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C11 P63 – The point

C11 P63 – The point published on 16 Comments on C11 P63 – The point

I’ve always felt that family meant more than blood ties. If a person can’t find acceptance or understanding with the people that, theoretically, should know you best, than I don’t see that as family. A family of choice that supports and helps a person grow through love and compassion will always be a more powerful force for good than a blood tie enforced by guilt, obligation, and manipulation.

One of the books I recently read (or rather, listened to…having discovered I can check out audio books from my local library ONLINE because I am LIVING IN THE FUTURE) had several families of choice in them, in different forms. It was an interesting read, in part because it wasn’t a book I normally would have read. The style was almost like a parable, with moral lessons woven into the story. The effect may have been emphasized by the auido version, making it feel like a tale that might be passed down by oral tradition. The lessons were about hard work, and the follies of pride and impatience, and the importance of mastery instead of cunning. While this made the story fairly predictable, something about how it was crafted made it very moving and charming at the same time. Of the three books I’ve read recently, I’d say it was my favorite. The book was “A Single Shard” by Linda Sue Park, about a homeless orphan boy who accidentally destroys one of the creations of a master potter. The boy offers to work for the irritable master potter, in the hopes of one day becoming a potter himself. Yet the harsh man seems impossible to please, and when a royal commission slips through their fingers, the orphan must decide if he should stay true to his word even if no reward will ever be forthcoming.

I also started “The Diviners” by Libba Bray, but it just did not ever catch me, and when my library loan expired I had no desire to renew it. Today I finished “The School for Good and Evil” by Soman Chainani which…I’m still figuring out how I feel about it. There are things that I liked, and things that just really bugged me that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s just that there’s so much societal garbage tied up with the idea of beauty. The book does try and tackle some of it, but I’m not sure exactly what it was trying to say. Can’t a person care for their appearance and not be vain and shallow? Does a person have to be beautiful in order to be a good person? Does a person really have to “be beautiful all along?” Was it trying to say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder? I just don’t think…whatever the book was trying to express…quite landed for me.

Read any good books lately? (Or some bad ones?)

Today’s Una Songs…
“Triumphant” by Röyksopp. Because…I don’t know. Una liked it, that’s why.

“Let me go” by 3 Doors Down. Because sometimes when you pretend too much, it becomes hard to believe anybody ever really sees you. Or that you deserve to be seen. Maybe it’s just better to go?

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Children visit this site. Moderate your language accordingly.

It’s been about a month now, I finally got my hands on Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson for Christmas. It’s a sort of steampunk western, set in a time-period on his Mistborn planet, Skadrial, that is roughly equivalent to the late industrial era. Heavy on the intrigue, with a red herring twist set up for early on, leading to a HUGE one at the end. It was entirely satisfying.

I’ve yet to not enjoy his books. Part of that is because of the humor inherent in them both obvious and subtle. The rest is because he’s one of Fantasy’s current master craftsmen. Intricate magic systems and plot, wonderful characters that are really well developed (for the most part; obviously there are a few that are a bit flat for one reason or other), excellent world-building, and a fascinating backdrop for most everything that he’s written since he first started – The Cosmere…. I could go on, but… well… I’d be writing all night and then you’d be reading all day, and that wouldn’t be productive for either of us.

I need to get my hands on OTHER copies of his Mistborn books before I can read them…I was at Renovation and had brought my copies of a couple of the Wheel of Time books he was responsible for to get him to sign them, and we talked a bit, and I wound up with signed first editions of the trilogy ^_^() And now I don’t dare read them because I don’t want to mess them up…

Looking at this page makes me realize even more just how perfect a working partner Pakku is for Una, just how similar they are underneath it all. Sure, Pakku isn’t transgender, but he’s had to deal with pretending to be something he’s not. His personality is off-putting in its honesty and pretending he’s not as smart or as good or as honest as he is is probably the only way he’s ever been able to get anyoen to like him – and people have probably been telling him his whole life “If you would jsut X, people would like you better” and… Well. It’s not as drastic as it is for Una, I’m not trying to compare how awful not being able to express yrur gender is to living with genius. I don’t want to make anybody feel like I’m saying that Pakku’s pain is anywhere near as important as Una’s because I guess in some ways it’s not.

