Identity Fail

Can you understand, categorize and define me by looking at people with whom I share one attribute?

People identified as male at birth who choose to wear women’s clothing; aren’t they all alike?   Know one and you know them all?

It’s amazing how many who would hate to be pigeonholed because they share an attribute — the sex identified at their birth, for example — seem to lump others together in a way they would reject, would call “sexist.”

Having spent 35 years as an out transperson, I have seen how negative identity definition — “I am not like them!  They are doing it all wrong!  They don’t understand!” — has kept us spinning and blaming.   It becomes very hard to know who you are if you have to keep asserting who you aren’t.

I wrote about this twenty years ago in “The “Guy-In-A-Dress” Line. It’s at the heart of transgender — and why people reject the whole transgender idea.”  Is transformation possible, I pondered, or is the best anyone identified at birth can be “a guy-in-a-dress?”

Since then, my work has been largely ignored in trans circles because I talk about individual responsibility, about owning our queer, about having to enter our own discomfort to find integration and healing.   Others feel the need to ignore or reject me because what I say doesn’t fit their view, is politically incorrect, too intellectual, too emotional, too challenging so therefore must be wrong.

It is easy for me to look at transpeople and see where they need healing, need to move beyond their own blocks and gain a wider, more whole picture.   Sissies, drags, crossdressers, transsexuals almost always have deliberate blindspots, parts they cannot see or engage without threatening their standing and comfort, so they resist.

Being forced to somehow “prove” I am not like them, that somehow they got their choices “wrong” while mine are “right” is a reactionary exercise in identity politics.   “Calling out” others who are struggling to own their own nature, a nature stigmatized, marginalized and oppressed by a binary-loving culture — “Are they this or are they that? — doesn’t allow space for exploration, growth and healing.

I have been resisting the polarizing, binary pressures of identity politics for over 25 years now.   My call to accept others as individuals, not simply as group members, has always been disquieting to those who want to feel sanctified by identifying an enemy, some group that is the problem and needs to change in the way we demand.

“I have met the enemy and he is us,” as Walt Kelly’s Pogo said so long ago.

The only person we can change in this world is ourself.  That’s not easy to hear when the people around you find it so easy to find people to blame.   After all, if you don’t go along with them, then they may start blaming you, exerting social pressure to either bring you around to their beliefs or cast you out.

I hate being lumped in with others who I know are very different than me just because of a happenstance of birth an a choice or two.   That processes me erases who I am, denies the work I have done, makes my truth invisible, all to satisfy those who defend binaries.

“Well, if you do this, you must be that, and any claim to being different is just a dammed lie.”   There is nothing I can do to change that binary assessment as it reduces me to a stereotype in a way that most people would hate to be reduced.

The moment I you stop seeing me as an individual is the moment you stop acknowledging your own individuality, the ways that you transcend the expectations you know were lumped onto you.   Tar others with a big brush and you are just asking to be tarred in the same way.

Learning not to be triggered by such reductionist shots is not easy.   We know we are being attacked, that our life is being made harder every time someone reduces people like us to just an object of mockery.   It is easy to understand the separation response of “It’s them who are bad, not me!” comes so quickly, why this kind of identity diminishment creates in-fighting and defensive behaviours that stop us from moving beyond to see connections, boldly facing our own shared humanity.

Can you understand, categorize and define me by looking at people with whom I share one attribute?   Am I nothing but a common member of a group you created by finding and asserting some either/or binary?

Is it my job to try and prove to you that I am not whatever you assert me to be by creating some other line in the sand, some constructed division that separates the real from the fake, the good from the bad?    The number of transsexual women who had genital surgery just to “prove” they were really “female” is huge, but many of them found that their “blood sacrifice” meant nothing; they were still lumped in with whoever their enemies wanted to tar.

I am an individual.   I cross boundaries, transcend assumptions, connect that which many want to see as unconnectable.  It’s the same job trans shamans have been doing across history and across cultures, reminding us of our continuous common humanity.

