The Woke Mob and How to Join

Be queer and concerned about someone trans, apparently.

Also, when someone says “don’t call me a drunk,” the right answer is not “but you are a drunk, Daniel.” Probably not my finest moment, but I didn’t think about it because the friends I have who are drunks have been sober a long time…. Which made me sound like I was an expert punching down at 101 over there, but it just didn’t register.

Once he’s admitted he’s an alcoholic every day until May, then at 30 meetings in 30 days, and then every meeting for the rest of his life, maybe he’ll have some compassion for why saying “you are a drunk” didn’t phase me, but probably should have because I didn’t realize I was dealing with an AA newborn. I have done that, I have been the newborn while my friend was getting treatment, but we were learning together so that I could support her and be knowledgeable while doing so…… I’m more like the convert who’s mad there’s not a group for people who don’t have addictions and yet still can’t get their shit together.

At least, that’s what I thought until I remembered there was such a group for people like me.

To say that I have been to a few more AA meetings than he has is correct. However, I’m just a normie who goes to open meetings to support her friends. I’ve never actually been through addiction as a patient. Just as one of the people they delightfully injure until they realize they are doing it…. and let’s get real, some never do. I just have to lick my wounds with Tall. Mustache. Fishing Hat. There’s got to be a DC version somewhere. There’s a version in every AA and Al-Anon meeting in the country.

I cut The War Daniel off after he went vitriolic and broke up with me. Again, I didn’t break up with me, he did… It’s not that I don’t want to reconnect later. He just needs to sit his ass down for a while. Maybe he’ll change his mind when he realizes that I am not a threat, and neither is the “woke mob” mentality that’s been served to him in NE Texas and not its actual definition. He was fine and wanted to learn everything about everything until five minutes before “Son Of’a Bitch, Everything’s Real.” He is somewhere between it and DENIAL (Don’t Even kNow I Am Lying).

Daniel has no idea what I’m doing because he has been blocked on Facebook, and I have no idea about him. I didn’t do it to avoid him. I did it to avoid making things worse. He says it’s over. I say “you’re in rehab.” I do not believe that you can make a decision like whether you want to get married, travel the world, or even get a major haircut without letting your brain clear out from that. So, I’m giving him until January next and say “you can always come home again.” He can, but if he has no interest, I can’t help that. In fact, I am helpless here. He means too much to me to turn back now. It would be a loss like I’ve never felt before, and have already been mourning because I don’t know whether it’s real.

I just don’t think it’s possible to go from wanting to marry someone one day and wanting to break up with them the next unless your nerves are so fried that you can’t handle anything of substance. Despite it, we are in a large argument right now that will not resolve because neither of us will give an inch because we’re both right. I just happen to think I’m a little more right than he is.

He is correct in thinking that rehab is a big deal. He is incorrect in saying homophobic shit repeatedly and getting called on it repeatedly because he does it repeatedly.
Now we’ve gone from the proverbial “baby, I’ll try” to “you fuckers don’t even tell us the rules.”

We did.

You just threw a bitch fit about it.

Daniel’s point, and I get it, is that he’s a white, cis, straight male who’s about to enter rehab and he can’t handle all this. He’s correct about the rehab patient thing. If he pretends to be a white oppressed male one minute longer than he needs to get well, my boot will leave tracks on his ass. He needs me to back off. I can roll with it when it’s just me. I’ve been taking shit like that my whole life, starting when I was 10. It’s not that people do things on purpose. They do things that they’ve never been taught are wrong and then don’t remember. Then, they’re offensive all over again and I have to endure that pain another time. If you don’t catch it when it happens, then you’re really screwed. There’s even less chance that someone will remember what you said if you ask them to recall something. There is no way I could put Daniel through any of that unless I was punching down.

Punching down is a relatively easy concept, but I can’t explain it in English. We don’t have two verbs to tell people about yourself. In Spanish, there are two. “Ser” is “to be.” It’s for things that cannot be changed, like being black or trans. The other verb that also means “to be” is “estar.” Estar is for a transitory state, like hungry or crying.

“Estoy cansada” is correct. I am tired. When I wake up after a nap, I won’t be tired anymore. Daniel might not have thought this in reality, but he handled my situation as if being queer was a transitory state. That I could give up being so angry. The problem was that I wasn’t agnry. I was annoyed. Again, nothing new. Just hard to keep it under wraps all the time because Daniel isn’t even the millionth customer. That had to be ten years ago. I am not angry. I am exhausted, and there is a world of difference. What I have learned so far is that I will bend, but I will not break.

Here’s the line in the sand, and it’s easy to draw it because I’ve left as much room for him in my life as he deserves…. a chance to redeem himself. Rehab grace only lasts so long before Sweetpea begs to be let off leash. She sent me a picture of herself the other day. She doesn’t play video games at all……. and the picture of her was *Alduin* (incidentally, she doesn’t know it, but I am very much like Paarthurnax).

Like I said, I can take it when it comes to me. It’s just that he has a trans daughter. So, he does twice the irritating shit that he used to and is even more angry that he has to adjust. Apparently rehab is also going to fix homophobia, transphobia, and aggressions toward both. He sees me as the enemy now, when all I’ve tried to convey is the normal amount of “hey, that hurts.”

When Daniel and I first started talking, I thought he was fine. He wasn’t. The medication he was taking to control his cravings, plus the one beer he was drinking a day to make sure he didn’t accidentally commit suicide kept him stable.

So, I was on board. I’ve been down the rabbit hole of addiction with friends several times before, and my ex-wife got a DUI years ago, so not only did I learn about addiction and the brain, I also drove my wife around for three months until she got her license back. This was torture for two reasons. The first is that I hate driving. The second is that I hated Dana more than usual when I was driving. I’ll just let your mind wander on that one.

