You may have to fight a battle more than once

Margaret Thatcher

Hello again. Today I am reflecting on age, and how it is showing itself in new ways – dare I say, giving me a moderately refined quality? Unfortunately, there is a disjunct occurring; the situations I’ve grasped the changes in are ones that are almost as old as me. Thus, what I have come to expect myself to do, is no longer a guarantee. Which is interesting when your successful interactions are based on knowing how to navigate ‘you’ in relation to others.

Side note: I would like to say again; my interactions are so overwhelming sometimes. I try to be my prepared normal for acquaintances, or friends and people who aren’t… all in. Because when I am balls to the walls, I can be a lot to handle. Teams, for instances, are hard. When planning to join one, I literally allocate the day we play, and a few hours on either side of the game for that event. I’ve experienced two instances in my life where that allocation grew, other things became included in the relationships, and overall it was OK. But if I don’t prepare for that potential, I don’t know what to do. Then, things change (season, schedule, location) and I adapt to those changes. But then sometimes, I find myself face-to-face with a misinterpretation so grand, and literally incomprehensible to me until hours later, that I inevitably mess up. I used to try and recover these moments; now I put them down.

Continued Side note: I just had a realization talking with Aisha – I have described what I am willing to do to move forward with people (friends, family, duder, etc.), but I can finally, succinctly say what is required from ‘you’ for the success to be guaranteed; don’t argue with me about a point, when I don’t argue with you. Do you know what I mean? For instance, Aisha lived in a naturally cluttered environment when we met. I had learned by now not to come at her, force her to change, berate her, or ignore the fact that this is an absolute need. So, I explained my needs, what would work as a ‘messy’ zone (there were several, actually) and that I would appreciate her considering it. Being the amazing brain, she is, she didn’t resist these requests, in her space no less. She thought about it. She considered, essentially, if her messy habit overruling my need to be clean and organized, especially when I was willing to take it upon myself to maintain it, was fair. Eventually, by continuing to consider whether certain habits were beneficial to her (because, ultimately, she could see why I needed things clean and organized: it functions better) or not, her habits have changed, a lot.    

Her, and my changes are good. For my part, ones I have honestly worked towards. Signs I’ve divested myself of my anger seem to be splaying all over the place. The anger that consumed me for so long is almost non-existent. Situations that would have had me bubblin’ and brewing, now inspire a tiger-like yawn; moderate interest, but the ‘it’s not my problem’ has become engrained in my very muscles. I will acknowledge that this does not mean the feeling of disruption, of confusion, or of indignation are not still present. I am not a monk – I still have work to do. But that anger was dirty, vile and cruel.

My need to be heard still surges and settles, in an invisible, tsunami-like way. This has been a fun one to watch; raising and eight-year-old, with someone ten years younger than me, who sometimes seems fifty years older than my friends’ (a year younger than me) partner/co-parent (a year older than me), and hearing the differences and similarities in the advice handed down by all our parents. These voices are all at such different stages, asking for different things, though all technically focused on the same subject. My voice feels like it has patience now, like a wind that has changed its course. I used to feel it billowing in my lungs, my throat to small, constricting the words and feelings, causing an inward suffocation. Now, it stirs in my brain, having moved its location so that it’s release is possible. When I can and do speak, I feel like it carries more weight, like a strong west wind.

When I feel overwhelmed in a space that is not mine, I have found a new, quiet spot, where I can cross my legs and invite the ‘angst’ to sit so we can find a way to keep the ignition from occurring. That poise feels like the ghost of a ‘jo’ past, having come to inhabit my subconscious and get us the rest of the way through this life.

Despite these changes, I have arrived at a spot where I woke up and my mind was back in that twenty-one-year-old headspace, a scary place, without my knowing. I hadn’t earmarked the changes my maturation would cause in my guidebook. I felt so out of sorts. I didn’t know me, and my guidebook seemed to have a water mark blurring the words.

Sometimes I feel so distant from people, like I am floating away without this safety; like if I don’t tether, I will disappear. Sometimes I can’t even feel my heart beat I get so quiet. What’s happened is something changed, that is hard to describe but a ‘for instance’ includes not realizing how really honest thoughts would come slamming into place with a finality I am not ready for, no more pleadin’ the fifth.

