"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 29 May 2017

Handling the Pressure

I will start this post with a warning for all my transgender friends: do not put yourself in danger. Know your audience. Be safe and do what you need to do to stay that way. 

This post is a reflection on thriving in situations when others would be distracted and fearful. I am going to use analogies with sports and performance to think about living authentically. 

As regulars here will recall, I enjoy the game of golf - a lot. I used to watch golf on television for hours, but really the best part of golf for me is not watching somebody hit great, sometimes amazing shots. What impresses me has to do with the bigger picture. There are golfers who can dominate in competition. Pressure doesn't seem to phase them. When asked about how they do this, it is clear that their focus stays in the moment. One shot at a time. They aren't paying attention to what others are doing , or thinking about what others might think, or how important this next shot is. They know where the ball needs to end up. They have the skills to get it there. They are oblivious to everything else. 

Similarly, I love playing music. I look forward to performing in front of an audience; it really is the point of all that work after all. As with a sport like golf, one works very hard to develop the skills needed to be able to rely on your body to accomplish your goals. The big picture is the ability to rely on those; to trust them to be there, as you perform for others. I've been asked many times what my secret is. How does one stand in front of others and play, sing, or speak without seeming nervous? Mostly, it has to do with being as totally immersed in the details of the activity as possible. It seems to me that being nervous has mostly to do with two things: feeling unprepared, and letting your mind wander to thoughts of what might happen if ....  In other words, getting distracted. 

If you know you are going to be out in public doing something where others might pay attention to you, get as prepared as you can. Like the old joke says: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice."  Then trust yourself when it is time to head out into the public eye. Self doubt is the great destroyer, whether you are trying to play a sport, or play a sonata, or walk down the street as your authentic self for the very first time. 

Believe in yourself. Be confident. Stay in the moment. 

Tuesday 16 May 2017

Forgiveness ~ Acceptance

For what is a lifetime for many (certainly it was a lifetime for the male façade who was blogging here for so long), I looked to others for approval. I admit it as a problem drinker might at an AA meeting; I was a chronic fixer. Everyone else came first. Maybe it happened because, as a child, it seemed like the only way to make grownups stop being angry. I don't know for sure, but that is who I was. Some call it "a pleaser personality". Every day I remind myself that this is an issue and I must stay aware of it.

I looked for acceptance and when I wanted something for myself, it was alway vetted through that filter: Will this make others around me happy too? When things went wrong, I did the quintessentially Canadian thing and asked for forgiveness - I am sorry.

Two years ago, I already knew what I needed to do and who I needed to be, yet fear ruled my life. To be myself I would have to let others down - badly. Surprisingly, when I told the most important people in my life, my children, they told me straight out that they knew I would still be me, but happier and healthier. There was acceptance and no need for forgiveness. We were good. We are good. 

Fear still ruled my life because my wife of many decades was terrified and disgusted by the prospects for her future with me as a woman in public. I wanted her to be ok; I wanted her to come along happily on this journey. But when she told me I will hate you if you do this thing, I froze and thought maybe I could put the life that had to be off a bit longer.

Friends who found out what was going on gave mixed reactions running the gamut from immediate acceptance to outright rejection. But those who spoke to my wife in private told her how disgusting it was and how she should just "take me to the cleaners" and divorce me. They were certain that as a woman I would be ridiculed and so would she. Some suggested that it would be dangerous; some might react violently against a transexual in such a small community. How could I do this to her?

I didn't do anything to her. I forgave and accepted myself. If nobody else in the world would forgive or accept me, it really didn't matter. I had to give myself permission to be myself. Once that was done, everything else was relatively easy.

Because I accepted myself, I acted naturally and confidently around everyone. That put them at ease and made interactions go well. I was not a target in the community.

If you have to break away from a life of maladaptive behaviour, begin by forgiving yourself for all the things you have done to others. Then forgive yourself for what you have done to yourself.

Accept and love yourself as you have accepted and loved others in your life for so very long.