Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How To Be Alone

Greetings again, ducks.

One of the hardest things I've set myself out to do is to write something every day, mostly here. Not all that easy; occasionally even Motormouth Me runs out of things to say. So I struggle with it, usually right at the point when a bunch of readers have dropped by in response to some blogvertising I've done.

Way to keep up the momentum, C.L.

I've been busy with work stuff the last few days and not getting enough sleep. Which explains part of why I've been away.

Would that it was the only reason.

I've been struggling a bit lately with the consequences of my late-aborning political awakening. (You knew there would be consequences, didn't you?) Specifically, I no longer seem to be able to keep from alienating people, including people who are dear to me.

I'm not sure what to do about it, either.

The essence of my--enlightenment, let's call it--has been that I have become acutely, painfully aware of my own privilege. This has led me to radically reexamine the world around me and the ways that privilege, mine and others, interact to create this beaten up planet and downtrodden human race.

And I don't know how to keep quiet about it. I don't know how to stop seeing, how to stop talking (and let's face it, preaching) about what I see.

I don't know, in short, how to just shut up and let things roll over me without it seeming like collusion. That's in part what I was trying to say in my previous post: that I can't even watch a muddle-headed B-movie like Uncommon Valor without seeing all the hypocrisies and unspoken assumptions it contains.

And I'm not sure that I even want to stop.

Part of the reason I started the blog is that I wanted to find an outlet for what I was feeling (especially the trans-related stuff) that I could use to keep it from leaking into my everyday life. In that regard, The Second Awakening is an utter failure, because writing about this stuff, digging deeply into my own thought processes, learning about the things going on around me, has only radicalized me even more. (Plus, I've become just proud enough of what I'm doing to want to talk about it, which knocks not outing myself as trans into a cocked hat.)

I don't think of the blog as a failure, of course; I like writing it, I like how I've had to confront a lot of my own internalized issues in the course of writing it, I like how I've managed to start to come to some conclusions about the world based on the work I've done here--work that feels so important to me; maybe the most important work I've ever done.

All the same, I wonder about where I am going, where this is taking me. Most of all, I worry that I will go some place that many people who are important to me cannot follow. That as a result of what I am doing, I will end up alone.

Maybe that's the price to pay. Lord knows I'm used to that kind of thing--transness has always been the gift that keeps on taking.

But I was kind of hoping that I was finally coming home, instead of walking further out into the cold.


  1. Oh, I wish there was stuff I could say that was helpful, but I'm stuck on "ME TOO!". I could have written something along similar lines: increasing radicalisation - yes, enlightenment, dammit! - and an inability to shut up about it. Mostly* not thinking I want to, but I'm sure many of my friends are raising eyebrows and edging away, if they're not already. And finding myself cast as the humourless politically correct harridan who spoils everyone's jokes.

    *"Mostly", because I've also realised that there have been times I genuinely should've, and that pushing the issue was actually hurting the ones I thought I was defending. I frequently think my "enlightenment" is still only about 13% full on the progress bar.

    But even so, however incomplete and in-progress I feel my education in these matters still is, I honestly think it's been one of the most important things I've ever done. I don't know what took me so long to really give socially progressive stuff my attention. It gives us the tools to take apart the world we live in and see where the rot is, even if we're still working out how to clean it all and put it back together.

    *stops self from going off on a tirade about stuff you already know better than I do*

    Regarding your point: the price. Alienating people who don't "get it". I wish I had an answer. I think I know two things, speaking for myself:
    1.) that there people out there who are really really great at explaining why stuff is wrong and fucked up in a way that is funny, and personable and non-alienating, explaining the ways in which society moulds people into both oppressors and oppressed, and how we can fix ourselves and each other, without tearing each other apart. I hope I can learn to do this too.
    2.) that I would not be happier if I was still unenlightened. The shit would still be there, in others, and in myself, but I would lack the tools to try and deal with it. It feels sometimes as if learning to see privilege and oppression has made it appear from nowhere, but it was always there, like a big polluting cloud, and it was poisoning me whether I knew it or not. I believe that what I'm trying to do is the best thing for me, and for the people around me.

    I guess I have to hope the people closest to me will put up with me while I'm still learning to use these tools I've been given, and am still in the stage of occasionally swinging them a little too wildly and catching folks in the eye! I hope the important ones will stick around.

  2. "I don't know, in short, how to just shut up and let things roll over me without it seeming like collusion."

    Over here from Shakesville to say thank you for doing the lonely work of calling people out. I'm trying to learn to do the same.

  3. I've been working on this stuff since, oh, about 1975, when I was twelve years old. I'm still working on it. I remember being in college and just getting infuriated by James Bond movies. Today, my response is mockery. I've aged and mellowed (a bit), but more importantly, most of the people around me will join in the mockery. And that helps me keep from burning out. I want to still care in another 34 years.

    Sometimes I worry that "calling people out" becomes an end in itself. Sometimes it can be very productive. I feel like I've learned quite a bit (still not enough) about trans issues and experiences in recent months, and that is largely in response to seeing others prodded to examine their privilege - and then being reminded on my own blog that I could do a lot more to be an ally to trans people, even though I'm not that far past 101 knowledge. Certainly I've come to see trans issues as *central* to feminism in a way that wouldn't be possible without online conversations.

    I feel like this has been one of my most rambly comments, ever - I hope it makes sense!

  4. That's what I meant by warning that one who defeats the monster should watch not to become the monster herself.

    For there is no monster to fight - there's only a bunch of confused and unhappy humans. Just like you and me.

  5. You know, maybe setting up the whole thing as "enlightened me vs. barbarous them" is not the only way... I'm starting to see the whole calling-out-and-being-called out as a collaborative figuring-life-out-together thing. I'm muddling through my own thinking and perceptions and how to deal with situations, and so is everyone else. I have friends who have done and said stupid, wrong-headed things, and I also have friends in whose presence I have done and said stupid, wrong-headed things.

    I have no urge to kick those people to the curb, and I sure hope that if I commit acts of dumbness, my friends don't kick me to the curb but rather engage me in (non-bullying) dialogue about why those acts were dumb. And then we can all go have a beer when finished!

    Some people will turn a "let's stop and consider the fact that what you said was wrong" into an extreme "you are now fired from my life and I wish to chop off your head" response, but not everybody. And I know that some people deserve a voting off the island of my life, but again, not everybody. Some people welcome and merit the effort of being challenged.