My Life Today: Sorting the Boxes

Sitting here in limbo
But I know it won’t be long
Sitting here in limbo
Like a bird without a song
Well, they’re putting up a resistance
But I know that my faith will lead me on

Like me, I suspect that most of us can say we have spent a good deal of our lives “sitting here in limbo.”

Wondering, wondering. For some of us, this wondering can be all consuming.

Where do I belong?

Where do I fit?

Who am I?

The self-focused questions get deeper.

Who will ever love me?

What would people do if they really knew me?

Why do I do the things I do?

Yet, we never, no, never ever will accept any answers that come from others, no matter how hard our struggle might be. No matter how long we sit and remain in limbo. We must answer these questions ourselves, each of us on our own unique journey.

As I recognize this fact, I am also aware that I cannot answer any of these questions that you may have but I can share what I have learned so far on my own life’s journey to this place I now call my “happy retirement” where I am able to look not only back but also forward filled with gratitude for my journey and all the identities along the way and the boxes that I filled and may still occupy.

As a person who struggled since I was a child, wrestling with the questions of where I fit, where I belong because I was locked in the questioning of my own gender identity, although back in the 1950s the entire concept of such a thing was a vast unknown to that child who was me. Somehow, I also knew that it needed to be kept within and unspoken. This I managed to do for more than five decades since I first internalized these questions.

Without answers for this part of me, and being in this limbo, I found other identities and boxes I could live in, yet the unanswered questions lay never far from the surface of my being and sadly were never quiet to allow inner peace of all my other identities. I asked myself more questions. Why was my gender identity so important that no matter what other identities and boxes I filled with varying levels of success, father, husband, coach, engineer, manager, counselor, author, speaker — the box that I was occupying as a man was never the right box and shook, rattled and rolled my entire sense of being as it controlled and defined just about every other aspect of my life as I would deny to myself the truth that was known inside of me.

In my memoir, No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth I share much of the details of my journey to self-acceptance and the decision to fill the gender box with female and then also filling a new box that was called transgender.

Now, a decade since my transition and almost seven years since I wrote my memoir, I am experiencing some changes in how these boxes are being sorted within me. Honestly, I have no idea how this sorting is occurring or what forces are doing the arranging. It is even surprising that I am recognizing that this is happening, but a pleasant surprise at that.

For a good part of this past decade, the box being transgender seemed to be on the very top of the pile. It defined me, both internally and externally. I felt it was important to claim this in my interactions with others. Certainly, I was not hiding it all, as an activist, author, and leader in the trans community. However, there were new questions I began asking myself. Why am I making that box my most important one? In 2018 I started to let go of many of those boxes, the activist box, the community leader box, even the writer box, as I entered a new limbo, sitting and waiting to see what would happen and perhaps who I was now becoming.

I have been sitting for some time, bit as Jimmy Cliff sang,

And now I recognize the boxes have been resorted and the trans box has dropped into the pile without any struggle but is just another one of my many identities. My sense is that it no longer needs to rise to the top, claim itself as the top dog in my being and has allowed room for some of the other boxes it was holding down, no longer being blocked, to again rise up and get some space. I think this is what has allowed some of this “flow” to return for that writer box, which I described here last week.

There is a lesson that I am learning here. It is a deep and important lesson. If I learn to keep my faith it will eventually “lead me on” out of limbo to a place of peace.

Being trans is part of me, yes, an important part of me but not necessarily the most important part of me.

I will never deny that I am a transgender woman.

I am proud of who I have been and who I am today.

I have also learned that being a transgender woman does not have to define me, as I am so much more than my gender identity.

For you, dear reader, I hope you too, if you are sitting in limbo, you can let your faith lead the way to let you own all your identities, and let your boxes sort themselves out so that not a single one can define you.

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Grace Stevens

Grace Stevens

Grace has written three books; No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, and Musings on Living Authentically and Handbooks for Humans, Volume 1.