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Tag: Gender Identity

Fairy Dust and Awesomeness

IMG_0516My body is changing. I’ve talked about it before.

It’s confusing, disorienting…scary.

I can’t hide my boobs anymore, because they’ve grown too much.

I have massive cleavage in a sports bra.

My hips and thighs are bigger, rounder, more curvy.

My body is growing into more of a “woman” shape than I would like it to, personally.

And sometimes it’s really easy to feel betrayed by it, as I move fluidly between genderless/genderneutral and somewhat demigirl?

The confusing path of my gender identity that I wrap in the titles of femme-presenting non-binary and genderqueer.

Feeling like my body is betraying who I really am isn’t unusual for me. It’s been doing that since I started having periods.

It’s easy to hate myself right now – to hate my shape, my weight….

To hate it in the night when I can’t get to sleep because my boobs are in the way, and my bones and muscles are unsure of how to hold all the sudden…extra that occurred, leaving bright stretch marks and dull aches in it’s wake.

It’s easy to hate it when I have to re-learn how to use my body, because my belly is softer and rounder, my skin rolls, my thighs are bigger, and I generally take up more space than I’m used to.

 
More space than I ever have.

 

It’s easy to hate it when I feel like I have to be small, invisible, and take no room because I’m not worth having space.

It’s easy to hate because I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know how to be growing, physically, changing sizes. Even as a child my growth spurts were few and far between. I was 3’6″ until I was nearly 10. I was always underweight, and my mom made a point to note how even at barely 100 pounds and age 16, I was bigger than she was at my age.

I don’t know how to be okay with letting my body be.

And I don’t think many other people do either.

We’re socialized to hate it. To hate it because we take up space, and people who were assigned female at birth are also trained from birth not to take up space.

I went to the doctor the other day, because having a period means I need Women’s Wellness Exams.

Anything related to periods and uteri and….general having the ability to reproduce tends to trigger a beautiful dysphoria fun time.

Easiest time to hate myself…easiest time to hate my body.

I was weighed for the first time since before I moved, and they didn’t tell me my weight when I told them I wasn’t looking, and they didn’t judge.

But my weight was on the take-home paper, along with proof that I have a heartbeat and blood pressure.

I’m 162 pounds.IMG_0527

I weigh more than I was told (lied to) that my father weighs, more than my mom thinks she weighs when she’s pregnant….

And for the first time that knowledge didn’t bother me.

For a moment I had the realization….

 

I’m 162 pounds of awesome, and that’s perfect.

 

Hillary Rain started Lush Folk and is doing 7 Days of Tenderness and the timing is good, because moments pass and it’s easy to hate myself. But it’s beautiful to be reminded that I’m allowed space, I require space, and I don’t need to feel guilty for taking it up. I should own it, and so should you.

 

Right now I’m in a good place.

I am 162 pounds of star stuff and magic and fairy dust and awesome. I take up space and that’s actually good. I’m worth space, I’m worth taking care of myself, I’m worth having clothes that fit and not trying to squish my changing body into clothes that are the size I think I should be.

I’m healthy and alive and perfect.

And so are you.

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Pepper Potts in an Iron Man Suit

Pepper Potts was in an Iron Man suit. The suit was keeping her alive. She couldn’t just take it off whenever she wanted to, because to do so before she was in a place to receive proper and necessary medical care would be her death. As it was, the condition that lead her to live in an Iron Man suit was complicated and treatment wasn’t easy, not even for someone close to Mr. Stark. So Pepper Potts wore an Iron Man suit. She wore it every day and every night. She wore it to parties and running errands, work, and taking out the trash.

Tony was supportive, he knew Pepper was in the suit, and that living in the suit was hard for her. He kept her company and made her as comfortable as possible. He taught her how to use it and tried to show her the plus sides to living in a suit. He was there to listen when she had problems, to hold her iron clad hands and watch netflix, but most importantly, he saw her. He saw Pepper for who she was, not the suit she was wearing.

Whenever Pepper left her home she had to make a decision – a decision that was revisited upon every interaction with every human she encountered during her day. She could go out in the suit and be mistaken for Iron Man, talked to as if she were Iron Man, or reveal her identity as Pepper and be disbelieved, ignored, or beaten, harassed, and tormented. Of course, there was the off chance that some people would believe her when she said “I’m Pepper Potts, this is just a suit, it’s not a reflection of me” but those people are rare in public.

