The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.

– Japanese Proverb

My chest feels like the cosmos today. Wide, unknown in its expanse.

This isn’t the first time my chest cavity has felt like this.

It is just especially interesting, because this week featured my typical ‘springtime intense’ dreamscapes. In one particular dream, Aisha’s doctor motioned me over to the table. He wanted me to see how the surgery was going. In the dream I was as hesitant as I’d expect myself to be in real life but I moved towards the surgery light, past the mint green sheets that created a barrier around the surgical staff, closer still to the metal table, her form laying there. Finally, bending over to peer at the incision and seeing… the galaxy.

What the heck right?

I have serious issues when considering ‘things under my skin’, for instance: a fear that bugs or germs are subdermal but waiting to come out (like spider egg under skin that burst a million babies, *barf). Aisha’s entire back experience has tiptoed along this fear agilely. Sometimes the fact that she had hands or instruments in the middle of her back, where nothing ever goes, is so overwhelming. Because she’s still here, normal, in pain but not an alien. I make myself look at her scar (it is cute actually) because the scar is fine, her skin is fine – it is the fact that she is still not ok, but they were in there, is what is not fine. How do you put that down folks? Fixing her is still a mystery.  

How does this weird dream, my subdermal issues and my chest-feeling have any connection? Their connection lies in how I feel or process fears that are not present.     

I have a heightened, though subconscious, state of fear. It brings to mind Trevor Noah’s standup bit about being in Bali and why he chose not to sit in the front row. Survivalist mentality? I don’t know, because I can recognize that I am for the most part, safe. But there have been lesson-worthy moments that have taught me that unless it is just me, in my space, anything could happen. It is self-preserving, I suppose, an over balancing of safe enough vs…?

The problem with feeling this way is that it means my fears have shuffled me into a vulnerable corner, it is many (situations) against one (me) at this point, and I can’t rage my way out because there is no ‘enemy.’ These situations are things I am looking forward to but haven’t ‘prepared enough’ for, in the event they pan out the way they have previously. Ultimately, this means that big ticket deals are on the horizon that in history haven’t played out so well. What’s on the list? Well…

My mum is coming up in two weeks for a visit. That visit is going to be busy, with a lot of things that are out of the norm. My sister is meeting duderroo for (technically the second, but) first time over a quick lunch in the midst of a packed day. Budmuffin’s birthday party is this weekend, and while I am loathed to admit it, I am generally having problems step-parenting right now, so a celebration event feels weird. I will not affect tomorrow, but I miss the easy flow we used to have. Aisha has been magnificent at bonding duder and I. She folded me into the two of them like the gifted baker she is, yet we are a complicated unit of five, sometimes six adults, plus duderonomy. So, our true ‘us-three-moments’ seem brief but I cling to them andselfishly recognize, that I now need that easiness in order to be on point. (Obviously this is my next self-undertaking) Otherwise, I falter and while Aisha is gracious about it, it’s not pretty folks.

Work-wise, I have hopefully secured two more contracts, which means I will be even busier, but we’ll be more secure, and finally, well… there’s a big announcement (Big A) I can’t make at this time (not pregnant, and overall positive) except to those who know, but there’s a lot of road work yet to do.

Breaking it down…

I am so excited to see my mother. We have a unique and special relationship; she is an amazing memory, a constant source of reassurance. She’s always just there, as she is. Problemo is, well, we do not talk about my gender. Trans issues are huge for her, because my being her daughter is what has made our connection, not that I’m an awesome person. When my cousins asked that Aiden’s earlier name not be used or referred to, my mother was in shock – “How are we all supposed to forget how cute and pretty [dead name] was, of course they are Aiden now, but also [dead name] then.” I understand this with cis people, especially mothers. I hate when people change who they are, but trans issues aren’t like turning out to be a backstabbing wahoo. Observing the community more, following more non binary Instagram accounts, etc. has really emphasized what I already knew, which is: it is the most important thing to value someone because they are a person, a human. But we attach meanings to the details; parents raise their kids biologically, friends used to be made based on biological gender. It is crazy to break away from someone’s pattern if you didn’t realize you relied on it. Example. If your mum was soft, kind, gentle, patient, plush … was that picturesque figure of motherhood who never betrays us, well, how would you feel if they were secretly in a fight club or killed puppies on Tuesdays. It is a shock to find out a side of someone you hadn’t considered, but you not acknowledging or considering it isn’t necessarily *their* problem.

Acknowledging the shock of ‘the other side’ is what people do in the apologizing part of coming out as anything. I haven’t heard one story where, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier” wasn’t uttered, but rarely can the conversation immediately include the, “imagine my shock too, ten years ago when this came to me,” because well, “I knew ten years ago,” is what hurts. The battle is always hard. Expressing a sentiment like “I’m trans” or “I’m gay/bi/poly” too early into your discovery can drum up harsh criticism. So, we learn to wait until we are sure enough, but total confidence and certainty seems to be the last brick in the pathway, so years slip past and the ‘secret’ grows.

