Loki’s virtual temple – December 2016

While I am aware that this post is several years old by the time I’m reblogging it, it’s easier to listen to Someone’s prodding.

The Road, the Walker, and What Comes Next

This is December’s installment of Loki’s virtual temple, part of the Virtual Temple Project. Enjoy the contemplative atmosphere and feel free to share the video with others.

There was no November video this year due to illness and being out of state. To make up for this I’m planning a special Winter Solstice video. I’m going to be trying something new so I’m hoping that it turns out nicely.

______________

Donation received to cover October’s expenses of $10; $20 remained and was credited towards November’s expenses; this was used to stock up on some nice incense. Sponsorship of icon adornment ($30) and altar cloth ($30) were also received. A total of $80 was available.

Accounting for November and December 2016

Incense: $10
Flowers: $10
Icon adornment (necklace and velveteen stole): $30
Altar cloth: $30
Total: $80

Sponsor(s) will receive a portion of the item(s) they supported and other ritual items…

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Pre-Therapy Isolation

CoA prompt for Oct 2019 – “Aromanticism and Aloneness” [Call for Submissions] [tumblr crosspost] [Roundup]. The tumblr post was on 30 Oct 2019 and the link included in the roundup; this post has been scheduled after the roundup to avoid link/pingback confusion.

The first draft got unwieldy with a metaphor about dog and cat ownership (including comparing romance repulsion to a dog dander allergy and aplatonicism to a cat dander allergy), and the second draft got a little bogged down by thoughts on offline community spaces (perhaps better salvaged for another prompt).

The third draft (titled Let’s Be Alone Together) unpacked that the focus on living alone in some aro reblog chains brushes up against cultural and familial baggage about the failure to live independently and self-reliantly from one’s family signaling a failure at being a real adult, which means I haven’t really been coming at the discussion objectively in the past.

Fourth time’s the charm.

Therapeutic Context

I have bounced around from draft to draft and tangent to tangent this past month in part because other issues have required a higher priority ranking in the mental queue. Among the various topics brought up with/by my new general practitioner [GP] during this month’s follow-up was counseling intake, which will feature a bunch of questions off a template and hopefully some relevant questions about the diagnosis I’d like to confirm (or figure out my symptoms are actually from X) over a few appointments.

(For non-regular readers, I haven’t had health insurance since undergrad ended in 2016, so there have been a few changes to the identities I tote around. The Counseling and Psychological Services [CPS] offered on-campus did include therapy, but I’m not quite a good fit with Grad students who change every semester and require reintroductions, re-explaining, and ignoring personal details when I just don’t want to bother with an LGBTQIA+ primer. My last therapy visit with CPS that wasn’t a ‘the semester started’ drop-in was in the later part of the spring semester of 2015.)

I did ask to not be paired with someone who’s never had a trans patient before because I’m just not up to walking my therapist through the bare bones of Trans 101, but I won’t really know their familiarity with LGBTQIA+ basics until the first intake appointment in November. It’s possible they might know some identities but not all of them, and I may still need to break out a little 101 even for relatively more established identities (ex. nonbinary). However, the most relevant of my letters collected for this post is the A for aro-spec (specifically quoi/greyro), which is currently the most recent personal identity (2019) and, afaik, the youngest community when it comes to awareness.

Aloneness, Isolation, and Loneliness

On a literal, physical level, the prospect of going to therapy doesn’t really fit with being alone (“having no one else present”) or aloneness (“a disposition toward being alone”). But it edges along a nebulous mixture of talking about being alone, geographic isolation, and possible loneliness or isolation. The bridge connecting this nebulous alone/isolation idea with being aro-spec and facing intake for counseling:

Talking about being alone. It’s going to be a smidge related to context for past events, but it’s like a cloud on the horizon that I’m trying to ignore when it comes to talking about the future and/or future goals. I’m going to have to admit that it’s currently unwise to live on my own to someone’s face, so I don’t want that to be a goal of our sessions. Like, I’m really going to have to admit that my symptoms have gotten bad enough in the past that I would rather plan on having a roommate than risk being a danger to myself again.

