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Thread: On the Long Slow Train to Acceptance

  1. #1
    Member Becoming Brianna's Avatar
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    On the Long Slow Train to Acceptance

    It has been a long and tough road that I have walked these past several years. I joined this site back in college when my dysphoria was very strong and I was seriously contemplating transition. I stuffed it down in order to go on a study abroad trip. It would resurface from time to time again and again and I always felt like I had an answer for it: finish your degree, take that fellowship to go teach abroad, reconvert and dedicate yourself to Christianity, find a girlfriend, obtain grater financial security, etc.

    Yet here we are. The same watershed moment that brought me back here in 2017 ringing in me, it's happening much more frequently. I'll see women and I'll think "I want that look, I want that shape, I want that life. I don't just want to look like her I want to be her." It feels real. It feels like so much more than clothes for me. I don't feel like I'm just playing some dress up game. I can still hide in my male life well enough. Pronoun discomfort hasn't hit me yet, I don't hate being male with every fiber of my being, I don't even really hate it at all, but I just know that I want to be a woman. Why? I don't know. I just do. I can't pinpoint a specific reason it's just something that keeps ringing in my head.When I imagine myself as a woman, the person I see is more confident, sure of herself, has a more positive self-image, and I just feel like I would be more comfortable interacting socially as a woman. I don't feel terrible social anxiety right now, and I know I would be a massive tomboy and pretty masculine for a woman, but my mind keeps coming back to wanting to be a woman at least socially.

    I am a person who constantly sacrifices for others, and how my family and my girlfriend would react to any serious attempts to transition is something that constantly weighs very heavily on me. I constantly keep finding other hills to fight this battle on, and for awhile it succeeds. When I became super religious I felt very comfortable as a man. I am still wrestling with this spiritually, feeling like if I was meant to be a woman God would have made me one. Maybe these feelings are all a part of His plan for me... Like I'm supposed to use my feminine nature to be a better husband and father because I will understand my future wife better. Or I want to be a woman because I have a poor self-image and feel like a failure and want to be somebody else and transition feels like the only way to do that. For awhile that made sense to me--until very recently in fact--but after this most recent bout I just wonder why I keep doing this to myself.

    Is my dysphoria really just a mild case that has gotten worse through all of this repression? Then why the change in my feelings and perceptions? Why do I notice distinct breaks where I criticize men as though I have no association or connection with them (This has happened to me at least three times in the past two years or so and it feels very significant to me.) Why is it that whenever I start to contemplate transitioning and increasing my feminine expression only then I feel like losing weight and only then do I care about what goes into my body and my health?

    Is my disregard for my weight and appearance a symptom of serious Gender Dysphoria or just more proof that this is all physical\sexual for me? I don't imagine going out very often to attract the attention of other people, I just want to live my life and be me. Do normal things but do them as a woman. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought about the sexual components of this but I believe very strongly that that is not at the root of all of this. I think that I am finally coming to terms with myself and that I am finally letting Brianna come out and live.

    I told my mom today (I'm still living with my parents in order to save money but I hope to move soon hopefully with my girlfriend who knows about my gender identity issues but I'm not sure how supportive she will be and how far she'll let me explore it but I love her very much and really don't want to lose her. This was always a tough step because she would always get upset and anxious that I was "killing her son" but she said today "I think this is something you really need to explore. You keep putting it off for other people but this is clearly a big thing for you. I'd still rather that you remain my son but you're a good person and you'll always be my child. I love you." It sounds like I at least have her support and that she'll help me and let me explore this. She did tell me that first thing's first that we need to work on the weight issue and I agreed. I am just grateful that this talk with my mom went well I was a little afraid to tell her that my dysphoria had resurfaced but I feel so much better now that I have. I really needed to tell someone. I feel like I can relax and be more productive at work for a little while which is better than I've felt for the past week or two.

