Friday, 26 December 2014

Being kind to yourself & lowering the bar of happiness

You will, I’m sure have spotted that I’ve not been happy of late.  Despite my best intentions, I seem to have developed a tranche of searingly honest and raw posts that would depress even Eeyore...from a mile away...with one look...in the dark.

A possibly throw away comment on my last but one blog, threw me.  Becca, who is a friend in real life as well as in Blogland, is renowned for cutting through the fog and saying what needs to be said.  It is an instinctive strength that she possesses and is one that I value.  But her latest comment was one that prompted the title of this blog and kind of stopped me in my tracks.

People have said it to me before, “be kind to yourself”, but tonight (the night before Christmas - I delayed the post), instead of sleeping, my mind decided to tackle this particular conundrum.  Because honestly, really honestly, I am not kind to myself.  Becca knows me well enough to know that.  It is really true.  I act, most of the time, like I hate myself.  Like many of us I guess, I have low self-esteem.  It takes a lot for positive comments to reach my core.  So I go through my life feeling like I’m pretty worthless.

So I started to think about what I need to do to be kind to myself.  What does that look like?  Inevitably, what came to mind when I asked myself that question was the answer to a different question: what effect has being unkind to myself had?  The sad thoughts tumbled out.  I’ve disbanded Rhiannon for 12+months to try to make my family happy when its actually causing me excruciating anguish.  I’ve convinced myself that I’ll never pass and that this a good reason to never bother trying to be Rhiannon outside of my closet again.  I’ve prioritised work and specifically clients over my health exacerbating a hernia problem that I don’t have time to fix and that makes me look pregnant in any girl clothes.  I’ve allowed my weight to go out of control to the point where I am unhealthy and hate my body again.  I’ve allowed a problem with my car to fester so that its nagging on my brain all the time.  I’ve got behind on my work again because I’m unhappy about being unhappy and find it hard to concentrate and I’m scared I’ll get things wrong because I see myself as pretty useless.  I put things that everyone else wants to the front of mind and what I want to the back of my mind - even when what they want is unreasonable.  I’ve stopped having any kind of meaningful relaxation because despite a massively high work ethic, its never enough and if the volume of work done was ever was enough, it would never be of a high enough quality.  I beat myself up for the 6 things I haven’t done, instead of feeling good about the 60 I have completed.  I’m using my spare time to do things that I don’t care about because someone else thought it would be a good thing to do.  I obsess that I’ve offended people because I talk about Rhiannon regularly with them and I sound like a broken record.  I’ve stopped facing up to my problems.  I could go on, but you get the idea.  I am really unkind to myself.

The question is, given 40 years of being unkind to myself, how do you change that pattern?  I don’t really do selfish very well and to be honest, that’s why I am where I am.  So how can I be kind to myself without being selfish to others?  Where else do you go to find out?  Google of course!  Search: “be kind to yourself.”  Hey, its the middle of the night and I don’t have a therapist to hand.  There was one that I settled on which was quite interesting.  The positivity blog.  Of course.  There are some really interesting steps in there which I am going to try - my three favourites were, ‘set a low bar for happiness’, ’if you stumble, be your own best friend’ and ‘remember, the future is still in your hands - and it is never too late to change.’  I want to take baby steps towards being more positive and thinking more highly of myself - and I will.  Just listing out the list above to be honest was cathartic.  Realising I’m unhappy on so many fronts and that I need radical change has been a huge insight.  I’m going to go back to seek counselling in the new year.  But for now, I’m going to tackle some of the above and see what I can do, one-day at a time, starting with today, to be really kind to myself.

12 comments:

  1. That Positivity Blog has excellent advice!

    Rhiannon, if you really, really need to live the female life, then you have a major medical issue and words like 'selfish' are irrelevant. You must get treatment. And you certainly mustn't feel apologetic or boring or inadequate for taking the correct steps to fix yourself.

    If you have fully faced up to such a need, then you can use all your personal skills - and you come across as a person who has them - to plan and execute a rational and logical series of steps that will get yourself to where you have to be. Guilt and regret and sorrow and financial consequences there may be, but this is the rest of your life at stake.

    I can tell you from my own experience that being one's real self all the time, with all aspects of being female addressed, is a revelation, and it has completely repaired my damaged self-esteem and self-confidence.

    I do see now, in retrospect, that I went ahead at the best moment, and in the best way (medically speaking) for me to ensure success. I was lucky in that, but, looking around at my friends, so many of them have succeeded too. Some were more organised than others, some wept more than others as the beloved bits of the Old Life got shipwrecked. But they all found their real selves, with their personal talents intact, and with all the capacity for future happiness set up and ready to go.

    If you go down the same road, I would recommend one big thing: have a secure sanctuary. You need somewhere private to retreat to, a home of your own for rest, recovery, recuperation and regrouping. Somewhere you can't be got at. My little bungalow was my sanctuary. It still is. I accept in fact that my calm and assured approach to living nowadays depends very much on having this bolt-hole for myself, and being surrounded by all the sustaining and soothing personal things inside it. I don't see how you can go through The Process without such a base. Some do, of course. But I still think it's an essential. Camping out long-term in someone else's space is not going to give anyone a sense of 'my home' or 'my transtition HQ'.

    Lucy

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    1. I'm sorry that this is a quick reply, but thank you so much for your response Lucy. You really challenged my thinking and actually caused something of a reflect fest today. I will write a blog on my conclusions over the coming days. As ever, you hit the heart of the matter.

