Monday, May 30, 2011

A future that doesn't match the past

I break things for a living!  I take big problems, things too big to fix, too big to see, and break them into smaller and smaller pieces until you can see each unique piece.   To keep simplifying the problem until we can find the one critical piece.  Look at that one piece from a different angle and sometimes you'll find that changes everything.

So I'm still breaking apart the question from the last post.

   'What kind of woman do you want to be?'

The last post transformed the question into 'Who are your role models?'.  But after pondering the question some more I'm not sure the question has a purpose.  I'm breaking apart the question trying to find the piece that's confusing me. 

Let's face it, I'm 50 years old.  I grew up a boy in the 60's.  I came of age in the 80's.  I asked M to marry me and be her husband.  I was a dad to my two boys.  I grew a business into what is by being a member of the men's club. I did all of these things as a man.  My past is what it is, I can't go back and change it.  I'm never going to be a teenage girl. I'm never going to be asked to marry someone. I'm not ever going to be a mom.

With 50 years behind me as a man, is it even fair to ask what kind of woman I'm going to be.  Is that what I'm going to become?  A woman?  Now I'm not so sure about that.  It's the label 'woman'  I'm struggling with.

If I take the premise of the question and label myself a woman, what kind of impact would that have?  I'd me a mom to R and K.  I'd be M's wife.  I'd be my parents daughter.  M and I would be lesbians.  I'm not sure where my career would be but it wouldn't be where it is today.  R and K will never see me as their mom, I will always be their dad.  I raised them as their dad would.  M married me to be her husband, to be husband and wife. 

Mom, dad, wife, husband, lesbian, daughter, and woman.  They're labels we use to communicate a place in the world, and put context into situations and communications.  We use these labels to describe to others where we fit in the web of life.  How the subjects of our communications fit within the story.  With these labels we can describe 99% of the people in our lives and how they fit into our life.  With just one word I can describe to a complete stranger that M is the most important person in my life, 'Wife'.  With one word you understand our relationship, our past, our future, how we relate, who she is to me.

And, yet that's the problem.  Woman, with one word you know her past, her upbringing, her place in the world, her future.  You build a picture of her in your mind that for most part works to describe her.   But that's not going to be me.  That picture is not who I am, that's not my past or my place.  A woman with two boys is a mom, I'm not the boys mom.  A married woman is her husband's wife, I'm not M's wife.  From the one word woman, you build all the others.  Mom, wife, daughter, lesbian, they come from 'Woman'.  If you take away the label woman, then all the other labels fall away and serve no purpose.  If you simplify the one piece and look at it from a different view point it changes all of the other labels we use.

A man, that describes my past, my relationships, my upbringing, my place in this world right now.  But it's not my future.  It's not who I'm becoming.  Soon, if not now, you won't be able to describe me to a stranger as a 'man'.  The image of a man doesn't represent me as I am today, or as I will be. 

The harsh reality of this path, is that there are no labels.  As hard as it is to accept, I am neither a man or a woman, there is no one label that describes my place in the web of my life. 

M struggles with our place in the world now.  How to describe me, us, our relationship.  How to justify her staying.  What to call me, how to reference me to the outside world.  She struggles with all the labels.  But if you break it down into smaller and smaller pieces.  If you remove all the shortcuts the labels provide.  If you look at each piece individually, our marriage, our boys, our life together, our past, our future and if you remove all the labels, you will find the one critical piece that everything else is built from.

  I love her, and she loves me.

That's it, everything else stems from that.  You can build our entire world from that one piece.  Just because we don't have a label, a shortcut, to describe us doesn't change the root premise.  Our world has a past of a man and a woman, and a future as two woman.  Yes, that will be confusing to some.  One word labels won't describe me or us. 

The hard part of my job is not breaking things apart.  It's not looking at things differently or seeing the big picture.  It's the building of something bigger and better from the one critical piece. 

The hard part of this path will be building a future that doesn't match the past from the one critical piece...

  I love her, and she loves me.

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