My body betrayed me.
The arc of a human life is usually to start by being embodied, sensing the world around you and feeling your responses to it, then to gain wisdom & perspective as you age, learning to keep sensations in a more thoughtful context, growing your mind and your story.
For me, though, I had to learn to use my head early. Asperger’s parents made it unsafe to be emotional or anything less than mentally precise. A trans nature made me feel my body wasn’t really connected to who I am, that the social projections & demands had to be carefully negotiated, not just engaged. I just wasn’t cocky enough, in many ways, to simply fit expectations.
Now, though, I am aging and my body isn’t as easily kept down by sheer force of will. I can feel the limits of my “transnatural” approach which denied the Eros of my body through a sharp understanding of physical limits.
I can feel my aging in my untended mouth, my aching knees and my weak streams. Yesterday, the MRI affirmed what the ultrasound found; I have renal cancer. It is caught early, but still needs surgery and luck.
Knowing how to be a hermit, alone and contemplative, came very early to me, but the cost for that sharpness has always been isolation from family and community. Having missed learning the “easy” things early in life it seems I have to try and learn them late, when others expect me to already know them, when my resilience is down and when my own baggage is high.
Surrendering to my body is hard, bringing up all the affirmation, warmth, safety and cuddles I had to learn to live without.
For transpeople the sense of loss is always close, understandings of what we were denied because our heart didn’t match the expectations assigned to our outsides. Denied the childhood we needed, unable to explore our nature in the kind of spaces that should support healthy development of self, we had to create a shell. a cover that hid and isolated the loves we had to deny. Not trusting people who probably won’t understand or treat us tenderly became habit.
I am smart and have worked very hard in my long life to be gracious helping others in the ways that I would want to be helped. That doesn’t mean, though, that the wounds of my past aren’t still present. They inform my choices, yes, but they also limit my exuberance.
As Bessel van der Kolk reminds us, the body keeps the score. It holds the record of the price we paid to push beyond limits. And, like every body, my body’s time and capacity is limited. The endurance we we used comes due eventually.
Life lived alone, even in the midst of others, has its benefits and costs. We all are in this life alone; dying, for example, must be done by yourself, not delegated away or blamed on some group that is out to create separation. Our relationship between body and spirit is the most personal we have, the essence of living between the feral and the divine.
From the moment we are born our body starts to die and our story starts to grow until the point where only our story is left.
I have been informed of the next big step in that relationship. Kindness and compassion for the body that gives me the way to experience the gift of a human life is required.
Even if that means having to face all the ways I have felt limited and betrayed.