Trigger Warning

I’m not much of a fan of “trigger warnings,” the notice that something in the following text may trigger an emotional response.

I see them as a precursor to political correctness, to the idea that certain topics or views must never be expressed because they might cause distress to some people.   To me, this lets the self described victims set the agenda, constraining discussion to what they find within their comfort zone.

Recently a transwoman was turned away from a church run soup kitchen because they believed she would be disruptive.    The staff offered to feed her if she wore the clothes that they considered Biblicaly correct for her, but otherwise they felt she could trigger others by making them uncomfortable.

The notion that I don’t have any right to express what might trigger others, that I have to hide behind screens of consent, as YouTube tried when they marked much LGBTQ content as requiring adult access, well, that’s been something that has hurt me all my life.   I learned to stridently self-police so as not to upset the kids, not to challenge the beliefs of others, not to be attacked because I triggered the unprocessed rage and fear in someone else.

When others deliberately try to push our buttons, though, triggering us by reopening old wounds, well, that’s a very bad, mean and nasty thing.  So much of what passes for argument in this narcissistic, me-first time are ad-hominem attacks, attempts to control people by manipulating them into brokenness.

As someone who grew up trans in an Aspergers family, I had to learn early how to not react to attacks, instead taking the moment between stimulus and response to come up with a considered and effective response. Staying cool on the surface let me practice Akido, allowing others own energy to throw them off balance rather than having me take the blow.

That doesn’t mean, tough, that the slams didn’t hurt me, leaving deep and profound wounds on my heart & body, only that I could come from head and stay tough.

Over the decades, I have learned to create my own content warnings.   Even if I can hold my own in the fight, understanding the cost for participating and measuring against my current reserves becomes very important.

Now, with my batteries so depleted and my resources so thin, I often avoid rather than engage in situations where I know I can get triggered, bloodied and need time to heal.

For example, there is a trans health and law conference tomorrow, around two hours drive from here.

If I was able to go there as a professional, listening to and engaging people, ready to absorb their challenges and re-contextualize them, then I would have much to give.

On the other hand, if I show up as a bruised and battered transwoman who has been desperately isolated for a long time, the odds are that I will just leave worse than I came.  There will be words from others that hit deeply, creating an emotional response that I have no means to tend or heal.

An infomercial selling a simplified computer for seniors includes an expert who gladly points out that social isolation isn’t just bad for pensioners, it’s bad for anyone.   I wish someone had figured that out when I was around one or two years old; learning to manage social isolation like a hermit was the only way I could stay stable.

I go to events hoping to meet someone who gets me.  My most powerful dream is sitting in conversation with someone and looking at the clock, surprised at how quickly the hours have flown by.

What I tend to get, though, are moments when my previous experiences come up, someone offering a thoughtless & graceless assertion that just erases what I have been saying and leaves me, one more time, cut to the quick, old wounds savaged again by old and painful ignorance.

There isn’t a transperson alive who hasn’t felt the need to swallow their own massive pain, eating their own nature to keep the environment sweet and comfortable for those who feel entitled to hold onto their cherished and blinkered view of what is right & normal.

To live by the golden rule, I know that if I can’t abide being silenced for the sake of not triggering others, keeping them in their comfort zone, then I can’t demand that they be silent for me, their free speech constrained by what triggers me and opens my old wounds.

That leaves me responsible for my own feelings, for managing and respecting them.   My history, my fears, my blindness, my neediness can never be the bounds for what is acceptable in the world.

With that personal responsibility, though, I need to know when I just can’t engage those who aren’t sensitive, aware and respectful.  I have to respect my own triggers.  If I can’t stand the heat, I need to stay out of the kitchen.

And that’s why I will end up alone in this basement again tomorrow.

Sick Of Sickness

“So, this is what I want to tell you…”

Many of my blog posts start out with that phrase, though I have been writing long enough to edit it out.

Trying to share a view of the world, to give context by revealing connection, has always been a key part of what I write.

Lately, though, I haven’t been able to pull that off very well.   I start to create a message but the energy just peters out, leaving it rough, ragged and short.

When I write now, it’s more about my personal state than anything else.   That’s not good, not good sharing, not a good sign.

