"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Monday, 18 April 2011

Staying In Control

There are so many familiar stories in this strange and wonderful land of Blogistan that fairly early on, I actually believed eventually I would find 'the answer' to my particular set of questions. After some time and soul-searching, it dawned on me that we must plot our own course; nobody will or should do that for you.

Of all the bloggers I have met, Calie comes the closest to saying the things that are in my heart. In her most recent post, she set out what she calls a 'disclaimer' that I completely share:
"I have not begun to transition.  I have never been on hormones.  I rarely crossdress.  I'm transgender."

There are those who will deride one who says they can actually make a choice about transition. They warn that when your bell rings, there is nothing you can do; you will transition or die trying. That is a fearful image. It is one I cannot reject. I really do not know how bad anothers pain is. I cannot even quantify my own terrible distraction that comes with my condition. I can tell you about the other symptoms that have abated because I am still in control of myself and have accepted that the need to continually work on this is part of who I am. There is a better person here, still living as a man. I may or may not be the best I can be. I take my life day by day.

In the same post Calie explains how strong the drive can be to transition; "the feeling … can be over-powering, unbearable, and overwhelming.  It can dominate your thoughts and time, and completely destroy your life if you don't take steps to deal with it."

No matter what I am doing, no matter how engaged I am in that activity, the fog follows. Sometimes it almost clears for periods of time. Those times I have learned to take careful note of what has given me that respite.
In a much earlier post, Calie described her TIDE discipline, a strategy that helps her continue to live as a man when every inclination says otherwise.

The easy parts of TIDE  for me are "D - diet and eat right", and "I - immerse myself in work and hobbies." Less effective for me is the "E- exercise and stay healthy" because of a life-long dislike for exercise for its own sake. I enjoy some healthy activities; walking or snow-shoeing, golfing, curling for examples. Unfortunately, these are not vigorous enough to distract me completely, but they help. In fact, sometimes it is very distracting  when groups of women are involved in the same activity and I feel the disconnect from my natural desire to be 'one of the women' that comes from having to act like 'one of the men'.

The first letter of TIDE, "T - Trans friends who understand me" has so far had mixed benefits for me. On-line I could not ask for better friends (you all know who you are! )In order to spend time with non-virtual trans-friends, it is necessary to find and make contact with them. Our nearest population center is a very small town where my male side is pretty well known. The risks are just too high to send out an open invitation.

One invitation to join a correspondent (and now fellow blogger) and her friend was squandered last year because of my reluctance to drive for three hours. I have wished many times that I had simply made that long drive just to benefit from truly getting to know and to be with her, someone who I would immediately understand, and who would understand me. I know that such an opportunity will not be wasted again. We all need to support one another, and learn from one another. Besides that, I believe life should include fun, and so far there has been way too little pleasure from this part of my life.

As Calie suggested, "pure will-power" is definitely part of the way I live one day at a time. It would be wonderful if the list of useful strategies to combat that strong drive to transition was longer. You can be sure I will add to it and share it here if and when I can.


  1. It sometimes seems as though the idea that some of us may succeed in avoiding it can be seen as a threat to some transitioners because it is something that they did not manage themselves. That is a shame because there is only each individual's path in all this mess, and we are all different.

    Personally I recognise that I may one day find myself with nowhere else to turn. However I know that I owe it to those around me to make the effort required to avoid that. Not a better path or a worse path, just my path.

    If the opportunity for that three hour drive presents itself again I hope Mrs. Halle feels able to accompany you. Making friends of her own within our community has been of inestimable benefit to Mrs. J.

  2. Having spent so many years not transitioning ( think in fairness it was the batter part of 40 years) running though the denial, rejection and battle stage all of which are strategies of some sort, I have come to finally understand that there is a biographical dimension for the late comers and their struggle. Around the age of 30 essentially until last year, I worked to cultivate my female soul while understanding that transition was not an option. And so over the years my best strategy was to accept my fate of having been born the way I was but focusing intensely on my evolution as a woman. I had to grow up as a woman, without ever being able to represent myself in my appearance. The worse things got, the more effort I put into making this fledgling woman grow and blossom.

    And living by your pure will power one day at a time needs the balance of that inner focus, I found.

    My thoughts am with you Halle, all the time.

  3. Well, there are varying degrees of dysphoria. (DoD) My DoD is/was likely lesser, less painful or life-impacting that, say, someone who transitioned early in life. Calie's DoD is likely lesser than mine was. There's nothing really to deride someone for here... we're just different and experience varying levels of dysphoria.

