A couple of weekends ago, I had the joy of hanging out with a whole crew of incredible, awesome people. Many of them are associated with Otherworld. I had some feels about that and was going to write a post, but then realized I already wrote basically the same post last year but never published it. I think I was waiting for a picture or something. But anyhow…
Mentally, I’ve had a rough couple of days. [Ed. note: Not sure what was going on last year, but this year I was inspired to write/edit this by a group event (looking at you, Rabbitcon) that has become even more comfortable for me than Otherworld ever was. There was a lot of talk about and references to Otherworld* this weekend, which is unsurprising given the number of staff members and former participants in this group. So now let’s pick up where I left off…] I was reminded (again) that stepping forward about being sexually harassed cost me membership in an organization that I loved, believed in, and worked hard for. I’ve never been one to make friends easily — I’m shy AND introverted AND have a heaping helping of social anxiety on top of that. Otherworld was a rare, magical group where I was none of those those things. I knew that when I stepped forward it would destroy my relationship with the organization, and possibly with many of the people I’d come to know because of the organization. I have been extremely fortunate that while the former was certainly true, the latter has been much less so (and I absolutely treasure every single one of you). But still, I do occasionally hear about Otherworld and the goings on* and think, “I could still be a part of that thing I loved, if only I’d kept my mouth shut.” Which makes me sad partly because it’s true, but also partly because really, I’m going to victim-blame myself for this?
So that happened the other day (not for the first time) and then I thought to myself, “Self, what the hell are you doing? Think about the amazing things you’ve done and gotten involved in since you opened your mouth.” And that seemed like a good idea, so I made a list of things I’ve done and am doing that make me happy and proud of myself:
- Participated in the Red My Lips campaign
- Changed my name
- Became a clinic escort (also, read this story to get a feel for what it’s like)
- Got registered with the VA & allowed myself to be proud of being a veteran
- Started donating money to causes I believe in — not just big charities like Worldbuilders/Heifer International, but less well-known causes like Lady Parts Justice and the Unslut Project
- Started actively supporting artists whose work I enjoy, like Eddie Japan and Devil Doll
- Roller derby!
- Exercising daily
- Eating healthy foods rather than just low-cal foods, because it’s not all about being skinny (and scurvy sucks A LOT!) (My new slogan is “Curvy > Scurvy”)
- Speaking up when I have a grievance or see an injustice (oh, the scathing letters I wrote to the Board of Ed the other day!)
- Telling people who inspire me that they do so, and telling people when I see they’ve done something awesome or even just something that makes me smile
- Actively engaging in making friends (I think I’m still not very good at this, but I’m actually putting some effort in — if you get an email or text from me, or sometimes even just a comment on FB, please know that I am probably having a nice lie-down after because sometimes it just takes that much out of me. Anxiety SUCKS.)
These are all things I didn’t do while I was part of Otherworld, and things that I think make me a better, stronger me. Some of the things are, I think, directly related to the circumstances surrounding my departure from Otherworld — not just the harassment, but the way it was handled when I reported it. This exercise reminded me that I am proud of myself for opening my mouth, even though I knew what it would cost me. And I am proud of myself for continuing to explore and find news ways to be the person I want to be. Mostly, though, it reminded me that very often a door closes only to open several better ones.
*Don’t worry — this doesn’t mean you need to be on eggshells around me or that Otherworld is a verboten topic…just that sometimes I get wistful and nostalgic and start questioning my decision, and I just need to remind myself that I still feel I did what was best both for myself AND for the organization. Updated to add: also, this happens much less often now that I’ve gotten involved in other groups that I’m very comfortable in.