May 24, 2015 at 8:27 pm #77189
Hi everyone. I’m a 61 year old transgendered male that can’t change the core belief that this makes me a bad person. Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s was a much less tolerant society than today. It started when I was 5 years old and although I made a good effort to be a masculine boy and keep it locked up inside, I knew something was different. Growing up during this era I heard or read words such as weird, perverted, sick, disgusting, and abomination to describe someone like me. This made me feel very guilty, ashamed, and ruined my self esteem. Some people close to me know the truth but I wish I could just totally accept myself, come out to the world, and be happy!! I’ve read that the key to true happiness is being your authentic self. However I’m still still stuck in this rut of guilt, shame, and low self esteem. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Just writing it out helps.
Jim/JamieMay 25, 2015 at 4:51 am #77202InkyParticipant
Maybe the trick is to turn your shame into pride.
1. Do a ritual (humans thrive on ritual!) to exorcise the shame, release it, then invite pride in to fill the void. Once shame is cast out and pride is invited in, immediately do a protection gesture in the ritual to keep the pride safe in your heart. Then, do a blessing to end the ritual. You can make the elements of this up. It could be as simple as words, or as elaborate as you want with props, loved ones, music, etc.
2. Bathe yourself in books, movies, music and art from other transgendered people. Be careful not to get sucked back into a shame-spiral though! Just find stuff made by and images of, other transgendered, and their stuff doesn’t even have to BE about being transgendered, you know? The point is to make being transgendered NORMAL in your own mind.
3. Meet other transgendered through Meet Ups, going out, clubs, etc. Find several friends. Real friends, not someone you’ll meet once and never see again.
InkyMay 26, 2015 at 9:48 am #77300AnonymousGuest
Core Beliefs… how to change core beliefs, how to change one core belief… How to believe it is okay to feel what you feel (since you were five), how to believe it is okay to act (for as long as it is not abusive to yourself or to another)?
In my experience awareness of ongoing thoughts and feelings, mindfulness is a necessary tool. Cognitive thearpy- excellent- correcting distorted thinking with accurate thinking. Practice. Patience. A process. No easy fix.
Wish you well. I hope you do change this harmful core belief, one that caused you so much distress your whole life- I wish it wasn’t so and hope you find relief and a growing sense of well being, peace of mind.
anitaMay 30, 2015 at 5:38 pm #77515
Thank you Inky and Anita for your thoughtful replies and support. One thing I realize now is that trying to suppress, bury, and ignore these feelings of shame for so many years doesn’t work. It just made me angry and bitter. I am learning that I need to accept these feelings and work on how to respond to them with more compassion. Inky, I like your idea of a ritual and also to embrace TG contributions to society. I tried support groups years ago but I don’t think I was ready at the time. Maybe I should give it a second chance. Anita, I’ve just started a book called “The Mindful Path to Self Compassion” that looks like what you talked about. Being more aware of emotions and then learning to respond with self compassion instead of negative labels. I know its not going to happen overnight but I appreciate both of you very much for your help.May 31, 2015 at 12:45 pm #77530AnonymousGuest
I just googled the book you mentioned and am reading excerpts from it, trying to refine my understanding of mindfulness. I find writing and re-writing, editing what i am reading a way to better understand. So re-stating: Mindfulness is the changing of my attitude about my experience of distress, from turning away from it, rejecting it TO turning toward it, accepting it. From judging it negatively and closing to it to suspending judgment and opening to it with curiosity and interest, opening to the experience with a friendly attitude. It is viewing things with a Beginner’s Mind: ““A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose,” … a rose is not a romantic relationship that ended tragically… it is not I-have-to trim the rose bushes over the weekend- it is just rose…“
Mindfulness is open-hearted, moment-to-moment, nonjudgmental awareness.”…If we turn away from uncomfortable experience with anxiety or disgust, our ability to work with that experience is significantly diminished…moment-to-moment acceptance is a prerequisite for behavioral change… awareness of present experience with acceptance.
Notice everything: an itch, an intent to scratch it, the movement to scratch it etc.