The geographic isolation specific to living in a rural area that’s not exactly the intended ‘local’ area for the closest LGBTQIA+ resources and communities, especially if you get a-spec specific. It can range from some resources not being applicable when you live in a different county to inconvenient differences in meetups (it’s great to only have a 5 minute walk to a coffee shop for a casual meetup for the locals, but if I live over an hour’s drive away, I expect something a little more substantial to justify the driving and need enough advanced notice to actually drive there).

It doesn’t really feel like loneliness, but it doesn’t quite seem like a type of isolation, and it’s just this mixed feeling that I’m not going to have a choice but to be a teaching moment because I’m going to be the first aro-spec patient for this therapist. True, I have no way of knowing how many other aros are in this area, but unfortunately, I have no way of knowing if I’m the only aro-spec person around. It feels unbalanced and isolating that I can’t just walk in as an individual, and I now have to be careful as an ambassador of sorts.

Convergence of Mental Illness & Aro-spec Identity

Based on a quick search of Arocalypse, I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a unique feeling to me, but that greyro pov post included revealing my connection between my mental health and feeling like I’ve become aro-spec. (Link covers why I’d rather not directly link to the post in question, namely personal growth. With a dash of embarrassment.) And yes, I said that I feel like I’ve become aro-spec instead of feeling like it’s been a static identity that I’ve always had.

I think the life events I went through – most strongly noticed after surviving suicidal shit – were the equivalent of the body prioritizing heating the core instead of the extremities in extreme cold. The vital to living parts of me made it through.

My ability to correctly interpret romantic attraction when signaled in media? It’s not impossible, but it’s usually particularly scripted examples. My ability to correctly interpret romantic attraction signaled in other people? I still have a chance at getting that right, but it’s not guaranteed. My ability to correctly interpret romantic attraction when I might be experiencing it? Nope, that didn’t make it through. It’s like a fixed red-blue-purple color array that’s suddenly showing orange. It’s like looking down at your phone one day and realizing everything’s been switched to a language you only know a limited amount of (for me, Spanish). It’s like trying to wrap your head around imaginary numbers after you thought you were keeping up in Algebra II.

At this point, romantic attraction is a rather distant memory and feels like it happened to a different person. I’ve made peace with not knowing if I’m orange or red-orange, and I could stumble through figuring out more words in Spanish, but I don’t think proper management of my symptoms will “restore” what’s been lost. No amount of talk therapy is going to unlock those memories, and the right medication isn’t going to lift the fog of confusion. Maybe red-orange is close enough to red to count (non-normative romance factoring into maybe, sometimes experiencing something close to romantic attraction a la greyro), but I don’t want to pretend I know what i means.

Disclosure

I don’t want a therapist to get sidetracked by “fixing” me because I’m alright chilling out here on the aro spectrum. Maybe I’ll be able to live on my own at some point, or maybe I’ll have a roommate. Maybe the stars will align and I’ll find someone who’s alright with me being red-orange and mostly confused as long as we figure out each other’s love language(s), so to speak. Maybe I’ll have a collection of friends, but I won’t ever really partner with someone. I’m not sure. Those questions are too complicated and too far off into the future for me to answer when I’ve got to douse the embers my brain decided to light in its resident dumpster before they grow into a full fledged fire.

However, based on my experience with CPS, I need to be prepared for questions about my relationship status. Their intake process included screening for domestic violence, if my memory serves me right (single = skip that section), but I also remember a soft inquiry into who might be involved in my support network where it was relevant to establish that I had friends but no romantic partners to warrant referring to my significant other. Just based on the preliminary paperwork that’s a copy of what I had to fill out for GP, there’s a section for choosing from their offered gender and sexuality options [includes Other and lines to write in responses].

I didn’t really feel like getting into a ton of detail with GP, but it feels different when it comes to counseling and eventually a psychiatrist consult. If I’m going to compile a bullet point list of my identities, offer brief explanations, and point towards aro resources, I’d rather get that all out of the way in the beginning. Once it’s all on the table, I don’t have to dance around topics or play the rephrasing game where I avoid coming out part way through an answer. Maybe me offering up AUREA can make it a little easier for the next patient who’s aro.

