I’m just gonna say it…
Lol. It’s totally worth it when I’m lucky enough to have found the right person to work with and I’ve made huge amounts of progress this year and am unquestionably seeing benefits, but it’s so fucking hard! And for the most part incredibly painful, demoralizing and just generally crushing to actually face and *deal with* all the shit locked up inside myself.
I find meditation to be a more and more useful tool the longer and more consistently I use it – I get help managing my pain level, dealing with strong emotions, working through trauma and even just quieting my mind and body so I can rest. I’m discovering this indescribable freedom in my own mind, where there don’t have to be limits. I’ve loved space my whole life and became a Star Trek fan at a young age. I was fascinated around 3-4 years old when I learned of a theory that space is folded over on itself because I immediately wondered, if space is folded, then what’s around it!? And whatever that is…what’s beyond that!? This is my earliest memory regarding the idea of infinity. Around the same age LFD asked me what I though would happen if something changed from three dimensional to two dimensional right in front of me…would there be sparks!? Fireworks!? A loud crack noise perhaps? Would flames erupt? Among all of the magical effects he suggested, I was unconvinced and hesitantly responded, “No…I don’t think anything like that would happen…” and that’s when he took a strip of paper and introduced me to the Mobius Strip.
So, perhaps it should come as no surprise that my mental landscape is space; where I can use the impossibility of truly comprehending its vastness, diversity and beauty to release all of the limits I face in reality, both internal and external. In my mind at least, space IS infinite. No matter how overwhelming my feelings get, when I go there in my meditation, there is ALWAYS enough room. There is always enough space to hold whatever it is I need to release, and letting go of it in this way doesn’t mean it’s truly GONE nor lost in any way, but rather just that there is space for it without my having to hold it in…I can still come back to it, I don’t even have to leave it in the first place, only externalize it and in this way am able to release the burden of being overwhelmed and crushed by the forces with which I am struggling to manage. From the day S1E1 aired, I have always found the opening for Star Trek Enterprise to be extremely inspirational and a source of strength when I am struggling.
For most of my life I have struggled with feeling trapped in my body to varying degrees. It has been particularly brutal since my spinal injury, but I have made a lot of progress. Most of the time lately I feel grateful that I am still seeing signs of improvement even more than 18 months after my spinal surgery. I prioritize my physical, mental and emotional health to the best of my ability and have felt that this focus is essentially my full time job for some time – it’s extremely rewarding to find myself able to do more and suffer through less pain with less rest and recovery time needed as well. That said, it is still extremely frustrating to be 32 and disabled, spending the majority of my time in bed resting my neck. It’s incredibly isolating and emotionally exhausting for one naturally so extremely extroverted as myself.
It was during meditation a few weeks ago that I realized I felt closeted, hiding my gender identity out of fear. I’d made so much progress this year in therapy and was feeling so positive on a surface level, but my soul was not at peace. So I went searching internally, purposefully looking for what was hurting inside me. It’s continuously mind blowing to me to realize just how much I reflexively suppress in a misguided attempt to protect myself from having to deal with things should they rise to a conscious level. I honestly thought having figured out years ago that I am nonbinary that all which mattered to me was ME knowing who I am, that I didn’t care how the rest of the world sees me. There are advantages to being seen as an attractive young woman in our culture, and I have most certainly benefited from being perceived as such most of my life. I am also a survivor of horrific abuse, which I have suffered in one form or another nearly my entire life. Some of this likely would’ve been different had I been born male. Some of it wouldn’t have. But the point is I wasn’t even consciously AWARE of these feelings, the overpowering FEAR of being open about my gender identity, the fact that I felt like I was hiding this huge part of who I am in a closet…the people closest to me knew and I’d thought that was enough. Now as I’m facing showing this side of myself, there is fear, but there is also a sense of relief, some excitement and joy, some frustration and so many other things. However I am now actively CHOOSING to be authentic and express that in new ways, something which wouldn’t have been possible without the infinite space which was necessary for me to be able to consciously acknowledge the absolutely consuming fear I was feeling in relation to my gender identity. I couldn’t help but wonder, considering the extreme violence and abuse I’ve had to endure from a relative position of privilege being perceived as a straight cis woman, what was going to happen to me if I shed this skin and let the world know that NONE of those things are who I am?
Luckily I’ve never been one to let fear determine my choices! I learned something I suspect may be equally as profound in my meditation today. I began with exploring the idea that my body does not define me. This is a belief with which my feelings still often conflict, so I’ve been trying to find my way through the Gordian Knot of feelings which tell me my body is who I am. While meditating on this, a new thought came to me: how others perceive me ALSO does *not* define me! I was thinking about reflections and shadows I’ve seen at times when I felt the most like me, typically on my motorcycle although today I also thought about being on a horse, having spent my entire youth as an extremely active equestrian. Then this new notion arrived, I guess I must have finally been ready for it. Is this more or less powerful than the idea that my body does not define me? Because nearly all of the issues I have with my body are based in culture, perception and how others interact with me. Don’t get me wrong, there is still some gender dysphoria in there because all else aside I would still be deeply horrified, in a way for which there are no adequate words aside from ‘gender dysphoria,’ by the fact that I have the necessary plumbing to bear a child. However, without all of the cultural elements this would be a vanishingly small difficulty compared to my gender issues now.
I saw the movie ‘Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song’ recently and was deeply moved by how much I related to everything! I feel I understand Cohen’s search for meaning in life, relate to how he feels about sex, know what it’s like to feel so deeply and be driven by spiritual *need* one does not yet understand. I can only hope my story end half as well as his; he finally found that inner peace in the end for which I am still striving. Perhaps this new concept of not allowing how others perceive me to define me will be my next step on a similar journey!
I still seek to get to a place where I FEEL that I deserve better than I’ve ever been able to allow myself to have, but at least I’ve made progress on the thinking side of that and in my head do believe I deserve better.
Better than being afraid to say ‘no’ when I don’t want to have sex (which I DO now!)
Better than using sex in the hopes of stopping someone from abandoning me (recent realization so this may take some time yet)
Better than being abandoned
Better than someone who truly doesn’t have time for me
Better than an affair with someone who’s married
Better than being abused, in ANY form
Better than being excluded or ignored
Better than being taken for granted
Better than being judged just because I’m different
Better than being resented for limitations due to my health
Better than living with fear
So ya know, I don’t ask for MUCH! Lol. Lofty goals no doubt, but worthy ones! And before this year I’d never even considered what I deserve, so this is already a lot of progress! I also freely admit the thinking part is the easier one to convince, but even realizing I wanted to believe and feel these things was an enormous hurdle so as far as I’m concerned I’m on the downhill slope with only my feelings left!!!
…even so, wish me luck!