There’s a conference coming up this weekend and a lobby day next week, both of which I attended last year.

The odds of making a great connection at either of them are very small, but at least they offer me an opportunity to create something, asking myself the question of what I would say if they gave me five minutes to speak to the assembled group.

Now, though, I am coming up blank.

I scratched together a workshop proposal for the conference — Trans-Empowerment: Believing In Yes — but understood it was too much, so I didn’t submit it.

And as to the lobby day, well, what I would want to say would highlight the limits of politicizing trans expression, believing that somehow new laws can change the trans experience.    It’s easy to demand that others change, and trans rights are human rights, needing to be supported, but trans is not a political choice and therefore political solutions have limited benefits while demanding high costs.

Many, many, many times over the last few decades I have expressed these views, offering cogent theological, political and emotional arguments, but my impact has been negligible to the point of being unmeasurable.

All this means that there is nothing left that I really want to tell you, because I don’t believe that there is anything most people really want to hear.

A place of healing is always also a place of sickness, be it a hospital or a recovery group or anything else.

As humans, we live with sickness, often because it seems to be the best way to assimilate, to fit in, to play small.    Our sickness, pain and futility is ours and that makes it comforting.   We started making those choices to comfort and protect ourselves.

Until we are sick of sickness, understanding the price it demands, how it stops working for us, we cannot move beyond to claim growth and healing.

Everyone heals and grows in their own time and their own way, even you.   This is the most frustrating thing about being in relationship, as we see how moving beyond limiting behaviours could benefit people around us, but only they can heal themselves and they won’t do that until they are ready, until they are so sick of the sickness that they cast off the illusions to take on the challenges of divine surprise.

Engaging with people means engaging with their own comforting beliefs, pushing at the boundaries of what they are willing to embrace.  It’s a fight, the kind of fight that parents and children have, filled with irritation, growth and love.

I have been engaged in that kind of fight all my life, though without much ego.   I don’t want people to be like me, don’t want to be the centre of attention, don’t want to make people like me, to play for their affirmation.   Very early I learned to live on the edges, a sharp eye replacing a needful heart, and that approach never changed, no matter how much my heart bled.   The costs and failures of living for others was clear to me from my earliest memories.

There is nothing I can tell the world that I haven’t said many times in the past.   Polishing and sharpening my message is possible, finding new language to go deeper, words that may help convey meaning with a bit more detail, but that hardly seems worth the effort.

Nowadays, all I do is try and express my own feelings, capturing the fleeting bits that go through me, the residue of a life spent as a transperson who lived though a set of specific circumstances that don’t seem to be easily engaged by others.   They just don’t get it, the jokes, the delights, the visions, the pain, the love.

So this is what I want to tell you, that I have nothing to tell you.  Live a good life, ready to step into a tomorrow where the divine surprise offers lessons which ask you to move beyond comfort and into transformation.  Use your energy well and the vision will open to you.

Keep going, and when you are exhausted, well, do what comes naturally.

Glorious Noise

For the last two weeks I have spent my days to the sound of a robin throwing himself against the windows.

It’s spring and the sap is running, so this bird feels the call of nature.   To him, that means defending his territory against other males, making sure that all female robins see him as the top.

There are no other robins for him to fight, though, so instead, he spends hours everyday fighting himself.   He sees his reflection in the glass and it irks him, so he flies straight in to terrorize and thump his imaginary opponent.

You might figure he would learn from crashing into a pane of glass over and over.   He has, a bit.

The first day the thuds were loud and painful sounding, but now, after two weeks, the skirmish with the shiny robin is less intense, turned more into habit and routine.   I now only hear a soft clatter from across the room as he skitters up the pane, scratching and clawing at his imaginary opponent.

It would be easy to think that there would be some kind of metaphor there, a koan about persistence or learning, a tale of futility or self-delusion.

Instead, all I see is a bird who has it in his nature to confront and display finding a way to do that even when he is more or less alone in a quiet yard.

We are who we are.  Some parts of us are rooted deep in our creation.  We execute on them even when they don’t serve us any more, when they are just shows of atavistic expression.

If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Does an action have to be perceived to make it real?

