Monday, January 10, 2011

Why Me?! Oh Yeah That's Right!

For those of you not in the know, I thought today might be a good day to take a little time and talk about myself.. Open up a little and share the person that is me.

First of all, like most trans people, I have struggled with this for years and years. My earliest recollection of reaching out for help was in first grade. At that time I was identified as a “slow learner” however, when I was placed in the remedial reading class, I managed to outpace the class to the point that I was actually beyond where the students in the “regular” reading classes were at. In retrospect there were two primary differences in the two classes. The “regular” classes taught reading via “phonics” which anybody that knows anything about the English language knows that this language has little basis in the phonetic method. Adults for the most part all read by visual recognition (aka memorization) and that is how the “remedial” learning class taught reading. The second difference was that the pace of the “remedial” class work was set by the individual students progress, and as such, I did not end up getting held back and therefore bored…

At any rate, I diverge, being in the remedial reading class and outpacing my “normal” counterparts earned me a trip to the shrink where they could identify what was going on inside my head. The good news, I am not mentally handicapped or as we were allowed to call it back then “retarded”, in fact, apparently I had above average IQ WOO HOO! The bad news, I was apparently one seriously messed up child, and for some crazy reason I even claimed to be a girl! GASP! This revelation earned me more trips to the shrink to help “fix” me. It was through that first trip I learned a very important lesson, letting people know your “unconventional” feelings only results in punishment, I believe that the theory is similar to training a dog. That lesson has haunted me my entire life, and to this day still requires a huge amount of will to overcome.
SO, now that I have been identified as a deviant it comes as no surprise that the remainder of my early school years I was tormented, picked on, beat up, and called all sorts of names for being a “sissy” or “faggot”, but really who the heck cares right? Kids are remarkably resilient, and can come back from just about anything… Well at least that’s what my parents thought, until that is the “behavioral problems” began to occur.

Here is a little known progression of human behavior, children that reach our for help and do not receive it, tend to internalize emotions…. Imagine that…. At any rate, this brings about another little known progression of human behavior, people that internalize their emotions tend towards fierce self reliance and frequently become anti-social. So, when mom and dad decided that it was their duty to be an active force in their internalized child’s life, it pretty much resulted in a defiant child that refused parental involvement.

Now this is a part of the story that has never really made sense to me. My parents (and shrink) deny that my identity issues are actually issues, which results in a childhood of denial and abuse. This in turn results in so-called “behavioral issues” which amount to little more than being a child that internalizes emotion, and has no desire to be around people, yet I was the one that needed professional help. Granted I did need professional help, but the fact that we were treating the symptoms and not the cause is completely asinine.

An interesting tidbit of information is that the current Florida republican governor Rick Scott also happened to be the founder of the company that owned the fantastic (note: sarcasm) mental hospital that I got to spend the summer in…..

So, while my parents were telling friends and family that I was in the “hospital”, and while I guess that was mostly true, I was spending some quality time with shrinks and such. Lets run down the experience in the Readers Digest Condensed version. After much “evaluation” it turns out that I’m not crazy, I have a gender identity issue, and some antisocial tendencies, which is great because we can pretend that both of these are non-issues! (noting more sarcasm) Standard treatment for these issues is to isolate the person in their own dormitory, this way the gender-deviance will not spread and anti-social tendencies can be reinforced! (even more sarcasm) This also makes it easier for certain orderlies who have a special fondness for girly-boys to nurture and comfort them.

In an interesting side note, the ancient proverb “Once you go black you never go back” may not be entirely true…

Another perk of this summer was finding out that I had scoliosis…. Well maybe, actually not really… As it turns out, my skeleton is as crooked as a politician, but not because of scoliosis….

At any rate, the up side to this place was that my parents were advised that they needed some counciling as well…. Unfortunately I do not think the shrink was thinking of church when they suggested that…

So, as the summer came to a close, I had learned many valuable lessons:

1. Regular and thorough strip searches are for my own protection…
2. Showers must be video taped for my own protection…
3. It is not okay to have pictures of your family, but it is okay to have pictures of naked men…
4. Suicide watch means someone must watch you sleep so you can’t dream of suicide…
5. Rape is more fun as a fantasy than a reality…
6. Never share your feelings with anybody that “can help”…
7. There is a such thing as a rubber room, it’s a no-clothes zone, and it has cameras too…
8. Nightmares of past events can haunt you for the rest of your life…

and for a few not so mucked up lessons….

