Archive | December 2014

As Christmas 2014 Comes then Goes

sepia-selfieThis doesn’t really get any easier at this time of year. This will be my third Christmas isolated from family, from children and grandchildren. You learn to take a deep breath, gently set it behind you, and try to move on. You focus on your friends, some of whom are very dear and very kind, and some of whom have ensured that you won’t be alone for Christmas day. And yet… your own children remain firmly fixed in your mind, even as you don’t exist in theirs.

Ultimately, things like this are why I will likely leave Texas once I have completed some key milestones in the medical side of my transition. If I’m a thousand miles away, it becomes easier to not dwell on the exclusion.

I have a few errands to run today, small things yet they need done. I will think about my siblings back in Ohio, and hope they and their families are having a happy holiday season. I will consider my friends all around the nation and hope they can find happiness and cheer in this time of year as well. And then this evening, I will make a quiet dinner and try not to think on my family gathered just a few miles away, celebrating, opening gifts, and enjoying one another’s company.

I read a heartfelt and thought-provoking piece about what trans people experience at this time of year titled Transition Is Not Death. There are powerful words on that page, words that claw at hearts broken and alone for no other reason than they had to face themselves honestly finally. A trans child (or parent) is struggling to reach for life, not death; to be themselves with those whom they loved first and foremost. And yet the very reason to transition, to reach for life for the sake of those they love then frequently becomes the basis for those same people to reject the trans individual.

It’s heartbreaking when I see it happen to others. For me personally there’s nothing left to break anymore so I struggle to continue reassembling a shattered life, especially at this time of year. This year it no longer hurts; it’s just empty. So I focus on those who are trying to fill it for me – Julie, Elizabeth, Fran, Kate, Jennifer and all my internet friends. To each of you I say thank you for helping me rebuild my reasons to love this season. It’s an effort that is still underway, but you have each helped me in various ways.

So as yet another Christmas day comes then passes, I realize that Christmas is my personal Yule, the longest, darkest day of my year. And that once it is past, the light will begin to grow again. In realizing this, I know that I have those around me who care, even as I let go of those for whom I once cared.

Happy holidays everyone. Sometimes finding joy in this season can be difficult but if we search, we can find it, even if it’s not where we hoped or expected. I hope each of you can find your own joy this Christmas, and that you can continue to let go of the pains that others choose to inflict. May your new year bring you each joy, strength, growth, wisdom, and the love of those around you.

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It wasn’t easy

I’m a bit angry tonight. Over at another forum where I am a moderator, people tell me that I don’t understand their pain, that I had it “easy”, that their situation is “different”. Bullshit. Let me explain a little bit of what I went through in reaching the point where I had to transition and what happened afterwards.

My wife never respected me for years and years, until 2009 when I outmaneuvered the stock market the prior two years and avoided the big crash because I had been paying attention. That was 32 years of marriage where my opinions were always treated dismissively. She wouldn’t have cared about that either, except when her father discovered what I’d done and in his eyes suddenly I went from that annoying son-in-law to some financial intellectual heavyweight whose opinion now mattered, because where he had lost large sums of money, hundreds of thousands of dollars, I had increased my 401K pool by 25% by placing my bets smartly right before the big Lehman crash. Suddenly my opinion finally mattered to him and therefore finally mattered to my spouse.

Of course, a few years later I came out as trans and that was the end of that brief period of respect.

Through all the other years of marriage, I convinced myself that my spouse loved me, etc. Once I came out though, the gloves came off. I was nothing more than “a penis and a paycheck”. I already knew she’d had affairs because we had intimacy issues (because of me – I fully take the blame for that) and I caught her in at least one affair (and suspect others), but she only stayed with me to keep up appearances to her parents. If it weren’t for them, I’m sure that she’d have left years ago. And I found myself almost wishing she had. Because the first affair that I discovered was the year I went from 29 to 30, a long time ago in my life. And if she had left, I would have transitioned then, I think, or shortly thereafter.

A great deal of my first year of therapy was with dealing with my sense of rejection, of my sense of worthlessness, and coming to understand myself, to love myself unconditionally, to realize that I do deserve to be happy, not miserable, and that I should not stay in a relationship that was ultimately abusive and destructive of me as a human being.

I would be divorcing her right now anyway even if I had not chosen to transition. I’ve learned too much. There’s too much water under the bridge. Her real feelings for me have been revealed though she later tried to walk her original statements back. But you can’t take back what you say. The best you can do is apologize and try to prove you’ve changed. But she hasn’t changed. We’ve had discussions that prove that. I’m still an embarrassment. She still wants nothing really to do with me.

