Your smile is a thin disguise.

I hate secrets and lies.  My life is full of them, though — has been as long as I can remember.  It was a survival skill in my parents’ home, being able to say something completely untrue to any person in my immediate family, or anyone in their church, while looking them in the eyes and showing how sincere I was.  Knowing how to convince myself that the lie was truth, even temporarily, was essential to make sure I didn’t shake things up.

In addition, I listen.  I know how to listen; people feel comfortable talking to me about all sorts of things that trouble them, and I can’t begin to count the times I’ve heard variations on “I don’t know why I shared that with you, I’ve never told anyone about that, I just felt like I could give you my deepest, darkest secrets…”  I know things.  Things I can’t share, things that could hurt people, or destroy their careers, or endanger their families and loved ones.  Things that I’d really rather not have to carry with me.

And then there’s my secrets.  There are things about me that I know, things I want, things I hate, things I’ve done… stuff that I’ve never shared, some of it stuff that I’d rather forget, some of it that I’d love to celebrate.

But it’s all secret right now.  Some of the lies I’ve kept on telling because I know that telling the truth now would make good people hurt, and because at least for the moment I still can benefit from dishonesty.  That scares me, but right now that’s less scary than tearing away the layers of lies, risking loss and causing emotional harm.  The secrets others have given me, many of them are meaningless out of the context they were given, many are ancient or from people I knew “once upon a time,” but still filed in the great database in my brain, waiting only for the right query to retrieve them and fill me with the turmoil of remembering that I know and cannot tell.

The things I keep for myself, I need a very safe place with someone I very much trust, and the opportunity to do some emotional digging — I’m certain I’ll be able to manage a lot of that with a therapist, and there’s some chance of making that happen in the foreseeable future, so I’m hoping that’s the case.

I’m falling asleep while writing here, so I should probably post and sleep.  My dreams lately have been quite full of the sex that I’m so sorely lacking in reality… I welcome the escape.

What if I’m the kindest demon, something you may not believe in?

I’m happy, for the first time in my life.  I’ve found myself, who I am, and it all fits so perfectly — I’m a transwoman, lesbian, getting to know some awesome folks in several queer communities, people who understand what it means to be “different,” how it feels to be “other.”

I have a home, one that (with some work on my part) should be a long-term place to live, and some roommates who (despite my bitching and moments of frustration) are genuinely good people, and who want to put effort into working with me to make this a welcoming space.

I don’t always have all of my needs met, and I frequently lack even some of the most basic life necessities, but I get by, and I’m finding ways to address those needs better and more often.

But sometimes… sometimes in those most quiet of moments, when everything else fades away… sometimes when I’m alone, and my thoughts turn inward… sometimes there’s a quiet voice with only one small question:

“What if they’re right?”

It’s a question that I’d like to just ignore. It’s a persistent little voice, though, and eventually I do answer:

“They’re not.  You know it — you just told me, point by point, everything about how you know you’re happy, the things that you can measure and compare, and the certainty you have of yourself and your path in life.  They’re wrong.”

“Well… yeah, I know.  But… really, though — what if it’s all true?  What if the choices you’re making really are sinful, what if you’re just mistaking the temporary pleasures you’ve found for joy, the lasting kind of joy that can’t ever be had from the things of this world?  What then?”

“I… I guess I could consider the possibility for a moment.  Okay — if they’re right, which I don’t believe, then… then…”

“Go on, say it.  Get it out.”

“Then I’m setting myself up for eventual pain, loneliness, suffering and sorrow sometime in this life — just delaying the day that it comes while I pretend that I’ve found joy… and, I suppose it also– ~sigh~ I suppose it also means that if I continue down the road I’m traveling now, then after I die I’ll be confronted with the undeniable knowledge that I have done wrong, that I was given the truth and consciously chose to disregard it… that I’ll spend the rest of forever kept away from my family, the people who I love most and who love me, weighed down by the guilt of turning away, the shame of having chosen to sin, the endless suffering of having walked away from what could have been, without another chance to fix things.”

“How does it feel?”

“God… it hurts.  It’s scary, scary beyond belief.  It’s irrational, illogical, completely contradicting the things I can directly observe, but there’s just this… this fear, this doubt, y’know?  Because if I’m wrong, then I’m even more fucked than I can imagine, and I lose my family forever, I hurt more than I ever have or can ever imagine… but I don’t know how to do anything else now, and the whole cycle of guilt and shame and ‘repentance’ just isn’t something I can do again, not after knowing what else is out there.  But… I just don’t know.”

“No… you don’t, do you?  And you won’t know until the day you die.  The uncertainty won’t kill you, though.  Trust me, you’ve got a lot of years left to go.  I’ll be back to ask you the question again, when you’ve forgotten about me, when you think you’re doing well, when you’ve stopped expecting me…”

And so it goes, the little questioning voice leaves me for a while, lets me go back to remembering how awesome it feels to be “out and proud and loud,” how exciting it is to discover new kinds of kinky fun that I enjoy, to have incredible sex once in a while, and to actively look for pleasure and happiness with other people who like the same things.  I go back to the struggles and the joys of every day, like the ones that came before.

It’ll be back, I know.  I don’t know that I can do anything about it besides have the same fight again when it decides to trouble me — but for now I’ve come out on top.  We’ll see what happens next time…

All you need to understand is, everything you know is wrong.

The only model I have for making things right after making a mistake is the one I learned growing up, in a religious context — one which relied heavily, if not exclusively, on guilt and shame, and emphasized how painful and difficult it is to struggle my way back to any level of acceptance or welcome.  The “repentance process” was something horrible, something often necessary but much better avoided by simply being perfect — which, obviously, was impossible.  So, already set up for failure, the guilt of having knowingly done wrong — and therefore being a bad person, a “sinner” — was heaped on under the guise of loving, caring guidance to help me “return to full fellowship.”

At the same time, I was taught that the ideal toward which I should strive was to “turn the other cheek,” that a truly loving person would forgive any trespass against them, that the most pure and perfect example of what we could be, not only forgave everything of everyone, but did so with a smile and a gentle reaffirmation of his love.

I made a mistake recently — a fairly significant one.  I understand now, looking at the structure I’ve had, why the response I got shocked me like it did: because the people involved have exemplified the supposedly unattainable ideal I was taught that we all should be, instead of the degrading, demeaning, and demoralizing cycle of shame I expected.

There are good people in this world.  There are folks who strive to make a difference, who make mistakes themselves and understand that others will do the same.  There are wonderful members of our human race who want to be happy and want to help others be happy as well.  I’m fortunate to have found many of these people, and to recognize that I share many of these traits; I’ll have to work to un-learn some of my old ways, re-train some broken patterns and discard many of the lies I have so deeply internalized… but it’s where I belong, and I’m grateful to know the folks I do, and to know that I have a chance to get to know them better!

Beautiful woman! You must have had your moments inside the sun.

As I’m sitting here playing with my randomized-wallpaper-changing utility, going through my “sexy naked girls” folder trying to find a pair of pictures that I like (one for each screen), I realized something.

Most of these photos, the ones with “beautiful” women, are skinny white girls, they’re studio photography, edited and oh-so-obviously posed but trying to look like “oops! Did I have a picture snapped when I was just sitting here with no clothes and touching myself? Tee-hee!”

Sure, as a blossoming young feminist, I’ve been reading plenty about privilege, about the lack of representation in every arena — not only, but definitely in pornography — of other races, body types, genders, sexual orientations, and more.  Sure, I understood, on some level, that it’s a Big Fucking Problem that the images available and often thrown in your face of what “beautiful” looks like aren’t anything like you, that even the women held up as the ultimate ideal to strive for, even they are photoshopped and enhanced because even they aren’t good enough.

But tonight I really, really “got it.”  I found words for my frustration at being unable to find just two beautiful women to display on my computer screen out of the thousands of pictures in this folder, as I said:

I don’t want photos of airbrushed, post-processed, blemish-free, makeup-caked girls taken with leading-edge, brand-name, professional-grade cameras and fill lighting.

I don’t want that same fucking facial expression — the one that’s supposed to say “Ohhhh, so good!” but to me just says “Oh, so what?”

I don’t want photography that sucks the soul out of a woman who might be beautiful, and leaves a plastic, packaged, profit-making product.

I want women who are beautiful, women who have been captured on film (or in pixels, with current technology) because they are beautiful and worth sharing.

I want big women, who rock their curvy bodies and aren’t being marketed as a niche fetish for losers and weirdos.

I want women with skin any color besides the narrow range of white from “porcelain” to “peach.”

I want women who might not have been assigned that gender at birth — again, not because they’re being marketed exploited as some freak of nature, but because they’re fucking sexy, and worth being photographed showing off their sexy selves.

I want to see women who are just as gorgeous as the girls I see walking around town every day, almost none of whom even remotely resemble the ones in the majority of this collection of pictures I have.

I want to see the beautiful women who don’t go out much, the ones who are too ashamed of how they look to walk around, who sometimes believe the loud messages, the flood of lies telling them they’re ugly, telling them they’re unwanted and undesired.

I want women who might not believe how incredible they look because if someone actually tells them they’re beautiful, it must be a flattering lie to get something in return.

I want real women, real beauty, celebrating the sexiness that we naturally have.  Keep the plastic, and show me some skin!

When you’re feeling kinda mixed up…

Paradox: I need to write, especially about the difficulties I’m having and my emotions around those difficulties and the barriers I feel that keep me from change or progress.

But… in order to express my thoughts, I need to organize them, to have a safe, calm, space where I do not feel threatened, trapped, overwhelmed, or unable to cope.

I’m not doing much writing. I wonder why?

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