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So, I'm posting this here because I want this place, specifically to understand; because out of this entire forum, I feel like this place is the closest I've been to who I am, apart from some interactions with specific members of the 17th Shard community. I want to explain myself in a genuine capacity, so everyone here can understand what to expect from me going forward. If this makes anyone uncomfortable, or moderation feels that this post isn't appropriate for this forum, then please feel free to delete it.

Please be forewarned that this post contains a lot of very personal experience, and so if that makes you uncomfortable, then it's probably best to stop reading; that said, I have always thought of this place (Reading Excuses) as more understanding and accepting of diversity, which is why I am making it here.


A long while back, I submitted a series of chapters before kind of falling off the face of the planet. There were....a lot of things going on. For most of my life, I was raised Mormon, and conformed to a certain set of beliefs. Three + years ago, I'd begun questioning that faith and belief system. Some things happened, my depression was at one of its lowest points, my marriage was pretty rocky, and seemed to be flipping back and forth between love and support, and antagonism and hostility. I felt out of place almost every place I went, and among every group of people I interacted with. Fast forward to when I joined this group back in late 2018. I honestly loved my time here. I loved participating in the discussion, and I loved reading everyone's stories. However, there were a lot of things going on in my life, and this was an escape for me. I didn't realize it at the time, but I now know that's what I was doing.

In 2019, I started trying to submit a story that I was working on. At the time, it was a very cerebral (I thought) endeavor, and I thought I was approaching it from a specific standpoint, that of creating a story for my daughters. However, there were things in the narrative that weren't satisfying me, and things that people brought up that really bothered me--not in a way that anyone said anything wrong, but in a self-reflective manner that I didn't understand, and the constant running from my own problems, combined with the exhaustion of what I was experiencing, quickly caused me to burn out and stop posting altogether. For those that were burned by this that expected my feedback, I am deeply, truly, and terribly sorry.

The past year and a half have been a very rough journey of self-understanding and discovery for me, and all of this came to a head late 2019. In the course of less than three months, the following life changes happened, and I'm honestly not sure if I've mentioned any of this here or not:

  • I was diagnosed with severe ADHD-inattentive type, for which I am now on medication to treat.
  • I discovered I was demisexual.
  • My wife and I decided to leave the church I was raised in, which is Mormonism. As a result, I suffer from many similar symptoms cult survivors exhibit when they escape their oppressive environments.
  • My wife informed me that she wasn't heterosexual. 
  • I discovered I was transgender. This, combined with the above, put tremendous strain on our marriage, and resulted in the following:
  • I was ostracized from my family and forbidden to speak to my younger siblings.
  • My marriage almost ended in divorce--we sought couple's counseling, and are still together, though the dynamic of our relationship is completely different than before.

Since all of this happened, I've been forced to reevaluate pretty much my entire life and world view.

Where I am currently

I now identify as a Gaiaist--which is my own brand of belief system, not really based on any existing thing except through cursory connections. Feel free to ask me about it, but the cliffnote is basically that I am now an adeistic theist.

I no longer believe in the Mormon church nor do I view it as a good thing. It has caused me a lot of harm that I am still learning to work through, and because of this, a lot of my former guards and walls are now nonexistent, though I am still learning how to walk, so to speak.

I am demisexual--this is a real sexuality on the asexual spectrum, and essentially constitutes asexuality except in specific circumstances where emotional connections are formed, after which sexual attraction is possible. As such, I truly don't understand sexual attraction the same way most allosexual (non-asexual) people inherently do, and this will more than likely come out in anything related to sex that I comment on or post.

ADHD means that I can get exhausted by things I consider work or difficult--more so than the average person. Things that involve a lot of effort on my part usually take a lot longer as a result, and I really struggle with not internalizing criticism.

I am transgender. I identify as female, she/her pronouns. There are a lot of markers throughout my life that were evidence of this, but due to my conservative and oppressed upbringing, a lot of those things were either severely repressed, or actively danced around in my mind, usually manifesting throughout my life as severe depression. I suffer from some pretty severe dysphoria, and that combined with my undiagnosed ADHD appear to be the major sources of my twenty-year depression. I am taking steps to change that and to be more genuine with myself and those around me, and I do take hormones. Things are still strained with my family, though my brother (who is also transgender) and I have mostly been able to patch up our differences and disputes as a result and are closer than we have been in at least twelve years--five of which were spent basically not speaking to each other at all.

