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I Used To Be So Nice (Or: Why I Cannot Walk Away From A Battle With Lesbophobes)

As anybody who has read even a couple of my recent posts will likely already know, I have been angry lately at all of the faux allies and hetsplainers ~ very angry, in fact, but I must admit that underlying that anger is disappointment, frustration, puzzlement, and sadness.

I won’t rehash all of the drama….if anyone is interested, feel free go back through my tweets and replies to get a just a small taste of the brouhahas. I have also done several recent posts which mentioned the drama.

Anyway, someone on Twitter who also knows me in real life (and has known me for over 20 years), recently said something to the effect of being shocked that so many people were being so rude to me.

I actually laughed out loud when I saw that, because I immediately knew exactly what she meant:

In real life, I am, in fact, what most people would consider “nice”.  Meaning: I am typically polite, kind, considerate, giving, etc.; in other words, I get along well with others. (I am always direct and assertive in real life…but I am not aggressive/rude unless it becomes absolutely necessary).

But on Twitter (and to a lesser extent, on this blog), I am quite outspoken…sometimes even outright rude (which occurs, lately with shocking regularity, when I finally reach my maximum frustration tolerance level).

The problem is not just that Twitter is online interaction (meaning: versus in-person), either. I participate regularly on Facebook and LinkedIn and on other various websites/forums/etc., and I get along just fine with people on those, just like I do in real life.

No, I really think it’s specific to Twitter. Somehow, Twitter seems to bring out the worst in me. Actually, perhaps Twitter brings out the worst in everybody, based on my recent observations of various assorted brouhahas that I have NOT been involved in.

I think it’s the combination of the limited characters available to make important points, the fast paced environment, and the discontinuity in threads when multiple people are responding at the same time (which makes it difficult to follow the order of the conversation) that makes Twitter the perfect storm for misunderstandings, anger, hostility, drama, and trouble.

Combine that perfect storm of Twitter with my temperament (I am unwilling to back down — when dealing with a topic which matters to me greatly) and BOOM, it’s Armageddon.

Recently, I have been wondering whether I should just let an ongoing fight with a specific group of mean-girl lesbophobic feminists go…whether I should just walk away and let them stew in their own putrid, poisonous juices.

After all, I do actually believe in karma. People who are mean-spirited and vicious are obviously not happy people.

Also, I truly believe on-going anger and conflict is unhealthy…mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And these individuals are certainly not worth my health or my time.

So, I have been wondering:

Why am I having such a hard time letting this particular fight go? 

It’s not just my ego from being personally and viciously insulted by the ringleader, although I am sure that is indeed a part of it.

And it’s not just their shocking lesbophobia and appalling ignorance about Lesbians, although I am sure that is a HUGE part of it also. After all, utter obtuseness appears in many guises, including some very unexpected sources.

After much consideration, I think that (in addition to the above-noted factors) I am reluctant to stand down for 2 reasons:

First, I am truly horrified at the support that these individuals are getting from other straight feminists, so a big part of me wants EVERYBODY to see who these people really are. So, by calling them out and posting screencaps of their copious bigoted nonsense, I have been hoping that the proverbial aha! lightbulb would suddenly and magically appear above somebody’s head…anybody’s head! (I am afraid, though, that this wish is just a pipe dream).

Secondly, and much more importantly, I, Dirt, and the other Lesbians on Twitter who have been standing up to these individuals are all assertive, secure adults with a strong sense of self and a healthy acceptance of ourselves as Lesbians. So we can take their nastiness with a grain of salt. But: what if we were different? What if we were young dykes, just coming out, currently being rejected by family, friends, and society? What if we were vulnerable, scared, alone, confused, maybe even suicidal? What if we were struggling with self-hatred, dysphoria, and/or internalized homophobia? Would the horrid lesbophobic venom directed at us as Lesbians potentially be the last straw for someone like that? I honestly don’t know, and I sincerely hope not, but I cannot in good conscience allow these people to say such horrible, lesbophobic things without calling them out on it.

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, and if these individuals would say such repulsive, vile, hurtful, homophobic things to us, it is a fact that they have the capacity to do it to others.

My crusade may not do any good. I may, at some point, decide to lay down my metaphorical sword and walk away from this riDICKulous battle…

But not today.

