The Holidays: Now With Bonus Political Stress!

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I hate the holidays. I know, I’m a Grinch, but eating disorders don’t get along well with Thanksgiving, and social anxiety is not a fan of large gatherings with people you only see once or twice a year. Any kind of chronic physical or mental illness makes holidays seriously challenging, which is truly a giant pile of butts because I love my family and I wish I didn’t have to spend so much time prepping for seeing them and recuperating afterwards. This post is in fact late because of stress induced sickness from a very long Thanksgiving. But better late than never, and I’m glad I spent the time taking care of myself.

I know I’m not the only one out there who despite loving their family and friends finds the excessive social nature of the holidays overwhelming and exhausting, and who is more tense than usual thanks to the heightened political climate this year. So with that in mind, here is a guide to not talking about things you don’t want to talk about. Because socializing is hard and it’s even harder if your family is made up of Trump supporters and you have social anxiety.

My first and biggest recommendation is to decide ahead of time what your boundaries are. Once you know how much you’re willing to discuss or tolerate, you can create plans to deal with the situations you foresee. Are you willing to talk about politics at all? Are there specific people you will talk about politics with, but not others? Do you have a limit to how much you’re willing to talk politics? Is it too stressful to even hear others talk about politics? Answer these questions and try to plan for any problem situations you can foresee.

One of the most important skills you can work on is escaping conversations you really don’t want to be in. This is useful no matter what your boundaries are. You can use it to get away from a problem person before the conversation turns sour, to get out of a conversation with someone you normally like who has turned to obnoxious topics, or when you’re just feeling overwhelmed. One option is to enlist someone you trust for help. Let them know you might need to get away for a little bit, and text when you need a hand. They can come in and say they need your help with something. Other alternatives include telling your conversational partner you need to use the restroom, or getting a refill on your drink. Practice a couple of get away lines before you go. It might seem ridiculous, but it helps to have something at your fingertips.

Escaping a conversation is a good way to deal with a situation if you don’t want to talk to someone anymore or if there is somewhere else you can go hang out. But what if everyone is engaged in the obnoxious conversation, or this is the cousin you never see and would really like to catch up with? Well you’re also allowed to set boundaries with your family members. This can be one of the more challenging things to try because it is more direct than simply quietly escaping. Start by naming what the people are doing, then identify how it makes you feel. For example “You’re talking a lot about politics and I feel really uncomfortable with that topic.” Then you state your boundary: “Please stop talking about politics with me.” If the person accepts the boundary and moves on, great! If they do not, you have to introduce some kind of consequence. “I asked you to stop talking about politics and you didn’t. If you keep talking about this, I’m going to go in the other room.” You may have to scale the consequence. If everyone in the house will not stop doing something that you have asked them repeatedly not to do, it is OK to leave. You don’t have to do it in a big huff, but simply inform people “I’ve asked people not to do x, and people continue to do x. I’m going to leave now because my boundaries are not being respected.”

 

You can practice these skills ahead of time. Role playing might seem silly, but I have done role playing for setting boundaries and it turns out it helps to have said the words out loud before you try to use them in context. It can also help remind you of your limits so that you stick to them. You may also want to set a reminder somewhere so that you don’t forget to take care of yourself: that could be a close family member who checks in, an alarm that goes off partway through the party so that you check in with yourself, or a note in your pocket. Just make sure that once you get into the social situation, you don’t forget all the planning and work you did ahead of time.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, you cannot get through the holidays if you only focus on the obvious things like gatherings and family time that might be stressful. This month set goals to sleep enough, eat well, and move your body on a regular basis. When you are physically taken care of, your emotional baseline is simply more stable. If you have anxiety or some other illness that makes holiday times hard, you probably know your coping skills. You know the things you can do that will make you feel better about yourself. Focus on those this month. The more you can keep your overall stress level low, the better you will be able to handle each individual instance of stress.

