Clarkisha Explains: On Happiness, Survival, and The Rejection of Self-Destruction

I am…happy.

I know what you’re thinking.

That’s great, Clarkisha, but how is that relevant? And what does that have to do with me?

As always, that is an excellent question and maybe to you, I am just spouting straight nonsense and uttering unintelligible musings. But if you are any kind of survivor who has encountered the mental fuckery that ensues when you no longer have to just “survive” anymore….this is relevant to you and you know what I’m talking about.

The TRAUMA!

So, where to begin? Ah, well, if I were to give you the equivalent of a roundabout ESPN highlight, I’d say that I spent the first couple of days this year dashing all my petty fears and it paid off in a *major* way. A surprising way. And a fairly romantic way. All ways that are foreign to me and usually elude me.

I slid into someone’s DMs. And it…worked? I was NOT roasted. And now I cannot believe that my Chicken Run ass took this long to say something, mostly because saying that we have good chemistry and that good times await would be such an understatement.

Now fast forward to some weeks later and a bitch. just. can’t. stop. smiling.

It’s…odd! I should be relishing this newfound giddiness, right? And the stomach flips should be fun, right? And what of the butterflies?

Shouldn’t I be leaning into that too?

I should. Normal people would. In fact, normal people wouldn’t question such happiness. Or elation. Or straight-up JOY! But my depression and my PTSD have equipped me with an [un]healthy suspicion when it comes to good things happening in my life. In whatever part of my life. Some, like Teen Wolf, call it regression to the mean. Except in the case of Teen Wolf (and you know, psychology), the phenomenon has more with extreme things happening in a singular place or time in your life and eventually swinging back to a place that’s more neutral, so to speak. This means things won’t always be terrible but also won’t be great 24/7. For me, the negative side of this phenomenon is usually what I experience and it manifests itself when life is either going great or okay, but I can’t help but think that shittier times are ahead and that I would be naive to not prepare for them. That I would be remiss to just throw myself fully into my happiness because I don’t want to get caught off guard by something catastrophic because I was too busy being a sap.

I CAN’T STOP.

I call it the “When Will The Shoe Drop?” Syndrome. And because I’m me, I take it further. There’s always a question of how long my happy situation will last. If I’m projecting. Whether this is truly a reality or just an illusion. And if there’s a person who is one of the focal points of said happy situation (be they a friend or whatever), there’s always the additional question of how long it will take before they grow tired or annoyed with me. Or if someone put them up to this. Or if, quite frankly, they took a wrong turn and simply ended up here. With me.

This string of unhealthy hypotheticals always threatens to rip me from the happy situation I’m currently in and put me in some of the darkest corners of my mind. I know this because it’s a pattern of mine (and perhaps yours, too) that I’m fairly aware of and that I have been trying to break and not succumb to, for a very, very long time.

I remember when I first discovered this was a thing (college). At first, I thought it was a normal thing and that it was just my way of looking out for myself and not being so quick to fall for the okie doke. You know, because I was being wise! Emotionally cognizant. Wiser beyond my years.

Basically, all ways to tell me that my trauma had effectively changed my life but, you know, make it fashion!

Still. I thought I was so smart. I thought I had life all figured out. And then someone on Twitter succinctly stated that there was no way for us to thrive (but mainly me) with the coping mechanisms we had developed and refined for survival. And that doing so was a recipe for ultimate failure, and most importantly, self-destruction.

It left me shaken for a really long time.

I say this because normally I would have ignored such a fairly topical and pointed tweet (because I’m so fucking headass), but because I had briefly dabbled in therapy before I couldn’t afford it anymore, my therapist had made it clear fairly quickly that some of the coping mechanisms that I had used to draw lines of demarcation between me and my family or to emotionally shield myself would bring me nothing but misfortune in the future.

“You have a tendency to be self-destructive, [redacted],” she once said. And this is before she dragged my life by pointing out how weird I get about happiness. And how I eventually isolate myself from the person or thing who is bringing it to me. Compare this realization to that oddly-specific and well-timed tweet and I found myself asking myself why the fuck I was like this and how the fuck I could possibly fix it.

If you’re anything like me, maybe that’s something you have been asking yourself too. And the truth is…I don’t have an easy answer for you. I’m lucky because my person in question has known me for a minute and is semi-aware (semi because I’m not so sloppy that I’d reveal all my good and bad quirks all at once LOL) of how…neurotic…I can be sometimes. And they’ve also made it safe enough for me to talk about this shit with them so they that they have the chance to reassure me when I’m doing the absolute most. I realize everyone doesn’t have that and I don’t really take that lightly.

