The long and short of it

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    Topic
  • #93748
    Stef Bourne
    Participant

    Hi there everyone,

     

    Mostly looking for community and kinship. My therapist tells me to look for allies in the right places. So let’s take a chance 🙃

     

    GENERAL

    Late 30s, new to having the right language and concepts to identify and process my feelings and experiences. Have had no hormones or surgeries but have adjusted my presentation to different ends of the spectrum depending on circumstances. Talking to a therapist often.

     

    FIRST FEELINGS OF DYSPHORIA AND TRANSGENDER EXPERIENCE

    At nine, I felt my body leaving the stage of limbo/androgyny. I decided to starve myself–the best kind of hormone blockers available to me as a queer girl in the deep south.

     

    YOUNGEST YEARS and MENTAL HEALTH

    I grew up in something of a cult. They responded to my anorexia and gender dysphoria with the cruelty of a vengeful God. When yelling cruel prayers and commands didn’t work, they put me in hospitals and mental institutions first to help me, then to be rid of me. My dad said, “You’re the only thing wrong with this family. If you would just learn to conform, we would all be happy.”

     

    I would eventually get out–and my dad’s most recent wife would tell me the only reason they let me out was because they gave up on me. My parents being good Christians took me back in. I left as soon as I was old enough for them not to stop me. Because as much as they loved to blame me, they knew that if I ever actually left, they’d have to face how much of their unhappiness had nothing to do with me. And true to form, that turned out to be true.

     

    MENTAL INSTITUTIONS

    At the institutions, patients physically and sexually assaulted each other. Sometimes the people paid to watch over us were no better. One person tore up their blanket and fashioned a noose to escape–they succeeded by taking their life during one of the few weekends I was allowed to go home.

     

    And yet I sometimes was grateful to be there instead of at home. The hospital insisted I was gay and needed to admit my dad had abused me. At least they were trying to help.

     

    I didn’t realize until much later why that first part confused them so much–it confused me too. The 90s were a different time for anyone of transgender experience seeking information and support. These people assumed you were healthiest by finding peace in the body you had–anything else was up to God. I’d better pray and otherwise shut up about it.

     

    ABUSE, TA warning for SA

    Of course I knew why I wouldn’t admit the second part. My dad told me over and over (and over) that if I ever told anyone the truth, they would use it against me and hurt me.

     

    My sibling ended up sexually abusing me for years and years, and his gaslighting only made sense after I acknowledged my gender. He’s a sex addict that abuses women. And then if any of them call him out on the abuse, he gaslights them into feeling ashamed for even saying anything. In his view, if they experienced anything negative with him, it’s because there’s something wrong with them. He had nothing to do with it.

     

    I could see it so clearly when he did it to others, but I couldn’t see that he was doing the same thing to me. I couldn’t see that I’d spend the next fifteen years desperately trying to perfect my disguise as a fit gym boy so my sibling would see me as good enough to stop hurting me and just love me. And if he didn’t see me as good enough to love me, at least maybe he’d hesitate to hurt me.

     

    I kept going back to my sibling over and over no matter how many times I couldn’t take it anymore and cut off contact. I was unaware that I was addicted to my abuser at any cost.

     

    SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND OTHER RELATIONSHIPS

    Any relationship I had was in some way an extension of the one with my sibling . I knew I was asexual from a young age, but my lack of sexual attraction doesn’t have much to do with why I’m also sex averse. Not feeling sexual attraction is different than me not being able to enjoy sex. More than that, I feel repulsed by it.

     

    I’m not able to have a healthy sexual experience in my current state. I experience it as abuse even when it’s healthy. For me, agreeing to have sex is essentially about making it significant enough that I don’t have to do it again for as long as possible. I’ve found serenity by lately telling myself my abusers are gone. I get to say no now. I get to say no every time and never have to agree to anything like that ever again.

     

    MARRIAGE

    I married an abuser and that was enough for a while, they were eager to complete my disguise as long as I let them do whatever they wanted. But that was ultimately like the relationship with my sibling. I could only suppress my needs and feelings and identity for so long before I noticed that I wasn’t so much choosing to suppress myself as having a perfectly reasonable defensive reaction to surrounding myself with people who hurt me if I showed them a hint of my authentic self. I broke free of that relationship and divorced, but I continued a cycle of codependence with a continuing series of abusers until I entered a twelve-step program for people from dysfunctional families.

