Blame Shit

Whose fault is it?

How can we determine the cause, so we can know who to blame?   I mean, someone or something must be responsible, right?

Usually, of course, the finger gets pointed at the person is somehow different.   The one who seems to break the rules, to flaunt convention.   After all, aren’t they they most likely ones to have stirred the shit?

The big advantage of convention is that it is always designed to cover up the shit.  When my sister-in-law decided to clean up the kitchen here, she made sure that the outside of the microwave was lovely and shiny while leaving the inside untouched.  It was the shit she could see that needed to be eliminated, not the shit in the works that could possibly gum things up.

If you can’t see the shit, it must not exist, right?   So the blame never goes to people who don’t process their own shit, who just bury it, the blame goes to people who reveal the shit.

This is, of course, the essence of stigma, the social pressure against actually showing the fact that humans are born between piss and shit, and that we all have our own shit to deal with.

I have written a lot about being a phobogenic object, a phrase gifted to me by philosopher Jake Hale.   People fear when they are exposed to me, that’s true.  But whose fault is that?   Do I have some magic ability to create fear where none exists?   Or do I just let themselves open up to their own fears, whatever they are?

As I have said many times before here, I was the scapegoat, the target patient for my family system.  My nickname in the family was “Stupid,” at least until 8th grade when it turned into “Stupid, Oh The Shrink Told Us Not To Call You That,” for a while before it ended.

I know, for example, that when I get upset during a phone call from my sister, my choosing to end the call is not seen as a sign of distress, rather it is seen as a sign of me being obstinate and unreasonable.  Why can’t I just do what other people would do, what she wants me to do?

The essence of stigma is to assign blame to those who stir up shit.   Those of us who are trapped in the system might explain that the problem is really all the shit that people hold, all the expectations and fear, all the assumptions that shit unseen is shit nonexistent, but that’s an awful hard sell to people who value their comfort over their enlightenment.  They don’t want to hear that we didn’t cause them pain, we just revealed where they are not healed, they want to shut us down.

It is not sick to be sick of sickness, the wise ones tell us, but when sickness is the norm, being sick of it just seems sick to many.

I’m a grown-up, and I know that any solution for happiness that depends on others changing to something more comfortable and useful for my just by force of my will is an unreasonable and unworkable solution.

You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.
John Morley

Yet, assigning blame to those who cannot be silent is the basis of much normative expression.    The Emperor looks grand in his new clothes, does he not?

It’s my own fault that I feel like my life is swimming through stigma.  After all, who else’s fault could it be?   We make our own choices, and if you made the bed, you need to lie in it.  If I just didn’t make it so hard for people to love me, didn’t push them away with my own porcupine queerness, well, then I would be much happier.   Why the hell do I have to shove my own nature in people’s faces?  Can’t I just be who I am quietly?  Isn’t that enough?

I understand the way people defend and stabilize their own lives by demeaning, diminishing and blaming others.   That’s the way that normativity works, using stigma to enforce silence and denial for the comfort of others.

I’m just really sick of swimming through shit.

Love Shit

“Love,” I have been told.   “Love is the answer.”

I know how to make other people feel loved.  I just take care of them, attend to their concerns and their needs, listen to them and engage them.  That’s what makes people feel loved, entering their world and being who they need you to be.

In my experience, though, this is almost never a two way street.  Somebody wants the relationship to work, and someone else enjoys it working.

As a transperson, I know the kind of knots we twist ourselves into to get and keep relationships.  And I know them well because that is how I kept my relationship with my family for so long, by keeping myself small and attentive to their needs, so much so that I ended up erasing myself.

The problem is that the cost is to be who someone else needs me to be is so high that it destroys my own momentum and blossoming.   I keep getting pulled into their failure and having to shrink myself to take care of them.
Because  they can’t be there for me, as they don’t have the energy, stamina or skills to engage even their own stuff, and because I don’t want to have to destroy them by confronting them with truths that just overwhelm them, I end up having to play very small, and that’s very bad for me if I want to break out of the patterns I have with my family.
I know how easy it is to crush people who are always on the bloody edge, living from emotion to emotion with no reserves. But I also know how much coddling them costs me.
Love isn’t the solution here, because that just plays out the same patterns of caretaking I had with my parents, and doesn’t get me anywhere near  my own love and passion.

