If you look long enough and hard enough, you find people are of two minds, the conscience and sub conscience. One we have ready access to, the other slips through our grasp like smoke, allowing us the smallest of glimpses just before we wake. Yet it is the hidden portion of our minds which commands a great deal of control over how we act and react to things in our waking life, often without our consent or knowledge. There is multimillion dollar business built just to give us suggestions on how to glean what is behind the curtain.
The problem is, trying to change things in the sub conscience is like fixing a clock in absolute darkness when you aren’t sure of what a clock looks like or how it works. It’s not impossible, but very difficult and things can go wrong you never knew you needed to be aware of.
For me, transition has presented me with countless challenges. Not just the ones I was aware of, if not prepared for, but for a host of other things I hadn’t known were waiting, like land mines, to stumble across.
Many of these things set me up for failure, no matter how hard I might try, some of them have brought pain while others left me doubting my own sanity. In the course of learning to accept being transgender, I have had to discover, defuse, or overcome each one. Until now I thought I was doing a decent job of it.
Now I have found the most difficult and dangerous trap set in my path to this point; self acceptance.
My waking mind is well aware of what I wish to do, and I keep pushing as much as I can, but at the same time I am aware of another force which continues to resist, to try and break me down and drag me back into the darkness of dispair. It is my sub conscience which seeks to wrap me denial, regret, and fear. It constantly questions and doubts, not seeking answers but using even the smallest of things as weapons to tear me down, to wound me, to make me bleed.
This is the legacy I have been left from my old life; one last gift.
Knowing the why of it, understanding where the journey truly began, does not make the war any easier to fight, never mind win and make no mistake, this is a war and the prize is life itself. Winning means rising above simple survival to truly living.
Losing is not an option and in the end, everything is about options.
In the not so distant past I could look you in the eye and tell you death was an option. It was and would remain on the table as the ultimate trump card. I can no longer say it. I can’t tell you exactly when, but at some point death was no longer an acceptable option to escape from my problems. I cannot explain the effect this has had on me, I can only say it has been life changing in ways I never thought possible.
Now I have another choice. To continue on this path, to move forward regardless of my fear and uncertainly, or to go back to being him, which is what that voice in the back of my mind keeps trying to convince me is the better choice. My conscience mind knows all too well this is wrong but that doesn’t quiet the voice or the feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear which come with it. I know, with all my heart going back is a death sentence but that voice keeps whispering.
What I have to do, in some way, is to take him away as an option forever, just as I did with death. Until I can do this, I cannot truly move forward from where I am now.
This is self acceptance, knowing who I am now is not who I was yesterday, to leave what was behind and embrace who I am now. It just isn’t easy in any way, shape, or form. I have a lifetime rising up to resist me, to seek to crush me and destroy my spirit and such a short time of self discovery to give me strength.
I wanted to post this earlier, but as so often happens, other things came up and I wasn’t even able to start it, never mind getting it posted. Well, I can do it now, I’m sure most of my original thoughts have stayed with me enough to make sense.
Since the beginning of the year things have been strange for me and I have had difficulty working through just what is different now. Other than myself I suppose, though I think I have finally come to an answer.
For me, this year is going to be one of transition. This may sound strange if you’ve followed me for very long, after all, isn’t this what the last two years have been about?
Yes and no.
To this point my transition, such as it is, has been a mental journey. It hasn’t been about only coming to accept myself, but of working through a great many issues. Some I was aware of, others not. In the end I have found it necessary to let go of a great deal of baggage I have carried with me for far too long. Therapy has helped with this as has going on medication to get me to a place where I could face so many issues. There was a great deal of pain, betrayal, anger, sorrow and regret and some of these things remain, a permeant reminder of what I have been through. Just as a scar is a reminder of an injury…
These last two years I have been in survival mode, just struggling to get from one day to the next without coming apart from the pressures inside. When I thought of a way to describe it, an avalanche came to mind. An unstoppable force of nature sweeping away everything in its path and me, a skier trying to keep from being buried alive. The motion and noise were incredible. So intense I sometimes lost sight of anything except for the next second, trying to avoid the ever mounting pile of debris which surrounded me. Oh, there were times of peace and calm, a second here and there to catch my breath and get my bearings but little real relief.
And then I reached this point.
Have you ever been in a situation where there is a flurry of activity. Intense concentration as you maneuver your way through? Did you find, when it ended, it still took you a few moments to realize it was over? To regain your balance and be able to take a breath? The change is striking. The silence so intense it is almost pain.
Did you stand there lost and confused?
I know I did.
You see, I have gone from the terror of the avalanche to the startling peace the valley beyond and it has taken me until now to realize where I am and how much has changed. The silence rings in my ears and brightness of untouched possibility is blinding. I am battered and bruised, but I survived.
More, I am alive and those two things are a lifetime apart.
I know the difference.
I have survived before but I did not live. I was nothing more than a shellshocked survivor left to look around at the destruction which surrounded me and I could never have imagined the possibility of rebuilding. To make something new, better for myself and those around me.
Now I do.
