Exit Racism: Part I

Sooo, as mentioned in my last post: I’ve decided to actively work on being anti-racist. And a first measure was buying this book someone on the internet praised: “exit RACISM – rassismuskritisch denken lernen” by Tupoka Ogette, a well-known anti-racism trainer in Germany.

It starts with basic information: Written for white people, Triggerwarning for PoC, this is what you might experience… and possible stages of learning about structural racism.

My first reaction was surprised: Apparently I did actually do something right the last years, because the first stages mostly deal with realizing one’s own racist thought patterns.

Well, duh. I’m a white person, raised in a very, very white neighbourhood, of COURSE I’ll find racist thoughts in me. I’m scared of them and it took me long to face that fear. It needed the death of multiple black people for my cowardly ass brain to finally manage to get up the courage to face my racism and start dismantling it.

I’m still scared as fuck of what I’ll find. I’m only 35 pages in and already felt an urge to skip parts, because THEY MADE ME FEEL BAD. Yeah, no shit. Knowing my current state of living is based on death, torture, poverty, rape, … it’s mighty uncomfortable. It sucks ass. Actually I’m crying while writing these lines. And we NEED to face these feelings. We have to face the fucking cognitive dissonance that enables us to accept living in a racist world, enjoying white privilege without feeling like shit.

So here I am. Crying. Feeling like shit. And thinking: People die because of racism. You just have to deal with feeling bad. Get over it, whiny white and work through that shit so you can stand with your fellow humans.

Learning to be anti-racist…

I know, I know, jumping on the bandwagon here, everyone is talking about racism and it sucks so fucking much that black people have to die for white people to realize that racism is a thing – or in my case: that racism won’t go away without people being loudly anti-racist instead of silently (trying to be) not racist.

I was talking with a dear friend and he sent me some resources to read up on and listen to. One was about the racism of being colorblind. I get it. So many of my defining traits are invisible and I struggle with not being seen fully – of course being a PoC in a racist world defines the identity, and therefore NEEDS to be seen and accepted and loved. “Because of” not “in spite of”. And here’s the hidden gem. I would love to live in a world where being colorblind wasn’t a problem because the color of someone’s skin isn’t othering them and therefore not defining their experiences.

But I don’t. I don’t know what it feels like to walk down the street and catch EVERY person’s sight. I don’t know what it’s like to see the people who openly stare, the one’s who are so afraid to stare they don’t look at me at all and mixed in all that some who glare and harass. I don’t know what it’s like to see people avoid coming near me. I can choose to parade my genderqueerness and accept the risk of getting harassed for it – the added harassment for queer PoC might cost them their life. I don’t know what it’s like to live where I was born and nonetheless constantly being asked where I’m from. I don’t know what it’s like to have people assume I’m less smart, diligent and punctual all the time. I don’t know what it’s like to have people touch my skin or hair without asking, or getting asked all the time if they may. I don’t know what it’s like to be constantly stopped at police checks. Actually I’ve never been checked. NEVER in 38 years.

What I do know is:

On the hunt for a apartment the landlord showing us – the white couple – around praised the area for not having PoC or muslims.

While interviewing for jobs the interviewers of a FEW jobs told me openly they were happy to have a “native” applicant.

Even in full genderqueer-parade make up and clothes, I’m stared at less than any Person of color trying to blend in.

So I make a pledge:

I’ll use my white privilege to fight injustice and discrimination. I’ll call out those who see me as “one of their own” on their racist or xenophobic comments. I’ll report them to ZARA. I’ll show up at the Black Lives Matter rally and the one against police brutality. If it comes to it, I’ll do my best to shield PoC. I’ll shut up and only open my mouth to amplify black voices when needed. I’ll donate to anti-racist organisations whenever possible. Not just now, in the aftermath of the murders of George Floyd and Tony McDade, but for the rest of my life. I’ll take being called out for racist behavior without defending myself and do my best to be thankful for the opportunity to learn.

baby steps.

Since my usual brand of antidepressants (Fluoxetin 1A Pharma) tastes abominable, I asked my doc if there existed a different brand with the same active ingredients. It did, I tried it for a few weeks and holy shit, you wouldn’t believe the difference in its effect on me. Mood crashed, my digestion decided to go on strike and I binged every other day.

Back to the horrendous taste of 1APharma. I found my drug. No matter the taste, it works with my brain, thank you very much.

Side effect of that little experiment: I know I can’t go without medication yet.

