One of the most liberating and empowering concepts that I had to deconstruct and build on observation was that of GENDER. It was....and still is at times....very hard to apply this lesson in my life, because many in my past and current society feel so threatened by disruptions to their own labels and stereotypes that they attack or ignore anyone that could unsettle their own fragile identity system. As such, when you are someone like myself that does not FIT within those systems, it creates a self fulfilling cycle of failure and self blame for not fitting what never fit from the beginning....all because SOMEONE ELSE was uncomfortable with YOU for just being you.
Before I give personal examples, I need to lead with some of the conclusions that I learned, which I will bring back after the examples. First, gender has nothing to do with genitals. Second, it has NOTHING to do with SEX. That last one took longer to learn and is the one society has the hardest time trying to understand, as well.
All I have to do to learn and understand this concept is to look back on my life. I grew up feeling frustrated with myself, and irritated at others, for the same reason that they were uncomfortable with me. I couldn't understand them. When I looked at other guys, I saw what appeared to me to be not just another gender but another species. I didn't get it, and I still don't. Why were they always picking on one another and trying to be better than everyone else? Didn't they want friends, like I did? That certainly wasn't going to result in that. Who wants to be around a bunch of competitive, self absorbed egomaniacs? I didn't.
I was more interested in the deeper meanings and beauty in things. I was more interested in art, poetry, laughter, achievement for myself, music, divine reflection, movies, writing in my journal, things I could create, and LOVE. I was really obsessed with love and romance. I would watch romantic movies on my own and think about snuggling with a girl and making a soul connection with them. While high school (and later military) men would talk about what they would do or had done physically to a girl, I was driven by the magical spark of romance, itself.
Of course, I had no understanding of what gender meant at that time. Back then, no one talked about it, and I assumed like everyone else that I was male because my body was male. There it was...settled...done. Looking back from experience and age, I can see that the reason I didn't understand why guys didn't want those things and was so different from me was that I was NOT MALE. As they were bullying me and mocking me for not being a good enough man, I was clueless that they were RIGHT. I was NOT a good reflection of a man with my mentality, no matter what sports or military units I chose (even if I was in artillery). No matter what I did, I was just NOT good enough for them.
Nor was I good enough of a man to finish not only a bachelor's degree and masters degree in ACCOUNTING and get jobs with the government and fortune 20 companies. I continued to find myself DIFFERENT than the men in those organizations who were focused on what CAR they would buy, talking about the GAME they watched, showing off for the GIRLS, who they wanted as their cheer leaders, while I was just interested in getting to know the girls as the courageous and driven people that they were. Nope, even to the women that got to know me in those positions, I was not a good...MAN.
However, if you applied a different standard, it would be a different outcome. Compared to a man, I was a failure. Compared to a WOMAN, I was....normal. That was the realization that liberated me, as I applied it to my own life. A WOMAN would want those things I wanted as a child and adult in relationships. A WOMAN would avoid the emotional and physical conflict that is sport for men. A WOMAN would do as I did to leave work to homeschool my ADHD daughter when she needed it and to enjoy housekeeping and family more than money and things. I may not have been a very good man, but I was a pretty GREAT woman, regardless of my sexual equipment.
And, women liked that they could connect to me on a personal level in a way that they could not do with their other guy friends or boyfriends or husbands. I have always had women friends, because we understood each other. It had nothing to do with sex, but ....as I had the right equipment... I did TRY romance with women and do personally enjoy romance with women. However, the biggest problem with my past romances and an impact on my current one is that I want the same things as they do....to be noticed, cared for, cherished, appreciated...romanced.
My wife and I get along great and have a great connection on a personal level. If I were just considering my ex, I would put the blame on her, as she was...apart from our genders...just neglectful and mean towards me with no regret or apology. So, I could assume that was the reason she didn't romance me, either. However, when my wonderful connection with my wife maintained and grew, even as our romance faltered, I had to do a lot of inward searching. I discovered that one of the biggest obstacles in our relationship was that with BOTH wanted to be romanced and the lack of it became a fly in the ointment for us both.
Does it mean that we have a bad home and fight all the time? No. We get along with each other and help each other in lots of ways. We also want each other to have the things that we fail to provide. It many ways, it is a very FUNCTIONAL relationship as relates to necessary functions of the household. Even my lack of work and income ego provides her a safe place to seek her own career success. However, none of that checks the romance boxes, as both of us want to be doing and receiving the same things. Does it mean that we will get a divorce? Well, that is a thought for down the road, if we so desire. We have discussed it, and that discussion was unlike prior discussions with others that ended in tears and anger. Instead, it was reasoning and accepting. If that happens, it will not harm either of us to make the choice. For now, we are functionally satisfied and get to spend our time and our energies with our best friend.
Circling back around, though. I say all of that to say this. NONE of the past or present above have anything to do with our body parts but more to do with what we want and need and how we respond to it. I had and have problems with relationships that MEN would not even NOTICE and in ways that they could not understand. I have dreams and desires and values that they do not share. THAT is personality, and THAT is gender.
It also has nothing to do with sex. While I do not share the personality of men and share the personality of women, I am NOT attracted to being dominated. I still find the female body VERY beautiful, and I DO get sexually stimulated by women and the female form. I find male body hair disgusting, whether it be on myself or anyone else. So, I am not gay wanting a man to dominate me as a woman. So, just as gender has nothing to do with what body part I have, it has nothing to do with what I do with it, either.
It is my hope that my confession and reflection on my own life realizations will help others to think about what category best fits them, if any at all. Lately, I am more interested in the term non-binary, as I do still have some masculine traits, as well..even if less so. However, the MAIN thing that I want EVERYONE to understand is this....you are GOOD AS YOU ARE, without having to fit into a category, and your WORTH does not depend upon the approval of others. You are GOOD, because you are a TRUE reflection of a unique and amazing person, just as you are.
YOU ARE READING
Forward to Happiness: Reflections of Finding Joy on the Path of Finding YourselfNon-Fiction
For years I have maintained a website presence at www.forwardtohappiness.com, where I would blog about events from my life and reflections on things that I have learned. The biggest thing that I have learned is that I am still learning. Over time...