Babies are awash in sensation. It is a time in our lives when we experience through our senses of touch, taste, warmth and cold. We know when we feel bad and when we feel good, know how to surrender to being taken care of nicely, know how to cry out when something distresses us.
With two parents who do not understand their own Asperger’s style brains, though, safety in sensation is very hard to find. They are disconnected from their own bodies, have trouble reading their own emotions, let alone the feelings of a child who needs them, and stay centred in their own expectations & sense of betrayal.
Over my decades, I have know people who indulge in sensation, who surrender to sensuality, who let their own feelings lead them.
I just was never one of those people. I was never that young, never that trusting, never able to abandon myself to emotion.
Language saved me. I learned to read early, from the pages of Time magazine to the state of my mother. Stories of me surprising teachers with my reading skills stretch from speed reading in high school to my first kindergarten teacher. She even recommended I be moved ahead, but when the principal saw the state of my physical development — I couldn’t smoothly hold my hands over my head — he denied permission.
I needed to be able to think in a conceptual way to navigate the worlds of my parents, and that was true from my youngest day to when I was with each of them as they died. That demand has been a gift, helping me find words to express ideas and feelings in a way that mirrors and helps heal, but like any gift, it has also been a curse, separating me from some essential human connection.
When I see people steeped in sensuality, like so many at Pride events, that gap becomes very potent to me. Realizing what I lost in my lifetime starts the sadness while an inability to connect on the level of disciplined thought and learned grace leaves me feeling isolated. I may be able to find words that will touch others yet I know that does not mean they can find understanding which enables them enter my experience, demanding they face the challenge of my journey, of moving beyond immersive sensation to determined sensibility.
We humans live in our comfort zones, continuing our habits, struggling to fit in, to be attractive to others, often by hiding parts of ourselves. My nerd training, though, taught me to peel back layers, to sort between conventions and truths, to challenge assumptions in order to reveal what lies beneath.
“You can recognize a small truth because its opposite is a falsehood. The opposite of a great truth is another truth.”
— Neils Bohr
The revelations that lie in conflict help us remember that as humans, living in a finite world, we are forced to choose between compromises. Perfection just doesn’t exist.
I love the journey I have been on, one towards knowledge & enlightenment.
I miss, though, the journey that I was denied, one towards trust, immersion and the luxury of being saturated with sensation. That was a trade-off that I never felt empowered to make, especially as long as I had to be the “stupid” one who was the scapegoat for my parents.
Succumbing to passion is part of the human experience, trusting your body to take you out of your mind, claiming that primeval energy which drives connection. Moving out of your mind is freeing and transcendent, even if losing your mind is a problem. The balance of great truths is always like that.
Missing passion, desire blunted down by rational understanding, given up to a lifetime of loss through mature acknowledgement, well, that is hard to replace. Exuberance and enthusiasm fuels risk taking behaviours, the choices that open new vistas and teach us about failure.
Riding that cresting wave of emotion is a sensational thrill that can move us forward if we let it teach us, or can be the entrance to a spiral of wasted power if we merely keep searching for the thrill. The sensuality can help us through challenges, growing more mature, or can make us lose our way if neediness overwhelms us.
Being one of the old people, I feel how the loss of passion can leave us dry and isolated as we resist taking the kind of risks which have revealed smaller and smaller returns over the years. In my case, though, I can’t even go back and remember the wells of passion, the love of parents, the budding exploration of sensuality, the heat of connection. As a trans person with the kind of family I had, I never built those reserves of torrential trust and exuberant joy.
My choices were the best I could make in any moment. I know why I chose to be TransNatural, why I played my breeches role to serve the people I loved with all my feminine heart, why my iconoclastic choices were the only way to liberate & use my voice.
That doesn’t mean, though, that those choices didn’t come with quite a cost, doesn’t mean that cost doesn’t continue to mount. Our bodies, you see, keep the score.
You can’t go back, only forward. I’m proud of my journey, and every day, I do my best to keep it going.
But learning to surrender to sensation, to the joy of connection, the power of passion and the curve of care?
Sometimes, that sounds not only nice but also life-giving.