Today I had my first gender therapy session. Overall, it went very well. But my therapist (Elizabeth Holland, who I think is fantastic so far) gave me some incredibly difficult homework: rely/lean/reach out to my friends who live various distances away and my only way to “see” them for long stretches of time is via online methods. I’m also suppose to learn to do the same with my online communities/pals who have been very supportive as I’ve transitioned over the last three years. This includes smashing our first goal on Indiegogo in the first week!
Basically, I need to better develop my ability to trust. This is extremely difficult for me and will expend so much energy.
So, here’s the deal, people on whom I’m supposed to reach out to and rely on:
My childhood fucked me up pretty badly in this area. I grew up without being allowed any personal boundaries. Nothing was personal, including the time when I was 10 and two years into puberty. My mother decided it was appropriate to grab my developing chest and lift up my arms to show that I had to shave, to demonstrate to a friend that I was blossoming.
That’s just one of the more minor things.
I also grew up being told that I must learn to rely on myself because no-one else will care enough to help me in times of need. If I were to reach out, I’d be a burden to that person.
When I had my stroke, she asked if I was able to crawl to the phone if needed in an emergency, and to use the washroom, etc. My roommate at the time became quite livid because my mother expected me to do everything on my own. He basically told her that she was horrible to say that I was currently a burden on others, because I had a stroke and had no use of my left side, and that he was there to help out in every way possible. He also told her I was not at all a burden and that’s what people who care for each other do.
Despite being assured a number of times that I was not a burden to my roommate, I didn’t believe it and didn’t rely on his help (which he was more than happy to do) and I did too much on my own, and pushed myself really hard to be able to walk again, and dress myself again, and to basically become not a leach on society. I’d never think that of anyone else, which makes this even more screwed up.
Anyway, that is more than I’m comfortable sharing at the moment, but it’s a step in the trust thing I need to do, and it will give you a little bit of insight into how I function in this area.
The homework I’ve been given is extremely difficult indeed.
Also, something I may use in the near-ish future as I work through my homework.
With Andrew and with my closest friends, I have relationship contracts. Because I’m on the spectrum, these contracts are extremely important to me because I know the rules and expectations of the relationship. Without them, I’m completely lost.
So, in the near-ish future, I’m going to create a relationship contract with you, my very dear and wonderful online supporters. I’ll probably create it as a OneDrive form (I live in OneDrive), and then share it, and people can sign it if they feel like they want to offer more concrete support, instead of just messages of support on Google+ or Twitter.
I don’t know how exactly this contract will look like. I have yet to figure out expectations and goals. I hope to have that sorted soon. If you don’t sign it, that’s fine. If you do decide to sign it, it will immensely help me in accomplishing my homework.
As is in my close-friends relationship contract, they state that I may not always reach out to them because it is so hard for me, but the expectation on both sides is that if either one of us reach out, we are there to listen and only offer advice if asked. I’ll probably include that in the contract BUT I’m going to try and actually implement that clause more often than I do; not only with my closest friends, but also with you.
At the beginning, I may only reach out sporadically. I need to build trust over time.
I’m also thinking of creating a private password protected blog for those who sign the online support contract. If I have your permission, I’ll put you on a mailing list, you’ll get the password, and I’ll send out an email whenever there is a new post. This will allow me to dump what I need help with only once, which is all the energy I have. Another reason why I don’t reach out as often as I should. And then we can have conversations, in private. I was thinking about a private Google+ group, but that may limit people’s involvement. A private blog is more inclusive.
So, that’s that. Thank you, all, who have supported me in the last three years since I disclosed my trans status. You’ve been amazing!
And now on to this amazingly difficult homework.