Sunday, December 13, 2015

12-13-2015 Entry: Lessons from the Guesthouse, Maintaining Standards

Hello my darlings. Happy Sunday to all of you. I actually wrote the previous entry yesterday but didn’t get around to publishing it until this morning. That doesn’t mean, however, that there haven’t been some additional developments in the Hot Mess of my life.

So, last night I was actually presented with an interesting invitation to do something I had never done before. My poly friend R messaged me to tell me that her previous plans had fallen through and as a result she and her husband would be coming into town to attend a swinger party.

At first, I felt a little slighted by this change of plans on her part because she knew how much I wanted to see her this weekend and when she had the opportunity to make that a possibility she decided to go to a party a few miles away from my house instead. I don’t know all the reasons that she made that decision and I don’t know how much her husband was involved in coming to that decision. All I knew was that she would be very close to where I live at a sex party instead of having a date with me.

My initial reaction was altered, however, when R asked if I wanted to go with them to this party. I was somewhat taken aback by this invitation, even if I was very intrigued by the prospect. I took a few minutes to consider whether or not I felt up to going to my very first swinger party and despite the anxiety such an opportunity elicited from me, I told her that I would go with them.

She told me that she would have to talk with the party’s host to see if I would be welcome to come. I decided to leave work a bit early so I could get home and get ready for this new, scary, and exciting adventure. I arrived at home, got ready and waited to hear back from R.

My previous irritation at her decision to go to this party rather than just come see me was in equal competition with my eagerness for experiencing something completely new. I have always been fascinated with swingers and have often wondered what their parties actually looked like. I did feel nervous about the thought of being a relatively passable pre-op transwoman* (more on labels in a bit) at a party where I was positive men might be interested in me. I expressed this concern to my friend and asked if she would be telling them that I was trans* so that there wouldn’t be any uncomfortable surprises. She said that she would do that if I wanted her to.

The tug of war between my irritation and my eagerness came to an end, however, when R messaged me that the host had said I wasn’t allowed to come because it was only for couples. I thought this might be the case but had hoped that me being in an escalating polyamorous relationship with R would suffice for the party.

While I understood the host’s reasoning for not wanting me to come, it didn’t make me feel better about R’s decision to attend this party rather than come see me. I won’t lie, this didn’t sit well with me. The lesson that anger in Rumi’s guesthouse has come to teach me is that I deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. I deserve to be given time and attention from those I choose to have in my life.

For far too long I have tolerated being in relationships with people who use me, who abuse me, and who take me for granted. While my ex-wife was someone I loved a great deal because of her many positive qualities, she was also capable of being a very mean person and she often took her anger out on me even when I had nothing to do with why she was upset. I was often her emotional punching bag because she didn’t know how to maturely process her emotions or adequately express her unmet needs. I cannot count the number of times she insulted me or said/screamed “fuck you” to me.

 As I’ve reflected again and again over our marriage in the past 6 weeks, and especially over the past week, I have really started to evaluate why exactly I remained with her for as long as I did. She was good to me in a lot of ways and I do believe that she loved me, but she was also a very poor partner for me in a lot of other ways. I do not wish to enumerate all the ways that our relationship was imperfect or all the many different struggles that we had, but I have decided that the reason I put up with so much of her (as my therapist calls it) “bad behavior” was because of my own insecurities about being alone.

Worse than this realization was the additional realization that this was not the first time I had put up with someone’s bad behavior because of this insecurity. I have had a long history of entering and maintaining difficult or dysfunctional relationships because of my fear of being alone. I strongly suspect that I obtained this pattern of behavior from watching both of my parents struggle through dysfunctional relationship after dysfunctional relationship. I learned that this was simply how being in a relationship was.

Anger in the guesthouse has come to sweep away the baggage of such a misguided belief and the dysfunction my insecurity has permitted in the past. No longer will I permit myself to be mistreated, used, or taken for granted because I do not want to be alone. Being alone with my own company is far more valuable to me than sacrificing my dignity or self-respect for a relationship that does not serve me.

