Today’s card invited me to consider what I have learned from a mistake I’ve made. What sprung to my mind, based on current issues I’m facing, is that I’ve lived “as-if” at times in my life to my own detriment. Specifically, I’ve muddled my way through life as if I do not have a disability, when in fact I do.
I am in the process of applying for accommodations at my job due to my PTSD. I do not know if they will be granted or not, but I recognize in coming to the point where I need to request them that I have finally accepted that I am significantly affected by my mental health condition. I am not doing “fine.”
For over a decade, I’ve lived in a shadowland of feeling completely overwhelmed emotionally but also terrified that the shaky progress I’d made towards autonomy would instantly collapse if I asked for mercy for any reason. I’ve been driven further into the fog by experience after experience where I’ve conveyed my limitations in personal relationships, only to have them be completely ignored or used to harm me. I’ve little faith that institutional mechanisms will prove more reliable, but I have to at least try to seek them.
I feel weak and pathetic for not being able to muster the resolve to defeat my demons, as if where I’m at in terms of functioning is a choice I get to make. It’s as if I’ve run non-stop for almost 15 years and yet continue to question why my knees are bone-on-bone. As though I’d chose this life if presented alternatives without PTSD.
My mistake has been not only in living without accepting my limitations, it has also been in believing my situation to be feast or famine. I kid you not, my conception of my world is one where I work as a professional and make a solid income or one where I’m homeless, with no room for possibility in between. Prior to the last few weeks, I honestly never considered attempting to get accommodations, as I figured my only alternative, if I could not manage anymore, was to quit my job. I question which other areas of my life I hold in the same untenable perfect-ruined dichotomy.
Are there any areas of your life where you live “as-if” and struggle to accept the true nature of your situation? What would it look like to face reality? Are there any gradients available between “all is well” and “it’s gone to hell” in the issue with which you are dealing?
Today’s In an Open Hand card draw focuses on releasing in order to make space for self-growth and development. Sometimes, letting go requires physically discarding, donating or re-purposing items. At other times, expectations, assumptions and regrets may benefit from being mentally discharged. For today, I decided to focus on my thoughts rather than my clutter.
If I could experience my life differently, one of the main changes I would make would be in my perspective-taking. The sky of my mind zooms in to a tiny storm-cloud, ignoring the beautiful vista the rest of the view provides. When I face a stressor, I have tremendous difficulty in maintaining a stance of gratitude and acceptance. I want the threatening weather gone now, and I cannot rest until I do everything within my power to make it so. I often have the thought “what would happen if I just did nothing,” but, even for the two-raindrop clouds, I burst out the umbrella and flip the fan switch in an attempt to blow it away.
My excessive reaction is caused not because I think I’ll drown in the minuscule amount of rain, but rather because I have an incredibly hard time feeling safe and secure if there are any clouds, no matter how insignificant. The next time something bothers me, I am going to attempt to see if I can visualize it in my sky metaphor, and if perhaps that image will help me to adjust my response. What would you like to release today? How much mental energy do you waste chasing storm clouds?
My Daily Remembrance cards are designed to get me thinking about the past in a way that promotes healing and acceptance. For today’s prompt, I focused on someone who had a positive influence on my life. The individual, let’s call her Susan, was a middle-aged single neighbor of mine growing up. She lived by herself in a nearby apartment and allowed me to come over on occasion to chat.
What endeared Susan to me was that on one of my birthdays, she gave me a gift a day for every year of my age. I was a child most people overlooked because I was extremely quiet and shy. I was painfully self-conscious and lacked the social skills needed to make good conversation. To have someone not only see me, but see me enough to care and to go out of her way for me, meant the world to me.
I kept each of her gifts and felt a sense of connection whenever I saw them. One of my favorites was a series of piggy-banks in bright colors and shapes. (I loved anything rainbow as a child, so discovering I was part of the queer community felt only natural!). I unfortunately lost the physical objects when I had to cut ties with my family of origin, but the memory of those excited moments of wondering what treasure I would get the next day has stuck with me.
I tried to pass on the good feelings with a similar process of gift-giving to a friend of mine after a loss, but it wasn’t well-received (complicated story). I think it isn’t the exact specifications of gift-giving that matter so much, but rather the spirit of generosity and thoughtfulness from which I want to learn. Who gave you a gift that really meant something to you? Who have you known personally who has inspired you?
For today’s simple pleasure, I decided to contemplate and post about ways in which I’m coming to accept both myself and others (in different ways) as I grow into who I am as a trans and non-binary person. This involves both how I perceive myself and how I make sense of others’ (inaccurate) perceptions of me. It is encompasses my role within the queer community.
In terms of my self-perception, I find myself toggling back and forth between wanting the physical changes that come with taking T to happen more quickly, and being terrified that something will occur (mostly hair loss) over which I’ll have regrets. Again and again, I have to come back to trying to find solace rather than fear in the unknown. The mental effects of T have been amazing and have led me to want to stay on it for as long as I can.
Misgenderings abound. Whenever I try to talk about being on T with cis people, I am asking if I want to “go all the way” or “pass.” I try to explain that, no matter what my body looks like, it is very unlikely that I will be correctly gendered because of other people’s ignorance or willful denial of non-binary people’s validity and existence. I have felt drained and angered at times by the non-stop misgendering I encounter every day.
Yesterday, however, I felt a slight gentleness come over me when someone mislabeled me as my pet’s “mother,” as I realized that, with strangers, I’m finding little utility in fighting to be seen for who I am. My response is acceptance not in a “it’s okay for this to happen, nbd” kind of way but rather in a “this person’s misconception doesn’t define me in any way” sort of response. Cis people often show a reliance on childhood understandings of gender and an inattention to cis privilege that is pitiful to me; some people and situations are not worth investing in to try to persuade or educate.
I think what I am coming to understand is that I do not have to fight the gender revolution alone and I do not need to see myself as the sole bearer of responsibility for creating a safer environment for any trans and non-binary people who may come after me. I can be who I am and allow my understanding of myself to continue to evolve, and I can be selective in terms of who I engage with on topics related to gender. Accepting the realities of my current experience allows me to do. What in your life are you working to accept? What would be different in your life if you were able to take in what is actually going on?