Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Well, that wasn't good.

I reverted the 'Blech' post(s)  back to draft status, but I'm leaving this up as a placeholder.   My wife and I are starting to correlate that I go into a deep funk every month right after she ovulates.  Three mornings ago I asked her if she had, since I'd spent the night awake thinking despondent thoughts and silently crying.  Of course she had.  But it seems to be over now.  Again.

She only halfway jokes about hoping when she goes through menopause that it leaves us on the good side of the hormone/pheromone shifts.  I do too, but I also think it's the shifts that do the damage not the absolute levels.  We'll see, I guess.  It's a bit of drama we'd both rather not have in our life.

Blech, Part 3

Review of parts One and Two:

  My innate personality is to devote myself to other people's needs.  I am most comfortable playing a supporting role.  I was also taught to do so growing up.  First my folk's, then my wife's happiness were what I lived for.  Like a good retro-1950's and 60's housewife, I went directly from my parent's house to that of my spouse right out of school, with all that entails.  I have yet to live a day of life that I could call, "mine" and looking ahead now, I don't see that I ever will.

Those are my cards.

   I've got the love of both my families.  My spouse, kids, parents and siblings all accept me for who I am and are willing to respect my identity, at least insofar as it doesn't impact their lives too much.

  But I've never experienced my needs as having value or even been able to recognize that they exist as something real.  To this day, I know they should but it's like reading about someone transitioning back when I was fully dissociated, depersonalized and detached.   It's mythical.  Not real, at least not as applied to me and my life.  And I have no idea how to change that.

Blech. Part 2.

(Part One is here)

  It's part of my innate personality to be self-sacrificing; that's what prompted my 'solution' and the way I tried to get by one day at at time.   My family of origin trained me to enhance it further.  Guilt, fear and shame were big in our household.  My folks were ACOH and well, crazy.  Mom was a misanthrope (w/ hints that she was possibly bi as well but we'll never know) and Dad, well...he lives in a plastic world of constant, total cognitive dissonance adjustments.  Very insecure yet very competitive for the family's position of ultimate authority.  Which meant that his 'son' was seen as a threat to his unquestionable superiority.  The fact that I never acted "right" for a boy didn't help, somehow.  He still felt the need to undermine any accomplishments that might threaten his ego.  Mom, meanwhile, had a habit of going off the deep end.  Suicide attempts were not uncommon, nor were minor offenses such as keying and dumping paint on people's cars...that sort of thing.  Often that would result in alienating herself from the parents of my childhood friends which meant an end to the friendships.  Through all of this, I somehow ended up living not my life, but rather, a supporting role in theirs.  It kept me safe and unnoticed most of the time.

This continued for far too long.  It became the whole of my personality.  As I was guilt-ed into working for a family business for little pay and zero independence, I had no control over anything in my existence heading into my 20's.  I'd reached the point where I didn't even know it was possible to have a life of my own or make my own choices, no matter how small.

Then, while attending a small Jesuit University, I met my wife.  When I finally graduated (I was going to school part time and working full time at the family business) she and I moved into a new studio apartment together.  I escaped my parents, but not my fate.  I'd simply shifted the object of my devotion.  I began to live "our" life, which in reality meant I was dedicated to making her happy just as I'd done for my parents.  Well, not exactly the same, as that would be really gross.  Cut me some slack emotionally I'm 13 or 14, okay?  ;-)

(to be continued)

Blech. Part 1.

Okay, so I'm officially in a funk.  I'm just coming out of my cyclic, "I give up, it's obvious I can't figure out any practical way to actually transition".  Again.  At least I hope I'm coming out of it, I feel numb.

The other night I realized that in so many ways I'm right back where I was 36-odd years ago.  I was six years old, no one would listen to me and I was regularly punished severely for attempting to be myself.  "Be myself" meant playing with the toys that looked more fun and interesting, wearing the right clothes and wanting to do the right things.  I became depressed: my wife says the old photos of me from that time make her sad, as you can see it in my face.   Looking back, I realize I'd already become suicidal but hey, I'd been indoctrinated to believe that opting out of that much pain was every bit as bad as committing murder.  So I did the next best thing.  I disconnected my Self and stored her safely away.  Not just my sense of gender, or social identity...my entire sense of Self.  I became a shell, and I survived.  Sort of, anyway.  Hey, don't blame the six year old, she did what had to do.

  Stasis.  Decades went by.  I don't remember much of it as I had some sort of executive facility that was just going through the motions hoping not to be noticed.

