Recently I was asked (it is probably germane to the conversation to tell you that the questioner was a shrink) if I am able to “tolerate the ambiguity” inherent in trying to parent a gender variant child (which is what they are calling her now). My initial, internal response was, ”hell, no” followed by an only slightly more appropriate “well, what if I am not?!” While I am wise enough to know that such a retort is not an option, I sincerely wish it were.
As if the literal pain in my neck (not to mention the figurative one) weren’t enough of a nuisance and liability in my seemingly fruitless quest toward sanity, this conversation certainly was. There were about one hundred thoughts, concepts and suggestions bandied about during the other 49 minutes of the meeting, yet this is the only moment that has become indelibly etched in my brain. Is there an erase button nearby…because if there is, now would be a good time for someone to hand it over.
No, I cannot tolerate the ambiguity. Further, I don’t particularly want to. And, perhaps most troublesome: I may just lose my mind in the sheer process of attempting to not only tolerate the ambiguity, but pretend that I am doing so successfully.
In a different conversation, with a different therapist earlier in the day (full disclosure: this was a conversation with a dear friend who, when she isn’t talking me off the ledge, makes a living as a social worker. Our chat was off the clock…) I realized that so much of what is proving intolerable is the fact that I am surrounded by so many issues that are chronic and painful – some physically, some emotionally and some, you guessed it, both – that it seems completely improbable that between my back, my neck, my foot (I’ve spared you all the details of that one) and my gender variant child, there is any possibility of resolution of much of anything in the foreseeable future. Add the reminder from the expert that there is a long road of ambiguity ahead and I find myself continuing my quest for that elusive erase button which, to the best of my knowledge, exists only in that happy place in the back of my head where nobody can reach it.
Chronic is perhaps even more difficult than ambiguous. At least with ambiguous there is the suggestion (however inaccurate it may be) that sometime, somewhere, a conclusion will be met. Chronic includes words like “habitual”, “constant” and “inveterate” in its very definition which, in turn, does not bode well for resolution, now does it? I guess if I want to be little Miss Optimist, I will revel in the fact that the question posed to me was if I could tolerate the “ambiguity” as opposed to whether I am able to tolerate the “chronic” but, alas, I am not wearing my “I Am Optimistic” panties today. In fact, I think they got lost in the wash along with a good portion of my sanity.
Here’s the bottom line as I see it: nobody can tell me what is going to happen an hour from now, let alone a week, a month, a year or even several years down the road. It has very little to do with our particular brand of issue (gender variance) and everything to do with life as we all know it. Sure, my “daughter with a penis” is an extreme situation, but is it really all that different from one’s effeminate son? Their troubled marriage? Their financial struggles? Wouldn’t we all like to see all things ambiguous and chronic erased from our daily lives? Well, maybe you wouldn’t, but at this point, I know that I would.