Be bold, be free and claim the truth of who you know yourself to be.
It’s an easy recommendation.
It’s an almost impossible choice.
Humans, you see are connected. We are tethered to each other in oh, so many ways.
And the tethers are tender.
So many transwomen this week talking about the reasons they can’t transition, why they can’t just cast off into a new life.
The reasons we give are complex, full of fears and threats. It’s just so much easier to believe the negative signs that trigger fight or flight reflexes than to believe the positive signs that beckon you forward another inch or two.
We do go forward, bit by bit, because going backwards is impossible in any life. We are like battleships with no easy reverse gear, so to change course we have to swing wide.
We go forward, that is, until we reach the end of our tether. And then things get weird.
We are tethered to the people we love.
That’s human love, of course. Twisted, ambivalent, ambiguous, failed and full human love. Love that has informed, energized and enraged us for years. Love that brings crisis, confusion and comfort. Just regular old human love, it is.
We love our parents, we love our children, we love our siblings, we love our exes, we love our friends, we love. We are human.
And we are tethered.
Sure, the fear feels real when we start to do something new. It feels like the fear of horrible things that may lie in front of us, horrible stories that resonate with us.
But the deepest fear isn’t the fear of the new. The deepest fear is breaking the tethers to those we love, the fear of losing the old and loved.
The love stories we tell are often stories of dysfunction and heartbreak. They are terrible stories of pain and struggle.
But they are love stories. And love, even love that dare not say it’s name, well, love is what tethers people together. The opposite of love is not rage, the opposite of love is disconnection. And if we were disconnected we would not be tethered.
Humans need love. Humans live for love. Humans live on love. We love being tethered to those we love.
But how do we be bold, be free and claim the truth of who we know ourselves to be if we feel tethered? If we know that being untethered would make us less than human, would make us not who we are?
I feel the need to follow my bliss. So many of us feel the need to follow our bliss.
But the need to hold onto the tethers that connect us to those we love is also real and profound. They may be assholes, but they are the assholes who love us, the assholes we love. We are, after all, spirit living a human life, with a tender human heart.
As transpeople, we are tethered to people who can’t know the real us, the us we had to suppress and hide. And when we start the struggle of emergence, the tethers get very, very strained indeed.
It’s not owning the future that we fear most. We fear losing, losing not just our loves, but our losing our expectations, our desires and our dreams. Our brain may know that change is well nigh impossible, but our heart, well our heart holds the hope that only love makes unbreakable. It may be twenty years, but my hopes with her still haunt me, though I know it was over years ago when she couldn’t go forward with me, couldn’t support me in emergence, couldn’t enter my world.
We all have these tethers. We look for reasons the future is frightening to escape the need to break with the past, look for the scary so we feel justified in staying tethered to those we love.
The bridges love built are in us, deep within us, and the person those we loved needed and wanted us to be is bound deep in our psyche.
We may know who we are inside, may know that making new, bold and brave choices are the way to claim a more actualized, more harmonious, more authentic self.
But doing that means we have to sever the tethers that hold us to the people we love.
The old transsexual system had a plan for that, where you broke with your old life, went to a new place to become a new person, then came back to find out what connections survived. “If you love something, set yourself free from it. If it comes back to you, it was meant to be.” Or something like that.
But for people who aren’t twenty, who have a life and loves, that’s not so easy.
People tell me “I know who I need to be, but it scares me,” and then point to all sorts of noise, all sorts of thirdhand fear, all sorts of bad stories, all sorts of critical voices and horrible possibilities.
People rarely tell me “I feel the connections of a life of love so strongly that I fear breaking my old choices and losing what I have worked so hard for, losing those I have loved so much for.”
Isn’t it just smart to fear the future and just crazy to want to hold onto love that has caused us pain? Isn’t that “the right thing” to believe?
I don’t think so. I know that in my life, the second is much, much, much more potent. Love is always stronger than fear, even imperfect human love.
I am tethered to people who make me crazy, who fail me and act out against me. I am tethered to people who hurt me and cannot support my possibilities. I am tethered to people who cannot own their own bliss, let alone mine.
And I love them.
What is life without love?
How do you let go of habits and behaviours that tether you to the ones you love?
How do you become untethered?
Very carefully, I suggest.