Sessions

sessions_nov_2004

mostly written on a vintage laptop in the garage.

65 pages of struggle.

Advertisements

notes for a session

What You Need To Know About My Transgender 

1) My transgender is about my work, my calling.
2) The challenge for me is becoming product.
3) The hardest thing about trans is doing it alone.
4) The most difficult thing about trans is negotiating others fears.
5) The most painful thing about trans is not being able to give your gifts and have them accepted.
6) I know that I will never be female, or ever have a girlhood.
7) I am not two people.
8) I am not typical of current transgender thought.
9) The challenge is to both be defended and open.

(09/2002)

======================================================================

“Too Hip For The Room”

How do transwomen take power?

Fallen off the grid.
 Self-Circumscribed. 
 Outside community.
 Vacuum.

God/Calling/Faith
 Living In The Question: Liminal

Extraordinarily High Pain Levels
 The Denial Cycle
 Being Dead: Katie
 Slam My Head

Killers: The Skunk Eye & The Mud.
 Low levels of latent inhibition.
 Concealment vs Revelation

Every choice considered: Performance.
 Human doing, not being.
 “I know they will like me if I give them what they want.”

Renounce desire.
 Hoarding

The Sexy Bits: Desire Shift
 Lost girlhood

“Affirmed & Valued, Understood & Desired”
 It’s my fault. 
 I’m stupid, because I don’t know how to satisfy others.

Finding a voice, being exposed

The challenge of being Post Therapy
 deep vision
 recieved wisdom

The lack of play.

Who heals the healers? 
Who makes safe space for Shiva’s Daughters?
 Sister:
 Unitarian Minister:

They told me my calling was to denial.

Now, even people who claim to affirm calling
tell me I am “too.”
 too intense
 too analytical
 too overwhelming
 too challenging
 too queer
 too damn much

How do I move beyond being
 disgusting,
 terrifying,
 pitiable,
 a joke, or
 a curiosity
and become
 aspirational
while
 honoring my own pain
 not just trying to swallow it?
(cause if I don’t honor it, it will kill me.)
For whom are you willing to be queen
 be projected upon as. . . . .

Purging Ambiguity, Enacting Purity

Shit.

Calling Is A Bitch

It makes me crazy when people talk about calling like it is some nice, pleasant thing.

Calling is a bitch.   Life is a struggle between your acorn and your forest, between the expectations of the community and the voice of your heart, between tame assimilation and wild individuation.

Too many people think that calling is easy.

“Well, Oprah, we were challenged in the corporate rat race, but we loved barbecuing, and it was on one of those barbecue quests that we realized that faith is like a mustard seed, and that we had a true calling to develop a range of gourmet mustards . . . . . “

Imagine a teen coming home to tell their Mom:

“Yeah, after I finished driving the bankers out of the church, I got it. I’m gonna get a gang of guys and we are gonna go around riling up the people so much that eventually the government is gonna execute me.  But it will be great — for the next 2000 years or more, people will do good and bad things in my name.”

What would Mom say?

“Oh, Jesus!  Your stepfather got you into the carpenter’s union, so keep your head down and your nose clean so  won’t get into trouble!”

Calling is easy.  Service is easy.   It’s easy to do what others want you to do and call that God’s work.

The challenge is serving your highest calling.  Mother Theresa could have just been a nun taking care of the poor, but she knew that she had a higher calling.  She had to become a worldwide voice for those poor, offering a story of caring that others could grasp.  She may have had constant fears that God had forsaken her, but her highest calling pulled her though people calling her arrogant and full of herself, though the rigors of others turning into a cartoon figure for good or for bad.

To achieve your highest calling always, always, always means you are an agent of change in the world.  No one’s highest calling is to maintain the status quo, to defend the forces that turn us into lazy comfort seekers looking to avoid challenge.  No, our highest calling is always to ask people to be more, to do more, to have more open hearts and minds.

What’s the first bit of that?  It’s to affirm the callings of others, even when they challenge your own comfort.

