Sing Me Home, Back to Me

I completely agree with Rick Mercer’s recent rant with respect to the need for more gay adults to be role models for gay kids. This, so that gay kids can feel safe, comfortable and contented in their skin. In order for that to happen, the gay adults that Rick calls out to, first have to feel safe, comfortable and contented in their own skin. Anything short of that presupposes that the adults Rick appeals to already feel that way about themselves and most don’t for the risks they still perceive to be associated with having their sexual orientation known. It’s all relative and where it may feel safe for me, for another it doesn’t. Therein lies the challenge in the call-out to adults.

 A Conversation About the Adults

If we assume for a moment that the majority of kids grow up and get a job, start a career, become professionals, regrettably for many of them, and not just in the context of “being gay and coming out”, the workplace takes on the likeness of an “adult” schoolyard. Why because by virtue of our upbringing we’ve all become very adept at being externally referenced. In some cases external referencing is good. If I wasn’t externally referenced I wouldn’t pay mind to the oncoming car as I’m trying to cross the road. I’m not speaking to external referencing in that context however. I’m talking about the kind that sees us being other than our authentic selves based on the risks associated with that.

Very much like in the schoolyard, the internal conversations for the adults in the workplace may sound like, “what will my colleagues, boss(other kids, teachers) say/think, will I be taunted, will I be teased, will I be bullied, will I be excluded?  As a former police officer of twenty years who happens to be gay, the first ten years of my career (1st three years as a Military Police Officer) were spent willingly and knowingly in the proverbial closet for all of the concerns I’ve just stated. My stories to colleagues about my weekend outings with my partner, now of 22 years were rarely shared and when they were, my partner was referred to in two ways as my “friend” or “they”; exhausting to say the least. I was not only carrying the lie, living an “other” life at work, in fact I’d been carrying the lie from the moment with and in mySelf I knew that I was gay. And though I could not put language to it, looking back, I was aware of my sexuaility at a very young age and I was also aware of  how “bad” it was to be gay.

The shift for me did not come because suddenly it became safe outside of me and in my workplace and in my world to be gay. The shift came for me because it was safe inside of me to be gay. Not safe at an intellectual level where our perceptual filters such as distorting, deleting, generalizing, judging, analyzing, and rationalizing drives the bus, rather at the level of the body, because the body unlike the intellect does not have the ability to lie to us. So, in that, our body, our energetic being knows our brilliance and beauty. It’s the intellect that actually calls what we instinctively know into question by gauging and measuring worth based on what others think of us and at a very young age we are taught to listen to our intellect creating the ultimate betrayal of ourselves and that was to not trust our bodies and to look outside of us for the approval no matter how “unlike us” it felt inside.

The stories that others have of us are run through our respective perceptual filters and for many who are unaware of themselves beyond their intellect, the truths of others become the truth that they hold of and for themselves. For years as a gay person, I held myself as abnormal, sinful and dirty because the external world that I came to know as the marker, kept reinforcing that for me. You see in my upbringing, in my home, in the media, in my school, homosexuality was seen as disgusting, revolting, dirty, even criminal behaviour with it being equated to pedophilia. I’m not suggesting that it is exactly like that for teenagers today and clearly there is still something going on out there that they are having these feelings about themselves that in some cases has them dismissing themselves to the extent of ending the very breath that it takes to save them.

By virtue of my willingness to explore and discover that I was much more than I was taught to believe I was, my life changed. But I had to be willing to be with and in myself, resourceful breath to resourceful breath. When I chose that, the internal shift saw me no longer riding or carrying the dead horses of disgust, embarrassment, shame, guilt, fear, or hating myself as part of my being. Not only that, I discovered that they were not my dead horses, they were owned by those who held me as that. They were their beliefs, not mine. In that discovery a remarkable thing happened when I got off of all those dead horses and stopped dragging them around ; my life changed. The conversations about sexuality changed, rather than calling into and seeing in my life those who held homosexuality as disgusting, where I couldn’t see them before based on how I held myself, I could now see other human beings who knew my sexual orientation was a natural aspect of a human being, being human in their world. The other thing that happened because I felt safe and comfortable in my body, it became safe as well for those who would otherwise not reveal their support for homosexuality to now do so absent of the fears of riducule and guilt by association that otherwise kept them in their own little closet. You could say my experience was in keeping with the concepts of the laws of attraction.

