What’s on my mind today? What’s keepin’ my ole’ tum in a knot today? It’s the simple fact that almost six years after coming out to myself, and more than three years after coming out publicly, I still have a lot of the same inner stuff going on that I had all those years I lived straight.
I thought, somehow, that after becoming awash in my new identity, old inner troubles would dissolve and float away.
Well, some have. Truly. I don’t think I’m broken all the way inside anymore. I know that I can be myself and be open and feel happy about who I am. I’m not worried about impressing, or obeying, or pandering to, men, anymore. I don’t judge my appearance by how I look in the straight world, and often when I look in the mirror I see something that surprises me – a light in my eyes that isn’t diminished by the growing lines around them.
What brung me here, tonight, so to speak, to this li’l corner of the blogosphere to spout off about myself, is something that doesn’t really want to leave me yet. Or I don’t want to leave it. Or something. It’s a Texas two-step with a metaphorical chainsaw, and it’s an exercise in something I don’t know how to change, even though the results I’m getting indicate change could be a damn good thing…
It’s the clingy thing. The needy thing. That thing where I want to be all independent and shit, but then I get all tied up in wanting to be attached. And I don’t think I do especially well within myself as I dance around that inner dynamic. Maybe that’s the inner critic speaking, but hell, I’ve been steppin’ on my own toes long enough that I think I can say when I’ve hurt myself. Ya know?
I understand that most of what goes on externally for me is a replay of what is going on inside of me. And what it feels like, this war between the side of me that wants independence and the side that wants connection, is a war with no winners. At the moment, anyway. Both sides are exhausted, and both sides are at a stalemate, and both sides are injured, and both sides need rest. And – you guessed it – the side of me that wants independence needs all of that to be fixed by more independence; while the side of me that wants attachment wants it all to be fixed by connection.
My independent self tells my connection-seeking self to stop with the whimpering already and get the fuck over it and remember that being a lesbian is, above all things, about being independent. No patriarchy here! No one to answer to! Go solo and be strong!
The other side of me says, but what about softness, gentleness, that horribly misused word love (for which I have yet to find a suitable replacement, dammit, even though it’s cliche enough to make me roll my eyes as I toss it off to myself)? What about finding stability through real connection, rather than trying to just go it alone all the time?
I look at my sweet doggie and wonder where she gets it. That capacity she has to just accept me. I suck as a dog person. I came to dog-personhood later in life than I came out. I was scared of dogs. My daughter convinced my ex that she needed a dog. He got one and it was all his to take care of with her. But, hell, she was a golden retriever puppy and over time I just fell for her. While I was falling for her the ex was getting tired of her. That worked out well for the both of us, since now the dog is mine and there she is, asleep over there after her night-time brushing. I really really suck at dog-personhood. I took her to a trainer for several sessions, and I got some great tips about how to interact with her, how to understand her, how to train her in basic commands. She’s incredibly smart, and the trainer (who spent most of his career training dogs for the military) kept commenting on how delicate she is. He got me into the few good habits I do have with her. I used to leave the training sessions and cry because I sucked sooo bad as a dog person. The trainer was endlessly encouraging but so much of the stuff, I just didn’t get. So I took what I could understand, and I do what I know to do, and my sweet doggie somehow accepts it. Her disposition never changes. She is never anything but DELIGHTED to see me. She is over the moon about everything I offer her. And it never changes.
This would be a great way to accept myself, I think. It would be totally new for me. What would it be like if, every time my super-independent self showed up, wearing a cape and ready to fly up in to the air and conquer the universe, I would jump for joy? Well, internally. I mean, at some point the voices in my head have to assume some sort of metaphorical quality or we all have to assume there’s more than one of me in here… heh. And what would it be like if, every time my clingy, needy, aching for connection self showed up, I bounced around and begged to play with that part of me?
What if there’s no war? What if they’re both OK? What if, even if I don’t exactly know the way to do a peaceful Texas two-step between these two characters, it could be a real dance rather than something that feels like they’re shooting a remake of K!ill B!ll in my gut?
What if it’s just all OK? My dog seems to think so. I wake up at night, frequently. And she wakes up and looks at me until she can tell I’m OK to go back to sleep, and then she goes back to sleep. Sometimes that takes a while, and sometimes it doesn’t happen. Sometimes she drops off again anyway, as long as I’m quiet…
She really seems to think I’m OK. Of course, we don’t have conversations on the subject, and if we could, I’m not sure what she’d say. But if I am reading her right at all, I think she’s OK with this rather bumbling way I’ve brought her into my life. I don’t really think she cares if I’m independent or needy or clingy or armor-clad.
And I think she has a point. Maybe the very things I brought with me as “issues to be dealt with,” those troublesome gut-wrenching bump-in-the-night inner wars that I thought should dissolve as I get stronger in my identity, aren’t issues. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe the one that brung me, the independent one, is one I can leave with. And maybe the other one that brung me, the needy/clingy/attachment-seeking one, is one I can leave with. One on each arm? Maybe the point is that neither one is a problem. Maybe there’s nothing here to dissolve.
Maybe it’s just human. I confuse the hell out of myself. I am not one or the other. But I am both. I am very strongly both things.
Maybe instead of a two-step I’m lookin’ for a line dance somewhere. Or a doggie agility show, where I can demonstrate all these disparate parts of myself to great advantage (will there be treats afterward?).
The thing is, I question my judgment if I’m not single-minded in my sense of who I am, what kind of person I am. I question how to proceed in life.
Maybe that’s OK. Maybe – oh hell – maybe it’s even the point. To find the questions, and see if any answers arise from inside them.
I want to close out here to acknowledge that for the first time ever someone from the country of Ug@nda looked at this blog. I hope the person comes back. I hope they are safe. I hope their life is in hands more powerful than what their government intends. And I send my thoughts and my prayers and my heartfelt hope that whatever the person read, gave something that kept them going. If I had those independent superpowers, I’d definitely like to make it safe for such a person to read, and even write, this kind of blog. If I had super-attachment superpowers, I’d want to make sure such a person understood how much love surrounds them.
Sometimes I feel my inner life nearly implode from the inner conflicts. And the effect on my outer world can feel embarrassingly unbalanced and hauntingly inappropriate. But when I think of someone on the other side of the world, in a place where it’s not safe to do what the person did in looking at my blog, I think that there’s no difference between independence and attachment. Freedom and love go hand in hand.
So, I’ll leave with the one(s) that brung me. And I’ll offer all of it, the imperfection, the confusion, the imbalance, and the wild strange power, of it all, tonight in my thoughts and prayers for those who I cannot reach by any other means. Will it do any good?
Oh please, let it do just a glimmer of good. Please.