TW: violence, dysphoria, suicide

When I imagine my death, it’s usually a cinder block. I don’t know if there’s any special significance to that. If I’m going to die in a dark ally with my head bashed in, I see one of those hollow heavy grey bricks that litter the side of the road next to a construction site. Easy enough to grab, heavy enough to hurt when thrown. Big enough to kill me.

If that seems macabre – certainly it is. It’s also a fact of life for anyone who decides to come out as transgender. Regardless of how safe we feel in any given moment or how happy we are, we are aware of the constant background hum of danger that permeates our environment. This is a fear that every trans person shares. It never goes away. It’s a powerful fear for anyone still in the closet, and it’s still a powerful fear for anyone who has lived publically for decades. Trans people should have an instinctive sympathy for any other group who lives in the persistent shadow of sudden and irrevocable violence. You can’t trust law enforcement. If you’re white, once you’ve crossed that gender line you can no longer trust white privilege to carry the day under duress. If you’re a POC in addition to being trans, well . . . the statistics speak for themselves, and should never be far from the mind of any trans person regardless of their respective level of privilege. We’re all of us under siege, and the only people we can count on are each other.

With this in mind – and it’s never really far from our minds – most arguments against coming out of the closet as transgender fall completely flat. Any person who has already made a decision that carries the real possibility not only of death but – if you’re “lucky” – assault, injury, rape, harassment, discrimination, humiliation, and isolation will not be dissuaded by logic paradoxes, pedantic word games, or outdated science “facts.” We feel this so strongly that we’re willing to die rather than put up with a lie for one day longer than absolutely necessary. If you’re openly trans, this doesn’t even need to be said. You’ve already made the decision and are fully aware of the consequences both real and potential. If you’re not trans, it might seem strange that someone fully aware of these consequences would still make the choice freely and enthusiastically. If you see a trans person in public, know that they are fully aware of just how much danger they are in at all times. They know this and they choose to take this risk every day.

That’s how much it hurts.

Trans people understand the meaning of dysphoria. We don’t need to have it explained. We all have it. While it manifests differently in everyone, it shares some traits that can all be traced back to the root problem at the heart of transgender life: a disjunction between mind and body. The old saw about being “born in the wrong body” is simplistic and reductive, and even though it remains popular as a means of describing the experience of dysphoria among cis folk, it does as much harm as good by obscuring what is in reality a far more complex and ineluctable process. Dysphoria is a difficult condition to describe because for someone who doesn’t have it the condition can appear completely intangible. Phrases like “born in the wrong body” take root because they offer a thumbnail explanation for people whose education on the issue is no bigger than a thumbnail.

Being transgender is seen as a choice by the vast majority of cis people, and even many supposedly educated and progressive individuals sometimes fall back on the language of choice and volition to describe the process – as in, he wants to become a woman, or she wishes she had been born a man (note the intentional misgendering). What is usually left out here is the unspoken corollary: since (the thinking goes) no rational person would make the conscious decision to change genders, then the desire to “switch” must be seen as an inherently irrational act. Since transgender people make irrational decisions, they are perforce irrational, mentally unbalanced. Even if they are treated with sympathy it must be a condescending sympathy such as you might use when addressing a mental patient (and while we’re at it, transgender folks often also get a fair dose of the same stigma attached to mental illness, especially if they also happen to have any kind of mental illness that could be used to cast doubt on the soundness of their decision making).

It takes a great deal of empathetic imagination for a cis person to try to inhabit such an alien sensation as dysphoria, because that’s exactly what it is: a feeling of pure alienation, of unfamiliarity and confusion, that emerges from the experience of feeling at cross purposes with your own body. If you aren’t trans, it’s an incommunicable paradigm. It doesn’t fit easily in a thumbnail. It’s not about “wrong body,” as there’s nothing innately wrong with my body. It’s the way dysphoria makes my own body seem like an alien organism that’s the problem, and transition is the best way of making headway against the problem, by bringing the “outside” more in line with the “inside.” For so long as the exterior and interior sensations remain different, the organism will persist in a state of constant pain.

(I should note that this is purely my experience and terminology – every trans person feels differently. There is no monolithic consensus on what dysphoria feels like, or how to describe the sensation, because there is no consistency. Everyone feels it differently, and the language individual persons use to describe their specific kind of dysphoria can sometimes be contentious, even if the proximate phenomena described all stem from the same ultimate source.)