Sword

Image: Pixabay: azboomer: Creative Commons CC0

The Price of Truth

Since Dirt and I started speaking out about Straightbians and the multiple ways in which they harm Lesbian lives, we have both received numerous emails and private messages thanking us for speaking out. 

Sadly, though, the majority of our private supporters do not have the courage to say so in public. 

As just one example, here is what one person said to me privately, versus what she later said publicly: 

Private


Public:

Well, I know that it is difficult for some Lesbians to come out of the closet, but that issue has nothing whatsoever to do with Straightbians.  (You either are, or are not, a Lesbian, and if you are, you aren’t a Straightbian…zero overlap). 

I wish I could say such a gap between private versus public behavior was limited to this one person, but, alas, it is not. 

It seems that the price for speaking the truth is too costly for most people. 

For me, truth trumps popularity.  I won’t lie in order to be popular and tell people what they WANT to hear. 

The truth is: Any woman cannot just magically “become a Lesbian”, and all the wishful thinking and denial in the world won’t change that simple fact. 

PS: You may be wondering why I am bringing this up. Well, the answer is simple: It is because I am frustrated  and burned out with fighting with straight women on Twitter over what it means to be a Lesbian, while knowing that other (real) Lesbians agree, but nonetheless won’t publicly support the (very) few of us who are willing to speak out.  

Social Media & Covert Narcissism: How NOT To Let A Few Bad Apples Spoil The Whole Pie

I have previously written from a personal perspective about my own experiences/observations regarding covert narcissism and gaslighting, because I have (unfortunately) dealt with many situations involving various people who display covert narcissistic-type traits/features/behaviors, both in real life (starting with my mother) and on social media.

Yesterday, a commenter on my most recent post asked whether I would develop a “cheat sheet” to help identify covertly narcissistic-type traits/features/behaviors when on social media.

Before we go any further, please note that ALL of the following disclaimers apply:

I am speaking as a person with personal experience/observations regarding narcissism (rather than as a psychologist). Furthermore, NOTHING written on this blog is ever intended to be professional advice, nor does anything I write ever substitute for professional advice. If you have any mental health concerns regarding yourself or a loved one, you need to seek professional advice from a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist, or other qualified professional.

The word “narcissist” in this post, as with my previous post, is meant as a descriptor, not as a diagnosis. Please also note that people may exhibit such traits/features/behaviors but may or may not meet the clinical criteria for diagnosis.

Additionally, it would be inappropriate to diagnose anyone over the internet anyway; thus, these posts are simply to describe the possible warning signs of such traits/features/behaviors; NOTHING said on this blog is ever meant as a diagnosis of anybody.

Also, please note that, as necessary with any broad topic, I am speaking in generalities in this post. It is literally impossible to cover every single example, and there will always be “exceptions to the rule”; so the items listed here may not apply to every example.

Additionally, everybody occasionally exhibiting a couple the behaviors listed below is clearly not a narcissist; so please always remember that everyone can have a bad day and do/say something out of character. So: rather than jumping to conclusions based on limited data, it is very important to always look at the whole picture and to consider a person’s behaviors over time and with different people.

The main question always is: Can the person ever admit when she is wrong and/or take responsibility for her part in a situation? If not, that is a BIG warning sign.

Finally, please note that I will be using “she” in this post for convenience, and since my own personal demons are with females who display covert narcissistic traits; but, of course, please keep in mind that both males and females can/do display these traits/features/behavior.

Moving on from my long list of disclaimers, it is important to note that covert narcissism is much trickier to recognize than the more obvious overt variety. When people typically think of narcissism, most people conjure up the overt narcissist: someone who is obviously “full of herself ” ~ the proverbial “show off”; typically very-well-dressed…often even “flashy”.

But: covert narcissists are much less obvious and therefore, they usually fly under the radar. On the surface, the covert narcissist will likely seem to be friendly, modest, perhaps even “plain”/unadorned in appearance/dress, self-effacing, warm, approachable, etc.  However, these impressions are simply a part of an effective facade that serves its purpose well: to prop up their weak egos, by fooling people and garnering attention/support.

Therefore, the covert narcissist can be more insidiously harmful than her overt counterpart: both because it is easier to be ensnared in her web of lies, and because others are very unlikely to ever see her for what she really is.

