Fade in... Chill winds scrape the stark landscape as the opening titles, "Raised By Wolves" appear...
Okay… I think I’m ready to take this on… too.
I’ve been promising myself that I would start this blog for months now. I needed something to follow-up after the publishing of my book.
I needed to keep flexing the muscles that I discovered during that process.
I needed to have an outlet to discuss the issues and questions raised by my writing and give me a place to connect with the growing readership that has so generously allowed me into their hearts… and,
I needed something other than Facebook to pour the quicksilver of emotion and observation.
Need. Need. Need. Geezus girl, talk about high maintenance! So shut-up and write already…
So without further ado… here tis –
I was raised by wolves.
Girls like me find that we are each like unicorns or aliens, constantly explaining our “phenomenon,” forever acting the shell answer woman for our family and friends about other people’s lives. The biggest questions are covered in my book – but the “why” we exist is something we find doesn’t really matter to us and we bore of that discussion quickly. It’s the “how” we want answered. How did we get here? How was our journey? How is our life going? And how will we live our life going forward?
So… I’m naming this column “Raised by Wolves” – For me, it explains so much. I took that from the song by U2 off their “Songs of Innocence” album. (Yes, that one that everyone feels so good about dissing.)
I was looking at my life, as I do every morning on my morning ride along the trails of “dirt Mulholland” and this particularly foggy morning I had been concocting my own feminist manifesto in my head when the song came on (my earbuds are standard equipment along with helmet and shades) – the chorus cut right thru my thoughts like Occam’s Razor: “\
"Raised by Wolves, stronger than fear."
I realized this was the metaphor I was looking for – an explanation from God for “how” me.. Those of you who have read my book know that I owe my “jailbreak from the dungeon or my own creation” to a letter that I wrote to God and the thunderbolt that came as the reply: A brilliant flash of clarity and strength and resolve and faith that shattered the chains of doubt and denial to be the woman I am. Period.
But after the stardust settled, nowhere in that pile of rubble was the chart, manual or even a clue for how to be me. Just a rule-of-thumb to know which fork to take when I came to one - be upfront. Which requires a sense of finesse, a sense of decorum. Just as one doesn't shout MOVIE in a crowded firehouse, you also do well to read the the tea leaves before divulging everything about one's past unless it's warranted. So how do I, a middle-aged woman talk about the past without, you know,... stirring up a cloud of emotion and confusion? Okay back to the present... with me? Good.
Turn's out, Bono’s right. I was raised by wolves. It’s both my strength and my gift. Girls like me do have something to bring to the table. As Jenny Boylan writes about “life in two genders,” girls like us can offer insight about how we navigated the stormy testosterone seas with minds molded by estrogen.
But first, we have to accept that silly little fact about ourselves.
Which for this girl is not easy to do.
Why? Cuz I love, love, love, the pink cloud. Or the parts I’ll allow myself to wallow in. For those of you new to this term, the PC refers to the real euphoria girls like me experience when we are able to be our “true” selves. It does take on a pejorative connotation when one stays too long with her head in said cloud taking on the deeper meaning that the clouded one has lost perspective and has become self-absorbed in said pinkness.
This is generally tolerated for a brief time by the clouded one’s older sisters until it becomes a pain in everyone’s ass. Then the elders will gently lead pinky back to the grounded paths of reality. I don’t know if there’s a blue corollary for our trans brothers (I may have to chat with my friend Ian ‘bout that). But suffice to say, it’s a natural part of growing up. It’s the dreaded “second puberty” that many of us (certainly us older generation trans women & men) go through that has all the same tearings and tuggings of the heart, body & soul that can only be tamed by… gulp, maturity.
But despite my love for pink, the real reason it’s hard for me (and please note, I’m only speaking for myself here ) is that there’s acceptance and then there’s acceptance-acceptance.
When I look at my own growth, (I’m a little leery of that maturity word) I have to, as my friend Gizi says, “get honest with the truth.”
So here goes… honestly… I never wanted to be trans. Why? Because, I always knew I was a woman. Please, growing up inside this body, trying my damnest to play the cards I was dealt, was hard enough. Having to walk through life hermetically sealed in a conundrum, and cloaking that conundrum with armor to protect it was almost more than… well it almost swallowed me whole. So when I finally broke free, and stood in the bright sunshine of my femininity, well...all's I can say is I’ve earned my womanhood. So to add the qualifier “trans” in front seems, I dunno… a bit forced. .It's a phrase someone else coined to describe me. It's not one I had ever used (until I saw a professional) - I had only ever used girl and woman to describe myself to myself.
