Unfinished Daddy Issues Poem

My father says I can’t be a man because I express too much. I’m a slave to my emotions, and I’m using a gender transition to stuff my trauma. 

I feel. 

I sit. 

I process.

and everything I make is steeped in emotion, every drip of paint or drop of ink or flash of flame or cut or weld or arc is sacred feeling encapsulated in a single moment on canvas or metal but then 

I feel.

I sit. 

I process.

and I abandon those loving harsh moment of truth in closets because they are past truths and they are therapy and they exist for me. 

Shameless Self Promotion

 

Please check out my Kickstarter!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iamzine/i-am-who-i-am-becoming-who-i-am-lgbt-zine

If as my friend you’re counting on me to get published copies of the zine and planning on throwing me cash sometime, instead of supporting the kickstarter, I would like you to consider that every purchase on the kickstarter will directly buy me more copies that I can hopefully sell for more income. Additionally it helps me with my planning for how many copies I need. Your dollars go further as an investment this way.

Also it’s a little above fully funded right now so there’s a good chance I might be able to add another set of pages.

I guess to put it another way, if you buy on kickstarter you’re also helping buy copies for two strangers. Sort of. Or you not taking away a copy from a stranger. I dunno. I’m bad at this.

Words of Wisdom

My Very Wise Friend said 

“If your family 

demands you perform 

what they perceive 

as your You-ness 

in order to be 

part of the family, 

that’s not family 

and that’s not love.”

My family has struggles. 

Every one does. 

I think we battle 

more about 

my You-ness. 

See I can’t restrain my me-ness 

and all they seem to think about 

is imaginary penis 

while my brain attempts to run from all 

of these problems with expert fleetness 

but really could I be less

Worried

Ashamed

Real

if I wasn’t truly here 

or am I pretending that my absence 

is a problem solving algorithm 

when the question posed 

by the riddle was always

“How do you have your best life?”

and the answer to the system 

was never supposed to be

“Tap out, give up, it’ll only get harder,”

but instead the lesson was

“FIGHT. Fight and YOU’LL GET STRONGER.”

Pure Sterling

My mother told me

that God is the potter

and I am a cup

but I’m trying to

become a plate

but what she

doesn’t understand 

is that I was 

never meant

to be so simple

and utilitarian

in the first place

and it’s much 

more likely that 

I’m an abstract sculpture 

out of precious metal clay 

and this is my trial by fire 

in the kiln of cruel expectations 

burning away impurities 

and anything less 

than what I need 

to be pure sterling. 

Delirious With Sputum

 

I had a doctor’s appointment.
They gave me antibiotics.
It’s been more than a month
with this sinus infection
but I just kept hoping
I was gonna kick it.
But I’ve been in pain
and I was already there
for something else.
I winced when she
touched my neck.
Later that night
I massaged it,
and panicked when
I felt how incredibly
large and swollen
my lymph nodes were.
As I caressed,
tension released,
and I started coughing.
Delirious with sputum,
I researched
what was happening.
Turns out
lymph node massage
is a thing.
I massaged
until my skin
felt loose.
My double chin
had been storing
extra human goo.
I poked and prodded
the result,
staring at myself
in the mirror.
Was I manlier
with my skin
hanging loose?
And then I pulled
on myself,
enough to
tear my heart,
enough to
rip a seam
where I had
sewed myself together.
I often joke about
being 23 weasels
in a human suit
(It’s supposed to be 24.
Oscar is on FMLA,
he’s working through some shit.
It’s why I limp
unexpectedly sometimes.).
I pulled at the corners
and I saw behind the mask tonight.
The pilot, he feels trapped.

Sheep black by stain

 

I know that I’m not supposed to talk about being crazy.
I know that I’m not supposed to talk about my family.
Or politics.
Or religion.
Or suicide.

I know for damn sure I’m not supposed to talk about my gender and sexuality.
A bunch of anonymous people know I’m not supposed to talk about my alcoholism.
Or my autism.
Or my PTSD.

These are things people get judged for.
These are the things that cause family members to turn into black sheep.
Some black sheep come by it honestly, just melanin, all natural.
But most are stained that way by the vile oily sludge of judgement.

