Impassioned

“It’s not the frivolity of women that makes them so intolerable.
It’s their ghastly enthusiasm.”
— Horace Rumpole, “Rumpole Of The Bailey” (John Mortimer)

When you are a delightful gamine creature, enthusiasm is seen as a charming affectation.

When you are a big, hulking lug, though, enthusiasm is seen as a terrifying potential lack of control.

Like so many other feminine hearts, I tend to get swept away by enthusiasm.

That behaviour was one of the first things I had to snuff out to pass as a man in this culture, or even to stay safe around my parents.   It was before the age of eight that I learned my exuberance just scared people, isolating me.

A friend of my sister is a black woman raising sons with big frames.   She explains to them that they have to keep their emotion down, have to appear in control at all times, or else they will be seen as threatening and put themselves in danger.   That’s hard for a young boy, just 11 or 12 to understand, but she knows it is a key life lesson every black man needs to be taught very early.

Enthusiasm fuels women’s connections.   To be excited about some detail of another woman’s presentation is a fine feminine greeting, sharing delight and offering mutual stroking.

For me, that exuberance feels dangerous.   It’s how I have been trained.   Simple little bits women play with each other — a bit of mock fighting, for example — send up warnings because I can’t feel the limits, don’t have a good sense of feedback, don’t know how I am being perceived.   The Third Gotcha looms (2002).

I know what it is like to me marked as a pervert, as a potential predator, know why I have to deny my heart to stay in a box that comforts others.

My æsthetic denial is very much about not getting caught up in the emotional flights that always caused problems when I was younger.   The discipline of having to be be able to grab back to cerebral control in any moment keeps me from being too scary, too overwhelming, being seen as too much, but at the same time it also keeps me from really being able to follow my feminine heart.

Getting swept into impassioned drives is scary for me.   On one hand, life is no fun without some sense of obsession, running hot and becoming immersed, losing your doubts in abandoned commitment, but on the other hand, that kind of moving beyond control can often lead to a painful spill.

Being overwhelming, just read as noise and intensity, well, I have not found that to be a useful position, especially around my family.   It’s easy to set Aspergers people off with too much emotion, and equally easy to set off belief people with too much sharp thought.

My headaches always start from the moment when I have to be hot and cold at the same time, mixing feminine energy and masculine isolation to end up with a dog’s breakfast, neither fish nor fowl nor free.   I have the power of both heart & head, but the joy of neither.

An impassioned heart and a locked down expression make for a sick mix.    It is, though, a mix I have had to try and make the best possible over the decades, using self-policing that always seems to miss the mark.

Nowadays, I find myself falling into stupid obsessions over little things that, in the end, have no power to lift me up even if they work out well, which they never do.   They also, though, have limited power to destroy me, leaving me crazed and crazy, broken and broke down, without any support for head or heart.

Whatever choice I make, I know there will be someone who wants me to make a different one.   I should be more open and vulnerable or more disciplined and controlled or worst of all, both of those things at the same time.    It’s impossible to satisfy anyone, least of all myself.

The sense that I didn’t do what I should have done, resisting that, and that I did do what I shouldn’t have done, making failed attempts, is laced through every moment of my memory.   Yet I know that I made the best choices I could in the moment and that there were never any perfect choices, as compressed as I was by the cultural gender divide.

Trans expression is about Eros, about the passion in the heart which is so strong it drives us to break expectations & taboos to cross gender boundaries.  That passion is so powerful that it is awesome, but also so powerful that it is terrifying, driving us wild in ways that challenge our ability to be tame, assimilated, correct and apparently appropriate.

To be queer is to be beyond the control of others, beyond their using fear and status to manipulate you into playing their little game.  No one is an island, so we each had to find a way to be true to our hearts and one of the team, which demanded that we keep a tight hold on our own passion.

When observers can switch your gender in a heartbeat based on fear, belief or politics, it is your control that keeps a margin of protection.  Depending on the kindness of others doesn’t feel safe, so you modulate your expression and hide your passionate heart inside.

