Who do we need to ask for the permission to reveal what we have been taught to hide?
Hiding the parts of us that don’t fit neatly into the expectations and assumptions of others is hiding we need to do “for our own good,” or at least that’s what we are told from a very early age.
Everyone around us feels entitled to tell us what we are doing wrong, how we are standing out, how we are embarrassing them, how we are making life difficult for ourselves by not simply hiding the parts of us that don’t seem to fit in.
Parents, teachers and especially other children know the rules and want to call us out when we break them, even when we transgress by simply trying to tell the truth about the contents of our own heart.
We may know who we are, but when we face that dragon Joseph Campbell spoke about, the dragon with “Thou Shalt” written on every scale, it becomes easy to lose our own authentic voice. Those around us who fear that dragon find it easy to demand that we don’t bring unwanted attention to the family; find it right to shame us into playing along to conceal anything that might bring disorder.
Trying to fit in demands we silence the different inside of us, demands we hide our uniqueness, demands we bury what is exceptional about us deep in some locked compartment. We have to kill off a bit of ourselves to avoid being wrong, have to poison our heart “for our own good.” We learn to commit ourselves to an experience of suppression, resisting our nature rather than trusting it.
What we have hidden, though, is never gone. It is always written deep inside our creation, always burning in our soul. No matter how we try and find commercial substitutes for the red shoes that dance in our own precious Eros, our heart still holds who we are.
The gift of a lifetime is becoming who you are, Joseph Campbell tells us, is blooming into ourselves. As Anaïs Nin wrote:
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. Living never wore one out so much as the effort not to live. Life is truly known only to those who suffer, lose, endure adversity and stumble from defeat to defeat. Perfection is static, and I am in full progress." -- Anaïs Nin
Someday, if we are bold, courageous and truthful, we know that we have to blossom. We have to reveal what we tried to hide; have to pull it out into the open where we can sort it out, disposing of the dross and claiming the gold that was always inside us.
Whose permission, though, do we have to get to break open? Who will support us when instead of hiding all our big, intense, scary and truthful bits, the bits we were told to secrete “for our own good,” we instead start to unpack and explore them, bringing them into the light?
One cannot emerge as transgender and still be “nice.” We have to break the rules about simple separations, separating male from female, normative from aberrant, appropriate from weird, good from bad and so on. The boxes that were built to enforce the rules have to be broken. The dragon with “Thou Shalt” on every scale needs to be slain, all in the quest of going deep and finding authenticity, claiming our own authentic voice, discovering our own authentic gifts and trusting our own authentic truth,
No matter how much we try and run from box to box, struggling to remain concealed in polite social constructions, if we ever had simply fit nicely into any of them we would have relaxed into them long ago. To blossom is to open, to emerge is to move beyond.
But whose permission can we get to break the rules, to move beyond niceness, to transgress being appropriate, to shatter the expectations & assumptions of others, to transcend the fears of we have internalized, to claim our own authenticity even in the face of those who feel entitled to silence us “for our own good.”
Emergence is messy, just like growth and healing are always messy. We cannot both shatter the walls that constrain us and clean up that shattered mess at the same time, cannot both breakthrough and stay politely constrained simultaneously. Our truth will always challenge others, even as we struggle to find what of it is fundamental and what of it is residual pain, working to move beyond the loss and rationalization that comes of working to deny our creation for so long.
To stay afraid of what lies within us, always moderating and attenuating every expression because it might be seen as too inappropriate, too big, too intense or too queer is to stay mired in fear rather than exploring our own authentic self. For those of us who were pounded into silence, who were shamed into an attempt at invisibility, who were told we had to learn to deny & hide “for our own good,” that modulation feels like a continuation of the death we learned to play at every day.
The permission to emerge, the permission to break out and to break through isn’t permission that we can find from anyone in polite society. There is no right way to explore your own gifts or to claim your own authenticity. Each one of us has to find that balance for ourselves.
The permission to be who we are in our hearts comes not from social rules or identity politics, but from the spark of creation that we have always carried deep inside of us. We co-create our life, but only when we move beyond “Thou shalt” to discover who we really are, sharing that deep understanding by acting from a place of authenticity in the world, even when that authenticity isn’t nice or polite.
Moving beyond the fear of not fitting in, the fear of not being able to hide, the fear of shining in the world with an authentic truth is not easy or simple. It is a place of loneliness, a path that demands balance between assimilation and standing proud.
There will always be those who feel entitled to try and silence authenticity that they find scary or ugly or inappropriate. Rather than affirming diverse truth, they will work to enforce the beliefs that comfort them.
Yet some people will always choose to shine, to claim and show their authentic truth. It is these people we need to remember and support as they search for a truth that moves them beyond separations to enlighten the bright connections that touch us all beyond the limiting boxes of niceness.
(Written in mind of Transgender Day Of Remembrance 2019, #TDOR201