Now, let’s look at some of the potential warning signs of a covert narcissist on social media ~ keeping in mind, of course, that any of these factors in and of themselves do not necessarily mean the person is a narcissist; that all of these items will not apply to everyone who exhibits narcissistic traits; that the term “narcissist” is used here a descriptor only (not as a diagnosis); and that this list is not meant to be comprehensive:

  • She may be quite popular on social media. She may have a relatively large number of followers who she doesn’t know in real life (but, nonetheless, she often interacts with them as if she does know them);
  • She may have some special status in real life that inflates her sense of importance on social media (for instance, she may be an actor, singer, author, professor, popular blogger or YouTube star, model, athlete, expert in her field, etc. etc. etc.);
  • She may interact with her followers and others regularly on social media in such a way that she seems to be friendly and approachable. However, these interactions are likely to be superficial and/or sometimes even overly-sugary-sweet. (“Good morning, my delicious treat!”; “Good night, my sweet lambikins”…when talking to people she has never met in real life and who she is not romantically involved with);
  • She maintains her friendly, affable facade very well…that is, until she suffers a narcissistic injury and retaliates. The trigger could be anything from someone simply questioning something she said, to someone disagreeing with her, to someone saying something she perceived to be insulting, etc.;
  • When the covert narcissist feels insulted (and it does not matter whether the “insult” was actually intended, or whether it was completely unintentional), she will react by attacking the person who she feels insulted her (who has now become her target);
  • Instead of continuing the discussion in the original thread, she will often quote what was said on her own account, in order to distract from the fact that she is misrepresenting what was said and in order to get support from her followers;
  • She will often take whatever was said out of context and then twist it to make it seem like her target was the aggressor and that she was inexplicably “attacked” out-of-the-blue by the target;
  • By doing the above, she enlists her numerous followers to defend and support her, thereby propping up her weak ego, while simultaneously tearing down the person she perceives as her opponent;
  • Instead of sticking to the original topic, she will often intentionally throw a number of unrelated “red herrings” into the discussion to confuse the issue and derail the discussion; (Or she will allow her supporters to do so on her behalf);
  • When the drama appears to be finally dying down, she intentionally restarts it, both because she needs the attention and she desires continued revenge against her target;
  • She will often stand back quietly and “innocently” as the drama against her opponent unfolds…but her true feelings/motivations are revealed to anyone who pays close enough attention, because she will “like” statements that are personally insulting and/or untrue about her target;
  • She will never back down, nor will she ever admit she is wrong in any way;
  • She will not take any responsibility whatsoever for her part in the disagreement;
  • She will never “meet someone halfway”, so any olive branches offered by the target will be ignored or thrown back in the target’s face;
  • If the target blocks her after many hours of harassment by her supporters, she will likely intentionally mention that fact to her followers, while stating “innocently” that she has absolutely no idea why she got blocked by the target; which then triggers a new round of attacks on her target;
  • She will “hit below the belt”; which means: instead of sticking neutrally to the original topic, she will engage in personal attacks/insults and/or encourage/condone others to do so on her behalf;
  • She may “sweetly” talk down to her target and/or minimize the target’s education or accomplishments or knowledge (or condone her supporters in doing so);
  • She will demonize her opponent(s) and/or encourage others to do so;
  • She may go back and delete all of her own tweets which might make herself look bad (which further makes her target look bad because the history of the conversation is erased, leaving everything out of context);
  • If confronted, she will say that the target is being silly, sensitive, wrong, mistaken, confused, dramatic, etc.;
  • She is dismissive and/or derisive of others’ genuine concerns, no matter how politely those concerns are stated;
  • She will twist/misrepresent whatever is said by her target; in other words, “intentionally misunderstanding” what happened in order to make the target look bad and/or to garner sympathy for herself;
  • If caught in a lie, she will either outright deny that she said it, or will say that she didn’t mean that by it;
  • She may contact her followers/supporters/friends privately to elicit sympathy and to directly or indirectly encourage them to attack on her behalf;
  • She may have multiple “sock puppet” accounts to use as needed for her own behalf;
  • She enjoys shitstorms on social media, even if she says otherwise, because she becomes repeatedly embroiled in them;
  • If she is famous, she may have spoken out publicly about how she has endured/overcome repeated “bullying” on social media;
  • She makes herself seem like a victim in order to emerge victoriously as a hero who has “conquered bullying”;
  • She may intentionally seek out and start disagreements with strangers, in order to to get attention and keep drama going;
  • Her timeline is a testament to her techniques (often “quote tweeting” someone else out of context with a criticism of what was said; and/or the implication that she is a victim; and/or as an invitation for her followers to pile on);
  • She capitalizes on the attention of the arguments on social media by garnering interviews, giving lectures, doing videos, writing papers/posts, and/or utilizing other means to talk about the horrid “bullying” she has endured;
  • When someone points out to her that she is encouraging her multiple supporters to personally insult the target, she denies it totally, even “modestly” denying that she even has multiple supporters, despite clear evidence to the contrary;
  • She says intentionally provocative and/or offensive things to stir up trouble, then pretends to be shocked and dismayed when a brouhaha ensues;
  • She engages in gaslighting techniques (and similar examples), as described in this post;
  • She may falsely imply the target is a racist, a misogynist, sexist, or any other “ist” (or is somehow otherwise wrong/bad) in order to discredit and distract;
  • She may make false accusations/allegations against her target…again, in order to discredit and distract from the real topic, which is her narcissistic injury. (For example, someone once made the false claim that Dirt had “sexually abused” her on Facebook…which is beyond ridiculous and actually not even possible, but, apparently, both logic and truth are completely lost in these bizarre battles).
  • She may call her target such things as “dangerous”, “crazy”, “biased”, “bigoted” (etc.) in order to demean her target’s credibility and to try to stop anybody from listening to anything the target has to say.