Even sympathetic listeners can have a difficult time grasping facts that are patently obvious to any trans person: why would anyone make this choice? But that’s a category error. This isn’t a choice, and it’s not about sex, or even comfort. The choice of whether or not to transition is certainly real and critical, but the choice to become transgender simply doesn’t exist. You either are or you aren’t, and if you are, you know it. No one who doesn’t feel dysphoria can possibly understand the sensation. It’s a unique brand of hell. It’s a pain sufficient enough to make any risk seem small for even the barest hint of relief at the other end. The decision is probably the most momentous of our lives, with consequences that reach to the moment of our deaths and beyond. It’s not something anyone chooses lightly, and no trans person can stand in judgment of anyone who sees the danger and chooses to remain in the relative safety of the closet. We all know the steep personal cost of living a lie. But by that same token no trans person who chooses to remain silent has any right to cast aspersions on those who act to seek relief.

So who am I writing this for? Certainly not for any other trans person who has already made the decision to come out of the closet and live as themselves. They already know anything I have to say, and since I’m still very early in my transition myself they probably know better than I do. When I was just beginning this journey I read and absorbed every scrap of information I could find on being transgender. So many aspects seemed right, and seemed to answer in one stroke so many of the problems I had consistently experienced in my life. But because dysphoria is such a strange and terrible beast it was difficult to find people writing about precisely how it feels. If you are still unsure whether or not you actually are trans, you may have no idea how to quantify what you feel, because it will have been literally all you knew from a very young age – if not childhood, then certainly adolescence, which is when puberty hit and my relatively happy childhood transformed into an unremitting mortal struggle almost overnight. I have suffered every day since roughly my thirteenth birthday, with no real understanding of why, other than the vague certainty (vague because I never bothered to even voice my conviction) that everybody else was unhappy as well. I just assumed everyone felt like this all the time, and marveled at just how productive everyone else managed to be.

I never had a word for what I was. Out transgender people used to be very rare, and I didn’t (knowingly) meet one until well into my thirties. Now of course we are in the midst of a great awakening, and it’s not hard to figure out why. There are many people like me who suffered in silence and lacked the words to properly describe how they felt. There are probably many of us who were also treated for persistent depression, and wondered why the pills did little more than cover up the most obnoxious symptoms. Furthermore, there are many – perhaps many more people even than the first category – who knew full well what they were from a very young age, but were betrayed by a culture that until recently did everything within its power to sweep any signs of gender variance under the proverbial rug.

Whether they remained painfully ignorant or simmered in full awareness, many people were trapped in the closet because they had no clue there was another way to live. But in the last few years trans people began to appear on the news with increasing frequency. Then we started popping up in the most banal of surroundings. We showed up at your work, in the supermarket, at parties, on magazine covers and the television. People who never understood why they were different suddenly had the words to describe what felt wrong. They saw normal boring transgender people living normal boring lives and realized that the pain they felt in the deep and hidden recesses of their soul actually had a name, and that the means of addressing this pain was within their grasp if they only had the courage to take it.

There’s a reason why people often half-jokingly refer to being trans as a kind of virus: many trans folk live lives of quiet desperation until the day they stumble upon another of our kind. Even if we don’t realize it at the time, this encounter plants the seed that will later bloom into awareness, and with that awareness the imperative urge to act against the source of our misery. Every new person who climbs out of the closet carries with them a lifeline to throw down for the next.

So who am I writing this for? Not for other trans people. We already know what dysphoria feels like, how it hurts and rips and grinds away at your innards until you’re left with nothing but a thin grey paste in place of your ambition, motivation, desire, and capacity for joy. But maybe someone who doesn’t have words to express what they feel might stumble on these words and see something they recognize. Or maybe someone who isn’t transgender at all might be able to understand a little better just why it is we are this way, and why we do the things we do. It’s not because we want to, or because we like it, or even because we’re compelled, although we can and do certainly feel all those sensations. Ultimately we do it because it’s who we are, and there’s nothing on Earth that can make us forget that for so long as a single instant.

People who’ve lost limbs frequently perceive a kind of phantom sensation. Even if they don’t feel outright pain stemming from the brain’s inability to understand that a part of the body is gone, they still might feel as if their fingers are still there, tapping on the table or holding a glass. It’s a disconcerting feeling. When I was young my dad lost part of his hand in an accident. He never felt a lot of pain afterwards, but he did sometimes feel the unsettling sensation that his fingers were still attached to his hand, even if he knew they were gone – essentially a ghost story that your body tells your brain.

