The worst thing about me is that too much, I live in my mind. Rather than making the actions, taking the risks that can find me new connections, new resources and new affirmations, I think about it, leading to a kind of analysis paralysis.
The best thing about me is how much I live in my mind. I am able to ask smart questions, understand and integrate the answers and build models quickly, then to communicate what I learn effectively and with grace.
I had parents who didn’t know how to be engaging and affirming, instead living, like other people whose mind works in the way that Dr. Asperger identified, inside of their own assumptions and expectations.
Very early I had to learn how to keep myself safe. For me, that meant going into my head. I might not have been able to get hugs, cuddles, laughs and affirmations from my parents, but they loved it when I was smart, learning to read before I was four years old.
The absolute experience of my childhood, being smart, queer and the target patient in my family was to retreat into my own world, to get deep into my head. As a transperson, my embodied experience didn’t really connect with my heart, and as the child of my parents, I knew that almost everything was invisible around my father and unsafe around my mother.
It is a lovely thing to live in your head, being able to enter the worlds of other people and help them understand more clearly.
It is a lonely thing to live in your head, no one being able to enter your world and help you open to trust, sensation and sharing.
“You are so smart,” people tell me, “that you can figure it out by yourself. After all, half the battle is knowing the question.” Yeah, and for me, that is the easy half.
“I have learned how to believe in myself, but now I need to learn to trust other people,” I told a partner.
“Can’t you learn to do that by yourself?” she replied. No, you cannot.
I know how to be there for and take care of other people. As long as I am the only one who can take care of me, though, I’m not really going to support me in making choices that are hard, painful and scary for me to make, not going to be there for me to be affirming and hold my own hand when I have to move outside my comfort zone.
I see patterns quickly, and when I do, I don’t bluster forward, rather I modulate. I have learned from long experience that people don’t really like being observed as closely and as thoroughly as I do even without thinking. It makes them a bit skittish, puts them off their game, and makes them feel exposed and without magic.
I know why I learned to live in my head. I know why it is a gift. I know why it is a curse.
I don’t know how to change it.
Getting pithed, turning off my mind, isn’t really a solution for me. My mind really is my greatest asset even if it also is my biggest block. What I think I need — and I think pretty well — is getting affirmed that I can actually make connections below my mind, on the physical and emotional levels. I need to believe that I can have deeper relationships where my mind doesn’t get in the way, but where it isn’t erased, either.
“Just being myself” will always mean being cerebral for me, at least in part. I don’t know how to trust my instincts alone, to trust that others will find me beautiful and not be put off by my mind.
Getting loose requires a non-cerebral approach, but if I need to pick myself up and give myself support and advice when I go splat, the only way I know how to do that is with my mind. Ergo sum cogito.
I create safe space with my mind. My mind creates the boundaries of my own safe space.
Throwing out cues as to what I need is fine, but if there is no one to pick up on them, to do their part in the dance, then I am still dancing alone.
If only I can take care of myself that is a problem, as then I am bounded by my own limits, trapped by my own pain. I have come far in using my mind to transcend, but claiming what most children take for granted is next to impossible at my age.
I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. I know how therapied I am, how much I have done the work. I know how much that means I can illuminate places where others have chosen to stay vital rather than considered.
Getting beyond requires getting out of my head. laughing again, playing again in a warm, tender and affirming embrace. As long as my head is the only thing I can rely on, just like I learned when I was a kid, that becomes well neigh impossible.
I cannot both stay in my head and get out of it at the same time. Since my head is the only thing keeping me upright — if I stop concentrating, I will be a puddle — moving beyond it alone is difficult, but finding support that I can trust to also affirm my smarts, to enter and understand my world, is very difficult.
My mind is wonderful, my mind is limited. My mind is a gift, my mind is a curse.
And I can’t think of any way out.