I saw myself on the tele awhile back on a little Logo show called, The Aggressives. Of course, they don’t feature straight women on that program, for that network which is targeted at the LGBT community (as you are likely to know if you are reading this silly little post). Yet the premise of the show got me thinking about my younger years and the ‘bitch in my back pocket.’ You see, I was a pretty tough cookie for a long time. This was, of course, by necessity. I was not meant to live long when I arrived, pushed from the womb by my twinergy, and I wasn’t all that wanted anyway so it was no biggie loss for my family if I tragically didn’t make it. But I did make it to childhood, the timeframe when those ‘failure to thrive’ issues pass away with the babyfat and then my sickling toddlerhood frustrated any ideas of my own beloved departing that my mother might’ve wished on me. And I fought back too. Failure to thrive is kinda a big ole joke to my way of thinking.
I was muscling to live in a scary, unpredictable and violent childhood. So my response was to be on the fore of the battle. My mother stopped beating me when she saw the wildeyed look of her child who had audaciously plucked some kinda moxie for a deepseated self-authority and space to live. My father stopped beating me after I finally got a good lick in and cracked his 250lbs. framed rib with my barely 100lbs. worth of rage against his hate. They became scared of what I was. And from their fear I learned to protect my womanliness, because my girlhood had long been stolen. I warred against the factions that laid claim to my body making me feel that it was not mine alone. I engaged the world in a physical and intellectual struggle for a sense of self.
As I grew into adulthood, the battle changed forms. I became an activist, participating in risky ventures such as escorting abortion patients past violent women’s health clinic scenes. I ran around the eastern seaboard teaching and helping women protect their basic freedom to healthcare suitable for their needs. I worked in domestic violence shelters and showed women a path to independence and self-strength so that they might carry on their own battles against misogyny and social violence in and out of their homes. I helped children from bad, bad places find a way to live in chaos and hope for a better future in the dreams, courage, and the vigor of their youths. And I was good at this kind of work and enjoyed the rigors, the dailyness of these harsh worldly experiences.
In parenthood I made boy children and had to admit that it seemed I was too testosteroney myself to make a safe uterine environment to grow a girl. When I was finally delivered of my youngest son, the doctor explained that no child could possibly escape the male-identical inner-pelvis region of my loins – which would’ve been nice to know after the first emergency c-section. This news seemed to provide that there was finally some irrefutable evidence that I am man trapped in a woman’s body. And the information made all kinds of sense to me and my loveys as we laughed about its implications and manifestations.
That is until the test results for that pesky ovarian cyst came back. Then it was clear that the testosteroney surging from lady parts throughout my being was not all that good for me. That cyst was not really all that cystic and more concerning than I cared to admit. Yet I treated the experience like much else in my life and fought on, walked hard, and kept moving, kept working, kept going.
Until the bitch in my backpocket was removed.
When my lady parts were gone and I went into immediate menopause, something terrifying and terrible happened to me. I became a girl. Of course I always had some girlie qualifications; for instance: I loved fashion; I liked my sexuality; I loved my circle of girls; I love being a mom; and I even loved girlesque career endeavors. Yet when my ovaries and uterus were taken away I knew I was in trouble. The fight I could always muster, the bitch in my pocket I could wield when I needed, the strong and brawn of my will… it was gone. I knew it within hours of coming into wakefullness at the hospital and I understood it’s ramifications within days of my surgery. The dosing of estrogen and loss of progesterone tipped the hormonal scales of my life toward a very different direction.
The medical team and therapeutic interventionists all believed this was a good thing. Everyone I know looked upon the situation with humor and relief. They liked the softer, subtler, less cantackerious me. It was me who didn’t like the rush of girlie emotions, the novelty of entering a pubescent sense of self at a the ripe ol’ middleagedness of my life. I liked the bitch that I could whip out at a moments notice to terrify anyone who tried to harm me or mine. It was my protection against the hatefulness of the world and the force of my personality and will to keep living and learn to thrive when there was no reason for me to make it at all.
I am gone for 3 years now. And I am still reeling from the loss and the experiences that my girliepartsloss has led me into. So I watched in wonder at this little cable show that sought to make a social space for women like I was; women that I knew; loveys that I adore; and the woman that I so very much missed being. These days I have become fascinated by desperating housewives, realistic and imagined, who seek their own feminine sense of authority in the world through a very different means; it is a girlie sense of being in the world that I still do not understand. The makeup, the fawning over one another and the power of beguiling of men, the tantruming, the shopping, the vapidity of outer-self – coupled with insescent self-doubt, it is overwhelming to me. Yet I feel the truth of my interests reveals that my own newfound sense of identity lies somewhere in between. It is middling the unfeminine aggression that I knew and the ladylike mystery of what I am. This puzzle for which I am ill-prepared because, unlike feminine women who come into their own sense of confidence and strength during the menopausal cycle, I am floundering toward what I will be…