Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety

I’m not a person to look up to. I’ve got a lot of problems and spend most of my time just trying to function properly in this world. But somehow I’m surrounded by friends and family who think I’m strong. In my mind, this is due in part to both pity and empathy. People either feel bad that I’m suffering or see themselves in my mess of problems. I’ll take either because at least people are thinking of me.

I smile. I joke. I laugh (loudly). I make sure I’m hot to trot when I leave the house. I live. But it’s not easy. I’ve got a voice in my head that reminds me every waking moment that I ain’t shit. And a painfully vivid memory that replays old feelings and moments I’d rather forget altogether. Both play at their own pace, when they please. They don’t need my permission.

I’ve been stuck in this vicious cycle because part of me allows it. I accept that I’m anxious, hurt, and traumatized. I live by these labels and use them to validate my transgressions. I hurt people and blame anxiety. It’s easy to live this way, but it’s even easier to end up alone this way. There’s a lot I can handle in this beautiful and terrifying world; experiencing life alone is not one of them.

Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety

I’m addicted to anxiety and pain. I never really thought of myself this way until I watched, of all things, this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I saw myself in the anxious contestant, Katya. She was a shining star, the epitome of humor and kindness. She was one of the most talented queens and always built up her competitors. But what I saw was a contestant who sabotaged herself into defeat. She had the talent to go all the way but gave up on herself too soon. I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to look back on my life and realized the reason I lost the things I wanted was because I mind fucked myself into thinking I wasn’t worthy.

I vowed to grab life by the balls, dig my nails in, and twist. There’s no easy way to change, so I just prefer to do it immediately. I’m working on being more confident, owning the badass bitch that I am. It’s a work-in-progress.

My first test was a painting party for my friend Nichole. I went in knowing that I’d obsess over the details of my painting and despair over the slightest mistake. I’m a perfectionist. But I made a promise to myself that I’d relax and just go with the flow. My best friend Nesh in tow, I knew I was set for a good day because if I failed to relax Nesh would knock some sense into me.

I vented any and all negative jitters I had about life before we got to the painting place. I didn’t want to go in negative.

Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety

Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety

Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety

When we arrived, we settled in and immediately enjoyed the chips and cookies our friend had set out. I was, of course, the first one to go for the snacks because I have absolutely no shame. Like if there’s one piece of cake left I’ll end up taking it while the polite people are faking like they’re not interested.

But we weren’t there to eat snacks. Our uber fun instructor named Amy arrived and got us prepped to paint the Eiffel Tower at sunset. I was excited, albeit almost 100% positive that I would not be painting anything close to the sample picture.

Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety

We started with the background colors and I was super hype with my brush. I was not careful, and I enjoyed not being careful. I did strokes as big as I wanted and didn’t worry about replicating the target picture exactly. It’s MY painting, so the only one who needs to approve of it at the end of the day is me. We may only have painted a few colors, but I already loved it and was so proud of myself.

When Amy felt like the mood was too serious and focused, she urged us to take a break and play a fun game instead. She passed out paper plates and issued a hilarious challenge: to paint a portrait of the person next to us on the plate. I immediately smiled at Nesh, but her face was faux-serious.

“You better not paint me white,” she said. I died, half because it was funny, and half because all I had was black paint and I didn’t know how to make brown.

Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety

Thankfully Amy taught me how to make brown or I probably would have been walking home that day. I was totally gagged by the portrait I made and the portrait Nesh made of me. I laughed as I presented mine and almost fell out of my chair when she showed me her artwork. I don’t know about you or anyone else, but I think it’s spot-on (except for the luscious eyelashes and eyebrow piercing she decided to add).

The rest of the peeps in the party presented their portraits, but only two would win awards from Amy. One was the best, and one was the… not the worst, but the most unique…? Needless to say I won the latter, except she gave me life by saying it was the Hot Mess Award. I won a coffee travel mug with a wine glass in it and bragging rights (which I will exercise).

Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety

We carefully finished our paintings, and I couldn’t have been happier with the result. From a technical standpoint, mine was probably the worst in the room. But nobody was going to tell me anything. Mine was a Flores original and I loved it like my own child. I loved it because I had fun. I didn’t stress out. It was a product of positive vibes, patience, and laughter.

The day meant more than celebrating a friend, or painting a picture–it meant that I was growing. I was learning not to let anxiety control me. I was learning to have fun. I had left worry and negativity at the door.

Since then things have been so-so. I have good days and bad days, but I always remember to take it day by day. Sometimes I hurt and sometimes I want to give in, but I won’t. Even if it’s not always for the love of myself, I fight to change for my Mom and for the friends who have been there for me through thick and thin, the ones who have seen the ugliest parts of me and stayed. I want to be a better person for them and for me.

