Saturday, 12 July 2014

On Priorities And Possibilities

In early 2012 I was sitting in the studio of the local Dutch broadcaster TV Oost to partake in a talk show to talk about my experiences as an intersex person in the Netherlands. After the live broadcast we got offered dinner which offered me and the other guests an opportunity to talk about a number of topics in more detail. One of them which I remember quite well and which I blogged about at the time as well revolved around whether I as a person have the right to decide whether another person can or cannot love me and start a relationship with me. The point I offered initially was that I think it wouldn't be fair for me to start a relationship with someone as I know how much it would be burden that person with my troubles.

The counter-point from the other female guest at the show was that such a decision would not be up to me, that it would be their own responsibility to make that decision. I still agree with this notion, though I have since begun to entertain a possible counter-counter-point. Namely in the sense that one can never know everything in advance about a situation. In my dealings with other people over the past years I have noticed that all too often I had figured that I had made everything clear to them, only to be surprised by questions from their side. As a counter to this argument one could then say that it would just come down to personal responsibility in that case.

A few nights ago I had once again a dream in which I did in fact have a relationship. My dream partners are invariably female and often with East-Asian features, as was the case in this dream. My girlfriend was lying against me with me in a semi-sitting position and we talked about things. Even though I was feeling fairly relaxed in the dream, I still could feel the nagging voice in the back of my mind asking questions along the lines of 'what if?'. What if something changed? What if I found out something unpleasant? What if some situation drove us apart? What if my traumas would drive a wedge between us? And so on.

The standard response to such questions seems to be to just embrace the unpredictability of the future and take things as they come. While I have been accused in the past of being rigid and uncompromising to the point of seeming autistic (by so-called mental health professionals as well, no less), my main attitude to life is more one of finding a proper path and continuing on it until something better comes up. The way others keep switching lanes without any apparent reason or rhyme is frankly astounding to me. To me this makes me more laid back and my future more predictable in some ways. The issue which I thus have with starting a relationship - something I have never done so far - would then be to gain a sufficiently optimistic outlook to give the go-ahead. This year I had to refuse such a relationship for this exact reason. While it hurt me to say 'no', I knew in my mind that it was the right choice.

How important is a relationship, though? When I regard my current situation I know that it doesn't even appear on my list of priorities. The only reason I seem to spend time thinking about it is because I have been genetically programmed to do so. To long for the gentle touch of someone else, and have one's senses lulled into the false sense of complacency that everything is fine now due to the brain's reward centre being stimulated like crazy. Knowing how the relationship thing works on a neurological and biochemical level doesn't make things easier, nor does having countless traumas associated with it. If at all possible I would prefer to kick it forever off my TODO list. Since this is not possible I need to figure out some way to give it a place in my life.

I practically fled from the Netherlands to Germany to escape the horrors I had witnessed and experienced. Now, after more than half a year I can feel that I'm finally dealing with the resulting traumas somewhat. While it's hardly a picnic here in Germany, at least I am getting some proper medical attention, including frustrated responses from physicians who cannot comprehend that nobody has bothered to properly examine me in all these years. I had an MRI scan this week as a result of this, the first time with contrast dye. Now I'm waiting for the results of this scan and the genetic tests which were started two months ago. The other hospital I went to to discuss surgery turned out to be a bust. While a surgery date was set for next Monday, the promised details were never sent to me, ergo it cannot go ahead.

Not that I mind too terribly. As I blogged about before, it would have been a half-finished job, with at least one more surgery to go after it. The hospital I went to for a second opinion and also where I had the MRI scan this week seems to offer much better prospects, with everything finished in one surgery in addition to a barrage of examinations and tests beforehand. To me this definitely takes the number one priority spot, to get it all sorted this year. Fortunately one thing hasn't happened to me so far, something which was standard in the Netherlands, namely the accusations of me being a liar, of me being just a regular male and having all kinds of psychological delusions and illusions. To be freed from that is already one blessing. Now I just need to prove to myself and others that I wasn't blabbering like a fool about me also having female genitals. It's been nearly seven years now that this was first confirmed by a German radiologist, but without the definite certainty one can only gain via a reconstructive surgery.

Hopefully this medical mess will resolve itself the coming months so that I can fully focus on my professional career. At this point I'm actually a professional author of technical reference books in addition to being asked to write columns and articles on technical subjects. It's exceedingly hard for me to keep my professional career separated from my personal traumas. When I have a bad day because my PTSD got triggered and all I can do is feel miserable, cry and self-mutilate, that cuts into the time I should have been spending on this career. There's no future in the pathetic being part of this individual which I am.



Uriel Fanelli said...

I can't understand why you put all together a normal state (like "i am afraid something can make it finish" ) and the issue of intersex. I am bi, the kind of bi doesn't really care of the gender. And I always had the problem "what if". Everybody, gay or bi or etero, has the same nightmare. What if it finishes? What is something destroys everything? This is human, not intersex. I don't like to understate the others, and this is why I never commented before, but it looks like you feel more different to the others, than the others are seeing you. I'm married with a woman, but it could have been with a man, what matters is the person behind. I respect your pain, but also genitalia are less important than you think, when people loves you.

Maya Posch said...

@Uriel Fanelli - Good point. Mostly because being intersex has made me significantly less confident in myself due to the physical and psychological abuse I suffered. Having PTSD and other traumas is a very heavy burden to be shared by a potential partner, as I'm sure many can attest to.

You're probably right in that it isn't related to my intersex condition itself. It's not about genitals at least. It's about crippling psychological traumas and dark/suicidal moods. If I am alone I can keep the burden of this away from others. If I am in a relationship, there's someone else who has to go through that. I'm quite sure it would destroy most relationships.

You're also right in that I see myself different from how others see me. I think I wrote about this before on my blog. Friends mentioned that it appears to be the brainwashing I suffered in the Netherlands talking. Moments when I become seemingly convinced that something is true while I knew before that it wasn't.

The Dutch physicians and psychologists tried really hard for a decade to convince me that I am just a regular, biological male, apparently going to the trouble of falsifying medical information. Much of my crippling self-doubt arises from this, as they taught me that I cannot trust my own senses and reasoning. That I could only be happy if I were to submit to them.

It's hard for me to see things in the same light all the time. Things keep shifting. Especially on something as abstract and emotion-based as relationships. Some days I think it would totally work for me, other days I know for sure that I only hurt others, as I have hurt so many others before. Just by being myself.

In the end I guess I'm just a confused, traumatized person. Not that it makes it much better, I think :)