During group therapy last month, we discussed the importance of “letting go”. As trans people, we hold on to so much resentment and sense of “being persecuted”, some real, a lot of it imagined! And this pent-up resentment keeps us from achieving our true potential. Certainly true for me. We did this exercise of bringing out a bottled up feeling and putting it into a bubble and blowing it away.
Believe me it helps! I have been trying to do this across the last 2 weeks on my own during my own personal meditation sessions at home. Has been incredibly helpful.
1. Parents & family : Growing up with a confused identity, I have had a very disturbed childhood. And much of my resentment ended up getting directed towards my family. I wish they had recognized the disturbance in my mind and worked to resolve it. Talking with my sister today, I feel that perhaps they did know at some level the reason and dealt with it in the way they saw most appropriate. I wish they had sent me to a counselor back then – the process of resolution that I did in the past 5 years, could have happened in my teens. Perhaps I could have achieved my true potential then?
But its all water under the bridge. As parents, they took the best decision for me based on the information & resources they had available. I should not be holding them responsible for the mess in my life.
2. Teachers & School mates : Was bullied a lot in school because of my feminine behavior. Even put on a project to “masculinize” by my teachers. I shouldn’t be blaming any of them. The teachers, in their own way were probably just trying to help. Perhaps they had never had to deal with a Transgendered student before and they dealt with it in the way they felt best. Should I be holding on to resentment against Johny sir or any others? As for school mates – they were of my own age – only “normal” boys & girls whose bodies matched their minds. I was the different person on the school campus. Were some of them mean to me? Ofcourse! But what good does it do to me today to hold on to resentment for what they did to me 25 years back? Nothing! Put in a bubble and blow away!
3. Office Colleagues : Office Politics can be brutal. And I admit to being as much a player as I was getting played. It was like that incident during hockey coaching in school. When I felt cornered/persecuted, I hit back at my “enemies” hard. Perhaps I have been over-reacting to these situations. My sexual identity was a tool used against me in the course of Office Politics, just as I myself used their indiscretions against them. Perhaps at some level, my colleagues were surprised and upset at the deftness with which I hit back at their moves against me. Based on the drunken rants of a colleague I happened to overhear, being routed in the office war by “that hijada” upset his ego more than anything else. I know some of them hold a lot of resentment against me to this day for some of the things I did to them. When a colleague outed me and started sexually harassing me, perhaps I should not have leaked the gory details of his other personal indiscretions to his wife and family. It cost him his job and his family. What I did was not cool, regardless of what he may have done to me. I realize now that I was over-reacting to a situation. I would apologize to him (and others) at the first chance I get.
4. Activity Partners : I had a lot of activities growing up. More than the normal share. Biking, Photography, Wildlife, Flying – all distractions that helped keep the pain away. As a result of this association with activities, I had a lot of “activity partners” (I hesitate to use the term friends) and I have not had the most positive experience overall dealing with them. But should I be holding on to resentment at the way way they treated me? I don’t accept the way they treated me and will refuse to accept being treated that way. But today I can understand why some of them behaved the way they did.
Its not a usual thing in a society like India. People are not used to seeing a Trans person in their social circles. The only place they have seen a Trans person is begging or creating a nuisance at traffic signals, or perhaps in one of those places boys go to get special blowies for 200 bucks. They are certainly not used to seeing a Trans person in their social circles speaking English (or French), riding a bike or flying a Cessna. It IS unusual in their social context. So when they see a Trans person being nice to them, I can see why some misinterpret this social behavior as “flirting” or “sexual predator”. Its a cross many Gay/Trans people have to bear! I feel I have to make adjustments to MY behavior to prevent this sort of thing from recurring.
I think I cannot be “normal” and friendly the same way as cis-gender people can be. Because of my situation, I am bound to be misunderstood. I cannot change them. But I can modify my own behavior. I have to be more reserved than I would like to be until I have known the person for a while. Perhaps not even then. The next time I am out on a roadtrip, and see a bunch of tired, hungry and frustrated bikers land up at the campsite, perhaps I should act more reserved. I should not share my stock of chicken/rum/weed with them because I realise now that this sort of thing IS going to be misinterpreted because of the situation. I used to think I was being friendly and helpful, but I can see why some people might misinterpret this to mean something else.
I have grown up with a sense of being persecuted. Some of it is real for sure. But a lot of it is imagined. And on more than one occasion, the pent-up resentment has blown up in an episode with some hapless fellow at the receiving end.
I am about to embark on a difficult journey to find my true self. I cannot be carrying around this baggage from yesteryear into my new life. I have to make amends. And the first step would be put all the resentment I hold for individuals into a bubble and blow it away. Acknowledge it – but let it go! I also realize, I have to say sorry to many people I have hurt along the years. Put it into a bubble and blow it away!