The last few years have stripped away my momentum, the steely will that drove my service in the world. Being so deeply immersed in scarcity, my pellicle has been washed away, leaving me raw and exposed.
In that process, the micro terrors I have held all my life came to the surface.
My experience, from my earliest days, was one of an unsafe world, one where parents were disconnected and ready to attack at all times, one where I didn’t have the social skills to become one of the gang, one where I knew I had to hide my queer, transgender nature all the time.
The only safe space I had to retreat into was in my own head, fed by words. I went there to try and understand what attacks were coming and how to gird myself to endure them. My safety was never in relationships with others, for they couldn’t enter, understand and respect my world.
Microagressions are how some transpeople talk about their experience of the world. Things like misgendering or turning away, or just a scowl aren’t dramatic attacks on us, but the overwhelming amount of these tiny abuses over a lifetime can be desperately scarring.
As transpeople, stigmatized and shamed by the judgments of others, we either become acutely aware of every tiny slight, sometimes seeing them where they don’t exist, or we become massively defended, putting that stick up inside of us to keep us vertical and moving forward even through an assault of tiny slights that create massive cumulative damage.
I learned to keep going in the face of these cuts, taking the pain and doing the work. That’s how I did what I did, including fighting with & for them in their last decade.
Three years of stopping, though, peeled that shell away. While this may have allowed me to powerfully access my own experience, finding words to share the cost of being trans in the world, it has had a high cost on my ability to function in the world.
When transpeople read my stuff, they often find it “heavy.” I break through to feelings they have had to submerge to be effective in the world, exposing the pain and struggle within. They can’t take much of this and keep going, so they move on, looking for political tools which support action and not deep reflection.
The micro terrors have now, though, overwhelmed me. The feeling of my body walking through a huge airport, knowing how many, many times I had done it before, was eroded by the micro terrors that rippled and surged under that now worn, depleted and fragile surface.
I used to take showers every morning, but now the micro terrors swirl in me. Will I slip in the tub because of my destroyed feet, the same ones that deny me the basic feminine need of nice shoes? Will I reveal some new injury, some new symptom of decay that reminds me how much a life of denial has cost me? Will the sadness overwhelm me?
The swarming micro terrors keep me from doing what most people in this society take for granted, the routine behaviours that make up a public & connected life.
My inaction isn’t based in the fear of something huge and awful happening, instead it is based in being crushed by the thousand tiny slights that we are taught to take as normal, taught to let slough off of us, all washed away by a copious amount of latent inhibition which feeds short attention spans.
The micro agressions of my life have left me with a deep and abiding residue of micro terrors, my body keeping the score of all the traumas of my life.
When required, I can still muster some of that shell, but only at a very high cost to me, requiring a very long recovery time afterwards. If doing that resulted in rewards, in nourishment, in precious mirroring, in affirmation & care, it might be worth it, but in my experience the cost is always much, much higher than any possible benefit.
Using up what was left of that shell was expensive because once it was gone, it was gone. My immersion in scarcity allowed no regrowth, no increase, no recovery.
With the micro terrors of a lifetime swirling now just under my skin, where can I go to help find support and healing for moving beyond them?
My experience with clinical professionals has never been effective, with the smart ones figuring out quickly that they don’t know how to help and the less sharp ones merely hurting me as they executed their routines.
I have not found community, even after showing and sharing myself clearly. People want service, want me to take care of them, want what they already know and what they expect to value. Even the ones who want to give service look for abjection, simple breaks that take simple solutions to offer simple rewards.
Safe, healing space is very hard to find because healing space is always also sickness space. I have worked very hard to heal, so can help people on the path, but they rarely are able to help me.
The micro terrors inside of me control me now.
I don’t see how to move beyond them, to create a new way to be functional in the world which offers enough benefit fast enough to outweigh a lifetime of tiny cuts and breaks which now swirl up and enfold all of me.
I am who I am. I have always had the same heart, the same sensitivity, even as I learned to discipline my spiralling mind, doing the hardest work I could find. Normative was never an option for me.
Now, though, I am my micro terrors which come from a lifetime of living in a world full of micro aggressions towards people like me. I live in fear, not rational or overwhelming, but the tiny and very reasonable fears that mirror my considered experience in the world.
There might be a new skin for me to climb into, a new presentation that gives me a new lease on effectiveness, but fitting that over a skin full of tiny scars is far from easy. The safe zone I would need to stretch my new invocation, to know that I could heal after taking new risks, to give courage & affirmation, well, it seem beyond impossible to find.
Scarcity and resistance has washed away my old armour. That’s a good thing, allowing me to really get to find a deep understanding, but growing a new persona, one who walks in the world with hope & faith, well, the return of the gift has always been the hardest part of the heroes journey.
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to have their accumulating cost, which for me are a swirling universe of micro terrors just underneath my parchment thin surface.
Finding healing beyond them is, indeed, a challenge.