Asymmetric Connection

Relationships take time, time to share understanding and time to build trust.

This is especially true of relationships across conventional boundaries of class, race, gender, and so on.   When we share a lot in common with others — like our trust in Fox News Channel, for example — we already have common ground to work from.   We have the seeds of a deeper relationship.

Being a too smart, too queer drag-mom theologian trans-femme, you probably won’t be surprised to discover that I usually find these common cultural starting points to be hard to discover.   I, for example, shudder to think of meeting with a new counsellor or life coach just because the whole “catch-up” — the sharing of life story and views to get a basis for the work — seems altogether too daunting.

That’s why I try to find spaces where I share something with the people.  I went to the improv space because I understand the power of performance, of creation, of theatre, of art.   There I found that the professionals in the room, the co-directors, had the background and the skills to make a connection with me and value what I had to share in a profound way.

We clicked, those performance people and I did, but like anybody in this culture, they have limited time and energy left over to build new connections.  Priorities are priorities, so family, work, business and art have to come first.  We grab moments here and there to connect, and I am grateful for them.

For me, this whole idea that relationships take time to develop, especially across cultural differences means that I don’t easily make new connections.  I’d love to find people who share the other bits of my focus, in theology, as a femme, as trans, in business or writing, in content creation, but I know that there are few places where people have the skills, the time and the intent to create new relationships.

Even Performance Guy, who has dedicated time for me and reads new blog posts — the 1300 posts I wrote before I met him remain untouched — is still learning new things about my experience of being in the world as a transgender person.   And in trans-space, most people are so focused on their own real and immediate challenges, working the armour and surviving in the world, that they have little energy to see through the eyes of another, different person.

My history means that I have a a great deal of context and skills to quickly enter another person’s world, to see through their eyes, but I also know that history makes it more difficult for them to enter my world.  As a shaman, walking through walls that others find real and solid has become second nature to me, penetrating beyond convention and expectation.   When I see in others what they are not yet ready to see in themselves, there is asymmetry.

The question I always struggle with is where I can best invest my limited time and energy to make connections across cultural divides to build trusted, strong and reliable relationships.   Trust is never something you can rush, and reciprocity takes time.   Time and understanding are scarce commodities for most people, even those with the best of intentions.

Asymmetric trust is the usual result, as it was with TBB on Saturday night, people who quickly get that she is safe with their own humanity, but who are not yet safe with hers, never having built up trust with themselves.  We can cross the boundaries back to where we started, but others cannot imagine crossing boundaries that we have traversed to get to where we need to be in the world.

Every human needs love and connection.   We struggle when we don’t have that in the world.  

Love and connection are built on mutual trust.   Trust takes time and commitment to build, starting with us taking the time and commitment to listen to and trust our very own heart, even the bits of it that others tell us are ugly or queer.

If our primary goal is to stay comfortable, maintaining the props we use to avoid the challenges of seeing beyond, then the limits of our trust will always be the limits of our comfort, no matter how loving we think we want to be.

Where do I go to find people I can share myself with? 

I know how to let someone share with me, how to make them feel seen, understood and valued.

But where do I go to find connection that makes me feel safe and trusted?

That, I suspect, has always been my biggest struggle to find connection across borders, the connection I need to feel loved.