Imagine Mary saying “Go ahead, Jesus.  If you know yourself to be the son of God incarnate, then you need to do what will get you sentenced to capital punishment, and your actions will make ripples which can lead to salvation.”

My calling was clear to me from a very early age.  I am what is now called transgender, but has been called other things at other times, including shaman and two-sprit.  The context of that calling crystalized when I heard an anthropologist say “In cultures where gender is rigidly bi-polar, rituals of gender crossing remind us of our continuous common humanity.”

“Remind us of our continuous common humanity.”  Is there anything else that is the mark of our highest calling than to speak for connections which challenge us to come from love rather than for separations which comfort us by playing to our fears?  That is the universal lesson.

I was told from a very young age that my own calling was sick, corrupt, perverted, un-godly and un-natural.  I was told that the essence of good was held in the conventions of the community, and breaking down the sacred line between men and women would lead to moral degeneration, hideous corruption and eternal damnation.

Faced with that challenge, I had to figure out if my calling, my desires, my Eros were of God or of Satan.  Where is evil and where is good?  My path took me to one answer: those who speak for separation, for us versus them, for sin being something that others do are working for evil, and those who speak for connection, for thread that connects all, for sin being something we do when we cast others out of our own heart, those are the people working for good.

There may be no surprise that most people prefer preachy preachers, preachers who want to tell you that the problem in the world is that other people are evil, rather than teachy preachers, teachers who want to tell you that the only problems you can really fix in the world are inside of you. It’s much more comfortable to agree that others suck than to be challenged to take personal responsibility for changing ourselves and thereby changing the world.

Unfortunately, the truth is that change and healing always starts inside of us.  And it involves stepping away from the expectations of the crowd, away from satisfying the desires of others, and moving to manifesting our own change in the world, moving to opening our hearts to challenge rather than just parroting answers which keep the walls between people up and fixed.

That acorn in our soul may grow a new tree, but that tree needs to clear the way for its own growth.  Creation requires destruction, the clearing out of what now is there, blocking the sun and not serving the highest purpose. The Hindu Trinity is Vishnu, the god of birth, Bhrama, the God of life, and Shiva, the god of death.  They make up the cycle of life.

If this is the cycle of life, then it just makes sense that some of us are called to be the daughters of Shiva.  We are here to clear away space for the new.  This is the outcome of our love, the special calling that helps us make change by revealing connections too easily obscured by the barriers we build in our hearts and minds.

It was clear to me from a very early age that my special skill was knowing how to ask just the right question, a question that would clear away the foggy thinking.  It was clear to others that my special skill was knowing how to ask just the wrong question, question that challenged assumptions and messed up everything.

My gift is cutting away rationalizations that obscure connections, my calling to cross gender is an ancient one that anthologists have found in illuminating connections offers benefits to cultures.  I am a knife that cuts away the moss growing on the walls that comfort us.

In other words, my calling is to be a challenging pain in the ass.  A challenging pain in the ass, doing God’s work.

I told you.  Calling is a bitch. It may be easy to find some way to serve other people, and it may be easy to name that your calling.  But finding and trusting your highest calling, the one that makes the most potent change you are capable of creating, well, that’s wicked hard.  Your true calling will always challenge people who need the comfort that comes from walls, who need the comfort of the status quo.

This isn’t the language most want to hear.  They want to believe that a calling which confronts is one that is just wrong, because callings should always be sweet and socially acceptable.  How could a calling, something that comes from God, not be as sweet as a summer day?  Could God ever make a hurricane or fire out of love?

God made porcupines.  And some of us are the porcupines, a bit bristly and sharp.  Because we are not cuddly, does that mean we are not made by God?

To support yourself in the world, you first have to support others.  To affirm your own calling, you have to affirm the calling of others.  And that includes the callings that you don’t understand or think you agree with, unless you believe callings are little rational things that you can understand, and not deep spiritual things whose total wisdom is only visible to the universe.  For change to happen, the battle must be joined, and that means that some people just have to speak and make visible bad beliefs & ideas so they can be challenged, examined and explored by the wider world. We can’t see the hidden evil of separationists, and what can’t be seen can’t be changed.