Sometimes my dysphoria feels like a phantom limb – only instead of a single limb, it’s an entire phantom body dragging behind me as I go through my life. Because I am a relatively late bloomer, I didn’t know what it was. It just felt as if I were dragging around a 180-lb sack of flour behind me. The older I got the heavier it got. Sometimes I would get insights – dreams, flashes of perception, the certainty that I might be happier if I did things a different way. But no lasting insight ever followed, just more confusion. As the phantom body became increasingly heavy, my life became increasingly hard. The burden only gets worse.

Other times, it feels like I’m being squeezed in the grip of an iron hand. I’ve been squeezed for so long I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t feel as if I were being crushed under a great weight. I can’t actually see the fingers wrapped around my body, so there’s no perception of anything being amiss – doesn’t everyone always feel like they’re being squeezed like a tube of toothpaste in a vice? It’s easy to get used to pain if it’s all you’ve ever known.

I don’t particularly feel dysphoria associated with specific parts of my body, but I chalk that up to the fact that I remained ignorant of my condition for so long. Without even a clue as to what I was, there was no reason in my mind (or so I tell myself, I may be completely wrong) to fixate on any part of my body as especially problematic. The truth was, I hated my entire body. I had an ugly face, ugly figure, took no care of myself, ate like a hog. I was killing myself slowly, because I couldn’t bring myself to live any other way, and I didn’t have the wherewithal to kill myself quickly. I felt no investment in the care and upkeep of my physical form. I wanted it to just disappear, and often fantasized about being able to separate my mind and live incorporeally – an odd desire for an otherwise healthy person, no? But I knew all along there was something about this body I didn’t like. I was never able to feel attractive or desirable in any way, so I wrapped myself in cheap department store clothing and got the ugliest haircuts I could manage, even when I could have afforded better. I didn’t like looking in mirrors because I knew what I’d see: a body and face that seemed to belong to someone else.

Society is still prejudiced against anyone who suffers from an intangible malady. It took decades for PTSD to be recognized as a legitimate condition by the medical establishment. Anyone who suffers from depression is familiar with the shame that comes from feeling sick without having any visible symptoms. People don’t like malingerers, or lazy leeches, or folks who soak up disability benefits just because they “feel bad.” Everyone feels bad, after all, but most people suck it up and get on with it. It has taken decades for the public to accept mental illness as a legitimate condition suffered by people in all walks of life, but old prejudices persist – especially given the Darwinian nature of modern life in the industrialized west, where everyone hates everyone else all the time, especially anyone who is perceived as being a “scrounger” or parasite or just different.

Transgender people do not suffer from a mental illness, regardless of what anti-trans activists would have you believe. This has now been confirmed by psychiatry, even if that information will take a long time to filter down to the general public. That is not to say that psychiatric care can’t be very helpful for us, as we are often dealing with decades of emotional trauma stemming from the attempt to bury and deny our nature. But it is important to remember that we do share one very significant intersection with the mentally ill: you can’t touch or poke or cut where it hurts, and people who do not suffer like that do not trust people who do. Scientists can investigate physiological causes and effects of dysphoria all they want (and they should continue to do so, despite the understandable wariness of many to wade into contested waters), but you can’t put a cast or a Band-Aid on brain chemistry.

And this is the problem. There’s an old saying stemming back to the Watergate scandal: it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. Living as transgender doesn’t have to hurt. It doesn’t have to result in such high rates of suicide and murder. It doesn’t have to destroy so many lives both directly and indirectly. There is treatment that works. There is rock-solid consensus in the medical community that transition can alleviate the symptoms of dysphoria. It’s not the “crime” of being transgender that makes us suffer, it’s the world we live in where most “normal” people would rather die than imagine our lives and choices as being in any way necessary or legitimate. We do everything possible to hide from the truth about ourselves, and it’s this attempt to hide – to fight against something that every cell in our body conditions us to need like mothers’ milk itself – that creates the conditions which make life so difficult for transgender people.

