The Journey

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I think that, perhaps one person’s life can be perceived as a journey of many journeys. Beginning and the middle and finally, the end of that beginning… and the beginning of the next ending, and so forth. I am coming to the end of the beginning of this moment in time I have chosen to call a journey. Tomorrow, I will begin a journey back to to where my family… my blood family… as well as to those, for whom grace has prevailed upon my own preoccupations to become family. That is, I am returning to those who became family – not because they are of any familial linage; they are family because we share agape…

For me, agape is a state of love that does not require you to love me in return. The state of agape is not contingent upon your actions. Agape means that I honor myself by wanting/affirming your greatest good.

I have become aware that when my website building abilities are compared the some of the web designers in Thailand – I can fairly confidently say that I could be one of the better ones in this market – that is to say that I feel fairly certain that I could make a good living in Thailand… if I so choose. As I have said before, I think that I have some growing up to do and that needs to happen at home.

So many parts of myself which have been asleep for so long have yawned, stretched and decided to wake up within this past few weeks.

During this journey, I haven’t found passion – I have experienced balance. I have wept at least as much during this journey as I have during my blackest of moments and yet, my tears were of profound gratitude – not grief. I brought with me some very heavy burdens that I have been caring  for so long that I thought that they were wounds that were simply part of me. I didn’t seek a therapist while I was here, I didn’t try to intellectualize anything away, nor did I even come here with any expectation that I would find breakthroughs… (with the exception of the surgery itself – I expected that I would feel some huge paradigm shift… a cathartic moment … or any of those words we westerners like to throw around to make or experiences feel really important.) what I felt was peace, a contentment/harmony – a balance.

I find myself simply repeating things which I have already tried to give voice to. Tomorrow I return home. It is the right thing for me to do. When I return home, there are many more “right things” that I need to allow myself to experience. And again, I here Wannee in my ear… “Do the right thing, make the good thing, Everything… be OK.” In other words, as they say in the program… “it works when you work it… it’s a journey, not a destination.”

Outside Not Inside

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Today, I have begun to actually look forward to the hours I must spend in the morning and in the evening doing the post-surgical care. It is an opportunity for introspection. Last night, I went to sleep feeling balance within the core of my being. This morning, the first thought to burst into my head wasn’t the question of what I might do today in order occupy the next 24 hours, or FOOD… MUST EAT, or the usual cacophony of thoughts and images that seems to immediately consume my psyche. When my mind began to slowly drift back from a restful nights slumber and into the cushy bed that I was occupying, I took a moment to appreciate that perfect cozy position that takes all night to achieve. After that, I smiled because the fist image to enter my mind was the representation of the Meditation Buddha and the resulting thought was, Know Yourself. I smiled again, trusting the Path that had lead me to this very morning.

I usually wake up about 5:45 AM or there about by myself. I spent some extra time this morning enjoying the rising sun and the mist that seems to crown the top of the mountain range from my window. I felt calm.

Due to the extra time I spent enjoying being still, I arrived at the morning buffet a bit latter than usual. As I sat down to eat, I saw another patient of Dr. Suporn whom I had briefly met at the clinic and so I waved her over. Come to find out, we have a lot in common: Our heartbreak as we watch the dream that is America vanish before our eyes, our mutual affinity for this land, it’s people and their culture and last and certainly not least, our abundance of joy in the fact that Wannee is in this world. Ha!

I want to stay here. I don’t want to go back to Texas. If it were not for the radiance of seven little sentient lights which lure me back, I would not return. Luke and Jodi, Kim and Cairistona, my grandmother and my brother and, oh yes… I could not abandon Bartosh Davenport either.

I will miss my mountains. I will miss the people. I will miss this blue sea. The notion of returning to western culture feels as if my spirit is about to be dropped into a vat of ice water. I will miss Wannee’s warm presence and the earthy flavor of Thailand itself.

But, I feel that I am supposed to go back. I know that it is time for me to grow up in many areas of my life. Perhaps, after I return home, it will not be too long before I am able to once again know the sun’s first light upon these mountains. But as I am writing this, I can hear Wannee bending my ear to say, “Yes, is very beautiful. But that is outside, not the inside.”

Ballance

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The awareness of going back home feels as if it is looming over my head. I miss my family. I miss my friends. I also understand that the unique circumstances of this journey is a large part of my growing affinity for this place and it’s culture. Being here, doing all that I have done… has somehow given me that illusive experience of feeling in balance with myself and the world I perceive. I also realize that if I were to return to this place at some latter date, that my experience of Thailand would be different. I understand that right here, right now – this unique journey is something that I may never again experience.