  2. #2
    Isn't Life Grand? AllieSF's Avatar
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    Wow, Brianna. That is quite a story. all this inner battle, repression of inner feelings can't be good for you over the long run and definitely not good for you in the short run, except .... for helping get closer to determining what you want or need to do about it all. Let me the first of maybe many who will recommend some professional third party help,someone with gender identity experience. I think that it is wonderful that you are open with your mom and girlfriend. Please do not commit to a marriage relationship until you resolve your identity issue. In the meantime, keep your girlfriend totally informed and keep your communication open at all times. I wish you the best of luck going forward. The sooner you resolve this the better life you will have.

  3. #3
    Member Becoming Brianna's Avatar
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    Thank you Allie. I am very strongly considering going back to therapy. I went for awhile in college but because I wanted to go abroad, because there was much I hadn't experienced in terms of relationships or anything of that sort at the time, because my parents really didn't want me to go down this path at the time, and because I really thought I had genuinely beaten these issues at the time, I told him "I think I'm settling into a fundamentally masculine identity (the one I had always thought I had before all of this)" at the end of my junior year. Obviously that's not the case. A couple of friends of mine have suggested that I go back (including someone who has herself transitioned) but I just haven't done it. I think out of a desire to keep fighting this at least while I'm still living with my parents. I think once I move into my own place I'll have more flexibility to pursue therapy more openly even though I agree that it is a necessity. My mom is worried about my dad's reaction and so am I. He works a very stressful job and I don't want to cause him more stress. My girlfriend has told me that it would be okay by her if I went to therapy and even suggested it but that she likely wouldn't want to do any joint sessions where my dysphoria is discussed. I'm definitely thinking about going because I really think I need to sort this out once and for all. As much as I want to marry my girlfriend I don't want to commit to a marriage with this issue hanging over me (sadly I don't think it's ever going to go away). I've been hiding behind financial issues as the reason we haven't moved forward but I know there's more to it and I suspect she does too. I get the sense that she believes that I'm going to eventually transition even though I don't think I am pushing her in that direction. It's one reason why we haven't had much intimacy. I'm not opposed to it because I love her and I'm not sure if I want surgery. I haven't gotten back to the stage of hating my body periodically, though there are days that I don't like the male face I see in the mirror. I think the body hatred has perhaps manifested itself in a different form in that I don't really care about how I look unless I'm thinking about transition or presenting as a woman in the near future. It's complicated. I don't think I feel the same consternation and pull between two worlds that I felt before I just feel tired of fighting and hiding and concealing this aspect of myself for others benefit. That's probably my dominant emotion right now, yet at least in part I feel afraid to lose those people...

  4. #4
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    I can really relate to your story, Brianna. I'm pushing 50 and I feel like I've wasted so much of my life up to this point because I didn't know what was going on in my head. I'm still not sure I know, but it is becoming clearer. I often wonder if I want to transition or if I stop short of that. I know lately, though, that I feel much more female than male. I want to explore that side of me more fully than I have to this point. I wish you the best of luck, and I hope you find what you need.

  5. #5
    Senior Member KellyJameson's Avatar
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    If you transition will you be able to have the life you want?

    If you cannot have that life will you be stuck in a type of purgatory not much different than the one you are in now?

    A transition purely to experience the life of living as a woman when that life will not be realized could be its own form of suffering.

    For some TS people the gender dysphoria is an expression of being born intersex and they cannot successfully adopt their assigned gender identity based on their sexed bodies.

    They will have difficulty relating to others with the same sexed body as being representative of them as that sex. MtF will experience men in ways that women experience men. They will experience them as "The Other" and will experience women as " Being as them" yet also different from them. This is that experience of being trapped between genders so you feel like an alien visiting Earth while also feeling a part of humanity.

    This is very different from feminine men who feel the effects of femininity in a masculine world. These men are suffering the consequences of toxic rigid gender roles that define femininity and masculinity by performance for purely social reasons. In that context there is no such thing as masculinity or femininity but rules constructed to force people into specific roles to "benefit society" under the pretense of the greater good regardless of who it hurts.

    A biological man who suppresses his testosterone will risk psychological problems. Depression and lethargy being the likely result.

