A long ramble

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Raffles
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A long ramble

Unread post by Raffles »

A lot of this has to do with gender, but I have opted to post it here because it has other elements mixed in. I'm also not really looking for advice. I just need to type it out and know that someone else has read it and witnessed it.

I keep ending up out in situations that I'm not comfortable being out in. It's because I feel like I should (when I'm in a position of visibility and power) or because I feel like I have to (I want to do it before I'm outed). My most recent situation is at work. Everyone wants a diverse and inclusive workforce until they actually have to be diverse and include people, like using singular they for an employee who asked for it. At every turn, I'm reminded of who I am. I'm constantly addressed as "young lady" and "miss" and grouped as "ladies" and "women."

This part will seem unrelated, but it will make sense later. I am currently looking for a place to live. I am working on finding an apartment with a roommate (a good friend of mine, but she was raised by some transphobic parents so she doesn't really "get it.") She is horrible at commitment and incredibly flaky. She has pulled out of a few leases at the very last minute. Because of this, I have to move back in with my parents. My parents are fine. They are relatively liberal, but I never want to be out to them ever. It's not for actual safety concerns, but for my sanity.

My life is going between work (where I'm seen and function as a cis woman) or my parents house (where I am a cis woman). I feel like I can't be myself until I have a space where I'm not at work or at my house or in public, and that never happens. I am constantly pretending to be someone else (in more ways than one) from the moment I get out of bed to the moment I can go back to sleep again.

I'm trying really hard not to be upset or angry, but my roommate recently pulled out of a lease so last minute that I had already started the process of registering with a therapist in the area. She was one of the few who take my insurance, is trauma informed, and is non-binary allied/affirming. Now that the rental has fallen through, I will likely live too far away for it to be feasible. If my roommate/friend completely bails on me, I might not be able to afford it if I have to find a place on my own. Even if I can afford it and can be close enough, my benefits don't start for another few months.

I know I need therapy. My bad coping mechanisms and Bad Thoughts have increased in frequency and severity since I have been put in this position. I don't have any friends I can talk to about this for any reasons, but a big one is my weird moral code and feeling horrible about talking about my feelings and asking for support and emotional labor. I don't have a mental health professional for the reasons mentioned above. I guess that's why I'm posting this here. I get that I'm supposed to feel like things get better, but I don't know how. I have to figure out a way to be okay until I can move out and afford treatment and my insurance starts, but it feels more difficult every day.
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Mo »

Hi Raffles,

I just want to say that I hear you, and I can definitely understand why this situation is so stressful for you! I'm really sorry that finding housing with your friend hasn't been working out. I do want to say, too, that it is okay to be upset about that. I don't think that's something you need to try not to feel! Being upset or even angry doesn't mean you have to vent that anger at your friend in an unfair way or anything like that. I say this because I think that trying not to feel hurt or negative emotions can make it a lot harder to deal with them.
Raffles
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Raffles »

I sent my friend a text explaining what I felt and why (not the first time it's happened in this searching process). I think I was firm but fair, but I still wish I were more able to control my temper. She responded, and I guess the search is still on. Hopefully I'll be able to hang on and then find some help in the area we end up in. The place I was looking at does offer telehealth, so maybe it's still an option. I just need to not lose my mind until my insurance starts and I move out.
Raffles
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Raffles »

I think the other thing that I struggle with is roles. At work, I have to be an adult. At home, I revert to a weird childish role. The only time I feel comfortable being myself is when I'm alone, but then I worry that I won't be safe, especially if I'm having a day where my thoughts run away from me. Again, I guess I'm just going to have to figure it out for the next few months.
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi Raffles,

I'm glad the search is still on, and am hoping you get to find a more comfortable living situation soon.

