I delivered a speech last weekend about a very painful trauma from my past, and I did it in the actual school where it occurred. There has been a lot of very hard work and tears that led up to this moment, but I can truly say that I now have a feeling of it all being complete. Three decades have passed where this incident has occupied real estate in my head and my psyche, and to be given the opportunity to have closure on it is an immense blessing.
It had me thinking though, about a funny little element in the way we are designed as human beings. So many of us have traumas of some kind in our past, and in the leather and kink community it seems like we have double the amount. Perhaps we are just accustomed to being so open about what we are into that we also have a freedom in displaying the pains of our past. Indeed it’s not uncommon to be with a group of leathermen or kinksters that attempt to ‘out-saga’ one another in conversation. But what’s interesting is that many of us, when given the chance to actually put closure on a demon from our past, opt not to. Many of us have referenced the trauma so often or blamed it for our shortcomings, and in turn it has become a part of our identity. Subconsciously, it’s scary to give up something that we believe has been a part of us the majority of our lives.
I remember a friend of mine was struggling with the debt of her student loans for her time in film school. A relative had passed and left her with a very sizable inheritance, which among other things would bring her level of debt to zero. Some time had passed since she received the money and I asked her how if felt to not have the pressure of owing money looming over her head. She confessed that she still had not paid it off, even though she could do so with just a few keyboard taps. She told me, “It’s completely insane but here it is – I have known this financial struggle as an integrated part of my life for so long; if that’s no longer there, what do I have? It’s like I won’t know what to do with myself if I don’t have this debt to complain about!”
Now I’m happy to say that she quickly got over herself and paid it all off within a matter of minutes after saying that. I believe hearing herself acknowledge it out loud was the catalyst to finally make the leap. I didn’t judge her though, because I had those experiences myself. We talk at length about wanting to finally let go of hurts and upsets from our past, but when the opportunity finally presents itself or we get the courage to do so, we hesitate because we are uncomfortable with the empty ‘clearing’ that will open up. This however, is also what makes closure truly exciting.
I am still processing what I let go of last Sunday. I am still crying tears that I wasn’t allowed to cry when I was 14 years old. I am still feeling exhausted and reflecting on the magnitude of all of it. I am also very present to the incredible change that has occurred. Things are different now in a permanent sense. And it’s something I approach with celebration. Not everyone embraces change like that though. For some, the clearing that is created from closure is so foreign that they actually create new circumstances subconsciously to mirror the trauma that was released. Indeed my friend with the inheritance has caught herself on the verge of racking up new debt, which she quickly squelches because of her awareness.
Resist the urge to associate the hurts and traumas of your past with being your identity. If you constantly reference what has happened to you, the focus is always on the past and not the future. Troubles in your history cannot be undone or changed, but the future always remains an open field of possibility. Consider your traumas as something that you ‘have’, not something that you ‘are’. When you do this you free yourself up to live a future filled with all kinds of new ways of seeing yourself, and in turn going beyond the limits you thought you always had.
And that to me is an integral part of being a leatherman 🙂