“I think it’s about intimacy,” performance guy said to me. “I think you don’t feel safe being intimate with other people, in spirit, in mind, in heart, in body. And I think that causes pain for you.”
Duh. Isn’t that the very explication of “the loneliness of a long-lost tranny,” the strapline of this blog from the beginning?
I told him stories about blind walks, that encounter group staple where you are blindfolded and someone leads you around.
When I did one in high school, the one thing I told the gal who was about to lead me was that I was significantly taller than she was and that there were a lot of branches about. Performance guy didn’t need to hear the end of that story.
At Kripalu, the brace boot on my ankle, the ankle so recently fixed with a syndesmotic screw, ended up so full of mud that I had to find a bathtub to flush it all.
The perky assistant at the work shop chirped “Mother Nature’s a bitch!”
“Really?” I replied. “I thought it was trust that is a bitch.”
She looked stricken by my statement, having no snappy comeback.
Of course my challenge is about being safe to be intimate, to be revealed, exposed.
How the hell do we get naked in a world that doesn’t engage scars?
What is a natural performance for someone judged to be unnatural?
We are taught early that there is always a but waiting to kick us, the third gotcha.
You know, that experience really can leave you lost and lonely.
I sat politely in the auditorium waiting for the Entrepreneur Of The Year awards to begin.
I smiled, but I noticed lots of circumspect glances from people around me. They weren’t at all sure what game I was playing.
Somehow, when I feel the scrutiny, I don’t feel safe. Fight or flight kicks in, so I have to do the same focus exercises I did in the emergency room when I had the Pronation External Rotation 4 sprain that got me my syndesmotic screw.
“Don’t you want some pain medicine?” the resident asked me.
I knew I couldn’t afford it. “No, I’m fine thanks,” I said between controlled breathing.
“Wow,” he said. “People could learn a lot from you.”
The recipients of the award this year were two brothers who started a video game business in their parents basement, a business that now employs over 200 people.
“It was,” one of them said, “like most barriers, mostly psychological.”
This was their primary lesson: success as an entrepreneur was about getting past walls, both the walls you see as barriers that exist only because of the limits of your own vision, and the walls that can stop you because you believe that getting past them is just too damn much.
Enlightenment and persistence were the primary lessons.
They had mentors who kicked their ass, demanding that they deliver what they promised. Through that process, they mastered new skills and learned to deliver quality products, growing their culture. They understood that they had to meet high standards, that good enough just isn’t.
Because they worked in the videogame industry, they never ended up where they planned. They took the skills they created and applied them to wholly new products, meeting the demand of the market at the time. And as the market became faster to see trends go huge and global, it also became faster to see those trends dry up as new trends took their place.
They invested in mastery, running up debt with less than hit products, but then found new ways to use that hard earned mastery to not only eliminate the debt but also to build greater success. And this process never stops for them, as they continue to find the differentiation that helps them break though the noise in the market.
You can’t get what you want. In this world, you only get what you work for, what you put yourself on the line for, what you take risks for.
The key thing you get is mastery, of something. You then have to take that mastery and not turn away at the walls that exist in your heart and mind.
And so, I sat there in the auditorium, conditioning myself to ignore the scrutiny so I could learn the lessons that were on offer there.
But did I feel safe?
Many, if not most, of the barriers that stop my intimacy aren’t inside of me. Instead, they are inside of others who haven’t done the work, who still hold fear and assumptions that stop them from getting the joke.
My challenge isn’t to trust that if others fail enough, they will eventually get the joke, even if I starve or get battered in the process. If my happiness depends on me helping others come to their own therapy and enlightenment, then I will have an interminable wait as they grow and heal at their own speed and in their own way.
My challenge is to differentiate myself in the market, to use the mastery I have paid so dearly for to satisfy a need.
You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.
My happiness depends not on trusting people to be safe, but in trusting my own safety, my own capacity for getting what I need. And that demands getting beyond my own psychological barriers, trusting myself and my creator, not the healing of others. It demands getting past my profound…
As I develop inward faith, confidence and skills, I gain mastery that allows me to go outward, both expanding my market and finding a few other like-minded people who I work to build trust and intimacy with.
I clearly have the mastery over my own voice, my own knowledge, but I haven’t yet mastered the performance of that content in the world. To put it another way, I have plenty of substance, but don’t yet trust my style.
That which makes you exceptional must inevitably also make you lonely, as Lorraine Hansbury said of James Baldwin.
Feeling safe enough to be intimate is my issue. I have clearly learned to self reveal on my own.
Now, I just have to learn to do it with other people.
Get over the fear and take joy in what I have, not longing for what will always be rare for me.
Get over the damn, hollow loneliness.
A challenge, indeed.
But I’m either Fucking Amazing Or Fucking Dead, right?