Most often, she got called “fake” and her life experiences were invalidated because all people could see of Pepper was the suit she was wearing. They thought, well if there’s an Iron Man suit, obviously it’s only Iron Man in it, and as soon as they learned otherwise, they harassed, threatened, and called her a poser, just trying to get attention, a wannabe, not real.

But it’s only Pepper Potts in an Iron Man suit. We all know that what we wear isn’t who we are. 

Sometimes I feel like my skin is a suit. It’s something I wear, something I have to wear because this suit is what’s keeping me alive. But whenever I go out, because of my suit, I have to decide if I want to put up with the misogyny and misgendering that my suit brings me, or risk confrontation. I often opt for keeping my head down and avoiding conflict. It doesn’t make the way people treat me – when they see my suit and harass me because of it, or keep calling me her when I’ve told them I’m not – feel any less painful; it’s just sometimes easier to ignore it than fight it, until I have the energy to. I haven’t found my powers yet.

My skin is a suit, it isn’t me. I’m inside of it. And the people who see through the suit and into me are the people I want to keep around. I want to be seen, my suit doesn’t define me. 

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trigger(ed by SCOTUS and Hobby Lobby): a semi-tipsy sad muse time

I feel like I just got punched in the stomach.

Today is really triggering a lot of not-good feelings.

I hate how having a body…

this female-assigned body

tends to affect my life

and future.

 

I hate being reminded about how my body dictates

or rather

I hate how my body is dictated by people who aren’t me

people who employ me

could stop me from getting the care I need

the care that currently keeps a lot of the self-loathing

the self-mutilation fantasies at bay

the thing that’s made me feel me and human and be okay

 

I need birth control to be able to be me

and not try to plunge steak knives into my gut every few weeks

 

and decisions like this

make me want to pull out my uterus

and stick it on a stake

and never have to deal with it again

to not be subject to my body

the needs of my biology

 

I want to be able to get rid of that which people say

makes me a woman

because I’m not one

and with birth control and anti-depressants

I can be a person

I can live

 

but without them? I’m not healthy.

 

right now I just need to run away. right now I feel boxed and gendered because things that effect my body effect me, and me and my body? we’re not the same. I feel dysphoric today, and it’s really hard.

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What I Need From You (When I talk about gender)

It’s pride month, and I have a new comic project in the works and somehow it just felt fitting to write about this. Whenever I tell people (or write) about my gender identity and preferred pronouns I always worry – because I don’t know how people are going to react. It’s scary to…even think about asking someone to change how they refer to you, especially when it goes against everything we’ve been programmed to accept.

When I talk about gender identity- about using hen, or they, as pronouns instead of she/her…the reaction I don’t need is one that goes like this:

“But <your pronoun of choice> doesn’t fit well in english!”

“I could do this if only it fit into the language better”

“you know this doesn’t work grammatically, right?”

“but I can’t deal with using a plural pronoun for a single person!”

“How does that even work in a sentence?”

Even if/when your intentions are completely innocent…having my pronoun choice (and by proxy, my identity) questioned or treated as invalid, just hurts.

I am aware that changing pronouns from the binary involves grammatical reconstruction and a rephrasing of sentences. I know it doesn’t fit into the english language as nicely as we think he & her do. But language evolves constantly.

When I broach the subject and talk about my preferred pronouns, all I really need in a response is something like this:

okay, cool. I’ll try to remember that.

I don’t expect perfection, I’m not going to police your use of my pronouns, I won’t be upset if you call me she/her sometimes (I still use female pronouns for myself more than I want to, because in some environments it’s easier than explaining everything, and sometimes invisibility feels safer) – as long as you accept and respect my identity and don’t try to argue or protest or complain about my word choice to me. 

When in doubt, you can never go wrong by just using my name.

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Spirals

Sometimes, weird – minor, normal, human things happen and they send me into a spiral.