#Blessed

But still. What are we, recovering survivors, to do in the interim as we attempt to return to “normal” and untraumatized lives? With or without help in tow? Again, that’s a good-ass question. Part of me is sometimes self-defeatist and wants to accept that this is just my reality and that I have to come to terms with the fact that happiness, if it doesn’t elude me, will never sit well with me. But the other part of me knows what a crock of unhealthy bullshit that is and how it is ultimately imperative for me to unlearn all this shit.

And that’s the thing, too. Unlearning unhealthy survival coping mechanisms is a tall order and it doesn’t happen overnight. But it must be done. Because one (unless you’re a bigot) deserves nice things and one can either
develop new ways to truly handle said nice things (like happiness, contentment, and joy) or they could face the possibility that the various ways in which they “survived” in the last couple of years will surely destroy them if left unchecked.

It’s your move.

20 Queer Q’s with Matt Rogers

The 20 Queer Qs series seeks to capture LGBTQ+ individuals (and allies) in a moment of authenticity. We get to know the subjects, what makes them who they are, and what they value. These intimate conversations aim to leave you, the reader, feeling like you just gained a new friend or a new perspective.

This week, get to know comedian, entertainer, and co-host of the Las Culturistas podcast, Matt Rogers. Learn about his hopes for the LGBTQ+ community in the future, what his queerness has given him, what he feels insecure about, and more.

Name: Matt Rogers

Age: 28

Preferred Pronouns: He/Him/His

Sexually Identifies As: Gay

1. What do you love about the LGBT community? The various point of views you get within it. I think something you think before you’re actually in the community, is that everyone is the same. You see a kind of antiquated image of the gay community on television, especially in the 90’s when I grew up. The community is so varied, interesting, dynamic, and I’m happy to be a part of it.

 

2. Do you think it’s hard to make queer friends? I don’t think it’s hard, but I definitely think you have to get over yourself. We make it harder for ourselves, and I think one of the symptoms of being gay is that you second guess yourself all the time because that’s what we’ve been told to do and that doesn’t make friendships easy. I’m lucky I’ve had my friends that I’ve been close with for 10 years and having people to go out with and meet people with has made it easier, but when you meet someone new when their super interesting, you feel like you want to make sure you’re good enough for them and I think the insecurity that we all have that is ingrained in us just due to the experiences we’ve been through. That’s what makes it hard to open up to people in terms of friendships and romance.

3. What does pride mean to you? It’s the sense of safety in operating in your full potential as a human being and that’s expressing your joy to the max and having that received by the people around you.

4. Do you think LGBTQ+ youth have it easier now? I don’t like this hierarchy of struggle. Every individual is going through something and I think we need more compassion across the board. I don’t like it when my generation scolds the younger LGBT community. I think we have a lot more in common than we think. I’m so reverent and appreciative of the older generation. They had to go through something I couldn’t even imagine. It’s tragic what this community went through during the AIDS crisis and I think that’s trauma that’s with this generation and they’re angry because they never had to go through that.

I think we look at the younger generation and think, “Wow you’re allowed to be gay at 11 years old.” But at the same time, we don’t know what it’s like to have social media surround us at all times. When I say I don’t like the hierarchy of struggle, I don’t like to compete in terms of pain. I think everyone is entitled to their experience and what’s important is that we have compassion, it’s not that we remind each other that we’ve had it harder than anyone else, even if it’s true. Because it is, there are sects of this community that have had it extremely difficult. Specifically speaking about trans women of color, [they] are the most persecuted, disrespected, berated, and pursued negatively people on this planet. I think it would be ridiculous on this planet to say that they didn’t have it rough every single day. But I also think we should have compassion for everyone. In terms of these younger kids, they’re still grappling with their identity and are still in the minority and still need compassion.

5. What advice do you have for LGBTQ+ youth? Don’t be afraid of other individuals that are also different. Foster relationships with people that you find a connection with. If you feel a connection, foster that, because your community is going to be your family one day.

6. Do you believe in love? Yes.

7. What are values that you look for in an ideal partner? Patient, non-judgemental, gets it in terms of humor. You don’t have to be funny, you just have to get it.

8. Describe what being queer is like in 3-5 words. Girl, we are getting there.

9. What are your thoughts on people who say “masc4masc”? They’re people who are not going to get my attention or anyone’s attention who’s worthwhile. It’s a ridiculous thing to say which is a gross symptom of our community which is the app culture. It’s one of the ways in which the ugliness in our community is living out loud. It’s so gross and we’re so much better and [more] beautiful than that.

10. What hopes do you have for the LGBTQ+ community in the future? Happiness. I hope that for everyone, I hope that everyone can just get to a point where they say I love myself as much as I pretend to or as much as I see. I hope we can walk the world and be safe.

 

11. Is there a LGBTQ+ TV show or movie that has had a great impact on you? RuPaul’s Drag Race had the greatest impact on me, because the concept of “You’re born naked and the rest is drag” changed my life. … I realized that there are no rules, the only rules that you make are the ones that you impose on yourself. And that is so liberating.

