Who We Are and What We Do

First of all, give yourselves a big round of applause, pat yourselves on the back, High five! You have reached the 5th tier for Bonnie’s surgery fund. I am humbled and amazed and *insert a new descriptive term here*. You have stepped up in a big way for one of our own.

Which brings us to a bit of a hitch. You see, Erin has put herself out for all of this in a really big way. As in, making herself physically ill sort of big way. She’s not backing down or chickening out, though. I am in agreement with Bonnie, that unless and until Erin is comfortable creating and sharing a bikini/cheesecake/pin-up style shot, she should not be pressured to do so. This should be fun, not frightening for her.

Erin has serious body dysmorphic disorder. It took years to even admit to that online. This is beyond not being comfortable in ones own skin. I have no frame of reference, but I know that the fear and pain is very real for her. She lives every day with a disconnect between her outside and her inside. We’ve all built a relationship with who she is in her heart and soul. She’s beautiful regardless of packaging.

It took far longer than any of you know for me to work up the nerve to pull last year’s catsuit stunt, and I am remarkably comfortable in my own skin. (I have my struggles, but who doesn’t?) Erin hasn’t had that kind of time to prepare. All I ask of you is to give her time, patience, and support. Other suggestions (ball gown, My Little Mosin, etc) are awesome. In the end, it is really up to Erin to decide what her comfort level is.

ETA:Β Erin feels very strongly that she must fulfill this obligation (see comments). I am asking you to consider her struggles when making suggestions/requests. In fact, overwhelm her with requests that are not ‘bikini pic’ or salacious.


36 thoughts on “Who We Are and What We Do”

  1. I’m not sure how I feel about this.

    I appreciate the support you’re giving me — honestly and truly, I do — but I cannot shake the feeling that you are enabling me to go back on my word.

    Who I am online is really all I have of value these days. If I break my word and hurt my reputation, what do I have left?

    1. Your original wording was that you might be convinced to do a bikini photo. That’s not exactly binding. No one wants you making yourself sick over this, I’m certain.

      1. Hence why I am begging people not to pick it. If I had said “I *will* do this,” then I wouldn’t even give myself the luxury of begging.

        Put bluntly: You alone cannot let me off this hook. Neither can Squeaky. Only the people who pledged money, and to whom I made this promise, can do that.

        1. Oh, really? Allow me to drag out a quote from last night’s conversation:

          “Tell you what: if you really want to convince me, team up with Brigid and Jennifer. Maybe one of them can get through to me.”

          Direct. Quote. And I did that, via email (and Brigid’s kind of busy right now, but look at Jen, making a post and supporting you!). And others have chimed in, as well…people who’ve donated, people who haven’t – and you’re going to listen to them rather than me, for whom you say you’re doing this?

          How do I put this delicately…oh, fuck delicate: I feel like a bag of shit when I think about you doing something you’re not comfortable with, on my behalf. Because you ARE doing this on my behalf, as you’ve said many times – ARGUED, even. Thus, in MY mind, you are HURTING YOURSELF for me, even though I don’t want you to. In fact, you keep insisting that I not make it about you, because you want so badly to separate yourself from the action you’ve “promised” to do, even though you said “might.” The separation, the ACTIVE separation, the begging, the vomiting – you’re putting that on ME, if it’s not on you.

          Does THAT mean anything to you? I saw your post on depression. Depressed Bonnie, RIGHT NOW, is thinking about this situation, except Rational Bonnie is thinking the exact same thing – that this situation fucking sucks and they both wish this wasn’t happening.

          If you do this thing that scares you so badly, and you tell yourself it was for me, and it turns out badly, guess who’s going to stick out in your mind as being the cause for that pain? Think about it. I don’t want our friendship ruined because you felt obligated to do something that makes you physically ill. People are STILL GIVING, even though they know the tier is gone (as far as I’m concerned, anyway). Burned bridges? Where?

          You said to stop making it about you – well, okay. There’s my real viewpoint, from MY perspective, regarding ME. You won’t take my out, or the out offered by anyone else that you say matters to you, because you say your integrity through words is “all [you] have.” Well, as the recipient of your stubbornness in a positive way, I call bullshit on that being all you have.

          If you’d READ and PROCESS what people are saying, you’d see that you have a lot more. I know it’s hard for you – I don’t know the degree, but remember what I told you about age 6? I thought there wasn’t another out – well, guess what? There is. You just have to see it for what it is, instead of what you want/think you need it to be.

          1. Bonnie,
            I agree with you. My edit is to say, “Fine. If you insist then I say overwhelm the requests with something easier.”
            The point here is that you wouldn’t be letting anyone down. No one wants you hurting yourself.