We’d spent a lot of time talking about the TV show MASH, because Daniel was a Navy hospital corpsman embedded with a team of Marines in Kandahar during Operation Enduring Freedom. His stories are just humbling, and always make me cry… just thinking about the sheer number of times I’ve almost lost him is enormous. Thinking about his service record is intimidating. Sometimes I think “why would somebody like him love somebody like me?” I’m not being down on myself. It’s just that you have to dig under the war hero stuff to make it make sense. He’s a writer. You can tell that clearly.

My work in progress is set in Viet Nam. Obviously, I have friends who are soldiers to help me with patois, but it would be nice to have a coauthor on the project who actually knew what he was doing with that kind of dialogue. The most frustrating thing about being married to a Marine’s daughter was all of the acronyms. No one can penetrate all that without private lessons, and no one gave them to me.

They were very content to let me go on not understanding their conversations. Dana and I were together almost eight years. In all that time, I have learned that a PX is like a Wal-Mart. I am sure that I could do better if I dug deep, but tax free means something. Maybe not for candy and sodas, but you can get things like TVs and gaming consoles. Again, not free. But a major discount. Anything else I picked up was from context clues, and here is a big one.

Flying standby.

My guess is that even Daniel hasn’t thought of this in his “you fuckers” haze, but he can show up at any base in the entire world and fly standby to anywhere else. If Cora and I are invited, we can go with him. We cannot go unaccompanied anywhere, but that really doesn’t matter. I don’t want to go anywhere without him.

I was starting to be glad that Sam was a hit and run, because I saw so much potential here. We planned all kinds of trips, from Helsinki to Cairo to Phnom Penh and back to wherever we’ve chosen as home. As I was telling Cora, “I’m fine with living overseas or staying in this area. It’s just that we can’t live in Texas anymore.” She’s trans, and they’re losing out on nearly every right imaginable in the State Leg. I will probably go to a Molly Ivins level of batshit crazy if I think about it too long, so let’s move on.
Daniel thinks that I wake up every day to wrestle the devil du jour, and while it’s an interesting phrase, it’s bullshit ALL DAY. He’s not the devil, and I’m not the “woke mafia” of legend. I’m trying to keep him from doing irreparable damage to our relationship, and more importantly, the one between him and his daughter. I do not want to be the cause of Daniel losing his daughter, and if he keeps it up, that’s what’s likely going to happen. Cora is going to be just as angry as I was, and it will not go well for Daniel.

But I cannot tell him that. I have told him. He has heard me. He is too overloaded to change right now. I have to be brave and hope that he’s willing to change later. I cannot hope that he cares enough to make amends, but I can hope that when his brain chemicals are level, he realizes that he betrayed his daughter and the woman he wanted to marry by saying that he already had new friends now that accepted him for exactly who he was.

Life is not black and white. There’s so much gray area here, because normally I wouldn’t put up with any of this. It’s that he doesn’t live in the world of awake yet. Alcoholism was keeping his night terrors at bay. Sobriety has made them rise from their graves. That is conjecture, but it has happened to my other AA friends.

I also think that I have been too flippant because I have so many AA friends that it didn’t occur to me that Daniel had never been. I’m sure it was annoying because I was talking like he’d been in the program for years and it was like, five days.

But the point still stands.

At this moment, Daniel does believe that he has hurt both me and Cora. He just doesn’t register our pain as valid. His is much more important than ours whether we think so or not.

It’s why I’m trying to be so kind and loving, and have my anger moments, but let them go. I wouldn’t even have posted anything about this except that Daniel is being stubborn and not talking to me at all. It was time to prepare for the end of the relationship on Stories after I’d had time to process it on my own. In fact, I’ve been processing so much that the only thing I can come up with is just to let it lie. Don’t respond, don’t talk, don’t breathe where Daniel is concerned. He’s got too much on his plate to worry about me, which was his point originally (even if the execution left A LOT to be desired).

He also knows that the reason this is a big fight is that he didn’t just offend me. I am not the only queer person in his life, and not only did I jump in for myself, I interrupted years and years of family-entrenched behaviors.

As the interrupter, I became the enemy.

I’m used to it. I’ve only had one relationship where I really got along with my girlfriend’s parents, and that was Kat’s. I don’t think they ever believed Kat was bi to begin with, and I have to say that I should have agreed with them. It would have explained so much. However, I would not have met Dana, and Dana opened a door for me that taught me how to think in a different way.

I just feel as if I shouldn’t emotionally bleed out over this, because he doesn’t deserve it. He would if we’d been together long, but we weren’t. The difference between me and him and everyone else is that I’ll wait for him.

I bet that seems surprising.

Too much other shit going on to explain everything in a way that wouldn’t “out” other people, so I won’t. All I have to say about the whole situation is “thank God for grace.” I know I am capable of it, I hope that The War Daniel is, too.

I know for certain that if he was able to disconnect that quickly, it would have been a horrible relationship. Any time we needed to talk about anything, he’d fold into himself and become a brick wall. I’ve been in that relationship before. I’m tired of it. I want to go back to the lovebombing, because I believe that’s the person Daniel really is, and the person I’m not talking to is the one who is alcohol-deprived, miserable and lonely as much as he says he has new friends.

If there’s anything I also know about Daniel, it’s that he does want to learn. He won’t be happy staying in a place where everybody is just like him. Where he doesn’t learn anything about how to love a trans woman properly through listening to both of us (trans pain and queer pain are alike and specialized). He doesn’t spend any time with Robin DiAngelo. He doesn’t have to sit through the thousand lectures I’ve heard over my life in order to become this “woke mob” unto my own. If we have an incompatibility, it is this. It’s not that he can’t or won’t learn, it’s that I’m so far ahead of him that he can’t listen to me anymore. He just thinks I’m pedantic, meddling, and the kid was fine til I came along.