12. What’s your earliest memory that you felt you were different? When I was little, the characters that I wanted to act out in the yard were all female — and my parents acted weird about it. My mom even asked our doctor about why I was doing that and the doctor said,  “It’s because he’s very smart, he wants to take on different personas.” I was perceptive enough to understand that my instincts were not “normal,” and it was gauging that from the reaction they had.

13. What do you feel most insecure about? My body,

14. What do you feel the most confident about? My sense of humor.

15. What’s your relationship with your family like? Very good, very positive, I’m very lucky in that regard and I see them often.

16. Have you found your chosen family? How do they make you feel? Absolutely 100%, and I’m so lucky. Oftentimes when I’m at Thanksgiving with extended family I’m like, “Why aren’t i with my real family?” It’s so true what they say, it’s such an integral thing for a gay person is to find those people

17. On a grading scale from F-A, how is life for you right now? A-. In the grand scheme of things, I can eat, I’m out here pursuing my goals, I do what I want, I have good family, my family and friends are healthy.

18. Have you ever felt/do you still feel uncomfortable holding another guys hand in public? Yes, unfortunately because no matter where you go, you are exposed and you hear horror stories. This is something I think people need to understand. You cannot fully understand the full experience of someone who is different or a minority because you don’t have those small instincts. Like when I hold someone’s hand in public, that’s marking yourself vulnerable and there’s a lot of crazy people out there.

19. Who is someone in your life who gets you? Bowen Yang, my best friend understands me 100%. We have a sort of sixth sense with each other, we’re very empathetic to each other, we often speak in the same cadences at the same time.

20. What value/quality has being queer given you? What have you gained? It’s given me my sense of humor and that’s everything to me. It’s given me my point of view which is great to pair with a sense of humor.

Listen to Matt’s podcast Las Culturistas wherever you listen to podcasts. Keep up with him and his upcoming shows in NYC and LA on Twitter and Instagram.

Queer Abby: Rapid Fire Dog Advice

Dear Readers, because this is a queer column, I get a lot of questions about pets — dogs in particular. This week, I present a cache of rapid-fire dog advice, written from a home full of tennis balls and chihuahua fur.

Dear Queer Abby, 

Why is my jack-chi such a dick on his leash and such an angel off of it? What’s the fix?

Wacked out in Wyoming

 

Dear Wacked, 

Leash aggression is real! 

As time-consuming as it may be, I do believe in positive reinforcement training. When you see another dog on the street, I want you to take out the best treat in the world (something stinky and chewy and meat-like that your dog will go bananas for), get your dog’s attention, make him sit, and then say some word, like “FRIEND,” in a nice voice as you give your dog the treat while the other dog passes by. 

It will take a while, but your dog will eventually get the picture that when a dog appears, it means he sits and gets a treat. 

In the meantime, project calm, assertive energy as your speed-walk past other dogs, and if people’s off-leash canines run towards you and they let out an easy-going “He’s friendly!” I want you to yell “MINE’S NOT!” and furrow your brow as them as you calm-assertively power-walk away. 

There is no reason to let your dog sniff strangers if your dog isn’t having a good time doing so. Sorry, strangers. 

Good luck. 

Q.A.

Dear Queer Abby, 

My dog is like Beija (Queer Abby’s anxious former dog, as described in the book Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home, of 16 years who disliked men and children, who barked and jumped at people and peed on the floor with regularity). 

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. How did you cope?

Signed, 

Stressed in Schinecktate

 

Dear Stressed, 

There are no bad dogs. Perhaps your dog isn’t doing the things you wish she could or fulfilling the destiny you’d hoped for her, but I know for absolute certain that there are times when she is comfortable and happy. She may be a terrible candidate for the dog park, or for babysitting, angry at posing for photos and hard to hug, but acceptance of the things she *can* do is going to offer you more than counting her losses ever will.

Focus on those moments of dog joy and appreciate her for who she is. If she’s like Beija, those are times when she gets to go for a walk in an unpopulated area, when she furiously wags her tail for a really good breakfast, or when she gets to roll on her back in the sun, grinding the scent of grass or a rope bone into her fur. 

Part of accepting these moments of joy is setting your dog up for success. If there are things she faithfully fails at, don’t make her do them. If she is going to pee in the house while you’re away, confine her to an area with puppy pads. If she is always going to bark at the door at 4 p.m. when the mailman comes, keep her in a different part of the house with the radio or white noise. 

Your anxious dog doesn’t mean to be bad, she’s just, in the greater scheme of things, reacting to a giant frightening world.  

Your dog is so so lucky to have you. Keep the faith!

Q.A.

