Archives for category: What I know now

The best thing I ever did was get Therapy.

It was incredibly hard to reach the decision to get it though. In theory it should be as simple as picking up a phone and making an appointment, but the reality was very different for me, and for many other people I’ve spoken to about this.
There’s a stigma attached to any sort of mental health problems. If you break your leg, you go to the hospital, and they fix it. It’s so matter of fact that no one even comments on it, other than to say hope it mends soon, or how did you do that?
Tell someone you’re in therapy though, and you’ll get anything from a look of fear that you’re somehow not right to patronising comments as to how brave you are, and how difficult it must be.
You don’t get that sort of reaction for a broken leg.
Having counselling is often seem as a thing to be ashamed of, because of this stigma attached to it, as being something only really messed up people do.
I say this from a position of feeling that myself. It was one of the things that stopped me from going for years. I thought I could deal on my own, that it would be weird to talk to a stranger about such personal things, that I was somehow better than that, that it was beneath me because I wasn’t fucked up right?
I fully acknowledge that I was an asshole for thinking that, and I’m glad I had the self awareness to question my fear of getting to know myself. I’m glad because it changed everything.
This is what I know now, that helped make that change happen.

Anger can be a positive thing.
I never realised how angry I was before I had therapy. I was afraid to recognise that I was angry as well, angry at the unfair deal I got, angry at the world for making my life so much harder, angry at myself for not having the strength to do anything about it, angry at my own self pity.
Not recognising this, and instead just burying it, just made it even more poisonous and impossible to deal with.
Once I talked about it though, I found I could channel it, it became a righteous anger, a powerful, positive force, and I found I could use it to do things. It gave me strength.

That spiteful inner voice that puts me down can be challenged, and changed.
That voice is such an asshole. But it’s also all talk. Learning how to challenge it makes it quieten down enough to make other things possible.

The worst case scenario hardly ever happens.
Man do I love imagining the worst possible outcome. It’s an automatic response that kicks in if I’m confronted by any difficult situation.
Thing is, the worst case very rarely happens. Yes, things might be pretty shit sometimes, but worst case? Not so much.
At the end of the day you will survive, if you can let yourself survive. Counselling, Therapy, they’re like the key to unlocking how to survive. It won’t always stop the mess and the hurt, but, for me at least it did stop my brain running away with all this. It gave me back some control, when I didn’t have any.

(I’ve split this into a two part post, because as I started writing it became pretty clear there was a lot to say here, and definitely too much for one post, so more next time!)



I think I’m complicated. I also think that puts people off. That’s not too say that we’re not all complicated in our own way, it’s more that some complications are easier than others.

Complications that could be potentially a problem when dating, but don’t apply to me (yay!)

  • having kids
  • messy divorces
  • angry ex-significant others
  • being a dick
  • bad personal hygiene
  • terrible social skills
  • a universal hatred of other people
  • off-putting pets
  • Jealousy of everything

Complications that could be potentially a problem when dating, and do apply to me (boo!)

  • being trans

Okay, so, I’m over simplifying to make a point here, there are other complications as well, but this one does seem to be kinda the big one. It seems, and this is just me going on experience here, that I’m too well, complicated, for most people.

 (Again, this is based on my experiences, so put down your torches/pitchforks and stop that well orchestrated leaflet campaign, it may well not be the case for everyone.)

Thing is, I do get why it’s complicated for some people. We live in a world that’s very binary. Male, Female, Gay, Straight, Penis, Vagina. It’s all very straightforward, and this is what most people know.

When that gets challenged it can be unsettling, it can be confusing, it can make us think about our own personal identities. Any challenge, or change, to our world view creates a degree of resistance, and forces us to make a choice to accept and explore this new thinking, or to ignore or fight against it.
I know this because, every time my world view is challenged this is how I feel.

I have a friend, and she has a rule. She won’t sleep with anyone till the fifth date. She does this because she wants a relationship, and she says it weeds out the people that are only looking for one night stands, or something less committed, among other things.
I’m going to be honest here, this challenged me. I’ve always been of the mind that if you want to sleep with someone you should just do it, first date, third date, whatever date. If there’s spark and desire to do it, then go for it. Abstaining for a set amount of time is not something I’ve ever considered.
And yet, it made sense, in relation to the reasons she gave. It made me think about why I have a tendency to sleep with people on the first or second date. It made me explore this new thinking.

What I discovered is a post for another time, but the point I’m trying to make is that by considering something new, I discovered something good about myself, and changed how I perceive things for the better.

If going on a date with a trans person freaks you out, maybe you should just stop, just for a minute, and think about why that is. Maybe you have reasons that feel valid, and maybe they are, but isn’t it worth challenging?

I know, from experience, that it’s easy to tread the paths we always tread, but have you seen what’s off the beaten track?

You really should come take a look, it could be the best thing you’ll ever do.

If we were to go on the average lifespan of humankind, in the UK today, then hitting forty means that I’m halfway through this particular run. Of course, I’m going to aim for the big onehundred so I’ve got a bit of a way to go still, but here’s what I’ve learnt so far about becoming what some might call ‘older’…..

