save you from other ailments.  Colds, strep throat, GI infections, etc.   In other words, flu shot taken, but plush Mr. Turtle has job security anyway.   Don't show us a birthday party with a woman who looks like she has a cold, advertise how many people actually died of it last year (because they did).  I totally respect death statistics when considering if I should get a immunization.

Get your immunizations folks, let's all live!

So it's crazy busy season at Nikki's job and he hasn't had a day off in weeks.  He MIGHT get one day next weekend, but it's also equally possible he'll work five weeks strait with no days off until the Christmas shutdown for the eve and day.  And while he's upbeat about it, all the overtime is paying for our next cruise this spring for his birthday and his dad and stepmom are going (I love his dad, his dad is awesome.  His stepmother stresses me out, shes a nice person overall, but she gets randomly weird without warning and creates really awkward and unpleasant moments out of nowhere and talks in a kindergarten singsong voice ALL the time).  So that keeps him going.

And in an effort to make his home time as great as I can, I spent an hour in the kitchen working on an awesome lunch.  I pan fried some boneless chicken in butter, onions, and garlic, then cut it up and tossed it with four cheese tortellini and dressed it with a roasted garlic alfredo sauce after I added some extra carmelized garlic and onions to the sauce, all the while baking some fresh bread.  I laid it all out on the table so he'd see it the minute he got him, and I went to the bathroom.  For a minute.  And when I came out...you got it...my miscreant thieving pooch was standing on a chair helping herself to our lunch.  And she absolutely knew better, the minute she saw me she immediately went into the guilty phase.  *headdesk*  So we went out and had a nice lunch, but all that effort.  At least there didn't seem to be enough onion to make her ill, onions are not healthy for dogs and I don't let her eat them.  It's impossible to watch this dog 24/7, she gets into things.  Two years ago there was an emergency vet run after she at THREE POUNDS of Christmas cookies.  Her stomach was SO distended she couldn't stand up when I got home, and did she stop eating them at some point?  No, she ate til they were gone and she couldn't stand up.  *shakes her head*   She didn't get to the bread, so we ate that for a snakc later, and I saved a bunch and sliced it up and am drying it out tonight to make french toast tomorrow. 

And...I was so mad.  I didn't do anything about it but whine a bit, but sometimes the small things just get to you, ya know?  People are always saying don't sweat the small stuff, but sometimes it's just about how you feel inside and not about the actual trigger of those feelings.  Nikki gets me however and didn't try to put down my frustrations or minimize the annoyance while focusing on figuring out what we wanted to do now that lunch was gone.  He has learned a LOT in therapy, and we have a connection better than we ever had before.  And he just lets me be me, even when it's irrational and disproportionate as long as it's not manifesting in a way that would harm someone.  They say people can't change, but the reality is we change every day.  Sometimes a lot, sometimes a little.  And when we spend an effort to change together, the pay off is huge.

We set a game day for Thursdays to just do something fun, connect in a fun way with no stress.  Mondays we have a conversation slot for anything that is on our minds, in a completely safe zone.  Anything can be said, and nothing is left inside festering.  Saturdays are hobby days, where I join Nikki for movies (he's way into movies, I'm not, but I bring whatever I want into the living room and work on it while watching the movie with him, compromise between my ability to just sit and watch something that makes my add crazy and his enjoyment of it).  And it sounds so silly, and it did sound silly even to me when I came up with the plan.  But...it's been several months now, and it's working.  We don't stick strictly to the schedule, sometimes the talks are Tuesday for example and moves are Sunday, but they get done every week regardless of what day.  It flies against the grain of everything I had been taught by my family about how marriage works, and I was hesitant to bring it up to Nikki, but he and I were talking about it the other day and he loves it.  He doesn't always think to tell me things on his mind in the bustle of our day to day live, so cuddling up on the couch with a hot chocolate for talk time focuses him on letting me in, and gets me to open up a lot more than I do normally when I'm in the mulling it over phase.  And he can poke at the add and dysmorphia in that setting without freaking me out. 

