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Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

“The secret is not to dream,” she whispered. “The secret is to wake up. Waking up is harder. I have woken up and I am real. I know where I come from and I know where I’m going. You cannot fool me anymore. Or touch me. Or anything that is mine.” – Tiffany Aching, The Wee Free Men

For me it’s like this: I’m gonna check my privilege here first. I am a white cis gendered woman who grew up middle class. I didn’t have everything I wanted, but I never had to WORK for what I needed until well after high school. I may be queer and have a documented disability now (epilepsy), but those parts of me didn’t impact how I moved through the world until well into my adulthood.

When I reached the point in life where my parents no longer paid my bills, it dovetailed with us splitting on beliefs and ideology and sometimes really simple things, and I had this hard realization. My parents didn’t exist to take care of me. I existed to take care of me. My blood family is a good thing, but it involves a lot of negotiating and often because I’m queer and now married, they can be difficult negotiations. But nothing changes with them unless I stand up for myself.

I’m feeling this way about the US government, especially today, because through history we’ve (we = white people) expected the government to be our parents. We put presidents in power and expect them to take care of us. Presidents, senators, reps, governors, all the way down the line, and clearly that’s not going to work. It’s not how it’s ever worked. Those folks have abused their power. I, personally, have felt safe the last eight years, knowing that Obama is in the White House. And that’s just like letting my dad pay my rent. It’s passive and irresponsible. It’s me not taking care of my country or my rights or my future. It’s me putting all my trust in one guy.

And people of color have known this is how it works all along. They know the government isn’t their friend. Their protector. Their buddy. They’ve had to fight, protest, resist, organize, etc, all along to get any rights.

And now liberal, white folks, those of us who want to wake up instead of dream, we are learning the lessons of a young person meeting the real world. Daddy’s not gonna bail you out anymore. And honestly, Daddy wasn’t doing you any good bailing you out in the first place, because it made you believe that having your person in power meant you were going be taken care of. Like some spoiled college kid. That shit ain’t gonna cut it anymore it. Sorry.

Basically, all this is to say, is we gotta grow up. Americans need to be adults about self-governance. Because regardless how it was with cool Dad Obama, we don’t have parents now. We’re on our own. We’re gonna have bills to pay and have needs to address. You’re going to need to negotiate with that government. Local and state government, first. We are gonna have to step up and govern ourselves. Every damn day.

I’m not saying I want to be here. I am saying we have to be.

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I tend to think that I am a relatively stable, intelligent, and adjusted-to-adult-life type of gal.  I pay my bills; I go to work (although, by my own hand, I am in transition in the realm of work and working). I’m good to my friends, I’m good to my family. I can cook, clean, keep the cat and plants alive.  I have investments, I have savings; I own a car and car insurance.  I could probably dress better and maybe spend a little bit more time/money on my appearance, but I’d rather spend it on food, drink and travel.  I’m just that kind of girl.  I have two degrees; I think well, read well, write well, and talk well.  I have numerous small talents and useful abilities.  When I put my mind to something, I generally get it done and done well.  I consider myself informed and informing, willing to pass on the wisdom I’ve gained in my short life to others.  I am flexible, adaptable, and charming.  I am a person, I have value and I mean a lot to some pretty fabulous people who also mean a lot to me (with the exception of the pseudo stalker, I suppose).

And I’m gay.  I am gay.  And for some people, that pretty much puts a large red X through everything good, responsible and respectable that I’ve done in my life. I become a pervert.

Now, before you go off on a tangent about how that’s wrong and those people are wrong and how love makes way more sense than hate and how I am no less loved or lovable because of my orientation than any heterosexual person, let me say this.  Sometimes, that person calling me a pervert is me.

Today, I was walking outside to my car to get something I needed, and I got a text from an attractive girl who I know is also gay.  She was texting me about work stuff, I know she’s in a relationship, I am leaving the city in 4 days, but all this hasn’t stopped me from nursing a tiny crush on her.  Reasoned or not, it’s the truth.  She’s not really my type, and I have no delusions of anything further than flirty conversation (which there has been), but it’s fun to think about relationships with other lesbians and how they might look or turn out.  So, I’m walking to my car, I get this text, and I’m thinking about her for a second, and then I hear this tiny voice deep inside.  It says, “What is wrong with you?”  And suddenly I feel heavy; like a middle-aged balding man, with a slightly skewed leering face, with an addiction to child porn and a cute little 11-year old next door.  I feel sick and gross and twisted.  I feel perverted.  And the little voice says, “That’s disgusting.  You can’t like her, that’s wrong.”  All those years of hating myself for thinking that certain exceptional friends of mine were friends I wanted to keep for myself and have exciting adventures with and travel the world with, be close to and be comforted by the scent of come rushing back.  All those innocent terrifying pubescent thoughts return, thoughts that made me so careful and so deeply concerned that I should find a boyfriend or at least a boy to “like” so no one would notice that I was deeply smitten with Margaret or Jessica or Kristen or Kari.  (Real names, sorry ladies.) And even when I liked a boy and I wanted to feel him touch me when he was near me, I had to realize that I felt exactly the same way about the girl I liked when she was near.  All those times watching the X Files, and vocally praising the chiseled chin of Fox Mulder, when inside I was berating my heart for leaping at the sight of Dana Scully.  All that smacked into my gut with the force of a thousand rejections.

I know “it’s ok to be gay.”  I know that when I love someone, I love her for herself, but her body is certainly part of her self. That will not go away.  I am possessed of a certain understanding that loving women is something I will do for the rest of my life.  (Hopefully, one woman for most of it.) I know it is ok, and I know I will be ok.

But this is why the suicide rate for gay teens is higher… society, family, (some) friends, and the church all have little voices that I have heard my entire life that have been pouring into the small voice I heard on my way to the car.  Society, family, friends, and the church are still pouring into that small voice.  It is the voice of fear.  It is the voice of the lost.  It is the voice I may never be able to excise completely.  It tells me that the haters are right and the haters will win.  And family, friends and the church (not sure about society) say it’s for my own good.  It’s in my best interest that I “become” heterosexual, that I find a man, that I straight-en myself out and get on with my otherwise fairly conventional life.  Give in.  Give up.  And while I know that I can do none of those things, it pricks at the heart of my heart, because I have seen the warning signs of the life it prophesies: lonely, bitter, frustrated, empty and ultimately alone.  The life that perversion will bring you to.  All the good things I have going for me will waste away, and I will be left with the mere skeleton of what my life could have been.  And I, with all those teenagers, question for a moment whether this is really worth it, the struggle, the hate, the picking up and carrying on.  Because it hurts.

However… when I am strong enough to listen, there is the voice of Hope counteracting this.  The voice of Hope is pretty much what I’ve been living on this year.  The promise that the best is yet to come.  That this too will pass. That the haters will not flourish.  That what I believe and what I live for will be validated by truth, reality, and love.  My friends and mentors embody this hope for me.  My life is good.  Life in general is good.  I would never give it up because of this.

I see two immediate challenges of my adult life on the horizon.  One is finding a career where I feel the need to stay, where I want to be for a long time.  The other is coming out to my parents.  I’m working on the former, but the latter seems like something I’ll never be ready for as long as that small terrible voice still lives inside.  How do I get it out, how do I get free? Oh this is a complicated part of life and living.  This is something that I will have to carry with me and ponder.  But I feel it least when I am working hard and playing hard and genuinely “being” with those around me.  I feel it least when I feel loved.  And when I have it set aside is when I am most attractive to others.

That’s my answer to the voice, I suppose.  What’s wrong with me? Nothing, as long as I’m being myself.

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