Friday, June 17, 2011

Identity Crisis

No.  Not the DC Comic.  The actual psychological term.  Identity crisis.  The definition of which can be found here on Wikipedia.

"“Those who fail to achieve a cohesive identity-who experience an identity crisis-will exhibit a confusion of roles,” [1] not knowing who they are, where they belong, or where they want to go. This sort of unresolved crisis leaves individuals struggling to “find themselves.”"

This is exactly where I am these days and, at 41 years of age, should not be.  This is where you are when you're getting ready to graduate high school and trying to figure out what to major in.  Right?!  It's an adolescent issue.  Not something you try and figure out at 41.  Needless to say, I'm frustrated with it.

I understand how I got here.  With both parents struggling with addiction while doing their best to raise me I had to mature at a faster rate then most kids my age in order to take care of them.  I grew into the caretaker and peacemaker role.  I was the 'perfect' child in the dysfunctional family model.

Shortly after graduating from high school I moved from one home to another, from my adopted Mother's to my birth Mother's and shortly after that move I joined the military.  A year and a half later I was married to a man who I saw as needing to be taken care of and pregnant with my son, who would, of course, also need to be taken care of.  It's been my role in this life.  Caretaker of others.

It's also been a bit of a curse because I allowed it to take over and drown out any sort of identity I may have wanted to create for myself or find for myself.  It was my way of getting others to love me and accept me.  So, here I sit at 41 years of age wondering what it's all about and where I'm supposed to go from here.  Sitting on a mountain of debt from my own schooling and my son's, among other things, with no interest in a career and 'struggling to find myself' while I look at those around me and try desperately not to compare myself to them.  But it's hard not to do.  It's hard not to compare myself to them and it often times has me feeling like a failure.  I admit it.  This is me opening the festering wound to expose to the world.  This, in itself, creates all kinds of anxiety within relationships of all kinds, as well, causing this horribly dark circle of thinking to continue. 

On the other hand, this is an incredible opportunity for growth.  An opportunity for me to look at those things that I have accomplished in my life, change the programming in my head and focus on the positive, as they say.

Currently, I'm working a part-time job and have an offer for another part-time job and a full-time job.  None of them are 'careers' nor anything to be tremendously proud of, like a doctor or a lawyer or what-not.  They're just jobs.  But the company at the full-time job really wants me to come back and work for them again.  It's not the first time they've tried to get me to work for them permanently.  They say they really value my work ethic.  It's not a career but those are positive things to look at.

Honestly, at this point, I don't even know what a career would look like for me.  I'm not even sure why I'm putting this all out there or what it is I'm looking for, but, there you have it.  My current struggle with life.  An identity crisis at age 41. 

Maybe in December when I turn 42 the answer to life will magically appear.  That is the answer to life, you know.  42.  (Read the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.)  Hmmm...we'll see.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Greatest Accomplishment

My son, around age 10, and me.
Twenty-one years and fourteen days ago I gave birth to my amazing and wonderful son.  I was still a child myself at only twenty years of age.  Even though it was many years ago, I still remember that day like it was yesterday.  Thankfully, the memories of the physical pain have finally subsided.

I remember waking up that morning feeling like I was going to pop. Sleep was difficult at that point because trying to get comfortable with a belly that large was next to impossible.  Regardless of the discomfort, I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant because it was the closest and most in tune I felt to my body.  I felt powerful, too.  I was creating a new human life inside of me.  Me!   

On the way to my check-up that morning I knew I wasn't ready to have my son just yet.  He was a day overdue but due dates were never really accurate, unless you were planning on a C-section, which I was not.  I had prepared for natural childbirth by going to Lamaze classes and had done a bit of research on the different ways to give birth.  Ideally, I wanted to have a water birth but knowing I was going to give birth to him at the Naval Hospital I knew the chances of that actually happening were nil. 

As I sat in the exam room waiting for the doctor I remember thinking about what I was going to do that day when I returned home.  It was an early appointment so I had the entire day ahead of me to get some things done and, hopefully, get a nap in.  Making a new human was exhausting.

Finally the doctor came in and asked me some questions before the examination.  After a quick examination he grabbed my chart and on his way out the door said, “I hope you wanted June 1st as the birthday because it’s time to have that baby.” 

