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BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 05:29 PM Dec 2017

I think I should share my story (in the spirit of the season of love)

Hello DU,

I'm a longtime member but kind of retired from actively posting here. I've experienced some life events in which I came to reflect on DU and what it did and does for me. Here goes.

A couple of years ago, while I was mostly at home and on disability because of bipolar disorder type II, I was very sad. Here I was, after trying to work as an engineer, failing repeatedly because of inadequate stress response (fleeing behavior), having found out that I could not even stay working with a firm I had first been a super-volunteer for. It aimed to be a cooperative bank, so you see my Occupy spirit wasn't far. I understood that I had to tackle my behavior (again) because I wouldn't accomplish anything requiring prolonged effort otherwise.

So I saw a psychologist specialized in behavioral therapy and we worked to define the problem and counter it. This involves me understanding the basic mechanism: fear -> avoidance -> negative self-image, and also stepping out of my comfort zone. That comfort zone for someone who is almost always depressed is a place of isolation. I've never felt quite so alone as during the Bush* years and the invasion of Iraq. I would have gone literally crazy if it wasn't for DU, back then. The fact that IN Bush*'s America, DU existed, made me hopeful.

In this process of changing behavior, I also start to listen to music again. And something weird happens. Something deep in me stirs when particular songs trigger me. Songs about freedom, about or by strong women, and about nomads. One day for no reason I can remember, I shop for high heels in a 9 1/2 size. And something peculiar happens again: I'm not too ashamed or fearful to tell my wife. On a side note: It's only because my wife and I had some great marriage counseling that we finally learned to speak from "inner child" to "inner child", or from vulnerable soul to vulnerable soul. Anyway, our sex life changes for the good in a big way.

I do not know nor care what exactly I'm to be called. I feel like a man and/or a woman at the same time. I've put "fluid" on my Twitter profile. I think without reading DU and the progress of non-binary and transgender people like Danica Roem, I would not have dared to come forward and speak up.

In this process, I've started to sing. Now I want to be on a stage and want to play with stage personas. I go and tell my parents. They react negatively, my mom very strongly so. I wither the storm, helped by a call from my wife. And now, finally, 3 years after the first major conflict with my father, the bond with my mother is normalized / cut to an appropriate degree. These conflicts have to happen for the identity to be fully formed.

So, hello again DU. I'm 44 and just out of puberty. And I could not have done it without you, I think.



Thank you, and may the spirits be with you.

48 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
I think I should share my story (in the spirit of the season of love) (Original Post) BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 OP
I'm happy it's all working out for you. Have a great 2018. williesgirl Dec 2017 #1
You too! BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #2
I handmade34 Dec 2017 #3
You BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #4
How BelgianMadcow mercuryblues Dec 2017 #5
succinct BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #6
If you can sing, just sing. It is bound to make you feel better. TNNurse Dec 2017 #7
Sound advice BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #8
"Sound advice"...nicely done. TNNurse Dec 2017 #10
You are whatever you want to be. Eko Dec 2017 #9
keeping on indeed BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #11
Those two rock!! Eko Dec 2017 #12
Thank you for telling us (me) about yourself and this community... TygrBright Dec 2017 #13
place of isolation BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #15
Wow BelgianMadCow!!! blaze Dec 2017 #14
about relationship BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #18
Lovely to see you malaise Dec 2017 #16
you too, Malaise BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #19
Congratulations on all your recent growth and best wishes for the new year! pnwmom Dec 2017 #17
back at you, pnwmom BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #21
When he was 50 years old, pnwmom Dec 2017 #24
Thanks for sharing your story BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #39
Welcome back to Ilsa Dec 2017 #20
I need tons of courage BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #22
10-4. Be sure to check in with us occasionally even though we Ilsa Dec 2017 #23
I think you have a TON of courage -- RandomAccess Dec 2017 #29
Good for you for being vulnerable in sharing somethign so personal. Amaryllis Dec 2017 #25
I hadn't see that Amaryllis BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #41
Yes, Raising My Rainbow is wonderful - very moving, insightful, informative, and humorous. Amaryllis Dec 2017 #47
Recommended. Well said. guillaumeb Dec 2017 #26
What a brave thing you have done, both privately and... 3catwoman3 Dec 2017 #27
Happy for you KT2000 Dec 2017 #28
Ooo I'll have to check on Chris Weaver then BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #42
here is Chris Weaver KT2000 Dec 2017 #45
Just be yourself. MuseRider Dec 2017 #30
This is my first step Anch Dec 2017 #31
My heart melts. The_jackalope Dec 2017 #34
Please stay. By and large we support a mix of everyone. One more voice only adds new dynamics... marble falls Dec 2017 #35
Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. Aristotle blaze Dec 2017 #38
well look who's here BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #40
What a delightful post. FYI Im on the faculty of a psych training institute. nolabear Dec 2017 #32
Your post proves a point I tried to make BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #43
Thank you for sharing your story. smirkymonkey Dec 2017 #33
The strongest weapon of oppressive societies is guilt... Wounded Bear Dec 2017 #36
indeed, all about the journey BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #44
Kudos for the Bilbo quote...nt Wounded Bear Dec 2017 #48
Music is part of my recipe for warding off depression. logosoco Dec 2017 #37
depression recipe BelgianMadCow Dec 2017 #46

