Radical Acceptance: The Only Choice You Have

There was literally nothing wrong with me. I was beautiful…I was perfect..I know I still am and yet I want to go back…but I know I can’t.

Anonymous

Sometimes you read things that make you want to scream and cry at the same time. I had that experience this morning. It was the account of a young woman who transitioned to a male and was still living as a male. I’m going to refer to her as a “she” in this post because I’m talking to the person she was born as, before transition, the person she was never helped to be.

She spoke about her pain at realizing that although she didn’t feel fully female, she also felt inauthentic living as male. She spoke of the agony of knowing that there was no going back. She had gone all the way-top surgery, hysterectomy, bottom surgery, and hormones. Every day she has to face the longing of wanting to live like a butch woman, in her natural self, and knowing that what she was falsely promised, happiness after her transition, was a lie.

She is furious, rightly so, about the false hopes and dreams that the trans and medical community had sold her about how to manage her own dysphoric feelings. She lives every day with the constant questioning and regret of how she had changed her body and soul forever. What could her life has been had she had time to sort herself out without becoming a permanent medical patient?

People who tell you you should have no regrets are full of shit. If you live, you regret, that’s part of the deal. For every choice we make, for every yes, we have to say no, and that means regret and questions or fantasies about the path not taken. But the regret of having made decisions on your future life and body when you were still a young person working it all out is a hell that few can understand. On top of the decision you made is always the sneaking doubt: Why was I allowed to do this? Why did none of the adults help me? Why did the professionals not step in? Why did no one tell me what this would be really like? The sense of betrayal and let down is immense.

“I wish I had expressed my gender in other ways instead of altering my body”

No matter how much surgery you have, no matter how much you alter yourself, you still have to live with yourself. Whoever tells you otherwise is lying to you. There is no quick fix for emotional pain. I’ve worked with young anorexic women who kept telling me, “once I lose 5 more pounds I will be happy with myself.” I would tell them, “once you lose 5 more pounds you might be dead.” And guess what, they never were happy. They just got sicker and sicker and sicker.

The only way out is through. It sounds cliché but it’s true. Escape, quick fixes, ideal fantasies are temporary solutions to deep problems. Learning how to tolerate reality is the key. You literally have no choice. Altering yourself is not self-love, it is an escape and whoever feeds you false hopes and dreams about what transition can do for you, is lying.

So What Do You Do With Regret and Pain?

So what do you do with the regret and pain? The only thing that you can do and the same thing that you weren’t helped to do back before your transition: You have to find a way to radically accept yourself, your situation and the path you’ve chosen and turn it into your teacher, your wisdom.

“Transition has literally not brought anything positive to my life other than realizing that I’m strong as hell and have survived it and that I have found a sense of self and love from all I have endured”

This quote made me smile. It showed me that actually transition took everything from her but it also taught her the deepest lessons of life, love, loss and pain. I hate the reality of pain being a teacher because hell, when you feel pain you don’t want it, screw what it has to teach…but in the end, when all is said and done, life and pain give you wisdom, and there is nothing more valuable than that.

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