The Others

The last week has been interesting. Thanks to the hard work I have been putting into my recovery, I think I am starting to learn more about myself. I am definitely more accepting of myself. Ok, probably not where I could be, but that is ok, I am still working. See, a few months ago I would not have been that kind to me and believed what I was telling myself.

Back to the last week. Vancouver has an incredible Queer Film Festival. I volunteer and go see films every year. It is so affirming to spend an evening around so many people who could care less what gender I am. It is doubly affirming to see stories of gender non conforming individuals on screen and told by themselves, not someone who just thinks they understand us, but people who actually live it.

Last weekend I had a very interesting conversation with a gay man. I only mention that he is gay because that is the perspective he brought into the conversation. It was about activism. My opinion is that the transgender movement is decades behind the gay and lesbian movement. Here in Canada, gay marriage was legal years before it became illegal to discriminate against a transgender person. So I mentioned to this man that my idea of activism is visibility. Until transgender people quit becoming a label to most of the population and become real living, breathing and speaking people it is going to be difficult to change people’s views. His opinion differed from mine, he thought celebrity visibility is enough. Ellen was his example. Ellen is great, I wish I could afford to go to her show in Vancouver, but Ellen is not a highly visible transgender individual. Even just thinking of her as an example, it was not just celebrities that moved gay rights forward.

That conversation really made me think, though. How important is visibility? Can I possibly do even a tiny bit of good? I think the answer is yes and I will keep trying. I think the answervis yes, because visibility has helped breakdown my own prejudices. Way back in the late 1980’s I was a teenager in the USA. My parents were baby boomers and gave me a real sense of patriotism, I believed what my country told me. I joined the Navy to pay for University. I had grown up under the threat of Soviet nuclear weapons and knew how evil the Soviets were. They were monsters just waiting to attack the US. The ship I was on was on a training cruise in international waters not far from the California coast. For some reason only the brass knew, we ended up beside a Soviet vessel that was trailing us. When the captain announced this, I went to the rails to see along with hundreds of my shipmates. We never had excitement like this when we were training. What I saw made me question even being in the military. On the ship beside us was about thirty or so sailors. They had on funny hats (less funny than ours, I actually liked theirs better) and different uniforms, but they were not the monsters I had been told about. They were young kids looking for some excitement in the middle of a long cruise. They were exactly like us! For me, the evil empire ceased to exist. The awful labels I had grown up hearing held no more power. They were not others anymore, they were just people.

For me, I believe visibility is magic. It has the ability to turn the others into human beings, and it is way more difficult to hate humans. Hating an impersonal label is easier. I hope at least one person I have come into contact with can now see some of their others as real people now. If this happens with enough people then maybe a few more labels can be destroyed and people will be a little closer to celebrating their similarities rather than fighting because of their differences. I am proud of myself for sticking up for myself and for examining my beliefs instead of just accepting his as true.

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FML

When I was a kid, I took care of myself as much as I could.  Each year I spent more and more time away from home.  As a teen I worked at a summer camp and spent all of summer break there.  During the school year I was hardly home at all, I stayed busy evenings and weekends.  Everyone told me how mature I was.

Right after high school graduation I went into the Navy.  That is how I put myself through University.  I never moved back home after that.  I haven’t always done the best job, but I have been taking care of myself since I was a teen.  I have always been very social but I haven’t needed anyone else.  If I couldn’t do it for myself I didn’t do it.
The last few years that has all come undone.  That pisses me off and scares me.  I can’t live my life by myself anymore.  I am not doing a good job taking care of myself and I really suck at asking for help.  On January 13 of this year I tried to take my own life.  It almost worked.  That is the only solution I see to my life and I am really close to trying again.  

I have asked for help but I don’t think I have done it right.  It is hard for me to admit I can’t do it myself.  It is hard for me to trust that someone else will actually help me.  
Since January I have been surviving.  A job I don’t really like at least keeps me distracted during the weekdays.  Work was the only time I was distracted enough not to have to fight for my survival.  Now even when I am at work I am thinking about killing myself.  
If I can’t even take care of myself what is the point of living. 
Sorry I am not more cheerful.  I thought writing might help get some of this out.  I am not doing too good at finding someone to talk to about this or talking about it.  

