When I was a kid — and still, today — I abstained from recreational chemicals.
After all, if I was so buzzy just with the spirit my mother in the sky gave me, what would I be like on drugs?
At a very, very young age, I understood that my big challenge was keeping myself enervated, attenuated, suppressed, under control. Those around me, especially my Asperger’s parents, but including teachers and other kids, found me intense, overwhelming and scary even when I was stoically exerting all the self control I could muster, so how would they find me if I just let loose, let fly?
I am smart and queer, with a kind of x-ray vision that just tends to push buttons, as I was taught early by my dialed back father and narcissistic mother. Sometimes I wonder what I would be like if those around me engaged and encouraged my stories, but that is as unknowable as who I would be like if I actually had the drive and equipment to be cocky.
What I learned to fear was losing control. I needed other people, needed to stay connected to them, needed my tender feminine heart to nurture whatever links I could find, so I learned to play small. I spent years learning manipulation, trying to make others like me, but that path was corrupt, a dead end, and I had to learn to let it go.
I know who my losing control hurts. It hurts me.
Even today when I start to feel my heart and mind spin, keeping me awake, on edge, excited and maybe a bit hopeful, I know that when I hit a barrier, feel a crash, I am going to have to take care of myself, all by myself. I am going to have to reach deep down and salve my own splintered soul, bind up my own wounds, attempt to stroke my own broken heart.
As a wounded healer, I know how to be there for others, even how to encourage them to play big, to go for it, but finding the support and mirroring I need has always escaped me. People tell me to cut back, to be less visceral, to not bounce, to stay within their comfort zone, to be more normative, and that call has always cut me much more than it has soothed or even empowered me.
To be terrified of your own inner energy, of the power that can both cut through knots and slice you away from social love, well, that is quite a daily burden. To again risk using your gifts is to risk again being destroyed by the social reaction to them.
The number of nights when it has just been me and my mother in the sky, nursing to my own soul in hermetic discipline is innumerable and ultimately draining. I am worn down. My low levels of latent inhibition, my inability to slough off what most would rather not remember, my powerful memory means that many, many, many moments of transcendent pain are etched deeply in my soul.
I, like most humans, need mirroring that affirms my gifts and helps me use them effectively. The most painful thing is not to be able to give your gifts and have them accepted. Encouragement to risk again, feedback on more effective ways to share and understanding solace when you miss the mark is life-giving, what I work hard to share with those I love and who are committed to change & growth. Our body keeps the score and the older you get, the more that score mounts.
My stoicism is part of me, a honed discipline I am proud of. The fear that drove me into that choice so early, though, is also part of me, and it profoundly aches every time I think about my own very deep, very unfilled needs.
Very early, I was taught to be terrified of who I am. I learned that showing it could easily get me creamed, and that others would see any attack on me as my fault, because I triggered the emotions of others. I was to blame, stupid me who always, always deserved whatever crap I got. Target patient, scapegoat, just too everything.
I am no longer terrified of who I am. Rather, I am terrified of having to heal another wound, of having to pull off my concierge face and patch up my own broken heart again as it is pierced by my shattered dreams. I am terrified of being alone and lost in my own pain with only my thoughts, my discipline and faith in nature to pull me through.
Like anyone who has learned to self-police, I over control my choices, dialing back too much, staying small and safe while avoiding risk. We need each other to give us broader vision, to see what is possible and help create. That’s one reason why women need girlfriends, especially those of us who never had the kind of peers who could help us blossom beyond hard lessons. The hardest thing about trans is doing it alone.
It is my own heart, my own mind, my own soul, my own divine energy that terrifies me now. I have been though my own hells, but the hell of other people, well, that still lurks.
Somehow, I have to believe that there is a kind of imperious performance that can this old body can play which can ground me in connection rather than just leaving me in the old, painful internal spinning. There have to be wins available to me beyond a scarred history of loss, if only I can modulate my own energy in a way that lets me find them.
I am terrified of my own energy. Yet, as the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas reminds us,“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
Another new choice, another attempt?
Is there really any other option?