For me this is what transition is really means. To move beyond what was and to embrace what might be. I still have a lot of cleaning up to do, not just mentally, emotionally as well and getting out of my own head to cleaning up my life in the real world as well. To discarding a lifetime of uselessness and gathering around me only those things which have usefulness and meaning.
I have a house I have lived in for more than a decade and it is overflowing with “things.” Books, magazines, bits and pieces from the past I couldn’t bear to let go of. Toys I had as a child, books I read in high school. I have been a true pack rat over the years, always making one excuse or another about why I shouldn’t throw something away and which has now sat in a box, forgotten for more years than my oldest son has been alive.
I know now it was because I felt I had lost everything. Anything of importance or value to me. Not the way I thinking of it. Not in terms of things, but in those things which only I could give away or allow to be taken from me. My self worth. My self respect. The love I should have had for myself…
In their place I had put things. Object into which I had placed the value I should have given myself.
There are boxes and boxes now. Filling up the basement, stuffed into closets. I don’t even know what is in most of them anymore…
So you tell me, do they really have any worth at all?
This is part of my transition. To take back what is mine. To regain all I have given away or discarded over the years. Not things. Not objects. Not anything which can be captained in a box to be taken out and admired for a moment before it tucked away and forgotten once more…
My heart. My mind. My strength. My love. My self respect. My self worth.
These are what I am reclaiming as my own.
Yes, I am sure there will continue to be more than this. More to my physical transition, my mental transition. Yet, for the moment, they are secondary. I said before, it does not matter what I look like or what name I use, I am still me regardless and this is true. I see this now in a way I couldn’t before. Those things are an extension of what I am inside, at my core. They hold an importance in my life only in so far as they will allow me to exist in the world as the outward expression of myself… They are not me in and of themselves. Without me investing the heart and soul it would be the same thing as I have already lived, just from a different side of the fence.
“He” is and always will be a costume. A mask. A disguise worn not out of choice. He is not me. He never was. Not really. Not where it counted. In my heart. In my soul.
“She” is and must be more than this. I cannot wear her when it is convenient and take her off when she is not.
He was what I was expected to be.
She is who I am.
You know something?
I am at a point where I am still finding a way to define myself which feels right for me… It isn’t easy really, to try and see what the world sees when all I have is a flawed reflection from a cracked mirror to judge myself.
It’s what I constantly do. To weigh my reality against the judgment of others… of society, even religion and all of those years of self denial, loathing, and hatred. Of myself, who I see when I look at my reflection, the voice I hear in my head, the way I see and hear others reacting to me… or worse yet, how I perceive such things. Giving weight and purpose to things which may have nothing to do with me… The sly smile, the quickly quieted laugh, whispers or looks. In any other context I would be seen as paranoid for assuming anyone else cared enough about me or what I was doing to take notice, let alone react. Yet this is what I have done my entire life. First in trying to be “man enough” and now “woman enough.” One is every bit as bad as the other and is nothing but self destructive… Still, even knowing this, I still do it. I did it today, I did it yesterday, and I will likely do it tomorrow.
I have long been an observer in this life. Watching those around me, judging them; comparing myself to them and always falling short. I have seen people in every shape and size. Manly women and womanly men… stereotypical, atypical, and completely off in left field.
Do you know what I’ve seen?
Me being men, women being women, children being children.
Everyone has thoughts, concerns, judgments. Worries, and insecurities.
Everyone is human in their own way.
All of the things I have ever worried about, berated myself over, hated myself for are the same things as each and everyone of those people do the same to themselves. It is why there eating disorders, exercise fanatics, people addicted to everything under the sun from drugs to plastic surgery. It why self help books are second on to the Bible in sales every year and it is why the Bible has been number one in sales for as long as they have kept records.
Everyone wants to be better, new and improved, super sized, larger than life…
Everyone wants to be rescued by a white knight, to be scooped up and taken care of, to be held in the loving embrace of someone or something bigger than themselves who will take all of the responsibility… all of the blame.
I’m just as guilty as anyone and I know it. It’s time I stood up and took responsibility for my self. For my own happiness and sadness. For the way in which I see myself, think of myself, feel about who I am.
It is time to quite looking outside of myself for affirmation and acceptance.
I am my own worse critic, but I’m also my biggest fan. Which comes to the game is up to me and me alone.
Okay, I’ll admit it, my music tastes have been changing. I find myself listening to more instrumentals. There are many types of artists and styles out there and some are relaxing and some are moving, but all are enjoyable without being overbearing.
I do listen to other types of music when something catches my attention, yet for just daily background, and especially for work, I have come to prefer something which isn’t distracting. Another benefit is I think it lowers by blood pressure which always a good thing.
I am also trying to expand my knowledge of todays visual artists as a way to jump start my own creativity. I do love the masters, those great images and sculptures which have lasted through the ages to awe us today, but there are new wonders being created every day, paintings, drawings, sculptures, digital, photography, street art… the ways in which people express themselves is endless.
It is so easy to get caught up in the everyday,in the problems and issues and concerns of the moment we lose sight of the lit which is passing by on every side. Yes, some of it is terrible, heartbreaking, and full of sorrow… But there are wonders too. Small things, big things, those imagoes which pass in a heartbeat but stay with us forever if we just watch for them. So much of life passed me by while I was concerned with other things, I don’t want to miss any more.
