Eat It

Do I eat my feelings?

Of course I do.

What are the other choices?  I have tried to share my feelings for my entire life and ended up being told that I was too intense, too overwhelming, too queer, too confusing, too challenging, too weird.

Sometimes that meant people just walking away and sometimes it meant them trying to silence me, but in any case, it left me to do something with my own feelings, to soothe and stabilize myself.

I write when I can, I sleep and I eat.  Boo.

My gender seems to be guru.   People expect me to be of service to them without having to be present for me.

Because they see me as a mirror of their own expectations & beliefs, a screen to be projected upon, they can’t imagine how they can be with me, can enter my world, can engage my feelings.

I have done work they see as mystical and beyond them, have transcended the space they inhabit, have moved beyond their understanding, so I am a wonderful resource to let them play out their own spirals and mess, to give context and mirroring, to offer a guide to better and more conscious choices.

That’s lovely.   It is a service I am proud to offer.  “In cultures where gender is rigidly binary, rituals of gender crossing remind us of our continuous common humanity.”

I am a healer.   But I am also a human, with my own emotions, my own exhaustion, my own wounds.

And so I indulge the flesh in a limited attempt to stay nourished and functional.   I eat my feelings, I sleep my pain.

The nature that I have found I cannot share is the nature I have to hoard and nurture in myself. I must value the jokes, the tender truths in my heart that others cannot afford to get, have never been willing or able to get.

In deep cold, the body shuts down the extremities to keep the core vital.

I know the extremities that I have cut off, made invisible. It hurts, but the heart & mind have the imperative to survive.

In a culture where either/or, where us/them is the norm, my meaning gets trounced on.  Even those shouting that they are non-binary usually still want to draw a line between themselves and the assimilated, creating their own hip good vs evil binary.

Anytime the world is divided into a binary, even by Dan Savage, I am destroyed.  My liminality is the essence of me, a walking bisexual who crosses sex/gender and many other imaginary boundaries between humans.

What we did for love drives the story of almost every human life.  Our struggle to get enough love becomes the driving force behind our choices.

The more we have to comply with expectations to get the love we need the more we internalize the shame projected on who we are.

For me, with my Aspergers parents, understanding and love was hard to find, even the basic tactile engagement all mammals need.

I needed to learn, therefore, how to live with scarce love, how to eke out what I got and swallow the parts of me that needed more.   “Nobody loves me,” was my understanding, partly from the limits of what was on offer and partly from an understanding that to get even what was available I had to hide my nature by ferociously controlling my choices, keeping my emotions hidden and in check.

The cost of scarcity is high, especially when it is the scarcity of emotional mirroring. It leaves us to struggle with our own shame.

Fighting for others was always powerful to me, but fighting for myself was much harder.   Not only did I not have someone who would fight with me and fight for me, I knew that my family would run from conflict, shaming me if I brought any unwanted attention.

Aesthetic denial was my only strategy, but without a cultural support network, the underlying feelings had to be eaten, and they were much better when washed down with fries and a Coke.

I eat my feelings, but that is a meal of bile and degradation.

No one, though, has shown me another choice for big, bright queers in a terrified world where people feel entitled to box up other people with a dogmatic set of labels.

To be present is a joy.

To not have others be present for me, though, is reason enough to open the refrigerator.

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Power Of Flirt

I like flirting with men.   And I am good at it, focusing on them, creating a quick kind of intimacy that tingles a little bit.

I don’t have much interest in getting them naked, though.  Physical intimacy really isn’t where I live, and if I had to pick a body to rub against, well, it isn’t male bodies that turn my head, have ever turned my head.   Nothing wrong with them, they just don’t get me a bit short of breath.

I like flirting with women.   A sizzle of connection, of excitement, is a very nice thing, that exchange of seeing and being deeply seen.   It’s very good.

Hell, I’m a femme.  Flirting is what we do, creating shared moments that feel great and open the way to shared endeavours. When I talked, so many years ago now, about powershift as part of gendershift, the shift into flirting was at the core of the question.

I don’t flirt, though.

