Becoming

Work

I had two interesting experiences the other day. 1) A female client said to me “you probably won’t understand this because your not a woman…”. On the one hand, I internally smiled as you can imagine. On the other hand I wanted to say “well actually, I have lived 48 yrs as a woman so have a pretty good idea”. I chose to revel in my passing and by my response let her know that I understood what she was feeling. 2) I at times will touch a clients hand or back when they are getting emotional and it feels like an appropriate supportive response. I was working with a male client the other day and I did this. It made me realize a male therapist touching a man in a supportive manner like this is taken very differently than a woman therapist doing the same. I need to alter some habitual ways of working with certain people.

Personal

I have been having the oddest feeling of late: the desire to be a parent and the feeling like I would finally be a good one. I am hoping it is fleeting because I am not sure I would want to do it alone and I am not ready to let go of my freedom to a partnership. But it is almost a visceral craving like in my 30’s when my biological alarm clock was going off. I would be a really good dad. And I would like that experience of supporting another being grow into their unique selves. I saw a dad and son walking from the lake near my house back to their car after a morning of fishing. The son was maybe 6. Such a strong feeling, a bond unlike any other.

Spiritual

I am planning a trip to Africa sometime between January and April of 2016. I committed to myself many years ago that by the time I turn 50 I will do a trek across the Sahara. It will be a little after the 50 yr mark but that is ok.The original plan was from Mauritania to Egypt. Somewhere in Chad, there is a monastery that has been in silence for over 100 yrs. Somewhere near there is where Christ did his 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. For those unfamiliar, this was a place that many people of many faiths came together for introspection as well as exchange of spiritual thought/experience/philosophy, and greatly informed Christ’s ultimate teachings. My dream is to recreate this for myself.  Due to all the political unrest this isn’t safe to do the trek as I wanted so I am settling for an 8 day trek from Morocco. My goal is now to have my own experience as well as to connect with a guide willing to work with me in  the future. I want to recreate a shorter version of Christ’s 40 days and 40 nights where people of all spiritual backgrounds, including atheists (as my sense is they still have some sense of spirituality) come together to share and contemplate. I am feeling this deep calling – feeling like the world needs more peaceful meeting of our diverse spiritual beliefs and experiences. I have a bias too that in so doing, we will recognize the thread that runs thru each, uniting us. And hopefully help to heal some of the major rifts between the religions. I was once visiting a cousin of mine who was a monk in a Greek Orthodox monastery. I had a shaven head. One of the parishioners asked me what religion I am. I guess something about me made me appear not Christian. I responded “I am of all religions”. I still feel that.

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9 Comments

  1. I have been having the oddest feeling of late: the desire to be a parent and the feeling like I would finally be a good one.

    i can really relate to this. i’m just about your age, maybe a year older; before transition, there was just not any way i could be a parent because i wasn’t done growing up myself.

    these days, though i’m still not truly grown up and don’t really think i’ll ever be, i am, at least, finally in the space and body in which i needed to be all along. there’s no longer that sense that having a child would lock me into an existence that i fought so long and hard to escape. having exited that life, i can finally be myself, and give of myself, and i really, really want to give.

    it’s unlikely, though, that my spouse and i will ever be other than childless. transition took us down several notches, economically, and we’re still trying to dig out of the great recession. but, oh well. you can’t have it all, i guess. 🙂

    • Paige – thanks for your reply. Regarding being truly gown up – I don’t know… seems there needs to be a balance between truly grown up and maintaining some semblance of not grown up – the playfulness, free spiritedness, in the moment-ness of being a kid. I cannot imagine being fully grown up, nor do I want to. Not to mention I don’t think, if we are on a path of self-discovery and growth, we will ever be truly grown up. And on another note: I am sorry to hear transitioning took you down some economical notches. I really do look forward to the day when all insurance in all states/countries are required to cover these expenses!!!

  2. right, i’m totally in agreement with you about balance. we need an adult component of self to deal with the things that must be dealt with; but, equally so, we need to maintain a wondrous, youthful self, no matter what age we might be, if we’re to truly stay alive. 🙂

    so, this is really personal, and maybe i shouldn’t bare my soul this way in public, but for some reason i want to say what follows. i hope you won’t mind. please forgive me if i’m overstepping propriety a bit, ok?

    when i say the transition knocked us down a few notches, i mean to say that i suddenly found myself above the glass ceiling in a very sexist career environment, and it was only a matter of time before my privileges were revoked.

    i had made a career for myself in IT, as a developer/programmer. that career made my transition possible; it paid well enough, and provided good medical benefits. it was a fairly well-padded transition. it was not, however, popular with the old boys’ network, and when the Great Recession exploded all over the landscape at the beginning of 2009, i found myself without a network or even marginally influential allies.

    my entire department was laid-off (700 people) in an outsourcing deal; most of the boys were picked up by the outsourcing firm. most of the women were let go. in that environment, finding work was very difficult, and it didn’t work out for me. as the economy slowly improved, i was invited to interview three or four times, but each opportunity withered in response to either the length of time i’d been out of work, or with the eventual discovery, by way of background checks, that i’d transitioned, not to mention the number of interviews i’d been passed over for, presumably, on account of being female, or being a bit older in an increasingly youth-centered world.

    so here i am, six years later, (barely) getting by. my old career is essentially gone, and i’m just another ‘older’ woman in line at the food bank, or down at the DPSS applying for help with health insurance. we get by, but we’ve definitely descended the ladder, and i do believe that transition had a great deal to do with our descent.

