Useful & Selfful

My history is clear.  I was useful, very useful, because I was selfless.

I learned early that I couldn’t let my own stuff out because that would just leave me slammed and shamed over my own difference in the world.   My mother was clear that the world was about her and no one else, and the system was clear that my struggles were something to keep silent about.

I learned atheistic denial of self.   Sure, it took decades to get the space and maturity to go inwards and process all the subjugated desires and knowledge, which was required to get past being defensive & manipulative in the world, but I did it.

The last decade of my parents life was a real test of those skills.  Others, usually professionals, would tell me that I had to take care of myself first, but I would just look at them with sad & compassionate eyes, accepting their kind thoughts while both of us knew that wasn’t really an option.

My experience is of getting asked to leave support groups because I held too much for the other members to handle and the needs of the many always had to come before the needs of one individual.   For the past twenty months I have scoured the interwebs looking for places that I might be able to find an understanding and open audience, without luck.

I am unconventional.   I know that.   My experience helps me walk into the worlds of others and bring light, but my experience also makes it hard for other people to walk into my world and bring comfort & encouragement.

My sister has been set as my lifeline, an umbilical strangulated by her own stresses, limits and issues.   She wants to be there for me, and when she fails, she takes it hard, which further impairs her energy and efforts.   To keep her there, I have had to be selfless, something I know how to do, but something that has always, always, always, always come at quite a cost.

As I have become attenuated, I have also become less useful.    For me, that feeling of not being useful is horribly depleting.

I need to feel useful again.  I need to feel useful again.

But I cannot do it by becoming selfless, no matter how much my being selfless makes it much easier for people to accept my gifts.  5) The most painful thing about trans is not being able to give your gifts and have them accepted.

I know that if I demand people be there for me in a way that I need, rather than just accepting them being there in any small way that they can manage, bounded by their own limited focus, energy, compassion, vulnerability, openness and commitment, that I put up a wall between myself and others.   I get that.   The gracious thing is to take what they offer and be grateful for whatever small crumbs come my way, to “drink their milkshakes.”

But I have been starving on the kindness of others.   Maybe that’s because I am not feeding myself well, not being self-full enough.

Learning to be selfless in the world was hard.   My self gets boiled down to text missives that I publish without any expectation of someone reading and engaging them.  I exist, yes, but only in my own prose.   That is not a place that is as nourishing and empowering as one might hope, at least not in the moment.

Is the problem that I don’t know how to be selfful in the world in a way that both nourishes me and is accessible for other people?   Probably.   It’s been a long, hard, painful experience in learning how to put myself away for others comfort, losing my own balance to participate and be useful in the world.

Finding support, though, for being selfful in the world, especially when one is both as big and as emotionally malnourished as I am, well, that has proven to be a very, very difficult challenge.

I need to learn how to be useful without also having to be selfless.   To do that, I have to get past the deep wounds that have come from being selfless in the wider world for way too damn long, the scars that bind me, the wasting and the damage.

And that seems quite a challenge.