The title of this post could mean a great many things. It is my intention that it does. Not out of a desire to obfuscate, but rather to carry something multifaceted, sparkling, clear, and hard like a diamond. Nor is it out of a desire to be obscure or like an oracle, leaving you to wonder.
Lately, I have been living through a Japanese phase. Reading books, revisiting cultural references, living through snippets of my own past. One of the cultural touchstones I have been turning over has been the importance of ancestors in some Eastern cultures. This is not ancestry, per se, an obsession with family trees, or snobbery about who someone may or may not be descended from—the bloodsport of genealogists. It is about respect.
For the first time in history, we are a juncture where the flow of respect may be changing directions, towards future generations. In conversations with many friends, we have shared this idea that our parent’s generation, and indeed every one that we could think of before us, resisted the social changes brought about by new generations, thinking their way, the conservative way, was better. How they feared for the fabric of society!
And yet, our generation has been totally unable to deal with the challenges we face. We have not escaped the scourge of war. We have not escaped beggar-thy-neighbour government policy in either a domestic or international context, we continue to debate whether climate change is real rather than addressing it, socio-economic inequality is the worst it has been in history, the patriarchy still rides high in the saddle, and we struggle with simply letting our fellow humans just be (says a transgender person who has had a very supportive ride).
The ones who got away were the ones who could not be held. Perhaps they were fighters, or perhaps they were too insignificant to notice, and perhaps they were most like water, flowing just naturally in the way that they needed to go. Simply being.
I am a witch. Quite literally so. I have known this since I was small. Nobody needed to tell me. I don’t know many witches, but I have met a few. More of them recently. And that is a gift of accepting one’s own witchiness–to know and feel the presence of other witches. I suppose we all feel our witchiness in different ways. The gift, for that is what it is, likely rides within us in very different ways. I am still learning in myself the form this takes, but am finding little by little what it is, and will and do share the tidbit along the way.
Several of my progenitors were witches. The word “witch” like the word “bitch” is a word that is being reclaimed by empowered women. It is a powerful word. One of my teachers in this world, admonished me for its use, noting the negative connotations were just as powerful as the positive ones, and suggested I use the word “healer” instead. She is a rather powerful witch herself, no matter the word she uses, and when I was in her lair, felt energy more powerful than I have felt in a lifetime. I will write about what we did together soon. She is beautiful, a snow queen, a white witch, perhaps the most powerful I have met. She is a healer and has connected me to female energy in ways that are mysterious and divine to me.
The existence of any human is predicated on their lineage having gotten away in one form or another, having had the chance to procreate, perhaps even raise a child. In my case, that includes more than one person who was executed for her witchcraft. I learned this long after I felt the calling.
We often tell ourselves that so-and-so doesn’t know what they’re missing. This is cold comfort for the jilted one. My wife has rejected me. Together for a long time, bounds by vows which now lie broken. I tell myself she doesn’t know what she’s missing. In truth, I believe it. But even if she does know, and that is the basis of her conscious decision, I can also believe that she still doesn’t know. That is a comforting belief, and one which I no doubt share at some point with most of humanity. For such is love. In this sense, I am the one who got away.
What happens when we get away? It can be a great motivator. I’ll show them. If this is the spark of energy that gets things moving, that is wonderful. But sustaining it can only come from within. Whatever gets sparked by that initial animus has to be much bigger. The spark must beget a conflagration. And a conflagration only thrives in passion.
Passion belongs to the stream. Passion is not water flowing uphill. Passion is water following its path downstream, around all obstacles, pooling its resources if needed before once again breaking free. In other words, the conflagration of creative energy that life can represent, only comes to those who are themselves.
There will be a cost to me of coming out. It is called a cost of being. We all carry it in one way or another. The cost I carry is one that removes me from the column of hetero-normative cis white male privilege, an icon of the patriarchy, and places me in this other box called transgender. Many of my trans sisters and brothers lament the cost, and in truth I do not yet fully live the consequences, and yet the costs are dwarfed by the blessings they bring.
Most of my life right now is a one-lane, one-way road filled with trans joy, creative beauty, optimism, joy in the present, hope for the future. Every now and again, I have to run two lives in parallel, stepping into boy mode, just enough to go to a meeting, for instance. Those moments are becoming fewer and fewer, and because of how unacceptable they are to me, are gradually being stamped out. In a way, I would have liked the timing and method to be fully on my terms, but I don’t feel that I can do this any longer, as to remain even a little bit hidden just doesn’t feel good. I am proud of being trans. It is a wonderfully rich and kaleidoscopic feeling which has opened so many beautiful things to me. It is of little consequence that some people may find it disarming or alarming.
Of course, we can celebrate the ones who got away from us too. I think first of people I loved, but perhaps didn’t love in a way that was in harmony. Whether that was conscious or unconscious, whether it was she or me. Sometimes you see an old flame and have the curiosity of “I wonder what happened to…” satisfied. Most of the time, “that’s it” is a probable rejoinder as we see ourselves, inevitably, as so much better than who they ended up with—can it ever be any other way? But every now and again, we meet up with an old flame, and though we may either not know their new partner, or know them and disregard them, the evident joy and energy on our partner’s faces speaks volumes of just how suited their match is.
Not too long ago in Berlin I had the chance to encounter an old flame, a woman who once asked me point blank while holding my throat, “do you want me to slap you?” before repeating herself. I still regard that moment as “the one that got away,” for I remained silent, wishing her to read my mind and just start hitting me. It is what I needed, what we needed, and what she needed. But in that instance, our needs were not satisfied, and the stream dried up.
Seeing her, more radiant and beautiful than ever, seeing her life absolutely flying, she, completely high on life itself, was such a tonic. I thought at the time, if only she had been like this back then. But the truth was, that I was not the person who could help feed this energy that she has now. We were not suited. Sometimes that is a hard lesson to learn, other times not.
That’s okay. But there is a big lesson in there somehow. It is one that I am learning most profoundly now. The less we expect of others, the more we simply be, with them and with ourselves, the more that life gives us. How is this possible? How is it possible to be with someone and not assert our needs? I hear you. But when we are true in our energy, we will attract others who are in tune with that energy. We will find ourselves in harmony with those around us. Harmony begets giving, begets fulfilment.
People change over time. What people need changes. What if being true to ourselves also means living for ourselves? Does that make us selfish? Is it narcissistic?
I am learning to trust in simply being, and not wanting or expecting things from others. Doing things to please or satisfy, to give to get, but settling into the moment. It has taken a lifetime.
Small price to pay for being the one who got away.
The ones who got away is about rejection, missed opportunity, loss and life. Who stays is meant to stay; who goes is meant to go.