I am, also, an exhausted individual, tired of the expectations imposed on me, of the demands others make to maintain comforting binaries, of the way people reject my gifts because to accept them would demand they open their eyes, minds and hearts to their own individual responsibility in the world.

Being stigmatized is painful, as women who fought for equal rights know.

Stigmatizing others, though, often just seems “common sense” to maintain comforting separations.

It’s just something that I, as one who needs to support the possibility of growth, healing and transformation in the world, know is plain selfish, small minded and wrong.

Gift Of A Lifetime

I thank God for the gifts she gave me.

I curse her — with wit — over the situations I was in where I needed to use them, to develop them, to master them.

Everyone has healing gifts, unique skills to offer the community, filling needs and creating better.

Only those who have had to face their own wounds, though, have really had to engage and own those gifts.    Wounded Healers.

The basic premises of being a good human have never been secret.    Joseph Campbell could look at myths, the stories of creation & growth, across time and cultures to find the threads that run across the human experience, the truths that connect us.

Getting beyond our ego, though, moving beyond comforting & illusory walls of separation, past the conventions of fitting in, of chasing what we are told should make us happy, well, that has always been hard.   It takes a willingness to trust your own truth, standing for yourself to slay the scary dragon with “Thou Shalt” on very scale.

My Aspergers parents didn’t know their own feelings, so they often acted out without an understanding of themselves and others.   I was the squeaky wheel, trying to help get the family right, so I was also the target of their frustration and anger.

I had to understand early my parents motives in attack or neglect, knowing that they loved and needed me even when they made me crazy or hurt me.   They could only do what they could do and I had to do the rest.

That’s one place my gift of being present for others comes from.

From a very young age I knew that my inner knowledge of myself as feminine, whatever this beefy body telegraphed was queer to others.   As much as I scraped for understanding, context and support, it didn’t exist.

I had to dive deep into rules around sex and gender, understanding taboos and why they existed, and searching for solutions that could be used to liberate from tight gender boundaries.  There were no effective off-the-shelf solutions.

That’s one place my gift of theology, of being able to understand and evaluate the stories we use to function in the world comes from.

There are times that I wish my gifts were cuter, less demanding of both me and others.   Yet, I know that these are the gifts I needed to survive and that no matter how much the leave me porcupine spikey, they are gifts that others have found value in.    The spines I leave stick and that irritation often leads to deeper healing.

For example, I may have been cut out of this years Transgender Day Of Remembrance event as being too old, too loud and too un-PC, but in attending I saw voices I brought out last year develop, heard my words read back to me and a song I found finish the event.   I was present, even if people were trying to cut me out.

The challenges I faced in my life were hard.   The solutions I had to find went deep to challenge everything.   That means the gifts I own aren’t pretty pebbles but instead big boulders to be used as tools for big jobs.   I challenge, I fight, I illuminate, I hurt.   It is, well, a gift.

I thank God for the gifts she gave me even as I rue the struggles that demanded I own them.   Yet trying to reject the challenges that demand your own gifts, resisting calling to the point of self-destruction, isn’t that the big drama in every human life?   We want it both ways, both tamely comfortable & pretty and wildly strong & unique.

And today, I find a bit of warmth in the idea that somehow, the gifts I worked so hard to own may have just given some help to somebody sometime.

Blessings on owning your own gifts.

Price Of Prophecy

All you need to do to be a prophet is to listen more to the still, small voice of your creator, leading from the voice that transcends nice, compliant normalcy.

This doesn’t necessarily make you a good prophet, as the voice you hear might be twisted, dark, ego laden, full of pain & vengeance and rather satanic.  It is up to you to get clear on if the voice is coming from the dark side or the light side, working to get right with some higher understanding.   Joseph Campbell reminds us that most human myths contain the same shared knowledge, awareness resisted because of the cost of claiming demanding truth over isolating comfort.

