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…

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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!

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