The Value of Therap...
 
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The Value of Therapy

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Posts: 126
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(@charlenev)
Estimable Member     United States of America, Illinois, near Chicago
Joined: 3 years ago
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I hesitate to submit this as an article, as It doesn't seem article-worthy. It is but simply a "play-by-play"  of recent developments for me. Yet, I submit it in hopes that it might encourage someone in their pursuit of what may seem, at this moment, your impossible dream; living your own womanhood.

Since early September of last year, I have written a series of articles. They revolve around the theme of finally accepting my own truth: that I am trans and a woman at heart. In the articles, I present the many questions and struggles of my continued self-discovery, acceptance, and needed steps to live my authentic womanhood.

In August/September of 2023, after six decades of resistance on my part, I finally embraced an understanding of myself that has been there since my earliest memory. Like it or not, despite not choosing it to be so, the reality is that I am transgender. And though being trans doesn’t automatically make one a woman; after all the years of study, contemplation, and self-discovery, I have concluded that I want to be a woman because, at my core level, I am one.

With this new acceptance of my lifelong trans condition, I decided I would do what is so often encouraged in our community; find a good therapist, one that was at least familiar with gender issues. I also reasoned that the means of dealing with my gender incongruity, which I had not tried, was therapy. I chose to do what was so strongly recommended, thereby shelving my keep-it-in-the-closet approach. I did so through the online service "Better Help." The dollars I spent for their help have been of great value.

I realized my gender dysphoria is deeply affecting my marriage. I asked that at some point we include my wife. Eventually, we did so. The value of that decision was to get my wife comfortable with my therapist, so she doesn't feel like all these sessions are going on behind her back. My gender brokenness, though my personal condition, is by virtue of the "two becoming one union," our condition to manage together, even as her issues both mentally and physically are also ours to manage together.

After five months of being as transparent and vulnerable as I have ever been in my private sessions, my therapist very candidly expressed her opinion and evaluation; Charrie is who I really am and that at my core, I am a woman.

She went on to explain how I was mistakenly assigned male at birth. Obviously, there was no ill intent on anyone's part. My body was male so "it's a boy," was declared, celebrated, and I was reared accordingly. Living a male life was naturally nurtured, cultivated, and simply expected. As I grew older and aware of my gender dissonance, I chose to live a typical male life out of circumstance, appearance, convenience, and survival instinct. Where I am today in my journey is a consequence of that decision.

I cannot explain how huge that "diagnosis" was. Finally, after what seemed like eons, a third-party, independent source, confirmed what I longed to be real and what had been timidly declared in September; I am at my soul level a woman. As my therapist explained, "Your desire to be outwardly what you are at your heart, is but a normal outgrowth of expression that anyone who is gender congruent experiences. There is nothing abnormal about your desire to be a woman. After all, Charrie is who you really are anyway."

Years ago, a fully transitioned friend who is a medical doctor, was talking with me. I was baring my heart to her in a way I had never done previously. She listened intently and then asked, "Charlene, do you know why you want all those things that a natal woman wants? It's because you are not a male, you are a female at heart." I spent the next 12 years running from that diagnosis. But when my therapist told me the same thing, it was an epiphany moment for me. I was done running; I was ready to receive and embrace.

As I have written before, for the sake of so many whom I love, for who I am responsible, and for whom count on me as the male in their lives, I don't believe a full transition is wise or appropriate. My therapist recognizes this and explains that she is there to support me in whatever I choose.

However, therapy is now being approached from a female-male perspective, not the other way around. We are working on how Charrie, can create a life moving forward that meets my needs as a woman while ministering to the "many others and maintaining my strong Christian faith and practice."

In the past, that mountain of challenges looked insurmountable, but with my therapist's support, it is less daunting. The path before was to stay very closeted. The male was in control and all he could see was that the feminine part must stay closeted.

Now, Charrie and her therapist are working together to scale that mountain. The past male mindset viewed and supported the barriers to stopping progress. Those barriers are still there, yes, but the strongest of them, the purely male mindset has crumbled.

Because of my epiphany, accepting and embracing the reality of my legitimate womanhood, my mindset is different. Those challenges can be overcome. They must be. They will be overcome.