Sunday we tried to un-wax my ears and I’m on day two of stuffy sinus pressure and weird wax extraction cycles that involve a lot of uncomfortableness. According to my primary care doctor, I have the tiniest ear canals they’ve ever seen on an adult, which means my ears get clogged pretty easily, and it builds up and I eventually stop being able to hear as awesome and it’s annoying and getting it out involves pouring one kind or another of liquid in my ear and trying to flush it out and it just sucks.

I remember everything about me is tiny, and I remember that’s a problem. I remember that causes pain, and anxiety, and nothing good. Being cute doesn’t really actually make up for it.

It quickly descends into hating everything about myself, hating everything about having a body because I quickly remember just how foreign my body tends to feel to me.

I feel like people talk about being at one with their body – like they are their body and their body is them and I don’t understand that feeling. I feel like I’m an identity trapped in a fleshy cage that fits awkwardly and mostly gets in the way. I feel like, I don’t and wouldn’t fit in any body, regardless of gender assignment because I don’t feel like I am a gender, and maybe that’s what the problem is. And maybe that’s why little things not working and being painful remind me of it and remind me of how disconnected I feel because I am very strongly not my body, and it’s awkward.

Because when people try to tell me my body isn’t out to get me, or that my body isn’t it’s own entity, I don’t understand, because that’s all I feel, that’s the only relationship I’ve ever had with it. Sentience trapped in a cage, a cage that tends to actively limit my ability to live unrestricted than not.

It’s frustrating, because when people see me they see my body, I’m treated like people with my assigned-female body are treated, I have to work harder and prove myself more because my body is assigned female, I choose not to go places I would otherwise love to because I know how I’ll be treated because of my body.

I can’t just exist in a genderless state, even though that’s where I’m me.

I can usually keep that from getting to me too much by mostly ignoring it and, in my mind, making assigned gender as little of an issue as I possibly can by trying to not focus on it too much (but that’s hard because there are a lot of things, a lot of bad things, that affect or can affect me directly because of my body and I can’t escape that, and I deal with being a disappointment to people because I don’t respond the way someone with my assigned gender and upbringing “should”). I generally try not to bring it up too much in my work, though, I guess it’s not really something that needs to be brought up – like the one most-unhelpful judge in NCFCA when I was 13 said “my voice is too girly”.

Usually I get by okay. I hit F on the boxes because that’s what people have decided to call this body and it doesn’t get to me too much. I do what I can to feel as good about myself/this body as I can, and sometimes the gap between me and my body is less vast and abyss-like than other times, but it feels more like I’m just at terms with my identity not hinging on my anatomy and both of them existing on relatively different planes except for when they crossover and then it sucks (but birth control and antidepressants have fixed a lot of that).

Until, suddenly, I’m reminded that I am physically human, that I do live in a body and not separately from it, and my ears getting clogged will make me grumpy and there is not currently an exchange program to make it better. When I’m really low, when things like this happen, all I can remember is how having this body makes it harder for me to do what I want to do, and even the perks have disadvantages, and even if there were an easy body-swap-shop, swapping wouldn’t fix the problem – I would feel just as trapped if I had to be a man. I’m sure there’s something good about having a body…

hard pressed for determining what though. Pizza?

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Living outside the binary

In August I wrote a post for Caleigh’s I Have a Voice project about gender – gender identity, gender expression, specifically mine. It’s been interesting since then – nice to have finally gotten it out there, because it had been welling up inside – I think I’ve come to understand myself a bit more and I occasionally write addendums in my head.

Today’s kinda started off on a not good foot(?). I feel sick, I’m sleep deprived and (I think unrelatedly) I feel so tired of feeling like my very existence is both a threat and threatened. Not physically, but because…. I don’t know. Live alternative to the way you grew up, get married, do not have kids, and watch as your friends get married and have kids, and try not feeling the pressure from everyone and the world and your upbringing to conform and join the rest. Try not feeling vulnerable when your existence flies in the face of everything you ever knew and were taught; and while you wouldn’t trade it for the world, sometimes, it just, gets old. Because even this has stigmas attached.

I don’t identify as a woman even though I have female anatomy. I don’t really connect or feel at-one with my body most of the time. It’s a weird state of flux – I often feel as though my body and I are at odds if not all out war, but also, like, I still feel “fat”(thanks hormones!) and sick and hormonal and self conscious and all of those things. I occasionally disassociate, and holding my partner’s hands keep me tethered and grounded (this really doesn’t happen that often, but, it’s happened).