I don’t flirt because I don’t trust my standing in the world.   How will my attempt at intimacy or even vulnerability be taken?   If I open up myself to someone else, will they judge me or worse, will their fear button be pushed in a way that they feel the need to shut me down, even if it involves hurting me?

Flirting is the place where I have my power, but flirting is also the place where I know the biggest potential pitfalls exist.   Danger, danger, danger.

The list of reasons why I should not flirt is long and realistic.   It would be easy for you to agree with at least some of the reasons, so logical and pragmatic are they.

Girlfriends, though, know that trying to come from your feminine power in the world is just impossible.    That’s why a few rounds of encouraging flirting are the prelude to most encounters.  “You look great! I love that scarf!”   Saying yes, mirroring the energy, affirming the beauty, well, it opens us up and keeps us warm.

Girlfriends also know how much a bad flirting experience can hurt.   You put yourself out there, show a deep part of you, and then, for whatever reason, you end up falling on your face because your partner won’t support you.  Now it’s their stuff that came up, but it’s you who hits the pavement, and that means you need someone to help you get back up, dust yourself off, reapply your lipstick and get back out with a big smile.

The power of the flirt isn’t logical or quantitative.   Rather, it exists in the spark of connection that warms and opens our heart, enabling us to see beyond our own immediate expectations.

For people who don’t want to open, don’t want to warm, nipping flirting in the bud is the obvious answer.

5) The most painful thing about trans is not being able to give your gifts and have them accepted.

Once someone decides that they don’t want whatever you are selling, that they need to keep you down to keep you at a distance, flirting becomes very unsafe.   If you offer something too tempting, an idea or a feeling or a possibility, well, they are weak and they need to be strong.

If you are not able to be receptive to the somewhat unknown, aren’t able to own your own curiosity, aren’t ready to go off in a bit of a new direction to see what you can see there, then you are not able to flirt.

Flirting is never about asserting complete control, rather it is about trusting your heart enough to enter into the dance.  The steps are negotiated, with intuition, training and wit, finding the particular rhythms that work in this moment, between these people.

We make a personal scene, maybe for a moment and maybe longer, but in that interaction, we share humanity.

That is, of course, if we are present and open to the spark.  If we hold on too tight to our own control, fearing we might look foolish, might fail, or might be knocked off our determined path, the connection never happens.

I love to flirt.   My curiosity keeps me engaged.   I want to receive what the world, and that is a world of humans, has to offer.   The divine surprise comes from seeing something anew through different eyes.   Let me hear your story, let me understand your experience, let me see through your eyes to discover what we share and gain a perspective I have missed because I didn’t yet know you.

For so many, flirting has to have an objective.   It isn’t an virtue in itself.    This a problem for people like me whose real treasure is hidden behind a less than obvious façade.   We aren’t shiny on the outside, so that makes our inner glow less obvious, which in turn means we are harder to explain to your friends.

Over the years, I learned that flirting was dangerous.   It let others judge you and they could not only find you wanting, they could find you sick, perverted and worthy of attack.

In the 1990s, much of the tabloid talk shows focused on transwomen “fooling” people, deceiving them for the purpose of seduction.   That lead, of course, to the “homosexual panic” defence, where men who attacked transwomen could claim they acted out of legitimate fear that their masculinity was being stolen by a gender offender.

What are you selling when you flirt?   What is deception and what is honesty?   That was the core of much of my early philosophical questions around transgender expression and I came down on the side of rationality, safety and explicitness.

In doing that, though, it seems to me now that approach blocked access to other truths and more than that, blocked access to the true source of my power, my big feminine heart.

By not trusting the flirt, no matter how amazing it felt in the few moments when it happened, I didn’t trust my own heart and the connections that take people heart to heart, life to life.

Who doesn’t love the warm attention of curiosity, of intention, affirmation and attraction?

Who doesn’t fear, though, the cold attention of disgust, of rejection, humiliation and separation?

The power of flirt only works when you believe that what others see is your heart and not the crap they project onto your body, your history and your struggles.

I am good at flirting, but I don’t trust doing it.

And that has cost me dearly.