It’s been a rough year. Well, maybe a rough 5 years. Well…to be honest, it’s been a rough life. But in the last few weeks I’ve felt myself emerging from a fog yet again. I’m not sure which combination of a root canal for a massive and apparently 5+ year extant tooth infection, the (hopefully) final correction of my injectable estrogen dosage after 6 months of massively elevated levels, continued sobriety and post-COVID recovery has helped. In the end it doesn’t really matter.
In the last two-three weeks, I’ve been writing Morning Pages daily again, I’ve launched this daily publishing practice, I’m back making and recording music, and I’ve been feeling a general sense of wellbeing, hope, and a genuine happiness I haven’t felt in as long as I can remember.
But this morning I feel like absolute shit, emotionally and physically. My back hurts from some combination of sleeping on an unfamiliar bed, working on my laptop in said bed, and haven’t shit posture. My heart hurts after whining about the above to my very caring partner who took no bullshit about my hating her apartment and that her back ALWAYS hurts. My brain hurts after falling down a rabbit hole of web analytics and website tweaks before I’d even finished my morning tea (oh sweet nectar of the Gods), let alone my morning sanity routine. And my pride hurts after finally sitting down to do said routine and watching myself self-righteously whine for the majority of three pages and wage a little war with my indignation.
What did I discover? Why am I so whiny today? Why is being physically uncomfortable such a trigger right now? Why do I want to jump directly out of this 8th floor picture window into a 6” snow pile (you lied to me, oh Gods of Dark Sky, I was expecting at least a foot).
The truth is, I’m fucking terrified. I’ve spent most of the last year being, in the accidentally offensive words of my loving father, completely incapacitated by hormonal transition, sobriety, and the state of the world. I’ve needed a lot of help from my family, partner, friends (some very new), and society. In the beginning, I fucked sucked at asking for it, so I’d often wait until it was absolutely required and then blindside whomever with whatever financial or emotional need I couldn’t ignore anymore (I’ll spare y'all the dog and the nail story again).
As I’ve watched myself start to edge away from very literal dis-ability back towards some semblance of a marginally productive shadow of my former non-profit running, startup founding, voraciously reading, (and yes, massively repressed and desperately heavily drinking) self, I felt myself breathe a truly massive sigh of relief. The truth is, I’ve never actually lost hope, but I did totally put aside any expectation of a timeline for recovery at some point and truly embrace One Day at a Time and the gentle promise of a long and slow recovery being the best (and only) kind.
So today, am I backsliding? Is the old entitled bitch back? I had hoped to casually scoot away from her far enough that the new people in my life who never knew the “old” me would just never have to know. I’m terrified of going back there, of continuing to need help and being what felt like entirely dependent on the good will of others and their (and my own) privilege.
In this moment, the only routine and grounding of my life is the one I’m able to create, and more importantly - to protect - for myself. I haven’t had regularly scheduled employment in almost a year (and freelance consulting work is the antithesis of schedule). There are no cafes to go to. No weekly social gatherings.
My routine and my ability to establish baseline in this new body, consciousness, and lease on life is entirely dependent on the spaces of my own design, both environmental, and perhaps more importantly within my physical body itself. I’ve often heard that transition is a process that moves from the outside in - that we often start with external gender markers and as we become more secure in our presentation to the world, we slowly become more comfortable in our own identity as a self-generative process. My serenity has followed a similar path, with the calm and organization of my home, things, and routine being a precursor to a feeling of internal and generative calm.
In my pages this morning, I eviscerated myself (shout out to Jenny from the L Word for being the original OG trope of the whiny self hating literary lesbian type) for not being able to translate the relative stability and internal prosperity of the last few weeks into my morning of bodily discomfort. But the truth is that, as much as I want it to be otherwise, these processes are still largely supported by my environment. This raises an important understanding - I have the opportunity to accept the limitations of my own ability and its interdependence to those environments, and to communicate my needs in maintaining that balance.
But more importantly, I remind myself that the process of internalizing the stability I’ve been building in my physical worlds is both necessarily and thankfully slow. Identity, resilience, and grace are not acquired holistically, but arise from the deeply worn channels of the water of our lives. Slowly, slowly, slowly.
Patient Trust We are quite naturally impatient In everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way To something unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress, That it is made by passing through Some stages of instability - And that it may take a very long time. And so I think it is with you; Your ideas mature gradually - Let them grow. Let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on, As though you could be today what time (That is to say, grace and circumstance Acting on your own good will) Will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit Gradually forming within you will be. Give our Lord the Benefit of believing That His hand is leading you And accept the anxiety of feeling yourself In suspense and incomplete. - Pierre Tielhard de Chardin. excerpted from Hearts of Fire
Moving past the use of God, Lord, and His, I am deeply inspired by the self love and forgiveness in the practice of giving oneself time. Time to grow, but more importantly time to be as you are. Imperfect. A mess. Not there yet.
The most important past of the process, is in the doing. I’m proud today not because of my mood, my serenity, or my grace, but in my participating in my own process regardless. That is a new kind of stability that is gradually forming within me. I am learning to accept the anxiety of feeling myself in suspense and incomplete.
I've chosen to take heteropatriarchal pronouns and depictions of God (including that very word) as an opportunity to focus on what I DO identify with in the experience of others throughout history, rather than allowing a focus on the evidence that many of the dominant ideas of their day are harmful and outdated to obscure any value in their fundamental message. ↩︎