What you're describing with those contrasting roles makes a lot of sense, and while all of us have to adjust depending on our role in a situation, I know for you it's probably pretty extreme and stressful sometimes. Do you feel like the role you have with your friends is at least a positive one? Does it feel like you can be more yourself around them?
Raffles
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Raffles »

I'm not sure. When we go out to lunch and hang out it's good, but I'm worried the dynamic may change. She has been through a lot of the same things a previous friend had, and I'm worried it will turn into another relationship where I'm the therapist again. The roommate already sort of trauma dumped on me and was like "let me know if you can't live with me because of my ptsd," which was awkward. I told her it's fine because it is, and it would be hypocritical of me to not want to live with someone who has mental health issues given my own. I just don't want to have to be her therapist every time I'm home.
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Sam W »

Does that feel like the kind of thing you could bring up if you two end up living together? Like, as part of establishing the house rules for living together, you talk about what emotional boundaries you each need to have?
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Raffles »

I'm really not sure. Boundary conversations haven't traditionally gone well for me. I don't want her to feel like she can't talk to anyone, especially now that her insurance is changed and she can't speak to her actual therapist.
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Carly »

Hey Raffles -- Something I'm seeing in your recent posts here is that though you don't want to be your friend's live-in therapist, you're also willing to do that because you feel bad she can't talk to her own therapist. Something I have noticed from all of your threads and posts is that you are very careful with the feelings of others and very intentional about the way you communicate, which are wonderful qualities to have. But remember that what you need is also important, if not more important than what you think someone else needs. As hard as it can be to really let this sink in, how someone responds to your boundaries is their responsibility, not an indicator that you should have different boundaries. I know conversations like this are daunting, but considering the situation here and what you don't want... I think this is something that might be worth pushing through the discomfort for, for your own mental health.

At what "level" do you honestly feel like you have the capacity to listen and process with your friend? What are some things you are ok with and things you are not? Maybe making a specific list here could help you sort out what you can say that can maintain a balance of being there for someone you care about and having solid boundaries.
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Raffles »

I think there are two problems. The first is that I know what it’s like to feel completely alone and not have anyone to turn to. I’m lucky that I’ve found message boards, but I know not everyone can do that. The other problem is that I don’t know what it means to have a limit. I feel like if I’m still breathing at the end of the day, then I have more to give. Nothing horrible with happen to me if I listen to her and help her, but something bad could happen if I don’t. I guess I just have a really hard time feeling like I deserve to be cared for, so I try to give it to everyone else in case they feel that way. I’m incredibly afraid to let anyone care about me because it might lead to dependence and hurt feelings and making them feel like I’m using them.
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Michaela »

Hi Raffels,

From what I've read, it seems like you have a lot of empathy for this friend but you are having a difficult time taking care of yourself in the ways you take care of others. If you would like we could talk through what some boundaries and limits could look like for you. However, I wanted to check-in with you if that is something that you want because you did mention how you were looking more to simply express what you have been feeling and to be heard.
Raffles
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Raffles »

Either way. I feel like I’m a little too messed up on the inside and stressed about the outside world to make any positive changes in my life, but it can’t hurt to hear what I should be doing. I know I need to work on finding a support system outside of the boards, but people tend to either be nice or affirming and never both. Or they are really busy/otherwise difficult to reach.
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by valerie4 »

Hi Raffles,

It sounds like you have a lot going on. I wanted to take a moment to pause on your most recent reply. There's a lot of negative talk in absolutes, like saying you are "too messed up' to make "ANY posititve changes". Additionally, there's a bit of writing off of people being able to meet your expectations. I'm naming this not to shame it, but I wanted to point it out because it might be contributing to these overall negative overwhelming feelings. While things might be really difficult, I know there are some ways, even if they are so incredibly tiny, that you can make some changes that impact you positively. Even just admitting the possibility that you have the capacity to make a small change is a change in and of itself.

When you say that people are "either nice or affirming but never both", what do you mean by that? Could you give an example?

I wanted to talk about what you said in relation to setting boundaries about what you can give."I don’t know what it means to have a limit. I feel like if I’m still breathing at the end of the day, then I have more to give. Nothing horrible with happen to me if I listen to her and help her, but something bad could happen if I don’t." I think we should start with trying to define what a limit means. From what you've written, it sounds like you define it as your physical literal breaking point; the moment your body stops being able to function. I want to shift limit from ability to capacity. Your physical body is not the only part of you that has a limit. Your mental health is also a huge factor that is being erased here.

