Monday, May 16, 2011

'What kind of woman do you want to be?

200 Hours, that's about how much of my life I've spent on some therapist's couch. You don't keep these struggles for 40 years without spending a lot of time there. I've had some good ones and I've had some that were in way over their heads. In this latest round of therapy I was only looking for 'The Letter'.

In case you don't know there's a whole protocol for E. Before you can even see a Doctor for E, you've got to get 'The Letter'. 'The Letter', well you get one from your therapist and all it really says is you're mentally ready to change genders, you're not crazy, and you know the risks.

As I said, I've had some good therapists and some bad ones. Some have allowed me to see myself for who I am and come to terms with it all. Some have taught M and I how to live and thrive even with these struggles. And some just took our money...

Just as a side note, 'How'd that make you feel' If you hear that in therapy, just pack up your stuff and leave. That's Psych 101 and he's got no idea what you're going through. He had to say something and that's all he's got.

... So anyway, I spent most of last year in therapy just to get that letter, and I'm just killing time with her and trying to say all the right things to move on in the process. It's the typical back and forth and she's not telling me anything I don't already know. Most of the time it feels more like a Q and A session with an interviewer. The questions are asked and answered and we quickly move on. One question though stops me in my tracks. "What kind of woman do you want to be?"

Wow, never thought of that. Simple little question really, this is one of the few times in your life you get to start over and become a whole new person. The question lingers for a moment and I make up some answer to keep moving down the path.

But it gnaws at me. It lingers and grows inside me.  Now, more then a year later it resurfaces and bubbles out. This is one of those simple little questions with big, deep, and troubling answers.

After thinking about this for awhile I've decided to think of the question from a teenage girl's point of view. I mean really, the only ones who usually have to answer this question are teenage girls growing up to be young women. How do they decide? How do they mold themselves into the women they want to be? When I reframe the question like that it becomes obvious, role models. Their lives are filled with role models. They have their Mom to show them how to love unconditionally, how to raise a family, how to be a good wife and mother. Dad to show them what to expect out of a marriage, what kind of love to demand from there future husbands.

But just as important are their friends and everyone surrounding them. They see their peers who they want to be like, or not like. They see other girls just a little older and a little further down the path and they think to themselves they could be that girl. Your whole life is guided by those just in front of you on the path you've chosen. How to dress, how to behave, what to ask, when to move on. Everyone around you influences who you become. You imitate ones you like, and avoid things you don't. Each interaction with those near you influences the steps you take next.

But, and here's the catch, the most important roles models are the ones most like you. Those closest to you on the path you're on. The ones you look at and think to yourself I could do that, I could be her. With just a little bit of work, effort, thought, I could take a little piece of her and make it mine, become that woman.

And here's the problem for me. 'What kind of woman do you want to be?' . Turns out it's a trick question, a question which only hides more questions. What it's really asking is 'Who are your role models?'

There, that's why this question bothers me so much. It's not that I don't know who I want to be, it's because I'm alone on this path. There are no role models. There's no one around me where I can look at them and think to myself, I could be her. There's no one showing me what's possible, there's no one close whose walking a few steps ahead of me on this path. How am I supposed to evolve without some guidance as to how to move forward.

Just like the atom, I split the question and out pops 'Who are your role models?'.

Some times I look around this path and wonder is this even a path? Has anyone ever walked this way before? How about a little light, a few footsteps, but that's not to be I'm afraid.