September is a month full of memories for me personally. It’s not just the end of summer, but it carries many days that have personal meaning to me.
September 5th is the birthdate of my youngest son, who no longer speaks to me, and indeed, has told me he’ll tell his child that I’m dead rather than reveal that I’m trans and alive. This saddens me, but I don’t let it overwhelm me or define me. He is an adult and must take responsibility for his own choices, and the consequences thereof. Should his son one day seek me out, I will simply tell him the truth. Whatever consequence falls to my son if his son discovers his father has lied to him will be a product of my son’s own choices, not mine.
September 7th was the day, in 1996, when I was wheeled into an operating room to remove the remains of a tumor that I’d suffered through 5+ months of intense chemotherapy to kill. Surviving 1996 began the process of me turning inward and asking if I could go on living as someone I felt was fake. It would take many more years before that came to a head, but staring death in the face changed my perspective about a lot of things. The fallout of 1996 changed my perspective about religion, politics, and ultimate about myself.
September 10th is my birthday, a day to remember that I’ve survived another year in this world, and to give thanks for the positives I’ve discovered, especially since I began to face my gender issues. There were many points in my life where I wondered if I even would have a future. As a teen, I contemplated suicide frequently and wondered if I would live to 20. Then I wondered if I would live to 30. Ultimately my desire to live outweighed my pain, at least at that point in time, so onward I would trudge.
September 25th was the day I dried my eyes, realized that my marriage was over, and that me further delaying my transition to try to save a doomed marriage was a useless endeavor. On September 25th, 2012, I took my first dose of HRT. I could have begun HRT as much as 5 months earlier, but I delayed, and delayed, trying to salvage something that clearly my spouse had no interest in salvaging unless I agreed to totally deny who I was. Denying who I really am was precisely why I was in therapy from having planned my own suicide. And as my therapy continued on, I realized I had only two paths forward – death or transition, because I just could not go on living as “him” anymore. But apparently a dead “him” was preferable to a live “her”. My eldest son even said that once, stating “You should have killed yourself. It would have been easier on the rest of us.” Well, I’m alive and I don’t plan to make things easier on you, eldest son, not now or ever.
September 29th was the day I legally, in court, shed that dreaded “M” on my identity documents and took the name Cara Elizabeth. Cara means “friend” in Irish Gaelic, but more importantly, it means “Beloved” in Latin. My mother named me “David” because she said that I was her “beloved” child. (She loved us all. This is not to suggest she loved one more than another.) At the suggestion of my sister, I began searching for a first name that would honor that intent from my mother and discovered Cara, and thus it was adopted. Elizabeth was the middle name of my maternal grandmother, someone I loved dearly. My name pleases me on several different levels and I am very happy with the choices I made there.
Thus, September is a month that is full of memories for me, memories that are hints of how I arrived where I am today and the costs and benefits of walking my own road.
I am still technically married, because I offered to help my spouse through college before she returned to the workforce. When I made that offer, in 2012, I didn’t think she’d take 5+ years to do that. But she kept dragging it out, until I put my foot down last year and set a deadline. Next summer this house goes on the market, and as soon as it is sold, we’ll finalize the divorce shortly thereafter.
So I have this suspicion that September 2018 will add yet another date to a month of memories. September isn’t a bad month for me. It doesn’t make me sad. But it does make me look back and think about many many things, about how I came to be where I am today, and about how fortunate I still am to have my daughter, her children, and my friends still involved in my life.
To all those who are part of my life, who have encouraged me, stood by me, cheered for me, wept with me, consoled me, and celebrated with me, I give each of you thanks and my love. People tell me that I am strong and that’s not true. My friends are strong, and their strength has been what has carried me forward so many times when days were dark. It is because of those I love that I can hope for a bright tomorrow for myself (aside from political stuff, but let’s not go there today, ok?).