Things can be worked out.  But only if you let yourself feel your feelings.  I guess my moral of the day to myself is it's okay to be stupidly angry that my silly grand romantic dramatic plan & presentation were ruined.  It's not about the dog behaving badly, or the actual food, but about all the effort I put into it and expectation of a romantic lunch time and making Nikki happy that got ruined.  It's okay to be mad. 

It also got stupidly cold here, so I caved and gave Nikki the thermal underwear and parka jacket I got as Xmas presents.  His old one was ratty and he's never liked shopping for boring old necessities.  He'll shop til the end of time for cool tshirts or dresses, but getting him to spend five minutes replacing worn jackets, socks, underwear, etc and it's like I just kicked his pooch.  LOL  I felt bad watching him freeze when I knew I had these warm things hidden away.  I'll have to get something else for under the tree now.  And it really did get stupidly, abruptly cold.  It's snowing.  And it was raining earlier, so I'm very happy today that I don't have to go to work and deal with the ice sheet hiding under the light powder dusting.   I need to make a list of staples I want to stock up so if we get any bad storms we can afford not to care about grocery shopping for a week or so. 

Well, crap.

By Briannah,

So.  Since we both have tomorrow off, and I was feeling the joy of having time to get some things done, and its' a gorgeous day outside, we decided to clear off the porch of all the winter and home improvement debris that has collected on it.  It was going well when we were moving the cardboard boxes off the porch to take to the van when we found...kittens.  Yup.  Six tiny little kittens about twice the size of a gerbil.  Have I mentioned my neighborhood has a stray cat problem?  So we called around, and the humane society's foster program is full, and the rescue has a $30 fee per animal, and I frankly can't afford a $180 bill for six cats that are NOT MINE.   Both my cats are male, neither had kittens, and both have been neutered and i have the vet records to prove it.  They are feral strays, but young enough to be domesticated, if someone would take them. 

So now I feel bad because the plan is basically let the mother take them and move them to a new location, and they will grow up and have more, and our neighborhood will continue to be overrun by feral cats living short, hard lives.  The average lifespan of a feral cat is 5 years, compared one in a good home at 15 to 20 years.  And they are young enough that they wnated to interact with us, and could be easily domesticated.  I feel like I failed them, but there really isn't anything I can do.  We literally cannot feed them every two hours like they  need with our job schedules, so taking them in and finding homes for them when they are weaned to normal food isn't possible either. 

Sometimes there is no good answer.  :(  And of course Nikki is sad that I won't let him have the one that looks like Yuriko.  But we have four pets right now, and we need to keep reducing the number, not growing it both for our financial changes and consideration of people who have to care for them when we travel.  I still feel bad saying no though.

Went to the therapy place with Nikki, and I stayed in the lobby, but man it was relaxing.  They had this really zen music playing, and it was nice, and there was this pretty mood lamp next to me, and I was just mellowing out have a nice conversation with a lady until her appointment, then sitting working on a puzzle.  I really should have asked what cd they were playing, that was some really nice laid back music.  The couch was comfy.  And there was water and a coffee bar if I got thirsty. 

Then lunch, and then we both got our hair cut.  Well, I got mine maintenanced, basically did what I usually do, a layered bob that is easy to control and puffs up nicely so it doesn't LOOK as thin as it is.  Nikki got an awesome choppy layer cut that looks great on him, and he was excited to show me how the front pieces hide the male hairline pattern.  :)  He'd been giving me side eye all week since I sorta locked him into this, but I think he's really glad he went with it.  At the place I leaned over and whispered "This is a huge girl thing, relax and try to zen in girl mode and enjoy it!"  And still plenty for me to play with.  WOOT! 

Now I"m trying to figure out what to do with myself.  It's an overcast day here, and that gray light literally sucks out my will to exist.  Now that all the planned activities are done, I find myself bored outta my mind and lacking the motivation to really do anything about it.  Dang gray lighting.  Back in astronomy class in high school we did experiments with lighting, and had to put our head in a box, and different lights were used in the box.  Full spectrum lighting made you feel awesome, the gray 'overcast' light simulator made you feel instantly depressed and down.  It was really enlightening how immediate and dramatic the responses were to the lighting I was exposed to. 

