Friday August 23rd was the first day of radiation. It was also the day, 11 years ago I stopped using ‘mood altering’ substance (except for caffeine!). So, good day to start dealing with the wee interloper. I was a bit apprehensive, on account of, well, it IS radiation after all. The week before, i went in for my superhero mask fitting. Maybe it is a supervillain mask, come to think of it. It’s very trippy. They start with a face-shaped disc of plastic and mesh, heat it up in a slow-cooker oven, and stretch it over the face and head of the patient. Me, in this case. I can breathe fine in it, too. They left it on for about ten minutes and ran me through a CT scanner to plot the coordinates for the radiation laser beams, and then gently removed it. Then the radiologist told me they would call within two weeks to set up a schedule. The 22nd was the one-week mark, and a woman called me from the Cancer Agency and asked if I could start THE NEXT DAY. i had been hoping for the next week, but never mind.
Let’s back up a bit. At the beginning of August I went to a ten-day workshop about Virginia Satir’s Transformational Systemic Therapy. Of course I went in all skeptical and wary, because i’ve spent most of my adult life mocking therapists. I should know better. I also spent most of my adult life mocking academics, then I became one for a while. That was a comeuppance. Turns out I was mostly right about the academics after all. Anyway, I had just found out about the ol’ stowaway stretching out his short little arms, and I was kind of reluctant to go in case I got sick from the treatment and couldn’t be available to my work anyway, and then they would have wasted all that time and money training me. That’s what I said, anyway. I was grasping at straws. I was afraid.
Turns out, I was right to be afraid. It was a LOT of work, and emotion and learning. Also eating. Lots of eating of really good food. what the hell. I’m bulkin’ up for chemo (you can’t make that joke just anywhere, it would seem). there were 19 of us, plus 4 facilitators. One of them was the lead, and she was really something. Gifted. All but one of us was female. One man. We all got along like a house afire. Well, mostly. There were a couple of people there who weren’t already working as counselors or therapists. They had a bit of a tough time figuring out the difference between managing (as in personnel management), or public speaking (as in motivational speaking), or teaching (that was me a year ago — and still a bit); and counselling. To all of those things, one must bring oneself — but for counselling, there’s a particular intimacy involved. Not TOO intimate, mind — but a quality of love that walks a line to both embrace and protect oneself and the other. It’s tricky. Not tricky as in deceptive, but tricky as in ‘bloody challenging, innit?’ So for some of the participants, what they got from the ten days was quite a different quality than what I got. And their contributions were sometimes pretty prickly gifts. I could go on and on and ON about what a great ten days that was. We laughed and laughed and cried and cringed sometimes, and had some great conversations, and learned so much about each other — our challenges and catastrophes; our family histories and our relationships with our kids/pets/school teachers/partners/colleagues…
It was an experiential workshop, see, so we had to bring our whole selves. A bit harrowing. Really moving. I think I was funnier then than I am in the rest of my life. We were not sitting in front of screens all day, that’s one thing. We were face to face, and heart to heart.
Ah shit. Here it is, two weeks plus since I started this post and I haven’t finished. I’m tired. probably from having my brain zapped every week day, but mostly also from staying up late, spending WAY too much time on Facebook (aka Crackbook), worrying about how I can keep up with my work and the other stuff i’ve promised to write, and the course that’s beginning next week and the gym (I only work out once a week now — this monday to friday thing is fantastic but consuming. I’d forgotten). I don’t attend enough to my lover and I don’t eat right, and chemo’s coming and I want to go home to visit, but when?
Another thing is, I’ve joined a small group of other gender critical feminists, and we’re writing a basis of unity, and figuring out how we can interfere with this damned juggernaut of trans ideology. It’s extremely toxic in this city — I can barely stand to go to Commercial Drive anymore — the last time I was there, I saw graffiti that proudly proclaimed “We punch terfs”, and “kill terfs” — The so-called dyke march (which I missed, thankfully, on account of the aforementioned wonderful workshop) was filled with signs that said “No terfs, no swerfs” and compared feminists and lesbians with nazis and fascists. A few women I know went to observe and were frightened and/or disgusted by the blatant misogyny. That’s not all, of course, not by a long shot. So a few of us are organizing. We need women’s spaces as much, maybe more, than we ever did. It’s great. Great to have this project, these women. I hope we can make a difference. Sometimes I think the tide is turning. But it really doesn’t matter if it does or not. I have to join with others, I have to. It definitely won’t turn if we do nothing. So something it will be.
This post is kind of all over the place. I’ll end with gratitude, how’s that? I’m grateful for the love I have in my life — I cannot tell you how much. And for the Canadian health care system, and for my amazing work place who took a big chance on me, really, and good thing, too. I have the resources to flourish and to make a meaningful contribution to our shared freedom. I know I do. I’m not going anywhere, I’m not shutting up, and i’m not alone. Anyway, maybe next post i’ll tell a story that has a beginning a middle and an end. I think every day of things i should post on my blog. so I’d better get after it. Right now i have to get ready to go, though. Until later, keep the faith, feel the love
About the trans grafitti–For men transitioning into womanhood, they seem to have retained a frightening amount of cliche male violence. Do the female to males have the same problem, and just no publicity? I must not be that sophisticated. I would have thought that trans people would understand the need for safe spaces. Considering that, within my lifetime, we’ve come from, anything not cis gendered being a fair target for violence, to orientation rights legislation. As far as I know, no one is denying their right to be trans. Why would they deny someone else their right to feel safe?