Emoblog/2017/12/01/watching myself crash
One of the huge but subtle side-effects of transitioning has been that I can now observe a lot of my own non-rational/emotional reactions without feeling a deep sense of failure at their mere existence. (This is arguably yet another of the minor superpowers I seem to have gained from transitioning.)
For example, a feeling of isolation at a social gathering could spiral down into a sense of utter worthlessness before I had any clue what was going on. The fact that I felt so terrible and isolated while everyone around me was having fun would just reinforce this idea (already present because of gender dysphoria and my history) that I was fundamentally inferior or broken in some way, which of course meant that nobody could possibly ever love me or even respect my actual self, which of course made me feel worse, and so on.
At least two or three times now, though, I've caught myself having the beginnings of those same reactions – and realized that this is just part of how I react to things. It's probably because of CPTSD from a long history of being emotionally neglected, abandoned, and rejected, but even if it's completely innate to me as a person (hard-wired from birth or irretrievably engraved in my psyche), that doesn't make me unworthy.
This is a very strange thing to find myself realizing. I'm still getting used to it.
I think I'd even go so far as to say that this is true even if I'm the only creature alive who experiences these reactions. I don't know that existence would be worthwhile if that were true, because then life would just be one long irredeemable stretch of feeling lonely and abandoned, but I wouldn't need to feel inferior or even unlovable. (It just might be that my love-sensors are broken, so I can never feel the love other people are sending me.) I'd just be dealing with this huge negative feeling a lot, and I'd have to decide if life was worth it. I know some quite wonderful people (Jenny and Natalie come to mind) who apparently decided it wasn't, so this is a question in need of serious consideration.
Although that's a scary thought, it's not the same kind of bottomless scary as thinking that you're completely unworthy of anyone ever. It's possible to look at the situation with some objectivity, instead of turning away from it in terror.
Two recent events come to mind:
- At our family thanksgiving celebration – after maybe an hour or so of eating and then futilely attempting to engage in (or at least properly follow) the conversation – I began to feel overwhelmed and isolated, so I went into another room for the rest of the evening and quietly collapsed. While I still felt terrible (overwhelmed and isolated and different), it didn't feel like the bottom was dropping out of my world. It was okay to just feel intensely sad for awhile; it wasn't something I had to fix. I could just let it happen, let it run its course. I could cry it out for catharsis without increasing my sense of aloneness. (...unlike the Skate Inncident, where I just felt like everything was lost and I should die.)
- After a long, intense, and satisfying conversation with a new friend, I was feeling relaxed and positive about existing. The next day, though, I suddenly began to worry that something would go wrong – that I had already messed up in some way I hadn't realized, or would do so, or that I was misperceiving their intentions towards me. I knew this was mostly unrealistic, but it still triggered all these feelings of abandonment and unworthiness... which, again, I realized weren't reality, but just me reacting... so I just let myself ride them down, as I sat there eating my lunch and all through the shopping trip that followed, knowing I'd eventually come back up again.
It was during that second event that some thoughts finally started to crystallize.
[apparently this post isn't finished yet...]