There is much more mindfulness that I can practice and need to practice. thank you for the book title. Please post again…
anitaJune 2, 2015 at 8:20 am #77612
Hi Anita. I’m glad you decided to check out the book I mentioned. I’m learning a lot from it although I haven’t tried any of the exercises yet. I’ve heard mindfulness described as a heightened awareness. We all have some level of awareness but for me it is slowing down from my hectic pace and using my senses to take in the moment. Whether its a joyous moment or an emotionally painful moment; take it in and accept it with an open heart. You are right; acceptance is the key. Once we learn to accept a painful emotion, we can learn to respond to it differently; with more compassion. Thank you again for your help.
JimJune 2, 2015 at 8:52 am #77617AnonymousGuest
Yes, acceptance with an open heart… what you resist persists. I re-read your original post here- the shame you mentioned- when you feel it, where do you feel it in your body, how does it feel. Part of mindfulness is just that- BE with the feeling instead of pushing it down. This is and has been a tough one for me. My hands used to be closed in as fists so often, in a ready-to-fight position. Over time I find my hands relaxed. This is evidence mindfulness works.
anitaJune 2, 2015 at 7:09 pm #77634
Hi Anita. I’m so glad it is helping you. Muscle tension and clenched fists are a sure sign of inner turmoil and anxiety. I’ve had anxiety and OCD for many years and I find my hands become very fidgety when I’m under stress. As far as my shame goes I don’t think I know exactly where in my body I feel it. If I were to guess, I would say emotions are felt in the heart? I always felt I was a reject from society and the feeling of shame makes me feel disgusted with myself. Also a lot of self loathing and guilt. I’ve tried psychotherapists which helped a little. None of them ever mentioned mindfulness. I have hope for this.
Jim/JamieJune 2, 2015 at 7:25 pm #77636AnonymousGuest
It is a shame that I (and you) needed help for so long, saw a few therapists but at best all I got was feeling better after expressing myself. It was only at 51 that I finally saw the first competent, good-enough therapist in my life. He was the first therapist that produced documents with his diagnoses of me, objectives and plans how to get there. He provided me with a lot of psychoeducation, printed papers and verbal and the first to teach me skills such as mindfulness as well as traditional cognitive therapy skills (“mood logs). He was the first therapist that gave me homework to do in between sessions and who has taken my calls and emails in between sessions. None of that happened before. I am now 54 and still working on healing.
I had many manifestations of anxiety, Tourette Syndrome and OCD from 5 or 6 – terrible in themselves… and other diagnoses. Shame and guilt have been VERY dominant in my life, unbelievably so (I can’t believe a person can survive such intense shame and guilt for decades). Anyway, I read you “self loathing…” And I wish I could make it better for you. Isn’t it strange- you are a ‘stranger” and yet, I read your words and feel empathy for you and wish I could make your pain go away.
anitaJune 3, 2015 at 9:41 pm #77714
Hi Anita. Thank you for your kind wishes. I can tell you are a caring and compassionate person from the way you have responded to me and others on this site. I don’t want you to think that my life has been complete torture because of this. I’ve been lucky and blessed in other areas of my life for which I am grateful. I grew up with loving parents in a stable environment. I wish I had told them my secret and the shame I was feeling because I know they would have gotten me some help. This is a big regret of mine because keeping it locked up inside for so many years was harmful. I’ve also had a secure job and very good physical health over the years. Its been like a roller coaster; some very low points but also some very high points. My worst years were my teenage years as my guilt and shame led to social anxiety and OCD. Of course this was way before the internet so for many years I didn’t understand what I was and thought I was the only one with this “defect”.
I’m sorry you went through so much pain at such a young age and had to live with such intense shame for so long. I am so glad that you have found a really helpful therapist and that you are healing. Although we had different issues that caused it, its amazing how our feelings of guilt and shame were so similar. Have you picked up any new info from the book I told you about?June 4, 2015 at 7:50 am #77736AnonymousGuest
Thank you for your kind words, I appreciate them/ you.