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
2. You too!
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 05:43 PM
Dec 2017

though I must say the road is still very long, I've lost the burden (of guilt) that was dragging me down and I'm on the move.

May your wishes come true in 2018.

handmade34

(22,753 posts)
3. I
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 05:43 PM
Dec 2017

was most likely not, personally, one from DU who helped, but your letter makes me smile and I am pleased

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
4. You
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 05:48 PM
Dec 2017

are helping now. My skin is still too thin and my confidence wobbly.

And since you've been around, you're part of the DU I thank. Some posters always carry the torch so to speak, but it's for example in little warm welcomes to new members, by whoever is on, that do the trick. Did you ever do that?

mercuryblues

(14,412 posts)
5. How BelgianMadcow
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 06:03 PM
Dec 2017

got his groove. What an inspiring story. You are you, no need to hurry and find a label. I wish you and your wife the aplomb to meet any conflict with grace and togetherness.

For some reason I really wanted to use the word aplomb in this post. I looked it up, to be sure of its meaning. Yup, perfect word


aplomb
self-confidence or assurance, especially when in a demanding situation

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
6. succinct
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 06:10 PM
Dec 2017

there, I did it. The appropriate word for what I like best about the english language.

"marked by compact precise expression without wasted words"

And, indeed, groove is what I found. Suddenly, my voice doesn't waver much anymore when I sing. And I dance in the kitchen on the most impossible moments.

I know there will be ripples in the future, but nothing we can't withstand when united. What goes for the small goes for the whole, too.

Thank you for your affirmative post.

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
8. Sound advice
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 06:36 PM
Dec 2017

I started singing lessons based on the therapist saying "try and find out what makes you smile".

Then I found when I tried to sing from the heart that I had to confront a plethora of (restrained) feelings. Made some lessons more speaking than singing therapy but hey if it works...

It's made me better already, and it feels like something I have no choice in doing, regardless of outcome.

Eko

(7,050 posts)
9. You are whatever you want to be.
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 06:42 PM
Dec 2017

And I, along with many here and out there stand with you. Awesome post!!!!! Keep on keeponin.

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
11. keeping on indeed
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 06:46 PM
Dec 2017

actually, if I had to name one, this would have been THE trigger song



Keep on keeping on yourself! There's hope, there's a silver lining.

Eko

(7,050 posts)
12. Those two rock!!
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 06:53 PM
Dec 2017

I found this years ago and have loved them since.


Would love to find some vinyl of them.

TygrBright

(20,705 posts)
13. Thank you for telling us (me) about yourself and this community...
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 06:57 PM
Dec 2017

...and how it's contributed to your life.