Where people complain about x, I had already divested that thought and owned the concept of y, but now… I feel like I am at z. Y was already a lonely place. I do welcome the honesty, the solid understanding of where the players stand, and… the benefits I can see coming. But sometimes realizing things about your tribe, or community, or culture is hard, especially when you’ve committed to your part.  

The biggest change is that regardless of what I am battling, whether I have had time to process in my normal way or not, I am somehow, unassisted, already coming up.

My call-to-human-connection has about two speed dials now, discluding my family. This is a momentary pause I think, because of what is possible when we move – frankly, the magnitude gloriously overwhelming. Not that the list ever really consisted of more than eight or so, but the number’s decline has been such a natural event.

With this change though, I no longer have the ability (or want?) to hyper-focus on friends, but now I take in what feels like millions of strangers who are dealing with their balance to understand a growing-duder, Abomb, and me and whoever else is all-in with us. I watch these strangers strive for time, relationships, self-care, quiet time, ability to express themselves. When my brain pans-out, my view can not help but consider how having to learn to move away from what oppresses you is so counterintuitive to us, because our oppressor wears the sneakiest mask yet. Not a sheep, or a granny; but people who are ‘making this province great again’ by literally destroying it with such speed, such thoroughness and planning that my paranoia is cranked to ten.

Balance, whatever that means to you, seems so tenuous to me. What has helped me feel confident balance exists, albeit in flux, even while my world is changing, is watching A-bomb with duderonomy in the evenings. From the moment I joined their nightly routine. While he and I have a thing, a connection with communication, what I watched tonight was awesome. A mother’s ability to restore balance, to help lay the groundwork for understanding our own balance is an incredible gift, and, an incredible sight.  

Balance comes from knowing you are good, just as you are. But, knowing something innately hard. If you are neurotypical you may often feel like you are ‘a lot’ to handle. If you are expressing a personhood others contest, you probably feel like ‘a lot’ to handle. If you have emotions, you may honestly, feel like you are ‘a lot’ to handle. If you just feel lonely, you too, probably feel like too much. But we aren’t.

This is from an Instagram account I follow, ftm pride, and was a share from @snailords account. It has been a long time since these feelings have come up, but… I am moving back home. I am interacting with family in significant ways. Reconnecting with old friends. There is change, big change, looming. Things are going to be different, new boundaries agreed upon, old boundaries reviewed.

For instance, my BSLF has been amazing during our ridiculously non-stressful week of house hunting. Providing coffee, hosting us for dinner, providing a space the child to run free for a minute. We can balance the old and new realities, and I trust her to accept my baggage, as I do hers. She and I had a conversation today where she really did an amazing job at using neutral pronouns, or my name, in reference to me. I love her because she made sure to pause the conversation in order to receive praise on her (one day) of amazing effort. The struggle, the balance, is trying to reconcile having to deal with the shared moment of joy being unable to withstand the weight of hearing my mum and realtors call me she (x20 in a forty minute conversation), of getting in the headspace of being a MOH (Maid of Honor to my butches who – like me – did not know wtf that meant) who doesn’t wear a dress, of getting my period, or, knowing that when I sat with her, at their table in the two hours we were there on the weekend, she and her fiancé explicitly referred to me as she/her sixty.seven.times. Essentially every 1.79 minutes.  

Because of who I am, I put that back on the shelf, because I am so proud of the effort made. And, I remember that this my choice, and has been a quiet, private development. So, I celebrate that phone conversation, and salute patience.

These things, while important, aren’t necessarily things I understand. So, I find myself missing the conversations I used to have with someone. My ghost-of-past-me is whispering patience, whispering they’re coming, but I feel like I went through the wardrobe and lost the door to their side. I need the connection with this someone, I don’t know how to get it.

I have a calm relationship with responsibility, because I had to learn to like it. I don’t love being a law or rule abiding, good Samaritan all the time. In fact, there are days where I wish I could be a curmudgeon, walking around and just being whatever I need to be, and excessively so. But that’s not me. I’d rather cover my ass then get in trouble, but the lengths I seem to have gone to assure that – for the most part – seem overprepared, even for me.

