Where to from here?

Mountain anime copy

 

Start.

Stop.

Delete.

 

This has been my mantra for the past several weeks. I cannot even remember how many times I began writing this post just to end it without saving or publishing it. Somehow the words have never felt right.

Tonight I feel compelled to finish this, maybe then I can find my way forward.

I have been reading about self acceptance and I realize this is something I have yet to do. Truly, honestly, and completely. I also have come to understand that until I do so I can never move forward. 

In many ways it is the same as my relationship with death. Once I loved it, embraced it, took it into my heart and refused to let it go. It was my trump card, my ‘get out of jail free’ card. As long as I held it, there was always a way out. An easier path to take. For so much of my life I kept it in play, an option as valid as any other. It wasn’t until one day I realized it was no longer an option that I have been able to move forward, even this small amount. I can’t tell you what changed or when, I just know one day it dawned on me I no longer felt the way I had. 

The thing is, I have come to understand and accept death is no longer a viable option and this has forced me to face things I had fought so hard to avoid. Now I face another hurdle, another point of letting go. Of understanding there is no going back, no other option but forward. 

As strange as it may sound, in this case it is accepting there is no going back to life as him. I know one would think this was a battle long over, but it isn’t. I have done nothing but avoid it, to dance around it, to put it off…

I can’t do it any more.

For the past three years I have been dancing on a wire, trying to maintain two lives. I told myself it was because it was easier for a number of reasons, work, my identification, insurance, and especially the family.

The truth is a little more selfish.

Deep inside I wanted to hang on the that persona. It was a safety rope, a security blanket. I could always step back into that old, familiar role if things became too hard… Or so I told myself. 

The truth is, as long as I think going back is an option, I’m not going to be able to move forward. I know, have known, for a long time going that route is a death sentence and I don’t mean figuratively. The stress pushed me to the edge of having a stroke once and increased my chances of having a heart attack. As I have slowly worked my way toward acceptance, I have seen and felt my health improve. Unfortunately this hasn’t been enough to tip me over that final line.

I don’t know what I need to do or how to do it. I am trying to release the past and embrace the here and now. It is much more difficult than I ever thought. 

And So Here We Are

There are times when it is difficult to find the right words for your thoughts and emotions. Sometimes it seems easier to avoid them all together, though we all know sweeping problems under the preverbal rug does nothing but cause more problems.

It doesn’t stop us from trying…

 

Friday I found myself mentally and emotionally drained. Just thinking was a monumental task. I had to walk to the store to get a few things and I looked forward to the time alone to catch my breath.

As I returned home I had a chance to see the onramp to a bridge… The sweep of the grey pavement backed by blue sky reminded me of the highway I once followed into Florida. A seemingly endless ribbon leading ever onward… In that moment I felt as if I could keep walking and follow it forever…

I wanted to… 

I didn’t obviously, yet this lead me into deeper, darker waters and I realized, no matter how many times I tall myself ‘everything is off the table’, the truth is… It never has been, nor will it ever be. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself things are better or I am stronger… There is and will remain a door opened in the back of my mind from which the voices whisper, telling me this way is simpler… 

Rest.

Peace.

Numbness.

Forever.

 

It is a battle I have fought since I was ten years old and I will still be fighting it the day I die. Medication and therapy help more than I can explain here, but this is a fundamental piece of who I am, just as my freckles and blue eyes. I cannot explain the why of it, just that it is…

There is also the matter of how I choose to present myself to the world. This is something which goes far beyond clothing, mannerisms, or even attitudes… It is me at the most fundamental level. It is how I see myself when everything else has been striped away.

I have spoken of ‘going full time’, meaning in my outward presentation, yet I have long been full time on the inside… Yet between the two waits fear. The fear of the simple and mundane to the complicated matters of interpersonal relationships. 

Because of this fear I have not been able to bring the two sides together; not completely and so there has remained this idea in my mind of being able to choose how I wish to be seen… 

Which is nothing more than lie I have insisted on believing because the truth is painful.

However, I would say truth is a tenacious mistress and she will not be denied forever.

As time as passed i have been gendered as female more and more regardless of what I thinking or doing. My clothing doesn’t matter and at times even what I see as obvious signs are ignored and I am addressed as Mam, Miss, Lady, or referred to as a woman. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not complaining, just the opposite, yet I have wondered more than once what had changed….

I was me.

I’m what changed.

A mentioned today, when I’m not trying, I present as androgynous at best. I’m just not obviously male and so most people will either err on the side of feminine or go with neutral greetings. Makes sense when I think about it.

As time passes I can see this happing more and more until no one will accept me as anything else.

The hard part is going to be accepting myself in the same way…

 

As so often happens, the end brings us to the beginning.

Today I had another therapy session and everything I have spoken about here was the main focus. 

This is something Jodi has pointed out more than once and is part of what has lead to my thoughts of everything being a series of circles. The thing I have to remember is each circle is a little wider than the one before and even though it may seem I a walking over the same ground, I’m really not and each step has brought be a little further away from where I started. 

However, there are some things which have remained with me, and likely will. My depression, my memories, and yes, the suicidal thoughts. The difference is in how I deal with them. In how I have gained the means to redirect them so, while I may struggle with them mentally, I do not act out.

