The first thing that comes to my mind when someone uses any version of the phrase, “that carries a lot of weight” is whatever was stated is of great importance. This importance may be of a theoretical value, such as a hypothesis on the beginnings of the universe, or of a moral value such as it is wrong to kill other humans. There are many other values to which this phrase can be applied.
I want you to think for a few moments of a specific kind of weight. One composed primarily of shame and fear. Imagine that you, for the majority of your life, could rarely find any lasting happiness. Sure you have been able to feel happiness because you did something pleasing to or for others or had pleasing things done for or to you. This is only a temporary happiness. It doesn’t last long in my experience. I am speaking of a happiness filled with joy. Joy, I think, is something of a more personal nature and for some it may even have a spiritual component. It is something which at times can defy description. Joy brings with it a lasting happiness which can not be diminished.
I believe one source of joyful lasting happiness is within the grasp for each of us. To obtain it we must find the ability to express our true sense of self. Many people trudge through life and never know who they truly are. These people are not completely at fault for this. The path has been well worn and is easy to follow. We have been trained to follow many religious and societal values. These learned values often become our only path through life. Following something because we were trained to do so does have some benefits. We are trained at an early age to not touch the hot stove top. This certainly provides benefit. By following this particular training we preserve our health, or a portion of it. We are also trained to repress or hide certain uncomfortable things. There may be nothing actually wrong with what we hide. It may just be difficult to explain, or discuss openly. Repression such as this carries weight and it accumulates over time. It makes the original information even more difficult to discuss or explain. A couple of the ways the weight accumulates is through shame and fear.
What is shame? I’ve recently heard it described as a painful feeling experienced as a result of doing something against our training. Who defines which training is considered appropriate and which is considered shameful? Many of the things which I have been trained to understand as socially or religiously appropriate do not fit me. I have also found many which were deemed inappropriate or shameful to fit me quite comfortably. The majority of my fear is rooted in someone finding or knowing my shame.
Throughout my life I have picked up scraps of shame and pieces of fear. These have formed a massive concretion. I placed this weight on top of something which can bring me joy and lasting happiness. This weight rests on top of my ability to express the true person I am. I have let this weight of shame, fear, and other burdens crush the joy of being me. I have recently found that I can chip away at this weight. The chips fall away but don’t seem to really go away. They are left as a pile of rubble surrounding me which others must make their way through only to find the person I was trained to be. They rarely look beneath the weight to find me struggling to be free of it.
A few months ago I had finally chipped away enough of my weight to allow my person, my wife, Becca, to see a portion of the real me, the person trapped under the weight of shame, and fears. She saw me for who I am. She saw I needed help with clearing away the rubble, with chipping away at the weight. She began carrying some of the pieces away for disposal. Through her love and support I realized I needed more help with this task. Without her I would not have begun the process of allowing others to see who I am. For this I am forever grateful.
One person I enlisted in this process has been a light in the darkness. She is my therapist. She has extensive experience in demolishing these heavy burdens. She has helped me to realize the weight which is upon me is fractured, with cracks that run deep. This weight was, after all, built piece by piece over many years. Knowing this allowed me to understand my weight could be dismantled. With help of my team, we could begin to clear away the debris which has for so long obstructed the view of the real me.
Prying at the cracks in my weight has and will remain a difficult task. I am now enlisting the help of my family, friends and even my coworkers. Some are quick to see the person trapped beneath the weight, some will take time to discover who I am, and others will ever only see the person I was trained to be.
I now have a number of people on my team lifting, prying and chipping away at my weight. I see, at times, a valued component amongst the rubble. When I reach for it and bring it into the light, I find the gleam which had drawn my attention loses its luster. The light which my therapist and now others are holding allows me to determine which pieces have true value and which do not. Those which have little or no value are discarded. Others are kept in a small pile of rubble which will need to have more light shone on it. I bring these pieces into the light often to examine them.
I am now beginning to feel more of the joy and happiness I had longed for. Others are noticing this. It feels fantastic to show others the person whom I have always hidden.
I want to briefly mention another weight, the one of being transgender. I need your help to chip away at this weight, to clear away the rubble. It is composed mostly of views imposed by society and religious values which include but are not limited to:
- Being hated for existing.
- Being labeled as confused or ill.
- Being labeled as detrimental to society.
- Being the target of false claims.
- Being a subject of ridicule.
I need you to see I am Dana Lynn Rasmussen, a kind, caring, trusting person who is willing to love others more than myself.
I ask you to educate yourself on LGBT+ issues. In particular transgender issues.
By doing these simple things you will help clear not only the rubble from around my weight, but you will clear rubble from the weight of others whom you may never know, allowing more people including yourself to find the true person under the weight.