What if we didn’t have to worry about something so simple as walking down the street? What if we didn’t have to risk social isolation and ostracism from our families by transitioning? What if everyone else we met in the course of our day just accepted this fact with the same equanimity as if they met a left-handed person? (Not that long ago lefties were stigmatized, too.) What if we could be certain of finding a sympathetic and compassionate ear within the health care industry, without the often unbearable stress of having to navigate through medical systems designed not necessarily to provide us with the best care but to placate the (imaginary) fears of quote-unquote “normal” people?

The answer is that we’d all be a lot happier, and we wouldn’t be killing ourselves in such high numbers. As it is now, every transgender person understands what it’s like to think about suicide, to live with the ever-present possibility that one day you will wake up and discover that the phantom life trailing behind you is just too heavy to carry for one more day, and that the suffering caused by prejudice and hatred is more powerful than your will to survive. We also know – even if there are many understanding and caring folks, and more every day, who do their best to accommodate and love us even if they can never perfectly understand our suffering – that transgender people are often socially isolated. Often the only connection transgender people have with other transgender people is virtual. There’s a lot to be said for being able to carry on friendships and love affairs at a great distance, but it is ultimately no substitute for being around other individuals like yourself, people who feel the same burning pain that you do and understand precisely what this condition can do to a person if left unchecked.

Transgender people are in pain. You can’t see it or touch it, but it’s every bit as real as the hair on your head. It hurts. It causes the type of mental, emotional, and physical anguish that can make suicide seem like a reasonable option. It’s overbearing. It dominates every aspect of your life. The longer you fight it, the weaker you get, and the weaker you get the more it takes over your soul until you feel like there’s nothing left of “you” anymore, just a pit of anguish where your heart used to be. Closeted transgender people often stumble into bad, abusive, or dysfunctional relationships because they just can’t bring themselves to care – or worse, they want to punish themselves. It turns even the most self-possessed and confident individuals into shells, hollowed out husks going through the motions of their lives while secretly – maybe even not so secretly – building the courage to kill themselves.

Some would probably be more comfortable if we did just that. The grim statistics involving the suicide rate among teens and young adults who are forced into conversion therapy speak for themselves. Behind every transgender person who kills themself after failing to be “fixed,” there may very well be a family who is more comfortable living with the memory of their beloved son than the reality of a disgraced daughter.

So in answer to the question posed at the top of the essay, what does it feel like for me? For me and millions of other transgender people across the world, dysphoria feels like hell on earth. It feels like you’re being smothered. It feels like you’re drowning. It feels like you’re on fire. It can make you want to hurt yourself in the most savage way possible just for the promise of some fleeting relief – seek out the stories of trans men who can’t afford top surgery and resort to desperate means to rid themselves of their breasts, if you don’t believe me.

Perhaps worst of all, it makes you feel utterly alone. Even if you live in a medium-sized city, there may not be any other transgender people around you. Because transgender people are so loathed by so many, and carry so many burdens in addition to just our dysphoria, we are often emotionally needy and very insecure. This can drive away friends and family who would otherwise be more sympathetic – if it didn’t actually involve putting themselves out in any way. There’s an empathy gap between transgender people and even the most well meaning allies, who simply cannot understand the mortal urgency transgender people feel. From another angle the behavior of a transgender person might seem crazy or obstinate, but I can assure you for every single one of us it’s a matter of pure survival. Out of the fire and into the frying pan, because at least in the frying pan you have a chance.

Why do transgender people choose to transition despite all the inevitable negative consequences? Because it’s do or die. The only choice left at that point is slow or quick. If you fight to make it harder for transgender people to transition or to gain recognition for their gender, you are contributing to a status quo that kills transgender people. If you want us dead, you should have the courage to say so to our faces instead of inflicting the “death by a thousand cuts” of doubt, suspicion, condescension, and apathy. If you want to know why we seem so angry, and why we might not have the patience to listen to so many “reasonable” arguments regarding whether or not we actually exist, it’s because we’re literally dying in the streets. If we’re not being murdered, we’re killing ourselves.

There is no anti-trans argument that can possibly convince a transgender person that the pain they feel isn’t real. Deny that this pain exists, insist that our behavior is pathological and unhealthy, tell us our own lived experiences are invalid, tell us we’re fetishists who are acting out on misogynistic sexual fantasies, and don’t be surprised if transgender people stop engaging with you altogether. (Those types of arguments stop cold at the existence of trans men, incidentally – funny how that works.) It’s not our responsibility to validate ourselves for you, we have to work hard enough just to validate ourselves to ourselves. Transition is the ultimate act of self-validation, the decision to stand up for our own survival and happiness regardless of whatever obstacles society chooses to throw at us. Specious reasoning will not sway anyone with the courage and will to publicly transition.

