Queen of the Assholes

Posted in general on December 28th, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Queen of the Assholes

It has been quite awhile, has it? I have been doing much better since making room to breathe and clearing myself of undue outside influences. Time alone, and with friends that give me the space I need, has enabled me to reset my baseline and stop feeding into the cycle of anxiety and overthinking. Freedom from being smothered, from having my head fluffed and fellated, from having everything done for me, from violating my personal space and trust. Perhaps on the surface these things appear to be helping me but, in fact, they create an environment of dependence where I am sheltered from any consequences for my actions and stifled from personal developments. These things do make me dependent on you. That is not healthy for anyone. I am partially at fault for perpetuating this codependency. There are no evil-doers or archvillians in my story, only flawed people doing what they think is right. A line was crossed in the most intimate and damaging of ways that cast everything in a foul light. I did my best to honour a promise, but could not. Old wounds were reopened, that I thought were healed, but were not. I am not stupid. If I were a person with no conscience or shame I would have carried on as if nothing happened. I would not deliberately close off my main support. I would not burn a bridge that might be important to my career. My mistake was trying to make amends with, and to resurrect the past. That is on me. Not establishing and enforcing better boundaries. That is on me. Boy howdy, have I learned much in the last year. But I am taking care of myself first, and if that makes me an asshole, or makes my life more difficult, then so be it. I can finally move forward.

I have finally learned to forgive so I can stop carrying this pain.

Forgive myself, and forgive others. Flawed people.

Recently I was thinking, and I realized that all of the friends most active in my life now are new bonds formed since moving here to Saint Paul. Unburdened by baggage or ghostly incarnations of me, they are also the healthiest, most positive, reciprocal, and egalitarian relationships I have ever had. They treat me like a regular person; not a special snowflake, or a fire-breathing demon. And I believe I have been a net benefit to their lives as well. I no longer feel lonely, and have had a tremendous lifting of my spirit — along with a sense of contentment and peace like I have never known. The phrase, “The ones that broke you can’t be the ones to fix you,” remains with me as I re-examine my ill-fated desire to right the past. I did not know how to forgive or to let things go. That is on me. And with this fulfillment I have found, yes, my drive to work myself to the bone has softened. My artwork is no longer the be-and-end-all of my existence. You know what I find more rewarding than drawing comics? Holding my friend’s kid’s hand and walking him to the restrooms at the movie theatre, or buying him a snack. Watching him jump around while he excitedly babbles at me about Minecraft. Yes — I have lofty goals — but I am not going to sacrifice real life for them. I am not satisfied with my output over the past year. But I also rebuilt my entire life, and work an exhausting full-time day job with a commute so I do not starve. I will get there when I get there.

But you rest assured, I will fucking get there.

I am happy to advance my careers when and how is right for me. I am happy for my real friends. I am happy with my day job. I am happy with my home. I have a small potbelly and stretch marks, but I am happy in my own skin. I am only concerned with the opinions of the people I love. I am happy.

I found myself mutually swept away in another brief, but intense relationship, of which the romantic portion ended quite amicably. While incredibly painful, it was also a transformative experience, helping me to heal and work through many deep-rooted issues and come out better for it. It is the closest thing I have ever experienced to what one might call a soulmate connection. Mutual bluntness combined with no defensiveness or pretensions, along with innate ability to see through each other and communicate well, created a foundation to learn what we each needed and wanted. He made me feel accepted, safe, and loved like I have never known as an adult. He made me unafraid to love and to trust men again. He made me unafraid to be myself. I will not profess to speak for him, but I believe he experienced growth and a new perspective as well. I am grateful for every second with him and hope we remain friends always. We will walk the path that is best for each of us, in friendship.

There is no room left in my heart for anger, bitterness, guilt, jealousy, regret, or shame — from myself, or from anyone else. If you have a problem because I am attractive or unattractive, that is on you. If you have a problem with my makeup or how I choose to manipulate my own image, that is on you. If you have a problem because I enjoy dancing and singing, that is on you. Believe the worst about me — one-sided stories and lies, if that is what you need to do. Throw stones and curse me from up on your crosses and high horses, if that is what you need to do. I have only ever spoken the truth as I perceived it. I am genuinely remorseful for those that have been hurt along my journey, but I refuse to apologize for caring about someone, for being imperfect like everyone, for speaking my mind, or for challenging someone to improve. I am beginning this new year in a healthier place mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually than I have ever been. Any noise you make attempting to drag me down will fall upon deaf ears. Go pound your fists upon the sand. I will be here, same as always, chugging along at my speed, refusing to give up.