My own personal lessons in having dealt with multiple such situations/individuals now on social media are as follows:

I now truly feel the only way for me to deal with covert narcissistic behaviors on social media is to identify and avoid these individuals whenever possible. (Note to self: Do some basic research on the person’s timeline BEFORE jumping into the fray).

If I do find myself embroiled in an argument with someone who I feel is gaslighting me or otherwise not fighting fair (as described above) in the future, I plan to try to remain cordial and extricate myself as soon as possible. (“Try” is the key word in the previous sentence: I do better with this some times more so than others. It is a learning process that I unfortunately keep having to re-learn).

I always hate to do so, but I will block the individual if necessary, as well as any others who are creating drama on her behalf.

I try to always remember: NOBODY CAN WIN AN ARGUMENT WITH A NARCISSIST and everything I say can and will be twisted and used against me.

Here’s my own personal to-do list for future reference when dealing with such individuals in the future, taken from my most recent post entitled A Battle With A Narcissist Is A Losing Battle Indeed:

MyNarcissistRecommendations

Please also read my previous posts on  covert narcissism and gaslighting for further information, background, examples, and recommendations.

Social media has a lot of positives: to stay in touch with family/friends, to reconnect with old friends, to make new friends, to discuss issues, and to exchange ideas with a variety of people.

However, social media also has many negatives: it can become a free-for-all brawl where normal rules of basic decency often don’t seem to apply. People say dreadful things to each other on social media that they would never dream of saying in person. People often show their worst selves on social media; instead of lifting us up, social media often has a tendency to drag us down.

My vow  for the future is to try to not let these relatively few bad apples spoil the whole social media pie. In the future, I vow to try to not let myself be sucked into a vortex of negativity so that I also end up saying things that are not nice. I vow to take a break when social media feels overwhelmingly negative. As a very wise person said to a friend on Twitter recently, “Go rest. They will still be here when you get back.”

A Battle With A Narcissist Is A Losing Battle Indeed

Before I start discussing my topic today, I wanted to clarify something:

Most of my regular readers know that I have a Ph.D. in school psychology and that I work as a school psychologist as my day job (because, alas, nobody wants to pay me to blog).

I originally noted my Ph.D. and profession in my WordPress and Twitter bios, having added that information to my bios more out of habit than anything else ~ an automatic response to the ubiquitous “Who are you?” question.

I have now removed that information from my bios. I didn’t remove that information because I am ashamed of it in any way, nor am I trying to hide it.

Instead, the reason I removed that information from my bios was two-fold:

1). 99.9999 percent of the time, I am writing as a person/Lesbian, not as a psychologist. In the rare instance when I am writing as a psychologist, I am careful to specify that fact.

2). I’ve found that many people are unduly impressed with a Ph.D. People have a tendency to mistakenly think that because someone has an advanced degree, he/she is somehow better than others who don’t. That’s not true. I most certainly do not feel that way myself, and I decided that by saying I had a Ph.D. in my bios, I might be unintentionally perpetuating that elitist nonsense.

