Reality Testing

I think in my life the one belief I can’t seem to shake, I have to act from, and have paid over and over again for acting from is the belief that getting raped is a big fucking deal in someone’s life.

Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? Of course it is. Of course, of course.

But that’s certainly not how my family or friends have ever responded to my rapes. I was thinking about the conversations I had with them when I had just started transition. Most of the people closest to me tried to have some kind of conversation with me about whether transition was right for me. They didn’t know where to begin. They mostly went through the “does wanting what you want mean mean you’re not a woman? what are the boundaries of what a woman is?”

Philosophically interesting questions. But how many years had I been waking up in a body I wanted to throw away? How many years had I pondered what on earth was wrong with me I couldn’t seem to get my shit together? How many years had I been sad?

You can argue ideas all day long. Same way you can try to argue someone out of their feelings. Same way you can tell someone they’re being dramatic, that they need to move on, that you can’t believe they’re still talking about that thing that happened so many years ago.

You can’t tell someone they weren’t raped and then have any credibility when you tell them they aren’t trans.

If it wasn’t a rape and it wasn’t wrong and my feelings were just nonsense, then where did they come from? It was left up to me to figure that out. If rape was funny, if I was being over-sensitive, if the other girls didn’t mind, what was up with me that I minded?

What was up with me? I was left on my own to find a question. The kind of girl who hated being a girl. The kind of girl who couldn’t ever do a right thing. The kind of girl who was bothered, all the time, annoyingly so, always upset about something.

(The kind of girl with a bad body, a body not worth much, that’s what my rapist told me about myself a couple weeks after, he said if I was a whore I would have to charge a lot less than my friend. My mom doesn’t know that. She doesn’t know any of the details because when I tried to tell her she said it wasn’t a rape. She doesn’t know much at all about my life. I feel silly for caring that she doesn’t know. I feel silly for caring what my rapist said. I feel silly for my whole life.)

What do you do with feeling bad every day? You go through periods of trying to act like that’s the human condition. You go through periods of acting like all that matters is other people. You go through periods of trying to fix it once and for all. You go through periods of finding a thing to do that will make it all better, and if you find a big group of people telling you yes, this is it, this is the thing, just work hard at this, once you transform yourself in this way it’ll all be better, you believe them because you want to feel different so badly.

What do you do when sometimes people talk like rape is a big deal but they have no suggestions for what to do to live with the first hand knowledge? What do you do when people say “of course rape is a big deal” but then also say “a good comedian can make every subject funny.” What do you do when people say “of course rape is a big deal” but then also say “but in this particular case that woman is crazy.” What do you when people say “of course rape is big deal” but also “but when people are drinking signals get crossed and misunderstandings happen.”

What do you do when people say “of course rape is a big deal” and then say “you have to talk about something else, you have to move on.”

What do you do when you know who the rapists are in your community, because lots of people know, and you can’t get people to stop putting them in rooms full of women drinking?

I have a fantasy I meet a woman and she takes stock of me and she says, “Here is what you have to do to not feel crazy when almost everyone has committed to this particular kind of insanity.” She tells me what I should eat, what exercises to do, what prayers to say, what books to read. She says, “They all let you down but they let you down to teach you what needs to be done.”

I want a very normal life. I want a husband and kids. I see my friends becoming mothers and I wonder what human experience I cut myself off from when I decided I was trans. Sometimes friends of mine who are married tell me I’m the kind of person who doesn’t need a man. What I hear when they say that is that they don’t ever see me landing one. One women who got her cute little lesbian wedding told me I should be some kind of high priced escort. It was a joke? It was a joke that made me hate her.

I have lots of friends, and lots of would be friends. They all think they should be enough for me. They are not enough. I don’t need conversation. I don’t need endless friends, endless coffee dates, endless hanging out. I need something else entirely.


6 thoughts on “Reality Testing”

  1. That “What do you do when you’re feeling bad every day?” paragraph is so very spot-on. So many people need to read that and take it in and take a look at their lives.

    When I read the woman’s letter from the Stanford rape case one part I found particularly harrowing were her descriptions the lingering after-effects, how she couldn’t bear to be touched, how she felt so removed from herself – things we’ve heard often in the transition narrative. There is no doubt rape tears a person into another place, another perspective that probably is never going to leave them. I don’t know how many women have the strength and wherewithal to admit and accept that, no less share it openly so that others can take it in as well. It’s like one of those things society can’t handle so everyone keeps brushing it off to go about their daily lives. That doesn’t invalidate the experience or perspective, though; it’s just another reason why people, in general, suck. Everyone is too busy protecting themselves to admit to the suffering – and causes of suffering – in their midst.

    And it’s a particularly harrowing place to be, to see it all and feel powerless – or made to feel worse due to your experiences. The most frustrating thing is that so often that very perspective has a way of deepening a person and making them far more worthy of love and engendering love than most of the blindly-fumbling-about population – you deserve to be in a loving, caring relationship with a loving, caring person and nurture a loving, caring family that will bring that deeper perspective further into our society. The problem is that finding people living on that level is frustratingly rare.

    I think we all need an anchor or a life raft sometimes.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I used to get all that “all that matters is you have good friends” mantra, also, twenty years ago, in Britain – and, I was supposed to be so amazingly beautiful, and so “unable to believe you’re a lesbian”, “unable to believe you’re not seeing a man”, from everyone – I would say it’s just the life philosophy of certain types of people- superficial people – regardless of whoever they’re talking to. They don’t value family; they care mostly for their peers. I’ve found the family minded types of people tend to not socialise much, and to settle down at an early age, (not all of them). I’m extremely shocked you’ve not got a caring response from people, especially your family, to being raped; personally, having physically fought off a rapist was bad enough; how on earth people get over it when it actually happens I absolutely cannot imagine, and I really take that situation of trauma extremely seriously. Of course, of course you deserve a loving caring relationship and children.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “If it wasn’t a rape and it wasn’t wrong and my feelings were just nonsense, then where did they come from? It was left up to me to figure that out. If rape was funny, if I was being over-sensitive, if the other girls didn’t mind, what was up with me that I minded?”

    I think that’s the reason why I am so angry when someone calls me “cis” – they shove me into the category of the “other girls” who “don’t mind”. Claiming that any woman is happy with the gender role assigned to her at birth is insulting, because the role of “women” has sexual harrassment as part of it at the best of times.

    Rape is not funny, you were not being over-sensitive, and other girls do mind.

    Liked by 2 people

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