Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dark paths

Proverbs 3:6

"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
I had wanted to write sooner, but I have not been here in mind much. It has taken me everything that I have inside from straying down some very dark paths. I have been struggling with my gender now for several weeks, and I have been conflicted on how I am to find balance between the woman on the inside and the male roll I have decided to take on here in mortality. Two weeks ago when I was sitting in a session with my therapist, he wanted me to try and find a balance in my life. I have been struggling with it ever since. I feel Anima wants to take control and she is not willing to find a balance.

I have thought long and hard about what I need to do to find balance, and it is not an easy thing. There is not just one thing that I have to do, there are many.

Well maybe calling it “balance” is the wrong thing. Every time I try and give a little to Anima she tells me that it is not enough. For example, I bought several pars of purple socks that I ware to work on a regular basis as a way to honour the woman inside. But deep down I feel that is not enough for her. If she had her own way, I would be reborn in a female body, and that will never happen. So I think “inner peace” is a better term for my situation.

So how do I find inner peace when I am staring down the dark path of pornography that in the past has effectively dulled the pain I feel for wanting so bad to be a Woman. The Sunday school answers are the first to come to mind; read my scriptures, say my prayers, and attend my Sunday meetings. They are the easiest ones to do and are suppose to bring the greatest amount of comfort. They are extremely difficult to do if I am having trouble finding the desire to do them.

When I am staring down the dark path of shame, anger and self loathing; what do I do? Finding inner peace when the very thought of myself fills my mind with unbearable hatred. When I feel the intense want to be a woman wash over me I feel the dark deep rifts of shame open up, and I am swallowed up by rage and an intense disgust for myself. Shame has become a constant companion of mine here in this life. I feel it as embarrassment for feeling this way, as unworthiness after viewing inappropriate content on the internet, and disgust as I do things that I am not proud of. But… “Empathy is the antidote to shame. If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish, and douse it with empathy it can’t survive. The two most powerful words when we are in a struggle: me too” — Brené Brown - Listening to shame. “Shame is the swamp land of the soul.”

There are many dark paths I have stared down, but suffice to say these are the two of the darker ones. But what about this antidote to shame: Empathy? What is empathy, and how can it defeat shame? Be aware that empathy and sympathy are not the same.
Britannica Concise Encyclopaedia defines empathy as: [The] ability to imagine oneself in another's place and understand the other's feelings, desires, ideas, and actions. … The empathic actor or singer is one who genuinely feels the part he or she is performing. The spectator of a work of art or the reader of a piece of literature may similarly become involved in what he or she observes or contemplates….
So in order to divest myself of shame I need to feel empathy for those who suffer as well.
Marvin J. Ashton (Give with Wisdom That They May Receive with Dignity) said: Wherever these lost sheep may be, a necessary ingredient for helping is empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s feelings and to feel what he feels. Meaningful help can never be given without empathy for the recipient. This requires gaining the confidence of the person; listening with eyes, ears, and heart; trying to comprehend how this person feels; and then letting him know by your personal performance that you really understand. One who really understands and practices empathy doesn’t solve another’s problems, doesn’t argue, doesn’t top his story, make accusations, or take away free agency. He merely helps the person build his self-reliance and self-image so he can try to find his own solutions.

One of the many things to finding inner peace is to have empathy for others, and I can then rid myself of shame that I feel for being this way.

How can I help others; when I, myself need help?

On my first visit with my therapist he recommended that I read “The mindful path to self compassion” by Christopher Germer, PhD. I am not going to go into any great detail about the book, but he quotes the Dalai Lama. “[Compassion] is the state of wishing that the object of our compassion be free of suffering… yourself first, and then in a more advanced way the aspiration will embrace others” So in short the book teaches how to have compassion for oneself through meditation. It is an amazing book with the power to move your own emotional mountains. The concept be hid this book is like nothing else, and Brene Brown allude to it when she said “they have the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others. Because as it turns out we can’t practice compassion on other people if we cant treat ourselves kindly.”

How does all this add up? I have mentioned several things that have contributed to my lack of inner peace; Anima not wanting to make a compromise, Pornography, and the shame I feel. Through all of this I have started to realise some of my solutions as well; Empathy and mindful meditation will both help me find inner peace. No I have not forgotten the Sunday school answers either. They are what I need in order to find the lord in my inner peace. It has been so long since I practiced them regularly that I am having difficulty finding the desire to take them up again. With persistent practice I will find the desire once again.

