Head Above Water, Seeing The Shore.
Field Notes In/On Transition
Head Above Water
Starting off with a little note to say that I moderate all the comments that are made on this blog. If you make a hateful reply, or a spam of any kind, it will never see the light of day on this blog. So why waste your time? Haters gonna hate as they say, I guess.
I’m starting with this, as I woke up this morning, checked my email and “oh a comment!” I see in my inbox... The first line though (as if this anonymous person knows me) starts with something to the effect of “Well, still trying to convince people you are a good person?”
Um, yes. Yes I am. But far more important than that is that I’m trying to convince myself of that very same thing. Is it somehow a bad thing to want to feel good about yourself, even though as this person twigged and triggered with me, you don’t feel like you are a good person? Some people assume they are the only ones capable of change. Everyone else is the same person they were whenever the opinion of them was formed.
As a person who has felt she was a horrible person (for not so secretly, most of her life) for desiring (and for not being strong enough to do so) to be someone she never could be: a she, a her, a woman, her entire life: this kind of troll insight indeed works it’s black magic. The swearing and name calling that followed means nothing to me, though; I have been called names, & been defamed by people with actual silver tongues (thank you lib arts education at U Of M), so cleverly calling me a “cocksucker” a bunch of times is water of a duck’s back to me.
The internet really has lowered the bar on how people criticize or even lampoon others. Back in my Uni days; quick wit and a well read sense of metaphor and irony were things that were lauded, used and appreciated. Now, you just anonymously call people names because their opinion is different from yours. Just because I annoy you doesn’t give you the right to yell at me with no sense of style. If you are going to swear at me, in particular, the Deadwood thing only goes so far with me unless you pepper it with the grandiose verbosity my particular follies, & quirks are due. Try calling me names in real life sometime boyo, and find out what someone with actual wit has to say in return....You. Are. Boring.
But obviously, this questioning of my motives and/or my self loathing (it’s my own precious self hatred, get your own) has actually gotten under my skin, likely far more than it should. My self worth is not at a high tide at the moment, as you have noticed I’m sure, reading my blog lately or if you have me on your Facebook. I really don’t need (or want) to be egged on in my feelings or worthlessness. And maybe giving the hate the benefit of a response just eggs it on...
I am trying to be a better person. Maybe I’m not doing a good job at it yet? I don’t really care if people believe it or not... I am trying for my own sake, not so others will like me, but so I will like me. In my heart, I do not feel like I am a good person; but I know I am a good person. I have my stupid moments, my asshole moments. I have in my life (like every single person I know) been a jerk, been rude, been disingenuous...But in my heart I simply desire to be liked by the people I also appreciate, and maybe even some strangers here and there. I wouldn’t be blogging otherwise.
I do have a lot of unfocussed rage at the moment. Things in my life were going really really well a month ago, and circumstances have changed, or I have, and at the moment I am having a hard time figuring out how to stop and or change my life, my self so that I don’t take every little bad/annoying thing that happens so hard, so personally. My plan is to start getting some counselling.... Though in typical fashion for me, all the inquiries I’ve made into getting this happening are so far going unanswered. I really do feel like I have some sort of bureaucracy curse.
Well, it’s been a few days since I wrote the above bits, and well, I am feeling somewhat less messed up. It’s amazing what actually confronting your problems, and reaching out for some real help can do for your state of mind. I had a very rough May, I lost some hours at work, and have had a very difficult time maintaining any kind of joy at the place I’ve been going to every (work) day for 7 plus years.
Little problems that while annoying, shouldn’t be things that don’t make me angry, sad, or completely despondent have been my bread and butter for almost a month now if not longer. So finally after having some good chats with friends, I started reaching out to some resources (trans groups, friends I have) on facebook, and have after some real finagling, gotten an appointment for some counselling.
I really do love my job, but Joe loved it more. I’ve almost stopped watching movies altogether in the last few months, though still really enjoy talking about them, I spend most of my free time online, or with my nose in a book. The latter, pre-internet was pretty much what I was always doing when not working, writing, or watching movies.
Somewhere in the last five years, maybe not so shockingly, as Facebook, and social media became more of a thing, I really fell off the reading rainbow, reading, what for me was a paltry 1 or 2 books a month. Since january, I have rectified this, and been happy reading a more normal level (for me) of 3 or 4 books a month, including the last of the “Song Of Fire & Ice” (Game of Thrones) books, which are really like 6 or 7 normal sized books. But more to my point; the reading as re-energized my imagination and my need to write more than just my blog. I’ve been doing a lot more “fanfic”/game logs from my various RPGs, especially the ones I run. I’m really starting to feel the writing muscles returning to form, too. More Reading=More Writing.
This is what’s kept me sane as I have been having this mini-breakdown the last month or so. The thing that I think I have learned from this tumult is that I seem to need more from my work-life than I can get working retail, and while I want to continue to contribute positively and strive to do so as long as I can, I don’t want to be working retail when I turn 5o in a few years. I need some retraining, or more likely some kind of certification beyond my University and College degrees. I might have to go back to school, or get involved in some training of some kind. I want to be working for myself, not someone else.