Good luck and I hope all of my fellow socially anxious folks actually have some fun this holiday season! You deserve it.

5 Ways You Can Be An Ally to Minorities Right Now

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Donald Trump is going to be our president. Ick. Unfortunately, as we’re seeing from many of his cabinet picks, this appears to be bad news for minorities and oppressed groups. We’ve already seen a huge uptick in harassment, particularly of the racist, homophobic, and sexist varieties. If you are white, particularly white and cis, and most particularly white, cis, and male (and straight, able-bodied, ya know), now is the time to put your money where your mouth is and actually do something to help protect the vulnerable people around you.

It might seem overwhelming, and you may have no idea where to start. That’s ok. I have some ideas for you! Minorities cannot survive this presidency alone. It is the responsibility of those with privilege to do the work. So let’s get moving.

  1. Donate. Yes, I know, it’s a pain and it doesn’t feel like you’re doing much, but I promise that setting up a monthly recurring donation to an organization like Southern Poverty Law Center or RAINN or Planned Parenthood does make a difference. If you have the financial resources to commit $20 a month to an organization that is working to protect minorities, then you damn well better be doing it. Here’s a list of some good options if you’re feeling stuck on finding an organization.
  2. Reach out. I know that as white people and men we aren’t used to doing a whole lot of emotional labor, especially not the emotional labor of educating ourselves, supporting our minority friends, and looking racism straight in the face. We have to be willing to do that right now, because I can promise you that the people who feel threatened right now have zero emotional resources left to do that. For many people, this election is a grieving process. Your job is to give your oppressed friends all of their spoons to do the grieving. Make a list of all the women, people of color, queer people, disabled people, etc. that you know, and get in touch with all of them. Yes, all of them. Even the ones you don’t know very well. Ask them how they’re feeling and if there’s anything you can do to help. Make suggestions. I have multiple friends who are having a hard time feeding themselves right now, so I’m bringing over pre-cooked meals. I have some friends who just needed to vent and talk. Keep this list somewhere handy, and in another month or two months, or at the inauguration, or after any shitty policy announcements, reach out again. We can’t afford to be reactive right now, we have to be proactive.
  3. Volunteer. There are approximately a bajillion organizations out there that would love some help. The best part is no matter what your interest there is probably an organization that is specifically focused on it. You could do clinic escorting at Planned Parenthood, work with Black Lives Matter organizing protests and rallies, or pretty much anything else on the planet. One thing to consider is what skills you have. Are you a lawyer? Do you know social media? Are you an accountant? Volunteer your learned skills as well as for untrained work. Most nonprofits would adore someone who can do a little bit of pro bono professional work for them.
  4. Call your representative. This one is incredibly hard for me due to phone phobia, so I will likely write an email instead, but most people are 100% capable of doing it, and it’s not that hard. Take 5 or 10 minutes, call your representative with specific policy issues that Trump is proposing that will harm minorities and specific action items you would like your representative to take. Currently a great option is to oppose his choice of Stephen Bannon as Chief Strategist.
  5. Go to a rally. Join a march. Take direct action. If you are able bodied and can get to the location, you should be out in the streets, showing solidarity. I am making it a goal of mine for 2017 to attend one march or rally each month. They’re out there, and you can seek them out through organizations like Black Lives Matter, NAACP, or a local organization that’s important to you. Get out there and show that you are willing to act on your values.

For My Suicidal Friends, On the Election of Donald Trump

Trigger warning for suicide, real talk about racism and sexism, and mental illness.

I’m scared about the election of Donald Trump for many, many reasons, but one of the most pressing is the fact that it has retraumatized a number of already vulnerable people. I have seen reports (although currently unsubstantiated) of up to 8 trans youth who committed suicide on election night alone. While I do not have hard evidence of these suicides, I find it easy to believe that number or a higher number based on the number of personal friends I have who have quietly told me or others that they are in a place where they don’t feel safe. My office had to open extra space for individuals who were afraid to be alone. People are feeling hopeless and helpless, and when you apply those feelings to populations with histories of trauma, mental illness, disability, harassment, and discrimination, you end up with people who don’t see the point in living. That is dangerous.