Dear Queer Abby, 

My 4-year-old dog has a mast cell tumor and the excision is going to be really big. She also has six other growths that are growing, and the cost of the excisions is around $1200. The other growths may not be mast cell tumors, it’s possible it’s just the one. 

The biopsies are $200 each, and the vet says sometimes they grow back faster after removal. I don’t know what to do. 

Signed, 

At the end of my rope in Ann Arbor

 

Dear End, 

I’m so sorry to hear about these tumors in your very young dog! There is almost nothing worse than the feeling of your finances intersecting with monumental decisions regarding your loved one’s health. 

A sentiment that serves me in many situations is: More Will Be Revealed. 

Note: I am not a veterinarian. I’m not even a vet tech. I’m just a person who has handled dog cancer and end-of-life decisions for several senior pets. Please consult with a  professional, and just take my word as a sympathetic friend & dog-comfort advocate. 

With the vet’s approval, I think you should get all the tumors biopsied. Your dog is young. This is information worth having. 

If you can get rid of the tumors in one sweep and know your dog stands a good chance of being cancer-free, then wonderful, and it is worth the money to save your dog’s life. 

If your dog is just riddled with malignant, cancerous tumors that will continue to return no matter what you do, and if these tumors foretell the slide towards the rainbow bridge in spite of medical intervention, then I don’t see the point in putting your dog through unnecessary surgeries.

If this hospice-leaning scenario is the case, I think you should make your dog as comfortable as possible and give her the absolute best year that you can. Invest some of that would-be surgery money in the best raw or homemade food, dog walks, beach trips, and the fluffiest dog bed imaginable. Get a dog toy with the loudest squeak, and treats with the strongest smell. 

I’m rooting for both of you. 

Ponyo and I hold our wands to the sky for your pup. 

Sincerely, 

Q.A.

Dearly Beloved, Should I Let My Boyfriend Go?

In this week’s Dearly Beloved, the advice column from author Michael Arceneaux, our dear reader is wrestling with whether or not to break up with a boyfriend. It’s not just the distance between them harming the relationship, it’s that they come from two different worlds. In one, it’s legal to be gay. In the other, not so much.

If you want Michael’s advice, just email him at [email protected] with your question. Just be sure to include SPECIFICS, and don’t forget to start your letter with Dearly Beloved!

It’s a thing.

 

Dearly Beloved,

A few years ago, I fell madly in love with a guy I’d never even met. I’m not this type of guy. I’m always the one who would tell my friends in long distance relationships that they were acting stupid, so it took me a long time to accept that this was what I was doing, and that this guy was more than a friend to me.

Things were going great up until last year. We had plans to meet, we talked about a future together, but it was all derailed when he was pulled for mandatory service in his country.

Where he’s from, it’s still illegal to be gay, which also played a factor, because the army found out about our relationship. It was found he committed no crime, but he still doesn’t talk to me the same way.

A lot of stressors before this led to a breakdown in the relationship, which led to a period where we would do nothing but fight, despite having had not a single fight for the almost three years up to that point. He’s become someone I don’t know. He’s angry all the time and constantly trying to blame me for things that aren’t my fault to make me feel bad. He’ll tell me he couldn’t call or text because his phone was confiscated because they saw me texting, when in reality it didn’t happen. He’ll tell me his service got extended because of things going on between us, when in reality the whole batch got extended.

Right now, I just want to be able to give up on this relationship. I love him incredibly, but I also can’t stand it anymore. He wants it to be over, but he keeps saying things like “maybe in a year” or “maybe when this is all over” and all I can think about is getting back the sweet, loving, caring guy that made me fall in love from thousands of miles away against all my better judgement.

I don’t know how to deal with these emotions, and I feel I can’t really open up to my friends about it. I really need some advice.

Thank you in advance.

Love,

Jamie

Dear Jamie,

What I learned as a teenage boy with feelings for other boys I couldn’t communicate with in person out of fear — so I turned to the internet — is that you can absolutely fall in love with someone you have never physically met. If your mutual attraction gives way to real intimacy, it can absolutely happen. You’ve admittedly learned that now, though I am very sorry about the situation you find yourself in.

Unfortunately, you two cannot be together — at least not when he is the military, and arguably, his native country.

As for his hardened character, it may be frustrating and it may hurt you, but forgive him. It may not be right, but one imagines he has taken on this harder exterior as a means of protection. He knows who he is. He senses those around him know, too, thus he faces imminent danger at every second of his life. That is an impossible situation to be in.

I’m sure, he, too, loves you, but you two just aren’t good for each other. It is neither of your faults. This is the fault of his nation and the homophobia that informs its policies.

Maybe one day you two can reunite and have the relationship you both deserve. But if not, at the very least, you got to meet someone that made you feel. Don’t let how it burned out blind you to that.