(to be continued)

Monday, November 14, 2011

How my mother made me cry

  Another weekend spent working on the rental.  The kids are having fun going down there, the youngest plays with his wooden trains & Legos and our daughter catches bugs, salamanders and other critters.  The interior (apart from the kitchen, of course) is clean, sound and even aesthetically pleasing again.

  I was cleaning the garage of tools and construction debris to make room for the kitchen cabinet delivery when my Mom called.  We talk or IM daily now since I came out to them, a huge difference compared to the previous couple of decades.  She wanted to stop by to give me a book.  Now, I'm usually pretty particular in what I spend my reading time on because, well, I love reading.  I rarely if ever blindly accept books from people as it always seems to turn out to be a waste of time.  She knew this, but was insistent.  She'd gone to see Chris Mathews speak at a local Catholic College about his new book regarding Jack Kennedy.  Now, the Kennedys are purely my mom's generation, not mine.  They were gone before I was even born and there is a certain false-but-assumed familial connection that I was teased about as a kid.  I really didn't want the book, but she'd picked one up for each of her children (the $40 "collectible" edition, no less) and I didn't want to be rude.  It was a nice gesture on her part, and I supposed it wouldn't hurt me to spend an evening or two slogging through it.  I might even learn something.

  Since the cold virus had just finished with my kids, wife and I, it was decided that my Mom and Dad would just drive up to drop off the book but not stop in for a visit, as they were on their way to see my sister and her baby.   Still a newborn, she hasn't had her first shots yet so I understood completely.  About twenty minutes after the call, I saw their vehicle in the street in front of the house.  I walked down, we said our hellos.  My mom handed me a small brown paper bag that obviously contained a book.  She insisted that I look at it, but was vague as to why.  I half-heartedly pulled it half out of the bag and said something to the effect of, "Great, I'm sure I'll enjoy it,".  I was about to put it back in when she persisted and told me to open it because it was a "special copy".  So, I did.  She was beaming as I opened the cover and looked inside.  I stood there in the middle of the street, crying.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Something in the air

Both my daughter and I had this massive attitude and behavioral shift today.  She went from being surly and defiant to wanting to please and insisting on cleaning her room (!!!) from top to bottom.  I had a serious nesting do-the-dishes-laundry-scrub-the-stove attack.  When my wife got home (I'd stayed home sick today so I suggested she go out shopping sans kids), I asked her if she'd had a hormone shift...

A bunch of research and I found out about vomeronasal organs, the role of pheromones in cis/trans, same/opposite sex sweat reaction studies and something particularly interesting:  The pheromone receptive organs are sex-dimorphic and start development at 12 weeks gestation.  

Now, where have I heard that time window before..?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Floopy day

I have a virus.  It's one of those ones that is usually called a head cold.  Sore throat, runny nose, sneezing.  All of that I can handle, annoying as it may be.  And since realigning my endocrine system, my body no longer overreacts, which is really, really nice.  Only thing is, any time I get a virus my thinking get's all wonky and my balance takes a vacation.  Which makes me have a floopy day.

Setback, part 2

  So, I'm stuck.  I don't know where to go next, what to do next.  I don't know how to take the next small step.  I'm blinded by this big, invisible, unmovable block in my head.

That's not quite true.

  I know after reading this that at some point I have to let that part of me start making the decisions.  What to wear, how to act, talk and think.  But I'm afraid that I don't know how to do those things.  I'm afraid that I'll screw up, and some screw-ups will or could hurt the people I love.

  Up until this realization, my managing of this transition has still been tentative, and run by the same reflexes and learned behaviors that have kept her safe all these years.  Managing is not the same as living.  I built those behaviors and responses to fool everyone else, but over the years I started to fool even me in to thinking that it was okay, that it was worth it.  That it was real.

  The parts of my Self I kept locked away is part of me, of course.  Always has been.  But it's the parts of me that I've kept safe for so very long that, with the help of a little dissociation and depersonalization, I denied existed even to those very parts that kept it all safe.  I'm unraveled into lots of loose threads and knots and tangles, and I'm not even sure where all of them are anymore, or how to find them, or how to weave them back together into whole cloth.  Despite everything I've discovered about myself and my past, and despite all of the blocks I've torn down so far, and learning to recognize and work around dissociation and depersonalization, the big one is still sitting there, stopping me.