I’ve lived most of my life with some level of suicidal ideation. I like to think I have a degree in hopelessness, since I spent my entire time in undergrad wanting to die. I know this isn’t quite the same, but I’d like to talk a little bit about how I get through. Maybe it will help you. I hope it does. If any of the reasons in here feels like pressure or doesn’t work for you, skip it. Take care of yourself. Please.

  1. First and foremost, I want you all to know that your fears are valid. Anyone who tells you that you’re overreacting or that we can get through this and we’ll all be ok can suck an egg. We don’t know what will happen in the next four years. Whatever is happening politically, we have already seen acts of harassment, violence, and hatred around our country in the last couple of days. If you have feelings of fear, grief, and hopelessness, don’t for a minute think that you’re “crazy” or even that you’re alone. Pay attention to those feelings. Take care of those feelings. Step one is to notice that you are feeling things and let yourself feel the feelings.
  2. That being said, it’s easy to let feelings of hopelessness and depression overwhelm you. It’s easy to think that there is no reason to go on living, because there are so many things to be afraid of and so many things that can hurt you or the people you love. But despite the Bigness of what we face and your feelings, there may be some things that you have forgotten. I know, I know, you don’t want to be reminded that good things exist. Of course they do. But the bad things are outweighing the good right now, aren’t they? Well, maybe. But it doesn’t matter how many bad things there are, it doesn’t change the nature of the good things. No matter how awful things get, my cats will still be Very Fuzzy. That sensation will still be pleasurable to me. There is nothing in the world that can change that. Try to remember a few of the things that don’t change because of the bad things, whether that’s your significant other, a pet, your favorite game, a good book, your preferred form of exercise, or what. You may find it harder to enjoy things right now, but keep in mind that what has changed is YOU not the activity. Remember that there are good things in the world too. The bad things still exist and they’re still bad. But they’re not IT. They’re not the whole story. You are actively lying to yourself when you say that nothing is good. Hold yourself to a higher standard, and do not let Donald Trump win by taking away the joy of Pokemon Go or Dungeons and Dragons or Moscato.
  3. I’ve seen quite a few people say that the things they used to care about don’t matter anymore. They’re too trite. Why should we care? Here is why. I believe that just being alive is not a good. Some of you may. But I personally think that the reason life is a good is because of all the things that make a person smile or laugh or have any amount of joy or good feeling. So it really does not matter how trite or small a good thing is. It is literally the reason for life if it makes you smile. I have given up on feeling guilty over my pleasures or worrying about laughing in inappropriate situations or missing the big picture. We are all fighting on the big picture front. We need to focus more on the small front in this moment. It is ok for your joys to be trite. They are still joy. Sometimes I laugh at butts. I give zero fucks how immature and pointless it is. It brings me joy. So butts are important. Whatever you care about? It is important because you care about. Please do not stop caring.
  4. Mindfulness. Ok, this is pretty much here because of Number 3. I find that when I’m being incredibly judgmental of the things that should bring me joy, it’s because my brain is focused on the Big Picture and whether this will Change the World. Does it Matter? Honestly, no, whatever is happening in this exact moment probably won’t make a difference in the larger scheme of things. But that probably doesn’t matter if you focus on this exact moment. Life is made up of this exact moments. Most of the time each exact moment is perfectly fine, and if it’s not perfectly fine it can probably be made ok. Do you have footie pajamies or a comfy blanket? Do you have a soft cat? Can you eat something delicious? If you have anything like that available, do it and try to only pay attention to that good thing. Turn your focus completely to it. It may just be a moment, but those moments, again, are the reason for living. That’s ok. It’s ok for those small moments to be all of it. If this moment’s only purpose is to give you a brief reprieve from depression, that seems like a pretty amazing purpose to me.
  5. Let’s talk for a second about hope. I have spent the last few days talking to as many people as I can. Connections are what keep me alive. What is astounding me is the resilience of the people around me, and the kindness of the people around me. The first impulse of every person I know is to ask if I’m ok, to see how others are, to volunteer their time, money, and resources to help other people. Racism and sexism are alive and real. I cannot deny that. At the same time, even the people who have unintentionally supported the racist and sexist systems are looking around and trying to see what they can do differently. People are acting. People are fervent to ensure the safety and health of their families and friends. There is someone there who can be this hope for you. Start a conversation with someone, anyone, and I will bet you that even if you’re asking about them, they will ask within the first 30 seconds how you are. This is one of the Good things. Not even the KKK can take it away. Remember that.
  6. Your existence is important. If you die, we are losing. I cannot stop using this Audre Lorde quote because it is so perfect, and when I copy pasted it, the formatting was absurdly large. I think I’m going to keep it that way because it’s just that important.