These are but a few things I need to do to find inner peace. Like I said there are many, and it will be a constant struggle to keep the peace. I can’t keep hiding who I am and pretending to be someone else in order to make everyone else more comfortable, while I am eating myself up inside. That is why I am going to “fearlessly be myself.” I am going to make myself Vulnerable in spite of my insecurities. Brené Brown in: The power of vulnerability, says it best.
  • let our self be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen.
  • to love with our whole hearts even though there is not guarantee.
  • to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror when we are wondering: can I love you this much? Can I believe in this as passionately? Can I be this fierce about this? Just to be able to stop and instead of catastrophizing what might happen just say, “I feel grateful to feel this vulnerable means I am alive.”
  • I am enough
  • believe I am worthy of love and belonging
  • courage to be imperfect
Now what I need to do is just do it. That is where I am having my problems. I have this desire to better myself and to move on in my life, but I can’t seem to make the first step. I feel like I am spinning my wheels and I am going nowhere fast. I see the journey ahead of me, and I guess I think it is far too great and I become discouraged. While in personal prayer I am pleading with my Heavenly Father to help me, that if there is something I need to do to find the motivation, he will help me see it. I thought there was something I needed to do; that it would just click. Click like a light going on in my head, and I would find the inspiration to move forward. As I pleated I heard this still small voice whisper in my mind “Take the first step.” With the distinct impression that this is all it takes. No grand revelation. No epiphany that will send me on a stead fast journey. This is just a plain and simple truth. I am grateful for personal revelation when in comes in times of quiet contemplation and prayer. I am thankful that the lord is still mindful of me in my struggles as I strive to return unto my heavenly father.
I apologise if this sound preachy and kind of like a sacrament meeting talk, this is just me working things out in my head and coming to realisations I needed to move forward.


  1. I can relate to so much of what you wrote here! I too struggle sometimes with these exact same dark paths, and I agree that even though we know the "sunday school" answers will help, it's hard to get motivated to pick up the scriptures when staring down a web browser that Anima knows would take you where she wants to go. In the past I've sometimes thought of my anima as my "natural woman", as in "the natural man is an enemy to God", but that kind of thinking just reinforced the problem: outer maleness was good, inner feminine was wicked. So I would fight to keep her suppressed, and when she got control, she'd feel free to walk those dark paths.

    Lately I've decided to stop thinking of my maleness and femaleness as separate entities in my head, but as two sides of the same whole, neither inherently good or evil, but prone to both. For me at least, that opened up the possibility of *Arcee* being moved by the Spirit, and not just my male self. I won't say everything is perfect now, far from it, but so far I'm finding balance feels a little more reachable.

    1. Life is a journey, one step at a time. We each have to find a way that is best for us. What might work for one person may not necessarily work for another. But sharing our stories and experiences we can encourage and strengthen each other. Thank you for your words.

    2. I used to feel a lot like this. I used to feel so much hatred for myself--not just my maleness, but my femaleness as well. I hated both sides of myself and I just wished I could be one or the other--I wished I could be normal. I wondered down my own dark paths as well--though not the same ones.

      In time I came to understand that hating myself because I'm transgender was only giving Satan power over me--In the past I let Satan lead me to believe that being trans was evil and in doing so I felt powerless to be good and if we feel powerless to be good then we are and dark paths are the only ones we can see.

      My personal struggle was to learn to separate the two--the evil things Satan had lead me to do and my being transgender. After years of prayer, fasting, research (both secular and religious) I was finally prepared to hear what God had been trying to tell me my entire life--that he loved me for who I am on the inside. He didn't think it was evil that I was transgender. I finally felt that I was okay on the inside.

      Having said that I still struggle with a lot of things in life, but I don't struggle with hating who I am anymore. Honestly, I never thought I would get over that--For so many years I felt like I was doomed to living in a hell of self hatred. I can't explain fully how that hatred left me, but I really feel like the Spirit of God just simply took it from me one day while I was praying about something entirely different.

      It's a difficult struggle, but we can't let ourselves keep giving into the voices that beckon us down those dark paths, and I believe part of the path to doing that is recognizing that being transgender isn't the evil thing and that woman inside you doesn't have to be evil either.

      Hang in there and be patient my friend : )

    3. Oh, I also really meant to say that I really loved all the ideas you pointed out in this post and the way you put them together--very insightful.

    4. I believe now that I am not evil; it is coming to terms with the hatred I have felt.