Monday, August 13, 2012

From the Depths of Sorrow


Psalm 130 begins, "From the Depths of Despair I cried out to you oh Lord. While my spiritual path is a bit different, I'm still inclined to cry out for something outside of myself to help lift me up. Indeed if there is one lesson I've learned in this life, it is that I can't do it all by myself, and it is being a part of the interactive web of existence that on occasion lifts me when I cannot bear it myself.

So what is the source of today's sorrow? People who know me pretty well know it usually comes back to the same place. It's a sorrow I carry with me every day of my life. Only today, it seems unbearable. Which brings me to the next life lesson. Feel the feelings, then move forward. There's nothing else to be done. Life was not meant to be all peaches and cream, and with the joy comes the other side as well.

Okay so what's the deal? Several years ago I realized I would have to deal with the gender identity issues that had been there all my life. It really was my one shot at real happiness. So I set about and went through the process of therapy and medical procedures for a gender change, or rather, to more appropriately express my true gender. It's not an easy journey, nor should it be. That's a major change in anybody's life. Ironic is it not that to find that one shot at real happiness, we often bring upon ourselves great sorrow. So it has been for me. Much of the time I'm a happy person nowadays, far different from before. But it all came at a price. Much of my family felt that I was a liability now and separated themselves from me.

Okay, so people say, "It's their loss." Well yeah, maybe, but it's my loss too. Growing up our parents drilled into our heads the importance of family. I took that to heart and embraced that idea as part of myself. When it becomes a part of you, then it's impossible to then make it NOT a part of self. So I've a daughter. Now she is married and has a son, my grandson. I've missed all of that. She's made it clear she wants me out of her life and I've honored her wishes. Oh my doors are always open to reconciliation, but nobody's beating down that door to come in. We've had no contact in over a decade and a change of heart seems unlikely. It's very likely I'll not see her again or my grandson ever. That reality at times becomes a load that seems unbearable.

They tell me I was selfish for wanting that one shot at happiness. I was only thinking of me, they say. Is it really a higher calling to live a life that is neither true to self, nor about me? Should I have continued the game of pretending I was the one and ignoring the truth of the other? Perhaps, but I'd as soon die.

Some family members have been heard to say, "But what do we tell the kids?" Really? Why not the truth? Clearly my vision of what family was, people who with their warts and wrinkles, stood by you in thick and thin, was but a big lie. As so much of our world today, appearance trumps substance. Still, Mama, were you still alive, I'd say to your face, you did what you set out to do. I still love my family, even if not shared.

So after wallowing in my sorrow, I'll be better and move on as I always do. But right now, I feel huge loss. A daughter I love. A grandson I shall never see. A larger family including a brother, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins who once I spent time with over the holidays and will likely not see again. It all seems so unnecessary and so tragic. Yet it is what it is.

Out of the Depths of Despair I cry out to you oh Lord. Or the Cosmos or Whatever.

Here's a poem I wrote several years back describing the sense of futility I feel in these moments:


Like a fish on its side, body still, moved only by the motion about...
Bloated white-gilled swollen amidst the waves.
Currents driving towards, then washing away
But the fish cares not, senses dulled by time.
The flies swarm, waiting for their banquet to wash ashore,
The flesh willingly gives of itself, a feast
To vermin that wait for what they deserve least.
It matters not, no great concern. Serenity has found the fish.
The furious feeding on its entrails proceeds
For they feed on the rotting carcass of solace.

The struggle is over, for the fish has
Surrendered to the bottom feeders;
Its breathless form a delight to those
Who feverishly rip it apart for its peace.
A piece of peace, for the strongest and most ruthless,
Swarming fury, then emptiness.
They have found what the fish has already known.
Bones sink to the ocean floor, some wash ashore
And peace silently waits
To be discovered once more.

Fortunately tomorrow comes, and with it a better day. Perhaps a more uplifting blog message as well.


  1. Jessica, I can't imagine a day when I would relate more strongly to what you wrote than today. Out of very different circumstances, life has outfitted me in a suit of pain and despair that goes deep and wide. Just this morning in a sad moment of self acknowledgement, I said to myself that I would rather die than full-out express to my family what their effect on my life has been, and to some extent, continues to be. (And that is because I feel that they 'know not what they have done.') It isn't that I think it's valid to "rather die" than tell them -- and it has nothing to do with any value of doing so, and it's not that I don't understand that nobody but me can improve the situation. It's just that that's what I found within me this morning. As if I were saying that by not speaking up, some sort of abuse would continue that might otherwise not -- yet, I would not speak up, even if I would die. And in effect, in slow motion, that's what's happening.

    Anyway, enough about me and my background which can be summed up in the words "insidious emotional abuse." I wish I had some comfort for you, my special friend. What I want to acknowledge is the strength and beauty of you nurturing yourself, taking care to be the best, most fulfilled you that you can be. Surely that's what God-The Universe-The Cosmos wants. It's what I haven't yet risen to, and now after all these years, the despair and wreckage seem magnified as I continue to age and so much of my life is gone. And it's not right. It's not right that either of us should wither on the vine with the gifts that we were given. And you, Jessica have honored yourself and The Universe in spite of the deep tragic pain in your life, and for that I am glad for you and I acknowledge you.

    1. Joni, thank you for your kind words, and I am so sorry you have had to experience this pain. It really is part of the human condition I think, and we endure it and we move on. In some ways when we hear the pain of another, we, or perhaps I should say I find a strange sort of comfort in knowing that others do understand through their own experience. I do feel blest to have people in my life like you. At the end of each day, no matter how bad the day and yesterday really was not a good day, I make a small list in my head. A list of gratitude for those blessings I've been given to offset those sorrows that also come along for the ride. Thanks my friend.

  2. As I continue to think about you this evening, Jessi, I want to come back and say that, honestly, I hold you in a high and rare regard. I remember fondly being in your presence back in Houston, and having the pleasure of knowing you in cyberspace over the last few years has continued my appreciation of who you are. You embody beauty, compassion, intelligence, humor, kindness, humanity, moral conviction and most certainly courage. You are lovable and you are loved. I'm just so deeply sorry that your family fails to get that.

  3. Here is a fable for you; if it chafes, at least, consider it lovingly intentioned. Thanks so much for your consoling words on Sunday.
    A little boy, born in 2012, became a young man in 2032 and while blinking through his holographic internet one day he came upon a virtual box of electronic letters, written [it appeared] on fine linen and tied with lavender grosgrain. (It was a steampunk box.) And he opened them, and read them. He was a writer who had broken with his parents, at least for now, because they clung to a kind of dull rigidity that could not encompass a writer's sensibility. These, he discovered with growing joy, were his grandmother's letters. Beautifully written, and brimful of heart and imagination. Oh, my stars!, he thought (he was from Texas). Here it is. I am so glad you are here, Grandma -- you are the one I've been waiting for. Hang on. If you're still around... I'm coming to find you. If not... you are alive in me.

    1. It does not chafe at all Karen. It is my dream, and perhaps it will happen just that way. Pain must be felt, and I did so yesterday. Today I move forward, with a prayer that your fable may some day become my reality. Thanks again:-)