    “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

    Listen to Maria Bamford: mariabamf. If you have issues with the current political elite, the best revenge you can exact is to stay alive and thrive. We cannot fight without you.

  7. And finally, remember that people need you. Maybe this is selfish of me, but I cannot handle anyone else dying right now. I need you here. I need to know that you’re ok. And I honestly mean this: anyone, any time, if you are afraid and not ok, email me. My email is in the about me. I will talk to you. I will listen. Your fears and your feelings are real and valid, and I still believe that you can survive.

You all have my deepest love and support. Please, contact someone if you feel unsafe. See your therapist, talk to a close friend, call a hotline. Stay with us. We are stronger with you.

Fuck You America

Fuck you everyone who voted for Trump.

Fuck you each and every person who waved away the many accusations of sexual assault.

Fuck you everyone who focused on THE EMAILS.

Fuck you Bernie bros saying he would have won.

Fuck you anyone telling me to focus on unity.

Fuck you anyone saying my anger is inappropriate.

Fuck you to people saying my fears are irrational.

Fuck you to the people that I am hearing TODAY, ALREADY using this election as validation of their sexism and racism, openly saying “I’m going to grab women by the pussy” and “white is right”.

Fuck all Americans who thought that their jobs were more important than the physical safety and well being of the people I love.

Fuck the people who didn’t come out to vote.

Fuck the people who were willing to buy into the racism.

Fuck the people who are saying “don’t be combative.”

Fuck the people who think that this isn’t a clear message that people with disabilities, people of color, people with mental illness, women, queer people, and poor people are not welcome and are not worthy of respect.

Fuck all of it.

Why I’m Unsettled By The Surge of Interest in the Anoka State Mental Hospital

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There has been a fair amount of talk recently in my neck of the woods about the Anoka State Mental Hospital. This place is touted as the most haunted place in the state, and for some reason it’s become a bit of a fad recently to want to explore the tunnels beneath the hospital, spend the night, or go urban exploring in some other fashion.

I’ve heard people giggling on the radio about how fun and scary it would be, or how they’d like to freak out their friends by going there. And to be honest it makes me feel deeply uncomfortable and a little afraid.

You see the reason that this mental hospital is considered haunted is because of the treatment of the patients. Treatments for mental illness in the 60s and 70s were fairly harsh, and there’s good evidence that excess medication was used on most patients, along with restraints and electrotherapy (today’s electrotherapy is much different from the very painful electrotherapy of the past). There is a reputation of poor treatment and restraint in this particular institution. Even today some diagnoses still come with “treatments” like restraints, sedating medications, or being committed against your will.

So with that in mind, it concerns me that this very recent and in some cases still ongoing history is seen as some kind of fun sideshow. A recent Washington Post article commented on this same trend in many haunted houses and Halloween attractions, pointing out that making “insane asylum” attractions positions mentally ill people as dangerous and scary. It minimizes the actual struggle of being mentally ill by making it into entertainment, and in many cases can scare people away from treatment by portraying mental hospitals or other treatment facilities as scary and dangerous.