Gay on a Budget >> Addicted to Anxiety

I don’t know if tomorrow is going to be a good day or a bad day, but I don’t care. Today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow. I’ll deal with it then. For now I just want to say to the world, and to myself: I love who I am. I’m not a person to look up to. I’ve got a lot of problems and spend most of my time just trying to function effectively in this world. But I’m living. I’m trying.

monday links #5

Image of the nine people murdered in the shooting in Charleston, via Twitter

If you’ve been on the Internet or watched TV in the past few days, you’ve probably heard about the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. A monstrous man, whose name and face I refuse to share (because this), murdered nine black churchgoers in cold blood.

There are no words for a tragedy like this, no words to describe the horror and suffering these nine people went through in their final moments, and no words to explain how their family and friends are feeling as the world watches their losses and grief.

What can be easily described is the action that the criminal responsible undertook: terrorism. But the color of his skin (white) prevents his crimes from being classified as such. His skin also gives him the privilege of respect in the eyes of the law. He was escorted, calmly and safely, with a bulletproof vest by police–while a week or two earlier, in McKinney, Texas, a young black teen in a bikini was thrown around and forced to the ground for talking or not moving quick enough or y’know, for being black.

America is a land of white terrorism, from the Ku Klux Klan who terrorized black communities, to the white teenagers who shoot up schools because they’re upset with their own world. To acknowledge our terroristic roots is to acknowledge that white people are responsible for lifetimes of death, trauma, and oppression. And you know America will never do that.

Take this snippet from the New York Times:

“This is the privilege of whiteness: While a terrorist may be white, his violence is never based in his whiteness. A white terrorist has unique, complicated motives that we will never comprehend. He can be a disturbed loner or a monster. He is either mentally ill or pure evil. The white terrorist exists solely as a dyad of extremes: Either he is humanized to the point of sympathy or he is so monstrous that he almost becomes mythological. Either way, he is never indicative of anything larger about whiteness, nor is he ever a garden-variety racist. He represents nothing but himself. A white terrorist is anything that frames him as an anomaly and separates him from the long, storied history of white terrorism.”

Terrorism is defined as “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.” Does any logical human care to explain how this monster murdering black people to prevent some sort of black takeover he had in his sick little head is anything other than terrorism? It is wholly political. He didn’t know any of these people personally. He killed them because he belonged to a group that he wanted to hinder.

I don’t intend to use a tragedy to make a point, but for the sake of clarity on the issue, imagine if the victims had all been white and the murderer had been black or brown. Everyone would cry terrorism and use the act as an excuse to persecute other people of color. We make major adjustments in airports because of one threat of a shoe bomb, but do nothing with white people going on shooting sprees year after year. We live in a country of paranoid hicks and hillbillies so better gun control doesn’t seem like it’s going to be a thing anytime soon. In the meantime, let’s keep pretending that guns protect us.

I wish I had the answers to how we can fix our country, but I don’t. I don’t know how to make people stop hating people. I don’t know how to make the media start hiring people of color to write and report. I don’t know how to make white people wake up. I don’t know how to make people open their minds. I don’t know how many more generations of institutional racism this world will see before equality becomes even remotely a reality. What I do know is that America is a twisted place.

“In America’s contemporary imagination, terrorism is foreign and brown. Those terrorists do not have complex motivations. We do not urge one another to reserve judgment until we search through their Facebook histories or interview their friends. We do not trot out psychologists to analyze their mental states. We know immediately why they kill. But a white terrorist is an enigma. A white terrorist has no history, no context, no origin. He is forever unknowable. His very existence is unspeakable. We see him, but we pretend we cannot. He is a ghost floating in the night.”

monday links #5

Image via Twitter

The Atlantic covers why the Confederate Flag needs to be taken down in South Carolina, and everywhere else. Readers are reminded of the history that birthed this flag, and the hate it holds til this day. The best part of the piece, however, is that the writer calls out the cowardice of those who defend the flag. It’s not a word often chosen, but it hits perfectly. They are cowardly because they look away from the dark spots of their history in lieu of the “pride” and “heritage” that they take from that star-spangled bloody thing.

This is especially important to read for those who are not familiar with what the flag actually stands for. If the younger generations stay ignorant, we won’t be able to successfully fight the bitter old people who cling to this false symbol.

monday link #5

Image via Twitter

Let’s get one major thing clear about Charleston: RACISM IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS. The murderer was a disgusting racist, not a victim suffering from a sickness. There’s probably a lot wrong with his head, but I’m willing to bet that most of the problems are his own.

So I have a confession to make… I’m gay. I’m just kidding! That one’s obvious.

Umm… but I really love the Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic card games, and that is a shock to me because not long ago I thought they were the nerdiest things and I just assumed that people that played the games were like people in their basements with Doritos and stuff. But the games are a lot of fun and… y’know I thought Yu-Gi-Oh ended when the show ended, but it has not.

I’m not very good at either of the games and I’m usually good at most of the things I like. No brag, but it’s just the truth. But I’m not really good at them because I’m always like: which card is the prettiest or which card is the cutest. And that does not necessarily lend itself to a good strategy. And I’m also a really sore loser so I don’t really learn lessons well.

So I like them but I suck at them, so we’ll see. Maybe someday I’ll be like the King of the Nerds.