For My Trans Sisters: It Gets Better!

While going through my external drive clearing out old files I don’t want/need any more, I found a suicide note I wrote back in 2012.

The note is dated August 24, but the data tags say it was created on August 22.  I don’t remember what I did on the 24th.

There’s a very telling paragraph toward the end of the letter that I wanted to share.

“Anyway, even without that nonsense, why would I want to keep living in a world where I can be killed just for who I am? I have a 1 in 5 chance of being the victim of violence as a transwoman. Add to that the inherent health risks of hormones and surgery, and the likelihood that on my income, I’m going to have to delay treatment and work myself into an even worse depression. Your average infantryman in a combat zone has a better chance of surviving 5 years than I do.”

A week or two later, I remembered what it was like to actually be an “average infantryman” in a combat zone when past life memories of the First World War broke through, and believe me sisters, there is no comparison!

That was the beginning of the end for my dread of the future. I learned how to make the most of the present because danger is everywhere, always, for everyone.  We might live many lives, but this life is unique and it’s too special to waste on fear.  Live in such a way that you could remember this life in a thousand years with pride, and take whatever joys you can because if you die joylessly, whether by suicide, in an act of war, or by forcing yourself to sublimate your will and “fit in,” you won’t be pleased with yourself the next time around.

You hear all about the dangers associated with transitioning but if you let it go to your head, you’re missing out.  The misery you face if you go forward is nothing like the misery you’re facing now.  It gets better, trust me!

I’m going to save that letter, though it no longer has any purpose except as a reminder of how short-sighted I became right before I made the leap and moved forward.  I have no regrets except not doing it sooner.

If anyone here is going through gender dysphoria and needs to talk, I will not turn you away.  I may not be able to do much more than give advice or lend an ear, but I won’t ignore you.  Comment here or send an email to longlosttommy (atsign) gmail (dot) com and I will gladly take a moment because I’ve been there.

It gets better.  Trust me.

An Uncomfortable Subject

If I was Philip K. Dick, my memories are definitely incredibly spotty.

I didn’t know, for instance, that Seattle was where he once drove his then-wife Anne for an abortion until I did some reading.  This was an event that changed his life and made him ardently pro-life, a rare position for someone as far left as Phil.

I suppose it’s all over and done and I can’t let something like that cast a shadow over the book signing I’ll be doing there next weekend, but it does make me think about my own feelings on the subject.  Since I’ve never shied away from topics involving life and death in this blog, I’ll stick my neck out and talk about this.

In my previous life and when I was younger I was very much against abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or if a woman’s life was in danger and I supported legislation to that effect.

As I grew older I no longer supported such legislation in part because I feel that the ironclad word of law cannot account for all circumstances.  Also, as one who cannot become pregnant (sadly medical technology is still too stone-age to give me a working uterus), I don’t feel I have much grounding to push for laws on what you can do with the female reproductive system.  I also feel that life and death decisions are an unfortunate but necessary part of maintaining any population of living beings (human or animal) at a healthy level, and that giving those who need an abortion the option to do so in a safe, clean, and properly licensed environment is better than forcing them to travel to unlicensed clinics to die of infection or blood loss in secrecy and silence.

That being said, if I were to be perfectly honest, on a personal level the idea of abortion makes me deeply uncomfortable, and always has.  If it were a friend or a family member and the abortion was not a medical necessity, I would probably break down in tears begging them not to abort.  I could not bring myself to help them in that case.  I would probably not feel very comfortable being friends with someone who sees abortion as a convenience and not as an extreme measure, and I would absolutely loathe a husband, father, or boyfriend who pressured or coerced his wife, daughter, or girlfriend to abort when she didn’t want to.

I’m fine with “morning after” pills, I think access to contraceptives and fact-based sex ed are essential and important, and I’m not sold on “life begins at conception.”  I’m pretty sure, in regards to reincarnation, that we don’t inhabit our new bodies until they actually have a functioning nervous system; a mass of cells with no differentiated features is hardly a “person” in any real sense.

