Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.

I think thought contradictions are such a funny part of being a cognitive human. For instance, I wanted to start this off by saying, “I feel like I’ve always been such a quiet person, keeping my thoughts to myself,” and then realized that, that is, in fact, a bold-faced lie.

The correct statement would be, I was a loud, angry, and misguided person who was quiet about what I really needed to say. The way I had been representing myself was, and still is, a rather alien concept of who I am.

For instance. During my college years, which I attended from 28-30 years of age, I was the ‘friend’ who would show up to a house party with a 2-4 for myself (2-4 being Canadian speak for a case of beer with 24 bottles in it). I would immediately dive into the case and as a guarantee, would end up dominating the party with a rant that would make Shakespeare envious. I don’t even remember what I was so angry about. But holy fuck was I angry.

I had to address that part of me. It was terrible. I was hurting. Now I recognize the number of things I was trying to deal with along the way, with no one else acknowledging it along with me. How could they, lol. That would be a super ignorant retro-active wish. It was no one else’s responsibility to help me wade through my muck, and I am grateful for both the outcome of my self-work and the age at which I seem to be really settling in. I’m proud of myself. I did it by my own merit. I addressed a lot of this in my post You May Have to Fight if you want more explanation.

Qualifying something about this is important to me. What I had the privilege of having, were people who didn’t confront me on things I am woefully mulling over today but did give me the space to be the version of whatever me they were related to.

While I am struggling, have struggled, and will probably always struggle with my own perceived failure of not being sister enough, daughter enough, female friend enough, and am trying to reconcile what other’s feelings will/were/have/are/must have been (trying, actually, to stay away from that one) there is one thing I have always had.

I have had a lot of time to consider, with situations to observe and build ideas on, how privileged I am that I have people who just rolled with whatever I had to offer. A lot of the time, they probably wished I’d had more, or taken less, or whatever. I know that there were times, and situations that were scary for my family, that I was also scared, and could have changed things. But when you don’t know how to do something THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO HAVE IS PEOPLE THAT JUST STAND BY WHILE YOU FIGURE IT OUT.

Mine did.

I know people lost in their anger, lost in their jealousy, or negative self-talk, or judgments. I know people who are so deceptive and self-serving, but also work in care-based industries or purport to be a self-help guru. I am not putting them down. Without context, they are quite interesting to talk with, but in context, I only see a manipulating, two-faced, and unnerving person. Like, literally guys, I have watched one character in my recent personal story stalk three different people, hack accounts and do ‘swapped-car’ drive-by’s because they were hurting. I kind of judged, but just wanted them to get through their hurt. Now that I’m on the other side, I kind of wish I had called the cops or something then. I really don’t feel like I’m equipped to fight dirty, let alone as dirty as I’d need to get.

I am grateful to the point of feeling nauseous and worried that I didn’t have that person influencing younger me. I think I honestly would have died. Like, I literally wouldn’t have been mentally strong enough to deal with their level of… Ugh.

As with most of this big-thought-instances in my life, I have a happy, carefree comparison to help my brain accept the magnitude of this.

At thirty-six years of age, I have started watching Pokémon. It’s true. The analogy’s flowing from this frigging show are amazing, deep, and I can’t believe I judged it for so long (actually, I’ve only known about it for six years). Granted, I still think that pretending you are a poke master is… Well. Not my place to judge! We all have our thing.

Anyway, the concept of good and bad, evil, and light, all the diametrically opposed relationships we must conquer are I think… Somewhat incomprehensible. Conquering them may make you stronger, but something does break open in your mind. It’s why we watch it play out in cartoons, but I hate to say… despite good usually winning the fucking fight, it starts to get a little too hard when it comes at you around every corner.

As you all know, many of these posts are fueled by a situation with duder. This is no exception. He is also the only reason I am now a fan of Ash Ketchum. Big surprise.

God, I honestly don’t even know where to take this. I want to write about it. To find that sense of clarity I always get after writing. I just can’t. Let’s segue.

Part of why I was going to start this post with, “I feel like I’ve always been so quiet,” is because when I am confronted with confusing, aggressive, scary people, I… do something unique. I think? Please do not start thinking that what I am about to say next is a pretty or mystical event. I don’t secretly transform into a paranormal being. No. This is literally a self-preservation tactic that needed to occur for a fast-brained Enby.

