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[personal profile] jewelfox
Inspired by [personal profile] avia's post, this is a list of Stuff You Should Know if we're going to be friends, or in any close situation like rooming together. Most people don't need such a list, but then, I'm not most people. ~.^ And hey, it could be worse; it could be Richard Stallman's!

First, I've got weird sensory issues and "triggers."

You know how an Iraq War vet might dive for cover if she hears a loud noise? That's what a trigger is. Except that instead of surviving a warzone, I survived sexual and emotional abuse from my church and family. I'm also autistic, which means my senses work differently from most people's such that
  • Something you enjoy might be painful to me,

  • I may "shut down" from sensory overload in an intense environment,

  • and I spend more time fondling my DS than I do actually playing it.
Srsly guys, you have no idea how good polycarbonate plastic feels.

Anyway, the point isn't that you should be all "Oh my God I need to walk on eggshells around her." It's that if I'm not comfortable with something, I need to get away from it right now -- as in put distance between me and it first, answer questions later. Don't be surprised if I walk out on a game or a movie; it's not you, it's me.

I may have trouble hearing you, either because I can't filter out background noise or because I'm wearing earplugs. On top of that, I have trouble making out spoken words to begin with. I may ask you to repeat yourself multiple times, and will probably be really embarrassed about it. I may also spend a lot of time pacing, or doing other stuff that takes my mind off of where I'm at. I'm okay with that, and you don't need to worry about me. I'm rarely bored.

If I get overloaded I may start talking like GLaDOS, take a long time to reply and to finish my sentences, or stop talking altogether. Onoes! [personal profile] rev_yurodivy may be able to translate for me, and I should still be able to nod or shake my head to simple questions like "Do you want me to turn this down" or "Would you like to leave?" If you're concerned, just ask if I'm okay. If I don't answer, have Yuro talk to me. If I start breathing fast, I'm having a panic attack and you should have Yuro hug me or escort me outside immediately.

Second, I'm sensitive about personal identity issues.

I'm male-to-female transgender, bisexual (and probably demisexual), sort of Taoist / neopagan (I worship a Shinto kami), and a median system made up of two otherkin who are also furries. If you don't know what any of those things are, or want to know what they're like, you're welcome to ask. But if I feel like you're being incredulous, or teasing or mocking me, that's a major trigger right there. Because there have been a lot of times I've had to justify my existence to people who could take it away from me.

Unless you are on my journal reading my stuff, I am probably not going to "flaunt" my identity in any way that's more obnoxious than wearing gender-appropriate clothing and a fox pendant, or cuddling and scritching my mate. I'd like to do more, but I don't want to argue or weird people out. I just want to be myself.

If I hear you diss someone who belongs to a minority identity group, I am going to call you out and proceed to educate you about them. The correct response in this situation is to say "I'm sorry, I didn't know that." If you instead make it clear that you do not wish to be educated, I will probably leave.

Third, I have trouble setting healthy boundaries.

I grew up in a cult, and my parents and church leaders guilted the H3ll out of me to make me do what they wanted me to. Because of this it's easy to manipulate me, and I may end up committing to something I'm not ready to do because I feel guilty or obligated. I may not realize I can't or don't want to do it until I've had some space to myself.

Please don't be upset if I change my mind about something I agreed to do, even in the middle of it. It's hard for me sometimes to think about what I want, or to realize that I can't do something because it's triggering or it's beyond my abilities. If I do have to back out of something, you may need to reassure me that you're okay with it so I won't feel rotten.

If you're not okay with my backing out of something, please at least don't pretend like you are. That'll just make things worse.

Finally, here's a list of stuff I can't or won't do.

I don't expect most people to read this, but if you're a close friend or intimate partner you may find it helpful. The list is incomplete, and is probably out-of-date as I may expand my comfort zones or discover new triggers.
Sensory issues
  • Loud noises give me a headache. I really do not enjoy loud music. If you see me anywhere there are loud noises, I'm probably wearing earplugs.

  • I have trouble hearing over background noise (especially while wearing earplugs).

  • I hate touching wooden utensils or velvet.

  • I need to have room to stretch my legs when I'm riding in a car.

  • I have a lot of trouble sleeping in the same room as other people, especially if any of them snore. If I know that I'm going to be in that situation, I'll bring a truckload of sleep aids, and I may still end up pacing outside or finding someplace else to crash.
OCD compulsions
  • I rinse my hands after touching food or anything sticky, and use hand sanitizer after touching anything "unclean" (or use napkins or paper towels to avoid touching them). Unclean things include the floor, shoelaces, door handles, your hands, and anything handed to me by another person.

  • I won't eat anything that your hands have touched, including food that you hand to me (without using a napkin to pick it up) or that's in a bag or a bowl that you reached your hands into.

  • I have to rub my fingers across keys as I type sometimes, as well as the edges of doors; Magic cards, dice, and minis; and items I pick up and examine in stores. I'm trying to wipe off every trace of my sweat that I leave on these things. The upside is that all my stuff's in near-pristine condition. The downside is that it looks weird and gets really annoying ... to me. No, I don't want to do this.
Abuse-related triggers
  • Pop music about sex is terrifying to me.

  • Explicit artwork or photos, especially of the male body, makes me extremely nervous.

  • Talking about Mormonism, Christianity, or authority figures usually makes me nervous, because all I can think about are their victims. If I hear you defend them it terrifies me, and makes me think you're okay with me being hurt.

  • I'm okay with some violent scenes in movies and games, but others really disturb me to the point where it ruins my day. I don't always know which is which. If it seems drawn-out or torturous, or involves screaming or innocent people, it's probably going to hurt me.
Financial issues
  • I'm poor. If your idea of fun involves spending more than a few dollars, and isn't something I really want to do, I'm going to have to sit it out.
Ethical issues
  • I'm vegetarian, leaning towards vegan. I may examine ingredients labels or refuse to eat something, even changing my mind once it's already prepared. I'm very aware of how people see this, and I feel rotten when I have to do it.

  • I try to avoid milk, eggs, cheese, refined sugar, chocolate, and tropical plants unless I feel they were ethically / humanely sourced. Sometimes I make exceptions for things that are on clearance, or that would otherwise get thrown out. No, I don't look down on you for buying stuff that I wouldn't.

  • There are a handful of companies I don't want to buy from because I find their business practices questionable. Taco Bell has a bad reputation in the transgender community, for instance, and after a few years of tech writing I'm leery of Apple and Amazon. No, I don't look down on you for buying stuff from them. No, I'm not a hypocrite if I recommend their stuff or end up buying from them.
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