Happy 2023!

Thoughts on this year and friendship and romance and progress.

Every year, I like to spend New Year's Eve reflecting on how things are going.

Last year, I wound up not publishing the post (although a lot of text was written!) so this year I'm trying to be a little bit more conservative with my ambitions so I can actually finish it.

2022 was a pretty good year for me, overall. I ended up having a mental break at the end of the year and it returned me to a weakened state where I'm having some serious trouble taking care of myself. But things are different now.

For one thing, I have Rose by my side now - we not only started a romantic relationship, but we've moved into a cute little house together! She helps me take care of myself and helps take care of me when I can't. We're working together to make life together a success, and it feels really good. I've never felt so comfortable and just generally content in a relationship. My fear when it started was that I would somehow ruin it by making it in person or by making it romantic - but we've made a relationship that we're comfortable with. In 2023, I want to touch her more. Kiss her more. Cuddle with her more. Physical stuff is something that's new to both of us as kinda shut-in autistic nerds with weird complexes around touch, and I want to be more proactive about exploring it!

For another thing, I have an amazing cluster of friends surrounding me now. And while I already had some good friends when things melted down in 2020, I have a much larger group of friends now. And some friendships have returned stronger than ever after being battle-tested.

Some quick highlights of the new friends this year:

Nicole has quickly shot up the ranks as one of the people I most enjoy spending time with. She always makes me smile with whatever she has to say, usually makes me laugh, and has been a constant inspiration - both creatively and with her dedication to growth and improvement! Our midnight creative goofing sessions have been some of my favorite memories from this year, and I'm continually grateful that she's there for me in dark moments. And I'm excited about this project we're working on together! (Technically, we met in 2021, but as I mentioned, I didn't publish that post. So she's still a new friend of mine.)

I initially butted heads with Hershey (also in 2021) due to my family trauma, but I've fallen into a comfortable pattern with her. She's been really funny and really creative, and my only regret this year is actually that I haven't been able to spend more time with her! I'm so excited to see her project continue developing!

Droe is like that, too - she's such a barrel of fun and laughs when she's around that I feel a desire for more of her! But I guess I can't be too selfish, she has to share herself with the rest of the world!

Of course, I wouldn't have half these friends if it weren't for Rin, who is like Hershey in that I love spending time with them and only wish I could see them in action even more!

Shavri and I have been having some lovely talks about our respective gaming experiences, and I'm so happy to have their company. Shavri and I met in mid 2021, so they're closer to an old friend than a new friend - but a treasured friend all the same!

There are lots of other names that played significant roles this year, in no particular order - Matcha and I have had some really lovely deep conversations and have some great plans ahead, Juni (technically 2021) has been really cute to watch in action (she's a good vtuber!), Fak has been an interesting catch as one of the inspirations to do some more soft stories, Liry has had some very fun ideas, Nitro and I have talked a lot about the difficulties of life and had a lot of very productive creative discussions, Buttbot has made me laugh and think with fun and sometimes bizarre ideas, Endora with some really lovely Final Fantasy XIV roleplay times, Cupcake with his lovely ideas, Lurk who has made some really amazing progress this year, V. Engineer who has been a great friend, and of course there are even more like Nyan, Becki, Amby, and Velvitte. But if I were to write about everyone, I'd end up with a post so long that I'd never get done with it again!

And, of course, my old friendships are still going strong, and some have even grown this year!

Eze and I have rekindled a close friendship after some time focusing on our separate paths, and it's been lovely to actually be talking about our shared interests and see her come out of her shell, join up with the group and have fun with us again. I love hanging out with her one on one, but I always love the delightful chaos of a group, so this has meant a lot.

With Kait I've been getting closer and closer after some discomfort formed between us, and I think it's safe to say that we've returned to a full strength friendship! Proof that conflict is sometimes necessary to make for a better relationship - we have healthier boundaries and more fun as a result. And we've told some really good stories together this year!

The rest - like Nan with our sometimes very deep conversations, Lili with our joyful Sonic drifting, Damien with regular hellos and funny skits, Klin with lots of cute ideas and good stuff to share - have been keeping up business as usual. They're an important part of my life, but there's not too much to say as far as changes this year and last!

I've also had some very personal growth in the form of recognizing and moving past my androphobia. For as long as I have had functioning memories I have detested and feared men and masculinity, which was probably an unconscious reaction to both having a shitty father and being a closeted trans girl forced to participate in masculinity, as well as being bullied by a lot of rude guys in my elementary/middle school classes and then going to an all-boys high school and getting the living shit bullied out of me there too. (If only they knew! ... Or maybe some part of them did know, and that's why I got the living shit bullied out of me.)

That androphobia kept me from experiencing the fullness of my feelings. If I had feelings of appreciation for a male character or person, I'd swallow them down or shove them in a corner. And I do feel those feelings - similarly to how I feel about women, this is generally limited to cuddly or flirty thoughts, hugs and kisses and teases and so on. Sex is generally not so much where my brain goes, ever, and I think that's something I was thinking about. It was easy to point to my lack of sexual interest in men and the presence of my aesthetic/romantic interest in women and say "I'm straight", even though I could have used the same evidence to come to the conclusion that "I'm gay." And the reason I reached the conclusion I did is probably also based in some internalized homophobia when I was perceiving myself as male.

Given a lot of reasons to reflect on how I feel about men this year, ranging from making lots of new male friends to helping keep my girlfriend's true identity safe, I've finally managed to put down my androphobia and move on. And while I would still call myself a lesbian, I would call myself a bi lesbian now. That feels good. That feels true!

Creatively, this year has been pretty good. I've had some good project thoughts, I've written a fair number of stories (many of them based around Nicole's characters and ideas!), I've done a ton of roleplay with all manner of people and told all kinds of stories with them, and I'm doing a lovely little low-effort RPG with my online friends and having a great time every Friday night.

I'm really proud of this RPG - I think it's my best attempt at running one yet, and I really want to keep it going and see it through to the end. I have some good plans, I think the players came up with some great characters, and I'm really looking forward to where things go from here!

Work-wise, well... My focus has been destroyed and I'm not taking good care of myself. But I have a good company and a good team, and no matter what happens to me during this mental break I will get through this and land on my feet. I will get better, I will get stronger, and I will not give up. I will never give up. It's always worth it to keep going, 'cause I know the dice can't come up low numbers forever.

Physically, I've been riding my bike a lot, and once it's not so damn cold I'm going to go swimming some more! We picked out a house with a pool, and I'm very excited about it. Being in the suburbs means I'm walking less, but that's okay - I don't leave the house except for exercise much anyway!

What I want for next year most of all is to get to know myself better. I've been working a lot this year on expanding my external situation, and that's good and important. But it is not a substitute for growing my internal situation too.

And this was a case of my external growth outstripping my internal growth. I need to spend some time learning myself better, learning my limits, learning what heals me, learning what drains me, recognizing when I have been drained... I still don't know how to do it, and I still have a strong tendency to push myself to exhaustion because I don't know how to rest and I don't know how to recharge.

I want to get better with that. And hopefully, I'll do that in the form of continuing to write more often.

Happy New Year, everyone! And may 2023 be a wonderful year for each of you reading this!