For me, this means channelling my feminine enthusiasm away from the potent, because too much just needs to freak one or two people out to the situation so uncomfortable that it breaks my heart in a way that no one has yet shown me they can help me get past.

To be a woman is to make the choices of a woman.   Those choices demand that you feel safe to follow your heart, to open your emotions to others, trusting that they will understand and resonate with your own enthusiasm.

My discharging enthusiasm neuters me for the comfort of others.  The power of my own energy has to be attenuated for those who will never get the transcendence that ripples through my sparkling and beautiful multi-faceted soul.

Tiny, pointless, constrained energies separate me from the flow of exuberance that my creator put inside me.   Salvation has to be filtered through convention, factored against fear, limited by the scars on my depleted intensity.

Flattened enthusiasm, stunted & twisted by the isolated darkness of growth hidden in plain sight, well, it doesn’t serve me and it doesn’t serve a world that needs more healing.

But at least it stops others from acting out against me, seeing me as responsible for their own fear and discomfort.   It keeps my heart beating for another day instead of having the breath driven out of me by the frigid blast of gendered enforcement applied to my body and history.

To be impassioned is to let the force of your humanity flow.

For those of us who learned early that our humanity was just too fucking much for small minds to bear, though, flowing enthusiasm has to be staunched, dammed to hell.

Over a lifetime, that diminishment feels just ghastly.

As Fast As I Can

I’m dying as fast as I can.

Æsthetic denial demands letting go of desires, of wants, releasing the projected needs that serve our comfort rather than our existence.

In many ways, the death of the ego is a key part of the death of the temporal.  By choosing to feed the call of spirit rather than the desires of the body we let go of the fleshly bit by bit, moving towards the eternal.

For many reasons, æsthetic denial been my path for decades.   It allows me to get clear headed, allows me to serve others with my concierge techniques and helps me avoid trying to exist with a tender, feminine heart crammed full of deep seated and profound pain.

It is not, though, a path that most others can connect with or even understand.   The discipline and mastery required is foreign to them and the resultant comprehension offers a scary & challenging view of their own desire and needs.  People may be fascinated with the hermetic life, but rather than wishing to integrate part of it, creating their own healing, they usually want those who have found healing to heal them too, quickly and without any required work.

It isn’t the purity of character that other humans find most compelling, it is the vibrancy, the way they are full of life force and energy.

Æsthetic denial requires the purging of that life force, demands the dying of the vigour that creates impulse and exuberance.   Death and rebirth are the cycle, even if the breath of being born is thin and diffuse.

I’m dying as fast as I can, even if it seems to others that I am not going fast enough.

The only other choice would be trying to revitalize myself by entering relationships.   While that sounds simple, the relationships would have include rewards for me, encouragement & affirmation, mirroring & exchanged passion, not just me servicing the needs of others out of my own depleted reserves.

As long as my flesh still lives, even a little bit, a spark of hope resides.  Maybe life will breathe back into me, the kind of reflected energy that brings juice back.

Until that time, though, I’m dying as fast as I can.   I’ve been around and around the block, know the lay of the land, have a very good and clear sense of the probabilities that exist.   The odds of reciprocity, well, they are quite long.

Grant me the courage to change what I can,
the serenity to accept what I cannot change,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

I still take delights in the small divine surprises, scraping up the crumbs of joy and wit that I can find to nourish myself.  This is the thread of life that holds me here, the vapours that keep me in this realm. I look for tiny flashes of brilliance, sparkles of transcendence to gather and hoard, often sharing them with words that I suspect few read and even fewer understand.

My grabs at life and my experience of death are therefore well documented, captured and offered for others to engage, to learn from and to find connection with.  I cannot control what they do with what I share, because everyone will heal and grow in their own time, not on my schedule or to my desire.