All of the above is to explain my decision to remove that information from my bios at this point (because I have received a few questions about it), and to reiterate to everyone to always assume I am speaking as a person/Lesbian, rather than a psychologist, unless I specify otherwise.

Today’s post is also (very) personal, not professional. Narcissism is a topic that I know a lot about, both as a person and as a psychologist; however, my focus today is solely on the personal, rather than the professional.

Much has been written about narcissism: the symptoms, definition, treatment, and so forth. For those curious about the basics, a simple Google search will garner oodles of results; to get the most reliable information, start with information from a known reputable organization such as the American Psychological Association, the Mayo Clinic, etc.

This post isn’t intended to be a lesson on narcissism or a description of narcissism, but rather a discussion of my own personal observations/reactions.

I do want to clarify that some people may display narcissistic-type features/traits/behaviors but may or may not meet the clinical criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

Bottom line: We cannot, and should not, diagnose others on the internet anyway, so I will focus on features/traits/behaviors rather than actual or intended diagnoses.

***Therefore, for the purposes of this post, the word “narcissism” will be used as a descriptor rather than a diagnosis. Also, I am using “she” in this post because my own personal demons are with females who have narcissistic traits, but, of course, these traits can be exhibited by either males or females.***

Why do I know so much personally about narcissism?  Simple: Because I am the daughter of a narcissist. I have sort of danced around this fact in my previous posts about my mother, because I was hesitant to say the bald truth publicly. I was raised to never say anything negative about my mother, and old habits die hard. In fact, so hard that I never did speak a word about it until after she was dead.

I won’t go deeply into my personal experience with my mother and the effects on me as her daughter, at least not in this post…I am not quite ready for that yet.

But I am sharing this information to illustrate why I not only recognize narcissistic features/traits/behaviors in others, but, more importantly, to explain why I also still occasionally fall into the traps set by female covert narcissists…even now. Yes, even now. Even after getting a Ph.D. in psychology. Even though I am certainly old enough to know better. Even after years and years and years of working to understand the dynamics between narcissists and their targets. Even though I know all about narcissism…well, at least intellectually, that is. Even though I do (or should…?) actually know better than to engage.

As I said, old habits die hard, especially when you are conditioned to respond in a certain way. Sometimes, without realizing it until it is too late, I still unconsciously respond like Pavlov’s dog to the siren call of a female covert narcissist (which only happens online at this point, because I am MUCH better at recognizing and avoiding them in person).

When I do respond, I unwittingly become an active participant in a toxic pas de deux. It is a dance that I recognize all too well. It is a dance that will never end well for me, because there is no winning with a narcissist

But: A narcissist cannot perform her twisted dance without a partner, someone who is primed to dance the specified steps. It takes two to tango, as the saying goes, and I now find myself finally ready to hang up my dancing shoes permanently.

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Image: Pixabay: Jabore: Creative Commons CC0

For me, the warning signs that I have been sucked into the vortex of a narcissist are as follows:

  • an uneasy feeling of familiarity, even when I am dealing with a complete stranger on the internet;
  • a distinct difference in my response to that specific person which very far from my normally calm self;
  • queasiness, shakiness, fatigue, headache, malaise;
  • a very strong feeling of needing to defend myself and/or my point of view;
  • knowing I should pull away from the situation/argument, but feeling strangely unable to do so;
  • anger and defensiveness, usually way out of proportion to the situation;
  • a seeming inability to disengage without a LOT of conscious effort;
  • losing sleep and a general feeling of unease and restlessness;
  • unable to truly focus on anything else for the duration of the dance;
  • an obsessive, oppressive feeling that I need to fight as if my life is at stake;
  • fight or flight response (rapid heartbeat; tense muscles; etc.);
  • repeated fantasies that everyone else will somehow magically see the narcissist for who she really is;
  • feeling unreasonably threatened (while knowing that the person poses no literal physical threat);
  • strong emotions trumping my knowledge/logic…I can even consciously be aware that the individual is likely a narcissist (or that she at least exhibits some narcissistic features/traits/behaviors), but yet still feel compelled to engage anyway, despite knowing it is a fool’s game to do so.

Of course, everybody will have different ways of recognizing that they are dealing with a narcissist; the above is my own personal list only, based on my own experience.

So, you may be wondering: How can anyone win a battle with a narcissist?

Sadly, you can’t. I can’t. Nobody can.

Let me say that again, because it bears repeating:

NOBODY CAN WIN A BATTLE WITH A NARCISSIST. 