I have so much more power than I thought.

That being said, I won’t grieve long. Even if I did everything to the worst of my ability, one fact remains. I got Daniel to rehab in the first place. The reason the relationship could die is not because I don’t think I’ve met the love of my life. I have, and I know it. There will never be another War Daniel in my life, so I hope that this one remembers to check in. It’s that he cannot continue to make me a part of “you fuckers.” I get that he’s angry. I even get why. I don’t think that expecting Daniel to understand that I’m hurting is invalid during treatment. Again, though, I can’t count him out. Rehab is such a tricky thing. You know an alcoholic/addict is sick, but when do you start holding them accountable for all of their words? I am weighing whether I am hurting myself for a goal that will never come.

I don’t think he’s done anything that says I won’t love him.

Yet.

He is The War Daniel, but if I have a character, it is Rory the Roman. It will take as long as it takes, possibly centuries. He doesn’t know what that means, either.

But I’m betting you do.

Lopez, Island.

Trigger Warning: Teen Sex Abuse

I told you earlier that a friend was doing guided meditation on me, went down to the point I could, then pulled in a humorous story about Sam because I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t tell you another story in which I felt emotionally abused, because I was a ninth and tenth grader. At the time, I thought I was making friends.

I wasn’t. I was an accessory. The person chosen to sit in the classroom so that one of my friends and our teacher could get away with an affair. I unwittingly protected a sexual predator who was actually fucking one of my friends and I didn’t say shit. I don’t feel guilty for two reasons. The first is that I was never older than 15 in their presence. I don’t know what would have happened if I’d stayed at HSPVA, and I don’t mind saying where it happened because I found out later that everyone knew. The second is that I was in an emotionally abusive relationship with someone 11 years older. In my head, we’d each found love. Neither my friend nor I knew it was toxic until years later…. and I don’t think my then-love thought of it as abuse, either. I think she thought she was treating me like I treat my own daughter, the one I adopted through the rainbow flag. We are our own country. No woman is an island, to paraphrase John Donne.

Or at least, that’s what I thought about my friend and me. I thought Lopez definitely was…. she could get away with anything and my friend was so lucky. She got everything I wanted and a bag of chips. What stopped it from happening in my case is beyond me, because all the grooming was there. I just got lucky. Whatever it was that stopped her, I think it was positive now. She had me dead to rights back then.

I was just as genderfluid/genderqueer as I am now. I always felt a bit of white knight valor, as if saving her was up to me. It’s a pattern I struggle with to this day. I want to save everyone. Every little girl. Every woman…. and even though they’re a minority in terms of sexual violence, boys and men. I can’t think about children being put through any of this. Even if it’s just grooming that sets up a trigger and not actual intercourse. It’s especially egregious in little boys, because it’s before the weight of the world is on them to be a man. So they’re raped or molested while they’re still young enough to be sweet and affectionate and every bit as kissyface as little girls are…. and then that shit gets buried, because no one wants to hear their pain. Sexual trauma is difficult. It’s even more difficult to exorcise when “being a man” means “cut off all your emotions and never speak of anything but how angry you are.”

I feel it’s another reason I can love Daniel for all he’s worth, which is a hell of a lot. I knew him befoe life broke him. I knew him before anyone ever said “buck up, buttercup.” I had forgotten, but he remembered that our “first date” was to the Caldwell Zoo in Tyler, Texas. My mom was with us that day. I know she was, she was one of our substitute teachers that year… actually, I’m not sure that I had a year where my mom wasn’t my substitute in elementary except K-2. So many great memories, and Daniel was there for all of them.

For instance, my mom and John Brennan have both taken me to Egypt. It’s just that my mom was first.

The connection to Brennan is a scene from “Undaunted,” his autobiography. When he was young, he went to University of Cairo. Picturing John at like, 19 or 20 riding around the city high as hell on hashish and getting his ear pierced is just as much of a happy place as Beirut. I have John’s number. Invite him to Cairo, and leave an earring and some hash on the table. What I wouldn’t give to hear his stories, even ones I’ve already heard before, in his own patois.

My mom and dad went to Israel, Egypt, and Jordan when I was small. I have always wanted to walk the Bible like them, and was even more obsessed with the idea when Bruce Feiler published a book called “Walking the Bible,” an atheist’s journey. The ending is too rich to spoil, but he ends up Jewish (Beth dies, he was dead the whole movie, K has a daughter). They brought all kinds of cool stuff home, and then Mrs. Watson had to have her thyroid out.

Enter Carolyn Lanagan with all her cool Egyptian accessories.

Keep in mind this is a *substitute,* okkkkkkk. I have never seen anyone more dedicated to their job. Mrs. Watson was out for practically the whole year, and we didn’t watch a movie once. She ruined me for every sub ever. I never paid attention to any of them. I was a blogger even then, I just couldn’t type.

Though I can’t speak for them, I am sure most of my classmates will remember walking into the fifth grade hallway and seeing the lights dimmed, all the chairs arranged like the rows on an airplane, and the three fifth grade teachers handing out handmade American passports and *personalized* plane tickets. I probably also remember a little bit better than they do because of the time it took to create such a thing.

I am not sure, but I think my mother had a PC at home. I know I had an old one in my room, but I don’t remember whether she just used mine when she needed it. I know that Mrs. Watson had an Apple IIe, but I don’t think my mom used that one, either, because it wasn’t in her classrom. In any case, I was the computer person, so I made *some* of the stuff for her. It’s not like it was hard. It was Print Shop and a dot matrix. I can’t remember what banner it was, but it was something with a plane and a piece of paper that looked like a menu.

It was. The teachers took drink orders.