Transgender people don’t want to be special, and we’re not doing it for attention. Quite the opposite: if you aren’t rich and famous, “attention” for transgender people often translates as “danger.” (Just look at the statistics regarding sexual assault among trans women.) We are not “special snowflakes,” and we would give anything we have to not be considered special in the least. I believe that deep down what we all long for is just to be accepted as quote-unquote “normal,” just to live a life free of the harmful effects of prejudice, one in which the most interesting thing about us doesn’t have to be our gender identity. There is no logical argument or “reasonable objection” or “Devil’s Advocate” position that we haven’t heard and already countered. We’ve spent years – decades, in some cases – steeped in intense discussion of gender politics and relentless self-examination. We know every out-of-date, refuted, problematic, and biased study you are about to cite. We know more than you do about this topic. Trust us just this once.

Rather than trying to reify long obsolete notions of inherent gender traits – or worse, gender essentialism – transgender people are proof that gender norms are not absolute. Cultural conditioning is nonetheless strong. There is no genetic marker that hardwires girls to like the color pink and frilly dresses, but there are social norms that dictate “proper” behavior for men and women, norms that become ubiquitous the moment a child exits the womb. A trans woman who puts on makeup and a dress isn’t engaging in some cruel parody of femininity, and certainly isn’t operating from a place of male privilege or misogyny. Few people understand better the harm toxic masculinity and rape culture can inflict than trans women, who learn from a young age to despise their own emotions for being insufficiently masculine, and to police their every action for any sign of nonconformity that could signal weakness, being a “fag” or a “sissy.” Is it any wonder that an estrogen-starved transgender brain would latch onto the signifiers that our own culture dictates as intrinsic to womanhood and femininity?

Whatever kinds of clothing or behavior a trans woman adopts in order to treat their dysphoric feelings have been adopted because of their cultural associations with the concept of appropriate feminine behavior, just as transgender men recreate themselves according to their understanding of appropriate masculine behavior. This also goes a long way to explaining why there are so many varieties of transgender women besides just the stereotypical high-gloss femme presentation familiar from media portrayals of transgender life. There are transgender women with the preppy style of suburban soccer moms, transgender women who identify as hard butch lesbians, and transgender women who reside at every stop in between. If you don’t like the way some (but by no means all) trans women reflect the “feminine ideal,” change the culture that instills rigid and harmful gender stereotypes in children from such a young and impressionable age. Don’t blame the people who are themselves victims of these constricting binaries. (Although I obviously cannot presume to speak about the experiences of trans men first-hand, I do know from conversations that they suffer from similar existential dilemmas concerning how to avoid reifying harmful masculine stereotypes while still embracing the positive aspects of their own masculine nature.) The only “gender essentialism” transgender people embrace is the very simple understanding that estrogen and testosterone produce different effects on the human body, and that a brain and body that developed in such a way as to respond to one would rebel if provided with the other. This would appear in isolation to be a fairly incontrovertible idea, about as controversial as middle-school Life Science class, but apparently not.

So what does it feel like for me? It feels so awful that I would rather risk my own violent death at the hands of a cinder block wielding bigot; risk assault and rape; accept that I am going to have to waste time explaining my most intimate and painful personal struggles over and over again for the rest of my life; accept the fact that not merely will I receive hatred and fear from the usual suspects on the lunatic fringe of the far right but from ideologues on the left who should naturally be my allies in the fight against misogyny, toxic masculinity, and rape culture; deal with insincerity and condescension on a daily basis even from supposed friends; endure a constant stream of intentional and unintentional microaggressions from a large percentage of the people I will ever encounter; take medication that was not designed for the purpose for which I am using it and consequently carries seriously unpleasant and quality-of-life-impacting side effects (such as needing to pee all the damn time, which makes ready access to public bathrooms a necessity for any trans woman who wants to leave the house, ever); accept that anyone who chooses to debate my very existence in any forum will never believe any evidence contrary to their beliefs even as the scientific consensus in our favor continues to strengthen, and even to the extent of denying basic principles of biology; grapple with the constant feelings of depression and anxiety which – even were I not already prone to mental illness – are experienced by every trans person as the direct result of all the above problems; understand that no matter how loudly I scream and how reasonable my demands I will have to fight tooth and claw for every scrap of dignity that society chooses to bestow out of a sense of noblesse oblige;  realize that so many of the comforts and pleasures afforded to quote-unquote “normal” people (such as organized religion and sports) will remain forever closed to me under most circumstances; recognize that my employment prospects might be severely limited, possibly resulting in a life of penury; and finally, after all is said and done, resolve myself to the fact that even as more and more people come out as transgender and we begin to make our presence felt across every layer of society, few if any of these problems stand to be ameliorated any time soon.