I mentioned my tendency to overthink things, to mull them over until they are mush, then fashion them into weapons to hurt myself… thankfully mentally and not physically… though there have been times…

She pointed out something and I know she is right, I have a number of things to deal with and different levels on which I have to operate simply because of who I am…

You see, there is the depression, then there is being Transsexual. All of which is on top of something I hadn’t realized was a factor in how I deal with things, which is that I am also an artist. She pointed out the way I describe things; people, places, things, all of which I do in ways most people wouldn’t do because I see them differently. I feel them differently, and I remember them differently.

I suppose this is a long winded way of saying I’m complicated…

Still, I can see how the way I process things is different from those around me which leads me to thinking and worrying about things most people don’t ever think about or even consider. They simply don’t experience them the same way I do… sort of like how it is difficult for most people to understand how an autistic person sees the world, I’m just not as disconnected.

And so here we are.

I have to stop lying to myself and accept the truth, heart, mind, and soul.

Beyond the Gender Binary: Yee Won Chong at TEDxRainier

From the YouTube description:

Yee Won Chong shares a story about the challenges of navigating the world while transgender, and provides suggestions on being a good ally.

Yee Won Chong converts practical skills and experiences to train hundreds of grassroots activists on effective communication and fundraising for social, economic and environmental justice. He is currently Development Director at Western States Center, a regional non-profit that trains people to organize toward a just, equitable and democratic society. Before moving to the Northwest, he worked in Boston with United for a Fair Economy and Haymarket People’s Fund. He is also involved with Alternatives for Community and Environment, Resource Generation, Progressive Communicators Network, and Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training.

This talk was given at TEDxRainier in Seattle on November 10, 2012. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

Circle Of Fear

I have seen life described as a river or a line. Even describing it as a path or journey suggests it has a beginning and an end, yet this isn’t completely my experience.

In many ways life is a series of circles. My thoughts and steps coming around to where I started. Sometimes I find myself caught in one of these, going around and round again until something breaks the cycle and I move into a new circle. There are times when movement is quick and sure, moving from one moment to the next, while other times it seems I will never break free. Then there are the layers of circles which make up months, even years. Cycles of my life which, when I have thought them done and over, somehow are ahead of me again.

Over the past several years I have seen this happen time and again. Old thoughts and fears I thought behind me rear up to be faced again. There are times when I feel as if I have gone nowhere at all, even though the truth is, I have travel miles.

Miles…

This is the secret I am finally understanding, though I am a bit thick headed and sometimes I think I have to be beaten over the head with something to finally get it… 

You see, even when I have travelled in a circle to arrive someplace I recognize; it isn’t really the same any more than I am the same person who passed this way before. Things have changed. I have changed. It is only my perception which deceives me into thinking otherwise.

An example is this; in the not so distant past I said my fear was in not being seen as my true self. I feared being mocked, ridiculed, or worse. The thought of being myself outside of my own house or at work was beyond my comprehension.

Now I have found these fears to be unfounded. It’s to the point where I realize I am having trouble being seen, heard, and accepted as anything other than female. At least by those with whom I don’t have a long history.

Sunday A and I went shopping. While at the store, I went to get some things from the frozen dinner section. On either side of me, at two different doors was an older couple. When I turned to go to my cart, an item slipped out of my hand and hit the floor. The man who was in front of me jokingly called out to his wife, “Did you throw that at me?” to which she answer “No”. “Well,” He said, “This lady sure didn’t do it!” His wife replied with something I missed, but you get the idea.

Why is this important? Because I was suppose to be out in “boy mode.” I have forgotten to charge my shaver the night before and so I hadn’t shaved. I sure wasn’t going to do anything to present as anything but male with my face feeling like sandpaper. So I was wearing just t T-shirt and jeans, with a baseball cap to hold my hair down. To me I was as scruffy as scruffy gets and I was still tagged as female.

Once we were out of earshot, I asked A, “What do I have to do to be seen as male; grow a full beard?” Maybe so…

I have mentioned this before, something has changed in a way I cannot put my finger on. I think it is a good change yet it is mystifying. For so many years I was seen as male even when I didn’t want to be, now all people see is a woman. 

Please note I am NOT complaining, nor do I really wish to be seen as a guy… it’s just a strange place to find myself upon reaching the end of one of those circles I spoke about. 

Before I was afraid of not being accepted as female, now I can’t get accepted as male and I suppose this does irritate me for some reason.

Maybe it’s a matter of seeing all those years of trying to be something, of trying to mimic others, of suppressing my true self, and in the end it is proving to have been a total waste of time and energy when I could have followed just one simple question to its logical conclusion decades ago… “Can I walk out the door and be accepted as a woman?”

I think I have the answer now…

Of course, if I had, then I never would have met A abad we wouldn’t have three boys I love with all my heart… Still, it’s annoying to think of what might have been had I not been caught in yet another circle…

Fear.

I have lived my whole life in fear to one extent to another… fear of my parents, fear of the kids around me. Fear of failure… fear of success. Fear of relationships and fears of being alone.

Fear, fear, fear, and more fear… this has been a defining feature of my life for as long as I can remember and now I am standing here looking at it again. Not the same really; too much has changed for that, but fear none the less…

It is the fear of leaving the confines of the gilded cage. Of leaving the comfort of the known behind.

All of what I had built to try and pass as male has been left in ruins. Ripped down by my own hands and yet there is a part of me which wishes to hold on to the tatters even as they are torn away by the winds of change.

I can’t hide there anymore and so I feel exposed and naked before the world… and yes, it scares me to death. I can admit to such a thing now, there is no shame in feeling fear, only in allowing yourself to be controlled by it.