‘Casa Susanna’ Review: A Deeply Affecting Exploration of a Secret Chapter in LGBTQ History

Sébastien Lifshitz’s documentary, which premiered in Venice and takes its North American bow at TIFF, looks at a midcentury New York oasis for cross-dressing men and trans women.

‘Casa Susanna’ Review: A Deeply Affecting Exploration of a Secret Chapter in LGBTQ History

In Need of a 2×4

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Some days I just need a good smack to the back of head and someone telling me, “Hey dummy, you missed the obvious!”

Thank you Ren’Ai for doing that for me.

As been pointed out, the whole point of doing this blog was to give me space to write down all the stuff that runs through my head on any given day. Somethimes from hour to hour. It doesn’t matter if I am thinking of ups or downs, good things, bad things or just pointless things, this is the space for it. This is also a place that I can come back to later and reread what I have written, to remember the things I might have forgotten. To show myself that even in the bad times there are also good times. That if I take the time to sift through all these words, I have most likely written an answer for myself.

I just have to find it.

Thinking things out, working through problems and issues, is one of my strong points, it is also one of my weaknesses. It doesn’t take much to go beyond heathy self examination and into destructive cycles of over thinking.

Everything that I have gone through up to this point has been overwhelming, there is so much I now know that I simply don’t know. There are emotions and thoughts I simply don’t have the ability to deal with, and yet I have, time and again, tried to do exactly that. If my past were any indication, I should know that I am not a mental heath professional and I do a really lousy job of treating myself. Yet that is what I try to do time and again.

I think I’m like the mule that has to be hit over the head with a 2×4 just to get my attention. Then maybe I can learn something.

 

P.S. Ren’Ai, I know you love anime and when I saw this picture I thought you would like it.

(((HUGS)))

Kira

Tonight; Between the Fire and the Void

 

I tried to do something tonight that I haven’t done for some time…
I tried to go into full shut down. To just let my mind go blank, thinking of nothing. To shut down my emotions and float in a void…

I couldn’t do it. The thoughts and feelings just keep gnawing away at me and I’m unable to stop them…

Right now I have the music turned up as loud as I can stand without making my ears bleed and still that damn voice that whispers in my mind won’t be quiet…

That feeling that I’m full of shit, that all I’ve done is live one lie after another, won’t quit digging at me, undermining my confidence in myself, who I think I am…

At this point I don’t know myself any more… I doubt that I ever really knew myself at all…

I think of myself and what I thought I saw there and I don’t know what to think. Nothing makes any sense any more.
I was so sure I understood the thing I had unleashed in my head but now? I just don’t know.

Maybe I’m trying to avoid the truth of who I am. Maybe some part of me is unwilling to accept the truth, whatever that might be…

To be honest, I wish I could just shut down, to disappear into my own head and never come back. Leave behind this shell.

As it is, I am caught in the strangest place. There is a numbness in my head and yet it feels as if my chest is burning. As if my heart is being turned to ash.
Part of me wants to shed my old life, everything I was for so many years, but part of me wants to cling to who I was, discarding this new reality and returning to what was, no matter how bad it might have been.

Yes, I find it impossible to not doubt myself, my thoughts, my feelings. I just can’t grasp this. I can’t get myself around who I have become…

I wish I had better words to explain what is tearing through me. I wish that I could let everything inside just pour out onto these pages. That the tears that I cry would become the thoughts that would make this clear even as my vision blurs….

A Darker Writing

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Before I get a start on this post, I know that it is going to be a dark writing.

I have been moving within a false cloud of outward happiness since last night and I think my energy for this has about run out. 

One thing I know is that I will not cry. I am not going to let those tears fall, not now, not tonight. I will hold them in, as I have done so many times.

I know that in many ways I am not the person I was and yet in so many ways I still am. I have my bad times, when the dark emotions rule my thoughts. When I cannot see the light in the distance. When the dawn seems too far away. 

It is true that most of my early years are a blank, that I cannot recall more than a few vivid memories from the time before I was six, then things again turn blurry until the age of ten. I think that maybe those years that are closed to me may be a blessing. Considering what I know from those years things weren’t very good. 

The times from the age of ten are not perfect, but I can remember a great deal more and do so much more clearly and I can say that while I am sure that there are those who had things worse than I, my life was nothing to be envied.