Being seen as a porcupine, too big, too intense and too sharp to be simply myself in society came early.   I learned that I needed to attenuate and shrink myself if I wanted others to love me.   Using my brain to make a safe space was my only choice, so I learned to manipulate rather than release, trying to control and steal what I felt I could not get any other way.

Breaking this pattern was hard, demanding the shut down of my ego.   I had to want what I could have rather than trying to have what I believed I wanted.   Forgiving those around me became more important than holding them responsible for my pain & suffering.   They gave me what they could, and if that wasn’t enough for me, well, then I needed to want less, shrinking my wishes.

My dreams, well, they had to die.   I needed to accept the world as it was rather than as I wished it would be, become pragmatic & positive rather than being bombastic & bitter.

Grant me the courage to change what I can,
the serenity to accept what I cannot change,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

I’m dying as fast as I can. I no longer have the wherewithal or resilience to fight for that which I have learned is almost impossible to get, even if that is the kind of mirroring, empowerment and affirmation that might let me bloom again even in the autumn of my days.

Being explicit about my feelings and thoughts, detailing my experience with precision and grace has become a key part of my practice, but I have no expectation that anyone will hear me, offering understanding and compassion.   I much the same way that someone found me in an empty dining room at my parent’s house, finishing a story to no one, my listeners having walked out on me, I have to believe that I am only responsible for my message, not for the limits of other people’s comprehension or willingness.

My path, my practice is centred around releasing fleshly desire & stubborn ego to accept the connection of spirit.   Death is required to affirm the life of transcendence that is offered.   Less is more, release is acceptance.

I’m dying as fast as I can.  Looking forward is looking towards moving beyond, not towards some kind of conventional indulgence.   “Death is the most pleasant thing someone can wish for people like you.”   More loss and strife is hard, but like the Buddhists know, nirvana brings bliss at the end of bardo.   Disconnection is the path.

Asking people to understand this path, let alone affirm it, just seems like a hope too far.  It doesn’t fall into the clear eyed view that I seek to shape my choices and my expectations.

Æsthetic denial is not for everyone.   In fact, I wouldn’t recommend pushing it for anyone but myself, because staying hopeful that your needs will be met is staying alive and staying human.  Balance is important.

As for me, though, I am dying as fast as I can.

And I can’t imagine what would change that direction.

 

Continue reading As Fast As I Can

Eye Apple

Contrary to the photos in the media, most transpeople are not pretty.

Of course, that’s true about all other humans too.   The images editors pick are most often designed to be pleasing to the eye and that means they tend to be pictures of pretty people. Pretty & shiny is an easy way to use conventional standards of beauty to lure people in with looks that have been shown to work, usually meaning young, thin and stylish.

I hope that this notion that people are often selected for their looks rather than their character doesn’t surprise or shock you.    If you have grown up judging books by their cover, using only eye appeal to decide what is good, relying on visual cues,

“Men see better than they think, which is why most women would rather be pretty than be smart,” goes one old saw.

Most people construct their gender expression more to attract partners than to show their deep inner nature.   On some level they understand that gender expression is advertising (1999), delivering messages about our training, our desires and the role we are ready and willing to play in relationship.

For transpeople, though, gender expression is not as relational, instead being a message of personal knowledge, an attempt to express something we know deeply inside that doesn’t fit easily into the assumptions and conventions written onto our history & biology.

This content makes trans expression confusing to many.  Where women wear miniskirts to attract the attention of men, for example, crossdressers who call themselves “straight” wear them for a personal sort of attraction.

“Who do you want to go home with anyway?” used to be a common question when I went to a gay bar.   Lesbians saw me as in drag while gay men looked at my sensible shoes and saw me as a lesbian, leaving me falling into the dark cracks between the expectations.

Nobody asks me that anymore, as they can tell I am old and fat.  I’m not even close to pretty.

When people shop for potential partners, they often make judgments on the package.  Visual appeal isn’t just one of the things they look for, it is the most important thing.   Who looks like my fantasy partner, who has the shape and size that best matches my fantasy, making me hot or making me comfortable?

