Say It

Don’t make me say it.

I don’t feel safe saying it.

All my life, I have been isolated and put down and shamed and abused for saying it.

People feel threatened and upset when I say it.  It freaks them out, gets their hackles up.

It’s just pretentious, arrogant, and stupid to say it.  It makes me sound immodest, full of myself, deluded, stupid when I say it.   It just shows that I don’t have respect or humility when I say it.

Saying it is not apologetic, contrite and remorseful about what I have put others through, not being discreet.

If I say it, I am not playing small, so I will be like those fools and blowhards who are just full of themselves, trying to pretend that they are more than they are.

Saying it is demanding that others engage my own warped and twisted beliefs about myself when they have the perfect right to decide that I am wrong and sinful.  My agenda shouldn’t be their agenda.

Don’t make me say it.

I don’t feel safe saying it.

I know how to serve.  I know how to meet people where they are.  I know how to hide myself, how to be a guerrilla fighter, taking power while staying hidden.

I know how to play small and not scare the horses.   I feel safe playing small.

Why can’t I just stay hidden and have people come to me?

Please, don’t make me say it.

I don’t feel safe saying it.

If I say it, people will know that I am challenging, threatening and full of myself, so darn confident that I am probably just egotistical.

I tried to say it so many times, and so many people told me I was wrong; my teachers, my friends, my community, my family, my parents.    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

If it’s been wrong for so long, how can it be right now?

I beg of you.  Please, don’t make me say it.  I don’t feel safe saying it.

= = = = = = = = = =

Performance Guy just had trouble understanding why I didn’t want to say it, why I couldn’t say it, why it hurt to even come close to saying it.

At least he did until I showed him some of my scars.   Family inflicted, society inflicted, self inflicted, all in the name of keeping me small and unchallenging.

I told him from the start that I needed to learn to trust my performance, to trust that if I say it, someone will hear.

It was hard for him to understand why I didn’t trust my performance, why I couldn’t just own what I knew to be true in the the abstract, theoretical voice I find it so easy to use.

Owning my ______ is terrifying to me.  Because whenever I tried to own it, I always felt I got whipped like a cur for my uppity infraction.

So this is the dance of the seven veils.  How can I stay hidden while also being exposed?   How can I play small while also being big?

You can never, ever, ever meet your natural audience, the one that will celebrate you, if you stay hidden from them to placate the haters.  Never.

That’s a bold statement from a smart theologian.   And I don’t want to have to name them don’t want to have to say their name.   After all, they hide like a vampire, avoiding the sunlight in their own mildewed bunker.

I don’t want to say their name.  I don’t want to say that they are _______, that their knowledge that they can be big and potent in the world is not just some sick figment of their imagination that they have to hide, rather it is a gift from their mother in the sky.

I don’t want to have to cop to this secret, the one that acknowledges the disconnect between knowing and doing, between assimilation and understanding, between permission and providence.

No one is going to give you power.  No one is going to come to you and say

It’s alright honey,
you go and lead,
you go and be challenging,
you go and be a mover and a shaker,
you go and crash the old to create the new,
you go and make your vision manifest in the world bright and bold,
you go and do what I can’t imagine,
you go and act on what terrifies me,you go and leap beyond any of my knowledge or expectations
you go and bring a new light into the world, illuminating in a new way
you go and raise your voice, shake our assumptions
you go and be huge and brilliant

Waiting for permission to be ______ from other people is waiting for a blessing that can never come from them; it can only come from the relationship between you and your creator..

I am watching a local transgroup struggle with the denial of hierarchical power, trying to use models that devolve responsibility to the group, to organize an anarchy that fears individual power and leadership as paths to inequality and ego and yet create change in the world.

I am watching trans communities play crabs-in-the-barrel, where more effort is put into taking down those we see as getting ahead of us than in creating liberation and celebrating success.

I am watching transpeople live circumspect lives, never even attempting to take the power inherent in structures, even gendered structures, because they feel unsafe and unworthy.

My first question at my first trans conference almost twenty years ago, to three panellists including TBB, was about how, through gendershift, we can still take power in the world.  And today, my own _____ is still something that I don’t want to have say out loud.

And when Performance Guy pushes on this empty space, the space that waits for blessing, the space that was deliberately broken to justify my playing small, being of close and personal service to my parents rather than big and bold service to the world, well, I feel myself tearing up.   I just can’t say it.

One of the women in my first class tells me this time that she doesn’t know what I do, but she and another guy wish they could work for me.   They want me to lead, want to follow where I lead.   She says this with no prompting.

The smile on my face masks the tension in my gut as I accept her awareness.   To accept her position, I would actually have to lead, actually have to own my own, you know the _____ I can’t say.

“You spoke for us.  Now you have to speak for you,” my father repeated in his final weeks as he was failing.  Even he knew it was time for me to take my own _____.

The blessing exists.  Can I accept it?   Can I accept my own _____?

Performance Guy pushed me to tell my deepest secrets, the bits I hide deepest down.   They aren’t stories of sexual desire or twisted love.   No, what I hide deepest are the moments when I dream of success, of acceptance, of triumph, of adulation, of connection, of being ______.

I told him my taboo ideas, ways that I could be strong and potent in the world.  I revealed marketing ideas, product claims, brand slogans.

And he said, and he said “That’s great!”

Oy.  The limits of any supporter is the limits of their own internalized fears.  So many fear success and _____ in their lives, deeming them unhealthy and unspiritual.   But when someone says “That’s great!”  it’s hard to keep playing small.

He made me reveal my deepest dreams.

On one hand, that makes me feel empowered, like a future is possible.

On the other hand, my own worldly _____ terrifies me.  If it didn’t, wouldn’t I have manifested it by now?

Please, please, please, can’t I just have the girlhood that I was denied?  Where are the people to take care of me?   Can’t you see my scars, my damage?  They are real, real palpable and weighty.

The only way out of hell is through.  No backing up.  No shortcuts.  Onward and upward.

To claim it, first you have to name it.

Even if just the thought of saying it out loud makes you well up with decades of denial & emotion.