Clearly, our robin says no.   Just the bold defence alone is worth the valiant and repeated effort, with or without another bird to intimidate, another bird to impress.

In neurolinguistic programming (NLP) terms, I am an auditory.   While I see and feel, my primary experience of the world is through hearing what is around me.

I don’t just listen to sound, I make sounds.   An old friend once told me that she would hear me making noises and be sure that I was doing it deliberately to annoy her, but when she saw me, I was oblivious to her, just reading or typing or whatever.

A staffer told me that she knew I was good when I was working hard and “singing” a little bit, focused and intent.   An old boss told me she was entertained by the little “radio plays” that came out of me.

When I am alone, I often have conversations with myself, just to hear the sounds of the voices inside, amused by their tone and interplay.   They are my “Jonathan Winters” sounds, the play of a writer exploring words and meaning.

Growing up in the world I did, though, there was no audience to get the joke, to engage and encourage my natural expression.  Those around me were much more likely to see it as an attempt to annoy them rather than just my nature leaking out though sonic vibrations.

I learned to stay silent, learned to shape my sound to communicate with an audience.  My playful nature had to be curbed and constrained so that other people would not see me as a nuisance, as weird, as sick.

So much of my nature had to be forced down and away, into the depths of a dark, cold and very lonely closet.   I knew people didn’t see it as star quality, as something I needed to polish to let my heart shine, rather they saw it as brokenness, unpleasant to them and a mark of my impending & inevitable failure.

Compliant silence and abject service was all I could offer unless I wanted to be marginalized and shamed for my noisy nature, as I learned very, very, very early.

Nature, though, runs very deep, as my intense robin reminds me everyday.   I still make those sounds, though for myself, when I am alone, or sharing them via writing that I know few will ever see and even fewer will ever hear.

Fighting to place your nature in the world is exhausting and costly.   I had other fights that seemed more important to me, fights about caring, about love, the fights of someone with the heart of a mother, that fighting for personal expression fell to the rear until I was too pooped, too beaten down by scarcity to engage for myself.

The sweetest sounds I ever heard are still inside my head and my heart, just as the most important sounds lie trapped in there too.  I have a handful of nice drafts I  started over the last two weeks and a few more notes, but I can’t seem to get the sounds out.

So much of my exploration has come down to symbol and meaning, which the wider world sees as value versus noise.   Sounds that don’t fit into the current schema are just reduced to noise, cluttering up the simple truths, simply nattering and braying that gets in the way.

While my training may be in trying to keep down what people cannot yet understand so I can attempt to get what meaning I can across, my life has been an experience in glorious noise.

The divine experience comes only in the unexpected, in the juxtaposition of the known and the unknown.   Between this world and the next lies illumination, trapped in the words which struggle to convey the shimmering interference patterns of truth which cuts across our perceptions and into our hearts & minds.

The effort to take the glorious noise inside of me, that nature which lies in the surprising interplay of sound, and turn it into mild product which doesn’t threaten or disgust people into shutting down, well, that has taken the most of me without creating a lovely reward anywhere than in my own relationship with my creator.

No matter how tough you are, you can’t keep flying smack on into a window forever, no matter how much nature calls

While it is happening, though, it is a glorious noise, part of the immense soundscape of an interconnected world, where nature, if allowed to blossom, keeps things alive and growing.

I love the glorious noise that has always tied me to the rest of nature.

Sharing that glorious noise, though, has proven difficult.

Brilliant & Gorgeous

“Remember: You are brilliant and gorgeous.”

For decades now, this has been my affirmation to my sister.   She started a new job this week and even joked about tattooing B&G on her wrist, so she would be reminded every time she sees it.

Like many humans, she understands the objective logic of my invocation, knowing that she is as good or better than most other people, but the emotional embrace of it still comes hard.

The voices of lack, of failure, of disapproval & disappointment are much easier to hear than the truth of the capacity to be exceptional, the truth of our own brilliance and beauty.

I started reminding her that she was brilliant & gorgeous because I knew firsthand that she grew up in a home where her good stories were stolen and everything else was marked as a disappointment, a heinous failure to make her mother happy.   Rather than being praised for her shining and encouraged to stretch, she was bathed in her mother’s failure complex, a never ending loop of self-pity that turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Expecting pain and failure gives a great excuse not to try and not trying guarantees the comfort of having you expectations be rewarded, allowing your soft bed of assured indolence to harden into cement that traps your soul.

