Many moons ago I had a psychiatrist tell me that I wasn’t feminine enough and that, in effect, he doubted my commitment to Sparkle Motion. Well, I saw where he was coming from. I wasn’t particularly feminine. In fact, by a lot of metrics, I was downright fucking butch (and crass and vulgar and and and). At the time, I felt like my body fit me like an ill-tailored suit and I spent a lot of energy trying to be as small and as invisible as I could be (and given how tall I am, that was a great deal of energy indeed.) I just assumed that I had bigger fish to fry and that one day I’d finally get around to blossoming like the goddamned flower I was supposed to be.
Fast forward…oh, 18 fucking years. I’m still processing that accusation and the imprint it’s left not only on my outwardly crafted persona but on the expectations I have for where my life will take me and what’s really “underneath.” See, I’ve lived every day thinking that no one really got to see the real me. I would make efforts now and then to satisfy the demands that this doctor placed upon my identity – the demands that I held to represent my true self – but it would never quite latch. I’d buy whole new wardrobes that were fitting of a woman my age but I would wear them as if I were a circus bear walking on its hind legs. These consistent failures of course would lead to more self loathing and reaffirmation that I was doing it all wrong.
That I made these efforts to satisfy his expectations shouldn’t be taken to mean that I was fully onboard with the plan. All the while that I held these expectations I was actively rebelling and sabotaging my efforts through tattoos and piercings and other unseemly modifications. Whenever I’d remember his words keenly enough to cause hurt I would reactively do something to spite him. I knew I wasn’t doing myself any favours if my intention was to satisfy his image of what I should be and yet I did it all anyway. On one level I clearly gave up on expecting to make the change his conditioning demanded.
And yet, I still held myself to his standards. When I looked in the mirror and saw the antithesis of what he expected I should be I would chide and insult myself in his voice. It didn’t matter that on many levels I liked what I saw – it was still unacceptable when measured against this narrative and ideal that had lodged itself inside my head.
I’ve come to realize that I’m not some butterfly waiting for the right moment to emerge from a cocoon – I AM a gruff and fundamentally unfeminine caterpillar. It’s not some armour I hide behind and I wont some day get over it and blossom. I’m pushing forty – this is who I am.
And how the fuck did I ever let some stupid man convince me that this was somehow a problem? Jesus, if any of my friends ever gave themselves the shit that I’ve given to myself I’d let them have an earful. I don’t know how I’ve been so willfully ignorant of this conditioning for so long. It’s only in the past few months that I’ve finally managed to get a good hard look at this part of my psyche and see it for what it is – utter shite and…
A waste of 18 years.
I’ve spent so long trying to live up to someone else’s expectations of what I should be that I never once stopped to consider if it’s really something I wanted at all. And I don’t. Throwing these poisoned assumptions aside, when I look in the mirror right now… y’know what? I’m pretty fucking okay with what I see. There are things I still would like to change and work on, but on my terms and to my specifications. I need to stop dragging around some dinosaurs assumptions on what a woman should be.
(For the record: I’m not angry. I am however feeling incredibly intense. For whatever reason I’m having a profound moment (or series of moments) so the profanity is going to flow freely for the time being. Context may come later. Or not. Whatever, no one’s reading this anyway. 🙂 )