None of us who transition had necessarily easy roads. When people say to me “Oh you just decided and did it!” that’s not at all true! I agonized over this for years and years. I fought it for decades. And do you know what? My own fighting this was stupid. My own fighting this was dumb. It was one of the worst things I ever did to myself. And I definitely did it to myself. Nobody else did. I convinced myself to be miserable for everyone else’s sake and when I couldn’t take it anymore, after 35 years of marriage and came out to my spouse and my adult children, I suddenly discovered that all the sacrifices I had made were stupid and nobody cared. Nobody. My eldest son flatly told me that I should have gone ahead and killed myself because “that would have been easier on the rest of us.”

Look at that statement. My son told me to go die because it would be convenient for him. His wife, upon hearing me coming out, was reported to have said “My god, what will the neighbors think?” That’s all she cared about. Not one bit about me as a human being. Nothing about the years I had worked, that I had put my son through college, that I had spent hours and hours playing with him as a child, coaching him youth sports, that I had helped him get his first job after college, that I had helped keep him and his family financially afloat for a year when he was laid off from another position… none of that mattered. What mattered was that I was an “embarrassment” who should have killed myself because “that would have been easier on the rest of us.”

I get upset when I see people saying it was “easy” for me. They haven’t walked in my shoes. There’s a certain transwoman who seems to love to wallow in her misery and thinks I had it easy. They (and she specifically) haven’t experienced my losses… because I don’t whine about them on that forum the way some of them do. I work through them with my friends, my therapist, and those who’ve come to be close to me.

So when I tell people they can do this, through all the pain, through all the loss, and that they can come out the other side happier, healthier and more in control of their own lives, I have a real basis from which to speak. It’s not frivolous. I’ve been through it. I’ve cried myself to sleep for two solid months over a marriage ending that intellectually I knew was a worthless dead marriage but that my heart was still broken over seeing it die.

The greatest regret of old people as they approach death is almost universally regretting what they failed to do, rather than what they actually did. I do not regret my decision to transition. I’ve learned so much about myself, and I’ve gained real friends who love me no matter what. Friends who’ve been there every step of the way and who’ve picked me up and carried me when I needed it. And those friends are who I consider to be my “real” family now – not blood, but love defines my real family, my soul sisters (and my daughter – my only adult child who has accepted me and supported me).

So to those who say I don’t understand their years of intellectual agonizing over the decision to face ourselves, I do. To those who think that I had it easy, I did not. To those who are agonizing over this for months or years now, I agonized over it for years and decades. And when I tell you to stop chasing your intellectual tail, it’s because I had to stop chasing my own intellectual tail too! When I tell you that there is life, and love, and hope after a marriage dies, it’s because I had to face that too and I found those things also.

So don’t tell me I had it easy and just dismiss my opinion. You don’t know me. And maybe if you did, you’d realize the advice I gave you was not “easy” advice at all, but given because I care and don’t want you to make the same mistakes that I made for as long as I made them.

–Cara Elizabeth.

Hello, December

It’s December again, a time of year that used to bring more smiles to my face than others. But now not so much. There are three grandchildren that I once again will not see this Christmas. And there is the memory of my mother, gone on December 10th, 2012, but it still feels like yesterday. That ache is still there. That hole is still there. I miss you, mom, but I know you loved me and would want me to get on with my life.

I am also amused, because someone reblogged one of my blog entries about the neurobiological basis of being trans. From there that post got onto Facebook. From Facebook, it seemed to spread pretty quick elsewhere! And because of that, let me say welcome to all the new folks following my blog. Thanks for reading about the thoughts and life events of one woman as she struggles to really find herself.

I went to the TG pot luck this year here in Houston. It was busy, and noisy, thus hard for me to interact with very many people due to my hearing issues. Yet a few made the effort and tried. I appreciated that. It was pleasant and thoughtful of them to do so.

But if I am honest with myself, this December is better than so many prior Decembers in so many ways that it is hard to describe. So I view this month with a kind of joy, tempered by my mother’s memory and three grandchildren who will no longer know me.

And yet I wouldn’t change anything of the last 31 months at this point either. To even be here, living, breathing, and not have wrapped myself around a concrete abutment at 130 mph as I once planned makes me smile. My spiritual sisters make me smile, and laugh! Being pushed out of my comfort zone by those who love me, and who seem to know just how hard to push or not push makes me happy.

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I could snap my fingers and be done with this, be finished with all the medical aspects of transitioning and then just live my life. I’m even developing plans for what to do after I’m done transitioning! But the process itself is bringing me precious beautiful memories, moments that brought me to joyful tears, and knowledge that I am loved and accepted. When I stop and realize that, the trials of transitioning turn out to have hidden rewards of their own. I’m following the yellow brick road, and while I wish I could click my heels three times and be done, it’s actually turning out to be better for me to walk that road first.

To each of you I wish Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Festive Yule, Happy Kwanzaa, or whatever other holiday wish is appropriate to you and yours this month. I pray that 2014 was kind to each of you and that 2015 will bring each of you blessings in abundance.