Cross Dressing **** TRIGGERS ****


Since it clearly is connected to the trauma, another way to approach it is to simply acknowledge the part of yourself that wants to do this with the recognition that there is likely something triggering the early feeling of shame you experienced before. In truth you have one part that wants to indulge in the behavior and another part that feels the shame. If you can stand apart from both of them and explore the feelings underneath you may find relief.

oh wow.. that's a great insight Visitor! Going beyond indulging and shame without judging either part, creates the space to integrate both
It is proving to be an epiphany for me OCN. I've known for some time that attempting to control behavior is a losing proposition so I've worked to reduce shame while continuing to engage in the behavior... and that includes not only crossdressing but also drinking alcohol and indulging myself with food. I'm actually re-reading a book I read in 2019 and with all that has happened in the intervening months I am understanding more deeply what is being said.

I now appreciate that in responding to the trauma we developed patterns of belief and behavior that were intended to protect us, each pattern constellated in such a way to become a "part" of our personalities. Each part carries implicit memories of how it viewed and interpreted the trauma. Since the entire purpose of the part is to anticipate bad things happening, it is ever alert. What we call triggers are things a part will react to and its reaction is not a thoughtful assessment of the situation. Rather it is the visceral response of the older portions of the brain... fight, flight, freeze or fawn. So when we're triggered our emotions go through the roof and we fragment.

We've lived with the belief there is something wrong with us and we are bathed in shame. This interpretation says we miss the reality that it is only parts of us that get triggered and then act out in some way that produces suffering. We have parts that are going on with life... paying the mortgage, servicing the car, going to work each day that are not bound by trauma. We are encouraged to be curious about the parts that are still rooted in trauma so we might understand better how they get triggered and what they need so they don't have to fragment.

I'm spending time of late noticing when part of me wants to engage with fantasy and instead of indulging it as I would have done automatically so as not to induce shame, I check in to see what is needed to stay present. I did put on a brassiere yesterday for about twenty minutes, then took it off. I didn't want all of my attention focused on the brassiere or anything else. That behavior has always been part of a package of fantasy that can lead to pornography. I chose to stay in this moment rather than go there. I'm doing the same with alcohol and food. I have the image of a sign on the side of the road that says Danger Ahead and consider the desire to turn toward familiar self soothing behaviors is really an opportunity to attend to my feelings so I can stay present. It is an experiment. I'm curious about where this will lead but I have to say I'm feeling very alive at the moment. There is no shame here.
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Thanks Morgan. And THIS is my deepest shame. Telling the truth on MS was the beginning of this process of exploration. When I say self-compassion is the antidote to shame I guess I'm saying until we are willing to hold with compassion even our darkest feelings and behaviors we can ever be free. Our shame will keep us frozen in place. I didn't understand that this involves more than acceptance. I kept reading about men who crossdress and who are working toward acceptance but their lives still seemed narrow, desperate, obsessed. I pondered with them the question of what led them to this behavior but they really weren't interested in looking at it. I knew it was rooted in trauma, at least for me, because I had the memory of silk being rubbed on my genitals in the crib and I knew that as a teen I was breaking into homes to steal lingerie. How could that ever be interpreted except as a sign of a troubled kid? I took it as a mark of my deviance. At that time I had no memory of the silk in the crib so all I could go on was my disturbing behavior which befuddled my mother when she found a bag of lingerie under my bed when I was 15, the doctor she sent me to discuss my behavior AND the officials at the court where I was sentenced to a year of probation when I was eventually caught breaking in to steal lingerie. I was nineteen at the time.

