The body, for many of us in Western Society, is a site of fragmentation and trauma. Events, over the course of life, transpire upon it, and we sometimes have a strong sense of memory about them. We often decide things must be permanent when they aren’t always, necessarily. This statement is true for me about healing, and true for me about gender, because as a genderfluid person, I flow between the boundaries of masculine and feminine identification often.
When it comes to physical or emotional trauma, many of us must, of course, work through our sites of pain using the resources we know and understand. Sometimes, a specific resource that once worked begins to fail us. It might be our sense of superstition, a specific system of medicine, or our ego boundary that cannot be permeable in a sense that is holistic.
I’ve found that when this happens, it means it is the perfect time to work through something, let go of my past, and look inward, outward, and forward to the good that is all around me — at every moment, in an ever-present, ever-unfolding way. This recognition of good is not always, necessarily a panacea, but it makes the load lighter when we must bear a heavy burden, and can help us navigate to places where healing is possible, in terms of the healing that transpires spontaneously and the type that requires harder work.
It’s been a long period of unpacking the pain dynamic in my life, as of late. It’s culminated in a submission to an anthology — and I’m proud to say that the letter I wrote and an altered photograph of an art sequence I created and submitted has been accepted for print.
Enough/Enough Anthology is still looking for excellent submissions, so if you are interested in making peace with your body or domestic/sexual assault in a non-binary way and care to turn a pen, this is an excellent opportunity to do so.
When it comes to my journey, the past few years of healing have been a wild ride. I’m a floroquinolone toxcity survivor who didn’t learn what had caused her strange health problems until the FDA updated its black box warning on Cipro a year after I experienced my symptoms.
My transformation in gender began when I was at my peak academically and physically — several months before I succumbed to the proven dangerous combination Cipro and steroids, as I was dealing with a divorce from a religious husband who actively translated Hebrew from the Old Testament to defend abusing me.
In that period, I remember having a strange dream. In it, I was surrounded by sumptuous things I had loved all my life. They were lovely. I appreciated every single one of them. Warm places to sleep. Companionship. Enough of everything I could ever need.
As most memorable dreams are dramatic, in some form or fashion, my thoughts took a dramatic turn. Suddenly everything I ever loved was taken from me. It was a struggle to watch the life I knew turn to dust as I tried to keep the pieces together. It was all in vain. All that was left after everything crumbled were some newly-formed translucent pebbles that I held in my hand.
In my dream, I learned to love the pebbles I still clutched as they multiplied all around me. When I was angry for what I lost, they’d explode, and they’d cut me, like glass. When I was angry at an injustice that someone else built and threw them at a structure, even when that throwing was done in justified anger, they’d explode. The debris would always come hurtling toward me.
Surprisingly, though, in my dream, when I learned to speak with more love than anger, things would change. And things would grow. The good, when I nurtured it, would ripple, fan out, and become, kind, tall, loving — wise old trees with great capacity to bear fruit.
This dream proved meaningful for me. I look back on it when I reflect on my life that has been difficult to bear after being mostly ignored by the medical establishment and embraced by people who actually believe that things that terrible can happen to people — the freaks, the geeks — the people who have experienced great trauma themselves. The problem with that crowd though, when it’s the out-group, is that we all lean on each other for support while none of us is getting exactly what we need. We’re prone to cut one another on our rough edges unless we’re willing — and that’s really willing to take the time to work on smoothing them out.
And so, after all the anger involved in a life filled with periods of achievement despite marginalization, here I am, in this present space. I am working on feeling secure and confident in myself, and who I am — while leaving plenty of room for others to be the amazing people that they are.
I am planting seeds for kind, loving trees, and reminded of the poem that got me out of bed and inspired me to pass my M.A. Exam when I was trying to find a way to heal from a gallbladder surgery I waited months for a surgeon to schedule me into, one that I could never afford even with health insurance– and haven’t been able to bounce back from financially:
As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is AUTHENTICITY.
As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody as I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it RESPECT.
As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it MATURITY.
As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment, so I could be calm. Today I call it SELF-CONFIDENCE.
As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it SIMPLICITY.
As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything the drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.Today I know it is LOVE OF ONESELF.
As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is MODESTY.
As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it FULFILLMENT.
As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But As I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection WISDOM OF THE HEART.
We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know THAT IS LIFE!
And as I walk in today’s wisdom of the heart, I know that a healthy sense of self that can be touched by others in love, even after life’s great trials is vital. It’s what keeps me going, even now.
Charlie Chaplin’s words are still true for me as we persist in an age where serious materialism seems to be in competition with post-anthropocentrism, and as I embark on the fabrication of a more eco-friendly sense of spiritualism/relationship to the modes of production. I hope to maintain my healthy sense of egoism.