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Category: Healing and Awareness

Hiatus

Hiatus

You may have noticed that I really haven’t been able to do much of anything for several weeks at this point. My brain checked out two weeks ago thanks to burnout and I’m only slowly getting it back. It’s really frustrating because the world is still going to shit, I just am powerless to do anything about it because all my spoons got eaten. So, to try to recover my brain and restore my energy I’m taking a solid two weeks off activism and anything work-like.

I spent the last few therapy sessions talking about burnout and resting and how hard it is to do. Resting starts a constant internal battle where the physiological need to rest is actually a traumatic minefield because of how often I would be punished and put to work if I was caught resting when it wasn’t the designated time. I wished once that I would get sick, just so I could rest, because that was how exhausted I was and how much I was not allowed to sit down as a kid. So resting is actually a fuck ton of work. Resting is more work than activism and working, but I run myself ragged and then go splat when I forget to rest or don’t feel like fighting that day.

But at this point, for the last two and a half weeks, my body and my brain have just been screaming at me that they need to rest and recover. I need to reset. My therapist told me that working – in activism or otherwise – is an exchange of energy, and you need to be able to balance it, because if you give more than you’re taking in, it’s not healthy. Taking a break is important to restore all of the energy I’ve been spending and not replacing, and this will enable me to then have energy for things again.

Obviously, I guess. But it helped to hear it out loud and that sort of calmed the part of my brain that is still a teenager who’s freaked out about taking a break if they aren’t actively vomiting because someone will come yell at them for being lazy and unproductive and they should ignore, y’know, anything less than death-bed levels of damage and keep going.

So, I’m taking a break. I am going camping for three days after I take my shot on Sunday and I think the being in the middle of the woods with no internet to remind me the world is falling apart will be really really helpful. Beyond that, my plans for the two weeks are to: go through Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain again, play through some video games, and maybe bike a bit.

Hopefully I’ll be able to come back in full swing, because there’s shit to do, I just can’t do it right now.

On Kindness and Transphobia [TW]

On Kindness and Transphobia [TW]

Someone from my past emailed me a few times this week. Claiming they were good listeners and wanted to have a relationship, “one soul to another”.

They then sent two emails following that, The first, on valentine’s day, defending my parents by saying they were merely imperfect and I’m overreacting about the abuse I suffered at their hands. The second, this morning, telling me that I will regret being trans and we should have an open discussion about my identity.

I told her to kindly fuck off, and she didn’t understand why I was mad and unkind.

When you start off a conversation with someone by saying their lived experience and identity isn’t valid, you lost the pretense of kindness and politeness and the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t matter how “nice” you are when you say people are wrong for existing, it isn’t nice, it isn’t kind, it isn’t polite, and you deserve nothing less than the full wrath of whoever you told that to.

I’ve translated today’s emails so you see what I hear when I read this.

I asked her not to contact me after the first email. For someone good at listening, she doesn’t seem to understand boundaries. And this is a real-life example of how you don’t have even footing against people who spend their time dehumanizing you.

The reason I am posting this is because it helps me to dissect it and show you what I hear/see when people send me things like this and how cruel and dehumanizing it is. How pointless it is to try to convince them of my validity when they start from the place of trying to convince me not to be who I am.

I am kind, but I will not rollover for abuse, I will fight back, and then I will post the shit and explain what it is for everyone to see.

If you start off disregarding people’s existence as valid, you have waived your right to any benefit of the doubt and subsequent kindness.

I’m not even going to unpack how cruel that first email was in the first place, anyone who isn’t cis understands that by default and anyone who is cis, should go read about transphobia and how it effects people. I’m sure someone in the comments can get you started, but also google.

Perpetual Horror

Perpetual Horror

Life lately has consisted of constantly staring this horrific reality in the face and not blinking. Then, taking what I see and figuring out how to make it better, by going through even more horror – the horror that got us here – and finding the way out.

I read H.P. Lovecraft at night because the ultimate horror of which we do not name has nothing on this timeline.

I’m going through old bible stories and remembering things from my childhood. Like how my parents would rather that we had been raptured because they didn’t like who I was getting married to, and since I’d experienced love (and loss) I’d felt everything I need to for one lifetime. Or how they told us, multiple times that if god were to whisper that us kids should be killed, they would do so without hesitating. I remembered how my mom worshipped the women we knew who almost died in labor for their dedication and faith.