Feminine hearted people do tend to look deeper, working to identify who would be a good partner, but that often means finding people like them, people who will affirm and reinforce their expectations rather than challenging them.

No matter how much transpeople try to fit into types, each of us has a passing distance.   When you get close enough, our story is visible in our mindset or our biology, enough so that we bust through comforting assumptions.

Many transwomen, for example, have taken a hit when their trans nature becomes visible and their partner blames them for failing to pass.   We may know that his rage is about his own secret desire being revealed, an expression of his own fear and self-loathing, but that does not stop us from being the target of aggression, slammed and hurt for his buried shame.

Politically, every transperson is bisexual.   This isn’t necessarily because we have fluid desire, looking beyond conventional sex/gender assumptions, but is because we require our partners to love all of us, even where we cross those projected boundaries.   Our story moves beyond binaries and into an individual truth that we need to embrace rather than be ashamed of, rather than trying to hide part of us because of shame or fear.

“How can anyone ever imagine being with someone like you when they have never met anyone like you?” a friend asked me years ago.

I see lots of people coming together in relationship and I think it is sweet.  Whenever people commit to caring for each other, a human heart is warmed.

That doesn’t stop me from wishing that one of those people was me.   No matter how big and brave and bold and brazen and individual I appear, my human heart craves affection and affirmation, wants someone to care for and about me.  I want someone to share the driving, a person who will know and cherish me as much as I know and cherish so many others.   Creating a shared world sounds divine.

“If you weren’t so damn scary, I would kiss you!” said one guy who I helped get out of a scrape.

I wasn’t willing or able to play a conventional part just to stay in relationship, though, like so many transpeople try hard to do in their youth, so there is no way I can possibly go back into a neat and tidy tin to fit the expectations of a potential partner now.

How do I convey the beautiful & brilliant content of my character to people who are focused on the prettiness of my packaging?   How do I achieve intimacy without meeting the physical or cultural stereotypes people have programmed themselves to search for?

I walked around a pride event yesterday, heard TBB wonder why big lesbians can find each other but she can’t find a partner, heard others talk about the limits of their dates with people who just don’t seem to get the joke.

Everyone wants to be the apple of someone else’s eye.

Some of us, though, have had to settle for being the captain of our own heart instead.

Breathtaking

The theatre darkens, the crowd hushes and TBB comes on stage.

She is alone in the light, but next to her is a brick wall.   Turning, she starts to run and throws herself against it.

The wall stays firm, just as it does for the next hour and a half as she crashes into it again and again and again and again.

I imagined her one woman show after TBB told me that she has, as she matured, stopped running into brick walls.   Attempts to make change, as she has in the past, are tried once or twice and then let go.

A long time ago, I begged Chuck Munson for words of advice.   He was resistant, but eventually came up with something he felt worthy of sharing with me.

“Don’t piss into the wind,” he told me.

To be trans in this world is to be a change agent.   We see things as they could be and ask why not, bringing our own unreasonable and passionate desire to become more and better.

“The nail that sticks up gets pounded down,” goes an old Japanese maxim.   While in the west that pounding isn’t as strong, it still exists.

When TBB and I first met, we understood the other deeply understood the experience of being a bold change agent in the world, from having a bigger vision to fighting in the moment to getting pounded back.

Within a short time we were on stage together, improvising hosting the talent show, knowing that we had each others back.   For me, it was a surprise to feel safe in the spotlight, going wild and shining.    Even 15 years later, someone remembered our performance when they saw us together at dinner, recalling an empowering moment of freedom they found liberating.

We both had big energy, big dreams, big hearts and big mouths.  This made us both invaluable when problems cropped up and a huge pain in the ass when those around us just wanted to keep the status quo going, to stay in their comfort zone.

It was that resistance which formed the brick wall that Sabrina kept running into, the howling wind that blew back against me.

