Identity Lessons of Michelle

I spent the early years of my child’s existence struggling to come to terms with my identity. I didn’t realize how many ways it had shifted, who I was, or how disassociated I had been. The process felt jagged and bumpy not the smooth transition that some mythically have. I had been aware of my sexuality for quite some time, yet I hadn’t developed my awareness of my own gender fluidity or non-binary existence at first. While pregnant, I couldn’t escape other’s gendering me constantly. My body though doing wonderous things, felt foreign and uncomfortable. My breasts, which I already had a tenuous relationship with, became even larger and further increasing the discomfort in my body. Birth was more traumatic than anticipated.

Then, awash in the 4th trimester, I started to feel more and more underwater. Memories kept resurfacing. Scared feelings bubbled up. One nap time, while I was the pillow, I silently watched and read the subtitles on a TED talk about PTSD. I went from feeling depressed to light bulb. The science behind our brains fascinates me. The more I dug, I realized, it could be from the traumatic life experiences both macro and micro. That it could be transferred from generation to generation; that how you grow up relates to how your parent’s grew up (whether by family of origin or reparenting); and that the cycles could be broken changing the future. I had denied for years how disruptive and traumatic my youth into young adulthood was. I had always known some people had it worse than me; that being said, that’s a shitty qualifier. Yes, there will always be more suffering. Does that make your suffering not count? NO! Does is make it less worthy of acknowledgement? NO! Does it give you permission to be an asshole? ALSO, NO!

So, I realized I needed more scaffolding than my partner or friends could provide and I sought mental health support and EMDR. I like this description of what EMDR is from

“EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.”


I have recently restarted EMDR work and am setting groundwork for my own healing. However, this healing would be impossible, if I had not acknowledged that I have felt genderfluid for a lifetime but didn’t have the vocabulary to name it until more recently. The self discovery and unburdening of the past has allowed me to see who I am; what my interests are; and how I truly feel about things. So does being aware when I become triggered. I work on the repair, the secure connection, and seeing “Little Michelle” so that my child gets to be “Little” themselves without taking on my baggage or having the insecurity that I had.

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