Only now do I see this as obvious signs of depression that they decided to go ahead and verbally pass on to their children. I’ve never been afraid of death and it’s a struggle not to see it as a blissful void, resulting in a much needed break from this cruel reality.

My optimism looks like: Well, things are shit and are going to be for ever unless we maybe do something about it, and that might not even work, or we’ll die before it happens, but we can say we tried, which is better than nothing.

I keep going, I keep fighting, because it’s all I know how to do and I haven’t managed to die yet. What matters most is what we do next, where we go from here.

Occasionally I have glimpses of what it must feel like to have a normal relationship to life. One where you really adamantly don’t want to die instead of being blasé about it. The one where stopping feels sad instead of restful. My parents ripped that from us by spending all their time talking about how great it would be if we were dead and in heaven instead of alive. It always bothered me, because like, we weren’t dead – and committing suicide/non-god-sanctioned murder meant you’d go to hell – so?

It’s really hard to find that right now. To be anything but nonchalant about dying and our dystopian future. In some ways, it almost feels protective. Like one less thing I have to worry about, because I’m generally meh about my existence. Life right now is mimicking my childhood on a much grander scale and pushing all the CPTSD buttons and I do not appreciate it. But all the coping mechanisms I honed while there, are back. I can press on, because it’s all I know how to do, and maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll catch glimpses of things that feel vaguely hope-like again.

It me, a trans boi

It me, a trans boi

I didn’t know I was trans until my mid 20’s. I didn’t have the language or the context to explain what I felt growing up. My writing over the last 8 years has actually thoroughly documented parts of that process. Coming to terms with my gender and what that means to me.

I spent my entire childhood just feeling wrong at my core. Never able to measure up, never able to be the girl they wanted me to be, because I just wasn’t, no matter how hard I tried. I did “ballet” (and legitimately enjoyed it), I wore dresses and pink, I played with dolls, I did my nails…I did everything society told me good girls did, and I tried very hard to play the part of demure and graceful damsel waiting for her prince.

Spoiler alert, I am not demure nor particularly graceful playing a damsel. My failures at this were just compounded during high school when I got bored talking with other girls because all that we were supposed to talk about was future homemaking and homeschool curriculum and other very traditionally girly things that just didn’t interest me. There was a period of about a year and a half when I was 14 where I was able to fly under the radar (thanks to an undesired move and pregnancies) and pretended to be a boy on the internet (that was the deal I made to be allowed to blog when I was 13, because predators don’t…go..after..boys…apparently) and offline I continued that persona and wore camo and got away with being “one of the boys” at speech and debate.

Looking back it seems obvious, but at the time I just thought I was broken. I wasn’t a girl, I wasn’t a boy, but I didn’t have the language to describe or even have a frame of reference about what trans-ness was. I just thought, as I had been told by my parents and pastors and every authority figure in my life, that I was inherently broken. I was just wrong and only God could fix it, but he didn’t seem to want to, so I just tried really hard to play my part as well as I could. I internalized the messages of wrongness and brokenness because I didn’t match up what I was told good godly women were like, not inside. I could cook and clean and sew but those crushed my soul and the future I was promised was not a road I wanted to take.

I wasn’t allowed to explore the woods, or play outside, I wasn’t allowed to play video games. I wasn’t allowed to do anything that was considered a boy thing. I feel like it’s important to note that I didn’t want to only do those boy things, I just didn’t want to be limited; I wanted to have both options. I wanted to be able to express both masculinity and femininity but that was definitely not allowed. I had one option and one option only, unless I was sneaky.

The idea of having children bothered me on a visceral level, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered how very connected to dysphoria it is. The idea of having a human come out of my body goes straight to lizard brain levels of “no. this is death.” I suppose when I interpreted my period as the ultimate betrayal of my body against me that should have also been an indication.

Instead I spent years wrestling with myself, hating myself with every fiber of my being until I was about 20 and finally started discovering the language to describe how I felt. It happened by knowing other people who came out, and finally putting a name to my sexuality, talking with other queer people. I embraced my queerness when I was 22, which was the first stepping stone to discovering my trans-ness.

Autostraddle, Tumblr, Everyday Feminism, and It’s Pronounced Metrosexual were all really great resources where I finally started learning that I wasn’t alone in my feeling, that having a uterus but not being a woman is completely valid.

