A Binary Question

When we see people making choices to judge, to demolish, to add to their already vast financial wealth, to increase their value in the world at the expense of others, to slaughter without regard for life and limb, just because of an indoctrinated belief set up over years or decades, what can we do? Is this a question of ethics, a lack of integrity, a paucity of conscience, or simply the inability to deal with their internalised fear, a fear of people different to them?

Many people cannot see beyond their own limited frame of reference, their echo chambered existence to see that people are not all on the same spectrum as them. And in spectrum I mean colour, creed, gender, style, sex, love, beliefs, expression, appearance, voice, opinion, religion. All these traits are simply an aspect of being human, a human being in relation to other human beings.

We all slide across that scale, that spectrum, in so many different ways which is why there are so many differences prevalent in today’s world, a world considerably smaller due to technology and the internet. In not acknowledging this fact is to degrade and reject those who do not match our beliefs, who exist on another spectrum, who are in fact as equal as anyone else, and still a human being who has a right to be treated with respect and courtesy.

We’ve become limited to hearing sound bites and twitter posts, 280 characters of information that misses out the nuance of proper communication. The answers lie in the shades, the subtleties of grammar, the variation of language to bring understanding to topics that require comprehension and insight, something we can only get through conversation. Wisdom only appears after you spend time digesting the concepts presented and this causes a shift in one’s perception.

I’ve struggled with mental health issues from infancy due to social and societal programming prevalent in my first decade of life. The 1950s were not a good and open society who couldn’t or wouldn’t accept those who deviated from the defined ‘normal’. There was only male and female, masculine and feminine. And only straight in terms of who we love. Anything outside that tightly defined box was an anathema and an abomination. And deemed law breaking.

From an early age I was bullied and scapegoated simply because I was a different human being to those around me. Although I didn’t realise this until I was in my 50s, I am an empath; a very strong empath. I could sense very deeply what others were feeling and confused these with my own emotions as they raced through me bouncing against the boundaries of an uncertain existence. Puberty was particularly challenging as hormones rushing through my body caused all sorts of flux and instability, confusion and discombobulation.

Something told me that the testosterone flooding my veins was poison. I hated it, I hated the feeling it gave me, the anger and the sense of wrongness, the inability to be what life, and society, was telling me, forcing me, to be. I couldn’t match the stereotype I was expected to model and this led me to hide from most people, scared as I was to be the focus of derision. Cracks were very visible on my surface and widening every day allowing those with wrong intent to grab hold of my aching heart and squeeze it dry of any self-esteem I had left.

For decades my only companion was a deep yawning depression as this is the inevitable result of being tortured by so many who saw me as the court jester and metaphorically ripped out my tongue so I had no form of retaliation. This is where life, and those people, have left me. This is where life has deposited me, in my sixth decade wondering how to find my voice once again.

The emotional pain is a suffering many can only experience; simple words cannot carry the energy to explain to those who are not different to the societal stereotype to help them understand the effect on another person when they bully and deride, ridicule and insult. Perhaps they do understand and do it anyway. Does this make them inhuman? Or perhaps a sociopath only interested in themselves and what others can do for them? They don’t care who they hurt as long as they get what they want.

This year, 2019, has been excruciatingly painful as I became suicidal with the internal pain being triggered on many occasions throughout the days and months. It was being grabbed from deep within its hiding place and wrenched to the surface trying to breathe in the oxygen of visibility. The pain made no sense. The emotions rising were just anger, intense anger, of being hurt yet again by those people in my past still affecting me all these years later.

Only now, with the year nearly over, does some of it start to make sense. In diving deeply into my pain, looking in the congealed mud at the subterranean levels of my subconscious, snippets of understanding crawl out from their refuge to bring some wisdom.

When you are metaphorically slaughtered on a daily basis by those who should know better, the gradual ripping of the skin of one’s self-worth gets overwhelming. You lose sight of who you are as portions of the real you get cut away and seemingly disappear forever. They don’t of course, they simply run for their sanctuary until you are ready to find them again.

My self-esteem is so damaged that small comments by loved ones brings anger to the surface like a tsunami of pain that’s so heartbreaking and shattering that I begin to hate those around me for not listening to my opinions and ideas.

I can think so far outside the box that visualising new ideas are just a natural part of being me. I’m able to see the bigger picture when others have trouble squinting at the detail. I seem not to be able to explain these new ideas and images to others who have closed ears and closed minds. And not being heard is painful, very painful, and just confirms my belief of being a useless and pointless human being.

When one has pain of any sort, even low level irritation, we tend to run away from it with all sorts of pain killers and antidepressants. These rarely give solace as the cause is then hidden by smothering it with chemicals. When I turn and embrace the pain I’m feeling it yields dividends. The answers it provides helps me understand who, what and why. Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes you catch just a glimpse, a scintilla of information that prompts a positive ripple of change.

This morning, I had an appointment to get my hair dyed pink. Such was my fear that my legs started to shake and my belly felt like butterflies had grown in number and were aching to escape. Why?

Over the decades, I had been programmed so deeply that any time I made a choice for myself, others told me I couldn’t and wouldn’t get their approval. Sometimes this criticism was explicit but most was delivered by implicit action, or inaction, or more usually, a snide comment. This belief for me had become so subconscious that it was still, in my sixth decade, running and controlling the way I see myself and others.

My non-binary nature confused those people around me. I have always been androgynous, an equal balance of feminine and masculine, that many simply don’t understand me. Now I’m seen as female which is where I should’ve been all along. Through lots of internal work looking at the fears I carry and shedding the masks I fashioned as protection, I’ve now reached a level of understanding. But, there’s always a but, I’m still in a level of pain that only time will soothe. And a willingness to turn towards it rather than run in the other direction. Fear is the chasing monster we all dread but by turning to look intently in its eyes, we see it crumble into insignificance.

Many of those that bully are still controlled by their unconscious bias and their unconscious beliefs and are unwilling or unable to travel to the deepest part of their internal landscape to discover what makes them tick. Discovering my Self once again, I can honestly say I’m beginning to have a conscious awareness of my subconscious and how it functions. I cannot exist in a life only of joy and happiness as sadness and despair are the counter side of the same coin. To touch one you have to touch the other; the yin yang.

Binary can only exist in computing and mathematics. And by definition, everything else must have nuance, variation, subtlety and shades. In other words, non-binary. In different words, human beings. We are all non-binary.