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Gender Aestheses, Part 3: Panic Switch

Posted 6 Months ago by galbraith



Time is never worth my time


I'm alone in the student center of the university again, deep into the morning of another sleepless night. I'm in my parents' home years later, waiting to see the sunrise before falling asleep, because that's one of the only things that makes living worth it. I'm a kid, reading the same books over and over and over again, because that's one of the only ways I can soothe myself.

Blue shine bleeds into my eyes


The sun is crawling around the edges of a blanket nailed over my window. I'm at peace in the woods, with a huge clear Texas sky over me. I'm in any of a hundred different rooms with only artificial light and no clocks, places where I can forget the me that's been given to me.

I still sleep on the right side


The bed at my parents' home is piled with dirty clothes. My best friend's couch is softer, but I choose to sleep on a cot with a single fleece blanket. The dormitory floor is thin carpet over concrete, but I am there anyway, with my head resting on my boots. My parents are trying to put me down for a nap, but I want to go to the library or go to the park or do anything - funny how that gets reversed later.

But white noise can't leave the scene behind


I'm not there when glass is breaking. I'm not there when eyes are unfocusing and glazing over, either. I don't want to be there for other things, and eventually I learn how. I can be nowhere, if I want to. Years later, I'm almost crashing my car because I learned too well, and I ended up not being there when I was driving. Five years old, seeing the world like I'm in the back row of a movie theater.

Could I be anything you want me to be?


I'm cutting all my hair off. I'm throwing away bags of clothes that I don't want them to see. I stop recognizing myself in mirrors.

If so, is it meant to be seen?


My father turns away from me.

When you see yourself in a crowded room


Brittany and I are walking around campus after midnight when she asks me if I would still love her if she was born a man. I say yes, and it takes me a while to understand how much I mean it. A couple of years later, I realize that something is missing, and that it's not something I can get from other people.

Do your fingers itch? Are you pistol whipped?


My flesh feels like it's going to explode off my bones, an early warning that the following twenty-four hours or so is going to be manic/depressive. I rearrange all the furniture in my house, a not-so-subconsciously talismanic gesture. I no longer need out; I need in. The pathways to getting there are still labyrinthine and subtle beyond my abilities. I gnaw the inside of my cheeks until they're raw and rough.

Will you step in line or release the glitch?


I'm single-digit years old; my parents are asking me what's wrong, but I can't answer them. No-one taught me how to answer that question.

Can you fall asleep with a panic switch?


The letters don't stop coming. But they don't come every day, which is somehow worse. Maybe today, there will be less of them. Maybe today there will be more. Maybe there will be none, and I get to pretend that no-one knows that I exist, that I have somehow fallen through the cracks. But on Sunday night, my throat tightens. I know Monday will be the worst.

I'll try to hold on tight tonight


I'm alone in the valley. The stone has rolled all the way back down, and Sisyphus ponders it for a moment. Everything in my life, everything that came before and everything that will come, is balanced on one finger. Eventually, I lower it.

Pink slip inviting me inside


I am in dark places. I am occulted. I am hidden between the pages in textbooks. I am at the bottom of trash cans. I am piled in heaps of torn fabric. I am unrecognizable. I am in back seats. I am in empty facilities. I am under the yellow glow of sodium vapor streetlights. I am discarded. I am wasted. I am under old, stained mattresses. I am on the floor of dormitory showers. I am nowhere.

Want to burn skin and brand what once was mine


It only takes a few minutes of consideration. An hour later, I'm having a steel spike driven through my ear. It feels good enough for me to believe in. I tell her I'll probably come back to get my nipples done. She says I might not have enough tissue to support a piercing there. I don't think it'll be a problem, but I don't tell her that.

But the red views keep ripping the divide


My father is taking me aside and bending down to explain something that is very important to him but not at all to me. He still makes me nod in agreement. Twenty years later, I'm sitting in the shower with my face in my hands. I forgive him.

If I go everywhere you want me to go


I stop asking why should I and start asking why shouldn't I.

How will I know you'll still follow?


I am unfolding. I am rising campfire sparks. I am cutting wind. I am roaring. I am cyclical. I am dodging through the underbrush behind an abandoned denim factory, watching cops with batons at the ready search for me. I am gentle and warm. I am with you. I am not holding back. I am building something. I am in awe. I am running through the freezing rain, screaming to keep your attention. I am subtly responsive. I am laughing uncontrollably. I am staying up until 4 AM to write paragraphs for you. I am everywhere.

