Cleft

I know where the fault line of my life is.

I know how to be my parent’s servant, my family’s caretaker.

I know how to be a trans-shaman.

I don’t know how to cross those worlds, to connect them and make them live.

This is the tear in my heart, my soul, my brain, this line between power and family.

I remember one crossdressing friend note that transsexual women didn’t dress as well as she would like.

I reminded her that when you live as a woman, you don’t just go to work as a woman, go to church as a woman, go to events as a woman. You also clean the house as a woman, paint the walls as a woman, take out the garbage as a woman, do car repairs as a woman and so on. Those day-to-day activities often don’t leave much room for style and flair in appearance.

What I can’t do as a woman is to be my parents son. And what I can’t do as my parent’s son is to walk in the world as a woman, no matter how much I have done the work.

That leaves the chasm I live with. There is a zone, around the housing development, in local shopping, where I have the habit of keeping my head down, keeping my energy bottled up. I know that whenever I have to deal with my parents — and I still talk with them two or more times a day, hours altogether — they have an expectation of me that locks me down. Broken wheel chairs or walkers or phones, medical appointments or insurance, wakeup calls and daily chatter where they stretch and feel connected. It’s all work, like the work I don’t do, rehabbing their house, taking care of gardens and so on.

When I am out for myself I feel badly when I don’t get the work they need done.

And when I do work for them, I feel badly that I am not present for myself.

This is the crack that cleaves me into pieces, the gap that sparks seem not to fly across. This is where the break is, between my world and theirs. Then again, when have I ever expected that people can enter my world, and when have I not respected the worlds others live in?

When my sister calls, wanting to get together, I feel the need to jump in the shower before I meet her. This is my stuff; my sister, while not encouraging, has always been supportive, suggesting I use her house, buying me jewelry for Christmas, and having seen me many times. There would not be a big issue with being there for her, but to me my sister lives in my parents world and I know how I have to be there, defended and defined. I know she often feels torn between me and my parents and I don’t want to put her in that position, don’t want to feel her side with them and against me. She has her own desires and needs, which sometimes feel counter to mine, but it is important for me to respect her choices and her wants.

I get pulled back into my parent’s world; I have to be ready to be pulled back into my parent’s world at any time. This means that I have to have the quench switch at the ready, and it means I can’t immerse, can’t trust, can’t, well, it means I am cleft, split, broken. I wait for the phone to ring, wait for the third gotcha.

I walked through TBB’s neighborhood the first morning I got there, flip flops & denim skirt down to watch sunrise on the beautiful beach.  I knew I wasn’t the neighborhood tranny — TBB holds that role — and I felt safe, accepting the smiles and morning nods of other strollers.

But my parent’s neighborhood stifles me, trying to keep my head down in their world.  And when you feel stifled just leaving the house, warming up past there takes a lot of work.

I am cleft between my world and my parents world, and that leaves me feeling split and separated.

This is the fault line of my life, the bit that gives me headaches.  My parent’s rather gender-neutral son, the caretaker who cooks like a girl and shovels like a boy, the powerful transwoman who has to believe in her own power and attractiveness.

Cleft.

One thought on “Cleft”

  1. Callie,

    I don’t know how you can manage the dissonance between these two worlds, these two ways of being you. I don’t think I could do it, especially as there seems to be so much conflict in your parents’ world.

    I don’t know you well enough to understand what drives you to live with this cleft in your life, but I honor the strength and commitment it takes to maintain it.

    Blessings,
    Abby

    P.S. Yes, it’s the same Abby from Arizona. I just set up my own WordPress blog so I could participate in a group blog on trans issues, although I haven’t posted there yet.

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