A woman’s story — her insights on transitioning/ detransitioning.
Source: Sorry/ Not Sorry
A woman’s story — her insights on transitioning/ detransitioning.
Source: Sorry/ Not Sorry
School starts on Tuesday. Tomorrow! yikes. I’m still getting the syllabus together for the class I’m teaching this semester. I’ve taught it about half a dozen times already, I could just use the same plan as last year — But every year, I do the same thing. I have read more stuff, talked to more people, thought of new things, and made different mistakes in previous classes. So I want to change things around. But I get bogged down in the details of looking for more current articles about this and that and didn’t i see a meme on facebook that makes a point so elegantly, and should I use the article i used for my summer class in my fall class instead? and… I get tangled up in all the loose threads and sometimes i never get ’em pulled together and tied up.
I took off for a little road trip a while back. Drove to my hometown. My agenda was to help my brother sort out our mom’s stuff, give some away, sell some, clear some space in his basement. I wanted, too, to go to Regina where there is a burial plot waiting for her next to our dad and their first son, our unmet big brother who died in 1961. But Shawn isn’t ready — he didn’t have the time to travel, and doesn’t have the heart to go through Mom’s stuff yet. That’s okay. I tell myself that. I wanted to do something, though. He has done so much–before she died he would take her to appointments and get her groceries and check in on her all the time. After, he was executor of her will and went all over town for banking and lawyer signatures and all that stuff — he’s done so much work, and I haven’t done anything. But I have to wait. I have to do what he thinks will be helpful, if I am to be helpful at all. I am not very good at patience, though. sigh.
The summer has been very difficult. My mom is dead. I went home every summer (as much as I could) for the last ten years or so to see her–especially since Dad died. Now home is, well, not home anymore. Not in the same way, anyway. We’re settlers, right, I grew up there, but my ancestors were from somewhere else. Our roots are shallow.
And, too, a significant relationship with a woman I love very much is in shreds. I don’t know if we will find a way to repair it. In July I asked for six months no contact, though I yearn. For her and for my Mom, in different ways, but deep — I don’t have words for it. I have beautiful friends and allies, mind you, and strong women in my corner, helping to hold me up. But still — I am so lonely. These are difficult times — loss and endings. Grief.
Before I left, i felt a bit crazy. Every time I was alone, I wept. I couldn’t contain my sorrow — even in public. walking to the grocery store. driving to work. riding my bike to the gym. IN the gym, in the grocery store, at work — all of it, the tears came, there was nothing I could do to stop it. An abyss of grief–and sorrow like a giant hair ball made of twine and wire knotted in my gut. I was afraid that on the road, all alone for days at a time, that I would come completely undone.
“great love and great loss will break you open like no other experience”. I’m seeing a counselor, a spiritual director, (atheist me, too. Go figure)– to help me sort out how to get my feet under me. That’s what she said, “great love and great loss will break you wide open”. Note the distinction, though, eh–she said “Open”. Not “Apart”. I’m whole, still whole — not yet anchored, not yet at peace, not yet. but all the bits are still there. here.
On August 23, I was seven years clean and sober. I did come relatively close to drinking when I was on my way home. I thought, briefly, that drinking would buffer that ball of wire and teeth in my gut– drinking will take that feeling away. and hell, I’m on the road all alone, no one needs to know. But then I played the tape forward, and felt the remorse and the grief return ten-fold. Lonely as I am now, a drink will lock the door and throw away the key. Alcohol will keep me from ever finding my place. I don’t need to wake the dragon, not that dragon anyway, I have to much to do. I am already so far behind where i think I ought to be.
I didn’t drink. I sought out people who have known and loved me my whole life. My brother, beautiful quiet loyal grieving brother Shawn. My old tree-planting brother Carl — who’s just like a big black Lab. “what are we eating now? wanna play? oh. time for a nap!” he’s grieving too, the end of his marriage to Carmen — whom I also love. We went to the Edmonton Folk Festival on the first night together, Carl and some of his huge family. Their all kinda like puppies, and we were all crammed onto a tarp together, loving the music and the people we were with.