The same force that was vital when facing a problem became just too much in so called “normal” life, too exuberant, too questioning, too consistent, too challenging, too relentless.  The same people who found us useful and fascinating found us too wearing, too visceral, too intense, too overwhelming.

TBB and I took different approaches to this challenge, as reflected in a sketch The Drama Queens did of two transpeople driving to a conference.   She popped on her “peril sensitive sunglasses” to become charming & oblivious, while I felt the need to explain and justify my choices.

Last month TBB took her motorcycle up into the Napa Valley for a weekend looksee.   Cruising up a twisty mountain road, she came upon a breathtaking sight, a just smashed classic Porsche hanging off the side of the road with two broken passengers inside. With no airbags, they had gotten much the worst in a collision with a big new Ford Explorer.

While there were other people on the scene, none of them had yearly training in first aid and none of them were TBB.   After determining she was the most experienced person on scene, she quickly took charge, assigning tasks and doing what she could to stabilize the injured.

When a paramedic and then a doctor arrived she quickly let them take charge, becoming an assistant to the process.   Eventually an ambulance came and then two helicopters to medivac the driver and passenger from the scene.

“I wasn’t put off by the blood,” she told me.  “I just saw what had to be done right there, right now, and I did the best that I could.”

Instant laser focus is one mark of too people, quickly engaging with the situation.   We don’t live in assumptions and expectations, just ready to play out some internal scripts, rather we operate in real time, able to understand and adapt on the fly, doing what needs to be done.

After the airlift, TBB saw one young man who was on his knees.   She went over to him and asked if he needed help.

“That was my brother.  I let him ride in the Porsche.   I killed him,” he said, understanding that TBB was safe to open up to, that she wouldn’t just play an old tape and make it about herself.

For fifteen minutes they talked, TBB being there for him.   As he was leaving, he turned back to her and gave her a big hug.

“Thank you for saving him,” he said.

Through a phone call from him she has heard since that the two are still in intensive care, at least one still draining fluid off the brain, but they are still here, young and in with a fighting chance.

TBB wasn’t expecting to come upon a life and death scene on that beautiful ride, but when she did, she just did the work, blood and all.

Afterwards she looked for some company, sharing a coffee and coming down, but it was getting dark and everyone had somewhere else to go, something to do.  They were either observers or professionals, not dynamic participants who had to zoom in like TBB.

This kind of separation comes naturally to us.   Most people just don’t get the intensity and vigour that comes with being big, can’t engage the story.   Mayebe that’s why she was happy to tell me in a phone call, sharing the experience and putting it in context.

TBB & Dr. Daughter

TBB was picking up her children’s mother and driving up to her daughter’s PhD graduation this week, doing the work she has always loved most, building family.  She will see her mother and brother, bringing a trailer filled with possessions from the condo.

This is the fight she still manages, the stuff of her heart.   She can tell you the brick walls she ran into building family, especially after she came out as trans, and even show you the scars, but enough pounding and there was salvation & delight to be found.

The bubbleheads at work, though, the ones who can’t listen and need to follow their scripts even as failure is encoded in them, well, those aren’t fights she needs to win anymore.   She did the work, said her piece, and if they ignored her, well, it’s on their head now.

The history of running into brick walls, though, well it has left her scarred a bit, not so willing to jump in and be a change agent.   She is still a force of nature in the world, but a tamed one, more focused on her defences than on her brilliant & beautiful audacity.

In cultures where we knew others as individuals, each one exceptional and valued, TBB would have been treasured by her community.

In cultures where the normative is valued, her bounding heart is seen as too much, just not easily fitting into the machine made pattern of life.   From school to standards, fitting in is valued above standing out, so excellence is scary rather than admirable.

Rather than embracing her power as breathtaking, TBB has lived a life where too many have tried to steal the breath from her, the air that might allow her to soar too high on exuberant wings.   Hitting that brick wall, you know, will knock the breath right out of you.

TBB, though, still has some left and when the situation demands it, she will amaze and save others.