It was obvious to me that anyone who came out of that home needed all the encouragement and reminders about transcendence that they could get.   That lesson, shall we say, was written deep and painfully onto my own battered soul.

Giving is receiving, as any parent needs to know and as I was taught early.   Giving my sister the affirmation that she was brilliant & gorgeous and that the world would see that too if she only had the courage to show it to them, well, that was the best I could do to make sure that message existed in the world.

Like most messages we put out, the best thing that can happen is to have that truth reflected in the world, mirrored and amplified through the shared energy of a family or community.

My personal experience, though, has never been to feel excitement & affirmation about my contributions, very, very rarely having them valued and returned with building enthusiasm.

Instead, I find that I am obligated to teach the same lessons over and over to an audience who has an almost infinite capacity to resist the hard work of accountability and responsibility, instead looking for comforting short cuts and repeatedly going back to their unconsidered beliefs, the cherished assumptions that they hold onto as firmly as a security blanket.

The surety of entitlement is deeply embedded in this culture and those who challenge us are easily dismissed as crackpots.   Why should we be accountable for anything but what we believe to be true in the moment, held responsible for where our path crosses others in a way that they don’t like?  Isn’t that just their problem?

I learned early to confront shallow thinking that did not respect and consider the needs, feelings and requirements of others.    This quickly became the theme of my life, not going along but standing up, trying to be seen, heard, understood and valued.

Taking my fight for granted was easy for other people.  After all, I was standing up for myself, illuminating deep thought, asking smart questions.   How could I need anything that they had to give?   They had their own struggles, so it was easier to only go to me when they needed something I had to give and to just stay away when they didn’t want to be challenged.

All the reasons why people find me a bit challenging are very obvious, not only to me but also to the people who are in relationship with me.

The ways that I am brilliant, gorgeous, charming and attractive, though, don’t tend to get reinforced.  It is clear that I am my own person, that my approach to people isn’t to make them comfortable, telling them what they want to hear, reinforcing what they already believe.

Sometimes, though, I am reminded that on some level I am fascinating, compelling, dynamic and engaging.   My approach is entertaining, using humour and surprise to offer a different view, all wrapped in a sure and even seductive voice.

Those reminders, though, are easy to lose in the midst of others who resist entering my world, seeing through my eyes.   They easily believe my stories of being a bristly outcast, understanding the cost of having to attenuate and play a role that fits into the expectations of others.

The notion that a path forward lies not in fitting in but in standing out, in being big, bold and brilliant in a way that can engage and delight people, well, that’s not something that fits into their own worldview.    They are very circumscribed by the boundaries of their imagination which not only defines their choices but also defines the fear which limits their vision.

Few people are ready to affirm in others what scares them in themselves.   Transpeople know this vividly, having lived within the boundaries set by the fears of others.

I know how to affirm that others are brilliant & gorgeous, but finding that same mirroring for my own cutting & queer self has always been very, very difficult.  Is the simple humanity, the bold & tender heart behind my sharp brain visible, compelling, lovable?

Leading with my brain offered me a survival strategy, enlightenment that kept a bitter world in context.  Protecting my tender heart from the assaults that were supposed to train and constrain someone with a body like mine to service, well, I needed all the shell I could get.

Now, though, my challenge is to let that heart shine, brilliant and gorgeous in a world that still wants to read my history and biology as “real” and my self awareness as just noise that can be dismissed & erased.  Trying to get that heart  affirmed has always been a challenge for me, and it doesn’t become easier the older I get, the more ancient I am seen.

More revelation is always scary.   It lets people judge you, not on what they see but on what they already believe.

You are brilliant & gorgeous.  Let it shine so people can see it and be attracted to you, wanting to engage you by entering your world a bit.

Me, though?

Am I just too damn queer for the room?

Or does that spark exist inside of me, also?

Transactional Timbre

My life has been a constant stagger between “That’s way too much information!” and “Why didn’t you tell me that right away?”

I have never known exactly how much information I should disclose in any given interaction with other humans.

