Reinventing Yourself: A Path Through Grief.

I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.

Gandalf

I’ve come into contact with profound grief. At its most acute it will physically cripple you over, but most of the time it just hangs out in the background like a dull thump. No matter what is going on, it always has a direct line to your thoughts. There are no waking or dreaming moments that fully escape the subtle tinge of its breath.

Many of the detransitioners that I speak with are starting to come to terms with their lives. They have lost friends, family, belief systems and body parts.  There is a special fucked-up-ness in how the sexual organs that once caused so much grief, that were once despised as enemies, are now just gone, and there is no euphoria, no happiness in that at all. All that is left is an anticlimactic sense of “what now?”

The realization that transition did not “work”, or that it wasn’t what it was supposed to be, or that it was a wrong decision is one of the most lonely, depressing and courageous realizations that one can have. 

I have spoken to people with no one to talk to. The subject is either too remote for well-meaning people to understand or it is refused by ideologues and other believers. Realizing your loneliness in grief is one of the hardest parts.  It is a good reason to stay “transitioned” ,even when you regret the decision. The entire path of detransition is simply too much to come to terms with. Rather stay without your penis and at least stay a woman-rather than try to make sense of what it means to be a man without a penis.

But there are those who can’t live a lie and accepting themselves in the full force of their truth and reality becomes their greatest task.  It involves facing head on the decisions made, the decisions pushed upon them, and having to find a way to be themselves-to be a man or a woman, not defined by the presence of sexual organs anymore, but by their absence.

When many people come to me they don’t know who they are, their former selves have been shattered, seemingly irretrievably. 

 If you lived your life for years as a man or a woman, how much of that stays? Does any of it? Maybe there are fragments, experiences and understandings that will never leave, and if so where do they fit in with your new developing sense of self?

The path to retrieving what you can of your former self and finding acceptance is not an easy one.  If you lived your life for years as a man or a woman, how much of that stays? Does any of it? Maybe there are fragments, experiences and understandings that will never leave, and if so where do they fit in with your new developing sense of self? How do you find that elusive thread of “you” that was there from the beginning? 

It is there somewhere: How you feel about things, how you react to things and how you process things. When you finally start to notice this you will hold onto it. It is ok to be a work in progress. It will take a lot of time and hard work but when you dig you will find yourself again, the heart that feels, the head that rationalizes. You are the same at your core.  Even if others don’t see it or recognize it, you are there.

You can talk about your experience, you can share it with others, and you can inspire people at different stages of their own journey. You may not be the man or the woman that you want to be, should have been, long to be, but you can be the man or woman that you are…

You have to make a decision at the stage you realize you are not meant for transition: 1. You can drop out of life, go into a depression and just carry on as you were or 2. You can face your grief as an integral part of who you are, who you are becoming. You can talk about your experience, you can share it with others, and you can inspire people at different stages of their own journey. You may not be the man or the woman that you want to be, should have been, long to be, but you can be the man or woman that you are; that elusive thread of “you” will start to reappear. Slowly you will be able to weave things together again and the tapestry of your reinvention will come to be.

Reinventing is not the same as abandoning yourself. It is about finding what’s still there of you and building on that with your new scars, wisdom and experiences. You are not making a new person up, you are salvaging the fragments and putting them back together. 

This is something that takes time, laughing, crying, connection, talking, praying, meditating, screaming, walking, colouring, basically every expression you have. It is not helped by drugs or alcohol either, this is sober work. It won’t always feel like you’re making progress but if you keep going you will. It is as simple and difficult as that.

The work of grieving is unavoidable in this process and it will be messy and long. But if you engage, you will begin to notice shifts and changes. You will notice that there are some days when you feel better and you will feel hope. 

Whenever I go through grief the thing I hate the most is the feeling that it will never end. It can feel torturous, your own skin feeling like a prison. It is at that moment of desperation that I will do anything to get myself out of my own head. Usually it is as simple as cutting out images from a magazine and drawing over them. Slowly I start to like the images I am creating. I can see my pain reflected there on the page and it looks…well..beautiful. Another feeling starts to come. I want to see more images and I feel the twinges of inspiration, that surge of the life force itself.  I then sigh, I have been here before and I know I am in the territory of healing. It feels like home and as I enter, I see all of the tapestries I have woven before, beautifully hanging on the walls.

Please let me know your thoughts on this. What is helping you? How do you experience your grief? Who do you talk to about it? 

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