I identify to myself as gender-neutral or genderless, for ease when talking to people, I use genderqueer. I don’t feel like I am a man the same way I don’t feel like I am a woman. I don’t embody the binary roles we try to split people up into at birth. I am me, I am human, I exist, the end.

I frustrate myself though, because gender identity and putting people into categories of binary gender is so ingrained that even though I don’t accept it on a personal and logical level, it’s still a thought pattern that I’m trying to unlearn. I still find myself trying to categorize people – the way it kills me to be categorized – instinctually, which is when I stop myself and step back and say “that is a beautiful person” end of story. Because gender really doesn’t matter – not as a category and certainly not as binary.

Gender is a social construct that we force people into because we can’t accept that people don’t fit outside of our two boxes. Which leaves those of us who exist outside the boxes feeling broken and wrong. We either learn to suppress it and squeeze into the box, or we change and let ourselves live – but it’s lonelier out here, and the people who either embrace or have squeezed into the boxes don’t really understand.

Gender presentation is often mistaken for gender identity, but they are not the same thing. Just like not everyone who wears plaid is a hipster (and not all hipsters wear plaid). I present myself in the way that gives me confidence. I spent far too long hiding my body in baggy clothes and layers, so I present as femme. I accept female pronouns because existing is complicated and I don’t feel like correcting people (not that it’s not a valid thing, because it is, I really want gender neutral or genderless pronouns to become common – I just don’t have the emotional energy do it; I don’t even have the energy to correct people’s pronunciation of my name, which is largely why I go by Kiery now), but, if you use hen you will win all of the things.

The idea of women are this and men are that is soul crushing. The idea that your life and path and interests are chosen for you at birth because of your anatomy is ridiculous.

The culture we breed of women must want babies or something is wrong with them and all men care about is fucking and their own pleasure is archaic. We are human, and we are more than that. We are more than one organ of our body. But try accepting that and living as though your life’s worth does not depend on the use of your reproductive system, and you’re bombarded with social stigmas of something is wrong with that person.

I’m 99% sure that guys deal with this too. Nice, considerate, empathetic guys are ridiculed and shamed for their lives – not being manly enough. Like women not having children are shamed for not being womanly.

WE ARE NOT THE SUM OF OUR PARTS.

OUR VALUE IS NOT IN OUR REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS AND HOW/WHEN/AND HOW OFTEN THEY ARE USED.

However you identify, however you present yourself – your worth is not (well, should not be) in your anatomy.

But that doesn’t make it any easier.

I’m still fighting old thought patterns and habits, I get angry because I’m not where I want to be. When I think I’m making progress accepting myself (and others) something happens and I feel like I lost it.

I don’t know how comfortable I am sporting the genderqueer label, but it’s better than getting angry whenever someone refers to me as a woman (strangely enough, _lady_ doesn’t bother me, but that’s probably because I say it in a sexy voice…laaadeeey and it doesn’t hold the same connotations for me that woman does and as I said before she/her are okay, because I present as femme but hen is best).

Or maybe it’s because I don’t feel queer about it (even though that’s kinda the best term we have atm). I am a person, gender doesn’t apply.

STOP FORCING ME IN YOUR WOMAN BOX.

Background in chronological order (AKA previous posts on the subject. It’s like you can watch the evolution and how I’m still dealing with the same things a year later!):

Insignificance

Women are less

A Freeing Realization

Because of What it Means

Coming To Grips With Gender (Profligate Truth)

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A freeing realization

I wonder sometimes why things that seem to encourage and empower other women have the opposite affect on me.

I think maybe it’s because I differentiate between being female and being a woman, and in that differentiation, I don’t identify as a woman. I don’t think because I am a woman therefore I _____. I’m happiest thinking of myself as transcending gender, neither identifying as a woman or a man, just merely being a human who happens to be female.

