First, this is awesome. It’s an organization that collects new or gently used baby carriers, and coordinates with volunteers who fly out, at their own expense, and fit the carriers to refugee parents so they can safely carry their young children long distances. They can only use soft structured baby carriers (Ergo, Bjorns, etc.) because they have about two minutes to fit a carrier to a parent and child, and slings and wraps would just take too much time. The website provides details for those interested in sending used carriers or money, or volunteering.
I can’t say enough about what a great idea I think this is. For anyone who has to walk many miles with a small child, toddler, in infant in their arms, a baby carrier can make a big difference. For people making the kind of long journey the refugees are making, having a carrier could really do a lot to keep children safe and parents sane.
Speaking of charities, yesterday I discovered that it’s possible to order Christmas cards (and many other holiday and greeting cards) and Christmas decorations from UNICEF. I was very excited about this and quickly filled my virtual shopping cart. Word of warning: I closed my computer to tend to a diaper situation and planned to return later with my American Express, only to discover my shopping cart did not automatically save.
A few days ago I wrote a post about changes, and I think it’s worth following up.
The past few days have been pretty busy. HW was out of town for a few days, so things were especially busy, and the children (and dog) are always lunatics when he’s gone, which always makes things super fun. When he’s gone I sleep on the couch, for a couple of reasons, but it’s not the best thing for my back, and I don’t end up getting much sleep between the dog licking my face every couple of hours, waking up at my own intervals, or waking up only to realize my feet are sticking out of the blanket.
Early this morning, sometime between 1 and 4 am, I woke up, probably due to one of those causes, and I had a thought.
I thought about all of those times in my life when change has been for the better, even when it has been difficult. Becoming a parent is at the top of that list. Marrying HW is up there too. In fact, most changes have been good, eventually.
I wasn’t actively thinking about any of this, and in fact I was staring at the wall silently willing my mind to shut up so I could get a few more hours before the baby woke up. It didn’t listen.
Slowly, I had this sort of understanding wash over me, like a very gentle rain shower at first, and then a heavy rainstorm. It was definitely an “Aha!” moment, and it didn’t occur to me to write it down to remember it, because it was one of those things I was sure I would remember when I woke up.
As I was thinking about change, I thought about people experiencing gender dysphoria. Several thoughts were taking place at once: I will never be able to truly understand, because I will never experience it, maybe I don’t need to understand, maybe I should try to read a book, maybe I should try to have a conversation with an actual person rather than with myself on a blog.
Somehow all of those thoughts led me to try to think about, and again all of this is happening while I’m awake, but not really directing my thoughts, any experience I’ve had that could be similar in any way. I thought about that kind of touching and exploring that went on at sleepovers when I was younger, but that was really a very different thing. And then it all looked very clear.
I will never completely understand what it is to experience gender dysphoria. I have experienced, though, the sensation that I cannot continue to be the person other people want me to be. I know that feeling, the feeling that if you don’t make a specific change, and make it now, you’re going to be lost, or really, destroyed. I felt that once. I felt that I wanted to be myself, the self I believed I was meant to be, the self I wanted to be, and I knew that in the situation I was in, I would never be able to be that person.
I made a choice, that didn’t really feel like a choice at all once I had made it, and I have never doubted that it was the right one. When I realized it was the right choice, there was no way I could have continued on, without truly being annihilated, and so I did not. It was a scary time for me, and I was, justifiably, terrified. As much as I was afraid, I knew it was the right thing, and neither fear of God nor fear of disappointing my Grandmother, two fears dangerously close to one another for a Catholic, could prevent knowing I had to do it.
There was no amount of coping, or trying to be happy in my situation that would have solved the problem. There was no amount of therapy or prescription drugs that could have made a difference either. I would have been a sad, miserable, shell of a person, and my children would have resented me for it.
I am not suggesting that getting a divorce is like experiencing gender dysphoria. That would be offensive and stupid. I am saying that I think I found a way, my own small way, of understanding what that must feel like. None of this is to suggest that this understanding is an answer to any of the larger questions or challenges surrounding gender dysphoria either. I’m trying to understand the world better, one day at a time, and this was my experience today.
Let’s be kind, friends.