So there is a still a lot of work, I swear the cosmetic parts are more work than the actual structural parts, but the decaying and failing runners have all been replaced by new ones, that are deeper (the come out a but further, giving a larger space for the foot) with new pine runners.  Nikki did an awesome job, sawdust is everywhere (sawdust smells good, I forgot that), and w'ere ready to start worrying about making it look nice now.  I forgot how QUIET stairs are when they're not...well...ancient.  I'm really having to confront some internal senses of helplessness about changing things in a house and diy stuff that I didn't realize I had or the extent of which I allowed to hold me back.  I'm firm on the professionals only for electrical work, but the rest is negotiable apparently.  This has been good for me, and I think Nikki likes all the praise. :)  I helped.  Awkwardly.  And at one point AssassinFeline decided he was going to be a carpenter too, but we got him shooed away without bloodshed.  That's a victory! 

Nikki is really good with wood, while I'm still terrorized about power tools.  In my small defense though, I was constantly given the message since I was small "Machines will hurt you" and I'm having trouble overcoming that lifelong conditioning.  It didn't help when my 8th grade metalshop teacher cut his finger off (not when I was in the room, it was a few class periods before mine, but still) and my father worked accident scenes with trains and used that to scare me to make sure I respected trains and the damage they can do. 

Nikki didn't get the first job he tried for, but we're not giving up.  :)  We had a talk with the people at this therapy place, and they recommended a second therapist who went to school with the one he was seeing and has a similar approach, so he's going to start seeing her when we get back form the cruise.  Like the day after I believe.  I think with the stress of trying to job hunt and move us it's better to have someone than wait, and he either agrees with me or is humoring me hugely. 

I've started plotting out a deep clean as stuff vanishes into totes and boxes and moves to my mom's.  We might have to invest in new carpet for the upstairs, 10 years of cats puking is problematic, but I'm going to try to shampoo it first and see if I can't coax into something reasonable enough to present to buyers if we reach that point.  The weather has been fairly reasonable, I think Nikki is eyeing fixing the broken fence cracked by the falling tree from the neighbor next door (Yes, I know he should have fixed it, but he's a slumlord and sugin him would cost more than just dealing with it). 

I've been dealing with my mom having a cow that my aunt new about our work to leave town before she did.  Of course my aunt new, she and I talk all the time.  Aunt is unpredictable and can be difficult without warning, but she genuinely is trying to help.  If he does secure the job, I was planning to ask her to come to Dayton with me and do the house tours, she has a great eye and is super nitpicky and notices EVERY little detail, great resource!  I'm sure that will give birth to a whole herd of bovines with my mom, but I don't have time to humor the fantasy land anymore.

In one month vacation begins!  WOOHOO!  CARIBBEAN here we come!  *stupidly excited*  And the night before we get on the ship a guild mate of ours from an online game is in teh area, we're planning to meet up for dinner and have a bit of silly chatter. :)  It'll be fun to put a face to the voice in my headset. It's going to be a great trip! 

So that is what I've been busy with, how are all of you? *hugs all around*

Took Nikki's favorite cat to the vet, her purr has gone weird and she lost a lotta weight, we thought she had a respiratory infection or something.  Unfortunately, it's looking like something and not an infection.  They are sending her xrays and labs out, but the prevailing thought right now is that our kitty girl has lung cancer.  :(  So not happy right now, and desperately hoping for a hail mary your local vet was wrong, it's nothing.  I know she's 14, but I'm just not ready.