1.The mysterious case of the Grey Hair (Or white in my case.)
I always knew about these kids, and the way they just start appearing, but they’ve really upped their game recently.  What was a couple, is now quite a few, and I suspect that will evolve into lots.

At the moment, because I dye my hair, they’re only visible at the roots, but they’re there, and at some point, I’m going to have to make a decision to let them multiply and go strikingly white haired, or keep on dying them out of existence.

Also, as an aside, the grey hair is not limited to your head. Just putting that out there.

2. Everyone you know will be in a relationship.
I watched You,Me and Dupree the other day. It would be fair to say I related a little too much to Owen Wilson’s character.

3. You’ll become the coolest person ever.
You stop worrying about stuff you spent so much time over before, and it’ll show in how people see you. Not giving a shit about what other people think about the things you like is liberating and cool, and you’ll gather more respect for it.

Want to wear Black and Brown together? Fuck yeah! Looking good!

Want to sing along to Billie’s seminal pop classic “Honey to the Bee” and not feel judged? THERE IS NOTHING TO JUDGE HERE!

Basically not caring about what other people think about you and your choices rules.

4. You’ll become brutally honest.
Want an honest answer to a question? Ask someone in their forties. I am like the mouth of truth.

5. It becomes harder to stay hardcore.
By hardcore I mean doing stuff you did in your twenties. Older bodies do not appreciate the same levels of constant drink based lols that younger ones do.

6. You get better at life.
Not perfect, just better.

7. People look up to you.
This actually happens. You know when you were younger, and there was that cool Aunt you had? That’s going to be you. People will come to you for advice because they know you’ll be able to help, and be cool about it, no matter what the problem.

8. New Years Eve will never be the best night of the year.
I’ve done so many of these now, and although some of them have been alright, in reality the best nights of my life have been the unexpected ones, when there’s no expectations.

9. Sex becomes less with the ridiculous expectations and more about the fun.
There’s a lot of pressure and expectation around sex when you’re younger. It’s still there when you turn forty, but you learn to shrug it off more.
I’m the most comfortable with my naked body I’ve ever been. You’d be amazed what a difference this makes to everything.

10. You’ll finally start to know yourself.
This is the greatest gift you can give yourself. It makes relationships, friendships, family, decisions, life, the universe and everything easier.

As the philosopher Laozi once said “He who knows others is wise; He who know himself is enlightened.”



I’m going to let you into a secret. It’s a biggie, so you should all hold onto something, or hug a kitten.

I’ve only recently discovered that the eyebrows we get ‘assigned’ , for want of a better word, don’t have to be the eyebrows we have.

I know. I think the internet slang you’re looking for is WTF.

I’ll elaborate, because that’s needed here. I have okay eyebrows. They’re not too chunky, or too hairy, or too mono-brow. They will totally do, and that’s what those kids have been doing, just hanging out above the eyes, looking okay. I’ve left them to themselves, and they seem content with that, doing what eyebrows do (actually, what do they do? is there something really vital underneath them that needs to be kept warm? The people demand answers!).

Anyhow, the other day I got them plucked and shaped. I’m not kidding you when I say it was a revelation.

Suddenly I have amazing eyebrows….. Somehow, they make my face better. I can’t put my finger on it, but face things just go together more cohesively, there’s tapering, symmetry, form, and also, yeah, killer eyebrows. Fuck yeah, as we say on the internets.


I’ve been around for a while now, and every now and again I discover something that makes me really think I wish I’d discovered this a whole lot sooner than now.
These things are often things that other people know about, and have been singing about for ages, which makes it doubly face-palming that I’ve only just really discovered them in the last year or so.
For instance, I’ve recently discovered the joy of going to the gym. Yes, THE GYM. For years I’ve known about this place, but I’ve always been too scared to join one. It’ll be full of mega fit people, all muscly and tanned, i’d say, It’s not for the likes of me.

But people of the internet, wait! it’s just not true! Yes, there are muscly people there, yes, some of them are tanned, but there’s also people like us ( I say ‘us’, but there is a very real possibility I’m really just talking about ‘me’ ). Admittedly, the gym I go to is the cheapest one in town, but I like to think of it as The Peoples Gym, where everyone is equal, and all are welcome. Honestly, all gyms should have old men wrestling on mats, and people with mullets balancing on basketballs, cause that’s how The Peoples Gym rolls. Oh yeah.

And the best thing about going to the gym, the thing I wish I’d discovered years ago about it?
It’s fantastic for relieving stress. Honestly, it’s like a drug. If I have a bad day, then I go to the gym, and exercise the fuck out of the stepping cross trainer thing (technical term obviously ), and then I feel fine. It’s an endorphin based miracle.

I wish I’d discovered this years ago. And as a plus you also get fit and stuff. I even have guns!* Or at least one anyhow, left arm is looking like a boss. right arm, not so much. Should probably do something about that.

*not actual guns, that would be scary, and probably really bad gym etiquette as well.

Freiya Benson

Writer & Photographer.

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