My life has changed dramatically over the course of this semester. All for the better. I am now seeing doctors regularly. We still don’t know what is wrong with me, but that’s okay. The only visible sign of my illness is my hands, which are slowly becoming crippled. I can still use them, but not as much as I want. I can’t straighten my fingers. My hands hurt all the time. Like right now. But I would like to thank these hands for hurting. They have become my truth meter, my life line, my compass. With hands like these, I have had to ask myself—Something is wrong with you. You may never get better. You may be running short of the life you’ve taken for granted. What are you going to do?
The first thing that happened were words that came in the night, whispers from that secret place, and then these words became louder and louder in my mind until I looked at them, acknowledged them, and started to say them aloud—Some people look at me and they see a woman. Some people look at me and they see a man. The truth is that I am both. And after I said these words aloud for a couple of times, I broke down and cried. I cried because it hurt to finally be saying these words. I cried into my broken hands. I cried because I had spent more than a decade being ashamed of who I am—gender-queer. I cried and cried for a week, remember all the cruel words people—friends and strangers alike—saying to me because they did not know if I was a boy or a girl. I cried for all the times I was not able to cry. And when the week was done, I was better. I became happier than I remember ever having been in my whole life. I finally fit the last piece of the puzzle to my existence.
The next thing that happened was that I finally sought counseling—to help me figure out my sexuality, my gender identity, and the pain in my hands. I’ve learned so many important lessons.
1) I want to understand the past because stories help me understand why I am the way I am. I can see the happy stories after I tell the sad stories. The happy stories are not in plain view because they are my natural state. They do not create self doubt and false realities in my mind. It is often sad stories that linger because they are painful and feel wrong. By bringing out the pain and the wrongness, I can map my way towards the happy state I am seeking.
2) It is okay to pursue happiness. I don’t have to be miserable to be alive. Disappointments will not kill me. It is okay to be a writer. It is not because I am a writer than I am unhappy. I should not equate writing with depression, poverty, and hardship. Writing is also joy, expression, excitement, adventure—the best way to have an honest conversation with myself.
3) I need to find positive reflections to fight against the bad reflections I’ve harbored all these years. People who have made fun of me in the past: it was not about me, it was about them.
4) I am not a depressed person. I have always blamed my bouts of depression on genes, hormones, destiny. I have always taken depression for granted. More often, though, I go numb because I do not know what to do. I can learn ways to lead me out of numbness.
The latest thing that happened is the grandest—I’ve decided to apply to graduate writing programs. Well, apply to one program. If I don’t get accepted, I will apply again next year. My destiny is set. I’ve always wanted to pursue a full-time writing career, but I always thought I didn’t deserve it. I thought I deserved to be unhappy. I’ve been unhappy my whole life. Perhaps I should try pursue doing what makes me happy.
This semester, which ends next week, has been an amazing and glorious experience. I am not the same person who started out the semester. I’ve never been able to say this before. All these years, I’ve been the same person just trudging along—unhappy and ill at ease with myself, hateful of myself, disgusted with myself. The simple act of saying—Some people look at me and they see a woman. Some people look at me and they see a man. The truth is that I am both—this simple declaration has changed my whole future. The biggest difference in my new self is that I no longer feel lonely and needy. I actually like myself, and so I don’t mind at all being alone in my own company. That has been the best gift so far.