I realize none of this will comfort you in the interim. That is understandable, so I will just feel the sadness until you think it’s time to let it go. Just don’t blame him or yourself for how this turned out. You both were wrong, and for that, again, I am sorry.

Signed,

Beloved!

Kiss My Astro: Your January 2019 Horoscope

As we say goodbye to 2018, we’re also bidding a fond farewell to a whole mountain of drama. Some years try the patience of saints, and last year was one that tested every relationship at just about every level. Eclipses in Leo and Aquarius brought into question where we belong and if we’re fundamentally lovable (most acutely for people with planets in Leo, Aquarius, Taurus, and Scorpio). Meanwhile Jupiter in Scorpio had us all digging up our buried psychological wounds, and to top it off Venus retrograde tossed six weeks of relationship review into the mix. Luckily, we’re all coming into 2019 with more information and a clearer sense of what we’ll no longer put up with. Let’s raise a glass to finding the kind of connections that improve our lives. Let’s create the experiences that help make the world a little kinder, a little sparklier, a lot kinkier—whatever energy you want to call into the new year. For extra insight, you can find me for readings and custom astrological portraits at flaxandgold.com. Happy new year! 

Aries

After a year of slowness and inner work, it’s time to dust off your dancing shoes. Welcome a new sense of vitality, curiosity, and energy. You may need a little more freedom in your relationships this year—you’re being called to follow what inspires you, what helps you come alive. Don’t get trapped into thinking you’ve seen it all and done it all. Now is the time to be the badass you know you can be, and begin a new adventure.  

Taurus 

In many ways this year will be kinder and gentler than last year, but there is one major hitch: you don’t get to stay in your rut. In March, Uranus—planet of queer liberation, sudden changes, and everything out-of-bounds—is moving into your sign and will settle in for the next seven years. Now is the time to consider what changes you’ve been resisting that will really improve your life—don’t confuse being comfortable with being happy. Let your routines transform, and welcome something strange and wonderful into your world. 

Gemini

You definitely don’t have time anymore for some of the people you used to find entertaining. You don’t have to be mean, but you can step away from any scene that’s making you feel more worn down than lit up inside with some inner flame. This is a year of choosing the people who are good for you, not just the ones who make you feel good for an hour or two. Get serious about what matters to you most, and who shares your values. This year is inviting you to focus, prioritize, and even commit to the relationships that help you live your best life.  

Cancer

This year will bring you some pain but a lot of gains with it. You can always choose to avoid pain—and miss some of the rewards that may come with it—or choose the path of growth. Like emotional weight-lifting, you’re learning to endure a certain level of discomfort so that you can get much, much stronger. Particularly, pay attention to how you act when you feel vulnerable. Becoming more open, calmer in the face of criticism or rejection, steadier as you don’t internalize other people’s projections—these are the goals you’re moving toward this year, and it begins with prioritizing self-love. You are much stronger than you think, and this year gives you plenty of opportunities for stepping into a kind of power few people have. 

Leo

Of course you look fabulous when you’re dressed to impress, but remember that you get to be adored for your full self. You’re at your most charming when you’re suffused with some kind of inner joy, not when you’re giving everyone what you think they want to hear. This year invites you to remember what fills you up, what makes your eyes sparkle, what helps you claim your full body—and work it. This is a time when your magnetism is extra high, but remember that the goal is to connect from the heart or you may feel unseen and empty in the end—whether you’re looking for a long term love or a super casual hookup. Don’t chase meaningless experiences—casual doesn’t have to mean empty. Make every connection something real, something to remember. 

Virgo

The families we choose are often just as messy as the ones we were born into, so when I say this is a year to focus on your family I know this won’t feel hella cozy to all of you. But family is what’s up for you this year. You’re in sore need of a place—or a group of friends, a collective, a poly network—that will help you know that you belong, that you are loved, that you are necessary. Partnership can help with this, but you need more than just one person to build a home. This year, spend some time addressing whatever blocks you from opening up to this experience—to choosing and being chosen as family. There is deep love available for you, if you learn how to show up for it. 

Libra

Last year reset the clock for you, and this year finds you ready to make decisions about the path forward. Even the most introverted among you will find yourselves more sociable this year. In all the bustle of friendship and activity, keep saying yes to what helps you feel most alive and no to everything that feels like empty distraction. Find the words that have been waiting for you to name the things you haven’t yet named.    

Scorpio

You can’t always get what you want, but this year you may be in the difficult position of getting just that—so be sure you know exactly what it is you want! Many Scorpios have a healthy suspicion of anything that appears too easy, too “boring.” Really, you find it easier to trust the evils you know than guess what could go wrong in a situation that looks on the level. But 2019 is asking you to expand your perception and open up to new ways of sharing joy, pleasure, and sensuality. Remember that pain isn’t your only teacher, and that happiness doesn’t have to be boring.

