I've been thinking about this a lot lately - turn of the year and all. But it was brought sharply into focus by two things, one yesterday, one a few weeks ago. The one yesterday? I thought "where did I go for NYE last year?" and realized that I had turned down all party invites and stayed home on Gchat with Michael. This year, I still don't know how many parties I'm going to make it to, but I am hella going out.
The other one requires a bit more unfolding.
I go to a lot of parties! Some of these parties have an element of friendly makeouts and the pressure-free option for more than makeouts. I actually want to write about these parties and the way they're sex-positive without the sexy element being intrusive for those who don't want to take part in that, and the nifty consent-culture rules; I need to write up a draft of that post and send it to the hosts for approval! The particular parties that are relevant to this topic happen... quarterly, I wanna say? Every few months. And last December's, there was some crappy weather, enough so that I didn't want to go without getting a ride. Which I secured.
And then Michael and I had the biggest fight we'd ever had.
We always fought over these parties. (This is why I was late to every one of them in 2013.) He did not want anyone else touching me, ever. I was fine with committing to nothing below the waist, but being able to kiss people and get touch-comfort was important to me, especially in the wake of Judah (Judah and I went to one of these parties once; he was petulant that I got more attention than him and insisted upon leaving early). I needed to be able to make choices regarding my own body.
But this fight was different, was worse; he had a complete meltdown. He refused to believe me that the weather was safe for driving. ("It's barely snowing," I said; "The Weather Channel says it's unsafe," he said, and I kept repeating the actual reality of the weather, and he refused to listen.) He wandered off from Lynne and the other people they were out with to yell at me. He repeatedly blamed me for upsetting him.
I finally got off the phone with him just before the friend giving me the ride showed up. I was visibly not-okay when I got in the car; my friend could tell. And Michael kept texting me, and I kept texting back, and my friend kept glancing over at me in deepening concern. Finally he said "Y'know, 'song..."
And I automatically responded with "He's not always like this."
And we both looked at each other in perfect horrified knowledge of the script we were reciting.
Because we know this script, we know it, we know that's what they always say, and I had not fully realized, until the words from the script flew out of my mouth, that that was really where I was. Judah hit me. Judah raped me. This wasn't that, so it had to be okay, right? Even if it was tense, even if things like this happened, even if things were always my fault, even if my fooling around made him angry so it was always my fault he was angry...
My friend just looked at me like "you know," and I looked at him like "if you love me, don't make me say this or look at this tonight. Just let me go and drink and kiss people and not have everything collapse right now in this car."
And bless him, he let me.
I hadn't thought about that in a year; more dramatic stuff was soon to follow, et cetera, and it faded. But the same friend gave me a ride to the same party this year. He looked back at me and quietly said "This is better than last year."
Another friend in the car said "Oh yeah, the weather last year!" and we all nodded, but I met my friend's eyes in the mirror, and we both knew.
Y'know, it was. It was all around. The weather was better, yeah. And good friends from out of state were there, and I was bold enough to make eyes at a cutiepie I'd met at another party, and we ended up all having delicious fun that it would be inappropriate to recount here without the permission of, um, a bunch of other people. ;) And the next morning, gizmometer and I Skyped with ashlyme and told them all about our night, and though we'd missed each other, though everyone wished ashlyme was there with us, they were happy for us; we were all happy.
(ashlyme was worried, when we started dating, that their anxiety would be a problem for me, after things with Michael. No. And there's an example of why. They missed me, but were happy for me. They did not scold or shame me.)
This has been a Year of Being Brave in so many ways. And it's been a year of freedom. It's a year of being accepted and respected by my partners - I looked very hard at everything before taking the plunge with beloved ashlyme, and to my relief and delight, they've been very, very good for me. <3 And so has everyone else. I've experimented... kinda a lot. Most of those experiments totally worked. One didn't, but in ways that gave us both interesting data, and we are still friends, so that's still a great outcome. (There is something oddly freeing about "Yeah, wow, that was a mistake for both of us! Fascinating. Still wanna go get a drink?")
Having my world kicked out from under me yet again in January gave me the opportunity to reframe, restructure, rethink, rebuild. I waited a while before becoming involved with anyone even long-distance, and even longer before becoming involved with anyone in person, because I needed to look to myself first and make decisions about what I wanted, what I did not want, what was best for me. And I've been fairly ruthless about cutting out the things that don't serve me. I joked recently that I turned a guy down for wearing those Vibram shoes, that's how picky I am!, but really, yeah, I will no longer cut off parts of my Self to be with someone. It isn't worth it.
And I am so much happier this way.
Adam wasn't sure I should write this, because it's me talking about the exes again, but: I have been carrying this, and if I never say it, I'll never get to set it down. And I want to set it down. I've had a fair amount of bullshit from people this year that's been directly attributable to the fact that I talked about a bad breakup amongst people who were pretending to be my friends. I never got the memo that we're not allowed to talk about our lives and about shitty things that sometimes happen. And I think the shame here should lie with people who play at friendship to get intel. Lots of people should look at their lives and look at their choices. It's helped me to do so.
Last December was bad in ways that I didn't have a handle on yet, because I was kept in crisis mode. This December? I had a great visit with my Florida family. That party was huge for me in all kinds of ways. The second issue of my magazine came out. I've revising my novel - you guys, I wrote a novel, I'm still chuffed about that. And I have a well-earned calm and happiness.
Last New Year's Eve, I stayed in. Tonight, I'm going out. I will wear glitter; I will dance, and I will have champagne, and I will have a midnight kiss.