A great friend of mine is an awesome leadership coach; she uses innovative tips and methods to get down to the bottom of a ‘thing.’ She shared a metaphor with a team that was in a confused state of mind in an effort to get them on the same successful path forward; this example fits in this space as a perfect puzzle piece. (I love metaphors, you can ‘see’ them).
A group of people are sitting around a table. Placed in the middle of the table is a standard beach ball, you know the one, vibrant multi-colored panels of white, red, blue and yellow. From each vantage point or perspective, each person will see a different color or two different colors but they all at the same time don’t see the same thing from ‘their’ set of eyes.
The premise of this example is that my son and I, as does everyone else with a set of eyes, had our own point of view, our own beliefs and our own truth.
On my journey to clarity of my son’s world view we landed on several very different ‘continents of being’ if you will, to reach at last, his truth. Now as a mom, by virtue of who we are, we believe we’re entitled to the higher tier of knowledge acceptance. It’s a natural thing to do, its spontaneous, mothers are hard-wired to take the lead. Mistake…if it is not necessary and your child has a very mature adult mind of his own. Taking the lead is no longer necessary, but suggestions are always welcome, thank you.
My son, who (at the time to me was my daughter) came to see me one early morning. With a stern no-nonsense face and tone of voice, he said, “Mom, we need to talk.”
I was scared for him, my heart skipped, my son never, ever, never-ever-ever spoke to me that way. I’m a legendary mythological creature that to most that my kids talk to breathes fire with no injury to self, disintegrates mountains with a wave my hand and can move planets around from their original location in the solar system just by ‘thought experiment” according to my children. (I’m also pretty good at the DMV.) Yeah, I’m a badass! This particular moment was unexpected. I put down the switch, opened my mind, took a deep breath and said “Ok, let’s talk, tell me what’s going on.”
He opens with, ”Mom, I have always been a boy.” This was not a ‘hair blown back moment’ (it comes later…watch for it) because we had previously, very briefly went over being gay or lesbian. Even though the conversations were had, they were short and always ended up with me saying, “your confused, you haven’t tried a relationship with a man yet. Try it first before you make a decision.” My conclusions of course always being right, would leave my son sitting in the void of ‘she still didn’t get it’ and we would leave off with him being anxious, depressed, emotionally distressed, unhappy and withdrawn.
This time, he would take no mommy input, editorials, side bars…nothing from me and he made me listen until HE was ready to give the conclusion. He talked to me like I was a six-year old, went step-by-step to break down and explain HIS TRUTH using scientific data and findings. Go big or go home right?
Gender; the public and (usually legally recognized) lived role as a boy or girl, man or woman. Biological factors combined with social and psychological factors contribute to gender development. Ok, that translates for me to the doctor said, “it’s a girl!” I said, “Ok.” Let’s go buy ribbons and I’ll teach you how to sit like a lady. Done.
No…that definition did not touch the meta-communication (internal thoughts) of an adult individual as to what they are to themselves…key word: PUBLIC.
You know how some of us don’t like the shape of certain body parts, or our butt is too big, this is not that. There are those that have what’s called Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD); “a body-image disorder characterized by persistent and intrusive preoccupations with an imagined or slight defect in one’s appearance.” (adaa.org) Those that suffer from this are obsessive when thinking about their imperfections, their mental torture is extreme and effects their standard of living not just daily, but from moment to moment. He explained this is not that either with patience and well-armed with information to completely tell his story, he went on.
There are those of us that DO NOT LIKE CHEESE ON OUR BURGER – THAT’S NASTY, NOT DOING IT!. That’s absolute, unconditional, unquestionable; it’s an unchangeable conclusion. My son explained that, that nasty, cheesy hamburger describes how he feels about himself; “Mom, I am and have always been a boy. Ya’ll know what I mean…really?
Here comes the ‘hair blown back moment,’ and the light bulb came on in the kitchen, the den, garage, all four bedrooms and the dog house. I said, “wait, what?” Gender Dysphoria; “an intense and persistent feeling or incongruence [disconnection] between one’s internalized sense of gender and [one’s] biological sex. […those experiencing GD are often only able to find peace and congruence upon addressing and living their authentic selves. (transidentified.com) So….and…..ummmm……total blank brain (which is actually a very hard meditation skill to acquire).
His truth and the brave effort (after multiple hiccups and non-starters from me) that he went through to explain it to me finally made me understand. I finally heard, “I’m still your child, the kid you had, I’m just not a girl.” We talked for hours and hours, days, weeks, unpacking, repacking, rearranging, laughing, crying and getting it clear what was going on all these years that I WOULD NOT SEE, THINK ABOUT OR CONSIDER because I was afraid.
I was afraid of ‘how far do I need to examine this to understand this new ‘continent of being.’ My conclusion this time was AS FAR AS I NEED TO GO. I needed to be more afraid of what would happen to my baby that what the neighbors or co-workers or church-folk would say. I need to worry about his welI-being, happiness and success in this life. Not what those that have opinions, those that think those opinions are valid just because they share them.
First of all, people with unsolicited opinions, did you wipe a tear, were you in the emergency room (did you pay the bill), do you care about his day to day needs and wants? No…Case Closed. Go find your opinion seeker or try gardening.
I had this child, what I needed to do was and is, is to love him just as much as I did when the nurse handed him to me after I carried him in my tummy.
Stretch marks aside, my understanding then was hardly where I am now but the clarity in that moment of explanation made so much sense. My mom instincts told me ‘that’s where my kid went,’ I’m going with him. I found my child, the happy one, the funny one, the one that is motivated to live life everyday with vigor and wonderment. I See You Alex!
Like the beach ball, from each vantage point or perspective, each person will see a different color, one or two different colors but they don’t all see the same thing from ‘their’ set of eyes. (Unsolicited negative opinion givers take note). Not until…after a discussion that reveals the basis of the other person’s truth; then the understanding of each other’s perspective and mutual agreement to bravely with commitment move forward as a team. Go find your child and listen. Go find your parent, ask them to just listen.