Being someone with a mental illness myself, I appreciate DU for some of the same reasons. Your words "That comfort zone for someone who is almost always depressed is a place of isolation" resonate powerfully.

We seek out the comfort zone and it gets smaller and smaller about us. Comfort is only respite, not healing... and never growth.

I'm so glad to hear you're getting to know yourself better, too!

BE YOU. Those who truly love YOU may be challenged by getting to know the formerly-occluded parts of you, but their love will push them through those uncomfortable challenges to welcome your happiness.

The others... well, be kind and "detach with love". Ultimately it's the only way to integrity.

appreciatively,
Bright

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
15. place of isolation
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 07:08 PM
Dec 2017

I've left out some rather "dark" bits, because I mainly wanted to give thanks and convey warmth. But the key phrase I omitted was indeed about places of isolation. I've gone to many. And in the end, one friend who refuses to call it quits on you in spite of you being "out of reach" can make the difference, can be that little ray of light. Thank you for picking up on that part of my story. At least over here, you're much better off having a severe physical disability than a mental one. I speak freely about it now, and I get a deluge of "me too" stories when I speak up. It's still taboo in my small country.

So now I smile at people, especially if they are old, cold or lonely. You NEVER know what difference that may make.

blaze

(6,201 posts)
14. Wow BelgianMadCow!!!
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 07:03 PM
Dec 2017

I pictured you sitting down and getting ready to write this OP. Imagined you going... "Well....... here goes!!!!

My biggest smile came while reading about your relationship with your wife. What an amazing gift.

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
18. about relationship
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 07:23 PM
Dec 2017

I would never ever have gotten here without her. She has, for a large part almost literally, carried me for 27 years. My initial traumatic experience was just before we met. It's really such an improbable love tale that I feel like I can't leave it untold.

You see, in the process she started to work extra hard and even started a small side business so that we could keep living the way we did, even if I was on disability, which divided my share of the income by three. She carried me well past her own borders - making herself feeling very bad about missing time with our 2 children. I on the other hand compensated for my perceived inadequacy by taking all care for the kids and practicalities around the house out of her hands. That left us both very estranged and unhappy, but...we did it out of love. It looks like now we're moving to a new stable equilibrium - no longer that of two people high up on a tightrope, each leaning far out to one side.

She is my Ankh and I am her fire now. We'll finally dance like we were supposed. In the most emotional moment, where I kind of said "I need to break free", including of her, she said she welcomed the new me anyway. How strong is she? A Mother Elephant.

Side note: this has also left me with a very strong feeling towards the fate of so many women: your head full with a daily todo list, and getting little respect or reward for household work. Women then also have to work like men, be super-moms, übersexy all the time and have quality me-time too. There's not enough hours. I now tell my wife some hair on her legs really is of no concern to me at all. And we both tell ourselves being "good enough" parents is, well, good enough

pnwmom

(108,886 posts)
24. When he was 50 years old,
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 07:45 PM
Dec 2017

my dad came out. It explained a lot to us (his kids), was a tremendous relief for him and -- for the next decades (till his death) -- he had a rich, full life.

I wish the same for you.

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
39. Thanks for sharing your story
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 04:44 PM
Dec 2017

It sure is a relief for me already, and I think for my dad especially it will be as well, in the end. He has been agonizing about what he did wrong with me, as a father. For my mom, it's the good old "what will other people say" that is in play. I don't care all that much, but I will not knowingly unnecessarily startle her or others.

Ilsa

(61,638 posts)
20. Welcome back to
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 07:26 PM
Dec 2017

DU and the other part of the world. Life requires a lot of courage, doesn't it? So glad you made these discoveries for yourself.

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
22. I need tons of courage
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 07:39 PM
Dec 2017

because there's so much grief, pain and yes, anger, to be healed. But I know the way, or enough of it. One step at a time.
The hardest part is looking at my children's eyes and knowing what could have been, much sooner. They have inherited my sensitivity and I have been so far from ideal. What happens with your SO is, well, significant. The way my being has affected my children is almost impossible to bear. I have been making up at lightning speed. Which is why I should get to bed, so I can be Holidad tomorrow.

