Monday, toward the conclusion of my PTSD counseling appointment my therapist and I spoke about a few things. One of them was a theory currently being talked about in the psychology profession that people go through a couple of different development growth cycles as they grow up. They are finding that if GLBT youth experience trauma during this period, that growth can be interrupted or completely stalled.
My two traumas took place when I was 18 and 19 years old. I don’t know enough about this to understand it. The extent of my understanding is what we spoke about. All I know is that once those two events happened, I put the brakes on my transition. I turned off the engine. I stepped out and threw the keys as far as I could throw them. And I walked away without looking back.
The problem I’m having is that I’m finding I can’t move on with my life until I figure this out. I spent several years just working. I wasn’t living. I was working. I didn’t meet people. I didn’t try to have a social life. I didn’t have hobbies. I didn’t do fun things. I just worked. I dove in and worked hard. When that didn’t work on making my dysphoria go away, I dated a woman. We had sex and we set up a home for ourselves. Heck, I was even a father figure.
It wasn’t until that relationship fell apart, that I started to think that I should look for the those pesky keys I threw away all those years ago. But, try as I might, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I didn’t see that a positive outcome was possible. What if I do find them? What’s the use? Could I live a normal life? Could I be happy? Is it worth it?
Over time, I did little things. I kept getting facial hair removed on a regular basis. I figured that at least I wouldn’t have to shave if I didn’t go through with transition. I kept seeing a therapist for my social anxiety and depression. And I found a medication that helped with that. I also made a few hesitant steps to finding personal acceptance. I briefly rented a room with a transman and his wife. I continued to speak with trans friends online. I eventually found the courage to walk into the Denver GLBT Center for support group meetings. And I stayed on a near constant supply of hormones and testosterone blockers.
I’ll admit that I’ve been making small steps. But, there is something missing.What I’ve done so far is find the keys. I’m sitting on the side of a mountain wondering where I left the car. When it comes to experiencing life on a daily basis as a female (my true self), I have no idea what that’s like. Everything I know leads me to believe that this will be a horrible experience. Sure, I have plenty of friends who lead pretty normal every day lives as trans identified women. Ordinarily, you’d think that would be enough. But, in my warped mind, all I keep thinking is that their experience is different from mine because I’m not them. Even if they don’t pass, they must possess some secret key of bravery that I wasn’t born with.
One thing a close friend and I keep talking about is strength. Years ago, I put up a wall to protect myself from bullies. I stopped smiling. I purged every female trait and mannerism from myself and stopped being friendly. And thanks to swimming, I developed muscles. All proved successful in keeping the bullies away. Now, I’m scared that if I lose my muscles and if I don’t pass I’ll be completely vulnerable. My friend tells me strength comes in a bunch of different packages. I don’t have to have muscles to be strong. Some think I’m strong just by writing posts for this blog. I see my friend’s points. But, that kind of strength, while admirable, won’t protect me from the people wishing to do me harm.
People tell me I shouldn’t worry so much about violence. They tell me most people are so wound up in their personal lives, even if they see me as trans, they won’t care. But, how do I know that? I can’t read their minds. Every instance of interaction I’ve had with people while dressed has ended horribly. I’ve admitted to my therapist that I think my trans friends are naive in the way they see the world. But, yet, I see that they don’t get the level of harassment I fully expect them to experience. So, there is something wrong in my head.
My therapist and I think I need at least one positive experience to build upon. We don’t yet know what that will look like. But, we’re hoping that maybe I’ll be able to use my PTSD homework to get at least a little closer to that goal. My friend’s tell me the first time out the door dressed as a woman was very scary. Somehow I suspect my fear level exceeds theirs. You might be thinking by now that my recent adventure on the bike might be a positive experience. I don’t know. I am quick to discount that since I was wearing sunglasses, a helmet and was wearing a black shirt that obscured my breasts.
My friends tell me I’m making progress. I tell them I don’t see it. But, in reality, in rare occasions I will admit to it. Not only have I found the keys. I’ve found the car. It’s down below on the side of the road where I left it. The same spot where the cops harassed and touched me. It’s covered with a thick coat of dust and most likely has a dead battery. But, it’s the same car. But, do I have the guts to get closer? I don’t know yet.