Carry That Weight

Who would I be without the burdens that I have learned to carry?

How the hell should I know?

Part of the whole construct/deconstruct/rebuild ethos of rebirth is looking deeply at the ideas you carry, at the expectations and beliefs that are contained in your stories, and discarding those that you can.   To become new we must clear out the old, but not at the cost of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.   Something must be worth holding on to.

I am aware that I do not discard enough in my life.   Intellectually, that is easy to know, but emotionally, in a life full of hoarding scraps, of protecting what I have scraped together, well, letting go is easier said than done.   I know loss very well, being used to having what I value removed, so discarding isn’t easy.

I know that objects and symbols are not meaning, that their power comes from the stories attached to them, but those tales form the bedding I nest in every night. New possibilities always seem to come with new burdens, weights that feel more oppressive than the bundles I have already learned to carry.

With my low levels of latent inhibition, I have always been more of a saver than a tosser, knowing that keeping lets me find patterns, giving me the possibility of having what I need in the future.    Still, I deeply process what I save, looking to work through the emotions as much as I can using my patented rational filter, the one I built in childhood to keep my feelings in check by processing and understanding the choices I saw (and felt) people making around me.

Emotion, though, doesn’t leave just because you understand its context and its roots.   The body keeps the score, as Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk reminds us.

The weight I hold isn’t in my mind, it is held deep in my body, trapped emotions, pervasive hyper-vigilance, crippling angst, creeping fear.  “That poor, twisted man.  But don’t the suit fit nice?

Solitary rationality just can never touch that residual emotion.  Yet, that residual emotion is so sharp that it makes it difficult to touch, especially for people who never touch their emotion except in sanitized packages like workshops and Hallmark movies.   Raw is raw, and only those who have pushed through their own hell can possibly enter yours.

Eating emotions, though, does not release them.   The body still keeps the score.

As a woman, a caretaker, I do the work of engaging the emotions of others, mirroring, contextualizing and reinforcing them.   I enter their world to support them, but as a trans person who is a child of Aspergers, finding people who can enter my world has been well neigh impossible.

A burden unshared is a burden multiplied.

For those of us on a solitary path solitary burdens abound.  My personal Transgender Day Of Remembrance (TDOR) piece from last year was called “Burden of Remembrance”  in which I listed all the things I was taught to remember when stepping outside presenting my transgender nature.   One PFLAG mother thanked me for explaining the weight that I feel and she doesn’t notice as a normative person, but a therapist just wondered why I didn’t effectively work the crowd after I presented, seemingly not understanding the burdens I outlined weren’t just rhetorical or hypothetical.  In fact, she later told me I needed to attenuate myself more, cut my voice back so as not to challenge others, wanting to add more weight on me.

Who would I be without the burdens that I have learned to carry?

How the hell should I know?

I just don’t have the eyes or the perspective to see myself objectively, to look beyond my burdens to my possibilities.   For the people I care about, I always mirror them so they can see both their potential and the things they do that block that potential.    Using witty reminders of choices made, choices that created better results and choices that didn’t work so well, I offer them encouragement, a clear “Yes!” to moving beyond fear and shining in the world.

Seeing beyond convention takes work.  One of the first steps is to develop language to describe what most people take for granted, their own expectations of normativity.   Until you can express your vision, you cannot change it.  After that, learning to see the range of possibilities, even possibilities which you would never, ever choose for yourself, enables a glimpse of options to be offered.

I know that even when I ask people to tell me what they see and what can be changed, their normative assumptions limit what they can say.   So much of me remains invisible, unseen and unspoken, outside of the bounds of vision.

The stories I carry, the truths I have boiled down, the foundations I have dug down to, are vital to me.   Dropping them because others just find them to be meaningless noise is not an option.

Until I can trust that others carry some of my valuables, though, figuring out what burdens I can successfully drop, what weight I can shed, is very, very difficult if not impossible.

Yet, dropping some of the weight I carry is clearly the best thing for me.   I know that.

Who would I be without the burdens that I have learned to carry?

How the hell should I know?

I guess, though, I should find out.

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