Not a Great Way To Start a New Year

[Author’s Note: Well, i’ve done it again… i’ve gone basically a full month without posting yet again, completely failing at posting with anything approaching regularity.  Maybe i need to make that one of my New Year’s Goals (i won’t say “Resolution,” because that would clearly doom it to failure, and we writers are “a superstitious and cowardly lot…”).  Alright, i hereby make it a goal to post at least one thing a week, with additional “Quickies” as they occur to me.  Let’s see how long that lasts…  Anyway, i’ve been having a lot of feelings lately, and things have been a bit eventful in my life, so there’s a lot of stuff rattling around in my head once again.  i’m not sure if some of it is worth writing about, because a lot of it seems “whiny-boo-hoo-cry-me-a-river-people-have-worse-problems-than-you” to me, but the fact is that these things are really bringing me down right now, and i need to get them out of my head and onto a “page.”  This one, like the last one, has taken a number of days to complete.  i have such trouble getting all of this out even in writing, because there’s just so much emotion, so many thoughts, so much mental clutter, that it’s like it clogs up my brain, creating a sort of mental logjam that stops up the flow of everything, and toward the end i really kind of went into a mental spiral.  Trigger Warning: Suicide/Suicidal Ideation (again)]

Well, Happy New Year, i guess…  December wasn’t a great month, and to be honest, January hasn’t started off all that well, either.  Though one of the few positives that has come out of the time since my last post is that i have finally settled on a new non-binary name for myself.  i will probably miss “simon” a bit… it was one of the first pseudonyms i ever used, as well as one of my first RPG character names, and i will probably continue to use the name for characters in my writing.  But i am now Raiyne, and though i am not changing it publicly or professionally, i feel like Raiyne is my name now more than the one that most people know me by (though i’m still a little bit in the getting used to answering to it phase).  As nice (and as big) a step as the whole settling on a name thing was, though, the majority of the past month really hasn’t been wonderful for me.

To begin with, i’ve been getting more comfortable in my role as a teacher, but the more comfortable i become, the less convinced i become that K-12 education is the right professional home for me.  The fact is that working in any educational job will necessitate a certain level of exposure to the public eye, but working in K-12 education is one of the most fishbowl careers in education.  Not only are the students and administrators watching you, but the parents are also heavily involved and very vocal about their views of you as a teacher and as a person.  The upshot of this is that i will probably never be able to be fully myself, i will never be able to fully pursue my desire for personal authenticity… for my outer life to honestly reflect my inner life, as long as i am working in public education at the K-12 level.  And honestly, the more i think about it, the more i wonder if it’s really where i want to spend the rest of my professional life.

But at the same time, i’m not sure what the best alternative would be.  My problem has always been that my interests range so widely that it is difficult to pick a direction and maintain it indefinitely without feeling that other aspects of myself are getting short changed by the decision.  If i stay in education, though, it is pretty clear that i will have to sooner or later get a more secure educational career, such as teaching at the college or university level.  Even then, though, is that something in which i will be satisfied?  i don’t know.  They say that your ideal career is the thing that you would do with your life if money were no object.  i’ve been doing a lot of thinking along those lines lately.  If i didn’t have to worry about supporting myself financially, what would i do?  There are a few possible answers to this question.

One thing i might do if i didn’t have to worry about financial health would be to stay in school and never come out.  Basically, i think i could live a very fulfilling existence stringing together degrees like paper dolls.  It would also allow me to pursue all of my various interests over the course of many years and truly live up to my Renaissance Person self-conception.  Without a regular income, however, there is basically no way i could keep taking classes indefinitely and paying tuition and student expenses.  i have enough trouble with that on my current salary as it is.

Another thing i might do if i didn’t have to worry about fiscal responsibility is to actually focus on my writing.  i’ve always dreamed of writing novels, and it would be really great to be able to afford to work from home full time as a novelist (ha ha ha), reading and writing and improving my craft as i tell the stories that are in my brain but tend to have trouble getting out because of all the stress in my current existence.  It would just really be nice if we had the sort of society that could actually support artistic endeavors like that, but unfortunately i live in the United States, where the profit motive drives everything, and simply being a living human being doesn’t mean shit.

And that’s another thing.  i’ve got a really strong drive inside me for activism (in several different sociopolitical areas).  As a public school teacher, i can’t do too much activism of any kind, really.  i want to be out there, promoting intersectionality issues, but i have to hide that part of myself in my current job, as well.  i’m sick of having to hide the better parts of myself because of the ignorance and intolerance of so much of the public, parents especially, who could, and likely would, clamor for my job loss if they caught wind of my true nature.  i want to actually do something to advance the social justice causes that i hold near and dear to my heart, and whose current states of affairs often make me want to just rage-quit the world.