She just no longer expects people to really honour and encourage that magic.  She has met too many walls in her lifetime.

Crash.  Bang.  Ooof.  Ouch.

A Piece Of My Mind

A piece of my mind is also a piece of my heart.

Years and years and years ago, a counsellor with an HMO made me an offer.

“We are a full service organization,” he said.  “If you want, I can just check a box on this form and get you a lobotomy.   Is that something you would want?”

We had a good relationship and I knew he was jesting, trying to make the point that however difficult it was to be smart and visionary, those probably weren’t bits of my nature that I would want to give up.   I took his point.

Today, though, I again ask myself that question.   Would I trade sharpness for ignorance, dropping my hard won knowledge for simple human connection and comfort?

I have spent decades trying to share a piece of my mind, knowing that was the way I could open my heart to others.   While I learned to understand their mind and tend to their heart, moving beyond fear to encouragement with wit and grace, well, I haven’t found a two way street.

Recently, loss feels relentless.  From running to save a turtle only to see a woman squash it under her tire, then seeing a show on pet turtles to investing in getting a phone repaired and finding it still broken to changes at stores around here, the millions of tiny cuts of a human life feel more and more stopping these days.

You can’t get back in balance just by cutting back.   This is the lie behind the policy of austerity; more loss doesn’t turn the corner, just lets some slag off those that they don’t value.

Scarcity only begets more scarcity.   Opening up and spending, spreading vitality like seeds to be tended is the only way to create more blooms, more possibilities, more joy to feed our hearts.

To open up, though, to pour what is left of your precious reserves into the world with the expectation of rewarding return, you need to feel safe.  A sense that whatever happens, there will be room for recovery, rest or remembrance is vital to the willingness, the ability to assume the risk.   Will someone else understand the pain, acknowledge the bravery, affirm the attempt, offer sweetness, encourage another attempt, or will you be left hanging, alone, with nothing but coldness and humiliation?

We are brave when we know that someone is there to help us get up again, someone who understands the ouch, someone who offers compassion and guidance, someone who has the scars and can speak from hard experience.

This is the role of the parent, the mentor, the coach, the director, the compatriot, the conspirator, someone who is in it with us, who will be there, flip or flop.

For me, finding that kind of safety has never been possible.  I neither have the latent inhibition to bull it out or the network to share the event.   My ego was pared back very early and my family, of birth or of choice, never was able to gel.   There weren’t people like me who could welcome me home, embrace and nurture me, give me the warmth that empowers a restart.

My restarts came only from mental discipline, from individually developed practice, not from any kind of cultural connection, support network or received belief system.

“I have learned to trust myself,” I told a partner, “but now I need to learn to trust others.”

“Can’t you do that by yourself?” she responded.

My experience centred around negotiating loss.   When I run into people who believe that loss could and should be forced to explain itself — “Oh why?  Why me?” — I am incredulous.   Looking for reasons is just trying to mine your current beliefs to rationalize a world you have no control over, a voodoo dance to avoid having to accept your own place.

Those who demand explanations are the people who I fear most, so “me” centred that unless their environment meets their expectations they look for someone to blame.   Challenge and surprise aren’t opportunities for growth and learning to them, rather they are moments to identify evil and enemies, rationale to silence and smite them.

These people need their own belief structures so much that any kind of action to purify the world are justified in their personal understanding.   They don’t have to be responsible for their own fear and discomfort, for challenges to their mindset, rather they have the right, neigh the obligation, to destroy those who discomfit them.

Maybe, just maybe, if I was more stupid, less sharp, without a lifetime of needing my brain to keep me stable and functioning, I would find it easier to live in their world.

Maybe, just maybe, if I was less threatening, less edgy, less theological, they would find a way to embrace and care for me rather than just writing me off or worse, trying hard to silence me.

Maybe, with a broken mind, more abject, my humanity would be more clear to them.   Maybe then they would be kind and sweet rather than challenged and afraid.

