I’ve thought quite a bit about whether to post this. When thinking about this blog, I’ve always felt that honesty should win out. An open and frank discussion is always the best way to understand where we are coming from. But, sometimes it’s hard for me to open up. I tend to keep my cards pretty close to the vest. It’s a safety thing. I end up having to push against my own fears in an effort to help myself. That’s what I will attempt to do here.
When I finally decided that I couldn’t run from this any longer, I thought that most of my fears laid to rest in my severe social anxiety. It makes a lot of sense. I used to be crippled by it. Mainly because I didn’t like the way I was perceived as male. I hated my voice. So, I wouldn’t speak up. I didn’t like the way I looked in the mirror. I didn’t like that people would see a male when they saw me. I didn’t like the preconceived notions they made about me when they saw that I had a penis.
But, like most things that have to do with the human brain, it’s more complex. Much more complex. It’s like peeling back the layers of an onion. It’s been an interesting journey. I didn’t used to know that there was something called social anxiety. Once I understood that there was medication to help with both the anxiety and the depression, I was able to open up more when speaking with my therapist. I was able to communicate my fears. I was able to detail past events that kept me off the playing field of life.
Although I’ve always been aware of these past events. I wasn’t always ready to confront them. Heck, for the longest time, I didn’t think I needed to confront them. I thought that if I could be just be a tougher man, I could just sweep them under the rug and move on with my life. But, it doesn’t work out that way. When my private practice therapist first suggested using something called EMDR, I immediately stood up and put the chair I was previously sitting in between she and I. Just the notion of thinking about it was jarring.
So, I put it off. I tried to cope. I made progress. Not much. But, I was able to walk into the GLBT center in Denver. I found a home. The friends I’ve made there have helped me tremendously. I’m out to the vast majority of my friends and family. By making that jump, I was able to see that that nearly everyone I know accepts that I have to be on this road. I’ve reconnected with both distant family and friends I haven’t spoken with in years.
I’ve had conversations with trans friends who explain how they finally overcame self doubt and fears to be who they really feel inside. They tell me that they finally reached a point where the opinions of others meant less to them than being true to themselves. I’m so happy for them. I want that for myself. In fact, I thought I was there when I came out to friends and family last year in email and facebook.
Then I hit a roadblock.
Every time I sit by myself and close my eyes to imagine what it would be like to step out that door wearing female clothing, I end with my heart beating rapidly. My breathe lost. Drenched in sweat. You see, what I imagine when I picture this hypothetical situation is not pleasant.
In my mind, I wouldn’t make it out the front door more than ten or twenty feet before facing assault and probable death. In the face of this, I imagine myself like a cornered animal, lashing out at everyone and everything in desperate self defense.
It’s always there, just under the surface. I don’t like thinking about it. It can be paralyzing. But, it’s nearly impossible to ignore.
Last November, I attended something called Transgender Day of Remembrance. It’s a service honoring trans-identified individuals who had died due to hatred in the past year. I had only been to one such service before this last one. It’s a very depressing thing, hearing people, one by one, speak the name and cause of death of a trans man or woman. There were beheadings, fires, gun shots, slayings by machete. I was a little to reluctant to walk in to a building I had never walked into before. But, a friend came outside to make sure I didn’t have to walk inside by myself. On the way in, I saw my former therapist who offered the seat next to her. I sat there, sobbing while listening to the cause of death of these brave souls who just wanted to be honest to themselves.
More than anything, I appreciate the support I continue to get from friends and family. The support I’ve gotten has, is in large part, been the reason I am where I am now. But, if you start wondering why I’m stalled or reluctant to go farther right now, please try to understand what I’m up against. If you don’t understand why I still use my male name around people you obviously trust, please by patient. And please understand that I am facing it now. I don’t want to put a timeline on when I’ll get over this. I’m about to start in depth PTSD therapy that will take at least half the summer to complete. There are multiple ways of approaching PTSD. If this one doesn’t work, I’ll try another.
Thank you for your coninued support.