Spring is here! It's my most favorite season, representing all that's invigorating and hopeful about life and rebirth. I began this blog eight years ago, and as April arrives I think carefully about this theme of being reborn or coming back to life after the dead of winter.
This year, there was no struggle or confusion about what I'd share.
This year included more death than I anticipated as well as my own rebirth.
And in this incarnation, the truth is actually, I'm an a**hole. And it's so liberating to share that after too many years of hiding and hoping no one would notice. I laugh to think the hiding was effective at any point along the way. I surrender to accept the glaring and obvious reality that's been blinding people this whole time.
Well, some people. Others think I'm this totally relatable, nice person. Inspiring, they tell me.
Perhaps it's all true. But here's a nugget that's worth sharing: to be inspiring, one must first be a real a**hole. And know it. And accept it. The reason being, nothing real or authentic comes from willfully ignoring or glossing over the often painful or unsavory nature of who we are as human beings. But too many of us spend so much time either pretending we aren't a**holes or, worse yet, hardly acknowledging we are if we can even bring ourselves to see it.
But we are. We're all a**holes. I am, and you are. We all are. We have aspects of us that manifest as wretched scarcity toward ourselves and other people. We deprive ourselves and other people of the love and resources and energy and compassion and patience we all need to thrive in this lifetime. We are mean. We are judgmental. We cheat. We withhold. We are impatient. We settle for less. We skip dessert. We drink too much too often and have plenty of time for Netflix binges but can't find time or money or energy to make ourselves dinner.
We are polite to a fault. We are fake. We are self-deprecating. We are "nice".
We limit ourselves and project those limitations onto others. We doubt. We mansplain or momsplain. We are ungrateful. We are manipulative and engage in explicit or implicit power struggles and say things like, "sorry I didn't return your call from three months ago. I am JUST SO BUSY! Hope you're ok."
We do this. I do this. And we do all of it until it's habit and becomes who we are for ourselves and other people, many of whom we claim to love. It's so interwoven into our daily rituals of behavior, it becomes barely discernable and, without a sense of self-awareness, remains a blind spot. Who we actually are lies outside our consciousness and we may go about life acting like a**holes with no idea at all.
Until we come to it, as I have this year. I came to see the things I do and the ways I am that make me a real a**hole. It's certainly not all I am, but rather than only focus on my strong points, I find a lot more freedom actually attending to and accepting the parts that make me an unsavory character. Addressing the a**hole in me actually makes me the best person I'm capable of being.
The self-awareness I've nurtured since opening the pages of New Age books in my early 20s has become a lot like the glaring streetlight that finds you through a bedroom window at night. You toss and turn and try to pretend it isn't there, but it waits patiently, bright as the sun, as your head finds the perfect spot on the pillow.
But it's so comfortable here, can't I just be comfortable? Nope, says self-awareness. You need to see this.
And I see it. As the old me became a relic, I see plainly who that person had been. That person wanted to be loving, but was selfish. That person wanted to be powerful, but often blamed. That person wanted to be right and seen and heard, so would silence and ignore others. That person wanted to be loved, so gave beyond healthy limits. All this and more I did subconsciously and without intention to be an asshole.
But Dillan! (you're perhaps saying to yourself) you look so happy and seem to be successful in your life and especially in your career as a health coach. People seem to think you're a swell person. Have you been lying to us this WHOLE DAMN TIME?!
No. I haven't been lying. I've been sharing the authentic truth as best as I understood it from day to day, month to month, year to year. If I need to use the gender transition for the ultimate death/rebirth story, hell I'll do it. I'm not above symbolic metaphors. I was raised Catholic, after all, and it's Easter.
This year was the year I completed a long journey that began when I opened the pages of a book titled Ishmael in 1997 and started thinking about my impact on other people. And I thought I was a lot less of an a**hole than I still am 20 years later. This year revealed that if it's true, it's only because I am finally able to admit it. And that happened only when I stopped long enough to reflect on what was going well and what wasn't and why I was the source of it all.
This year was the year, as I struggled to find meaning and purpose in my personal suffering, and prayed or hoped for things to just go back to the way they were before or work out better than they seemed to be, it finally came to me: I was an a**hole. I had been one and was one and the only reason I wasn't more of one was because I had taken on this incredibly challenging path of personal development. I realized with this subtle nudge that felt like someone somewhere saying, "yeah, duh" that I would never go back to the person I had been, physically or mentally or spiritually or emotionally because I had evolved. I had transformed. And I wouldn't become the person I desired until I fully accepted who I had been.
When I took on the transition, I naively thought it would be the slightly more male version of the old me. Turns out, the person I became is a much better version, inside and out.
And it was because I decided to embrace my inner a**hole. When my transition went from empowering and exciting to debilitating and discouraging and eventually despairing to the point of suicidal tendencies, I figured it was time to reassess. Maybe this was here to teach me something more than I signed up for.
The process took a lot longer than I would have liked but phew! I made it! And what I see will hopefully be a balm for masses of people who grapple with feelings like mine. If you're feeling left out because you're cisgender and not trans*, please don't. Everyone's included in the personal transformation life adventure of discovering and uncovering yourself as an a**hole!
I began my process by asking, "who am I, really?" over 20 years ago and persevered through more changes, choices and challenging than I can count on all my digits.
It was the final choice, the choice to claim my inner asshole or the ego as it's often referred to, that made the ultimate breakthrough possible.
It's quite a challenge to see ourselves as an asshole, let alone embrace and accept it. But if you can start now, you increase your chances of not ending up as an older version of yourself with no clue as to why things go as they do and why you feel like something just won't quite click into place no matter what you do, say, eat, watch, wear, buy, or build.
If you can start seeing that actually, you're an asshole, things will begin to move in the right direction. The a**hole keeps you limited. Admitting you're an a**hole makes much more possible. And don't worry about what people will think, they already think it anyway.
So, are you ready to become who you truly are?