Ilsa

(61,638 posts)
23. 10-4. Be sure to check in with us occasionally even though we
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 07:43 PM
Dec 2017

are by necessity, lower priority. Best wishes for 2018. (And I bet your kids will fully understand one day.)

 

RandomAccess

(5,210 posts)
29. I think you have a TON of courage --
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 09:24 PM
Dec 2017

for how far you've come (and BRAVO!)

Remember: courage does NOT run out. So there's lots more where that came from.

Carry on!!

Amaryllis

(9,523 posts)
25. Good for you for being vulnerable in sharing somethign so personal.
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 08:15 PM
Dec 2017

Wonder if you have seen this? This little guy is all about being yourself and is really inspiring:

https://www.democraticunderground.com/100210013473
10 year old drag kid Desmond's sage advice to LGBTQ youth for navigating politics & homophobia

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
41. I hadn't see that Amaryllis
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 04:59 PM
Dec 2017

and thanks for sharing, I bookmarked it. Interesting book reference in there as well.

Amaryllis

(9,523 posts)
47. Yes, Raising My Rainbow is wonderful - very moving, insightful, informative, and humorous.
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 09:17 PM
Dec 2017

A lot of wisdom in that book and on her blog.

guillaumeb

(42,641 posts)
26. Recommended. Well said.
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 08:43 PM
Dec 2017

As to this statement:

I do not know nor care what exactly I'm to be called.


I would call you a self aware and brave individual. I wish you much success in your journey.

Guillaume

3catwoman3

(23,672 posts)
27. What a brave thing you have done, both privately and...
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 08:48 PM
Dec 2017

...here.

Wishing you peace and strength as you continue this journey.

KT2000

(20,523 posts)
28. Happy for you
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 08:52 PM
Dec 2017

to open yourself up to answers for your life. Music can open your mind as it triggers many different parts of the brain. I play music before writing a book review as it helps me synthesize more information.
For anyone experiencing depression, I would suggest clearing as many chemicals for your home as possible. Fragrances, air fresheners, certain cleaning products etc. have neurotoxins that cannot help anyone's mental state. Formaldehyde is found in pressed wood furniture, fabrics, shampoos, etc. which can also affect mood.

Did you watch the Voice this season? One of the contestants was a church leader by day and drag performer by night. He brought his entire group to perform on the last show. It was great! His name is Chris Weaver.

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
42. Ooo I'll have to check on Chris Weaver then
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 05:05 PM
Dec 2017

I didn't watch your Voice or the one over here. I've been sucked up by facts & news for ages, think I might bite off a larger Slice of actual life now

I'm really only in the beginning of learning about music. But there's no denying what it does and always has done for me. Leonard Cohen!

Sometimes, I can get too caught up in things; I've recently found classical music does wonders for that.

Interesting you mention air fresheners, I actually hate them but they are here. I should talk to my wife about that...

Where could one read your book reviews?

KT2000

(20,523 posts)
45. here is Chris Weaver
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 05:16 PM
Dec 2017

he is the lead singer - and what a voice! Talk about something joyful!!!



My book reviews are in a magazine called Townsend Letter: The Examiner of Medical Alternatives. (www.townsendletter.com)

MuseRider

(34,029 posts)
30. Just be yourself.
Wed Dec 27, 2017, 10:11 PM
Dec 2017

I have never understood why anyone could not accept who someone says they are. Go for all of it, this is your life. I am so happy your wife is good to go with all of this. I am mostly happy at how healthy you are about it. So many people have problems. Healthy and happy, this is what we are all meant to be. Good for you!

Anch

(1 post)
31. This is my first step
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 09:59 AM
Dec 2017

on DU ... and maybe my only one.
My sweet 'kepje', it's heart warming to read all the replies you've received. I think you should cherish this.
I even learned a new English word: 'aplomb' ... I like that one!
You are finally my singing bird I waited for. you're not just out of puberty, you're a wise person growing stronger.
I bet a lot of people never reach the mental and emotional profoundness you show me.
I love you beyond loving, there are no words.