But, in order to live an "official life" (the documented, government issue, right-in-the-eyes-of-the-law, kinda life) I have made use of the trans moniker. It seems to make sense to people with stamps and records and filing fees and such. But it's not easy.
With the current state of affairs with the republican right using us as their latest whipping girls and boys, you could argue that it's also not one of my best strategic moves… (which should finally put to rest the insane, ignorant and downright offensive charge that this is a choice).
But… accepting who and what I am is one thing, and living, truly living, is another thing altogether. That is a choice. I can choose to live out loud, or continue to live according to everyone else’s expectations (yeah, which worked so well for me for close to fifty years). But, without putting it lightly, that is for me, only a life or death choice.
Even choosing life has degrees. And accepting-accepting requires all 360 of them.
I am required by the “code pink protocols treaty of 2015”* to confess that when I even think of hesitating, pulling back even one degree, sets the wolves in my heart a’braying.
It is how I am.
And accepting-accepting requires a daily refreshing of my grip on that reality.
Because no matter how dramatically my body changes. (And oh my, it sure as heck is) my past is not changing. Will not. Ever change.
So, accepting-accepting is this:
I am the woman I am today, because I was raised by wolves.
And I can’t get around this other feeling in my heart: I’m proud of having been raised by wolves. I love my wolves. They are noble. Strong. Smart. Beautiful. Family comes first. They have each’s back. Nobody messes with wolves.
And so this is my dilemma; tho’ I was raised by them, and for many years (almost 50) I tried my darnedest to act like one. I got really good at it. Most couldn’t tell me from my pack.
But that doesn’t change the facts, (and trust me, I truly tried everything I could to believe it away, pray it away, think it away and drink it away.) I am not, and never was one of them. As proud as I am of their love – that love is a reality that I tried so hard to hold up and then, so hard to escape.
And so, now, here I am – Its 2016, I’m fifty-ish years old (see, the magic is working already!) And I find myself trying to ignore only that “detail” my history. But this is where I stumble. Because I love almost everything about my history – bumps and all. (Except that boy thingy and all that went to surviving it). I love the people of my past dearly. I love the lessons I learned, the strides I made and the love I loved.
And so, this is something girls like me have to come to grips with – especially the late bloomers (like me) – namely what to do with the wolf DNA that still runs in our veins. ‘Cause let’s be real, it’s there, it might not look like anything anyone would recognize as particularly wolfie, or even wolf-like, but… it is there. And it can hurt, when it makes itself known, even be a little disorienting. Or at the very least… weird.
Trust me, it took almost everything I had to type those last few sentences, even greater to not delete them. Yes, despite all the strides I’ve made, it doesn’t even take a full moon to draw forth my lupine impulses…
Even hiding behind the metaphor (cool as is sounds) is telling, isn’t it?
So, that’s what I hope to discover along the way (with your help of course), and that is, which of my wolf-like ways is going to go forward with me and what’s gonna be left back with the pack?
It’s a question I stub my toe on everyday. I find myself blurting out with great pride a memory of my past… and remembering (too late) that the protagonist in my story is in a male dilemma, concerned with male problems… and the sensation is like hitting a wall at high speed. I’m suddenly in slomo – glass shards swirling around like diamonds as whiplash and airbags detonate my thoughts and my spirit slams into full stop. And I realize…
That was so last year… a distant memory of another lifetime.
Or… if I’m going to try this accepting-accepting thingy, then it’s the life of a girl who was raised by wolves to be the woman she is today. She is fierce, she is strong. She is gracious. She is loving. And she makes no apologies for how she is. No apologies for what she is, and yes, no apologies for even why she is.
And she’s strong enough to make those “no apologies” to herself, first and foremost.
Because she was raised by wolves.
And that will never change no matter how much lipstick She wears.
And that’s a good thing.
So now that we've got that out of the way - that's what this blog will explore. Life, mine yours and ours as I see it from my perspective as a woman raised by wolves.
There's lots going on. Girls like me have never seen this much coverage or exposure in history. We've also never faced this much flagrant in-our-face discrimination. But one thing I don't have (having spent the better part of my life with my lupine brothers) is patience for lunacy, bigotry, hatred, discrimination of any kind, or entitlement, especially the white male privileged kind) In the pack I was raised by. We would never stand for me being treated with anything other than love and respect. And I, in turn, won't let my sisters (nor my brothers) face anything other love and respect, either.
And yes, I bite.
So. Let's get in to this thing called life...
Next week – my feminist manifesto.
*The Code Pink Accords of 2015" was a landmark agreement between Scottie Jeanette & Marcy Madden establishing the accepted borders between truth and honesty in their relationship, ending the disputed zones of "other", "none of your business" and "it's my life." Traditional zones of single trans people who wish to remain single.