Last week, GayStarNews addressed the topics of Loneliness and Isolation through their #DigitalPride event. Their uplifting video on the subject can be found at the end of this post.
Here, Martha M Dunkley combines personal experience with experience gleaned from her work as a psychotherapist and peer group facilitator to tackle the subject of loneliness.
For many of us, realising our internal reality is a long process, and we have accumulated many friends in whatever faces we have presented to the world in the time it takes for us to wake up to deeper self-understanding. Some simply will ‘not get it’, whether from prejudice, or an inflexible or self-centred view of reality.
Those cisgendered friends whom we are close enough to to hear our sometimes agonised explorations, and our weighing of the practicalities of survival if we transition, will inevitably tire of the process sooner than we do. After all they are one step removed and the reality and feelings are ours not theirs
If and when they retreat from friendship, the rejection can feed the particular strand of learned low self-esteem known as internalised transphobia. As a result, some trans people can feel that it is inevitable that they will be lonely, that it is their own fault for being different in this particular way.
I have been privileged to have a window into the upbringing and family life of many clients over the years, and a common strand is the interweaving of issues arising from negative stories that young minds are imprinted with around gender non-conforming behaviour and on the other the negative stories that they would have been subject to if cisgendered.
We cannot choose our parents, and, even with the best will in the world, so often they build limitations and distortions into their children’s world view.
Coming out at work can be fraught, although support is often given, sometimes from surprising quarters. However, going about one’s business while being the object of, sometimes covert, scrutiny can be alienating and exhausting. Not being invited to the after works drink in the pub etc. can make even emotionally self-reliant people feel twinges of loneliness and rejection.
It seems to me and others that the trans population is equally distributed throughout society, so it is no surprise that many trans people who come to peer groups have only their experience of being trans in common. It can be another source of loneliness to feel alone in a group that ostensibly is accepting.
So there is a common theme emerging: internalised transphobia as subset of learned low self esteem is fed by the very real rejection by some in society. This is further reinforced by the entirely reprehensible moral panic currently being whipped up by elements of the mainstream media. One can be going from A to B about our business, and a news-stand headline can make us feel painfully alone and rejected.
To end on a personal note, I had a time of being lonely about twenty years ago from the loss of a long-term relationship. Although that was a desperate time, the slow climb back into emotional independence was eventually fruitful, inasmuch as I learned new skills, and self-awareness, took on a new profession and acquired many new friends. Most of all it taught me to like my own company, to love myself if you will, and that we, as humans, have the resilience to survive and to prosper.
Loneliness & Isolation in dance and music