Lessons For Others Like Me

Recently, another transwoman blogged about how “coming out” is tearing her apart. How every passing day as “him” becomes more and more painful yet she is afraid to move forward fearful of the losses that may come. This blog entry is for her and every other trans person like her.

I went through what you have. I dressed secretly, went out as myself when my spouse was away on trips. Dressed at home as “me”. I purged wigs and clothing multiple times, swearing “never again” but to no avail.

I did this for decades. Decades. My marriage suffered for it as there were long periods in which I simply could not function as a male. My spouse knew something was wrong but she never confronted me about it except to ask once, years ago, if I was having an affair. I was not, of course, so denied that but offered her no further insights at that time.

This roller coaster went on for years and years and years. My gender dysphoria would build, drive me into dark depressions, then I’d grasp at some straw to distract me and lift me out. And then in 2010 came the worst dysphoria episode of all.

It ate at me, tore at me, and would not let go. And I continued to resist like a damned fool. My life became darker and darker and darker. I began to plot my own death. I was plotting because a plain suicide would have denied her life insurance benefits. Instead, I was plotting to smash my sports car into a concrete bridge abutment at 130 mph or better. Everyone knew I drove fast. Mr. Macho Car Lover! Part of my facade to ensure I looked “male enough” to the world! This wouldn’t be a surprise at all, just that somehow he lost control and… over. Done. Later, when she discovered this plan, she was utterly horrified because it became plain to her exactly how serious I was about this.

It was while driving the roads late one evening, looking for the perfect place to have my “accident” that I realized I didn’t really want to die. That was where I realized that I wanted to live but didn’t know how and so instead I reached out and fortunately found one of the better and more experienced therapists who deals with transgender issues in this city.

I poured out my soul to her that first session, crying, expressing myself, my wants, my fears. She ended that session with the admonition that the first thing I had to do was to stop lying, mostly to myself, and admit who I am.

That was in March 2012. Months of therapy later, every week for the first several months, I began cross gender hormone treatment, in September 2012.

The most important lesson I learned in this was that how others react to me is their choice and that anyone who refuses to accept me as me was never a friend or someone truly trustworthy in the first place. If someone rejects me because of a truth about me, they never really loved me nor were truly friends to me in the first place. I was only accepted because I towed a particular line for that person, not because of any truth about myself.

Some spouses are able to accept this knowledge. Some are not. But torturing yourself for the rest of your life to remain in a marriage that drives you to the pits of despair and the edge of suicide is not healthy. It’s not even rational. Love would not torture another person. Love would not condemn them to darkness and thoughts of death being preferable to life.

I told my spouse. She declared this unacceptable. She’s going back to school and in a few years we will divorce. We live in separate rooms in the same house for now as this makes more financial sense than just splitting at the present. I have lost her, in all but name, and will lose her in name eventually too. Her entire family condemns me. Both my adult sons no longer speak to me nor allow me to see their children. One of my brothers refuses to accept this.

I have found love and support from two of my brothers, my sister, my daughter, my daughter’s husband, my daughter’s children, and numerous friends who have become my “spiritual family” including three very special women who have stepped forward as my “soul sisters” slowly guiding my journey into womanhood.

I have tried my best to never be accusatory to those who refuse to accept. Through tears and pain, I leave all those doors open, on the off chance that someone may change. It’s not an assumption that they will, just a hope that a few of them might.

In the meanwhile, I continue to move forward with my transition. And despite these losses, the gains of love and friendship I’ve made have helped offset those and helped me endure. I am, for the first time in my life, actually happy with myself, rather than simply distracted by some externality in my life.

I’ve said this before, but only you can determine whether you can accept the changes that will inevitably come from being true to yourself. But let me warn you that trying to hide from this is a path into darkness, a path into nothingness. And the end of that path does no one any good. Not you. Not your spouse. Not your children. Not your friends. Not your siblings. No one.  As another friend reminded me, suicide doesn’t solve anything at all and in fact permanently scars those left behind in ugly harsh ways. If you reach the point of considering suicide, it might end your pain but instead will burden all those around you for the rest of their lives. Is that what you really want to accomplish?

