Tag Archives: change

N is for Nothing

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This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project (PBP). It’s the first one for the letter N (it’s actually the second N week already, but apparently I’m slow with the catching up I said I’d do).

I’m not quite sure how or why it happened, but after being almost obsessed with tarot and other aspects of spirituality for at least three quarters of a year (and possibly more), I suddenly don’t feel a pull towards any of these things anymore.

Maybe I’m just exhausted after the last three years that brought a lot of changes to my life that I didn’t choose (plus some that I did choose) and need to give myself a break. Maybe I just need to adjust to my new voluntarily jobless life a bit longer and be patient with myself. Maybe this is just another one of these phases where my attention turns elsewhere for a while, as it does with practically everything. Maybe there’s no reason to worry.

But I do worry. How serious can my spiritual inclinations be if I’m able to shut them off so completely all of a sudden? Isn’t this just laziness and a lack of discipline? After all, it’s not like I couldn’t do more. But apparently, I decide over and over again not to. I decide to watch one of my favorite TV series instead of reading tarot or writing on this blog. Even when I know I actually have stuff to read about. In fact, there are several aspects of my life that could bear some closer examination (after all, having the time to do that was the main reason for quitting my job). But I just don’t seem to have the energy to deal with any of that right now. So I do other things like help a friend renovate their room and exchange thoughts about racism, critical whiteness, queerness, and passing, and the desire to do things our own ways. Or I hear lectures at the university, or go to the first concert I’ve been to in years. I also hang out with people who seem to like my company, even if I’m not entirely sure why, and reconnect to some neglected parts of my life and get to know some nice people a little bit better.

As I do all these worthwhile things (yes, that includes re-watching old episodes of Glee), however, spirituality seems to have fallen by the wayside. There is a big stack of books I was looking forward to read with more focus than working 40 hours a week left me, but they remain slightly dusty and untouched. There are several blog post ideas ambling around in my head that I was looking forward to writing when I had the time and headspace to do so, but they remain (at best) scribbled notes on scraps of paper somewhere in a small heap over there in that ignored corner of my floor.

And I’m undecided what to think of this. A part of me just wants to reaffirm that this is just the way I work: bouts of obsession-like focus on some topic, followed by near-complete disinterest in the same topic a while later (with “a while” ranging anywhere from a few days to a few years). And after another while, a return to the topic, full of renewed interest and passion. Rinse and repeat. It works for me, so what if it’s not the accepted ideal of how these things are supposed to happen?

Another part of me, however, is very busy looking down on that kind of behavior as yet another expression of my utter laziness, my obvious inability to follow through with anything after things get difficult, and my complete lack of discipline at anything but getting up to pee every day (at some point). Not that this is an accurate assessment, as a calm and grown-up part of my mind would like to note. Devouring heaps and heaps of information and opinions on a topic over a period of several weeks (and often months or even years), pondering them in my conversations with other people or here on my blog (or elsewhere in writing), and often finding new connections that make sense to me can hardly be considered lazy. Nor can my stubbornness at bringing up a topic that I consider neglected in a broader discourse until I feel it has been at least recognized, even if it doesn’t make me especially popular with people who’d rather like things to stay the way they were before I spoke up, seriously be called “being a quitter.” And while I may not exhibit a lot of the kind of discipline that always does the same things at the same time the same way, I’m still able to do many things quite regularly, and not just when they are great fun.

Maybe I need to re-read Star Foster’s article on “Slacker Paganism” a friend recently pointed out to me? And then apply the wisdom therein to my own practice, of course. Because I’m secretly pretty sure this is really just one of these things where the hardest part is getting started. And perhaps there is some fundamental value for me in learning how to do things less-than-perfectly without beating myself up for it. If only the practice of that was so easy to arrive at as the theory! (Any tips for how to deal with one’s perfectionism when and where it’s not helpful?)

And I’m pretty sure that my own ideal state (or rather, flow) of things lies somewhere between total randomness and doing things only when I feel a strong, positive urge to do them, and total discipline and doing the exact same thing at the exact same time over and over again like clockwork, no matter what. Perhaps I could use a new mental image to think about regularity, too. Something like “happens easily and organically and is influenced by surroundings, weather, degree of nourishment, etc. and includes dormant times every now and then” instead of this robotic machine-thing that completely ignores that any kind of structure (for me) needs to be flexible or it will break down as soon as life interferes. Seems like the challenge (once again) is to find my own personal middle ground, even if it’s likely to be anywhere but in the exact middle of all this. Perhaps I need to think about ways to queer* the idea of discipline without losing its good and useful aspects…

* Not necessarily in the sense of spoiling it, and even less in the sense of making it homosexual, but rather in the sense of twisting and turning the general idea of “discipline,” prodding and stretching it until it starts to make sense again.

