Saturday, June 09, 2007


After a while (like, a few years or so -- sometimes a few weeks!), it's easy to lose patience with the damage and self-defeating behaviors that are often present in the trans world. I always try to remember that being a strong survivor often comes from having the privilege to step back, to regroup. I've certainly been in the pain-ridden place; I've tortured my friends with talking about my problems incessantly because I was in such a world of hurt that I couldn't see, feel, or think about anything else. Sometimes the privilege to step back comes from our own life path, but other times it is handed to us by someone else, someone who takes the time to tell us the truth in a way that we can hear. And that is the key point for me here: making sure you do not tell people what to do, but tell them what you see, tell them what you have experienced, and let them take from it what is useful to them. Be charitable in your listening and responding: no one would want to talk with you in the first place if you hadn't already given them something of value to them. You started it. Just because they are not as skilled at communication as you are doesn't mean that by sharing their pain or silliness they aren't trying to give something back to you. I think once you start the process of becoming a public sounding board, a reflection of reality for others, as many writers are whether they like it or not, you have to hold up your end of the bargain, especially in such an oppressed and misunderstood community as the trans community. If you're tired of it, there's no shame in that. It's part of being human, and writers are only human, too. Take a break, step back; that's what I do: recharge my compassion by letting myself be quiet, listening to the pain until I cannot keep silent any longer, and I put myself out there once again because I am compelled to speak, all the while remembering that it is because I want to END the confusion, the pain, the suffering, that I began this work in the first place.


helen_boyd said...

As always, Jamison, it's a pleasure to read what you've got to say.

Betty said...

Great advice... and from a rather unimpeachable source.