Because I didn't have a safe home growing up I never learned through the give and take of my relationship with my mother that I was safe in my body and secure in the world. Instead, I learned over and over again how to manage the terror I felt inside. I'm coming to believe that over time a cast of characters came into being within me, each part focused on one aspect of my life and my relationships. There was the little boy who concluded if he were very good bad things like my mother's anger could be avoided. He'd make himself small, his breathing shallow. And there was the little boy who was discovered to have a special singing voice who would feel pride when people celebrated his singing. And there was another boy who was uncomfortable with all the attention and he wanted to run away. And there was a boy who was intrigued by what the older boys next door were teaching him. He had no idea what any of it meant but he was happy to be accepted as part of the group. At the moment I'm beginning to pay attention to all the parts developed over time because some came into existence in the midst of trauma and others came into existence later as I navigated the challenges of life. Everyone of them came into being to protect me from shame, terror and rage I carried from the trauma. I wish to honor them AND to tell them I'm ready to be the responsible person in this family. When I do that I'm claiming MY aliveness and that is what I want. I believe I am able at last to care for the frightened parts of myself. I guess I'll find out.
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found this reading ann landers,, a site for support of cross dressers i have not looked int it but for what its worth i figured i would put it here it may offer help to someone
i hope i didnt kill this thread with my previous input about the site for cross dressers and friends or partners, i just figured someone may find some help there, i found some interesting reading in following the thread, bb.
Actually, this thread has been slow for quite some time. It was very important for me to post this and then to work with this and related issues during the subsequent months, occasionally with feedback from other members, only a few of whom have had experience with crossdressing. At the moment it isn't an important part of my journey, as I explain above. I don't feel the need to keep this behavior alive... I simply needed to release all the associated shame. I may return to it but I can't imagine how that would happen. It was a way of soothing myself when terror was alive. Now I'm working with the terror directly rather than acting out in any way... with crossdressing, drinking alcohol, using food or porn. This actually feels like heeling. I certainly wouldn't be upset if someone working with this issue chose to use this thread to explore further. I'd even participate in that conversation... but I have nothing more than needs to be said on the subject at the present moment. You certainly didn't kill the thread my friend and that link may be of value for some of our fellow survivors. Thanks for sharing it.
Six months later and once again the narrowness of my life as a result of COVID has brought me back to this thread and these behaviors. Wearing a brassiere is at once comforting and provocative. I intermittently slip into fixation that is clearly dissociative.

Life began opening up a bit before the Delta variant arrived and closed the doors once again. I know for many my reaction is extreme but at age 80 I don't wish to take chances. This is the only life I'll get, and I'm not quite ready to let this one go. But spending so much time on my own with a rather narrow range of interests is leading me to distraction and the means I've used my entire life are the ones I turn to... alcohol, food, porn, cross dressing. I don't feel completely lost in any of those behaviors, though cross dressing seems to take precedence. What feels good is that I completely accept what I'm doing moment to moment. Shame is not on the scene. This is simply what I'm doing. I trust that I'll continue to engage in these behaviors until I don't... Part of the release I've felt has come from the reading I did this year on Polyvagal Theory. Yesterday I took delivery of Stephen Porges' latest book... Polyvagal Safety; Attachment, Communication, Self-Regulation. I understand at last how the traumas I experienced led me to behaviors that existed ONLY because they were what I needed to feel safe in a world that terrified me. When I'm triggered, meaning I don't feel safe, I will resort to familiar strategies that are deeply engrained in my body. So here I am. I'll start reading that book this evening.


Visitor my friend are one beautiful person. We were broken long before we now what broken was. We walk through our life’s along paths few can comprehend let alone understand. No matter how many years pass all we care do is recognise when we are being triggered. Understand our conditioned responses and do everything we can not hurt ourselves, other or build our mountains of shame any higher and if we do take ownership of what is ours to own and be accountable for our actions.

You list here as do I your failings, your trauma and your struggles, but your achievement are many and varied. You are fundamental in making this a safe place for me, somewhere where if I am struggling I am supported, if I am thinking wrong, I am corrected, and when I am hurting I am cared for. This is what I see and understand about you my friend, this what you have taught me, these are just as much your conditioned responses as the things you highlight.

My you find piece, may you be happy and may you be health.
That is very kind of you Jethro. When lost in shame it is very difficult to see anything else. Blessedly, the journey of releasing shame which probably began a decade ago when I didn't even understand what I was attempting to do, is paying dividends. I now understand that I am much more than the behaviors I needed to engage in to survive. I'm kind. I'm generous. I'm capable of listening deeply when others share their truth and I've learned a few things along the way that can support others in their journey. This is the remarkable thing about trauma. We become triggered and the residue of trauma comes to the fore... shame, fear, anger, grief. But the more we heal, the less we're overwhelmed by triggers. Then we simply keep on keeping on. Despite my preoccupation at the moment with this behavior... crossdressing... I'm helping design a newsletter for a nonprofit for which I volunteer... helping my former wife navigate the complexities of selling her deceased mother's condo... counseling a friend in the Netherlands in coping with her family's idiosyncrasies and spending time here talking with other trauma survivors. I am all of the above and there is no shame in any of it. Self-compassion and self-care are at the heart of healing from trauma... exactly what you and I and the rest of the men here are doing... :)