Unlearning: Discomfort = Love

Not too long ago, I asked my crush about a past relationship and he informed me that he didn’t want to go into detail about it. My first reaction was hurt; I wanted to connect and grow closer by learning about this part of his past and I almost felt shut out by it. But the logical part of my brain reasoned with me: why was I making this about myself? It had nothing to do with me. He just felt uncomfortable sharing it.

Boundaries.

Some time ago, my therapist (AND my boss haha) brought some very valuable information to light concerning my tenuous relationship with my mother; that our relationship lacked boundaries, which then translated into boundary-trampling in my other relationships. I put aside what made me uncomfortable in romantic relationships, and suffocated my partners’ limits, because my upbringing had taught me that discomfort equals love.

I want to say “in my family,” but maybe this wasn’t the case. Maybe it was just my mom in particular, who never took my personal mental comfort seriously. Sure, the normal PHYSICAL comforts were taken care of. But never my psyche.

She’d buy clog-shoes that felt uncomfortable on my feet, but insist I wear them because they were “fashionable.” She’d force me to wear a graduation dress that exposed far too much side-boob than my 13-year-old self was comfortable with. She’d demand that I hug so-and-so, despite my visible uneasiness, and call out that uneasiness as problematic because she didn’t understand it (or care to ask), putting me at war with my internal feelings.

We weren’t allowed to have boundaries as children, it seemed…because adults knew better what we should properly feel.

She’d drag me to the forefront of an audience to recite a pleasantry (knowing full well I hated being the center of attention) and stand idly by as her shadow as they asked me questions and she answered for me, until I had permission to flee. Or she’d shove me into a group of children at a gathering against my pleas and demand I make friends, where anxiety got the better of me and I’d break down and sob.

Once I reached adulthood, moved out and got my own job, apartment, and self-sufficiency, those habits never ended. She continued to pull me into the spotlight to show me off, cut me off to answer questions directed at me, and automatically make plans for me assuming it was a given I’d go along with them. Any time I expressed discomfort as an adult, manipulation tactics, guilt trips and gaslighting were used to coerce my submission.

Eventually, I resorted to ignoring her phone calls and texts most of the time, or preparing ironclad defenses like a lawyer as to why I couldn’t attend an event, simply because I was afraid to say “no” and the drama that would ensue as a result. But as an adult, why did I still need to live with this fear? Why couldn’t I ever say “Actually, I don’t feel like it,” or “I think that request is unfair, so no,” or “I feel uncomfortable,” without getting the 3rd degree for it and made to feel that my emotions were insubstantial somehow?

Always made to feel like a selfish person to choose yourself first, guilt became interweaved with the concept of “no,” and responsibility for everyone else’s feelings paramount to your own. And discomfort became a way of life; normal even. And boundaries ceased to exist between those who love each other and the more uncomfortable you feel, the stronger your bond and the higher your love must reach. Until distress spills over everywhere because you don’t even know what boundaries are anymore, or the source of your unhappiness.

But…you do know a state of constant discomfort doesn’t feel good, so you wonder…why would someone who loves me continue to put me in situations I don’t feel comfortable in, for their own satisfaction?

I don’t want to continue that cycle.

Unlearn that love.

~Tael

A Thin Line Between Love and Lust

A Poly Love Story…

How the hell did I end up reading this one? In fact, I had told myself that in my support of other indies, I would actively avoid taking on erotic Western romance stories, or anything of the like. But he happened to be a Twitter follower who asked me to give a read, and I tend to be soft on my followers. Plus, this one had the whole poly-lover angle going on with it, so here was a twist.

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Surprisingly, I wasn’t bored out of my mind. There were a lot of points in the story where I genuinely wanted to know what was coming next. Then there were points where I went, “For REAL? YEAH, RIGHT!” But I’m not so open-minded as Nicky, who happened to be my favorite character in the book because of her unapologetic, go-getting, straight-forwardness, and her innocence, despite her sexual appetite and awareness. You wonder if shared trinogamy could exist in the real world, outside of the Mormon countryside or Islamic marriage setups, and you question the believability of the unfurling situation. But then you get jolted by some scenes that remind you there’s a structure in place that involves honesty and open communication, like every time Prince stumbles upon a new woman he’s attracted to and fails to let Nicky know his growing interest. She is quick to show her possessiveness and let him have it, which lends an air of “realness” to the situation: there are rules. Sister lovers are permissible, but no one-night stands with bimbos, and no secrets. There’s still such a thing as cheating in this arrangement.

There were also a few points where the vernacular made me chuckle, specifically Miles’ winning line: “I don’t know about cooties, but they fa sho got coochies.” It is absolutely something I could have overheard one of my young cousins say growing up, and I was impressed with how the writer was able to nail that.

I did find a lot of Prince’s poetry and mushy sentiments to be unrealistically sappy (i.e. Carrie’s response to Petrovsky’s amorous behavior in Sex in the City), but the character also openly references his own corniness throughout the book. I would cringe if my boyfriend ever led me into a room lit by candles with a bed covered in rose petals. I AM NOT A ROMANTIC. But the book does a good job of making you think, “This can’t really happen,” and then you realize, even if you would never in your life be down with it, it’s not implausible that others would. Even outside of the fairy-tale version C.E. Long paints for you.

Also, I kind of wanted the assimilation of Nyla to fail. I almost wished she would remain resolute on her feelings toward the situation just to prove that not everyone would be down with this, haha.

I’m bad.

~Tael

When Readers “GET” You

Not too long ago, I received an amazing Goodreads review from E. Leo Foster. What struck me about this one is that he really seemed to “get” it. Here’s someone who knows absolutely nothing about me, my upbringing, or the elements (harharhar) that sparked Chaos (un)Controlled, who was able to pick up on the intricacies I littered throughout the book. He understood the layers, and saw that it was much more than just a surface story about a girl with a gaming premise, making me proud that my writing can connect with varied demographics. Check it below!

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1929023533?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Chaos (un) Controlled is an exciting story that fluently mixes so many themes, such as gaming and faith, together into a brilliant novel. The story focuses on a gaming enthusiast teenage girl, Rixa, who discovers ‘a game like’ new world. However, that is only one layer of the story. This novel coaxes the reader into thinking about over-arching ideas of dualism within ourselves and society, about the consequences of our decisions and actions, and the limits -or rather ‘un-limits’ of our power. What separates this story from so many others that merge major themes into a single narrative is the author brought the protagonist and her worlds to life. In essence, the writing made me feel, not just think about what Rixa is dealing with as she navigates and overcomes some of life’s major obstacles. While I felt the character’s emotions through each page turn, the author simultaneously puts Rixa on the same learning curve as the reader. In the story, Rixa learns that to master any skill, she must go beyond just thinking and learning the fundamentals. She, just like us all, must passionately connect to the desire skill by feeling and becoming one with its potential power. I highly recommend this book as its breaks every genre label you try to slap on it. Original!