Superopinionated is the personal blog of Courtneys Stanton. Based in Portland, Oregon, their posts examine life through the lenses of addiction recovery, intersectional feminism, and mental illness.

I Survived the Hardest Half of 2017: Six of One

The top of the funnel is shit and I’m not sure why I bother looking at it anymore. The world is depressing, but somehow seeing people fight the reality of what the world is seeps in and affects me more. I look back on my writing from early in the Trump regime and am even surprised at myself a little at how narrow my view was, focused solely on the US. With authoritarians in Russia and China, Brexit, the Literal Milkshake Duck in France, and “centrist means I hate gay people” in Germany, this looks pretty clearly to be the end of the idea of Liberal Democracy being practiced in global politics. Not “well democracy always fucked over many people in practice” -- I get that, I feel you -- I mean people adhering to a set of democratic principles and striving to be better, to improve how governments serve their people along those lines. Globally, that’s gone. The sooner people stop expecting consequences for things like collusion, perjury, and treason, the better. (“Better” is going to feel awful.)

Mid-funnel is, as I hinted at above, enraging. I want to slap every other white person in the United States, for a wide spectrum of reasons. I’m used to looking inward and finding that in reality, the person I’m angry at is one of my parents, but in this case I think I’m actually frustrated at all the white people. I grew up in one of the Redder states (Indiana -- any state where the Klan is allowed to march on my downtown is p red imho) (although given the anti-Communist climate I grew up in, the irony that the illogically jingoistic states are called Red these days is not lost on me) and so in some ways I have empathy for these folks. But mostly I see a lot of people, both "back home" and among white liberals, who genuinely don’t want to have conversations. So I just try to foster that in myself and keep myself in a place where I’m able to have conversations with the people I do encounter, in whatever space I’m in (online, in person). I muted the terms “David Brooks” and “Laci Green” on Twitter the other day because I was tired of seeing people talk about those two people as if they were conceptual art pieces. I don’t know y’all, these are just things that are helping me get through the day without being angry at shit I personally can’t change.

Ironically, life at the bottom is going extraordinarily well. Do you know what people want to spend money on in this anxious, terrifying age? For the most part, not experimental creative code! It’s been a long professional dry spell that is just now ending, but with that came a lot of freedom to throw everything at the wall because fuck it, we’re not busy with client work. Darius, Eliz, and I started a podcast about JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure back in the good old days of the XOXO Outpost, and we continued it when Stream PDX got set up again at Open Signal. Prepping and recording our shows is some of the most fun I have every month. Darius also started a Patreon for all his various creative side output and it’s going well enough that we were able to put off the “do we have to shut down Feel Train and get shitty day jobs” conversation. (T H A N K Y O U)

Last week marked six years of being married, and the entire year was rough. I definitely remember thinking at least twice, “Goddammit, I am not going to let the Trump administration lead to my divorce.” Not like we fought about politics, just that you have stress and then every single person around you suddenly is also stressed as well, plus you get additional stress, and it’s like, “oh this is helpful.” It’s gotten much easier again, because idk, the magic of hard work and communication? I called my mom at one point to talk and she tutted at me all, “aww, yeah, you two haven’t had to really work at all at this before, have you? Adorable.” Everyone likes to say “marriage is work!” and I think that gets mistranslated by folks as “stay in something that makes you miserable (while all your friends text each other going “YIKES”)” but I see marriage as a sort of entity or project that exists to benefit both people in it. It takes work because all projects take work, but that work should be improving you as a person and helping you grow and meet at least some of your individual goals. TLDR: you either grow together or you grow apart. So this was a hard “whoa we’ve both got some course adjustment grow-togethering to do” year. I’m told all couples go through this from time to time, and I will say, it’s awesome being on the other side of it.

Internally, I’ve done massive amounts of therapeutic work and am in the midst of “the heavy stuff” as my therapist put it. My process is very organic aka impossible to organize or really direct in any decent way, but apparently I’m nice and stabilized so my system is starting to regularly dig into bits and pieces of trauma history on a weekly basis. It’s draining and healing in turns. I’m getting used to carrying forward these tiny people and creatures, the hunted examination of my therapist’s office, the soothing recitation of where we are now and that we’re safe, feeling them unfold like origami inside myself.

I’ve been told by every medical professional I deal with by now that I’m extraordinarily attuned to the impact of this stuff on my body, which I credit to the three months of training I did in somatic therapy through the Cambridge Health Alliance’s Victims of Violence program. Being able to have a language around what the body is feeling is, well, empowering, because so much of the time still there are literally no words to articulate so much of the internal landscape, especially if it’s a new part or maybe...I don’t know. That’s the thing. It’s unknowable. I can’t even tell what’s going on inside my head, so I can’t tell my therapist, or you, it gets too chaotic and I can’t describe it, and trying to focus on it to see it clearer makes it even harder to access language. So being able to feel pressure or pain or sensation move from behind one of my eyes to my stomach, or part of my spine, being able to talk about my jaw feeling tight, something, anything, helps me feel in control of what is happening. That old theater rule that it's not real until it's said out-loud is at play, almost. And often the talking helps move something else, or shift a part forward or back, bring calm, makes things easier. (I told you: “very organic”)

I never know how to end these, I suppose because it isn’t over. This is just a snapshot of a time. Life continues on. I cannot believe it is summer. I cannot believe I am alive. I’m starting to think I will be alive at the end of this year. May I still have the power to describe it, then. Be well. Take good care. -- Courtney

2017 Draft Amnesty

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