Sunday, May 10, 2009

the best policy

Lately especially, I seem to be compelled to write about things that I'm moderately (the fact that I don't like to dance) or highly (a moment where I felt racist) embarrassed by. There's something about being as honest as I can be in an open forum that is somehow appealing, like maybe by writing about these things I can begin to address them more realistically in the outside world. I feel like I'm putting myself on the line by writing about things that I feel unsure of. It feels dangerous.
But at any rate, today I'm irritated by my relationship with pronouns, and my own mind. Ever since I realized that Peter was fully Peter (before that, the linguistic line seemed a little more blurry) I've been making irritating slip-ups. I use the wrong pronoun in an unthinking moment, I think the wrong name and correct myself, over and over. I am so irritated by how stubborn my brain is about accepting what I know to be true. It's already sticking better, but every time I fuck up I wince because I don't want to be that person, the one who sounds like she doesn't get it. I was telling somebody the other day that I know it's not a failure of attitude but rather one of brain categorization: I'm fighting again a year and a half of living with him as a her, and that takes a while to change.
Brains are such funny things. You learn something one way, and you cling to it because your brain has formatted itself like that. That's why people (say, who live or work together) have fights about stupid shit like where dishes get stacked or how a shelf is arranged: one person's logical arrangement will just piss the shit out of somebody else because the pictures they have in their heads of the way things should be differ. On a much larger level, of course, there's all sorts of things like racism and genderbashing that happen because we're so damn angry when our heads and the outside world don't match up exactly. The more strongly you feel about your interior picture, the more likely you seem to be to protest when that picture is disrupted. Gender is probably one of the things that most people feel most secure in, and so it's one of the things that seem to raise the most resentment and assholery when it's unclear or when it changes.
But I'm not an asshole, and I am so happy to see Peter as Peter that I experience frustration with myself, not his gender presentation. And so I'm patiently waiting for my brain to slowly catch up with itself. Peter has been a true gentleman when I screw up, and I feel more secure in my linguistic self-representation every day. Now, when I have a mental slip, it's almost alarming, it surprises me to think of him as otherwise than he is now. I think that in a lot of ways his gender is really fluid for me now, or just doesn't matter so much for the way that we relate to each other. This is a simplification... But Peter is Peter and I am myself, and together we are just two people.


Alicia Dabney said...

You continue to amaze me with the way you express ruminations into words.

Rosiecat said...

I agree with Alica. This is an impressive post on a very sensitive topic; you write like a pro, my dear! And maybe if Peter is able to be a gentleman to you when you screw up, you can be nice to yourself as well. He knows you aren't being a jerk, so you don't have to be mean to yourself when you make a mistake. All you can do is keep trying. (I'm all about self-love, so forgive me if this sounds overly touchy-feely.)