Without losing them in the process.
Click for (a lot) more of details.
posted by Fermin to Human Relations (30 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Pffff... where do I begin? Sorry if it´s long, but I can´t talk about where I am in life without talking about where I come from.
I should probably begin by saying I´m a 31 years old adolescent. Some of what you will read will sound like "But Mom, pole dancing is an art!", but with a bit more experience under my belt. However I have to accept that I am now doing some things that the majority of people do during their teenage years, but I didn´t do them back then because I skipped that stage completely.
I went from kid to adult in a snap. Not like some people who were forced to work and fend for themselves since I young age, it was much less traumatic for me. Being the child of my parents (healthcare professionals, politically active in their youth, always working to make things a bit better for those around them), I matured really quickly, and can barely remember a time when I didn´t behave rationally. When all my schoolmates were overtaken by hormones and laughed at everything that could be construed as double entendre, I was studying, collaborating with charities, working at a human rights NGO or getting involved with the students association.
Up to there, everything my parents wanted for me, but at some point something broke. I took a drama workshop and fell in love with it. So much that it was what I wanted to do for a living. Eventually I got more involved with artistic theatre (as in making meaningful plays, asking questions that can lead to changes in what we do, not entertainment), and because there´s no support for that here and spectators are few, I decided it would still be my main focus, but I would find something else to pay the bills, however I wouldn´t go to the university in order to still have time to perform.
My parents hated that. And more when those plans (along with a break up from a long relationship) took me to move to Spain. They gave me some money to help me, but not after doing everything to convince me not to go, telling me how hard I would fail, how irresponsible I was, etc. I lived there for a while, came back, and then moved to Argentina, driving my parents crazy again.
With them being so important to me, though, I listened to them more than I should have. I focused too much on a steady job and forgot about art. I succeeded in becoming somebody else, a character that my parents wanted me to play, or that they would at least tolerate. And eventually I got very sick of that. Since then I´ve been struggling to getting out of that character, and I have come a long way, except when it comes to my family.
A few years ago I started a different path, slowly, paying more attention to what I felt, starting to live more by emotions than by rationality. I began a spiritual search, opening my eyes to a bigger reality, learning a lot and realizing how good it is for me to help others along this path too.
I also started to explore my gender identity, as I always knew I wasn´t male, or not completely male at least (if that makes any sense to you).
I went to massage school, where I learned to work on much more than the body, but on the person as a whole, and saw that as a possibility of both paying the bills and doing what I always had been doing (which is not much different than what my parents did their whole life, although the approach is completely different). I learned some meditation techniques, became an "instructor" in some, begun to practice magick, and started to use more of what I already knew how to do all my life. All in the same vein of being a healer, in a wide sense of the word.
I apply the principles of permaculture on my daily habits as much as I can living in a city. I have played several musical instruments. I take photographs.
I shared all of this with my parents, and at every step they told me how wrong I was. How I was unprepared, how I was insane, how I should be institutionalized, how I was promiscuous, etc. And that´s when they listened. Somehow my father had no idea I had studied massage for two years. And while I was living abroad, they mostly lied to the rest of the family about me, to fit me into their idea of normal. Like when I started to feminize my appearance, they told everyone that waxing and having long, polished fingernails (that was before I started massage school) was the latest trend between argentinian men.
Now, a bit over a year ago I decided it was time to leave Argentina and return to Uruguay and make it my "base". I was still working a corporate job but had a lot of patients. I knew I wasn´t going to stay still here, I had been talking with a friend from Brazil about doing a trip through the continent together, and was already feeling the call to learn to use sacred medicine herbs, but from the aboriginals (thanks to some contacts my friend has), not some westernized practice one could find in a city.
When I told my parents I was coming back, they showed me the same type of support they usually do, which means they told me what a terrible idea it was, and when they couldn´t talk me out of it they offered me my old bedroom at their home to stay and another extra room to semirepurpose as my studio. I accepted the help, because even though I had some savings, renting here is not easy if you just moved to the country.
Soon after coming here I went to Costa Rica for a very deep 5 Rhythms workshop (which I had been practicing for a while), and I started planning moving close to NYC to take the trainers training (hence my post about moving to Vermont, but due to visa requirements my destination is more likely to be Montreal), so I set to save money to relocate one more time.
