Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Highs and Lows

It's almost like what being bipolar must be like.

In the last few weeks I have experienced some of the happiest moments I can remember (and none of them arising from "special occasions") and also some of the deepest pain. It's interesting to ponder the meaning of not only the emotions but the circumstances surrounding them.

Let me offer one example of the "high points," without giving you identifying information that might cause the person I'm going to mention any undue harassment (and I have no doubt it's possible some misguided person would advise her to stop encouraging me). I was in a place of business the other day and one of the employees there, who's known me long enough to watch the transition, was asking me about my experiences and how I was enjoying it and in time we shifted into plain ol' fashioned "girl talk" about things like makeup and such. Now I know that to those of you who are screaming at your screen right now "But you are a man you moron!!!" that idea is at once both incomprehensible and nauseating - but to me it was pure bliss.

The most uplifting thing that can possibly happen to one such as I is to be interacted with entirely as we would be if we had been born physically female. Even obvious sexism, in a twistedsort of way, is validating.

But the experience I had --- all the experiences I've had in this vein so far --- have not been negative in any sense. now I'll readily concede that perhaps the girl who's so nice to me behind the register is laughing hysterically at how ridiculous I look after I leave. There's nothing I can do about that even if I discover it to be true. But as long as I don't know that, I can enjoy the moment when she looks at my nails and says "I love that color!" or compliments my earrings or says anything else she would have said to a genetic girl.

(now watch, people will start "helping" me by telling me that all those nice girls are secretly laughing at me just to steal my joy)

In any case, I have found that the less previous emotional connection I have to people - the more that they are basically "acquaintances" rather than "friends" - the better they treat me. They obviously have less emotional stake in what becomes of me, but I don't think that entirely explains it. Especially in contrast to actual "friends." these acquaintances seem to, in most cases, either assume an "it's none of my business" position, or else they take a bit more proactive "you have to do what makes you happy" position. A few of them have even complimented me on the courage (foolhardiness?) that it took/takes to come out in a small town.

In contrast to that, the "lows" always come from someone close to me. let me be clear and say that while the deepest pain has come from trying to process this in relationship to my wife, I do not begrudge her anything. She above all others is entitled to not go through this willingly or easily. Yes, it is true that I am causing her incredible pain, just as it is true that if I were to be forced to give this up (assuming that's even still possible) that it would cause me incredible pain. We both know there's no "win" here no matter what happens.

As much as those who disapprove of my actions would advise me to just "get right" and everything will be fine, the simple truth is that no one, least of all my spouse and kids, will be able to forget that I am simply wearing a mask in order to patch together the illusion of normalcy. no one who knows of this will be under any illusion about what lies beneath the mask. Like a shattered pane of glass, what has been broken cannot be restored to it's previous condition. If you think that after all these years of imploring God to heal me that I'm going to suddenly be able to say a prayer of repentance and suddenly NOT be a transsexual anymore then you are simply deluding yourself.

Been there, tried that (and all the variations thereof).

The truth is that if I were to give this up and put the man-mask back on (and like an escaped prisoner who can hear the bloodhounds in the distance, I sometimes sense that I will be defeated and chained back behind that mask) I would be the most miserable example of a man you would ever have the grave misfortune to meet. Think of the guy you know in your circle of acquaintances who's the most useless and unlovable bum you know: I'd be him - squared. THAT would be a worse fate for my family than even suicide, in my opinion. Let alone the shame of knowing that "daddy turned into a woman."

But to say it again - even though it grieves me more than I can say to see how I'm hurting her, I lay NO blame on her for how she feels or what she decides to do about it, now or in the future.

Other folks though --- that's more complex. Why is it that we presume so easily to have the answers to things we've never faced? why is it the person with a happy marriage presumes to sit in judgment over the couple who divorces? Why is it the person who's child is a little angel presumes that the parent who's child is a hell raiser must have raised him wrong? Why is it that we so readily tell the person who's depressed to "just cheer up" when we've never been clinically depressed ourselves? Why is it the person who has a rabbit's metabolism assumes everyone with 10 extra pounds is a "lazy ass"?

That's not to say that those judgment's are not sometimes correct - but on what basis do we assume we know so much?

Digression alert!

the knee-jerk answer is often "the Bible says so!" - which is a very fine thing until you realize that our landscape is littered with respectable churches filled with spirit-filled and well-meaning Christians who hold to scholarly-supported and time-tested doctrines about the bible which contradict each other!

