Freedom to Be Who You Want to Be (or Alice steps out of the looking glass)

(My riff as a transwoman in recovery on the PurposeFairy series 9 Reasons Why You Should No Longer Care About People’s Approval; all creative credit belongs to to that author.)

I’ve never had an easy time explaining gender dysphoria to people.  The experience of being male or female is so much what it means to be human that folks have a hard time wrapping their heads around the thought that experience just doesn’t make sense to some people, including me.

I’ve had the most success describing the first time that I knew I was different.  I gazed into a mirror and the person looking back was not whom I expected to see.  I expected to see a girl with shoulder-length hair, blue eyes and a bright smile.  Obviously that wasn’t the image.  And this is gender dysphoria.

What did I do about it?  Absolutely nothing, nothing but destructive behaviors, that is.  I knew I was different sometime in the mid 60’s.  I needed approval as an adolescent.  I could not have withstood the disapproval of society and family in those years.  The great paradox is that in the middle of this internal struggle and the need for approval, I rejected approval entirely.

We have indeed come a long way in the last fifty years.  We talk more openly about such matters as gender identity and we are better (not perfect) about encouraging a sense of worth not based upon an unhealthy need for approval.  As a people we still struggle towards a better vision, but we are on the journey.  We are braver these days about moving past that need for approval which usually doesn’t materialize anyway.

My family, church and community are important to me, but they all no longer get to call the shots.  I’m free to be who I am because that girl decided to step out of the mirror.
Love, Denise

Approval Seeking Behavior Drains Your Energy (and I am not a bottomless well)

(My riff as a transwoman in recovery on the PurposeFairy series 9 Reasons Why You Should No Longer Care About People’s Approval; all creative credit belongs to to that author.)

I haven’t been blogging as much the last week or so because I simply haven’t had the oomph to do everything.  Job searching is the hot priority right now.  I did take a little time for me visiting some friends who were camping last weekend, sitting around a campfire getting all smoky and eating s’mores and sharing our mutual amazement at the stunning fall colors and moon.

I have just so much energy to spend and so do you.  I want it to go for something that makes a difference.  Why spend it on something that I know for certain that will never make a difference?

Seeking others’ approval sneaks up on you.  It starts with the nagging sense of never feeling quite rested, never quite on track.  Here is how I stop it:

  • I listen to what people I trust and I know care about me are telling me.  When people ask, “Denise, are you really okay?”, they are asking me if I’m getting off track somewhere.  I need to pay attention to other people.
  • I think about who I’m calling and emailing.  When I find myself spending a lot of time trying to communicate with people I’ve sought for approval, a red flag goes up.  I need to pay attention to warning signs.
  • Following from 1 and 2, my mind starts to fantasize that all that unhealthy stuff from the past could be different now, that people could really like me if I just [fill in the blank].  I really need to pay attention to what I’m telling myself.

Don’t waste any more time today on seeking another person’s approval that you’re never going to get anyway.  It’s the same feeling as when you stop beating your head against a brick wall; it feels so good!

Love, Denise

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