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Taking stock of the transition

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It seems a good time to look back on the past years during which my partner’s transition took place.  (Perhaps I should point out that drawing a finishing line here is a bit random since there really is no clear start or end to this process. Just some landmarks to attach meaning to.) At any rate, I also wanted to try out the spread I developed this week. I modified it a bit to better suit my current situation.

Note: I’m not going to explain everything the reading touched upon for me in depth, so please don’t assume that I thought of the same things as you do when you read it.

—–8—–
—6–7—
2–3–4–5
—–1—–

1. This symbolizes my partner’s transition seen through my eyes.Heart

It really hit me hard/heart. It put my love to the test. Emotional rawness.

It just went on and on and on, seemingly without end.

It was all about cutting open the chest – that’s where it started (with his desire to get rid of his female-looking breasts) and that’s where it ended (with this desire fulfilled).

It brought up the question of where my heart leads me many times. There has been a lot of pressure. And I (re)visited some places I’ve been at before, in a quasi-circle.

2. How the transition affected my sense of identity/how I feel about myself.Batter

I was practically put through the blender… Parts of me got broken open and reintegrated in new ways, other parts got discarded. I know the bees in the picture are supposed to symbolize sweetness, but today they rather feel like the flies from the Housewives Tarot’s Death card to me. And yes, there were parts of me that died, and not always a gentle and easy death.

The batter in the picture will probably end up as a delicious dish, but for now it’s in a preliminary, in-between state that’s neither here nor there – and that’s exactly how I feel (and have been feeling for a long time). So the real frying pan is still to come? And if so, should this make me feel hopeful or fearful or both?

3. How it affected how I feel about my partner/our relationship.Clean out Closet

Oh yeah, I really went through the whole damn thing, looking at every single item trying to decide whether to keep it or throw it away because it doesn’t fit anymore. The clothes rails have become rather empty at times when I felt there really wasn’t much I/we could still wear! As the heap of clothes on the floor indicates, this work isn’t done yet. The next step will be taking stock of what’s left, and deciding what “pieces” we need to replace with an updated version, which ones we need to exchange for something else entirely, and which ones we don’t need anymore at all.

For me, this card also already implies the issue of erotic attraction since clothing has had major symbolical value for both of us in that area. And I did literally change the way I dress and how I feel about clothes. Let’s just say that I didn’t exactly end up in a happy place with that, but I’m still hopeful that I can change that again. Possibly by literally going through my clothes.

And finally, there’s the closet as a metaphor for being out as whatever non-majority thing one is… I certainly had to change what I could truthfully come out about, and doing so became a whole lot more complicated than it ever was before (there just isn’t any short way to explain who I am and what we are together anymore). In this context, the untidy heap of stuff on the floor is all the messy and complicated things that I usually just left out of conversations. But not talking about them didn’t make them go away, and they kept (and keep) burdening me. Sometimes I really wish there was a simple way to tell the truth about us…

4. How it affected my sexuality/desire (for my partner and/or generally).Swimming

At some point I stopped trusting that the waters would carry me safely. I thought I had to conform to certain patterns (like the synchronized swimming that’s happening here), and that didn’t work well. And just as we never went swimming together (to be fair: this wasn’t entirely due to the chest situation), there wasn’t much desire/sexuality happening for me in the past few years.

There was very little playing around in an element that I both enjoy being in tremendously and that also scares the shit out of me. I definitely spent a lot of time being scared and therefore avoiding even the smallest kind of exploration. To be fair, I can’t even tell how much of that loss of libido was really caused by the transition and related issues, because life isn’t so cut and dry. It still happened around the same time as the transition, so I have a hard time separating the two occurences.

At any rate, I practically lost all of my libido, with few exceptions to that rule. And this wasn’t just about my partner and the ways he changed. I also rarely felt any attraction to anyone else (real or fictional) and basically stopped being interested in sex generally (which is quite a big change for someone who used to basically study sexuality only a few years before).

