In 1998, I realised how much I wanted to die. I thought, the world is grey, life is horrible, it can only get worse. That Autumn, I had my introduction to Carl Rogers’ thought through a counselling course at the local college. Over six months, I became aware of something within me, which I named the “vulnerable bit”- buried very deeply behind layers of protection which I named the “Shell”, locked away.
On my last evening at the counselling course, after I was kicked off it, I had a strong sense of just being that vulnerable bit, out in the open, without the shell. I was talking to another participant, and I felt I was me, not pretending, not acting, not self-protecting, just open. I wrote this verse, just the first two verses at first, I added other verses years later:
Tonight I was two souls
First by force and then by choice
This man makes his will, Truth
and then I hear another voice
This voice gives a piteous cry
and from my pain I turn my eye
Lady now you need not weep
Your beauty is for joy and song
The flower so long in darkness kept
will soon rejoice to see the sun
That man, his will, his truth, will go
I am myself. Myself I’ll know
Tonight I was two souls
Through blessing I became myself
The fear that makes me man grows less
The woman smiles, and moves to health
The man’s “protection” rots her soul
when she can shed him she’ll be whole
Today I was two souls
A woman, sensual, sovereign
A man, whose fight for false ideals
now falls away, an end to pain
He leaves behind the master’s role
She welcomes him, and I am whole.
I did not like that verse. I did not like the metre, or some of the language, and I was not ready so strongly to identify as female, but I knew that the “Vulnerable bit” was in fact the Real Me. That was who I am. The thought terrified me.
Starting to live full time female, I felt I was doing enough self-acceptance to get by. I met a woman who came to LGCM events because her teenage daughter had just come out as lesbian, and she was amazed by me. She thought I had what she wanted, that self-acceptance, self-actualisation, accepting who I am and living authentically from that. I had not, even eight years after transitioning.
I had the sense, occasionally, of being in the vulnerable space, open and unprotected. I did not know how to protect myself, other than by retreating into the shell.
At the HAI level 3 weekend, I had the sense of being that vulnerable self, open and present, and for the first time protecting myself with adult boundaries rather than the Shell. It seems like I felt unsafe very young indeed, and created the best protection I could at the time: and now I can protect myself in an adult way. This is something I need to think about and practise.