What to expect from me

There are a large combination of factors that have resulted in the person I am today. I did not have a traumatic childhood by most markers; my parents were loving and kind, and are some of the kindest people I know. However, this combination of factors, taken individually, would have been difficult for any person to grow up with on their own, and in me they are all combined. This means that while I may not have had a traumatic childhood, I have a lot of internal trauma related to my sense of self and my own identity, and I will more than likely bring one or more of these points up when I feel it necessary--this is not an attempt to gain sympathy or pity, it is an attempt to explain myself and where I come from. It is also not an excuse--I am now aware of most of my issues and am working to correct them.

Going forward, my main goal is consistency; due to my ADHD, this is extremely difficult. I am trying to put systems in place to manage this, but a side-effect of the way ADHD (which is a neurological disorder) affects my brain, I never learned proper executive functioning. Things like forming habits and routines--that may seem perfectly simple and manageable to another--can be monumental tasks for me. Please understand this about me and be patient, I am trying my best.

Being on the asexual spectrum means that both in my writing or in my comments, there may be unintended assertions or insinuations. A good marker comes from a while back, when I submitted a post and was informed that a character I hadn't intended to come across as lesbian was, and was taught about male gaze/lesbian gaze, and female gaze. This was a great lesson for me, and one I've been able to extend to others since who weren't aware of these things as I wasn't. If I am taking the time to ask about something related to sex or sexuality, please do me the courtesy of explaining and not assuming I will understand what you're talking about or referencing. For example, if I comment on a character's physical appearance, chances are likely that I'm literally just describing the character's appearance, and there is nothing sexual behind it in the slightest. I don't even understand the concept of random people being "hot" or "stormable". And no, demisexuality is not just "normal" relationship behavior, even if it sounds like it to you.

I discovered that when I was writing before, what I was really doing was trying to explore myself, without admitting to myself that that's what I was doing. There was a large part of me that was repressed, and seeped out through "seemingly innocuous" manifestations that I now recognize for what they were: gender dysphoria. As a result, that story is being completely rewritten from the ground up with different focus. Eventually, I may submit it again, but I really want to get out of the mindset I was in before in writing it, so I will be approaching it differently from now on.

I don't have much good will toward religion in any form. My own "theology" is a very "hands-off", adeistic belief in simply doing good and having that good go out into the world. In this respect, I've pretty much pivoted to the opposite position of where I was before--religion and theology have always been a particular fascination of mine, but I now approach it from a very cerebral standpoint as opposed to a spiritual one, as an extension of culture and human history, rather than as an existence of a higher order.

I have taken great strides in trying to understand things like privilege, intersection, and targeted groups. As a transgender woman, I have gone from a prime position of privilege (white & male), to a targeted demographic (transgender). That being said, I fully acknowledge that there are situations and demographics that I will never understand what they feel, though there are some that I now do, and others that I understand only a little. I am not fully out in public yet. I still present as male at work and more fluid in public, and this is due to my work situation requiring regular interaction with people I am unsure of, including my father. Thus, I have become more aware of problems and am more likely to participate in reasoning and discussion involving these topics then before, when I tried to be simply open-minded.

In closing

Again, my point of this isn't to make anyone think they need to walk on eggshells around me or worry about "triggering" me or anything of the sort. I really just want to explain who I am now, because it's a stark contrast to who I was before, and I feel like you all are owed the service of knowing up front what you're getting with me.

In many ways, I'm still the same. I still love the medieval period, still study it fanatically. I still approach literature discussion from a character-based perspective. And I still plan to give my all to whatever critique I am working on.

But I also don't want to lead anyone on or let someone think they're getting something different with me than what I have said. I figured it was better to lay everything out and let you all judge, instead. But know that I really did love this community. I feel like I failed you all before, and that was a failure that I really took to heart. I don't want to do it again, and I hoping that by being honest with myself, and with all of you, I can be a better participant this time around.

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Hello Alderant,

The great news is, you never have to feel like you might have failed me in the past, because I didn't know you then. That means you get a nice, clean slate with me. I'll never have a previous you to refer to. 

So, let me begin this off with: Hi, I'm Snakenaps! 