Here in Thailand, I have remembered how to breath. I have had the gift of knowing that in this moment, I am right where my path wants me to be and because of that, I have felt renewed, in tune and… at home – within my body and within this world.

This is a wholly new perspective. It is exciting and grounding at the same time. And somehow – I don’t have the words to express it – I have somehow remembered myself… embraced myself… honored, assessed, released… All of these words, yes, but more… it is more than just that – it is more than the meanings we give those words – those expressions in day to day life… I just don’t have the words to articulate this balance…

Tears of Gratitude

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I only have about 7 more days here. The thought is bittersweet. The city itself is bittersweet. Chon Buri is not what I would call a clean town. However, I have yet to meet a rude person. I have yet to see an unfriendly face. In some ways, I think I have fallen in love with the Thai culture – what little of it I know. I am a Westerner looking in. I have really connected with Wannee and I think that I will really miss her – I mean in the way that I am missing my closest friends and family right now.

This has been a journey of many awakenings. Aside from the reason I came to this city by the sea and its significance in my life – I found myself weeping, from the bottom of my gut… it had been so… so long. I felt the presence of what I have never been able to categorize – I have sometimes called it “my path,” or “my guidance,” or “that inner self.” Whatever label you want to give it… I felt it. And it felt… like home. All I could do was to be there with it and my tears of gratitude.

Healing & SRS

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I didn’t sleep well last night. I think that I might have gotten 2 hours of sleep or so. I went down to breakfast a 6 and came back and laid down for perhaps an hour and a half. I can tell that I am in the thick of the healing process: I am very tired, but the pain keeps me from really getting anything like restful sleep. For those who are wondering, the pain is not unbearable – it is simply constant. I suppose it is a lot like having a fairly bad headache in your crotch. I am not yet able to do much in the way of getting around. I can walk well, however if I am upright for extended periods of time I experience the very unpleasant sensation that at any moment my insides will spill out. This inevitably means that I pushed myself too far an need to spend the rest of the day laying down.

I am still swollen towards the top, but the swelling towards the bottom has all but gone. Dilation is possibly one of the most unpleasant things I have experienced thus far. It is excruciating during the initial dilation process but soon dulls to a deep feeling of uncomfortable pressure mingled with intermittent bursts of pain. All I can say is that I now believe that valium is god’s special gift to all those who must go through this process.

I love being among the Buddhist culture. I discuss Buddhism with anyone who cares to answer my questions and/or share with me their own experience with The Buddha. It is fascinating to me that, while there are traditions that have become holy and thus become ritual, ie religious, the core teachings, beliefs and symbols used to remind the Buddhists of those beliefs are extremely congruent with my own Truths that I have been willing to connect with while fumbling through a life lived in Western culture. I have the opportunity to give attention to spirituality – something that I do not do enough of. I feel closer to my spirit, guidance, consciousness, the path or whatever you want to call it. I feel myself drawn back to what is real and what works: the Steps. I also feel that I maybe discovering a religion that I might be able to claim a harmony with.

I feel a certainty about this journey. I can truthfully say – from the core of my being – that if I have only done one thing in my life that has been exactly what I was supposed to do – this is it. I have wept with gratitude. I am not articulate enough to be able to begin to express the enormity of the absolute rightness, gratitude, wholeness… as I said, I can not give enough depth and breath to this experience. I don’t know that I will ever be able to be able to truly share this experience with anyone but my own spirit – my own self.

It is also truly remarkable to be around so many people from so many cultures. Of course I am getting a nice dose of Thai culture – but I have met people from several parts of the US, Australia, England, Germany even Finland. Dr. Suporn (pronounced Sue-pon) seems to be the foremost pioneering doctor in this particular field. So many of the patients are here for a second or even third time in order to get other things done. FFS, SRS, MA, etc. – everyone I talk with seems to feel that at this point in (the now almost 75 year history of SRS) time, Dr. Suporn is simply the best at what he does.

I just had a visit with Wannee (surgical nurse and Suporn Clinic staff). All I can say is that with every visit – I just have so much respect for her. I admire her courage and fortitude. I love her Buddha. I feel honored that she shares her memories and experiences with me. When I have been in NA or AA – once in a while I meet someone who has “it” – someone who is real – someone who is who they are – someone who seems to be plugged into something greater than their own designs for their life – someone who is, at the same time great and small: that is Wannee to me.