In my mind woman and man are loaded words, filled with connotations, expectations, and rules. This dissonance between my physiology and the cry of my soul that does not identify as woman has been hard, confusing, and filled with more than my share of unneeded shame and guilt. I am still being inundated at every turn with messages about being woman, by people who embrace it and (basically) condemn it; I sometimes wish that I could reconcile the disconnect between myself and my body – because there are so many things I can’t explain about myself, and the dissonance that lies within (I love the appearance of my body, but simultaneously hate what it means for me).

The one thing that seems to help, that makes sense in my crazy little brain….is to know that I don’t identify as a woman, nor do I identify as a man. I identify as a human of the female gender, a person who’s physiology is the same as half of the species and ever so slightly different than the other half, but that’s where it ends. I am a human, like everyone else and I have both “masculine” and “feminine” traits and interests (or as I like to think of them: traits and interests).

I embrace my individuality and personhood above all else.

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Women are less

Growing up in a religious conservative circle taught me this ever so explicitly. They would try to water it down and say “no you’re equal, but different” the place of women is in the home, in the kitchen, pregnant or raising children. Not in the “world”, not working, not doing anything that would in any way put her in equal standing with men.

This article makes me sad – no, angry because it’s true.

People very close to me believe, truly, that women are in some way stupid and need men for guidance. I was taught that women are “easily mislead” and thus need men to teach them and “lead” them the right way. Like we are animals to be trained, or horses to be broken. It follows that women, once they reach adulthood, should not be listened to – that it’s okay to completely write them off as “emotional”, “misguided”, or “hormonal” – it’s all too easy to take anything anyone with a vagina has to say and instead of taking them seriously, say they’re just whining, not happy, or one of those evil feminists not worth listening to.

It’s taken me years to come to terms with my womanhood, with the fact that I have the horrible ability to reproduce within my body. It’s taken longer to accept the fact that I am human, and that as a human I have value – that isn’t reliant on whether or not I have a penis on my body.

Unfortunately, I still find myself in circles, exposed to the lies of my youth – who believe that women are for reproducing, teaching, cooking, cleaning, and if you’re lucky, making things and maybe having an in-home business selling house-wifely things like sewn goods, jewelry, or food.

I take issue with the god I grew up with. The god who decided that as part of “the curse” women will be in horrible pain during their reproductive cycle, while men just have the “curse” of pulling weeds or  “hard labor”, and the snake lost its legs. I can’t separate the misogyny of the religion of my youth, with what may or may not be true about christianity. I can not see god as loving when he inflicts half the population with a lower status, half a life of pain, and sets them up for being written off and told they’re stupid until the end of the earth.  People say Jesus raised the status of women, which, in the culture of his day may be true, but people who are supposed to be “like Jesus” massively fail and take the easy way of misogyny as written in the apostles over the example of the deity they claim to love and serve with all their heart and soul.

Women are “equal” in the sense that they are “people”, complete the largest chunk of reproduction, and in christianity have “equal access to god”. But in practice? Women are less, women are challenged and put down when they say things or step outside of the box, they’re labeled and personally attacked when they “make a crack in the glass ceiling”. Because  women being assertive is not allowed, still. Women having a voice, or control over their own body is still frowned upon.

Things I thought were resolved with the suffrage movement and the right to vote are resurfacing in this election and it hurts. It makes me feel ashamed to be a woman (scared, even), having been born with boobs and without a penis makes me feel trapped. I feel like everywhere I turn I hear old men, and some women trying to fit me into a box – the box I worked so hard, and wrestled with and tore myself apart over to escape. The box I’m still trying to completely escape – because completely leaving a gender box is more than just one process – it’s many, over a lifetime.

I don’t talk about feminism, womanhood, or anything like that very much, because a large part of myself has rejected the idea of gender. Because gender does. not. matter. At the very least, it should not matter. We are all human. We are all entitled to the same rights and opinions and control over our own bodies. We all have the right to say no – we do not deserve to be stepped on and half of the population does not deserve to be stripped of their rights just because their genitalia is different. Women are not more prone to misguidance or stupidity than men, nor vice versa. People are prone to flaws. People ARE flawed and we all have traits that are unique to our personalities, not our gender.