9. Hospital food is hospital food no matter the type of hospital.
10. That being said, I still prefer my PBJ after the jam has soaked through the bread.
11. I really suck at tennis.
12. Girls dig girly boys, at least when you’re all 12.
13. Apple juice can take me out of any situation, and it pretty much works to this day.
14. Pretending to be normal is way easier than going to a mental hospital.

At any rate, I finally got to come home! YAY! The best part of coming home strangely enough is not being back with your family so much as not being raped anymore…

SO, after the hospital stay, the shrink visits continued for some time. After a while, I got the hang of pretending to be normal, after all, the only thing parents want is normal children.

This was followed by years of personal and academic failures peppered with bouts of alcohol abuse, and severe depression. All this was nicely hidden from view of the public and my family behind the church going quirky personality of the middle and high school aged me…

While in the age of middle school, my particulars were noticed by another person who took special interest in me. This time in an interstate rest area, a janitor “opened” the closed bathroom just in time to accept me. How exciting, a clean public restroom for once! Possibly this optimism is the primary factor in me not noticing the janitor locking the door behind me, or even following me to the stall… As I finished and turned around I found a linebacker sized man exposing himself to me. I froze like a deer in headlights as he grabbed me, picked me up, and proceeded to rub me on his bits and pieces. As my senses caught up with me and I grasped the situation, I quietly said, “let me go, or I will yell” with this the janitor looked directly into my eyes (and I will never forget the way his eyes looked) and released me, I ran to the door pulled on the handle to find it locked and turned in the most panicked moment of my young life to see the janitor straightening his clothes as he walked towards me. He whipped out a key, and unlocked the door. I grabbed the handle flung open the door, and with a pat on the behind from the janitor, I ran back out to the car. My dad in a joking tone said they were “worried that I had moved in to the bathroom“…. I said nothing.

As a positive side note, they have since torn down the rest area where this happened, and THAT felt AMAZING!

Primarily the remainder of my middle school years were dominated by bullies in the neighborhood that took special interested in roughing up their local “sissy boy”. The major milestones include finding out about girls, alcohol, and most importantly high heels.

Luckily, by the time high school rolled around, the neighborhood bullies were either in college or jail, doesn’t really matter which. By this time however, I had developed the boy persona by which people to this day mistake for being the “real” me. I picked up some great boy hobbies mostly to frost the cake so to say. The alcohol abuse continued behind closed doors, the nightmares continued, business as usual.

The Early College Years:

This, the supposed greatest years of a young adults life, was the most depression laden, alcohol clouded, and in general miserable part of my life. That is really saying something after facing the “Great Mental Hospital Debacle”! While I look back at the stupid things I did with my friends at the time, they are all overshadowed by the experiences of self discovery, and one major incident of personal loss (Which I will purposefully avoid talking about in this writing as I still can‘t express how I feel about the situation.).

The major milestones:

Pornography, what more to say? I mean pornography is one of the greatest accomplishments of mankind. It practically invented the internet we know today. Seriously, I was a geeky kid, I have had access to the internet in one way or another for almost as long as I can remember, all the way back to the Tandy 1000 and I remember using the modem to talk to other computers long before Prodigy… But in reality, you can’t truly believe that streaming video was invented for YouTube, NO it was invented for PORNOGRAPHY! That being said, this is where I was introduced to my very first transsexual and in one fateful double-click after another I found out that I was not alone, and that there were other trans people out there, I was not as nuts as the world had made me believe! At every turn of the internet was another website, another article, another support page, all about trans people.

The problem with this is that the term transition took on an entirely different meaning. I started to aquire clothing, and hormones via the internet and soon was lost in a quandary of what to do next. The big mistake was in purchasing hormones from the internet. Being the immortal late teen that I was, the thought of being swindled in a dangerous sort of way never crossed my mind. In fact, that miscalculation would take a dangerous path and fortunately not a deadly one.

