Walking on eggshells

Due to a work commitment I had a shorter than usual session today.

This week is work counselling only but it is relevant because the issue I raised was about what I bring to my workplace.

I said that when I was in my 20’s I never questioned my identity, I thought I knew who I was and what made me tick.

Once married I invested everything into being a husband and then a father, some of the husband issues were because of placing my children first, but I gave up all of those extra little things that I enjoyed doing that were a part of me.

Mountain biking, ultimate frisbee, river and loch swimming, camping, going to pubs and clubs, all fell by the wayside over the years. It was the same with family or friend emergencies in that I could no longer drop everything and go because I had my own family to look after and their needs came first.

Even things I started during the few separation gaps in my marriage were quashed when I got back together with my ex. Running and fitness exercise classes, ceroc (modern jazz) – all fell, one by one.

How can I be effective if I do not know what makes me, me?

As a question we didn’t dig too deep, because I started late and finished at the same time, but it is a question that bears thinking about because it really does take up a large part of my life.

This is where I still need to be careful because while I recognise that holding back in counselling is not useful for anyone I have not got to the stage of trust needed to open up about my gender identity counselling.

When fulfilling a role however low my self esteem has gotten I have always sort of known what was expected of me. So I could sink time and effort into fitting that persona.

Yet now I am still torn – by now I recognise that the woman in me is more than just a bit of light stress relief or some internal kink working itself out. But there is no playbook for this…

I have no pattern to fit and it is terrifying. I have asked several times how do I know who I am? and I still feel like the answer eludes me. I know the qualities I want to have and try to live my life by, I try to be patient, and kind and loving and have integrity, but how does anyone know who they are?

Why do other people not question themselves?

How do people get comfortable in their own skin?

I don’t know, I guess this is a wood for the trees kind of day.

Take care

xx

7 thoughts on “Walking on eggshells

  1. Dee, I understand when you say there is no plan and its terrifying. The answer does lie within you as it does for each of us that asks. Giving yourself to your family is part of who you are. Its a role many of us partake in but it does evolve. Nothing remains static in life. I think you are wise to compartmentalize your two counselors for now. You’ll know when the time is right.

    Keep searching and asking yourself questions. It’s how we grow. Never stop.
    Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “…but how does anyone know who they are?”

    Some people define themselves through their beliefs, their hobbies, their role, their lifestyle, or their job. They may have a dominant factor that they did feel is them or be a blend. They are all valid. Sometimes those labels – if you will – are applied to a person (rebel, leader, and less kind ones too), but I think anyone who questions their sexuality and/or gender has other aspects to now reflect on and be influenced by.

    “Why do other people not question themselves?”

    Perhaps for some, life is fairly straightforward. They are okay in their place in the world and do not feel the need to look beyond that. Some may be curious or may have experiences that make them question, but not everyone will. Plus, we’re not privy to what goes on in a person’s head. I’ve heard many colleagues and friends talk about not having a plan, being unsure if what they want is right for them, or the curse of Imposter Syndrome.

    “How do people get comfortable in their own skin?”

    Going back to what you said about people questioning themselves, I think for some folk: they just don’t pay a lot of thought to their skin. They are okay with who they are and as a general rule, society and their social world is okay with that too. But… that’s not true for everyone. 🙂 Some take a little longer or maybe it’s a constant up and down flow. The sting of everyday sexism, ‘whitewashed’ cishet advertising, erasure of the old, etc. When we are not part – or don’t feel part – of the mainstream, I think there’s a little bit more mental heavy lifting you need to do to keep yourself okay.

    Good luck ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “…how does anyone know who they are?”

    Perhaps the question you wish to ask is: “How do people find out who they are… authentically?”

    Before I provide my thoughts I’d like to say that your experience with marriage(s), family, career, and immersion in hobbies and activities parallels my own. I’m 64, and gratefully retired, and looking back I see how I used these things to keep my mind occupied and to thwart its efforts to tell me. I also thought that my gender feelings were some sort of fetish. All in all I was so deeply ashamed.

    For more of my story you can listen to this podcast where I’m interviewed by the mom of a young trans girl: http://www.howtobeagirlpodcast.com/episodes/episode-xxx-emma-at-last

    But to help you find where you are might involve three main questions:
    1. Do you believe that to be trans is valid?
    2. Are you transgender?
    3. If you are trans and you wonder where you would be most comfortable “under the umbrella” (e.g., crossdressing occasionally, living as a woman from time to time, full time, medical and surgical things), how do you figure that out?

