Living a Good Life

(When we last saw our hero he had been attending school. His mental health issues, including dissociation from trauma, were in remission. He had come out as pan sexual and gender queer. He was relatively happy with his life and feeling sane.)

I’m sitting in the work commons in the employment centre at the University of Toronto. It’s about 11:30 in the morning and the place is deserted because it’s between semesters. I’m taking a break on the research I’m doing. I realize that I haven’t written in far too long. I haven’t blogged because I’m busy.

So lesson one to me is make time to blog. Take one morning a week. Make sue I am in a place where I can write and then do it. Writing is a job and it require constant work.

Lesson two to me is to keep doing the things that make me happy or, if not, les anxious and depressed. Watch my diet. Watch my exercise. Watch my personal space and make it neat.

Lesson three to me is to learn to accept myself as I am. We talk about self loving and, while self love is important, we cannot self love without self acceptance. I may not think I am beautiful, but at least I am me. The me I am is worthy. The me I am may not be loved but is accepted as me. The me I am is the only me I will ever have.

Lesson four is about body issues. Again, this is the only body I have. Dissociation from my body caused me many physical health issues. Wanting to control my body, as a separate entity from “me”, caused me other issues. I don’t love my body but it is me. I am me. I might as well start to accept who I am and what I look like. I might as well start treating my body better.

Lesson five is about my boundaries, which I am growing over time. I don’t have to spill everything about me all at once to everyone. It’s okay to keep some things, not secret but, private. It’s okay for me to own myself. I don’t have to give myself to everyone at all times. I can save parts of me to be more intimate and choose those people with whom I want to be intimate.

Lesson six is about labels. I want to keep labeling myself. I keep trying to figure out what I am so I can apply a new label. To quote my friend Storm, “Are you a can of soup?” Since I’m not, I don’t require a label. I can just be me.

Lesson seven is that I don’t have to impress anyone. I still wake up some mornings and think to myself, yes, I’m queer, but am I queer enough? How does being queer define me. And the answer to that, of course, is that I define queer. I am Joel and that is sufficient. I am enough as I am.

I no longer have to overshare all the time. I am starting to define my boundaries. I’ve made some real mistakes. I’ve had some successes.

All through the while, I have been me.

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