Maybe I don’t want to ignore or downplay my connection to an online aro community, as tenuous as it may be at times, because I feel a little less alone. I don’t have to frame changes in romantic orientation as being broken. I have an alternative narrative for being the heartless monster who’s a bit too cold and less than human. I don’t have to take the negative impression that an inability to romantically love someone (or an unclear answer) means that any sexual attraction, desire, or activities amount to manipulative ‘using’ as truth. (The social connection to a community can be used to whack a self-isolating brain.)

Ultimately, prepare for disclosure, so I don’t feel caught off guard or forget differences in how resources define a word and how I relate to it. I can play it by ear during the intake process, and if I don’t actually want to disclose to the therapist, I don’t have to.

Virtual temple video – October 2017

While I am aware that this post is several years old by the time I’m reblogging it, it’s easier to listen to Someone’s prodding.

The Road, the Walker, and What Comes Next

Welcome to Loki’s virtual temple for October, 2017. Please enjoy this opportunity for prayer, reflection, and meditation.

Next month’s virtual temple video will focus on Santa Muerte. December’s video will (likely) celebrate the Winter Solstice.

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CoA Apologies

I think I went through about three versions of a draft for the CoAce theme for Sept 2019 (Telling Our Stories), but they got away from me in terms of length and an attempt at cohesiveness. Maybe one of them will get shared one day later, but it’s not quite the right presentation for now.

Ironically, this also dovetails into why I’m struggling with the CoAro theme “Aromanticisim and Fiction” and splitting that prematurely published draft about a-spec fanfic. I most definitely feel like I’m struggling against the idea that I have to be an ‘Ambassador from Aceland’ in a manner of speaking, but quite frankly, I’m just about the last person you’d want to nominate as an ambassador for either community.

Whatever ace adjacent experiences I’ve had are tied up in fluctuating gender dysphoria, euphoria, and at one point not having a way to talk about either of those. I hadn’t realized I was trans as a freshman in undergrad, but I had found part of the ace tumblr community (2012-13), and it was a lot easier to say I was demi than having no way to talk about “cis dating and sex conventions make me uncomfortable for some reason, but I’ve been sexually attracted to friends who know me well enough that being GNC isn’t an issue”.

It was easier to say I was gray-ace than trying to explain “there’s this ‘power saving’ mode where I just don’t experience sexual attraction when in a heavily misgendering/dysphoric environment”, “the negotiation and communication for a scene flips some sort of switch, and it does feel like I’m sexually attracted to a play partner”, “non-sexual kink can be great, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have sexual kinks as well”, or “I’ve been surprised by random sexual attraction to strangers, but I don’t particularly want to act on it”.

I don’t have a clear, easily digestible arc for coming out, and if it weren’t for a few irl friends following some of my tumblr accounts, I doubt anyone I know offline would know about my haphazard journey with ace over the years. I’ve even stopped calling myself ace at times because X’s symptoms could be rearing up, if I’m in a gender affirming environment I don’t seem ‘ace enough’, and so on. I feel like I’m “allo + ace” more so than just ace, and even though different sites, forums, etc. may stress the diversity of ace experiences, I have tended to just not talk about where I fall in terms of allosexuality and asexuality instead of ‘not fitting’ one. (Relevant in certain aro intracommunity discussions because I tend to have more in common with alloaro perspectives than aroace, which surprises and confuses people who know about the on-and-off ace questioning. Hence trying to only talk about being aro-spec with aros.)

I wouldn’t say it’s the only reason why, but I think this contributes to my struggling with definitely saying a fanfic has ace/aro representation (instead of leaving the fics in a general a-spec list). It might have an adjacent experience that a reader recognizes, but I’m not comfortable saying as a creator that xyz “counts” for this character to be a particular label. If I’m going to pour uncompensated creative energy into something, I’d rather pick a premise with something I haven’t done before and maybe isn’t commonly seen with a particular ship than get hung up on an LGBTQIA+ primer.