So after the movie we started talking, and I realized that Nikki has made an extremely comfortable place for me in this.  Which is both wonderful and truly scary.  I'm included in his personal world where no one has been, and actively participating in the practical demands and the emotional ones.  I'm finally at the level of closeness to him that was just slightly off, and I had started to think maybe I had internalized too much social romance culture and didn't exist and was doubting myself that something was off as time went by and life was great.  He makes sure it all goes at my pace, and for me really sat down and examined his own needs and feelings to find out what they were.  His google fu when looking for something speicific is amazing and a skill I count on because I often want to find very specific things on the internet, but my ability to big picture and connect varying things that are related but not obviously so led him to a wealth of information about what is going on with him he didn't have access too.  While I had to redifine my understanding of him, he had to do it also, and we did it together.  We have a healthy balance of his need for me to emotionally care for him the way he physically cares for me, and him dong it for himself that I don't think we had before.  I can't even say how much positive there has been to me blundering into it.  I learned that the reason he indicated to me the first time that he wanted the hrt was he'd sort of picked up from people on the forums he tried a few years ago it was inevitable, and he didn't really have a clear understanding of it's effects himself until I was showing him my research that i did in an attempt to ease my negative reaction to the idea, and unfortunately strengthened it into a coherent I don't know that I can do this point.  Also I'm completely free to ask for either mode, and I did ask for girl mode last night so that I could use my vday plans I'd worked really hard on dangit.  That was the first time I asked for actual girl mode vs. asking to let me see him like that and adjust.  That was, I wanted to be with you like that and got myself into this mindset and let's fulfill our emotional romance urges together.  I don't know how much of that he perceived, but I think that is a huge breakthrough in my head.  And it let me go further in making my brain ignore the creepy outer plastic of the forms to try to give him a more natural full experience.

But that's why it's so scary.  And I had this talk with him last night.  So many real voices I speak with talk about how it progresses as they go, and I do have real internal fears on a lot of things.  When I first started looking for places and tried to talk to real people instead of reading pyschological information, I was either mocked for my commitment to remain with Nikki (Support groups are so not supportive if they required a foregone conclusion of action to fit in damnit) or I was mocked for having sexual and emotional issues and needs of my own dealing with this.  And Nikki has a problem where he wasn't okay with either, but he's very conflict resistant and so started stewing.  Originally I was looking for him to guide me into this world, I didn't realize how much he'd jumped to conclusions vs. actual self-examination and was working under the misunderstanding that he'd scoped this all out and was just waiting for the courage to talk to me or the day I blundered into it.  That wasn't working out so great, so my I will find us someplace kicked in.  That is how I was the one to find this place and dip in first, that may have seemed strange to people, but that's our dynamic.  There is an underlying assumption between our personalities that i will always protect him.  The first clue I got when I arrived and started talking that this was the place was that no one thought it was weird or commented that I was the first to land, and people treated me like I belonged.  Even though I am cis, there is no part of what happens to Nikki that doesn't affect me and the supportive education I'm getting here on his feelings, mine, and all of yours is invaluable as we figure this all out and you all keep me on an even emotional keel so that I CAN even figure out what frightens me, what makes me happy, what I need to be able to make him happy (and I am progressing with the prosthetics, Nikki was beyond pleased last night).  You have all completely changed the coming out story in a truly positive way.   Just because I have the commitment and love for him did not mean I had to tools to even being to understand myself or him in this time.  And I really fear losing my comfortable place where I embrace just about everything that makes him feel good in both modes. 

And then I did something I'd never done, asked him to fill a need I have that is as scary to him as the first time I went to see him dressed like a woman with breasts.  I think he's incredibly uncomfortable with what i asked (and it's NOT a trigger physical activity).  I've always been the initiator in sexuality matters.  Nikki is uncomfortable doing so, and the rare times he has is because I was so caught up in life and wasn't doing it and physical urges overrode his natural submission.  And it was a tentative would you like to...? sort of moment.  But part of my dismorphia that was cycling around for years unspoken and not even understood by me that his perceived lack of interest in starting that activity with me, even though rationally understood and accepted, was hitting my disorder in a very real way convincing me he didn't really want me, he only does that with me because I make it easily obtainable for him.   That was a terrifying moment for me, but I don't want him to hide from me, and since I had realized this in all this mess, I'm not going to hide from him.  It's all in for both of us or we might as well stop.  That being said, I don't mean he has to turn into a crazed maniac.  I think the proposed plan was he sets a repeating alarm on his clock for like every to weeks to remind hm to ask me to go upstairs with him.  My stupid brain doesn't need a full blown seduction attempt of the kind i actually enjoy putting on for him, it's sort of a really fun creative challenge for me how to reach and hit all his emotional buttons, which is why it kind of threw me that my Vday plan had been for girl mode and I had to come up with something on the fly. 