I am a little surprised with myself. I guess I expected to be feeling at least a little down after what happened with the doctor, after all, this is a setback. Yet I can’t find it in myself to feel sad about this. It just seems to be a minor thing, not a life altering chasm I cannot get past. One of the things I know is I will have to wait until at least June before I will have the time to travel, as I have mentioned before, the nearest “major” city where I have found any Trans* related resources listed is three hours away by car. Such a trip isn’t impossible, just inconvenient and troublesome to schedule. That’s providing I can get an appointment with a gender specialist in a time frame I can work with. (I’m assuming this will have to be my first step before I can get a recommendation to an endocrinologist). From there I will see about HRT as I’m sure I will have to pretty much start over in showing it is something I need as opposed to simply want. This was the main reason I was hoping to keep things local if possible.
Another aspect to this is my current emotional state, which has remained fairly steady. I have had plenty of time to think and work though a number of issues. I can’t really go into any details as much of this is very personal in nature and I’m not comfortable sharing it at this point. What matters is this; I have finally realized the most important thing I could do was to forgive myself. I know this seems obvious, but it is much easier said than done and I simply cannot truly forgive anyone else if I cannot do so for me first.
This is something i have been working toward for months, but it has just been over the past several days when I truly embraced this understanding and it has made a tremendous difference in my overall outlook on life. I mentioned it before and I will do so again, this has been such a freeing experience, I’m still coming to terms with what a difference it has already made in my thinking… it’s such a night and day sort of thing.
I’ll stop here for now. There is still so much to work through, but I’m simply getting too tired to think clearly.
There are so many elements to this crazy thing we call transition, there is the mental shift where we strive to shake off years or decades of falsehood and of course the physical transformation which so many undergo. However there is another part which seems to be less a focus of discussion and that is an emotional transformation.
I cannot speak for anyone other than myself in this, but I have come to realize, in many ways, I have remained an emotional child. There came the point in which I found myself shutting down in many areas as a way to survive and emotionally was one of the first.
This isn’t something you come to realize on your own, it takes having it pointed out by some outside source. What it was really doesn’t matter when you stop and think about it. It is all in taking a moment and accepting the truth about yourself.
As a result I have found myself having to take responsibility for myself emotionally.
There is another, very important, aspect to this… I needed to, and I have, apologized to A, even though as of this moment she doesn’t fully understand what it is I am asking forgiveness for.
I sit here and I am amazed our relationship has lasted as long as it has. Indeed, I wonder if the issue of my gender had not come when it did, if we would still be together now. I think it is a testament to A that she has stuck with me when doing so had to have been more difficult than I can imagine.
I’m not saying these things as a way of punishing myself, though I have done so before. Nor am I seeking affirmation of just how horrible a person I am, though I have also done so many times. No. I am saying the simply because it is the truth. In my relationships I have been like a black hole, drawing in all of the emotion and energy from those around me in an effort to gain those things I found myself lacking or at least thinking I lacked.
I don’t how long it is going be before I can overcome this and finally stand on my own and be a true partner in my relationships but it is something I am going to do. I deserve it and so do those I care about and who care about me. I have taken the first step in owning my part in this, now I must make the effort to continue on, no one else can do it for me.
Time to put on my big girl pants and get on with living.
I read on FB where an old high school friend got married. Not all that unusual in this day and age, but I realized that I hadn’t talked to him in years which got me to thinking about the people who have come and gone in my life and just how long I have been isolating myself.
I thought of the different groups of people I have known, some friends, some just people I hung out with. They were broken up by changes in my life, like the rings in a tree. Some represented change, some growth and all separated by times of dormancy, when I withdrew, preferring to be a lone wolf.
The thing is, in taking the time to really think about these cycles in my life, I realize that like so many things, when one ends, another will start. It may not be quickly or obvious like starting a new job, but the cycle continues.
As of right now, I have no one close other than A. Over the years I let many hobbies and interests slip away and the associated friendships with them. Looking back I can now see what was happening, even though I was blind to it at the time. I poured all my energy into my marriage and raising a family in an effort to redirect the stress that was again building in my subconscious. I knew something was wrong but I refused to face it, instead walling myself away from the world, and in the end, from my family.
This was in truth the death of my old self, a building of a cocoon from which a new me will emerge.
It isn’t an ending, it is a beginning.
In the past, when going through these cycles, I did little more than come out wearing a slightly different skin. Who I was hadn’t really changed. This time is different. This time I am a different creature with a new future. A different way of living my life.
I don’t know how much I have changed. I don’t know what I will look like or sound like. This future is unknown, exciting, challenging and for once I am looking forward to what I will find.
Yes, I am scared.
You know what, though? It’s okay to be scared. It is natural and understandable. I have to face these fears. I have to trust I am strong enough to overcome them and in doing so become a better, more confident person.
All things new will take you not only into the presence of God but into the depths of your faith daily
All things new will take you not only into the presence of God but into the depths of your faith daily