Elephant in the Therapy Room

Back in undergrad when I last had insurance and access to the on-campus mental health services, I just never brought up religion or anything that might sound a little too ~woo~ to say to someone evaluating your state of mind. There was some online back and forth that ‘xyz clearly means you’re delusional’ around that time, and I just didn’t have the energy to deal with that while trying to go in for help with depression. It also didn’t exactly help that any attempts on my own to look into the interplay between psychology and religion that didn’t deal with delusions were Christian focused therapy services. (I’m sure that can help someone, just not me.)

I mentioned in “Ghosts of Hypomania” that I have a particular brainweird event from back in high school that initially didn’t seem noteworthy, but in the years since, it’s gotten harder to say it wasn’t awfully similar to hypomania. There may have been other instances that seem to meet hypomania’s requirements a little more closely since, which is why that 3 day window is still relevant. I’m still trawling my memory while preparing for the intake to see if it’s For Sure hypomania (probably bipolar II) or Almost hypomania (probably cyclothymia), but I don’t want to cover everything about hypomania in this post.

{For those who haven’t been trying to figure out if they too have experienced this: Hypomania hits most mania symptoms, so I’m not being particularly careful about someone using mania or a linked source focusing on manic episodes instead of specifying hypomania.}

I stumbled onto ~sadiepickles’ post about creating a Mania Manual, had the free time, and clicked on her example. There’s several bullet points under Sample Signs of Mania that I should return to, but what instantly stood out under Grandiose Beliefs was the first bullet point, “Increased religious beliefs or spirituality”. Rather than spend a lot of time creating a personalized meme reaction, I just wrote it out in a post:

Was anyone going to tell me – “increased focus on religion or religious activities” is included in (hypo)mania* symptom lists

Or was I just supposed to read that – as an offhand comment in someone’s post – on my own?

* Even outside of delusions with religious themes, in terms of more religious participation. Might have something to do with mixed episodes for some (possibly coping).

Link 1: Religious Factors in Bipolar Disorder. Pretty good overview in terms of different presentation, touching on delusions, and noting that cultural norms are important to keep in mind. Some may like their sources for more info.

Link 2: The relationship between religious involvement and clinical status of patients with bipolar disorder. (Full public access to the study at the link.) Part of the conclusion, “Compared to patients with bipolar disorder in depressed, manic, or euthymic states, patients in mixed states have more active private religious lives.”

Link 3: Why spirituality may be important to your quality of life. Pretty much what it says on the tin (basically, has the potential as a coping mechanism), and it does note that hyperreligiosity may impact the usefulness of spirituality as a tool in bipolar management.

So, religion has the potential to be useful for some people when it comes to coping, but it also may feature into how symptoms present. How do you tell these apart? Well, I’d suggest ignoring the people cracking jokes about ‘believing an old man in the sky’ because ‘all religion is delusional, period’. (Despite trying to talk about all religions, the references were pretty clearly Christian. Do people recovering from Christianity need a place to vent? Sure, but maybe not where other people are trying to figure out if they’re experiencing delusions.)

Advice that’s more likely to be helpful came from ~relatable-psychosis: “With delusions and the like, cultural and religious background are to be taken into account and one is to go over whether or not what they’re experiencing and how they’re responding to it is culturally sanctioned, IE whether or not what you’re experiencing is considered abnormal to your community. […] Factors like conviction, functional impairment, and uniqueness would be taken into consideration” (source; also mentioned in this post and this post).

I’m aware that some religious Christians (and cultural Christians in different religions) are already a little lost when I bring up something that, for lack of a better term in informal conversation, gets lumped under the Pagan umbrella. (Not to mention those who lose any tact about religions other than Christianity when they get some anonymity online.) But that’s not really the comparison point I should be making. Are my beliefs considered ‘abnormal’ within Pagan spaces? Not really. It’s not a guarantee that everyone that gets sorted under Pagan will share every single belief, but ruling out delusions with religious themes goes a significant way towards ruling out psychosis, which points to mania instead of hypomania in what I can find so far.