So: If I ever find myself locking horns with a covert female narcissist (my personal Achilles’ Heel) again, I vow to remember the following:

  • Recognize the above signs, preferably sooner rather than later;
  • Remember that any response whatsoever gives the narcissist fuel which she will use to burn me at the stake;
  • Walk away. No matter how hard it is, walk the hell away and keep walking (or, even better, RUN LIKE THE WIND);
  • If the situation occurs on social media, block the narcissist immediately, and block everyone who attacks on her behalf (because she will enlist others to do so);
  • Remember that narcissists are usually incredibly cunning/manipulative and extremely good at fooling people, so most others are not going to be able to see the truth about her (so give up the hope that they will);
  • Refuse to engage with the narcissist, her minions, or even random strangers offering “help”;
  • As much as I may want to defend myself, I need to remember that I don’t need to do so (and, in fact, it will even be counterproductive if I try);
  • Listen to my wife Dirt and to friends I trust ~ they will always be much more objective about the situation/person than I can possibly be at the height of the drama;
  • Remember that I could fight all the female covert narcissists in the whole world, but not only would I not win my battles with them, but, more importantly, fighting with them would certainly never heal any wounds from being the daughter of a narcissist.

Finally, to quote Vizzini from my favorite movie, The Princess Bride:

You fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is ‘Never get involved in a land war in Asia.’ But only slightly less well known is this: ‘Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!’ Ahahahaha, ahahahaha, ahahaha—-thud”

Another classic blunder to add to Vizzini’s list is: “Never engage in battle with a narcissist”…because I have a better chance of single-handedly winning a land war in Asia than anyone does of winning a battle with a narcissist. 

Everyday Lesbophobia and How It Harms Lesbians Every Day

As anyone who reads my blog and/or follows me on Twitter already knows that I have been angry lately. Very angry. Heck, let’s just be honest here, I am still angry now.

I am angry at all of the Lesbophobia I see everywhere online and in real life, both overt and covert. I am angry at false allies, faux “feminists“, Straightbians, and hetsplainers.

I am angry that nobody but a handful of fellow Lesbians seems to even notice, or care, that Lesbians are being thrown under the proverbial bus left and right.

As of this morning, I became aware of another feeling existing along with the anger:

Sadness.

Sadness is a much less comfortable feeling for me than anger. With anger, I feel “in control”, powerful. With sadness, I feel helpless.

As much as I don’t want to feel sadness, darn it…there it is.

It turns out, underlying my anger and defiance, there is something else lurking much deeper which I am not even fully consciously aware of yet myself. Something that I cannot fully articulate yet; something that I am just now beginning to see the fuzzy outline of through a thick fog of anger.

For some time now, I have been gradually coming to an uneasy realization of the increasingly obvious fact that Lesbians are ultimately on our own. I have been very resistant to this knowledge, because I don’t want to believe it.

I have about a zillion screencaps which would starkly illustrate my points about false allies, faux “feminists“, Straightbians, and hetsplainers and the lesbophobia they perpetuate.

But I won’t post those screencaps in this post, because this post is not about proving my point…interestingly and ironically, their own comments prove the very points Dirt and I are making.

Anybody who wants to see specific examples of truly appalling anti-Lesbian sentiments can peruse my Twitter timeline/replies (and the subtweets about myself, Dirt, and other Lesbians) to see the hatred, nastiness, pettiness, and sheer meanness directed at me, Dirt, other specific Lesbians, and/or Lesbians in general.

Instead, this post is about the direct and indirect toll of such lesbophobia on Lesbian lives.

Here is just a small sample of the many possible ways that anti-Lesbian actions/comments take on Lesbians, every second of every minute of every hour of every day FOR OUR WHOLE LIVES:

  • Feeling alone;
  • Feeling misunderstood;
  • Feeling attacked;
  • Feeling sickened, physically and/or emotionally;
  • Feeling chronically angry;
  • Feeling the need to constantly defend ourselves, our partners, and other Lesbians;
  • Feeling hesitant to speak up because it means facing a whole crowd of opponents;
  • Feeling invalidated;
  • Feeling invisible;
  • Feeling anxious;
  • Feeling outnumbered;
  • Feeling different;
  • Feeling hypervigilant;
  • Feeling exhausted from all of the ongoing effort;
  • Feeling a new wave of disappointment every single time someone else lets us down;
  • Feeling offended/invalidated when outsiders tell us to “be nice” or when they try to make us mediate/get along with Lesbian-hating bigots (think about it: would they ask Black people to be nice to the KKK, or Jewish people to be nice to Hitler???!!!);
  • And last on this partial list, but certainly not least: Feeling sad.

