I wrote this post when I was at my most vulnerable, but ironically I felt too vulnerable to post it. Now I’m feeling back “in my power” it feels important to share it.
I can’t take credit for “pulling myself through”; there but for the grace of other people go I – it was other people’s ability simply to stay and listen without judgement that made the difference; my only skill was in seeking out those people and not focusing too much on the places where there were gaps in the net.
So here’s what I wrote . . .
I’m feeling a little crazy right now. Hey, lucky I’m a mental health professional, theoretically I can talk myself down from that ledge.
So why am I feeling crazy? I feel suddenly, horribly alone. I’m a people person you see, and I did have a big old community all around me, but that community is lesbian and women-only and suddenly I’m not sure I fit there.
Because I’m transgender. There, I’ve said it. I’ve been fudging the issue for months, but it’s true; I’m trans. I had all these excuses, right – I don’t want to call myself trans cos I’m not transitioning and therefore I still have cis privilege. I don’t want to look like I’m just trying to get attention or be special or something.
But all that’s bullshit – the truth is I’m worried about what people think, because by and large people just don’t get it; it’s kinda weird and out of their comfort zone and they don’t want me rubbing their faces in it.
So, back to the crazy thing. I feel crazy because I can feel people backing away from me, and that is just about the most crazy-making thing that can happen to a person. The reality is, for all we pretend that we’re an individualistic society where people are self-reliant and successful because of the affirmations they say to themselves, people thrive because of the constant bombardment of tiny little acceptances and “strokes” from other human beings – likes on Facebook, the easy smile of the petrol cashier, a zillion micro-interactions with other people that go okay and make you feel normal, part of the pack.
And then you realise you’re not what society might think of as “normal”. First, you try to hide it, but you realise that’s kind of killing you. Then you start to talk to people about it, or show the world who you are, and that’s when you feel them backing away from you – friends and strangers, not being cruel or saying anything bad (mostly) just backing away because they really don’t understand; you’re making a demand of them they don’t know if they can meet. And that’s when you realise what immense scaffolding the rest of the human race provides. Most people don’t get to discover this – they think they’re doing it all on their own, because they just don’t see the support humanity is giving them just for being them. Of course, I’m talking about privilege; I’m talking about your needs being met by default without you having to make any demands of people. I’m talking about people automatically using the right pronouns when they speak to you, of that simple recognition that what a stranger sees is actually something that vaguely resembles the human you actually are.
Making unusual demands of people just by being around them is exhausting for them and you. You’re asking for something exceptional, simply to get the same level of recognition everyone else gets automatically, and it sucks. They get fed up, feel like you’re getting too much attention, feel like you want special treatment, get tired of hearing about it. They back away.
And that’s how I started to feel crazy. Suddenly I’m alone and my scaffolding is gone and I’m babbling on about all this seemingly crazy stuff that nobody wants to hear.
So, next time you see someone acting a bit intense and crazy, please consider checking your instinct to back away and ask yourself if they might need a little extra effort from you just to feel like part of the human race again.