So what does the difference between an ability limit vs a capacity limit look like? You've already named one of your capacity limits. Its around your gender identity. You are at a limit of having to perform an identity you don't claim and accept people's misgendering without conflict. This is exhausting you. Even if you were in a space where you felt comfortable to correct people's misgendering of you, you would eventually reach of limit of how often someone does that to you. This understanding of limit needs to be extended to how you have capacity to help others.
It doesn't sound like you have capacity to be the emotional support for your friend/possible roommate. Sometimes, people's access needs around physical or mental health conflict. You are not a bad person for being unable to handle the needs of someone still processing their traumas.

What happens when we continue to give past our capacity? A bunch of stuff! Including compassion fatigue. Using a quick definition from online, "Compassion fatigue comes from helping others—you want to keep helping, but you're overwhelmed from being exposed to the trauma of others. Like burnout, compassion fatigue is a process. It takes time to develop. It keeps building slowly, to a point where you start to not care about yourself or others in your life." Pushing past you limit can actually end up making it harder to provide proper support for others. The reality is your friend needs professional support. The consequences of you not being able to provide that support does not fall on you. In fact, it could be helpful for you to politely suggest this might be something worth discussing with a professional. That can do more good than providing support you don't have capacity to provide in the first place.

But more importantly, it can lead to you not caring about your own well-being which I think you've listed above. One of the biggest steps in being able to find good people to be in your life is recognizing that you deserve that type of care. You deserve a friend who cares as passionately about you as you do to the friends you have. And you need to have the capacity to remember that as you search for the support you need. Having a limit can directly relate to you finding better people in your life.

This was a long response so let me sum up some important things. Critically think about how your thoughts remain in absolutes or "all or nothing" thinking. Try to redefine what the concept of a limit is to you. And try to leave just a little space in your heart to remember that positive changes CAN come your way. And you deserve them. Let me know what you think about all this.

Best,
Val
Raffles
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Raffles »

Hello, Val. I'm not sure we've ever interacted, so hello! It's good to "meet" you.

I think my recent posts came off as way more negative and dire than things actually are, and I apologize for that. Things are hard, but I'll figure it out. What I meant to say is that I feel a lot of my energy is going towards work, and by the time I have time to work on myself, I'm too tired or busy to do anything about it. It can lead to feeling hopeless. Also, I think it's less of a fear that people won't live up to their expectations and more the fear that I will overstep their boundaries if I do open up and/or not being able to live up to their expectations of being a functional adult human being. If people like me and want to spend time with me, they already exceed my expectations.

I can give a few examples of people being nice or affirming. There are several people in my life (all of whom I've very grateful for) that have supported my education and career path, but have made less than positive comments about trans, specially non-binary people. For example, they have praised me for my new job but then made fun of a non-binary person in their own work place, going as far to call them "it" and " the heshe." Others have made fun of the idea that gender is a social construct but supported my choice to go into a field that isn't know for high financial outcomes. This isn't to say that they are bad people, it is just to say that, while I appreciate their support, I wouldn't feel comfortable coming out to them for the above stated reasons.

The people who are affirming in my life are not my peers, which makes it inappropriate for me to reach out to them for help. These people include a previous supervisor, a former professor, a former teacher, and a new coworker. I understand that these are all professional relationships that should be respected as such, and I don't expect any sort of emotional support from them. A different example is the scarleteen boards. You are all very kind and affirming, but I never meant to share so much about my mental health. That is my mistake, and I aim to reduce my posting frequency because I know that this is not the focus of scarleteen.

Capacity is difficult for me to imagine. I have lost more than one person to suicide, and I don't want to do it again. I especially don't want it to happen because I feel like I need "space." I didn't reach out when I should have because I thought other people already had and I felt like I had too much on my plate because of school stuff. Now I feel that bad mental health day for me will ALWAYS be better than a dead friend or relative.