Saying Goodbye To My Friend, Martin Ward

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I am finding that the truth about life is that – as much as we like to be distracted and pretend that we are not connected in our hearts – the truth is that we are . So many things about my life – so many things in the lives of the people who I hold in my heart – are, in may ways, coming full circle. An old friend popped into my mind. I hadn’t seen Martin Ward in years. I spent more time thinking about this old friend than I had in the previous 12 months put together. I was remembering when I was 15 or 16 – calling him to confess – to speak the words out loud: “I think I’m a transsexual.” I was so scared. I was remembering how he laughed – his laugh – that Martin laugh – that laugh… when you heard it, you could not help but smile. Immediately, he set my shame at ease. I was also remembering being at Whitney – at the “God meeting.” I wept so hard. He held me and rocked me as I cried like a baby. So many memories were going through my head – all of them fond, heartfelt memories. It also occurred to me that I had heard that he went back out a few years ago. I thought, you know, maybe someday for some strange reason I will be at Chances in Montrose and run into him. I imagined the encounter: I would notice him in the crowd. I would be excited. I would sneak up to him and poke him in his side. I imagined that his face would be somewhat confused when he turned around because while I look a whole lot different than he remembered me – he would see something in me that he would recognize. I even spoke the words out loud: “You remember me?” He would have a puzzled look on his face for a split second until recognition broke across his face. Out loud I said, “Yah, Cris – you know, Jodi and Cris – Raylynn and Christine’s Jodi and Cris!” At that point I imagined him giving me a great big bear hug. I imagined that I smelled beer on him, but that I didn’t care. I was getting to see his smile again; see the twinkle in his eyes that always came with that Martin smile. After that, my thoughts drifted to other things…

So, I’m laying here doing that goddamned dilation the doc has me do and I thought that I would give Jodi a quick call to let her know that I had thrown together a little site that has some of my Thailand pictures on it. She said, “Hay, you remember Martin Ward?” I commented to her that it was really strange that she had mentioned him – that I was just thinking a lot about him. I thought she was about to tell me that he had come back into the program. So many of the folks I new, loved, shared with, wept with, gave to and received from had gone back out. But strangely enough, over the past year or so – one by one they are coming back in and each time I hear about one my heart becomes full. I want to run out, find them at a meeting and give them a big hug and be able – once again – to look in their eyes. To see them – to know them again.

She said, “I’m going to his funeral today.”

I was utterly speechless. My breath left me and for a moment I felt reality shift. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no… oh, god… no.

After I hung up, I talked to him – to Martin. I had to laugh at myself. Martin, the man who I trusted enough to own up to the reality of my gender incongruence… here I am talking to him, telling him again how much he touched my life and at that moment, I could almost hear his laugh: I’m laying here with an 8 inch stint all the way up my woo-ho trying to have this soul-felt emotional acknowledgement of the impact his spirit has had and still has on me. I had to laugh when I felt his sly little smirking laugh.

And that is the feeling I was left with: an embrace through his laughter – that twinkle in his eye – and his honest acceptance.

Martin, buddy. I love you. Big.

Seasons of Life

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I have spent much of the last two weeks silently digesting the last decade of my life. Especially the past three years. I don’t know that I can express through writing. So many internal emotional/experiential landscapes are being silently pieced together within me. Where I have picked up experiences over the past three years, I have lost some of those deep “spiritual” ties to nature.

Over the past several years, I have been very busy. I have so many painful experiences with which I have yet to come to a place of resolve. So much of me is unknown.

I am witnessing an experience that is much like the experience one might recount after recovering from a stroke. I would imagine that someone who is attempting to recover from a stroke would know – can feel that somewhere inside – they are struggling to get back to where they were before the stroke. They probably would not be able to tell you exactly what was taking place inside of themselves, or after they had recovered – exactly what kind of work was going on inside, they only knew that they felt they were working feverishly to remap the topography of the mind on order to experience the successful navigation of life’s experiences.

I feel a similar process taking place in my gut. It is as if I am unconsciously tallying the damage this poor body has endured.

The fact that I have chosen to relate my inner experiences in a – well almost 3rd person detachment of someone simply reporting facts about an object – this fact does not escape me. I just can’t feel connected in my body. It’s always felt like this… this wrongness.

15 years ago, I set in an NA meeting lamenting my powerlessness over my masks. It was a pivotal awareness whose aftermath is only becoming realized 15 years later. I understand that in some very significant ways, I have spent the last 15 years removing masks. While I realize that each finds its genesis in some vital aspect of the whole, I just can’t seem to make the pieces fit together.