After several days of emailing back and forth with one of the moderators of a program called TREM (Trauma Recovery Empowerment Model), we have both come to the conclusion that I would be better suited working on something else.
It was an extremely tough decision. They wanted me to stay. And I had wanted to make it work. I was trying to find something, anything I could take out of it. But, it was extremely hard. I had approached this mental health center because I had heard they offered a complete DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) program. Whereas, the VA here in Denver does not. Once through the intake process at this center, I was assigned a therapist and an appointment with a nurse practitioner to get all settled. I’m impressed by how efficient they are. But, I was told there is a waiting list for DBT. Six months long. I’m about 5 months out as I type this. I had pursued DBT because I had heard good things from a good friend and a few other people in support group. I am still researching it and finding out what it will be like. I even have a DBT workbook. From what I understand, DBT will teach me coping skills for getting through my past traumas so I can live a full day to day life.
So, in the meantime, I was asked if I wanted to get into this TREM program. I didn’t know what it was exactly. But, my therapist suggested it. She didn’t know much about me yet. But, I figured I’d give it a shot. And, if anything, hopefully I’d get at least something out of it that could help me. And although I’d be the only transwoman in the class, I had hoped the immersion of sorts would help. The first class seemed to go off without a hitch. But, in the succeeding weeks, there were classes that dealt with questions like “what does it mean to you to be a woman?” and a class discussion dealing with the getting back into touch with your body. I didn’t grow up with a female body. I didn’t have that kind of puberty. My puberty was a complete betrayal. And I didn’t know how to express verbally what it meant to me to be a woman. It’s just something I’ve felt from an early age. Although now that I know that people have the words, I’ll be exploring that more. I found myself extremely uncomfortable in class. Almost frozen in my chair. I felt extremely inadequate. Here were these amazingly strong women who were working on their past traumas. And then there’s me. A pre-op transgender woman who really doesn’t have the faintest clue what it’s like to be a woman day to day. I never had that kind of upbringing. Although I though of myself as female. I wasn’t perceived that way by society. I didn’t want to say anything that might clue people in more that I wasn’t born with a female body. I’m pretty sure people know from looking at me. But, I didn’t want to bring extra attention to me. No matter the content or the sound of my voice. Will I ever get to a point of complete confidence where I won’t mind talking about my experiences being trans? Would that have been a place where I could talk about it. Or was my life experience so far removed from theirs that I not be there.
I’m trying to cope with lots of shame. And the thought occurred to me this morning that I have a tendency to see myself internally the same way the abusers (CHP officers and grocery workers) saw me when they did what they did. I don’t know how to shake that. It seems quite odd to me. But, it’s hard to explain it any other way. I, myself am not an abuser. And I don’t have a problem hanging out and socializing with my trans friends. And I know I’m trans. I’ve accepted that. But, I see a very male face when I look in the mirror. My friends say they don’t see as much male face as I see. But, it’s a difficult thing to let go of. I found myself grateful I had left the house in very androgynous clothing this morning. Not one block away, a Bing street mapping car (it was a BMW wagon. Seems kind of classy even for something like that) passed me. I was glad my picture wouldn’t be seen so close to my house. And I was glad my neighbors wouldn’t know a transwoman lives in their neighborhood.
Sometimes I catch myself and wonder if I look like I’m just being a victim here. I don’t want to come off as a victim or whiny. I think that’s what I sounded like when I was completely lost and reaching out to speak with anyone. No. I’m no victim. Not in the sense that I want to stay in this fucked up place. I am constantly looking for the right answer. I’m not sitting still. I’m not wallowing. I’m not making excuses. I will keep moving. I will keep learning. I will find the right way out of this nightmare. I have lots of resources available to me and lots of loving friends who will help me get through the rough points.