So, some thoughts on self-image.
As you must realize by now, the sense of wrongness came not from the deepest you, but from imposed and projected attitudes of the society around you. This is a never-ending battle between the spirit, honestly trying to develop its potential, and a fearful, controlling society, desperately seeking a false sense of security.
~ Comment by Tom to his blog Gwynt ~
From the moment we begin life, we are moulded, sometimes personally and unintentionally, but mostly impersonally and intentionally to fit someone else's vision of what it means to be a good human. It is by recognizing, then freeing ourselves from those limitations that we can get on a path to become fully realized humans.
The personal moulding by parents and the like is done unwittingly I suggest, because these people are steeped in a culture that they never question, a culture that tells them, based on your appearance (male, female, fat, thin, red-haired, curly haired... the list is endless), and their perceived position in the world (rich, poor, Asian, black, French, Tongan, etc.), who you ought to become as you grow. They want 'the best' for you, after all.
Impersonal influences like churches and schools, along with the sort that didn't exist a century ago, such as radio, television and now the web are also unavoidable. We all want to belong. Naturally, we pay attention and internalize it all.
Even as I write this, there is a radio playing. My sweetie loves having it on 'in the background'. The voices suggest that my life is incomplete because I don't have a particular car, or see a certain movie or go to the casino... on and on it goes. Is it all really innocent and in the background?
Finding a quiet place to pay attention to a softer, kinder and more personal voice is difficult. At one time, going for a walk, or the morning run might have provided time for personal thoughts to bloom, but earbuds and the devices that connect have solved that problem, and I do think for many, hearing that inner voice is a problem, especially if it challenges them to be different. They seek out a diversion to allow them to ignore it. I know I did for a very long time.
Sadly, when I was younger, and mentioned this inner voice to a relative who I thought of as spiritually advanced, he counselled great caution and gave me a book about Satanic influences in the world. What a great way it was to mess me up completely. Not surprising, I never have "thanked" him...
In my experience, inner challenges are sent our way all our lives long. When the same challenge appears over and over, it is a sign of purpose. Some higher power is creating those challenges; directing me toward part of the life's work that was preordained at the moment of conception.
This inner voice of power that I call Love and others call God is personal. Nobody else can tell you what part you might need to pay more attention to in your life. This guidance isn't something that is accessed through magic. You might have to redefine what you think prayer means though.
This might seem preachy and religious, but it is far from that.
Oh, it is possible that for most the only time they might hear that voice now is at church, during the "quiet time for meditation", but in my experience, this is not long or free enough for any true meditation or prayer, prefaced as it is by the officiant directing our thoughts to the path 'they' have determined is 'best' for us. To me, the agenda and sales pitch of a religion is just as frustrating as that of Madison Avenue.
I am not suggesting anything wrong with listening to Pope Francis, or anyone else we care to pay attention to. What I am suggesting is a blend of information sources, and allowing your heart through that inner voice to be part of the input.
There are two aspects to being fully human that I now see as essential.
First, although we will certainly die, there is a part of us we must believe in and learn to hear; an inner, or higher self that is eternal.
Second, a result of the first; believe you are part of a purposeful existence.
There is a potential within you for good.
Don't take anyone else's word for what that good happens to be. You and that internal voice are the best judge of that.
I am going to stop soon, for now. This is part one and there is more. More about what it means to me to be transsexual, and maybe surprising, how that is part of my personal good.
There is also going to be reference to some external sources that I have come to see as reliable in my personal search for meaning and a self-image I can live with.
... on earth, as it is in heaven...
An important part of the path that has brought me here is a realization that heaven is not something to be found after death. The search for heaven is part of our personal journey, and it is our responsibility to find and be part of creating it here ~ now. We start by creating it inside because we must first forgive and recreate ourselves before we have a chance to bring anything of heaven to others around us.
... forgive us as we forgive others ...
Love and respect for self is the beginning.
No matter who you are or your personal path, until you are part of this heaven it is no heaven at all.
Somehow, seeing others as co-conspirators in this nefarious plan makes me feel so very happy.
... A new commandment I give you: Love one another...