After years of some form of bullying (no pity please), now, when a bully presents themselves, like the cop-training-pop-up-figure-in-the-gun-range-or-creepy-empty-house in my life I know that I get messy if I try and react in a big, aggressive or instinctual way. It’s super messy, and I lose control and feel like a crap bag after. So instead it’s like the bully’s intent is a bullet… Splattering my brain in slow motion, out a hole in my head, into a…

Projected image? Yup, welcome back reader’s, Jo’s brain at its finest.

Before I figured out how to deal with how overwhelming my emotional-cognitive functioning can be, this was a weird thing to experience. Like, people may call theirs, dissociation, or something, but it’s literally like a cartoon movie for me. Not scary, I’m present, I remember, and I am usually talking with someone at the time. My emotions slow, like an animal’s heartbeat in hibernation, or like this-

Thank god for that because before coming up with this self-monitoring, the typical result was like tomato sauce on a ceiling when the jar explodes, otherwise. The pop of the jar-top, the lick of wet you feel, on your nose or chin, but your eyes are closed so you don’t know what it is, the smell- exploding throughout the room. Opening your eyes, all you see is a hard to reach, stain-leaving mess. Now, my situations fold out in an old-timer white board of facts. Also, helpful since otherwise my brain is like a Rolodex on hyper-speed. It’s almost like something in me shrugged and realized it had to slow-speak like an adult to a confused child to my brain in these moments. “You okay there lil’baby? Hmm… You okay? Ready to move to the next thought?”

There is one thing I wish would figure itself out. That little whisper that is terrified of mean people. Of the ‘Scar’ and ‘Voldemort’ and ‘White Witch’ characters.

I was so scared about what’s happening, I called my mum and told her I was scared. Which made me realize, I am not often scared… Worried, anxious, not thinking straight, overwhelmed, or whatever. Not only am I not often scared, but when I am… I have a sinking feeling I don’t often share with others. To be fair, I don’t think I have been as scared of anything since my dad died. I only say this, because the way she responded helped me recognize the magnitude of me calling and saying, “I’m scared.”

I hadn’t wanted to call, because this is not a monster who is my imagination, or a shadow under my bed. This isn’t being afraid to walk down the stairs, thinking Freddy Kruger is there. No. This is the adult realization that rapists, narcissists, bullies, controlling people are in my backyard and are the type of people who are willing to hurt a kid, to put him at risk anyway… Just to get what they want. This is a type of scary my mum can’t protect me from by wrapping me up in a hug. These bad guys pop out of nowhere and yell “BOOGA-BOOGA-I’M-TAKING-THE-KID” even though… Well, they had their chance.

I feel naïve and ignorant. Stupid even that I continued giving them the benefit of the doubt. But I love this kid. Whether they consider me a parent to him or not (Not A-bomb) – linking to my last article Never Explain – I would hope that everyone was genuinely considering his best-life options.

Statistics show that courts often feel that Mothers are the ones best suited to care for their child (74% of children duder’s age in split families are in their mother’s sole care) and only 6.6% are with their fathers. Why? I have a ton of sociological theories, but I’m no expert.

Since I am experiencing some stress symptoms (rashes, so good guys, but at least it no longer manifests in stomach issues. I’m also sweating, and you know… getting choked up, hot and can’t breathe, so let’s wrap up).

Right now, I feel like a character who is no where near as ready as Ash but must battle this fucker unexpectedly:

Just so you know, in the episode I am thinking of, we find out he leaves his Charmander out in the rain, alone. He literally leaves him (apparently Pokémon are so loyal they won’t fucking move unless the trainer comes back!!!!) in the rain, for so long, his flame almost goes out, his heart breaking because he’s been abandoned. Duder has never seen me cry, but this frigging episode almost did it.

I can’t wrap my head around it. I’m trying. I keep touching it like I would a hot surface, testing the air around it to see if it’s safe. But they’ve come in and done the unthinkable, with no consideration of timeliness, communication, respect, or most importantly consideration of duderonomy’s desires. Which he’s communicated. To all of us.

I don’t know how to not feel fear right now.

I try and think that maybe we made them feel this way, feel threatened. And yet, all I know is that our original plan would have literally seen everyone having the same amount of access. So. How could they be afraid?

I’ll leave you with this short clip of Ash finding Ho-Oh because right now rainbows are in much needed supply.

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”  ― Michael J. Fox

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