By honoring mySelf, my life changed. One day a colleague of mine with the Gloucester Police Service who I’d been partnered up with and
befriended asked me outright if I was gay, and for the first time in my body, because I was safe in there, I knew it was safe for me to be authentic outside of me. I answered him authentically, truthfully with, “yes I am.” No waving flags, no marching bands entering the scene to usher in my answer, no bells and whistles, no front page news, just him and I being ourSelves, each of us knowing it was safe to be ourSelves. That reinforced the safety that I held in and of myself. It doesn’t mean that everyone I’ve encountered in my life agrees with my sexual orientation it just means that when such people present I still feel safe in me in spite of that. And that’s powerful and empowering as a thought contagion.

Back to the Children

And so that brings me to this question/consideration; where do our children get the opportunity to explore and discover their brilliance, their beauty, their magic, where even if it doesn’t match an adult’s perception of what brilliant, beautiful, magic looks like for them, they still know they are all of that? Whether in the context of sexual orientation or anything else, how many places and spaces are we silencing the voices of our children because theirs doesn’t match our expectations, desires of them? Where do they go to know that being the full expression of who they know themselves to be is ok?

I can tell you with certainty that it is not for the most part available in their homes, and most certainly not in their schools. Outside of the context of school curriculum that I promise to lend my thoughts to in my next blog, here’s why I know that. The living, breathing entities, in our children’s respective family systems and surrounding communities, including schools have yet to make the discovery for themselves of their own innate brilliance, beauty and magic. Here’s my evidence for that. The perpetuation of workplace harassment, discrimination, bullying and violence continues to rear its ugly head and at phenomenal rates. So you have teenagers who are taking their cue from entities who have not made the shift from external to internal referencing for themselves because they too are experiencing their workplace as the “adult” schoolyard that it is for them. They continue to perceive their world as dangerous…and you can only convey to others how it is you perceive your own world.

In the province of Ontario, we are sixteen months into new legislation that addresses harassment and violence in the workplace. Why do you
think that legislation was introduced? It’s because people are dying all kinds of deaths in all kinds of ways in their workplace at the hands of colleague to colleague, harassing, bullying, and yes violent behaviour. So it is, quite likely, these children / teenagers, will, like me, only realize that they are more than they’ve been taught to believe they are when they become older, wiser, and more attuned to themSelves as opposed to tuned into what everyone else thinks or expects of them. And when that happens, like me, they’ll become seekers for what they know instinctively is available to them and that is taking/getting their life back!!! Because their life belongs to no one but themselves.

And we all know for far too many, that knowing is way too late. For the beautiful, brilliant, magical Jason it is and for my beautiful, brilliant, magical childhood friend Brian it is too late. School is the boot-camp for life and when I look back on my school days and then into my adulthood, until I chose to acknowledge the amazing human being that I am and trust that and love mySELF unflinchingly, unwaveringly, I behaved and responded to my workplace exactly as I had in school, experiencing my workplace for many years as very unsafe. Here’s the
kicker, the bullies of the schoolyard and the workplace are also responding to their world as dangerous and if they never discover that it is actually safe, that they are safe in their bodies, they will continue to operate from that reality. Regrettably for Jason and Brian, in the abence of knowing and trusting their own more, they could not see or appreciate the turmoil that their own tormenters were in that would see them responding to their unsafe world by making others feel as they did; unsafe.

And so I could not agree with you more Rick Mercer and I know that the adults that you seek to be role models for the younger generation have to be that for themselves first before they can be that for anyone else. They cannot be/give to others what they have yet to become/give to themselves. And here’s the good news, I think what your are calling for is possible Rick.

The only difference between what Rick is saying and what I think is possible is that while I am all for providing a forum for adults to make this discovery, we need to make opportunities for children, teenagers and young adults to never lose sight of their brilliance and beauty in the first place. Not one of us was born with the thought that we were ugly, disgusting, stupid, dumb, or the opposite of those things. These were things that we were taught, because the people teaching us were taught the same thing about themselves. For me it was thirty five years of undoing the lies and mistruths that I was taught about myself. And with no ill will towards my family or society in general. It was about discovering it was my life and I was responsible for it. It was possible to make the shift and what I know is if we can offer the educational forum for children, teens, young adults to live from their brilliance and beauty, they won’t have to undo 35, 45 or even  55 years of the untruths that became their truth of themselves because they had no other reference point. Further  we will not have to depend on the large population of unempowered adults who have no sense of their own beauty and brilliance to instill empowerment in our children.  We can’t give what we haven’t got!

