Friday, 27 March 2009

Wanting Too Much

I just finished reading Holden's review of a new soft packer. I felt a familiar back and forth tug in my gut reading it, a private longing mixed with an even more private warning: you want that too much. Don't get it, because once you have it, you won't be able to let it go. And that will make you vulnerable.

I'm surprised in a way that I still feel this tug, this wanting too much. And I'm surprised at how often and at when, or over what. It's such an old, old feeling.

I had a sense, growing up, of the person I really was, and the person that I had to be: two very different people. One was just me, inside, mostly masculine and maybe even male, maybe not, depended on the day. (It still does.) And then there was the little girl (and later the teenage girl, and later still, kind of sort of very briefly, the woman), the one whose name I had to answer to, whose role I had to play.

And sometimes there would be things that the real me would want, things that were appropriate to the real me in some way. And those things were the things I wanted too much. I was afraid that if I got those things, I would not be able to hide myself any longer. I would be too obvious because letting those things go would hurt too much.

I read a line somewhere, and I really wish I could remember where. It was in a work of fiction but I don't even remember the circumstance, only that it dealt with some kind of personal loss that had been repeated in a character's life. And the author wrote that each loss cut some vital thing in that character, and that there would come a time when that thing, maybe the analogy was to a thread reaching out to others, would not grow back. It was so much more beautiful than this but as you see I don't remember enough even to google it. Anyway it is one of the few instances I can recall of completely breaking down and just sobbing over a single image, a single sentence.

I was afraid that if I wanted those things, and got them, and lost them, something in me would die like that and never come back.

I vividly recall the first time I really, truly overcame that feeling. There had been sneaky, backdoor exceptions, times when my vigilance was down and I got the hot men's shoes, or times when FG somehow saw the conflicted longing in my eyes and bought me the cufflinks or whatever. But the first time I really overcame the tugging warning about wanting too much was a little over a year ago now, back in England.

We were in a department store and FG was shopping for bras. I was bored senseless, of course, wandering around and around the lingerie section and I forget, whatever else was on that floor--women's shoes? Accessories? Something like that. She was taking a long time, and she came back out at one point and said she'd need to exchange some sizes and was going back into the fitting room. And somehow, maybe the boredom was so bad it broke down my defenses, but something in me admitted that what I wanted to do was to take the escalator upstairs to the men's department.

I fought inwardly on the ride up, and rationalized. I needed something better to wear, now that we had befriended another... at the time, I would have thought, lesbian or female couple, now I would describe them as another butch/femme couple. I could buy a shirt to wear the next time we went out with them. That's all I was doing.

I knew I was lying. By the time I reached the top of the escalator I was nearly hyperventilating. My heart was pounding audibly as I walked over to the dress shirts and began looking at them. Maybe people will think I'm shopping for my boyfriend, I thought. I looked through the colors, wondered what size I was. After a while I chose the smallest size in a handsome stripe and brought it downstairs, where FG was just coming out of the lingerie section.

I told her I thought I would buy it. She looked at me, quietly, waiting. I was waiting, too, for her to tell me to put it back. I offered to put it back. I temporized about the price. I said I didn't really need to have it. She took it out of my hands, checked with the clerk that it could be returned, and bought it for me.

When we got home, and I put it on, I knew why I had been afraid of wanting it so much. Once I had it on, I knew I could never wear any of my other shirts ever again. I felt like myself, in real time, in actual space, in living color. It didn't hurt to be me, wearing that shirt.

Since that day I have gotten a lot of things that I have wanted too much. But that desperate longing can still rise in me and constrict my throat and surprise me. What's changed now is that I try to pay attention, not to run away, but to trust that I've grown strong enough not to lose that fundamental thing, my own self, no matter what else gets taken from me along the way.


greg said...

I can have 20 things going on in my mind but somehow, always, after reading the first line of whatever it is that you write, I am right there with you. Then, at that last line, I feel exactly the same way, the need to cry or just stand up for a second because I am overwhelmed. Your words are so clear. I cheered for you going up that escalator and I cheered for FG for always knowing what to do.
Fucking amazing every time, man. You.

Britni TheVadgeWig said...

The image of you trying on that shirt made me tear up. It's such a beautiful thing when someone can allow themselves to fully be who they truly are, even if it's just for a minute. Don't ever stop getting those things that you want too much.

LL Cool Joe said...

I can relate, of course I can relate, but strangely enough not with the clothes. I've worn boys/mens clothes my WHOLE life. Even my parents realised that there was something not quite right with Joey and in all fairness to them, dressed me as a boy soon after I was walking.

But, as for getting something and then never wanting to lose it again? That feeling of never going back, oh yeah. That for me would be binding. Once I started there was no way I'd not again. I couldn't, can't, won't. The pure joy I feel having a flat chest, despite the fact it actually makes me feel like a freak achieving it, outweighs everything else.

Dar said...

I don't know what to say. You've expressed yourself so well with your writing. ... You can tell by reading it that you know the truth.

