Monday, October 24, 2011

A Jane Austen perspective

Am I sounding like Mary Poppins in this blog?  I wonder how the readers in Russia and Poland will react-"Mary Poppins?....huh?"  I feel as if I should apologize to my transgender readers if I make this issue sound like sunshine and roses because I know it's not.  And perhaps I assume that if something works for me, it will work for everyone.  Bulldog has pointed out to me that I seem to think I know everything and I know he's onto something.  And I know Flying Pig has gently informed me that sometimes I can sound patronizing so I worry that I may risk alienating readers with my rose colored glasses perspective.

I guess it's hard to comprehend, considering how I'm telling the e-world, and apparently, my family how to fit into this world, that actually, I consider myself one of the duller knives in the drawer.  The way I figure it is, if I can figure some things out, than most people are probably capable.  But if it took me 20 years to stumble across some truth, perhaps I can save someone else the trouble, grief and time. Maybe it's the annoying caretaker in me, truthfully, I don't know, but I've suffered enough missteps and failures in my life, witnessed as the strong disregard the strong-but-challenged-in-some-way by not turning to lend a helping hand, that I just can't be a party to it; if I feel like I'm on to something, I have a duty to share.  After all, people can simply not tune in or click on the "x" on their screen if they think I'm full of baloney.

This world rewards the folks who appear to be able to do it all.  The magazines have mother-of-the-year awards, but they are reserved for the moms who are great moms AND volunteer for 10 agencies, or work outside the home as corporate executives for non-profits.  Who are these people?  I don't know anyone like this.  To quote Miss Eliza Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, in defense of women who are not "accomplished" by 19th century standards (or today's standards for that matter) "I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any."

THAT is precisely why I started this blog.  It's complete and utter bull$--- that the rest of us who don't conform with the Joneses are somewhat less than.  I huddled in my inferiority complex for a good decade before I even glimpsed of the possibility of celebrating my weaknesses and strengths and why?  Partly because I bought into this notion of self-sufficiency that is inherent in America.  I'm all for independence, don't get me wrong, but not a single thing has been accomplished by one person alone, ever, I don't think.  But some people are much better at giving the impression that they've got it all figured out and that the rest of us are a bunch of dull butter knives.  We all know this is just a form of one-upsmenship (the one time where I don't want a female or genderless equivalent of a word) designed to make the person who proposes their superiority feel, well, superior, yet we buy into all the time and we try to do more, be more, just to feel worthy.

I thank GOD for my kids and my husband.  All 4 of them simultaneously make me feel important AND illustrate where I need to grow.  My transgender daughter, DJ, has highlighted that quality more than anyone simply because her reality has been one that has been closeted for centuries, at least in American and Judeo-Christian societies.  She challenges me to be a truer, better person all the blessed time.  Not that she does it knowingly, which is what makes her even more special, as a person. So, as a family, we're succeeding in this challenge of helping her successfully transition.  Being on the "can I lend you a helping hand?" side of the team, in this instance, means that I should, and want to help those who are on the, "hey, can you lend me a hand?" side of the team.  I have definitely been on that my line of work, being old and small, that's the side of the team I often inhabit.  Which is probably why I feel like I must offer support, help, ideas, and cyber love to those on the other side of the team.  I just can't say, "Yeah, well I got mine.  Sucks to be you."

So, if I tend to sound know-it-all, I ask your forgiveness and understanding.  I just want to pass on some of our insights, failures, successes, feelings, observations, experiences and anything else that I think, and hope, will make others in our boat, or even those in some other boats, feel less alone in this journey.  At work, they call this propensity of mine, "mom-ing" as in, "You're mom-ing all over him again."  They know I mean well, even if I am occasionally annoying;  I hope you do too.

Screw Hercules

I'm supposed to be painting my guest room right now.  The paint and supplies were purchased over a month ago, and yet I still stall.  I'm attempting a new technique and am worried it won't turn out right.  Not to mention, the sheer work of taping, cutting in, rolling, moving know the grind unless you're wealthy and always pay someone to do your mundane tasks.