At first my brain didn’t fully comprehend what he had just said so I sat there for a few moments in a state of shock.  Did he say I was going to have the baby today?  But I’m not having contractions!  My water didn’t break!  Wait!  What?!

About an hour later I found myself hooked up to a machine that was pumping pitocin into me to get the labor process started.  Honestly, I was freaked out.  I wasn’t ready to be in labor.  It didn’t matter how many Lamaze classes I had taken or how much I was dilated, my brain was not ready!  To add to my fear the pitocin pump was started on the maximum to really kick things into gear.  Those first waves of contractions were brutal, to say the least! 

Somewhere in the middle of the 8 hours of labor I asked for some pain meds to get me through the rest of it.  Unfortunately, they didn’t really do much for me.  I think I may have cursed under my breath a few times (or out loud) and almost broke my son’s Father’s shoulder by gripping it so hard during contractions.  I was not having fun.

Finally when it came time to push, my doctor noticed that my blood pressure had shot through the roof so he decided to put me on magnesium sulfate to get it back under control.   I was tired, in tons of pain and just wanted to get it over with.  So, I started pushing before they told me to.  It was an incredibly strange feeling because it wasn’t as if I had decided to start pushing, I just started pushing.  My body was in complete control of itself and was just doing what came naturally.  It was ready to be done, too!

After only a few big pushes and some heavy breathing to try and slow the pushing down a bit, I heard my son’s voice for the very first time.  Even though he was crying, it was music to my ears.  Soon after the cord was cut he was placed on my chest and I held him so very close while I counted all of his fingers and toes and wondered in the glory of what had just happened.  I remember thinking, “Wow.  I created this perfect little human.” 

He is my greatest accomplishment in this life.  We’ve grown up together and, even though I made many parenting mistakes along the way, I have learned the most about life through him and through being his parent.  I am humbled and grateful for everything he’s taught me and I look forward to watching him grow and live his own life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What Every Butch Should Know

Sinclair Sexsmith
Photo by Syd London
Sinclair Sexsmith who is a writer, performer, student and teacher of sex, gender & relationships, posted on her blog this morning an amazing piece that she wrote titled Unsolicited Advice to a New Butch (aka The Butch Poem).

I first heard this piece when she read it at the Butch Voices Conference here in Portland last year and was blown away.  Once the conference was over I sent her an email asking her if she'd posted it anywhere because I kept feeling the need to read and and re-read it and share it with everyone I know.  At the time, she was still working on refining it and wasn't quite ready to completely share it with the world so I respectfully waited for this day.

I am so pleased to share this piece with you now!

Please, take a few moments to click over to her blog and read this wonderful and amazing piece.  Whether you're Butch or Femme or neither or both, I promise that you won't regret it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

On Being Butch In The Business World

This morning as I was catching up on some blog reading, I came across a post over on Butch Wonders that got me thinking about being Butch in the business world.  There’s a part in the post where she talks about her supervisor telling her that she will never attain a position of power if she “keeps dressing like a dude”. 

In other words, Butches will never attain positions of power within business unless they conform to the current idea of gender stereotypes. 

Why?!  I mean, really!  I understand that the business world is still part of the ‘old boys’ network and that women are still struggling to reach equality with men.  I understand that’s where we are but what I don’t understand is why that is where we are.  Still.  It’s 2011, not 1950!  How much longer is it going to take for us, as humans, to evolve past this antiquated way of thinking?

Just because I dress in men's clothes, I cannot ever attain a position of power. Does that sentence even make sense to you? If it does, please explain it to me.  It doesn’t matter how smart I am or how well I do my job or how passionate I am about my job, what matters most to you are the clothes I choose to wear to work?  Why is it my job to make you feel comfortable? 

Talk about the ultimate in co-dependency! 

It’s your job to figure out how to be comfortable with me and it’s my job to figure out how to be comfortable with myself.  It works both ways, too, because it's also my job to figure out how to be comfortable with you.  My stuff is my stuff and your stuff is your stuff.

The gender binary is out dated.  Download the latest version and move on.  You just might end up with a business dynamo at the helm of your business ship who will take you to the depths of success you never even thought was possible regardless of what sort of clothes they, or you, come to work in.

Of course, the ‘you’s in the statements above were not aimed at ‘you’, the reader.  Unless you do still think this way, then yes, I am talkin’ to you.