Leap

TBB is right, of course.

My sister took my parents to my nephew's soccer game, and I got a call that they were all coming back for dinner in 15 or 20 minutes, and I needed to order Chinese.

I got tight.  I did it, but switching back to do that was hard.  I couldn't drop my own stuff that quickly, and couldn't shove it away.  I was left raw and tense, and that was clear, especially when my father told a story about a foster kid that echoed of the complaints he had against me, being unable to "pull yourself up by your own boostraps" and get focused down because your rage and pain set you apart. 

I knew the story wasn't directly about me, but I also knew that it was hurting me with those echoes.  It was a reminder of how unsafe my own family is because they have no sensitivity to what hurts me because so much of me stays invisible, by their choice.  TBB reminded me to talk to them like I was talking to a three year old, because, according to her, my model of a three year old is more like a highschooler, and that just reminded me of how far I am from others.  "We are big so others assume we can take it," TBB said, and I could feel her pain as she said it.

I ended up just walking out and talking to TBB.  No one in my family went to connect with me — the kids and parents and all are more important, and either I can take care of myself or no one can help me, which ever they think.  Hell, I know that my pain & distance are palpable, and few have the tools and stamina to enter it.

TBB hears the tension though.  Having just transitioned as a transsexual, she assumes it's about that.  For me, it's a bit different, but it's still about denied calling — the thing I was writing about when I got the call to order Chinese food for a mess of people whose tastes I didn't know. 

To work with my emotions I have to bring them to the surface.  And even if I know I have to leave them disarmed, because expressing my feelings is unsafe around here, I often can't get them back in the can fast and cleanly enough.

It's about trying stuffing myself tighter into the bag, and losing it.  It's about the limits of mental discipline — the thing my father doesn't think I have — to stay compartmentalized and denied.

A bit of advice
given to a young Native American
at the time of his initiation:

"As you go the way of life,
you will see a great chasm.

Jump.

It is not as wide as you think."

Joseph Campbell, Reflections on the Art of Living: A Joseph Campbell Companion, Edited by Diane K. Osbon, Harper-Collins 1991

TBB is right.  You can't cross the gap in baby steps; the only way is to leap and have faith that whatever happens will be right, dying or what you find on the other side.  Transformation is always like that.

Even if trying to stay more bottled up to do what community says they need is wrong, leaping is always hard because the other side is often more of the same. 

Yet there comes a time when only change will do, when a leap is required.  TBB hopes I will leap on a greyhound and give her some time in Trinidad before I do any other big leap, but in the end, a chassm is a chasm.

And you just have to jump.

Fascinating

Your blog is about what is fascinating to you.

Or at least it better be, or it won't be fascinating to anyone else.

Ms. Rachelle and I were chatting about her new blog.  She's pretty excited about having a place to write about what fascinates her, how myths and images come together to reveal truth.  Ms. Rachelle is best known for her work with Tarot, where myths and images interesect, but her fiction and non-fiction writing have always been about that intersection.

Her blog is based around these interests, seeing the world though her eyes, through the central organizing principles of her life.  But isn't that the way that every blog works?  If you are fascinated by cars or fashion or chickens, you see the world in that context, and your blog reveals that. 

If you are a bit lost and a bit lucky, you might even discover the central organizing principles of your life by reading your own blog.  So many of us have had our structures set unconciously, by habit & convention, that we don't understand the filters and biases that control our life.   We need to deconstruct those expectations before we can build new ones, conciously reconstruct a life of considered reactions rather than life of kneejerk responses.  After all, as Steven Covey notes, freedom only exists in the moment between stimulus and response.

You makes the art and it remakes you.  Just the way it works.

After I suggested the organizing principles I saw in Ms. Rachelle's work, what fascinates her, she asked what fascinates me.  What are my organizing principles?

I thought for a moment.

I think my work is about language and healing, how evaluating our stories can change our life.  I am interested in telling the old truths in modern language. In my mind, the link between language and healing, shaping stories that allow room for transformation & growth, is theology.  

This isn't easy work.  Our language holds our beliefs in coded ways, and changing that language changes the way we see the world, because language shapes the way we think.

That may be the theme of my work, but the subtheme is also real, profound, and the cause of most of the pain that bleeds through here.

It is also the main challenge in changing language, in transformation, in growth and in healing.

I resist calling because I have always known that to follow the voice in my heart requires challenging the status quo that defends comfort, that resists transformation.

I resist calling for the reason I have always resisted calling, to be nice, gracious and to stay in the good graces of a family whose buttons can easily be pushed. 

Gotta get the phone. . .

(see next post)

Partnering

Switched between the Tony Awards and Food Network caters a wedding, delighting in Sutton Foster and kicking myself because I missed a possible glimpse of Cynthia Nixon’s partner.

But though all these events, the girls and the boys are dressed differently, from Christine Ebersole’s princess gown to Bobby Flay’s suit.  After all, a wedding is nothing but a celebration of gender, and if you can’t go over the top with gender at a theatre awards show, where can you do it?

But the part I notice is one of the parts of gender that has always looked the sweetest to me.  It’s the part of gender you can’t really do by yourself — partnering.

It’s that notion of complimentary gender behavior that is the most seductive, the idea that you can create a full circle from two halves.   We go out there, one in high heels and one in a classy tie and we take care of each other.  Fred gives Ginger class and Ginger gives Fred sass and together they look better and go higher.

For most people gender is about partnering, being the kind of attractive person that the kind of people you find attractive want to attract.  That’s one reason when people see transpeople they assume we shape our gender to attract other people, when the truth is that our gender is more about expressing our nature than attraction.  In fact, it’s almost always easier to attract relaible partners with a non-trans expression.

TBB took a friend out to dinner for her birthday, and when TBB found that her boss has picked up the cheque, she was moved, because she has no experience of having men pick up the cheque for her.  It made TBB feel “feminine.”

I watch these couples come together with all the training.  Bobby Flay & Giardia DeLaurentis may be married to other people, but they know how to take dinner together, sparking back and forth while taking care of each other.

Partnering, well, it’s a skill.  It used to actually be something we taught kids at Cotillion, where they learned the social graces of being a gracious and considerate partner, learned how gender worked better when people came at it from two different directions, one that wiggles and one that marches.

And partnering is a skill I tried to learn, even if I could never really see anyone partnering me back in a way that made sense to me.  I remember the first time a squirrley little gay guy tried to escort me in a cotillon walk with arms intertwined and hands outstretched & parallel.  Not a skill I had learned.

In this family, partnering was always a one way street.  My father serviced my mother, while my mother waits for someone to make her happy.   My job now is to help him do that, make his life easier.  For a while I used to demand that my sister kiss my cheek, just so she would think of herself as a woman who could kiss someone’s cheek whenever she wants to.  Turns out that’s not really the kind of woman she wants to be, rather living alone is OK with her.

How do we learn to be partners without partners to help?

Alone is alone, not alive, as Bobby sings. . .