Still, when you drop out of social norms, resisting the pressure to play along, standing for something deeper and more powerful, you have to pay the price of a prophet in the world.

That price, of course, is loneliness.  You can’t both be a happy member of the crowd, just following the group and stand proud for some inner truth at the same time.

Being a prophet requires you to lead, somehow, finding people who will stand with you, valuing the unique voice that you offer.

This is when prophecy can go bad, when you decide to tell the people what they want to hear, offering a message of separation, of fear, of us versus them, of insiders and outsiders, of rationalized entitlement of believers and attack of challengers.    It is always much easier to energize the ego than to demand personal enlightenment, ask for individual responsibility, engage challenge and act from embracing love.

Still, even when you lead and are valued for leading, you still speak against the status quo, still open yourself up to personal attacks, and still come from a place of unique experience and knowledge.   These are the truths of a prophet, the facts of following that still, small voice within.

Trans emergence is always a very individual journey, a path beyond gendered expectations and towards expressing a personal truth that comes from deep within.   Even when we just dream of moving from one box to another, just going that route across the divide takes us across no-man’s/no-woman’s land, a place where we have only our internal compass to guide us.

No trans kid goes to bed at night dreaming of being a prophet.   We dream of being seen, being beautiful, being strong, being loved.  It’s when we realize that we have to be a prophet, listening to that voice inside and walking on our own journey away from expectations to what we understand to be integration and wholeness that we begin to resist the calling, usually the beginning of getting very, very good at resisting and temporizing.

I have been listening to the voices of prophets recently.

David Blight’s Pulitzer Prize winning “Frederick Douglass, Prophet Of Freedom,” gives deep insight into the cost of being a prophet in the world, fighting resistance even from people who claim to support what you are fighting for.

Caitlyn Jenner made global headlines for being alone when she crossed the bridge out of “I’m a Celebrity! Get Me Out Of Here!” Even people who don’t understand the experience of being trans in the world saw the loneliness of someone whose family needs to stay stuck in profitable routines rather than be there for someone who was there for them.

And ShamanGal has been dealing with the family of a school friend who hung himself.   As one of the only people from that old crowd to take the journey into self-knowledge and self-expression, she can understand why this veteran carried his wounds silently rather than doing the work of breaking out of family routine to explore his personal hell. She has been there, doing a eulogy and personal support for those who have stayed stuck, having to process her own feelings of isolation and invisibility even while serving others as best she can.

The price of prophecy is high.  Gaining a clear vision of the world as we go through our own hell  — the only way out of hell is through — means that our sight is forever changed, annealed in the fire that burns away rationalization. Once your eyes have been opened, though, the thought of going back to insistent ignorance seems not only impossible but very painful.

“We are a full service medical organization,” a therapist said to me many years ago.  “I can check off a box on this form to get you a lobotomy.  Is that what you really want?”

His joke touched a truth.   I  have paid much too much for my hard earned awareness to simply lose it now.

This is why any seemingly simple solution where I surrender my individual voice to a group identity, no matter how nice or plush that membership may seem, is just impossible for me, no matter how lonely, isolated, or hermetic I feel in the moment.

To be a prophet is to try and return the gift of enlightenment to a world that doesn’t want upset or change.   The challenge of being both tame, a well integrated member of the community, and wild, with a unique and vibrant voice, is a massive challenge that costs many prophets just altogether too much blood & spirit.

I remember a fellow at a yoga retreat I was forced into telling me that I seemed like a prophet and from what he read,  god puts prophets through hard times.   Now, I know, though, that god is a constant comfort to prophets, but society knows how to put them through hard times.

All you need to do to be a prophet is to listen more to the still, small voice of your creator, leading from the voice that transcends nice, compliant normalcy.

The price of leading with profound, deep, different and challenging truth, though, always comes with a very high cost.