Such like my parents, Uruguay is much more conservative than you would expect, so building a clientelle as a massage therapist / circle dance teacher has been quite difficult, which led me to having to find another corporate job which I am hating and is making me literally sick (chronic fatigue and skin issues).
Now, at the stage where I am in life, I realized that if I go to Canada now and stay there for three or four years, I´m probably going to settle there, maybe even start a family. And if I do that, I won´t do that trip I so much want to do. So while I do want to add 5 Rhythms to my magick toolkit, I feel I have to leave it for later and do this trip now.
It´s not just for the "professional" reasons. It´s also the experience. Most of my life I knew exactly what I was going to do, what was going to happen next. I need to live the opposite for a while before I found my middle ground. I need to not know where I will be spending the next night. I need to let go of most physical possessions and live with the minimum. And well, I feel the time to transition to living fully as a woman may be closer, and the chance to be in new places can be a good opportunity to explore this and experiment. Heck, I don´t want to have to explain this, I don´t feel I should, it can´t be explained.
Of course I´m not stupid, and I´m not jumping into the rainforest head first with no preparation, but I´m not going to get prepared sitting here. I will backpack through Brazil and maybe other countries, working along the way (I can legally work in all, or at least most of the continent without much paperwork) and will go to the Amazon when I feel it, and certainly not alone, I´m not going to pretend I´m Bear Grylls. Other than that, there is no roadplan, as I will be following each opportunity that presents itself, and I have no date to return or final destination.
Since I started doing all these changes in my life I have met respect from a lot of people. Considering the statistics, I´m impressed by how many people have been perfectly okay with my gender identity. I´m not spoiled, I know how to find my way around the darker parts of a city, and I do have that something that, despite my peculiar appearance that attracts stares, I tend to be greeted and treated well wherever I go. Recently someone told me I have a vibe that makes her see me as a priest, maybe it´s that.
However, as comfortable with myself I can be anywhere, I feel the opposite in my family. My parents have their own idea of who I am, and don´t want to see who I really am. They make me feel how embarrassed they are of me, which limits how much of myself I show to the rest of the family, and how much I interact with them. They act as if they don´t listen when I talk. From time to time my mother feels she has to buy me clothes and completely ignores the type of clothes I buy and wear. They treat me as the family´s technical support because I used to work for a company that manufactures computers (doing a very non technical job). Whenever they can they show me their disagreement with my lifestyle. They never cared to find out if I´m good at what I do, they assume I´m a hack, and because I´m not comfortable bringing people home (their home) they believe I have no social life.
Now, mind you, my parents are great people. I admire them, and I wouldn´t be who I am if it wasn´t for them, because they have influenced me in a very positive way. What I do in this life, the mark I will leave in this world, is a consequence of what they did, and extension of it if you will. I just can´t get them to understand that while I do appreciate what they have done for me, my choices in life are different than theirs, and that I don´t want to live their lives but mine, that I have different priorities and value different things.
When I try to tell them this, they guilt trip me by how much support they have always shown me, because they allowed me to do everything I wanted (they never jumped in front of a train, and a couple of times forked out some money I needed, but their "support" was always after hours of trying to get me to change my mind).
These problems communicating with them have made me stop trying. I can hardly talk to them anymore because I know what their reaction will be. And then they complain when they find out of any decision that I took without asking them, no matter how minor. It makes me so angry that part of me wants to disappear from their lives, cut them off, and that´s not really what I want.
The other day, during my grandfather´s birthday, my dad overheard me talking about the trip with some cousins I´m closer to. I hadn´t told him about it yet. He immediately started his questioning and showed me how uncomfortable with the idea he was. He hasn´t told my mother, but he told me when they come back from vacation on Thursday he wants me to tell them about it, and they want me to hear their opinion, meaning he wants me to let them talk me out of it. I am open for advice from them (although they never did something like this), and am flexible on how to do it, but not about IF I´m doing it.
How should I face this conversation? I don´t need their financial support or anything, I just want them to accept I will be doing it, and that it is a good thing for me to do. I want them to accept it without having to justify or explain everything, because part of the appeal is that it is not carefully planned step by step.
Any words of advice are appreciated. I really don´t know what I´m going to tell them, and I´m quite scared of what may happen.