It crushes me in order to not crush them which is the old, old, old, old pattern of swimming through their shit in order to try and get a little bit of what I need.

After all, if I really loved them, shouldn’t I just do what they want and need me to do?

“Love is very different than hope,” says one person who has faced her own dark times.

It’s true that when you feel loved, you can feel less lonely, which means you can hope a bit more that you will be seen, understood and valued for your own unique gifts.

But when loving relationships are reduced to the obligation to swim through someone elses shit, well, that kind of love raises more questions than answers.

Other People’s Shit

I listen.

I listen to and understand other people’s stories.

I have learned how to interview people, to remember what they have told me in the past and ask good questions based on that information.

I listen closely to answers and ask thoughtful and relevant questions.

I comprehend and integrate new information quickly, so I am always an engaged and thoughtful listener, actively creating safe space where I can draw out other people’s thoughts and feelings in a way that makes them feel heard, understood, valued and cared for.

People love it when I listen to them.   They love it because I really care about their shit, really help them get their shit together and communicate it well.

But my shit?  Well, my shit is hard and challenging.  It’s already been thought through, so there are no easy answers.  And the emotions are potent and large, so they are hard to engage.

I’ve always been the smart and sensitive one.  To others, that has always meant that I have an obligation to help them with their shit, but they don’t really have an obligation to help me with mine.

After all, I have proven that I can enter their world, can understand their worldview and challenges, can offer enlightenment and compassion, so if I can do that, I should, right?  And since they haven’t proven that, well, their obligations are different.

“Fine,” I said to a lost friend.  “I will write a piece from your partner’s viewpoint showing her that I understand her concerns, that I have heard her.”

“That would be great,” she agreed.

“And she can write a piece from my viewpoint, showing me that she understands my concerns, that she has heard me.”

“That’s not going to happen,” she told me.  “You know she can’t do that.”   Shit.

There is an old rule in communications that no one can hear you until they are sure you have heard them.   They need to feel understood before they can move on to considering your points.

That’s a rule I know how to honour.  I always make sure people know that I have heard them, that I get their point and their position.   My discussions almost always start by outlining our points of agreement, trying to find common ground.

But it is almost never a rule that people honour with me.   They don’t acknowledge and validate my views, because they just don’t have the chops or intent to do that.  After all, if I understand them, isn’t that enough?

I’m empathic and compassionate, thoughtful and aware, able to enter other people’s worlds, other people’s shit.  I make safe and warm space for them.

But do they make safe and warm space for me?    Well, you know, I am big, smart, emotional.  Too big, too smart, too emotional, too queer, too intense, too overwhelming, too complicated, too incomprehensible, too sensitive, too scary.

When others act out at me, I need to be compassionate and understand their actions are about their shit, but when I get upset, it’s just because I am full of shit and need to get over it.

When my sister calls, she gets frustrated because I ask her what she wants, what she needs, what she wants to do.   Of course, in the end it always turns out she has an agenda, and she just wants to soften me up before she hands me her shit.   She has taught me that she is not a safe place for my shit, that it gets ignored, like when I told her it was a bad week and she needs to press on with her shit.

I’m sure that many people will tell me that they are willing to deal with my shit if I just package it better, but I find that to be a fraud.  In the first place, they think that because they aren’t queer they don’t have any obligation to package their shit nice, and in the second place, if my decades of learning to be clear and graceful with my communications haven’t packaged it well enough, then nothing can.

I get the notion that my shit stirs up their shit, and they just haven’t done the work to face, engage and manage their own shit.  They don’t have the practice and discipline to make themselves into a safe space for other people’s shit.

Just because I have done that work, though, does that mean that all their shit has to be my shit too?

What does all this mean?  It means I not only swim in a sea of my own shit that no one else want to help move, but I also swim in a sea of other people’s shit that they need help to process.   It’s all about their shit, no matter what shit I have to manage, because to them, everything is about their shit.

My experience of my life is that I swim in shit.

And I see no hope of that changing.