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Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Last night as I went to bed and this morning when I awoke, my primary emotion in the wake of yesterday’s election is one of overwhelming sadness. The sadness I feel is complex but comes largely from two sources, one political, one personal.

On the political side, I was elated by the election of Barack Obama and the promise of fundamental change it brings. I shared that elation with a restaurant and bar full of fellow Democrats. It was an intoxicating moment. I spent more than a dozen hours over the last four days in the local Democratic headquarters and the headquarters of our local candidate’s campaign for Congress, making phone calls to encourage Democratic and Independent voters to get to the polls and support Obama and the local Democrats. The election of a Democrat to the House of Representatives from historically conservative Northern Arizona is a wonderful victory, and part of the hope that Democratic gains in the House and Senate portend for passage of an all-inclusive ENDA and the Matthew Shepard hate crimes bill, and the repeal of DOMA and DADT.

But I realized last night that my hopes and dreams for change from this election really rested on the fate of Florida’s Amendment 2, Arizona’s Proposition 102 and California’s Proposition 8, all of which proposed to amend their respective state constitutions to prohibit equal rights to marriage for same sex and same gender couples. I also realized that I hadn’t acknowledged to myself how important the defeat of those measures had become to me, presumably in a misguided attempt to protect myself from the disappointment that I feel this morning. I had told myself that, although the passage of the Florida and Arizona measures was probable, there was a chance that California’s Prop. 8 would be defeated, thus preserving the California Supreme Court’s historic decision that prohibiting same-sex marriage violated the California constitution; and that, as long as Prop. 8 was defeated, we had a chance to maintain the momentum of change in the treatment of LGBT people that seemed to be building with the California court decision, the elimination of the ballot initiative to overturn Montgomery County, Maryland’s ban on gender identity discrimination, and what had seemed to be a sea change in the attitudes of Americans toward LGBT people and our community’s willingness to fight to continue those changes.

This morning, however, there is no doubt that both the Florida and Arizona measures have passed. Although there are still a substantial number of provisional and late absentee ballots yet to be counted in California, which theoretically could shift the outcome there, the passage of Prop. 8 also seems certain. The inability of our community and our allies to defeat even one of these attacks on our rights by those who hate us and believe that we are undeserving of all that this nation offers to everyone else is so incredibly sad and depressing. I find it impossible to express the hopelessness that I feel. All I can say is that that hopelessness, that feeling that nothing can or will ever change for the better, that it will never be OK to be who I am, that there will never be a chance that I am loved and respected for who I am, has been the source of the depression I have experienced since I was a young boy wanting to be a girl. Although I have learned many ways to remind myself that all those beliefs are lies that my ego tells me to keep me trapped and separated from the knowledge of the Love that I am, this morning all I feel is the darkness.

The personal side of what I’m feeling comes from this: I know what love feels like. I know what it’s like to have someone with whom I can share my deepest self, someone with whom I feel safe enough to share all of my thoughts, all of my feelings, and who feels safe enough to do the same with me, both of us secure in the knowledge that all that we share will be accepted and honored without judgment, without the need to question or change or suggest, someone who recognizes and is able to live the knowledge that we are not our thoughts and our feelings, and that our love for each other lies so far beyond those things as to be unassailable. That safety, that absolute acceptance, that connection at the level of heart, the heart that knows no fear, only love, is what I seek. Today, I long for that, sad in the recognition that is not part of my life today.

The knowledge that this is what I seek has been building slowly over the last few weeks. It came full blown into my consciousness last Thursday when I saw Byron, my friend and therapist who, over the 13 years that we have known each other, has come to know me more intimately than anyone else in my life. Byron helped me to recognize that this is what I seek, what I long for at the core of my being, and he helped me to honor and cherish that desire as an important and valued part of who I am, and who I wish to be.