Long ago, I chose Victoria as my middle name. It is the feminine form of the male name Victor which means victory. I chose Victoria for that very connotation. Charlene Victoria will live authentically. She will be victorious. What that all means at this moment, I do not know, but with my therapist’s help, we will create a plan to make it happen.

And that dear sisters is the value of a therapist!

Blessings,

Charrie

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Ambassador
(@flatlander48)
Joined: 5 years ago

Noble Member     United States of America, California, Cathedral City
Posts: 1803

@charlenev When people join us who are early in their journey, I will often suggest that they seek a therapist. The reason is that for the vast majority of us, this ALL uncharted territory. We have not been down this road before. We don’t know what to expect, whether good or bad.

Also, there is A LOT OF FEAR surrounding questioning our gender identity. This can blunt our forward progress and maybe stop it altogether. A therapist experienced in gender issues call ask the right question and explain some things that we don’t know.

 

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Bronze
(@charlenev)
Joined: 3 years ago

Estimable Member     United States of America, Illinois, near Chicago
Posts: 126

@flatlander48   Hi DeeAnn,  thank you for your reply. As usual you bring much wisdom to the conversation. Much appreciated.

Kindly,

Charlene

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Member
(@judith)
Joined: 2 years ago

Eminent Member     United States of America, California, Los Angeles
Posts: 40

@charlenev I thought maybe I'd say something about how Dr. Jung "reminded us" that we ALL have "male" and "female" aspects...and that what organs you happen to have do NOT totally define who you are. Now, not to get to far "out there," I had a reading from a medium just after HS (Sure, MANY are fakes or nuts!)(and I'm skeptical of MUCH of this "New Age" stuff these days)(though I'm a strong supporter of "Holistic-Alternative Medicine!!" (because "Allopathic Medicine" (you know, the strictly drug and surgery based approach) does NOT have all the answers!!), and one of the things she reported (along with a LOT of other stuff!!--for over an hour!!) was that I had two aspects (or "selves"), one being Julia and one being Julian...and not only did MUCH of this STRONGLY "resonate" with me...but I had a kind of ...well, almost a kind of post-psychedelic experience for a couple of weeks. In a word, it BLEW me AWAY!!!...and I wass NEVER the same after that (in a good way)!!

As a Holistic Practitioner and Psychotherapist, I hold that it can be very important to "pay attention" to what our bodies and souls tell us. If I may add one more thing... Sometimes we do a lot of "head-work", but avoid the body. Work like Reichian body-work, massage therapy and Chiropractic/Cranio-Sacral work can be TERRIBLY important (to not only resolve strictly physical "aches and pains," but get in touch with old emo-tional stuff..that has been "hanging around" for AGES)!! I speak from CONSIDERABLE experience.

I was reviewing some old alumni magazines (maybe five years ago) from my undergrad-uate college, Cal-State U., Dominguez Hills (in S. California) a couple of days ago...and found this article summarizing current psychology....and was ASTOUNDED. The two authors apparently were journalist students who'd never had a psych. course in their lives!! What we were taught in the mid-seventies was WAY ahead of what these BOZOS were telling us around 2019!! The mentioned a German physiologist named Wundt...who was a developer of the Psych. movement (especially experimental psychology) around the (LAST) turn of the century (talk about OLD HAT!!)...and claimed that Psychoanalysis is still generally accepted (WRONG!!)...and they explained that cognitive counseling is close to 100% what is current today. Not exactly. "Process" work (and stuff  that falls under the category of "Transpersonal Psychology is MUCH more "cutting edge" today!!! Unless you're an intellectual troglodyte!!  ;  ) 

Perhaps I'll finish (wish my fingers would STOP slipping off the keys!!!) by saying that I'm deeply spiritual, but have little time for (Organized Religion) dogma-doctrine...or some guy in Rome or in robes telling me what to believe. And, please remember that the best physicians have embraced the "Holistic Paradigm" and attempt to treat the Body, Mind and Spirit!!...and not just try to FIX YOU!!!

