Since my fairly recent post concerning my therapist, I have received several comments, including a lengthy one from my partner Liz. Among others things, she was concerned with me wasting my time essentially hiding myself from my therapist.
Through my WordPress platform I received this comment from GirlieBoy: “I know you are not asking for advice, but if you can’t open up to your therapist perhaps you should find a different one or just stop going…that is the one place it should be safe to open up. If you aren’t getting that, at least you should talk about that.”
Thanks! Liz mentioned that also. After all these years, I think I owe it to my therapist to at least bring up the subject of my expectations for her input.
Another comment came from Connie: “Well, I happen to be so cheap, ehr, thrifty that I have been completely open with any therapist I’ve seen. I don’t like to pay for something I already know, and I want to give all the info I can about myself, so that the therapists can use their knowledge of how to make my life better. Of course, I’ve also had to educate them on what a trans person really is about most of the time. Unfortunately, I’ve had no luck with therapists making my life better – except for the one I saw for grievance counseling after my mom died my mom my mom’s insurance covered it). He was from The Bronx, and had been a standup comedian before going into Psychology. The one thing he said, in his New York accent, that summed it all up was, “Fuck ’em, if they can’t take a joke.” I followed that with, “You mean that life is too serious to be taken too seriously?” He didn’t even bother to ask if I wanted to make an appointment for another session. 🙂
Thanks Connie, unfortunately I seemingly have lost the idea of free VA therapy somehow not being as important. When in fact it is. I had several different therapists I had to pay for out of my pocket and I expected more. Truthfully I didn’t get more, I just didn’t know what to expect.
Every time I finish an appointment with my long time therapist, my partner Liz always digs deep to discover if I have told her (or anyone) of my deepest secrets. Yesterday, I finally told her (Liz) no I don’t go that deep with my therapist. I have a tendency to dance around any subject which pertains to me. We have been having sessions now for nearly a decade now so her familiarity with me allows me to dance away and rarely does she (therapist) catch me.
I’m sure the reason I do it is goes back to the majority of my life when I struggled to hide my gender dysphoria totally along with the inability to even understand what was going on with being bi-polar. Needless to say the entire process was very difficult and I became very good at hiding my true self from others.
Even though Liz still has to take a pry bar to me to get me to show emotions, I am trying in my own backward way to be more outgoing.
As far as my therapist goes though, maybe I should pull down the barriers and let her have it. Then again maybe not. My Dad was very emotionally withdrawn. It’s just so difficult to overcome.
Yesterday was time for my bi-weekly appointment with my long time therapist from the Veterans Administration.
The session started with the usual questions. How is everything going and have I had any thoughts of harming myself. I answered truthfully. Everything is moving along fine and no I haven’t had any thoughts of self harm since the last time we talked.
Since it was a video appointment I did do my beauty routine, pulled my hair back and was ready. I chose a short sleeved tank top which happened to be a beige patterned fabric. I guess on my old lap top camera it looked as if I wasn’t wearing anything at all because not too far into the session, she asked was I wearing any clothes?
After the laughter died down, I assured her it was warm in our house but not that warm.
We finished the session with me telling her maybe naked therapy was the wave of the future. She said I would be surprised all the things she sees since the VA started video visits.
Actually, from my experiences when I used to show up in person for my appointments, nothing would surprise me.
Yesterday was therapy day. I have mentioned many times here in Cyrsti’s Condo how long I have been with my VA therapist. She is my original therapist with the VA who helped me with my hormone replacement therapy program as well as the paper work to get my legal name change rolling. In other words, a long time.
During most sessions she asks me about the blog and this session our discussion here on “Confidence” caught her attention. Yesterday, it really did when I quoted the conversation here by saying “Confidence is our one greatest accessory.” She was so impressed, she wrote it down.