This is where I will take a detour and advise other trans people out there to NEVER EVER BUY MEDS OVER THE INTERNET FROM OVERSEAS! Of course, I have in the past failed to take my own advice in this, and all things considered I was very lucky and stupid at the same time… The very first time I purchased hormones via the internet, I received a small bubble paper envelope in the mail, inside were a handful of foil backed blister packs. Some were filled with little maroon oval pills, which just about anybody in the trans community will quickly identify as Premarin, and the printing on the foil confirmed that. The others were Aspirin sized white pill with “Aldactone” scribbled on the foil in black marker. This unfortunately did not raise any red flags with me, and the medication actually turned out to be Glipizide. This medication is actually intended to be used by diabetics to help the pancreas produce more insulin. Not really a good thing for a non-diabetic… Fortunately after a few days of feeling like crap, a visit to the doctor and fessing up to what I had done I learned a very valuable lesson on mortality. More on buying hormones from overseas will surely turn up later in this entry.

The next major milestone was being kicked out of my parents house… Yeah it didn’t last too long however. In retrospect I really probably would have been better off if I had stayed away but after a couple long days of living in my car (a 1970 VW Beetle to be precise) I conceded… The entire situation was the result of consumer debt. When confronted by my parents on where all of the money I was making was going to, I gave some BS answer that my parents did not buy. This resulted in accusations of all sorts of crazy things that I took personal offence to. That is when I yelled out “IM TRANSGENDER, I BOUGHT CLOTHES AND HORMONES!”. In retrospect this makes me laugh, but at the moment it was terrifying, this was the first time in my entire life where I willfully destroyed the house of mirrors that my parents and I had built around “my little problem”. The hilarious part of this is that thirty seconds before my parents were accusing me of buying drugs, alcohol, and sex, yet their clean and sober (at that point) non-john “son” being trans was apparently the worst thing that could happen on the face of planet earth. The way my parents reacted, you would have thought they found ten dead babies in a trashcan in my closet, or even worse, one dead baby in ten trash cans in my closet (Yeah, thanks for the awesome dead baby jokes Will TMW.)… Nope, the only thing in the closet was some girls clothes and me… I was told at that point that “You can’t do that and live here!” so, I packed up the bug and moved to Beverly, Hills that is…. Yeah, not really, I ended up driving out to a party, getting slap drunk, and spent the next two days wandering the county and wondering what the heck I was going to do. Short lived as the move was, a major step occurred as a result. My dad turned a blind eye, which he has managed to maintain the unbreachable fa├žade to this day… My mom took an entirely different approach, her goal was to make me normal by any means necessary, you know, all is fair in love and war, and this qualifies as both I suppose.

This is one of the big BIG ones, a genuine certified gender disorder shrink! Yup, a 100% qualified gender specialist who not only had a diploma on her wall, but also the credentials to back it up. Now this milestone in my life was not without its’ trials. My mother to this day says I went “doctor shopping” until I found one that would give the diagnosis that I wanted. Oddly enough that is sort of 180 from what I really wanted, what I secretly wanted was someone to tell me that all I had to do was have a visit once a week and work out some deep seeded problem and I could be free and happy to live without major changes to my body or life. What really happened was actually a confirmation of what my family, myself, and to some extent some of my friends already knew, I was actually transgendered… The issue wasn’t so cut and dry however, as the result of some previous psychiatric “help” I was not just a step away from being fine so much as a long hike away from being even just okay… Quite a substantial number of visits later we had at least hammered out the basics of how to deal with my past, and for the first time in my life, I found the true therapeutic power of psychotherapy.