I see many of the same problems with visiting actual mental hospitals as a form of entertainment.

Whether you are visiting because you think the ghosts of patients are scary or because you want to be titillated by the barbaric treatment devices that are supposedly still littered around the grounds, you are actively contributing to stigma and turning pain into entertainment. If you’re visiting because mental patients make scary ghosts, congrats, you are contributing to the impression that mental patients are scary, violent, and dangerous. If it’s the place itself, then you are part of the reason individuals with mental illness are afraid to get treatment: it’s perceived as scary or abusive. We cannot ignore or forget that past treatments were abusive, but the solution is not to go look at them for fun. It’s to advocate for change and high standards today.

It is dehumanizing to mentally ill people to treat the actual site of their abuse as a fun place to visit. Of course there are people who want to visit with different intentions, but most of the talk I’ve heard has been that it would be enjoyable. Perhaps the hospital did not include the barbaric tortures that some people want to imagine, but there is no doubt that many people suffered and were abused in this location, in the name of treatment. That is not a fun story.

In this case it deeply concerns me because we still live in a society where treatment can be abusive to mentally ill people, where mentally ill people are incarcerated at incredibly high rates, where violence is blamed on mentally ill people…all of these problems are diminished or in some ways excused by the kinds of narratives that come out of “scary haunted insane asylum”. They all tie back to the stigma that says mental illness is dangerous and violent, that people with mental illnesses are not fully human but are a spectacle, that we must do whatever we can to keep ourselves safe from these people and to keep them safe from themselves. Further, it contributes to the stigma against getting help.

My mind is not a Halloween sideshow. People who want to go enjoy the spectacle of a scary insane asylum: stop. Please.

Autism Speaks is No Longer Searching for a Cure: Here’s Why That Gives Me Hope

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Note: This is my personal view. It does not represent the views of any organizations with which I am affiliated.

Autism Speaks, the largest charity organization associated with autism in the U.S., announced this week that they would no longer be seeking a cure for autism. For those outside of the autism community, many autistic self-advocates have long been decrying Speaks’ push to find a cure, saying that the money should be spent on actual services for actual people, and that the “cure” language says their lives are not worth living. Especially within the neurodiversity paradigm, autistics understand that their brains cannot simply be rid of autism and still exist as their brains. Autism in inextricably linked with many people’s identities. So speaking of a cure felt like an attack on their selfhood. It said that because autistic brains are different, they are bad and should be eradicated, despite the fact that many autistics were loudly saying they did not want to be changed, they wanted support, understanding, accessibility, and opportunities.

Speaks has made many, many, MANY other missteps. Their unending focus on parents rather than people who are actually autistic, this horrific ad, the lack of actually autistic people on their board or in high up positions in the organization, the language they used around autism (epidemic, burden, etc.). It all adds up to a big ol’ pile of shit, and I have yet to meet someone who is autistic who hasn’t just said “fuck Autism Speaks, I’m out.”

So this rolling back of the “cure” language is too little too late for most people I know. I understand. It is a pretty pathetic attempt to win back the people you supposedly serve. I know a lot of people who are saying it doesn’t actually much, and that there is still absolutely no way that they will support Autism Speaks (especially without any apologies for previous mistakes). I am completely sympathetic to this viewpoint, and I also am not particularly interested in supporting Speaks.

But what makes me hopeful about this is not actually Speaks. What makes me helpful is that there have been YEARS of self advocates pushing for this change, without much response. It took years before people outside the deep neurodiversity community began to notice and understand the problems with Autism Speaks. So it gives me hope that finally, FINALLY people are listening. FINALLY the voices of autistic people were loud enough that the largest autism organization in the country felt the need to change. It may be a nominal change, with little in the way of actual money being moved to helping people, but we were loud enough that they couldn’t ignore us any more. They felt that there was enough pressure that they HAD to do something.