As that therapist knew, though, that isn’t really an option for me.

My own safety is limited to my own mind, and while I can share that with others, they find it hard to make space for me, as immersed as they are in their own challenges and needs.

I have never found the safe spaces I wrote about in 1994.  Those would be spaces where I could open up and be embraced rather than feeling the need to attenuate myself, dialing my essence back to lessen what others see as noise and keep comfort in the room.

Where are the places for tenderness and healing that exist for me?   Is the only way to find them to pith myself, losing higher function I worked very hard to develop, tools that may offer aid and comfort to others who also need healing and empowerment in their lives?

A piece of my mind is all that I have.   Not only do very few seem to want it, many seem to want to destroy and damage it.

That doesn’t leave me feeling safe enough to blossom.

Trigger Warning

I’m not much of a fan of “trigger warnings,” the notice that something in the following text may trigger an emotional response.

I see them as a precursor to political correctness, to the idea that certain topics or views must never be expressed because they might cause distress to some people.   To me, this lets the self described victims set the agenda, constraining discussion to what they find within their comfort zone.

Recently a transwoman was turned away from a church run soup kitchen because they believed she would be disruptive.    The staff offered to feed her if she wore the clothes that they considered Biblicaly correct for her, but otherwise they felt she could trigger others by making them uncomfortable.

The notion that I don’t have any right to express what might trigger others, that I have to hide behind screens of consent, as YouTube tried when they marked much LGBTQ content as requiring adult access, well, that’s been something that has hurt me all my life.   I learned to stridently self-police so as not to upset the kids, not to challenge the beliefs of others, not to be attacked because I triggered the unprocessed rage and fear in someone else.

When others deliberately try to push our buttons, though, triggering us by reopening old wounds, well, that’s a very bad, mean and nasty thing.  So much of what passes for argument in this narcissistic, me-first time are ad-hominem attacks, attempts to control people by manipulating them into brokenness.

As someone who grew up trans in an Aspergers family, I had to learn early how to not react to attacks, instead taking the moment between stimulus and response to come up with a considered and effective response. Staying cool on the surface let me practice Akido, allowing others own energy to throw them off balance rather than having me take the blow.

That doesn’t mean, tough, that the slams didn’t hurt me, leaving deep and profound wounds on my heart & body, only that I could come from head and stay tough.

Over the decades, I have learned to create my own content warnings.   Even if I can hold my own in the fight, understanding the cost for participating and measuring against my current reserves becomes very important.

Now, with my batteries so depleted and my resources so thin, I often avoid rather than engage in situations where I know I can get triggered, bloodied and need time to heal.

For example, there is a trans health and law conference tomorrow, around two hours drive from here.

If I was able to go there as a professional, listening to and engaging people, ready to absorb their challenges and re-contextualize them, then I would have much to give.

On the other hand, if I show up as a bruised and battered transwoman who has been desperately isolated for a long time, the odds are that I will just leave worse than I came.  There will be words from others that hit deeply, creating an emotional response that I have no means to tend or heal.

An infomercial selling a simplified computer for seniors includes an expert who gladly points out that social isolation isn’t just bad for pensioners, it’s bad for anyone.   I wish someone had figured that out when I was around one or two years old; learning to manage social isolation like a hermit was the only way I could stay stable.

I go to events hoping to meet someone who gets me.  My most powerful dream is sitting in conversation with someone and looking at the clock, surprised at how quickly the hours have flown by.

What I tend to get, though, are moments when my previous experiences come up, someone offering a thoughtless & graceless assertion that just erases what I have been saying and leaves me, one more time, cut to the quick, old wounds savaged again by old and painful ignorance.

There isn’t a transperson alive who hasn’t felt the need to swallow their own massive pain, eating their own nature to keep the environment sweet and comfortable for those who feel entitled to hold onto their cherished and blinkered view of what is right & normal.