I started talking to nonbinary people and trans girls and eventually realized that I am trans enough, and no one is stopping me from transitioning but myself. Meanwhile dysphoria was getting worse, now that I knew how to identify it and what it was. I talked to my partners, friends, and therapist. And learned some things

  1. Cis people don’t question if they’re qualified enough to be their gender
  2. Gender is what you make of it, and it’s importance is up to you
  3. You are allowed to and deserve to transition if you want to
  4. Transitioning looks different for everyone, you don’t have to want surgeries to be trans
  5. Nonbinary, Genderqueer, Genderfluid, Agender, etc are all valid trans identities
  6. It is your body, you get to change it (or not) however you see fit

For a while I thought I just wouldn’t transition. I’d just deal with estrogen and periods and do what I could to mitigate PMDD and everything that goes along with that. At some point…actually, at Burning Man, I realized I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to start HRT and see what happened. I could always stop if it wasn’t right for me. Both of these are valid.

So in December of 2016 I started HRT. Testosterone works FAST. Within a week my muscles started moving, I started losing curves, my voice started getting deeper, my clit grew. I’m approaching shot 4, I have angles and a jaw line, I feel right. I had no idea what it felt like to actually inhabit my body until I started HRT.

I’m not a woman, and despite taking testosterone, I’m not a man either. I’m just your local nonbinary fairy boi taking baby steps to being in their own skin.

 

Eating Disorder

Eating Disorder

I never thought I had an eating disorder until this week. I thought maybe my relationship to food was not ideal but probably normal. I thought eating disorders had more to do with some personal needs being met with regards to food, like purity culture, society’s insistence on thinness, or coping with life. I didn’t know eating disorders could come from a place of self-sacrifice for the greater good.

And then I started testosterone, and I’m hungry every hour, and I fight.with.my.self.every.single.time.I.need.to.eat. I thought not letting myself eat out of guilt or self-sacrifice was normal? Not eating is still my instinct as opposed to eating. The problem is, now I can’t go 8 hours between meals without getting hungry, now I have to eat or I feel like I’m going to actually pass out, at some point my brain stops and feels dead because it ran out of food power.

Growing up, I was underfed and malnourished. My eating was actively under prioritized next to my siblings. During puberty, I was given one serving, and if I was still hungry, I had to wait until after all my other siblings had seconds or thirds before I was allowed to have any more, if there was any left. There wasn’t, usually. I learned to quell hunger, to ignore it, to not respond to it, to eat just enough to end the gnawing. I learned, through experience, that I, specifically, did not deserve to be well-fed, that my eating my fill was directly at the expense of others who needed it more.

I’ve carried this with me into adulthood as a habit. I go last (or at least not first. I don’t deserve that), I always wait for other people to have seconds before I even think about having any myself. I make sure everyone else has had enough to eat before I do, I have to convince myself that it’s okay to eat the last thing if it’s going to rot if I don’t.

But now I feel like if I don’t eat, I will quite literally pass out, and I don’t know how to cope with that. There’s a part of me that’s still frustrated about needing to eat because there are so many more interesting things to do, and then a large part of me that is still trying to convince myself that I am allowed and deserve to eat whenever I am even slightly hungry.

I was taught to hate myself and see myself as unworthy. All of those times I was told that as a human I was a piece of shit because Jesus was so perfect and good, really sunk in. Being taught that the best thing to do is to deny yourself everything all the time because others deserve it and need it more than you has really fucked me up.

There’s a part of me that very much lives in a place where food is scarce and not easily accessible (some of this is slightly grounded because freelancing isn’t exactly secure work and I need more food than usual to survive and the money aspect of this scares me) as if once the fridge is empty, it’s empty for good. Fun trauma times with my parents spending more on tithe than anything else and neglecting to make sure they had enough to provide food for their oodles of children.

The food scarcity and denial of my nourishment as a child still haunts me, apparently. More loudly now that I am facing this haunting every hour when my stomach growls, and I spend 3 more hours trying to convince myself that I don’t need food because I already ate and that should be enough, save food for later.

This is something I’ll talk with my therapist about this week. I’ve had a lot of intense feelings and anxiety about food lately because I’m facing this now, because hunger is such a huge part of my life – like it was when I was a pubescent kid, but now I’m the adult. I can feed myself. No one can tell me I don’t deserve to eat.

But I would really appreciate being told that I do.