My roommate is trying to/was getting professional help, but her insurance changed or stopped and cannot afford out-of-network care. I don't want to strand her (or anyone, for that matter). And yes, it does lead to me not caring about my well-being, but that is also partly because I have gotten very used to living with my brain the way it is. I know how to cope, but not everyone does. Why waste time on trying to make myself feel a tiny bit better when I can help other people feel a lot a bit better and navigate a crisis?

I have a really hard time with the concept of "deserving," but I'd rather not get into it. The long story short is that hearing that I "deserve" things besides basic life necessities (food, water, shelter) makes my skin crawl. My friends are good; they are just having a hard time. I think the support I need (and would be willing to accept) is professional, but I need to wait for my insurance and hopefully find someone who is affirming and willing to work with me.

I don't mean to sound argumentative. I just want to give a little more context to why I operate how I do and why it's very difficult for me to stop.
Carly
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Carly »

Hey Raffles -- up top I wanted to say that I think you're a very good communicator and I don't think your recent posts were argumentative. Sometimes disagreements can feel that way, especially online, but I think you're being clear.

Something else I wanted to bring up is that you originally created this thread to vent and said you did not want advice. I wanted to remind you that you're in control of how this thread goes, this is your space. When Michaela checked in about this previously and asked if you wanted to vent or talk about boundaries more, you said "either way." I gently point this out because I wanted to emphasize that there is no correct answer. We're here for you, any way you need us to be. What makes us happy is our users using our boards the way that is fulfilling and affirming for them within the boundaries they set with us. Setting a boundary with us in this thread will not disappoint us or make us any less interested or happy to talk through anything else in the future with you.

With that said, what would be most helpful for you right now? Does this thread feel like a space you're using the way you need/want to?
Raffles
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Raffles »

I'm glad that I didn't sound too argumentative. I spend a lot of time thinking before I write so that I don't type something impulsive, but even so it can often be hard to get the right tone across in an online written format.

It is good to hear that I haven't disappointed people and that I can return to the boards as needed. I feel I've been pushing it with this thread, and I am working to reel it back in.

I also want to acknowledge that it isn't just my space. It belongs to anyone who wishes to respond. This thread is only 50% mine. The other half is input from staff/volunteers. Whether or not it goes into advice is really only half of my choice. If that's the direction others wish to take it, then I respect that and can follow that.

It is true that I did not start this thread for advice and my ability to be receptive to it depends on the day, and it did veer into advice territory. However, I don't feel great about leaving my last post without a response. I've had a string of situations where I've been vulnerable and it's gotten me ghosted, and it doesn't feel great. I don't like the idea of saying everything that I did and then leaving it hanging. Even though I probably won't be able to act on the advice given, I know it's good for me to hear it and be able to return it when I can.

That said, I understand that the team is busy and going to the effort of writing advice for a person who can't use it is probably not the best use of time. I am well practiced in the art of "oops I said too much and now it's awkward and they aren't responding," so I will be fine. Up to y'all. If you happen to have time, then I'll definitely read what's posted. If not, nbd.
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Michaela »

Hi Raffels,

It is your choice in what you want out of this thread, we are here to support you. The ways that we can help are to be a virtual ear to listen and support, provide advice, answer questions around any of the topics on our website, help you to understand something you've read on the website or something else going on in life, and to provide a community to discuss topics not just with staff/volunteers but also with other peers. We are more than happy and have time to be here for you in any of those ways.

How does it sound to take a little time to think about what you are looking for out of this space at the moment?

As always, we are here when needed :)
Raffles
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Raffles »

Huge post incoming.

I agree that I need some space, but I feel like I can’t leave until I’ve said this. I feel weird about how this thread unfolded.