For those of us whose highest calling isn’t sweet and comprehensible, whose calling leaves us exposed and vulnerable to the abuse of the world, because we represent the removal of walls they like to cling onto, calling isn’t something easily taken.  Calling is a bitch.

I know.  And if you don’t believe me, I will show you my scars.

Ignore The Pain; Pay Me Later

notes

to rachel:

the remembering people remember why forgetting is important, but
the forgetting people don’t remember why remembering is important.

when they hear a story from queers
straights always assume that
they understand what it means.

“i shivered with only a blanket
in sub freezing temperatures
for over a week”

becomes

“yeah, i understand
i went to miami for a week in january
and it never got over 62!!
i was freezing!”

================================================

to hoddy

the spiritual benefits of discomfort.
clothes, seats, rods, kneeling
puritans to buddhists
awareness to the world
openness to others
and in the end
discomfort is what allows us to grow
and
discomfort is what allows a congregation to grow

(one reason bigger congregations have an easier time
like bigger people
more space to spread the discomfort over.)

================================================

BS == Belief Structures

as in
“for many transsexuals it isn’t enough to embrace their choices, you have to embrace their bs too.”
or
“this is a mechanical culture that says feelings don’t matter, so people feel unable to understand and express their feelings.  instead, they end up imposing their own bs, the rationalizations wrapped around their feelings.”

its usually the bs
we use to wrap our feelings
without examination or awareness
that gets in the way.

======================================

1) From others: “Callan, I have no idea how you renounce your life this way.  I couldn’t do it.  It must have taken years of training.

2)  From God: “Yup, you have it right.  You are hosed.  But (she said, laughing) the real kicker is simple: When you let it out you wil be enourmously good at it and it will reward you in good ways.”

================================================

Tangled In The Invisible Fence: Beyond Separations.

just because things are invisible, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

ask any dog who has had to learn to live with an invisible fence.  combine that antenna in the ground with a shocking collar, and you learn how to give the edges a wide berth.

the dog has to deal with an invisble fence that is fixed in place, secure and constant, and he learns to back off.

but when that fence is invisible because it is always shifting, popping up whenever someone’s fears are triggered, well, that’s another thing altogether.

bailey talks to an expert who says that trans kids need three things: removal of anything the parents or teachers judge as socially inappropriate (take away the desired), clear feedback that their desires will never, ever come true (take away the dreams), and an understanding that if they make the wrong choices, people can marginalize, shame and humilate them with legitimacy (take away the dignity.)  once those three things are gone, the kid has a chance of appearing to be normative.

but just because things are invisible doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

==============================================================

the breakthough in trans
comes when you stop thinking about
man plus or woman plus
woman minus or man minus
but you just think about
who is this unique person in front of me?

========================

when the rope swing
between childhood and adulthood
is severed too soon
when we are adultified early
losing the affirmations and struggles of adolescence
to some constructed performance
we almost always go though life
as two entities
an adult with slick experience
and
a child with a broken heart.

when is the rope severed?
when a child has a secret
that they know they cannot say
to anyone.

====================================
rachel knows what to do.

it’s to listen and honour
what the person in pain says

and then,
after they feel heard,
to say

so what can you do?

but she doesn’t have time or energy to do that
and who can blame her?

one of the hardest things to do
is to honestly open yourself to someone else
so people stop

even parents
who think it’s all about them
and not about
respect.

=====================================

when you are taught to
suspect your
desires, dreams and dignity
as being un-natural, tainted, perverted, corrupt, demonic, etc.
and then
when you are the one
who offers affirmation and support
for expressing those
desires, dreams and dignity
somehow, that affirmation must be suspected
as being un-natural, tainted, perverted, corrupt, demonic, etc.

this is the reason so many just say
their desires, dreams and dignity
come from god
but we know that it’s the ones who do that
most fervently
whose desires, dreams and dignity
comes from a satan
of separation and not connection.

======================================

making my pain visible
in the world
seems both appealing & pointless
just another pain
and everyone has pain
but it’s my pain
and everyday it stops me
as i swallow it.