The gender feels have cooled down, I tracked my feelings toward my chest daily and marked it down in a color coded overview. The amount of days with dysphoria was about the same as that of days with euphoria; most days I felt apathetic about the body parts I happen to have. I tried feeling into pronouns and addressed myself differently to see how it felt. Fascinating was that one day when I felt really good calling myself she, but decidedly dysphoric. I’ve adopted a calmer, more observing than suffering stance and feel comfortable with who I am. My gender is dynamic, fluid. There are 3 variables playing a role in my gender identity: masculinity, femininity and intensity.

gender

Somewhat like that.

In other news I’ve made huge progress: While taking the meds that didn’t work for me, I FELT my needs and started to act on this needs. I felt a need to get moving after a few days doing nothing over the holiday – so I went for a short hike with friends. I felt a need to decompress, so I sat down and played a color sorting game for an hour.

While it didn’t stop me from binging (yet), it makes me feel more in touch with myself to know I CAN feel/learn what I need to do to regulate my mood and emotions.

Sadly my therapist told me that they’ll be seconded somewhere else within the next months and I can either change location and frequency of visits with them or have location and frequency stay the same but change therapist. I think I’ll go with the new therapist, double the sessions would be too much for me. Although it sucks to change therapist after half a year.

Still alive.

Meds are working, dosage seems ok, therapy has brought one or two insights, peer support groups are AMAZEBALLS.

Still completely freaking out over the whole gender thing. Some days I’m scared I’m just a transguy refusing to see my true self, some days I think I might just be a woman and most days I wonder if it’s all because of the wibbly-wobbly way of my genderidentity and/or presentation or if I’m so used to binary thinking I can’t even accept my own non-binary existence.

Dysphoria still hits occasionally. Why is this so difficult to figure out? Why can’t I just have bloodwork done and a doc tells me what gender I am? Or fill out a questionnaire? I just want to know what I am, how can this take almost 40 years?

At least the body image worries have found closure: Apparently most people can’t “see themselves”. My autistic fucker of a brain just took the expression “body image” too literal and thought itself into panic mode. Yay me.

What now?

It might take a while for me and the meds to find our best way of working together, but so far I feel good. My mood is better, I’m less exhausted and can concentrate and focus again. My doc and I will experiment with the dosage but it seems I am doing a lot better with Fluoxetin/Prozac than I did with Sertralin/Zoloft.

So I’m back on working on all the stuff that’s bothering me.

Am I dysphoric enough to get a mastectomy?

At times I’d answer that with a clear yes. Other times it’s more of an “meh” experience. How much discomfort is worth the possible end of my marriage? Are there moments when I really like the chest I have and I’d miss? Would I only trade one discomfort for another? And most important: How do I find the answers to these questions? Waiting. Thinking. Talking. More thinking. More talking. Hoping one day I’ll know what to do.

Am I actually asexual or demisexual and only mirroring other people’s desire as part of my autistic masking?

This one I’ve decided to ignore. Even IF my desire is only mirrored, as long as it’s working so well in making me feel good about having a sexual relationship to my husband… I’m fine.

Recognition and pronouns.

Crap. I’d really love to be seen a bit more in our society. Or… at all. I’d love to have a word for me other than “other” or “not-something”. Ladies, gentlemen and ???. Man, woman and ???. While I like the umbrella of “non-binary”, it lacks the feeling of being something on it’s own. Agender is the same – just a negation of something existing. I’d like to be able to describe myself as SOMETHING instead of not-something. And pronouns are a whole new package of difficulties. In english speaking communities I go by they/them and that’s cool, I like it, I feel euphoric about they. Totally awesome.

But it’s not my native tongue. My life outside the internet is embedded in German and we don’t have established gender-neutral pronouns yet. There are a few, unknown by most people, and I’m considering giving them a try but the whole having to explain why and how and what and basically coming out as agender which in most people’s minds doesn’t even exist… It scares me. A lot.

a vicious circle

Mornings are more difficult and it takes longer until “morning” is over. I started feeling guilty for all kinds of bullshit. I’m tired – all the time, despite sleeping 8 hours usually and 10-12 hours twice a week.

*sighs*

Again.

Therapy is demanding, I’m really struggling with my body image and figuring out how much of the “feeling uncomfortable” is based on excess fat and how much on dysphoria. Am I feeling dysphoric? Am I “allowed” to get rid of my breasts, after all I don’t exactly suffer… or do I? Is the fact that the best I could EVER reach was “I guess I can live with them” enough to warrant top surgery? But I CAN reach that and I don’t like my cellulite either – shouldn’t I just learn to love what I have? But I’d never think about spending 4 months income on getting rid of my cellulite. I DID think about spending that much on getting rid of the unwanted chest bumps.

Gnargh.

I’m scared.

I’m exhausted.

Anyway… much to think about and in the meantime life doesn’t stop. There’s still work, preparations for going back to uni, a marriage to care for and my brain would still need the attention to not go off the deep end. Nothing left for that after surviving. So off the deep end I went and only just realized: the depression is blocking the way of getting rid of huge factors to my depression.