My best friend and my sister are both ADHD, and I've worked extensively with ADHD, ADD, and ED (emotionally distrubed) children. Not to mention kids with a million other acronyms. My minor is in special education. Essentially, while I understand a bit of your mental state, I honestly don't care. You are you, and that is all that matters to me. I treat everyone situationally, instead of blanket stereotyping.

The same thing applies to you being transgender and demisexual: it doesn't matter to me.Yes, it lets me gain an insight on your thought patterns and experiences, but you could be a 400 foot tall platypus bear with purple fur and silver wings, and as long as you are a good person, we'll get along smashingly. 

Personality wise, I'm prone to rants, especially about horses. I tend to be hard on myself but I'm excellent at taking critiques and bad news. Don't feel like you have to tiptoe around me, because you are my teammate and here to help us all grow. I rarely get offended, and naturally assume that if something on the internet comes off as offensive, I'm probably reading the tone wrong. If I've done something offensive, point it out to me so I can learn from the experience. I can assure you I didn't mean it. If there is one thing I hate, it is drama and conflict. I'm just too lazy. I am also awesome at overloading myself. I honestly don't think I can be happy if I'm not running my feet off. I used to be an elementary substitute teacher, but, thanks to Covid, I've decided to switch careers and get out of education for now. 

Although life has been throwing cannonballs at you lately, hopefully you can find some solace here. I arrived in late February 2020, so I've been here for over six months. Most of the time I forget that and still feel like I joined yesterday. I'm two years out of college, so, as far as I know, I'm one of the younger members of the group. I'm a cis-gendered white woman who is heterosexual 98% of the time with a few exceptions. While I feel attraction, I've never been in a relationship because the men in my town have pudding for brains. I've got 0% experience in the romance department, which is hilarious since I'm trying to put that back in my book after a disastrous first draft.

I come from a conservative background in Northern California, but my parents raised me to accept people based off of how kind they are rather than the color of their skin or their sexuality or how they think (unlike some of my peers). I was homeschooled for seven years and raised in the country. Now I live only a few blocks from my former college in a small city. 

My religious beliefs can be summed up as "I don't think humans can know because if there is a God then we're ants. Ants can't understand the complexity of humans, so how am I supposed to understand God?" So I generally put zero brainpower into religion most of the time, since I am of the belief that I cannot know if there is a God or not for certain, and I'd rather spend my time thinking about horses. 

Speaking of horses, I am your new Horse Friend. Congratulations. I've been addicted to horses since age four (riding since I was 8), and if you ever have any equine questions or concerns, I'm always down to help. I don't own a real horse, but I do own over 320+ model horses. 

You might have a background in medieval history, but I kinda predate you, since my background is in Ancient Rome ;) I took Latin for six years, but I've lost most of my ability to read/write it since I graduated high school. You use or you lose it, am I right? I am also an artist, primarily pencil and digital. Please don't ask me to write any poetry. 

I'm currently in the middle of revising a political intrigue adult fantasy that focuses on the hardship of loyalty and family in a world where mythical creatures literally talk, and bop between submitting chunks of Draft Two and the newly revised Draft Three. This is my first completed book. It's got a lot of issues, but I'm proud of how far it is coming. Most of its issues stem from a disastrous government and my inability to convince readers that talking cows can open doors without telekinesis. I don't expect you to critique my work since I've submitted about over 30% of the story so far, but if you have any questions you are more than welcome to bug me. 

It is good to meet you. I am looking forward to becoming teammates and friends. 


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Hey, Alderant, welcome back :D 

10 hours ago, Alderant said:

I feel like I failed you all before

No. Just, no. I can guarantee you (having been here for coming up on eight years now) that the folks here do not feel that way. I certainly don't. Some people drift through here, some people stay, but there are no membership rules, only guidelines and tenets of decency, and I can count on the fingers of one hand how many of the 120+ members in my time have strayed beyond those. You are not one of those, no way.

I'm glad that you felt this was a supportive place. That certainly is what we aim for, and we are happy to welcome back and support you as best we can, most effectively (I hope) by just being somewhere you can be who you are. Submit or not, critique or not, I hope this is somewhere you can just hang out: no pressure :) 

(Also, I see your message about changing email. Shoot @Silk and me a PM with the address you want to use and we'll get it changed.)