I got a spam mail in my in-box a few days ago.

The subject was “Ignore the pain, pay me later.”

I think that we all understand this.  Pain is gift, one that tells us when something is wrong, when it needs attention.

But many of us learn just to swallow the pain rather than try to fix what needs fixing.  We swallow, because people tell us that the only solution to the pain is learning to swallow it and be normative.

Callan learned early how to swallow pain.  She tried to express it, but people didn’t want to hear it, couldn’t engage it.

my pain is blinding to me
but to others
it’s just
too much
too long.

and any performance
which would transcend pain
cannot come out of swallowing pain
only out of pouring it out
as balm.

dis-couraged

depression is defined by discouragement,
says an expert in the NYT.

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/25/health/25therapy.html

early 1970s,
i was first prescribed anti depressants. 

but the young therapist was unsure —
kind of like depression, but not really.

depression of the heart
and not the body.

yeah.

take away the desired
take away the dreams
take away the dignity

create
discouragement
remove
courage

broken

i speak but am incomprehensible.

my voice is only useful
if it supports another.

a scaffold
of mental energy
with necrotic flesh
devoid of life

thoughts keep
skeleton moving
heart and soul
just barely hang on.

dis-couraged
courage removed
job done

not a human being.
a human doing.

and i haven’t done anything
right.

goodbye.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

But, but, but. . . .

It’s not when the discouragement takes over
when I feel lost.

It is the base state. 

I merely fend off engaging it
by doing routines that keep me in stasis.

Nothing is lost
but the courage to make
a flesh future

It’s just too much, too late.

||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

Anti-depressants, as the NYT article makes clear, are not enough. 

 And to get them, you have to engage the medical system,
a system that understands sickness and not systems.

You know what is enough: changing the story. 

A changed story gives the courage to take risks,
lets you take bumps and be persistent,
lets you be enthusiastic enough to be ignorant.

“People who remember
remember why
forgetting is important,
but,
People who forget
forget why
remembering is important.”

I don’t feel depressed,
because by the rigid tests of clinical depression,
I’m not.
food, sleep, action, chores, etc.

But a decade falling off the grid,
well that’s enough for many to diagnose.

Where is my story?

“Too hip for the room.”
bang me until
I do what you want
or
I fall over
whichever comes first.
and then
i die,
again.

= * = * = * = * = * = * = = * = * = * = * = *
= * = * = * = * = * = * = = * = * = * = * = *

dear callan,

you are my child
and i don’t make junk. 

you are gifts,
even if those gifts are rejected
by those who think they need
the comfort of society
more than they need
the challenge of god.

the minute you believe
that your failures of the flesh
are more important
than your fierce fabulousness —

you know,
the beauty that
so many have tried to convince you
is your biggest failure of the flesh
a sickness to be denied
with that powerful mind
rather than a brilliant light
your mind was meant to serve

the beauty they thought justified them in
taking away your desired
taking away your dreams
taking away your dignity
the beauty that would rock their world
if they only let it in
as it makes manifest
that there is only one human nature
a continuous common humanity
that defies walls of rationalization

— as long as you believe
your failure to do what normal people do
means that you can’t be all you can be
you will not have
the courage of your convictions
the power of your truth
the beauty of your soul.

if you can find
a doctor
a counselor
a pastor
who believes in your beauty
not in your sickness
who believes in your possibility
not in your mistakes
who believes in your mind & spirit
not in their dogma
who believes in questions
not in answers
who believes that i live in my creations
not that anything challenging is sick, un-natural or demonic.

then maybe you can find someone
in whom you can finally convey to you
the reflection of how
i see you
my darling daughter.

someone who enters your world
rather than demanding you enter theirs
because in your world are gifts
your beauty should have drawn them in
put them at ease
but your beauty was too far buried.

they like girls with a good smile
not girls with a good simile.

you don’t need fixing
you need flying

even if you believe
you are too old, too worn-out and too decrepit
to ever leave the ground,

even if your odometer rolls
it means nothing to me

other than you are even more ready
to fly.

go girl
go and be
the beauty i made
in you.

