Day 19: Anguish
How long, ETERNAL God Almighty,
will your anger smolder
against the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears;
you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors,
and our enemies mock us.
Psalm 80:4–6, NRSV, Adaptations Mine.
Anguish — the state of extreme distress, particularly in regards to one or another item. Today, I went to my medical provider. It’s not an uncommon occurrence — particularly for a person with the particular, chronic medical illnesses I have:
2. Mental Illnesses
3. Estrogen-Deficient Femininity
4. Being Fat
5. Being on medications for the above which poison my body.
Today, however, was different. Today, I met a new provider. Today, I went to a new clinic — praised for it’s trans competency. Today, I walked into my appointment with a higher level of skill in my medication than my prescriber. With more complete information about what I wanted and needed for my specific requests. Sadly this is not uncommon — this is what leads many trans people (particularly trans women and femmes) to self-medicate so that they don’t have to deal with the bureaucracy of the medical establishment. This is anguish.
Today, I met a new provider who was afraid to mention my weight. Not to affirm my fat body as a valuable body, nor to shame my big body that provides me with such care and comfort, but afraid to even bring my body into our conversation. To cut it off because of her discomfort.
Today, I met a new provider who acknowledged my mental illness, yet glossed over the fact that I scored my highest ever score on a depression and suicidality screening instrument.
To be trans, to be fat, to be mentally ill, is to have to choose which parts of myself I can bring into doctors offices, therapy rooms, etc. To my trans-kin of color, I can only imagine the multiplied oppression.
This is anguish. To have your very existence — and seeking out the essential resources needed to survive creating a bloody mess because you are cutting off other aspects of yourself.
This is anguish — to have an unending bloody mess to keep mopping up — even as you are bleeding, and attempting to heal yourself. Can you imagine, trying to walk around with a partially and incompletely amputated limb? The mess is overwhelming — it is not an idea I’d recommend. Why do we continue asking people to do this?
Church, we ask people to do this every week, when we say LGBT people are welcome, and yet misgender our trans friends. We ask people to do this when we shame people for acting in alignment with their mental illness. We ask people to do this when we don’t make it unequivocally clear that we won’t tolerate hate and oppression.
Friends, where are we asking our friends to cut parts of themselves away to be in relationship with us?
Where are we cutting ourselves to fit in other’s boxes?
How can we stop this vicious cycle?