I know these things make people uncomfortable.
You think I don’t know that?
I’ve always known.

I think a little discomfort is a small price to pay, to relieve some sheep of their Sludgement Day.

Dreaming

Dreams are very powerful for me. I have vivid, imaginative dreams, a woven tapestry of realities and falsehoods that make me question everything when I wake up. A drinking dream shatters me. Dreams catalyzed my coming out process. A dream is how I knew I was pregnant.

It’s not something I talk about often. But it’s niggling at my soul, a little catch in the back of my mind. It’s a hurt that’s coming back after being repressed, so that means it is time to process it.

Vulnerability is a risky dialectic of connection and rejection. I know that there is a chance that saying what I have to say will bring closeness and help to salve an old wound. There is also the chance that I will alienate people and start battles I don’t want to get into.

Ultimately, however, the decision comes down to whether there’s someone else out there that might read this and find some peace from it. And so I move forward.

In 2010 and 2011 I was going to school and living in Grand Rapids with my boyfriend at the time and one other girl. I was a shitty roommate to her and I regret that, since she and I had planned to move in together and my boyfriend just kinda never left.

One night I sat bolt upright on the goddamn futon, having had a dream that I was pregnant. I tried to remember when my last period was. I asked him, he didn’t know either. We hustled to a grocery store and got several pregnancy tests, and the first one came back positive almost instantly.

I couldn’t have a child. I am not meant for child rearing. Especially not as my life was. Especially not as my descent into alcoholism was going.

But I didn’t have health insurance. Or a spare $900.

So I turned to the internet.

I don’t recommend anyone try to induce a miscarriage or self abortion or whatever you want to call it. I combined three or four methods and hoped and prayed.

Vitamin C stings. Parsley tea smells like horse piss.

But it worked, over several days. I started to bleed. And bleed. And bleed.

I felt nothing but relief then.

It hurts now.

Sometimes I think about the child I might otherwise have had. Somehow I imagine a boy, and I’m pretty damn sure he’d have curly blonde hair. I wonder about the way things might have gone with my boyfriend/ex husband, who wanted children later on. I question whether I would have cleaned up my act, whether I could have saved a few years of the depression institutionalization yo-yo. I know this sort of thinking is useless though.

Not much can keep me safe from my own insecurities though. About what this makes me, whether I’m a good person. You can be pro-choice all the live-long day and still struggle with internalized hate. I feel so alone. I don’t know anyone else who’s done this, because no one talks about it. So I stay inside my head with all my thoughts, and they percolate into vile piles of self loathing, and little story lines for dreams.

I take a prescription medication now though, one that prevents dreaming. I also have an IUD.

Frack

A man
once told me
the inside
of my skull
was like
a funhouse
filled with mirrors
so the
slightest
little laser
impulse
of emotion
would
bounce around
and
I r fractured
u refracted
split like concrete
served like pie
little slices
teeny splices
page at a time
all stories are lies

Writing a Suicide Note to Myself

I think I deeply underestimate the effect of pain on my mental health.

Oftentimes that pain will lead me to seek out medical care.

That medical care will fall short in myriad ways.

The most damage is done when I am treated like I do not know what I am talking about(which I do, it’s my body and I’m a smart cookie).

They go on to not listen or ignore symptoms.

Systemic misgendering.

Ultimately, ineffective treatments and I have wasted hours, expending myself mentally and physically, with nothing new tried, no answers, no treatments, no referrals, no belief that it would improve, a whole mess of micro aggressions, and worsening pain.

I was writing my suicide note in my head while driving home.

I wasn’t worth listening to. I wasn’t worth respecting. I wasn’t worth treating. I was a drain on the system.

 

A creature of pure torture and it wasn’t going to get better.

Because I will always be the person that writes “LOL” when a form leaves 8 spaces for you to put your medication list.

Because I will need multiple specialists who for some reason can never coordinate their blood work requests.

Because the combined costs for the surgeries I will need to no longer squirm like a child at a funeral just at the idea of being in my body exceeds that of most suburban homes.

Because I have wanted to die as long as I can remember, and only regular therapy, medication monitoring, inpatient hospitalizations, and the occasional emergency interventions keep it from happening.

