I know how to coach.
I can encourage, sort through stories and pull out priorities, offer new strategies and tactics, help others feel safe moving beyond their fears and committing to transformation.
People who want growth and healing have always found me to be useful.
People who don’t want to do the work, don’t want to confront challenges, on the other hand, find me annoying, obnoxious, intrusive, disrespectful, weird and off putting. They find ways to move away from me, trying to discredit me, remove my standing, dismissing me as just too intellectual, too convoluted and too strange. They not only don’t get the sharp joke, they find it tortured and perverted.
If, the question then goes, you are so good at coaching people around transformation, why don’t you do it commercially? After all, so many people are selling themselves as coaches without the kind of skill set, experience and depth that you can offer, surely there must be so mind of service you can offer that will nourish both others and your own pocketbook.
Helping reprogram others can help reprogram the world. Getting others past their blocks helps the world get past the blocks that stagger all of us. Being there to help people find and claim their own possibilities, their own special power is a very good thing.
People, though, heal in their own time and in their own way. For most, the two steps forward and one step back movement is the dance of their life, not wanting to let go of the past to create a bold new future.
For me, the cost of speeding up and then having other people hit the brakes is high, even if I know that it is just them doing what they need to do. They need not just challenge, they need hand holding, small talk, and infinite patience.
“If you seek enlightenment, seek it as a man whose hair is on fire, seeks water.”
Most people want enlightenment in nicely rationed drips not as if it comes out of a fire hose. They want to fit in, to be comfortable, to assimilate much more than they want to stand out, to be revealed, to be boldly themselves. They want the feeling of enlightenment rather than the experience of it, having their own expectations affirmed rather than challenged.
There is nothing wrong with this, of course. People can only take in what they can take in; too much will overwhelm them and stop them cold.
I know how to modulate myself, how to attenuate myself, how to cut myself down to fit into the expectations and willingness of another person. To me, that’s the experience of packaging, making things pretty and accessible and small.
After a lifetime of doing that, though, I find it way too expensive. The tagline for trans today seems to be “the courage to be yourself,” but what if who you are is just bigger than most people can handle?
There is a cute new memoir out with the premise that “you’re never weird on the internet (almost)” The truth is that there are so many niche spaces that most people can find some place where they can fit in, where they can assimilate into the community, but that requires being willing to play along.
I have done that in many spaces since 1984 – yes, I have been on the net since Compuserve days — but I also know that “just being myself” doesn’t neatly fit into any space I have been able to find.
I understand decorum and grace, how to take care of other people. It’s just that means I am doing their work, entering their world, limiting myself to their capacity and their fears, rather than doing the work that I need to do. I spent years writing for an audience that was barely there. Trying to do that today would mean going back to where I was then, at great cost.
The willpower to tolerate has a cost. This week, after much hand holding, I had to shop for a fleece jacket my sister’s friend could buy for her father who is getting cold in the rehab hospital. My sister has been here to work twice in the last two and a half years, the second time to deal with my mother’s clothes. She promised not to touch my father’s clothes, but she did. When she showed me what she was taking it included the fleece jacket he wore all the time, an iconic piece. I gasped and told her, but she packed it up anyway, to dump it in a bin somewhere. Now she needed me to shop for another jacket for another old guy as a kind service to her friend without a second thought. It was crushing, but I did it, for her, for her friend and for her friend’s father. As for me, well, sacrifice is sacrificed.
The map of my scars is full of life lessons I try to share. When they are treated like junk, though, without compassion or consideration, reduced to down to cheap recipes, my flesh is incinerated.
Can I coach? Yes. Probably at a level much, much more intense than the vast majority of people looking for coaching need, want or even can tolerate.
Do I believe that coaching is a good way for me to engage in commerce with the world?
I know the cost. I know the cost.