Stolen Stories

Chicks love stories.   Ask any romance writer, soap opera devotee or executive at the Hallmark channel; they will tell you that chicks love their stories.

Stories open us up to experiences that don’t fit into our everyday lives.   They keep our emotions exercised, sharpen our perceptions and extend our intuitive understanding.   Stories keep us open, tender and attentive, ready to engage the stories around us.

My mother loved the idea of stories, but she couldn’t tell a story to save her own life.   She would start off with some idea and then get lost in the details, having it bog down into a load of lost and losing mumbles.

As her family we listened, trying hard to extract a meaning that she didn’t understand, but I often wondered how other women took to her rambling reminiscences.

More than that, I wondered how they took to my mother not really listening to their stories, not getting the threads, the humour, the emotions, the meaning.

What happened when she just replaced their intentions with her expectations, not carrying the web in her head so she could have a context and compassion to engage the other stories they needed to share, instead making it about her?

As a teenager, the thing I longed for was stories.   It was the most alluring thing about other women, the fact that they had real narratives, with details, plot and real revelations.

I wanted their stories, yes, but more than that I wanted my own stories, wanted to be the heroine in my own life.

That, of course, was never to be.   The blocks against me having lovely, passionate and emotional stories with me at the centre were just too many.   I didn’t have the training and I didn’t have the audience and I didn’t have the goods and I didn’t have much.   All I had was the heart and that was just never going to be enough.

No one was ever going to see me as the hidden princess whose radiant beauty, brilliant personality, astounding insight and pounding love saved the day and made the world better and more beautiful.

I just saw a meme from the “Trans Aging Project” that wanted to communicate it was never too late to “be your true self.”

The inference is that somehow, it was possible to be, in life, something other than your “true self.”

How can we be anything other than our true self?   Sure, we can choose to be more tame than wild, walling off our own heart from our choices and obeying “the dragon with ‘thou shalt’ inscribed on every scale,”   but there is no way we can ever only be wild beyond needing other humans in this finite and fragile life.

The notion that somehow, we can live some kind of story where we are finally true and ideal, that there is some kind of expression without compromise and cost, well, that seems to be a huge fallacy.

It’s better. of course, when we write our own stories consciously, shaping our stories to respect and honour the creative essence that lives in our heart, but the notion that our story is untrue if we live in a kind of denial which feeds our need to fit in, to be connected, to feel love in relationship, well, that is a dangerous trope.

Even when our narrative plays more to social pressure, our choices reveal what we cared about, telling a tale of what we considered the best that we could do to be effective in society.

I have always been my true self.

Living within the constraints placed on me, though, from social norms to family habits to my own fears & desires, well, my stories got stolen.

Today, I see a network of trans support which is essentially political, based in belief structures that try to tell us what is true and acceptable, what is false and deluded.  Political correctness lives at the heart of these systems, using call-out culture to shape language, choices, dreams and stories to fit into ideologies.

This network cuts off my stories.

Back in 1996, someone who said that they wanted to help asked me what I needed.   I didn’t want to tell them, I knew they would not hear me, and that’s exactly what happened.  I told them I needed stories of possibility and they told me that what I really needed was to surrender to their belief structures, to follow their rules.

The stories I needed were deemed frivolous, incorrect, profane and deluded.   Only the stories that supported their current worldview were acceptable to share.

That is, of course, exactly the same challenge I had since I was a very small child and desperately needed to have my stories heard, mirrored and affirmed.

I can’t remember a time when people asserting to know what real life and real truth requires haven’t stolen the stories in my heart and replaced them with their own constricted narratives.

Chicks love stories.

I’m a chick, at heart anyway, and I need my stories to keep me emotionally healthy and hopeful.   I must believe that blessed things can happen to someone like me, too, or I will dry up and shrink like a rotting grapefruit.  Or has that happened already?

Affirming the stories of people around me is something I do rigorously.   I keep their hearts supple and tender, encouraging even the most whimsical of their dreams.  Only by following those stories will truth emerge, somewhere in the enchanted land between fantasy and reality, between the sweep of the heart and the practical choices of the flesh.

You gotta have a dream.  If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna to have a dream come true?

When we squash stories, we squash dreams.   When we squash dreams, we squash hearts.

I still see us stealing stories from transpeople, trying to replace them with canned and limiting narratives that serve the comfort of those embedded in binary, us/them, either/or belief systems more than they do the beautiful possibilities that lie in the trans heart, transcendent and beyond convention.

Stealing our stories bursts our balloons of hope. (2008)   It tries to coat us in mud and shit so we cannot fly into scary and beautiful possibilities.

Chicks love stories.   Chicks need stories.

And I, no matter how people want to call me out for using such a diminutive word for humans, am a chick.

Being denied my stories denied my hope.

Without hope, well, no life.

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