Saturday, April 28, 2012

Remembering "Transgender Exodus:" The Remnants of Faith

When I first began blogging as a transgender woman, my theme was trans Christianity.  I titled my blog Transgender Exodus, an allusion to my faith walk as a trans woman.  Like my faith, that blog was destroyed years ago.  I deleted it in a heated rage and destroyed all the files and downloads associated with it.  I regret that.  By the time I did it, the name had changed, as the subjects I covered wandered far and wide, seldom discussing faith or Christianity.  In fact, I used the space more for movie reviews than any other topic – some really good ones too, if you do not mind my bragging just a little.

Despite its rambling nature, at the heart of that blog was a deep (or so I believed) and well informed faith.  I did not study the bible – a possible downfall as a christian; but faith takes many forms, and I never found deep meaning or affirmation from that particular exercise.  I read volumes of literature about the bible, and even more about faith in general.  I was most interested in what it meant to be faithful in an era of pharmacologically induced emotion, in an age of information bombardment, and in an age of twenty four hour a day living.  The world is a very different place than when the books of the bible were written; it is interesting though that people, their hearts, are still much the same – one of the most frequent of the many doubts that constantly nibbled at my heart.

Something happened when I moved to Texas.  I changed.  It did not help matters that I was a burnt out wreck.  In the year or so leading up to my move, I had separated from my spouse, come out to my friends, and was trying to find a path forward.  At the same time, I was enmeshed in a full time career and investing twenty to thirty additional hours a week to a church service as the “house band’s” worship leader and faux-music director.  In the last few months before the move, resulting from the shocking changes in my life, I experienced the “harlot effect” – being the subject of rumors and controversy within the walls of a church I had served devotedly.  I heard the murmurs of people I thought were friends.  I felt the sting of retribution from people who suddenly felt they had the moral superiority to pass judgment over what I was going through.  I felt the hollow isolation of being the subject of gossip rather than a welcome family member.

Moving to Texas was an effective escape from all of it.  When I got here, I made virtually no effort to find a new church.  My practicing faith became a sideline faith.  During the first couple years here, my lack of devotion gradually evolved into skepticism, and eventually into an outright denial of my faith.  As I often claimed, my problems were not with god, but with his followers. And there is truth in that.  I am regularly astounded by the depth of many christians’ hate for people like me.  The utter devotion to marginalizing, if not eradicating us is practically obsessive.  But there was more involved in my fall from faith.  As I reflect, I suspect that the bigger problem was with neither god nor his followers – but with me.

I was – still am – a mess.  My life was careening toward what could only have been a catastrophic end.  Everything from my physical health to my financial security was eroding due to my deep and utter depression and the destructive behaviors I employed to numb the despair.  Over the last year and a half or so, I have been on a path away from that darkness.  I have fixed many things.  I am now officially in transition, I found counseling and treatment, I changed jobs, and am making plans for surgery.  I have worked toward a better future for myself; but the scars run deep, and my progress walks a fine line.  My journey is not so much on a path these days as on a tightrope.

Something is missing.  I do not have it right, not yet.  It is not that the journey should be easy; it is that I know the journey is far less difficult than it feels.  The heaviness in my heart is about something other than the challenges of transition.  My journey is a cakewalk compared to most, and yet somehow I fail to see it that way.  I have been completely unable to embrace the blessings in my life.  I know I am fortunate.  I know I have it “easy,” yet the message never seems to make it to my heart.

A song crept up recently as background to something I was watching.  While I could not immediately identify it, I recognized the tune.  After listening more intently, I realized the song was one I used to sing in worship services.  I have heard snippets of many of these songs over the last few years, so that is not surprising; but something happened this time.  I began to cry softly as I remembered the lyrics.  In the days since, I have experienced other little nibbles.  I have felt nudges, and my reactions have been surprising.  The bitterness that usually swells up inside me at the mention of faith is more often a sense of wonder, or sadness, or yearning.  I find myself in conversations with people I do not know about things like god.  I cry.  Not unusual, but I cry because I feel like something is trying to get in, and I do not seem to know how to let it.

Please hold onto your collection plates and your conclusions.  I have not been converted; at least, I do not think I have been converted.   I do feel like there is something I need to recognize; I feel like I am on the verge of something.  I do not yet know what that something is.  I continue to prove to myself that I can make this journey – that I can paint a new picture for myself that actually makes sense.  But I am also feeling the effects of making the journey alone.  I have to wonder, when the painting is done, what will be on the canvas.  Might the picture be more beautiful – more complete – if I relinquish control of the brushstrokes?  And if I give over control of the composition, will the result still be me?

Good night, friends.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Put the “T” in “What the Hell Are You Thinking?” – And Other Fun Stories

Taking things in moderation has never been mystyle.  I am either going a million miles  an hour, or my boat is sinking.  Chaos takes on an artistic flair when I start getting motivated… but let us be honest; it is still chaos.

I have been depressed lately… very depressed.  Work life has played a part in it, home life even more.  Not much has gone right on that front lately, but it is getting better for the moment, so I would rather not dwell on that.  Sadly, work life would be phenomenal if not for the whole gender issue.  I feel like I made a bit of a tactical error by not laying my cards on the table before accepting the position.  But, the truth is I needed the job, so I chose not to risk it.

I may have experienced a mini-break through last week.  It is hard to tell, but I think that is what happened.  I know I am unhappy.  Over the last few weeks, all the things that do not make me happy have been rolling around in my mind and rearing their ugly heads at every turn.  I started thinking about what it would really take for me to be happy.  No matter how much I pondered the question, I had no answer.  I could iterate all the things that make me unhappy, all the elements of my life that bring me discomfort or misery; but I could not list one thing that made me happy.

Allow me to pause for clarification.  Everything I am discussing is outside the realm of relationships.  This is not about the people in my life; it is about the life in me, and how much of me is living.

So, rather than think about what would make me happy, I started thinking about what my life would look like if I were to draw it for myself.  I pictured spending my days writing, painting, and publishing.  I would have fish in a beautiful aquarium (I don’t know why that is in my vision).  I would have music.  My time would be devoted to creation and imagination.  I would exercise and eat well.  I would wear flowing skirts, and my hair would be long and wavy.  I would spend time with friends.  I would cook.  There would be water in my surroundings – a lake, or the ocean, and a patio with a view of it.

From this simple exercise came a feeling.  I was thinking about my life in terms of how I would draw it if I could.  The fact is that life is mine to draw any way I choose.  Motivation reborn.

The problem is that none of it can happen now… well aside from maybe the fish.  I have work to do if I ever hope to embody the vision I have of myself.  But with this realization, I have redoubled my efforts to drive change.  I may be jumping right into the deep end, but that is usually how I do things.  In the last 48 hours, I have identified and set an appointment with a doctor for HRT, I have initiated electrolysis (I am at the end of seeing benefit from laser), I have re-enrolled in college(again), and by the end of this week hope to have FFS+ scheduled for this fall.

The next couple years will either get me where I am going, or kill me along the way.  It should be interesting.  Wish me luck!

Peace and much love,

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Feels Like the First Time

Just thought I would say hello.  I meant to write a post today, but I have been trying to coax one out of the keyboard for a solid hour now.  I think it is finally time to stop toying around and admit that I do not want to write.  The sun is shining, it is a balmy 80 degrees outside, I have my bikini on, and there is a lounge chair calling my name.

Can you see the dilemma?  Is it any wonder I cannot concentrate?  Okay, then, we understand each other.  I hope you are all doing well.  Keep in touch, and as always...

Peace and much love!