    I always recommend anyone who identifies as MtF considering transitioning to have their hormone levels checked. Low testosterone could cause gender dysphoria.

    Also anyone who has a narcissistic relationship with feminine beauty in that they want to be beautiful should consider that as a red flag.

    The possession of female beauty seems to be a large driver in transitioning which makes sense in are superficial and hyper-sexualized society that is media and image driven.

    Watch your imagination and fantasies because if they have created the world you think you will experience once you transition you may be setting yourself up for a serious fall.

    Also society is built around reproduction and sex and those who cannot participate risk being locked outside of it. Transitioning leaves you outside of relationships where reproduction is important.

    Many MtF have this fantasy of finding love once they transition but it is much more difficult.
    The Psychology of Conformity
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARGczzoPASo

    Mars brain, Venus brain: John Gray at TEDxBend
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuM7ZS7nodk

  6. #6
    Member Becoming Brianna's Avatar
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    Kelly,

    Thank you for this post. You gave me a lot to think about.

    I'm not sure if I can have the life I want if I transition. I think I can, because I recently shifted position on a very important aspect. Before I really wanted to have children one day but now I find myself comfortable with the idea of being childless. I really don't want to lose my girlfriend but if I need to transition to a point where she is not comfortable then there's nothing either of us can do. I can't answer in definite terms to a lot of things because I don't know what I want out of life and I haven't for years. Relief from my dysphoria would be a great start. I just want to make a decent living and have my needs provided for first and foremost I'd prefer a job in a field that I find interesting (language or education) or one that makes me happy (like singing) but there are ups and downs with any job.

    I feel like my needs are very basic beyond relief of dysphoria though I do want to provide a good life for any partner or potentially children I do have. Most of the time I think of making money with an eye toward doing things for other people. I still have that feeling like I'd prefer to just fade away and melt into the service of someone or some higher purpose which made me a great candidate to return to Christianity as i mentioned. I like sacrificing and living for others but my gender identity feels like one of the few things I can't do that on.

    I've never had a problem making friends but fully relating to them and feeling comfortable around them has been difficult whether those friends are male or female. I'm not sure I ever really perceived any gender as "other" but if I did it was probably females until these recent breaks I've been having as I embrace my female identity. I sometimes find people in general to be like the other because I am used to being the smartest person in the room and would have trouble relating to people at times because of that. I'm pretty sure I'm on the spectrum too (never diagnosed but I exhibit a lot of the characteristics) which only made things harder.

    I have wondered if maybe it is true that I'm simply a feminine man because I remember at times feeling like I didn't measure up as a man but mostly because I felt like I reacted and perceived things in feminine ways. I was able to conceal this well by developing an intense love of team sports which continues to this day.

    I am concerned somewhat that my hormones may be causing this and my mom has suggested this, but I don't have much of a problem performing with my girlfriend and I also can get pretty fired up about political issues and sporting events. Low T also wouldn't explain for me the brief (but memorable) bouts of dislike for my male body to the point where I wanted (it) gone during my teen years. Those thoughts stopped when I learned that its tissue was needed for SRS. I was frequently depressed but I'd be surprised to hear that depression would cause dysphoria. You'd think it would be the other way around. Also it would make sense to me at least that when I started losing weight my dysphoria would be less but that hasn't happened. My repressions always started with some compromise and transition is something frequently on my mind. I admit my dysphoria is less the past couple of days and I do still have trepidation that I'm making the wrong decision but I think the decrease in dysphoria could be because I finally feel like I have a path forward to do something about it and at least start down the path to finding out my needs vis a vis transition. Those fears might be just another attempt for me to compromise but I am treating them as legitimate for right now and taking stock in everything I think and feel on this subject. I want to be sure of what I want and need.

    I've come to the conclusion that while I hope I end up looking attractive after transition (assuming I do) I'm okay with how I look as long as I don't look like a total guy that would be totally barred from all aspects of society. I have had a narcissistic relationship with female beauty in the past but I don't see that popping up as much anymore. Mostly I just imagine going out and doing normal things in normal clothes as a woman and one fantasy I have is being accepted and having my identity validated as a woman both in sexual and non sexual contexts. I'm trying not to create too many expectations or too heavy a world for my transition if I do it. Nothing I did before fixed anything for any real length of time, this won't either unless it's what I really need and even then I'd still have to work through any other issues as well.