That desire to connect expresses itself in many ways and isn’t limited only to the desire to have a partner to share my life with. I felt it over the last several days as I joined with other volunteers making phone calls to get out the vote here in Arizona and as I became part of the hope and enthusiasm that became palpable in this country as McCain continued to shoot himself in the foot and Obama demonstrated his integrity and commitment to change and the promise of finding a better way for all of us to live and connect. Sitting in those crowded rooms, all of us talking, dialing and sharing the moments of triumphs and connection with voters who supported Obama and the desire for change, and the disappointment from encounters with those who, seemingly beyond reason, opposed Obama and the need for change in this country, I felt connected, a sense of belonging, of doing something concrete and positive to change this country, to restore hope, to me and to other LGBT Americans who, like me, feel so marginalized and disconnected.

When I went to the local Democratic election party after the polls closed, I hoped that sense of belonging and connection would continue and that, hope against hope, I might even make a new friend, someone who might want to meet again and see if we could connect on a deeper level. It didn’t happen. I didn’t spend my time there alone in a crowd of people, as I have many times in the past. Instead, I talked with other volunteers that I had met through the weekend, and with other friends that I had met elsewhere. After the short moment of elation at the news that Obama had won the presidency, however, my sense of isolation, my disappointment at the reality that no heart connection was to be found there, and my fears about the outcome of Prop. 8 and the other same-sex marriage bans, combined to send me home to my laptop, the internet and the news. The reality of the passage of those measures quickly became apparent and my sadness became palpable, as I realized that Obama’s election hadn’t really changed anything for me, personally or politically, and that, yet again, the hope for the things that I want in my life – love, connection, community, acceptance and respect – lies in the distant future, if at all. Unable to connect at the level I needed from friends on the internet, I signed off Yahoo Messenger and Facebook, turned off my cell phone and cried. I cried at the seemingly insurmountable barriers that separate me from those things and from even my closest friends.

I sit here this morning trying to understand and express what I feel, and the tears still come. Where is hope? Where is love? Why do I feel so apart, so “other” from the rest of the world? Soon after I embarked on this road of seeking knowledge of who I am at the deepest levels and finding a way to move beyond the loneliness and isolation that I have always felt at the core of my being, I knew that I had chosen a difficult path, one that not many are willing to venture down. But I also knew without doubt that no other path offered any hope of finding my heart’s desire. Today I get yet another opportunity to experience those challenges and to remind myself why I continue to seek for love and connection. Right now, however, all I feel is pain, disappointment and near exhaustion at all that this path requires of me.

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Well, a friend and fellow blogger has tagged me with one of those chain letter/blog thingy’s. Although there’s a bit of political motive here, I like the ideas behind it: to honor 8 others whose blogs I love to read, and to list 8 places in the United States where I’d love to live. So, here’s the task:

Where Would Your 8 Homes Be?

List them. You don’t have to list your reasons, but if you do at least for a few of them, it would be more fun. And remember that the only rule is: the homes must be within the borders of the United States of America or else, within the borders of the country you live in, so as to utterly emulate the McCains. When you’re done, tag 8 people, so that they may join in the self-indulgence, forgetting about the crappy property market and the equivalent of The End of Pompeii on Wall-Street. You could spend your time hammering your doors and windows shut in preparation for the apocalypse instead, but it would be much less fun.

First, my eight bloggers, in no particular order are: Lisa Harney, Questioning Transphobia; Leith, aka riftgirl, Being T; Allyson Robinson, Crossing the T; Callan; Lori, Lori’s Revival; Keri Renault, Words that Transcend; Autumn Sandeen, The View from (Ab)Normal Heights; Sonora Sage, Reflected Wisdom.

Where would I love to live? These are some of my favorite places:

(1) Swan Valley, Idaho lies along the South Fork of the Snake River, one of the premier flyfishing streams in the U.S. Actually, the Snake is a major river, but it’s full of islands and small braids, so, even though it is also one of the most heavily fished rivers in the U.S., it still retains a wonderful intimacy. But most of all, I love this place because I spent many wonderful days on the river with my father before he passed on, with my children, and just by myself floating along becoming part of the river and its life.

(2) Stanley Basin, Idaho. Nestled at the foot of the Sawtooth Mountains, which aren’t as tall but are just as beautiful, if not more so, than the Tetons along the Idaho/Wyoming border, this is one of the most beautiful places in the country. Although this area is growing and changing like everywhere else in the West, it’s isolation, high altitude, extreme winters, and land use restrictions resulting from Congress’ creation of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in 1972, have kept its most important values, and vistas, intact.