I really am for the first time in my life, thinking I might need a plan for the future. In my pre-transition past (almost an alternate world I was living on) I never felt I had any future, I turned away from interesting collaborations, great ideas, risks and worked at whatever job I could get, with no sense or care as to “career”. I really did turn down an offer in 1985 of a chance to buy $1000 worth of Microsoft stock, which now might not be worth that much, but say any time in the 90’s, I could have sold that for a fortune. True story.
All my life, people have warned me that I was going to be stuck in a lifetime of “Joe-Jobs” (as if I didn’t feel bad enough, undeserving of a “real job,” that term was what I always heard about whatever work I was/am doing to pay the bills) if I didn’t get on a career track. Well, the joke is on them as almost no one works at a single job for a lifetime anymore. We are all lucky to have any job in this Punish the poor, Reward the rich world that we live in now.
I have put myself on the line a few times though, stumbled forth a bit as a poet, as a graphic designer (almost wrote desighner :p) and a movie critic. As far as earning a living doing something I actually care about, love to do even, I’ve had a couple of jobs writing, none of which lasted very long. None of these jobs paid well, but were more than satisfying and I have more nostalgia for them than any of the jobs I have had for longer than that.
Back in 2000, I had a job as a writer of video game “reviews” (promos, really) but that was in the pre-ubiquitous broadband days, and a few years ahead of Youtube, after a few weeks, the company tried to get me to be a way underpaid non-union PA on a tech review tv show. Uh no, I was hired to be a writer. I wasn’t going to be a $10 an hour PA. (who would have had to spend 4 hours a day in unpaid commute time)
Still, even in 2000, these boneheads told me, a 34 year old, that it was a bad career move not to just accept whatever they wanted me to do. Uh, thanks for you time, I told them, I have no hard feelings (I did, but whatever) about losing a job I had for less than a month, shook their surprised hands, and found a job the next week running a video store. (not the one I work in now, but one in the exact same address)
When that video store job ended, I ended up having to flee to ESL teaching in Tokyo, to pay off the massive debts I’d accumulated in a period of crappy jobs and not understanding that VISA was not a source of free cash. I did that. It wasn’t really though, a plan, I just did what various people told me was a good idea. I never once until just recently thought I was worthy of a real “five year plan,” or however else people organize themselves. When I wanted to publish my books for example, I just gathered together the poems I wanted/liked enough at the time and did it. No plan, other than to have a launch party, to spend some time with friends who appreciated me and my writing. I never had a strategy of how to publicize my books, how to get them read, reviewed.
Just doing something, anything was enough for me. Stabs in the dark, much like my attempts at transitioning, or cross-dressing/living over the years, binging and purging thousands and thousands of dollars worth of wardrobes. That is until last year when all these momentary strategies, quick fixes came crashing into the fact that I couldn’t not transition anymore.
Now. I’m doing “it.”
The weight of actually doing something, anything that needs some real long term work, therapy, planning has overwhelmed me of late and given me the emotional stability of a 3 year old at times. I’m no longer just barrelling through my life, blinkered, blinded by the hopelessness I felt at not being able to express who I really am/was despite my gregarious nature, and ability to turn a phrase or three.
I have realized that I need to find a way to merge my various pursuits with how I make my living. Lucky for me, perhaps (and this has always been something I devalued in myself) I’m not that ambitious as far as making a living goes. Sure I’d like a big salary every month, and some of the perks of working somewhere with benefits, but in reality all I have ever wanted is to have enough money to pay my bills, rent, and treat myself to dinner out a few times a month, maybe being able to afford buying the odd book, or cute outfit without feeling like I’m overspending. So, I don’t need to make (much) more than I am now to be happy, and I could/can/have survive(d) on less.
I know it has taken me forever to get to the point in this post. Which is an echo of my life; lots of talking, very few concrete plans. Well, at least now, I have a plan to have a plan. :p
I’m going to get some actually professional counselling, taking a week off, getting my beard gone, and writing as much as I have in a long long time, over the last few months. Just emailing some counselling services, calling to followup and make an appointment was something like therapy for me, getting myself over the hurdle of believing that yeah, maybe I do need a bit of professional help other than the pharma kind which has been mostly all I’ve availed of through the “system.”
I haven’t been going to info things, activist things, social things, or, counselling things within the community much, since I first started a year or so ago. I tend to go it alone with new endeavours, until I realize that I need some help, to maybe start learning from some of my trans-peers a bit more. Sometimes it takes longer to settle into my mind than others. I recommend calling your mom (or whatever parental/elder presence you may have in your life) when you are feeling like you are having a meltdown. Odds are she/they can help you.
Mine did. I woke up crying, inconsolable the other morning, (about 800 words above,) and she was wise and caring, saying all the right things, and made me feel a lot better about how strong I really am, and how much talent I have for telling my stories. Moms Rock.
I guess it might not just be the hormones of a teenager I have, I still have somewhere my cobwebbed dreams of being some kind of writer, of comics, novels, stories.
Maybe I can take my storytelling ability work for me somehow. It is the part of my current job that I like best, sharing stories of movie experience, or trivia, stories I’ve learned in my lifelong study of film, literature. Not a lot of jobs, maybe where these raconteurial needs can be met with any regularity.