I have decided that it’s okay to feel sad today. It’s okay for myself and other Lesbians to feel any/all of the things listed above…and more…because ALL of those feelings are COMPLETELY NORMAL REACTIONS to living in a world in which the BEST case scenario is that we will never be fully understood/accepted and in which the WORST case scenario is that we are murdered, raped, beaten, fired, denied housing/employment/etc., and/or otherwise harmed for simply being who we are.

And my message to all of the false allies, faux “feminists“, Straightbians, and hetsplainers (and to all of the simpering sidekicks) who are harming Lesbians with your copious bullshit: Karma is a bitch and she sees what you are doing.

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Image: Used under license with Shutterstock.

Family and the Art of Imperfection

Family

My father died 16 years ago today.  In one way, his death seems like it just happened yesterday, but in another way, it seems like at least a century ago; I am left with a hazy, vague impression of events that might as well have been from a movie I saw long ago.

I guess time blurs the edges of pain. Maybe time blurs everything.

Between the anniversary of my father’s death today and Mother’s Day yesterday, I have been thinking a lot about family.  I was an only child, so I am the only one left to remember.

My relationship with my father was always good. Straightforward, solid, steady. Predictable. Consistent. I knew he loved me, although we didn’t say it; no, we were both much to stoic for that kind of mushy nonsense. Instead of words, it was his actions showed love. He took care of me whenever my mother was too busy, too self-absorbed, or simply too forgetful to do so. It was my father I could always depend on: for unexpected pop quizzes on random topics; for a cheese sandwich on gooey white bread with extra mayo and a teacup of whole milk anytime I was hungry; for endless rides to and from school; for help whenever my car(s) broke down; for listening to my ramblings about life on long walks from the time I was old enough to walk all the way up until he got too sick to walk anymore.

My relationship with my mother was much more complicated. My mother herself was much more complicated. My mother was fierce, difficult, egocentric, demanding, and stubborn. She was also funny, smart, strong, über-organized, and quite independent. I once took this quiz, “Do You Have A Narcissistic Mother?”, and let’s just say the score was significant. Very significant.

From the time I was born until the time she died, my relationship with my mother was a challenge. I would often feel exhausted in her presence, sometimes falling into what I called a “coma nap” when I visited with her, which felt like being dragged under into a deep, deep sleep by a force more powerful than myself.  Mom was shockingly self-absorbed, rarely showing any interest in me or anything I did or anything I was interested in; for instance, she never even asked what subject I got a Ph.D. in, nor did she ever show any interest whatsoever in my studies. As another example, I once traveled all over Europe for a summer, and upon my return, she did not ask my anything about the trip. At all. Not one thing.

That is certainly not to say that Mom and I didn’t have many good times, because we did. I can remember staying up late with my mother and watching Benny Hill, laughing until we cried. I remember her selling her high school ring to buy my high school ring. I remember her rescuing me from a wannabe molester like a superhero. I remember how I escaped the “coming out” horrors that many Lesbians endure, and I believe that this was likely, at least in part, because my mother decreed publicly that it was fine with her, and everyone was always too afraid to go up against my mother. I fondly remember playing cards with Mom, her friend, and my ex every Thursday night for several years after Dad died. I remember Mom coming immediately, without questioning, driving over 4 hours, to help me move out of my apartment when I was young and had just discovered my first girlfriend cheating on me…although I also distinctly remember her saying “I told you so”.

When I first wrote about my mother, I wrote: “Love her or hate her (and I still vacillate between the two, even after her death)….

Doing a Mother’s Day collage yesterday, I realized that it is time to amend that statement, because I no longer feel hate when I think of my mother. Now, I just feel love…it’s a complicated, difficult love, but it’s clearly love nonetheless.

In doing my Mother’s Day collage yesterday, I suddenly felt a kind of burden being lifted from me; one I wasn’t even fully consciously aware of carrying. The cloak of hurt, anger, anxiety, perfectionism, and angst that has been wrapped around my shoulders/neck ever since before I can remember was lovingly unraveled and discarded. I feel that I can finally breathe freely now.

It turns out that the answer was stunningly simple and had been available all along: My mother wasn’t perfect. Nor am I, nor are you, nor is any other human ever born.

I have come to believe over the years that most people are doing the best we can with the resources we have at the time. Sometimes it’s good enough, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. Sometimes we succeed admirably, sometimes we fail miserably. Sometimes we hurt others, sometimes we get hurt.

I realized while doing the collage yesterday that I needed to forgive others, starting with my mother; to forgive myself; to accept that life is not perfect, others are not perfect, and neither am I.

Of course, I know that this isn’t earth-shaking, ground-breaking insight. Countless others have figured this long out before I did; in fact, the Japanese tradition of wabi-sabi has been teaching this lesson for centuries. I’d read about wabi-sabi years ago and truly didn’t understand how anyone could accept, much less embrace, imperfection.

Now I finally get it…better late than never, right?

Once A Straightbian…Always A Problem

I had an unsettling experience on Facebook last night that sadly, but clearly, reinforced my sweetie Dirt‘s motto that “If you aren’t us, you’re against us“.

Without identifying anyone, here is a brief summary of the debacle that unfolded:

One of my friends posted an article/comment about how conversion therapy is horrible.

So far, so good, right? Right.

That is, until one of her Facebook friends, who I don’t know (and who I certainly don’t want to know!), decided to put her 2-cents in.

Although I don’t know this individual, I do know her type…all-too-well.

Straightbian!

Except, in this particular case, this individual asshole has now eschewed her Straightbian ways (of harming Lesbian lives) to become a born-again, holy-rollin’, bible-thumpin’, holier-than-thou, know-it-all, married-to-an-unfortunate-man, “Christian” (still harming Lesbian lives).

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

I purposefully did not screencap the conversation, out of respect for my friend.

And I’ve honestly tried to just let it go, but the truth is: this incident has been bothering me ever since it happened.

What, exactly, was so upsetting about this particular incident? After all, Dirt and I encounter Straightbians, naysayers, trolls, and other assorted asshats on a daily basis.  

It took me a while to put my finger on it, but I think I finally have now.

It wasn’t that this boneheaded bozo believes that conversion therapy is possible/desirable, nor that she thinks that being a Lesbian is somehow related to porn (huh??),  nor that she incorrectly thinks sexuality is fluid, nor that she thinks all Lesbians will burn in eternal Hell. (Although it is indeed upsetting that anyone could be that asinine).

After all, what would I expect from a Straightbian-Special-Snowflake-Type-Turned-Religious-Proselytizer? Complete and utter nonsense, that’s what. 

Consider the source.

This inanity is just one of this fool’s anti-Gay/Lesbian FB posts:Image 3

In another FB post, our DICKgusting debutante referred to Lesbian relationships as “broken people” having “aberrant sex”. There are not enough words in the English language to describe my feelings toward this person for saying that, but “disdain”, “contempt”, and “hatred” seem like a good start.

Bitch

No, it wasn’t the fact that this evil assclown spouts her offensive and uninformed opinions; even idiots have the right to free speech. 

(Just so there’s no confusion, here’s a sample of what is wrong with her assumptions: There’s no such thing as being “lesbian-identified” because you either are or you are not; there’s no such thing as “fluidity of attraction”; Lesbians are not “broken” nor do we “need healing”; our love is NOT “aberrant sex”; and furthermore, BEING A LESBIAN IS NOT A F**KING CHOICE, YOU DIMWITTED BUFFOON).

Instead: What upset me then, and still upsets me now, is that my friend would even be remotely friendly, much less be friends, with someone like this nincompoop.

What upsets me is that, instead of telling this dickgusting dickweed to take a proverbial long walk off a short pier, my friend actually seemed worried about me and Dirt offending this piece-of-shit Straightbian’s delicate “Christian” sensibilities.

(Guess it’s okay for Straightbian-Sally to insult us, though, and even deny our very existence).

What upsets me is finding out that my friend “liked” the FB post where Lesbian lives were referred to “broken people” having “aberrant sex”. To add insult to injury, the article linked in that post was shocking right-wing anti-Lesbian propaganda.

There’s nothing to “like” about that post. Or that person.

Once again, I (re)learned the lesson that Lesbians are on our own.

Maybe, just maybe, I will remember it this time.

05/23/2017: Updated to add: Happily, my friend and I have worked through this situation (see comments).