There are only 4 girls of the Generation X age bracket at our office. One of the girls, Charlee, sits next to Graeme.
Graeme is a character: full of himself, constantly bragging, and egotistical. He’s obnoxious at times, but has a good heart and is harmless. You’ve got to admire how he’s one of the few coworkers that’s not afraid to tell things the way they are…..and he is quite funny when you don’t take what he says so seriously.
I happened to be talking with Charlee the other day, and Arly came by to ask Charlee something that was actually work related.
Since all of us girls work for different contracts or on different subsystems, not one time in my 6 months at this job had we ever been gathered in one location simultaneously.
Graeme, immediately seeing an opportunity to insert himself with a wisecrack, turned his chair around and said: “Wow, all the girls at my desk! Awesome!”
All of this being expressed while he licked his lips as if he were anticipating a delicious treat.
I immediately felt so happy, and a sense of belonging..
I was seen as one of the girls. Graeme, my work, and society, have all been seeing me for who I am for over 2 years now.
How could I not feel the bliss of being witnessed and mirrored, especially after delaying my heart for over 30 years?
Yet, coupled with that elation, were my shame demons: they decided to hitch along for the ride, despite not having been invited.
My ego just couldn’t accept that I was included as one of the women at work. My inner critic, ego, shame demons, had to bring me back down to what was familiar: my cesspool swamp of past misery.
It’s no wonder why so many people who haven’t done their shame work to accept vulnerability as an entryway to empathy and compassion, often find themselves being the recipients of joy being coupled with and inseparable from misery. The highs are inevitably connected to the lows. I, unfortunately, fit into this category. I wasn’t yet living a fully wholehearted life.
So I quickly tried to diffuse my shame, instead of allowing myself to feel vulnerable.
“Not all the girls are here,” I quickly noted. “Bhavini’s not here,” I quipped by quickly quoting a technicality.
“Okay, not ALL the girls,” Graeme said wryly. “Most of the girls…does that work for you Natalia?”
“Natalia,” I giggled in repetition. “I could get used to that nickname…..and yes, that does work for me.”
How could I choose better next time? Go into the space where I’m vulnerable. Acknowledge my inner critic, the shame demons, but focus on the affirmations that I know I own and receive daily from the fact that I’m living my life authentically.
“Yes, I am a transwoman. But I’m still a woman. So when Graeme said all the girls were at his desk, that ABSOLUTELY referred to and included me as well. No, I’m not a cisgender woman, but I am a woman….just one with a different history than most, and I have so much evidence and proof that the world affirms my heart and who I am every day. It’s time I start believing those facts about myself and validating myself with that evidence rather than listening to my shame demons.” This is what I need to say to myself more often.
Our shame demons like to pull us back into the land of purgatory, where we can often be stuck being miserable.
I was aware of that when I was at Graeme’s desk. And despite knowing that I have a lot more work to do, I am grateful and proud of how far I’ve come, how much I’ve improved, and how much work I have done so far….
What a journey….a journey that has earned me a seat at the girl’s congregation.