Thank creator, then, that there have always been some willing to do it, to serve a wider world by sharing a hard won vision,

Burnt Smell

There are moments when I can still smell possibility.  Moments like meeting a cool artist at MAC, or moments when I go to an event I helped run last year and see how far people I encouraged have come.

Those moments, though, come with reminders.   I am no longer 28, and even the pastor I worked most closely with last year announced that he forgot who hooked him up with the song he sang. (It was me, just in case you missed the point.)

Every whiff of possibility nowadays always comes with the aroma of burning, of time passed and chances crisped.

Peter Morgan, who writes “The Crown,” explains why season three recast the queen with an older actress by noting that however perfectly you age a younger actor they will never have the inner experience of being battered by time, of feeling the aches in their body and the disconnection from youth.  He needed that truth for his show to work well.

Even at sessions dedicated to creating intergenerational connections within the LGBT population, I have been completely shut down, my truth erased by young people who can’t imagine.  Only the straight, mature woman sitting next to me saw what was happening.

How do I communicate my experience to people who not only haven’t been through it but are also so immersed in the position they need to be in at this stage of their lives that they can’t hear beyond their present experience?

The world has changed for people like me, yes, but the age cohort I am embedded within have not changed as much as the world in general.   Most people haven’t had to do the kind of work I have done, the blossoming and opening, the expansion of understanding and communication.

Every day I get farther and farther away from a place of safety, comfort and understanding.   My possibilities contract and the truth I reflect becomes more and more uncomfortable for people who are trying to stay young and connected.

I know how to be the grown-up, to bite the bullet and do the right thing.   I do this often.

What I don’t know is how to find the connection and understanding which lets me relax and play, feeling like all of me is seen and valued.

For me, this isn’t a new experience.   Growing up with two Asperger’s parents means that I felt unseen and unvalued from a very early age, needing to be able to take care of my family because of their lack of theory of mind.

The fact that I have built up the skills, though, well, it doesn’t mean that the work gets easier.   As I age, alone, my recovery time gets longer, my view darker, my isolation deeper.

I know that my work counts, no matter how much it remains invisible to most.  But I also know that only more work has any chance of breaking me out of this cycle, getting visible in a way that brings rewards and connection, and more work demands more of me than I seem to be able to muster these days.

The wisdom I carry is deep and profound, but when it can only be absorbed in small bites by others, the parcelling itself becomes more effort than it is worth.   I may have spent a lifetime getting a clear vision, a good model of better, but if it takes others a lifetime to grasp and value it, well, I am forever out of synchronization.

Possibilities exist, but the power to grasp them shrinks.   My experience of working with others until I reach their tension point, the place where they have to pull back, to resist what I have to share, to cling to a sense of control, is an experience of having people act out against me, not because I am wrong but because they fear, deeply fear, that I just might be right.   They act out of fear rather than love and I am the one who takes the hit, knowing that they are doing the best they can do, but leaving me needing an ice pack and some aspirin, trying to recover from the blow alone.

None of this is new, of course.   It is laced through my writing over many years.   But the burnt smell feels like it is getting stronger as I seem to have more challenges and less resources to handle them.

I love the idea of new possibilities.  I hate the truth that new failures will be required even try and claim them, with no guarantee that any one will deliver better.

Giving up, though, is giving up.

Choices, choices.

Permission For Authenticity

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

Simple Comfort

As the manager of a MAC cosmetics counter, Sarah understands trans in a simple and powerful way.

Trans is a need to be comfortable in your own skin by showing who you are on the inside on the outside.

Simple, yes.   And also very complicated, because to do that, we have to negotiate all the myriad things that cause us discomfort.

This means that discussing trans turns into a discussion of what causes us discomfort and the tools we have to build to negotiate a society where group identities, belief systems, imposed stereotypes and binary “us vs them” assumptions shape and limit the ways others can be seen.

I know that my life and my work has focused on using my mind to address the systems and limits which say that trans discomfort is good, right and proper, along with understanding and exposing the strategies that transpeople use to justify and rationalize their own trans expression while still attempting to cling onto normalcy.