I first posted to vent about two co-occurring situations in my life. I hoped, but did not expect that someone might be able to empathize. Fortunately it did happen, but things went downhill from there. I posted about what was happening with my roommate in the heat of the moment, and I know I shouldn’t have done that. That’s where things started to go off the tracks. We started to talk about establishing boundaries which, I’m learning, is a conversation topic that I am not capable of handling well. It lead to my long post on August 11th where I shared quite a bit of personal information. My posts were mixed in with suggestions that I should set a boundary for/wasn’t setting a boundary with/was having a boundary overstepped by scarleteen. This was restated on August 12 after my long post and that halted the thread.

As it is by now clear, I don’t I have a very good understanding of what feeling respected/heard in a conversation about boundaries feels like. While I appreciate that volunteers/staff asked me if I was okay with the way the conversation was going, I tend to interpret asking me if I’m uncomfortable as an observation that I am or a statement that they are (a me problem, not a y’all problem, but I think it provides helpful context). Asking me to set a boundary or state my needs when I have communicated multiple times that I struggle to do that is like asking someone who can’t swim well to jump in the ocean. On top of that, I feel like I went to the embarrassment of opening up to be left hanging, something that has happened quite a bit this year.

In short, I felt like I was being pulled in two opposing directions. On one hand, I was opening up about the complexities of the situation. On the other, I was asked to set a boundary to how much I was willing to share and accept. In the end, I feel like I’ve taken a step backwards in my ability to be vulnerable and in my ability to understand and use boundaries. It’s no one’s fault, just expressing my feelings on what happened. I do not intend this summary and reflection as a blame game, I just want to share what happened from my perspective and how I feel now.

Going forward, I would like at least a little resolution/response to my big August 11th post if possible. Again, I don’t feel great about doing a big vulnerable thing and then having the conversation redirected towards setting a boundary when it’s obvious that I’m unable to effectively do that in most parts of my life. After that, I’m probably going to avoid conversations that might end up about boundaries/posting in general for a while. I really don’t think I have the mental ability to do that right now. Yes, I’m aware that’s all-or-nothing thinking. I just really can’t. I need to deal with one thing at a time, and frankly my mental health isn’t my priority right now. Getting through the day is.
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Heather »

Hey there, Raffles. I'm so sorry to hear you're feeling this way. Let's see what we can do to try and make it right with you.

It sounds to me, in reading this, like trying to resolve this in a semi-public space like the boards probably isn't going to help you feel better, since you're already expressing feeling overexposed as it is.

How would you feel about moving this conversation to a more private space, like working it out in email with our manager, Rachel, or having a closed chat in our live chat system? We can schedule a time that works for you for the latter if you'd like.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Raffles
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Raffles »

It’s okay. I really don’t feel like the public space is a problem; it’s more the content of what I shared and then was left without a response. I don’t have a strong preference where or when this conversation happens or even if it does.
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Heather »

Okay.

Do you want to have a conversation about that share now? If so, can you link me up to the URL of the post where it is or starts? I'm happy to engage with anything you want to.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Raffles
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Raffles »

Sure. There really is no pressure to respond to it now or ever. It’s just a preference, not an urgent need. I won’t be able to respond for a few hours, and I’m okay with it being a slow back and forth.

I’m not sure if this links to the post, but here’s a link: viewtopic.php?p=62813#p62813

If not, it is my post from august 11th at 7:15.

Thank you for being willing to continue the conversation.
Heather
scarleteen founder & director
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Heather »

Of course, and thank you.

I’ll get myself caught up with this today, and dig in tonight or tomorrow morning.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
RachelG
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by RachelG »

Hi Raffles, Rachel here -- I'm Scarleteen's People Manager. I'm popping into this thread to let you know that Heather has had an extremely urgent family emergency and isn't going to be able to respond to you for at least a few days. If Heather needs to be out for longer, I'll pop back in and keep you updated.
Raffles
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Re: A long ramble

Unread post by Raffles »

Hello Rachel! No worries. Take the time that’s needed, and I hope Heather is okay. It’s really okay if this is where the conversation ends. It is not urgent or pressing. If someone else feels okay stepping in or Heather would prefer that, that’s fine too. I really don’t want this to be a stressful thing for anyone. No pressure at all.
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