Recurrent Martyr

“That’s OK.  I’m not stupid.  I know you want to hurt me.   I’ve been hurt many times before.”

I know how to transcend pain.  I know how to be focused and stoic and appropriate.  But that comes at a cost.

Deep, down, though, the pain I have gone through is written deep into my soul.   It’s so deep that it threads through all my experiences, coming up quickly as recalled and stored distress that I have no way to discharge.

With small irritations my martyrdom comes up, stopping me and dragging me to the floor.   The experience of denying myself in order to serve is always just a heartbeat away for me, and it hurts, tapping into a long lifetime of pain.

A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for advocating, renouncing, refusing to renounce, and/or refusing to advocate a belief or cause, usually a religious one.

A martyr and a guru are two sides of the same coin.  A powerful memory doesn’t just let me find the good, it also means I can remember the bad, the silencing attacks, the broken promises, the acting out, the casual slights,

“That’s OK.  I’m not stupid.  I know you want to hurt me.   I’ve been hurt many times before.”

Every time I try again it is a triumph over my damn history, over the very low levels of latent inhibition that keep me aware and connected.

I learned early that explaining why I am feeling what I am feeling at your suggestion is a counterproductive and pointless exercise.   You don’t have time to deal with my feelings, and if the history involves you, you don’t want to be reminded of past failures.

You want me to suck it up, swallow my experience and just open myself again, trusting that this time history won’t repeat itself, that this time I won’t be hurt again.

Because I know it is not your intention to hurt me, that you are trying to be kind and present, if I can, I do push past my memories and go.

Unfortunately, though, many, many times, history repeats itself.   The old patterns I have learned so well to recognize just play out again.

“You aren’t self-sabotaging,” TBB told me.  “You just see what is happening very quickly, and usually, you are right.”

You get martyred often enough and the picture becomes quite clear.  You can see it coming right down 42d Street, but getting out of the way means getting out of the way of possibility, too, so you grin and grit and stand there once again, trying for transcendence.

My martyr experiences started when I was very young, under the age of eight.  I was always pointing out inconvenient truths, so my name in the family became “Stupid,” used by everyone until the counsellor I saw when I was in seventh grade suggested to my parents that it wasn’t really appropriate, kind or useful.

“That’s OK.  I’m not stupid.  I know you want to hurt me.   I’ve been hurt many times before.”

I am more than aware that calling myself a star, a guru and a martyr may seem grandiose and self-deluding.  Some may argue that I just need a more proportionate sense of self to more effectively assimilate into community, that my problem is my inflated self-image which blocks me from healthy integration into the group.   Play smaller, they would tell me, and your problems will go away.

That is not my experience.   I have learned true humility and service, but my experience is still that of being too hip for the room, of having nobody who gets the joke.

How much martyr can one person take?   How many times can you resurrect yourself and try again?  How can you triumph over your experience and your scars when they bind you too much?

“That’s OK.  I’m not stupid.  I know you want to hurt me.   I’ve been hurt many times before.”

I hate it when I feel the martyr flare up again, reminding me both of real pain and of the obligation to put it aside to try and connect with and serve others who are just trying to share with me in the best way they possibly can.   They can’t be held responsible for my history, or even for my history directly with them, because doing so would block any new possibilities.  They are, after all, only human, just like me.

Holding open the space for their transformation, being open to them one more time to assist in their growth and healing is the most divine choice that I can make.   I know that if I stand for the possibility of change in the world, I have to committed to allowing people the opportunity for change.  Shutting them down is shutting down my own commitment to rebirth and resurrection.

There are, however, limits to what any martyr can endure before the body just can’t take it anymore.   “And by a sleep, to say we end the Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks that Flesh is heir to?

“That’s OK.  I’m not stupid.  I know you want to hurt me.   I’ve been hurt many times before.”

And every single day, I need to decide if I can stand to be hurt again.

Gone Guru

One of the worst days in my life was when I realized that I was doomed to be a guru.

It became clear to me that with my character, my brain and my training that bringing light, revealing connection and understanding mistakes was the only thing that I was cut out for, and that made me very sad.

Your greatest blessing is always your greatest curse.   It is easy to think that the grass is greener on the other side, but we don’t have to mow it, fertilize it and manage it.   There is always a cost we don’t see.

A guru who just tells you what you want to hear is useless and sad.

Telling people what they don’t want to hear, though, is an quite an uphill climb.  Even after you learn to phase it graciously, telling them what can help them get better, they quickly understand that you are really telling them where they are wrong, telling them what they don’t want to hear.

