Yesterday, my therapist agreed with me that I no longer need regular visits. My appointments had been reduced from last year’s need of seeing her almost every week, to once a month, to the last few months’ being on an as-needed basis.
As long as things continue as they have since late in 2015, I have no need to return.
In all, I engaged three therapists. The first was in late March, 2013. I drove two hours each way to tell the woman whose qualifications seemed what I needed, “I need you to determine whether I am transgender or just completely screwed up.” A few days later, I was convincing myself of the impossibility of my transitioning, cancelled my second appointment, and went back to fighting myself.
By mid-April, I was in constant meltdown. Julie went to work doing what Julie does: Research! She located a man whose qualifications were even better than the woman I had seen. I placed a call. I left a message. That evening, he called me back.
“I need a therapist.”
“I’m booked up.”
“I suffer from gender dysphoria.”
“On Monday, call my assistant and she will put you on the waiting list.”
“I am a pastor in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. I am suicidal. I don’t know what to do with myself.”
“I will have my assistant call you on Monday to see how soon we can get you in.”
Seven days after that conversation, Julie and I drove the nearly two hours to his office and fell in love with the man who would do his best with me for the next fifteen months.
I begged for skills to calm my brain, to remain male, so that I could remain in the ministry, so that I would not destroy my entire world. He did his best. As I have now learned from my wide study of gender dysphoria, talk therapy rarely is, well, therapeutic. One simply cannot talk himself into unifying his gender and sex.
Having moved to Indy, our insurance would not cover appointments via Internet. I found the therapist that I have had since December, 2014, Kathy Slaughter of Soaring Heart Counseling.
Last April 23, I left Kathy’s office having spent the entire hour in tears—in bitter, sobbing, angry, questioning tears. As I drove home, I realized that it was two years since I had gotten serious with a therapist, and I felt I had gotten nowhere. I broke down.
I struggle to explain how deep my pain was. How profoundly I hated myself. How desperate I was to remain a male and spare my family, church family, and friends what I was positive would slay many of them. Unless a person has experienced the entire recipe, he cannot know how it tastes.
Yeah, I was suicidal. You bet, I constantly dreamed of running away from home. And it is no joke that I prayed the Lord would let me lose my mind so that I could be institutionalized and therefore spare everyone my mess.
During these two years, I was in constant prayer, seeking the Lord Jesus’ good and gracious will for my life. As, last April, I gathered myself in the hour after I returned home, I finally had the sense that it was time to go public about my gender dysphoria, why I had to retire from the ministry.
“Is it time, Lord? That is what I am hearing from you. Is it time?”
I wrote the piece that I would post the next day. I read it and prayed. The next morning, I readied to post it. I stopped, walked away from my computer, and prayed. All systems were go. There was no turning back. Finally, healing was underway.
This is not to say that every day of the past eleven months have been Friday nights with my beloved pizza. When I went public, I had a short period of being strengthened in my fight to remain male. It turned out to be nothing more than every other time I was able to suck it up: Outside influence briefly buoyed me. Ah, but I don’t live in public; I live in my brain. Soon, I found myself dreading that I would need to tell my world that I was not making it as a male.
My therapist, Kathy, held me together, asked me the questions I needed to answer, and when I asked for specific observations she showed her training, experience, and savvy: She always had important ways for me to see myself.
The months ticked off. She rode the roller coaster with me. I jumped onto the thrill ride which is transitioning. While there was one very specific bump in the road, the past eight months have proven what I never dreamed possible: For me to live as a woman is highly therapeutic.
If you were to observe me around my house, out with my friends, with my family, you would see the old Greg in the new Gina: Happy, full of life, playful, always the jokester.
So, yesterday, as Kathy and I sat together, it was quite something that I was able honestly to say, “I don’t intend to make any more regular visits. I’ve not had a meltdown since last fall. I am consistently happy, content to have my name change underway, and pleased to know that soon I will be able to have my facial feminization surgery.”
Her reply went something like this: “I never want to be anyone’s therapist forever. It is very good when we get to the point where a person no longer needs me. You have arrived.”
I don’t think her actual words were “You have arrived,” but that’s what she said with a big smile on her face. And that’s exactly how I feel: I have arrived.
I feel whole for the first time since, well, how old am I?