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Monday, January 7, 2013

The Name Game: Anna, Anna Bobanna, Fie Fi.......

I changed the name of my blog because I have been given a name and I chose a name that makes it feel more right than Sherri Lynne. It is rather late in the game to do this, but I have had a series of events that led me to the conclusion that the new name suited me better.

The person who suggested the new first name is someone I have a deep respect for and someone I admire. My middle name Elisabeth is a family name and the name of my favorite aunt and great aunt.

Upon reflection of over a year, I have decided that the new name seems to "fit" me better and I have also decided to make it my legal name in about 3 months.

 More often than not, we have our names given to us and we do not name ourselves. My previous name was one I chose to try to capture a sense of identity to individualize my identity as a southern woman in the modern South. I think I was able to capture that spirit, but there are other spiritual aspects of myself I would like to enhance expressing who I truly am! This name given by people who love and loved me and I respect somehow just feels right.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

No Depression

If anyone suggested that I experience Christmas, my father's death, my birthday and informing my coworkers that I was transitioning at work in 11 days, I would have told them, "Honey child, there just ain't no way! That idea is a non starter." But, that is exactly what happened. I have drawn a lot of lessons from the experience as well having had other prior positive experiences repeated. Hopefully, sharing this will be helpful to others.

I think that in life we need to use what we experience to make better decisions for ourselves that lead us to find peace within ourselves. Some of us are very stubborn and even though we understand what has happened and the positive lesson we were given, we still resist (for whatever reason) to use it for improving our lives. At times, I have been stubborn about a few lessons along the way, but I have been in a place of total serenity and peace, knowing that things happening would be hard and painful, but also recognizing the stressful positive things that were happening to me as well. Since late fall I have felt this place of acceptance and strength that I never thought I had to draw from. Dana was right; I am a lot stronger than I thought.

What is the difference in 11 days? The passing of my father, whose death I once thought would be so intolerable that I could not imagine how I would be able to function, proved to be a time of strength which I was able to lend to my Mother. There certainly were times that I was overcome with grief, but they were manageable. The gift in the release from his long term suffering was the release from a grieving process that has gone on for 10 years and had become more intense as his condition deteriorated.

Then there were the usual stresses of the holiday season which includes my birthday. I am, however, someone who welcomes my birthday. By all rights, I should not be here as my younger life was led in a careless manner because of the pain of living with the secret that I was not a man. While I was not actively suicidal, I neither cared whether I lived or died and my life was conducted in a careless, reckless way, that should have killed me at least 6 times over. I survived; I have a purpose. I'm glad I figured that out in my 30's and am here to carry out that purpose.

This past year, I dealt with my mother finding out quite by accident my closely held secret. While it was devastating to her, being relieved of that burden became quite liberating after the initial trauma of her finding out was resolved. That was a terribly difficult week.

Deciding that I needed to transition at work was my choice and it has become the most freeing decision that I have ever made. I was afraid when I went to tell my supervisor, but I already knew what she would say and while I was less sure about the hospital administration's response, I was very sure that my coworkers would embrace my decision and I was proven to be right about that surety. The outpouring of love and support through all of these events from the people I work with has been phenomenal and really has changed the way I view myself, as much as my own responsibility for  self acceptance and actions towards self actualizing myself during this short period of time have come to fruition.

To what do I attribute the sense of peace and resolution that I have come to know over this short period of time? I attribute it to my faith and the spiritual crisis last year in the spring that brought me to a deeper examination of an already strong faith coupled with my active determination to find a place to explore my spiritual foundation in a church that loves me as I am without judgment.

Will the way I feel right now last? Mostly. I have no "terrible" secret anymore. Everyone of importance in my life now knows who I am, with the exception of a few people important to me who are not physically close. They will be told very soon when I can arrange the proper  opportunity. for one of these people, I feel a need to tell in person. The others live at a distance too far for me to tell in person and I will soon decide whether to write them individually or to tell them over the phone.

In many ways, our lives can be very painful simply because we live with this fundamental conflict between body, mind and spirit. It is up to us to find  ways to minimize the painfulness of this experience.

The primary truth I have learned is that I have to be who I am, be transparent about who I am to the degree that allows me to live as who I really am, and not be ashamed of who I am. That is not a new discovery, nor is it original. It is one though, I suspect we each have to figure out how to go about for ourselves with the proper support of course, where ever we may find that support. That is part of the uniqueness of our personal journey. The way I have done this may not be the right way for you to go about this, but it is essential that you find a way to find a place where you can live an authentic existence that allows you not to be ashamed of who you are and honors your spirit.