Tell me, with all due respect, if Christians of good will can't agree on the specifics of such an important, prominent and central doctrine as who should be baptized and under what circumstances, then how could it POSSIBLY be true that we can say with no shadow of a doubt that transsexualism is a sin which God hates?

Does that sound like self-justification and rationalization. Yes. but it is no less logically true. it is no less rationalization for me to believe (for instance) that "a man shall not wear that which pertains to a woman" is not binding upon me any more than the prohibition against eating shellfish or pork applies to you, than it is for a Baptist and a Pentecostal to argue about "once saved always saved." if you hadn't noticed, one of you two is WRONG (barring an antinomy).

Nevertheless, people will happily meddle in someone else's life and happiness based on their willingness to claim they know the mind of God. Does that mean that you can't call ANYTHING sin? Of course not. What it does mean is that a little humility goes a long way.

For the matter of that, on a related note: why are we so very obsessed with other people's sin anyway? Should it REALLY matter to me if you, for instance, smoke a joint in the privacy of your own home? Other than to pray for you I mean? Have I really helped you if I go to your brother or your mother and say "did you know your child/sibling is a pothead?" How many of us, do you suppose, behind closed doors are looking for and cataloging the offenses of others? Is it any less wrong to seek out such information and gossip or gloat about it than it is to do the dirty deeds being gossiped about? I'm not talking here about the stuff that affects your own life, or the things that you have an obligation to try to take care of (as in, for instance, one of your own children or parents) - I'm talking about things that are basically not your business. Even if you find out about it, as anyone who sees me around town becomes aware of my (supposed) sin, how is it your business?

Or was it just that you somehow felt that it made you a bit more righteous to make note of how much all the other folks were sinning? I recall visiting a church, years ago before my marriage, in which the pastor spent the entire sermon saying, in essence, "I thank God all us folks is righteous because them folks outside the doors is doing all manner of sinning." the net effect being, "ain't it good we're so much better than they are?" There's a lot of love in that attitude, donchathink?

/end digression

The point I was originally trying to make is, it ought to surprise me (but doesn't really) how often it turns out that the people who you would think are the ones who care about you and would like to see you happy are the ones who have the least patience for your failing to measure up to their standards. All of a sudden, you are either persona non grata (or so it seems) to some, and grudgingly tolerated to some others.

(let me just note here that there are obvious exceptions for whom I am most grateful)

Why should it be true that the person who sees me two or three times a year in a place of business can be happy for me and the person I've been related to or presumably friends with for 5 or 20 or 35 years suddenly doesn't know I exist? Perhaps the rational is "we don't like what you are doing to your family" - well, the person who's kind to me doesn't like that either, you think they have no sympathy on that point?

Still and all, I really shouldn't compare those relatively minor heartaches to those which come from knowing I'm hurting the one person who loves me most. They are not worthy to be compared. If you are one who has known me for years and now you think I'm a sick pervert who needs his ass whipped and want nothing else to do with me - honestly, I wish it were different but if that's your position I can live with that. The truth is, I would sooner be so regarded by every person I ever met before this year as to give my wife the pain I've given her in the last year - and then some.

But it still appealed to me to point out the seeming contradiction. It would be nice if more folks would make at least some effort to sympathize with a condition that would lead someone to make the heart wrenching decision which would lead to that kind of pain rather than just cavalierly dismiss it as perversion. I REALLY don't mind much that you disagree with me about this or that you disapprove of it. The reason that I count it among the hurts is that most (all?) of the people who make their disagreement most obvious make no effort at all to say something like "I can't condone what you are doing but I have to admit that I have no idea what you must be going through and have gone through - I wish there was something I could do and please know that I love you anyway and if I can help . . ."

A lot of people have offered my wife the opportunity to call on them if she needed to talk and I'm grateful for every one of them - but it's worth noting that not ONE person who professed to care about me has written or called me to say "just because I don't approve doesn't mean I'm not hear for you if you need me." (and by the way, not to "fix" me but just to listen)

So it ends up being that I get all my emotional support from people who have no reason to give it and none from. . . well, you get the picture.

I guess this sounded like a lot more whining than I meant it to be --- but hey, what's a blog for if not to vent, eh?

1 comment:

  1. The people closest to you, are close to your *persona* and they are losing him. They don't know Laura Beth and some of them will resent losing your male persona too much to embrace Laura Beth. It is easier for acquaintances to adapt because they are losing less...the less they knew the old you, the less they have to lose. Some will come around in time...some may never be able to. It is one of the unfortunate sacrifices when you change so drastically. And that is true for a great many changes...there are many people in my life who are uncomfortable with "sick Tamar" and I never see. Some folks just can't handle change.