All of these ideas make for nice, pie-in-the-sky thoughts, but in reality i cannot see how i would even start to accomplish any of them.  i am not independently wealthy, or able to ignore the financial issues that still plague me, the student loan debt that i may never get out from under entirely, or the fact that i will be essentially chained to a pill bottle by my epilepsy for the rest of my life, and if i’m going to be able to afford that, i will need some kind of employment with health insurance.  i feel like i may have painted myself into a corner here, and i don’t know what the right thing to do is.  It seems like no matter what change needs to be made, if i’m going to find the direction in which i need to go, i’m going to have to take some sort of “leap of faith,” stepping off into nothingness without a safety net to catch me if i fail.  And at this point i’ve made so many abortive attempts at starting the course of the rest of my life, that i don’t think i have any faith in myself left.

On top of that, i’ve had yet another breakthrough seizure.  This time it was on a full dose of my medications, too–i hadn’t missed a pill at all.  It was Christmas Eve, and i had gone to church with my family because it’s the one service i still allow them to drag me to out of sheer diplomacy.  Up in the choir loft, the temperature was oppressively hot that night, so that may have been part of what triggered it, combined with the stress of having to be around my emotionally taxing family, with whom i am not in the least bit out of the closet, and who misgender me and call me by the wrong name because they honestly don’t know the real me.  i will probably never let them see a completely unedited version of myself, because i truly believe that they would not understand, and it would be yet another thing that they would lash out against and be passive aggressive about and be ashamed of me for.  As much as i may wish i could tell them everything sometimes, i most likely never will, and a part of me is very comfortable with that concept.

The problem is that this new seizure hasn’t just set back the date of my return from February 5 to March 24.  It has also severely freaked out my parents about the entire concept of my living alone and independently, and they are essentially keeping me in their house, unable to return to the house that i’ve been housesitting for the past couple months, until i can get in to see my neurologist on Tuesday.  This means that i’ve been stuck in this stressful environment for much longer than i otherwise would have this holiday season.  My sister left town on the 30th, and if i could have, i would have gone back over to the other house on that day, but they’ve gone into total helicopter-parent mode, to the point that i have been asked to inform them every time i enter or exit the shower, so that they know i’m not drowning in an inch of water.

This came to a head the other day, because (in a very unwise moment) i confided some of my feelings on this subject to my father.  For some reason i forgot that i can’t actually tell him anything in confidence, because he always goes and blabs to my mother.  The resulting one-sided conversation essentially consisted of my mother telling me what an immature human being i am (this is her standard refrain for anything i do that she doesn’t agree with; essentially, she’s created this comfortable overarching narrative that rationalizes all of her feelings and behaviors as being completely reasonable and any objections or choices i make that differ from her to be evidence of my enduring immaturity and unwillingness to become a grown up human being), bringing in all of the other things that i do that she considers “childish” (such as going and playing D&D during the week instead of being a professional automaton until the weekend like she is), and taking it incredibly personally that i would ever object to a single fucking thing she did from “a place of love.”

She also informed me that she wasn’t “holding me against my will,” and that i could go back over to the other place if i really wanted to, but that really wasn’t true, and i think deep down she probably realized it.  If i had decided to go back over there instead of toeing her line and staying until after my appointment, it would have just been more evidence and material for her to use in her passive aggressive emotionally manipulative bullshit that, even though i know that’s exactly what it is, still fucking kills me on the inside whenever she does it.

Amid all of this loveliness came the story of Leelah Alcorn (link is to a Daily Mail story, TW: Suicide, and the article itself doesn’t misgender Leelah, but quotes a person who does), and it hit me really hard, and it hit me pretty close to home.  To be fair, my family is nowhere near as extreme as Leelah’s.  If i were to come out to them, i doubt that they would completely cut me off from my friends, and they would definitely not try to make me go to reparative therapy, but i also know that they wouldn’t accept me for who i am (when i tried to come out to them as bi/pansexual, they asked me how i knew i was, and then pretty much dismissed the whole thing when i retreated into a lie, no longer feeling safe to talk to them, that i hadn’t done any actual experimentation).