    I know how difficult the road ahead of me can be and is that's why I'm trying to make absolutely certain I'm ready for it all, whatever I need.

  7. #7
    Gold Member Lana Mae's Avatar
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    My opinion is that you see a counselor/therapist and let them guide you on this journey! They ask the right questions and you must look deep for the answers! Of course, be sure they have gender experience! Much of what you said was me in the past! Best wishes on your journey! Hugs Lana Mae
    Life is worth living!
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  8. #8
    Member Becoming Brianna's Avatar
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    Thank you Lana Mae! I'm looking for therapists but I don't see anyone who actually says that they are a gender therapist in my area. I see a lot that deal with sexuality and some of them have said that they have counseled transgender clients before but I don't know anything about how that counseling went or anything. I'm afraid to start throwing money at this for the wrong therapist but I do need to start talking to someone.

    General update: My mom talked to my dad about my plan to gradually lose weight and he responded "Is he thinking of becoming a woman again?" My mom didn't answer that and he said "Because I'd be okay with that. I'm not the same person I was before." I had hinted at this previously when my father used to drive me home from work (I had a 45 minute commute and I remember him sounding pretty accepting. I don't know why I didn't tell him sooner. It's just great to know that my family is on board with me as I explore my identity more further and decide if transition is necessary for me. They told me "We'll probably be an island but at least you'll have us" which is true because the rest of my family is super religious and have not held the best stance on the LGBT community in the past. My girlfriend wants to be supportive but I don't think she can for the same reasons plus she wants a man in her life. Sometimes I wonder if she and I would make better friends than lovers. I still love her deeply but I don't want to hurt her. Maybe the best thing I can do for her is to let her go and pursue what she needs to pursue. I feel sad because she's had a hard life and that would make me just another in a long list of people (mostly men (at least biologically) who have failed her but I think if I really need to transition keeping her would only hurt her more than holding on would help. I hope I'm wrong but that's the read I get on the situation.

    My own thoughts on God are also holding me back. I keep feeling like God is telling me to remain a man. I don't know if that's that still, small voice telling me that this is a bad idea or if it is just religious hangups for me. Because when I think about transition and exploring my identity I get nervous but on the whole since I've started talking about this I feel better and happier and am taking positive actions in my life. These are motivated by my desire to explore these issues and (potentially transition) I wonder if perhaps I should listen to my actions more than my feelings and stop thinking and start doing, but then why didn't I do that when I sank back into dysphoria? All of my actions at that time were masculine and dysphoria was just a feeling so why not follow the same advice? I need to get out of my head and take advantage of the freedom I have at long last been given. I have a chance to explore this with support from my parents so I think I should do that. Still though why the nervousness? Why the feeling like I might be making a mistake? Why the feeling like I'm going against God?

  9. #9
    Moderator Jeri Ann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Becoming Brianna View Post
    My own thoughts on God are also holding me back. I keep feeling like God is telling me to remain a man. I don't know if that's that still, small voice telling me that this is a bad idea or if it is just religious hangups for me. Why the feeling like I'm going against God?
    Brianna,

    I sent you an email late last night about this. Because it was late, I only touched on the issue. Hang in there. I will help you sort this out and make it easier to accept yourself. I need to get ready for church right now. Later

  10. #10
    Senior Member Laura912's Avatar
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    Brianna, you cannot do this without some professional guidance. That need shows very clearly in your posts. I do not know in what area of the country you are located, but PM some of the responders on this thread and see if they can help you find a counselor. Yes, it will cost money and maybe you can get some insurance coverage, but look at it as an investment in the rest of your life so the annual costs will be quite small. And if Jeri Ann is offering guidance, listen carefully.

