Reconciling Past Selves

Posted by – February 4, 2007

the threads on wasted youth and teen photos have had me thinking about the idea of reconciling past selves. & i think sometimes trans folk think they corner the market on this one, but i know a lot of different people who have various kinds of misspent youths – even if they weren’t so misspent as they think. when i was a teenager, my (by then in his 20s) older brother balked whenever anyone found a photo of him from when he was a teenager – and at the time i remember thinking, “i never want to be like that about how i look now.” (& mind you, how i looked then wasn’t considered socially acceptable by any means.) sometimes i wonder if it didn’t alter other choices i made in life, in order to live a life consistent with having been that punk rock kid back in the day.

but i don’t know. there are other pasts: times i spent as a green, etc.

& maybe i’m feeling particularly vulnerable right now, because quite a few of you out there are reading or about to read my book, which is about me in ways that are more personal than perhaps people would predict.

anyway, a part of me just wanted to say: trans people are not the only ones with pasts they have to reconcile. & i say that to you trans folk just so you know it, & don’t go around thinking that that’s one more burden of transness.

i like to think all the people i’ve been, the aspects of myself i brought to the front burner or pushed to a back one, are all always there, operating all the time. like turning up the bass & turning down the treble while listening to music – some things dim & come back again, some things appear once & never re-appear, other things maintain their frequency and intensity all the while.

anyway. this was just to say, mostly.

3 Comments on Reconciling Past Selves

  1. joharris says:

    It is perhaps because of this that you have such great insight into the issues that surround Betty’s needs hon, and your relationship with her. Many of us have ‘past selves’…and yes I am trans, but the identities I carved for myself when younger weren’t always to do with that (or maybe they were, maybe they were diversions). Certainly, they were to do with trying to establish who I was, and am, using many different ‘vocabularies’, and that search goes on – both within the framewoek of (for me) gender identity, and actually beyond and below it too.

    Whatever, I’m sure these experiences have helped to shine a light on who you are now, and perhaps who Betty is too? I can quite understand how you may be feeling emotionally exposed as you approach the launch of the new book…all I can say is that if it is half as powerful and thoughtful as your first then it will be a huge success. For me, your frankness and honesty made ‘My Husband Betty’ THE best piece of writing on this topic I have ever read and it helped me hugely :-)

  2. alison says:

    That made me think about some of my past selves, none of which had anything to do with transness. In some ways, most of them were either naive, idealistic, or immature, but they made me who I am today. I, too, can see aspects of each past self coming back into focus sometimes. I think the key is to use the wisdom you have gained since to take the best of the past self and use it in a new, more enlightened way.

    That was a very personal post, Helen. Thanks for sharing.

  3. tinasim02 says:

    Thanks for this post, Helen. I agree – the vast majority of my past self issues are orthogonal to my trans-ness. Being trans was not the reason for most moments where I was selfish, immature, stupid, nor is it the reason for most of the times where I was thoughtful, caring, loving, and intelligent.

    I now treasure most moments in my life, even the bad ones, because they are mine and helped me to get to the place that I’m at now (albeit a transitory time in my life).

    The past is a great (but harsh) teacher, but the first lesson it teachs you is you have to move on to the future.

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