This may end up being a bit rambly, so bear with me if you can.
I had a therapy session recently. Â We talked about my transition work which is all about coming out in my professional life these days. Â We also talked about some of the more personal aspects and impacts of transition, namely the impact it’s having on my intimate relationships. Â 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. Â Today I’ve been pondering the less visible changes. Â 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. Â There was a time not so long ago, where I was living two lives, two almost completely separate lives. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â I wanted to strut around as Kyle without having to explain Casey.
This was one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done. Â It was absolutely the right thing to do at the time. Â 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. Â 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. Â Or, wait, I take that back. Â I could imagine something and it wasn’t pleasant. Â What I thought would happen made me panicky and I didn’t want to consider it. Â I panicked because all I could imagine from integration was giving up what I had discovered, or large parts of it. Â At the time, I couldn’t imagine my masculinity, my male self, my Kyle-ness, becoming a part of my day-to-day life. Â I couldn’t imagine my family accepting it, my co-workers or even my wife.
I lived two lives for a few years. Â I kept them mostly separate, though over time the distinction became more and more blurred. Â I invited Casey friends to check out my Kyle side and this blog. Â 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. Â She also talked about my core self, that part of me that has always felt genderless, bottomless, bigger than all of it. Â What elements of Kyle and Casey really reside there? Â What is my core made up of? Â I’ve made drawings like this before, attempting to organize all of my self-stuff in a way that made sense. Â Once I have my current drawing, I’m going to pull out the ones I made previously. Â 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? Â Neither really ever stood alone. Â The sense of self that has been Kyle has always leaned on Casey for support. Â Casey likewise reached into Kyle’s bag of tricks when the occasion warranted. Â I know now that I can proceed with my transition, my integration without being required to leave something dear to me behind. Â All options are open to me. Â I have the support of my family, my friends, my wife. Â 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. Â I’m wondering about legally changing my name. Â I am still not sure what to do about my boobs. Â I may still try T at some point.
Hopefully, integration means I feel more me, more whole. Â 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? Â Maybe I should try, perhaps I should allow myself to imagine things that seem impossible now. Â Maybe I should imagine myself whole.
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