“My life, my life,” said young ShamanGal to me. “I spent so long denying who I am, and that lead me to do so many self destructive things, and now I am hurting. How do I get over this?”
The lovely thing about other people’s challenges is that the answers are clear to us, objective and without the baggage and tethers that ensnare us.
“You did the best you could,” I told her, “to try and be who others expected, to try and be some idealized human. It was only failing at that attempt which allowed you to let go of those fictions and become more authentic. You couldn’t be who you are now until you let go of who you thought you should be, and that took a mess of failures, self-destructive failures.”
“Maybe,” she agreed, still struggling with the loss.
“Anything else going on in your life?” I asked her.
“Well, yesterday I got a facial,” she told me. “That was nice.”
“Good!” I said.
“And it looks like I start the new big job on Thursday,” she told me, talking about her first job in years, her first job since transition.
“That’s great!” I told her.
“Yeah. My friend the esthetician thought so too. She’s a great Québécoise gal who did my electrolysis, the best in town. We went out for dinner after the appointment, so I dressed up classy because she always looks so nice. She insisted on treating me, saying I could return the favour after I got my first paycheck.”
“Wow,” I said.
“And then after that an old friend from school and I got together. She thanked me for not returning her interest in me, saving her some romantic heartbreak. We went to a pool hall not too far from here that I never knew about. There was a tournament on, so the place was filled with guys, a real sausage fest. One of the guys hit on me, but when he touched my ass I cockblocked him. It was fun.”
“This was all yesterday?” I asked her.
“Why didn’t you tell me about this, why didn’t you write about this, rather than about today’s sadness for the loss of having to deny yourself and live a life that hurt you?” I wondered
“Well, I didn’t think of it,” she averred.
When we live life up close, we get myopic. And those wonderful moments, when God sends jeeps and boats and helicopters in the form of people who affirm us can just get lost in our story of pain and loss.
“Get yourself some big Post-It Notes,” I told her, “and when something good happens, write it down and paste it up on the wall. Maybe on the back of the front door, so those messages are the last thing you see before you walk out into the world.”
Like all advice that is so easy to say to someone else, I know that I always need to listen to what I offer to others. Wisdom that is clear to see in their life can sometimes get lost in our own myopic view, the baggage and tethers that ensnare us.
I know that ShamanGal needs to hold onto the good in her life, needs to keep the affirming right out where she can always see it.
I wonder who else needs to listen to that advice?