Continuing from yesterday’s gushing positive post, it’s time for me to talk about a few of the things that were less happy times for me in 2017.
If you’re close to me, you know that I also had some pretty rough times this year as well. I’m glad I went through what I went through though, because everything I’ve been through has led to me learning something important which has improved my life. All of my learning experiences this year are closely related to this: I truly hit bottom in my mental health, more so than I ever had before, and if I hadn’t, I would still be pushing back against the depression and misery provoked by my dysphoria.
It’s also made me think a lot about caring. I’ve been accused a lot of caring too much lately – caring too much about my job, caring too much about my loved ones misgendering me, caring too much about people treating each other poorly when, by all accords, it doesn’t concern me.
And the criticisms are correct in the spirit in which they are given – I do care a great deal, and it’s true that it causes me pain because, most of the time, the things that bring me pain and which I care about are almost entirely out of my control. Yet at least twice this year, my speaking out against things I perceived as injustice has yielded concrete, direct results, so I know that it is not in vain. Transitioning did help, in that it removed a huge source of my pain, but I still get upset at certain things – the constant barrage of people giving me their unwanted opinion on my transition, the misgendering, intentional or not, and I’m much more sensitive about transgender rights issues, etc. So though my resilience has improved greatly, I’m changing emotionally as a person, because I’m getting in touch with emotions I kept behind a wall for over three decades, so it isn’t perfect. And so I think about caring, and how much I should – or shouldn’t – do it.
I can’t see myself turning off my caring. I think it’s a huge part of who I am, and if that leaves me more vulnerable, then so be it; coming out and reaching out also makes me much more vulnerable, but I couldn’t live my life without these two things, so I think I can handle caring a little bit more than is strictly healthy. One thing I think I do need to do in order to remain sane is to enforce better emotional boundaries. I’ve taken on a lot of emotional burdens – educating people about LGBTQUIAP+ issues and rights, being the main caretaker for my children as my spouse worked nights, but most of all, I haven’t been able to maintain more negative influences out of my personal life, and I’m slowly learning to make these changes (if you’re one of my friends with anxiety who is now worrying that this is you I’m talking about – it’s not. If it was, you would know with no uncertainty as of this post). It will also mean that I’ll try, as I did last year, to become more open about my own problems – not about dumping, but about not hesitating to get help from my support network when I need it, and not hiding or pretending everything is all right during difficult days to the people who matter to me.
The final aspect of this episode is a very long dry writing spell which has lasted months and which I’m just starting to come out of right now. I thought for a long time that it was just the depression, and for a while, it was, but the truth is that I’m changing as a person, and a lot of the stories I’d been working on before I transitioned, I’d been holding back on including queer content, doing either the veiled, unsaid, hinting at that I saw in the works I grew up with, or putting only a few token elements, thinking I couldn’t be publishable if I had too much queer content.
And now, I can’t bear that anymore. I’ll put what I want to put in my books and I want them to be so queer. I’ve reached my quota of not seeing myself anywhere (or seeing myself done extremely poorly as far as representation goes), and I don’t want to sit through it anymore. The themes I’ve been trying to tackle in my other stories have changed a bit, and I haven’t quite figured out what I’m trying to say yet.
What does that mean for the books you’re waiting for? Don’t worry, I’m not dumping anything – I’m just trying to see if what I can do to make them a bit more inclusive and interesting, and a bit closer to the things that really matter to me as a person right now. It might mean a small delay for some stories while I work on newer stuff to find my new voice, but they will still come. I’m already getting ideas.