July - a month of learning

Well with the new month ahead and I still had my apartment and my car and my job, I was feeling a little better. I had made it a little farther. Now I needed to continue to confront myself and get on a positive track. It was hard to go from having such a joyous change in your life to confronting all the places in your mind and heart that had been poisoned by the wrongness of 43 years of lies and fears and being fractured. There was my heart and soul and mind, all the essences of me and they were male. That never wavered, never slacked off, never was in doubt deep in my heart. But what everybody else saw, what I saw in the mirror was also me. How I hated this other part of me. It was so wrong.

I didn't know how to dress. I stayed mostly in jeans and tee-shirts. I hated any type of functions where I had to wear something else. My mom and my sisters always helped with the shopping, but then I had to wear these female clothes and I always felt like I was "dressing up". I was putting on a new persona. That was the hard part. People always thought they were seeing the real me. I somehow felt guilty that they never were. I was shy and introverted. I was horrified to be at public functions, because I had to act. There was always a fear of slipping up. There was always the chance that someone would see I wasn't the little lady thy thought I was.

In therapy we began to deal with the whys of who I was. All these feelings began to make sense. All the ways I had learned to hide me became obvious. Now the anger was setting in. Why did it take me so long to realize who I was, why did I spend all those years being someone else. Why did I let myself get comfortable with a personality that wasn't me? Why did someone not tell me, why didn't I look around to see, to find out, to search for the answers that were out there? I don't know. Maybe I never will. All I know now is that what I did and why I did had to be changed to incorporate the real person I was. I had to unlearn behaviors.

Some of that was easy. As I grew older, I was comfortable with the outside role of being "gay". Somehow I never really thought I was gay, but there was no other label that fit so well, so I got comfortable in that role. I learned early not to care what others thought of me. If you liked me, fine, if not, then I went on unconcerned with others thoughts. I had good friends, and a loving family. I told myself that was all that mattered. Well it wasn't. My whole life was a lie. All my relationships were with straight women. Even those relationships were a total lie. I saw myself as a man, they saw me as a woman. There was no solace there. All my friends were straight for the most part. They saw me as gay and different and accepted that, and there was a measure of comfort that they saw the most real me. My family loved me, but saw me as their little girl, sister, aunt, etc. I had to live the role with them, the lie, and so even though I was happy being around them always, it was stressful not to let too much of the real me out.

With the learning of what I was came a freedom. I fit, I could be me and my friends and family could share in the whole me, not just in some made up and manufactured person. I began to find out just how much this had affected my life. I was a smart person, but my jobs were mostly jobs that required a uniform...I couldn't wear dresses and girlie stuff, so I never went for jobs that required fitting in. The jobs I had, depended on my work, not on whether I was correct and proper enough to fit into the normal business world. I didn't push to get schooling and get the better paying jobs, because they exacted a price I couldn't or wasn't willing to pay. Again, a feeling of anger and helplessness.

The biggest thing I learned this month was that it was okay to grow up. I had always been seen as irresponsible, flaky, and a big kid. I purposely stated I didn't want to grow up. I never knew how much that mattered. One day in therapy we tackled that question. The answer stunned me. I was terrified to grow up a woman. A "southern" woman no less. It changed my life again. At first it seemed just another thing I had learned, but as I looked deeper, that fear had as much affect on my life as the original problem of being gender dysphoric. The only time I had been really responsible and like a "normal" person was in a relationship. In my relationships I thought of myself as a male. I didn't mind playing at grown up, being responsible, starting a home life that was kind of normal. But it was just that playing. The relationships didn't last and I reverted back to that insecure, increasingly unhappy, fragmented soul. Now I know something that will help change the rest of my life. I can grow up. I can be a responsible whole person. I can be what I always wanted to be. A MAN!!! I also found out it won't just magically be. I now have to learn to live and think and act a whole different way. The guy part is easy, but the adult part requires some work. It certainly isn't as easy as I thought. It is so much easier just to do what I always did, drift along, no worries, no cares, at least that's what I have told myself. Now I am working on breaking that mold.

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