So, if a trans life is swimming through shit, all kinds of shit, how do you stay moving?
TBB just spent a bundle on components for a kit plane. She was so happy when she got the last piece, though not because she bought a plane. She is happy because she bought a dream.
This was vital for her, especially because, as her kids have both left college, her family is fraying some, with no clear indication when or if it will come back together. Her children need to claim their own lives, so TBB needs to reclaim hers.
It will take her at least two years to have everything set with the plane, but even that timeline invigorates TBB, incorporating everything from the focused and meditative work of building to the dreams of flying to come.
If you are going to swim through shit, you need a destination, a dream, a hope that motivates your choices. You have to want something so much that you can handle being exhausted and swallowing shit.
That’s one reason the first year out as a transperson can be so potent. Your dreams are still new and fresh, not yet dimmed by reality and spattered with shit. And your excitement and joy at being free to do what you dreamed keeps you enervated and high, juiced enough to not feel the wear and tear, not be overwhelmed by the shit.
Don’t waste your enthusiasm and idealism, Garrison Keillor tells young people. It will get you far towards building someplace to grow on. For many transpeople, though, that youthful energy was spent building structures of denial, in learning how to sabotage and destroy our own passions and dreams.
To keep swimming, you have to believe that there is something to swim for, something, well, if not wonderful then at least refreshing. For me, that means that I have to believe that eventually, if you endure long enough, somebody will get the joke and share it back with me.
I sit in the moment, and cast about for a hope, for some event or thing that I look forward to enough to keep swimming towards it. Is there an audience out there that will get the joke, a lover who I can take care of and who will take care of me, a smart conversation that leaves me feeling stimulated and validated, or even just some lovely surprise which leaves me wanting more?
All of those are possible, yes, but in balancing probability against the resource I have left, well, the stamina just doesn’t seem to stretch to the blessings. I’m sure a few will want to dispute this, will want to give me some of their hope, and that is a charming offer, but I suspect that they need it for themselves, and encourage them to use all their hope to make a better world for themselves and others.
My inner experience of the world is simple. “I know, I know. You want to hurt me.” Hurt me for control, hurt me to silence me, hurt me to justify me as the sick one. That’s not a reasoned, well understood thoughtful version, where I rise above the way others treat me to understand it it context, rather it is the gut experience of a child who has always been identified as the problem.
My recent experience is the same kind of denial from others, those who can’t imagine any other possibility than for me to modulate who I am to be some kind of naturally “authentic.” The world demands I focus on my constraints rather than on anything else. One of the most depressing parts of Trans: The Movie was that even our big stars are broken and crippled, abject freaks and marginalized.
Desire is the driver that keeps us swimming, especially when we are stigmatized and swimming through shit. Once we desire, we can take charge of our journey, take ownership of our life. Without desire, though, entropy overwhelms us, taking us back to the universal home.
Ah, blessed entropy.
isn’t it a kind of home?