Having had loving parents and a stable environment… is lovely, wonderful. I assume you would have turned to your parents for any other issue- and you have? But this issue, because of the cultural/ societal blatant rejection and ridicule of gender issues, was too big of an issue in your mind, too much to imagine it could be accepted even by your loving parents…? I can see how harmful societal rejection can be even when you have loving, supportive parents. Writing this right now, I am thinking about being more tolerant than I am…
Yes, shame is shame is shame. It is everywhere. Shame is the same. More about the book: it says that we become less surprised by the feelings that arise within us. That is very much so. In the past I was hijacked again and again by what I called then (a Buddhist term) “Monkey Mind” which is also known as the Default Mode Thinking brain, I think, or close to that- the structures and connections in our brain that are used when not engaged in an attention grabbing task. It would take me where it wanted to take me (usually it was the Inner Critic/ the Freudan Superego) and I was its victim. Through mindfulness I am experiencing a reduction in mental hijacking incidents (I am less surprised). Mindfulness is about developing a friendly RELATIONSHIP with our thinking and feeling and acting instead of being a stranger to oneself. It reads: “Pain is like an angry bull: When it’s confined to a tight stall, it will be wild and try to escape. When it’s in a wide-open field, it will calm down. Mindfulness makes emotional space for pain.”
Same with shame, shame IS pain. So mindfulness is about letting the shame run in a wide open field instead of in a tight stall.
This is what I read from the book today, thank you for the reminder (of the book).
Please do post more, anytime.
anitaJune 4, 2015 at 9:24 am #77738AnonymousGuest
Just came across a post on this forum of two years ago: http://tinybuddha.com/topic/my-family-says-they-wont-go-out-in-public-with-me/- written by a female-to-male transgender. Here is a response by Mandy on that blog: “My son came out as female to male transgender in August 2011. He’s been on T injections since January 2012, and is doing really well with the injections. I don’t think anyone would misinterpret him as female now. I am so very grateful that we live in a community that supports these transitions so well. He’s so much happier, more confident, more at peace with himself and the world.
I understand your parents to some extent. The hardest part of the transition was telling everyone – neighbours, family, co-workers, friends. I got no negative reactions at all, but it is hard to initiate such a private discussion on such a public level. We’re using to dealing with issues like sex and gender privately, in the home or doctor’s offices. It’s hard to put your family’s private life out there in the public eye, and have those emotional discussions over and over again, but we got better at it with time. Once that step is done, your family can focus on supporting you. As parents, we need to remember that it isn’t about us or our needs, any more than it was about us at 2 am when one of the kids had a stomach flu – you do what you need to do to protect your kids.
The adjustment in pronouns was another challenge – it’s mostly just about habit, but your parents may need some time to grieve for the daughter that is going away before they can fully embrace you as their son. It seems strange, but that grieving process needs to take place. If you can give them some of the reading material that’s available, it may help them to read about other parent’s experiences. Let me know if you want links or other info. We’ve found some great suppliers for things like binders in Canada.
You have immense courage and compassion, and I hope that your family can find those strengths in themselves as well. Know that, no matter what, you are an amazing person who deserves to live a life that is honest and true to yourself.”
I Felt I had to share this with you!
anitaJune 6, 2015 at 12:55 pm #77790
Hi Anita. Thank you so much for taking the time to find a post from years ago. It was very informative. and I appreciate it. Some TG people are so certain that their soul is in the wrong type of body that they have to take hormones and have surgical procedures in order calm their emotional turmoil. I’m not at that point and I may never be. I’m somewhere in the middle. I don’t feel totally male nor totally female although I prefer female clothing. Some days my masculine side is a little more dominant and other days my feminine side is more dominant. That used to bother me a lot; the uncertainty of what that makes me. I’ve been able to take a more “go with the flow” attitude the last few years which has eased the pressure of finding a definitive label.