Sagittarius

That extra-special glow you’ve got right now will last most of this year, and is a little like a lucky lottery ticket—you can spend it well, waste it foolishly, or forget you have it and never reap its rewards. As Jupiter moves through your sign this year, you’re being carried along by a gust of enthusiasm, optimism, and exciting new opportunities. Now is the time to act on whatever you’ve been dreaming about and too shy to make happen. Reinvention, renewal, and new connections are in store for you as you follow this thread of energy. Keep choosing love that gives you the freedom to change and grow. 

Capricorn

Some years test our grit; others offer us opportunities to soften. 2019 is such a year for you. You’re deep in a learning process, but your regular tactics (rolling up your sleeves, making a plan, tackling the hard work till it’s done) won’t help you here. Instead, this is a year of letting yourself be surprised—especially by experiences of tenderness, comfort, and caring. Don’t push something away just because it’s unfamiliar. Let yourself soften, open, and risk a little more. Sensitivity and true resilience go hand-in-hand.  

Aquarius

At last, you’re ready to turn around and walk away from all the questions that plagued you for the last few years. Your relationships have been full of surprises, revelations, and revisioning for some time now, and you’re finally ready to stabilize again. Take what you’ve learned and trust that the decisions you make now are better than the ones you could have made two years ago. Dare to reach out and take a chance on someone, but remember that where you’ll really shine this year is in your relationship with groups. What do you want to transform? Who do you want to do it with? 

Pisces

Little fish, this is a year for you to shine like some majestic sea creature bouncing rainbow prisms off your scales in an perfect arc of sunlight. Hope you’re up for that. What you’re aiming for is bigger and grander than anything you’ve done yet, but don’t worry—this is one of those years when you get to reap the rewards of what you’ve been working on for many years. Relationship-wise, this means you’ll have more eyes on you than you’re used to, which can bring all kinds of opportunities. Just remember that if you keep showing up honestly and with a clear sense of your strengths it doesn’t matter if you don’t feel ready. No one ever does. 

Queer Abby: Monogamy or Distance?

Dear Queer Abby,
I have gone on a few great dates with someone who lives overseas, so it’s not a realistic dating option. How do I stay open to them while also staying open to local dating? I am a monogamous person at heart.
 
Signed,
Puzzled in P-Town
 
Dear Puzzled,
 

My first question for you is – are they an option or aren’t they? What do you want in a relationship? If you are a workaholic or frequent traveler with a love of screen time, then perhaps distance is for you; but from your letter it sounds like you would like a monogamous date.

Monogamy and in-town are the best of friends.

Monogamy and distance are a tougher match, in particular if you do not have an end-game.

The beginning of a relationship, the sexed-out oxytocin-fueled mania called limerence, is a fever dream of potential.
Your body and brain want the love drug chemicals to keep pumping, so they will tell you: LOCK THIS DOWN.

However! They will also glaze over the sharp edges and reality of a person, leaving you an unreliable narrator in your own life. The only cure is time. Time will let the high wear off and reveal smells, ticks, and a person’s bad qualities. This is WONDERFUL, because you get to decide, unencumbered by limerence, whether those qualities work for you.

If no person is 100% perfect, and we are rounding up, I would like you, dear reader, to be clear-eyed when you determine if they are worth rounding for (i.e. if this is an appropriate person with whom to pledge monogamy).

I repeat: THIS WILL TAKE TIME.

Distance will give you intensive, time-crunched experiences in each other‘s worlds, but I promise you, it will not magically gift you the time-served you need any faster.

If I had to be prescriptive, I’d say visit each other regularly for four months before you betroth.

In the meantime, mix it up. Flirt in town. Go on some dates and remember that you can give and get romantic attention close to home. If your monogamous heart cannot stomach first dates as you wait for your beau, keep yourself as busy and nourished as possible. 

So much of distance is living in the past or present. I want you to keep a firm joyful foot in the now of your town. 
Move your body. See your friends. Fill up your tank with things you love nearby so you do not cloud your vision and narrowly focus on abstracted love. 

There is love nearby, platonic or environmental though it may be. I want you to hold it.

Love,

Queer Abby

Dearly Beloved, The Wrong Ex Wants Me Back

In this week’s Dearly Beloved, the advice column from author Michael Arceneaux, our dear reader wants direction on what to do about an ex he can’t shake. To all the letters Dearly Beloved received in 2018, “get over your throwback bae” was my most common answer. In 2019, are we going to do better? Not to be Pessimistic Pat, but probably not. Still, help is on the way.

If you want Michael’s advice, just email him at [email protected] with your question. Just be sure to include SPECIFICS, and don’t forget to start your letter with Dearly Beloved!