So, here's what I'm going to do to make it seem less daunting:  I'm going to do it in stages. Literally, one wall at a time.  Yes, this may be less efficient; I may be doubling my efforts and doubling the time to complete the task, but at least I'm getting it done.  This room was initially Romeo's room, and then became Goodwrench's room.  Both boys loved the cave-like dark colors with tribal themes, so I'll have to go over the slightly green tinged chocolate colored walls at least once with primer before I can hope that the lovely cafe au lait color I've chosen to replace the newborn-poo color will look like it does on the paint chip.  And since everything needs to be repainted-the trim and the walls-I will literally do one wall, in its entirety, at a time.

What the heck is this piece doing on a transgender blog?  Now, granted, this is a stretch and is partly because I'm stalling on beginning to paint, but does anyone else see the parallel here? Probably not because it's pretty darn obscure.  But I'm changing my room completely.  I'm worried that the end result won't be what I hoped. I know it will be an uphill climb getting there, yet the end result will hopefully be worth it....are you with me yet?  Is my room not going through a transition?

OK-I do not mean to offend anyone with the triteness of my analogy, but there's something here worth thinking about.  Granted, I'm not the one who is transitioning, DJ is.  So I really can't speak to the reality of what that process is like, personally.  But being the mother of a dependent child who is dealing with that reality daily is probably as close as another person can get to the real deal, so maybe I am onto something.

Are you considering transitioning?  Is a loved one considering the process?  Is it overwhelming, frightening, daunting?  Have you considered taking it one step at a time?  Granted, some folks, no matter what we're talking about, will do the whole shebang in one fell swoop.    More power to them if that's how they want to approach it, but if that is not your cup of tea, you are not a lesser person for it.  Give yourself permission to do it in stages.  Either cut your hair or grow it out, for now.  Tweeze your eyebrows, or stop doing it.  Too intimidated to jump into the dress or tie a windsor knot, how about some khakis and a white shirt for work?  Or jeans and a t-shirt for school.  You can go so middle of the road with either.

If baby steps are all you're comfortable with, that's ok.  There is no finish line with a person holding a timeclock.   Maybe some slight changes are just what you need to get the ball rolling.  You follow through with the small changes, you maybe make some slight waves, but FEEL so much better about yourself that you sense a molehill of self-confidance growing. Maybe at this point, you'll be ready to inform some folks about your changes and from there, you can continue to move forward.  Maybe those changes alone will make you feel comfortable enough in your skin to be happy in your life.

Transgender folks are no more either/or than anyone else, right?  You don't HAVE to do hormones, or surgery if you don't want to.  And even if you DO want to, who is to say it has to be done post haste?  Some of us think that many things in life are an all or nothing proposition.  To break anything down in baby steps seems a cop-out, to those folks who are really "goal oriented".  Or, it just doesn't even register on the radar of possibility to NOT do something in one fell swoop.  I was one of those until my father, God rest him, showed me another possibility.

Granted, this man was the one who initially taught me that you finish what you start, no stalling, get the job done, chop-chop.  But, in his middle age, he clearly learned something that he chose to impart to me, thank goodness.  I was a newly single mother after my first husband died leaving me with three children ages 9, 7 and 3.  It was summertime and I was with the kids 24/7.  Grocery shopping was sheer drudgery and I felt overwhelmed.  My father came to see me and noted that my pantry was nearly empty.  He severely chastised me initially until I told him how overwhelmed I felt at the prospect of grocery shopping-it took me two hours to do the task and the kids were swinging from the chandeliers long before the job could be completed. Up until that point, I shopped every two weeks.  My father pointed out that I could shop for a few days worth of food at a time instead.  Make the trips short and manageable.  I truly had never thought of it nor given myself permission to do something like that.  I had to be Herculean in my efficiency, instead.  This perspective, breaking it down into small manageable steps was a gift.  It made all the difference in the world.

Look at the history of humanity-most dramatic changes started with small murmurs of discontent.  Most  revolutions started with someone sticking their big toe in the water to see how it felt.  And they told someone else how the water felt fine, and the message spread from there.  Nothing wrong with you trying the same method in your personal life.  If an overnight transition is too daunting, give yourself permission to slow down.  Give yourself this gift of small moves.  You deserve it.