When nothing is safe
I’ve been walking tightropes my whole life. Even now, I am treading with extreme caution… for I know what I have to say doesn’t sit well… generally… with anyone… even myself. I have been aware, my whole life, that the truths that flow through my experience are uncomfortable. They are equally, if not exponentially, valuable. At least, now, I believe them to be. And, they are daunting. We all know how it goes for the messenger. I have been a coward for thirty years. Sitting in my own “Garden of Gethsemane”, as it were. Cup relentlessly hovering in my focus.
I think I was born a deeply connected, extreme manifestation of the human condition. A conduit – perhaps even a transformer – of universal energy. I have always felt things profoundly and been driven to express them. Like they are forces that move toward a deeper understanding as it demands the world’s attention.
Being an “emotive” child; born into a trauma scarred, crowded and chaotic home environment; at the time when the world was in the midst of flipping over the tables of “oppression” and “repression” to abdicate responsibility for the greater good in favour of “personal rights and freedoms” (Ask Bill Cosby, for example, how this turned out for the grown ups. I’ll tell you what it did to the children), I learnt early that being the live wire that I am, is a very dangerous thing. I was relentlessly teased for the amusement of other children – my tantrums being quite entertaining to “alpha” types. Once, convinced that I was adopted, I furiously told my mother I would never believe I was her child; the trauma of which coloured our relationship until her death. And, when it became clear that the adults dismissed me because I was always upset about something (although, they never had the patience to try to understand what was wrong), they opened the door for more aggressive children (please note these were not limited to males), to indulge their curiosities about the increasingly “adult” world they were exposed to. Then, I was judged and punished for my “participation”. I was uncertain if I was a virgin from the age of ten to fourteen. Only then, after foolishly getting “legless” in a park downtown and being taken advantage of by a young man named Victor, I knew for sure. I did then, and still do, both acknowledge this as a violation and take responsibility for putting myself in such an unsafe situation. I also am far too aware that I got there because I was shaped to believe the only thing I had of any interest to anyone was a body to play with. That everything else about me was either intolerable or ridiculous. That my needs were, at best an annoyance. At worst, a burden and/or offence.
You see, during my childhood, North American society was in the “kid-in-a-candy-store” phase of the sexual revolution. Which, literally, demonized the idea of a collective moral compass or any appreciation, on a societal level, for the truly awesome beauty of our natural reproduction and the powerfully intimate experience of physically uniting to create and nurture life. All without any consideration for how casual and increasingly pervasive exposure to sexual self-indulgence and self-definition would actually impact children. Despite the common knowledge that children under twelve generally lack the capacity to grasp, let alone have any appreciation for, the impact of their behaviour on others. Or, for the personal consequences of it when they can finally see their actions in context. To this day, adults fail to consider that sexuality may well have developed as it did because it is a profound and intimate experience that should be kept private for the greater good of our children’s psychological, social and emotional development.
This is not to say that things didn’t get incredibly skewed. Or, that we should not embrace and accept ourselves as sexual beings. I spent enough of my lifetime trying to figure out how to take “ownership” of my sexuality; long recognizing my own gender fluidity and trying to gain an appreciation for the dichotomy of strong “masculine” and “feminine” traits I possess. As well as a drive that was, at times, relentless. Swallowing being called a “breeder” by the emerging LGBT community I was surrounded by in the early 90s because I “identify” as I naturally am. Being counselled by a Bi friend to pick a side “because no one will take you seriously in a relationship” if you don’t. Being continuously harassed by a dyke (her word, not mine) because she “wanted to bed me.” Being compassionate to the hypocrisy. Understanding the human need for retribution.
And, there’s the rub. However much we may be told that we have embraced and accepted ourselves, we have not. We have not equalized anything. We have not accepted anything. We have reinforced rather than eradicated intolerance. We have been indoctrinated to assume and anticipate rejection and opposition, rather than accept that a lack of understanding and/or general ignorance in others is not willful and malicious; objectively and compassionately viewing it as the product of context and authentically offering a new perspective. We have been driven apart by the gap we have created in Maslow’s hierarchy by jumping from basic survival needs – side-stepping the need for belonging – to individual self-actualization. Only to find that the meaning and fulfillment we seek hinge on being accepted and validated. Then demanding it rather offering it and seeking opportunities to find and/or create it.
And, now, instead of accepting that we were “born this way”; both learning and teaching each other how to love and support us, we judge ourselves against intellectualized ideas of gender and personality to determine how we were born wrong and what we need to “fix”. Our lack of acceptance really does apply far beyond sexuality (although, it is the most insidious and pervasive of control mechanisms). I cannot help but be completely aghast at how quickly we went from self-love and acceptance to self-rejection and revulsion being the drivers for personal development.
What we have done is allowed the marketplace to undo thousands of years of “civilizing” ourselves; trying to rise above our animal instincts, by making one, if not the most, basic of them our primary focus as “individual consumers”. We are “sold” on the notion that nature is our enemy. That we can know and do better than the universe. We are not only pitted against one another because of our confusion of biology and psychology, we are now pitted against our very selves. Why? Profit. Not value(s) to improve our lives. Problems create profit.
We have lost the true meaning of this fundamental part of being human; twisted it out of its context; and, into the next problem for industry (not) to solve. We are victims of ourselves. Of our confusion as to how, where and why to apply objective perspective at all, let alone vs. judgement. Of our inability to contextualize ourselves as we become less and less interested in one another and distracted by our presentation…
It is all so confused.
And, nothing is safe.