On Standards

There’s many ways we are held, and hold ourselves accountable.

Standards are a generally understood way of upholding that accountability, the big question, is how do they get applied.

I could, and probably should talk about my own issues with setting standards for myself, and on the unconscious way I’ve tried to hold others to those standards. The latter generally being a bad idea, and the former generally being poorly executed.

Let’s talk for a second about professional standards, or even more broadly about standards in the workplace.

Any working environment is going to be a hodgepodge of standards to navigate, from basic things like safety and just general social nicety to more complex codes of conducts and professional liability and responsibility.

These aren’t inherently bad things, we all need to work in safe environments, we all need to get along. When accessing professional services we should expect a certain quality of work. Those are end goals and not the application of standards themselves.

Whether it’s rules based on principles based, the application of differing standards provides all kinds of potential for subjectivity. I’ve taken a long way to get here, but lets examine that for a second.

Is someone who is socially unpleasant at times more or less likely to break a safety rule? Not inherently those two things aren’t related. However if we find someone difficult to deal with or unpleasant in some way. We’re far more likely to associate their propensity to break social rules, with other rules. They may not be any more unsafe then the average person in the environment but you’re going to be more likely to notice or react to transgressions.

So, here’s where we get to the crux of the issue, what if, by the very nature of your existence. Considered socially uncomfortable. Even the most progressive minded and well intentioned folks are susceptible to biassed thinking and the isms and phobias.

So how do standards end up going from something that makes sense, a common set of guidelines to ensure professional, safe, effective work gets done. To a tool of oppression?

It goes back to that simple premise that someone who is a member of a social minority has already broken a social rule by existing in a space. Whether it’s a sense of discomfort that then makes you feel uncomfortable and therefore feel like the person has put you out by existing, all the way up to outward hate. Existing as someone who is a visible minority breaks the established rules of a space. Especially in hetero-normative, cis-normative, white-centric, ablest spaces. When the default for social conduct doesn’t include your existence then every further standard is that much more closely monitored.

It’s in part why the tropes around excellence exist, why you have to work x times harder to get y less distance. When you’ve already broken a social convention every other rule, standard, guideline, is that much easier to be considered cross.

The stress created is immense, It’s not enough to exist, because your existence works against you. You must thrive, you must succeed in spite of who you are.

Which is a standard of exhaustion for those on the wrong side of it.

Remembering Without Wallowing Pt. 3

Practicing Gratitude is a phrase that would have made the first two parts of this sound less pretentious. They’re Here and Here if you’d like to get caught up.

Yet the point stands. It’s hard to overcome the negative feelings from your past, while also trying to sort through them. Which brings me to the next scary step I’ve had to reconcile.

How does it feel to be comfortable currently, but also carrying trauma.

I don’t mean completely financial independent or perfect emotional stability or anything crazy like that, but how do you reconcile the negativity in your life when your current world, your day to day living, has dramatically less negativity in it then the previous parts.

I won’t say things are perfect, but I’m in a position where things are far easier then they used to be.

My problems are far more, nuanced and difficult. Less existential or survival based but some are even centered around thriving and healing.

Terrifying stuff.

The position I find myself in now is one where the ongoing trauma generated by my current situation is less then my capacity to handle trauma. Which actually means in net terms, healing. Which has really helped in the practicing gratitude thing.

Being able to appreciate your past and the trials and tribulations that go into it is a complicated question and it strikes into the very core of your being. It’s hard to dislodge the hurt in your heart that comes from a time of utter dependence. Especially as I’ve gotten older and I see kids now and you can see the potential trauma they’re walking either into or already carrying and it’s hard to watch. There’s an inherent lack of responsibility for the trauma we face from our childhoods. It’s not our faults, which makes it all the harder to deal with.

Rather then being a freeing idea I think that shows the roots of it. Begrudging your lost innocence, feeling regret at a life not lived. It’s a theme I’ve talked a lot through these, and having come back and reading through them I’m somewhat shocked but what I’ve said.

Because even now that pain that I was talking about both feels real but removed. Which is a sign that it did start to heal. I’ve had an issue throughout my life where I’ve held those around me to the standards I held myself to. Ones I generally failed at, but was willing to accept my own failure at, but also failed to recognize how ridiculous it was to apply my own standards to other people.

Looking back is about dealing with the negative thoughts you continue to carry as much as finding a home in your psyche for the things that happen to us.