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  2. I have but one phrase for you: You are beautiful.

    That's it.

    God bless,

    Joanna x

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    1. Thank you so much Joanna. You have no idea how much that was appreciated and the tears it brought to my eyes. You are so lovely. x

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  3. Rhi, I just want to say I'm proud of you that you are tackling your negative self-esteem.
    To coin a cliche "know thy enemy", well you have done that with your list.
    I was always taught to "think positive", which is in the same vain as the positive blog.
    Work at it, and don't forget to give us a running commentary on your progress.
    I endorse everything that Lucy said, she has the wisdom of hignsight and we can all learn from her.
    The use of a sanctuary is excellent, a place where you can be you.
    Some of us have one without realising it, you will find yours.
    Joanna said "You are beautiful", Yes!
    It's about time girl that you realise we can't all be wrong out here, be it.
    We are watching you, don't go away.
    xx
    Abi

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    1. Thank you Abi - definitely working on being positive! I hope that my list is a good starting point in terms of the things to address.

      I'm still worried about the impact of Rhiannoning on my relationship, but I do know that I can't not do anything. Running commentary to follow...

      I think you are right - Lucy's comments were really helpful! It made me realise that I don't know where I want this to head. Do I want ever to transition or will this always just be a part-time thing for me? The answer to that is quite critical in terms of next steps for me. I'm still working on the blog where I have started to think that through - but it should be done today or tomorrow.

      Hope you've had a great Christmas lovely lady...

      Rhi x

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    2. You mentioned transition or part time, this a critical and important decision. A catch 22 situation. You need more time as Rhiannon to help decide, but can't get it, to decide. Not sure how you can get this organised, but you need time for yourself, away from home and work and live full time as Rhiannon. How long? Only you can set the time frame, but it must be full time! Get out among people see how they react to you and monitor how you react to this reaction. Be Rhi, think as Rhi, pamper the girl in you, over do it, go into girly overdrive, forget the commitments in the background nagging you to do other things, be selfish, the only commitment you have in this time is to be 100% Rhi. If possible have a girlfriend to do this with you and tell her to make sure you keep in girl mode all the time, it's more fun anyway, than being solo.
      I think you get the gist of what I'm going on about. The acid test.
      I am not sure if the experience will answer some of your questions, most probably it will ask some more. Maybe in this 'Rhi timeout', working through the list may give you more insight that in your usual surroundings.
      I ramble on as usual Rhi as is my way.
      When I come to think about it, maybe I was talking to myself here and not only to you...

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    3. Thank you Abi, it would be lovely to somehow get extended time as Rhiannon. I have spent a couple of days in Rhiannon mode previously as really enjoyed the experience, but a week for example would be an interesting test.

      But in many ways, as I'm going to discuss in the next blog - the question is not about whether you can pass / enjoy the time / be the woman you are, etc. The big issue is whether you have some deep seated incongruence and sadness about your gender inside you that is desperately driving you to need to transition.

      Its only after you have decided that you have an inner need that strong and that you've decided to pursue it that comes the rest - i.e. how well am I going to do it.

      I've been thinking far too much about this of late! :o)

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  4. ...how do you change that pattern?

    Not overnight, would be my first thought. The second would probably be cake, but I'm not sure that helps. Thirdly, small things. Take control of what you can and just do your best to be kind to yourself.

    A few months ago, I read the simple line about air travel of put your oxygen mask on first. They're - dare I say this? - wise words, that are a much about air safety and bringing up kids (you need sleep, you need time on your own once in a while), as it is about life. How can you continue to put everyone before you, all of the time?

    I think there's an instinctive but - nothing to do with J Lo :-) - 'but what about others?' True *and* what about you? You need to eat, sleep and take care of yourself, before you can take care of others. It's a tricky juggling act, but the things you want rarely come easily. Good luck <3

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  5. Thank you Lynn, I really appreciate your comments on my blog - you are such a kind lady. I'm realising that I'm quite extreme in putting other people first, it is my default setting. I don't mean that to sound arrogant, but I know I do it. And you are right, I need to start somewhere. I really struggle to do that without knowing the big picture. Small changes when you are trans can very quickly snowball and I want to figure out what I really want and where I want it to finish up so that I can decide how to move it forward.

    The other thing is though that it is also an attitude irrespective of trans-ness, that in general I need to start treating myself well.

    Thank you x

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  6. I've thought about this blog post for a while as one's first instinct when one reads something like this is always to give advice and/or comfort and/or send a positive message. But maybe that's too easy and not as suitable as it may a first appear. I myself will start by saying say that it's good and courageous of you to be publicly honest with how you feel and where you think things may have been going wrong as it helps the rest of us to recognise similarities with our own outlook and behaviour. The changing flow of your feelings, though, precludes a definite, black and white solution now (and there may never be need for one). Gentleness should develop as you gradually wean yourself off old habits of severity, and that will make it easier to move to a position where you can contemplate how things are working well and happily in your world. BTW, I think you're beautiful too and not just on the outside. A hug. Sue x

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    1. Thank you so much Sue - your kind words are really appreciated - as is the time that you've given to thinking and responding.

      Its been interesting as I think that this blog has *fingers crossed* been a little bit of a turning point in my journey. Just being cognisant of the fact that I need to be kinder to myself has caused me to catch myself either doing it or not doing it. As you say, now is not the time for black and white solutions, it is time for noticing patterns and learning how, when and why I behave towards myself as I do. Armed with some more information, I hope that some solutions will follow. Hug received with thanks. Rhi x

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