This conversation requires a lot from my mum. I don’t feel shame in not forcing it on her. It means the pings will be pinging around over the long weekend. But those pings hold nothing to the look in her eye when she feels… shocked. Spending her sexagenarian years in a super small town made her comfortable with small town things. I’ve always been a shock, a bit of a burden, so why push her septuagenarian boundaries? She is kind, an ally to the LGBT+ community and ultimately, she is so proud and accepting of me. The moments are when she tries to not comment on my hairstyle. She has always been an advocate of me in male clothing, but my hair is always too edgy, provocative, and pointedly making a statement. Finally, I have lost a lot of weight, and that will be a thing (potentially). A thing because I’ve probably lost 25lbs (11kg) since she saw me last, and it doesn’t look all that healthy, and my hair went gray. Weight is her personal demon, and… my general stress and lack of success are probably her greatest fears. A lot to wade through, no? Well, let’s end it with the fact that, through all of this duo-shit, we as a foursome have to team up and undertake a BIG DAY. Aisha and duder aren’t my concern, and explaining what my concern is, is a whole other story.

All of that makes me feel vulnerable and can’t see a way over, under, or around it.

My sister – as you all know – is my [insert proper level of idolatry with independence and respect] but my brain is going all kinds of places, preemptively checking, on how this Big A is going to affect her. The funny part is, I know this is just a gathering of my neurosis because it’s like this: if the Big A were that we were going vegan, my ‘concern’ is how our veganism may impact the social shit she has to deal with as a butcher (she isn’t, btw). I can feel her justified stress and considerations of what her life is going to look like in three to six months with SO MANY OTHER FACTORS involved, that this Big A, well – it is SO. NOT. IMPORTANT. But she is to me, so my brain just goes there.

Birthday party. Ideally, I think we would all hope that split families can celebrate together. I think if everyone is on board and cool with it, it is incredible and worth aspiring to. I am grateful for learning about how this could look by joining this family (Aisha navigates a lot of people). I just also believe that if two years have gone by, then maybe the fusion needs to start smaller and on and mutual terms. Budmuff’s (how do you like the new name?) grandma is nice to me and has been from the beginning in a distant, but cool way; we commiserate, she and my mum like each other. Aisha’s multiple parents are all welcoming to me, authentically. But I do not know any other member of duder’s bio-D’s family and yet, they’ve decided to join our party. As a queer, nonbinary person, meeting new people is never an easy thing. Especially when I recognize I am in an area where most people just aren’t comfortable with my type of spice.

We are already going to be in a big, noisy, child-filled space (overwhelming, no?) with other adults to navigate, public washrooms, misgendering by duderonomy’s friends (not wanting it to affect him at ALL because he corrects people the most) and general socializing. Every fiber of me wants to break a bone instead of going. But I will go, with a smile, confidence, and a rocking ballcap. I just need my chest cavity to empty out, so I don’t have a panic attack and turn into raging-giganto-bullitch. I want to trust that D-fam will be welcoming and above board – but the problem is, I can’t trust that. Am I going to assume they won’t? No – fuck no. But I can’t implicitly trust them. Even if they do show up, try to get to know me, or whatever, they are still coming to the one event we had ‘alone’ with him. Thursday last week, he was out, Friday-Saturday-Sunday morning at grandma’s, Sunday is party day (we invited both grand-sets) but he’s gone Monday, Tuesday, Thursday-Sunday morning next week too. So, there are just a lot of emotions I need to be super adult about, but my brain is getting in the way.

And work. Things are turning out slowly but surely in this department. These new contracts may be exactly what we need to be secure, they are engaging and interesting and add diversity. I guess the question is, how much ability do I have? Yesterday was the first day I’ve had off in weeks. Can one balance 3-5 remote positions and still, be human? Aisha has meal-planned the sh*t out of this house. She is in charge of figuring out duder’s stuff, healthy meals, allergy news, growth needs and his schedule. But ultimately, it has to be on healing, on figure out what to be next. Her focus and drive are amazing to watch grow and evolve; she is carving hill after hill down so we can move forward but is beating herself up over them not being mountains.

Sometimes perspective is hard to gain. I feel like all I do is work (on my computer) and she feels like all she does is cook (alone in the kitchen). This back surgery and ensuing decisions have me feeling like while we are as solid as ever, there is less time to check in. Or trust that what we are supplying is sufficient. This is a vulnerable space.

Finally, its springtime. Are you affected by the seasons?

There is no time I feel more Taurean than in spring. I feel restless, and huffy, my seasonal drive-to-hibernate shuts off and well, I feel invigorated.  

From spring cleaning and seasonal transitions (car, house, clothing, chores) to more day light to take advantage of there is just more once winter fades. Yet, constant allergies, tiredness (those springtime dreams I was telling you about) and general hiccoughs of change are like speed bumps to the ‘more.’ And Hope. Spring brings hope.

I am not really comfortable with hope as a feeling or concept. It seems baseless. It seems like such a passive, directionless, dependent emotion. Cruel, I know. Sometimes I feel like I sound like a monster when I write this stuff down. But here are the feelings, related to hope, I always embrace: Anticipation, curiosity, forward motion. Hope makes me feel like a child, waiting for something innocent and lovely to happen, but then its crushed without an explanation of why. Hope is fragile, especially for me, in April.

I recognized my relationship with spring is strange, a long time ago. This month holds a lot of memories, sadness, new and old dates. There is the excitement of wearing a vest or sneakers, only to realize a coat and possibly a scarf, were still necessary. Going to bed with the windows open, a gentle breeze brushing your face, only to wake up to snow on your windowsill. In many ways, I love the giant F-YOU April brings.

I don’t have any grand summary for any of this. I believe I have reached the cosmos space required for this weekend. I feel calm, vast, and aware. So here goes.

“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear; The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.”

– Meg Cabot

2 thoughts on “The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.”

  1. Pingback: “Go back?”

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