Friday, April 25, 2014

Support Group

I've never been active in support groups.  It was not required by my therapist and there are no TG support groups that are very local to me, although it is common for people to drive many miles to attend those meetings.  I guess I could have and maybe should have been in support groups for many different things over the years but the idea of a "group therapy" setting never appealed to me, although I do realize support groups can offer much more than just therapy.

My first therapist used to run a support group and I did attend once although it was more of a get together than an actual group meeting.  She stopped having her group not too long after that.  Donna and I drove up to Greensboro once to attend a meeting there and I did enjoy it.  This was right before I came out to my parents and I really needed all the support I could get.  She left the group over personal disagreements and I didn't want to drive over 2 hours alone for a group meeting so I never went back.  It seems the disagreements are a part of group dynamics, though my personal feeling is that almost any disagreement can be dealt with by talking things out.  Talking things out would seem perfect for a support group, don't you think?


There is another group over in Durham, a little over an hour away, that I have wanted to attend but just never have.  One of my main problems with attending these meeting is that they always occur on weekends and only meet once a month, at least the ones around here have those schedules.  Of course the weekends are the one time I usually have a social life and dates with Mitchell, so my opportunities to attend most of these meetings has been limited.

Mitchell and I will not be seeing each other this weekend as we were just together from Saturday night through Tuesday morning, so I think I will finally check out the meeting up in Durham this Saturday.  My friend Beverly has been going to this group and am planning to ride up there with another friend who lives close by, Christy.  It's been 2 years since I've seen Christy, although recently we have reconnected on Facebook.  Having a friend here in the same county is really nice so I hope we can rekindle our friendship and going to this meeting will be good for both of us.

Speaking of Facebook, that site has functioned as a support group for me the four years I've been on there, as it does for countless others.  I've made a Lot of friends through Facebook, some of which I've been lucky enough to meet in person. The group I started, Trans Beauty Network, is sort of a support group in itself although our main focus is helping trans women fit into society and not be marginalized.  Approaching 2000 members now, that group gives me hope that I've been able to give back some to the community that has helped me so much.  Writing this blog is also a way for me to give back, as well as being therapeutic for me, and hearing that it has touched so many people also gives me hope that I've been able to give back at least a little bit.


When Support Goes Wrong

Facebook is a mixed blessing when I really take a step back and look at it.  Yes, it consumes way too much of my time and energy and may even be bad for my physical health.  Mitchell pointed out yesterday, yet again, that being on Facebook costs me sleep and when I am trying to do so many other things for my health losing sleep is counterproductive.  It's also very unhealthy, potentially, to check the site on my phone while I am driving.  That is a problem, I know, and I have to stop doing that.  Sometimes too much readily available technology is not good for us although self control can and should be the answer on it.  I'm working on that, really I am.

Another problem with my use of Facebook is that sometimes, usually when trying to help others, I will say the wrong thing and offend someone or hurt someone's feelings.  This might be the case even if my support actually helps or comforts the intended party.  There can be peripheral damage to someone else.  This eats me up because if someone chooses not to discuss a problem, blocks you or ignores you, there is seemingly no way to resolve the conflict.  And I cannot stand conflict. 

This may be another issue for me to deal with, but having conflict with someone (anyone) is one thing that I avoid at almost all costs.  I've never been in a physical fight, at least not a real or serious one, and very rarely argue with anyone.  It can be said that I have a very passive personalty.  That did not serve me well in business or in trying to live as a male, but then again nothing worked for me when trying to live the wrong life. 

Having a passive personally may not serve me well now, I don't know, but I am not 100% passive.  Actually I think I stand up for myself now and am more assertive than ever now that I can be myself all of the time.  Still this is a part of my personality and it will not go away and I do not want to change that.  Being an aggressive person is not something that I want to be or could be.  Soft spoken, quiet, often shy; these all describe me but I am not always those things and not only those things.  The self confidence I lacked throughout most of life seems to be coming to me now and I know that is what I really need.  I feel good about myself so I now feel good about living and going on with my life in a positive manner.  But yet, I hurt people.


