Thursday, January 29, 2015

Evbea*thing I Have

I knew I still needed to cry, but this wasn’t the time, not just yet.

“Everything you have, you see,” I said, my reflection saying the same thing back at me.

“Everything you have, you see.”

* * *

Last weekend a friend of mine—trans too—shared with me the most traumatic experience of their life, a horrific act of violence and violation enacted in order to communicate to this person that transgender was not a possibility, was not valid, was incorrect, and, moreover, was fixable through the use of such violence and violation.  They are still and slowly recovering from the attack, and suffered, suddenly, when I and no one else was with them late into that night, a flashback.

It is difficult to name the feeling of watching a dear friend lose a clear sense of reality and instead relive an absolute reduction to nothingness.  There was no one to call, you see, due to the wee hour of morning and the lack of substantially supportive people in their life.  All I can say is you do what you can to pull them out of it, gently, you be patient, don’t panic, and if the friend in question (or as in this case, you too) is trans, you do not call 9-1-1, because they will probably not respect your friend (or as in this case, you too) and only exacerbate the problem instead.

If you are terrified, you are probably doing it right.

We spoke about the episode the following day, and made plans for an appropriate course of action, but this blog post is not about my friend, nor could I even attempt to do their story justice.

This blog post is about the fact that I am no longer afraid.

* * *

Over the following couple of days, I went about my routine under the immensity of absence. I had been mulling over and back over the interaction with my friend and its implications continually, and felt heavy with the slow and ugly realization that there really isn’t nearly as much support out there for people like me.  I must have known this before, of course, and ignored it. But when a crisis arose that threw into relief the well from which I might draw whenever I might need to seek salvation, my bucket came up empty, and thirst abounded.

The fact that I, someone untrained in mental health, was the sole person available to someone who needed professional care in a moment of emergency is despicable.  I’m mad at the health care system for thinking that we’re sick, I’m mad at the government for making everything so goddamn difficult, I’m mad at my cisgender friends who read my blog and say they support me but don’t behave any differently in their daily lives to make our society safer for trans people, I’m mad at our society, I’m mad at everyone walking around blind to the pain that cuts me always, I’m mad at myself.  I’m mad that I’m trans in a world that won’t let me.  I’m mad that most of the time, more than anything I just want to be held by a man who loves me.  I’m mad that that’s easier for most of everyone else.  I’m mad that coming out feels like a commitment to a lifetime of celibacy.  I’m mad that I’m always so fucking alone.

To the people dear to me: I have not forgotten you.  I do not mean to diminish the life-saving effects (not even remotely an understatement) your relationships have had on me.  But most of you are not trans yourselves, and cannot bear this burden in the way that I must, and for those of you who are, I love you, and am infinitely grateful for your respective presences in my life, but this still feels like an army of one most days, and that isn’t your fault, it just is.

To my cisgender friends who read this blog and say you support me but don’t behave any differently in your daily lives to make our society safer for trans people: start.  Stop invisibilizing us in the words that you use.  Stop framing everything as only man or woman, male or female, gay or straight.  I do not fit into any of those categories, and you give permission for people to attempt to beat the trans out of me when you do.

Maybe what has been hardest is recognizing that I have to hold myself to astronomical standards of accountability, because a lot of the time, there isn’t anyone else to do it.  The part of me not ready to finish growing up still yearns to turn to someone older and wiser to do the things that I cannot.  But in many ways, I am that person now, and I’d better step up.

* * *

When I got home from work today I turned on the faucet to take a shower.  I looked at myself in the mirror.  I wanted to mourn what was no more: the expectation that justice will come, that someone will always be there when needed.  

For a long time—since coming out that fateful October, even—I have assumed that because I knew how things should be, that I could expect such things, and have lived in a continual state of deep disappointment.  

But that’s not how the world works, and that’s not how I can keep living.  The time has come to say goodbye to ever expecting equality, and to usher in an age of living better, and of working for better without waiting for it, and for being the person for others that society that will not provide, and of not taking any bullshit when it comes.  It is an era of resilience, and it begins within.

“Everything you have, you see,” I said.

* * *

I’ve written before that going to bed for me is like conceding defeat.  It marks one more day that I’ve failed to find someone to hold me, to fight some of the battle with me so that I don’t always have to myself, to kiss me, to stay.

Over the last couple nights it’s felt different.  No longer is it an admittance of failure, a reason to watch TV until I fall asleep with my laptop still flashing so I never have to think.  Now, it feels like the acceptance of a challenge, a small triumph, like standing up. Now, I feel the strength of my back.  It pulses with light.  Now, I go to bed alone and happy, knowing that one more day is done, and that I have won it, with the help (for some things, for the things they cannot help with) of no one.  I do not fear.

And when my body decides that it is finally time to weep, I will call you, and ask you to come over, and I will empty myself into your arms like a well, for this is a thing you can help with, and I will give it to you.

1 comment:

  1. Howard Brown has mental health services of various types, including therapy relating to trauma. That's all I could find, though.