“Do you want to hurt yourself, Sam?” the therapist asked.
I’d been crying for three days straight, been unable to get out of bed and cried as I walked into Lorraine’s office. Something had happened. Something scary and unexpected and my PTSD defense mechanisms were screaming. Protect! Retreat! Protect! Retreat!
“Not hurt,” I sobbed. ” I want it to end. I don’t want to be here. I’m sick of being me!” I said. “It has to stop.”
“Do you need to go into the hospital, Sam?” Lorraine asked.
I thought for a full minute and was damned if the PTSD was going to own my path.
“NO! No hospital!” I cried. “Something happened, though, on Tuesday,” I said. I spoke in a low voice; the voice of a child. “I feel like I’m sixteen all over again, with no one to support me.”
Tuesdays from around 8:00 am to 1:00 pm are the highlight of my week. Anyone who knows me gets this. It’s the time I gather with other writers, who have become as close to family as can get, and we share our writing; sometimes intimate tales of our lives in fifteen minute segments known as prompts.
Prompts can be light, such as, “describe summer.” Most likely I take a prompt and run with it. It’s never my intention to shock or get a rise out of people in the group, it just happens to be how I write. Write to: ” Tell about something no one knows about you,” and I end up writing about knives and jail. It’s how it goes.
On Tuesday 10.20.15, the prompt was to write, quickly, five sentences beginning with the line, “I want to write about…” Fairly innocuous. I chose: “I want to write about being trans…” The first two sentences began as: “I am getting to know myself in ways I never expected. It’s about love and satisfaction–my transition from female to male–emotionally, not physically.”
The next few paragraphs were along the lines of my realizations, connecting to other trans men through online groups, etc. The second I’d finished reading my response to the prompt (there’s always the option whether to read or not) the screaming began. I was startled. The screaming was coming from outside of me; not the usual psychic inner torment I fight to avoid on nearly a daily basis.
It was an unusually large group and we’d skipped intros since we all had met one another in at least one previous group session. I’d been writing about being trans for about a month and if anyone had objections, till now, they’d kept them to themselves. It was my mistake to not preface my writing, I now know. “I am Sam. I will most likely be writing my experience as a trans man in this group.” My new disclaimer.
“There’s no way anyone should cut their body just because they’re trans!” “Yeah, no way!” Two people sitting next to one another at the other end of the table were railing. Loud in a way that pierced my ears due to it’s direction at me. There may have been more to it; they may have said more. I was in shock. I know because when it happened I told my friends sitting around me, who began screaming back at the “offenders,” that I was fine. My feelings weren’t hurt at all. Wrong.
The week has been a learning experience in that I know P and D weren’t trying to hurt me. They each, in their way said they hoped I was okay. I feel it was fear of the unknown, that reared its head. Also, that I have tons of support. I am not sixteen coming out as lesbian with one foot in the grave. Most of all that I need to step back for me and take a break from such outward sharing. I will choose more carefully which prompts I read aloud to. Not wear my heart on my sleeve.