To borrow a phrase, don’t go down that road. You know where it ends and you don’t want to be there. Whatever road you take, don’t take the road into darkness. If the choice is darkness or yourself, choose yourself. Anyone who can’t accept that wasn’t meant to be in your life anyway.

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6 thoughts on “Lessons For Others Like Me

  1. Thank you. The pains that each of us experience in our journeys are unique to each of us. But there are similarities and there are lessons to be learned. There are four different women in the last week who have expressed the same kind of fears, guilt, and anguish about finally being themselves. This post was for them. Life does go on.

  2. *
    You confirmed again – you were that macho man extreme who drove fast cars and purged your wardrobe. You had certain signs as a ‘true transsexual’.

    I was the opposite extreme. I abhorred my maleness that was not even male – it was inter-sexed – a grotesqueness I hated just the same. I never dealt with it – never had male sex with it – probably could not have had male sex but simply did not know how and did not want to know how. I explored and realised my body could have female sex I had no purges – I went right out, acquired my female wardrobe, and presented myself as female in gradual steps.

    I had to do it on my own. I had no sisterly help – we’re estranged. There were no women in my life who wanted this part of my life. I was forced to be observant of women – and men inter-acting with women.

    As I shared with your experience, i eventual passed my ‘passing’ test when I presented as a male and people took me for female. That was the ah-ha epiphany moment – when it was the correct time to transition completely at the next practical time of life – for me that next time was essential that time. I resigned my job where my employer was in the process of firing me as a sex change; there was no point staying.

    I found temporary residence at my dad’s home until I could decide where to reside; that took about a week to 10 days to find my own apartment and move my belongings. I told the manager what was in my agenda and that was it – full-time and forever Sharon. It appeared so difficult looking forward, yet It was so simple as I look back at those days in June 1985.

    If you are reading this and in your quandry, then maybe realise that you in your future will look to your past and recognise its simplicity. Of course, it did not happen all in one day. I earlier had my papers changed (SSA, MVD, legal affirmations) and operations completed. June 1985 was that proverbial period at the end of one sentence of paragraph in the essay of my life – the final step of one journey that prepared me for the next.

    We have all been down that suicide road. I had mine. In an odd way I felt a failure – I could not even successfully kill myself. How pathetic a loser was I! Then, too, it wasn’t that I was a failure at suicide but successfull at life. I was not meant to die that way.

    In a fit of overwhelming emotion, I wanted to kill myself following my second operation. I’ll show my family! I did succeed when they told me that I would fail. When they come for my body, it will be Sharon, not my former male. Then they’ll know. Yes, I wanted to scar them. But I realised they would not care. I’d be dead and gone and they’d continue their lives as if I were nothing more that a bump in the road. I realised I must live for my own sake and help others as best as I can however great or small..

    Cara, I am so happy that you have your ‘spiritual’ family with you. They are fortuneate to have you.
    *

    • Thank you. I have a very small but extremely close group of friends who are exactly what I’ve needed throughout all of this. They lift me up, cheer me, challenge me to push my comfort zone, and celebrate each small success with me, as well as the bigger ones. Having them as my support network made all this bearable and I count them as family as surely as any blood relative, and in some cases, perhaps more so since some blood relatives have chosen to cut me off.

  3. *

    Here’s my idea to my friends who are uncertain how to begin their transition: allow a peri-op or post-op travel to your home and introduce you to your process step-by-step. We’ll work on your counselling, papers, new wardrobe, make-up, electrolysis, GCS / SRS, FFS, and any other options you choose. ‘Just do it’ seems so distant to you as you approach your beginning yet it is right there within your ready grasp.

    I remember so well where you are and how you need that help.

    Thus my challenge to every other peri-op or post-op transsexual to come to the aid of a pre-transition or pre-op in their community. We are friends among friends – we are another ‘spiritual family’ of our shared experience. Find a local group or found one yourselves to come to the aid of each other as your new ‘spiritual family’.

    Your uncertainty is your fear of the unknown, much the way a child dips her toe into the wading pool for the first time. Your future is certain once you begin your transition, once you know exhilaration doing flips off the high-dive.

    *

    • My therapist and I drew up a 3 page checklist of various things to check off. Some were absurdly small but difficult, like that first session at a salon having nails done, or eyebrows done. That list helped guide me, gave me small achievable goals.

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