Ah, so you are the one that reads all that crap. I do hope you come back and read it again. “The Big Bitch” paid me a great compliment this week when she told me that she reads a piece I wrote about her every couple of years, and every time she reads it she sees something new, sees it and herself in a new way. To her that means the work is deep, but to me that only means that Sabrina is getting deeper, now able to see meanings that were beyond her at a previous moment. I really think that’s the glory of repeated ritual, that since it doesn’t change but we do, we come to it new, but then again I wrote about that in one of those Christmas pieces.
I need to say a few things, and somehow I think I should say it to you. All this stuff is about me, of course — if it has meaning to you, well, that’s nice too.
I wrote years ago about the inability to actually be in two places at once. We can’t do that, really. But what we can do is vibrate so fast between two places it appears to people not moving that fast that we are in all of them. I used to illustrate this by holding up one finger and then shaking my hand from side to side so it looks to us that there are two fingers, plus a lot of shadows in between.
I believe that I am many parts, but I also believe that I can’t be all those parts at once. On one side is a broken human, lonely and in pain on top of the mountain, alone and bruised from a crushing life filled with stigma and pain. On the other side, however, is an incredibly potent shaman who walks with power and can throw lightning bolts of revelation from her fingertips.
I have come to believe that this is the power of shamans, the embodiment of the archetype of the wounded healer. We are taught and opened by our wounds, so that our power is tempered with our “monster empathy,” as Bear has called it. We cannot be healthy & powerful without our own broken hearts, and we cannot both be wounded & potent at the same time — we have to be both in a stroboscopic dance of humanity & divinity occupying the same body, the same space, the same heart.
I know I am potent. I know I am crushed. Both of these things are true. And in the American model, where value is only assigned to purity and not to ambiguity, only to simplicity and not to complexity, that assigns me the value of less than truthful.
How do we affirm the potent in us when the potent in us doesn’t nicely fit into other’s conceptions of the world? It’s easy to say God called you to nurse lepers and make dinner for doggies, but what if she calls you to hurl lightning bolts of insight that reveals illusion as false, calls you to walk though walls others think of as real, calls you to be the question? How do people affirm that?
It’s so much easier for them to pint out the other side of you, the hurting side, and say that is sickness, illness and that needs to be challenged. I watched a bunch of straights watch “Fish Can’t Fly,” a group of interviews about the ex-gay movement, and watched how they didn’t get how potent those tales of moments when these people wanted to die were. Those were real, so real. But the mother whose child committed self-murder, well, she was understandable, because her story wasn’t about being queer, it was about being straight and enduring loss. That’s what they got, I sensed, that the whole trick was avoiding loss, and this woman had lost her daughter and that was sad, and she might have avoided that loss if she wasn’t homophobic.
In the discussion after, they invited me to come back to their church on Sunday. Not because they thought the church could serve me, or more than that they wanted me to give my gifts, to open to me, no just because they wanted someone to fly the queer flag and show how cool they are. “Come and be visible, then go away,” I heard.
I know how powerful I am. Just this week, at the same church service, I met someone I worked with for years. I told her a story my way, starting with an anecdote, and felt the need to tell her that this would connect with what we were talking about. “There is always a connection with you,” she smiled. I have long been a unique character, but also one hiding from my power. I told a friend that I was called to carry the history, to see patterns, and not just to be in the now, and got the reply “You do it better than anyone I have ever met.”
But I also know how wounded I am. And between those two, the depth of my wounds and the power of my vision, it’s hard for people to engage me, easy for them just to throw me in the overwhelming pile, too hard, too intense, too much. I embody the gifts of creation and the wounds of humanity, and while I couldn’t be who I am without both of them, I know being who I am is hard.
This whole notion of being more than one thing, of living in the cycle — even though most cycles aren’t nearly as fast as mine — is really important to understanding trans. Most trannys have an in and out cycle, a natural procession of how they put their focus to being a tame part of society and being a wild part of God’s nature. We transfer on this slow cycle because that’s what fits into the world, and whatever part of the cycle we are in, we usually claim purity, that this is who we are, who we have really always been and who we will be in the future. That’s a credible claim in a country for whom history and connection are just messy details, not a glimpse of a rich and nuanced tapestry of life.
How do we become empowered when the frequency of our lives moves us back and forth through what others see as walls, and they see us as becoming invisible or false and then visible or real again and again and again and again? We know that this vibration is required, that we cannot be in multiple places at once, but that sliding through the points of the circle really does make us what we are. Others though, well, that seems to be illusory, a chimera, not real.
To perform with credibility and to live with liminality is one of the hardest things anyone can do. It is so easy to get caught by the ankle and held in place, and while we may still flicker in our heart, mind and spirit, our power drains when we cannot be fully present, and so all we can be is to be wounded.
This probably makes little sense to you.
But it is what slices my heart to ribbons.