It was during those years that I became very familiar with death, and often thought of dying.

It was during this time that I became familiar with pain.

Physical pain.

Emotional pain.

Psychological pain.

I withdrew within myself, seeking solitude and shunning contact with anyone as much as I could. I would spend hours upon hours alone, out riding my bike or walking for miles and miles. All the while I thought and thought and thought and could find no answers.

I didn’t understand myself, couldn’t understand the way I thought and saw the world. Why I felt the things I did. I was beyond just wanting to be a girl, though that was part of it, it was was wondering why I had ever been born, why I was still alive even after screaming to the heavens to let lightning strike me down.

Through high school I wanted nothing more than to die, to be buried and gone. Even now , looking back across the gulf of time, I can still recall some of those moments with perfect clarity. This was far beyond teen confusion and doubt, this wasn’t about being socially awkward. This was a deep seated hatred of myself. Who I was, what I was, the very fact that I existed in the world at all. 

I inflicted a great deal of physical abuse on myself.

I abused drugs and alcohol. Though to this day the man I once called my best friend at the time calls me a liar when I tell him some of the things I did back then.

I went into the military simply because I didn’t know what else to do with myself and not surprisingly, that ended when I tired to overdose. Then again, almost from day one I was an emotional and mental disaster. I quickly returned to the self destructive behavior, drinking too much, self harm, and drugs. 

The fact that I suffered a total break down wasn’t surprising, that it took as long to unfold was.

Since then I have found that I have been in a mental battle with myself, a war of self hatred and loathing. I don’t know that I hoped to find in all of this, what end I expected beyond death.

Again, the fact that I suffered a second break down isn’t a surprise, that it didn’t end with me in the hospital or the morgue is.

If I had not had A there to question me, to at least find a way to open up some form of communication, I don’t know that might have happened.

That in opening that communication she inadvertently opened pandora’s box has led us to where I am today.

Still wondering, still questioning, still seeking.

And as someone agreed with, I think too much, try too hard to understand things. Ask too many questions that simply don’t have answers.

In many ways I am terrified of being myself because I don’t know who that is.

 

(And yes, I think this post alone is proof that I think too damn much.) 

Morning Musings

Thinking

I have been accused of thinking too much, of thinking too much into things. Often things that those around me think of as givens, so obvious that they don’t see a point in spending much effort on them at all. in this case it happens to be the way I think about myself.

Over the past several weeks I have found that I have had less and less thoughts about my internal identity, that is I no longer have to stop and think of myself as Kira versus G. (Don’t you just love the alphabet?)

This may seem like a pointless exercise, after all, in the end I am both.

For decades I thought of myself in terms of my male identity, I simply didn’t have any other way to do so. Now though, I know that is not who I really am, that I built that identity as a self protection mechanism. That who I really am, that core of me that I had worked so hard to keep hidden away, has another name, my true name, that represents that true identity.

As the saying goes, every lie has a kernel of truth, and so it is with me. G was the lie but he was built on the truth that I now call Kira. As with any good lie, I used elements of my true self to build on. In doing that I was able to build a believable male persona, something that people could see and accept. Unfortunately that also led to a blending of the two. There was just so much bleed through that over time I had become a mix of the two. A very confused and unhappy mix. A depressed, angry mix that was destined to self destruct.

Now I have rediscovered that truth within myself and like an archeologist, I am working to uncover that buried truth and bring it once more into the light.

The thing is, in the beginning I had to find a way to separate things, to figure out what was truth and what was lie. I had to have a way that I could begin to express who I really was and in doing so I had, by necessity, divided up my thoughts and emotions so that I could understand where they were coming from.

Now? Now it no longer seems to matter if how I am thinking is based on one thing or another. As I said, in the end, I am a blend of both my true self and my experiences. That so much of my world view is colored by being beaten over the head with maleness doesn’t make it invalid.

I simply cannot keep asking myself if i am thinking like a boy or girl. Either way I am simply thinking as myself.

On the other had, this does not mean that I am not concerned with communication.

The ways in which men and women communicate are different, often in small and subtle ways, but different none the less. In this regard, I am struggling to over come all those lessons I learned when dealing with men. It is frustrating to say the least.