What this says to me is that we are growing more organized and more powerful. People are starting to take note. We have found some of the correct channels to reach the people who are most misguided. I am hearing more and more rhetoric that recognizes the value of disabled and autistic people.

It’s a baby step. It does not fix the past harms. We still have such a long way to go before people have the services, respect, and fulfilled lives that they deserve. But I see it as confirmation that we, the self-advocates, are doing what we should. I see it as a big old gold star that says “keep on keeping on. Change is possible.”

I want all of us to stop and recognize that for ourselves. We did this. It is small, but Speaks is fucking huge, and we made them budge. Oftentimes that first movement is the hardest. We can do this.

The Problem with “I Said Yes”

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I’m currently engaged and also a compulsive Type A planning geek, which means that about 50% of my brainpower is devoted to wedding planning at any given time. Unsurprisingly, Facebook, Google, and every other ad service on the internet have figured this out, which means that I’m constantly getting very stereotypical wedding ads, aimed at brides who have bought into the wedding industrial complex a bit more than I have.

And holy hell is there a lot of disgusting, sexist expectation wrapped up in many of these ads. One that has been particularly grating on me for some time is the proliferation of items branded with the phrase “I said yes” or a variation thereon. I get that it’s a cute way to talk about getting engaged, and an exciting moment, but there are a lot (A LOT) (SO MANY) problems with it. Some of them are obvious, but others less so, which is why I want to unpack some of the ways this phrase encapsulates my problems with the way people approach marriage.

The most obvious issue here is that I have never once in my life seen anything marketed to a man that says “I said yes.” I’m really 100% over the idea that a. all couples are heterosexual and b. men do the asking, women do the accepting. It’s antiquated and sexist, and implies that women should not be in charge of their own major life decisions. Men take charge and ask the question, while women wait and respond. It’s a shitty message to send, and it’s also just inaccurate. Women can and do pop the question, and I for one do not like being erased from the narrative of marriage when I’m trying to plan my wedding.

Plastering the words all over everything makes it cute to be the person who isn’t making the decisions. It focuses the attention on the fact that the man asked and the woman responded, and it romanticizes the kind of helplessness that dynamic can embody. It says “the moment that there was a power dynamic in this relationship is the moment that was important,” instead of finding something that embodies whatever relationship created the proposal.

But what’s even weirder is that all the “I said yes” crap erases the person who did the asking (typically the man) from the wedding narrative, except as an accessory for a woman to live out her wedding dreams. I’ve seen very few “I asked” pieces of paraphernalia, and they are always paired with “I said yes,” which sends this message that the wedding is all about the woman (a sentiment echoed in approximately a million other places, and a sentiment which should go die in a fire). The man does not get to be excited about proposing, he clearly does not want anything that broadcasts his engaged state, and if he does broadcast it, it’s probably because the fiance made him amirite?

No, you’re not right. I happen to know for a fact that my fiance is pretty damned excited about being engaged and getting married. It’s just as sexist to expect that men don’t get to express excitement about exciting things as it is to expect that women don’t get to propose. I want my fiance to be just as important to my wedding as I am, because hey, we’re both getting married. We should BOTH be treated as equal parties in the planning process.

But those are issues that exist as part of the larger wedding industrial complex and the sexism it embodies. I have issues with the phrase “I said yes” for even deeper reasons. It took me quite some time to figure out what it was, but it I started to notice that I was using language contrasting being an “adult” with the way I felt about people who use the phrase “I said yes.” Now I in no way believe that people who get proposed to and say yes are children, as strongly evidenced by the fact that I’m intending to marry one of them. It makes complete sense that one partner will feel more assertive or want to make a big deal out of things and the other might not want to set up a big romantic thing, or would rather just respond. In most cases there will probably be an asker and an askee if there’s going to be any kind of formal “proposal.” That’s cool.

