I find it ironic how we, as transgender folks, fight through all the shit, stigma, and strait-jackets of the gender binary, only to be bound by other aspects of binaries found in our culture, often times fueled by our ego as it doesn’t like uncertainty, fear, and shame.
Which is why, for me, transcending my ego is a top priority. I am onto my ego now, and I’m trying to be more conscious and aware, to be more in the present moment to dissolve my ego.
I recently got a text message and phone call from an ex-girlfriend, Amy. We met in graduate school and dated for over 2 years, and even after we broke up, we still saw each other intimately for a few more years.
Our relationship was incredibly intense, and I can say the duration of our relationship was one of the most painful yet educational segments of my life.
We occasional still keep in touch, but prior to this text I received on Christmas, we hadn’t talked in about 18 months.
We ended up talking on the phone for 30 minutes, and caught up with one another, and I realized there was still a spark there between the two of us. The only caveat was I hadn’t told her about my gender transition, so for the entire time we were talking, she was still referring to me with my old name and what she thought was the correct gender pronoun.
She suggested we meet up for lunch, and hinted that she still loves me, and that I will always have a special place in her heart. I told her I still thought of her quite fondly from time to time.
“Great,” she said. “We should definitely meet up then!”
“You wouldn’t want to meet up with me now….I’ve changed a lot…” I said to her, hoping to dash her spirit.
“Change is good. What could possibly have changed so much that you can’t even do a simple lunch with me?”
Despite the fact that she had expressed bigotry towards gays and lesbians, I knew with 100% certainty that my hesitancy to tell her I was now living as a woman had nothing to do with her views on GLBT people and everything to do with my shame gremlins.
“What if she never wants to talk to me again? What if she thinks I’m sick?” My ego began coughing up countless “what if” scenarios to dissuade me from telling Amy.
My ego went on: Or if I did want to meet up with her, perhaps cutting my hair and de-transitioning would be the only option?
So I just pulled a tranny move: I did nothing.
I was not clear about explaining my current life status with her, and I also stood my ground on justifying the reasons I didn’t need to tell her. “I’m finally happy, and it’s none of her business anyway. She doesn’t need to know,” I would say to myself, trying to avoid being vulnerable.
Yet, I still struggled with the fact that I felt stuck. If I truly believed that she didn’t need to know, or if I was okay with losing touch with her, I would have felt okay and have been able to move on upon arriving at that decision.
The very fact that I still wanted to control what she thought about GLBT people and cared about her potential reaction clearly indicated that I wasn’t willing to cut my losses. The very root of my behavior where I wasn’t letting go was being implemented by me holding off on making the one step forward that would have forced me to release control of the past. The choice I had made to not tell Amy, in essence, was the very obstacle blocking me from letting go of our shared past.
I was too afraid to feel vulnerable.
So what made Amy so different than other friends and coworkers that I told about my transgender history?
She is also from a Chinese background. She knew all of my buttons, and my history, inside and out. She was much more of a threat than other candidates, given her baseline knowledge of me.
And I finally acknowledged to myself that if I couldn’t be calm about this decision, then moving forward was something I would have to do at some point.
I realized what was exhausting wasn’t the fact that I had work to do, and to do the work; it was anticipation of doing the work and procrastination. It was beating myself up and trying to pull Houdini after Houdini in getting out of the necessary work, and exhaustion was running on the hamster wheel and not facing the necessary steps to grow.
Often times I would have knowledge or clarity about a certain issue or struggle, but my lack of practice would occasionally lead me to make poor choices, where I would watch my ego bully me into placing what I already knew weren’t binary aspects about myself into binary categories and boxes….or what I called shaving the radish endlessly.
So what can I do in the future to lessen the anxiety and tail chasing from my ego wanting to sort binaries? Understand that self actualizing and integrating isn’t always comfortable, but that doesn’t mean I have to know the results beforehand and fear the unknown. To acknowledge that most of my amazing experiences were all completely different than what I had planned or anticipated, and most importantly….to enjoy the journey rather than seek the destination.
And after all this tail chasing, Amy not only reacted in a nonchalant manner to my updated womanly pictures, but she also asked if we could get together for lunch this Saturday so she could see how beautiful I am in person now that I’m living as myself.
Smack my head.