Many years ago I dated a girl who made a big deal about selfishness. Well…let me rephrase that…she made a big deal about my selfishness. And my selfishness was defined as any time that I didn’t want to do what she wanted to do, or didn’t want to do things the way that she wanted to do it. Any time I tried to get my way once in a while, I could count on being accused of being selfish.
Funny thing is that I knew that if anything, she was the one being selfish by demanding her way all the time. But I also knew that pointing out her selfishness would just be proof to her of mine.
I was aware that I often wanted my own way. I was aware that we all often want our own way…her included. I was also aware that as a result of that, there needed to be a little give and take…some compromises…to reach a point where one side wasn’t getting all while the other was getting none. I knew that there was enough desire for our own way on both sides of this relationship to go around…and that it wasn’t right that she was the one getting all while I was the one getting none.
But “compromise” isn’t in your vocabulary when you feel that you have the moral high ground…which may only be a mound that you’ve made out dirt dug out from the other person’s yard.
There’s something to be said for being an outsider, a third party with no vested interest in the situation, and who can look at it clearly and dispassionately. A third person could clearly have called her on her own selfishness, and she’d have to accept it without lashing out at them. Similarly, had I seen the same situation playing out in someone else’s relationship, I would’ve given the advice that I couldn’t give myself.
However, I’m not here to talk about that relationship today. I want to talk about pain. Not the physical kind…the emotional kind.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine posted an article titled Six Signs That You Might Not Really Respect Your Transgender Loved One. As I read the article, I was reminded of a transgender person I heard speak a few months earlier about dealing with her family, and how evil they were because they didn’t recognize or acknowledge the pain she was going through.
In both cases I was able to see things much differently because I was the disinterested third party. The two transgender people here were only able to see things from their perspective. They were only able to recognize and acknowledge their own pain and suffering. They couldn’t…or wouldn’t…see what their families were going through.
And I call “bullshit” on that.
When their family members explain that this is hard on them too, when they try to cling to a few reminders of what they thought we happy family moments from the past, and the transgender person responds by saying that this is just another sign of how little they really care about them, this is just like my old girlfriend claiming that any time I tried to point out when she was being selfish was just further proof of how selfish I was.
These people are saying “My pain is the only real pain, the only valid pain, the only pain that matters. they may have pain too, but it’s not mine, so it doesn’t matter, and can be belittled and discounted. when your pain conflicts with my pain, you just need to suck it up and let me have my way because my pain’s more important.
The simple fact of the matter is that no one gets to have all their way all the time. No one gets a pain-free life. We all have to deal with a little pain for the sake of someone else…especially when both sides are hurting. We all have to give a little.
That includes both transgender people and their families.
And my former girlfriend.