What makes me feel as if the whole “I said yes” business is somewhat immature is the fact that it focuses all of a big, important, life decision on one single moment rather than recognizing that it should (and for most people is) an ongoing conversation, in which both partners participate equally and discuss the ramifications of that big life decision. Acting as if two people actually really decide to get married in the moment of the proposal is ridiculous, and bringing the focus back to that moment again and again inflates the importance of it. Sure, I did a big, goofy proposal, but I recognized that it was a formality. I recognized that I was doing it because it was FUN. The actual proposal is not the mature, thoughtful, serious part of the “do we get married” discussion. It’s the fun, joyous, celebratory bit, and the “I said yes” obsession confuses and conflates the goofy, childish part with the actual, serious, “let’s decide what we do with our lives” bit.

Getting married isn’t a decision you make in one moment. We should be glorifying and romanticizing the process of figuring out how to build a life together, in all the myriad ways that happens. Proposals are fun, but really that’s what they are: fun. They’re not the big, important, life changing decision. That decision should be made carefully, with thought. It’s totally ok to focus on “childish” things sometimes, and to enjoy them. What’s concerning is when the childish things are treated as adult, mature decisions, rather than as concerningly thoughtless decisions. I’m sure there are people out there who do propose without discussing marriage at all ahead of time. That’s not fair to either partner or the long term health of the relationship.

When I first expressed frustration with this phrase, I responded by saying “I asked like the fucking adult that I am.” I realize that this is a gross simplification. I don’t think being asked is childish. But now I’m going to get into the ranting part of this post, because here’s what I DO think is childish and what I DO want to distinguish myself from when I say that I asked as an adult: the people who see “I said yes” as the single most important decision of their lives, the people who use these cute phrases and “romanticism” to hide the ways in which they allow their identities to be subsumed under that of a spouse, the people who not only let things in their relationship happen in gendered ways (this happens to everyone) but who actively embrace it as romantic and sweet.

What is childish and demeaning to oneself is the implication that the asking and answering of the question is the important moment in the relationship, this power dynamic, public, ritual laden moment, rather than the conversations that nearly every couple has before and after, usually on equal footing, about whether they want to get married, how they see their relationship progressing, what they want from marriage and from the relationship, their timelines. I seriously doubt that most people actually have a relationship in which the power dynamic is so broken that there is one party that gets to decide when changes happen and the other party simply has to accept or not.

So the uplifting of those antiquated dynamics in the cutesy phrase “I said yes” and the concurrent moment of disparate power and disparate roles is what pisses me off, and makes me want to distinguish myself from it as someone who is complex, who has opinions, who comes to my partner equally, who makes their own god damned decisions, who actively participates in the direction of their relationship. THAT is why I wanted to use the word adult. Because my relationship empowers me rather than infantilizes me, and that has nothing to do with who asked or who didn’t, it has to do with the fact that the moment of asking really wasn’t that important and probably shouldn’t be that important in any healthy relationship (except as something fun).

And here’s part of where I want to call myself out. I am getting too invested in the Big Public Expensive moments. Sure, I’m an event planner and a romantic, and so I find them fun. I like rituals, and I like parties. But those are excuses. I am buying in to the capitalistic Wedding Day is the Most Important Day bullshit, and while I think I’m doing better than many people, I’m still disgusted by how it turns me in to a person who doesn’t look complexly at their own life and needs, and doesn’t think deeply about the long life that I’ll have with my partner after these singular moments that Must Cost a Lot of Money. The wedding day is cool and all, but in terms of importance, it’s pretty low. The important moments are the times we support each other through shit, the ways we deal with fights, the kindness we show each other, and the ways we engage each other’s minds. I’m losing sight of my adult, empowered relationship and falling into the trap of “it’s pretty so it’s important.”

So I’m recommitting to the fact that I would like my wedding and engagement to reflect the partnership I have with my fiance, and who we are as people, as well as the tenor of our relationship. I can do better and I will do better.