The Beginning: My First Step Towards Ending the Lies
So I decided to do just one thing for 2015.
Well, I decided in Mid December really.
That was to stop lying to myself. A simple, straightforward step, that I do not regret and feel better for it. I cry each time I think directly upon that moment and coming to the decision.
Tears of Joy in one hand, and hope in the other. Seeing which one fills first, as the joke goes.
For me, I have known that I don’t “match.” That would be the strongest words I can use the describe what it has been that my subconscious/limbic senses knew for a considerable time. Really, I guess since I was five.
But to adapt, fit in, socialize, and become a part of society I had to learn (often with great difficulty) to use my conscious brain to “match” for the most part my cisgender identity.
More about that history in another story.
This one is about stopping the lie. The lie that, “I’m normal, I fit in with colleagues, I feel fine.”
Then when I get home, and I can live with it, and to cope I isolate myself away, and fall back on mechanisms to cope that frankly fall into the hallmarks of persons with Gender Dysphoria.
In my case a daily addiction to masturbation and the ancillary needs (Online Pornography) to attempt to satisfy that addiction. And all at the cost of my family, and my friends, and social life.
I finally made the decision—it was after seeing an online video from a friend that discussed complications to surgery that I immediately and personally identified with, and the pain felt, and the recovery taken, and the ongoing part of making that decision, and living with the consequences.
Stronger her for that. Stronger me for realizing that I need to decide. Is this the addiction talking, or is this something else, breaking through the clutter?
So I began to take a step. One step, and that was to allow my limbic/subconscious self to have a little talk; without the noise, without the mixed emotions, without external pressure exerting it’s input. I needed to listen, and I am glad I did.
So what did I listen to? My body telling me, without the clutter of sexual misogynistic input, that the first step I took felt “correct.” Felt, “this matches.” Felt, “right.”
Odd thing that deciding to wear underclothes and swimsuits, and casually wearing them on a weekend when not in a sexual context, or a work/stress environment made me feel simply better.
I was raking leaves. I was wearing something comfortable under my gardening clothes (jeans, t-shirt, sweater). And the joy of simply feeling right, is hard to bear. It felt so good, so right, simply correct. I’m crying now on the recall.
And I had time to comprehend why. Without interference, without pressure, simply raking leaves in the fall, and putting them in the bag. And my mind simply deciding, “I’m not going to try and fight/argue/defer anymore.”
My mind was made up. Note to Self: I stopped lying.
Now I am at the beginning.
LinFebruary 26, 2015 at 10:55 PM
I could really relate to this. It’s not so much “I’m trapped in the wrong body” as much as “I’m done lying to myself.”
Eva-Genevieve ScarboroughFebruary 27, 2015 at 11:28 AM
I relate 100%. This has been my experience with each small step forward in transition. Stepping out of a fantasy world into reality. Starting way back with undergarments -I felt right in them, relaxed. Then painting my nails a neutral color – having the color and shine felt right and looked like my hands were the right hands – and I didn’t fidget so much. Each little step I have taken has been blessed like that, blessed with peacefulness of spirit, no internal discord. It feels right and not only that but these changes help me interface with the world honestly. Not having to hide, and make excuses, not walking away from things because of feeling less-than. Simply living out in the open before God and everybody, Owning the ground I stand on!
Thank you for this post – you have reminded me of the importance of internal honesty.
Hugs and blessings,
Charissa Grace WhiteFebruary 27, 2015 at 6:26 PM
My dear friend, I want to encourage you in your journey towards authenticity. What a joy and marvel it is when we begin to vibrate in frequency with ourselves, and that harmonic 5th starts to sing out of no where!
Be strongly encouraged in your beginnings!
In my own case, I have been very blessed to have a really clear delineation between my sexual orientation and life, and my gender orientation and dysphoria. This has allowed me to know beyond “knowing” that there is the true reality of gender orientation and not “just some sexual proclivity” as some have sought to accuse.
It is good to go to the root, and you should find the fruit soon following to be sweeter and more internally fulfilling.
Bless you as you sojourn…
EmmaMarch 1, 2015 at 9:15 PM
Isn’t it amazing how it can become such a habit to lie to yourself? Each little lie, and every little deception where you try to convince yourself that it’s normal to have to try to be your assigned gender just gets easier and easier until that throbbing feeling of “wrongness” becomes like emotional white-noise, drowned out by everything else. It was only when I learned to stop all the other noise inside my head through conscious presence that the emotional white-noise revealed itself for what it really was, a deep unmet need to match on the outside and inside. Once the string of lies is broken, and only the truth remains, you have no choice but to listen.
Hope you find your truth and that it’s filled with joy and love.
M.October 3, 2016 at 6:39 AM
Oh, this hurts.
I salute you, woodentulip, for your courage.
I must have just watched over 2 hours of Mx. Hoffman-Cox’s videos, and want to say just how incredibly helpful it is to have someone talk about these matters from the perspective of a therapist who deals with these issues every day. It’s like going to a therapist vicariously, though it’s not the same. I suspect many who have gender issues understand completely what it means to desperately participate emotionally or mentally at a distance in what they wish they could do for real.
I can at least – at the moment – acknowledge that I have gender issues. (Look at me, I’m sitting here in the clothes of the gender I was not assigned at birth, trying to get the courage to write this. Am I trembling because it is cold or is it something else?) I’ve had this in my head for over 30 years, ignoring it for months at a time, pushing it down during periods of stress, pushing forward trying not to think about it. In the frenzy of daily life without a moment to breathe, I am just a blob, a thing moving forward. I look in the mirror and it is not me, but it never really was.