I'm waiting and fading and floating away


I have learned that it is probable that I have a dissociative disorder, among other issues. I don't have a formal diagnosis yet, as I'm still trying to arrange a psychiatric assessment. But I'm already questioning the value of such a thing. It's going to cost me a lot of money for not a lot of return - mostly, just the satisfaction of having a better idea of what's happening to me internally. I don't anticipate going on medication or receiving specialized therapy. I'm not sure I would want to, even if it were recommended. Especially during my transition, when there's already enough chaos in my life. I'd rather just have the information in my back pocket for me to reference while tackling problems at my own pace.

"Panic Switch" brings up a lot of memories related to both my gender dysphoria and my issues with anxiety/dissociation. The perfect microcosm of this is the first line of the chorus, which can equally be interpreted as depersonalization and as an example of gender envy (or even just of admiring the courage of other GNC people).

The connective tissue of these subjects and how they are arrayed in my explication of this song is tenuous at best - partially due to the complexity of the issues, due to my own burgeoning understanding of them and due to the inherent difficulty that I have in properly organizing traumatic memories. I cannot use this song as the same kind of roadmap as the other ones that produce gender aesthesis in me. Half of the territory is not there, and the other half is something I've spent most of my life being taught to not understand. As such, the most sophisticated response I have to it is essentially emotional vomit. But I don't think there's going to be many critics around here nowadays. I might as well.

There are 4 Replies


So, this is your reaction to a song? Line-by-line?
I can’t display the song’s title nor the name of the artist; I assume it’s a group?
So I also can’t hear the song.
I couldn’t understand any two consecutive paragraphs of your reaction, until I understood all three of the last three paragraphs; I think that was your reaction to the whole-song-as-a-whole?

I can tell, though, that you’re being what I’d call brave, and continuing to work on what you said you were going to do to make yourself happier, or at least give yourself a better chance.
So I feel that I want to be supportive; but I don’t know what to say.

6 Months ago
chiarizio
 

So, this is your reaction to a song? Line-by-line?


It's a jumbled selection of memories organized by which line in this song usually prompts me to think about them.

I can’t display the song’s title nor the name of the artist; I assume it’s a group?


It's the song "Panic Switch" by a band called Silversun Pickups.

I couldn’t understand any two consecutive paragraphs of your reaction, until I understood all three of the last three paragraphs; I think that was your reaction to the whole-song-as-a-whole?


A lot of these statements reflect bits of experiences that I have not found better ways of explaining, or which I am not yet comfortable explaining.

The last three paragraphs was more general thoughts on the song and some recent events in my life.

I can tell, though, that you’re being what I’d call brave, and continuing to work on what you said you were going to do to make yourself happier, or at least give yourself a better chance.

So I feel that I want to be supportive; but I don’t know what to say.


Thank you.

It is not necessary for you to say anything in order to be supportive. I don't mean that to sound cold. I just mean that I know you care enough to say something, and that I appreciate that.

6 Months ago
galbraith

Interesting read, like a movie that's just a bunch of short scenes stitched together (which is I guess what life is). A couple things:

The dormitory floor is thin carpet over concrete, but I am there anyway, with my head resting on my boots.


What situation were you in where you slept on your boots at a dormitory?

I'm single-digit years old; my parents are asking me what's wrong, but I can't answer them. No-one taught me how to answer that question.


This seems like it would be a universal thing for a lot of our lives, not just early on. There are some times where you're not sure what's wrong or you have a vague idea and absolutely no way of expressing it.

My father is taking me aside and bending down to explain something that is very important to him but not at all to me. He still makes me nod in agreement.


What was it? Or is it personal?

I don't have a formal diagnosis yet, as I'm still trying to arrange a psychiatric assessment. But I'm already questioning the value of such a thing. It's going to cost me a lot of money for not a lot of return - mostly, just the satisfaction of having a better idea of what's happening to me internally.


Well it could be a useful tool to help you navigate yourself.

my issues with anxiety/dissociation.


I've noticed that dissociation is an excellent way of removing oneself from anxiety-inducing situations. Something has to change, you have to either remove the situation from yourself or remove yourself from situation.

and due to the inherent difficulty that I have in properly organizing traumatic memories.


Well, even simple things like recalling or narrating traumatic memories is difficult, so don't be too hard on yourself.

6 Months ago
Xhin
Sky's the limit

Trauma interferes with the formation of memory.

6 Months ago
chiarizio
 

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