I have never, ever been what you might call a hopeful person.
My trepidation about all the possible bad outcomes often paralyzes me, which, I regret to say, often leads to worse outcomes.
A vivid imagination can really scare you straight, or at least incapacitate you when facing risks.
When you are stuck doing things alone, maybe because your family is disconnected or because you can’t find people to understand and support the dreams of your heart, well, expecting the worst can feel like safety even if it is really just crippling.
Even though I know that, my heart still freezes up in anticipation of the third gotcha. My wetware is programmed to expect getting clobbered.
I just don’t trust other people. And, as much as I have struggled to, I have not been able to build relationships that let me relax, let me surrender, let me trust. Apparently, that’s hard to build later in life, especially if you are a big, smart, queer porcupine.
When I hear the stories of other transpeople, I rarely hear stories of trust, of grace, of embrace. We are people who have been stigmatized and shamed into the closet and that experience always involves installing an internalized police force to limit and disquiet us.
Looking for people to affirm our possibilities, to support exposure and risk turns out to be hard. We instantly run into the internalized fears of other people, the same tension that keeps them working to be gender compliant, be one of the gang.
I fear much more than I trust. That pattern, taught to me very, very early, has shaped my entire life. It continues to do so, even if I know how stupid and destructive that pattern is.
I doubt, and in my case, I doubt with reams of immensely vivid and colourful detail. I build whole worlds from doubt and I get lots of fascinating information from those models, revelatory information.
To change my life, I have to change my expectations. I need to expect that good things will happen to me, that the little failures and discomforts will pale in the shadow of the delights that are possible.
And, apparently, I have to do that work alone. That’s a task I have failed at for decades, staying small and defended. Staying sour and cold, too, for that matter.
There is nothing, nothing, nothing more important to me than believing in the possibility that good things can and will happen for me.
That means the kind of politics that so many transpeople cling to, the expectation of oppression, the celebration of abjection, the compartmentalization of defences, well, they don’t work so well for me.
However, the stories of resistance to trans expression, of limits to trans acceptance are real and routine. They are true, but they can’t be the whole story, because if they are, I will have to continue to stay defended and scared.
The world is not as bleak and dangerous as I imagine it, even for people like me.
I have trouble, though, telling that to my fears. I could use some help.
But that’s been true for a very, very long time.