You last paragraph really communicates the battle that's been happening inside of you. You surpress something long enough of course the wanting of it will consume you. ... I'm actually hoping that finally does. Life's too short man. said...

I can't imagine the wrenching feelings you have gone through and continue to go through.

I see it in Jess too.

Don't be afraid of want. It's that magnetism we feel that leads down our own paths.

It's a beautiful thing.

Holden said...

"Don't get it, because once you have it, you won't be able to let it go. And that will make you vulnerable."

And I haven't let it go since I got it but I think maybe it's made me stronger. Any vulnerability feels like it's part of my new confidence and it's ok.

"She took it out of my hands, checked with the clerk that it could be returned, and bought it for me." And thank god for the femmes in our lives who so often know what we need before we know it ourselves.

Butch Boo said...

You are such an eloquent writer and I love your honesty. You show great insight and should be so proud of who you are- lovely- that's what!


MLC said...

Well you know I think we should get what we want in life -- we only have one.

Kyle said...

oh, my brother.. yes, I have and still go through those moments. I think we will continue to do so until we are truly aligned with ourselves. That shirt, or the tie I got, or the packies we want to wear more and more.. those are ways we are aligning more truly with ourselves. It takes courage because most of the outside world has trouble understanding what we're doing. Most people won't read what's inside of us accurately, or won't care. So we have to keep pushing forward and sometimes, if we're lucky, someone we love supports us.

I want to hug you, go shopping with you, sit and have a quiet beer with you. Thank you for continuing to voice your struggle, so that I and others don't feel alone.

ANPfisher said...

Hey Leo-

I have just recently discovered you via my sweetheart over at Weldable Cookies and our friend at the Verbosery. I spent a few hours here the other day reading back though all your posts.

You are an amazing writer and I say go for it! D and I are both butch lesbians we wear mens clothes all the time right down to our shoes. Our bras are the only thing we buy in the womens section EVER!

I too spent sometime questioning my role and my gender. I have discovered that I am happy where I am. Before this even happened though about 5 years ago D surprised me with a gift of that packer (the purple medium) I don't wear it all that often but when I do wow!!

Do what feels right and good for you! Take care of you and FG!

Jess said...





thissideofchanged said...

I don't have anything new to add to the commenters - most everybody already expressed what you made me think/feel/see in your post.

What I did want to say, though, is that I know you only through this page, I am so proud of you, so pleased for you, and so moved that you share your story with us all.

Thank you for that.

Blazer said...

I can't say that I understand fully what it is you are going through. I do identify as "masculine" but it took a long time for me to be comfortable with the label. I had to accept that being a masculine "butch" woman was okay and notsome sort of a cop out (not admitting that I wanted to "be a man").

A majority of the clothes I wear are from the men's department (rare exception are bra or tailored women's button down shirts). I am called sir more often than ma'am and take no offense. I think I had a similar to yours the first time I bought a pair of boxer briefs. Nervous as hell, but I fell in love with them immediately.

saintchick said...

Once again a post that is so raw and from the heart ! I can't imagine what it must feel like for you to have this overwhelming desire and fear all at the same time. You are so frickin great about all of this !

Miss Emily said...

Hey Leo
Sometimes I feel like that just reading your posts. I feel like I am getting too comfortable with my queerness, in whatever form it takes, and the more I read about masculinity in your life the more I want it in my own, both in myself and for a future partner. I'm afraid of what the future holds. I'm so new at this. So I understand. I'm scared that because I want a masculinje partner, because I want someone strong and able to make decisions and take care of me, but I also wear men's clothes at times and even have considered packing (although I will never feel comfortable wearing one for sexual things, just not my thang), it makes me a bad feminist, a bad femme, and a bad queer.

Thank you for your honesty.

Miss Emily said...

Oh. I don't have my blog listed on my profile. The one I spoke of was

Leo MacCool said...

Thank you for all of these beautiful comments. I can't tell you how much it means to me that you are all here reading this stuff and relating to it in your own different ways. Dar, ANPFisher, Blazer, welcome, thanks for stopping by & commenting here.

e said...

Thanks for telling us such a deeply personal story.

Vulnerability. I struggle with it, too. In some ways, the fear of being vulnerable has defined me. I am working to get past that handicap. But, man, the trust that is required! Whew.


QueerRose said...

I'm a bit late here Leo and everything has already been said by everyone who's commented. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing. I love coming here and reading what you have to say, apart from appreciating your honesty, you write so well. With love. QRx said...

So well-written, seriously. I totally understand the conflict and fear, and the sweet release of that moment where you feel completely authentic. Thanks for sharing this.

Shazbat said...

I know I'm really late to this post, but I wanted to say something, anything - mostly yes.

Wanting too much what you can't allow yourself to have - it's a physical lump in the throat, it's a punch in the guts. And it's such a bittersweet pain, that even if I could guarantee I would never feel it again, I would never take that chance.