In terms of a potential diagnosis, that seems neat and tidy, but I wasn’t prepared to feel so rattled by trying to take stock of my beliefs in relation to community acceptability and outliers. Sneeze in the wrong online space, and someone can start throwing around ‘delusional’ and ‘crazy’, especially when whether incorporeal entities can communicate with humans (and how) comes up. What about discussions about Unverified Personal Gnosis (UPG) and interpreting communication accurately where there’s no tradition specific priest and/or diviner to verify (probably a solitary)? From what I remember when those were fresh topics of discussion, most Pagan bloggers were taking the default position that they were obviously sane and it was a matter of tradition differences about the acceptable divination and confirmation processes (or ignoring people who disagreed about other topics looking for an easy insult).

It’s not to say that resources out there about checking your interpretation and when to use/share UPG aren’t valuable or helpful. It’s just that when Step 1 assumes you trust that your perception lines up with reality, things get a bit shaken up when you’re trying to gauge whether you’ve had delusions or hallucinations (Bipolar Psychosis overview). It’s one thing to mostly rule out delusions (unless someone outside the Pagan community really goes for delusions of reference when it comes to communication), but it’s another thing to wonder about hallucinations. In order of most common to least:

  • Auditory – I’ve heard my name while in an empty room on a handful of occasions, but afaik, it’s a rather common fluke that brains can do. It hasn’t been related to an attempt at communicating with Anyone (or involved commands/directions to do anything).
  • Visual – I’m confident the one instance was a byproduct of being tired or an illusion while getting ready for bed (instead of an outright hallucination).
  • Tactile – I don’t know how to explain away the physical feeling that’s fairly consistent in range of location and perception that’s a “Someone wants my attention” ping. It only occurs in relation to incorporeal communication, and it’s only happened ‘in my room’ (across two dorms, my assigned room at two hotels, and my bedroom at this current home, which translates to happening on and off for about seven years).
  • Olfactory – None.
  • Taste – None.

I suppose I just wasn’t prepared for the vulnerable feeling of not being sure if I can trust myself. The strong draw to structured prayer and holiday schedules back in undergrad. I had that incident where I thought I just got a batch of miscommunication (Jotnar holy days, Tribes, and all that). The peculiar Faces (aspects of deities, not literal faces) and UPG.  All the different waves of Leaving, and Who’s circled back around on and off. Reigniting feelings over ‘I got something out of it, but it was wrong’ mentioned in “Echoes of Faith” (with the added worry that I wasn’t just operating with wrong info, it may not have even been real).

What if a solitary practice that includes UPG has too much room for personal error? (Let alone touching on PC Paganism and Modern Paganism….) What if a majority self-created path is too open to grandiose thinking? Where’s the line between ‘it’s alright to have a unique personal path’ and #actuallydelusional? Is it alright as long as I’m not claiming to be a leader (encouraging anyone to act similarly) or offering divination (claiming to have a clear line of communication with the divine)? Is it alright because deities have encouraged seeking professional help, self care, and haven’t hindered mental health management?

Honestly, I’m pretty sure some anxious part of my brain is just picking this apart and reading too much into events that haven’t involved me harming myself or anyone else, being a threat, personal distress, or throwing up a functional obstacle to life. Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. Maybe it’s a smidge odd, but not altogether abnormal (Is it Normal to ‘Hear Voices’?). Maybe it’s weird, but it’s at least non-threatening, neutral, and doesn’t occur with more serious symptoms (Hallucination Types, Causes, and Examples). Maybe the connection between bipolar symptoms during episodes and one’s interpretations of religious experiences aren’t cut and dry, and it’s okay to still apply personal religious meaning to what’s happened over the years (“The Awful Rowing toward God”: Interpretation of Religious Experiences by Individuals with Bipolar Disorder).