The cart came by as the lights dimmed and we “took off.” In front of us was a screen full of pictures from my mom and dad’s trip. I saw my mom picking out my souvenirs, and I knew they were mine because I already had them. That day I think I was even wearing my Coca-Cola spoof shirt, the one that said “Enjoy Torah.” We all felt good, literally on air. My mom was really good at that for kids.

It wasn’t until she put me in a terrible position that I started to hate her as much as everyone else who was hurting me, because she became one of them. She saw what was happening with my abuser, and that I was going to be coming out of the closet whether she wanted me to or not. When I was 13, she just gave up. She didn’t know what the fuck to do with a lesbian daughter, so me running to a narcissist was seemingly fine. She noticed, but it was too late. They had me.

Then, when I was 15, she heard me talking on the phone to a girl I was interested in at school. She told me that I would *not* talk on the phone like that, I would not cause my father to lose his job like that. I was terrified. I could cause my father to lose his job? What in the actual fuck are you talking about?

Hell wasn’t that she said it. Hell was knowing she was right.

Or, at least, her fears weren’t unfounded. In the United Methodist Discipline, it says that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” I personally think that being a judgmental bastard of an organization is way more incompatible, but no one asked me. “Open hearts, open minds, open doors.” What a crock of shit. They can’t even hear themselves out loud. They are also perfectly happy for you to attend church as long as you don’t want to get married or ordained or in my ittle 15-year-old mind, both. They’ll also thank you for putting money in the plate while denying you all of these things.

In my case, it’s an eyeroll and “you know we can see you, right?”

If I was still a Methodist and actually cared about the organization, I would have fought tooth and nail for equality. It is criminal how the Church has managed to mangle Jesus’ from “widen the net” into “the gate should have closed after I got in.” No one likes gatekeepers, particularly because no one is good enough to do the job…. which is to destroy the gate altogether.

It was in this righteous indignation that I stopped caring what anyone thought of me. I am one of the most empathic people I’ve ever met, along with every close friend or partner I’ve ever had say that I’m too intense for them at some point or another. It’s not that I don’t feel. I have to cut off my emotions to stay alive. Everything that is a weight on the world feels like it’s on me as well. I’m not egocentric, I was made for this….. sort of. It’s an INFJ’s lot in life.

For me, it’s A LOT in life. I don’t go a second of any day without feeling somone else’s pain. One person’s in particular is wound around me. Another person’s pain is so far inside me no one will ever find it. And then there’s the two women that ratcheted up my libido before it was supposed to be ready.

I was one person’s first choice. I was on deck for the other. One of them was at church. One of them was at school. Women to absolutely rearrange my insides whenever they felt like it. Sometimes it was being particular to me over my friend to ensure that it looked from the outside that she was objective while she was fucking my fourteen year old friend. Sometimes it was flirting that seemed innocent until after my reality cracked.

Neither woman was an island…. or at least, the one I loved wasn’t. She was watched meticulously. She met with my mother and agreed to stay away from me. It injured us both and lasted three days. Because, see, we needed each other… just in completely different ways.

Lopez is an island.

The one true sexual predator out of all of the abusers I’ve known. It wasn’t me, but it felt like it…. especially when said friend wanted to hide the fact that she was in this relationship and probably also thought that she needed to take care of The Leslie Problem in case I got designs on “her woman.”

She was a visual artist. She made up a postcard calling me a predator and saying that I was out to harass/rape/whateverthefuck all the straight girls and made copies. Put them in people’s lockers. Had a shitty picture of e on them and everything. I mean, if you’re going to go to the hassle of making a poster that shits all over me, at least include a picture that actually looks decent.

That is how I eventually turned into an island. I shut down. It just took about 25 years. I didn’t know how fucked up my humor reflexes were until I got called out by three straight women that I love to the ends of this earth, and I blew it. The worst part was only realizing it in retrospect, because I lost all three friendships at the same time.

I am only now being networked again at my own hand. I haven’t had enough strength. I disappeared into myself for every reason imaginable. It’s nice to have a close mom friend, because I don’t have a mom. She’s not my replacement for her, just the one I go to when I have those sorts of issues. It was actually pretty funny, when I asked her if she could answer those mom questions, she said sure…. as long as I didn’t expect her to answer the same way that my own mother would have.

I choked a bit and said, “I think of you and my mother being alike in the same way that Tom Brady and I are both 43.” I have grown since then, I am 45. So has she. Before, she identified as a mom. Now she identifies as a dragon. Or a wolverine. She alternates, but whatever it is, it will eat your face off either way. The fire, teeth, and claws aren’t for me. They’re for anyone who dares try to hurt me. There are several people who I know would be under her pool if need be, but even though she’s a beast, she’s on a leash.

It’s the kind of love that makes me fight for my baby girl just as hard. We’re not blood, we’re queer. This is how we avoid the institutional pain of isolation. I adopted Cora so that I wouldn’t be an island, and neither would she.

Doctor Who Knows? Who? Nose.

He can’t leave. He’s The War Daniel.

I am not saying he did or did not leave. I am saying that I am wrestling over what kind of impact I’ve had and continue to have on someone I love to a nearly desperate, crazy amount. I just don’t show it. I haven’t seen his body in years, but I see his soul on paper multiple times a day, just bleeding out in front of me while I go blurry with teary eyes and back into my own history, particularly with alcohol. I’ve never truly had a problem, but I used to be really bad about counting and timing because if it had ice in it, I wanted some. I have literally gotten drunk by accident. I helped it to continue, but originally the loopiness came on because I was thirsty. I know how that plays out in an alcoholic’s eyes.

This is my experience from what my AA friends have told me, particularly the ones I’m closest to, but reflect a lot of people there. They can’t watch you sip. They can’t watch you take a drink and sit it down and walk away, then come back. It has nothing to do with cravings, or at least, over time it’s not about that. Over time, it’s shame. You have done something they could not. You left a drink on the table and walked away.

