by Grace Anne Stevens
I first met her during the afternoon of June 29, 2013. I was a participant in an improvisational workshop, that I have attended a number of times over the past two years. I was watching and fascinated by the work of another participant creating a monolog of different stages of his daughter’s life. My attention was riveted on the performance of how the daughter experienced being born.
She apparently was also watching this performance and suddenly made her presence known to me. There are often times I could say that I have been engaged in one thing and found myself drifting off with other thoughts, but this felt very different! She urgently pleaded with me to share some of her story with the group. Upon the completion of my classmate, I asked if I could go next. I had no idea what I was going to do, and just let her have control as she shared some of her experience when she was birthed.
As I mentioned, I have been doing these improv workshops for a few years, and I have learned to stay in the moment when I create a character, work with it and let it go. The monolog I presented surprised me and I thought that she was done. Surprises for me continued a week later when she appeared in my consciousness once again. She said that she didn’t really tell her entire story that day, and wanted to share more, and let others know how hard it has been for her. She seemed so small, so fragile, and yet her pain and urgency were tangible to me. It was hard to tell her that the workshop was over, and as she was getting upset, I told her that if she was willing to tell me the story, I would write it and then share with as many people who would be kind enough to listen. This settled her down and over the past few weeks, she has been telling more about what it was like for her when she was first born.
I have tried to capture not only what she told me but also how I interpreted the feelings she experienced. I promised her that I would do my very best in sharing how she felt. This made her very happy.
(Note: I really do not remember having an experience like this before. Sure, I know I have many parts that have feelings, opinions, stories and will argue with each other, sometimes endlessly! Even though I am transgender, I cannot say with any conviction that the story that she told me is really out of my own memories. On the other hand, I cannot deny this as a possibility!)
She didn’t know when she knew. But know, she did! Although this whole awareness and sensing thing was still so new to her, there was so much that she knew!
Changes were coming, and coming quickly. She was so used to the gentle rocking and the regular rhythm – Ba–Bmmm….Ba–Bmmm…Ba–Bmmm – that was always in the background. She was aware of her own rhythm from inside of her —– b-ba..b-ba..b-ba – that although faster than the background, seemed to be matching it in some way. This was all so familiar. She could not remember not being present with all of this. This was home, the only home she knew, but now, she knew, it was almost time to leave!
She was used to and loved the gentle rocking. She even enjoyed when she could feel herself gently bumping into what must have been a wall of some sort, and even when she was pushed back away from it by something. She always thought she heard some laughing from a place far away when this would happen. Every now and again, she rocked herself and changed position. When she did this, she knew that the laughter was her own.
The first time the wave hit her she was scared. The background noises were loud, the rhythms everywhere speeded up and she was buffeted about in all directions. Her own rhythms speeded up and she squeezed herself into an even tighter ball than she was already in. Then it subsided, and things returned to the way they were. But from somewhere deep inside her she knew it was getting to be the time that she will soon leave this place, this home. She wondered how long it will take.
Even though she noticed the next wave coming, she was still not prepared for it. It was louder, stronger and longer than the first one. It too subsided, and she tried to go deeper inside to see if she knew what would be next. She did not have to wait too long before she could sense another wave building, and then there were more of those far away voices that she had heard before, although they were no longer laughing. There was yelling and then everything started moving. She was being rocked and bounced as the next wave came crashing down on her and again she squeezed herself tighter and tighter to withstand it.
She knew they were moving and that she was not the only one being uncomfortable, when she heard a loud popping sound and was thrown from side to side and she realized that bumping into the wall now was no longer fun. Another wave was starting up. They were coming closer together, and then she faded out…….
She didn’t know how long she was out, but as her awareness returned she sensed she was being pushed around and turned upside down. At first she wanted to fight it, but she knew that it was time to take the journey. As the next wave was building she tried her best to relax and just ride it out. She knew she was being squeezed through a tunnel…one that she seemed to be making as her head was plowing its way through, being pushed by wave after wave. She could feel her own rhythms beating faster than ever… ba..ba…ba…ba…ba, and then she felt herself slowly being pulled out of the tunnel – a little bit at a time..as each wave was pushing her, something new was also pulling her.
There were bright lights everywhere and so many people all looking the same with only their eyes uncovered. The light hurt her and she could see the person who was holding her and wiping her dry when she heard a voice announce,
“It’s a boy!”
Wrong, she thought! Wrong, she knew! She started to yell and argue, but all she could hear was her crying getting louder and louder.
“Hello! There has been a mistake here. It is not a boy! I am a girl!” She knew that she knew, and had known all along. Why would they say something as silly as, as wrong as, “it’s a boy?” How could they not know what was so obvious to her?
As her eyes got more accustomed to the light and the people stopped poking and prodding her she looked down, between her legs and her cries got even louder. This is just so wrong she thought as she noticed what was there. How can a mistake like this happen? She tried to yell and explain that they were all so very, very wrong.
No one heard her. Not a single person could understand her. It was so clear to her and she was trying as hard as she could to let them all know that they were wrong, but once again she knew – she knew that they did not understand. She wondered if they would ever understand what a mistake was being made. All the people in the room seemed so happy as she was wrapped up in blue swaddling blankets. She cried and she cried. She wailed as loud as she could and no one understood.
As she continued to cry, she started to hear chattering from deep inside of her. One voice was telling her that it will be OK, as another one yelled, “no way is this ok!” Another could not understand why no one would listen to her as another was trying to figure out how to get them to understand. One was telling her that she was wrong, and that she really was a boy – she did not care very much for this voice. She heard a quiet voice in the back just crying and feeling helpless. She could really relate to this one. There was a consensus forming that this was most assuredly going to suck! She continued to cry.
She was placed on top of someone – her mom, and even as she was crying as loud as possible, she could feel the old rhythm – Ba–Bmmm….Ba–Bmmm…Ba–Bmmm. This was familiar and she had to admit to herself, comforting. It was not as loud as it used to be, but she knew it was part of her world. She found herself gasping for air between her cries and then suddenly found herself suckling on the offered breast. She could taste the sweetness of the offering and noticed her breathing slow down. As she slowly faded off into sleep, she could hear many of the clamoring voices inside of her, arguing, worrying, being angry,the ones feeling that they are not being understood and the one who steadfastly knew who she really was. They all knew that even though this first journey has been hard, it would be nothing compared to what was in store for her in the future.
This is when she knew….they were going to be right!
I cannot say for sure whether this story is the work of one of my Creative parts or perhaps a spontaneous unburdening of an exiled part. Possibly since I have transitioned two years ago, she may feel it safer to come out of hiding. It has been interesting for her to appear to me on on her own and I believe that my openness to hear her story and help her share it with others has helped her tremendously. I wonder if she has more to tell me and you or if there are other parts that have more stories that they would like to share. I know that there have been many journeys taken during my life so far. This was the first!