As a side note update of this, today, as the result of great resolve, I have returned to a fairly communicative state with a few people in my life. This is in no ways an indication that I have put my past behind me, but I have to treat it as such so that my past doesn’t turn into my future as well. I owe a great deal of thanks to the diligent work of my shrink and to her understanding and passion for making the wrongs in life not dictate the rest of life…

At any rate, several months of sessions, loads of personal exercises, reading, and heartfelt discussion resulted in a stable platform to move on to the gender issues that plagued me. Strangely, through the rest of the exercises to resolve the other issues, I ended up in a state of heightened self awareness. Like never before I was looking at the larger picture of myself, the experiences of my childhood all started to fall into place, and the helter skelter was not so chaotic after all. Without prompting, without questions, without tests or medication I started talking about my life in the most analytical of fashions, the end result no matter what path I took resulted in what was really bothering me about myself. Let me tell you, that was one very SCARY moment, and all the shrink could do was laugh. She jokingly offered me the diploma on her wall and said “You’ve finally graduated!”. That epiphany altered the course of my life and as I drove home in an absolute state of shock, I couldn’t decide what it really meant for me… The remaining sessions were devoted to establishing a resolution, a road map of sorts that I could live with and find happiness along the way. Each step was designed so that if I found contentment at any moment, I could stop and hang out. First stop on the journey HORMONES!

This brings me to the next major milestone, HRT… This is supposed to be a point in a trans persons life that they look back favorably, and while for the most part, I do, it is also the beginning of a long cluster of personal failures.

The first major failure and thus milestone that comes to mind was the downfall of my first fairly long term relationship since the big one (that we’re not talking about). If you have read all of my blogs, my beliefs on how to tell a partner you’re trans is fairly clear, however, if you haven’t read them know that the principles I talk about are mostly the result of my experiences with success AND failure. This happened to be a MAJOR failure. I had been dating this particular girl for almost a year at the point I began HRT. She was a wonderfully supportive girlfriend through all of the counseling up to that point, taking part in the personal exercises, and reaping the benefits of a more open me than had been expressed in many many years. When I told her of being raped, she was there, told her of being molested, she was there, and when I shared how those events had changed who I was and how it changed my view of the world, she was there.. Then came the big one, the “We have to talk, I am transgendered.” talk….. Yeah, it went way better than I had anticipated, however I have come to learn that it always goes way better than expected up front, it’s the afterwards that involves the flip out. I just came clean with her, explained my feelings, and desires, how it was going to affect her life and my life and our life, and that I could understand if she felt betrayed or lied to and that I would do anything that I could to make it right and make things work. She immediately asked the obligatory “Are you gay?” question, of which I hastily explained yes and no, I like women, but that makes me a lesbian… From there, she seemed pretty okay, we got dinner, completed our date as planned and I took her home. Before I left, I held her in a tight hug, looked her straight in the eyes and asked “ Are you okay, are we okay, and will we be okay?” Without so much as a flinch she replied “I love you, everything will work out. I am okay and we will be okay…. okay?”. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to hear that from the person I was most concerned about the long reaching effects of my betrayal, we parted ways with a nice kiss and I went home and she went inside. Little did I know that this was not as okay as it had seemed from the outside….

A few days later, I was invited down to visit for dinner and a quiet evening around the house as her parents were out of town for the weekend and she wasn‘t “feeling well“. This was a welcome reprieve from my current living situation with my parents at the time, so I eagerly packed some clothes, made a pot of chicken noodle soup and picked up some flowers on the way. I Showed up at her house soup in one hand, flowers in the other, and knocked on the door, no answer… So I called her ( knowing that this particular girl was armed makes you a little overly cautious of walking on in her house), she picked up and told me the back door was unlocked just come on in, she had a surprise for me waiting in her bedroom… Yeah, in retrospect, this is one of the few times in my life where I was thinking with my pistol and not with my brains… At any rate, I walked in, opened the bedroom door roses, soup, and stupid grin on my face to find my girlfriend having sex with her new boyfriend………………

Needless to say, that was the relationship was already over, however that was not enough for her, as she and her new boyfriend proceeded to call me all sorts of derogatory terms that I was quite familiar with already by that point in my life.

In an interesting side note, at this very moment while I am writing this part, I am listening to the same album that was playing in my car that night. Oddly enough, it has remained one of my absolute favorite albums of all time, landing somewhere in my top 15. The album if you’re wondering is Portishead “Dummy”. Buy a copy, rock it out with the lights dim, maybe some candles, and incense… It just goes to prove that some things in life can transcend the experiences in which they were part of.