This is a very comfortable and amazing place for me, despite the ongoing confusion.  And there is still a lot of confusion on my end, when I try to talk to Nikki about what being  a woman inside means to him, his answers are ALWAYS fixated on the physical aspect.  This is not a judgement on my part, please understand, but this creates a communications disconnect for me and a lot of confusion, because my physical parts are a biproduct of it, and I rarely think about them beyond trying to wrangle their health and convenience, fitting into the damn bras and not hitting my own damn face with boobs, sexual aspects, etc.  So now I'm left trying to understand if Nikki has just not developed that part because of his kind of emotionally stunting family and didn't have a period in teenage hood like me where he realized how much he'd missed out on and actively set out to learn it for himself, or if his particular flavor of the transgender umbrella is really his brain focusing for whatever reason on the physical aspects, most strongly on body hair, general body shape, and breasts, but it likes his boy parts and psyche just fine.  LIterally, he puts on the forms and bra, and most of the time wears his normal boy clothes and does what he does around the house, and the only thing that changes is the stress switch in his head is flipped back to quiet.  Am I trying to connect to and nurture something neglected, or is it something just not there?  And Nikki can't answer until he works on this and finds out for himself.  But that crystallized some of why I'm scared about the future.

A huge potential problem is...Nikki and I really prefer the same kind of female, which he can't be in a relationship.  Which is way closer to me than him.  So while his tastes and desire for me present no conflict if transition is an inevitability he was originally led to believe (and I now now that the spectrum presents a lot of choice, and only with a lot of hard work will he know what his future life and needs will be like) that presents a huge emotional conflict and desire issue for me.  My tastes run to softer males and harder females.  I think if had been allowed to develop naturally, I would have been way more submissive than I am and acted on my inner taste for dominant males (I drool over Sabretuth, Snake Pliskin, Raislint Majere, etc.).  I enjoy dominant types.  However, my formative years being wired by a crazy man who hurt me over and over (met ex husband when I was 16 adn jsut starting out on the sexuality explorations and settings) made that impossible for me to ever trust and fully engage with in that with a man.  Nature v. nurture.

And, let's be real, him being a mix of both together, often as the same time, really works for me on all the levels, emotional, physical, and connectibility.  I think I am going beyond adjusting into full on this is my life and I like it, and I don't want to lose this.

 

So since Nikki was gone all morning I called my friend M and binged like a madwoman on catching up and going over our recent marital issues.  It was a great reality check for me, I reacted extremely because my bond with Nikki was threatened by the unknown, her bond with her husband was actually severed by his choices(nothing to do with anything like what Nikki is going through, think really badly handled midlife crisis choices).  And then when he realized his mistake, now he suddenly cares and is trying to fix it after some really brutal choices.  And she's a great person to know, she loves you with a whole heart and is really honest with you.  I don't think of my life in terms of worst case scenario in general, but I realize we had a fairly easy and quick sorting out of the initial phase as much as is possible at this point, and am so grateful for that.

And...I sort of floored her.  She knew from yesterday's face to face time friend we had a thing, but friend didn't tell M what it was, just that she might want to check on me, and shared some of the concerns L had about it based on my flaws and some positives they wanted to help me reinforce from my strengths.  So leaving from L's I texted her indicating I wanted to talk to her this morning and not do it on text again.  This is the kind of friendship we have, helping each other be shiny and overcome the dull spots, and L was worried she so emphasized with A she might not be getting me so asked M who is way like me but was in a healthier place with it earlier to reach out.  So M and I hadn't really talked closely in several years, we got busy with lives and live nearly four hours apart.  But it's the kind of friendship that you can pick up at a moments notice.  But she told me she was floored by how much I've grown, changed, and overcome my past issues.  Apparently L feels that I have more blame language than I realize, but also that I fully do not mean to be doing it.  So M said she would work with me and of course Nikki has agreed to point out if he catches any, but Nikki didn't quite feel that the comment I made that triggered L's thought was blamy.  So this is going to be hard improving what i don't quiet get, but I'm not dead yet, so I'll give it my best.  Cleaning emotional house with her was a wondrous reality check for both of us on where we are in our lives, and that it's okay to now know the best path forward and we'll figure it out together as we go.  We'll just never get to Cleveland.  LOL  We didn't get to Cleveland on the phone today either, but we did affirm our shared love of Nikki, and our agreement that her husband has a lot of work to do and it's okay for her to explore her feelings and decide if she wants to repair the marriage or not and owes him nothing until she decides either way.  I promised NIkki and I would make the drive to her in March, since logistically it's easier that way.  Offspring will care for my animals for a day trip, she doesn't have anyone for hers.  We're gonna catch up and eat amazing food.  Everytime we see M there is some new amazing food thing I can't believe I'd never had before.  She was the first time I ate Panera bread, Nutella, and a variety of other things. OMG Nutella on pound cake.  Just saying.