My best friend from Jr. High, and her husband, who helped me so much when Mom died and after. I played my accordion on their front porch and we had dinner together in their 100 year old farm house. Inside, she’s painted a mural on the cupboards, and painted a rug on the floor. She painted pictures of their cows and dogs and pigs along the staircase to the second floor.
I met two of their sons, one I’d met once before when he was just an infant. It’s easy with us.
My mom’s friend from High School, my godmother Auntie Lorna. Our neighbours Colleen and Ron, Auntie Lorna’s husband Joe, “anything you need, you just help yourself”, and her son Lane who took me kayaking on Lacombe Lake one evening.
Lane had been to the funeral of a friend of his, turns out the man who died was the husband of one of the women with whom Mom taught kindergarten. I so much wanted to tell her about his death, and how his wife was, and how many people were at the funeral and how well the family was caring for each other. Auntie Lorna said she had a dream about Mom one night.
They were nearly done, but two weeks early. It was a bit unnerving, all that ripeness so much earlier than harvest season ought to be.
It all smelled of home. Cottonwoods by the river, dust, faint whiff of manure out on Highway 2A. There’s a sweetness in the air. Marigolds and gladiolas, caragana and wolf willow. I never realize how much I miss that smell until I’m there again.
Everyone prays there. Before every meal, we held hands and someone gave thanks on our behalf. They all thanked god for my visit, and asked his (God is a “he” there, no question) protection and care for me, and their other loved ones. Usually “in Jesus’ name” they offered their prayers. I’d forgotten that we used to say grace before meals. We didn’t, our family, by the time we were in high school, I think. But I don’t know when we stopped. I found it comforting. I liked that mostly no one asked for direct interventions, and offered thanks for the gifts of our friendship and the food we were to share.
On my way home, i went to visit Bob. He lives a bit out of the way of my route home, but his wife, Darleen, had been one of Mom’s best best friends since we moved to Red Deer. She was so much fun. She smoked cigarettes and cursed. she laughed easily and she was generous and full of life. She and Mom passed the same birthday card back and forth for 45 years. It was one of those cards that congratulated the recipient on being 29 — AGAIN. Darleen gave it to Mom for her 35th birthday, and Mom sent it back to Darleen a few months later when Dar turned 30. Darleen called Mom up and called her a cheap so-and-so, and sent it back the next year again. It crossed the Canada-US border several times, each year a little note added. Dar always wrote something like “Roses r red/violets r blue/we’re in the States now/I sure do miss you!”
Anyway, I called him up my last morning on the road, and he answered on the first ring. He gave me careful directions (I just used my smug phone GPS, but I didn’t interrupt him), and asked me to call if I got lost. When I arrived in his town, it was a bit later than we had estimated I’d be. He called again, “are you lost?”
“Nope, I’m nearly there, Bob”, and he again gave me detailed directions to their place, which helped this time. When i got to his door, through the frosted glass I saw him run toward it, as if to open it before I changed my mind and slipped away.
We spent a couple of hours together. He told me about the renovations they had made when they moved in, the new appliances, the landscaping. He is a man. His whole life he learned to not display his feelings, to talk about stuff and business and plans; not love and people and relationships. So there he was, deep in grief, (how could he not be? They had been high school sweethearts, she was a force of nature), disappointed and lonely, showing me the original architect’s drawings for the house he lived in now. His sadness felt like a sheet of lead under his skin. Neither of us cried. This is not like me, by the way. Particularly these days.
Everywhere I went, I went to a meeting, too. I was with strangers who could see me; strangers who felt like family too. One hour at a time, sharing our stories, our struggles our loneliness or our delight. At some of these meetings I made coffee or helped to set up or to clean up. Most of the time people greeted me and made me welcome. Every time i heard something true that unravelled that knot of grief and regret a little bit more.
I am not the only one. My mother is gone, my love is unrequited, my future uncertain. I am lonely and afraid, but I am not the only one. Everywhere I went, from home to home and stops along the way, there were moments of beauty and peace. A bit of breath, some colour and warmth. I’m treading water, but i’m not sinking.
It’s days after i began this post, here you go, here you go — class starts in two hours.
“That is the bottom line, Amnesty […] you really don’t give a shit about the basic human rights of the prostituted”.
