One of my dearest friends noted that my focus on personal growth involved a lot of “working on the self.” She didn’t say it, and maybe she didn’t intend it, but I read it as a gentle nudge to stop taking myself so seriously. She’s right.
Another friend noted something similar, about “how much work I am doing on the self.” But she also said in the same conversation, “I hope you’re keeping a diary.” She was thinking about the transition along the gender spectrum, but also about submission, sexuality, wellness and healing.
What I have enjoyed most of my interactions with these two individuals has been how they have mirrored an at times painfully confessional sharing with sharing of their own. There is nothing like sharing to deepen the bonds of friendship. Especially when it springs up naturally, without guile.
The process of writing is a way of thinking things through. Thoughts and feelings, though felt and considered, are often disordered, contradictory, and clumsy. The act of writing brings order and coherence to them. That process matters greatly to me.
Finding my way out of fetishism is nothing compared to learning how to love someone with purity and devotion and being. I do not doubt that this is within my grasp, but the path towards it is far more challenging than grappling with gender dysphoria or having a sex change.
I now own my gender. My non-binary identity can be lived on both sides of the spectrum. It just happens that I am trending female and will be more able to accept my body and my place in the social hierarchy with a change of sex than I am today. There is no reason for me to stop being non-binary even after a sex change operation, or to more comfortably inhabit my skin as a transgender female. No matter what I look like. What do I mean by “owning my gender”? I live 90% or more of my life out. There are few pockets left where I am not fully out. Including the town I live in, where people stare at me uncomfortably. I have taken to staring back, as if to say, “let this gender expression be your problem, not mine.”
And indeed, I feel that being out is an obligation. Not that I wish to preach, but I come from a level of privilege that cannot be denied, and if I can’t do this, how could any of my trans brothers or sisters do this? Yes, it is both honour and obligation to live out and hope that others will take courage.
The beauty and necessity of therapy
Friends are beautiful and necessary for life. But you cannot use your friends as therapists. My wife criticised my use of therapists, and when I suggested that she might benefit from one, first said, “what, so we can talk about you?” before going on to say, “that’s what my friends are for,” and then added, “at least I have friends.” She’s not in a great place yet. But given how much more than the half of our accumulated wealth she is asking for and getting in our divorce settlement, she should be filled with glee. As for me? My lawyer has become the protector of my boundaries in this process. No wonder I like her so much. And just how bad I am at protecting my boundaries keeps coming home to roost.
We pay therapists to listen to us talk about ourselves. We pay therapists to put up with this stream of self-absorbed drivel. And when we are lucky with the therapist, we pay them to wrestle with it and offer it back to us as learned medicine. You can’t ask that from your friends. At least not too often, or you’ll bore them. And there is nothing worse than being a bore.
Many people go to SW’s because they find a safe space to talk. Many people are uncomfortable speaking of sexual or intimate matters with a therapist in ways that they will open up with a Sex Worker. Although there is no topic I have not been willing to share with my therapists, the act of being naked and vulnerable and in the throes of emotion and arousal makes this kind of sharing even more charged. If you don’t think that this kind of empowering and empowered sex work isn’t some kind of holy work, I implore you to think again.
SWs are not therapists. But are they great listeners? In my limited experience, very. And some of the kindest and most thoughtful people I have ever met. Many clients find those brief moments of intimacy do wonders for dispelling loneliness. This can become dangerous. Dependency is never good. In any walk of life. I hate to say it, but I regret not “spreading the love” when I first started playing in the BDSM world, as my focus on and commitment to one person led to some imbalances. Readers and friends alike referred to “sub frenzy” which I pooh-poohed because of the juiciness of the feelings of submission aroused in me.
The sin of not growing
We have but one innings. We are all given tools. Some are more abundant and joyful than others, and we all have both good and bad to contend with in ourselves and in our lives. It is very easy to accept where we are, the comfort of not moving forward, how hard it is to grow. It is the same with discipline, staying on the wagon, controlling compulsion, being focussed, moving forward.
The ultimate act of self-love is tough love. Holding space for the self begins with standards—pushing for change.
These past two years I have learned so much and have grown so much. I hardly know previous me. But the more I do grow and move forward, the less I realise I have accomplished, and the more that lies ahead. Not in physical, concrete things, but in terms of being. Of inhabiting a state of grace.
You may rightly say, what a colossally self-absorbed twat to say such a thing. And yet, should we not all strive for grace? Is there anything wrong with that? And recognising that I constantly fall short, say the wrong things, feel the wrong things, do the wrong things…and worst of all, might even make excuses for myself. What of that?
In writing this blog, I am exposing myself to self-criticism and the judgment of others. Those who find these words do not resonate will simply move on. Perhaps there will be others who agonize over the same things, have similar lived experiences. I don’t wish to assume or imagine that someone might be “helped” by reading these posts. But if such is the case, how beautifully fortunate.
It is a diary. And in some ways, I think of a diary not as something that is meant to be read, but rather as silent witness. This blog is a silent witness, in all the ugliness, nakedness, and truth.
Why this post now?
In part, for the questions expressed by my friends. But even more because of how people respond to me as I change my way of being. And I am not referring to gender. I am referring to a state of being. That is a kind of personal openness and honesty, but also in the way I relate to others. And what is happening is that how I relate to people affects how they relate to me…and as I become more and more without guile, more innocent, more giving, I also receive more…and for once, I am in a place to appreciate what I am receiving. And it just makes me want to give more and to continue this process.
It is a self-reinforcing proposition. What more could one ever hope for?