The number of TV documentaries, movies and interviews with people questioning their gender identity has skyrocketed in the past decade. Due to medical advancements, there are thousands of people making extraordinary life-altering decisions: whether or not to change their gender through hormone therapy and surgery. Personally, I advocate for the union and acceptance of both male and female living in harmony within the body. Understanding, however, there is a constant barrage of separation programming out in the world – pick one – and here is how you need to look and act. It’s really confusing to try to conform and the lines of separation only seem to increase the pain and misery people suffer believing they are in the wrong body. I’d like to share a bit of my personal story. Much love and support to those caught in this gender battle, may they find unconditional love and acceptance of self.
Meeting Joanie, my fragmented female aspect, for the first time as an adult, was a shock to say the least. I became overwhelmed with many feelings and at a loss for words. I really didn’t know what to do or how to be with her after all these years. It was awkward . . . the worst part being, I didn’t even realize she was missing. Emotions were swiftly pouring into my heart: grief, sadness, shame, and shock. I had hidden Joanie away to the point of nonexistence. After she showed me her deepest desire, I wondered why I never became a mother in this lifetime. I suppose it makes perfect sense though. I was Johnnie, as his persona seemed to fit who I had decided to become as a teenager. It felt easier being him and not Joanie. I thought I would be safer by tucking her away. I can’t say if this is true or not, but apparently I made a split second decision at 14 years of age: There is no room for her in my life.
An excerpt from The Path to My Heart:
We quietly sat down next to her. She looked at me and slowly handed me the chest she was holding. She motioned for me to open it. Inside was a very beautiful, delicately white, laced blanket made for a baby. It was remarkable. I held it up, realizing that this was all Joanie had left to hold on to: her dream of starting a family. I put the blanket back in the chest and asked her if I could place it in my pack for safekeeping. She nodded. Joanie had just exposed the most vulnerable, tender part of herself. I was deeply touched and had no words.
Sophie and Johnnie went to sit in another area of upper heart while I stayed with Joanie. I felt very awkward. I barely knew her, even though she had just revealed to me her deepest desires and dreams. I didn’t remember Joanie as one of my identities. I guess this made sense, since she’d left right after she and Johnnie split into two separate aspects. At this point I wasn’t sure what to do or how to reach her. She was not very responsive and still seemed quite far away. She appeared weak and fragile and looked small. I ended up holding her, while singing a song from my childhood.
I have always struggled with accepting my female body. It never felt right, usually feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. Oftentimes, I would have thoughts like: I would be better off being male, I would be strong, and I would feel more like myself . . . I tried being one of the guys. I remember a time when “one of the guys” liked me. I got really angry and thought: Why’d you have to go and spoil it? I felt the need to overcompensate and be physically strong, work out a lot and get muscles. My body would not comply though. Take one look at me and you will see I’m female. God would not let me ignore my female body! It, however, was a constant reminder of why I shut it away – It was physically too weak and had no useful purpose.
Really, if you are five years old, it doesn’t matter what gender you are, you can’t fight back.
I’m now in the process of trying to accept and love my female body. Can I live with this? It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to feel guilt, shame, vulnerability, hatred, anger and grief. I’ve had to accept and acknowledge that I do in fact have a female body. I’ve seen the pictures on TV and in magazines flashed in front of our faces as examples of an ideal female in this world. It’s confusing! How should I look? Long hair, short hair, what size should I be? Do I need to act differently as a female? Really, can I be bothered? Comparison is the nature of self-doubt. It’s tiring…
Forget about the world, focus on yourself. This is where I’m at now, asking Who am I as a female being? How would I like to express myself? What will my life be different, if at all? Being feminine is a separate thing, and something I’m learning about. I can see that living in a female body doesn’t guarantee being feminine. So opening up to expressing feminine qualities will be interesting too! One other very important thing I have gained is strength on the inside by acknowledging the female aspect of myself and feeling all the feelings I pushed down trying to get rid of it. I no longer need to overcompensate in the physical. I’m giving time and space for Joanie to grow within me and express herself as she likes, now that it’s safe for her to be expressed.
I’d never really grown to know Joanie. I shared with her how I wasn’t sure about the best way to support her, or how to be with her. She felt the same way about me. We were like strangers. I told her that I’d grown up without many of the qualities she had contained within her. When she’d left, many of my most feminine qualities had gone with her, including creativity, beauty, softness, compassion, sharing, kindness and empathy. I felt happy to have her back and looked forward to receiving the feminine qualities she held inside.
It’s not about divide and conquer when it comes to the masculine and feminine within us and I can see it’s not about choosing one over the other either. I’m finding it’s about accepting both sides and integrating them into wholeness. Yes I have a female body and a unique expression that comes with it, and yes I contain both masculine and feminine qualities. Balance and acceptance is my goal. I am grateful Joanie waited for me.
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