I’m tired of being subtly told I’m less, of being subtly hinted to that I should live in a box. I’m tired of watching men in power debate over whether or not I am smart enough to decide what happens to my body and when. I’m tired of people protecting the embryos that my body painfully destroys on a monthly basis, to the extent that it lessens my value and my rights as a fully existing person. I’m tired of people telling me that I’ll “get over it” and want to reproduce, I’m tired of people frowning at and judging me because I’m different and do not fit in the box I was supposed to belong to. I’m tired of people treating me as though I am the same clone, as though I’ll come around and find my rightful place in the stifling box of conservative womanhood. I’m tired of people thinking that they can speak, act and think for me because I cannot think for myself.

I’m tired of people lessening my value as a human being because I have decided not to have children – or trying to justify it because I’m young and I’ll “change my mind”.

All these messages, all the subtext just continue to beat me down, to tell me that my past was right, I am less because I am woman, I am even more less because I reject that being female dictates the way I live my life. It doesn’t matter how much you verbally affirm “women are equal (but different)” when you say, believe, and act in a way that demonstrates otherwise. Women are equal when they live in a box, but that is not equality at all, and I thought we were past that.

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Babies, bathwater, and shit in the brownies

Whenever people write about something remotely controversial the people who disagree generally respond with “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!” and occasionally the  viewpoint opposite will make a retort about how if you had a brownie with dog shit in it you wouldn’t eat it.

My response to the two of them are as follows: one, if the bathwater is dirty, the baby and the bathwater should probably be taken out; two: why are you baking with dog shit? When was that a thing? And why are you trying to poison me?

However, I’m not writing an article on the merits of metaphor, I only brought it up to make a point – I know that what follows is more than likely going to be controversial. While I know this going in and it doesn’t bother me, if I see one of these or another similar metaphor take place in the potential conversation I will roll my eyes; because you are more than likely missing the point and should be redirected to the above statement about dirty water and poison.

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[in]significance

I struggle (and I always have) with feeling insignificant. With my self-worth and self-value. Anything that has to do with thinking I’m a remotely okay person who has a value slightly above that of a cockroach I’ve battled with. Extensively.

I blame myself for everything and anything. If it’s raining and I didn’t bring an umbrella I apologize because I feel like it’s either my fault it rained, or I should have known it was going to rain at that moment and brought something.

I have a responsibility complex which makes me feel like the world is on my shoulders and I just KNOW it will all end in nuclear war if I don’t clean my kitchen RIGHT NOW. But I hate having to spend so much energy on tasks that need to be repeated and I’m the one who does them all the time (and I don’t mind generally). But after a good long time, it comes back to my feeling less and less significant and like my primary function is home-hygiene. At that point, I just need to be a robot named Rosie. Or better yet, have a robot named Rosie.

When I get to the point that I feel like I don’t matter, I don’t do well. It bothers me because I know I matter in my head. I know I have people who like me around and think I’m relatively cool and that I’m a pretty decent human. But that does nothing to diminish the trapped feeling I have inside of myself – like I’m shackled to something and I don’t know what yet.

I take it out on my gender, and for the most part I’m okay with that. I don’t like being a woman. I just want to be a person without connotations of what women should or shouldn’t do or be in which circle, because I just want to be my complete self and I think a lot of that has to do with A) being human and B) being an ENFP (apparently, valuing individuality is a common trait).

Also, I get attacked by sharks and hormones every 3 weeks and someone needs to make that stop. It’s not healthy, I tell you!

But honestly, it would be nice to not hate myself for something I can’t help at some point. It would be nice to not lapse into an I-can’t-do-anything-unless-I-really-force-myself-and-then-take-a-nap depression when everything goes wrong because all I can manage to do is figure out a way to blame myself and try and take responsibility for something that I have literally no control over…which leads me to feeling useless and irresponsible and well, yeah, worthless.

It’d be nice to accept that sometimes I can’t do anything and that’s okay…and that somehow, my value as a person isn’t based on my ability. Is it intrinsic? And what does that even mean?
I want it to be, so badly. But I just can’t bring myself to believe that I am intrinsically valuable, even though I believe that about everyone else.

Maybe I’ll put this on my list. I am completely clueless as to the implementation. I don’t even know where to start. But if I made a little progress….that might be magical. I mean, how cool would it be to not hate myself?

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