added in while transcribing
was said in recording, removed on transcription
what’s your story? she asked
I’m not really good at stories, I replied.
this is not a good answer
this is not the best answer.
she makes a comment about getting the information from the other people there later. part of me is relieved. Later I wonder if that was intended to be a warning, or an indication that my reply was heard as possibly a threat.
Trying to be transparent, I say I would love to hear what they have to say, if she wanted to ask them now.
When I evaluate this statement in the light of the other possible interpretation, I realize that instead of indicating a willingness to be open, I might instead have just come across as more threatening. Or perhaps just off-putting.
The next morning I realized what I should have said was:
“no, really. I’m not good at stories.
have you ever seen the youtube videos of old carl sagan lectures? where he says ‘in order to bake an apple pie, you must first invent the universe’?
well, that’s me. but with words.
In order to tell a story (or a joke, or how my day went) – I must first describe to you the invention of my universe. (The one at that moment, which – by the way – is different from the contextual universe for any other story, joke, answer that one may want later.)”
And I’m not sure how to communicate this fact to people yet. That I am just not on the level of stories yet. I don’t have the story skills. I realize it seems so intuitive and natural to some people. But it doesn’t to me. Mostly on a structure level, but also to some extent in terms of focus.
The thing is – I never really know what it is that people want to know when they ask me that question. I never know what information is most important to them. I think another reply that could be – at least a little bit better than a complete non-answer – would be something like:
why don’t you tell me what values you structure your paradigm, and I will give you information relevant to that.
Why don’t you tell me what values and structure your paradigm has, and I will give you information about that.
Except I think that would be a long process as well. Maybe not as long as me trying to go through, you know, everything that’s popped into my head of my own history. in as chronological an order as possible – which generally isn’t very chronological at all. it starts off somewhere in the distant past and then bounces everywhere as connections are formed and jump out of my mouth before I realize what I’m saying.
Plus not everyone responds well to paradigm-speak. Not everyone talks that language and even those that do are not necessarily interested in sharing that. Just because I love digging into the perception and value structures that inform and undergird people’s choices and construction of identity does not mean that everyone I talk to does as well – or wants to do so with me. Or right then. *sigh*
here are some things I’ve found. at the very least I seem to be up to short sentences level. that’s good. catch phrases. I’m at catch-phrases level. eventually maybe I will get to paragraphs. then maybe entire pages. someday. someday I will have an entire story for you. but right now, here’s all I’ve got:
I am easily distracted…Sometimes, I am easily distracted by strong personalities.
- I like to flirt with the edge.
- I need to watch and listen. For a while. Because words are hard.
- I need to…. ok this is actually not a catchphrase, this still needs to be clarified a bit more I think. I need to watch things and language usage and whatnot in a new group. I need to understand the language people are using. Everything is code switching for me. Or rather, I have yet to encouter a way that people and groups do words that I am not having to constantly and actively translate in my head. (*1) And even in groups where I’ve been watching the language people are using for a while…
- It’s often difficult for me to switch from listening mode and talking mode or from observing mode to participating mode. They are two distinct headspaces for me. If I can gradually ramp into the talking/participating mode, then I can get up a great head of steam.
- but at that point I don’t have a lot of experience sharing.
- and I want to learn.
and this ties into the other thing I thought of that I could have told her. Which is that I’m a baby top. (Or perhaps, baby switch is more accurate, as I still get great value out of submission and masochism and bottoming, and I still have a lot to learn in those areas. I’ve just been playing in those waters for a while now and the other waters are far more vivid – if for no other reason than that they are very unfamiliar and I am very uncomfortable in them. [Keep in mind that that’s part of the appeal for me – I seek out discomfort. Figuring out what kinds of discomfort serve me and are effective in getting me to where I want to go and which kinds are just destructive (which kind support my growth and which kind hinder it might be another way of putting that) has been and still is a process, but an incredibly valuable one that I have every intention of continuing.] )
I’ve spent quite a bit of time in this lifestyle, in this subculture, doing this stuff… but it’s all pretty much been from the submissive / bottom side. so those are the social roles I am most comfortable with. those are the communicative roles I feel I can be most responsible in. there are people and social groups that pull out….
so if you organize your social world (or your thinking about social groups) this way, then I’m very comfortable in a beta position. high-functioning beta (or maybe “specialist” flavored beta might be a better way to describe it) perhaps, but beta nonetheless. beta that
you know can b-be in charge of other people, perhaps (still skill building in this area but I’ve made some decent progress and am at the point where more experience is going to be the most effective way of getting better). but I’m still more comfortable with a guiding hand here. ( of course I’m super picky about the hand…)
but there are people that pull up that alpha in me. and I want to be more comfortable in it.