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Silver
(@pearls)
Joined: 3 weeks ago

Active Member     United States of America, Georgia
Posts: 4

@charlenev Your story is certainly article worthy.  It is such a beautiful depiction of your struggle and finally acceptance of Charrie, as your true self.  I am sending you good thoughts as you navigate the journey ahead and what that means for you.

i also agree with your decision to seek therapy.  That, for me, has been my turning point as well.  She has helped me accept and not just acknowledge who I am.  That was a real trigger for me.  By the way my therapy sessions have been online and they have worked well for me.  

I am now 10 days into HRT, and as I don’t know what the end result will be, I am now on a path to becoming the woman I know I am.

i wish you a happy journey Charrie and thanks for sharing your story!

Hugs,

Michelle

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Member
(@julieta)
Joined: 7 months ago

Eminent Member     United States of America, Florida, Bradenton
Posts: 18

@charlenev Amazing. You should have transitioned when your friend told you. But maybe that wasn't the right time to do it. I'm happy you finally did it.

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Bronze
(@charlenev)
Joined: 3 years ago

Estimable Member     United States of America, Illinois, near Chicago
Posts: 126

@julieta Hi Julieta, Just wanted to be clear that I haven't actually transitioned yet. However, after working with my therapist, I am surprised at how much more open I am to it and how that which once seemed impossible now seems much more possible.

Kindly,

Charlene 

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Posts: 57
Member
(@mistressb)
Estimable Member     Australia, Queensland, Brisbane
Joined: 1 month ago

What a lovely story and well worth posting here. Many of us have barriers either self imposed or actual. The fact that you have finally realised that you can no longer fight those internal deamons and be your real self is heart warming. Good luck with your journey and from someone on the other side, congratulations. Biggest hugs. ❤️ ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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Bronze
(@charlenev)
Joined: 3 years ago

Estimable Member     United States of America, Illinois, near Chicago
Posts: 126

@mistressb Hi Mistress B. I really appreciate the words of encouragement from "someone on the other side."

When I was a child I was often picked to be in  a certain side. However now as an adult it is my choice what side I will join. I know what side I want to be on, But I am finding it challenging to just up and join. 

Kindly,

Charlene 

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Posts: 12
Member
(@lisa55)
Eminent Member     United States of America, Virginia, Gloucester
Joined: 9 months ago

I wish I could find a therapist, but being out in the country hours away from one isn’t an option for me. I know I could do one on-line but that seems to take the human factor out of the therapy. So far I have been able to handle my situation, though not being easy. These articles help more than one can imagine. The hardest part was share to my soul search with my wife of 44 years and having her accept Mia unconditionally. I have been so blessed to have a life partner that understands and helps in my transition.
Even though I have gone this long without a therapist, I would highly recommend finding one. I am aware that I still need help and will be searching for a specialist near by,

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Bronze
(@charlenev)
Joined: 3 years ago

Estimable Member     United States of America, Illinois, near Chicago
Posts: 126

@lisa55 Hi Mia,

I mentioned my article the on line platform I used. To be sure it is not face to face, but if you choose video is available.

I would say if there is nothing close to you then give on line a try. No ling term commitments etc. And as Deann noted in her reply this is uncharted territory for you and your precious wife. I would say a guide into and through this part of your journey is do important.

PM me if you want to chat more.

Hugs,

Charlene 

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Ambassador
(@flatlander48)
Joined: 5 years ago

Noble Member     United States of America, California, Cathedral City
Posts: 1803

@lisa55 

OK, time for a bit of Tough Love.

The onus is on the therapist, not the client. A good therapist is reading what you say, how you say it, your choice of words, facial expressions, your body language and how all these things work in concert. The therapist has to process all of this in order to understand what you are saying. The body language part is what they are missing, but my guess is that since the pandemic they have figured out how to work around that.

So, they have to figure out if you are saying is what you actually are thinking and feeling, if you are only telling part of what you are thinking and feeling or if you are just BS’ing. Also, assuming the client is at home, all this happens in familiar surroundings rather than someone’s office or meeting room.

So, the Tough Love part? I’ll be blunt. The “human factor” part sounds like an excuse. We have to remember the thought process that:

Half A Loaf Is Better Than None…

Good Luck and let us know how you are doing.

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Member
(@lisa55)
Joined: 9 months ago

Eminent Member     United States of America, Virginia, Gloucester
Posts: 12

Thanks for your insights DeeAnn.

