The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind…which is saying a lot for someone who still doesn’t go out much, these days. M and I had an in-depth talk about detaching oneself from painful memories, and taking care of, “inner children.” In this process, I realized that my painful, intrusive memories are a cry for help from the “me” that was in that past. Not an invitation to relive it, but an invitation to care for my past self.
One of the takeaways I had is that even though I have had a lot of experiences which I did not know were “wrong” at the time, once I know that they were wrong and I shouldn’t have had to experience them, that still doesn’t mean I have to judge them (or myself for having had them) in my psyche.
I’ve also realized what a huge part of my self-definition — and my trauma — relates to sex and gender, when ideally this is not what I want to be defined by. Or, actually: I don’t want to be defined by this when I’m defined wrongly and unilaterally by this. Which is, essentially, a good deal of the time (at least, when I’m dealing with people who don’t know me: which is part of the reason I have been hesitant to get back into the workforce). I entered Writing as a field, because I realized I could alter my voice; without my body to give social cues, I had the ability to speak for myself.
At this point, I’m not certain just how much of my gender and sexual identity (presently speaking, gender-nonbinary and asexual [or at least celibate]) relate back to experiences of trauma, as versus being inborn. It’s unquestionable that I have experienced violence and boundary violations directed at me both because I was seen as a “girl” and because I was seen as a sexual deviant…despite not having had sex. It’s also unquestionable that I really have a hard time imagining sex not being used as a weapon, a performance of social possession, or a requirement of conformity to compulsory heterosexuality…which are all tools of social control. Over me. And no, that is not an invitation.
I understand that sometimes it is different (I mean, I had to get here somehow, and I have a functional family), but by and large I’ve just been either disgusted by sex, or don’t know why I’m there, when I’m there.
It also doesn’t help that there has been so much shaming directed at me for supposedly not preferring males, that even getting to the step of having a relationship with a woman (especially when I don’t see myself as a woman [which is also a way to get outside the scope of social control]), is fairly complicated. It’s like trying to get down the street during Pride, and having to step over a bunch of upturned chairs and picnic tables that some teenage boys, 20 years ago, decided they would throw into disarray.
And the point of being with a woman would not be sexual, but based on a shared understanding of the world: what I’ve gone through, she may have the capacity and life experience, to understand. Of course, the capacity to understand is not limited to one gender.
The struggle to be seen as a person first and not as a gender or an age or a race first, may be a universal one, though uniquely visible in my own life — due to the fact that my apparent gender, age, and race do not correlate precisely to my actual identity, or to my lived reality. In effect, the stories other people make up about who I am, due to the way I appear, do not mesh with who I actually am; they conflict.
Apparently, one of my tasks in this life is to stop giving weight to other peoples’ stories about who I am, as I don’t have the power to change them, and they aren’t really my business, anyway. They’re illusions that have more to do with the people generating them, than with myself. I’ve just got to remember that introducing cognitive dissonance to someone else in this situation, is not a crime (and at times, is necessary).
Ideally speaking…I am a writer, academic (at this point in my life, anyway), crafter, and sometimes (though I see this fading as I specialize), an artist. That’s what I really want to be, not necessarily centering the fact that I’ve had to struggle to be seen as a person and not a social status — though that is there, too. I just didn’t realize it was happening, until I was about 19.
I don’t want to continue to define myself by my fight against others’ misconceptions. Particularly because I can fight as much as I want, but I have no control over them. I have control over myself.
The question is, then, who am I outside of this struggle?