Watching them glaze over, turn away or, worst, recoil in disgust when I show them a part of me that they find less than palatable is not a pleasant experience.  I was taught early that it was not only unsafe to disclose my heart, but also that it was rude.

“Look,” so many people would say, “I’m fine with whatever you do in the privacy of wherever you do it, but I don’t really want to see it, and for God’s sake, don’t expose the innocent and pure children!”

Trans is based in Eros, driven from the desire in our heart.   Because it was often a segmented, unintegrated part of our expression, it was where we could “let it all hang out,” revealing deep, potent adult desires that seemed rude in mixed company.   Fetish, drag, crossdressing and more brought an uncomfortable rawness to what we revealed, something that squicked other people and made them queasy.

Deciding where the line between appropriate and unsavoury lay was always difficult.  Because I had to police myself, I always over policed, staying in the shadows if there was any possibility that my appearance would cause questions that parents would rather not answer.

This behaviour, though, sometimes lead people to believe that I was ashamed of my trans nature, trying to hide it.   I’ve been talking openly about my trans for at least twenty years, but I have also resisted showing it, not wanting to be too “in your face.”

Many transpeople address this concern by going to extreme lengths to conceal their trans truth, using surgery and other methods to try and conceal their trans body, attempting to pass as having gone through puberty as the appropriate sex for their gender presentation.

I knew that approach wouldn’t work for me.   In the first place, I would be a failed transsexual, but more importantly, I knew that my work required I be able to talk about the experience of being trans, using my voice to speak for queerness and continuous common humanity.

My choice was to be honest about trans but to avoid having to feel the fear of trying to pass in the world.    With my feminine heart, I needed the connection more than I did wearing the clothes that I wanted, knowing they would put barriers up.  My beauty couldn’t lay in the way I met normative expectations, as Riki Wilchins notes, but rather in the way I shared my vision.

Humans, though, operate on assumptions, applying their own expectations to others they meet.   Those expectations, as I and so many other transpeople found, just don’t usually include understanding people like us, those who make the choices and create the expressions that we do.

That “third gotcha” moment, where your gender changes in someone’s eyes, is one of the most unsettling experiences ever.    For this reason, many transwomen keep a “tell” around, knowing that it can be dangerous to not reveal our trans nature right up front, even if that means we are always stuck on the “guy-in-a-dress line.” (1999)

While this is terrifying, I have written about it often over the past twenty years or so.   My choice was to try and be myself on the inside, wearing a uniform, rather than pressing the point on the outside.

Because I mostly share using explicit and potent language, rather than just the symbols of clothing, my “too much information” experience is when I try to talk about my experience, my feelings, my life.

I learned long ago that unless someone was ready, primed and open to engage what I had to offer, I had to modulate, reduce and be very circumspect about what I share with them.

We know we are being heard when we hear our stories mirrored, when our own ideas and phrases come back to us, or when people change their choices to consider what we have shared with them, showing that they understand and have integrated what we revealed to them into their own mental model of who we are, how we feel and what we need.

My experience, though, is that most people have a great deal of difficulty moving beyond their own deep assumptions and beliefs to grasp and integrate my sharing.

The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measure anew every time he sees me, whilst all the rest go on with their old measurements, and expect them to fit me.
– George Bernard Shaw

Never try to teach a pig to sing.   It just wastes your time and annoys the pig.
– Robert Heinlein

People grow and heal in their own time and in their own way.   If they aren’t yet ready to hear what I offer, well, there isn’t much I can do to change that.   They have to want to be able to open to me, want to be able to engage me, want to fight with and for me.

That’s not an easy ask, I know.  People want to offer what worked for them, want to suggest that I dial it back, that I just get over it.   That’s sweet, but the odds are high that I have already tried what they suggest; after all, I have been at this trans shaman challenge for many, many decades now.

I have spent a long time and a lot of energy coming to my own understanding, and if people want to shoot back at me “Well, I’m just not that enlightened!” like my sister did, I just need to accept that.

The problem comes when something does come up and they demand “Why didn’t you tell me?   We could have done something about that!”

Well, you have failed me so many times in the past, not hearing me and showing that by not following through with what you suggested that I have learned to just keep my mouth shut and talk about you instead.

