It has always been important to me that I am a truthful person. When I was considering transition, it appeared there were a group of people then called “transsexuals”- if I was one, transition was the right thing to do. If I was not, it was not. I should therefore diagnose myself- not trusting the doctors to do so. This was a truth about who I was. I was looking for The Truth, some objective justification, but could not find it, so eventually I had to go with what I wanted, more than anything in the world. And even if I was too frightened to assert it, I knew, really: had the doctors said I was not trans I would not have believed them.
I knew I was not a man. Now I feel trans is not some innate state, but a decision: some people with particular characteristics choose to transition, and some you might think were further along the spectrum do not. It is not the same as sexual attraction: it is about how free you feel to express yourself, and how you might become more free, so it is cultural as well as genetic.
Knowing the truth is part of being in control so being able to make reasonable prognostications and recognise what might influence events.
Among my most terrifying and disorienting experiences are times when I feel I do not know the truth, and cannot trust my own perceptions. Cognitive dissonance occurs when you perceive a fact which contradicts settled beliefs: do you deny that fact? It is uncomfortable, depending on how attached you are to belief; or, you could decide you had been wrong, and joyfully embrace your greater understanding; but I felt the bottom had dropped out of my world, I could not rely on myself or ever be safe, and did not know anything at all. These typically last a day or so, and while in that state I feel it will never end.
Possibly I am now in a state of creative distress, where my discomfort will impel me to useful change. I hope so.
Those disorienting experiences may go back to early childhood. With a counsellor I named my fear: “The Monster will get me”. This is childish talk. The world will end, I will die. That could be my mother, angry, for no reason I could discern, so I could not trust myself to keep myself safe from her. Losing trust in my perceptions was an existential threat.
And- we see through a glass darkly. Knowledge is partial, and inaccurate. Eventually the effort required to improve accuracy is greater than the value of the increase of accuracy. And mistakes have to be OK. It’s feedback. That did not work, refine it or try something else. No need to be terrified, I am intelligent enough, perceptive enough. A refusal to admit when you are beaten might keep you fighting, to succeed against all expectation- how wonderful!- or keep you expending effort to no end. These things are rarely existential.
I can’t merely consider sensible thoughts about truth and give up all my superstition or mysticism about it. Yet I might do myself some good, somehow- and deliberately not express it in some clever phrase to end this post.