= * = * = * = * = * = * = = * = * = * = * = *
= * = * = * = * = * = * = = * = * = * = * = *

sweetie

sweetie

there is only one person who can save you
and she is inside of you.

she knows you and loves you
and she has always had the power
of your heart.

i’m only asking you to have faith in one thing:
that essence is always present
present enough to be tangible
to those who are in its presence.

you can’t help but leave you
in everything you do
and you are clear and capable
beyond the fears and twists
that still make so many
marginalized people
unpalatable.

i’m asking you believe only
that if you follow your heart
that if you open your heart
you will be in the world
and not hiding out of it
and that will be
good.

you are a gift from god
you are a gift from me
and as much as people want to return gifts
they will know your presence is a present
when you unwrap it
and show yourself wrapped
in beauty.

you have something new to offer
a new synthesis
smarts and hearts
world of connection, world of individuation
power and pretty.

there is only one person who can save you
and i love her

let her love you.

Story Gave Out

If, after I am gone, they ask you why I left – and I don’t think they will – you can tell them this: Her story gave out.

I never knew how to fall asleep until I learned that if I told myself a story, I could slide into the arms of Morpheus on that tale. Those were my private little stories, only for me, where anything could happen, and it did.

When I was awake, though, the stories topped being mine.

There, the stories weren’t about possibility but about impossibility – the impossibility of connection, of success, of being my heart, of finding my bliss.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I shared my private little stories with the world to see how they would come back to me. They came back twisted and broken, smashed by others as dirty little lies.

I learned that my stories were seen as lies, and that telling lies made other people happy, kept my own stories safe. But as I did this, I had to start living in the lies rather than in the stories, and this made me crazy. Even as I was supposed to search for who I was, I had no idea who I am.

The lies don’t work anymore, and my stories, well, they have withered and died on the vine. The story the world wanted me to tell has become empty and powerless, and my own story has become shattered and lost.

And now, as I scabber for a story that can keep me going, facing the everyday bangs of this world, I know that story is lost. I have no story to help me place hurts and toughness in context, no story to lift me to possibility when all seems bleak. There is no one I can go to who can tell me the story of the good heart that was a little princess in hiding and is now a crone in decay who can still melt the hearts of others.

We keep our stories alive like breath, breathing them out and then having them breathed back into us.

They are the tales we give away and need to come back to us, entering us again with the potent truth that they are shared. Be it on Sunday morning or in a long phone call with your girlfriend, it is the respiration of stories, in and out, out and in, that keep us alive in a cold world.

My story has become a quest for some kind of truth, but that means it has become nothing but a quest for doubt. I doubt, therefore I am, but I do not believe, therefore I am not.

The story is the great life-giving force in human culture, moving beyond our own death and into the stories of others. We perform our stories and our stories perform us. The truth of our stories is what informs and shapes our choices, and those choices inform and shape our stories. When we believe we are a victim, or not pretty, or powerless, or a liar, or not worthy in front of God, those things become true, and no amount of doubt will sweep them away. All that will sweep them away is a new belief, carried on a new story, one that inflates and lightens us, lifting us to new places.

When doubt is your only story, though, the heart gets leaky, having been pierced just too many times. Then it cannot hold a story, cannot be expanded and lifted by it, and it just gets smaller, more dense, falling hard.

My story gave out. And every story of possibility that others try to breathe into me, from Reiki teachers, to Yoga heads, to medical cures, to Jesus dancing, to just doing it, seeps out from the wounds where my own story has been pierced by doubt, time weakening the enthusiasm and energy that once allowed healing, leaving me shredded and flat.

For those who have never had to succumb to the million needles of doubt that are seeded towards those who challenge, or who have the latent inhibition to not let those needles get under their skin, this must seem a very strange tale indeed. But it is the story of my own journey, a journey of doubt and exploration, through story after story to find that the truth is never in the details of the story, but in the meaning and beliefs which underlie it.

In the end, though, my own story gave out.

And that is the way it ends.