Shame Dancing

Often the phone will ring and I will hear a voice from the left coast bleating “Callan, Callan, help me!”

In these moments I know that ShamanGal has gotten herself back on the ledge again.

Like all transpeople, she had to find a way to destroy the calls of her heart, a way to keep her nature hidden in the world.

Her choice was just to amp up the conventional way that we enforce compliance to gender expectations in this world.    She just chose to amp up the shaming, creating an internal policeman who “is one of the strongest I have ever seen,” according to a long time gender therapist.

Her ego has turned into a high pressure salesman, the ego using phrases like “you deserve” and “you are entitled” to push her into making a fast decisions.

Those decisions, of course, are all about avoiding loss and discomfort.   “What if?” is the game of the ego as it amps up the fear to keep her small and defensive.

The ego’s ask is simple: avoid authenticity and vulnerability like the plague, instead following the rules, denying the heart, in order to fit in and chase vagrant desire.  Just twist yourself into a pretzel so you don’t have to lose what you should have had, whatever the cost.

“Don’t you deserve the princess dreams you had as a kid?” it asks.  “All you have to do is go out with that rich guy who sets off your alarm bells and you can have a great time!”

“Didn’t you have a hot time with her five years ago?  Why would you tell her that you are now out as trans?   Imagine how awful it would be if she rejected you after that!”

“Did you see that?   He was flirting with another girl, a girl who flirts back, so he didn’t give you the attention you wanted.  You know that’s because you are nothing but a damn transperson, don’t you?”

“Look how imperfect that person is!  You would have to expose yourself to be with them, and what would it get you?  They are just a blind alley!  Let it go!”

The ego wants everything to be about us, justifying fear, when the truth is that the vast majority of what other people do is about them and their own concerns.

At a party, other transwomen were astounded that SG got such a good job.  How did she manage it, others wondered?

She couldn’t tell them that the hardest part was getting over her own damn self, getting her ego out of the way so she could be in the moment.   She may know that the best moments of her life are when she feels safe, seen and intimately sharing with other women, but when she is alone again, shame still rears its head to convince her she is not enough and never, ever, ever will be.

She can now often recognize when her shame gremlins are lifting their heads.   Her world turns binary as they demand quick, hard binary answers to hard questions.

“Should I be a people pleaser?  Isn’t that just a way to self destruction?  Shouldn’t I stand up for myself and say fuck you to people rather than compromise?” she asks

A life where you only please others is hollow life indeed, I agree.   But then again, a life where you never please anyone else sounds lonely and empty too.

The egos call is the demand to cut losses, to play safe.   The call of the heart, though, is to chase the wins, to dare greatly, to let go of the “woulda, coulda, shoulda,” and focus on the now.

The heart, needs time, requires patience.  That’s why the ego can play it’s quick-fix game like a home security sales pro, demanding a quick and expensive response to magnified fears, working to pull us down into the swamp before we float up and float free, closer to the knowledge our creator put in our heart.

Does being a grownup, accepting compromise, mean the end of our adolescent dreams of popularity and entitlement?   Should we allow ourselves to be shamed into trying to achieve the impossible so we can stay small?

ShamanGal spent yesterday remembering a rich older woman who courted her when she looked like a beautiful boy but lashed out when SG told her she was going to live as a woman.  “Deny that sick desire!” came back the letter.  “Go and serve the world in the Peace Corps, find new ways to deny your heart by doing something good, but do not destroy my vision of you!”

How do we confront the shaming messages that others impose on us, the words that feed our own fears?

The way we choose to confront our own inner shame demons is, in the end, the way we choose to engage the world.   The three common responses to shame are connected to fight, flight or freeze, lashing out at others, running away or beating ourselves up.

It is only when we can engage our own shame with grace that we can engage the actions of people who want to shame us in the world.   As long as we can be sent into that shame dance, that race of a dog chasing their own tail so they spend their energy and focus staying static and small, we lose the power to grow and open in the moment.

The only way to cut the web of should, to confront the dragon with “Thou shalt” on every scale, is to be able to face down our shame demons, say “thank you for sharing,” and then follow our heart.

The shame dance is much like the pee-pee dance we do as children.   It addresses the symptoms but doesn’t solve the problem.  Only letting go and moving on will do that.

If you aren’t cool with your own nature, how the heck can you expect anyone else to be cool with it?

And if you can’t face down your own shame to embrace your own lovable nature, your own intrinsic worth, and the knowledge of your own heart, how can you ever expect anyone else to make you feel loved, worthy and seen?

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