Why should I expect different behaviour than you have shown me the enormous number of times I tried to share and you just shut down, not able to hear or engage me because you had no context, no ability and no will to change to embrace what I offered?

As a transperson with my history, I learned very early to gauge the timbre of the transactions I had with other people.    What were they willing and able to take in?   How much sharing was too much?   Did they want to separate from me, even for sweet and liberal reasons?

Learning to self-police myself in those interactions left me almost always erring on the safe side, on holding the contents of my heart and mind back unless there was no other choice.    I learned that it was nothing for me to be too high voltage, too fast, too overwhelming, too challenging, too porcupine for others to hear and take in what I tried to offer.   Attempting to share my gifts usually got me slammed or isolated, not valued.

It became my habit to back off quickly, to simmer down, to not be seen as a monster.

This has left me with writing so punchy that audiences shy away from the intensity of thought & emotion, finding it not worth their resources, and a life dialed back so far that I have very little interaction and relationship with the humans I pass by now and then.

I stagger between “That’s way too much information!” and “Why didn’t you tell me that right away?”  sharing too much or sharing too little and not getting what I need from either.

So much we need to share and so much resistance from others as they hold onto comforting dogma, doctrine, belief and habit that just wants to erase what doesn’t fit neatly into what they already expect.   I am too queer, too whatever for the room.

And that feels like a telling hallmark of a trans life.

Ego Blown

It turns out that the perfect training for being a guru is having your ego destroyed before the age of two.

Apparently, the earlier you find out that your desires & intentions are irrelevant, that the only way to be smart & safe is to let go of your own needs and serve the universe, the easier it is to let go of the ego in later life.

My Aspergers parents lived in their own worlds.   My father was benign, wanting to be part even as he drifted off, so my precious reading skills — I read Time magazine at age four — made it easy to connect.  My mother, though, dragged everything into her world and her context, ready to steal what was good and blow up over what she saw as an insult, an assault on her status and happiness.

With these role models, I quickly learned to live in my own world, accompanied by books or television.   (My mother lost a daughter before I came along, so a TV had been purchased to comfort her.)

I knew very early that I was not going to get what I wanted, so I learned to pacify & entertain myself.   The stoic was the obvious defence strategy, learning to take the hits and not show anything, holding onto my mind to stabilize and keep attacks at bay.   The hypervigilance was always there, always ready for the next blow up, but within myself I let go of desire and learned to withstand.

This approach lead me to æsthetic denial, letting go of desires and making the best out of whatever came along.   I knew I would be challenged on liberties with facts, making up stories, but as long as I understood that all I could get was all I could get, managing those scarce resources was what had to be done.

If I couldn’t have what I wanted, I had to learn to use what I had.

This influenced my own approach to emerging as trans.    I had no illusions that I could rewrite my history & biology, no sense that I could get whatever I wanted.   Instead, I took a spiritual approach, working towards more androgyny, more integration.   Working with what I had was the only choice that seemed reasonable to me with my flattened ego.

Most spiritual paths try to tame the ego but they do that by replacing it with a formalized desire shared by group members.   People still strive to create change for the glory of their sect, knowing that the common goals were deemed virtuous and blessed.

Because my spiritual path has always been very singular, unable to find myself a spiritual community, I wasn’t able to use that shared ego strategy.

The personal ego is a powerful force for change in the world.   I know many people who want something — applause, affirmation, significance, status, money, fame and so on — that has driven them to a useful and valuable public presence. Unchecked ego may only lead to hubris & disconnection, but having the ego to stand in the spotlight, take your own power and be a force in the world is important.

I have struggled with this balance all my life.

My approach has always been that of a guerrilla fighter, making change from the corners, putting humility first.  This was what I learned to do early with my parents, nudging rather than jumping out front, and what I did until their last days as I played the concierge role, of service and of demure power.

The line between taking power in the world and standing for ego has always been very tough for me.   Others have wanted me to get out front and speak but I knew that my deflated ego made that difficult for me.   Learning to be the visionary, exploring & reporting from dark corners and dusty roads always felt better than being the missionary, repeating and repeating the stories of transformation.   I am much more a television person, wanting fresh and fast, than a theatre person, able to polish a role to perfection.

