“You would have been a kick-ass mom,” ShamanGal said to me the other day. After over two and a half years of being there for her on the phone as she has struggled to get beyond old defenses and integrate trans, she should know.
For my parents, in their last decade, I was mom. I fed them, washed their very messy laundry, made sure they got the best care and helped them negotiate the world.
As mom, one of my chief obligations was to be strong for them. My own fears and feelings weren’t useful for them as they struggled with their own. With their Aspergers, this was more important than you can imagine as negotiating emotions was not something they could do well.
As a transperson, I understood the obligation to be strong for the world. From an early age I was told that my feelings were corrupt and perverted. I was told that if I revealed them in the world, people would not understand. They might even recoil from my feelings and reach out to silence and hurt me.
If I wasn’t strong for the world, I deserved whatever I got. They were my damn feelings and if they triggered other people’s fear and loathing, well, I deserved whatever I got for letting my feelings show.
My feelings are intense, overwhelming, bizarre, and ugly, or so I was told. I’m really a guy, you see, as judged by my birth parts, so being emotional isn’t allowed.
I have to be strong for the world. It’s what I have always known, even if I have no idea how to be understood and valued for the emotional creature I have always been.
As you get older, emotions are seen more and more as weakness. You should be over them by now, getting them out in your younger, more dramatic days. You have the wisdom of age, the stability of long context, the reasonable attitude that lets you help others negotiate emotion while yours just are set to a very low flicker on the farthest back burner.
To be in the world, I have to be strong for the world. If I am strong enough, I am told, working hard and smart, then I can eventually find a place to be real in the world, safe and secure, with others present for me rather than me having to be strong for them,
Somehow, I don’t believe that day will ever come, that I will ever be strong enough in the world to create the space to be emotional.
I love that I know how to be strong for the world, that I used my mental power to take care of others. I have been a gift.
But a kick ass mother gets rewards from her work that don’t come to a transperson who helps other people die.
I have been strong for the world.