I’m sitting with some depression right now. Sometimes I say I’m *struggling with*. But in my current state, I am simply sitting with it, watching, observing it. And I’m not completely sure whether it is dulling my mind or actually slowing it down enough to clarify. I’m learning about myself (none too quickly I might add) that depression comes and goes. It is simply a part of my makeup, who I am, who I have always been. In whatever incarnation of me I’ve been, depression has always been there (alongside my other friend and constant companion, anxiety). So I’m trying to just be with it rather than struggle against it.
I’m at an interesting point in my journey. Somewhere between neither here nor there. I’m surprised to admit that I actually feel just fine with that. I’m appreciating, if not always enjoying, being in the moment more. I’m ok with not rushing to be any specific person, place or thing. Or however that saying might go in reference to me.
It’s too bad not everyone in my life is finding my current state quite as copacetic as I am. Being on the in between side of neither here nor there seems to be disconcerting to some folks. And I’m not quite sure how to respond to their discomfort. Of course, part of me wishes to ease their distress. That part of me wants to alleviate the suffering of those around me. Especially the suffering seemingly caused by me. That part of me wants to comfort and soothe, with context, explanation, confession and elucidation. That part of me wonders what has taken me so long and what I am waiting for and why I haven’t already addressed the elephant in the room of *what is going on with me*. Would it kill me to clue people in? Share a little bit of myself? Be more transparent? Be more open? Help calm everyone’s fucking nerves?
But then there is another part of me that feels like I don’t actually owe anyone anything. This part of me, protective of me first, wonders why I have to explain myself as a way of comforting others’ discomfort with me. Why should I feel the need to explain myself, as if having to make myself more palatable, to anyone? This part of me wonders why it is my problem that others are uncomfortable with who I am or am not and why it is my responsibility to fix it. This part of me doesn’t really give a fuck whether or not I fit into someone else’s boxes or, clearly narrow, limited and limiting definitions of who I am or can be.
But I don’t like making people feel uncomfortable. I feel badly to be causing others unease. I am ashamed to be such an antagonist, wreaking perplexity and discomfiture in my wake, anathema to people’s status quo. I don’t want to cause people angst, leaving them feeling awkward.
But I’m not causing shit! If people are incommoded by my being, that is their own narrow-mindedness. These people need to get over themselves, if they can’t get over me. My being is not offensive. I am kind and considerate and well-groomed.
Oh for fuck’s sake. Is this what it comes down to?!
Twice at work in the last month I have contended with or otherwise endured incidents of others’ distress – allegedly because of me. One happened when the person thought I was out of earshot, when she said (what I considered snarkily and sarcastically), “Whatever gender we’re going with these days” to someone else. That comment hurt. It stung. It was shaming. And I felt ashamed. Much later in the day, once I had gained a modicum of confidence back, when I’d shirked off the self-loathing to some extent, I asked (via text) for clarification of why she might have said such a thing. She responded that she meant no harm, no hurt feelings. She said she was simply acknowledging the fact that she wasn’t entirely sure what pronoun to use when referring to me and that she was trying to be respectful by addressing it head-on. I didn’t exactly experience it as respectful as it turns out. Nor have I ever asked her or anyone else to refer to me by any specific pronoun. I’ve taken a *choose your own adventure* kind of posture when it comes to how others address or refer to me. I have never requested nor have I corrected anyone’s pronoun reference to me – he, she, they or otherwise. So this dilemma of hers was of her own making. Not mine. Part of me felt like her comment was uncalled for, simply mean. Part of me wondered why the incident had happened at all. Why was my gender orientation even in question to begin with? But part of me understood the awkwardness of my current non-state of gender. Why am I not providing some guidance for others so that they are not stuck in the not-knowing-discomfort?
On the other such occasion, a member of our team sought out and asked someone from another department, who happens to be an acquaintance of mine, whether I was taking hormones. This co-worker said she’d noticed a difference in the tenor of my voice and thought that might be the case. When my acquaintance-friend demurred, shrugging and saying she had no idea, this person persisted. Three times did she ask whether this other person knew if I was taking hormones. Three times did the person have to say, “I dunno”. This friend-colleague-acquaintance came to me shaken and upset. She wanted to know if I wanted her to go to human resources to report the person. I sighed heavily. Having added two more to the list of angst-ridden wounded on my account.
Part of me wanted to go find the questioner and just tell her myself. What does it matter who knows what? Part of me does understand that as I change, people are curious about what is going on. Sometimes because they care and sometimes because they are curious. Part of me also understands that not everyone is questioning my status because they are mean or nosey jerks. Perhaps people want to know what’s going on so that they can simply support me and be on the same page and not make mistakes that might cause me distress. But the other part of me doesn’t understand why I have to explain anything. I’m not asking people to change the way they interact with me. I’m not asking for additional support. I’m not asking anyone to use different pronouns, to be or say or do anything differently or out of the ordinary.
The understanding part of me understands the well-meaning behind noticing changes. Lots of people notice haircuts or new styles, new clothing or accessories. Many people comment when they notice a change in someone’s weight (loss mostly, because commenting on someone’s weight gain is considered rude in polite society). People notice changes in people they care about.
But some *noticing* and commenting is intrusive. Can you imagine asking someone how much money they earn? Or what they spend their money on? How about these: How often do you have sex? Do you masturbate? How often do you move your bowels? Do you fold or scrunch your toilet paper before using it?
I’ve hit my 1200ish word limit, so I’ll stop for now. I’m still not at all sure what to do about well-meaning curious folks who are feeling awkward as they notice changes in me. I’m not up for, nor have I ever been interested in, being other people’s window of opportunity for learning. I’m no poster-child. Part of me wants to ignore it altogether and go on living my life. Let folks have their concerns, questions, queries and discomfort. I am under no obligation to explain myself. The other part of me wants to address the curiosity directly by acknowledging people’s inquisitiveness (bordering on intrusiveness) and stating clearly (albeit gently) that it is none of their actual business. And a third (though much smaller) part of me does feel obligated to explain something. No guys, you are not going crazy. I’m not sure which part of me will win out.