An analogy I used to explain to Nikki WHY I want to be part of the journey and not just the destination, why confused and uncertain but shared is not only okay to me, but desirable.  He likes to go on a trip with the route mapped, a clear destination, and as little disruption as possible.  So it's like getting into L's car.  But I like the journey, that is where I grow and do my best adaptation as the situations go.  I once got in a car with M and we were trying to go from Toledo to Cleveland (I lived in T-town then) and we ended up crossing half of Ohio and back at my house.  But it was the most fun road trip ever the minute we realized we were both lost and just went with it and used the time to chatter and have a blast.  And we learned more about each other and forged a lifetime bond that we have both relied on during various disasters over the years than we would have with a smooth trip to Cleveland.  And saw some really weird crap, Ohio, you are weird.  I think I've finally expressed my feeling to him, which was vague and probably really confusing to him prior to this conversation.  He never did understand WHY I kept getting in cars with M and being late to...well...everything we ever tried to go to together.  :)

M didn't know about my dismorphia, and feels like I crossed that last barrier of trying to hide things and so much she couldn't figure out about me is clear.  Adulting is hard, I want to just turtle. 

So Nikki got home from Valentine's day, in full on boy mode to my surprise, I thought we were still in girl mode honeymoon phase, but okay, I adjusted my Valentine day cuddle plans accordingly and had a lovely morning with him.  No big deal, my entire plan was tailored to things he said he wanted from me, so I have them in reserve for the day he does want them.  I'm prepared!  We're going to see Deadpool in a bit, and it is only my deep devotion to making that boy happy that is getting my cold shell outta this house into the SIXTEEN DEGREES that Ohio has decided to grace us with.  I need more layers.  Deadpool had best be as funny as people tell me he is.  Cuz our theater doesn't believe in heat.

Update

By Briannah,

So doing much better.  Yeah, that stupidly expensive Medcline wedge thing with the body pillow costs around $300, but WOW if you need some sort of sleeping wedge for a medical issue (I'm pretty sure apnea, copd, and some other conditions besides acid reflux benefit from the incline sleeping position) then I really really recommend this one.  The wedge is pretty firm and holds you up well, and it has a 'stuffer' pillow so you can change which side you sleep on (the other conditions it doesn't matter, only acid reflux really needs it to be left).  Also, don't get the cheater $220 version without the pillow to use your own, the candy cane shaped body pillow for the extra money is awesome.  It's really comfortable, the top wraps around you and stays in place amazingly, and the long side trails down to go between your knees for a spine alignment support.  If they can 'fix' this acid reflux and I can sleep flat again, I'm SO keeping this candy cane pillow thing.  IT's that amazing.  If anyone else here has my issues, this was completely worth the money, and going to pay for itself in a few months from the amount of medication I'm not buying now.

