The Origin of Strength

1995 self portrait

Two days ago, I was “on stage” for the first podiums discussion of my life. It was a very good, fascinating experience. Best of all, it moved something within me and gave me pause. Amidst differing opinions, I recognized my own stubbornness and realized my discussion partners and I all wanted the same, even had similar histories. We had just somehow taken slightly varying paths. These winding roads seemed to have led us to the same idealistic goals: to be ourselves no matter what and to make the world a better place, for everyone, if only slightly.

Listening to various stories and notions, I also began to question, “Where does my strength come from? Why can I overcome hardships that might break others? Do I have stubborn genes?”
Don’t get me wrong. I often pondered committing suicide in the past. I often battled depression and despair. But I would somehow manage to grab myself by the ears and pull myself out of the swamp – over and over again. And I would berate myself, “Liam, stop this nonsense and stop feeling sorry for yourself. It doesn’t lead anywhere.”

Overall, I think, I was able to deal with the transgender-related issues in my life in a reasonably positive manner because I saw them in perspective to everything else that was happening. (By the way, the picture shows me nineteen years ago when I was twenty-four.) Brazenly put, my life was a “shit-storm”, and in relation to all else, being a transgender man was just one of my bigger problems. I am an orphan; had a heavy case of spasticity as a child and could barely walk; my adoptive mom is a paranoid neurotic who turned my childhood into a minefield; and I was married twice under rather traumatic circumstances. I could continue. The list of challenges is long.

Nevertheless, self-pity or giving up was and is not ever a solution. A sense of humor is essential. And recognizing that everyone we look at has their own story to deal with. As cliché as it sounds, we are not alone in our pain.
When I look at myself and at my gift of compassion and understanding towards others, I am almost glad life kept throwing obstacles in my way. My soul definitely grew because of it. And the more happens, the more I survive, the more I know I can survive anything – WE, dear friends, can survive anything – except, of course, our inevitable death.

Here is to life! Let’s make the most of it.

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