Originally posted on Rebecca Mott:
Last week, Amnesty International made the decision to back the decriminalisation of all aspects the sex trade.
This is about saying buying a human as sexual goods should become a human right.
That laws preventing profiteering/pimping should be taken down.
What it not about is the safety or mental welfare of the prostituted.
This is the biggest betrayal I have ever experience in my lifetime – and if it becomes normalised, it will lead to decades of the sexual slavery continuing without interference.
Last week, I was too heartbroken and full of trauma to write. Now I will to personal and political, why I and so exited women are so angry and deeply hurt.
I will look at some of Amnesty’s slogans and how they have chosen to ignore them.
END ALL TORTURE
This is the most sickening part of this new policy.
It would appear that the prostituted are…
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Hello, my handful of readers. it’s been a hell of a week over here in easilyriled’s world. My head is full of dreams and self-doubt, my heart is in tatters. again.
this past weekend, though, was devoted to BIG THINGS in the lives of other people. Friday I went to two twelve-step meetings, and spent the afternoon in between in the hospital with a friend. She’s pretty sick, but she’ll be going home this week. She had a seizure, which is related to other stuff going on for her. We’ve been friends for more than 30 years, she was my first love, and first big heartbreak. We re-connected about three years ago after a ten-year break. She is one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. We don’t agree anymore about everything, politics-wise — but she was instrumental in my journey to feminism. And we’re bonded, you know…
Saturday was the wedding. You remember i was all tortured about it last week, or week before last, right? yea. But it went really well. Stephanie and I were MCs for the evening. I did get in a few digs about the institution of marriage, I played my accordion, sang with some beautiful people, carried around some babies, and ate a lot of pakoras and lamb curry. there were a couple of gay men at the party, they though Steph and I were partners. “is she your wife?” one of them asked me.
“have you not been paying attention?” i wanted to say, “what, just because i’m a dyke, you think i should be all married and shit? even though i have just finished ranting (just a little rant, the day, after all, was not about me) about the institution of marriage and ownership papers and patriarchy and shit?”
I didn’t, though. i just said, “Um. no.” They’re GAY, fer cryin’ out loud, there is a reason we call homosexuals that. bless them.
So I went away to play a sad Ukrainian waltz on my accordion. I only know three songs. But i play them different every time, so it’s like having a repertoire. Music does mend broken hearts, that’s a true fact.
the newly institutionalized couple were very happy, their families were very happy. It looked like people had a good time. And everyone there, you know, we took care of each other. In our presence our friends made their commitment to each other, and in so doing, invited us to hold them accountable. They brought people from all parts of their lives together, added music, flowers, food and speeches–the signing of the ownership papers (for the approval of the gubbmint battery farm) was the least of it, really. There were a few of us broken-hearted, kinda cynical dykes there — i am not the only one — and we just felt the love in the room and did our best for our friends. Plus, you know, i had my accordion and an audience, so that made me pretty happy, too.
Then yesterday I went to a celebration of the life of a young man I knew for a while. Ten years ago, when he was 17, he and his mom joined up with our friend Sharon as she was heading to her death. She had cancer, and it moved slow then fast from her breast to her brain. For ten days in April of 2005, we stayed with her — her husband, her neighbours, her friends, her relations — and she let us carry her to the doorway. It was a beautiful gift she gave us, to let us in like that. there was lots of laughter, many many tears, all the songs, and stories galore. As he was dying he told his mom that he wanted to do it the way Sharon had done. With grace and humour, surrounded by love and music, engaging with everyone who came as he could. I didn’t know that he was ill, nor that he had died until his mom posted on facebook that the memorial would be July 12. He was a beautiful young man, sensitive, smart, kind and quirky. the celebration of his life was excruciating. His mother was so poised and shattered. All that care and love in the room for her and for her son held her up. But there is no making sense of such a death. “Why him? Why one of the good men?” people will ask. But the question might just as well be “Why not?”
It is not true that everything happens for a reason. Not true at all. the true thing is that everything happens. That’s all.
This afternoon I will go see my friend in the hospital. Then i’ll drive my ex-lover’s mom (whom I adore) to the airport. And it will be some time yet that i will be in mourning.