Most of the time I forget I have to backtrack with her and explain what I am saying. An example would be the process we transgender women and men go through to live a new life as our authentic selves. According to Connie, it’s a wall:
” I remember much discussion, here on CC, about sitting on the wall (straddling the fence). That may be one degree past being up against the wall, but it’s where many of us end up for far too long. Once I had built up enough nerve to make the jump to the other side, I found it to be a soft landing – and I have walked confidently on this side of the wall ever since.”
I always referred to my “wall” as a slippery slope. The more I experimented living in a feminine world, sure it was scary but it felt so natural. Finally I made the decision to permanently put my male persona in the closet and live 24/7 as a transgender woman.
Perhaps the teacher will learn just a little more to help the next novice trans person she encounters. I keep telling my therapist to consider just the smallest gender aspect of her life she takes for granted and reverse it. Another example would be when she wakes up in the morning. She has the gender privilege of knowing she is a woman. Most of us knew it too but had to really work to express it.
It’s really wonderful when the teacher learns too.
Finally an old picture. This picture taken after my first trip to a real woman’s hair solon. A birthday gift from my daughter. from 2015.
This morning as I was going through all my social media seeking topics to write about here in Cyrsti’s Condo, I stumbled upon a transgender woman seeking any help she could find. Her problem was years ago she went to a therapist who used the Kinsey report to treat patients with gender dysphoria.
I know I am going to over simplify this but let me explain why I will. To make a long story short, the transgender woman seeking guidance was told to lead a “dual” existence because she looked too much like a guy. You know the old story, big stature, big bones…blah, blah blah. So the person in question decided the therapist was right and set about to live an ill fated dual gender existence.
I feel so deeply about this subject because I went down the same road with an early therapist I paid my hard earned money to see. He essentially brushed me off with the “man up” and get over it answer. Of course that didn’t work and ultimately led me down the path to self harm. I realized quite early I was cursed with testosterone poisoning and processed the stereotypical male characteristics mentioned above. I just did my best to find women’s clothes which helped me to disguise my male body and mold it femininely the best I could. I guess you could say I was obsessed.
Fortunately, these days, times have changed and there are more and more therapists who have knowledge and understanding of what gender dysphoria means and how it impacts a transgender person.
I’m not sure either how effective therapy is on communicating how little appearance has to do with actually living a feminine life. In many cases hormone replacement therapy, along with a basic knowledge of makeup can get you by in the world. Or farther. I can use Venessa as an example and can vouch for her appearance. I have had the opportunity to see it all.
Remember too, we transgender women suffer from societies view of women as a whole. The pressure to be attractive is intense. Cis women learn from an early age to work with what they have. Transgender women have to learn quickly without much help. Which is a topic for another post.
In the meantime, if you underwent therapy years ago and are still trying to live within it’s unrealistic goals. It could be time to try it again and get out from under the past.
For the first time in weeks, I am starting to feel better.
I am sure it helps that all my critical heart tests are coming back normal. Whatever normal may be for me. Of course I still have pulmonary, colon and the final (I hope) X=ray on my ankle to go.
I also had my two mental check ups the last two days. For once, I needed both of their help. It will be interesting to see if all the survey’s and interviews I filled out with the VA are effective. I wasn’t in the best state of mind when I did them.
Included in my conversation with my therapist was my unfortunate cross dresser ugly interaction.
Which Connie commented on:
“Are you saying that, if you spent a whole lot of time worrying about what others think of you, you’d still be cross dressing, yourself? I remember having the revelation that I was cross dressing, but I had come to know that I wasn’t a cross dresser. Had I continued to be afraid of what others would think of me, should I transition, I would have retreated back to the closet completely. There’s nothing wrong with cross dressing, but it tends to lead to frustration, eventually, if one is not a cross dresser. It’s like being a singer who is only allowed to lip-synch or, at best, nailing it at karaoke. Hmm, maybe I have just pissed off a few cross dressers, myself.” I meant if I worried about transitioning as a transgender person into a feminine life as far as what others thought, I would have never done it. So, I agree with you, I would have found a closet that eventually would have killed me. As far as cross dressers, or anyone else goes, I try my best not to stereotype. Which I guess I failed at miserably Saturday night.