Where did those damn words go? they were here just a minute ago. Now a song from my youth has kidnapped my brain Sent it down the rabbit hole, To the accompaniment of “Are you going to San Francisco?” I’m suddenly deep in the summer of ’67 My junior year of high school looming large It was my time of turmoil, fear of the future swelling each day. The war was a constant drumming in my ears empathy tearing at my heart. These memories remain even though The person that created them no longer exists. Each scene remembered, suggested other memories. Growing exponentially this mass of recollections has soon consumed all of my brains computing power The words that were to last forever, words dragged across the threshold From the mists of a dream into the waking world. have slipped away, vanished before being committed to permanence Now displaced by visions of fading photographs, snippets of songs and a gnawing disquiet. my mind relinquishes any semblance of control, submerging itself wholeheartedly in a world of ghosts. Remembered honestly, this was the most difficult time of my life Yet unintended in this flood of remote memories, Lies long hidden evidence of strength I didn’t know I possessed. Strength that in the end allowed that terrified boy to survive.
Life has certainly taken a turn for the better lately but
My natural inclination is to
Wonder if this is the calm before
Has this fear of success been hard wired into my brain,
By simple repetition of a lifetimes of bumps and bruises
Where has my propensity to identify
with Eeyore come from?
Is this a product of a childhood trauma perhaps?
Or a genetic disposition
Or simply a cruel joke
Of an unsympathetic universe.
To dwell in this dark cloud all the while ignoring
The silver lining is exhausting,
Caustic to hope, fatal to mental stability.
Killing the joy of hard won forward progress.
To stand still, to give in to doubt, is to perish.
To allow uncertainty to plant the seeds of paralysis
Is to guarantee a fresh wave of self-doubt
And an extended stay in the grip of depression.
So, it is that I endeavor to remain fixed in the present moment.
Turning a blind eye to the past and its burden of regrets.
Turning a deaf ear to the whispers of the future predicting failure.
Accepting this moment as a gift
Remembering that tomorrow is promised to no one.
I told a friend that in response to my “I got the job” declaration, I was showered with 150 congratulations! As well as a smattering of yays, way to goes, awesomes, yippies And several I still haven’t figured out yet. Yet amid this cloud of well wishes and happy thoughts Not a word from my daughter. You have to figure out a way to let it go, I was told As many times as I have considered this advice I still have no answer as to what that would look like Does that simply mean not speaking aloud? Of what is swirling about incessantly in my mind Or ignoring the pain that throbs deep in my heart. Can you ever really put behind you The pain of what feels like rejection? Whether it comes from a direct confrontation Or a slowly descending veil of silence. Transition provided for lifelong friends, the impetus to vanish silently into the shadows, never to be seen again. Even having sworn to erase them, having refused the whispered call of a shared memory. Their ghosts continue to materialize unbidden, Reinforcing the truth some memories and traumas are indelible. But family is different isn’t it? Doesn’t blood and DNA matter Seems like it would, wouldn’t it, seems like it should, shouldn’t it? What’s all that blood thicker than water mean? does it matter at all? Or is it simply a thin pencil line on a family tree Reaching out into the world each day through my words Visible and vocal my presence is obvious What triumph or tragedy is currently playing out in my world Can’t be missed by anyone that would choose to look. What does it say when your child prefers not to know? Does my genetic connection give me a special right to expect her to? How do I judge if my expectations are unrealistic? Or should I simply assume parents’ expectations of children are always unrealistic?
I listen to the poets as they pass
one by one across the stage
Sharing insights on their lives,
their hearts open to scrutiny.
Even with subjects personal and traumatic
They project outward positive thoughts
Dealing with the lingering effects
of shitty circumstances life had handed them.
I had arrived feeling devoid of inspiration,
looking simply for distraction.
That desire was certainly achieved
Yet more surprising,
Were the emotions wrapped in the words,
Both quiet and boisterous they spread.
Flowing out from the stage to blanket those below.
Subtle nods and barely audible ummm’s
Confirm the connection has been made.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” - Maya Angelou The years of my youth, long ago dissolved into history. Only a vague awareness of their relentless passage remains Undefined longing, born of the story I lived each day, but never knew Left ghosts of uncertainty woven into the fabric of my existence. Ever present and seemingly unchanged across the years, These longings linger like the smell of wood smoke from last night’s fire Clinging to my skin, wrapping themselves about each stand of hair, I could feel them, gripping my heart, whispering in my dreams. I see their shadowy form in my reflection, even though others could not. Part of my soul, they are my story, one never spoken aloud. A lifetime of grappling with their shadows has brought understanding, the why of their existence, a final acceptance of their truth. That I was to live my life as a transgender woman was no longer deniable Yet I remained cloaked in invisibility, unable to summon the courage to face the inevitable consequences certain be unleashed Yet my words, as an animal in a cage, long to break free of confinement, run free in the world Fear calls upon every argument, no matter how thinly disguised To strangle my voice, to preserve the status quo of silence. Hope rises in resistance, growing stronger bit by bit. Until the resistance finally crumbles and the words pour forth. In defiance of fear, swaddled in the words of my story A lifetimes labor comes to fruition, truth in physical form. With this realization came courage, came visibility. And the woman that is Rachel was born into this world.
Did you ever want to do a thing? But don’t really know why But don’t really know how. I have. Did you ever want to know? Why you want to do a thing But don’t know how to begin Not sure if you want to begin I have. Did you ever want to figure out The why of this thing But are afraid of the why of the why Not sure what’s hiding in the why I have. Did you ever wonder If the thing is really a thing Or something else entirely I have. Did you ever wonder, could it be one thing, Masquerading as another thing Just to throw you off the trail. I have. Did you ever wonder where? The thing would lead you If you could find the courage To follow the path into the unknown I have, I will, I am.
I need to release these words, these emotional triggers, they’re bound up in my psyche like moths in a spider web, I need to cut them free, let them drop to the ground
But to deal with the feelings I have to deal with the pain that comes from confronting them, without any assurance that it will do anything other than make me feel bad.
I had a dream the other day, the phone rang and when I said hello I was surprised to hear my daughters voice.
In a sweet bubbly voice, she said “we’re having a cookout for the 4th why don’t you join us for some grilled hot dogs and beer.”
I immediately woke up, struck with the realization that this was a dream, because this would never happen.
The disappointment will surely linger all day
This morning I watched a program on PBS, an in depth look at gay history and profiles of individuals and their personal histories and struggles. Each of them discussed the people and events that were instrumental in their acceptance of the fact that they were gay. Looking back, they realized how it was a pivotal moment that kept them from living their lives in darkness.
In most cases, the moment in their history that proved to be life changing wasn’t significant in isolation, yet even the largest explosion requires a spark.
In one case it was simple as acceptance. A friend, the first he had come out to said, “none of that matters you’re Tom and we’re friends.” Now 40 some years later he sought to reconnect with her to tell her how important that moment in his life had proven to be.
I never did find out if he had success in finding her, I couldn’t watch anymore, I was crying so hard. It was natural that I would take each of their stories and compare it to my own. The results left an ache.
All those years, how would my life have played out if I had had a friend that made me feel safe enough to be honest with. Could their simple acceptance have nourished the awareness of who I actually was and released me from a lifetime of darkness?