I am everything, and as such I am nothing
But I am also my body
Hungry, lazy, tired, cold, hot and sweaty, manic up all night thinking about lines and inflections
Or early morning gotta get up but not right now heavy cat petting sessions
Or just content, shut the flea mind down, post-meditation quiet reflection
I love you for the flavors, sights and sounds
Oh the places we go
But you know…
You have hurt me like a scar that won’t heal
Pitted, red raw
I love you but I can’t look at you too close
Ok, I’m just gonna say it —
I take my glasses off before I look in the mirror
I keep my back to the wall when I’m naked because I’ve been jumped by my own reflection too many times
Beat to the ground
Scraped knuckle asphalt skin
In pain, crawling, limping, picking up a stick to lean on, calling a friend in tears, I need a ride home

I know now-a-days we are all supposed to be so proud of our bodies
Love our bodies
Because, yes!! That’s the most radical thing a trans person can do in this culture!!!
So I try, I really do
But it becomes just another boxing match with my head
Singing me to sleep with songs of what could have been
But never will be
Because I was never asked to decide
Because I couldn’t quite jump off that cliff
Because I was scared
I was twelve years old, and I was scared
I knew what was coming
I told myself this was it
Now or never
Either way I’d be an exile
The question was:
Do I get to keep my mother’s warm hands, stroking my hair, touching my face, making me eggs just the way I like them
Do I get to keep my father’s strong arms, lifting me gently from the back seat and placing me in my bed still sound asleep
Do I get to keep the quiet comfort of my dog’s understanding eyes
Do I get to keep my family?
Or do I get to leave with my body?

And I know this doesn’t make good copy
Does not sit well at all for a member of a radical, trans-fabulous organization
But I’d rather be hung by my own people
A traitor
Then slowly choke on the rope that’s been hanging around my neck
The rope that’s crushed my larynx and constricted my breath
Until I can’t even speak, only croak
And I can’t fill my lungs, only keep from blacking out
Though sometimes my head hurts so bad that blacking out is the same thing as a cradle made of angel wings
Hold me as I fall asleep to harp strings and the singing of angels

I wake up every morning
And I smile —
Twenty-four brand new hours before me
I vow to live fully in each moment
And to look at all beings with eyes of love —
And I try, I really do
Laying in my soft bed
under warm covers
Bathed in morning light
The cats crowning my head
But every morning there comes a point
when I look up from brushing my teeth or open my mouth to speak
And I feel it
The rope around my neck
Pulling me back
Back into the angry teenage room I escaped
And the silent vow I didn’t mean to make —
To never again smile with the open, sober joy of a child
I’ve twisted, contorted, struggling to free myself
But now I’ve gained the grace to accept
All the days
The week, the months, the years,
All the decades it’s been in place
Until the rope and my skin are the same thing

But I’m not the same
I’ve learned, I’m learning to balance in this space
Between the past — which cannot be remade
And the future — which cannot be controlled
I’m learning to love now
I’m 41 years old
And I’ll tie no more ropes around my neck
If you want me you’ll have to catch me
And feel my wet hot breath against your chest as you tie the knot

This is the truth
I stand before you naked
Take me as I am
Or leave me be

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