It’s a thing.

 

Dearly Beloved,

It’s been eight months and I can’t get over my last ex. He always seems to find his way to me mentally. I want him back in my life, but I know he won’t come back. My first ex came back into my life and I’m not sure what for. I feel as though there’s some sign I’m missing, but I wanted to seek advice before digging any further into it. 

A little info: my first ex broke up with me because he felt as though we weren’t compatible and he was very nervous and shy with me. My second absolutely adored me. We began to fall in love, but we broke up because his parents didn’t want us dating. We would secretly talk to each other for a few weeks before he said he no longer had feelings for me.

Signed,

Jacob

Dear Jacob,

There’s no better way to start a new year than by abandoning the bullshit of  the year before.

With respect to your first ex, I will say good for you having someone that dumped you crawl his goofy ass back your way to ask for a second chance. Sometimes people learn from their mistakes and you remember forgiveness can be so beautiful. Other times, it’s nice to just do a victory lap around someone who wasted your time.

As for the second ex, I think you need to run in the opposite direction of him. While I get that you two have a connection and chemistry, you have three people against you: his parents, and, apparently, the man himself. Perhaps his lack of interest now stems from the parental pressure, but either way, he’s communicated to you that he no longer has feelings for you.

If it’s meant to be, he will circle back (like the first ex) eventually, though as far as I’m concerned, it’s time for you to let him go and find someone who wants you and will have parents that won’t block your blessing.  

Signed,

Beloved!

The Hoodwitch Shares Her Advice and Wisdom for 2019

As we head into 2019, wouldn’t you feel better about the upcoming year if you knew a bit of what to expect? Say, if you had some advice from the supernatural?

The Hoodwitch, a sorceress otherwise known as Bri Luna, markets both a store and community online, selling what she calls “everyday magic for the modern mystic.” She joined with INTO and Refinery29 to offer some wisdom headed into the last year of the ’10s. 

Among the advice she gives: avoid stagnancy in 2019. “If you are a creative person, and you are feeling very blocked, I always say: solitude,” she says in the new video. “Go into nature, unplug, disconnect from the things that make you feel inferior. Do something that will change the energy, and shift it.”

For more of her advice, and to learn more about the Hoodwitch (both person and brand), watch the video below.

Queer Abby: I’m Going Through a Breakup

Dear Queer Abby, 

I was in a fairly serious relationship that went south. 

Long story short, we had a non-monogamous agreement, but in practice, it led to struggles, hurt feelings, and finally a loosely defined couple month “break.”

That break started four months ago. 

I cared very deeply about this person and wanted to keep them in my life, but after a couple of months, I sent an olive-branch email that went unanswered. I’ve realized I’ve been a little preoccupied with thinking about this abrupt and unresolved ending, going back and forth between sad and grumpy. 

What’s the healthiest approach at this point? A) move on, forget they ever existed and get rid of everything that reminds me of them, B) keep trying to reach out and establish a friendship? or C) something else?

Signed, 

Sad in Santa Fe

Dear Sad, 

I’m sorry to hear about your recent break/up. My opinion on the matter? I think you need a combination of options A & C. 

You need to accept that no response *is* a response. Anything that’s not a “yes” is a “no.” The relationship, for now, is done. 

It doesn’t mean this person didn’t care about you; it doesn’t mean they’ve moved on. It only means that they are not engaging with you right now as they once did. They’re no longer showing you that side of themselves. 

It could be that their feelings for you were so intense that they can’t even look at them right now because it makes them too sad. It may have something to do with their own inner demons or sense of worth. We may never know. 

One thing we do know is that ruminating on it and obsessing over what they may or may not be thinking is not helping the situation. 

You can reflect on your own actions and come to a place of taking responsibility for your part in the relationship’s demise, but you can’t solve another person’s silence. ESPECIALLY because you are doing so in an echo chamber, through your own particular filters. 

A romantic relationship can bring up old, ancient stories we have about ourselves and what we deserve or get to have. I would wager that any lack of interaction with this person is creating a vacuum that, when left to your own devices, you are filling with your own narratives that are tainted by your very particular, tarnished mirror. 

What can you do? I think you should write out your thoughts and feelings completely. Include the things you admire and adore about this person. I want you to write this out as thoroughly as possible in a journal or a word document, then let it sit for a week. 

In the meantime, be as generous to yourself and the memory of this person as you can. Try and find some gratitude for what they brought to your life. Meditate on the idea of this person having all the things you would want for yourself. Do you want them, ideally, to find love and support and acceptance and light? Think about that. Imagine them being as happy as you would like to be. Imagine yourself, too, having an abundance of love and support. What would that look like and how can you imagine yourself receiving it? I want you bathed in warm light, dear reader! I want a chihuahua licking your face as you drink a soy latte. 

