A lifetime of questions answered in a single realization… a love story about gender recognition
In early spring of this past year, I found myself on a precipice. I was painfully aware of the inner turmoil that was gripping me with increasing force, and was at a complete loss as to any solutions. It had been years since the last time I’d felt so hopeless, but this time a few significant differences prevented me from allowing the same degree of self-destruction to ensue. Since discovering that I was HIV positive, I’d settled into an entirely new life and paradigm in New York City while rehabilitating from a dangerous drug addiction. I was immersed in a supportive community that revolved around holistic wellness, and among people who exalted me within it. I’d developed more or less of a persona, a brand even, wherein the Bearded Yogi could facilitate Karma Yoga, a philosophy and lifestyle that was becoming my life’s work.
The happier it seemed I ought to have been on the surface, the more potent my anguish would become.
All I knew for sure was that expressing my authentic feelings was a priority no matter what, and that whatever happened, I was committed to sharing the true journey with my friends and family through the words and images I began to publish on my personal website.
This commitment led me to take the first steps toward what I call the “Pilgrimage of Divine Love.” I had come too far in life to ignore the signs that were surfacing. It was once again time for a great shift in direction. I was caught up in the daily grind of surviving in New York City, while trying to access the means to continue down a more fulfilling path of synthesizing my passions for philanthropy, yoga, connection, and active service. Simultaneously, my own deep stuff was continually rising up, and as I participated in self-work and sought the guidance of various healers and teachers over the years, I dug deeper into the meat, the ugly stuff that we’d rather not look at or feel, and eventually the perfect storm had manifested itself to once again knock me off course. Or onto my true course, as it turns out.
My decision to go spend a few months in the Bahamas this spring and summer stemmed from my connection to the Sivananda Yoga Ashram, where several years prior I’d already spent two years and left with a certificate to teach yoga in hand. I needed a safe and quiet space to go inward. I sensed the great importance of finding such an environment, and this was the ideal place. I took my camera and my notebooks, my meditation cushion and my tent, and I knew that I would return a different person. I had no idea just how different…
While at the ashram, I examined my entire life. I turned toward the painful memories instead of away from them, and I shone a spotlight on the darkest, dimmest corners of my consciousness. Day by day, I wrote in my journal and made a great effort to care lovingly for myself amid a rigorous schedule of yoga and meditation. Slowly, layer after layer of the persona I’d created to wear as a protective shell shed itself to reveal a vulnerable but strong inner child who’d been clamoring to be heard and seen my whole life, and who I’d spent so much valuable energy ignoring, out of fear.
As I became acquainted with this inner being, the true me, I understood that she has always been a woman.
The magnitude of that moment of realization, that I am in fact a trans woman and have been all along, is impossible to describe. The difference between every moment leading up to it, and every moment afterward, is immense and undeniable. The vague sense of disconnection with myself I’d always felt but never quite identified was in glaring opposition to the sudden wholeness that replaced it, as if fissures had been filled in and sealed at last. All of the experiences I’d unearthed from my childhood memories while at the ashram no longer held the degree of power over me they had previously. Released from their grip, I had come full circle through my devotion to complete surrender throughout this process. At long last, I allowed my true self to blossom as I’d always sensed possible yet never quite grasped how to enact.
The most exciting thing about all this, is that it’s only the beginning. The wholeness I’d been seeking for so long, and the self-love and self-acceptance I’d spent years craving are now newly integrated into my being, and fill me with a fresh sense of awareness about everything. Seeing the world through the eyes of a trans woman informs each moment in an entirely different way. The hormones I’ve started taking have filled my body with a sense of fullness and ease that is both unfamiliar after a lifetime of running and hiding from myself, and more familiar than anything else I’ve ever experienced.
And my biggest feeling of gratitude is for being able to share this journey with you. The “Pilgrimage of Divine Love” is simply my own name for a model of living in which we listen to the signals life whispers to us as we go about our days and accept the challenges we are handed — to face fearlessly our deepest insecurities when we are given the opportunity to do so. In my opinion, it is only in this way that we merge with Divine Love, the divine love within that we can’t go without.
You may also enjoy reading Desire to Heal by Jase Cannon