But to people like Pakku – people like -me- – it feels real. It’s so easy to understand, on a smaller scale, how hard it is to be who you are when your family is constantly trying to degrade that self.

It took until I was 20 years old to actually get a present for Christmas that I’d asked for instead of some pretty, useless girl thing because my aunt thought that my general non-femininity was just a “phase”. And said so in front of me on several occasions. I constantly had people telling me, “If you try just a little harder to fit in” “If you didn’t act so smart all the time” “Peopel think you think they’re better than them” “You need to grow a thick skin, no one will ever respect a girl who cries/gets upset/is bossy/takes charge” “I hope you know nobody likes a person who actually likes school”

It’s not as bad as the narrative against trans* people. I mean, thinking of killing myself for those things was stupid and weak, I know, and I”m not going to say I’ve suffered anywhere near as bad as my trans* friends because I haven’t. But I… maybe it’s not so arrogant to say that even if it wasn’t as bad, the pain still hurt, maybe almost as bad as it hurts someone who can’t be themselves for other reasons.

I hear people say the things that you just described surprisingly often. The stories are extremely varied, but the qualifier of “I don’t think my pain is as bad as this other person’s, but I can relate” seems to show up a lot in one form or another.

As a trans* person myself, I object to the idea that Pakku’s pain isn’t as important as Una’s. It may be less in some ways, but it is not less important. Sometimes, I think people get caught up in a pain tolerance contest, arguing that because certain individuals have suffered more than others, their feelings are somehow more ‘valid’. (There’s a certain social media site that comes to mind when thinking about this subject…)

Maybe your trans* friends have it harder in some ways, but having people ignore who you are still HURTS. I won’t speak for others, because I’ve been very, very lucky for a trans* person. But I don’t think what you described is in any way less painful than what I’ve personally gone through! Your life has it’s own challenges, and while some things that were never a problem for you probably were for me, I know for certain the reverse is also true.

While Pakku and Una may have suffered differently, I don’t think one of them has more of a right to feel the way they do. In the same breath, you were not stupid or weak for feeling the way you did, even if you didn’t have it as ‘bad’ as your trans* friends. And to say that is the reason I wrote all this up. I just hope those feelings are in the past, now.

… And suddenly I feel a little weird, because I’ve never even commented on this comic before. Well. Howdy!

Thank you, Koren. Actually, that means a lot to me. Those feelings – unfortunately, I don’t think they will ever fully be ‘in the past’, since I have clinical depression adn I don’t think I’ll ever get better. But I am _much_ better than I was in school and have distanced myself from the toxic family members that have put me in this mess in the first place.

I’m just always scared when I talk about my issues that people are going to hear them and think they’re stupid – and terrified, when I talk about my issues in relation to others, that I’m somehow ‘lessening’ or ‘cheapening’ the struggles of groups who have far less privilege than me. Probably because my aunt was one of those “You think you have it bad, there are Starving Kids in Africa who would love to have your problems” people as well as the person who appointed herself sole policewoman of my ‘proper’ girlhood. (Also the person who convinced my mother not to press charges on my grandfather when she found out he’d molested me because a policeman told her it wouldn’t be fair to my grandfather to make him die in jail and that my grandmother wouldn’t be able to live with the truth, but there are many reasons I moved halfway across the country)

Hearing someone tell me that my pain is valid has… really helped a lot. having someone acknowledge your pain means a -lot- – it’s the best kind of representation, to have someone, a friend, an author, a TV writer, figuratively look at you and say, “I see you”.

I hope that someday everyone can see that. And everyone can have that feeling. Whatever their personal pain is, I hope that they all get to feel that moment where they realize they’re not alone, and that they matter to someone.

Hi Miri R.

I’m transmasculine, and also had … a family with some traits like yours. Which in my case I label “emotionally abusive”, but you don’t have to label yours that way.

In my case, being from an emotionally abusive family was a lot harder than being trans. Having a family tell me throughout my life that my struggles were invalid or lesser, and that I should just be who they want me to be, with the preferences they want me to have, and the mannerisms they want me to have, because it would make it easier for them to not have to get to know me but continue to treat me like the person they’d imagine I’d be when I was born… and that it should be easy for me to be exactly like they want me to because it is easy for them to be that way… that is what f*cked me up the most.

