This, as a first blog, was something that I intended to be upbeat and angry, full of facts and figures and opinions related to the War on Women, a fight which I have recently joined with my whole being. Instead, it just contains a large measure of depression and self-pity, which in the last day seem to be the only things I can feel, despite a flurry of mental activity lacking in merit and focus what it made up for in words (for which I apologize to my sisters in battle) with which I believe I was trying to stave off these feelings. The only saving grace about this substitution of subject is that this is only one of a million blogs on the Internet and likely to just blend into the background.
We bought Mother's Day gifts two weeks ago so that we would be early with them. Naturally, they are still sitting here, waiting to be sent. I don't know how it is with you and your mother, but trying to find the perfect gift to express to my mother how I feel about her and what she means to me is not very easy. My mom has a lot of interests that would make it easy to buy a gift: gardening, stenciling, decorating. The choices in any store to complement those hobbies are rather abundant. But I cannot find on a shelf what I want to give her.
I want to give her the ability to believe that I am not her fault.
We have never had that conversation; we have never had any conversation about who I am. But she's a good mother, and a good mother is going to think when her child does something "wrong" that it was her doing. She has never shared this with me, but I imagine that, parallel to my journey, she has been on her own, thinking, "What did I do? What could I have done differently?" If I had it in my power to bestow in a way that it would be accepted, I would make a gift of this assurance to her: "Mom, I'm not your fault."
I can not do that, though. When I talk to her (which is infrequently), it is clipped, and it never gets to a moment where such an emotionally wrenching statement can be uttered. I have thought about why it is that way, and I believe that it is because, although I am talking to my mother, she is not talking to her child. Who I am today is not the child, her second child, whom she nurtured and succored. She had a son, and the energy and love in those actions were for him.
But I came along, and I threw him away, and that must hurt (beyond a point which I can understand) that all of that effort was in vain. The focus of all of her motherly attention exists now only as a shadow for her, a darkening in her life to constantly remind her of the responsibility that abandoned her. If I could, I would share that he is a shadow for me, too, a thick, heavy, black ghost, a penumbra which I will always be forced to explain. We could commiserate about that.
We do not commiserate, though. We go on, at the bookends of a continent, separated not only by miles but by the ability to know me, to know what I do, what I have come to be interested and involved in, what I feel incredibly passionate about, what I accomplish. These things will not be discussed, because the person doing and feeling and accomplishing these things is not her child.
Last week, a good friend shared with me the story of her niece, who had been born in a male body and named Daniel but who, in reality, was Sara. Sara was on her own journey of discovery and acceptance. For reasons she kept inside, Sara decided last Sunday to step away from her journey and into the darkness. I cannot stop thinking about this; I came dangerously close to making that same decision before beginning this journey.
As well, I cannot stop thinking about the plight of a recent acquaintance whose life seems to be overtaken by a different source of pain. She is not transgender, like me and Sara, but her struggle is similar. Her purpose in life, the only thing she wants to be, is denied her because she has been the victim of a trauma her adopted family will not acknowledge is real. It is a situation to which I feel terribly close.
So I feel driven to try to fix something, anything, in this world, to make up for what I broke and am unable to repair in my own mother's world; and these stories, the plight of anyone denied recognition and respect, they draw me in.
When my mother and I talk, I try to end the conversation with "I love you." I am always the one who says it first. This is not because my mother does not love me; it is just that the verbal expression of it is something that is easier for me to initiate. When I say, "I love you," I hear a hesitation, a gap. It is a pause only a second or two long but incredibly deep and filled with a meaning I do not want to understand. And when it ends, she says, "I love you, too," and hangs up.
I spend my life in a quest to fill that gap.