When I was young, my family spent many wonderful times in this area camping and fishing. They are some of the best memories of my childhood. While still in college, I spent two summers here working for the U.S. Forest Service, which was hard to beat for a summer job. That experience led me to realize one of my lifelong dreams of fighting forest fires, and, later, being a smokejumper. (Yes, I was one of those crazy “guys” – yes, we were all guys; the Forest Service was only just beginning to allow women on fire crews back then – who jumped out of perfectly good airplanes to fight forest fires. If you look closely at the roster here, you’ll find me listed, although my name is slightly different. For some reason, I didn’t make the crew photo for that year, though. That’s probably for the best, at this point. Although it’s kind of tempting to register as a member on the McCall smokejumper website and stake my claim as the first woman smokejumper in the U.S.)

Even better, I have seen been back to the Stanley Basin with my own children, camping in the exact same camp spot as my family when I was young, hiking and fishing in some of the same spots. The day that all three of my daughters and I spent flyfishing on the Salmon River below Stanley was an experienced I never anticipated. Those, too, are memories to be treasured.

(3) Seattle, Washington. I lived in Seattle for 12 years after law school. Seattle is a beautiful city, vibrant and diverse. You can find any type of neighborhood you could ever want there.

It didn’t turn out to be the best place for me, though, at least, not at that time. I crashed and burned in my job from depression and unacknowledged gender dysphoria, my marriage got continually worse, and my wife moved from alcoholism to IV drug addiction. We moved away (to Montana) in 1994, my wife OD’d (but survived, thankfully) a couple months later, and my marriage (and my life) fell apart. It’s an experience I would never wish on anyone, but it’s what it took to get me to where, and who, I am today. For that, I will always be grateful.

(4) Livingston, Montana. Livingston is where we moved to from Seattle. I only lived there for 5 months, but my ex and my daughters lived there for another 4 years. Livingston lies right on the Yellowstone River where it turns east after running north out of Yellowstone Park for about 50 miles. Livingston is an interesting mix of art galleries, fly fishing shops and traditional, small-town Montana life, what with celebrities like Steven Seagal and others living in Paradise Valley south of there along the Yellowstone. It also offers easy access to world-class flyfishing. (Anyone notice a theme here?)

(5) Stanford, California. I attended Stanford University in the early ‘70’s. (Yes, I am that old.) Stanford and the nearby Palo Alto area is one of the most idyllic urban locales in the country. I would have loved to stay in the Bay Area (I went to UC Berkeley – Boalt Hall for law school a few years later), but I knew I didn’t want to work as hard as I would have to, to be able to afford to live there, so I’ve only been back a few times.

(6) Prescott, Arizona. I’ve lived in Prescott since 1995 (except for a short and disastrous year and a half when I moved to the Chandler/Mesa area (Phoenix suburbs) as part of an ill-fated romance). I never intended to stay in Prescott, but it’s turned out to be a good place for me. If I have to live in Arizona, I can’t think of a better place to be (except maybe Tucson – see below). Prescott is in the mountains at 5300’ right at the boundary between the ponderosa pine forest and the high mountain chaparral. It’s a delightful place to live, if a mite conservative politically. There are a few of us here, however, that are anything but conservative.

(7) Eugene, Oregon. We visited friends in Eugene several times while we lived in Seattle. It’s a wonderful place with the University of Oregon, plenty of old-style hippie culture, mountains, lakes, flyfishing, and the Oregon coast only a short drive away. It’s a tempting place to live, even now.

(8) Tucson, Arizona. As I wrote before, I’m thinking about moving to Tucson. I have lots of good friends there (*waves to Lori and Liz*), they have a vibrant LGBT community, including a large and active trans community, the University of Arizona ensures an ongoing mix of cultural offerings, and it’s the most liberal community – politically and culturally – in Arizona. If I can figure out a way to pay for the move, it’s probably where I’m going to end up next.

Thanks, my friend, for leading me gently down this road of looking back at my past and forward to my future, and remembering some of the things that are important to me.

OK, so what about the rest of you. Where would you live, and why?

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