In Between

I’ve been posting about it on tumblr since I made the appointment over a month ago, at least, but I am in the limbo land between the first consultation where blood was taken for labs and the follow-up discussing the results. (I didn’t realize someone might be concerned after I talked about the first death anniversary of my grandfather in the past week, but this is not life-threatening like that [cancer]. I suspect I have PCOS.)

I sort of had suspicions back in my teens, but I didn’t really know that there were side effects and symptoms that might actually need to be monitored (making a confirmation of a diagnosis helpful in figuring out if I’m really at risk). I didn’t fully realize just how much gender baggage I was carrying around in relation to this until I started looking into more symptoms, what diagnostics might be used, and had to face a really stark reminder about the body I inhabit (specifically, how it’s interpreted by others).

I am very aware that someone ticked off the little F on my birth certificate. (Lovely reminder that Ray v Himes is still working its way through the courts and doesn’t yet help those born in Ohio.) After dealing with staff who didn’t bother to read what I’d written on their forms (on their provided lines for a preferred name and gender), on the paper I provided with important info not asked for on the forms (pronouns, a brief explanation of words used to describe my gender experience, medical history), or listen to what I told them (“my gender is not female”), I’ve got to admit that even seeing just this General Practitioner (GP) sets off an uncomfortable amount of dysphoria. (The look on her face when I admitted to having never seen a gynecologist…)

Add in trying to get a diagnosis for PCOS, and it’s just more than I was prepared for. Online resources focus so much on the infertility, ‘normalizing’ menstruation, getting rid of the ‘non-feminine’ symptoms, TTC/ttc (trying to conceive), and tend to assume the only people who experience PCOS are cisgender women(*). I don’t want to minimize that these are important symptoms for some women, but as someone who hadn’t yet realized that I was trans and didn’t know what gender dysphoria was, it was incredibly uncomfortable trying to interact with PCOS info back when I first got the suspicion because of this.

I was expecting to have to make my case about not making up potentially having PCOS, but GP actually didn’t ask very many questions. (The nurse asked ahead of time when I last menstruated, so GP’s first words to me herself were, “Have you always had facial hair?”, followed by, “Have you experienced unexpected weight gain?”, and then, “Yeah, we’re ordering labs.”) Everything was going along somewhat tolerably until she mentioned a final confirmation after the labs, since some of the results would rule out conditions with overlapping PCOS symptoms – a vaginal ultrasound to see if there are cysts on the ovaries.

<sarcasm>Note the textual distance that’s preparation for potentially needing to dissociate from my body.</sarcasm> Setting my dysphoria off the charts is counter-productive to GP wanting to recheck my blood pressure (maybe I have ‘white coat syndrome’, maybe it’s actually high), but I honestly don’t think she’d believe me. (I have an offline venting space for frustrations around being a fat patient who was advised to lose weight “because even a 15-20 lb loss will improve your blood pressure”. But that’s a block of salt for another day.)

(*) Most resources assume those with PCOS are perisex cis women. It wasn’t until relatively recently that I encountered talk of PCOS being a hormonal intersex condition (from someone in the intersex community), as opposed to a chromosomal, gonadal, or genital type that people more commonly think of when they hear ‘intersex’. I can grasp the reasoning in abstract way, but I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that I, personally, might be intersex. Still, I’ve got to admit that it’s a relief to think of PCOS as ‘hormonal intersex’ instead of ‘malfunctioning perisex female’, which is kinda how some people frame it.

{polite swearing}

Do I have any memory of what was in that draft that was published instead of previewed (again)? Nope. I have no idea what was in “To Write”. Hope it wasn’t horrible.

Am I having issues with the CoA posts? Yup. While I would like to finish them and post them at some point, I’m just not seeing it happening in time for the carnivals.

Am I seriously considering drafting elsewhere to see if I can reduce premature posting here on WP? Yeah. I’m not sure why it’s hitting now after years of not having this issue, but I’m already very tired of this mistake.

Loki’s online temple video – October

While I am aware that this post is several years old by the time I’m reblogging it, it’s easier to listen to Someone’s prodding.

The Road, the Walker, and What Comes Next

The video went live on the very last day of October but I’ve been so busy that it completely slipped my mind to announce it here. Please enjoy.