I am taking this approach with the pseudo-friendship I am trying to rebuild with my ex-wife, with the strained and difficult relationship with my mother, and now I will be taking it with my polyamorous friend R. She is permitted to make her own choices about whether or not I am a priority for her, but what she is not permitted to do is expect me to sit around waiting for her to finally decide I’m important enough for her attention.

If anyone wants my attention, then they must work for it. They must show me that they are worthy of my time, and all that I have to offer. They must show me that I am important to them. This act of party-going rather than having a date with me showed me where her priorities were, and they were not with me. In times past I would have made excuses for her. I would have given her the benefit of the doubt, swallowed my pride, and accepted terms of a relationship that I wasn’t really okay with.
Anger in the guesthouse will not permit me to maintain such a dysfunctional approach. I will not make excuses for her, but what I will do is make a decision that I deserve better than what she has offered and what she is willing to offer. Instead of worrying if I am worthy of her attention, I have decided that she isn’t worthy of my attention. She doesn’t deserve all the wonderful things I could have given her if she is unwilling to make me any sort of a priority.

Perhaps some of you out there are thinking that I’m being harsh or that I’m rushing to a conclusion, but I must respectfully disagree. I am not rushing to any conclusion. She had one real chance to prove to me that she was worth my time and she blew it. I am not interested in being last on her priorities or for her to take me for granted. My wife took me for granted for far too long for me to ever tolerate such treatment again. I do not feel spiteful towards R for her decisions. She has every right in the world to do whatever she wants and to see whomever she wants, but what she doesn’t have the right to do is take me, my attention, or my interest for granted.

Today she wanted to see me and at first I agreed to have her come over. I started to allow my insecurity to win me over. I made excuses for her and I started to justify her actions the night before, but something was different this time. A feeling grew within me that I shouldn’t go through with this. If she had made time for me last night, I would have happily seen her and would likely be writing a post about how I had some fun sex, but that’s not what happened.

Instead of seeing her like I wanted, either at the swinger party or just the two of us, I went out to the bar by myself and for the first time, I had a lot of fun being there mostly alone. As I mentioned earlier I have developed a solid group of acquaintances, so there were a few people that I knew that I got to hang out with, but for the most part I was flying solo. I found myself suddenly capable of overcoming my introversion. I found myself suddenly capable of overcoming my social anxiety and the strong desire I often get to retreat from social situations like the bar. I felt comfortable being there alone, approaching people I didn’t know, having conversations with strangers, and as a result I had a lot of fun. I danced, I met some new amazing people, I got hit on and flirted with, I had a hot girl pinch my butt affectionately, and I didn’t regret going at all. I wasn’t even sad that I didn’t meet anyone that I liked in return (the few people who expressed interest in me were not my type, especially the guy, but it felt good that they were interested).

So, this afternoon as I was considering whether or not I wanted to continue to be a low priority on someone’s list that I wasn’t entirely sure I really wanted to see, I realized that I could and would do better. I’m okay being alone. I’m okay being single. I’m okay waiting for someone who is actually worthy of my time rather than throwing myself at someone who isn’t worthy of my time.

When I was living as Robert in my early twenties, I threw myself at just about anyone who was interested. I compromised my standards constantly because I didn’t want to be alone. I slept with people that I didn’t really find attractive because I wanted to fill my loneliness with sex. I was somewhat at risk of doing that again with R. Anger in the guesthouse has shown me that I cannot continue to compromise my standards. My standards, finally, and rightfully are too important for me to jeopardize.

This means that I will likely be alone for a long time because I have very high standards now. I am a very accomplished, intelligent, and beautiful person, and the person I end up with will have to be on par with that. My previous standards, or lack thereof, have been swept away by the group of sorrows that’s come into my guesthouse, and it has been replaced with a standard I should have always had. I will find someone who treats me the way I deserve, who appreciates me the way I should be appreciated, and who gives me as much as I give them. I will never allow myself to be a low priority and I will never allow myself to be taken for granted.