          2. I didn’t realize my actions were hurting you, Squeaky. I’m so sorry. I never wanted that.

          3. Okay, so I suppose no one read my comment waaaaay down at the bottom, so I’ll respond to Erin, again, here: it’s okay. I’m not mad, I was frustrated because I felt like I was being put in an impossible position, and I’m glad you’ve reconsidered – not just for my sake, because this IS about you.

            And we care about you, whether you like it or not. So nyeah. πŸ˜‰

    2. I’m kinda down with the ushanka/Mosin/greatcoat idea, since that way we’ll know it’s you!

      You’ve kinda built what designers call a “brand identity”, as it were. πŸ™‚

  2. Well, I was unable to donate due to fiscal issues, so any input I may have should be..well..ignored. But one thing I’ve learned about the gunny community is that not only do they band together to help their own, they NEVER expect someone to put themselves in a position that they are not ready/willing to put themselves in. There’s a difference between overcoming fears and challenging/improving oneself and making yourself physically ill at the mere thought of doing something. And the very small, annoying, dick-headed minority aside, nobody would ever ask you to go that far.

  3. I concur with others here that you should not make yourself wretched and/or ill over the issue. I would feel uncomfortable seeing you in any form other that one of free, joyous abandon– in a state of absolute choice and zero duress. There is a big difference between stretching one’s range a bit versus doing something that induces major anxiety. I know that when you reveal yourself, many will find you beautiful because they already know the best part of you. Those who don’t find you beautiful are insignificant.

    1. Ditto! I will keep going from blog to blog saying that for as long as necessary. I don’t know you but I know my body struggles and depression. They bite big time. I also know I’ve watched a community of people join together to support people not hurt them. Your comfort means more than anything else to these people. Any one else who says differently can go take a long walk off a short pier!

  4. Another financially unable to contribute opinion. I don’t know you [Erin], or Jennifer except through some brief blog interaction. I don’t know Bonnie at all. But I know communities. Blog communities, gun communities, LEO communities, writer communities, and a bunch of others. When they come together to help one of their own, a good part of it is because it is one of their own. And by extension, everyone who comes together is also part of that “own”. You neither expect, nor want, your own to hurt themselves to render aid. As a visitor who comes by via Captain Capitalism; I have enjoyed this blog and followed the links in it. Including to yours. I like what I read. I listened to your posted singing, and liked that, and liked especially that you had the courage to sing publicly [which scares pretty much everyone, including me].

    Your promise gives you a lot of leeway to choose. Choose something that is not totally outside your comfort zone. IF, and only if, you choose; push your personal envelope a bit. But this entire effort is a good thing and does not need to be tainted by pain for anyone. Hell, the goal is to reduce Bonnie’s pain.

    Take a deep breath, and do what you feel is right for you.

    Pax vobiscum, Et cum spiritu tuo

    Subotai Bahadur

  5. Let me state my point a little more bluntly: for you to take a photo from a feeling of obligation rather than of absolute choice and good feeling would make me feel awkward and like I was participating in a scenario where someone is being exploited for the licentious purpose of others. It may be a stretch, and I’m not meaning to make light of rape, but this is feeling increasingly non-consensual to me, and I think no one here wants that.

    1. Let me explain how this all came about; maybe that would help.

      I had watched/read about Bonnie’s travails with increasing feelings of impotence and helplessness. Here is a friend of mine, with dire medical problems, and precious little I could do about it because I am poor. Then Jennifer announced the raffle/fundraiser, and I was freaking RELIEVED, because this was a great idea and I could contribute to it and promote it and things would be okay.

      And despite all this effort, it barely made 40% of B’s total.

      Well, that pissed me right off. So much so that I decided to put on the line the only thing that I had which was of any value: my identity. I figured that if anything was an incentive to get people to donate, it would be the promise of seeing the face which has been cloaked in mystery for 6+ years.

      And it worked. Holy hell, did it work: fully funded in 36 hours. I honestly DID NOT EXPECT IT TO WORK. I double-never expected that it would work so quickly.

      What am I to take from this? Yes, some of this could be attributed to my internet “fame” and “reach” and skill at marketing, but so far as I could tell, these people REALLY wanted to see my face if they funded the remaining 60% of a not-insignificant total within 36 hours.

      That freaked me out. Something I didn’t think would actually happen — ACTUALLY HAPPENED. Over the course of a weekend, no less. Suddenly, it became clear that I really would have to cash this check my ego had written.

      So yes, in a very real way, I am being exploited. I chose to exploit myself for a good cause, because it was the only thing I could think to do. I’m still not thrilled with the idea of shedding my anonymity and showing my face on the Internet Which Never Ever Forgets, and I will probably be dealing with the repercussions of this for a long time afterwards. And honestly, that freaks me out more than a little.