As I age, my face is more and more that of a stranger, and look at it less and less, other than to ensure that it is clean and I am shaven. I wear shapeless clothes because I am uncomfortable with my body. In my thinner periods, I contemplate better-fitting men’s clothing, but I hate the way that looks on me. I struggled for years to find models of physical masculinity to which I could aspire, but never succeeded.
Pre-adolescence, gender was a mystery to me. Boys played as boys. Girls played as girls. I never understood boy dominance games, but girl dress-up seemed bizarre and confusing to me, too. I never wanted to play house, as I was completely lost being the father. I would rather read and be lost in my dreams, or go for long walks and think.
Adolescence was horrid. We all became little mad creatures, full of confusion and venom. I failed even more miserably here, and it seems that it was obvious to the boys around me from the way they treated me. The girls themselves seemed also to be settling into predefined roles and, fixated on boy-boys, had no real interest in me either, except as a puzzling curiosity. I dressed as a boy, cut all my hair off, and did my best to behave as an asexual male. There was never really anyone I trusted to talk to. In private, I would hide and pull my clothing into approximations of women’s clothing and study how it fit and how I stood. There was no opportunity to dress in the actual clothing of a girl. There was no privacy at home or elsewhere, and the community was staunchly fundamentalist. I was afraid of being called a ‘fagot’, much less something which had no name to me. I daydreamed of something happening medically which would necessitate that I be surgically turned into a girl.
When facial hair began to sprout, I resisted shaving as long as possible. I was horrified at the fact that this was happening to me, and what it meant.
Time passed. I went to university and made a few friends, but kept this secret from all. Sometimes I might acquire a few female clothes and wear them for a few stolen moments. I went to a drag party once in a form-fitting dress, and still remember the strange looks from the women there. None of the other men seemed to get those looks. They were all in giant frilly gowns and chirping falsetto. I felt incredibly uncomfortable at the regard.
I dreamed sometimes of just fading away, of being able to stop being without having to take action to make it happen.
Over time, I realized that so much of the hunger to look at women’s bodies was hunger for those features. My own body seemed shapeless or wrong, so I continued to mostly ignore it.
Someone fell in love with me, and I with them. Body dysphoria despite. But I could never tell them about this. Kids eventually happened, which were amazing. But I am still me, still not comfortable in a world of macho, still not comfortable in my own skin, not even able to make sense of what would make me happy in any case.
But to admit to anyone else that I feel this way would be to destroy my life as it is, to destroy my relationships with my blood family, and though I might be able to handle that, I could not handle doing this to my partner and our children.
I have no doubt that this would destroy my current life, and cause an incredible amount of pain to my children because of the raw upheaval that would ensue. No one close to me would be able to accept this change in myself. To even begin to admit it would guarantee the destruction I fear.
And even if I embraced the danger of openness, with the acknowledgement of the pain and loss it would bring, how can I even think I could be happy afterwards? With all else in terms of relationships in my life destroyed by this action, how can I expect to find any happiness?
I do not think I could live with the misery of this destruction, but I can keep holding out as best as possible this way. Life only goes on so long in any case. One waits out the years and the secrets go to the grave.
Do you have any advice, Mx Hoffman-Cox, on coming to terms with the decision to permanently hide and repress gender dysphoria because it is less painful to you than living with the destruction you would cause by admitting it?
Dara Hoffman-FoxOctober 3, 2016 at 2:43 PM
Thank you for sharing with us what you are going through. I will definitely be addressing your question either in a future video or Reader Q&A blog post because I’ve been asking it many times! There are no easy answers to this question though, is there… 🙁 The most important part is to care for yourself as much as you can, knowing that this is a hard, hard choice to make… More later!
M.October 4, 2016 at 3:43 AM
And thank you so much for responding.
After living so long alone with the crazy and the mocking, guilty voices inside my own head, it meant a lot to have someone say: “I heard you.”
I will watch for your response.
I know there are no easy answers, and probably no good ones. And I know that it’s really perhaps unfair to ask this of you, who’ve given generously and freely of your time here.
I feel like I’ve gone to a mechanic, and said: “My car is broken; tell me how best to live with a broken car.”
And the mechanic says: “We have tools; I can help you. We can make this work better together.”
And so I respond, saying: “To fix my car I must destroy all else I care about.”
And the mechanic might rightly say: “I want to help you, but you ask for a philosopher, not a mechanic.”
I have no answers.
I begin with the unhappiness I feel, then admit that I believe the cost of acknowledging how I feel about my identity is unthinkable and unbearable. These run in circles until I am exhausted unless I fight back.
I also see that time passes, and I believe that death is the end of the need to fight. If I am strong enough, and can find some peace, I can hope to be part of some happy moments with those I love, and to help provide security and for their material needs.
If I cannot see or feel myself; if I can choose to be self-unaware, if I can just fill my hours with pursuit of remaining dreams not embittered by confusion over me, maybe I can make it through and be a positive part of their lives. While my inner gaze is distracted, life will pass.
It is a repeating pattern that when enough time opens up for me to think and not simply survive, the same issues come flooding back.
And if all else fails, it is still within my power to take steps to ensure their financial security and take this secret with me, that at least their memories of our times together are not diminished by wondering who I really was and what I was thinking all those years, and if their good memories were only unseeing witnesses to my unhappiness. Not because I can’t bear that they know, but because I can’t bear the thought of their pasts being destroyed along with my future.
Peace and love to all who struggle with this, The lack of peace is the gnawing that never ends.
It’s so hard even to feel after all these years.
M.October 3, 2016 at 6:50 AM
And I apologize for misspelling your name, Mx. Hoffman-Fox. I am a little over-emotional at this moment.
But my question is genuine, and I have no good answers, and I suspect there are many others like me out there. I do not know if there are any good answers, but to hear you talk about it would be really appreciated.