[link:https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/aristotle_143026|

x

marble falls

(55,509 posts)
35. Please stay. By and large we support a mix of everyone. One more voice only adds new dynamics...
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 11:29 AM
Dec 2017

to our choir.

blaze

(6,201 posts)
38. Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. Aristotle
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 11:44 AM
Dec 2017

What a wonderful quote.

Welcome, Anch.

blaze

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
40. well look who's here
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 04:55 PM
Dec 2017

You learned me the value of warmth, of skin and touch.
You let me be, let me seek, get lost and in the end, find.
You taught that vulnerability can be strength.
You are a Warrior Princess of the mind.

x

PS: rather weird to speak to you on here and in public. I guess this isn't weirder than the time we found each other again after drifting apart through playing World of Warcraft and me doing a /kiss ..

You surprised me there, with your post! You must have been really moved. Thank you again DUers.

nolabear

(41,846 posts)
32. What a delightful post. FYI Im on the faculty of a psych training institute.
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 10:21 AM
Dec 2017

It’s in psychoanalysis, and we study and train students about human development and how to treat in an integrated way, i. e. not just the “illness” but the difficulty with living a happy life, including all the things that make a person who they are.

We’ve been working hard to establish gender fluidity as a norm, both in our students and faculty and in helping us learn to teach practitioners not to “cure” people but to help them be happy and to understand themselves and one another across a spectrum of self-determinations about identity. It’s exciting and sobering. So many people have been forced to live in ways that don’t reflect who they are for so long. All y’all who are bravely moving forward are our best teachers, and I’m here to say thanks.

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
43. Your post proves a point I tried to make
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 05:11 PM
Dec 2017

to my wife, when explaining I had made the OP out of a (grateful) feeling that the US is years and years ahead of Belgium when it comes to theses matters. Thanks, nolabear.

Three women have been crucial in bringing me to where I am, and all three think of a person as one whole being where everything is related. They are my wife, the therapist and the marriage counselor. She saw a life project and got it :-/

Wounded Bear

(58,259 posts)
36. The strongest weapon of oppressive societies is guilt...
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 11:36 AM
Dec 2017

that feeling of shame about who you are and what you want. From your post I can gather that what you want is not evil nor intended to harm others in any way. The greatest freedom is to be what and who you are without unfair criticism or personal attacks.

Life is about the journey, not necessarily about the destination. It sounds like you and your wife have entered an interesting leg of your life journey.

Best wishes and luck to you both.

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
44. indeed, all about the journey
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 05:14 PM
Dec 2017

the destination we shape together through collective vision.

"It's a dangerous business, stepping out your door. Once you set one step out, there's no telling where your feet might swipe you off to."

Thanks for your wishes!

logosoco

(3,208 posts)
37. Music is part of my recipe for warding off depression.
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 11:36 AM
Dec 2017

Singing, I love to do but I do not have a nice voice. But, sometimes you just have to let it out!

People should do whatever makes them feel beautiful! I, as a woman, do not wear high heels or make up, but I can understand how this does make others feel good!

Life is short! Enjoy what makes you feel wonderful!

BelgianMadCow

(5,379 posts)
46. depression recipe
Thu Dec 28, 2017, 05:24 PM
Dec 2017

great to hear music is part of your "tools" as well.

All things I use to stay out of gloom
- keep sleep routine hygienical: 7 hours, no daytime sleeping
- do something, no matter how small
- use a box with blue LEDs in the time of shortening days (I'm sensitive to that).
- try to stay at least a little bit on the move: talk a walk or play some pingpong.
- try my best not to back out of social engagements with friends or family
- do volunteer work (has been a major booster!)
- lay low on alcohol - it's depressogenic
- moderately use marihuana of a gentle kind with moderate THC and CBD

The one thing I did NOT do enough, was showing my feelings and allowing my wife to comfort me when I was in need. Underneath it all was fear of binding (is that the right term?), of really letting myself be known.

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