     

    GENDER PRESENTATION

    I soft transitioned from my late teens to early twenties around key friends. I melted when random people, especially my female friends, gushed over my naturally long lashes or long pianist fingers. We did makeup together or wore the clothes we liked. But those people wanted something in return, too, or only accepted me if I lied about what was really going on.

     

    I got so tired of feeling hurt and broken and unworthy. I didn’t know anyone with whom I truly felt seen and safe and heard, so I decided to adopt a disguise as a fit enough boy that people’s perception of me would be its own kind of bodyguard.

     

    Then I could at least begin to consider saying goodbye to the hurtful people I now see I was manipulating into being my bodyguards. It’s just that their price was horrifying.

     

    TODAY

    HI!!!

     

    I’m a writer. I work from home. I’m as good as out there and met no surprises when I made it clear. I have a few friends I opened up too and they’re very supportive. I feel kind of lonely as I’m learning to better distinguish who is my ally for this part of my life. I have fewer allies than I realized, but now I know what I’m looking for.

    My two roommates despite being girls are not very sensitive but are still supportive, if that makes sense. One of them has been my partner for a little over three years. We aren’t married, but I consider their kid to be like my own. It’s been tough to be honest with her when her own parents taught her that any expression of feminity is unforgivable. It’s tough when she responds with hostility or what seems deliberately mis-gendered comments. I feel I have to be willing to accept we aren’t good for each other if she won’t treat the real me with kindness, but I mean that also if she just doesn’t feel about the real me the way I would need someone to feel about me. She can’t help it if she was only in love with her idea of who she wanted me to be.

     

    I see a therapist often who is helping me process what brought me to this point and what’s next.

     

    So anyway! Nice to meet everyone. Looking forward to chatting.

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    • #93777

      Wow, quite a story. I’m always amazed at how resilient so many of us are. Sounds like you’ve gone through much, continuing to fight your battles to embrace growth and wellness. I’m fairly new here and as you state, just trying to find support and resources. I came out a while ago, but went back into the closet thinking I’d never come out again. The mind and spirit have a way of moving us back to our truth and I’m trying to honor that today. Hope to hear from and chat with you as the days move forward.

       

      Alicia

      • #93779

        <p style=”text-align: left;”>What led you to go back in and now come back out? I just got to a point where I felt like I knew what it would be like to live and die in hiding. I’m not going to die before I find out what it’s like to manifest my true self.</p>
         

        Thank you. Looking forward to chatting with you too!

        • #93790

          Thanks Stef for responding. I went back in for two reasons. My body and mind were responding strongly to my hormone therapy when I was transitioning. I started having panic attacks, which I never experienced. It freaked me out. I called my doctor and he gave me some suggestions, but I continued to  to struggle emotionally, so I stopped hormones altogether. My ex-wife, and three children were also in a lot of pain over my decision. It wasn’t good. So I decided to stop and focus on my family.

          I really hoped that it was behind me. The energy that went into my transition, from psycho therapy, hormone therapy, wardrobe, makeup, electrolysis, and building support systems was exciting but emotionally draining.

          Nearly seven years ago, kids grown, I started to look at my bisexuality. When I started to get in touch with my sexual orientation, many of my gender issues came to the forefront. I was now in a very supportive relationship and it made all the difference. U I began to revisit many of the feelings I pushed down, and was allowed and encouraged to pursue those things that made me happy. That is where I am now. Where will I end up? Time will tell.

           

           

    • #93762
      DeeAnn Hopings
      AMBASSADOR

      Stef:

      Thanks you for feeling safe enough here to say what you need to say. I know it is hard to sort through the very difficult times in ones life and even harder to tell them to others. I hope that what you wrote is part of an unburdening process for you.

      The human mind is an amazing and interesting device. We can tell ourselves all kinds of things in order to avoid the actual truth of a situation. This is where the value of seeing a therapist comes in. What we need to do is focus on seeing things as they really are and not be obscured by trying to bend them into what we want to see. A therapist can help to facilitate that process.

      So, I’m glad that you chose to be here and I trust that it will be a good and worthwhile experience for you. The world insists that we are all broken in some way. Fortunately this is a place where we get to remind each other that this is simply not true.

      As a piece of information, if you want to look for other members from Nevada, we have a search utility. Click on Social in the menu and then Member Directory. That will take you right to the search utility.

      • #93763

        I did not know that! Thank you, I’ll check out the directory.

         

        Nice to meet you DeeAnn. I see your posts in other threads and was hoping I’d hear from you too.

         

        It was a great unburdening. I am just trying out saying these things out loud for now.

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