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.

On Emotionality

The last week has been hard.

My nameday went unrecognized.

I was sexually harassed.

Too many transphobic comments, too much victim blaming.

My parents gave me a stuffed rainbow horse for my nameday.

My wife made a nice meal and my family visited.

What’s unique about how difficult this week has been, is not the bad parts, the hard parts, and the awkward situations, it’s the fact that interspersed between those events were nice things, warm moments.

Sometimes nice things happen. Not often in my experience, but they do happen. The highs and lows contrasted in the same day is abnormal for me. It’s an emotionality I don’t usually experience. In really took the wind out of my sails.

In my experience, I’ve generally survived by being able to handle the worst situations, because I’m well accustomed to misery. The loss of a good feeling feels much worse then things just not being good and getting worse.

It’s an emotionality I’m going to have to learn to accept, it’s probably healthier anyways.

The Unspoken Line Between LGB and T

Netflix recently added a new special by Dave Chapelle called Sticks and Stones.

First off, I thought the special was hilarious. Especially, the segment about the alphabet people as he calls us.

You should go watch the segment, Here’s a link to an animated version.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ_sPR2V1RA

I’m going to assume you’ve watched it. This interpretation of the community to me, is spot on.

To explain this I’m going to tell another story. Recently, I worked with my town to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance. It would have been the first time the town did. I didn’t have a lot of time to organize anything, but I did get the town to agree to light up one of their buildings in the trans pride flag.

Well, they did the rainbow instead. When we went to go see the building lit up, I was pretty immediately disappointed. What was more disappointing was what happened when I shared a picture of the building to a group of local folks in the community. Where I was somewhat crushed to see the town, on a day specifically for the trans community reduce us to just ‘the rainbow people’ none of the queer folk saw anything wrong with it. They’re trying they said, what should I expect they said.

A more polite way of saying “just shut the fuck up.” sure, but still not nice, and definitely not very inclusive. There’s the unspoken line right there, and it manifests in so many different ways. It’s why the trans community had to wait until the gay community was more settled before we were invited back in.

Everyone says that pride was started by trans women of colour. Yet no one cares that the T wasn’t widely added to the acronym until the late 90’s, 30 years after Stonewall, what happened between those points? No need to speak of that. Gay political groups undermined the advancement of trans rights in order to secure their own, as gay rights were seen as more politically palatable and advancing the community as one would hold them back. We don’t talk about it, but it’s a part of our history.

“Just shut the fuck up.”

It’s why when I talk to an old gay man about how we were both hurt when we came out to our parents he was brave and he told me I’m selfish and need to understand my parents perspective.

Because it’s hard to love trans people, it’s hard to accept trans people.

Because we’re different within the community, Because it’s their community and they’re generous enough to allow us in.

I often feel the most accepted by the community when I’m perceived just as a lesbian, not a trans lesbian, I can’t bring that up. Acceptance to them is accepting that I’m gay just like them, the trans part is messy and difficult and better left out of polite society.

I’ve spoken of this before, and it’s so pervasive. This idea that because trans people are begrudgingly accepted in the community, that we should be happy. So they don’t need to try and meet any of our unique needs, because we should appreciate that they let us in at all. So we shouldn’t be upset when they expect us to “Just shut the fuck up.”

They’re trying, and that’s supposed to be good enough.

 

 

 

 

On Belonging

Belonging is a hard feeling to quantify. You can be welcomed somewhere and not belong. You can have the warmest reception and everyone be kind and gentle with you and still not belong.

Belonging requires that you not just exist in a space but that you have a right to it, that you aren’t just allowed to enter but to take up that space and be free to express yourself within it.

Talking about taking up space and claiming your own expression is a concept that is difficult for some people to understand. Those are people that have never had issues with that concept. If you’ve never felt like you haven’t belonged, it’s hard to imagine how others might feel.

There’s many reasons space is denied people, children are often denied space because as adults we feel they don’t use it the way we want them to. Beyond that there are countless reasons we deny space to our fellow humans, and in a lot of those cases I doubt there’s any credible reason. We deny space to women, we deny it on racial lines, we deny it on the basis of sexuality and gender, we deny it to the young, we deny it to the old. We deny it to the ugly, to the poor, to those that are sick, to those that suffer from mental illness, to those that are disabled, and to those that look different, act different, think different.

Are different.

The elegance of belonging, the crux of politeness culture, of rules of professionalism, of guidelines for etiquette, is that it goes unspoken. Belonging is the responsibility of the unwelcome. Conform or move on. When you walk into a room and the conversation immediately stops until you choose to stop bothering others, or you choose to continue to take up space that is silently not offered to you. Each act you take after that reinforces the fact you aren’t’ welcome and that you are disrupting some unspoken status quo.

It takes an incredible amount of energy and nerve… yes it do take nerve, to claim space. To exist freely and openly, to flaunt that which makes you different, even where there’s no reason that you are different.

Sometimes it takes nerve just to exist, to belong in your own head. The pressure outside of your mind forces it’s way in sometimes.  The internalized hate that infects your mind and makes you feel less then those around you. I’ve talked before about the shame that I feel about my own life, the weakness I felt growing up, the control I tried to exert because I felt helpless. Belonging starts in your own heart and head.

Finding places that you can just be, space that is given freely and without reservation is often rare, but it’s important to find those spaces, because I believe we all have an internal battle with our own issues to fight, and sometimes relieving the pressure on the outside is what’s needed to keep your own house in order.

As far as claiming space for yourself and being able to just exist.

Well I’m still working on that.