For as long as I’ve remembered I’ve been deeply concerned with what kind of person I was. Even as a child my constant focus of movie watching (even Disney) was making sure I felt like “the good guy”. I have had an over-sized conscience always. I remember often wanting to rid myself of it, so I could partake in normative teenage experiences. But I would over-think/ deeply think about everything. Nothing could just be done. Which is an interesting compliment to my natural ADHD blessing of impulsivity. Later in life after I had decided to choose to rid myself of religion as my reason for “trying constantly to do everything right by someone else’s standard of right”. When I finally started to allow myself my own life, which created tons of inner conflict, then impulsivity took me far out of balance in the other direction. Then I had to face the most egregious of all wars, knowing full well when I had made an action that was unfair to someone else. They say ignorance is bliss. “The mysterious they, whoever they are.” They in this case would be more correct than they even know. Ignorance is a bliss I have never been afforded. I was gifted with a keen awareness of self and others. I can make connections in an instant that others have kept carefully out of their awareness for years.
I cause pain. This gives me great conflict. But then pain opens up the possibility for healing. I don’t just rip off the band-aid. I apply salve and anti-biotics as well. I am saying this to myself for the first time. Realizing I am not sinister, even though the feelings of the actions suggest it to my “Jimminy Cricket.” Being unwittingly tasked with being a person who reveals painful truths for a living, I am only now coming into the full realization of how this mixes with my shit, and creates a dangerous cocktail. I am proud and it is an honor to do this work, and it also takes a toll. It takes a toll more when it is personal, as it is for me right now. When I am inside the pain, not an ally and observer.
I shake up systems. Family systems that have operated on unspoken rules for years and been “just fine”. The thing is those unspoken rules often create great invisible pain for those that are silently expected to repress in the name of someone else’s comfort. Do the others not realize the discomfort of the person asked to adjust? Do they literally shield themselves from painful truth that much? Or does some part of them know and refuse to look?
Part of my coming out process included me learning to introduce myself as gay and not wince. It took awhile, but I recognized early on that if I seemed ashamed people will hop right on that bus. I knew the feeling of repression before I knew how to name it, as most of us do. It’s a silent and slow death by poisoning. It saps just a tiny bit of your soul in each interaction. And since it can slide by so unknown the damage resides on the inside. A beautiful smiling husk that keeps others happy while the inside is rotten and burning with pain. The holder of the families pain, struggles under their burden sometimes named depression, all the whole elaborate defense mechanisms as intricate as scaffolding’s you see on skyscrapers in New York City. They deem themselves the weaker of the flock, when really they are the strongest.
I seem to always be the common denominator in the equation of relationship that demands truth to be fully seen and listened to. I have never been able to stay quiet about truth; my gift and my curse.
Today I sit in extraordinary pain as the love of my life and I experience what it feels like to be seen as different, somehow less valid. I am tasked suddenly, like being faced with an oncoming accident in progress, with navigating this treacherous terrain. Of behaving with grace and compassion in the face of invisible and subconscious judgment. It’s innocent enough. My partner being asked by a sibling to not make their father uncomfortable on his birthday by me coming to dinner. That’s in the name of justice right ? It’s his birthday after all. So my beloved is expected to take a seat at the table, hold back her tears, and her self. She is asked to present the husk, the representative only, her true self is not welcome to the table. “Forgive them because they know not what they do”, it is ironic isn’t it that religion should come to mind right now. The pain is searing. I wonder if they know that? I suppose they also take for granted their permission to get married, be a couple, and to show up at events not making anyone uncomfortable with their presence. She is “asked” to only talk about things that won’t make anyone uncomfortable. Keep it light you know, work, whatever can be accessed without revealing too much. Exhausting. I wonder if they know how exhausting to be asked that?
I am in a raw state of pain right now. So I turn to my writing and my speaking truth out loud. It is salve. It is bandage and medication. I am angry and hurting, and I promise to turn all of this emotion into something that helps others and not into the pain that caused it. That is my promise. My place at the table of warriors who protects those who don’t know words for their feelings, and who have been silenced by lethal expectations, sometimes unspoken: the ones the highly sensitive notice and take on themselves. Too heavy a burden for anyone, but their heart will try nevertheless.
I don’t trust myself right now to write any further without being unkind. I have learned to stop short of that and process and synthesize my feelings until how I express them is of my choosing. Using wisdom rather than weapon.