So between the Gaviscon (works much better for reflux than the pink stuff, it really does not only neutralize the acid but creates a sort of foamy barrier that helps keep the rest of the acid in place) and the Medcline I'm doing MUCH better.  I've stopped taking the Prilosec (lots of potential side effects with long term use) entirely, and in the last week only needed the Gaviscon once.  I think I'm winning!  Feels good to win, but man do I miss my garlic.  I miss garlic more than I miss chocolate.  I have a serious garlic bread craving going on, but I'm not brave enough yet.  Food actually became scary.  Will this make me burn?  How little can I eat and still live so my throat isn't on acidfire?  IT's a weird feeling to be scared of food.   Not just nervous about calories or sugars, but actually frightened to eat at all.  I'm told on a forum I persused by other people with the condition looking for control information this is a fairly common reaction for those who don't have it under control, and it will fade away again with time.  You know me, research gerbil.  :) 

Still going to see a doctor to talk about this when I can, find out if something slipped out of place inside, some sort of hormonal issue (it all started with that months cycle, I really hope this isn't gonna be a cycle thing or a menopause one, I am getting close to that age), or what.  The websites all indicated even losing a couple pounds will lessen it, in my case I lost 15 and it got worse.  So I have no idea how to take that.  Maybe my stomach is just really mad and wants to digest me.  

On the state of the Nikki: He's genuinely happy with his job now.  The utter lack of drama and actual ability to do his job and solve problems instead of just playing message tag with corporate people has done WONDERS.  He's putting in some long hours right now, but they use completely different systems than his old job and he's learning what he needs to know to master it.  It's amazing how much our life situations change how we feel and are.  I think its' done as much for the dysthymic depression as the pills are doing really.  so is having a more natural to his bio rythms sleeping habit.  Having all of that together is really bringing him back to his old self.  Which is doing wonders for us as a couple, and an education in how much when one spouse is not doing well it affects the other one, as I'm also doing dramatically better inside as a result of having a happy spouse again. :)  He bought powerball tickets cuz the jackpot is huge, and turned and asked me if we beat the odds and won, would I still wanna go to Florida?  And was all relieved when I said no, we'd just get a nicer house in new town than we could afford now because I can see how much he loves his job.​  But in 10 years it would be early retirement and this couple would be moving to my beloved Florida.  

​So life is good, house feels like an unending pit of work to try to get it ready for listing (that has slowed down as a result of his hours, a lot of the stuff that needs done now is things he is good at and I just sorta maybe understand how), and we bought a new car that gets really good mileage for all the commuting (and both our current cars be old and tired).  After much searching we found a good deal on a former rental car with only 17k miles on it.  Yay! 

We did look into potentially getting a bridge loan and went to our credit union to crunch the numbers to see if we could afford to move now and just pay a higher mortgage until this one sells, but the first and only downside of using our credit union in our 15 year history with it cropped up, they only do home loans within the county.  Car loans are statewide (so we were able to snag up our great deal, with was 25K less miles and $4k cheaper than any available in my town, everything in my town has a weird expensive bubble) but we can't get a home loan for new town.  They offered us an equity loan to use as a downpayment to try to help, but managing THREE home loans at once seems...out of control.  We're going to research options with commercial banks, but I doubt it will really happen and we'll probably just stick with the original plan of being trapped here til it sells.

Hope everyone here is doing great and making all your dreams happen!

Nikki's therapist, his younger than me, super healthy therapist, had a heart attack and passed away this weekend.  I can't wrap my mind around it.  She has been so helpful working everything out, and such a huge part of our lives (Nikkii's directly, mine through the effect she has on our life) that i just am floored.  So far Nikki is okay, but I don't know how this works for a patient.  If my former therapist had just died, it would have really messed me up, I can't even imagine.  And she was so sweet.  :(

I know rationally that if we moved, a new therapist search was in the near future, and nothing we feel is anything like what her family feels, but the finality and suddenness of it is just stunning.  And of course now I"m worried for Nikki, having that taken away so suddenly can't be good for him. 

Ugh.

By Briannah,

I do not have the time to have some kind of stomach flu on mothers day.  Must get my innards under control and soldier on.  People are expecting calls, and while I've hit the point I don't necessarily care anymore, I do care about not making my life difficult.  *headdesk*  My timing, as ever, is incredible.  Blow out my intestings adn surgery on the third of july, massive actual case of influenza (the real stuff, not the tummy kind) for my birthday and anniversary one year, stomach flus on christmases and thanksgivings, Dengue fever on a cruise...if it's  boring wednesday I have to work I feel great, if it's an awesome time to enjoy, sick as a turtle. 