Something broke in me when Dana got her DUI. However, the way it broke let light in. When she was asked to go to these classes on alcohol and the brain, I went with her and sat in the back. I was in my 30s, it was like doing an extra rotation after going to medical school in the backseat of a Lexus.

I don’t diagnose anything, but I know a million symptoms and how they connect. I recognize things like shingles by the pattern. I can recognize the emotional fibromyalgia of trauma. As a resource, I am a great friend. I have the capability to listen and an acute awareness of when you are above my pay grade, Clown Shoes. The closer you are to me, the more I hug and kiss you while I tell you that you’re not only clown shoes, you’re all three rings and a big stripey tent……. and I wouldn’t have it any other way. All my friendships are this deep. I love my friends until they can’t take it. Literally. There have been meetings, most of them on what to do about me. 😛

Add alcohol rehab onto major trauma, and it’s just like real fibromyalgia. You might never get rid of it. You just have to manage it. My poet friend Wendy said this to me a hundred years ago, and it’s how I express this idea now that I’ve ripped her off verbatim for like 15 years…… She wrote me an e-mail that said, “you don’t have to love it, Leslie. You just have to live it.”

This is what I think to myself when I’m thinking about rehab and everything that goes with it. The semicolon and the ampersand, if you will. In fact,The War Daniel is the semicolon itself, and the ampersand is all that comes with him. Everything about who Daniel is contained in one punctuation mark (Full Stop and Keep Going), and everything that’s important to him in another. I have nicknamed it the “andhausen.” Daniel and his daughter will fall on the floor laughing at that.

I want to give it to them, because their word for the best of the best of the best is actually a suffix on the end of a word. For instance, Doc and Cora are Dochausen (or Danhausen) and Kidhausen, or Corahausen. Cora is not my daughter’s name. It’s from Coraline, Neil Gaiman’s novel.

[Incidentally, my favorite movie is now Argohausen. Bryn is going to love that. She calls me Rev. Argo. I did her wedding. I have literally married her. Just not to me…. I’m a Rev. in the Church of The Latter Day Dude because none of my friends wanted to wait until I finished grad school to do a ceremony I’ve had memorized since I was like, nine.]

Here is my own best of the best of the best. Daniel is “The War Daniel.” Cora is The Doctor’s Daughter. Do you see it now? Do you SEE IT?

The War Daniel is from Doctor Who. The War Doctor without an MD…. He’s not a fan, but says he wants to be. I hope when he sees John Hurt he will remember who he is. HE IS THE WAR DANIEL. I told him that if anyone needed a clarification, not to say to a Whovian that it was my own way of saying that he was my River Song, and that he wouldn’t even know for a few years what that even meant….. also that he could make very, very large men weep in the street, particularly in the UK.

I didn’t want to be married to this Doctor. I wanted to be married to all of them. I wanted the young boy. I wanted the teenager. I wanted the man he is. And I am so curious to find out what happens next. Literally I will watch this next regeneration that chooses the same face and hope to God he remembers that his companion is me. I’m your Amy, and you’re my Rory. You cannot even imagine how that feels. That out of nowhere, Rory Williams showed up…. and Rory is a nurse.

That’s just the Doctor Who connection. We haven’t started on MASH yet. Sorry, it’s not spelled right because my 8 key isn’t working, but you get it. Saying that he’s Hawkeye and Honeycut and Winchester and Potter all rolled into one is an understatement, because they never really got bombed. But all of these medical characters mean something to me, Hawkeye in particular. I have said for a long time that it was rough being a Hawkeye in a Frank Burns world…… and then Hawkeye showed up on my Internet front porch.

As Jill says, “you are really not subtle about hiding Daniel from all your friends. You only have one friend named Daniel on Facebook, and his last name is Williams.” Given that I think he’s part Rory, his last name counts. I was never trying to hide him. He told me that he’s an open book. I am sure that he is looking for a PowerPoint presentation on his flaws that’s just not going to come until I’m not punching down anymore. I want him fighting fit.

Yes, I’m terrible about hiding things. I should learn to leave so many less breadcrumbs than I actually do. But this is not one of them. I will wait and change my relationship status based on two things. The first is staying out of Facebook Jail long enough to do it, and whether or not this miracle occurs. I only own half.

Because here’s what I see. I see a writer that should be teaching how to write war fiction or journalism. It seems like everything I know politically boils down to David Halberstam’s books. I know I’m marrying The Best and the Brightest. If he were alive, he would approve… and probably retort that it will get better…. it’s just The Coldest Winter. The War Daniel has Pulitzer Prize talent. What he does with it is completely up to him. It’s just that the raw talent is there.

He’s also electable. He could do any job in this country, including president, because the US elects war heroes all the time. I know him. He would turn down POTUS in a heartbeat to get right to Veterans’ Affairs. The first time I brought it up, some light came into his eyes and he said, “I could help my brothers.” I’m just talking about his character. That’s the man I want to marry. I don’t care if we stay on the beach and do nothing. It’s not about that. It’s about seeing options and choosing from them (not always saying “this is the very best bad idea we have, sir. By far”).

Like choosing to have a daughter.

I have been “Other Mother” for a little while, and I have to say, I really enjoy it. Falling in love with a child is a whole different ball game. Here’s how much different. I am going to make you bawl, because I’m about to make myself bawl for like the 30th time so I am telling you, get the Kleenex.

Cora and I were talking about trans pain vs. queer pain and how they’re different and how they’re the same. I told her I felt like she was overfocusing on her own pain and that it might be holding her back from empathy.

Holy God I have never seen anyone turn around this fast. The next day, she was talking about getting new driver’s license, passport, etc. We were talking about names. I said, “Cora, I want to change your deadname for you a little bit so that you can think of it as someone else’s name, and only two people in the world know what it is…. and in fact, I would be very surprised if it was information retained. Is that okay with you?” She said, “sure.”

