So begins a series I have had bouncing around in my mind for some time now– a summary of the last few years: life lessons learned the hard way. Here I present to you Lesson 1: Better is Not the Same as Good.
Wow. It’s hard to believe it’s really the first day of 2015.
I can’t say that I’m sad to see 2014 go; while it was better than my terrible 2013, it was a far cry from “good”. 2014 was largely a year of picking up the pieces of myself that 2013 left me in, and trying to slowly put myself back together.
I think one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn over the last few years, but especially this year, is this: better is not the same as good.
I feel like this is a lesson that I have had to learn over and over and over again, but this year definitely drove it home for me. I kept finding myself feeling frustrated this year, thinking “I’m in such a better place than I was last time this year, why am I not happy? What’s wrong with me? Am I just someone who can’t be satisfied?”. And I’ve fretted over those last two questions enough to last me a lifetime. I often worry that I am asking for more than the world can give, more than any reasonable person can expect. It’s incredibly frustrating to do have done so much healing and self-work over the course of a year, but to still feel deeply dissatisfied with how my life is. It’s just very disheartening, and sometimes it’s hard to believe that things will ever actually get better-than-completely-shitty, that things could actually feel good or that I could simply feel content on something of a regular basis. I know that life has its downs, and it always will, but the “downs” of the last 5 years have been frequent and various levels of devastating, and I’m just desperately ready for a positive change. Sometimes I worry that it’s no longer possible.
And then… then I remember how I felt during the summer of 2013, at Butch Voices, a brief high point in a very hard year. I remember how different the Bay Area was than the bible belt. I remember how much safer I felt. I remember not feeling constantly on guard, and not getting harassed in restrooms, and not being scowled at or stared down in public. I remember the enormous weight that that took off of my shoulders; the weight of more than a decade of the constant homophobic microaggressions (and outright aggressions) of the bible belt. I remember what it was like to meet so many other butch and trans-identified people (many of whom were local residents), and what it felt like to have a rare moment of not being surrounded by cisgender people nearly 24/7.
Granted, I know some of those feelings are directly related to the life-changing experience that was attending the Butch Voices conference, but I spent enough time outside of the conference to know that the Bay Area had a radically different feel than what I have grown up with. I’ve spent most of the last year and a half trying very hard to hold onto that feeling, to remember and believe that a place exists where I can feel safe, where I can begin my healing work in earnest (i.e. without ongoing trauma).
Here’s to getting there in 2015.
Happy New Year, everyone.
P.S. Writing about this subject is pretty hard for me and I’m feeling pretty vulnerable, so please be gentle with any comments. Thank you.