This may end up being a bit rambly, so bear with me if you can.
I had a therapy session recently. We talked about my transition work which is all about coming out in my professional life these days. We also talked about some of the more personal aspects and impacts of transition, namely the impact it’s having on my intimate relationships. And we also talked about the idea of integration and what transitioning means to me internally.
A lot of what gets talked about when someone is in transition are the external changes, the stuff obvious to other people. Today I’ve been pondering the less visible changes. People notice if you change your legal name, they don’t notice when you start seeing your insides in a new way.
I’m seeing my insides in a new way now, well, it’s a process and I think it’s been happening for a while and I’m becoming more aware of it. There was a time not so long ago, where I was living two lives, two almost completely separate lives. I created an alternate identity for myself, a space I could experiment within, a space I could explore gender and identity and relationships that were very different from what I had been experiencing previously. I created the identity Kyle Jones and the Butchtastic place because I didn’t believe it was possible to explore these topics within my existing identity. I wanted to know what it felt like to be perceived and received the way I wanted to without the baggage of my history and my other life. I wanted to strut around as Kyle without having to explain Casey.
This was one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done. It was absolutely the right thing to do at the time. It was also a decision that eventually drove a wedge between my wife and I and if I’d continued that split of my identities, I’m now certain a split is what would have happened to us. She said as much the other day, when I talked to her about my session.
A couple of years ago, I couldn’t imagine or envision what it would be like to integrate my two selves into one. Or, wait, I take that back. I could imagine something and it wasn’t pleasant. What I thought would happen made me panicky and I didn’t want to consider it. I panicked because all I could imagine from integration was giving up what I had discovered, or large parts of it. At the time, I couldn’t imagine my masculinity, my male self, my Kyle-ness, becoming a part of my day-to-day life. I couldn’t imagine my family accepting it, my co-workers or even my wife.
I lived two lives for a few years. I kept them mostly separate, though over time the distinction became more and more blurred. I invited Casey friends to check out my Kyle side and this blog. I invited Kyle friends who had earned my trust to become Casey friends.
My therapist invited me to draw a diagram illustrating the areas of my life and self that belong to Kyle and to Casey, along with the overlap. She also talked about my core self, that part of me that has always felt genderless, bottomless, bigger than all of it. What elements of Kyle and Casey really reside there? What is my core made up of? I’ve made drawings like this before, attempting to organize all of my self-stuff in a way that made sense. Once I have my current drawing, I’m going to pull out the ones I made previously. I know there will be differences and I’m certain I’ll learn something through the comparison.
What does this all mean for Kyle and Casey? Neither really ever stood alone. The sense of self that has been Kyle has always leaned on Casey for support. Casey likewise reached into Kyle’s bag of tricks when the occasion warranted. I know now that I can proceed with my transition, my integration without being required to leave something dear to me behind. All options are open to me. I have the support of my family, my friends, my wife. Not to say it will always be easy, there are some choices I might make that will require a lot of accommodation on the part of others, even more than having to learn to use different pronouns. I’m wondering about legally changing my name. I am still not sure what to do about my boobs. I may still try T at some point.
Hopefully, integration means I feel more me, more whole. Two years ago I couldn’t imagine being where I am now, so what future will I realize two years from now that I can’t imagine now? Maybe I should try, perhaps I should allow myself to imagine things that seem impossible now. Maybe I should imagine myself whole.
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