You have taken so many hits, I told TBB the other day, and have gotten up again after them to continue the good fight. She just keeps trying to do the work and that work has served her well, especially with her family. Even after incredible attempts of others to drive a wedge between her and her children, she is close with them. She struggled through failures and found her own success and happiness, maybe not seen in depth, but with coworkers, friends and projects that amuse and delight her.
“You fight and get up too,” TBB told me. “It’s one of the things I admire about you. The big difference is that when I get knocked down, I go and pick a different fight, but you kept fighting the same battle, for your family and for your beliefs. I don’t know how you survived getting back up and doing it again. It would have shattered me.”
There were decades of those fights, capped off by two and a half years of compliance, understanding that fighting was not only beyond my means but it would also shatter the very thin lifeline that was left to me.
I understand the need to fight in the world. One has to stand up for oneself, taking the hits and creating the space for growth.
I am so battered and tattered, though, that the fight has gone out of me. I am expired.
I watch other transwomen fight in the world and their fights seem so brutal to me, trying to force themselves into a context that feels like they are twisted into a pretzel behind their armour. The ultimate trans surgery is to pull the broomstick out of your own ass, but after enough years, that broomstick becomes embedded, defining your choices forever.
Fitting into the conventional models of trans didn’t work for me fifteen years ago, and it seems beyond impossible now, even as trans gets trendy.
The world is full of bullies trying to assert themselves in the world. Instead of letting people merge into the slower lane, they aggressively blow their horn and zoom by, asserting their own entitled privilege over rules and courtesy. To live in the world you need to be able to face these people, either letting their rude arrogance wash over you because you know it is about them, or boldly claiming your own place in the face of their assaults.
Neither of these choices feel available to me anymore. I struggle just to take care of other people, using up what limited willpower I have on their demands and getting very little back in return as they turn up their nose at what I offer, needing to reject it, needing me to fight with and for them.
I have no belief in what I am fighting for anymore. I know how to scrape at small successes and work to make them larger, but even small successes escape me now. My voice seems to repel and alienate people, my efforts seem to go sour. All the air in the world seems to be sucked up by others, leaving my breath shallow and ragged.
What are the dreams and possibilities worth me fighting for? Where are the wins, the delights that make the fight reasonable, that nourish, replenish and motivate? What the hell is worth getting bombed and bruised, battered and tattered for again?
I know what people want of me. They want what they have always wanted, me to stand up and be of service to them and to other people. They can each imagine ways that I can offer the same kind of insight and encouragement to the wider world that they found valuable. They want me to be there in the world to make their life easier, breaking ground and thought for them to follow behind.
Seeing my strength, they want more strength from me, more fight. All I need is the willpower, the gumption, the dedication.
Have you ever been to an introvert’s funeral? No, I didn’t think so. They tend to be very, very quiet affairs, unmarred by an enormous gaggle of mourners remembering what a social, active and engaging person the deceased was.
I know my job as a coach. I encourage people to fight for craft, precision and vision, to claim better in the world no matter how much they would rather claim easy and likeable, comfortable and habitual. They need me to fight with them and they hate the fact I fight with them, knowing that engaging challenge is the only way to grow and heal, but resisting every moment.
When people act out, I know that their choices say much more about them than about me, but I also know that I am the one their own angst is projected upon, the one who ends up battered and tattered. I don’t get the luxury of kicking back, my own clarity and their fear denying me the luxury of lashing into emotion.
My history as a caretaker starts very very young in a way that few can really engage as they never faced two Aspergers parents. I had only shattered mirrors to find myself in, especially as a transkid and transadult in a time where trans and sickness were synonymous. I was smart, a born shaman with x-ray vision who had to learn how to let go of manipulation and open to her own heart. Tough stuff.
I fought and I fought and I fought. And now, beaten out and chilled to the bone, feeling lonely, deserted of affirmation and dreams, getting up one more time feels beyond me. My body is battered and tattered from neglect, yes, but more from the costs of taking the blows of trauma, keeping the score of getting up again and again and again, only to be knocked down hard.
I don’t need someone to explain the world to me, giving me techniques and strategies, don’t need skittish helpers who fear my energy and possibility, trying to teach me how to fit in better. That work I did, and while I know how much I stand out, I also know that fitting into the expectations and contexts of others is beyond me.
Where do i exist in a world where attention and respect are stretched so thinly? How do I feel mirrored, reflected and seen for anything other than how I could take care of others if only I would stand up and fight for them?
I see the fights I need to make to claim a future. They are not exceptional, they are just the everyday battles every human in this culture has to engage in, the challenges of a human life.
Being so battered and tattered, though, they seem like trials that I have very little will or incentive to endure. Where is the strength, what is the point?