Happy Birthday

This weekend brings a big day for me, my child turns 18, so not so much a child anymore.  If you don’t know, this is a child I have not seen or heard from in 16 years, which has not been my choice.  My ex decided keeping my child from me would be a good way to hurt me.  A lot of people through the years have tried to comfort me by telling me once he reaches 18 he can decide to reach out without permission.  I understand the good intentions, but it is little comfort.  For me, his eighteenth birthday means I have missed his entire childhood.  There is nothing in this world that can make that ok.  Getting to know him as an adult would be great, but it wouldn’t bring back what I have lost.  

Trump’s America

Looking South from up here, one thing about US politics stands out for me right now.  In one month there is an election in Alabama that has seemed to take on a huge importance.  Maybe I am wrong, but before Trump, there were ultra conservative, racist, homophobic candidates, but even if they might possibly win an election, they didn’t seem quite as threatening.  Now people are expecting this election to be not just a statement about Alabama politics but more of a test to see if 12 months of Trump has turned people away from Trumplike candidates.  Since when has Alabama served as the political weathervane to see which way the wind is blowing?  I grew up in a state that sent an ultra conservative named Jesse Helms to Washington term after term. Yes, he was influential and controversial, but I don’t remember there being such fear that a majority of voters would lean that far right.  Until Trump, it seemed moderates were more of the norm, whether right or left.  Along with everyone else, I will be interested see what message Alabama voters send and how important that message turns out to be for the rest of the country.

Remembrance

I think this is one of the most important days of the year.  Remembering the true cost of wars is important.  We have to remember that war isn’t a Hollywood movie, it is dirty hungry and scared young people killing other dirty scared and hungry young people.  People who have to mature much quicker than they should even though a lot never had the chance for their years to catch up with that maturity.  War sucks and we can’t forget that.  While we honour past heros, we should be looking for ways to avoid future wars.  For every hero we can name, there are countless unnamed dead people.  I am grateful that so many men and women would fight for what they believed in and at the same time I hope no one will ever have to again.  I hate war, I hate that service people all over the world have to die young.  I hate remembering what it was like to be 19 years old in the military and to have to pack up my dead buddies personal items to send to his parents. Today lets honour all those who have served and tomorrow lets start working on finding ways to make the world safe without guns and killing.

Stray Dog

I have had trouble really getting a good grasp on how I have been feeling, but I think stray dog sums it up best.
Someone finds a stray, says what a nice dog it is and I wish I could keep you, but I can’t and takes it to a shelter.  There was never any intention by them to keep the dog, it just comforted them to say they wish they could.  They feel good though because they “saved” the stray.  It’s not really about the stray, they will never see it again and it honestly had no real impact on their life.
I had some problems over the holidays and as a result,  someone doing their job, said they wished they could invite me to their gathering.  Again, there was no intention to, it wasn’t possible, but they probably felt better and went about their holidays thinking, what a nice thing I did.  Once the holidays were done, I did get more help.  Just like being turned over to a shelter.  The original person even told me that it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t see them anymore because maybe I could get better help elsewhere.  

After the stray goes to the shelter, doctors check to see if its healthy, its fed and taken care of, and meets people who might adopt it.  I am the one everyone says is nice, but no one cares enough about to adopt.  Eventually that one is put down but everyone involved in its care feels good because they passed it on to the right people.  

I am cared for as an employee, a client and a patient, not a person and I am told the things that makes everyone feel better.  I know they are doing their job, and that is important and they are good at it, but at the end of the day, all that matters is that they kept me safe for the time being.  They feel good for saving me.  If they can pass me along before the end of me, they don’t have to worry.  I have no real impact on anyone’s life, I pass through, maybe make them laugh a little, help when I can, then I am gone.  They might think I was nice, but not who they want around for whatever reason.  It’s not their fault, its my flaws.  

Rest in Peace?

Another young woman was killed in Edmonton because of fentanyl.  One of hundreds across the country in recent months.  This beautiful 20 year old is just a statistic to most people, I think we get numbed by all the senseless deaths we hear about each day.  I feel bad about that now.  This statistic had a name, a childhood, and a crying mother that called me last night to tell me. I had known her since she was 4 or 5.

I want her to rest in peace.

Why is that phrase only used for the dead?  I am so sick of the violence and hate in this world.  No wonder some people choose to escape with drugs.  I don’t condone it, but can see how it seems like the right choice for some.  What does it say about our society when bright loving young people would risk their life to escape what we have helped shape?  

We should all be able to rest in peace while we are alive.  More promising young people would still be alive if we could.