by Daniel Sannito: I recognized at a young age that when I expressed myself in ways that were seen as ‘different’ it wasn’t received well…
As a trans kid in this world, you learn pretty early on what folks around you believe to be right and what they believe to be wrong. Because difference in the Western world is often used as a substitute for wrong, I knew that to survive I’d have to hide parts of myself away. This experience, unfortunately, is not exclusive to me. There have been moments in all of our lives where we’ve sacrificed pieces of who we are for fear of being seen as different or ‘other.’
We’re conditioned to see these divisions early on, there is an emphasis on seeking differences rather than similarities which is reflective of the either/or mindset. It often starts before a newborn baby arrives, with a gender reveal party. This tradition, steeped in the falsehood of the gender binary, immediately limits the possibilities for this new life. No one can truly access their whole self if they’re given two boxes to fit into from the start.
Awakening to the Divisions
What we see when we look around us is a society based on individualism. We are separated with such precision that it almost seems natural, especially since it’s all we’ve known for so long. Dominant culture has established ways to confine us into category after category – gender identity, race, sexuality, body size, disability, class, and the list goes on. With each division we become more and more separate from one another, we live in a world where each of us lives in our individual ‘bubbles.’ Our view becomes myopic and rigid because we only see dividing lines. This hyper-focus on separation is so ingrained that it pours into all that we do, it’s no wonder we experience a similar division within ourselves. A strongly present imbalance of masculine energy is at play and it is stretching across all layers of our existence.
In the space of opposition, separation becomes how we understand ourselves and the world around us. We dissect everything from emotion, to thought, to feeling in the name of understanding. In the process, we often end up pulling pieces apart so much that we’re left with fragments. We pick apart each emotion we feel, each quality of our being to find a reason, a root, or an explanation. The problem is, we leave the very things we seek to understand in pieces. As I moved through my journey towards connecting with myself I was ruthless in knowledge seeking. I pried open every part of myself I could imagine – I questioned why I cry, when I cry, how I express anger and fear, what happens under deep stress, what happens when I hold space for joy, and more. When it seemed like there was no more to understand, I split the pieces into smaller fragments and continued on. When we gain a fragmented understanding in this way and simply move on, each piece becomes collateral damage in the name of our learning.
This method is an endless battle towards the wholeness we seek because we will constantly be having new experiences. We experience new thoughts by the minute, new emotions daily, and even emotions that we are familiar with will be processed in different ways as time goes on. If we want to remain intact we must start to seek out our similarities, that will be the mending path towards wholeness.
Practice Seeking Similarities
In the transformational journey to and through self, our desire to understand will always be present. If we keep pulling ourselves apart to find this understanding we become the collateral damage. In the name of connection, I unraveled. The threads of my being that were woven together creating beautiful imagery turned into separate strands of color, and texture laid out all around me separate, with frayed edges. We forget our inherent wholeness because we’ve been pried apart at our own hands. Left in pieces, we seek outside of ourselves to be woven back together. This external seeking is where we forget that we already are a divine union of all things. A harmony of warming, active, focused energy and cooling, receptive, nurturing energy; a harmony of masculine and feminine energy at play.
Our social conditioning runs so deep that even here, on a journey inward, I found myself operating with the same methods I always had. Holding things up in opposition and seeing them as wholly different entities, as if seeing separation was the only way to understand. Inevitably, I was only scratching the surface. I came to learn the colors of these threads deeply but I was still missing the whole image. I had nearly forgotten what connection to my truth felt like and in seeking connection I found myself running into walls of division, yet again. This fragmented understanding provided inquiry and healing in insurmountable ways and still, I was left with this unfinished tapestry and the question, “how am I meant to find unity, when all I know how to do is create separation?”
The most painful awakening came at the point when I noticed that I was taking on a passive role in my own life. I adapted to whatever form seemed to make those around me most comfortable with little, if any regard, for my own needs. The compartmentalization I had created my life around forced me to sacrifice large parts of who I am for so many years of my life. That was a breaking point for me, the moment I started to notice how easy it was to divide certain qualities in specific situations and, simultaneously, how painful it was not to be able to express myself in my entirety.
Through the dissolution of the binary lens I had lived by for so long, I was able to start weaving each thread back together. In this ever-evolving, daily practice, we will all find what returns us to wholeness in our unique way, as long as we take the time to listen. What I’ve found, at every turn, is that awareness is a great place to start. Becoming aware of all the ways we are taught to separate gives us new information as we navigate putting the pieces back together. When I can be aware of where separation takes place and where the threads begin to unravel, I can finally understand how to mend those fragmented places within me. Whenever I feel disconnected, I ask myself, “What parts of myself am I sacrificing, and why?” In the answer, I am able to reconnect the unraveling pieces and return to wholeness once again.
This journey towards accessing wholeness starts by recognizing that we already have all the pieces within us—nothing is missing. A dance of solar and lunar, active and receptive, masculine and feminine energies are always swirling within each of us. Liberation comes with the recognition that we are already whole and with the permission to express all that we encompass fully. Tuning in and nurturing yourself in this way is a connection with the Divine Feminine in you, it is nurturing your own heart, showing up in your fullest expression, and, in turn, permitting everyone around you to do the same.
We are all unique and beautifully different, there is no denying that. It’s one of the most amazing parts about being human, this ability to express who we are. Our journeys may look different and still our desire for connection, community, love, and wholeness remain shared desires among all beings. On this path to mending, our desire to learn can not come at the expense of our wholeness or our connection to self.