  11. #11
    Gold Member Lana Mae's Avatar
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    When I started realizing what this was all about, I prayed and asked God if I should persue this! A small still voice inside me said yes and it was not my voice! Best wishes with all of this! Hugs Lana Mae
    Life is worth living!
    "Foxy lady! You look so good!!" Jimi Hendrix

  12. #12
    Member Becoming Brianna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laura912 View Post
    Brianna, you cannot do this without some professional guidance. That need shows very clearly in your posts. I do not know in what area of the country you are located, but PM some of the responders on this thread and see if they can help you find a counselor. Yes, it will cost money and maybe you can get some insurance coverage, but look at it as an investment in the rest of your life so the annual costs will be quite small. And if Jeri Ann is offering guidance, listen carefully.
    I am listening to everyone who replies to me and of course to myself and to God. I have done some research on local counselors and I am going to be making some calls soon. My health insurance just came through so I'm not so worried about costs now. I know I need to start talking to someone, I just hope I find someone who understands me and what I'm going through.

    [SIZE=1]- - - Updated - - -[/SIZE]

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeri Ann View Post
    Brianna,

    I sent you an email late last night about this. Because it was late, I only touched on the issue. Hang in there. I will help you sort this out and make it easier to accept yourself. I need to get ready for church right now. Later
    I sent you a reply this morning. I apologize for the length and that it contains so many different topics and questions. I really don't mean to burden you and sincerely appreciate your help. I just had a lot on my mind last night that was keeping me awake so I couldn't sleep. I listened to the sermon from your Church this week. I LOVE your church! I felt loved on several occasions during the sermon and felt very close to God. It moved me to tears as I prayed today (it is not easy to make me cry believe me I try. Even things that move me deeply emotionally can't do it most times)

  13. #13
    Gold Member Kaitlyn Michele's Avatar
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    Keep writing and sharing

    Your experiences and your feelings matter..

    Sometimes in your gut you "know" something and its difficult to accept it in your mind...other times circumstance and past choices block you...

    for folks struggling with GD it is hard to find acceptance and resources and you will be tested... only you benefit and only you suffer from your actions and inactions..

    when other people are involved in this remember that they are not you....they cannot and will never internalize what you feel and what you know... so you are gonna have to stay strongand believe in yourself.

    I remember as I went through this I was in my 40s. I had tons of life experience and it was still brutal... I recall pleading to my mother ....I recall blurting out that God hates me...

    and my mom very calmly said ...no honey, Jesus loves you....that's the whole point!! God doesnt ,make mistakes they say... well you are not a mistake...you GD is not a mistake...you are just like god made you and you are allowed to be yourself....
    I am real

  14. #14
    Member Becoming Brianna's Avatar
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    A really weird up and down day... It started with me recapping my Sunday and my feelings to my mom. Right as I was waking up, I recalled being in a semiconscious but almost dreamlike state and I felt very comfortable with my identity as a woman. As I started the day's work (grading papers a teacher's job is never done) that feeling waned. I stopped to watch a Church service online and felt very secure and loved as I have mentioned before. That started to wane a bit and I decided to pray, right as I was going to pray (I was listening to music at the time the song "She talks to Angels" came on, which I found an interesting coincidence. More grading and the rest of Sunday passes without much eventful happening except for that same tug of war that seems to be going on in me. At one moment at peace and sure that I am a woman at another thinking I'm making a mistake and that I am a boy and should remain one.

    My mom tells me that I need to take some time to sort all of this out, which I interpreted as her telling me to push this stuff down again and I blurted out No! I'm not going to do that again! I'm done! It'll kill me if I don't start to pursue clarity! She says "No I'm sorry I didn't mean it that way. You can still pursue this, and I know that I can accept you as my daughter." No matter what or where this ends up and what you need I'm here for you." I cried. Hard and loud. "That's all I ever ___________ing wanted to hear," which made her cry too. She said I'd rather have a son and a daughter who is happy than two sons where one is miserable and destroying himself." I came into work floating. Even my first hour class noticed something was different. Such energy. I'd never taught with such fire.