I run into problems because I feel like, sometimes, that alpha place is motivated from a less than flattering part of myself. like, “oh, you’re clearly incompetent. here, let me tell you what to do.”
and I don’t know if it’s actually motivated from that place, or if I just don’t have any other ways of expressing it (even to my own self). because I do very strongly believe in separating behaviors from the person doing them. and I’ve really only become comfortable with the idea of taking on this kind of role since I made that connection in my head – that I can help teach and show people different behavior options and let them decide. Back when I thought of it as more being motivated out of a judgment of a person in their entirety – I didn’t want to be a part of something that spoke “you’re not good enough” to someone. I couldn’t see that being positive enough to be worth some (admittedly heady) sexy times. Framing it this way is the only way I really feel that I can ethically take on a position like that and have the confidence that I’m in the best (and a viable) position to do as little harm as possible. To make sure that I’m not inadvertently reinforcing toxic and destructive narratives without thought. This is part of my being Informed, and part of my being Responsible. I know the power those positions can hold, and I know the subtle nature of shaming language, and how insidious all of that is. I knew it instinctively well before I had the language or knowledge about it, and I wasn’t going to combine those two until I had a better handle on those things. Now that I’ve identified the things that were giving me pause, I can begin to move forward. Of course I’m not going to be perfect, and of course there are a lot of skills that go into being effective at this, but I have an idea of where my ethical boundaries lie and I have a handful of ways to identify when I’m getting close to them. The rest is time and practice. And oh, what fun that promises to be. 🙂
So I’m actually really interested in learning… and exploring… how I might be able to express a more assertive side of myself in a significantly less dickish fashion. b/c the models that I had… left a lot to be desired. No, that’s not quite right. It’s that the models that I fall back on, that I understand well enough to do extemporaneously are still those problematic ones. Because I also have lots of good models and I have for a long time. I think part of the reason I’m drawn to strong tops that I respect is bc I’m still trying to build a data pool for how to act in that situation. that is less dickish than the ones I instinctively revert to when I don’t know what else to do. and when switching to beta /observation mode isn’t an option.
I also just, you know, I want to play in general. except that I do have another
big ethical question about that which is… how does one build skills? I mean, I can flog a pillowcase. I just don’t know that I’m getting any feedback from it, and feedback is an essential part of how I learn. Specifically how I learn to apply knowledge to action.
I don’t know what people need to feel safe. I do think that the person who asked that question needed an answer from me to feel safe. Or, more likely, that my lack of answer made them feel something in the emotional family that includes words that can range from uncomfortable to unsafe depending on other factors. and so I feel that I fucked that up a little bit. but that’s the way that it is. there will be times. and we will hang out in similar social events perhaps and I will have maybe… another opportunity to not be weird and to be a bit less reserved and whatnot so that people can maybe get to know a bit about me.
and you know also, the question came late at night. after my meds had worn off and after this very powerful personality had swept in and had given us this… burbling rendition of their dinner that was highly amusing and *see distraction catchphrase above and… *sigh*
and there was lots of signalling going on. these are people who are very socially comfortable. just… throwing information out there and seeing who picks up on what. it’s a skill level that I admire greatly and I do not currently mirror.
I never know how to respond in a situation like that.
I suppose if I were more conscientious or something, I would prepare more ahead of time. except I still never know what to prepare. everything I’ve tried to prepare(*2) is either a reference to something like a carl sagan video that most people don’t care about or have never heard of, or…. more along the lines of longwinded and incoherent. Like this blog, for example. *grins*
and that’s really it. the people I really need to prepare most for are the ones that (have different cultural reference points but are similar in other ways, perhaps?) I don’t speak enough of their language to know how to adequately prepare for. I want to learn their language. and in order to that I must hang out with them. so I’m working on that.
(*1) Roles, and how group structure works, I think also falls into this category. Or rather, it’s a prerequisite to really understanding words. I see roles as informing how those words are understood.
(*2) why yes, virginia, I have in fact googled ‘how to be not-awkward’ and ‘how to be funny’. I do actually have books like “how to listen” and 92 tips and tricks on ‘how to talk to anyone’. when I make the comment that I was a horribly undersocialized puppy – that’s actually less metaphor/joke than most people seem to take it as. I have spent the last several years doing intense accelerated learning. and I someday I’ll be more than happy to show the progress I’ve made to anyone who wants to see just how undersocialized a person can be and still pass as a funcitoning human. just as soon as I figure out how. but I think I need a bit more work first before that’s viable. 🙂