MEh.  *Slinks off to find some tums or something*

Writing that was hard.  I tried to be overly articulate, and it was crap. I tried to write it like a report, and that was crap.  Finally I just freeform wrote it, fixed typos, and e-mailed it without reading it over and over and judging myself.  Writing it reminded me how scary a trip this all was, and also made me see how much progress I'd made.  I"m not angry anymore.  I'm still working on that full trust, but that takes time.  Admitting to my fears and problems with the things people have said to me wasn't scary anymore, it was just, this happened to me.  Do what you want with it. 

I guess I really am doing as well as I thought, and writing a 'here is my story' helps me see it. 

Off to bed now.

So printer died a horrible death, moment of silence for my little desk friend.    Moment over.  IT was a fast moment, it wasn't that nice a desk friend.  Nikki and I can't be without a printer, we use it constantly.  So I ordered a new one, and we went to Best Buy to pick it up.  Now, Nikki just got to order the components to put his new computer together, the same one we built for me around Christmas, only he gets it $100 cheaper because prices go down with time.  LOL  So he was browsing around the store instead of heading strait to the customer pick up (I'm lazy, I like ordering online and making them get it together and picking it up at the desk, it also cuts out any attempts to alter my purchase and lets me read and research off the website about the item).  So I'm following him around, and i see a display.

There was a pair of vr goggles.  These are not the expensive Occulus ones (Thought they are powered by the technology)  I'm not sure what brand they are, but they are the ones that work with the Samsun smart phone and you can sorta clip your phone to them.  They're white, and sorta ugly.  But I was curious and I picked them up, and held them against my face to see.  It took a minute to figure out how to get the demo to start.

The demo starts.  It's a car racing through a tunnel.  Okay, whatever.  It's sorta neat, I don't see what the big deal is.  Probably great for people who like car games.  Then it announces something about underwater, and suddenly I'm standing under the ocean, and a NINE FOOT great white shark is gliding across in front of me.  Like maybe two feet away!  And it didn't look REAL exactly, but it did look almost real.  The textures weren't perfect, little details clued you in.  You could tell it was a video game sorta thing, but the feeling that you were standing IN THE GAME was so strong, that as I'm turning my head to follow the shark, and the view did follow my head movements really perfecting the illusion, I damn near jumped a mile because inches from my face was another great white facing me directly looking back at me that I didn't know was there because I actually could not see him until I turned my head like in real life.  I can only imagine what my face looked like to Nikki, I really had to remind myself the shark wasn't real, but I might have jumped. 

It was AMAZING.  I can't even describe how blown my mind was by those sharks. 

Then it switched to a space battle, and it really felt like I was one of those forlorn figures in the window watching an epic space battle in front of me, and I was thinking about the lives of the people in those ships, and wondering if they would come for me for a second. 

Then I was in a bloodstream, as it displayed it's educational opportunities for visual learners.  And I love science, so I was completely engrossed in watching the red and white cells drift by. 

After I put it down, my first thought was to an article I had read where they are three dimensionally filming Egyptian tombs so students, and probably virtual tourists, can be 'in' them and see them 'firsthand', and how very much I would love to do that. 

My mind was completely blown by how amazing this technology I really hadn't thought much about actually is.  So...that is what I'm going to be saving my small entertainment allowance in the new budget for.  Because I really, really want a virtual reality headset.  For gaming.  For exploring.  For feeling like I'm out of the house for a little bit in the winter when I can't leave. 

There was a Japanese animation show about a video game that was played in virtual reality a while back, called .Hack//Sign.  The basic story of the game is something sinister is happening and a player gets fully trapped in the game, and the show revolves around the events of trying to save 'him'.   (Spoilter - it's a female player, but that isn't revealed right away).  But through the show you get glimpses of the players lives, and why they are there, and why they form the friendships they do.  And one of them is a girl bound to a wheelchair.  She doesn't actually play the game, she just walks around in it.  Never levels, just...enjoys the feeling of the freedom she doesn't have in her actual life. It was a really powerful storyline, and I'm reminded of her as I wore those goggles and what this can mean to some people, where it's more than a game or a teaching tool. 

It's been ages since anything reminded me of the sheer potential we have as a species to create and expand our world, both outside and internally.

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