It is one of the things that I know I really need to be able to experience, to observe first hand, to be involved in. Cis women have had a life time to get these things right. They are able to do so without a second thought, but in many ways I am like that girl who grows up with only male relatives and friends, who when finally exposed to other girls finds that she has to scramble to learn the rules before she is accepted, if she ever really is. More often than not, it takes making that one friend who is willing to take the time and effort to help her before she can over come this learning curve.

I have lost track of the times I have wondered if I am doing things right or if I am acting too “male”. The problem of course is that all the women around me see me as just another male and treat me accordingly. Needless to say, that doesn’t help matters much.

I’m not sure what I can do to correct this situation, but I hope that something presents it self. Right now I am hoping that the support group I was told about is still together. Just the chance to be open with other people who understand will go a long way to helping me work though things like this.

Sunday Morning

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Sunday morning… the beginning of a new week. A chance to start over, to wash away the debris from what came before.

One phone call can be a pivot point in life. Yes, there are many such calls that can and are points at which life forever changes, and many of those are not for the better. I take it as a blessing that the call I received was not about one of my children or about a family member. That there were no accidents or other tragedies. Life can take so many twists and turns and too often we forget to be thankful for those that don’t happen.

And I am very thankful. That phone call was only concerning me and that was for positive reasons.

I have returned the call and hopefully next week I will have my first consultation. 

As I said before, I don’t know where things might go from here, but that isn’t really any different from where I am at this moment. 

I have reached a point where I simply don’t know where to go to move forward. I’m not so much stalled as I am at a turning point. For a little while now I have been in a center of calm, I haven’t had questions pounding in my head, I have doubt raging through my heart. I have felt mostly at peace with myself and the decisions I have made to this point.

There are still questions of where I want to go, where I hope to be, how I see myself, but they aren’t the urgent, demanding questions of the past. They are more of those questions we ask ourselves in the quiet moments, those little checks to see where we are now compared to where we want to be, to where we thought we would be. By understanding the goals already reached, those yet to be met,  can we hope to move our vision forward.

It is that moving forward that I am trying to figure out now. 

I do know there are some things I would like to do, maybe even need to do, such as working on my voice. 

I am still working through understanding how I think, how I deal with situations, how I present myself compares to how I would do these things had I been raised as a girl. This is difficult given that A has made it clear that she wasn’t socialized that way, that was, is, and always be a tomboy who shunned make up and anything “cute”, she avoided most of the things I am dying to understand now, and it isn’t like I can sit down with other women and get a crash course.

I think this is one of the reasons I would like to get into a support group, so that I can talk to others like myself, who have worked through much of this already and can point me in the right direction. Not to mention just having others to talk to, to have the chance to meet new people and make new friends. I have been out of any social setting for so long I am at a loss of how to connect with most people. Of course it doesn’t help that ten when I was out and about, I had a lot of trouble making friends and feeling comfortable socializing. I have always been uncomfortable around people I don’t know, dealing with situations I have not faced before. I was always a wall flower, always seeking to keep a low profile. I have a feeling these are things I am going to have to work on.

Honestly, anything that I can do now will be an improvement. It’s discouraging how much you miss out on when your terrified of just being yourself.

No Turning Back Now

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Well, things took another step forward today. I was contacted by the owner of the therapy group that I hope to get into. She was very understanding and agreed that I should at least do a consult. She even mentioned a support group that she thinks I might be able to join and she is going to check for me. I have some things that need to be checked before I can schedule an  appointment, so I’m waiting to hear back… hope I have some news soon.

Again, I have to say that the further things move along, the more nervous I get. This is something i never thought I would actually do…. at this point I have the shakes so bad I have to keep getting up because I can’t hold the mouse or type well enough to make complete sentences.

I have to say, speaking to another person about this was nerve racking. Although I have written about this all through this blog, it is such a different experience to speak the words out loud. To tell someone I have never met this secret. Don’t get me wrong, the person I spoke to was very kind and understanding and didn’t seem bothered in the least. She also recommended that I see one of the female therapists without being asked. I thought that was very nice. The thought of trying to talk to a man about this wasn’t something I could ever consider.

