Back in September, I posted about starting to use a time-tracking app (Gleeo). I used it very consistently and conscientiously for four months, right up until I reset my cell phone a few days ago and lost the app. I re-installed it fairly quickly, but haven’t properly configured it yet, so I’ve spent the past six days off the record. (Feels pretty weird not to pick up my phone and tap a button every time I switch activities.)
[I wrote this a while ago and never posted it. Re-reading it now, it mostly seems very melodramatic and weird and pseudo-poetic, but I’m queueing it anyway.]
This weekend, D is coming to visit, and I’m nervous about it.
I’ll have to share my tiny room with another person, to deal with someone else’s stuff cluttering the floor, someone else’s smell permeating the air (okay, this is not an issue with most people, this is just an issue with D), someone leaving bread crumbs and footprints and other dirt on my floor, someone breaking unwritten and unspoken rules I keep to about where to put and keep things and how to handle them. I’ll have to diverge from my usual routines and mold my life around him in some ways, to consider someone else’s needs, to deal with the uncertainty and spontaneity that automatically comes with being around another person (with some exceptions – I never feel that way around my father, curiously). I’ll have to cope with being observed almost constantly, and with the inhibitions that inevitably brings: about food, movements, how aware I am of myself and how much I keep in control of my face and gestures and actions. I’ll have to cope with the increased amount of noise – breathing and chewing and moving and burping.
And there will be touching. Given our less-than-stellar record at good consent practice, I’m also nervous about that. There will be situations I won’t be able to escape – a narrow mattress to share, mostly (put on the floor where it doesn’t belong, because my bunk bed doesn’t handle our combined weight too well, getting dirty and being in the way), and there will be many situations in which I’ll technically be able to escape but might not be able to in practice.
It seems so easy in my imagination – just say “stop”, or “not right now”, or “no hugging please”, or “I need a bit of breathing space”. But in reality, so much happens so fast and so often, and before I even find my voice my head is already filling up with fuzzy white cotton and pushing through all of it to get the words out seems like so much work and isn’t it much easier to just wait until it passes on its own?
It may be easier, but it’s not right. I am an important person in this world, too. My desire not to be hugged is no less important than his desire to hug me, and standing up for myself is no less important and valuable than standing up for someone else. I need to have my own back, here – I need to be the voice speaking out for the voiceless part of me.
And I know that this will benefit me, benefit him, benefit our relationship, make this weekend a vastly more enjoyable experience, pave the way for future equally nice or even better visits, build my interpersonal skills, develop my character in the way I want it to develop, and improve my mental health.
There are good things I want to happen this weekend. I want us to go swimming. I want us to have food and fun with friends. I want to practice driving (and drive without another person sitting at another brake for the first time, which is scary but exciting). And I want to relax during all those things, to breathe easy and speak freely and have a clear head devoid of any cotton clouds, to feel safe in the knowledge that if anything I don’t want happens, I will speak up for myself as clearly and as often as needed, and it will stop happening.
And dammit, I will make this happen.
Once again, it turns out that consistent blogging actually involves a decent amount of work and self-discipline.
This is not horribly surprising, since exactly these requirements also killed off my previous attempts at blogging, but it is somewhat disappointing that it also applies to this blog, which was intended as a really low-quality, low-effort blog right from the beginning rather than a blog filled with thoughtful, in-depth analyses incorporating lots of facts and citing all sources. I figured that since I spend a considerable amount of time navel-gazing anyway, writing some of that down and posting it would not take much more effort.
The second result in my assertiveness research was a shortened version of a whole chapter on assertiveness training on another site, which has 15 chapters on different topics in total. Chapter 13 is titled “Methods for Developing Skills”, with a subsection called “Assertiveness Training“. (The title of the subsection is at the bottom of page 17, but the link leads to page 18, because that’s where the actual content starts. Sloppy layouting.)
As with the first result, I’ll quote sections and comment on them as I go along. (If you only read this blog post, your view of the quoted site will be negatively biased, though – I quote things to nitpick, not to agree.)
I made my first foray into looking for tips on becoming more assertive today by typing “assertiveness practice” into Ecosia (it’s not the best search engine, but suffices for most purposes, and it plants trees), squinting suspiciously at the first three results, skimming through them and scoffing loudly at everything remotely scoff-worthy.
Then I remembered that becoming more assertive is actually important, that I should be searching out and soaking up all useful things instead of mocking the rest, and realized that a contemptuous and reluctant mindset might put me at a disadvantage there. So I took a deep breath and started over.
The very first result is a page geared towards people with disabilities. Pro: it uses simple, straightforward language, which makes it super easy to read. Contra: it offers a self-test which I immediately took (because yay, self-tests!) and which asks you to mark statements such as “You have a right to stand up for yourself” as true or false. This seemed somewhat simplistic and made me doubt if I’d find much useful stuff on this particular site. I moved on anyway, because you never know.
Below, I’ll quote passages from the site and offer my comments.
I worked out for the first time in two weeks and five days yesterday!
I had planned to start again right away when I got back from Sweden, but, as various philosophers and psychologists have theorized and probably everybody knows from personal experience, it takes a certain amount of willpower to work on self-improvement when one could also continue doing easier things instead.
I managed to get my brain to cooperate by firmly telling myself that I would feel happier after and even during the workout, and supporting this assertion with past memories of this happening. (It might be anecdotal evidence only, but for better or worse, that is the kind of evidence that works best on certain parts of the mind.) I am happy to report that I turned out to be correct, giving me another memory to use in future persuasion attempts.
I wasn’t sure what to expect after the break, and initially, my fears seemed justified: the bodyline work (a lot of different static holds, to be held for up to 60s each) felt harder than usual. However, the actual strength exercises went just as well as beforehand, possibly even slightly better (I managed to touch the bar at every horizontal row!).
I don’t know if the initial difficulties were due to imagination or a lack of motivation (static holds are the worst) or something else – the only other possible cause I can think of is that usually I work out halfway between two meals, neither full nor hungry, and this time I was hungry. Does low blood sugar interfere more with static holds than exercises? Did my body just need a little more time than the warmup to adjust to exercise? Who knows! I’m looking forward to finding out how the next workout will go.
Until then, I might finally make myself a workout playlist; it would probably help to have one.