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3 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

but you could be a 400 foot tall platypus bear with purple fur and silver wings

Could you draw me a picture of that, please? I'm struggling to visualise ;) 

3 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

I've been here for over six months

Really? It feels like forever...in a really good way!

4 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

because the men in my town have pudding for brains

Have you been outside your town? It doesn't get much better (speaking as a man).

4 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

since I'm trying to put that back in my book after a disastrous first draft

:huh::blink::o:D Huzzaaahh!!!   (See detailed post on your latest thread.)

4 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

I don't think humans can know because if there is a God then we're ants. Ants can't understand the complexity of humans, so how am I supposed to understand God? I am of the belief that I cannot know if there is a God or not for certain, and I'd rather spend my time thinking about horses

Agnostic, then? (Easier to fit on your drivers' licence ;) ).

4 hours ago, Snakenaps said:

I am your new Horse Friend. Congratulations.


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Hey @Alderant,

Welcome back! I don't recall you being here before, but I'm also one of the newer members. I'm just commenting to tell you that I saw this and DON'T CARE. Don't get me wrong here. Whatever you're going through is way worse than anything I ever had to deal with, so I can't even say that I can sympathize with you. I can barely even imagine it. When I say I don't care, I don't care what your orientation is, your skin color is, gender, or religion. It makes no difference in how I'd treat you. My personal philosophy is that all that matters as that you're a good person with some amount of common sense, and I'm sure that you are. I'm not going to stiff you in any way because of any of those. I appreciate you giving me the background information. Hat off to you. I don't know if I could have been as honest with just about anyone.

I can't wait you see you around!

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Welcome back @Alderant!

Those are a lot of changes, and I'm glad you're coming through the other side now. Please know this is an accepting and supportive forum and we strive to make sure we are accepting of all. Finding things out about yourself is always a challenge. I came out as bisexual a little over a year ago, and I've been much happier since. Living your true self makes the world a better place.

As @Robinski said, no pressure. Feel free to drift in and out, post or just critique, or even just have a discussion. We're here to help you become a better writer, and a more complete person.

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Hey @Alderant, glad to have you back! It sounds like you've been going through a pretty rough patch, but it seems like you're in a better place now or at least heading in that direction, so I'm glad for that. Please know that you are always welcome to be exactly who you are on this forum. I'm glad that your experience with this group so far has felt like a supportive one because that's exactly what we strive to be, and it's something we continue to work towards.

18 hours ago, Alderant said:

I feel like I failed you all before,

No, not at all. We definitely understand that life gets in the way, it's one of the things that this group was designed to accommodate, and from the replies so far I think you can see that no one feels taken advantage of or anything of the sort. As others have said, feel free to participate to the level that  works for you - whether that's subbing and critiquing, just critiquing when you can, or chiming in on the discussion threads.

Welcome back!

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Hi, and welcome back!

No worries at all about dropping off for a while. As @Robinski said, people come and go here and we are quite okay with it. It's the nature of an online forum.

It took a lot to bare your history and soul like that here. It was an incredible post. Just know that there are many people just like you here on the forum. We have queer people, people with ADHD and other neurodiversities, people in varying stages of religion (or religion-recovery) journeys, etc.

I have ADHD myself and my kiddo is autistic, so you're in good company. I'm also intersex, which many on the board here will tell you has been one heck of a ride this past year with my body trying to go through a transition all on its own. I'm nonbinary as well, which is under the trans umbrella, so hey again on yet another front!

We're a pretty welcoming group, and what we lack in knowledge we make up for in spirit! You are always welcome here.

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Hi @Alderant

Welcome Back!

It's sounds like you've had quite the journey over the past year. I'm glad to hear that you seem to be approaching a better state and have learned so much about yourself! This group is a good place to be!

I'm a nonbinary trans person (they/them pronouns, please), who also has ADHD. I'm somewhere on the asexual spectrum. I'm fully out in "real life" though I don't hide who I am online, so more people might know than I realize. 

The book I had been sending through the forum until maybe a month ago has a demi mc. I'll probably start submitting it again in another week or two. I'd gotten stuck with revision and took a break to work on something else. It will probably be back from hiatus in a week or two. 

I'm looking forward to seeing some more of your writing!

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