Overcoming Myself

tightlid

It´d be difficult to describe my state of mind in a polite way. The inoffensive version would be to state that I´m wrapped on tighter than the lid on a vacuum sealed jar. The other way of stating it (more offensive, but also more fun) would be to state than I´m wound so tight you couldn´t remove a needle from my ass with pliers.

This condition – which reveals itself in general nervousness, sleeplessness trembling hands, stiff knees and a locked jaw – exacerbates the emotional tendency to control everything and get angry at absolutely everything I dislike. Which is a lot. If I were to make a list, I´d have to sit here and write until the morning.

Physical dysphoria has really been getting the best of me. Just removing the tape from my chest now requires calming medication, and I´m currently involved in a fruitless fight with my misplaced genitals. My whole body is covered in hair, I´m all bones and muscle, and I´m having top surgery in two months.

And yet it´s been a challenge to focus on these positive points. Instead, I waste my time zeroing in on my feeling of emasculation. I´m having to remind myself that diving into my own misery won´t help much in regaining some of that much-needed feeling of virility and confidence. I´m having to “unscrew” myself.

Rather than wallowing in everything that I can´t do, I find that cliché male activities, such as doing push-ups while listening to military cadences, and even tired sayings, such as “man up” are actually helping me get a grip on the way I handle my emotions. They may not be politically correct, but they are pretty helpful.

Sometimes – specially when I´m stuck at a particular unhelpful state of mind – all I need is to give myself a bit of a “shove” and remind myself that life is pretty cool, as long as I´m able to stand wide and hold my head up high. Cliché masculine behavior, compensatory or not, is helping me get over myself and move on.

Advertisements

Update: Tired AF

stay in bed

Being tired “AF” is one of those abbreviations I know that suggest I´m keeping up with the times, when in reality I am just becoming a fossil (who had no idea what “TL;DR” meant until today). But I am tired AF though. Since the whole affair with my mother, and PTSD being triggered, things have just been exhausting.

With my mental  health down the crapper, and my brain going bonkers under the slightest amount of pressure, I canceled all my appointments. I canceled the appointment with the psychiatrist that would finally get me a referral for (legal) testosterone. I canceled the skype conversations I still had to have with the gender therapist this month.

I even canceled my own birthday party. It´s not my birthday yet, but my family is getting a get together for the four of us, me and my three cousins. Instead I think I will be celebrating my birthday after I´ve had top surgery (which is now scheduled for January, I still need to get an actual date).

Rather than big, scary involvements (like transition) that will potentially drive me to the brink, I am sticking to small tasks, like looking for a different apartment (not really a small task) and getting a haircut. Which was interesting. I merely got a short haircut, but the barber kept admiring his own work, saying: “nice, nice…”

I made the mistake of going to the big mall afterwards, I should never have done that. The supermarket in it has an enormous amount of products and is usually really crowded, but I kind of  forgot that and it was nearby the barber shop. I got in and people immediately started to brush by me which kind of set off my built-in alarm.

By the time I got home, I was ready to scream at and beat people up. My pants kept falling down and I had difficulty fastening my bike to a post, all while hyperventilating and attempting to “stay with” my own awareness of myself. I think I will avoid crowded places from now on. I really should have known better.

Pain & Choices II

alone2

In Pain & Choices I, I described to you how the crude and subsequent nice messages from my mother made me recall some childhood memories. Back when I would never quite know whether I was a good child who had a loving mother, or a piece of shit that deserved only abuse.

Traumatic flashbacks and PTSD have subsided over the years. But it´s not gone. And as I held the letter in my hand, feeling pain over the nicety of it – a switch went off in my brain and before I could stop it, there I was screaming and punching myself in the head, in the stomach, in the legs, as hard as I could.

I´m a piece of shit. I deserve abuse. In a panic, I searched for my medication and downed two. I hate childhood trauma, I hate it. I hate these fucking mind-games. I hate the fact that she thinks she knows what I´m going through. And I hate even more that she has no idea what her writing does to me.

I called my aunt. Gradually – as my medication set in – I began to calm down. My aunt asked me questions and I explained, feeling a bit better. She said not to blame myself for reacting the way I did. She asked me whether I wanted this kind of thing in my life, and I said no. But it hurts. Because I have to reject her.

I have to reject her, because I cannot have this in my life. I can´t go through life wondering if another trigger will go off in my head, causing me to hurt myself, or worse – commit suicide. She has never understood this. She thinks that we don´t ever talk because I´m angry. Because I hold a grudge.

The opposite is true. I am not holding a grudge – but that just makes it worse. I know how messed up she used to be. I know that she´s okay now, and that she is trying, and she cares. But for my own sake, I can´t receive any of it. Because no matter how helpful, she will never be able to fix my PTSD.

 

Pain & Choices I

boyalone

In the last post of “My Mother and I“, I finished telling you how I´d tried to make a sort of connection with her, and (as far as I knew) failed. Things changed today when I got a letter from her in the mail. It was a picture of a tree. Was it just a tree, or was it a Rowan tree? Does she even know my name means Mountain Ash?

Anyway. In the letter, she wrote that she was aware her email had been quite crude. She was wearing the ring I send to her, she said, and she did not know when we would see each other again, but to take care. You´d think that I´d be happy with a message such as this. All good, end good, right?