So back to the story, they stopped screwing long enough to follow me out to my car yelling…. It was really nice of them to bid me a heartfelt farewell. I have not talked to her since, although quite sometime back I had the urge just to see whatever happened to her. Justice has been served, two kids, divorced, and looks like she has done more heroine than Pink Floyd…. If you could only see the smile on my face you would understand how A-W-E-S-O-M-E this makes me feel!

Needless to say, this resulted in some more visits with the shrink….

This is the dividing line between early college years and late college years. Up to this point I have spent more than my fair share of time at college and was about to make the greatest life change ever.

The BIG ONE! This is where I met my girlfriend, not just any girlfriend, my current girlfriend. The center of my universe, the person I will marry and spend the rest of my life with without question. I say that now, however it was not always so peachy keen.

I met her via a popular website of which I will not mention the name out of respect for our dignity. She picked me, and I accepted. She had 86 matches, I had 1... The story of our lives. She is way more beautiful than I ever disserve and I was skeptical that someone like her would even be interested in me. The catch, she picked me as the boy me… Now, at that time in my life I had both a boy and a girl profile on this website, neither drew much traffic from the appropriate demographic (I’m not nor have I ever been attracted to hairy, married, “chasers“). At any rate, this raised an immediate problem but I decided to give it a go anyhow. We talked on the phone and via email for several weeks, basically we hit it off like I have never experienced before. I would begin talking about something and she would literally finish my sentiment (and sentence lol)! Then came the big meeting, we met in a busy parking lot to be safe for both of us, had a few moments to verify non-psycho-ness and proceeded to a local park to have a quiet place to let the dog roam around while we talked. I was taken by her beautiful brown eyes and brilliant smile, and as we talked I just because helplessly tangled…. WAIT STOP IT YOU IDIOT, YOU’RE FALLING FOR A GIRL THAT THINKS YOU’RE A BOY! I had done it, it was too late, I was hooked. Every time we got on the phone together, it was just awesome! We had a date or two more and I couldn’t go any further, I wouldn’t let myself go any further.

Now, I can’t remember if I told her that I felt as though I was falling in love with her, OR I told her about being trans first, however I vividly remember saying “I think I’m falling in love with you, to which she replied “no you’re not” lol a moment that will live in our memories forever!

The consensus thus far is that I actually told her about being trans later on the telephone after much to-do. My recollection of the scenario differs slightly from that of hers except that the end result was a “we need to talk about this in person”

We scheduled a date, and while laying in her bed after baking cupcakes together, I explained that I may have not exactly been 100% on the phone and as we talked about the implications on “us” I explained that it was not a matter of if I would transition anymore, it was just a matter of when… This was a major blow and she was not exactly prepared for that news… Buzz kill for sure! That pretty much wrapped up our evening in a huge tearful bow as I over reacted I guess and took the silence as a “hell no!”. I packed up my kitchen things and headed home sobbing the entire way.

This all happened just days before my birthday, I like to jokingly refer to it as her first birthday present to me… At any rate, I was just an emotional train wreck over a girl that I had only known for several weeks. About all I remember from the time between when I left and when she called again was a crack in the bottom of the toilet seat that looked like a unicorn… Needless to say, not one of my finer moments and I am lucky that I didn’t succeed in pickling my liver….

Then she called, it had been a little while since we had talked. She was dead set on coming down to see me implying that she was worried that I was going to hurt myself. In typical asshole fashion, I spouted off everything in my verbose artillery system to get her to stay home. I am fairly certain that if I remembered what I had told her then to keep her away that I would be ashamed of it today… Needless to say, not only had I found the most beautiful person, but also the most stubborn one! She turned up on my doorstep and basically told me that as crazy as it may sound, she loved me, and that she was going to stick with me no matter what gender I may be.

My heart still skips a beat every time I think about her.

This was a beginning to the best and worst roller coaster I have ever been on. While the two of us have a connection that I have never experienced with any other person, this does not guarantee that things always work out. In retrospect, I was about the lousiest partner that anybody never disserved and fortunately she has managed to work with me to get beyond that.