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Member
(@judith)
Joined: 2 years ago

Eminent Member     United States of America, California, Los Angeles
Posts: 40

@lisa55 Just a thought, Mia: There is a discipline known as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) which can produce very impressive results...related to "old patterns" (or "baggage"), such as PTSD, OCD and phobias. I have used this with clients, and on myself...sometimes with miraculous results. Best with a therapist for the first few times...but one CAN do it alone (if you're adventuresome)...and there ARE youtube videos on this approach.

In the way of "brainstorming," I might mention another "technique." In the mid-nineties (and I'm not--at all-sure how I discovered it), I found something I call "Cry Therapy." I'd go see a motion picture (preferably in an actual theater)...and allow the story to affect me. At that point, I'd put some attention on  a current problem area...and the tears seemed produce a VERY POTENT therapeutic/transformative effect. Of course, some other theater-goers might've thought me nuts...but WTH?!! ;  )

I'd also encourage you to seek out a telephonic counselor. Not as good as a "live" one, but I HAVE had some good sessions over the phone. In fact, I have an appt. scheduled for just tomorrow morning!! ;  )

Oh, the L.A. LBGT Center (actually their "Jeffrey Goodman Special Needs Clinic") might be able to assist you. 323/993-7500 These people have been ENORMOUSLY helpful to me...for about the last four years!!!!

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Member
(@lisa55)
Joined: 9 months ago

Eminent Member     United States of America, Virginia, Gloucester
Posts: 12

@judith

Thank you Judith, I will need to look into it. 

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Member
(@judith)
Joined: 2 years ago

Eminent Member     United States of America, California, Los Angeles
Posts: 40

@lisa55 You BET. Best of luck!!!

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Member
(@judith)
Joined: 2 years ago

Eminent Member     United States of America, California, Los Angeles
Posts: 40

I'm going to disagree--somewhat--with DeeAnn. "Old School" is to assume the "doctor's role" and analyze what is going on with the client.

"New School" is to see working with a client as a "helping partnership" (with the counselor assuming the role of facilitator) and having the intention of establish-ing rapport, bringing his/her "authentic self" to the sessions...and, as a start, to reflect back to her what she's saying (for validation and clarification of what is occurring). Then, there may be various "tools" (such as role-playing and EFT) to more quickly process old content, sometimes result in insights...and, occas-ionally, "reality checking." E.g., if you were raised in a dysfunctional family (as I was!!), some behaviors are probably "f*cking crazy" (or maladaptive), and it can be helpful to receive some feedback (to kind of "bounce off-of...or reflect upon) ...to help one move to a more functional, gratifying condition (or M.O.). Some cognitive work can be helpful too. And, some teaching...such as relating the elements of Transactional Analysis (TA)(which I've found to be enormously use-ful through the years. This approach is often referred to as the "Third Force" or "Transpersonal Psychology."

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Posts: 7
Member
(@hr2021)
Active Member     United States of America, South Carolina, Mount Pleasant
Joined: 2 years ago

O

What a great article and thanks for sharing. I too rely on therapy and also started out on Better Help and had a wonderful therapist with plenty of LGBTQ experience but she retired. So I reached out to the local Trandgender chapter here in SC and they provided a therapist locally. She is wonderful! We had a virtual visit first time and next week I am going to have in person visit as Miss Hope and make a girl day out of it.
I also am in the “accept and embrace” phase also and trying to find balance!
Hugs,
Hope

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1 Reply
Bronze
(@charlenev)
Joined: 3 years ago

Estimable Member     United States of America, Illinois, near Chicago
Posts: 126

You go girl! Be the best Miss Hope you can be.

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Posts: 106
Member
(@margprodue)
Estimable Member     United States of America, Wisconsin, Madison
Joined: 2 years ago

Hi Charlene,  I'm so glad that it finally worked out for you.  I spent years hiding from my condition (I'm intersex), but finally embraced it and have been happier ever since.  You can read more about my journey if you want by looking at my profile.  Happy learning!  From Marg, a Cheesehead across the border.  

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Posts: 40
Member
(@judith)
Eminent Member     United States of America, California, Los Angeles
Joined: 2 years ago

That was QUITE a "reveal!!" THANKS.

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