I am glad for the wedding. And I am glad I spent the weekend in service and celebration. it’s been a year of loss and endings. That wedding was someone’s beginning, and that’s kind of encouraging, even though…
This is a great examination of the relentless pathologization of “women’s speech”
so, i go to write a new post on my blog, here, and wordpress has added a fucking rainbow to my toolbar (or whatever it’s called, that line up top there that has the reader link and my profile link and stuff on it). I did NOT sign on for that, i do not want it, and I’m pissed that it’s there.
But the US just implemented marriage
assimilation equality for same sex couples. and we’re all supposed to be happy now. Rainbows for everyone! We’re all gay and queer and all alike! there is no more inequality!
Never mind that marriage is a patriarchal institution that is deeply rooted in patriarchy, and was originally instituted in order for men to own women and their children. No matter who marries whom now, marriage “remains an endorsement of a formal equality approach that does not challenge the regulatory function and the often oppressive role of marriage in society” (Boyd, 2012, p. 287).
We’ve been around this block before–many many times. We are pack animals; we all want to belong somewhere. NEED to belong somewhere. And having The Man (aka ‘the state’) recognize two people’s love for each other as legitimate and worthy of shared pension plans, benefits and burial plots indicates belonging. I know people who married, with the ownership papers signed and the ceremony officiated by a retired United Church minister, so that they would have legal rights to visit one another in the hospital should either become ill or incapacitated. They married because they did not trust that their parents would not swoop in and leave the other partner out of decision-making, assets and support.
Others married in capitulation to their partners, who wanted the state sanction of legitimacy. There is not as much these days in the way of a righteous radical feminist movement in which we can imagine and build intimacy and commitment that is not rooted in patriarchal, and deeply sexist, classed and colonizing traditions.
I’m going to help to MC a wedding in a couple of weeks. I have to say, I was pretty conflicted about it before this whole mass marriage kool-aid consumption in the US. This morning, though, the essential contradiction inherent in resisting patriarchy with all my might — but hosting and singing at a wedding (a supporting pillar in the medieval, enduring castle of men’s oppression of women) — had me holding my head so it would not burst into flames.
This is a heterosexual wedding, and the couple are both in their middle years. the woman is my friend — she helped me A LOT during a very bleak period in my life, and helped me to find a place where I belong. I love her. I also love doing stand-up comedy, singing, playing my accordion and ranting about sexism and patriarchy– all of which she expects me to do, so that’s good. She asked me to MC, with another friend of ours, and she knows I am critical of marriage, and expects me to offer a ‘cole’s notes’ version of my criticism, even.
On my way to work this morning, I nearly stopped my bike and called her to tell her I couldn’t. But I didn’t. I called another friend, a woman whose judgments I trust. She said, “she will still love you, and she will understand, but she will be hurt.”
“AND” she continued, “If you do it, you will have a platform, think of that — I was uncomfortable with the whole gay marriage thing, but I couldn’t say why until you said ‘assimilation’. You will have an opportunity to say what you think, and I know you will be loving and respectful when you do this, because you are good at this kind of thing.”
That did it for me. I think I can do this without selling my soul. And another thing, it’s important to be a witness to other people’s promises to each other. I can do this for that reason, to hold them accountable to their promise to care for each other’s well-being. I can do this because they invited me and other people they love and trust. Yes, they are entering into a patriarchal institution which has few, if any possibilities of redemption, but they are going in with their eyes and hearts open, and held by loved ones, some of whom stand resolutely outside (as far as possible, anyway) the restrictions of state-sanctioned matrimony. Their relationship is held strong not by the permission and rules of the state, but by the connections they have with others, and our shared memories of their promises to each other.
I can still say why marriage is not a win, even as I help my friends celebrate their commitment to each other.
Also, I don’t really think resistance is futile. It’s absolutely necessary, even when you don’t see results. Because while we might be all equal, under the (resolutely patriarchal) law, we are not yet (even close to) free.
Boyd, Susan, (2012). Marriage is more than a piece of paper, in National Taiwan University Law Review Vol. 8: 2, pp 263-297