Meds. Need them. Can’t get out if I have nothing left to work with.

And same as the surgery topic, I start to think… why do I force myself to live with something I constantly need to battle instead of accepting that I need medication and a body I can feel at home in?

nsfw. kind of.

brain: how can that guy be allowed to work anywhere? I’m going insane.

also brain: breathe. all is well. you have a hot colleague who happens to be super nice, so what? you’re married and probably ovulating. it’s over soon.

but i want to scream out to the world! i can’t think. i try to think of my inner child and the swing next to it transforms into a love swing. how am i supposed to act at home when every second of my day some part of my brain feeds me fantasies of another man? no, i know, i wouldn’t approach him even if i were single – never fuck the company –  but i’m. going. crazy. i haven’t reacted to anyone this intensely since… 2015? i just need to let it out. tell someone. celebrate and laugh about the intensity together. maybe let it spread a little, let others contract the passion since … i can’t share it at home.

and this is a part that hurts. i want to tell my partner. i miss living polyamorous – not for the possibility to live out the fantasies, but for the possibility to share them with my loved ones. let them be part of it. be loved for everything i am, including the occasional hormonal insanity. including the insecurities and frustrations of questioning my gender again and again. including my experiments with stimming, my sensory overwhelm, my selective mutism, my intense interests, my autistic self.

I feel invisible.

More fear and genderfeels.

Somehow gender keeps coming up and every time it does, I wonder about who I am.

I know I kept up persona(s) to present to the world that are Not Me. I know I’ve started to question the necessity, started to break down walls around The Real Me(TM), trying to figure out where I start and end.

But again and again I wonder how much of what I tried to hide from the world has to do with being autistic and how much with my gender. Why am I so often male in my dreams? I’ve been building my personality from templates – characters I admired, people I met. A lot of those were male – in my childhood female heroes were very, VERY scarce. Is that it? Have I identified with so many male characters that my subconscious mind adopted the looks of a male body together with the personality traits? Or a neutral, childlike body like the 2 sole heroines Ronia Robbersdaughter and Pippi Longstocking?

Holy …, wait a sec. Is my mind trying to rebuild The Real Me(TM) from before I started masking – as a child? And now completely freaked over the fact that the child-mind-me is stuck in an adult body with sexual feelings? Fuck, that would explain this weird duality towards sex lately, feeling so very asexual but still realizing that my body and psyche do their everyday job better with occasional sex; seeing sex like a chore I have to do to stay sane.

Uh oh. More processing.

The fear of hurting others

My therapist raised the topic of connection of fear and anger and the link between these two and my binges. I tried to explore feelings when I felt a binge coming after that session, but… meh. Nothing. Or, more correctly: the usual “Something’s off.”

But today I read something about meltdowns and the connected fear to hurt someone. This hit home, almost literally. My guts felt like I’d been punched.

Soooo… sometimes I CAN feel tension rising. And it scares me, because I know if it reaches the point of no return, I’ll be out of control. Which raises the tension. So I stuff all the feelings down with food until my body hurts and I’m in too much pain to be a danger to anyone.

Well done, salix, well done. [cue head shaking and eyes rolling]

How about trying to alleviate the stress by… I don’t know, exercise, stimming or – gosh, what an idea – sleep?

The tribe is even better than I thought! (An Autscape review)

Oh wow.

I still struggle with finding words for feelings or moods. For 3 days I could communicate them in my mother tongue. Flapping. Jumping. Vaguely gesturing. Rolling my eyes. Moving my face.

And people understood. English isn’t my native language, but apparently the translation autistic german to autistic english feels a lot more natural than autistic german to neurotypical german.

And I learned that I truly am an introvert. Even if everyone around me communicates in a way I can understand easily, meeting people is tiring and I need alone time. Quite a lot of it too, which made me so sad;  mourning the precious, limited minutes I had with these ~200 wonderful people, my tribe. Not enough to talk to everyone. Not even enough to talk about all I wanted to with the few I did manage.

I spent some time in the stimmy room and thoroughly enjoyed being with a few adults, quiet and just exploring, sensing, playing.

I talked to SO MANY people! I voluntarily sat with different people at every meal, just so I could meet more! On the second day I stopped myself for a second and wondered who I really am, doing all those things I’d never liked before.

And I wondered again about how different my life might be if I weren’t married. Felt the connection of my sub-tribe in the tribe, felt my queer little heart jump for joy of being acknowledged.

A lot to process.

But as a quick review: You english people do some weird stuff, like driving on the wrong side of the road and eating dinner for breakfast… but you’re doing at least one thing very, very right: Autscape.

I hope I’ll see you again next year.