Who is a woman without someone to love?
I loved the people assigned to me, my birth family, in ways that cost me dearly. That love, though, was at the heart of my feminine nature.
And now, I need someone else, something else to love. This time, though, when I am choosing, I want one different, one simple thing.
I need what I love to be able to love me back in a way that is affirming and empowering. That’s something that my family could never manage, Aspergers and all.
To be seen, understood and valued for my unique gifts, well, that just shouldn’t be too much to ask, should it? Then again, I remember crying in the car coming north from Atlanta after my first Southern Comfort Conference in 1993 when Mary Chapin Carpenter came on the radio singing “Too Much To Expect, But Not Too Much To Ask.”
I know how lonely I am, how my voice is getting weak, rusty and faint. But I also know how queer I am, how sharp and intense, how I challenge the healing and awareness of other humans who didn’t have to do the work I had to do to survive, to love.
Long ago I learned to make do with what I have and not strive for more, knowing that whatever my ego wants, trying to manipulate it into being will only make the results corrupt, friable and disappointing as it crumbles away when I try to put my not inconsiderable weight on it.
Now, I sleep a great deal, trying to dream, because in dreams I imagine details that I believe I never could create in everyday life. In dreams, my feminine and creative fancy flies far beyond the constraints of audience and defence that have bound and constrained me into the putative shape imposed on my body and mind. Yet, there is no place IRL to manifest that transcendence. so instead I sleep a great deal.
In my life, I could never imagine getting away with being high maintenance. Sleep on the bedroll and serve. A human doing, not a human being.
My life has always been a tussle with the audience. Nobody gets the joke, not the wit of a queer kid who speaks in Jonathan Winters tongues to explain existing in the Aspergers zone, not the compassion of a trans theologian outlining deep connections which challenge the dreams & assumptions of promised normative lives.
The choice is backing away from my so very hard won knowledge to be more conventional or learning to tolerate a hardscrabble life, one full of æsthetic denial. I told the answer to that dilemma to the third shrink they sent me to, the one in eighth grade: I have to be myself.
I still pop into action when my remaining family needs help, but while they give what they can, they must focus on their own needs, cares and desires, not mine. That’s the way of relationships; filling the holes that others have identified without being too, well, too too for their comfort.
Lack of love, though, reciprocated and replenishing love, has withered my own voice, my own capacity, my own energy. The spiral grabs me and sucks me down, no love to renew, no renewal; no renewal no energy to seek love, no love.
My manifestation is not elegantly reduced to a simple, easy to understand, easy to digest appearance. While I understand that this means people around me grab the bit that makes sense to them and erase the pieces that seem different, unexpected and queer, that erasure is still diffident and painful to me. Would it be any less traumatic, though, if I did my own surgery, curating a fixed and finite appearance of my own selection?
No, I have to hold on to the rational construct that I am faceted, showing many faces that are then selected by the observer. “Hello, I’m Callan, and the pronouns you use to refer to me tell me much more about you than about me.”
But seen I need to be, translucent and loved not just for what I can do for you in this moment, but for the way I have shaped and salvaged a self that stays functional in a world that did its damnedest to pound and erase me into a good marketing consumer, boxed and drawn like product to be sold, advertisers and employers understanding my value to their constrained & constricted vision.
As much as I want to connect this piece to other tales, threading a web which deepens understanding, I know that those pathways will virtually always go unexplored by readers on a schedule, their own goals & needs demanding they discard what seems to be just noise, without information that applies to their current question of mind.
Relationships take time & effort, but my years and energy have been sunk into playing small, playing all that the local traffic could tolerate. Waste is left, huge piles of debris which holds the very stuff of my life, my deep, deep emotions encapsulated in crystal sharp thought, dressed in any turns of language which I prayed would make it charming, accessible and engaging.
These middens swamp me now as I live alone with them, my only company voices from a cheap device which read the debris of other humans, these, though, smoothed and shined by publishers who hope to share in rewards and revelations.
Where is the passion, the Eros, the love that can move me beyond this valley? I spent a life giving love without return, burning my heart in an attempt to catch a bigger fire, one that would warm and illuminate me, burning away fears while melting together lives, releasing me from suppression & attenuation, opening my new growth like a forest fire pops open pine cones laden with new vitality.
I so need a heart on, a swelling blossom which unlocks and unleashes, but the vigour is gone, dried to dust which barely powers minimal exposure.
Because who is a woman without someone to love?