You mentioned my parents. Yes, my shame was so great that I was terrified of telling them no matter how loving they were. One time my mom gave me the perfect opening and I didn’t take it. I was in my senior year of high school and had only been on 2 dates my entire high school years. It was my low self esteem and social anxiety that was the reason but she sat me down one day, and in a very calm voice, asked me if I was gay. I told her I wasn’t (which is true) but instead of taking the opening to tell her my secret, I froze and changed the subject. I always regret that because I know that letting it out then would have been so helpful to me. With their help I could have avoided many more years of guilt and shame.
I know exactly what you mean about mental hijacking. If my mind wanders, many times it will automatically start reliving painful experiences (I was teased and bullied in school a lot) and then it will replay this experience over and over until something gets my attention. Thats where I’m hoping this book is really going to help. I glad its helping you also. Take care.
Jim/JamieJune 6, 2015 at 3:03 pm #77792MattParticipant
I’m sorry for the troubles along your path, friend. I’d like to apologize on behalf of our ancestors for being so misinformed, so fearful and grasping. In their folly, they thought they had figured out what “true nature” is, and often attempted to squash anomolies to those. Its always more difficult for people that don’t fit the nice neat bell curve, and those that do not have been too often made to feel bad. Like stones tossed by ignorance, and they happen to catch the heart of a child, hiding, feeling alone for the exploring done in private.
But Jim/Jamie is not something you do, its just something you are. Nature unfolds in infinite diversity and combination, and all of it just is what it is. While its becoming better understood now, in the 50s and 60s, less typical configurations of nature were still scaring many people as it forced them to redefine how they saw their world. It still does, for some, but many, many others its like “OK, cool, whatevs, sis or bro. Do you prefer Jamie or Jim, he or she?” If someone isn’t there yet, consider they’re now the one at the end of the bell curve, and deserve our compassion. “You have a problem with my gender? Wow, that must be hard for you.”
For the leftover shame, consider: nothing you do can disconnect you from your nature. Grass grows, and is just grass. Trees grow, are just trees. You grew, and perhaps fit in the middle of traditionally structured genders, but are still just JJ. Imagine a person standing over a strawberry bush, and saying “strawberry bushes are disgusting”. Huh? The bush is not the delusional one. Ya know? That’s a person, pointing at an aspect of god, and judging out of fear. Pity them compassionatly, perhaps, but don’t join them. Fools will be fools, and with luck, learn in time.
For the regret with mom, consider that you weren’t ready. Too many fools pointing their finger at you (by proxy, you hiding but nodding, crying) to feel safe talking about it. No worries. Here you are now, talking about it. And, if there are people that you don’t ever want to talk about it with, dont feel like you have to. We all have secrets, and we share them with people that earn our trust. Very normal. And, if they haven’t earned that trust, its their loss. You sparkle.
MattJune 6, 2015 at 3:21 pm #77794AnonymousGuest
It is a continuum thing. I was confused myself. I felt like a man at times and didn’t understand. Going to a restaruant with a girlfriend I felt like the man. I asked myself: am I a lesbian? But was not attracted to women, but then I was hardly attracted to men either. I was confused on this issue as I was on many others. My distress was mostly about my pathological relationship with my mother. That sick relationship, to be specific, having been abused and not loved affected every part of my psyche and life.
And then there is a person like you having had a good relationship with your parents. If I was considering only my life experience I would conclude gender confusion is a result of parental abuse. But I am glad I consider the wider perspective, other people’s experience. Gender shifts can happen for a variety of reasons… hmmm.
I read your heartache about not having told your mom. You were uncomfortable and changed the subject. That is very understandable that a teenage boy will not feel comfortable to talk about such things with his mother. She thought you may be gay… She could have asked a male friend, a counselor of some sorts to talk to you about it. Or she could have brought it up again in a different way, having noticed that you felt uncomfortable. Maybe a second time, you would have talked, just a little, gave her a sign you were willing…
So, the failure of that one attempt is not all on the young you…
I hope this is some consolation… this is why i brought it up here…???
It is a continuum. I bet there are a lot more people in between the extremes… Makes me think of “We are all in it together…”