Loki’s Virtual Temple accounting for October 2016:

Expenses:
Flowers – $5
Incense – $5

Donations:
None

If you would like to contribute to Loki’s Virtual Temple, donations can be made to virtualtempleproject@gmail.com via PayPal. If you would like to add your name or request to the monthly prayer roll, please email the same address.


If you read my last blog post, you may have gathered that things have been rough. And they have; I’ve had a migraine most of the October and it’s only now starting to let up. It’s been a perfect storm of many health-related things but hopefully a corner has been turned. At least the migraine is starting to let up just a little bit.

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A small bouquet of oopsie-daisies

This post is brought to you by the small space between preview and publish.

I’m aware I probably got the attention of the WP bloggers whose pieces were linked in that first draft that was posted too early, and I’m aware that might not have made sense for any followers reading the post in an email where I didn’t have sections finished. (I’ll absolutely put a heading or list somewhere without completely filling in the section, so there were randomly empty fic placeholders, I’m sure.)

Draft 2.0 will hopefully roll out a bit more smoothly. I hadn’t made up my mind before accidentally posting, but I was debating splitting the a-spec adjacent narratives in some of my fanfic plots into an aro (clearly marked for the Carnival) and an ace post. I figured it might be easier on the eyes than one super long post, but I also hadn’t factored in what might need a warning for squicks, triggers, and repulsed/averse readers yet.

Asterisks and Grayness

In which I remember that I try to keep my blogs separated enough that people over here probably didn’t see those Carnival of Aros or Carnival of Aces posts coming. I try to avoid being someone’s first a-spec person (and teaching moment) because 1) I prioritize my Educating Spoons on the gender front, and 2) I don’t consider myself the most ideal example of an a-spec person, who may give allo people an incorrect impression of the ace and aro spectrums.

Does this mean I’m arguably any less a-spec and have somehow become fully and unequivocally allo (whether in the sense of alloromantic, allosexual, or both)? Not necessarily. Some areas of variation just aren’t suitable to 101 discussions, and I really don’t want to have to Educate and then list all of the ways I’m not like the majority of the group I just explained. Some people who use a label just aren’t keen on being the forefront of visibility, awareness, and outreach in that way.

For those who haven’t been struggling to refind the tumblr a-spec community, “allo” isn’t necessarily a label people identify with, but it’s used to refer to people who experience a given flavor of attraction. It’s a bit like how most cis people don’t necessarily identify as cisgender, but there has to be a word to talk about them that isn’t “normal” people. As an all around confusing gray person, the lines between allo/ace and allo/aro can be squiggly, blurry, a bit uncertain if you will.

 

Updates to the about page (accurate as of 10 Sept 2019):

Noteworthy: Gray-ace

My sexual attraction rate / degree / intensity has varied and been influenced by other things over time (ex. body dysphoria), but I’m not going to deny that older posts may use different labels, especially if you poke around on different tumblr blogs. I generally don’t disclose this outside of providing context for interacting with certain ace content because I don’t consider myself the best example for the ace community, and I’d rather avoid becoming a teaching moment where I have to explain how I’m not like most aces to someone.

Noteworthy: Aro spectrum

The best way I can describe it right now – after certain life-changing events, I “lost” the ability to clearly differentiate between when I was feeling something that was romantic or platonic, like damaging an internal sensor. I didn’t lose the sensor, but I can’t read the screen anymore; I suspect wires are now jumbled together, and I’m not sure if “non-normative” romantic expression is setting off unclear results. I would say that I’m greyro (or grayromantic) and quoiromantic in terms of recognized labels.

A-spec intracommunity note: I try to keep aro-spec blogging on one tumblr dash where it’s separate from the ace blogging on another because I don’t connect being aro and being ace. I don’t call myself aroace; when I’m in an ace area, I refer to myself as gray-ace and that’s it, and when I’m in an aro area, I only refer to myself as greyro, quoiromantic, and/or aro-spec. I’d rather opt out of describing my sexuality in the aro community to the extent that I can.