Come back to your letter when you are feeling grounded and calm. Extract anything that is blaming, shaming, or defensive. Use all of your lesbian-processing training and employ “I” statements. Take responsibility for anything you think you did in the relationship that you’re not proud of. Let them know how you feel, how you felt about them, and what you wish for them or for your friendship moving forward. To use some dog terminology, roll over. If this person has been kind and trustworthy, show them your underbelly. 

Don’t try to extract interaction from them, just use this as a final statement, then (and this is perhaps the most important part) let go of what happens next. 

This approach is about keeping your side of the street clean. No matter what happens, I want you to know that you acted with integrity and were faithful to the most generous, loving, and honest side of yourself as possible. 

You are only in charge of 50 percent of what happens in any relationship, so after you lay this letter down, please know that you’ve done your part for them, and more importantly, you’ve done your part for you. You showed up for yourself. 

Some things in life are just meant to be temporary, no matter how much you’d like to hold on. 

I’m so happy this person brought you some light while they were here, but now it’s time for you to shine that on yourself. 

Turn the page. 

Queer Abby

Dearly Beloved, I Fell For The Guy Who Catfished Me

In this week’s Dearly Beloved, the advice column from author Michael Arceneaux, our dear reader encountered a problem many face while searching for companionship on Al Gore’s internet: he was catfished. However, instead of getting rid of the person who misled him while yelling something about a “fat ass Kelly Price” or “lambskin” or something from that MTV show, he continues to engage him. But surprise, surprise, the deceit continued, although there is some connection our dear reader can’t shake. Now, he wants to know what to do about it.

If you want Michael’s advice, just email him at [email protected] with your question. Just be sure to include SPECIFICS, and don’t forget to start your letter with Dearly Beloved!

It’s a thing.

 

Dearly Beloved,

Aight, so boom right…I met this dude 10 years ago via AOL chat rooms. He’s from the Gulf Coast. We exchanged pics then months later he reveals to me that he sent a fake pic. He didn’t think he’d fall for me and it was all a joke. So, I told him in order for me to believe him, he’d have to send me a HS proof. I’m sure you remember when taking HS pictures, your name was always written on the bottom.

So he does that and then we move forward. He lied about being in a relationship when he didn’t have to. He would disappear [and] then come around, and after interrogating him, he told me that he was in a relationship. I never understood why he had to lie smh. I wanted him to come up to visit me and he always had excuses. I went to MS to visit him. It was a cool visit. I wanted him to come see me and it’s been 5+ years [of asking him to].  

Fast forward 5 years later, my mom passed and I’ve really, really been MIA. So, he texts me asking how I’m doing. We have this banter, this back and forth that we’ve been doing for all these years. I’ve become distant really and I’ve blocked him, but I find myself blocking and unblocking him. I always have hope that our friendship will evolve, not into a relationship but a good friendship. I had feelings for him. I definitely was attracted to him.  

But we argue so much. He thinks it’s because I can’t let go of the past. I guess it’s a love/hate relationship… what do you think?

Signed,
Hopeful…

Dear Hopeful,

I didn’t anticipate becoming the narrator of a very special edition of Catfish. I usually only deal with catfish during the holiday with hot sauce and maybe wheat bread if I am putting my body dysmorphia in rice. But, here we are.

Believe it or not, I can understand the concept of falling for someone based on the connection forged after a period of conversation. Those types of connections don’t happen everyday, so again, theoretically I get how you could fall for someone so deeply that a deceptive act might not completely soil the bond made. However, the deception in question has nonetheless established a pattern.

For whatever reason, it sounds like the person you are concerned about is uncomfortable about something, and thus is unable to be completely honest with you. It’s one thing to lie about the picture. I don’t like it, but you let it go and continued conversing with him. Such was your right.

But, he went on to lie about being in a relationship. He very well could have his reasons, but he remains a lying ass liar. Moreover, you managed to travel to see him yet he couldn’t return the favor. None of this is fair to you.

Even so, you need to be honest with yourself, too.

I think you want more than a “good friendship” based on your explanation of the relationship and your reactions to the ways he has damaged it. So, ask yourself a few questions. Like, is he ready to be completely honest with you now? If so, can you stop holding the past against him so long as he can be honest with you? Ultimately, though, the larger question is can he give you what you want from him?

If he can’t, you need to process and then correct the issue however you see fit. I wish I could tell you that it will be easy for you to walk away from this, but we both know how untrue that is. I know from experience. It stings to find someone you know is the perfect fit if only he will just admit it to you and himself. But if they can’t, it will only torture you. I think you know that, too.

It’s time to do some real evaluation and preparation. Best of luck. Oh, and by the way, on behalf of Gulf Coast men, my apologies.

Signed,

Beloved!