Every once and again a few memories from my childhood, watching fairy tales on television each Saturday and Sunday morning, seem to fill my mind.
As I ponder some of them, I now understand that I have lived through many of my very own fairly tales.....
Once upon a time....
I thought that I needed to grow up to be a good man. Everyone called me a boy. I learned that no one else could hear the voices in my head that were fighting about this. There were many times when I could not listen to them either. I knew that there was no way I could share this with anyone. I just knew that would lead to the path where the monsters would devour me, so I never told anyone.
I read, and I learned. I watched the other boys and wanted to be like them. I thought that if I could be loud, and play ball and learn to fight, I might be able to become a good man. I really did not have a clue, but could not share that with anyone either.
I knew I needed to be a Good Man! What other choice was there? There was no Prince going to come save me, not that I ever wanted that to happen....I needed to be that Prince. Yes, that would make me a good man. I thought that for a long, long time.
I remember so many simple saying about these dreams and yet, never really found them that simple to understand.
A Good Man is Hard to Find
The Marines Need A Few Good Men
You Can't Keep a Good Man Down
I struggled with the elusiveness of what it meant to be a good man. Apparently not all men are good, and it was never clear to me what the requirements to be a good man would be. The internal war arguing whether this search to be a good man was the right path to pursue never ever stopped. It was all so confusing, and this confusion kept growing and growing as it impacted every part of my life. I kept trying to be a good man. Even when I thought I was achieving some of this, it never quite felt right, and deep down I thought I would never, ever get there. This never helped the confusion and the arguments that raged within me. No, never!
I worked hard playing the role of good man - of husband and of father. I worked as hard as I could, with the internal war that secretly continued on for decades. I tell myself that I was a good man some of the time, even as I wrestled with my internal battle with gender identity. I struggled with what good meant. I struggled with what it meant to be a man. I struggled with my responsibilities to myself, and my family.
I was the provider, and did it pretty well, or perhaps it was good enough. I told myself and to all the inner voices that would listen to me, that this is what a good man does. Some listened although many did not.
I was the man of the house, or that is how it appeared to all the neighbors, friends, and kids who would come by for barbeques, parties and playtimes. Some of my inner voices commended me on the role I played so well. Some just watched and said it was good enough, once more, while other turned in disgust thinking I was living a lie.
I still find it challenging to review so many of my memories as I reflect how my inner and outer worlds were unaligned in how I showed myself to the world. I like to think there has always been part of me that was a good man, and treated every one fairly and with respect. I know there was a part of me that knew he was lying to the world because that was not really his true self. He knew that she was inside, always desperately wanted to live her life, each and every day as her true self.
I know that it became difficult for those that I care about to understand all of this, especially when I became strong enough to let her out and let her live. I hear that when others may do this, may of their loved ones may run away or abandon them and call them selfish. I don't think a good man would be selfish. I don't think any good person would be selfish.
I learned that a good man lets other live their own lives, and be true to themselves.
I learned that a good man supports others to find their truth as only they can.
The most surprising think I learned happened after I transitioned. There is still a good man inside me. He no longer runs the show, nor does he have any desire to do so. If you have read my book, No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, you would know he has a new job as the Librarian of Memories...
He loves when she comes by to chat about old memories. She hid so much and for so long, and she knows there are so many pieces missing for her that he has access to. They really are becoming friends.
The more she got to know him, the more amazed she became. She remembered all those years when she battled with him. She wasn't sure when she realized that he really was not the enemy. He was never the enemy.
He told her many stories of the things he had done to make sure neither she nor any of the other parts would get hurt. She remembered some of these, and how angry she was at the time. She had no idea that he was trying to protect her. She was learning that he had struggled mightily on how to live in the world while dealing with all that was going on inside. She knew how hard her battle inside was, but his was so much bigger, really having to balance the two worlds. She did not even begin to appreciate how he did it.
She began to understand how brave he really was. How courageous he was for such a long time.
He was becoming her hero.
She told him this. He smiled.
Yes, there is a good man inside me. He is living happily ever after.
Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.
- Marcus Aurelius
Grace Stevens transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is the author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, an intimate memoir of her journey to live authentically. Grace is available for speaking with Live Your Truth: Discover Paths to Improved Performance. Grace's new book Musings on Living Authentically will be available soon. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .