What do you think? Can’t think at all!

Thinking about my interactions with my parents — and by “parents” I guess I really mean just my mom.

Thinking about how I can have an entire conversation with her on the phone, talk for 20 minutes, and even crack jokes, and sometimes I can tell her some (but not all) or my fears and concerns and worries.

Thinking about how “Hi, {my name}‘s mom!” has to be passed along as “so-and-so says hi, Mom.”  About how in the middle of me cracking up both my mom and the company on my end of the call, she groans through her laughter, “Oh, that joke was horrible!” and tacks on a name that is no longer mine to the end of her sentence.

Thinking about how I laugh right along with everyone else, because there’s nothing else I can say.

Thinking about how much it hurts, and how I’m also numb or calloused to that pain because I don’t have the energy to spend on holding that ache.

Thinking about how I hold back from ending the call with three words that matter so much to me, “I love you,” because she’s made it clear she doesn’t like to end calls that way, or to say those words much at all.  Knowing that even if I did say it, the best I’d get back is “ditto” or “yep.”

Thinking about how much it would mean to be welcomed into the arms of my mom or my dad or any of my siblings, and to be called by my name… to be hugged and held and to feel loved and safe there.

Thinking about how much I hear of “chosen family” and how blood doesn’t have to be where your family ties are, and especially how much I hear that talk from marginalized communities — it often comes across sounding like “screw them, you have to make your own family. We’ll be here for you, since they won’t.”  Thinking about how “Us vs Them” thinking hurts everyone.

Thinking about how surviving, how doing what I have to do is often at odds with thriving, with doing what I want to do.  How moving and moving and moving is survival, how living trapped in sub-poverty changes the way I interact with people, how I don’t even know how to answer “what kind of food do you like to keep at home” and how trying to articulate a response brings into highlight the fact that I have gotten really good at living off of other people’s meals, at finding ways to eat that don’t involve a refrigerator or an oven or any dishes.  How that makes me feel both proud (of a finely-honed and well-practiced skill) and ashamed (of my lack in skills I place a higher ethical value on.)

Thinking about how much time I spend… just thinking about so many things, and how often I don’t have anyone that I can trust to discuss them openly… or how often I’m dealing with a particular issue, and the only ones available to hear me out are the very people involved.  Wishing I had resources that worked for me, resources that worked with me instead of against me.  Wishing I knew where to go, where to look, who to ask for help and which specifically-worded questions to ask in order to progress through the layers and layers of bullshit gatekeeping that stand between me and caring for basic needs.

Thinking about housing, about how impossible it is to find even something that I could know going in would be harmful and toxic and unsafe, knowing that I can’t even afford something like that if I were able to find it, and that anything that meets my access needs is just a distant dream.

Thinking about how my access needs aren’t immediately visible, and are often difficult to articulate… and even if I can explain myself clearly, those needs will often be dismissed — if not outright laughed at — as made-up, or being picky, or just not “real needs.”

Thinking about how I’m enough of a deviant from societal norms that I’m at risk for a lot of shit from people who have power — I’m a slut and proud of it (i.e. a woman who embraces her sexuality and is comfortable having sex with multiple partners,) I’m an “out” trans* woman and don’t try to hide that fact in most situations, I’m queer/lesbian/definitely-not-heterosexual.  Also thinking about how I can generally choose when — or if — I disclose any of those things about myself, and how I can speak and write in ways that are accepted by and acceptable to the Powers That Be, how my white skin means I’m less likely to have my meaning or motive questioned, how my “Hollywood Model” figure and generally femme presentation which fit into the expected social roles for “woman” mean I will often be overlooked unless I make an effort to stand out.

Thinking about how I’m too little of an underprivileged class to qualify for assistance from many assistance programs; I’m not a smoker or a user of injectable drugs or HIV+ or a partner of someone HIV+ or under 25 or over 50 or a person of color or living on the street or doing survival sex work or in immediate danger of harming myself/other people… and there are specific assistance programs targeted at any of those, sometimes in specific combinations.  Not saying that those programs actually help any of those people, because I know that quite often the aim of a program and the effect of a program are entirely different things, and often the very programs designed to help a group of people end up harming them instead.

Thinking about how well-meaning people want to offer help, and how those same people are often the worst-equipped to do so. A recent conversation with a neighbor who I’d only chatted with briefly a couple of times before, yielded this gem: “But, aren’t there programs out there to help people who are LGBTQ?” ~sigh~ If only it were that simple! Identifying as some kind of queer means there’s support and help for you? Sadly, that’s not the world we live in.

Thinking about how hopeless this all feels sometimes, and how even when things are at the absolute worst, somehow I still keep going.  How I have worked damn hard to build the support structure and network that I have, and how even though it’s far from perfect, it still gets me through.  The friends and lovers and chosen family — and sometimes even blood family — how they get me through.

Thinking about how long this post has grown, and thinking it’s time to finish things off and post… and then get to sleep.  This cold (really hope it’s just a cold!) isn’t going to get better any more quickly if I keep running myself at full-speed…

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