What really hit close to home with Leelah’s story, though, was the manner in which she killed herself.  She jumped in front of a semi truck.  In my times when i have thought most seriously about suicide, including some of my recent episodes of ideation, this was one of the ways i thought about doing it… impulsively throwing myself in front of a large vehicle at the last possible second, so that the driver wouldn’t have time to react and brake.  Seeing that someone else chose this method really sent me into a bit of a tailspin for a couple of days.  Yet, on another level, knowing that my problems aren’t on nearly the same scale as hers were, it feels almost like i am disrespecting and dishonoring her memory to even think about comparing anything about my life with hers…

What with all of this coming together, i’ve been in a really bad place mentally and emotionally.  i’ve come close a couple of times to calling the Trans Lifeline, and a couple of times i’ve even toyed with the idea of having myself committed, at least for a little while, but i always manage to push these feelings down by focusing on something else for a while.  They never really go away, though.  They’re always there in some way or another in the background.  i think i’ve come through the worst of it, but the depression is still very much there.

All of this is despite the fact that i know that i don’t have it as bad as many others, even because of it in a strange, opposite day sort of way.  i know that my problems are not nearly as bad as so many people–my family of birth isn’t so far out there that they would actively try to damage me for who and what i am, i am the recipient of white privilege, ability privilege, even male privilege because i’m non-binary and mostly closeted–and others have cited this same concept as a way that they gained perspective and realized that their problems weren’t so bad after all.

It doesn’t seem to work that way for me, though.  Try as i might to recontextualize my emotions in this way, it never helps me feel any better.  And when i realize that i’m not feeling any better about my issues even though they don’t hold a candle to others, i hate myself, because i am clearly so incredibly selfish that i can’t see beyond my own comparatively petty concerns.  My family of birth may not be the most supportive people ever, but i still have the family of choice who i have referenced in earlier posts who i know love me and want nothing but my happiness and inner peace, but i somehow can’t make myself feel better because of it, because all i can see even with all of this is the negative side of my life and my own problems and depression.  And i feel like, if my problems aren’t on the same par with those of others, and i have these support systems that truly do exist, that i am unworthy of even toying with the concept of having the idea of suicidal thoughts… but that just makes me feel even worse still.

This is only intensified when i think about the fact that i am non-binary and living mostly in the closet.  As a non-binary person, i will most likely never be in a position where i can’t simply present as male and have cisgender passing privilege.  But a part of me rebels against this very idea on principle.  While it’s true that i benefit from presenting as male, is it really a privilege to have to hide?  Is it really a privilege to publicly deny my true nature in order to avoid personal and professional repercussions?  It may be practically indistinguishable from the outside, but on the inside it feels more like a cage than a privilege.  It feels like i am trapping myself inside the confines of my biological sex, like i am choosing to suppress my true self and hide in a prison of my own making because it is “safer.”  It feels like utter cowardice, and i would truly like nothing more than to shake off these self-imposed chains, chains that paradoxically empower me in society while destroying me emotionally.

i’m tired of hiding.  i’m tired of betraying myself in order to keep a career that i’m not even sure i belong in so that i can afford to keep myself healthy and at least somewhat independent.  i’m tired of compromising myself for practical expediency.  i hate it, and i hate myself for living in fear and cowardice and dishonesty.  i want it to stop, but i can’t quite live with the possible repercussions.  If i expose my true self to the public world, i make a jump into air with neither trapeze nor net.  i want to make that jump, but i am terrified of the fall.

i want to scream, but i’m afraid that if i let go of the reins of my emotional control i’ll never get them back.

i need help, but i don’t know how to ask for it.

i want to be free.  i want to feel safe.  i can’t currently have both, and it infuriates me.

And underneath it all, i know i have it good compared to so many other people, and i hate myself because i still feel so horrible about my own problems.

i know i’ve become more than a little redundant at this point, and my writing on this entry in general has not been up to my usual standard (it’s been downright shitty, to be honest), but i can’t quite seem to express the sheer magnitude of what i feel… the anger and the sorrow and the utter helplessness… like i’m drowning in my own emotional detritus, and i can’t find a way to honestly love myself for who i am.  i’m not a naturally violent person, but all i want to do right now is destroy something.

Fuck.  What am i going to do?

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One Response to Not a Great Way To Start a New Year

  1. You are completely allowed to have your feelings, no matter how others might perceive your privileges or if they ‘have it worse than you.’ This is your situation, so it matters, and your feelings matter. You’re in an incredibly shitty situation and your emotional reactions are perfectly valid.

    We do love and accept you, we’re here for you. We can’t take the steps of your journey for you, but we can hold your hand if you let us.


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