More thoughts on It and the Getting Better thereof. To the proto-femmes and others for whom conformity is an option, but a treacherous one.
Right now, you do not know that it will get better. Partly, this is because the worst things have a way of seeming eternal. Partly, this is because you do not even realize how much you are suffering.
Your pain is somewhat invisible to you. To you, it seems like the natural order of things: logical, inevitable, appropriate. You think your loneliness is nothing but evidence that you are unattractive and unrelatable and uncool. You think that people who scorn you are showing their good taste. You think you have nothing to give.
You think if you ask for anything you will be denied and humiliated, so you refuse to want more than is offered. You believe that what is offered is an indisputable indicator of worth. You have concluded you are only worth the cast-aside scraps of affection you can scavenge.
You believe that anyone—everyone—has the authority to determine your value. That a single rejection proves you are not good enough. That one person not wanting you makes you a failure. You need to be every person’s every fantasy, and have no idea how much injury it is doing to your soul.
You do not yet know about butches. God, I cannot wait until you find out about butches. You do not yet know about the chest-achingly, gut-meltingly, knee-tremblingly sexy people out there—some of whom are giving, are understanding, have also been through the fire, who treat their partners as allies and not adversaries, some of whom will complement you on more levels than you currently know exist. (And—to the dear butch, genderqueer, transmasculine, masculine-of-center, gender-non-conforming, beautiful beautiful people: please live. Please. We need you. You: we need you. We will discover so much more beauty when we discover you. We will recognize so much more of ourselves when we meet you. We will understand just how much we have to give when we find you.)
You do not know how right it will feel when you become subversively, defiantly queer. Same-sex attraction is a thing you acknowledge, but it does not interrupt your need for patriarchal approval. You think that not-straightness does not have to mean queerness. You think queerness makes everything worse, is the problem. You cannot imagine that it is the solution. That it is freedom.
You think that rejecting those authorities, defying those norms, means giving over to all the parts of yourself that you find despicable. You think that toeing their line keeps you from being a revolting version of yourself, unlovable through and through. You do not realize that freedom will allow you to unfold into your best self. You do not realize that rejecting the systems that oppress you will ignite and fuel something inside—will illuminate you irresistibly.
There is bad news.
First, it gets worse. First, you will be battered and distorted and minimized by these forces you are begging to love you. You will be crushed and twisted. You will be beyond recognition. It will be nauseating and bleak and confusing and hopeless and everything will feel more wrong and unsalvageable than it ever has before.
But. When that happens—in amongst the wreckage, you will find the core, the pit, the tiny, irreducible kernel that refuses to yield, that has been buried somewhere all along. It is then that it takes over. It is then that you recreate yourself: it is then that you finally become yourself.
That is when it does not just get better, but when you begin to make it better, fiercely, by your own hand, day after day. The process is quiet and slow and unmistakable.
And then one of those days you are going to notice that you are THERE. That it would take you hours to name all the people who love and understand and value you. That you love and understand and value yourself. That your body is hot as fuck, as much for what it can do as for how it looks. That your mind is original and sharp and ever-expanding. That you can put together a killer look on a nothing budget, and cook and write and dance and resist. That the love you offer others is accepted and cherished. You’re going to think about your community of courageous friends, and the fabulous older femme who wants to take you under her sequined wing, and the acquaintances who admire you, and the strangers who relate to your words, and the sexual partners who made you feel like more of a human being, not less of one, and the people you trusted with your heart and who hurt you in unimaginable ways but did not break you, did not reduce you—and you will sit on the deck of the house you share with your radical queer co-matriots watching spring in its very moment of arrival and feeling like you are in the center of all the love of the universe: that all of it, ALL of it is rushing towards you, that all of it, ALL of it is radiating from you and beaming upon all creation, and you will not be able to breathe for joy and for gratitude and for wonder that this is your life. You will.
You will still share the world with many forces who seek to diminish you, but you will call out their bullshit and will not internalize their oppression. You will spit fire and hold your ground.
You will discover that beauty, sexiness, femininity, charm—all those things you worry you do not possess—are not things at all, but performances to be mastered. You will perform that shit like nobody’s business and come to understand that even when a performance is not constant it is still very real.
You will begin walking away from the bad and walking towards the good. You will begin building on the good. It will still be hard. You will be up for the challenge. You will remind yourself thousands of times that every failure is a step toward success.
You will find your people. You will become all the things you once admired and envied. You will live the fucking dream. You have no idea. You have no idea. It gets so much better.