 

There’s so many stories lately about resuscitating addicts. Someone mentioned a “three strike rule,” where they’d no longer administer emergency medication.

So where does that come in with suicide? How many times do you wake someone up with a smile and tell them they aren’t worthless and sit beside them coloring and chatting as they stare off in to space and beg the universe that JUST ONCE someone would have thrown up their hands and said “well I guess they weren’t worth saving after all.” How many times do you say hello and goodbye to the staff that all knew you anyway before the EMT blacklists your house?How many interventions does it take until when a patient says “I’m worthless,” the reply is, “Well, you’ve met your mental health value quota so, yeah, you’ll have to find some worth somewhere else in life. ”

The mental health system is slow, toxically still full of stigma, and prey to every -ism.

But here I am still.

I was past three strikes years ago, folks.

I thought a line should go in my suicide note- “In lieu of flowers, please send letters to local hospitals and your congressmen.”

 

I came up with some clever lines. Even some stuff about the selfishness of suicide.
Because it’s not. It’s not about you, and you’re being arrogant if you think that. If anything, it’s selfish of you for wanting to keep someone who is suffering that much around, just so you can feel marginally better.

Things like that mindset guarantee I’m not pleasant to be around, I’m pretty sure I don’t have all that many friends, mostly acquaintances.

Profound mental illness, it turns out, is uncomfortable.

I hide behind biting sarcasm a lot. It’s actually the shield that bites back.

 

Then I got to thinking about family. Ain’t that a can of worms.

I thought about the funeral. It’d probably be at the church I grew up in and was chronically awkward in. The one that was 400 people that met in a pole barn when I was 2 and vomited on someone’s shoes and will never live down. I was there as it expanded. As it moved. As it kept rejecting me socially. I was there for the newest addition, millions upon millions of dollars raised. I toured it it when it was scaffolding, sheets of plastic and exposed concrete. I watched as it stretched a video outreach across the globe and my father would occasionally do some paint touch up work on the pastor’s massive boat.

Somehow non-denominational is its own particular denomination. Whodathunkit, it has some very traditional and conservative mindsets.

I knew that without a legally changed name and gender marker, I would be deadnamed among my family until we were all dirt.

And when I came out as pansexual I was told that “a line has been crossed in the eyes of God” if I would ever touch a woman.

And when I came out as transgender I was told that “this was an exploration” and “I will find a revelation.”

“God loves her more than we love her.”

You can change if it’s supposed to cut or be supportive depending on what you emphasize.

My dad had said in the session with my therapist that I have an “emotionally built feminine psyche” and that “guys don’t deal with these emotions.” He figured that a part of my transition goal was to get over trauma through that reasoning. He also said he has nothing but compassion for those that are internally conflicted, which I have been for a very long time.

He challenged me to find one person who was truly happy having done this, 10 years out, figuring that anyone who was transgender would just be so conflicted that they’d never really improve their lives.

Months later my mother was teary eyed when she asked me if I thought I was still saved.

She said “I have to hold onto the thought that you might still be in heaven.”

I wondered at the hellfire that was currently eating her alive, fresh and meaty and ripe, right on this plane of existence.

I thought of all this while I plotted my suicide note. The idea I could be so wrong, so broken that I would be cursed to brimstone and damnation had such a hold on her heart. I fumed.

I spewed. You know, in my head.

Then I craved. I wanted someone to read the note at my funeral. Read the note at the church I was raised in.

I wanted someone to tell them that this is not the gospel. Christ’s blood was spilled so no more has to be.

 

I got home.

I took some medication.

I pet fuzzy animals.

I relaxed on the bed.

I felt a little bit better.

 

Then I got angry.

Angry enough to do some good.

When you are low enough that you’ve almost stopped feeling bad, stopped feeling anything, you can find angry.

You can tap into it.

 

I realized that no one is going to do my advocacy for me.

I may already be fighting hard.

I will have to fight every damn day.

And it will keep hurting.

But I can’t give up and leave my mantle for another, they must carry their own.

I have to be vulnerable.

I have to do it myself.

I have to tell my story myself.

I have to live long enough to improve MY life myself.

To show who I am.

To prove it.

Maybe only to myself.