Why We Buried Our Awesomeness, and How We Can Get It Back
As a member of both the human race and the mental health field I believe we are all striving to achieve what Carl Jung calls individuation. In today’s day and age you’ve probably heard it called “becoming who you are,” “being one’s authentic self,” “finding one’s true self,” and so forth.
Until you are consciously aware of this, you are actually hiding (i.e. “repressing,” as we psychotherapy- types like to call it) essential parts of yourself. Parts that are actually pretty awesome! These parts hide in the unconscious. And our unconscious has a wicked sick sense of humor when it comes to how it messes with us when we hide our truth.
Wait, Why Did I Hide the Awesome?
Indeed, why do we hide away parts of ourselves in the first place? Well, when we were kids we were smart enough to push down anything that we believed was too shameful or wrong to reveal about who we really were. We tossed that stuff into a heavily padlocked trunk and tossed it into the deepest ocean we could find. We were only trying to protect ourselves, right?
So, while you try to go about the business of living a “normal” life, your trunk create mayhem in that unconscious of yours. Anxiety, depression, anger, isolation, you name it. Because your trunk hates being ignored, and it really, really wants your attention. It knows you are not yet the person you were truly meant to be until you bring to light what it is you have buried.
So eventually these repressed parts of yourself get really tired of being ignored. And, just like a kid or a puppy who wants you attention, they will do whatever it takes to convince you to pay attention to them. And the longer you try to ignore them, the harder they try to get that attention.
Do you ever do things that you would normally “never do”? Harbor shameful secrets? Lie to your loved ones? Form addictions? Have physical ailments you just can’t shake? Yep, say hello to your trunk. You thought you threw it into that ocean long ago but what the crap! it’s been here with you all along. Because the ocean wasn’t on the other side of the world – it’s your very own unconscious.
So What Are My Choices?
You throw up your hands, “I give up!” Your choices are…
- You continue to keep the trunk buried, your unconscious continues to wreak havoc on your life, and eventually you go crazy or die. I wish this was an exaggeration, but it’s not. The death may be slow and over a period of many years, but it is usually one that is very, very sad. Or…
- You give up trying to fight it, take a deep breath, and open up that trunk.
Sound familiar? This is where most hero (or heroine’s) journeys begin – whether it’s in a movie, a novel, or your own life.
Yes, it can be incredibly scary to do this. These trunks of ours have things in them that, in the past, have brought us nothing but pain, fear, confusion, and shame.
But the trunk is so happy you’ve finally come back! It’s missed you terribly. It knows you had to bury those thoughts and feelings for your own protection. But now you’re a grownup, and it’s time to learn the truth about yourself.
Do I have to do this alone?
One of the best ways to sift through your trunk is by finding even one person to talk to about these long hidden parts of yourself. Over time, this can lead to:
- Feeling the indescribable relief of finally confessing your secrets.
- Bringing about comfort and lifting you out of isolation once you learn that there are others who feel the same way you do.
- Getting reacquainted with these discarded parts of yourself, and eventually trying them on for size.
- Integrating these formerly scary parts of yourself into who you are today.
- Starting to use words like “whole,” “balanced,” and “right” to describe how you feel about yourself.
Once you begin this process, chances are a lot is going to change in your life and in the lives of those closest to you.
It’s probably obvious by now that the point I’m about to make is this…
We have so very much to learn from transgender and trans* individuals about how to become our true, authentic selves.
And we have so very much to learn from the loved ones in their lives, when it comes to what kind of journey then begins for them as well.
Why We Buried Our Awesomeness, and How We Can Get It Back – Dara Hoffman-Fox | Charissa's Grace NotesSeptember 1, 2014 at 12:34 AM
[…] Why We Buried Our Awesomeness, and How We Can Get It Back – Dara Hoffman-Fox. […]
Kevin EWingSeptember 1, 2014 at 12:52 AM
Your blog is so well written and so needed. Too often even the topic of mental health is buried inside of that trunk you write about so well.
Dara Hoffman-FoxSeptember 3, 2014 at 1:42 PM
I’ll always have Carl Jung to thank for helping me realize that… Thanks for coming by!
HitoshiOctober 30, 2014 at 3:44 PM
Thank you, Dara, for suggesting that I read this blog. I will definitely search for someone to open up to, whether that be a reliable friend or gender therapist.
JasmineDecember 17, 2014 at 11:16 AM
This helped a lot been dealing with the trunk all my life still am but still not sure if I want to open it
Dara Hoffman-FoxDecember 17, 2014 at 7:37 PM
Half the battle is knowing the trunk even exists! You’ll get there, take it slow and easy. Good luck!
AdrienneFebruary 28, 2015 at 10:42 PM
Thank you for pointing me in the direction of this post. I really like your writing style. I feel like I have been haphazardly looking for my “true self” for quite some time now, but your trunk analogy has helped me start to clarify (and wonderfully visualize) more of what that actually means.
As a random side note, I happened to be listening to Shine On You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd as I was reading this, and felt like the opening lyrics compliment it quite nicely 😉
SeanMay 13, 2015 at 4:55 PM
I’ve just discovered your website and have found a lot I can relate to. I’m in my 40s and have just this week told my Doctor about my ‘terrible’ secret that I’ve kept hidden since my early teens. I’ve now told several people (although still no one close to me) about my trans self but each time has felt like a little weight lifted off of me. I didn’t even realise until now that I had a ‘trunk’. I hope one day I can feel safe enough to tell my loved ones. Thank you 🙂
SarahAugust 9, 2015 at 3:31 AM
Once I realised I had a trunk I just had to open it, my life is still intact, my world didn’t end, it is a mess in there and it is going to take some time to sort out but even lifting the lid has helped a little, oh yeah and I am 51 so it is never too late…take some advice from someone who spent 50 years denying who they were and paid a price, if you do as I did and repress repress repress then the trunk just gets to a point where its is so big you can’t move without fear of spilling it or it crushing you.
AnnaAugust 24, 2015 at 6:20 AM
After I realized that I’m Transgender, I had some well-meaning loved ones tell me to be careful, I could be in danger, wait for better days and better places. I tried for months to just be myself online.
But the conflict between being “Anna” online, being this cool chick that was liked and admired on the ‘net, and being that sad, pitiful person that was me in the “real” world, was literally killing me.
Finally one day, I put on my best girl clothes, wig, makeup, and heels, and Mom and I went shopping. XD
I get stares from a few, but smiles from many. One nice neighbor that doesn’t yet know me well at all remarked the other day that she was glad to see me being myself and being happy. 🙂
Life isn’t perfect. I have so much work left to do, there are still stresses, and I really don’t know how much medical transitioning I’ll evers be able to afford.
But I’m happy now. 🙂 I’m Anna now. 🙂
Dara Hoffman-FoxNovember 7, 2016 at 1:31 PM