However, I think that any simplistic moral equation is inadequate after human features can be distinguished.  Furthermore, after a fetus is viable outside the womb, it’s silly to argue as to whether or not they’re a person because at that point their personhood would become an arbitrary matter of location.  I think late term abortions really are one of the most unfortunate realities of modern life; it’s an extreme measure that may be called for in some circumstances, but something that shouldn’t be glossed over.

I will never stand in the way of your right to make a choice… but I will beg you to reconsider if there is any other way.  I feel very strongly on this and I always have, apparently across lifetimes.

File That Under “Weird,” Part 2

My cat goes nuts whenever he hears a West Country accent.

I noticed a while ago that whenever I watch clips from “Time Team”  on YouTube, he starts walking around and yowling.  At first I thought it was Tony Robinson’s voice for some reason that he was mistaking for someone else, but then I had a thought: what if it’s Phil Harding’s voice?

Phil Harding, one of the Time Team archaeologists, has a very distinct West Country accent (Wiltshire, apparently).

I played another clip of a Somerset accent, which is another West Country dialect,  and my cat went straight to the door of the room, yowling as if he expected someone to come in.

Incidentally, John probably had a  Somerset accent in his youth that he later gave up for a standard RP accent if my memories are correct.

On a hunch, I tried petting my cat and speaking to him in the best West Country accent I could manage, addressing him as “puss,” and he calmed down immediately.  He’s now curled up next to me perfectly calm.

I was overdue for some weirdness.  Not sure what to make of this; I don’t remember having a cat in that life.  PKD was a cat person but I can’t imagine John would have been, since he was a bit more rugged.  Then again, you never know.

Name Change and Book Signings

I finalized my name change yesterday at about 9:15 AM at the courthouse in Hillsboro.

The name that I gave myself- the name with its unintended esoteric connotations that seemingly chose me as much as I chose the name- is now a legally binding identity.  I’m now on track to be effectively done actively transitioning by the end of the year.

Classes start again soon. I remember once not so long ago, the end of summer was a thing to be dreaded, but being broke and anxious for months on end isn’t exactly my idea of a vacation.  Anyhow, I really like the environment on campus; I feel safe and welcome and I get to take in the ambiance of downtown Portland on a daily basis.  My dread of presenting female in public has gone to almost zero so my social anxiety is probably the lowest it’s ever been.

Also, there is a very good chance I’m going to be in Seattle signing the first of three new novels in a couple of weeks.  By January I’ll have released more books in 5 months than I have in 5 years and I’m really starting to develop a voice that’s evolved beyond a simple pastiche of anything I may have written in previous lives.  A friend who knows about my suspicions about having been Phil recently read some of my work and commented that I write much more believable characters who aren’t mired in fixed archetypes, for one thing.  The angst of “I used to be a great author” is clearing away as I discover that not only do I still have it, but if anything I’m arguably a better writer this time around.

Life’s just starting to get good again, after so many years of pain and sorrow.  I’m still nervous that something’s going to bring it all crashing down but so far, so good.  Every milestone I reach is one less thing misfortune can tear from my grasp.

Two Years

It’s been just about two years (give or take a week or so) since a stressful situation triggered intense, terrifying flashbacks of World War 1 and completely changed the trajectory of my life, my writing, and my self-image.

Two years ago, John Harris was practically forgotten, Philip K. Dick was just some crazy writer who died before I was born, and I was trying my best to crawl out of the worst depression and anxiety I had ever experienced after being jerked around by constant negativity all around me.  Friendships were crumbling, it looked like I might end up homeless, and on top of it all I was dealing with severe gender dysphoria that had reached critical mass and was about to finish the job that several years of hard living had begun.

My anamnesis, if you can call it that, was a painful transformation.  I’m reminded of “The Tower” in the Tarot deck, with its imagery of a crumbling structure symbolizing the catastrophic end of something old to make way for something new.  My entire being at that point in my life had been blasted away to its foundations, like the Cloth Hall at Ypres had in the spring of 1915 and it took a long time to fully appreciate the perspective I gained from my experience.

