Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fear and Loving in Nashvegas

Last Friday, I went to see a sex therapist in Nashville as part of the requirements for me to get letters for Sexual Reassignment Surgery. I'd seen her two weeks before and taken some assessments, so this session was primarily to go over the results and talk about some of the difficulties I might face both related to the surgery and for life in general.

I'll state, for the sake of clarity, that I was and am quite irked at having to go through this process. The cost, the patronizing way the process is handled, the blatant ciscentric measurements, etc. all made me come in rather angry and mistrusting. But my therapist at home suggested I just try to make the best of the opportunity and, politics be damned, see if I can get something real out of it.

Overall, I think I did. The sex therapist told me the results of my tests probably wouldn't be surprising, and they weren't: I had significant degrees of anxiety and depression, with a fair number of indicators that I might have depressive personality disorder. I am very guarded, prone to intellectualization as a defense mechanism, and sociopolitical minded. In other words, I am, you know, me.

There were a fair number of points that she made over the course of the three hour session, but the one that's perhaps most salient to me is this: I often allow my emotional needs to compromise my judgment. As she put it, I am able to well argue most of the decisions I make. Providing rationales is not difficult, and it serves as a particularly solid defense mechanism. However, such capacities also mean I can rationalize to the point where I convince myself of various courses of action which, while having degrees of logic behind them, are ultimately unhealthy regardless of their ethicality or rationality. That's not particularly unusual, of course. But it can be quite dangerous to a person with my particular self-destructive proclivities.

As should surprise no one, this manifests itself most poisonously in my relationship choices. The "relationship" I was "in" (and it is so complicated as to justifiably merit scare quotes) was started with someone I knew I couldn't trust who I found myself completely falling for anyway. My desperate need for someone who fit me as well as she did caused me to rationalize my way through various warning signs and pertinent obstacles to the point that I signed myself up for a year of violent uncertainty, terror, self-loathing, and ultimately heartbreak. The kind where you lie sobbing in bed wishing that pain alone could kill you because it hurts so fucking bad to lose so much of yourself. The kind that haunts you like the dead, that leaves you replaying everything over and over and over and wondering why why why?

And as much as I want to say I've learned, I'm still quite vulnerable to repeating it. I find myself lying in bed wondering if I will be single forever. What if I will never find someone who's compatible with me? What if everyone I meet who's compatible is partnered? What if I'm in the wrong place at the wrong age with the wrong circles and I am destined to be alone for the entirety of the foreseeable future? Oh god it's terrifying. I hate being alone. I hate it I hate it I hate it. I want someone to want me. I want to want someone. I want to be able to wake up sobbing in the middle of the night and have someone there. I want to have dreams of isolation and desolation and be able to have someone hold me when I wake fragmented. I want someone to call when I'm afraid, when I'm angry, when I'm bored, when I'm horny. Someone to touch and fuck and talk to and hold and play and and and and and. And I don't want to be alone. And what if my standards are too high? What if this is forever? What if if if if if if

Yeah. It's so seductive, this narrative. It's like my father taking things that have some basis in truth, cherry-picking the parts that fit his perceptions, and then using that truthful foundation to make the cherries appear just as valid. Why wouldn't a person so scared and alone and needy grasp onto whatever's tossed her way, given the very legitimate needs and the very real uncertainties described above?

Why wouldn't I? Because down that path lies so, so much pain. Grasping for what's immediately available lends itself to heartbreak and waking up at some point wondering where the hell my real life went. I tell myself that I'm playing the long game, laying the foundation for decades of actualization at the cost of immediate sacrifice. And when I have that foundation, I can find someone who does not complete me but complements me. Who adds vibrancy to my already meaningful life.

It's entirely feasible. It's healthy. It ought to be so very rewarding. But it doesn't make sleeping alone tonight any better.

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