In the work I do with organizations and corporations, large and small what I know is that it shouldn’t hurt to go to work. I also know that it shouldn’t hurt to go to school. In either context, it isn’t just about making the victims of bullying feel safe with and in themselves, it is about creating the space for the tormenters, the bullies as well to feel safe in and with themselves. We will not achieve that by telling them they are safe, they have to have the experience of being / feeling safe in their bodies. That means they have to be in there. In addition to the intellectual beings that we are, it is time to start acknowledging ourselves as the sensing beings that we are. Because one way or the other we are sensing something.

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Comments on: "Thoughts on Rick Mercer’s Rant – Teen Suicide" (5)

  1. Madeleine said:

    I would like to say to all gay kids, in agreement with your p.o.v., Kae, “Be yourself and to hell with the other guy,” but know that sometimes that just isn’t possible when the other guy happens to be bigger, stronger, or more powerful. So safety in numbers, we all have to step up and be immediate with people who make anti-gay remarks, just like we did back in the sixties with racists. So no, the jokes aren’t funny, the slurs are unacceptable, and the opinions that have led to this “anti” way of thinking need a serious re-think. We have to make it unacceptable to be anti-gay.

    • I agree with your sentiments Madeleine. What I am also accutely aware of is that we are all operating from our current “structures of reality” and unless and until we are willing and able to consider that aspect of our current structure of reality that answers to “the things we don’t know we don’t know”, and be receptive to information/awareness that comes from that place, people’s structures of reality will be what they are.

      And so when I know myself to be amazing, brilliant and beautiful, it really doesn’t matter how anti-gay another person is, it can’t impact me. The comfort in one’s own skin has to start with someone and it does take courage and in my experience of it, there is a far greater chance for it to start with the gay person than the bully. Whoever it starts with, therein lies the thought contagion.

      Happy New Year!

      Kae

  2. Vicki-Lee said:

    What an interesting blog-post. Your experiences resonated with me and no, I am not a gay woman;-) I predominantly grew up with a single mother and my little brother where housing was cheap on the rural urban fringe of an Australian capital. My mother was a worrier and kind of bitter and broken (I don’t know much about her childhood and it’s a no-brainer to know it came from there) so home-life felt cold and nervous – as you’d walk through the door you’d have to steel yourself for whatever mood she was in. A polite way would be to call her a ‘tough-cookie.’ Affection didn’t happen. And school was just as bad. I was pretty and smart but quiet and felt constantly wracked with nervousness and self-consciousness. As we are all nervous animals, the more ‘damaged’ and boisterous kids would sometimes single me out (who among us can’t smell fear?) and you know how bad girls can get. I couldn’t figure out why or how people could be so mean?

    Television, curiously, advertised a surreal and heightened world of escape – everyone is beautiful and affluent and well-dressed and either funny or falling in love… Strange to think how this became something to aspire to – something to hang out for as I wanted an outer-world to match my inner one. I wouldn’t say I had a healthy self-esteem but it wasn’t a low or suffering one inside myself where debilitating behaviours took over – only the loneliness became palpable and anxiety was my constant companion. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to leave home and make my way in the world and meet different and interesting people where I could dream of being or knowing myself full-fledged and safe and happy – what a dream!

    I sought foreigners for clues about other values and ways of living. Anything that had a heightened sense of beauty and harmony – both inside and out was key for me. The simple ritual of eating meals as a child was more akin to ‘shoving something down your throat to ward off starvation.’ There were no culinary delights or conversations or activity that allowed individuality to shine. I wasn’t in war-torn Africa but my vista was akin to Dorothy’s grey and banal Kansas.

    My life has been about cultivation. Cultivating myself, my mind my ‘tastes’ my experiences, my achievements – testing boundaries so that I may have some reference points that serve as benchmarks along my life’s timeline. Knowing what to strive for – whether being influenced from the outside or inside has been a meandering voyage of self-discovery.

    I chose to go through with having a child when I unexpectedly became pregnant at 21. By this stage I was working and had bought my first house and felt like I was on a life-path of success and respectability. I crashed and burned a few of my life-stories (break-ups a partner dying unexpectedly et al) and I’ve learned that sometimes its just life happening. But monitoring thoughts is paramount as they in turn become habits and character and destiny…you know the one;-) I saw this as an opportunity to break the cycle of being a ‘victim-child’ (maybe too strong a concept?) and to turn that around into a pro-active adult/parent. I am happy to say my 16 year old son is a delightful child and we couldn’t want for a more formidable son.