I created this blog in October 2012, only a few weeks after the first devastating flashbacks shook me to my core and while new memories were still coming at me thick and fast.  Rebuilding a shattered psyche through public (if anonymous) confession became one of the best tools I had to cope with an experience that no one should have to go through.  Along the way, I discovered just how deep these threads of past lives ran through the first 28 years of my current life and yet were just beyond detection, driving me to do things, go places, and express emotions that made absolutely no sense before September 2012. 

Maybe it was all just an illusion, the workings of an overactive imagination trying to come to grips with the complete destruction of any and all sense of self.  Or maybe the destruction of the false sense of self I’d built up as a genetic male with a woman’s brain was akin to the ego death that comes from crossing the abyss from Binah, to borrow a Kabbalic model (I’ve spoken to other transsexuals with the same outlook about their transitions).  Maybe I’m bipolar or schizotypal and this was a major decompensation that was precipitated by a chain reaction of bad luck.  Or maybe it just is what it seems, that I have a strange, fascinating, and at times troubling history to my soul that I needed to understand in order to grasp my true complexity as a person.  Two years hasn’t been enough time to know; two lifetimes might not even be enough time to know for sure.  All I have is the happier life I’ve built out of that rubble and the pages upon pages I’ve written since that first terrifying moment when I turned to my fiance with tears in my eyes and said, “I don’t think I made it back from the war.”

Two years on, I’m better for everything that’s happened.  

A Short Film From 2005-2006

Writing is not the only form of expression I’ve experimented with, and in the mid 2000s I had a brief experimentation with amateur filmmaking.

This was one of those efforts, conceived and filmed in early 2005 in Richmond Upon Thames (mostly in and around Richmond Park) on a cheap digital camera, then edited into a film with Windows Moviemaker in early 2006 (I got lazy).

It became my unofficial goodbye to England, and in hindsight, given the whole past life thing, the choice of music was downright eerie! The song is “In A Graveyard” by Rufus Wainwright.

I’ve had to re-caption it to protect my identity (the original was removed from my main YouTube channel years ago and this version is hosted on my “reincarnation stuff only” channel), but other than the end credits this is pretty much exactly as it was.

Hopefully YouTube won’t mute the audio or pull it entirely.

Life In General

Been kind of busy with my present life.  Things are really moving forward on a number of things.

First, I’m proud to say that I should have some kind of BA in hand by Spring 2015.  I think I mentioned this before, but it’s a major development and it’ll be the first life I’ll have actually attained a post-secondary degree, as far as I’m aware.  Aucto Splendore Resurgo and all that.

Second, dealing with some garbage from my roommate.  He’s on thin ice.  I don’t care if we were together in the Plantagenet courts; I’m not going to take this from him and I wouldn’t have taken it from him 800 years ago either.  I just can’t stand his attitude and there’s a good chance he won’t be living here after this month unless he can start pulling his weight and showing a bit of respect.  I suppose if I was correct that I was William Longespee and he was John Lackland, it’s par for the course but I really would have hoped for us to develop more as people over such a long time.  I gave him a chance but it’s looking like he’s the same as ever, all in it for pleasure and gratification without any sense of responsibility or accountability.  Damn it all!

Third, dealing with a potential copyright violation on a story I posted on another site years ago.  This could be a very big deal given the nature of the infringement.  I won’t comment any further on the matter for legal reasons.  I am in touch with a legal aid organization at this time.

Finally, I’m gearing up to release three novels between now and January.  If all goes well, I’ll be releasing at least one of them in the Bay Area.  Currently negotiating with three different artists to get cover art done in time, and slogging through a final draft of the fourth one in the series that wasn’t near as polished as the fifth book.  I’m having to rewrite entire passages to reflect things that have clicked for me as a writer in just the last few months.

No rest for the weary.  Even if I’m dead wrong about having been Phil, I’m at least keeping my hands full by living as if I was his reincarnation so in all, that’s a good thing.