I have to say from the outset, I am not sure where this post is going. There is such a mix of rawness, pain, joy, excitement, sadness, and a bunch of other feelings coursing through me these recent times. And I imagine they will continue to do so for some time to come.
There’s a realisation I have come to in recent times, that one doesn’t just come out and be done with it. Life is much too complex for it to be like that. It’s far too nuanced for that to be the case. There are too much variance and change in life for that to be the case.
I thought I had had my big coming out when I came out publicly as autistic, then I thought it was when I came out as non-binary, and now it seems like I have had that big moment in coming out as a transgender woman.
So what’s going on here? I guess part of life is walking a journey, a process, a continuum of comings out. Those comings out can really be anything, they can be sexuality, they can be gender, they can be neurology. And there are so many other things they can be too.
One thing is for certain, though, whilst they can be, and so have for me personally, moments of wondrous clarity, honesty and self-determination, it is foolish to consider they are the infallible cathartic moments we expect them to be.
There is much to be gained from them for sure, but there is also incredible risk and at times incredible loss too. That loss can also be incredibly painful. It can be in a sense debilitating, life altering and so potent it can leave you in a state of not knowing where to from here.
But make no mistake, comings out are incredibly important, and in the long run, I believe cathartic and positive. They can, in fact, shape us as we go forward in our lives. They can be pivotal moments, they can show us just who our real family and friends are.
I think it’s true that a life with comings out present is a life well lived. It’s is a life beyond a mediocrity of just going through the motions of life. It is, I feel, a life that is examined, reflected on, known by its very life liver.
Being the age I am, I don’t think I ever would have been able to come out autistic if I had not been able to examine, to reflect and to consider my life, how it intersects with others and how it is in comparison to others. I would never have been able to begin to discover the truth of my gender if it had not been for this propensity to reflect, consider and investigate myself, my feelings, behaviours, my acting out of life if you like.
As I write here on a blog called Proud Autistic Living, there is no question that I am out and proud in terms of my neurology, I wouldn’t and couldn’t have it another way. But it does come with some difficulties. It comes with a reality that you can’t just put it back in the bottle. You can’t just suddenly take it all back and go back to trying to pretend to be like everyone else. It has ramifications when it comes to interacting with organisations, medical professionals, therapists, employers and so forth.
Coming out transgender has taken this to a whole new level. It has far-reaching impacts on the way I do everything. Undeniably this is a wonderful, freeing, and exciting process. It does though change everything. Family life is permanently altered, relationships are forever different. Family get-togethers are irreversibly changed. For me personally, this has meant that a marriage relationship is ending, living arrangements changed irrevocably. These are the parts that are hard. They are very hard. They bring tears to my eyes on an almost daily basis. But they are things that can’t be just put back. They are things that must be navigated.
Yes, they are damn hard. Really fucking hard.
What goes with this, though, is a life that is lighter, a sense of wellbeing that is happier. I can’t even begin to count the number of people who have commented to me about how this true in what they see in the way I look, the way I relate, the way I live.
The point of all this I guess is that a coming out is not all peaches and cream. But what life well lived is a life of the easy street. A life punctuated by comings out is a life that is, I believe, punctuated by periods of deep reflection and self-realisation. It is a life that is inherently true to itself. I believe that this is a life that is trying to be lived to the fullest. To be lived in such a way that it seeks in every way to carpe diem.
So I say, even in the pain, even in the hurt, and the unforeseen change, live a life that is punctuated by comings out and seizes the day and lives a life well lived.
I sense it is something akin to Mr Anderson of Dead Poets Society fame, making that move, with bravery and trepidation, climbing onto that school desk amidst the pompous Helton Academy and proclaiming to his teacher Mr Keating “Oh Captain, My Captain”.
I was 19 years old when I first saw that. It was amazingly potent then, and it remains so. Mr Anderson of course, displays great courage, he is after all the first of those boys to stand. But it matters not that Overstreet, Meeks, Pitts and others were after because in the end they looked deep into their very selves and they chose that moment to seize the day, to stand out, too, if you will, come out of themselves.
Oh, Captain My Captain!