Probably a Trigger Warning. Lots of frank discussion of mental health and sexual violence and stuff. Read with care for yourself please.
It has been a long time since I blogged. Perhaps I needed the break. Or perhaps I was attempting to escape the pervading, ever present anxiety that lives inside my head. Either way, something told me to write today. Call it God, call it the Spirit, conscience, whatever you want, but something said “get this out.” Write it down. Remember. Remember how this felt. Remember why you were in this place. Oddly, I’m not anxious today. I’m clear headed and focused on one thing. The present.
The handful, if I’m generous with myself, of individuals who read this will probably thing “What the hell does that even mean, Rachel. The present? Really? Like some hippy-dippy live in the moment thing.” Or probably not because if you’re reading this chances are you probably know about that kind of philosophy, heck, maybe you follow it yourself. But that’s not at all what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the present as in how in the ever-loving fuck did we get here. I think about that a lot. At times, in caffeine fueled binges of rumination that I could not stop, usually leading to temporal lobe seizures because of sleep deprivation, in which I experience an extreme form of deja vu that I don’t realize is occurring until I’m all the way in it, I felt like it was just the mobius strip of what the world was. Everything had it’s opposite. And then the seizure would stop and I would be angry. Angry that this problem has really been building to a head for so long that even my fully irrational mind in a state of seizure would try to rationalize it as if that would some how allow me to die. Because that’s really what the deja vu feels like, I’m experiencing every piece of knowledge I have ever been fed all at once in real time, like flipping a book open and closed. For some reason, as of late these feelings if they occur (the last one was last night, after excitedly telling my parents I felt like they had stopped. Foolish me.) seem to be narrated by snippets of favorite guided meditations, Harry Potter audio books, and pieces of music all jumbled into a swirl.
It is in those moments that I wish I could BE Hermione Granger still, as an almost 31 year old woman, and simply vanquish the darkness that has riddled our world and settled into my brain in a way that I can’t explain. “Give yourself a break” some would say. I discuss it with my therapist frequently, why I don’t just unplug and stop. And the reality is both I can’t and I won’t. I can’t because since coming out not only as queer, but as pan/demi I’ve realized that I also fall somewhere on the spectrum of genderqueer. My pronouns are she/her/hers because a good 70-80% of the time I feel fine presenting female and that works for me. But even when presenting female I do not feel comfortable in this ideal place of what is the “feminine” put on a pedestal. I find it hilarious looking back that in third grade I played Thomas Jefferson in a school musical and was SO worried about dressing up as a dude with long haired and now feel more comfortable wearing my hair shaved or short and wild colors, playing with the idea of “feminine” against “masculine” and so forth.
I can’t because as much as this is my reality, short of shaving my head, playing with when I wear ultra-femme clothes and less so, I feel uncomfortable presenting as fully “masculine” even on days where it would feel more comfortable. It has taken me almost 31 years to come into my own and I’m still scared. And I’m entitled to that. And I can’t stop paying attention and fighting because even within my own community, that magical land of the LGBTQ it’s hard to feel like I fit. It’s been made clear to me even in queer spaces online at times that “this discussion isn’t for you”. I’ve had folks tell me if I’m dating a person who presents as male while presenting as female that I shouldn’t call them a “partner” because we could pass as a straight couple. So much more.
But then, I also am pushing out of being the person forced to continue to explain my existence to people I care deeply for. Family specifically, long time friends who won’t accept me and my truth. Because it took me 29 and then 31 years to admit aloud what I figured out a while ago. I look back at that high school and middle school girl and I feel so bad. I feel so bad that I forced her to try to fit inside the little box that is “femininity” because the social whims of the day said I should. I war with her still. Can’t let go.
I won’t stop because the reality is I can choose how I look as someone who does feel comfortable presenting as the gender I was identified as at birth most of the time. My friends who are trans, agender, or fully genderqueer don’t. Because they are not cisgender. My skin affords me a privilege I can’t ignore and the country of my birth entitles me to rights that others would only dream of. I won’t stop because They are Entitled to themselves and also to not over and over again rip open the wounds that made them for people who don’t care. So I pay attention and try as best I can to show up. I’m not always very good at it, sometimes I think and worry about performative wokeness. I have anxiety. Worrying is a thing I do.
And then there’s the every present reality of dis-ease. Illness, chronic, both physical and mental. I can’t stop for that either because I know there are others like me who are just as exhausted, if not more, who can’t handle ripping open those scars. The medications that failed, the treatments that worked for a while but the side effects were crippling, the bills that just never went away.
And it’s so odd that all of this came about because I read an article about propaganda and violence because the reality is, people don’t realize that words are a form of violence. My mom used to tell me that the nursery rhyme was wrong “sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will break the heart” was how it should go. That’s what she felt. I agree. And sometimes, those words are the words we choose and use to justify our own existence. Somedays, those hurt more than any stupid name some internet troll on one of my friend’s pages could call me because I’m tired and dragging it back up, raking that sand paper and pouring on that salt, keeping it open to prove it’s there is hard.
I also often wonder if my mom meant that the lack of words could hurt the heart. The refusal to speak, to stand up, for yourself, for your friends, for people who are oppressed.
It took me a long time to come to my truth. It took years of walking around in skin that other people felt entitled to put labels on, that people STILL feel entitled to comment about. That people have felt entitled to touch and take for themselves because they bought me a drink, took me on a date, drove me home, whatever. That’s a reality I can’t ignore and that’s the last reason I can’t stop. Because I pray that someday, the only person entitled to me is Myself. and God hears that prayer and I know She weeps with me, because no matter who thinks they deserve more of me, for whatever reason, I know She created me in Her image and that should be the only explanation ever needed.
That I am a person.