But Sarah, well, she looked into my eyes — “those eyes!” —  saw who I was and she wanted to help me feel more comfortable and powerful facing the world, just like she would with any other woman who came to her counter.

It felt simple, affirming and amazing.  Thank you, Sara.

This doesn’t always happen.   I’ve had MAC artists who I could see try and figure out if I was a drag queen or a crossdresser, needing a label to guide them.   I’ve even had those who told me I educated them, even if I wasn’t ready to hear that.

The moment of simple comfort of being seen and accepted beyond boundaries is so rare for transpeople that it can often seem impossible.   Even in LGBTQI spaces, having to claim our identity within expectations is usually demanded and when we challenge identity assumptions we are erased and diminished.

Trans, at least at heart, is not a considered choice.   It reflects an inner knowledge, a core truth,  the powerful Eros of our heart.   Our trans nature just is, at least until we hit society and then puberty and then the rest of the demands of a culture in love with either/or.

Trans expression, though, is always a very considered choice, squeezed out into shapes that feel socially mandated: drag, sissy, crossdresser, transsexual and so on.   Pick a box and squeeze yourself to fit in it, often demanding to be seen in the way we think we should be seen.  Explicate yourself!

My life has been much more a consideration of trans than an expression of it.   Claiming how I identify was more important than just being who I am.  Rational descriptions of my current position, assertions that justified my choices are more important than the choices themselves.  I had to be on guard for any challenge that took away my standing, had to weave between identities that others claimed ownership of, had to respect the beliefs of those around me as they judged not my choices but rather whatever motivations behind those choices they assigned to me.

I was expected to base my comfort not on how I showed my nature but rather on how well I could explain my choices, not on my essence but rather on the conceptual structures I built around that essence, not on who I am but rather on how well I could make others comfortable with my choices.  Finding comfortable armour was much more valued than that ultimate trans surgery, pulling the stick out of your own ass.

Based on their own internalized system of what is right and correct, others first assigned me a box and then kept me there, adding details as they needed to.   Guy-In-A-Dress?   Check!  After all, what else could I be?  My every choice was seen as a political act.

Sara, though, looked into my eyes and knew what I was: just another woman wanting to look better and feel better about herself.   The truth was right there for her to see.

It’s easy for others to respond to my armour and what they need to believe is behind it.   It is often difficult for them to respond to the girl who has been trapped behind this trans-defence, stuck in a male body and the expectations dumped on it for a long, lonely life.   I know why I carry the armour, know why I have spent years trying to reduce it, working to show what is inside me, but I also know that whatever I do, I am going to be subject to the internalized assumptions of my audience.

Many transpeople get angry and lash out at other transpeople who seem to be setting up expectations and rationalizations that we find onerous, heavy to carry as they create noise in what we are trying to express.  For me, it is important to stay compassionate to all expressions, knowing that underneath whatever justifications they wear, every transperson is just trying to tell some deep and profound truth about their life.  (I will admit that when their stance is to deny that essential truth — “I’m just doing it for the show” or “Just having fun” or “Not really queer!” or “I fixed my birth defect, so I’m cured!” or such– I do find that posture very irritating.)

I know that I am supposed to be a grown up and deal with the world in a grown up manner, having a thick skin and striving to be “appropriate” in all my choices rather than pushing people’s buttons and challenging their comforting beliefs in separation and motives.   I can do that, but only at the cost of wrapping my essence in so much damn tip-toeing around that I lose touch with any power or beauty.

There are moments, though, such rare moments, when someone like Sara looks into my eyes and sees through my history and biology to the tender essence within.

Trans is a need to be comfortable in your own skin by showing who you are on the inside on the outside.

Simple, yes.   And also very complicated, because to do that, we have to negotiate all the myriad things that cause us discomfort.  We end up bound in armour.

But not, thankfully, to some precious people like Sarah.

Thanks.

Terrifying Energy

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?