I started preparing for KC Fringe Fest 2015 by playing around with fairy tales to see which one best told my own life story. A few fits and starts later, it was clearly Sleeping Beauty. I have felt for much of my life as if my heart were asleep, inaccessible to me. I have searched for true love’s kiss sure it would wake me up. It never quite did.
Finally, I comprehend that I’ve been looking in all the wrong places, that the love I have sought is already alive within me, that I am created of Love, by Love and can never be separated from it. I had to awaken to that before I could ever be available to any love that someone else might have for me. Once I did, I saw it everywhere.
Just as with love, this story did not go where I thought it would. I had a couple of personal stories I’d already crafted that I expected to become a part of this structure. Turns out a different story wanted to be told. Twice Conceived made itself known to me in fits and starts. I just kept walking into my coaching sessions every time sure that I had nothing to work on, nothing to give. Every time I walked out, I was delighted to have discovered that something had been percolating up in that brain of mine after all.
Without my storytelling coach, it never would have happened. Laura has a way of hearing story into being. She held room for me and the story both when I hit those hard patches that have been silently hiding my stories. It was painful at times. My body had grown around those shadows; they had become a part of my marrow, hidden within my bones. Without her guidance and support this endeavor would still be the pipe dream it has been for the last three or four years.
Twice Conceived debuts at the KC Fringe Fest in July. I am excited to see how this story ends.
Once upon a time, in a land just a few blocks away, I had the unrequited desire to be a drag queen. The lesbians could make no sense of it. “You can’t be a drag queen. You’re a girl.” I was undeterred. I had had a lifetime of people telling me what I could not do because I was a girl. The desire, however, remained locked within me until one day one of my straight friends showed up at work with the perfect outfit: white leather/ black spandex short-shorts and halter top, with a pair of cat-eye sunglasses to match.
Under the cover of Halloween, I made my drag debut. I was disturbingly hot. Let me assure you, however, that being a drag queen requires a lot more than just looking good. Not everyone has the cojones to pull off dancing, lip synching, and keeping the beat. In heels. One night wobbling around was enough for me.
Or so I thought.
Along came the Hunger Games, and who was I pining to emulate? Not the amazing Katniss Everdeen (though she fascinates me in her inability to make sense of the world she has been thrust into and her inability to be other than who she is). Nope. Effie Trinket.
Effie of the big hair and bigger flower, perfect make-up, and strangely chastely sexy outfits. And those eyelashes? To die for. Except those lashes were $20. And I am cheap. Three Halloweens come and go and I am frozen, unable to go forth and shop, despairing of ever finding the perfect outfit. But those eyelashes . . .
I confide my secret to a woman at work, and before lunch, she has sent me a link – $3.99. Those eyelashes are mine. Just this Saturday, I found the perfect dress and shoes to go with those eyelashes. (You know I had help–thank god for the women in my life with feminine sensibilities and aesthetic taste.)
Effie has pervaded my soul. I want more. Who needs Halloween?
The texts started at 5:30 a.m. informing us that our cruise was delayed–for the second day. Lying in our beds in the dark after the buzzing had subsided, Julianne and I ended up moving into a deeper conversation than I’m used to having at that hour.
At one point, Julianne said to me that it bothered her that my family didn’t have an adult relationship with me, that they didn’t have room for me as a lesbian. I was immediately awash in a sea of possible meanings (which is as close as I ended up to an actual ocean that trip as it turns out). I wondered if it had played into the ending of our dating relationship. Was a family that welcomed her (as her family did me) important to her? Then I wondered if it was not about my family but about me not including her with them. It made sense to me, and still does, that a thing like that can have a damaging impact on a relationship, though I had never felt like it was a big issue for her. After a moment of spinning through possibilities, I finally just asked what she had meant. Julianne replied that she wished that my family welcomed all of me, that there was so much of my life lost once all the editing is done.
She wanted that relationship for me. She knows me like that, knows how I enjoy my family but that it starts to wear on me the longer I hold pieces of myself out–or in–when I spend time with them.
She had named something so elemental. I know because I felt the grief well up in me; the grief that comes from being seen by someone who loves you and wants more for you than you have decided to settle for; who sees all the pieces of you.
As we lay there quietly in the dark, I thought about how I have contributed to the silence in my family about my complete self. Whether or not it had any impact on my relationship with Julianne, it struck me that my silence with my family can take a toll on my relationships with other people who matter to me, because it absolutely takes a toll on me. I’m starting to open to the idea that my silence about the fullness of who I am just might be detrimental to my family, even though they might want that silence.
I have journeyed so far and for so long, determined to find a place for myself in the world. I am determined to let go of the belief that has dogged my heels since I was a child that there is not enough room here for me. As I lay there, I silently celebrated how far I have come, how many ideas about myself I have released–ideas that formed the foundation of my decision to not “impose” the truth about me on my family. It occurred to me, lying in that gentle silence with my beloved friend, that the only place left to travel is back where I came from.
I took an online course called Core Prosperity Relief (CPR) last month and loved it. It helped me untangle a few more of those niggling thoughts that run my life. I was riding high every day as I listened to the 15 minute talk. “My life is unfolding perfectly no matter what” was one of the big affirmations I took to heart. “I am equal to the good I desire” was another. I could feel it.
In the middle of the course, I spoke to my boss and asked for a promotion and raise. Yea for me! It might not have happened but for this big prompt: for the second time after contributing to the landing of a big grant, my contributions went unacknowledged while others were celebrated. (My life is unfolding perfectly . . . .) It was time to speak up. So I did. In a few weeks’ time it was announced to the whole organization that I had been promoted– but with no mention of any raise. My direct supervisor supported the idea that promotion = raise. I am grateful that my receiving a raise matters to her, even though I feel incredibly awkward when people congratulate me. (My life is unfolding perfectly . . . .)
Yesterday, I returned to work after a week of vacation and was immediately met with news of others who seemed to have an easy time of getting promotions with pay raises. By the time I sat down to talk with my go-to friend at work about a couple of projects we are working on, I was starting to spin out of alignment. She cut through all the confusion in my head and suggested I get clear about what I want then ask for it. Stop worrying about what this means or that means; stop thinking myself into a trap of having to approach this just right to get what I want; stop trying to control the outcome. Just get clear, take my cues from my own knowing, speak my truth, and let the Universe take it from there.
I love having a brilliant and compassionate friend at work who believes in me and expects me to believe in myself. I am grateful there are people who love holding me in all my spectacular glory. Sometimes I have to see myself reflected through their eyes to be able to see myself right. It’s up to me to choose whose eyes I use.
I just sent off an email requesting an audience to talk about that raise. My life is unfolding perfectly. . . no matter what.