In “Code Warriors,” Stephen Budiansky notes that code breaking is a young people’s game.
To break a code, which often requires years of painstaking, routine and dreary work, you first have to believe the code can be broken. If you don’t have the belief, the hope that comes with it and the persistence driven by that hope, well you are better off not starting. If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re right.
Without holding fast to the possibility that change is not only possible, it is probable, committing to the hard work of transformation is just not worth the effort.
Give me the courage to change what I can, the serenity to accept what I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference. Two thirds of help is to give courage, which requires giving hope.
When I came out as trans in the mid 1980s, the only hope I had was for claiming my own feminine, shaping a kind of androgyny that represented more of my humanity.
This was a pragmatic position, the same one I took when I was 13 and tested for who I wanted to be when I grew up. It was the only diagnostic for trans the counsellor had in those days, but I knew a trap when I saw it. I wanted to be myself, I insisted against her blandishments to pick a gender, because that was the only choice really possible.
I never had the luxury of believing somehow I could pass, or even that I could do what is happening now, claim my womanhood over the fundamentalist assertions of binary sexual “truth.” It’s great that has happened — after all, I have campaigned for that possibility for well over twenty years — yet I know that they’re writing songs of love, but not for me.
My shell is smart, strong and sharp, but my heart is beaten down and drained, used up by a lifetime of emotional isolation. People would rather talk to the neighbours than to me, because I am a wounded healer, my healing offering a tough mirror, my wounds revealing the price of compassion.
Refilling my heart is refilling my hope, which has always, always, always flagged, used up by a world that just can’t afford to value my mystery, needing instead to live inside boundaries of comfort, beyond the responsibility of exposure, love and vulnerability.
Transformation takes a commitment to possibility that can only be fed by mirroring, by others seeing and believing in what is within us to help us get over the bumps and pains that all flesh is heir to. Without positive feedback, enthusiasm always wanes. When our own springtime robust resilience and exuberant hope is already down to fumes, what we need is beyond what we can realistically get.
Believing that change for the better is possible is the foundation for all intentional and positive change. Change will always happen but without active co-creation that change is most likely to be about decline, decay and diminution.
Holding open the space for others to change, even if they have hurt me in the past, is one of the most difficult and most important things that I do. I must be as Shaw’s tailor, measuring people again whenever I meet them.
I know, though, that they will only grow & heal in their own time and their own way. I have no direct power to change them. I can only change myself and support their process without becoming tied to ends that I want to see.
Becoming the change you wish to see in the world is powerful, but it takes a kind of persistence that needs to be facilitated by faith. I have faith that I do the right thing, share the best I can offer and some people will find my work useful, be touched by it, but I don’t have the luxury of hope that it will change anyone close to me enough that they will be able to give me what I need.
My relationship with my audience has been strained since my earliest memories, and while I learned to take care of people, to service them, to give them what they need & want, I have not had the experience of other people being able to be there for me, meeting my needs. People find me too much, too cerebral, too intense, too overwhelming, too whatever, too hip for the room.
What can I hope for? What can I expect to change in a way that powers my commitment to transformation? Will changing my body change my life? Are there pathways that allow me to share my gifts and feel seen, understood & valued by the group? How can I get the mirroring and care that will nourish me and replenish my depleted motivation?
My rewards, if at all, are in living with integrity and in the long term results of those choices. The privilege of a lifetime is becoming who you are, as I tried to explain to that counsellor when I was 13.
How do carry the hope which will drive the sweat & slog required to remake my life? If I cannot see any possibility to move beyond my abject scarcity, cannot see where abundance may ever lie for me, why use the fumes I have left to struggle to go somewhere that will not welcome and embrace me?
Seeing beyond the current struggle, helping other people lift their eyes to the possibilities within them has always been a huge part of what I do. I believe in their better nature, in the gifts that can come as they get more aligned with their own nature and their own power.
How does my vision change? How do I see it, see the possibilities for love and affirmation in this world? I suspect it is not simply with the handful of LexaPro my doctor offered. Pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps has serious physical limitations.
You need to see it to believe it, but you also need to believe it to see it.
I see a world beyond walls, but I don’t live in the world. That makes it difficult for people to value me beyond the challenges I put out, for everyone loves it when you challenge what hurts them, but they don’t like it when you challenge what is in them. Preachy preachers, pointing out where others fail, are great, but teachy preachers, asking us to look inward and beyond our comforting walls are not so lovely.
If only I could ease up, people tell me, be full of resilience and vigour, I could make a place for myself in the world.
Sadly, I see the costs for that choice much more clearly than I see the benefits. Giving more has never really gotten me a lot more.
But that’s just my experience, eh?