Constance…most of you who are public followers of Grace Notes are cis-gender humans. Some of you are trans (thanks for the support, family!! 🙂 ), and as transgender humans you are intimately acquainted with the entity that dysphoria is, and you know that thoughts of suicide or talk of it is often our most noble and courageous act of the day, because we are speaking about it rather than…
But I want to talk to you Constance (and you lurkers, too…yes, you are there), you cis-gender humans, so blessed to be non-itchy in your skin and of limber-lung to draw in draughts of refreshing air…you live in a homogenous world…a world that sniks together and is of a piece. And where it doesn’t, it doesn’t in the same places as other humans and so you find an identity and community in that.
You don’t understand how alienation from yourself puts you at a distance from everyone else and everything else…always.
You say to yourself that you are shattered too, and you are…but your pieces are present, and as you glue them back together they form a sort of whole once again…whereas the dysphoric person diligently and urgently works daily to reassemble the shattered image into a whole, only to discover that the crucial core is absent…and the middle is void.
We are separated from you always…as if you are on the shore of the sea and we across on the opposite shore and lacking the voices of whales to sing to you across the leagues and the deep.
So there is that.
This morning I am mindful of dysphoria and the gulf that it is around me, alas, and the challenge that it presents me in my quest to be a yielded vessel yielding blessing…I am mindful that there is also, somewhere packed in all of this, an opportunity to know and understand Their perspective and methods as Gulf-Breechers and Core-Restorers…perhaps this is my destiny, to be a restorer of the breach and a crosser of the gulf.
But in this mindful place, I have been remembering the words that a man spoke to me last summer, upon being let into my secret world of confusion and horror, that world of the transgender person caught between body and brain. He is a man who has in the past been very open in expressing admiration for me, as a child of God, as a communicator of Grace, and as a caretaker of my children. He has said toweringly complimentary things to me, things that I felt were far too idealized and simply did not adequately assess how flawed I am, what a failure I am…
On that soft and lazy August Saturday, by the waters of a small man-made lake (which seems appropriate), we spoke, and I shared with him the struggle of dysphoria and how suicide is as constant companion as the sensation of choking is to the asthmatic.
He burst out in a fit of passion “Don’t you dare off yourself! It would falsify everything you taught me, and all you stand for!” And he went on to talk about how negatively it would affect him, and how he would lose heart and likely not have belief anymore that what I taught meant anything worth trusting.
That is what I am thinking about this morning…how easily and how often my situation is somehow twisted around and becomes all about the other person. It was like another situation where I had been accosted by a long standing acquaintance (whom I would have called a friend, but now realize that was me putting my view of what a friend is on someone who sees it vastly different) who demanded an explanation for “why you have been seen around town dressed as a woman!!” (quelle horreur!!)…and since he had that place in my heart of “friend”, I gave the full account, but only half-way. He cut me off because “he was overwhelmed and couldn’t take anymore of this”. And then he looked at me in sheer misery and said “What am I going to tell my children??!!”
See? All about him. His place, and his burden…as if that question needed any other answer than tell them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and begin to study these things together to help out a people in chains.
Well…that is a very similar response this other man by the lake had, regarding discovering my daily battle with dark thoughts. His burden placed on me was that if I were to ever choose to not be here any longer then I would be the cause of his faith being weakened and diminished and his life harmed.
Since that time, I have spoken to this man two times, once a day or two after a big crisis that was brewing, and then again at the end of October 2014.
And since then, nothing…and I get that there are complicating reasons for that, not the least of which is my transition and he is a man. Very few men have been “man enough” to handle my transition with anything other than rejection at best, and murderous, venomous looks at worst (and those looks threaten far worse is coming).
Constance…is this not something close to suicide? Friendshipicide? Is not this towering silence some sort of death? Does it not underline and highlight the gulf between us, because really all that changed was his understanding that he was interacting with a woman?
And those words ring in my heart, part of the voices that circle me like wolves and nip and slash and bleed me out…
“…it would falsify everything you taught me…”
Well, I don’t know if it would or wouldn’t. Things are true and worthy of living regardless of the source one receives them from. But I know that this staggering abandonment does indeed make me mindful of how those words are true from my perspective. Apparently, I am no longer those “three C’s” to him…Child, Communicator, Caretaker. Now, I am simply “It which must be avoided, lest whatever ails it somehow infect me”.
As to the other man…that was the last time we spoke, in September, with a terse letter being the final salvo and manifesto of that declaration of war religion has filed on me…and sadly, I have reason to know the sense of duty fulfilled and integrity maintained, and sweet sadness at doing the “hard but right thing” which follows the writing and delivering of such a letter…
…it is such an awful feedback loop of legalism and lies and lack of life (death).
It is difficult being the friend or relative of a transgender person. You get caught up in the punishments they are meted for their gender-crimes. You get branded with the Scarlet TL to match their Scarlet T (“tranny-lover” and “tranny”)…
…and you get confronted again and again and again with that gulf uncrossable, that breech unbridgeable, and the dysphoric human’s many-sided and alienated existence when you yourself live in a world where such concepts as sides and incongruency are understood in the brain alone and denied in the bones, those non-dysphoric congruent bones.
I am watching “Romeo and Juliet” right now, the 1954 version directed by Renato Castellani (huge giggles here, ddh)…this play has long been my very favorite Shakespearean play (followed closely by Henry the 5th). It is tragically striking, how I am in one being a Montague and Capulet, and both Romeo and Juliet…it is in a sense a tableau of dysphoria and the solution is inferred in the tragic ending…only loving acceptance and dogged commitment can validate a life and overcome abandonment.
And there is a timeless line (distinct from the rest of that genius’s timeless lines):
I am still whatever Rose I was…and still stink of whatever stench emanated from me under the old costume I sported. I still live in the dysphoric House of Mirrors, and sides all around me with everyone else there and me here…I am still “Fortune’s Fool”.
…and as to men? “Friends”…well, there is this, from the mouth of Juliet’s Nurse: