This may sound stupid; everyone knows what they look like right? But I am not sure that I do! For I cannot bear to see myself in the mirror, I dash past it and into the shower. Once the mirror is masked in steam I am invisible. Other times I stand away from the sink to brush my teeth, so I do not have to look at that face. Sometime when I catch a glimpse of myself, I kind of see a dark shape, the outline of me? But I rarely see a person and never a person that would want to see.
Sometimes I do look at myself, on these occasions what I feel is hate. I hate what I see and the person that I am. I’ve never liked wearing dresses, thought that looking masculine would protect me. I am fat and ugly. My clothes are dull colours to help me blend in. Always wanting to be invisible, I do not want to stand out. I am conscious of myself, always worrying what others think. I buy clothes that I like but that I cannot wear. If I wear something new, I am waiting for critical comments, for people to laugh. And when the criticism or ridicule comes, I will never wear the item again.
I am human
I am aware all of a sudden that I human. How did I not know this? I have felt like a thing, an object. Maybe I have treated myself as such, I don’t know. Since the making the fairy garden, I felt very differently about myself. I truly believe I am learning about who and what I am. I am finding my human side, maybe I am starting to treat myself how I would treat other people.
Perhaps I am starting to believe that I deserve to exist. I am allowing the real me to come to the surface. I am becoming visible not only to the world, but also myself. As per my I am finally starting to find myself post, I think I am starting to discover who I really am. What could be more important to me? I have been lost for such a long time. Due to Heidi and the counselling, I am finding and freeing myself.
I have been on a journey these last few days; it hasn’t been pleasant. Whilst I could attempt to shut the door, I don’t want to. I believe it would be detrimental to me. While I don’t want to experience this, I want to know who I am. I mean truly understand myself. So, I think it imperative that I let this take me over, for me to feel the pain and address it. I don’t think I can supress it now. The realisation has already happened, the memories are flowing and I am seeing and feeling things, I hadn’t consciously known existed.
My hidden self
I realise that I have so many things that I have kept hidden. I have spoken to many counsellors, but it has always been the top layer, the obvious and apparent things that sat at the forefront of my mind. Although they haven’t gone, they have definitely stepped back, less prominent/ dominant, or just less important, who knows. It has always been about my parents or husband, never has it been about me. Now it is about me; it is all about me.
My thoughts, my feelings, my perception, my view of the world. Maybe I am ready at long last, maybe I have finally met the right counsellor (that word seems wrong, the right person). Perhaps it is the length of time I have been speaking to Heidi, I don’t know. I know I have shared much more of myself with Heidi, than I ever have shared with anyone. I hate myself for it, but it hasn’t stopped me. However the battle within has been real.
By struggling with the outer me, hair, makeup, and clothes, I think that has impacted on inner me. They must be connected in a deep and meaningful way; they do not exist in isolation. What people see is a representation of who you are, what you are on the inside. Although this may not be true, by this I mean a woman may look stunning on the outside and feel shit inside.
However I think I may have shut off any female characteristics in my attire, and also my mindset. I fear rejection, I fear ridicule, I am so constrained and restricted in what I can and can’t do. Although I care deeply, passionately, it is only in recent times I have let this side of me be seen by the very few people who matter to me. I have recently allowed people to see glimmers of the inner me, and in showing it to others I have kind of seen it for myself too.
Heidi has spoken to me several times about vulnerability. She suggested I watch Brené Brown the power vulnerability and I have a number of times.
I realise we / I have many vulnerabilities, such as embarrassment and humiliation. I have an amazing front to hide this, with laugher and humour, but the real me feels it every day. If I get embarrassed in the office and feel my face flush, I immediately have to hide my embarrassment and pretend I am coughing, laughing, or choking as this too could cause the red face. I am so crude and rude, people often comment that it is impossible to embarrass me, yet it burns inside of me. I’m very easily embarrassed. I never even reached the stage that I could buy sanitary products without feeling like I would die from embarrassment, I would hide them at the bottom of the trolley. Anything to do with sex would cause intense embarrassment.
I don’t know why but I think ridicule, embarrassment / humiliation and disappointment are the key drivers in how I feel and who I have become. They have helped me lose the inner me, they have allowed her to get lost, to the point that I don’t know her. I want to know her; I want to understand her and most importantly I want to be free to be her. I’d like her to express herself, I want her to wear what she wants, I want it to be all about her, not external influences, I want her to wear a dress regardless of what others think or say. I want to believe I am a women, I want and need to feel like a woman. I don’t want to feel like a nothing anymore!
The urge to push Heidi away
I think when I feel embarrassed, I also feel the urge to push Heidi away. The desire to push her away a strong force. But the desire for me to find inner peace has become stronger. I am experiencing by far the most powerful determination I have ever felt.
I don’t always feel it when I say the words – although sometimes I do – but I always feel it afterwards when I reflect and analyse. It’s then that I hate myself, beat myself up, ridicule and humiliate myself and it makes me want to withdraw and hide because it hurts. I feel such shame, although I cannot understand why, but shame sits there waiting for me. But I am embracing it because I have not stopped going for counselling. I asked myself why Heidi doesn’t get embarrassed, all the things she must hear people say, she hears the words that leave my mouth but never flinches. If she isn’t embarrassed by what I have said, then maybe I don’t have to be either? Maybe I have to get through the embarrassment and humiliation with her?
Battling with who I am
I was awake much of the night, my mind was drowning in thoughts and sadness. My body overwhelmed and drained by the experience. I don’t really understand or like what is happening to me, but for my mind and body to be reacting the way it is, I sense this is really important. My trust in Heidi will be tested if I am to get through this.
I cried much of yesterday, mainly silent tears trickling down my cheeks, but at times I sobbed, the kind that can be felt throughout the body, animalistic noises escaping from me, coming up from the pit of my stomach, twisting painfully through my body until they emerge from my mouth and take me by surprise.
My oldest friend called me last night. I picked up the phone and watched her name flash on my screen, thinking I cannot face her, not today. But then I decided perhaps I needed her, and I answered. She waffled on for some time and I wasn’t really listening. My mind didn’t have any capacity left. She eventually asked if I was ok, I told her the truth not really, and I said I couldn’t explain it, but it related to who I am and if I have a feminine side. I wasn’t expecting what came next.
I couldn’t be a girl
She said “oh, I thought you was ok with this now. I’ve always known you’ve struggled but I didn’t realise it was still so much of a struggle.” I was taken a back, “what you know I have issues with who I am? That I cannot be feminine, even when I want to?” She replied “of course I know; we have been friends forever and I remember you telling me. We must have been about 13 and you told me I was leaving you behind, you never told me just how upset you were, but I knew”.
She continued “We’d always been tomboys together, I had started to dress up, wear makeup and become girly, you wanted to do the same, you wanted to come with me, but you couldn’t. You said you wanted to become girly with me, but you couldn’t because you were scared, you thought everyone thought of you as a boy and they would laugh at you. You said you didn’t know how to be a girl”
Her last statement causes my throat to constrict, like a lump in my throat that makes me feel like I cannot breathe. I cannot tell you what hearing these words did to me, my friend knew, it was real, at a young age I wanted to be something – not something, to be a girl – and I couldn’t, because of that fear of ridicule and rejection. This has been inside of me for all these years and I have ignored and rejected it. I am shocked by how upset this made me. Even writing these words, an eruption of emotions is ripping through me, the tears are flowing, this hurts, it really hurts.
It is never too late!
She told me, that she loves me for me, whatever that may be. She said how rude and nasty my mum was, how she only ever came in my house for a few minutes and how uncomfortable she felt. How I would be in such a rush to leave the house. I don’t remember.
She says she feels my pain and she wishes things had been different. We both cry on the phone together, Julie never cries! I said I never fitted in, once I hit teenage years – the boys didn’t want me as a friend, they were into girls and nobody could have fancied me. The girls were too girly for me, I was just an outsider. But this is not what she saw, I was one of the girls, I was just a bit different to them, but I was still a very big part of the group. Why did I not feel this? She asks me, if I were not special how would we still be friends after all these years? Tells me she loves me for who I am, and she thinks I am special.
She said it isn’t too late, during the week we are planning together in October we could both go for a makeover. Or of that is too much for me, we could start buying makeup and could spend time trying things out, just the two of us. I think I would like this, that I would like to experiment. I’m not alone, I have Julie and she will help me, I needed to hear that. I want her to help me and I need her too.
All of a sudden, the pain got too much for me and I told her my battery was about to die.
Overwhelming pain and grief
After the call, I didn’t know what to do with myself, yet again the only way I can describe my emotions is like grief, it felt the same as when Dave died. That dreadful, powerful sense of pain and loss felt in every part of my body. I got in the shower, leant against the wall, and wailed until I was exhausted. It feels like grief, grief for the me that got buried, the me that I hid to spare me the pain and humiliation, but I am feeling it now.
I hate to think of young me, teenage me, feeling pain like this. Where is this pain from? The past or I am feeling it in this moment? Perhaps it is a combination of them both. All I know is this hurts like no other pain I have felt. I have always felt emotional pain, the truth is I have enjoyed torturing myself with it. If I felt happy I would stir the memory pot until I felt sad, but I realise I have stopped doing to myself daily, it now only occurs every now and again, when I struggle with something and go into self-destruct mode.
When I got out of the shower, I searched my phone for a school photo I knew I had from primary school. I stared at the photo, tried to think of the person I was then. Studied my hair, I have always hated my hair. I realise that I always say I don’t go to the hairdressers because I cannot bear being touched, and this is true. But I also don’t go, because I don’t know what to say, I don’t know how to tell them what I want. I feel so stupid and embarrassed.
Who do I want to be?
I love short hair; I always tell myself I cannot have short hair because my face is too fat, but I know how I would love my hair to be. The realisation that I have never had the haircut that I would love, just how much have I deprived myself?
Staring at the photo and remember that at this age I wanted to be a boy. I hated wearing girly clothes. I also know that at this age I wanted to be invisible, I wanted to hide the outside me, not be present in the clothes and shoes I wore. The isolation, self-doubt, and self-loathing I feel, had already begun. I have lived my entire life, stifling who I am in an attempt to fit, and it hurts to realise despite everything I have never been able to fit in. How can you fit in with others if you cannot be comfortable with yourself? No wonder I don’t know who I am? Because I don’t allow myself to be me…
This is just so bloody confusing!!!!!!! I have obviously always struggled, wanting to be a boy, and then wanting to be a girl and failing miserably. Maybe how I dress is me, but I don’t think it is. I don’t know how to deal with this, I don’t know how to find the answers. I need to find a version of me that fits, that feels right, that allows me to feel more comfortable. A version that allows me to have confidence in myself. To not worry about what anyone else thinks or says. I want to like or love the inner me and then I want to show elements of her to the outside world and whatever happens to not change her, not adapt her to fit, not hide her to shy away from humiliation.
I bought dresses
Who is feminine me? Because I think she actually exists, I fear that I may have buried her, stifled her and she has become hidden in the deep, dark depths of my mind. I think she has tried to escape on many occasions, but it didn’t take much for me to banish her once again. I haven’t worn in dress in at least two decades. Only on a couple of occasions in my entire adult life, I even wore trousers on my wedding day! I think I look like a man in drag, I feel like a man when I wear a dress.
Heidi suggest that I have changed so much in the time she has known me, perhaps this will have changed too? I find myself looking at dresses online. I buy four! I’ve just ordered four dresses, what the hell am I thinking? They are different colours and styles, maybe I will like one? Maybe I will still feel like a man, only one way to find out. They will be arriving tomorrow and I feel fear and excitement in equal measure. Fear that I will still fell like a man. Excitement that maybe, just maybe I will discover that actually I am a woman and I can wear a dress.
When the dresses arrive, I am eager to try them on, but my husband is home and I do not want him to see me. I hide upstairs and put the first dress on, feels strange, but not awful like I was anticipating. It feels quite nice, different on my skin, less restrictive than my usual attire. I venture downstairs and study myself in each of the four dresses.
I can see myself
Wow, I can see myself; I look like a woman and I feel like a woman – I think. I can finally bear to look at myself, I really studied how I look. I’m able to see myself in a way I never have, I can see a person, the way you see other people. I’ve never considered or seen myself as a person, couldn’t bear to see my reflection in a mirror. I can see my face, eyes, smile, my body. I like my face when it smiles, it feels like it does when someone else smiles at me. Maybe I haven’t really smiled for years; I have certainly never looked at myself smiling in a mirror.
I will wash the dresses, because I am keeping them, all of them. Tomorrow I will spend the day wearing one, to see how it feels, to establish how I feel. How exciting!