I was that guy. I’m still that guy.
Confused. Well not confused, conflicted. That’s a better word. I was very clear about what I was thinking back then…but also conflicted.
Conflicted because I believed society (friends, family, strangers too) would shame me if it knew me. Conflicted because I wanted to be myself, but feared I’d lose my job if people knew.
I knew I was “not straight”.
That’s a terrible way to tell that story. Because it puts the “straight” story at center of everything. As if being “straight” is the same as “normal”.
A better way is to say I have a strong story (among many strong stories) about transgender women being highly attractive.
I felt this way for some time. I was exploring it when I was younger. Back then it felt dangerous. Men, you know what I mean.
I also felt self-shame about it. Back then, I was, like a lot of people, really worried about what others thought of me. I was afraid of being myself because being myself was not acceptable according to what I saw and read. Back then I didn’t know my life experience comes from my stories. I believed what others thought about me was important.
Nevertheless, my shame came from those beliefs. Those stories also shaped my life experience. A life experience in which I only had access to things -– people and events – that confirmed those stories.
The emotion I felt – the shame – was telling me something important. Back then, I didn’t know what that was.
Now I do.
Although I never did it simultaneously with dating someone, I did do it in between partners. I saw these trans sex workers under cover of darkness. Or in my own home at night.
There’s one story about someone I want to share. I recently got reacquainted with it. This is going to be deep.
It has to do with dating what I thought at the time was a cis woman and how our experience together shaped the ensuing 20 years for both of us. That person may still be cis. I don’t know. I’ve never asked.
• • •
One evening long ago, a winter storm struck where I live. Three to four feet of snow blanketed everything. My best friend at the time and I went out in it. It was fun. After our time together, I headed to a local bar alone. I wanted a scotch to warm the cockles.
I sat at the bar. There was another person there. We made eye contact, then we ended up talking. I noticed some things about them that, reflecting on those moments now, indicated how my worries about being perceived by others, shaped how I behaved, what I said and what I was willing and not willing to do.
I’ve always been pretty honest. But I’m not 100 percent honest. Is anyone? Still, I care a lot about being direct as I can so people know where I’m at. But that requires being clear about where I’m at.
Back then I wasn’t very clear…I was conflicted.
This person and I saw each other a few times. I remember as clear as day my reactions to this person’s physical appearance and the shame I felt about potentially being seen with them and what “they” – people in the world – would think…ABOUT ME.
Intolerable shame-based scenarios played out in my mind.
So one day, I told this person I couldn’t continue seeing them. I told them why. But when I said what I said, I didn’t own what was going on with me. Instead of telling this person how I felt, instead of saying something like:
“I’m sorry, Jen (not their real name) I’m too wrapped up in believing how I think others think about me is more important than what I want. I enjoy being with you. But I’m afraid of what people might say about me when I’m out in public with you.”
Instead of saying something like that, owning my story as mine, I made my discomfort about Jen’s appearance. Ironically, their appearance was gender non-conforming. And that threatened my self-image. A self-image based on an unhealthy concern about what others thought about me.
I made my story about Jen, in other words. Jen took that information not very well. I didn’t find out until some 20 years later.
Last week, I posted on Facebook a Mother Goose magazine article. It features me talking about The Transamorous Network and the work the network is doing. Jen saw this post, then sent me a direct message on Facebook:
It’s been a long time.
I’ve come a long way in the ensuing decades. I’ve learned a lot about myself.
• • •
I’m sharing this to show I was where many men reading this are right now. Maybe they’re struggling with shame and embarrassment over what they like, what they’re attracted to. That shame can drive a lot of behavior that spills into others’ lives.
Sometimes with long-lasting effect.
But here’s the thing about all this. And if you’re following my other blog and website, Positively Focused, this won’t be surprising.
Life experience is a massive co-creative endeavor. Our stories don’t only effect us. They effect everyone around us. That’s why in client sessions, I equate life experience to being a movie. We all create our life experience from what we think. Others in our lives reflect what we’re thinking back to us.
In that way, others are co-creative partners in our own movie making. Just as we are partners in theirs. I don’t expect anyone to agree with this. But life experience will show how accurate what I’m sharing is.
In my case, I know I met Jen as a waypoint on my path to where I am now. Jen’s appearance and my discomfort reflected stories I had at the time about being with a gender-nonconforming person. She represented both my desires and my negative beliefs playing out right in front of me.
And I know I played the same role for Jen. I presented Jen with stories and negative beliefs Jen had. In other words, we served each other. Whether Jen sees that, I don’t know. But Jen certainly sees the benefit our interaction has had on me and the network.
Which is why when Jen sent this part of their message:
I resonated so wonderfully with it.
Jen is right.
• • •
I can say being where I am, and having been where I was, that the path you may be on, no matter how painful it feels, offers so many wonderful opportunities. Opportunities just waiting for you to pick and enjoy. Like delicious, ripe fruit.
Keep going and you may someday enjoy similar wonderful reconnections with people you think you hurt. People who feel you hurt them. And instead of feeling embarrassment and shame over your past acts, you may feel resonance and appreciation.
As I do.
I see the “delicious irony” of the co-creation.
These days I know everything in my life experience benefits not only me, but everyone with whom I connect.
We’re never alone. Everything is working out for me, you and everyone else. Even those who may claim were victimized by you. They weren’t victimized. They benefitted. It just may take a while before they realize that.
Hopefully not 20 years. But it doesn’t matter. We’re all eternal.
Your life is going perfectly. Take it from a guy just like you.
Or, find out for yourself by contacting us. We can show you.