Life is more than awards, comic books, conventions, or the Internet. One day Sol will become a red giant, and reduce everything humanity has ever known to ashes. If you choose to waste your precious, fleeting time on this planet gossiping about what Jin Wicked has done wrong now, that is on you.

I will be here, same as always, refusing to give up.

Clarity

Posted in general, love on October 3rd, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Clarity

“I knew you were trouble as soon as I laid eyes on you.”

The road to Hell, as the saying goes, is paved with good intentions. Both my sins and the trespasses upon me are many — the intention to make amends, the intention to change, the intention to love, the intention to help, and the intention to heal. Some have met with success. Others have done more harm than good. I can recognize my own hubris and presumptuousness.

“I’m easy to please. Just do what I say, and don’t do what I say not to do.”

Until recently, my head has been full of voices — not the false phantom voices of insanity, but a more insidious refrain anchored in reality. The silver tongues of friends and lovers, flattering in one ear, while accusing in the other. Advice twisted by rose- or shit-coloured glasses; always, always couched in concern for my personal needs and well-being. Opinions biased by experience, desire, and wishful thinking. I am asshole. I am brilliant. I am crazy. This is who I am. This is how I should feel. This is how I am broken. This is why I do the things that I do. This is how so many have abused and mistreated me. These voices became more influential and persuasive until I was dependent on them, and I lost the ability to think for myself or to make independent decisions.

You know my rules. I’m starting to think you like drama.”

“I got this. I got this. I got this. I got this. I told you, I got this.”

I am not your master. I am not a puppet. I am not a toy. I am not a pet. I am not your everything. I am not your afterthought. I do not want your pedestal. I do not want your self-serving protection. You are not my therapist. You are not my caretaker. You are not my keeper. You do not have the right to assign yourself any of these roles. I do not exist to bolster your self-worth, either as a trophy, or to make you a martyr. I am not a merit badge for your sash.

“You want to give me everything, but you can’t do what I tell you to.”

“I knew when you came to me that your marriage was over.”

I am a person — truth. I am a monster, sometimes. Beautiful, perhaps, in my flawed way, and fierce. I do my best to be a decent person, but life has made me what I am. Like a mirror, to be close to me is to be willing to confront the dark truths that you do not like about yourself. The function of the artist is to observe and reflect. No promise was ever made that art must be pretty. I do not wish to be coddled and told that I am not a monster. I need those who can see the firestorm behind my eyes and confront it, unafraid. Those secure and strong enough to temper — and be tempered by — my heat. Those who can view me objectively as an equal, without fawning or subservience. Those who do not attempt to control me, or to presume what is in my best interest, regardless of intention. Did I not listen? Or have I listened too much?

“I promised myself that I would always love you unconditionally.”

So many sides of the same multi-faceted die; to help me, to hurt me, to serve me, to insulate me, to rescue me. Whichever way it is cast, I am infantalized and stripped of my autonomy. I am ashamed and humbled for allowing myself to be manipulated in this way. I can forgive, but I cannot forget. Never again will someone else tell me who I am, how to feel, or what to think.

“You are becoming the person I always knew you were.

I am the person you all refused to see.

Being Wrong

Posted in general on July 13th, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Being Wrong

Something kind of wonderful has been happening to my brain recently; most noticeably amplified in the past week. It is as if all the gears and mechanisms of my mind have come together, everything is finally in sync, and I am afflicted with a clarity of thought and vision that I was previously incapable of.

Like a child learning a new word, the abstract idea of boundaries has become internalized to me, and I now recognize its application everywhere. Empathy! Respect! Consent! My ability to see people as their own, separate entities has a strange and fascinating newness about it. This has come alongside my own development as an individual. Mastering my anxiety and insecurities frees me from my obsessive tendencies, and allows me to share my needs confidently, as well as honour those of others. Another roadblock removed to intimacy.

Before deleting my dating profiles, I texted someone my phone number. Last week, I had dinner with him. That turned out to be one of the most enjoyable dates I have had, and I fancy him a lot. I made clear that I would like to meet again, and then left the ball in his court. The amazing thing is not my lack of fretting over this, but that I do not have any urge to fret. It feels incredible.