    Then second period comes (my prep period) and I crash. Doubt sets in. I keep asking God and it seems like he keeps telling me to remain male and I start to really wonder if I'm on the right path. Then suddenly the idea of transitioning seems to not give as much peace as it once did and the idea of not transitioning feels more peaceful. I pray again from my desk in a moment of alone time I say " I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I know that you are not the author of confusion. This is real. It keeps happening. If you didn't will for me to be a woman why did you instill this within me? You created this. You created everything." I feel better for awhile. Then it gnaws at me again. I tell myself Think logically: If there wasn't anything here, this wouldn't be a years--decade plus--long struggle. You are on the right path and doing what you are meant to do." Yet it gnaws at me again a little later.

    Sometimes I wonder if it's just the enormity of everything I have to do to transition. I keep trying to figure everything out in advance (a big mistake). My mother says to chalk anything I'm feeling that isn't peaceful up to anxiety. Is pre-transition anxiety and feelings like "you're making a mistake You should stay as you are" common? I just don't understand. I thought I had accepted myself as a woman. If I've accepted myself why is this happening? Am I just putting too much pressure on myself trying to break years of conditioning in a short time? Are these red flags?

    Before I felt like my brain was telling my heart that transition is impossible now it feels like my heart is telling my brain I shouldn't transition. It feels like a pole reversal. I want and need to go to therapy, I know, I've brought the subject up with my mom and will ask her again tonight. Are any of these thoughts normal or am I starting to go crazy? It feels like whenever I get external validation I feel like I'm on the right path but I can't fully bring myself to internally accept this consistently. I felt it while i was with my (accepting Thank God) family eating dinner. The subject was never brought up but I felt it. I felt a strong urge to blurt out (because my dad while he has said he would be okay with me as a daughter to my mom doesn't know I'm dealing with this again) I'm a woman! I always was a woman! But for some reason I kept it in even though it would be cathartic. I guess because such a large display would have been inappropriate for my mother who already saw me do something similar this morning.
    Last edited by Becoming Brianna; 04-15-2019 at 06:21 PM.

  15. #15
    Isn't Life Grand? AllieSF's Avatar
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    Brianna, you are dealing with so much now, identity, potential or real conflicts with your religious beliefs, real life and your own feelings and personality. I find it interesting that you seem to need to ask your mother about going to therapy for assistance. I am not sure of your age, but you are an adult and should be able to make that decision yourself and take action, i.e. find a qualified (and I believe that you need a qualified) gender therapist and book the appointment, sooner rather than later. If you are on your parents' insurance you should still do the same and carry the burden of any additional costs associated with it. Consulting with her or both is fine, but I think you just need to act. Tell her about it after you made the appointment, just don't wait. I would guess that she would like you to take the lead during your identity crisis, or whatever this moment is for you. I did not go through all this, but I don not have to have that specific experience to tell you to take that next important step for your own well being. Good luck.

  16. #16
    Member Becoming Brianna's Avatar
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    Allie, I agree. The reason I involve them so much is because I still live with them, so they need to know what is going on with me and I depend on them for transportation as I never trained to get my driver's license. I rarely take charge on things as I have always lacked the confidence to do so. This new surge of energy and confidence I have received since I started exploring these issues is very new and out of character for me. Before I was very sluggish morose and lacked pretty much any confidence. It's been such a change that my father even remarked on it. That feels like very strong evidence that I'm on the right path. I'm going to research and tell them tonight. I've done some preliminary research but I can't tell if anyone in my area has the qualifications I need. I couldn't find anyone who says that they are a gender therapist just people who say they have counseled transgender clients and people who have sex and sexuality training or certification. I'm not sure if that's enough for me to trust going to them or not. I don't want to make a mistake and end up going to the wrong therapist.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Laura912's Avatar
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    Brianna, listen to people and more importantly to yourself. You will have to take charge of this because no one else will. Your writing here may be cathartic but you are still chasing your tail in a circle. Go. Get. Professional help. The only person putting obstacles in your way is you. We will cheer for you and support you, but go get help.

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