    I found each of these questions quite challenging. A book that helped me tremendously is Dara Hoffman-Fox’s “You and Your Gender Identity: A Guide to Discovery.” While reading it I spent time and energy writing out my answers to Dara’s exercises in a separate journal. It was if I was finally able to put onto paper all that stuff that had been rattling around in my brain for so many decades. In the end I found that my answers to 1 and 2 were Yes.

    But that left the third and perhaps scariest question. Dara’s suggestion is to treat this discovery like a series of small (at first) experiments: try something, see how it feels after giving yourself time to adjust to it, and if it feels right, stick with it and think about what you might do next. Most early things are reversible – no big deal overall. Like getting your ears pierced, or buying clothing to see how you like styles and fit.

    I won’t deny that it’s a frightening process. But it’s also so rewarding. Dara says it’s an example of “The Hero’s Journey” where the hero (you) is stuck somewhere they don’t want to be, wants to get out, and is forced (or forces themselves) to leave their comfort zone, confront and slay the dragons, and without much direction, find themselves.

    It’s three years this month since I started living authentically and I’ve never felt better. The grass is definitely greener for me on this side of the mountain. Yes, there are still some brown spots and weeds; that’s life,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to respond Emma, I do read Dara Hoffman’s book in small bitesize chunks, I was helping my sister move house this weekend and was informed of a conversation that two of them had about me where they said they found it hard to see my femininity – hiring and driving the big van and lifting the heavy furniture with the boys. It was great to be useful, but my sister did also wonder if perhaps I am just doing what they expect me to. I pointed out that it was easy for me to slip back into what I know people expect too, it is one of my family roles as we all seem to move frequently. With my mum there who has no clue she was pulled up a few times for telling everyone to follow my instructions and making sure I was alright without asking my sisters the same questions. I find it easier to accept literally everyone else around me and believe in them yet struggle to find that same acceptance and certainty for myself. x

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      1. “I pointed out that it was easy for me to slip back into what I know people expect too, it is one of my family roles…”

        It is easy to do this and in some manners its all right if you want to. It is a way to shy away from certain activities too, if you choose to. Your Mum is falling back on old stereotypes about the guy being in charge and all. I wouldn’t put too much stock in that as she doesn’t know about Dee. One thing that you will see is acceptance is not as strong when you continue to do the same “male oriented” tasks after you’ve transitioned. Women can be leaders and if there were no guys present one would step up, but it wouldn’t need to be you. I no longer feel the need to be in charge, so it works for me.

        You are still in that awkward stage where only a few people know, so don’t get frustrated. It will pass.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Very true Judi, I think my historic family dynamic is one of the reasons I have always been aware of the existence of Male privilege and that fine line between empathy and mansplaining! I am very content to not be in charge! I am hoping that the counselling will help me to move forward in a few different ways sooner rather than later.

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      3. I’m glad to hear you’re reading Dara’s book. Take it slowly (as you’re going). Let their words sink in, possibly talk about what you read with your therapist.

        “…I was helping my sister move house this weekend and was informed of a conversation that two of them had about me where they said they found it hard to see my femininity…”

        I’m not surprised. Our bodies have gone through male puberty which dramatically changes so many visible things, including our voices, mostly irreversibly. I know you know that but I wish to give you some support. The thing is that we’re largely stuck with those changes. What your sisters cannot see is what’s inside you.

        I’m a lesbian so I, like all (?) gay people constantly have our “gay-dar” running, wondering if the other person is also gay, might they be a friend or become more? As a queer person, I have a “trans-dar” running, wondering if someone is trans. Straight cis people (especially women, I think) largely live in blissful ignorance, unaware of these things. Here again, it’s no surprise that they don’t “see” your femininity.

        Regarding doing “typically male” things like furniture moving, driving a truck, and leading is certainly not unfeminine. Yes, their bodies (and ours, after HRT) don’t have the same muscle mass. But if you like driving a truck, do it!

        Look around you and notice anytime you see a woman doing something you might think of as masculine. Riding a motorcycle? Driving a truck? Swearing like a sailor?

        The wonderful thing, Dee, is that part of living authentically is that we can finally be and do what what is true for us. Finally, we have the full spectrum open to us without the narrow limitations that men live within. For me, I narrowed those limitations even more as I was so afraid that anything I might do would be interpreted as feminine.

        Another book suggestion: “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle.

        Liked by 1 person

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