This may be telling tales out of school, but it needs to be.

“When Meagan and I were planning our own future, we picked baby names for our future son and daughter. Your deadname was going to be the same name as my own son should he have appeared, and isn’t it crazy that I named my son your deadname and your father, who I will remind you I have known since I was seven, thought of the EXACT SAME NAME for his kid.” It wouldn’t be a thing if it was a common name.

It is, but I wanted it spelled differently, and he picked the same spelling I wanted. Not so much “isn’t this eerie…. we’re mated now based on that one fact.” No. Bullshit. I just meant that great minds think alike. This time, really. An INFJ and an INTJ belong together. No one else can stand us. This has been proven to both of us time and again. 😛

Meagan proposed to me when we were 18. It was just as ridiculous as agreeing to marry someone who was going to rehab, but I said yes, anyway…… like two months before she noped back to Canada and found someone else. What is different about Daniel is that he is everything she’s not. She was a romantic who didn’t really think things through, and I could say the same about myself now except I’m almost 20 years older now and I’ve learned from my mistakes. He is a seasoned combat veteran and doctor. I will put his street creds up there with any trauma surgeon in the nation. His stitches may not be art, but you’ll live. If that kind of person can’t be trusted with my heart, it will only be due to incompatibility and/or timing. Not that he’s not the right person- for me or anyone else.

The first lesson in being older is don’t marry someone you think you love but underneath realize they’re kind of a jackass. Marry someone who wears their jackass proudly, like I do (and like many of my friends also do, because I wouldn’t love them as much if they didn’t).

Here’s why being a jackass is important to the story. I’m not the same person I was when I was 18, but I’m grateful to her, the woman I was. She protected me from me. She was a musician, yet alone. She found ways to disappear. She’d been outed at school and humiliated. It was ninth grade. By 12th, I’d had enough. I just wasn’t that smart. I did everything right, and I still got dumped in a terribly humiliating way, which is completely forgiven a hundred times over because her friendship has been so valuable… but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hell on earth back then.

In present day, after we’d talked about The Struggle, I told Cora everything about my name and why I hate it so goddamn much. Leslie is fine. The D is no longer with us. It humiliates me to even think about changing the name my mother gave me now that she’s dead.

Cora, in her empathy, said, “I have a name that I’m not using. Would you like to have it?”

When your child says something like that, their name could be Osama and you wouldn’t blink. I actually think Osama would be a cool name for me, based on the movie about the girl who had to become genderqueer on purpose to fool the Taliban into believing she was worthy of education and training. She’s adorable, and she has my heart…. and if Daniel and I ever travel to the Middle East, you can bet my gender non-conforming ass that I will carry her picture everywhere and say, “See? I’m like her. I’m just ancient.”

When I loved my name, I wasn’t ashamed of who I was. I was lonely. It was Meagan or nothing. I would have died rather than choose nothing, for only the simple fact that Southern women are sold a bill of goods that only one person will fulfill their every need until they die… forever and ever, to God be the glory, Amen.

I do not believe that. I believe that The War Daniel and I have woven through each other’s timelines, and because it’s always the future, there’s never a conflict…. no moments of “fixed point in time. I’m so, so sorry.” I also believe that being married to Dana was also wonderful, and being with Kat was adequate. It just wasn’t all wonderful, all the time…. and neither is this. It’s just a much bigger gamble. If I win, I win big. If I lose, I still played a part in keeping my friend alive.

Relationships can be built. Regenerations are a fairy tale told to children, and they work so wonderfully well because you do the same thing your whole life…. instantly recognizable on the outside. Completely different on the inside.

Same software, different case.

It was an astounding offer, one that could only be made by someone with childlike wonder and innocence. Someone who’d been beaten down by the world every bit as much as me. Her trauma might be more prevalent nowadays because people don’t understand the ideas of transgender or genderqueer as easily as they accept queer sexual behavior. I don’t know why it’s such a mystery that people have a spectrum of sexual behavior and gender identity, but it’s becoming more nd more true every day. I am just a regular queer, but people have been coming at me 20 years longer than they have Cora. Cora’s 24. She has no idea. None. I don’t think she even knows how big a sacrifice it is. To hear her deadname come out of my mouth, to see her letter where mine used to be… it’s too much for me. I can’t do that to her, even if it wasn’t her real reaction. I can’t take that chance. To be that careless with a deadname would be devastating if it hurt after the fact. I see her pain, she sees mine. I am sensitive to it in all ways.

Daniel and I might want to foster/adopt kids in the future. The first thing I did was ask Cora if it was okay. The girls (important, because our idea was getting children out of impossible situations, like being betrothed to a Talib fighter who is 47 years old) would be at least a decade younger, possibly more. It was important that she see my dreams as clearly as I saw hers, and we talk about them.

Last night, I remembered almost 20 years ago, curling up with the thought of my wife and my son….

I woke up this morning thinking of my daughter. The D is no longer with us, but only physically. I have a right hand ring that’s him all over. A claddagh with skeleton hands. My daughter and I are bonding without him, which is a very good thing for all three of us. You can’t be in love, or even think you love an alcoholic/addict until you’re ready to think about murder. We need each other. If for nothing else than going to Finland so he can stand out in one of FORTY BAZILLION FORESTS and take the band pic. It’s Finland. There’s only one.

Why yes, he did want to move to Helsinki at first. I’m glad you asked. I believe that I have talked him down off the ceiling by agreeing to go and live there for a little bit and see if we like it. As I was telling Zachausen the other day, “I’m using the Internet wrong. I don’t think I’ve even adapted to the reality that Air BnB is a thing we could do.” It’s just not all about us (Zachausen can come, too).