But I wasn´t. This hurt me far more than the negative e-mail – to the negative e-mail I could just reply in an equally cynical fashion. The positive email made me think of the times as a child, when she would do something nice for me. Like this one time, she´d hidden an easter egg for me.

I had found the easter egg, but I was afraid to touch it. I thought if I touched it, I would get a beating. So she asked me if I had seen it and then she said it was for me. I can´t begin to explain to you, how much this hurt me. One moment she would hate me and beat me up, the next moment she would love me.

My whole childhood, I was afraid. Afraid to live. My whole childhood, I was ashamed of my presence, and I felt as though I was worth nothing – I should just go ahead and be gone. When I was older, the same feeling would return, usually in the shape of nightmares and flashbacks.

Every time I felt like this, I would self-harm. For one, because I hated my feeling of humiliation, of inferiority – and two, because I still felt the world would be better off if I just killed myself. With time, and specially since I´ve started transitioning, this feeling has eased off.

Continue reading this post in Part II.

What is Tantra?

tantracover

In the course of the last months, I´ve written a lot of things that seemingly, had nothing to do with my transition. I wrote about negative emotions (some stemming from trauma and some from dysphoria), about modern culture, about gender (and feminism) and about spirituality.

From an outside point of view, this medley of random topics may not make sense at all, and in fact the combination of all these thoughts in my mind are enough to make my head spin. Yesterday though, something interesting happened. I read an article that brought everything together.

The article was about Tantra, or to be precise, Tantric Spirituality. In my next posts, I´d like to explain to you what Tantra is (and isn´t) from the point of view of a relative beginner. Also, I´d like to explain to you how tantra relates to all the topics I mentioned, from feminism, to culture, to my transition.

But first let´s talk about how Tantra is viewed in our society. Because the way we think about Tantra, pretty much equals sex. In our minds, Tantra consists of guidance that allows you to experience an intense sex life, and (but not necessarily) allows you to approach sex from a spiritual perspective.

What I learned in the past few days, is that this is wrong. If my sources are correct (keep in mind I´m a relative beginner), the teachings seldom even mention sex. So if Tantra is not about having wild, transcendental sex, then what is it about? I will try to explain it to you based on the resources I´ve found.

My intention, in the end, is to show you that gender (masculine and feminine), psychology (emotions and mindfulness), spirituality (both religion and most new age approaches), and in particular, personal transformation (such as transition) are very much what Tantra is about.

Forgetting Him

child3

Ever since hearing of my grandmother´s impending death, and subsequent euthanasia, my renewed faith in God has brought me places I never thought possible. Not because these places are unimaginable and out of reach – but because I never thought of myself as particularly religious.

Though I have only been to church twice since, it feels so natural that I can´t quite believe this is all new. It feels as though I´ve been going to church for ages. Also, the insecurities and fears that are rearing their head don´t feel as though they belong to a newcomer.

They feel as though they belong to someone who has slipped into a habit. The habit of going to church; stemming from ritual rather than from desire, covertly sneaking into the humdrum of everyday life. The fear of losing touch with God, of attending service in the same way you buy groceries.

Simultaneously, I fear religion rising to my head, and becoming a source of misguided pride. The very circumstances that allowed me to feel His presence in the first place, were a loss of self; the desire to leave behind my ego; complete capitulation of all things that ring untrue.

How realistic is it, to expect to experience this surrender from day to day? There are going to be times when I´ll feel that I am incredibly cool and probably think that my faith is somehow an accomplishment on my part. When deep in my soul, I know it isn´t. It´s merely a gift.

I hope that I can retain innocence in this new found faith. After all, Jesus didn´t say: let these arrogant egos come to me, who feel like they are entitled to the Kingdom of Heaven. I might need my ego to navigate this Earth, but in the end, it´s not who I truly am.

 

Labels & CPTSD

gotptsd

I recently got into a bit of an argument with Sam Dylan Finch. In his post “Am I Traumatized Enough For A Complex PTSD Diagnosis?” he described the hesitance people often have in claiming this diagnosis, and failing to address the importance of their condition.

I thought it was an interesting question. I played devil´s advocate and wrote that a diagnosis as serious might inhibit someones ability to understand the temporary nature of their pain, and move past the event. If your hamster just died, a cPTSD diagnosis would not help.

The best thing to do, I said, would be to talk to a therapist. The therapist and you can determine whether you are suffering from cPTSD or just in understandable pain because your hamster died. Sam disagreed, and said therapy is a privilege not everyone can afford.

I think he meant that often, people will only take themselves seriously after receiving a formal diagnosis. Which is in part true. Back when I had undiagnosed cPTSD, I was afraid people would think I was just pretending to be messed up in order to get some attention.

It took me a while to figure out that I was suffering  from this condition, and it would not be until six years later that I received the “official” diagnosis from a psychiatrist. But here´s the thing. I had been through sixteen years of violence. I feared for my life more than once.

PTSD is a devastating, awful condition to have. It can put you in a very vulnerable position – the position of a victim. Validating your own symptoms is a good thing – but thinking that you have a condition that will ruin the rest of your life, is potentially debilitating.

I think everybody who has ever searched their own symptoms on Google – only to find out that they had terminal cancer and have a major panic attack – can agree with me here. Take yourself seriously, examine what you are feeling, and if you suspect you have PTSD – seek help.