If I was going to try and support me, I would try to help me believe that I have agency over more than just my inner life.
For someone who grew up in a highly enmeshed relationship with a narcissistic, emotionally detached (Aspergers) mother, a codependent and emotionally detached (Aspergers) father & sister, and massive stigma & abuse around their own transgender nature, leaving them isolated and full of doubt, this is a real challenge. There were so many bits of growth that were denied to me, so much brutal training in denial and defence.
The fact that I own my inner life so completely is amazing. It really is a triumph.
The fact that I don’t own my outer life very well at all is tragic. It really is heartbreaking.
My lifemyth is that I am too hip for the room, that other people won’t get the joke. Of course, that’s not wrong. Most people don’t own their own inner life in the way I own mine, are not post therapy. They have trouble understanding me, mostly because they see no need to approach the world the way that I did.
There are a whole lot of very good reasons that I am the way I am. I have very low levels of latent inhibition, taking the world viscerally and not easily shedding memories and feelings. I have a big fast brain and a really challenging early training which separated me from my peers rather than making me feel connection and trust in my relationships with them.
I own my inner life in powerful ways that other people find both compelling and terrifying.
I am disconnected from my outer life in devastating ways that other people find both baffling and off-putting.
To me, entering community is not easy, instinctive, “natural.” It is, instead, very hard work, demanding that I push myself, consciously and deliberately working to modulate myself to form relationships with other people. “Just be yourself” is not very useful advice to me, because I have come to understand that who I am, smart, fast, trans, nuanced and introspective, doesn’t easily connect with others.
I learned early to own my inner life and feel disconnected and impotent in my outer life. Many things worked together to create that reality, to build those patterns and habits. It was the best I could do, the best I could do. It is not wrong.
It is, however, very limiting and not nourishing. I have to move beyond and claim my outer life to both return the gifts of my inner journey to the world and to get the understanding, affirmation & love that I need.
In spite of looking, finding support in this is very hard. Most clinicians want to help clients develop their inner understanding so they make choices with more context and long term view. Most life coaches see doubt, introspection and introversion as problems to be left behind, not as key strengths.
If you think my work is about the ends and not the means, the results and not the process, the destination and not the journey, if you try to reduce it to patterns and brass tacks, you miss the point.
There are so many reasons that I feel that I don’t have agency in the world and why I then act in ways that do not support and increase my own agency. I am severely and profoundly disempowered in the wider world.
My power in my inner world is both marvellous and a block to my taking power in the outer world. To be effective in the world, one needs to take the lumps and bumps, falling and getting up, having faith and confidence, rather than examining every hurt, analyzing everything and living in doubt & questions.
This cannot be a binary for me. I can’t just shut down my inner world to be more effective in the outer, as the therapist who jokingly offered me a lobotomy so many years ago understood. I need to be both deep and confident, both tender and robust, both smart and vulnerable. Binaries don’t work well for me, as my history with a big smart brain and an open feminine heart shows. To me, the answer is never one or the other.
Yes, I have the power to be seen, effective and loved in the wider, outer world. Yes.
And it would be good if I had a place to work this out away from the isolated inner space of my writing.