Sunday, August 17, 2008

Remove the Spoon From the Mug, and Your Eye Won't Hurt When You Drink Your Tea.

A couple weeks ago I’d sent what I was referring to as a “tranny care package” to my parents. It contained a well-thought out, open letter, one for each parent, that began "you might want to sit down for this...", and two books I have found inordinately helpful in coming to terms with the meaning of my transition – “The Riddle of Gender” and “Becoming a Visible Man.”

I’ve had to “come out” as a lot of things – lesbian, heroin addict, tattooed person, recovering person, god lover* - to the degree that I suspect my family sometimes feels like I’m the spinning and spun-out 6 year old with a broom handle, jacked up on cake and ice-cream, and they’re the helpless and dangling piñata at my insane party.

Mind you, none of this has been particularly “fun” for me either. I have occasionally wished I was actually swinging the broom handle. It has sometimes felt like it would be easier to "destroy" the family than to live with their anger, bewilderment, their lack of approval. I have heard, from other people, that their sister’s/parent’s/partner’s evolution from sex-to-sex was a like a death. “He killed my sister.” I was told by the woman whose brother is a good friend of mine.

This gave me pause. Then I had the natural thought: well my family shouldn’t find it difficult to have “Samantha” die a natural death! “Samantha” was often a morbidly unhappy child, who, following Ronald Reagan’s “Trickle down” theory of emotional economics, took her pain and rage out on her younger brother in ways that continue to evoke horror and mortification in me, Sam. “Samantha” stole everything she could get her hands on, for dope and coke, all while maintaining the middle-class drug addict’s bizarre sense of entitlement by demanding “loans” and “gifts.” She spent a good deal of her twenties and thirties, and, oh dear, even some of her forties, in institutions and jails.

Maybe my family will recognize a fresh start, a new relative, a new being in their midst! Sam is way more chill than that unhappy woman, driven by a thousand inner demons. Sam has inner demons, but there’s only about seven now. I can, and do, wholeheartedly thank Samantha for having done ALL THE WORK. She did the hard, hard stuff, every way a human can, and she made it here, burning down the submerged wreckage, so I could finally emerge, growing tiny limbs from her tadpole swimming frantically and oft upstream in the murky white water of Manhattan streets and alleys, D.C. projects, Austin slums.

My family will never get that. They’ve got to deal with the death of their daughter and sister. That’s got to be a mixed bag, for them. It has been for me, despite my recent embrace of transitioning. It has been hard, and may continue to be so. When I heard from my brother that my parents had received the package (and I still hadn’t heard from them, or him) my inner man sank to his knees. I woke up this morning thinking “why can’t I just be a woman?”

Because I just can’t. Because having been given the gift of sobriety, of a new lease, of another day above ground, I no longer have the option of ingratitude, of insincerity, of inauthenticity. I’ve been through too much to be anything but myself, whatever that looks like. My personality would like to say “I’ve earned it!” but in truth, it was given to me, this life and this appreciation for it. To have come out of a construct like that, a life that I experienced as nearly unremitting pain and suffering, into a life full of love, and support, and juicy humanity? The only thing I have to offer that sweet life is me. Thank you for giving me the strength to do that.

*my parents are “secular humanists” – which is atheism for people who are invested in social justice. Throwing a love of the Divine into my own personal chex-mix was, perhaps for them, as palatable as cigarette-butt flavored soft-serve.

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