Anxiety and Tipping Points

As I sit here today to write, I’m recovering from a bout of morning brain fog which led to an anxiety attack.  I’ve experienced a couple TGA’s in the past and I have a serious fear of having another one so when I start feeling like I can’t remember little things that I feel like I should it makes me feel panicky and if it goes on long enough it can lead to a full-blown panic attack.  An anxiety pill and a meditation later I’m starting to feel like my feet are planted more firmly on the ground and my head is connected to my neck again.  It’s a very disconcerting feeling to feel like you might be losing your mind and coming unglued.  The anxiety and panic only intensify it.  Luckily, I did not experience another TGA today; just the fear of having one probably brought on by internal stress and angst.

Since my trip to New Orleans last week I’ve felt more and more aware of the fact that I have arrived at that “point of no return” in my transition.  I don’t think it’s necessarily a concrete point of no return because I am fairly confident that one CAN de-transition if they decide they need to.  But, assuming I’m not intending to do that and that I continue to take my hormone shots and proceed as I have been I have gotten to the point where I look more male than female to strangers.  Perhaps I look this way to my friends too.  Candace still thinks I look female.  I have to go with the majority of reactions I’ve been getting lately and assume that Candace is just too close to the situation to see it fully.  I’m too close to see it fully.  I have told myself since the start of this that when I got to this point I would need to start asking for male pronouns and using the men’s rooms.  I think I’m there now.

Also since my trip and perhaps motivated by it I have finished migrating the remainder of my high school and college friends from my old page on Facebook.  I wrote a short post on there about the name change and was a bit vague about needing a name that reflected how I see myself and my gender and asked them to go to my new page and friend me there.  I’ve received nothing but positive comments and many of them have switched to the new page now.  As I’ve said before, I hate coming out and I hate feeling so vulnerable like this but unfortunately, since authenticity is one of my goals with transition, I need to get used to it.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not stressful.  It is.  The past few days I’ve been on edge wondering how these people would respond and feeling anxious every time a message would pop up on Facebook or my phone.  The comments mostly refer to how they respect me and how talented I am (was) and how they’re so glad I’m happy.  I never said I was happy but I guess they are assuming that I am because why else would I turn my world upside down if it didn’t make me happy.  *shrug*

Anyway, the comments have me thinking that I’m really glad that I was such a good kid/young adult back in my high school and college days.  Those people seem to really like me and respect me and I haven’t really done anything in the past 35 years to earn that from them.  So they’re working off of old memories of me now for the most part.  Some I have seen and interacted with a bit but not enough in my mind to constitute truly being able to say they KNOW me anymore.  They know me in a general kind of way.  But still, it’s gone well even though it makes me feel naked and vulnerable and I pretty much hate feeling that way.  And it makes me feel a lot of pride toward my young self.  In some ways I had my stuff so much more together then than I do now.  I had a vision and a path and I was pretty strong in my convictions.  BAM!  I was a tough little kid and nothing was going to get in my way of what I wanted.  My plan didn’t include being gay or trans.  It didn’t include a relationship with anyone at all; at least not a serious one.  Like I said, nothing and NO ONE was going to get in my way.  But I’d never been in love at that point and I hadn’t experienced the forces that grab the heart and disengage it from the brain.  My plan didn’t include getting dis-owned from my family or the parental threat to out me to any potential employer if I were to continue to be gay.  The new rules changed the game plan.  I had planned to either teach or join the military and play in a band.  It was the early 1980s and gays were not allowed to serve in the military and I knew several teachers who were fired for either being gay or having relationships that were not considered appropriate.  So I took a big detour and forged my own path bushwhacking my way through an uncharted forest of my own design.  It was a rough trip with lots of bumps, bruises and jagged turns.  Still, I felt relief knowing that my “lifestyle” couldn’t be used against me and keep me from making a living or having a career.

So, Hell Yeah!  I’m proud of that young person that I once was.  I was strong, persistent and tenacious in my pursuit of a life of my own choosing free from my narcissistic family.  When I look at all I’ve gone through and overcome in life it’s really no wonder to me that I’m just now getting around to dealing with my gender.  I had a lot bigger issues to deal with (like survival) and, surprisingly, the final pieces to all of these puzzles have come together at once for me.  It doesn’t make it any easier and sometimes, often, it makes me so angry I could tear a tree down with my bare hands (maybe a little tree) that my life couldn’t go more closely to my original plan and I had to take all of these detours and make so many compromises in life.  I truly do wish I knew then what I know now but I didn’t.  I did the best I could with the knowledge and resources I had to work with at the time.  There was no internet.  I didn’t know any other gay people, let alone any trans people.  I had seen Billie Jean King and Martina come out (sort of) and I’d heard of Renee’ Richards and even saw her play on TV but it just wasn’t enough to connect the dots for me.  I’d also seen these women being shamed and made fun of by the media.  If you can’t tell, I was a big tennis fan as a young person.  Martina Navratilova was my hero.  She still is.  I adored Billie Jean King too.

