I know I do it and I think many of us do it on some level. We gear ourselves up for a fight every day. Maybe it’s in our DNA? The fight or flight that we learned in science class that all species on this planet possess in one way or another. Or it’s a product of our lives where we have been constantly in a fight since the day we were born, and for us, the notion of fighting since we were born means much more than what kids should usually go through. Anyone with a gender identity that is different than what they were assigned at birth surely knows how to fight.
Sometimes the fight that you are anticipating and putting your armor on for only exists in your mind.
"AM I TOO GOOD AT THIS FIGHTING THING? AM I SO CONDITIONED TO EXPECT THE BATTLE? "
A question came to my mind one evening as I was driving home from dinner with my sister. Am I too good at this fighting thing? Am I so conditioned to expect the battle? As we talked, I learned that the fight I was gearing up for was never coming. That everyone in my family had my back. In fact, my sister has been showing everyone my picture proudly. My niece wants to take me lip gloss shopping, and my cousin wants me to call him so he can show his support. Of course I do have one person in my family who has been not supportive, so not everything has been great, but the last time I saw her was when there was a death in the family. The supportive people in my family have told me not to worry about her and I don’t.
This brings me back to my question. Now I know I have been lucky in my life. Not having many bad experiences out in this world like many others have had. But I find myself always keeping my guard up and looking for a fight around every corner. And recently I have realized that my keeping my guard up has kept me from some amazing experiences.
"I WAS THE QUIET KID IN THE BACK OF THE ROOM WHO DID NOT SAY ANYTHING OUT LOUD, BUT INSIDE I WAS SCREAMING."
For one, my family. For years I have kept them at a distance. This started back as far as I can remember. For all my life I had felt so out of touch with who I was told I should be. It was so different than who I really am. Keeping my family at a distance was my way of protecting myself. If I don’t let you in, you can’t hurt me. I not only did this with my family, but with everyone else I knew. I was the quiet kid in the back of the room who did not say anything out loud, but inside I was screaming. I was too overcome with fear to let it out. It was a fight of attrition.
Fast-forward to now and in this place. The armor I wrap myself in is no longer to keep people out, it is to wage war on those who stand in my way. It’s to wage war on those who attack my friends and my family. It took a dinner with my sister to see for myself that I needed to make this change in my thinking. And the walls I have put up to divide different parts of my life to protect myself are now falling down. Now I have a new fight, telling myself to let people in. But it is still something that I find myself struggling with. Even with all that has changed in my thinking, I still at times find myself keeping others at a distance. When it is all you have known, it is a hard habit to break.
When I came out to my family, even with the support I received at first, I was so convinced that a battle was coming that I still kept them out. A huge mistake on my part. Now I want more people in my life, and I have met a great bunch of friends who have walked right through my walls to become important players on my life’s stage. But on the drive home from dinner I said to myself, “I need to balance the will to fight for me and the fight for what I believe in while also being able to experience life.”
Yes, we as a community are great at fighting. We have been doing it for so long in one way or another. But I need to also not look for a fight where there is none to begin with. Because I am missing out.