Take Care Of Yourself

TantraGal asked me to lunch at her elegant salon of an apartment, one befitting an inveterate hostess who also runs multiple business ventures from her sophisticated lair.

She is a force of nature, that TantraGal. She got an anonymous e-mail from Munich saying that his Bosnian girlfriend had been driven to the edge of suicide after reading his journal entries about TantraGal. Sure, maybe international drama happens to everyone, but anonymously? She has now determined that he is an old client, and the internet channels to Germany are now regularly heating up with tantric soul stirring.

One of her handles attests to the fact she knows she has the energy of a storm, if a contained one, but that doesn’t mean that she is altogether at ease with this fact of her life. She wants to be taken care of, too.

“Well, you are so strong and powerful, how could you need anything from me?” I parroted over a plate of international food planned for a Mother’s Day brunch with family that didn’t happen.

“Yeah, I get that,” she said with a sigh. We both understand how hard it is to be potent, unique and called in this world, how we live on the edge of other people’s fears in a place that is both very tender, sensitive and open to the world, and very forceful, with the energy of nature swirling in us.   We push for understanding, and that light scares people who want to stay in the dark.

My biggest interest is in seeing our different solutions to similar challenges. She, a beautiful girl, learned how to use beauty as an offering, from a gracious space to using her body as a tool of expression, Me, much more lost, learned how to focus from my head, not trusting beauty, not creating space & grace, but shaping my expression in the contextualization of text, of story.

I need to learn to trust the external as she does, creating practice, even as she wants to learn to own her story, looking for ways to create a book that shares her wisdom as it supports her enterprenurial creation of practice.

I have been sick for over a week now, starting with the wicked sore throat, and continuing onto a hacking resperatory challenge leaving me drained and sore. I had intended to go out a week ago Saturday, and that fell by, and now have missed my opportunity to use my sister’s house as a staging area. I really do want to go to TransPride on June 6 in Northampton, but getting the energy up to reveal myself, well, that has been hard.

Well, the energy up to reveal is hard, yes. But worse, much, much worse, is getting the energy up to conceal again, go back into the monastic denial that drives my service to my parents. It is like pulling them to get things done, like carrying them on my back to create motion. Hard.

All this means I ended up at TantraGal’s house in “Invisible Mode.”

After a while, including a bit of a shock at the door, she was clear: I looked better, more whole & authentic, as a woman. My trans expression isn’t about putting on a costume for a night, it’s about expressing who I am inside.

I had heard this before. I remember almost a decade ago, PalVal took me back to her favourite restaurants in Placid. She later told me that a line cook had noticed me and said I looked much better as woman. Part of me wanted to believe she was just hyping me — PalVal would do that — but I checked years later and well…

TantraGal, well she wants me to take care of myself, like she works to take care of herself. My monsastic taking care of my parents, well, she, like so many others, just doesn’t understand it. Wouldn’t I have much more to give if I was present in the world as myself? Wouldn’t I be happier, more potent, and more graceful?

TantraGal, like any good entrepreneur, lives by her appointment book, and had to be off to continue her day. Her transition reminded me of how much I miss the kind of work that sweeps you up, carries you along, offers momentum and the possibility of success rather than just the need to minimize failure. Some wins can help lift one from the inevitable shocks that flesh is heir to.

I don’t take care of myself. And, even though my parents say they want me to get my life in order, well, they don’t want to freak either.

TantraGal believes that me as woman is so “natural” that it wouldn’t be long for them to get over, a key difference than for so many transwomen who transition as men in dresses and take a long time getting to woman — and sometimes, because of the defenses, they never get there.  She sees my healing as engaging the healthy parts, not struggling with the sickness.

But me as woman means engaging myself as a force of nature, standing & showing in a world without having all those years to learn to trust & shape my own beauty.

Still, the problem is really no different than for anyone else who is a force of nature.

And see how good it looks on TantraGal!

5 thoughts on “Take Care Of Yourself”

  1. Callie,

    I don’t understand “the monastic denial that drives [your] service to [your] parents” either.

    I have no doubt that you have spent many hours thinking about your responsibilities to your parents and your own need — not desire, but need — to be who you are.

    Like TantraGal, I too wonder what a force of nature you would become if you did not have to force yourself back into “Invisible Mode” for much of your life.

    The power that is yours is already palpable in your writings.

    To see and feel that power unleashed without restriction into the world would truly be a beautiful thing to behold.

    I suspect you’ve seen this quote many times before, but it seems particularly apropos here:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we subconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love

    All my blessings,

  2. My asceticism is important to me.

    It may well be that I have other ways to express myself in the world, more free and improvisational ways that will be fulfilling & pleasurable to me, and offer new benefits to the world. It does feel like time for a change.

    But please do not underestimate the value of my ascetic denial , the discipline that allowed me to go deep, denying desire and clarifying my own thoughts in a way that allows me to become clear and effective with understanding and the language to communicate that understanding.

    I do understand that Asceticism isn’t how most people are called today, but it has a long and valued history of thinkers and believers who needed to step out of the system of desire to gain perspective, context and insight into deeper connections in the world.

    I may suspect that this was rehearsal. I know that the scribe of ACIM and even Marianne Williamson feel some sort of channeling or direction in expression that brings them to insight without the same work. That reminds me of Barry Humphries noting that he could write everything that Dame Edna Everage says, but it would take him much longer to get there without her spark driving his mouth.

    I love the moment of inspiration in front of an audience, but it has been nothing I could count on; I need an audience for that. Instead, my path has been Asceticism, the hard and cold scraping at understanding by denial of many indulgences and comforts. It is just that which makes me queer, something many who see queer as flagging indulgence in variant sexual practices find incomprehensible.

    I do get that it may well be past time to just let fly and be out. I do get that Asceticism is baffling and off-putting to many.

    But it has been a key part of my personal path, and for that I need to value it, as so many have done before me.

  3. Well, Callan, I had no idea that I was repeating myself, although I knew that I was preaching to the choir here. Oh, well, it’s obvious that the thoughts that Marianne Williamson expresses in that quote are important to me.

    As I said in my previous comment that you kindly provided the link to above, denial has never worked for me because I experience it as deprivation, not a path to greater understanding, even enlightenment. But that’s just me.

    I didn’t, and don’t, mean to minimize the value of your ascetism. I know that it has been a valuable path to greater understanding for many, as you pointed out. Instead, as I reread my most recent comment in this thread, I see that it was motivated by my own sadness at the prospect that the power, and peace, that you have found in your life by following your own path will never be fully shared with the world, and with me, that I will never get to see the full expression of the person that you are and to experience and learn from it. In addition, I feel sad at the possibility that you will never experience that full expression for yourself.

    After all, as valuable as the insights gained through asceticism may be for the hermit, can the hermit and the world fully realize and benefit from those insights if she never emerges from her cave?


  4. Personally, I believe there is a reason hermits lived on mountaintops; it is the willingness of the seeker to make the journey that reveals the willingness of the seeker to be open to revelation.

    You have to want it before you can have it, and as Joseph Campbell notes about the return of the gift being the hardest part of the journey, if society wanted the gift, they would already have it.

    In this age of internet, no one can claim I am invisible. I am as close as your computer screen if you wish to find me.

    My experience, though, is that many find me, are baffled and just move on. They are not like you, dear Abby, here after doing the work and always looking for another lesson to appear.

    Yes, I need to move more to performance. I need more reward.

    But I also need to honor my journey, the one that brought me here.

    Thank you again for your caring and concern.

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