And then if I can run the gauntlet of every single one of these terrible consequences of coming out as transgender, I’m still left at the end of the day trapped in a life-or-death struggle with my own worst enemy, myself. The dysphoria never really goes away. Combine that with the pain of having to live in this imperfect world and it’s no wonder that so many of us decide we just can’t take it anymore.

That’s what it feels like for me.

But that’s not the whole story.

What is often left out of even the most generous accounts of transgender life, the accounts that focus – just like this essay so far – on all the negative, dangerous, annoying, and disheartening aspects of living this strange life of our, is how good it feels.

(Are we not supposed to talk about that in public?)

Imagine for a moment that you are being held in that imaginary vice grip that is dysphoria. You can’t breathe. You can’t see the hand that is wringing the life from your body, drop by drop. But once you make the commitment to transition – the hand eases up. Just a little bit at first, barely perceptible. But enough. Just enough so you can feel it.

Imagine for a moment that you believed yourself incapable of feeling joy. Imagine for just a moment that you had convinced yourself that this pallid, grey, tasteless, angry, hollow, agonizing imitation of life was all there was. And then you feel something. A loosening of the invisible chains that drag you down, that dig into your muscles and bend your bones until they threaten to snap. The phantom life you’ve been dragging around behind you gets just a little bit less heavy.

Have you ever had to sit in a really uncomfortable position for a very long time? Say, on a long car trip? After a while your back starts to hurt, your butt cramps up, your knees ache from needing so badly to be flexed. And when you stop for gas and walk around a bit it feels so good. You stretch and the fatigue dissipates. You feel lighter, somehow. You don’t want to get back in that car, even though you have someplace you have to be. Your body rebels, but you do what you have to do.

If you’re transgender, you’re surrounded every day by pain and negativity. But what keeps you going is the relief you get from finally, finally, being free to actually express yourself, to put down that burden of secrecy and shame, to live however the fuck you want. It is the greatest feeling in the world. If you’ve grown up knowing nothing but the agony of dysphoria, the first twinges of relief set off a chain reaction that rewires your entire brain. Suddenly, even if you’re still aware of the discomfort, you have a spark of hope in your heart, a flash of pleasure and happiness and wholeness that simply cannot be adequately described to anyone who has not lived a life defined by such inescapable, painful restrictions.

Another metaphor: I never needed glasses until I was 25. My vision had deteriorated for years and I was oblivious – I held books closer to my face, peered two inches away from the computer screen, and could no longer see fine details on the TV. I realized after the headaches wouldn’t go away that I should probably get my vision checked, and they gave me a prescription for my first-ever pair of glasses. The moment I put on those new glasses the blurry world fell into focus. It was such a sudden shock, I may even have performed a double-take. Because I didn’t know just how badly my vision had deteriorated, seeing the world clearly for the first time in years was both unsettling and liberating. Suddenly I could see and it was the most brilliant sensation, but the knowledge that I had let things get so bad in the first place filled me with frustration. How could I have let things get to such a state?

Realizing you are trans, coming out to yourself as trans, coming out to other people as trans, and beginning the long and painful project of transitioning – it’s like seeing the world in focus for the very first time. Only instead of just your eyes, it’s everything – every cell in your body. Everything feels right. The pain of dysphoria never quite leaves, it’s always there, and it often returns in full force at the least convenient times. Transition is the one weapon we have in our arsenal: nothing else works. Nothing else comes even close. Believe me, we’ve tried.

So you ask, what does it feel like for me? It feels like everything all at once. All the good and the bad, the fear and the love, the worst conceivable existential agony juxtaposed against the most intensely fulfilling peace and joy, all day, every day. It’s exhausting. It’s exhilarating.

It feels like life.

by Megan O

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