This post is the 23rd in a series.
I did quite a bit of journaling through the time when I was coming to recognize my reality. I would like to share some of these entries with you as a window into what it means to come out. Please come back to read through the rest of the journey. If you haven’t read the first, you can click here to be redirected to that post, called Truth. From there, at the bottom of each post you can navigate to the next.
June 27, 2020
On Monday (June 22), I got my hair cut. Have I written since then? It appears that I have! I might end up repeating some things. Oh well. I love my new hair! I’m still figuring out how to do it/how I want it to look. But I love it. I think it looks neither particularly feminine nor particularly masculine. I think that’s what I like best about it. I like that it’s so easy/quick to wash and dry. I had SO much hair before! I can pick up the blow dryer, try something and most of my hair is dry it 5 minutes. Amazing! I like that it seems to lift my face a little I really don’t like my lower cheek area, which I think of as jowls. This hair helps that, I think.
On Monday afternoon I cleaned out my closet. There are many pieces in there that I enjoyed wearing. But thinking about it, I think I enjoyed them because they successfully portrayed the picture of a woman that I had decided I could be comfortable with. Some things gave me pause because I think they’re beautiful or I did particularly like them. In the end, I kept a couple of blazers and a couple of turtlenecks. The blazers are black/grey and are the most masculine-leaning. And I’m just not sure how I’ll feel about turtlenecks come winter. In the end, it was freeing to fold them all up and make room for something new. I had several more moments of, “Am I really doing this? Can I really do this?” I’ve inhabited the role of woman for so long, it still seems unreal that I get to step out of it.
Which reminds me that I came out to the rest of my team at work this week: almost everyone at our meeting on Tuesday and then two colleagues on Wednesday because they weren’t at the meeting. As I continue to seek for ways to describe how I feel, the Spirit gave me the image of a character actor’s process. The actor strives to understand their character – their experiences, what motivates them, etc., so that their portrayal is authentic and consistent. I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing all these years: getting into and portraying the character of “woman.” Perhaps to add to that, or expand it, or shift is slightly, that makes me think of an undercover police officer – they are immersed in a role in a way that even actors aren’t. A lot rides on their ability to stay in character and come across as authentically as possible – all the time, for a long period of time, perhaps. I have seen portrayals of undercover officers forgetting who they really are because they’ve immersed themselves in a role so thoroughly. That’s how I feel – I’ve been immersed in “woman” so long. I’m having a challenge to separate out the real me. But at least at last I’ve recognized there is a real me under the disguise!
I was talking to my brother the other day and realized something while we were talking: perhaps my pathological fear of appearing foolish stems from my unconscious knowing that I’ve been playing a role and everything rides on my playing it well. I need to think on that more; there’s more there. When you’re living as your true self, you can just be who you are. But when you’re deep undercover, the self-evaluation is heavily ingrained. If the character you’ve adopted is not “frivolous, silly girl,” then frivolity isn’t going to pass the authenticity test. And I used “girl” purposely because I started to create this persona a long time ago. I think frivolity or silliness or fun weren’t part of the picture because … because why? Was it solely because I thought Dad hated silliness? Was it because I knew that I was treading a line to be taken seriously as a woman and not some kind of weirdo, so the persona had to be serious? Did I just not have any models of spontaneous, fun-loving women who were also respected? When you’re creating a character or persona, you need some sort of model to base it on.
I’m kind of excited to look into the future to give myself permission to untangle the personal from the real me. Just this morning on our walk with the dog, I had a little hint of euphoria in thinking about not having to live up to the exacting standards of that internal Assessor all the time. How else can I describe it? In the last few days, I have imagine someone criticizing my presentation (sometimes the inner Assessor appears as an outer critic), and I have imagined an outer response of something like, “Good thing I’m not a woman, then!” And on the interior there is such relief at not having to answer to that anymore, of not having to be subject to that rubric of successful existence. As I write about this, putting it outside myself, it sounds exhausting. I can’t wait to get to a place where I have left all that behind freely be me.
I am currently in a liminal space, though, which seems to be even more exhausting: the space of separating out the persona from the real. Part of that process is coming out – to different people, yes, but also as different parts of myself emerge, it’s about grasping that about myself and trying to understand it myself and then trying to describe it for others. So this week I have come out as non-binary to my whole branch at work (after talking to my team I sent an email out to everyone else). In doing so, I have once again tried to put my experience into words and in the process have opened myself up to discover more of myself. It’s all good work. I am so thankful to have the Spirit with me every step. I see her in every conversation, in every insight, in every feeling of pleasure about who I really am. Right this minute, I’m giving myself permission to be physically tired from all of this significant internal work.