You know, I think this is obvious, so I don't mention it, but sometimes I get reminded that I need to get this out there.

Yes, I am brilliant.

Yes, I am broken.

Yes, I am both, both brilliant and broken. 

There is a term for that state, a myth I have understood since I was very small.  It's called being the "wounded healer," and every human culture has that archetype somewhere in their mythology. 

I am brilliant because I am broken.  Being broken keeps me open, aware of my own feelings and the feelings of others.  That awareness of pain and joy, of where the sharp edges are keeps me brilliant, because I have the instinct, intution and insight that comes from shared pain.

I am broken because I am brilliant.  Being brilliant keeps my way illuminated, and that means I tend to see things, see connections and disconnections that can easily be missed when they are left in the shadows.  Anyone brilliant enough to see between, see though, and see below will always see where things are not right, wher suffering occurs, where people act out of pain & rage, out of stuffing & greed.

I drive down the road and see all the shiny new cars and while I can tell them apart, I have real trouble seeing where they are different.  It's just not something I see.

But I look at the faces of people and I see such a range of hearts, such a river of connections that it moves me, moves me deeply.

I know that many people are the other way.  They understand the symbolism of cars while the faces of the crowd around them blur together.  Cars don't need, don't bleed and don't feel pain.

I have a gift and that gift has a price.  I can't imagine how you can be exquisitely attuned and sensitive and also be compartmentalized and defended, easily sloughing off the routine slights & insults of everyday modern & mechanical society.  I try to strike a balance, but that balance is always off, always tearing, always wrong, because right is hard.

Am I sick?  Sure.  Am I a healer?  Sure.  It's what I do, but more than that, it is who I am.  I am a wounded healer.  And being a wounded healer means that you are never simply one thing or the other, but rather that you are liminal, on the limina, in the doorway, both and neither, all and nothing, at the same damn time.

I am deeply connected to what is important at the same time I have fallen off the grid. 

I am strong minded at the same time my weakness opens me to pain. 

I am lucid & lyrical at the same time I feel no one understands me.

I am out & naked at the same time I stay hidden.

I am the queerest person Kate knows because I am not just wildly indvidualistic, I am also conservatively tame at the same time, which makes me queer in the doorway, double queer.

I am terrfied and fearless, desiring and cleansing, intelligent and emotional, female and male, potent and impotent, grounded and flying, here and beyond, all at the same damn time.

This is the myth of the wounded healer, one who rises above by going below, one who bleeds from the heart while touching the godhead.   This is the mythical creature who can help others with their healing because they know the path of pain — the path of transformation — so well.

I remember a pyschologist who recently transitioned, and a client was somewhat surprised when a husky woman answered the door.   She offered to give the woman another refferal, but the woman looked at her for a bit and then finally said "No, no.  I think there are things I can learn from you."

That's what makes us so compelling, and that's what makes us so scary, because it is obvious that there is so much to learn from those who are in the doorway, and it is also obvious that once we go though that door, we will have to see our life (and our rationalizations about that life) in a new way forever more, both brand new and exactly who we always were at the same time.  

I know how I play small and sabotage my own power.  I also know how I fly free and walk with giants at the same time.  That's what I do.  I'm a wounded healer, one of the very many who have always existed and who only sometimes have been valued as seers, teachers and catalysts.

It's always obvious to me that I am one of those minor wounded healer types, so I assume it is obvious to others.  But unless you have come to understand those types, maybe by being one yourself — like Ms. Rachelle — I guess it's hard to understand those types.

I am living in eternity; I am living in a hovel; I am beautiful beyond measure; I am a bloody human mess.

I am me.

Two Thirds

In a presentation to a trans group,  Dr. Matthew C. Leinung, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at Albany Medical Center, said that two thirds of those who present with Gender Identity Disorder (GID) also present with a secondary mental disease or disorder that is rooted in the fact that their GID went untreated.

Now I'm no great fan of the medicalization of transgender.  I believe that some people have always been born trans, and that those people offer benefits to their tribe or community.  It's when this way of being became a disease, stigmatized as sickness, that society began to lose the benefit of trans people, and when trans people began to suffer the long term damage of living with stigma & opression.

Dr Leinung, though, seems to at least understand this in a way many medical professionals who look at trans don't.   He believes that the personality cracks come from growing up trans in a society where trans is denied, rather than being an essential part of trans personality.

If you treat someone by trying to stress them into normativity, and they crack from that stress,  you can't claim that it was their flaws that let them crack, and your stress had nothing to do with them shattering.

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?  That question may be impossible to answer, but the question of which breaks people, their nature or the abuse they suffer in the bame of trying to force them into being something they aren't, well, that question has an answer, at least in whatever data Dr. Leinung has. 

Trusting Poetry

"People are like dogs," I said.  "They care more about the tone of a communication than about the content."

"That's not true!" she replied.  "How dare you say that?"

"OK," I said.  "Which would you rather hear?"

In a soothing, unctuous voice, I crooned out to her "I hate you.  I hate you.   I have always hated you, you pile of venomous slime."

In a halting voice, creaking with the sniffle of holding back tears and laced with panting breaths, I sobbed out "I love you.  I love you.  I love you so much it hurts, because you are so incredibily beautiful. . ."

She looked at me with a smirk.  She didn't want to have to admit it, but she knew I had made my point.  The smooth voice was seductive, even if the message was hateful, and the loving message sounded difficult and painful, so she had shrank from it.

It's not love most of us are looking for.  It's comfort, a sense of ease and grace that lets us relax in some presumption of safety.  Pretty is better than good, and exciting is better than difficult.

I have never understood how "most people" see the world.  I have never been able to be one of the crowd, just riding the shared wave of common expectations while being oblivious to the content embedded in the voices.  I question and challenge, looking for meaning, and I would rather have sharp than comforting because I like to know where the edges and points are.

I do understand that it is precisely this view in my writing that makes it difficult for "most people" to engage, why they catch a whiff and decide they don't like my tone enough to bother parsing out the meaning.

I learned early not to trust the poetry.  My own seductive poetry took me to places that the world said were sick, nasty, destructive and dangerous, so how could I trust the crooning voices that lured me to my own feminine?  I learned that there were always hidden meanings, traps waiting to be sprung, people with their own agenda of manipulation, groups who wanted to act out of fear & enforce their own comfort.

Yet today, I desperately miss that poetry, the kind that lulls us into a romantic soft spot where we open like a flower.

I do what I can, and I thank people like Ms. Rachelle for seeing some kind of beauty in my content, for hearing the message I gasp and sob and sniffle out here.

But that poetry still escapes me.  I wrote a poem for PalVal's birthday on Sunday, and she hasn't gotten back to me about it.  I can only assume the content was too much, the style not soothing enough.

I do want to trust poetry. 

But I am stuck with a life where first I have to trust meaning, and while that may be wicked lonely, it's also wicked real.

Continue reading Trusting Poetry