Unbeknownst to most people, fear creeps into our lives, grabs hold, and takes over. Most of us do not even realize that we make way too many of our everyday decisions out of fear. We stay at a job that we hate, don't ask for that promotion, or tell our significant other how we really feel about important matters. It is all because fear has a way of masking itself as stress. Unfortunately, it is acceptable to function in our world and be totally stressed out. Most of us wear our stress like a badge of honor. If you don’t have stress in your life, then you must not be doing enough.
I have met many partners and family members of transgender folks who refuse to come out to their friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and neighbors about their family member going through transition. I am fairly certain that they don’t even know that it is because they are afraid. When one of my children comes to me with an issue of fear, I help them by playing out the fear until the end. I say things like, “So if you apply for the job and don’t get it, what will happen to you?” That makes them think about what comes next, "Is it bad and can it hurt you?" Usually in answering my questions they realize that no real harm will come to them. So why not apply to that job then?
"QUESTION THE FEARFUL THOUGHT AND PUT DISTANCE BETWEEN THE FEAR AND YOURSELF."
The definition of fear is; an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause you pain, or a threat. When facing fear we need to remind ourselves when we are not in any physical danger of pain and bodily harm, sometimes that helps us to walk through the fear. Question the fearful thought and put distance between the fear and yourself. That will give you a clearer vision and help you to see what exactly you are afraid of. Personally I am afraid of roller coasters. When I think the fear through, I see that I am afraid of something happening to the roller coaster and me falling to my death. So it is perfectly acceptable in my head to never go on a roller coaster because I am afraid of being injured or worse.
We have been taught that if we are afraid we must be a weak and that we should hide that weakness from others. I call BS! It is only when we are vulnerable with another human being that we can really be open loving and having a deeper connection with that person. I was secure with my decision when I told my family and friends that my partner was transgender. I thought the conversation through to the end and about what would happen to me. Would I be physically hurt or incapacitated? I quickly released that the worst thing that could happen was if that person decided they no longer wanted to be a part of my life. I then thought that if anyone could not accept my decision to love my partner and be there for her, then they were not the kind of person that I wanted in my life.
"WHEN YOU ALLOW FEAR TO RUN YOUR LIFE, YOU STUNT YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO GROW AS A PERSON."
I made sure to tell everyone, friends and family alike, that if they had a problem with my decision to stay in my marriage that it was their problem. And, that I had no room in my life for negativity or people who do not respect my decisions. I was once part of a large Italian family and now only talk to one of my four siblings. I not only had to mourn the loss of the person that I thought that I had married, but then I had to mourn the relationships that I lost. Living through transition with my wife has made me a stronger person. It taught me to be secure in myself and how to surround myself with like-minded positive people.
When you allow fear to run your life, you stunt your opportunity to grow as a person. I know it is not easy to talk about your partner’s transition with others who know nothing about the community, but just think of the things that you will be teaching them. Think about how you will be opening up their world to all this knowledge and their hearts to all the ways in which we can love one another. One of my favorite quotes is “feel the fear, but do it anyway.” I try to remind myself of that every day, as I am not immune to the feeling of fear. I too live with it, but I see it as it is happening, and I try to deal with it the best way I know how.