All of my life, my lies have hurt people.  I've destroyed at least one life besides my own.  Now that I am putting my own life back together and am honest with myself and others, it's apparent that I still hurt people to some degree on occasion.  It was  pointed out to me that it is not always my fault and often the other person or persons is in the wrong too, but still I always feel responsible for my part in any disagreement.  Maybe it is impossible to interact with people, especially groups of people, and not hurt someone from time to time.  Maybe that's why I avoided most human interaction most of my life.  Maybe I just need to keep my mouth, and keyboard, shut and just go about my business as quietly as possible.

My entire ethic in life is to:  (1)  Never hurt anyone, and (2)  Help people wherever I can.  I came up with this years ago and believe in this ethic from the bottom of my tiny, bleeding heart.  My bruised, damaged, lonely, desperate, diseased, good intentioned heart (that is healing now that I found love) only wants to help people.  And yet I hurt people.  My words hurt them anyway, sometimes and unintentionally.  I do not think I could ever hurt someone physically unless it was in self defense, and even then I am not sure how it would go.

All I can ask of anyone is to communicate with me, give me a chance and accept my apologies.  I've forgiven everyone that has ever hurt me, and that has been a lot, over the years.  I am only here to help, not hurt.  If what I say bothers, offends or rubs someone the wrong way I am sorry.  Please don't shut me out.  I have a message that I think is worth hearing, at least for someone, or I wouldn't be pouring my heart out day after day and night after night.  If a tree falls in the wilderness no one hears it?  If it falls in a crowded place, people get hurt.  Let me help you up, please?


Support Groups


Earlier this week, a conversation with my estranged spouse Joan got me thinking about support groups.  She told me she wants to find a support group for people going through divorce.  Hearing her utter those words cut me to the bone.  We were driving and when I heard those words I rolled down my widow, jumped out of the car and ran into oncoming traffic.  I disappeared behind a truck and no one ever saw or heard from me again.  Fortunately, those events only occurred within a split second in my mind.  In reality I kept my composure and drove us safely to our destination.  What those words, that reality, did was remind me how much this divorce has hurt the person I made a life long commitment to.

Hearing that she needs a support group to deal with the pain of our divorce drove home the fact that she is hurting and I cannot undo it.  I didn't have to do what I did.  Yes, I had to transition in order to survive but I did not have to find love.  We could have carried on in the same cold, loveless unhappy marriage lacking any sort of physical affection.  Writing these words provides the therapy I need to realize that no, we shouldn't have done that.  I needed love and I found it.  I can only hope that she finds whatever it is that she needs but what I am truly sorry about is that this separation, soon divorce, causes her so much pain.  My experience with it has not been painless either. 

The guilt over making a life long commitment, a vow before God and State, and then breaking it, sometimes breaks my spirit.  Still I know it was the right thing to do.  Even if by some measure it was not the right thing to do, it was the only thing to do.  I'm going out on a limb and saying that I needed love to survive.  No, I know I could have gone on without love, as long as I could be myself, but I wouldn't be truly happy from the heart the way I am now.  My shriveled heart would have no chance to heal without love.  Yes, I needed it.  I need it.  I hope she finds it too.

So I am going to a support group to see if I can support someone, help them out.  Maybe I am the one that needs the support, needs the help.  Either way, that's what the support groups are for.  I am not going to stop doing what I am doing.  It's all I know how to do now.  I only hope that if there is conflict or if I hurt someone they will let me talk to them about it.  Maybe we can work it out.  After all, I'm still learning here.

I just want to thank everyone for their tremendous support, it's greatly appreciated.  Inside, I am healing as a person and maturing, finally.   Mistakes I have made, but I am here to support you.  I will not go quietly into the night.