If they can’t or won’t put in the time necessary to show me they care, then they won’t be lucky enough to have me in their life.

I cancelled my date with R and I fully intend to stop seeing her. I deserve better and I will not settle for less than I deserve. If that means I must be alone, then alone I will be. It will not be forever. There are already people who’ve shown an interest in me and it’s only a matter of time until I find one of them that I deem worthy of my interest and affection.

I am adopting a new paradigm and I believe that it has been a long time coming. I know that there is someone, or several someones out there that will provide me with the experiences I am looking for and they will do so in a much more life-giving way than R has. I will find someone who is worthy of having sex with me and I will find someone who is worthy of liking/loving me. I may be something outside of the norm, but that just means I am all the more valuable to the person I do give myself to.

Anyways, I did mention that I wanted to discuss labels a bit earlier, so let’s switch the gears up a bit. As many of you who have been reading my blog for a long time likely know, I have gone through varying degrees of identification. At first, I identified simply as a transgender woman. There were a lot of reasons for that decision and most of it was the result of a floodgate breaking open effect. I had been holding back the feminine side of me for so long that there really wasn’t anything I could do besides fully immerse myself in a female identity.

As time went on and as I took on my new life as Emma, it became apparent to me that I wasn’t just female. I realized that I was both male and female at the same time. There were two of us in here. Robert, while no longer the captain of our destiny, was still inside of us. When we became Emma we merged together and our bond as twin-spirits was reestablished after decades of separation. At that point we decided that the term transgender woman no longer fully approximated who we were and as a result we decided to begin identifying as a non-binary transwoman (one word).

While we found this label a better approximation for who we were, we also found it cumbersome and not entirely accurate. We are non-binary, that part is accurate, but transwoman seemed too inaccurate for our preference. We were not and are not a woman. While our presentation is very feminine and while we are most comfortable in the binary role of female when we must be placed within the binary, we are not a woman. To call ourselves a transwoman would not accurately describe who we were.

For a while, this was not too much of a problem, but with the advent of our adventures into the realm of dating, we have found the term transwoman to be problematic. If we are to date and to bring our entire self to a new relationship, then our partner must be aware of our true nature. This is why for a short while we identified simply as non-binary in our dating efforts. We did not want someone to assume we were a transwoman when that wasn’t an accurate description of who we were.

The problem with identifying as simply non-binary is that people are often unable to tell that we were born in a male body. We have related a story previously about how this became a problem with our rejection by a Pisces woman who couldn’t be with someone assigned male at birth. As a result of this incident we decided that it was necessary to find a more accurate description of who we were that would also convey to others that we were assigned male at birth.

Upon exploration of the varying labels that have been developed we have settled on one that we truly appreciate and believe conveys accurately who we are. From now until such a time that a more accurate label can be developed to approximate who we are, we will begin identifying as non-binary and transfeminine. This, we believe, will illustrate that our gender falls outside of the binary and that our physical condition is similar to that of a transgender woman.

Many people will still think of us as a trans woman. Most strangers will just assume we are female. The government, our school, and our employers will always think of us as simply female because we are subjected to a binary based society, but for those who truly know us, they will know that we are much more than a female or a trans woman. We are non-binary, we are transfeminine, we are a she and a her, and we are queer. Our gender and our sexuality cannot be placed into an either/or category, so we refuse to identify within those categories any longer.

Well, my darlings, that is all I have for now. Tomorrow is my last final for my first semester of grad school and I will be unlikely to write another entry for a few more days. I appreciate your visit and I hope that if you are not already a life-long reader that you find my story compelling enough to see how it continues. We are just beginning our long and happy life as Emma the transfeminine* extraordinaire and gender outlaw!


-Emma

In case you forgot the poem, here it is again:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.” –Rumi

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