“If you aren’t working to integrate your life,
you are working to disintegrate it.”
I wrote that back in the days when I was trying for aphorisms.
Brené Brown talks about the work of Bessel van der Kolk who deals with the experience of trauma. He has found that trauma survivors either deny that the trauma had any effect on them or become consumed with the trauma. In both cases, though the trauma ends up defining their life by controlling their choices. The goal of trauma work must be integration; the trauma did happen, but it doesn’t have to define your life.
This goal is common to everyone who does trauma work, not just people whose trauma is rooted in being shamed and abused into denying their knowledge of their heart to conform to compulsory gender expectations.
The last thing Performance Guy and I spoke about this week was the commonality of the human journey. Whatever the reason you have to start to deconstruct your assumptions — illness, abuse, addiction, shame, breakdown, trans, whatever — the process of going inward, examining yourself and then building a more self-actualized life is always the same.
That is the reason that we can recognize wisdom when we hear it, because we always knew it. Joseph Campbell showed that humans across time and across cultures all came to the same essential truths, all found common beliefs to become more centred and healed.
There is only one human nature, and we all share it. My own struggle has never been about the uniqueness of my experience of trans, it is is about the commonality of the human journey to claim authenticity in the face of social pressure.
“In societies where gender is rigidly bi-polar, rituals of gender crossing remind us of our continuous, common humanity.” I knew that was my mission statement when I first heard anthropologist Anne Bolin say it almost twenty years ago now.
TBB has recently reconnected with an old friend who took 11 years going around the world in a sailboat. She says that as the child of an alcoholic, her instinct was to run. When she got halfway around the world and wasn’t free, she understood that the real journey she had to take was the inner voyage to the heart of her own soul. Now that she is back, she can see that TBB has had to so the same work, recognizing a fellow traveller.
Kat left a lovely comment on this blog, talking about how her choice to be an actor, and now to be a teacher and coach was a choice to enter into hearts. I understand this as the journey of the empath, the person who seeks understanding by actually becoming another person for a moment, going inside them and walking in their shoes for a bit.
This was the essence of curious Kat’s journey to wholeheartedness, her journey into her own heart and towards her power as a healer.
She wants to know if I understand how much my journey feels resonant to her, a journey toward the essence of the human experience, a journey to the universal knowledge of the human heart.
“Too hip for the room,” has always been my lifemyth, leaving me, as I told Performance Guy, in a search for “people who get the joke.” When I saw Kat perform recently, she gave me the compliment of saying that she is always better when there are people in the room who “get it.” I returned the compliment by revealing more of my name story than I usually would when she asked the table, trusting that she would “get it.”
Humans are like ice cream. We are each essentially unique, with our own special flavour, but we are also fundamentally the same, made out of the same basic stuff.
This is the core of empathy work, becoming comfortable enough with our own darkness to be able to sit quietly with another humans darkness. It is the centre of awareness, finding the connection between all. And it is the heart of enlightenment, seeing clearly our own scars in a way that helps us map the human heart.
If the experience of trauma is common in all humans, then what in humanity is foreign to us?
All I know is that it is when someone is vulnerable enough to share the most precious details of their life they open a channel between my heart and theirs. And that is a good thing, just as long as it doesn’t bring up the blocks between me and my own heart.