Self Awareness is Hard.

I think I would qualify how I’m doing as ‘okay.’ I engaged in a lot of escapism for a while (hence the long absense) while things just seeemed to keep piling up. It all kind of culminated last weekend in a truly epic breakdown. (Seriously, I was in tears four or five times that day.)

Fortunately, an all-day crying fest seemed to provide the catharsis I needed to get out of my escapism and start… I don’t know how to describe it exactly. Facing my issues, I guess is the closest. Anyway, since then I’ve pulled myself together enough to start eating better (a bad habit of mine from my childhood: when I’m stressed I can’t tell the difference between being hungry and being nauseous so I just don’t eat) and basically taking proper care of myself. I also took a long look at all the problems that I can and can’t do anything about, and started making some real plans, accordingly.

For instance: I’d been forced to cancel meeting with a lawyer about my legal name and gender marker changes back when Jae’s first grandmother died and I was going in for that MRI to see if I had a tumor. I hadn’t rescheduled since then… but now I have. So that first consultation will be later this week. It’s something I can do something about, so I am.

I’ve known for a while that I never really developed healthy coping techniques.  The self harm Abby engages in in MNML is all based on my own experiences with scalding, holding my breath until I’ve passed out, etc.  But, even knowing that, I’ve never made much headway into doing anything about it.  The only really significant things were when I swore off doing self harm, which I did more for Jae than myself, and when I started accepting that I was — completely independantly from bad, self-abusive habits — rather masochistic.  For the past few years, getting an occasional flogging has generally been my only real source of emotional catharsis short of having a break down.

Unfortunately, the therapist I saw for my anxiety and gender dysphoria seems to have been much more focused on the gender dysphoria side of things than anything else.  I never really talked about other things that have contributed to my anxieties and depressions — and with medication treating my anxiety and having gotten onto HRT and coming out as transgender to help with the dysphoria, my sessions with her rather rapidly trailed off.  I think I’ve learned more about how I work and how to cope with my emotions andd burdens from talking with Jae about her sessions than I ever did from going in for my own!

But, the point of bringing up all of that is that after my big day-long break down  (and seriously, it was bad.  I sat for hours doing absolutely nothing, interspersed with uncontrolled sobbing) I had a few really long talks with Jae.  In fact, we spent most of the next day together — and and over the course of it I started to realize how much stuff I’ve been holding on to that has no place in my life anymore.

Surprisingly, an activist event Jae and I went to (about raising awareness of institutionalized racism) helped a lot with that, too.   There was a fairly long segment where we broke into small groups and discussed socialization — and while the focus was on how white dominance is socialized into people often without their realizing it, the exercises we did for examining how we had been socialized in how we saw race relations also easily adapt to looking at how someone has been socialized in regards to any number of things.

After the event I spent some time looking at the messages I had picked up as a child about who I was, who I was supposed to be, and what my self-worth was.  It, like the event itself, was eye-opening.

I’m not that closeted kid with no idea what’s with ‘him’, anymore.  I know I’m transgender, a masochist, and a sadist — and that those things are all okay so long as anyone involved in the masochism or sadism is doing so consensually, and we’re keeping things safe.  Tumor or not, my body isn’t this hideous thing I’m trapped in, belonging to the wrong gender and a person I don’t want to be — I’m actually starting to like how I look and how I feel in it.  And all of those bad habits I developed when I thought I was this hideous, evil little freak don’t aply to the woman I’ve become — or the self-confident, put-together, self-determined, adult person I’d like to be.

I have to remind myself of that a lot.  It’s become something of my mantra, this past week.  “You’re not that kid trapped in the wrong role anymore.  You don’t have to forgo food to save money.  You aren’t evil.  You don’t deserve to be punished for who you are.”  I repeat that to myself almost habitually, now, whether I feel like I’m about to slip into a bad habit or depressed thoughts or not — just to head off the former trains of thought that drove me to despair, if nothing else.

I’ve made myself a handy-dandy checklist of basic things that I need to do every day.  Well, actually, there’s about four lists, all strung together.  Each one only has three or four things on it, and takes less than fifteen minutes to get through… but they’re all things that I need to do, like taking my medications, eating a real breakfast… even some really basic self care stuff, like brushing my teeth after dinner and taking a shower before bed.  Things I’ve been known to neglect when I’ve been depressed, so I’m now trying to build good habits around by tying them into routines: when I wake up, do these three things in this order.  When I get home from work, do these four things in this order.  After dinner?  These three.  Before bed? The last four.  For the last week, that’s worked really well for keeping me on track.

It broke down a bit over the weekend: not having to go in for my day job seemed to throw all my routines out the window.  :/  I’ll have to do better about that next weekend.  But I do have dedicated writing time scheduled every Sunday, now.

I’ve also started trying to be more accepting and open with my emotions.  Society attempted to socialize me as male, complete with the whole “men don’t have feelings” bullshit you see all over the place.  So I would suppress things, and pack them down… and eventually have a nervous collapse, like I did last weekend.  Well, fuck that noise!  It’s a little bit weird, though, because now when I’m actually trying to acknowledge how I feel… half the time I actually, legitimately, don’t know.  I’ve been so invested in disregarding my own emotions that more often than not I can’t really tell what they are, and the best I can do is acknowledge that I’m having them.  So that’s a bit of a work in progress still, but… it seems to be helping.  Over all I’ve been happier, more active, and more responcible in my self-care this past week than I have been in months.  Certainly since somewhen before I got that tumor diagnosis and started packing down all the associated anxiety, fear and depression.

It hasn’t all been uphill since the breakdown, though.  I ended up having to break off a relationship I’d been building online.  It sucks: love may be unconditional, but relationships aren’t — and the relationship wasn’t working.  We both needed too much to be good for each other on that level; it just meant that when the other couldn’t meet the need, we would trigger each other badly.  I really hope we can remain friends — for now we’ve backed off to sort out the feelings involved, but we always were at our best with each other when we were just hanging out and playing games, rather than trying to be each other’s support systems.

Well, I guess that covers most of how I’ve been.  This is already a lot longer than I was originally thinking it would be — and it still doesn’t really cover everything that’s been going on in my head lately.  I hope everyone else has been in better shape than I have been, heh.

As always, take care and thanks for reading!

–Eren

Today, in the life of Eren...

2 responses to Self Awareness is Hard.


  1. fionag11

    My own mantra is “It’s better to light a single candle than to curse the dark”. It’s brought me back from many a dark place, because its so fundamentally true and inspirational in a non-bullshit way that even in my depressed mood once I remember it I have to acknowledge its truth. This relates well to your strategy of focussing on the day to day things you can do to make life better and take care of yourself, even when the big picture is overwhelming. It’s like climbing a cliff on a ladder, rung by rung – you can’t afford to dwell on the void beneath you. i remember doing that in actual fact, on the West Coast Trail; I seriously didn’t know if I would make it but I looked at the little flowers and plants growing on the cliff-face and focused on them.

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