I hope that I can find a way to change all this because it doesn’t make me happy.

5. How it affected my relation to the queer community.Grandma’s Handbag

It made it something that didn’t belong to me and that I couldn’t relate to (my grandmother never had a mysteriously-exciting Hermione-Granger-ish handbag with all sorts of things to take care of small emergencies). Instead, I often felt like I was the “old” woman who kept telling stories about how much better the butch-femme past had been, when there wasn’t such an emphasis on transitioning and femmes still were considered a fundamental part of the community instead of being shoved to the edges of the new trans(masculine) scenes. I couldn’t identify with the concerns of the new generation of queers who in turn couldn’t care less for my concerns. It just made me feel inadequate, unattractive, outdated and out-of-touch. That resulted in me not going out anymore and even leaving an online community that had been my virtual living room for many years, which in turn didn’t help with feeling as if I belonged to the queer community.

6. What I can do to best take care of my own needs from now on.Kitchen Table

I obviously need to find me a community again. I’m sick and tired of being isolated and alone, of never feeling included, and of also thinking of myself as a horrible host and a not much better guest. Maybe I even need to consider ways to live that aren’t limited to two people in a relationship sharing a tiny apartment that is located somewhat outside of everything.

At any rate, I miss cooking together and spending hours sitting at the kitchen table, talking about anything and everything. I miss having guests, especially spontaneous ones.

I miss being part of a group that works together on creating something important to all its members. I have no idea where to find all that again, but this card really speaks volumes to me about the need to seriously look for it and help create it.

Of course this is also about having someone to talk to about all of this (which I have, and I’m tremendously grateful for those people), so that’s something I’ll definitely continue!

7. Where I will find support as I continue to deal with the changes that the transition brought.Hairdye

I’m grinning here because this reminds me of the joys of dying my hair in all the colors of the rainbow (although not usually at the same time) and the excitement because you never knew how it would look before it was done. It also makes me think of spending time on one’s outward appearance (including hair, clothes, make-up, and jewelry) and not considering that a waste of time at all. It’s been a looong time since I felt like that! So yeah, I can see how I would find support in front of my mirror, transforming myself into this or that or that.

Perhaps there really is a spiritual element to these kinds of transformations, as the halo-like glow around the hairdye suggests. It might be interesting to explore the intersections of spirituality and outward appearance (which really never is about how you look but how that makes you feel)…

Either way, this card suggests that I need to change myself, possibly with the help of others (try coloring hair that is nearly waist-long with henna on your own and you’ll see why you’ve been provided with some fellow human beings who can wield a dyeing brush!). I believe the goal is to both make apparent who I am “inside” and to help me enjoy my body and the many different ways to make it look again.

8. Summary of where his transition has taken me.Truck

Somewhere else! It has put me in a possibly permanent in-between state. It has put me in a situation where I had to pack up the essential things to take with me and leave the rest behind. There may be a new home waiting for me somewhere else where I want to settle down, but I may also end up being permanently “nomadic” – always changing locations but still having my own space to withdraw to when I need to.

I’m heartened by the fact that the truck has a winged heart on its door, which to me suggests that love needs to be free to go where it needs to. It also means love will be with me, whereever I go. And since I can’t drive, I’m probably not going alone here. ;)

Which brings me to the U-Haul theme of moving together, symbolizing entering a committed relationship. Well, we’ve moved together already several years ago, but there may be another level of commitment to each other that the transition has made apparent. If we can handle that kind of crisis together, we can probably handle a lot of other potential crises as well (not that the transition was the only major crisis we already went through together!).

The truck also speaks of carrying a heavy load from one place to another. And it has been a heavy load to carry at times.

Finally, the heart on the door ties the reading back to the heart in the first card, suggesting that it may have been the experience (the path) that was important, not the goal.

—–

Well, that was an interesting rollercoaster of a reading alright! I still think there’s more depth to the reading than I could access right now, so I think I’ll leave out the spread for a few more days.

I’m very happy to see that the deck reads wonderfully for me (especially since a reading I did for someone else this week was completely off), and that it works well in a bigger spread, too. It seems to be a deck where going down more than one path in reading each card actually helps instead of confusing matters. It seems to be extraordinarily suited to accepting contradictions and weird associations. And I still love, love, love the artwork!