But back to the present time now, I feel a lot of pride in how I was as a young person and I think I don’t give myself enough credit for who I am today.  I have a deep feeling inside like I’m not as strong or good as I used to be and I don’t deserve the respect that my young self earned.  I do deserve that respect and more.  Not one of those people on Facebook knows my whole story and how my life got derailed at the age of 18 simply because of who I felt a sexual attraction towards.  The impact that first kiss had on my life is profound.  I remember feeling the next day like I had changed or life had changed.  It had.  I was right.  My life would never again be as simple as it was the night before.  I had a lifetime of deciding whether to “come out” or live in the closet, who to tell, when to tell them, how much to tell them, how honest to be, trying to remember which lie I told which “friend”, shame, fear, stress.  And all the while being told by the LGBT community that I should feel Pride.  I didn’t feel pride.  I never understood Pride parades and celebrations.  Why do I have to feel pride?  Why don’t I feel pride?  All these thoughts swirled around in my head as I went on with my life.  Now.  Now that I understand that I’m transgender.  Now I understand.  Now I get it.  I am proud of being transgender and the struggle I’ve gone through to get where I am despite society trying to force me to be straight and cis-gender.

I’m at my own personal transgender tipping point right now.  I’ve been riding the edge of this tipping point for quite a while now but I can see that this roller coaster is very close to the tip top of its climb and I’m about to start that exciting push over the edge into my new future as myself very soon.  I’m deathly afraid of roller coasters so I think this is a perfect analogy to how I’m feeling right now.  The worst part of the ride, for me, is that awful climb up the first hill.  It feels like it will never end.  No.  Actually, the worst part is when you’re at the very tip top right before your stomach ends up in your throat and you go racing down the hill at break neck speed.  But the climb is torturous too.  Yep.  And I’m at that tip top right now and I can see clearly where I’m going so I’m hanging on with all of my might and just praying that I don’t come flying out of the car.  Thinking about it this way, it’s no wonder that I was feeling a lot of anxiety this morning.  I just keep telling myself that it’s all going to be ok and I’ll be fine.

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4 thoughts on “Anxiety and Tipping Points

  1. I never missed a Martina match…

    Shawn, nobody but you can push you over that edge and unfortunately it will be a solo ride (maybe a good thing if your arms and legs are going to be flying all over! 🙂 ). What I do know, is that the Shawn I got to know virtually over the last year or so, has the courage to go ahead – you have proven you have got what it takes to have completed that uphill climb. You will have the courage for that last, bumpy ride. It sounds to me like you have a comfort zone in Candace and most of your friends, which will help a lot, should you need safety belts along the ride. Those who cannot accept it, do not deserve your friendship in any case. Your tribe is cheering you on and showing solidatity from along the tracks. I for one know that you are a great guy – the world just needs to get to know you. Bon voyage, buddie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Kris. I never missed a Martina match either. You and the others in the tribe do help me feel stronger and less alone in this. I’m so thankful to have gotten to know all of you. I wish you only the best in your own personal climb.

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  2. I hear you on the roller coaster – except that it is up to you to decide when you are at the point to ask for pronouns or use the male bathroom (personally, I think you could waltz into a men’s room with no one noticing).
    One of the odd things about transition is that somethings are gradual, but you can’t do the social things gradually, you either do them or you don’t.
    Asking people who see you as a butch woman to see you as a man is a difficult thing to do (pronouns). The cognitive dissonance will be on them trying to refer to you as he or they, instead of you cringing every time you hear yourself referred to as she. I’m rooting for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your input Jamie and for your support. It makes me feel better that you think I could use a men’s room without raising any eyebrows. You are so right that transitioning is very gradual in some ways (the internal and external parts of the person transitioning) and very sudden for the social part (the friends, family, colleagues, etc of the person transitioning). I think one of the problems with how gradual we change outwardly is that people who are close to us and see us often don’t necessarily notice the changes and so when we say, hey I’m going by Shawn now and using male pronouns they are somewhat shocked and find it hard to come to terms with. On the other hand, when you don’t see someone that often the physical change can be alarming and seem very sudden. Neither situation is easy for either side. But I get what you’re saying about the cognitive dissonance being more on them than me at this point. I, naturally, experience a great deal of angst right before I take another big step in my transition.

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