The funny thing is, despite everything, I feel rather relieved. As I said, things seem to be moving forward. Such a nice change from the up and down way of things as I’ve tried to work though this pretty much alone. I guess that in the end trying to deal with all my other issues on top of this has just been more than I can handle. That I have managed to deal with my episodes of depression, even when they got to a dangerous point, is a miracle. Though maybe, just maybe, had I been seeing someone for that alone I might have avoided the truth about myself. I don’t know if I could have admitted any of this to myself, let alone anyone else, (even a therapist), is a question I will never be able to answer. The fact is that my repressing this likely caused or at least aggravated my depression, even knowing that, I don’t know if I could have told, especially if I was seeing a male therapist. 

No matter what, there is really no turning back now… though to be honest, I think I passed that point the moment I let myself admit the truth of who I am…

Talking About Myself

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Has anyone else tried to look back at who they were before they came out? I have just to get a sense of where I was compared to where I am now, and you know what? I can’t do it.

I have a boatload of memories of course, but as I get closer to the night I broke down, they get pretty fuzzy until they become an indecipherable blur. That isn’t what I’m really talking about though. I mean emotionally. 

I tried to step back and look at what I was feeling in those last days and weeks, even months and I find that there is a blank there. I simply cannot connect with those emotions. It’s like who I am now is so far removed from that other person that we simply cannot connect at all.

I don’t understand what he was feeling, why he was feeling that way, or what his thought process was. Again, I have some of the memories but it’s like years of my life have all but vanished into a smear where everything is jumbled and disconnected.

<Sigh> I know I’m not making much sense here, it is such a strange feeling that it hard to describe. It’s like watching a movie for the hundredth time, you know the lines, you remember the scenes, and your pretty sure you remember the actors, but there is no real connection at all. No emotion, everything seems strangely flat and well. poorly written. Whats worse is that you know your the writer, the director, and the actor and still your left wondering what’s happening and what were you thinking when you wrote this mess?

Really, did that help explain things at all? I hope so…

I know that in the weeks following my life and mind were a jumbled mess that was racing along at a thousand miles an hour and i can at least go back and read those old posts and gain some understanding of what I was doing, and why, but from before? It’s like trying to understand an alien life form.

And I’m talking about myself here…

I Hate Scrambled Eggs

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I took a step forward today.

I finally contacted the therapy group here in town to inquire about their services; I’m waiting to hear back from them to see if they provide the service I need.

I won’t kid you, I’m scared to death. I have never talked to a complete stranger about what’s going on with my gender issues and the very idea of it fils me with dread. I know that these feelings are silly, that I am seeking to talk to a professional. That doesn’t stop something deep inside from insisting that I am making a terrible mistake.

Maybe it is the fact that I have had to hide for so long, keeping the truth of who I know myself to be safe from view. Maybe it was knowing that letting anyone see the true me would lead to nothing but pain.

Whatever the reason, I find that I am getting almost physically ill at the very thought. 

One thing I wasn’t expecting was in filling out the contact form I had to put down my name. I started to put down “Kira” without thinking about it. I had to backtrack and use my male name. I was afraid that they would think I was trying to prank them if I didn’t. What surprised me was how ambivalent I was about writing that name. It is a name I have to use every day, and often do so without too much thought, but that has changed.

This is what I was going to write about today, before I took the plunge and started the process I hope will lead to me talking to a therapist, that fact that when I woke up this morning it hit me that I can’t clearly remember the last time I thought of myself in terms of “his” name. I know it was some time last week, but I can’t recall the reason it happened or what day it was. I have been thinking only in terms of my real name. Thinking in terms of who I am now, not who I was. I am thinking in terms of the real me, not the facade I have been wearing.

In some ways this scares me a bit, the loss of that comfort zone I worked so hard to build and maintain, but that isn’t who I really am and I cannot continue with the lies any more. It is sort of disturbing and confusing because in my public life I have maintain that other persona. 

I know that now I am going to have to watch myself but for different reason from before. 

It makes me feel almost like I’m now living in a parallel universe where every thing is switched. Where before I had to watch and make sure I kept my female side hidden, now I have to watch and make sure I maintain a visible male side. 

It may seem like the same thing, but it isn’t. The focus is different. The thought process is different. The concerns are different.

I don’t know, this is really hard to explain in a way that makes any sense, even to me.

Honestly, my brains feel like scrambled eggs…. and I hate scrambled eggs…