I am reposting this from the ephemeral hole of Facebook:

Forcing yourself on someone, in the form of contact or communication; unwanted and unwelcome gifts, favours, or charity; and violation of body or personal space; are all wrong. I am guilty of all these things, and no matter how good or pure the intention, doing them without consent is wrong.

Over the past few months, I have been on the receiving end of all of these, and learned firsthand how shitty it feels. I wish I could time travel and change the past, but all I can do is learn my lessons and be respectful going forward. Someday I might get to be a real girl! Also: Don’t touch my stuff.

Obvious? Yes, but really understanding this has been an epiphany for me.

Imagine this hypothetical scenario: Your car is dirty, and needs to be washed. You are busy, tired, and complain to a friend that you do not have the time or energy to wash your car. Your friend repeatedly offers assistance. Finally, you ask them if they could pick up a coupon for the local car wash. Days later, you discover they have driven and washed your car, far beyond what you asked. Your friend has spare keys for emergencies, and because you travel together often. Your friend is also aware that you are uncomfortable with other people driving your car, and have general issues regarding trust and personal space. But they drove your car without explicit consent, and furthermore, reset your programming on the stereo, disordered the documents in your glovebox, and added an air freshener and other accessories you do not want. They cleaned out your trunk, rifling through luggage and other intensely personal items.

This is a breakdown in communication and lack of healthy boundaries.

Your friend had good intentions and wanted to be helpful, but in the process, violated your trust and feelings of autonomy and independence. You may feel betrayed, guilty, indebted, ungrateful, and embarrassed. Your friend may feel ashamed, unappreciated, taken advantage of, rejected, and unwanted.

Both parties in this situation have legitimate grievances, and that pain could have been avoided with better communication and clearer expectations. Both parties have the right to feel hurt. I have experienced both perspectives.

No matter how badly you want to help, only the recipient gets to decide what you may and may not do. I have not respected that. And I was wrong.

No matter how much you care or love them. Still not your decision.

I will be the first in line to admit that I am not the best artist, comic creator, or creative writer. I am not the most beautiful woman. I love to dance and sing, and I am unashamedly not very good at either of those. Though I always try my best. In my opinion, where does my greatest strength lie? In my ability to adapt, change, and grow: my willingness to admit when I am wrong.

I Walk Alone

Posted in health, love on July 6th, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on I Walk Alone

Another month frittered by; the weather is warmer, though the mornings are often brisk and windy. I attended the Artistreet show in Minneapolis on June 25th. As someone more accustomed to high-attendance comic conventions, it was probably not a show I will repeat, but I did enjoy the opportunity to chat with some other local artists. I will add one or two more small conventions to my schedule this year, ending the season with the stellar MCBA Fallcon.

Last week, I made the decision to discontinue going to professional therapy. Either I am too entrenched in struggling with things on my own, or else I just cannot open up in the correct way to find it helpful past a certain threshold. I do feel that it helped me crystallize the areas where I require the most work. I have started listening to audio books, and I found them better suited to my needs by offering specific coping strategies and mental tools. Two books, The Willpower Instinct and Never Chase Men Again, have caused major paradigm shifts for me. My two biggest issues can be boiled down thusly —

Problem: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Daily feelings of anxiety have decreased significantly, but individual episodes have become more acute and panic-attack-like. This includes symptoms such as elevated heart rate, physical agitation and discomfort, and a sensation of my head being full of “white noise” or static. Overwhelming thought patterns lead to irrational, counterproductive, and self-destructive behaviour to relieve the pressure. Fatigue and catastrophizing cause me to react to others based on imagined worst-case scenarios. Highly damaging to relationships.

Solution: Reduce or eliminate triggers until self-control and emotional stability has improved, integrate physical (cardio with weight training) and relaxation exercises, maintain a healthy diet and consistent 8-hour sleep schedule.

Problem: People-Pleasing and Healthy Boundaries

Difficulty distinguishing anxiety-created imaginings from legitimate concerns. Inability to establish and enforce healthy boundaries in situations where I am uncomfortable or feel the need for approval. Putting others’ needs before my own to the level of self-harm. My fluid sense of identity makes me over-eager to conform to others’ ideals. All of these contribute to a rubber-band effect of underlying resentment, until I break and snap back in a hurtful way.

Solution: Continue building egalitarian, trustworthy friendships to overcome fears of abandonment and rejection. A conscious effort to increase empathy and become a better communicator. Compassion and kindness meditations to forgive myself and others, and cleanse out negative thinking. Release of past baggage and improvements to emotional availability. Continue to strengthen and solidify the Self through artwork and other acts of creative expression.

