Out Of Control

My family always knew what would be best for me.

I just needed to learn to be less visceral, less emotional.

More under control, in other words.

And so, that’s what I tried.

I knew that I didn’t want to be an emotional wreck like my mother, always upset and feeling sorry for herself.

But being controlled by my father’s techniques were limiting to me.  His emotions were bound up in his Aspergers.  It was a family thing.

So they spent a lot of time and energy trying to control me.  And when that didn’t work, well they just knew I was “stupid.”   It all felt like a lot of abuse that continued even into the last decade.

The one family tradition they wanted me most to follow was simple.

We don’t make a fuss.

We don’t challenge others, don’t stand up to authority figures, don’t draw attention to ourselves.

Only people who are out of control make a fuss.

That’s why, for my birthday dinner last night at Red Robin, neither of us told the staff that our burgers were cold, clotted and greasy.

We don’t make a fuss.

I have had salesmen tell me I have to get over my aversion to challenging authority figures.

I have had people tell me that I need to bring more attention to myself so people can hear what I am saying.

I have had people wonder why I duck clerks and other bureaucrats.

We don’t make a fuss.

We aren’t out of control.

I think that’s the main reason my family had trouble supporting me as trans, even though I have been out to them for almost twenty years.

We don’t make a fuss.  We don’t get over excited.  We avoid confrontation.  We don’t draw attention to ourselves.  We keep our heads down and ourselves to ourselves.  We aren’t out of control.

These family traditions aren’t serving me anymore, if they ever really did.  My father would have had a better experience in hospital if I shouted more, for example.

It is very hard to get what you need from the world if you resist blowing your own horn, if you always are focused on being appropriate and decorous rather than on drawing a but of attention to yourself.

In the end, the question isn’t if your vision is absolutely right or not, rather the question is if your vision is boldly & brilliantly stated enough to influence the shared vision we eventually create.

It’s hard to be bold and brilliant and not make a bit of a fuss, not be seen by some as out of control.

And attractive people?  Well, they do cause a bit of a fuss, don’t they?   Maybe it’s better not to be too showy, too full of yourself, too out of control.

Now, I did learn a lot of lessons while avoiding making a fuss.  I learned to be sly and witty, mildly subversive with a guerrilla approach to taking power.   Those are all useful tricks.

But to walk in the world as a visible transwoman, you have to be able to tolerate a bit of fuss, walking in confidence and not worried about challenge.

That’s not the tradition of my family.  And when I start to step up like that around my sister, she starts to feel challenged, threatened, manipulated and upset.  When I step up around my brother’s family, I am quickly reminded that it is all about his wife, much like it was always all about my mother.

I either get to the point where making a bit of a fuss doesn’t feel so wrong, or I fade away to dust.   Out of control, or out of life.   More visceral, more emotional or more gone.

Choices, choices, choices.

 

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