  And I can't even see what the block is.  Like always, I have to learn to recognize it by what it's not.  It's as if something invisible is blocking my way and the only way I can figure out it's shape is to throw stuff at it and keep track of where stuff bounces to the floor instead of sailing on.  Screwy analogy, but that's what it feels like.

  I'm not depressed, or even feeling down and negative.  I really have gained a bit of control over my small blocks and self-disconnects and can use them now to head off most of the depression.  But I am stumped.  And I know I won't be moving forward until I break down this next wall.

(part 1 of 'Setback' is here: http://womanmediumrare.blogspot.com/2011/11/setback.html )


  I have an estrogen headache, the same ones my sisters, mom and aunts get monthly (or did, pre-menopause).  I get them weekly however instead of monthly.  They hit three days after my shot and last for a day and a half.  It's mildly annoying, nothing like the frequent migraines that started when I hit puberty and finally stopped when I started hrt.  So, I'm thankful that it's just a regular, mild headache.  But it is still annoying.  Worse (better?  I've lost perspective...) is what's been going on inside my head the last few days.

  I've learned how to use my dissociation and mental blocks for good and not evil, by blocking off the effects of depression and so, allowing myself to focus on the positive aspects of getting to know myself and my life again.  But last night I had a small crash.  It was necessary, I realized once it was over, as I had something new to sort through.

  I'm stuck again.  Like, genie in a bottle stuck.  I tried reading a few transition blogs looking for some commonality that I was missing and I found it.  The authors were all transitioning because they needed to.  Well, so do I.  But the thing that was actually pushing them forward was that they valued themselves enough to do it.  I was taught not to value my Self (as were most of them) but somehow, I can't undo it.  Something is stopping me.

  So, I don't have enough self-value to move forward with my transition.  I'm stuck.  That doesn't stop the need to do so, of course.  Nor does it stop me from getting practical, long term things done that I'll need later.  But I'm still stuck.  I've known how I needed to live since I was first  aware of my Self as distinct from others and of things like gender.  I knew who and what I was, up until I was six or seven years old.  But the person I'm doing this *for*?  The Self that needs to live out in the big world?  I don't know her enough to value her.  I don't know her at all.  To me she's a six year old girl who had to hide all the time before being locked away, lest she get stomped.  In fact, I was taught explicitly to not value her, that I was somehow 'bad' for even thinking that she was me.   I was taught to be deeply ashamed of what I am.  Yet...I have to put everything I've got into saving her.  It's a catch-22:  to transition I have to value myself, but I don't know how to value myself until I get to know her.  And the only way to get to know her is to stop protecting her.  But I don't know how to stop.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lesson learned #2

Newly washed just-barely-shoulder-length hair does not like dry, high-static weather.  On the bright side, a coworker said I look like an angel as I stood in a metal doorway.

Cruft builds up.

A woman I respect was ruminating on vacations in her blog and triggered some childhood memories I'd long forgotten...

  My maternal Grandfather used to say something like that.  Only instead of 'cruft', he used an Old World Polish term that I think means, "organic refuse", to describe the dirt and lubrication contaminants that built up on machinery.  I think he borrowed it from my Grandmother, who used it to describe the proteins and other contaminants that needed to be skimmed from time to time when making soap.  The substances did look suspiciously similar to my eyes as a child.

   My Grandparents are both long deceased.  They lived through the Great Depression.  They watched as the automobile, television, and computers became commonplace.  Their Old World wisdom might seem lost, foolish or overly meticulous in the world of today where everything is prepackaged.  But I'm finding that even in a world of practically unregulated food, fuel and housing derivatives, programing code and cell phone plans, their generation knew a thing or two about living that endures.

  They knew that when something endures change, over time, residue gets left lying around to later contaminate and clog things up. It's universal and exclusive, too: no change = no cruft.  In order to grow and thrive, periodically you *have* to strip it down to the bare base, and start fresh.  If you don't you'll end up trying to work around the odd bits that can slow everything and even bring things to a halt without notice.  They've been there all along, building up, but you get slowly used to them and they escape your notice.  Until some threshold is reached, that is.

  If you need a break to clear out the cruft, take it.  Learn to recognize when you need it and what you need to do to take care of it.  It doesn't have to be every two years.  It needn't be a resort package provided by a travel agent, nor does it have to last two weeks.  Even a weekly hot bath or gardening can do the trick for some people, it depends on who you are.  The key is to fully dedicate the time, even if it means bringing everything else to a halt to do so.   Live that time without overt concern for the things that normally influence you and see what floats to the top.  Then skim it off.