Without the healthy ego that allows me to expect the affirmation of an audience, though, I never built the kind of standing that allows my voice to be heard over the crowd.   People don’t know and follow me in a way that can build deeper understanding and more subtle nuance over time.

A blown ego is useful for a seeker, allowing vision without being clouded by desire, but it is much less useful for a leader who needs to have others follow by the force of their beliefs.

Should people care about me?   Should people engage me?   Should people fight for me?   Should people encourage & empower me? Should people love me?

Those are questions that I never had the luxury of pondering, knowing that what I got was what I got and my only choice was to use those offerings to the fullest.

Very early I learned that the world is as it is, not as we would wish it to be, and if that isn’t a fundamental guru teaching, I don’t know what is.

I am proud of how I used what creation gave me, how I made the most of it.

That doesn’t mean, though, that I don’t acutely understand the price of having my ego blown so early, long before the dream should have been squashed.

Even this week, I have just let go of things that I wanted for the ease, the comfort and the simplicity of it.   Loss has become part of my discipline, a part of the denial of self which is both righteous and arrogant.

Standing up to demand, to take my place, to gain at least some of what I need and want was part of the cosmic plan, a piece of the balance every human has to claim.

Finding a way to rebuild a crushed ego, though, well, that I haven’t found, even as I refused to knuckle under, becoming compliant and silent.   My ego still exists in my defiant queer voice, creating incantations which I believe share the eternal truths in modern language.

That doesn’t mean, though, that it couldn’t use a bit more stroking.

Heavy Heart

When your heart is weighed down by grief or sorrow, it becomes heavy.

I’m not sure if my heart has gotten heavier through the years or I have just gotten more weary of carrying it the older I have gotten.   At my age, I pretty well know that there really aren’t going to be any circumstances that lighten my heart, giving me hope and delight, so the odds are high that any attempt I make will just make it feel heavier.

Practically, this means I have to budget extra time into dragging my heart around before I do anything that takes emotional presence.   That includes time to get it moving, working to break the heavy forces that tend to keep my heart at rest and time afterwards to recover from what feels like the massive output of energy it has taken to drag my heart around.

This doesn’t feel like depression, because my mind is sharp and clear, regularly offering gratitude for my life, rather it feels like the effects of a lifetime of having to keep my heart hidden and isolated.

My heart has always been big, usually too big for others to countenance.  Raw, visceral, intense, deep, potent, my open heart is usually seen as overwhelming and scary.

A big, heavy heart, full of big, heavy emotions, well, it’s usually not seen as a welcome visitor.   “Oooh, that’s heavy,” people say as they turn away from me and look for something easier to engage.

Carrying around a lifetime of feelings makes my heart heavy.   I was taught early, though, that expressing my feelings was a bad thing, so instead I learned to catalogue and store them, keeping them as a record of the experiences of my life.   Using feelings to illuminate my choices was the basis of enlightenment, allowing me to be able to share my trans experience and create a connected model of shared trans experience that is both powerful and off-putting.

Releasing those feelings before someone hears, acknowledges and mirrors them feels like letting go of very hard graft to collect and discover them, like throwing out my life’s work.    Ah, the burdens of a wounded healer with a sack of tools that help unclog the emotions of others.

A burden shared is a burden halved, or something like that.  Sharing what I keep in my heavy heart, though, feels like a challenge too far.    I have learned that most people are just keeping up with the weight of their own heart, so engaging the mass of my heart is not something I can ever expect them to do.   It’s just not on their priority list, so if I try and share, I will get shut down and that will add to my own sadness.

My heavy heart, stuffed with all the maps and diaries of where I have travelled, the emotional lessons I have learned, and the hopes and dreams I have nurtured, needs reciprocal love, to love and be loved, as much as any feminine heart ever did.   That didn’t come, though, which, I want to tell you, can weigh down your heart.

My heart is heavy, after way too long using it and not getting back what I need.  Sharing is caring, but while I share with others hearts, no one seems to be able to share with mine, lightening my load.

A life with a heavy heart, aware of loss and limited in transcendence, well, it wears you down.

I’m not at all sure, though, with the situation I was handed, I would have had it any other way.