Sometimes things do get better and sometimes those better things start to stack up, when it comes crashing down from time to time it’s hard, but it does happen again. It’s okay to mourn what’s missed but not letting it blind you to the goods around you are more important.

I’ve had many things happen to me but none of the pain was anything that didn’t happen within my mind, and that’s the time and energy that was the worst spent.

On Feeling Again

It’s been awhile. A lot has happened, and a lot doesn’t change.

It’s a little ironic that the last post I made was about coming off hormones, because that would go on for another 6 months. There’s a story to tell there but one for another time. I am back to feeling again, and yes, that it’s hormonally supported.

It’s weird to come back to this, for the last, two years now I haven’t felt I’ve needed an outlet. The irony being it was probably the time I needed it most.

I started writing again yesterday. It’s not good, but it’s not meant to be, just the inkling of a silly story. It came out though, and it felt good to create something. I’ve often had a difficult relationship with creation. There’s something very vulnerable about creating something, and also very final. Once something is done it’s an enduring reflection of you in that moment. I would imagine being an artist is a little terrifying in that way. Your life is spent creating reflections of you to find later. Moments to cringe and moments to regret.

Probably also comes with a strong emotional memory though, times to remember, and times to share. That’s probably why I have such a difficult relationship with creation. Hell this blog is the closet I’ve come to any kind of enduring creation and it’s anonymous.

Which I guess comes around to why am I even writing this. I truly haven’t logged into this since I wrote my last post. It was interesting to see that some folks were still finding what I wrote. I hope what they found gave them comfort.

I started this out of a point of pain. Coming out for me was hard. I went through the hardest part of my life through that and this was one of the few outlets I had. Taking that pain and sadness and hurling it into the internet for someone else to deal with. I think I hoped someone would see it and save me. I was pretty desperate.

So I may or may not continue writing this, but even this has felt nice. Which is the point I wanted to make the whole time but kept getting distracted. Maybe I do have a lot more to say.

Feeling is the most wonderful and terrible experience of my life. Coming out gave me the space to feel, and in those early moments most of what I felt was pain. That was at least something more then anger. Out of that eventually came more space, and more emotions. It’s not easy, most of them aren’t usually pleasant, but I’ve tried to learn and grow from them.

I still have a complicated relationship with feeling. I very much struggle with expressing myself. I’ve discovered my emotions can be… strong I’ll say. I’m often caught off guard by the reactions to my feelings. If coming out taught me that I had emotions, then being out has taught me that I must guard them. That the openness I had dreamed about when I was young wasn’t as possible as I may have wished.

Just because i crave connection doesn’t mean the person I’m connecting with can handle what I’m feeling. It’s a hard lesson to learn. and one about boundaries and assumptions and all of that mess.

So for now, I’m back to feeling, for better or worse.

I Came Off Hormones

Around Christmas time my wife and I decided we wanted to start a family, and since I had the other requisite component I made the decision to come off hormones. So far it’s been fine, it’s a weird experience. I don’t know what I expected but I don’t feel like I did before coming out. It’s a different experience.

It has made it harder to express myself. I thought at first it was because things have been kind of better lately that I didn’t feel as much of a need to write. It’s really become apparent that I just don’t feel as much of a need to externalize my feelings, because they’re far more deep seated. Testosterone is a weird hormone. I’ve been joking lately thatĀ  I don’t know why we trust men with any real decisions because they’re so hormonal and emotional.

It’s true though, I don’t cry as easily, I don’t feel as strongly, instead I just get moods that don’t end. If I’m upset I’m upsetĀ forever if I’m sad there’s no quick way to release that. You have to wait until it either subsides or hits some kind of critical mass before you can deal with it. Testosterone makes your emotions seem fuzzier, more distant, less pressing. Yet far more controlling. There’s less flexibility to deal with your emotions once they’re actually at a point they can be dealt with. Sure you can suck them back in and restrain them but then how much longer will they fester?

It’s harder to relate to people, I find my empathy has returned to a more intellectual empathy, it’s less sincere, I don’t feel the emotions alongside the person. I can read them, I can feel them, but not as strong. In that way I feel like I’m back in the closet, only this time I’m feigning an emotionality that I don’t feel as strongly.

I look forward to going back on hormones. I do miss them. There’s a simple elegance in feeling, dealing, moving on. Instead I’m stuck festering and stewing on how I feel.