But that's not what I'm writing about today. No today I want to discuss defense. Our "defense mechanisms" to be precise. I was out for a drink with a dear friend last night (she was dressed, I was in drab. Bitch) and the topic came up. She told me that all through her life she's been a chameleon- that she blends in with whomever she's with- that she likes to keep a low profile. I said I had a hard time believing she would be dropping f-bombs left and right among certain people (she's very nice and proper) but she assured me she does.
My defense has always been to go on the offense, and she noticed that. We are total opposites in that regard. Even when I am en femme, if someone makes an issue, I rely on my wit and big mouth to humiliate them into submission. As can be imagined, I have been in my share of bar fights. Some people just have NO sense of humor! ;)
Do you really want to hurt me?
I thought about that all night. And today, I discussed it with my therapist. When I was a child, my defense was to "turtle": to withdraw into my shell and suffer the pain until it stopped. Somewhere around high school, something inside just snapped and I started defending myself verbally (it may have had something to do with the martial arts I was studying at the time as well.)
High school. I was short and thin and not very masculine. Add to that, every chance I had, I would put on my mom's dresses and pretend I was a girl. So I really had to come on strong to hide what I felt were these shortcomings. All through college, even though I had stopped dressing, I kept defending, kept shooting back- don't let anyone even guess that inside of me was a woman hiding. Never let on. Death first.
As many of you know, the pain of totally suppressing my feminine side was tremendous, even if I didn't realize what the source of this pain was. Combine that with heartbreak, depression, and all the other pressures of post college life led to a collapse a few years after graduation.
But I still would tell NO ONE, not even therapists, about my feminine need. It was there- I knew it. I felt it. I just didn't want to deal with it at all. I hid it deep inside. (Any of this sound familiar?) Defend- be arrogant- snarky- let no one in.
Do I look like a guy to you?
Eventually (obviously) my feminine side came out. I am Sophie. And as Sophie, my defense is, you guessed it, offense. Those who insult me or mine get both barrels. But so few do. My sisters have been so very accepting of me. Slowly, but surely, I am letting my walls drop as a woman. Not totally, to be sure, but I am learning to let people in.
Progress? I think so. Enough to repair all those years of pain? Not yet- probably not ever. But if all that pain was the price I paid to be Sophie, well then so be it. I've earned this happiness. And the best things in life are earned.