For instance, since the last post, what, a week ago? We not only got over the loss of ‘losing’ the house we wanted, but found the best, most amazing house possible one week later. I accepted the responsibility for how this would flow, when the idea was conceived. I prepared and now, signed, sealed, deposit down – it’s ours. Very few bumps; emotional, mental, generational, or otherwise. Literally, so smooth, and now all those celebrating, are doing so with quiet, confidence, and gentle joy. It’s lovely.

I have simultaneously been dealing with serious dysphoria in the last three weeks. I thought I could walk a line – people who ‘don’t need to know’ and people who do. That sadly, does not seem possible. So, I have done something I never do – I pushed the thought away. I am not in a place where I can take that time, to prepare, coach, open, and be vulnerable to someone who is so… unaware of the burgeoning situation that the anger, sadness and confusion I’d have to filter for them, seems like too much, right now.

Age has allowed that. It hurts a bit, being so good at calmly putting my needs aside. And please know I am not saying this to sound like a martyr. I can be very needed. Many, many needs are still being met, but I can rant, and need a trillion reassurances; I have been in scary places because of my anger, need to be heard, need to be recognized. I am thirty-six years old. I am trying to say; I am learning to appropriately prioritize everyone’s issues as well as mine.

Age has smoothed my edges, the process leaving me a bit weary. I heard this weariness in someone else’s voice. On the CBC the other day, the reporter was speaking with someone about the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. I can’t find the link, although, I now know I can go through and read everything that happened on the CBC in a day!! Which is besides the point – the point is the guest was asked how they felt about seeing a burkini on the cover of S.I. Their indignation was minimal, but the sentiment was, this is my fucking normal, how mind-blowing can it be. I should tell you that this person was Muslim, highly educated, a part of the fashion world, and Canadian. I completely understood why that was her reaction.

Being asked, ‘is your normal being portrayed in an appropriately mind-blowing way to someone else’ is so immediately othering, it takes your breath away. I said to Aisha, it would have been refreshing to hear what her thoughts on the socio-religious and socio-political impacts of the issue could be.

Being forced to reconcile that your normal is mind-blowing to others is why phone calls to ancient friends can be hard.

Reconciling how insulting it is when you, in whatever space you take up, are being judged by someone who… is just… I don’t know, not good. I feel so insulted when I realize I am worried when I am out with my family, that my son will have to see the hate I receive because our life is mind-blowing enough to cause someone to spout hate, or point, or stare. I used to feel suffocated by the number of people, who for whatever reason, wouldn’t or couldn’t accept me; my age, my weight, sexuality, gender, hair, clothing, job or friend choice, everything has always felt… unbalanced and judged.  

There are days where this is still a necessity. Less so, now that I have the body I always saw in the mirror.

I have realized that the disjunct between my self-perceived confidence and intellectual value, or, general social value and how others take me in is what I now need age to soften. When these perceptions are off, it vibrates into my very vulnerable places.

My strength is like a net. Sturdy enough to hold me together, but well, when full some fish escape. When I say this, I mean: defending my decision to move, my ability to chose a house, know the important details (I am a property manager…), figure out a mortgage estimate, remember the routes and appointments, or groceries for that matter and continue to be confident in summa, I can not also manage my gender, or other insecurities that are routed in my normal being so different.

The worst part of this reality is, when we stay ignorant, and allow others to also, the level of insult people endure quietly because they are forced to see themselves as ‘lesser,’ their normal obscene, results in abject worthlessness. From one end, I suppose we could say that “what I do affects so few people, and they are close friends.” That is true. But, on the other side, you really don’t know. You don’t know the depths people are swimming in.

I want to share something with you, my favorite IG account @creating_thomas. He posted this beautiful piece the other day, and it captures the heart of someone who’s normal to some may be mind-blowing, who most of the world may hate, if they new his ‘secrets.’ I love his words, and pictures – he is a daily source of beauty in my world. I hope you enjoy.

“If you are pained by external things, it is not they that disturb you, but your own judgement of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgement now.” 
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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