31 January 2011

What You Don't Have To Prove

One of the wonderful things about getting older (Notice that I didn't say "old"!) is that confessions don't seem as self-conscious as they do when they're made earlier in one's life.  That may be the reason why they seem more organic, and simply truer, and why people who know you well aren't surprised--or, at least, aren't taken aback--when you make them.

And so it was when I talked to my mother today.  I said that some people--actually, two in particular--seem annoying, if not spiritually and intellectually vexatious to me now.  At one time, I was grateful for them--at least, that's what I told myself and others--because they at least talked to me and seemed to be making efforts at maintaining relationships with me when others fled.  But when I talk to those two people, I hear the same things over and over again.  Whenever I talk to either of them, they seem to have the need to show me how easily they can spot gay people and that they "have nothing against them" although they will adamantly insist that they themselves are straight.

About their claims:  I really don't care.  If they are straight, gay or whatever, it simply doesn't matter to me:  I'm beyond, or at least past, caring about that.  

Now, if either of them wanted to tell me he is gay (and, yes, I have my suspicions), I would be willing to listen and to give advice, if he wants it.  I've had students and other people "come out" to me, or simply confide what others may have already known about them.  One thing I've learned is that when someone like that confesses his or her deepest desires to me, he or she is looking for, or looking to me as, someone who will not be judgmental and who will simply accept what they say.  On the other hand, people like the two I mentioned aren't looking for anything like that:  Instead, they're trying to prove something they wouldn't have to prove to me if it were true.  No one has to prove that he or she accepts someone else; he or she simply accepts that person, or doesn't.  

Perhaps I am being harsh or cruel in thinking that the two people I mentioned--both of whom are known to everyone in my family--are annoying and, worse, willfully unaware of themselves, when they did, in fact, spend time with me early in my current life when other people abandoned me.  Perhaps I am being ungrateful for the small acts of kindness, or at least courtesy, they performed on my behalf.  But now I realize that not only are they annoyances; they can't be trusted.  Their behavior shows a lack of emotional, if not spiritual, integrity.    Being around them could actually be dangerous for me.

My mother told me not to feel guilty.  "You have a few really good friends," she  said.  "And you could make others, if you want to."

Maybe that's what I want.  I feel ready to make a few changes in my life.  My therapist suggested and my social worker (who is a trans man) said that a year or two (or three) after my surgery, I might experience something like what I've just described.  I know that in going through my transition and surgery, I have had to know myself in ways that most people don't have to know themselves.  Others have tried to tell me not to trust my perceptions; they--at least some of them--are the only things that don't fail me, ever. 

Someone told me that I have a kind of integrity that no one else in her life has.  Perhaps.  What I do know is that having had to ask myself some of the questions only I could answer makes the person I once was seem foolish to now.  And, having had to question absolutely everything in my life--and give up much of it--made me realize that the only thing that actually matters in life is life.  That is exactly the reason why I can't see living in any way but one that's true to who and what I am.  

As far as I can tell, the best definition of courage is a willingness to take a stand on one's own life.  I mean, if you won't stand up for that, what else will you stand up for?  I've also learned that truly courageous people don't have to prove their courage to those who have it, and don't expect it of other people.  Instead, it's something one lives by.  I guess I'm just losing my patience with those who won't.  That's the real reason why I find the two people I mentioned so annoying.