I deeply and profoundly understand the cost of a life spent telling people what they don’t want to hear.   That price of that is written on my body and soul in scars and suffering.   Those wounds have made me a better & more potent guru, that is true, but that, as I have noted, is really quite a mixed blessing.

The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all,
is inevitably that which must also make you lonely.
— Lorraine Hansberry (referring to James Baldwin)

As a child, the guru gift is challenging and confusing.   For most people, “helping” someone learn to fit in well is much easier to do than encouraging them to be bold, brave, contrary and empowered.   It’s just easier to try and shut down challenge rather than to engage it.

Living with x-ray vision, seeing through things others find opaque and solid, is not easy.  I demands that you do a lot of work to get clear, a lot of personal healing so that your own pain doesn’t get in the way of your understanding of the world.

Maybe the most important thing to learn is that other people’s choices are not about you, no matter how they end up slamming you.  They are just expressing their own deep and repressed pain and struggle.  People heal in their own time and their own way, and people includes you.  You have to do the work and just have to let others do their work, no matter how frustrating or difficult that makes your life.

Seeing the patterns, remembering the details so many others just erase, it all is a challenge.  “There are things I wish you would forget, but I know that you are not going to,”  said my sister.  “Yes,” I agreed.  ” That’s my blessing and my curse.”

My sister told me that she wishes that I didn’t remember all the times she failed and hurt me.  That seems much easier than actually wishing she hadn’t failed and hurt me, because it moves the blame onto my too acute memory and not on to her actions.   It means she doesn’t have to work to change who she is, rather I have to work harder at forgetting.   My fault.

I have seen many other people who have cracked under the strain of their own sharp vision that passed through boundaries.   In the first place, it is a very hard gift, but more than that, it opens up to those who want to silence or restrain us, who want to see us as defective or stupid because we don’t go along with the status quo, won’t comply, but instead announce that the Emperor has no clothes.

Even if you do survive and own your own guru power, life is still enormously wearing.  The cost doesn’t go away even as the body gets more frail.    There are limits to willpower, and overused, it drains the life out of you.

It’s my birthday today, one of those odometer birthdays where you really have to take stock of where you are and what is left for you.

If all that is left is being a guru, having a clear vision of where healing is required but faced with a world that resists growth and healing, leaving me without a support network, then that future looks bleak.

ShamanGal suggested that I do workshops, offering my guruness to the world.  If I came to LA, I asked her, who does she know who is ready for the kind of graduate course I offer?  She thought about the question and realized that, no, people I’m not that easy to get, no matter how much she is seeing the gold after a long year and a half.

TBB tells me that my work is for the future, when it finally becomes separated from my mortal pain.

I know that it is easy for me to meet other people where they live and take care of them.   I also know that it is very difficult for other people to meet me where I am and take care of me.   I end up having to sublimate my needs to take care of them just to get a bit of support and the cost of that process, in the end, is more than I can afford, more than the rewards I get from doing it.

I’m not unhappy.  I don’t have a bleak view of the world.  I am more than happy to work to affirm and empower others to achieve their dreams.

I am, however, depleted.  There are certainly possibilities out there for me if I have the wherewithal to chase them, to take the knocks and stresses inherent in any new venture.   And if I invest, there are some potential rewards out there, people who might get the joke, who might be able to give me what I need.

I just can’t imagine that I have that desire, energy and reserve left to chase them.  I am old and I am decrepit and I am too hip for the room, a guru who doesn’t want to have to sweeten the pot to say what she knows.

The price is high.  Very high.   And the rewards seem distant.  Very distant.

Only in my private world is anything about me.  In the wider world, people demand that it is all about them, that the guru serve their needs, being nice and helpful.

One of the worst days in my life was when I realized that I was doomed to be a guru.

The price is very high and the rewards are very low, only located in the joy of knowledge and creation itself.

A missionary may well enjoy the adulation of followers, those who want to believe in the message that they preach.  A visionary guru, though, doesn’t get the same rewards when they pose just the wrong question, ripping open the space for teaching.

I learned early that I am way too queer to be comforting, way to queer to be easy.   I did learn how to meet people where they are, to modulate myself, to give encouragement and care, but always at a cost.

“Just be yourself,” people tell me, “and doors open.”   Well, the doors to knowledge opened, and that was delightful, but the doors to other humans took more work for an intense, visionary, trans, theologian, guru to penetrate.

I did the work, and in any sensible human time, I would be gone by now, on to my next challenge.

I have explained all of this before, as well as I know how.   I have done the work.

Now, though, I am just spent and tired.

Very tired.