Which isn’t to say that body and social dysphoria was easy. Or that fighting with the healthcare system for over a year to get treatment was easy. Or that being afraid to use public restrooms is easy. Or having trouble finding a partner is easy. But all of that has been significantly easier than dealing with my family shaming and yelling at me EVERY visit home for upsetting my mother by not turning out like she wanted me to turn out (and being unable to adjust her mental model that I wasn’t the sex-loving, flirty, mind reading, feminine woman that she wanted me to be).

What’s hard for an individual is going to vary from person to person. For some people, being trans is gonna be harder. There is no way to compare pain across people because each of us feels it differently.

FWIW, I’m glad that you’ve noticed some common ground in your history and the trans narrative. It shows understanding and empathy and I _want_ people to understand and empathize with trans people like me. Its what breaks down the wall that makes “us” and “them”.

I’ve been wanting to reply to your comment, but not really sure what to say.

Now I know.

Thank you.

Thank you for your support of my viewpoint, and I’m glad I can offer support for yours. And thank you for helping me come to grips with the fact that the pain I experienced as a child was abuse, at least as far as my aunt was concerned. 2015 was a year of growing up for me. Now I’m ready for 2016 to bring further change. And part of that change was helped along by you.

It sounds like you’re on a healing path, too. Let’s reach forward and become better people in spite of our shared pain… past the simple act of healing and towards the idea that we will be even better, even more amazing people in the future.

In my opinion the “my pain is more valid than your pain” path leads to things like the situation in the Middle East.

OTOH after reading some of the recent comments I feel like my young adulthood may not have been as bad as some others’ here. I was merely a little stick of a kid and someone who prefered reading to sports. Still, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

I ran up against a similar problem, though not nearly to the extent you did. I’ve never been feminine myself, and while my family accepted it, my school didn’t. If you were a girl in school, you were supposed to put a lot of effort into your appearance and be extremely socially aware. You can’t really get more opposite to this than me. I essentially read my way through middle school, and had a mere hand full of friends in high school. I only got picked on a few times, but outside of an extremely small group of people, no one knew how to deal with me (they probably thought I was a snob). Eventually my peers classified me as someone who never talked and wanted to be left alone, so when I did talk, they didn’t actually notice. I don’t believe that was on purpose, but it still hurt. This probably has more to do with being an introvert in a largely extroverted school than not being feminine, though.

It’s really interesting to me that you weren’t intending to make Pakku and Una close like this so soon because they seem made for each other in this way. Good job you!

Oh, I love A Single Shard! I read it in English in middle school. Have you read anything else by Libba Bray? I liked the Diviners, but I think her standout book is really Going Bovine. (I read the Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy recently, which is what she’s most famous for, and I really did not care for it. Nothing happened!) Right now I’m reading the Daughter of Smoke and Bone books, which are pretty good, although the writing is so pretty that it disguises the fact that… uh… nothing really happens either. ^^; I mostly like it for the side characters since, as usual with a book about forbidden romance, the main characters are kind of eh. Also the worldbuilding is great.

Also I’m rereading Invisible Ink on the side. I’m so glad you introduced me to that book. Changed my life.

OH MAN INVISIBLE INK IS SO GOOD. So good. It’s a writer’s treasure. I need to reread it again myself. The only problem with it is that it often makes other books on writing seem…sorta…meh.

As for Libba Bray, I’m just not sure why it didn’t click. Was it the character? The setting? Am I only interested in the 1920s when it’s a comic about cats??? I don’t know.

I didn’t think any of the characters in The Diviners were particularly likable, myself. I liked the fantasy aspect and the setting enough to finish it, but I thought they were all kind of jerks. Also, if you get to the end of the story, it doesn’t really stand by itself, which was super annoying.

(And it’s not really fair to compare anything to Lackadaisy. Lackadaisy is just a perfect thing.)

I reacted similarly to “The School for Good and Evil”…after figuring out that it was intended as the first book in a series, I decided to reserve judgement until I’d had a chance to find and read the second one. It wouldn’t be the first time that the first book in the series had things that bothered me that were resolved later in the series.

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