The older I get, the more I realize how much of my foundation is in my childhood. Those first experiences of life stick with you with an intensity far greater than the day to day as an adult. It was when you learned that there were things that were wrong with you. It’s when you saw the punishment or rewards netted to someone simply on who they were. It’s when you realized how temporary and sustaining that thing called childhood is. All those lessons and experiences sticking to you like flies to shit. Growing up is a process that never stops happening and “growing out” of conditioning and experiences is something else.
The other day I was struck by my walk and how I struggle with what to do with my hands, my arms in ways that didn’t look or feel awkward. Try as I might I couldn’t get to a motion that seemed congruent to femininity. I wondered why I was so stiff, why my movements weren’t light and flowy. And I remembered as a kid being told to “stop switching”, “stop walking like a faggot” which extended to being seen as one. I did the best I could hoping I could be stiff enough for whoever requested it. It’s really such a small thing right, how you walk. But for young me ,it was a matter of being as good or in this case as un- gay as unfeminine as possible. Now as an adult say over 20 years later and very much into my womanhood, the residuals remain from my repression.
I’d venture to say my experience is the norm in some respects for the majority. As you grew up ,you were shamed for something you could not control, some natural aspect of yourself that you didn’t know was a problem till someone said so. I’ve always been a tad bit envious of works by queers who were steadfast in their identity from childhood. Those kids bullied, beaten, ostracized, villainized mercilessly for being different yet did not change or play it safe. Those kids who took all that abuse and were able to hone their identity as authentic. I’ve found those kids to be far more confident and more at peace then those of us who came into our truths later. But it’s hard as fuck for many adults to live their most authentic lives so imagine kids. Imagine kids who know they are different and their difference inspires such a degree of scorn and disgust. And when I think of that ,I extend so much compassion and empathy for my younger self and all those like me. Grown up kids doing our best to tend to battle wounds incurred when we weren’t so grown up.