It really is such a relief to have a family member in the know and supporting me. It makes a massive difference and gives me much more confidence. I owe Anette, my counselor at NCS-Counseling a HUGE thank you for her professional guidance which has helped me crawl out from under my rock and make real progress towards accepting myself and taking the mask off in front of more and more people.
With my parents arriving in the country today to spend Christmas here, and my sister arriving next week, I’ve come to the decision that I have to tell my parents about everything while they’re here, out of love and respect for them as well as my own mental health! Here’s my latest email correspondence with my sister who’s help with this phase of my life is invaluable:
Me: What do you think the best way to tell mum and dad would be? In person or by email and share my blog so they can read in detail how I feel and what I’m doing?
Sis: Maybe in person? If you were going to tell them this holiday, tell them early-ish, on a night when nobody is drunk, and perhaps on a night when you’re going home to sleep so you don’t have to put up with questions. You can always tell them that they can talk it through with me and ask all the questions they want to. You can also tell them about the blog so they can read it in their own time.
Me: I’m not sure yet – won’t be until I’m face to face with them – but I think I can tell them. I think I’d like to. I’m sick of pretending to be someone in not with them xxx
Sis: Yeah, see how it goes. It sounds as though it’ll be a relief for you to be open with all the family. I genuinely don’t give a shit how strangers judge me, but it’s far more complex with parents. On one hand you don’t want to do anything to agitate or worry them, on the other it’s generally healthier to be open and not hide anything, even for someone else’s benefit. So, see how you feel…
Me: I don’t think I can afford to see how I feel. I think I really do have to tell them or it’ll be another year before I see them face to face again. Although they might already actually know, I don’t want them to find out through a source other than me, and I am openly blogging about it online. Plus quite honestly, I expect that no matter how difficult it is to do, and whatever their reaction to it, I’m going to feel so liberated by them knowing. Fear of upsetting them has prevented me from getting on with my life for years, and no matter how it goes, I think once they know everything, I’ll be a lot more fearless and be able to truly get on and be who I am. I’m just scared to start the conversation.
I’ll be moving over to Chatrium after work on Monday 19th, staying til 26th. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of booze enjoyed by Dad and me, including that first evening, so it may be better to have the conversation on the 20th right after lunch, or even earlier in the day, before anyone gets festively boozey.
I’m really going to need your help telling them. I don’t want to make it sound too serious and I really don’t want to get emotional about it. God, all this worry when they probably know anyway (just don’t know that I’m doing anything about it.)
Sis: Good plan, and it certainly sounds as though, the more you think about it, the better it will be for your overall mental health to just tell them. It can’t be as bad as your worse fears about how upset they might be, but it probably won’t be as smooth as you hope – I wouldn’t be surprised if you get some irritating questions when you and Dad are drunk, which could cause him to be a bit insensitive and maybe also you to be a bit oversensitive – but it’s got to be good for you in the long run. No secrets, nothing feeling shameful, no hiding. Just chin up, best tits forward, right? I’ll do everything I can to help, of course…
Me: Thanks. I know it’s got to be better in the long run – just feel like a kid again having to fess up to something like it’s a bad and shameful thing that I’ve done wrong and which will disappoint and distress them, and could change the wonderful family dynamic we have. It will change the dynamic – I think that’s inevitable – but once we’re past the shift in perception and settled with it, there’s no reason it’ll be a bad one. I keep going back to – I’m not changing who I am, just how I identify, and altering my body a little to bring it in line with my self image. I just have to remind them that if they loose sight of it.
I know I’ve said this before, but if any readers are embarking on a transition like this, seeing a professional counselor is the best thing you could ever do. For me, confiding [no, that’s the wrong word as I don’t intend for this to remain a secret] opening up to my sister has really given me strength and much more confidence and yet again reminded how blessed I am to have the family I’ve got. I’ll be having dinner with my parents in Bangkok this evening and it’s a week and a half before my scheduled conversation so wish me luck!