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Being Max

Today is going to be amazing.

My Medifast is supposed to be on the truck for delivery. It should be here soon. I found a really old pic of me.. I’d already lost twenty pounds by the time that photo was taken. I had literally nearly eaten myself to death.

The last time I’d been at a healthy weight before that I was in Montana... my kids were still kids, not teenagers - though that part of our lives were getting started - and that’s a whole book, not even just another blog post. I was 150, doing Body for Life, my hair buz cut... I hadn’t really come to an understanding of who I was yet.

When I was really little, my life had, like all lives, some really ugly things and some really lovely things. The ugly in my early life is probably on the outter edge of reality for most folk in the US or Europe. My granddaddy was a very bad man. His wife was an icon for sins by looking the other way and my mom was paranoid schizophrenic with homicidal tendencies. My probable biological father must have been related to my grandmother. Unpleasantness ensued.

When my mom moved to California to marry a heroin addict and dealer, in the thriving heart of 1972 San Francisco... the slow and psychedelic death of hippy culture amid normal human violence, Jim Jones, and well meaning idiots who thought that the family was obviously the best place for a child - I came into consciousness like a survivor in a post apocalyptic wasteland. I was a boy. My name was Jerry (My birth name really was Jerri, but I always heard it Jerry.).

I was Huck Finn. I was Speed Racer. I was going to grow up and be a preacher.

And wow was I surprised when the folk in the foster home told me I could never be a preacher. I was a girl... in some disbelief of their own that.... like.. how in the hell did this kid not know that!

Those folk were related to the folk who kept giving me back to my heroin addicted mommy who probably meant well, but kept trading me to guys for hits of her happiness, and well, that meant... at least to me..that the foster family swearing I was really a girl and God was going to give me a nice husband someday... Well, their credibility wasn’t really high with me.

I’m not sure it would have mattered if I’d thought the world of them. Mark Twain himself could have told me, indisputably that I was a girl, and I won’t have believed him.

When my mother married her fourth husband. He sure thought I was a girl.. but he was also really nice to me. That was a super new experience for me at 11-13.. for someone to just be nice to me.. give me food, smile at me, teach me things.  I didn’t care if he thought I was a girl. I was sure when I got taller I was going to be just like him.

Oh boy.. was I wrong on that one. I still can’t do a standing jump over a mailbox and I don’t have sex with children.

Then my mom almost shot me.. and I mostly didn’t care. Not that there wasn’t a whole lot of wrong in my world on that day, but pretending to be a girl was a thread in that rope.

The pressure to conform to other people’s expectations got to a fever pitch in high school. It didn’t really come from my classmates who, for the most part, wrote me off as strange and possibly dangerous, but definitely strange.

It was the freaking teachers and counselors who couldn’t deal with someone who didn’t fit into gender expectations.  It’s like all the little chickies get sorted into this path or that path and they all do the right things succeed as much as they can, get white picket fences, make more chickies, pay taxes, die like nice little disposable paper cups.

And Oh my god.. I tried so hard. Drove me nuts.. like everything that came out of my mouth was a lie until life had no meaning at all.

I was pregnant at 15.

Poor kid. Best thing that came out of it for him was that he gets to be alive and alive is the best thing of all. I was a good parent the way paper cups make great suspension bridges. Yeah. That worked out well.

His dad raised him. I wish I could have saved me from my past, him from my past.

I was just about living on the streets. My employer was asking me for sex.. I was lost and seventeen.. .legally emancipated... and about as sane as... paper cups.

My daughter’s dad found me in that state and took me home. I got to go back to high school. He got his happy place. There were so many cats on his family farm. I love cats!

When my oldest daughter was born... she gave new meaning to everything. I can honestly say up until that moment... I’d never really loved anyone or anything.... life was simply about surviving and not getting bruises. Oh my god... she was so beautiful, so perfect, and I love her to this day with a love that is beyond measure.

I became a woman. I went to therapy... several times a week, at least once a week, for six years. I went to parenting classes. I built a person who could be a good parent. I have no way to express how utterly precious she was.
A couple years later I was gifted again with another daughter.  My second daughter is like salt. Not as shiny as gold, but you can’t live without it. My love for her is a slightly different color, but no less immeasurable than my love for her sister.

They got spanked once. I was in a Christian church and it was all about spank or spoil.  Those folk were wrong. They must be related to the foster family folk. My daughters got yelled at a couple times in their lives. I lost my temper once and threw a shoe across the room. Snow scares me.. reminds me of my grandfather.

Both of them have grown into powerful and magnificent human beings that I don’t really have anyway to understand. Their experience is just so different than mine. I’m so proud of them, but I’m also a little afraid of the less polished parts of me being a bad influence on them. Fear is contagious.

And all that love... so bright and shiny, so like the sun, but I smile and nod, let them pass me by, go on with their lives as if I’ve just got better things to do. It’s not like they’re five and how to parent is so easy to understand. And there I’m torn in half... screaming inside as my soul boils with a need that can’t be met.  How can what I long for most in all the world.. to know them, to love them, to be accepted by them... just come down to my past makes me poisonous and I must smile and nod.. the wise Mustafa who brings no harm.. when I am the boiling sun that screams at the oppressive night?

Yeah. Well. That came out as well as it could, I think.

Just because you can’t have one thing, don’t mean you can’t have another.

My name is Max.
I like who I am.
Ya get some things.
Ya don’t get others.

I write. I paint.
I’m going to take care of my body.
I’m going to sculpt it until those outside of me can see me as I am.. as ****I**** actually AM.

I am not a uterus to be owned by a husband or a society.
I am not the external expression of my genes.

I am Max.

This boiling fervent that runs between my ears, sits behind my eyes, sparkles with color and music and dance and friends - this is me.

Still an expression of my genes, the magic part of the code that built my brain, that responded to hormones while still inside my mother’s body - and one can say whatever one wishes to about her choices... but I survived and I thrive with with what I have - not what someone else would be more comfortable with me having.

All this thought because I ordered some diet food... but the choice to do that.. to embrace that... to work towards a healthy body.. all of it comes back to finding a way to love myself.

Yeah... this is gonna come out fucking fantastic!

I’m powerful and awesome - just like my kids.

It’s gonna be a fantastic day!

Me in 2007

Me in 2013

Me in 2014


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