Recommended by a friend, Baggage Reclaim is a wonderful resource.

I have stopped romantic dating; it was an interesting experiment, and I have learned about people, but it is not for me. I have been out with at least two dozen men, most of which I never saw more than once, though for no more exciting reason than lack of interest or incompatibility. A few I connected with have made the jump into my circle of personal friends. Any opportunities for a relationship to form have been intentionally or unconsciously sabotaged. Two things are going on; the first is that at this point, I am comfortable and want to be alone. Non-sexual snuggling with a friend is enough to satisfy cravings for intimacy. My romantic relationships have almost all been long-distance, room-mate type scenarios, or otherwise stunted and emotionally unavailable in some way. I am freaked the fuck out by honest, genuine, and reciprocated closeness with another human being. A relationship with me absolutely must begin on the foundation of friendship to have any chance at longevity.

The second thing, if I am honest, is that I am still terribly wounded by my loss in January. Yes, I was unhappy. Yes, it was unhealthy. But my heart still aches for someone I am crazy about to adore, to pamper, and to spoil. Very little in this world brings me such happiness. I do not enjoy baking or cooking much anymore. But now, I can only fix myself and ride these feelings out. Perhaps in time a man with the softness of heart, strength of character, and depth of thought to handle me will appear. Someone who will not merely tolerate my intensity, but bask in it. Someone that I cannot keep my hands off of.

Raise my umbrella to the sky and soldier on — I walk alone.

Healing

Posted in health, love on June 3rd, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Healing

My beloved city of Saint Paul has been often dark and stormy of late; the rain is still a welcome miracle to this drought-scarred Texan. Therapy is going well, I think. It has primarily consisted of unravelling the damage both created and churned up by the relationship I left at the beginning of this year, and further, why I have struggled so much in the process of letting it go. Two people, so unfathomably toxic for each other — one defensive, insecure, unpredictable, and controlling, in my opinion — and myself, anxious, free-spirited, lonely, and too enthusiastic. Incompatible life goals selfishly swept aside by both parties from the beginning. Two broken assholes, bewitched by each others’ charms, caught in fleeting moments of togetherness and hope. As I touched on in this video, failure is anathema to me; a dogged and motivated problem-solver, it has been difficult to internalize the idea that I cannot fix anyone but myself. Nor is it my right or responsibility to; it is, in fact, the height of arrogance. The guilt and shame I felt for abandoning the relationship — for giving up — sent me into an emotional tailspin from which I have only recently recovered. Also, I have undergone the unwieldy task of sorting out my real issues from what I was patronizingly, and repeatedly, told were the issues. The amicable divorce from my best friend of twelve years, and smoothly-coordinated cross-country move, were never a source of trauma for me. It was the relationship.

I am getting professional help. I possess the self-assurance to show my face to the world and own my mistakes — mistakes that have informed me, that will not soon be repeated. I hope that he ultimately finds what he needs and wants out of life. He remains, in spite of everything, one of the most beautiful and fascinating men I have ever known. I regret that I lacked the experience and wisdom to have not entered the relationship at all — we might be friends still. I regret the subtle signs, and flashing warnings, that I ignored along the way for love. I do not regret the precious time we spent together.

A few weeks ago I began casually dating, learning to navigate those waters, while gradually rebuilding my confidence and self-esteem back to its previous state. Overall, it has been beneficial and positive. My lifestyle and workaholic ways do present a challenge to finding a compatible and suitable partner, but I have a clear vision of what I am searching for, with an increasing knowledge of what to avoid. I have shared many meals with kind and interesting people. In particular, I have spent some time in the company of patient, well-adjusted individuals who have helped me learn to trust men again, after this breakup, and an unpleasant rebound that left me feeling gross and manipulated.

I am rediscovering what it feels like to be treated like a person, and to have my needs considered in a genuine, non-self-serving, and respectful way. I am improving my ability to honour consistent and rational boundaries. Relearning how to share my thoughts and openly discuss feelings without fear of anger, judgement, or reprisal. Relearning what it feels like to communicate without having my words twisted into the worst possible conclusion. I am grateful for the chaste intimacy, tenderness, and insight that has been shared with me by men who recognized my current fragility — and responded appropriately. I am not only healing through this, but I am being made stronger. The journey has not been easy, but I am finally allowing myself to be happy.

I am a person. I am no man’s manic pixie dream girl.