I got Cora at such an incredible time in my life, the part where she’s young and doesn’t have anything figured out and doesn’t know shit about Civil Rights or where we came from in terms of people like JFK, RFK, MLK, Bayard Rustin, and all of the best and the brightest Halberstam talked about. Talked about how three of the brightest stars in the Civil Rights firmament were all assassinated and how Bayard Rustin was out of he closet for ALL OF IT. MLK knew. Baptist preacher. Knew his top advisor was gay and didn’t give a damn, because he wasn’t perfect.

She also doesn’t know that Jesus isn’t perfect yet, but I will definitely disabuse her of that notion. Dude who killed a fig tree just because there wasn’t any fruit on it is not the picture of mental health you see before you today… you know, the one that’s white. What, like he’s the only baby born in Israel with French features? Seriously. Explain it to me like I’m five. Everyone around Jesus was brown. Get there faster.

I’m not pulling for her to choose Religion or Not Religion. Just that it’s a spectrum as well. One of the funniest things that The War Daniel has ever said was when he was angry, so it was not appropriate to laugh as loud as I wanted to… because it wasn’t Doc making me laugh. It was the characterization of “show me someone who can keep their anger in check when they’re angry and I’ll show you Jesus Christ.” I fell out thinking about how many tax collectors of the day might have taken exception to that.

Every day, I know more about Jesus just by being me. I’m not saying I’m divine, I’m saying that the Historical Jesus posited by Marcus Borg is very much like me. Being the son of God and a preacher’s kid can’t be all that different, right? Jesus was born to the Source. I was born to upper management. We were both baptized, but I’m going to bet that since he was an adult and I was an infant, he peed on John a lot less than I peed on Bishop Crutchfield.

But when you are baptized with the power of the Holy Spirit, stand up. Don’t you dare think you are any less than it is or Jesus was. We were never meant to be Jesus. Jesus was always meant to be us.

The writing that comes out of me when I’m thinking of Daniel and our daughter is better than anything I’ve ever written in my life, and it’s not all here yet. Some of it is praying The War Daniel to DC or Baltimore.

Some of it is praying we just make it through tomorrow and tomorrow without reliving yesterday.

Who knows? Who…. nose.

A right hand ring to show sup

Karen

My conversations with Daniel in preparing content are tough shit, and I am so glad that I’m a blogger because of it. When I go all up in my feelings, I have a place to express them without having to think about what he’s going to think when he reads the entry. It’s a mixture of fear and excitement, because if you get PTSD from combat, those are generally the only two emotions in a story.

And then there are things that make me bleed out, like telling Daniel why I have PTSD and Daniel explaining to me why mine was so much worse than his…… Daniel’s enemies were clearly defined. Mine were turncoats, both of them, at a time when I was too little to know that wasn’t okay and took it on as all my fault.

One of the things that’s so different with our two cases of PTSD is that I cannot define triggers before they happen. I’m fine one minute, and inconsolable the next. He actually has enough self awareness to say that he doesn’t like the sound of popping popcorn, because “that’s what M4s sound like when you put them on fully automatic.” He can do something that at this point, I cannot. He can tell me what his triggers are, and I can avoid them. I have tried to quantify what a trigger means to me for nine years, and I haven’t really come up with a good solution.

The biggest trigger I have is smell. Whether it’s my abuser’s old perfume, or the air smells just the way it did when I was standing there with that journal, asking what certain things meant. I think that is true for all trauma, the way the smell of the smoke in our recent house fire took me back to the one my family had when I was 11.

Music doesn’t bother me, generally, but there are a few choir pieces and opera arias that I have put away. If I’m in a church choir that is doing one of the pieces that for me, acts as a trigger, I don’t sing that day. I don’t even go to rehearsals that contain it.

One of the things that I’ve done for the last probably, ten years that I refuse to do now is minimize. Everything that has happened to me is now being given its full meaning and weight. I am no longer trying to make it look lesser than, that things weren’t as bad as I thought. In order to know how bad it was, you cannot just know my side of the story. You have to know the life story of the woman who emotionally abused me as well, and how that pathology affected me. I can only tell my story and a teeny, tiny part of hers. There’s so much more you will never find on this web site that you would find if you looked in other areas. For instance, none of our mutual friends except Dana has ever talked to my dad about what I was like as a teenager.

I can think of a few more I’d like to have him school. Some because I still don’t understand their reactions, some because I just want my people to know who I really am without pretense or bullshit.

I am coming into my power. I am 45 years old. Either this year or within a few years half of my life will be over, using my 92 year old grandfather as an example. A whole lot of shit I used to care about doesn’t even exist now in terms of my focus.

Like getting all upset because Daniel is in love with me and I know it. He has been for 36 years. Let me get this straight. A military doctor wants to be with me, and he’s telling me up front that he’s an alcoholic and has PTSD and is going to rehab to change himself and just wants another writer to lie next to in bed with both our laptops going…… and I’m going to freak out because he’s male and not female? I got this picture in my head of Jonna and Tony Mendez writing “The Moscow Rules” on a king-sized bed and thought, “why not?”

Here’s why I didn’t freak out, and it’s all my trans friends’ fault (I’m really grateful and I’m teasing). I realized that there was just enough man in me to be absolutely terrified that a straight dude wouldn’t like me AS A PARTNER. Straight dudes love me in general. Instead of thinking of myself as a bisexual woman, I had to game this relationship out as a trans man. This is because I knew that Daniel had never been in a gay relationship before, and so his reaction to my gender identity would never be negative, he just might be confused. I needed him to know that I express as male sometimes, and that has to be okay with him. Luckily, it very much is.

