I grew up very unhappy. I know that growing up is hard for everyone, and I am not saying my life was harder or unhappier than anyone else’s. But for me, it was tough.
Dysphoria puts a huge disconnect into your life between how people see you and how you see yourself. What they expect of you, the roles and persona you are expected to adopt. And whenever you realise that you are acting in a certain way for others, it increases your dysphoria.
I understand completely the high level of suicide and attempted suicide in the trans community, and suicide was a concept that was very never far away from me as I grew up.
All I wanted in life was to “get over it,” to not be dysphoric. I ached with a desire to be normal, to fit in, to be able to be a normal guy just like my classmates and some of my friends. But I was “weird”. They knew it, I knew it, no matter how hard I tried to hide it.
Dysphoria is a terrible weight that for some people can kill. That I have managed to cope with it is something I don’t understand. I think I am lucky, but my Domme does not like me to use the word luck, and in truth, she is right, I found the way to overcome.
For one, my family was unconventional in many ways, and that gave me a small window to breathe from, a small window for self-expression.
The other window came from school and sport. I had a gift in a sport that gave me a coach and mentor who was hugely influential in my life, mostly about ethics and values, and the joy of hard work. I was well and truly going off the rails and he is one of two men in my life that truly stepped in. My success in that sport combined with a hunger to succeed and to escape got me into a great academic track that carried me into a great university. Moving away from home I felt for the first time that I needed to escape not realising that what I needed to escape was inside of me.
I didn’t thrive my first year at University. Drugs. I quit sport, which was the thing that got me there into school in the first place. I went off the rails. Nearly got kicked out. It was a wake-up call. I did get my act together, changed my degree to one that was truer to me. My SO teases me that what I studied was women’s rights, but I know she appreciates it. My perspective is a big part of why she married me.
I moved to the Big Apple after graduating from university. I was following a girl I was dating who came from there. It didn’t last long. We went through an unusually painful breakup because she was an emotional sadist. Her parents were both psychotherapists—quite possibly why she was so darned good at messing with my heart. They were easy to talk to and I opened up just a tiny bit to them about how my sense of self was disconnected from my persona—that I was inhabiting a “skin” and that I just wanted to be like everyone else.
They recommended I contact a famous psychoanalytic institute in the City, that they had a program to make it affordable, that they might take me on, that it was a fabulous program, etc. To think, an admissions process for therapy!
I contacted the Institute and asked them about it, and they asked me to fill out a questionnaire which included a lot of personal feelings in essay form. I explained to them that I could only talk to a woman. They agreed to see me. They wanted to know if I was a good candidate for therapy, and they also wanted to know who they should match me up with.
My appointment was with one of the directors of the Institute, in her mid-50’s. She had this incredible magical power about her, and in the two hours I spent talking to her in her office, I confessed more of my soul than I knew I had. She had a magical way with just a few words, gestures, expressions of touching the locks that held all of my secrets to make them spring open. I felt high afterwards. I had such a spring in my step, and it lasted for days.
I wanted to be “normal”. I wanted to not have fetishes. I wanted to be happy in my body. I wanted to stop wanting to be a girl. I wanted the pain to stop. I just wanted to be a normal, happy, effective guy. Finally, I felt this dream was within reach. I spent two years working with the therapist that the Institute assigned me. She wanted to work on my self-destructive habits. I wanted to work on my sexuality. It was frustrating, and one day it all bubbled out.
“Stop asking questions. Just tell me, help me, tell me what to do. I can’t figure this out for myself. Am I ever going to get better?”
What she told me was not what I wanted to hear, but is what saved my life and put me on a path to internal healing that hasn’t stopped. She helped me see in that moment how much I enjoyed these things that I hated. How much I enjoyed being able to feel the feelings I had, to experience and see and feel in the way that I did. And how central to my identity these things were. “What if it goes and is replaced by nothing? What if we can make these feelings disappear, and I am not saying we can, what then? What if nothing new grows in to take its place? What if you’re just dead inside after?” She told me that she couldn’t implant vanilla fantasy and living into my life. That what I was asking for was to eliminate the things that made me unique, different, special. I didn’t like what I was hearing, because it was painful, and she didn’t like telling me, because I was the one who needed to figure it out, but I needed more from her, and in that moment she gave it to me. Two years of therapy condensed into one session. I stopped seeing her not too long after that, because the seed was planted. What she said to me stopped my self-destructive behaviour dead in its tracks, “why do you think you are doing that? Do you want to hurt yourself?”
That was about the same time that my closest friend, one of only a few in my life who knew about my female nature asked me, “do you love you?” And explained to me that if I didn’t love me, that I would never be able to love anyone. And I knew that I was just spilling over with love, just not in a directed or controlled fashion, and that I did not to work on self-love.
I am sure that without my therapist’s intervention at that moment, I would possibly not be here today, and would absolutely not have gone on to achieve some of the things I did in the immediate, mid-term, and long-term aftermath.
My S.O. made me go to a new therapist before we got married, to keep working on my demons. I still have dysphoria, that doesn’t go away. I still feel emotional pain from it every day, but instead of being acute it is more wistful. And this pain feeds me now, feeds my love of women, my respect for women, my absolute need for submission, but also my burning desire to succeed (for without success, what value is submission?), and my deep love for family, friends and for people who put more into the world than take out.
If you find the right therapist for your needs, it can literally save your life.