To live by the golden rule, I know that if I can’t abide being silenced for the sake of not triggering others, keeping them in their comfort zone, then I can’t demand that they be silent for me, their free speech constrained by what triggers me and opens my old wounds.

That leaves me responsible for my own feelings, for managing and respecting them.   My history, my fears, my blindness, my neediness can never be the bounds for what is acceptable in the world.

With that personal responsibility, though, I need to know when I just can’t engage those who aren’t sensitive, aware and respectful.  I have to respect my own triggers.  If I can’t stand the heat, I need to stay out of the kitchen.

And that’s why I will end up alone in this basement again tomorrow.

Sick Of Sickness

“So, this is what I want to tell you…”

Many of my blog posts start out with that phrase, though I have been writing long enough to edit it out.

Trying to share a view of the world, to give context by revealing connection, has always been a key part of what I write.

Lately, though, I haven’t been able to pull that off very well.   I start to create a message but the energy just peters out, leaving it rough, ragged and short.

When I write now, it’s more about my personal state than anything else.   That’s not good, not good sharing, not a good sign.

There’s a conference coming up this weekend and a lobby day next week, both of which I attended last year.

The odds of making a great connection at either of them are very small, but at least they offer me an opportunity to create something, asking myself the question of what I would say if they gave me five minutes to speak to the assembled group.

Now, though, I am coming up blank.

I scratched together a workshop proposal for the conference — Trans-Empowerment: Believing In Yes — but understood it was too much, so I didn’t submit it.

And as to the lobby day, well, what I would want to say would highlight the limits of politicizing trans expression, believing that somehow new laws can change the trans experience.    It’s easy to demand that others change, and trans rights are human rights, needing to be supported, but trans is not a political choice and therefore political solutions have limited benefits while demanding high costs.

Many, many, many times over the last few decades I have expressed these views, offering cogent theological, political and emotional arguments, but my impact has been negligible to the point of being unmeasurable.

All this means that there is nothing left that I really want to tell you, because I don’t believe that there is anything most people really want to hear.

A place of healing is always also a place of sickness, be it a hospital or a recovery group or anything else.

As humans, we live with sickness, often because it seems to be the best way to assimilate, to fit in, to play small.    Our sickness, pain and futility is ours and that makes it comforting.   We started making those choices to comfort and protect ourselves.

Until we are sick of sickness, understanding the price it demands, how it stops working for us, we cannot move beyond to claim growth and healing.

Everyone heals and grows in their own time and their own way, even you.   This is the most frustrating thing about being in relationship, as we see how moving beyond limiting behaviours could benefit people around us, but only they can heal themselves and they won’t do that until they are ready, until they are so sick of the sickness that they cast off the illusions to take on the challenges of divine surprise.

Engaging with people means engaging with their own comforting beliefs, pushing at the boundaries of what they are willing to embrace.  It’s a fight, the kind of fight that parents and children have, filled with irritation, growth and love.

I have been engaged in that kind of fight all my life, though without much ego.   I don’t want people to be like me, don’t want to be the centre of attention, don’t want to make people like me, to play for their affirmation.   Very early I learned to live on the edges, a sharp eye replacing a needful heart, and that approach never changed, no matter how much my heart bled.   The costs and failures of living for others was clear to me from my earliest memories.

There is nothing I can tell the world that I haven’t said many times in the past.   Polishing and sharpening my message is possible, finding new language to go deeper, words that may help convey meaning with a bit more detail, but that hardly seems worth the effort.

Nowadays, all I do is try and express my own feelings, capturing the fleeting bits that go through me, the residue of a life spent as a transperson who lived though a set of specific circumstances that don’t seem to be easily engaged by others.   They just don’t get it, the jokes, the delights, the visions, the pain, the love.

So this is what I want to tell you, that I have nothing to tell you.  Live a good life, ready to step into a tomorrow where the divine surprise offers lessons which ask you to move beyond comfort and into transformation.  Use your energy well and the vision will open to you.

Keep going, and when you are exhausted, well, do what comes naturally.