    @Jenny... I don't think the fact that one transitioned means it's something they weren't able to "manage." Or are you more speaking of transitioners feeling regret? I could see that.

    For me, my bell rang. And no, there wasn't anything I could have done. If I could have done something about it... that would have meant that my bell didn't ring. If your bell does ring, you cannot do anything about it. It's more just the way I define the phrase. :)

  4. @Teagan: I did say some transistioners.

    I've definitely met people whose reaction is one of hostility in a "You can't possibly be trans because you didn't do what I did!" way and I can only attribute their reasoning as above. You ain't one of them. :)

    My bell most definitely rang a few years ago. I nearly didn't make it.

  5. Yes, I'd say you're right about that, Jenny. It seems that many have transitioned think they're not only experts on transitioning in and of itself, but also on who ought and ought not transition. They're experts on themselves, but that's where it ends.

    I'm glad that you made it. :)

  6. Hi Halle! Well, imagine my surprise when I saw a bunch of referrals coming from your site! Very touching what you wrote this, girl! You know I always read what you and others write but sometimes I'm dreadfully late in doing so.

    Interesting comments. We are all so different but in some ways we are all the same. This "bell" thing has intrigued me since I first read that anonymous and infamous "book" years ago.

    I have two very good friends who transitioned a few years ago. Both have shared very, very intimate thoughts with me as I have with them. All three of us could be clones of each other as far as what has gone on in our heads since we were first born and both have told me repeatedly that they transitioned after fighting it for years but only after conditions were right to do. With that in mind, I do believe that my "bell" went off in my late teens and, as I have written so many times, I will never lose the bitterness that exists within me for not being able to transition at that time. I KNEW what I was all about at that time but there was no Internet, no help groups, and no one for me to share my pain with.

    I know that one can fight it if it is worth fighting for. In my case, it is. The love my wife and I share together is so precious and I will never give that up.

    Calie xxx

  7. I was in a position where I was finally pretty close to satisfied with my male identity. If I'd never been presented with the option, I would have been fine. My dysphoria had faded to mild heartache when I was reminded of wishing I had grown up a girl.

    But then I had the process demystified for me, and at that point I knew it was for me. I wasn't backed into a corner.

    The difference for me was future regret. I know myself well enough to know that not transitioning would haunt me for the rest of my life. And THAT was what I wanted to avoid. But if I needed to, I probably could have managed that.

    Even so, Halle, I have the deepest sympathy for your struggle. I wish you all the best with it.

  8. If I ever visit that large population centre, I hope we will be able to meet up. I'm worth a three-hour drive. ;-)

    I still remember the feelings that would overwhelm me before I took the plunge. I couldn't live with them. If someone else finds a way to do so, I make no judgment about that. I don't even know if it's about degrees of something being wrong. Some people have a much higher pain threshold than I do.


  9. Such wonderful comments!

    I can never express how blessed I feel to have an accepting wife. She has grown in her acceptance and understanding of "Suzi" over the last few years. The freedom she gives me is like a huge anchor being lifted off of my shoulders. It makes it possible for me to deal with dysphoria. She knows when I am beginning to feel depressed and even encourages me to "go get your boobies on"...lol. My greatest wish for all married TG's is that someday their wife will also grow to understand and accept the woman in their man. Don't give up Halle :)

  10. As Suzi says, what great comments! Thank you all.

    @Jenny, it is the effort to avoid disruptions to those around us that feels a bit strange isn't it. As though we have made a pact with the world to not be ourselves. I do hope to include Mrs H. She needs to get to know what great souls there are in this community and how blessed I have been to get to know you all!

    Kathryn, it is hard for me to imagine dealing with this for decades; it may be a tipping point for me. "Cultivating my female soul" is something I can definitely relate to. I just hope to keep that soul happy riding in the passenger seat for longer.

    Teagan, it seems a little like two women trying to describe what their menopausal symptoms are like and compare them; so many similarities but at the same time differences too. "DoD" is as good a way to describe it as I have heard.

    Calie, what can I say, but thanks for all the inspiration and understanding. xox

    Neon, I often wonder about some of my feelings, and yes, "future regret" seems to be a part of it.

    @Ariel, you know I would (or longer), and I know you are! :)

    @Suzi, no giving up here friend! I did ask for suggestions in a way, but "go put your boobies on???" LOL Big hug girl!

  11. Halle said: " As though we have made a pact with the world to not be ourselves. "
    THAT makes perfect sense to me on so many levels.. totally beats my "like an iguana in a dog and cat world" analogy.

  12. Howdy gun-slinger. Say whats on your mind.