The first couple years were rocky at best, in that timeframe I moved three hours away, we fought, we argued, we teeter tottered through awesome and lousy. One very poignant event I believe was the straw that broke the camels back, the moment when the house started to crumble. I had been working nights with a job I hated, stuck in a town I loathed, no friends, nothing working out as it should have and I lost touch with reality. My mind checked out and everything messed up about my life came crashing in on me. My transition was stagnant, I had run out of money for HRT and doctors visits of all sorts, my parents(one in particular, which you can piece together from the content of this essay) admitted that if I transitioned that I would be dead to them, and nightmares (which haunt me to this day) had prevented me from sleeping more than a couple hours over the last several days, lead to an unfortunate head. Even today I don’t really know what I was thinking, but between a couple pills and an entire bottle of scotch (God I still feel terrible about wasting the only bottle of 45 year old scotch that I have ever laid my grubby little hands on and will probably ever lay my hands on) I lost all control and will….. I awoke the next day covered in dried blood laying in the middle of the kitchen floor (which was also covered in blood) with the entire contents of my first aid kit (and if you know me, you know how huge my first aid kit is) strewn throughout the apartment. An empty scotch bottle was curiously perched balanced upside down on the coffee table, (which also had blood on it) with a remote control, two dvds, and a salt shaker balanced on top of the upside down bottle. A bloody shirt was tied around the doorknob of my bedroom door and the CD player/alarm clock (which also had blood on it) was playing Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on a loop….. A nicely bandaged (seriously, it was perfectly attended to, no joke) gash adorned the side of my head. How and why I didn’t die that night I will never know. My girlfriend tells me tales of being on the phone with me through part of the fiasco, I do not recall at all. Apparently she was on the phone with me when I encountered the coffee table with the side of my head, and recalls my complete disorientation. I believe if she had any idea what was on the other end of the telephone the outcome may have been entirely different. That was the absolute last time I have ever abused any sort of drug or gotten so wildly intoxicated, to this day I avoid pills until it is fairly certain there is no other option.

My relationship started to decay rapidly after that point. I quit my job, moved back with my parent, and in general started to avoid life (and my girlfriend) whenever possible. Why I felt the need to hide is beyond me, it really didn’t fix anything and nearly cost me the only person who has truly loved me unconditionally forever! After a few months of avoidance techniques, our relationship was pretty much over, and both of us pretty much called it quits at the same exact time, I said some things I regret, and she did some things (…) that she regrets.

My girlfriend (at this point ex)moved to Virginia that summer, which left me alone once again, REALLY alone. I spent a large portion of that time practically living at my best friends house in an effort to get away from my increasingly interrogative parents. While that time is a period in which I reflect kindly on, I spent most of it hiding from the real fact of the matter that I was miserable, lonely, and incomplete. Sometime in the fall, my then ex and I started to talk once again. Very timid at first, and took it really slow. Apologies didn’t exactly pour from either of us, as both of us felt that the other was still to blame. Time progressed and both of us started to find the bits and pieces of what made us fall in love the first time we met. I don’t know who admitted it to themselves first, but I assure you that both of us held our cards close to our heart as to not be read by the other. Just before March rolled around and when my then ex was about to come home, things started to get awkward. Both of us was willing to give it another shot, but were we ready? It had become quite evident at that point that neither of us was looking for or pursuing others and it was only inevitable that a reunion was going to happen. She finally returned in the middle of April, and I visited her at the farm where she was working and staying. I don’t know about her, but at that moment, I realized that everything that I ever had ever done in our relationship up to that point was wrong, and that she was worth changing everything in my life for. At that moment, I resolved to do the best that I could to prove that I was serious about her, and us.

A few months pass, an entirely new chapter in our lives begins. We both reap the benefits of a more attentive relationship and I ask her to move in with me. When she accepts our worlds were set for the ultimate test in compatibility. You know what? IT WORKED! The true acid test and we managed to work through the ups and downs, and by God, it WORKS! Three years later, and I love her more every day we are together.

The final stop in this reflection is what is going on now. As of June I am back on track for transition having been on and off hormones for the previous 4 or 5 years. I am back to a normal dosage, never skipping a single pill, and starting to realize the true importance a proper hormone balance plays in my outlook on life.

Soon, my girlfriend and I will be reuniting (as she has been working at an internship for the past 4 months in an other city) and moving back in together in a new city where we can continue making progress and memories!


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