    Having studied Human Resource Management then onto psychology, sociology, comparative religion, feminism and philosophy – I can see a world inflicted by the perils of patriarchy that simply are out of balance and it’s not just women who suffer under this paradigm; we all do. This high-tech era we’re in and moving closer to with ever such velocity is creating yet another, yet different, type of generation gap.

    How does one go about creating and re-creating (especially when you leave your locale! and have to create your life all over again?) I face this everyday… Reconciling oneself with oneself and others – especially when the outside world feels sometimes stacked against you?

    Media and social dictates push us like lemmings towards things we’re supposed to strive for by telling us what we supposedly want. I’ve long ago stopped believing a strong economy is the be-all and end-all of a happy life. For surely on a world-scale, others suffer when we have it ‘easy.’ Balancing ourselves, our lives and the planet -which all seem to resonating at differing vibrations often feels to me like one big cross-conversation on a scratchy-static telephone line.

  3. Hi Vicky-Lee

    Thank your for your interest and comments to my blog. I enjoyed reading all of your words and a few thoughts that you shared had particular resonance with me.

    With respect to the “perils of patriarchy”, and that we all “suffer under this paradigm”. I agree and I also believe that we are making a shift in what has been patriarchal domination. This shift is long overdue and yet I also know with more women finding and taking their rightful and required place in the evolution of our world, planet, universe, a vibrational shift is occurring.

    As a female police officer for twenty years, I noticed how we “do policing” shifted and I also believe that shift would not have been possible without women coming into the profession in the numbers that we have and the number of female officers continues to rise, as it should. It is not that male officers were doing it wrong, it is that a very significant perspective on how to police all of society was missing. Their’s was simply an incomplete response.

    I also believe that as more women take their place not just in policing but on this glorious planet of ours, the positive, spiritual and vibrational shift will occur, is occurring,whether it be about creating respectful workplaces, ending bullying by empowering others to never surrender their beauty and brilliance to another’s opinion of them, or positively contributing to a planet who’s existance depends in part on how we treat it. And we have to be willing to notice those places and spaces where we are having that kind of impact…because we are — noticing that is the launch pad for how and where else we can make the difference.

    I hope this new year’s day finds you well and excited about what’s possible in 2012.

    Kae

    • Vicki-Lee said:

      Hi Kae

      I have just read the subsequent commentary since I last visited your blog; all very interesting. I can see Madeleine’s perspective (sociological) and yours (psychological) and both are significant – just depends on our cultural filters and which lens we choose (or unconsciously recognise). In my earlier years, I was a big believer in ‘If it is to be, it is up to me!’ which our modern english-english speaking cultures tend to favour these past decades. We come to know ourselves as individuals living in our communities/culture and by doing this we take so much for granted and the reason we don’t know these ‘blind’ aspects about ourselves is that we, er, take it for granted!

      I didn’t fully come to recognise the power of this until I lived abroad in a foreign culture/language and saw how the ‘omnipresent social moral order of things’ was different to my own culture’s (and I REALLY got to see and understand my own culture) and I started to study these mental concepts that manifest as ‘accepted behaviour.’

      Reconciling the differences and finding that balance between personal development/responsibility/self-esteem and how that works in domains that seem contrary to individual respect (schools/workplaces etc) because the greater number seems to invariably ‘win.’

      What I really wanted to share with all involved in this blog post, and I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t share this – is the great work I deeply admire by an American PhD Social Worker, Dr. Brene Brown. (Brene is with an accent on the final ‘e’ such as in ‘cafe’ so it sounds like Brenay;-) This inspiring and pragmatic academic is a much-loved TED speaker and I was so moved by her story-telling that I subsequently bought her books and even went as far as purchasing her curriculum on Shame Resilience (bought it online from the UK for a few hundred bucks and I still have no idea how I’ll male use of it one day – but, I remain somehow optimistic 🙂

      Basically after years of research she has broken people down into TWO categories. Those who feel WORTHY and those who don’t – and it has nothing to do with merit. It is only what we believe of ourselves. Depending on which category we are in, furnishes a telling illustration in how we perceive VULNERABILITY. It really is a state of mind – and we know this from extreme examples such as prisoner-of-war camps as an example. The human spirit is a fascinating entity and I never tire of trying to understand it better. Buddhists believe that our world is mind-made and psychology tells us that around 99% of everything is perception. It all becomes tricky when our environments don’t honour us as human beings which reflects back some pretty damaging feedback which serves to confuse and limit us.

      I urge you to take out 20 minutes of your time (give yourself a coffee break;-) and watch this video – if you’re anything like me, you’ll be sure glad you did!

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