But this is just the beginning of a very, very long story. Please do not think that I have lost my fucking mind. Daniel doesn’t start rehab until January 5th. He lives in NE Texas. There is no possible way we will even see each other until his rehab is over, and that could take up to a few months. We’re talking about living separately for at least a year, because if he moves to DC we might screw ourselves over by skipping dating and just moving in. It wouldn’t be a deliberate screwover- DC is expensive and it might seem tempting to have one household “since we want to be together, anyway….” Eyeroll………

My perfect picture of Daniel and me is that we visit each other a few times in 2023, and then think seriously about stability after 2023 is over. This does not mean that we won’t be in contact at all, just not physically sharing the same space. Rediscovering each other through calls and letters for a year before going all in.

I am also not saying that Daniel is my forever person. I am saying that he’s one of them. Maybe it will be this fairy tale in which I suddenly transform into the perfect heterosexual wife. However, my money is not on that. My money is on Daniel becoming so important to me that he becomes a priority, and it is too damn early in our relationship to put constraints on what that actually looks like. Just be happy for me that I have someone that loves me and is in my corner. That if I get into a Situation, it’s handled. Don’t look into the future and try to pigeonhole us as friends or married. Let us decide that over the next few years on our own.

I am turning a corner in my sexuality. I am less sure about my gender than I ever have been, which has made me flexible about everything else. I was telling my friend Zac that I was feeling very non-binary, without the need to come out or change pronouns. How that plays out in my relationship with Daniel is that I feel like a partner, not the archetype one sees in their minds eye of a “wife.”

I have also been a wife before, but not to a man. My definition of “wife” comes from that context, and I don’t know enough about men to know whether my definition and theirs is similar. My saving grace is that Daniel is attracted to my personality. I don’t think he would have been attracted to me if I was male on the outside, because sexual orientation is a thing. But what I do know is that if I look at myself in the completely genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary but doesn’t give a crap about pronouns kind of way, Daniel still loves that person.

I’m not becoming less. He’s becoming more. He’s opening himself up to the possibility of not being with the picture and definition of “woman” he’s always known.

It took me back a bit. All of the sudden, someone from my past reappeared, and I want to talk to her “privately.”

Dear Karen,

I remember the first time I saw you like it was yesterday. We were out in the sun at Chuy’s on Westheimer, and I was completely suckered in by your preppy attire. I mean obviously, my wife teased me about seeing you and running into a door for like four years. What might have seemed schoolgirlish actually made me relax and find peace within myself. You were the first woman I’d ever met who identified as straight and also wore men’s clothes without making it a big deal. Nine times out of ten, it was men’s styles in a women’s cut. Every time I looked at you, I saw a little more of who I wanted to be on the outside. I saw a style that fit me on someone else.

You might think it’s because I thought you looked like a lesbian. Actually, that’s not it at all. I saw the way your husband looked at you and realized that I was putting too much emphasis on my clothes. That what I wore wasn’t advertising anything. That if a straight woman could out butch me any day of the week, then wear whatever I want. Nothing about my wardrobe says that I am seeking attention from men or women.

I know this because now I’m divorced, it’s eight years later, and now a man wants to be with me. I said yes. I said yes because I looked at you on that warm April day, and knew that he would love me no matter what. I saw a style that fit me on someone else.

Best,
Leslie

We Can Do Hard Things

The title of this entry is the title of Glennon Doyle’s podcast, but the podcast is not what I’m pondering. It’s the catch-22 of how to be a white person and call the black community out on some shit that is very harmful to me… but without making it sound as if it is equal to or more disturbing than anything white people have done to them. It’s just that in this instance, I’m not speaking as a white person, especially not a white person with entitlement. I have it when I choose to use it, which is never. I’m speaking as a lesbian. I am not the person that you think I am at face value. You cannot attribute the same attitudes toward a white minority that you can toward the white, straight, cis majority, because I’m fighting them just as hard as you.

Here’s why. If I was seen kissing my paramour/girlfriend/wife on a street corner, the race of the person who saw me would be irrelevant. There’s just as much chance of me being harassed or assaulted, even sexually as a public service, by someone with any background. It’s not about my color, it’s about my perceived sin.

I came out when I was about 14. Violence against gays and lesbians has always been very real. It was 1991, not 2022. I can draw a direct parallel between me and Emmett Till, because if I was caught whistling at a woman, seemingly making advances toward her, I would have been in just as much trouble, because black Christian Evangelicals are just as brainwashed by crazy as white ones.

Lesbians are in a tight spot. We are seen as non-threatening if men do not know who we are courting and it is just a fever dream to have a threesome with us as they spout their “Christ is love” bullshit, because it sounds dirty coming out of that kind of mouth. However, if the man does know the woman in question, particularly if he sees us as a threat to his relationship, we are well on our way to black eyes because “we’re not real men.”

Well, no shit, Sherlock. That’s why I can make her scream so much harder than you.

Now imagine me smarting off like that to a black or white man who thinks he’s tough. Now I’m even closer to death. Additionally, I can think of no worse childhood than growing up black and trans, especially if your family is religious. Black and white Evangelicals are equally guilty of indirectly killing their children because they don’t see their faith as bullying.

Add race to being queer and it is just a mess. White, straight, cis feminists don’t have the same needs as women of color. Queer women of any race have different needs than straight. Trans women have different needs than cis. In terms of trans and cis women, it is like one man has fathered children with identical twins. We are biologically the same and yet cousins because of trans women’s socialization as men when they were young.. This is on its way to being a non-issue with puberty blockers and supportive parents, but right now, it is a hard thing we can add to the list.

I watch a lot of YouTube videos on building houses, both on and off the grid. What I’m seeing is that the entire house is wonky because in the queer community, we didn’t actually create all the vassal agreements needed to be powerful as a voting bloc. What I’m saying is that the house will fall soon if we don’t go back and fix the basement.

But don’t worry. We Can Do Hard Things.