    i have absolutely no regrets, but i haven’t any illusions, either. i had a sense of this coming as soon as the men started talking over me in meetings, ten years ago. i felt myself slipping, and in some ways i welcomed it because it meant i was finally entering the space i was meant to inhabit. sadly, though, that space is burdened with touches of second-class citizenship in many ways.

    but no regrets, because being free to *finally* be me, **finally!!** … it’s worth whatever price had to be paid. 🙂

    • Paige – propriety be damned! I appreciate your honest reply. And that really sucks. I have been experiencing the opposite but am transitioning to male so it makes sense. Pisses me off either way it happens!! It is not right. So much for the Equal Rights Amendment. I cannot tell if you are in the US or not so maybe the ERA comment doesn’t apply. Regardless, this gendered system of the western world needs major revamping, where men and women (and gender non-conforming, non-binary, fluid….) are 100% equal in all realms of existence. Men do not rule! And I am very happy to hear you have no regrets and it has been worth this very steep price.

      • It is what it is. 🙂

        Yes, I am in the US, and I remember my mother advocating for the ERA, and have never understood how something so basic and fundamentally fair could run into such resistance, right?

        Post-transition, I lived for a shortish while in Asia; and though women certainly aren’t equal to men in the West, it was far worse in East Asia. I used to stand with my friend, outside, talking while she smoked. I was her lookout. Whenever anyone came into view, I’d warn her, and she’d duck behind whatever cover she could find! To make it even more unbelievable (or not), though it was definitely a bad thing to be seen smoking by a man, if the observer was a woman … the absolute worst thing in the world was to be seen smoking, in East Asia, by another (local) woman.

        Fond memories of solidarity in the face of age-old sexism. 🙂

        You’re going up the power scale, and I’m going/have gone the other way.

  3. I just checked in on your latest thread: it’s left all kinds of powerful resonances and I’m not sure I’ll get them all down, but I’ll give it a go . . .
    On the vagaries of sex discrimination: I learn a lot from my little trans son (who is ten). I’d gotten to the point in my own life of being pretty comfortable in my identity as a feminist mother. I was maybe even a little complacent, as my belief is that all women “should” be feminists. I also now realise how privileged I was: I’d done all my angsting about sexuality and gender in my 20s and found identity politics “boring” (and for that I owe so many people an apology, but what I meant was that it was so great to work on collective action and to see these issues not in the foreground anymore).
    My little girls seemed like dreamchildren for a feminist mother. They were (and are) bright; outspoken; active – even defiant. But the youngest got more and more defiant – her rages were terrifying and heartbreaking – and my older girl developed an equally frightening depressive illness at ten.
    Since then, needless to say really, we’ve all learned many things, more than we can yet express. But my little trans son calls me up frequently on reverse sexism. He tells me how the girls won’t listen to the boys in class, that they are often mean, but the boys are shut down by the teachers if they fight back. His opinion is that the boys have been trained to respect the girls but that the girls have had no such training and “get away” with far more aggressive behaviour. When my kid transitioned, he was all of a sudden labelled a “struggling/reluctant reader” (Kid could read fluently at the age of six but because he was a boy and preferred to kick a ball, they assumed he couldn’t read).
    All of this is complicated.
    Sometimes, though, I dream of a world where really it’s not. It’s ultimately about recognising and respecting the diversity of all living beings. I think it’s as simple and as complex as that.

    A few other things . . . I have been having the most gut based, intense longings for another child, recently. I could analyse that here (and I’m sure you’ve analysed your own feelings) but what I do know is that it’s real, and important to honour. I believe it’s possible to parent, birth and reproduce in many ways apart from the literal, although maybe nothing is quite like the literal either. I wish you all the best with that one.

    As for a spiritual quest: this speaks to me too. I long for something similar. I’ve said jokingly of late that my divorce from the Catholic Church is final. We’ve had the most horrible royal commission into child abuse in Australia in the last couple of months; we have an archbishop (now a Cardinal) who covered for the abuse and I finally want no more part of this institution (not that I’ve had much to do with it for many years). That doesn’t change my sense of the numinous, and my longing to work out my own connection to the planet and the universe. I’m very envious and I wish you all the best with this quest, too.

    • Thanks for the reply curious mom. Sounds like all your kids continually push you to stay awake and grow. How great is that!!

      We will see what the desire to have kids brings. I have contemplated fostering or adopting trans kids rejected by their families. More on that if and when it unfolds.

      And yes the trip – my soul is longing for a deep connection that somehow is getting dulled by the life I am presently living, which is too busy. I do wish it were safer in Africa so I could spend more time in the desert. Given this I am looking at alternatives. There is a pilgrimage/trail people hike from France into Spain over the Pyrenees mountains. Or the Appalachean Trail in the US, or… still researching. Even contemplate going to the Bush in Australia. I need weeks of semi-solitude in the wilds, fully engaged in my body, quieting my mind while focusing on my spirit.

      It must be difficult as a Catholic to watch all that has happened and is coming to light about the misuse of power and sexual abuse of kids and the cover ups by the higher ups. It outrages me as an outsider. I do not believe or spiritual connectedness is reliant on any given religion, and often can get diminished by the dogmas of such institutes. I hope you do work out your connection to the planet and the universe as feels right to you and that through it you find nourishment and strength.

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