      But I have been shown loyal support by Jennifer and Bonnie and a bunch of other folks, and that helps me through the worst of the fear. I really do want to think everything will be okay, but I still worry because that’s my nature.

      So for me, there’s very little difference between “show my face” and “show my body” because the thought of doing either makes me terrified. It’s simply a matter of degree regarding how much each terrifies me.

      But I made a promise to show my face, and I’m going to do that. I was going to show my body as well, because (again) I’d made a promise. I felt that if I went back on one of those promises, it would be easy to go back on the others, because (matter of degree aside), they were basically the same thing. You may not agree with me, but do you at least understand where I am coming from when I say “If I go back on one of them, it will make it easier to be a coward and go back on all of them?”

      However, it has been pointed out to me that by continuing this course of action, I am causing emotional and physical distress to Bonnie, which is the absolute last thing in the world that I wanted. Because of this, I will abide by her wishes and not pose for cheesecake.

      See, the way to get me to change my mind about my sense of honor and duty is to appeal to a HIGHER sense of honor and duty.

      I feel like I’ve rambled. Sorry about that. Just trying to explain my mental processes here.

      1. Rambling is wonderful. Your explanation makes sense. You’d just forgotten to factor in the care this community has for you as well. πŸ˜‰ Do what you are comfortable with and all the people who truly count will be thrilled with it.

        1. Thank you, Janelle. But here’s the problem: if I use the guideline of “Do only what feels comfortable,” my answer is “I’m not comfortable showing my face.”

          But that was something I pledged to do. So, clearly, I do indeed need to do things that make me uncomfortable.

          1. Those who truly matter won’t care if you don’t. To stretch comfort levels is a scary thing to do. When it is complicated by other issues it makes it worse. If this is a step you feel you must take to help stretch your limits then this community will be behind you 100%, including me. I just want you to know, as some random stranger who is just starting to get a peak into this community, you have zero responsibility to me when it comes to your comfort level. I’ll like your writing even if I can never connect a face to the words.

          2. Those who truly matter won’t care if you don’t.

            I’ll care. And therein lies the crux of this whole dilemma.

          3. I’ve sent you a friend request on Facebook. I’d like for you to be more than a random stranger. πŸ™‚

          4. Guarantee you that if you were to post a pic of yourself sighting down the barrel of your Mosin, with the bolt and your eyes in sharp focus while the rest of you (festooned in Russian greatcoat or itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polka-dot-bikini) is tantalizingly out of focus, those who appreciate you for who you are will also appreciate the mastery with which you satisfied your committments AT THE SAME TIME as appeasing your own (very understandable) fears. That would actually be an epic portrait that would be simple for someone with a basic understanding of cameras and selective focus/depth-of-field (much less a Master like Oleg) to pull off, and honor as well as anonymity would be maintained.

      2. All rambles are fully accepted and appreciated. My wife rambles, I ramble, we all ramble (some more coherently than others) so it’s all good.

        Also, I am glad you did give in to a higher duty and honor, I hate to think of you getting sick over this.

    2. That’s exactly how I feel…like I’m the pimp by simple virtue of financially being supported (even if only for this kind-of-a-big-deal surgery), while she exploits herself for it.

      Just…no. It makes me feel icky, and it honestly reminds me of being sexually abused. I made a “promise” by getting married, and going through with that “promise” hurt me because the other person involved didn’t see the potential for hurt, they were only thinking of themselves. Screw it, we all know I’m talking about Wasband. And I’m NEVER going to do anything that he did, in any fashion.

      Anything that gives me that same feeling equates to what he did, in my mind.

      Erin, I’m glad you’ve decided to not do the pinup/cheesecake tier. If you want to, later, you know I’m all about you being you. But you have to be comfortable – that’s ALL I WANT FROM YOU. You’ve done so much for me, that it would be criminal, in my mind, for me to expect you to do something that’s such a big deal for you on such short notice (August is half over, already).

      I hate that, as you say, “yelling at someone who’s stubborn gets through much better than logic,” but at least it worked, and you understand. You know I love you, and that’s the only reason I’m fighting you on this.

      I’ve already said this to her privately, but I wanted everyone who’s reading this blog to see that we’re both on the same page, at least in terms of expectations and feelings about the situation…we understand each other, and a resolution has been reached.

      Thanks, everyone, for their support – both of me, AND of Erin.

  6. Aw, f’pete’s sake — remember that a bell cannot be unrung, and that shy and dismorphic as y’are, Erin, you had best proceed one rung at a time.

    I’m votin’ (to the extent I get a vote) for the greatcoat/ushanka/ Russian rifle, and trusting Oleg and your advisors on the details. Bundle up like it’s winter an’ tantalize the masses with the look in yer eyes.

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