Wednesday, July 19, 2017

7-19-2017 Entry: I've Been Me for Two Years

Hello my darling readers. I hope the summer has treated you well and that you are getting to live the life that you want. I know I haven’t written much and it seems as though more than two months has to pass by before I find myself wanting to write on here again. I’ve thought a great deal about that, in fact, and although I feel guilty that I have abandoned my faithful readers, I also feel okay having stepped away from this endeavor. As I inch closer and closer to becoming a therapist (I’ve already started doing group therapy with transgender/queer teenagers for my practicum) I’ve started to wonder where, if at all, this blog has a place in my life. The unfortunate part of my chosen profession is that I must be more mindful of what I put on the internet. Obviously I’ve written a few years worth of my inner thoughts, emotions, and experiences and I have no plans to take them down but those entries document a journey; a journey I have all but finished, it seems. My steps forward are a different journey, with different objectives, and different expectations.

It has been over two years since I began living as a fulltime transgender woman or, more accurately, a transfeminine non-binary queer person, and in that time I have learned a great many lessons, but that journey from Robert the repressed and broken “man” to Emmz Extraordinaire has reached its conclusion. I’m no longer transitioning to Emma, I simply am Emma. There really aren’t any parts of me that I wish to change except perhaps laser hair removal which I’ve yet to be able to afford, and possibly SRS, which I absolutely can’t afford.

I guess what I’m getting at is that there isn’t anything left about transition to write about, at least not that I am experiencing now, so I will simply write about my life with the hope that it is somewhat interesting to you.

I’ve been Emma (officially) for two years and a little over a month. I have gone from insisting on having on full makeup and nail-polish 24/7 to basically only wearing foundation and painting my nails once a month (if that). I have gone from wearing high-femme clothing and having to put socks in my bra to wearing an odd assortment of gender-neutral clothes and not needing socks to fill my bra. I’ve seen my face change right before my eyes, with each day looking slightly more feminine than the one before. The point is: so much has changed over the last few years. How I wish I could go back in time, sometimes, to not only reassure my former self that things were going to be okay but to also tell myself not to worry so much about it. True, gender dysphoria is a bitch, but I didn’t need to worry as much as I did about not being accepted as a woman (or, not a man). Despite my fears people accept me as a woman and most of the people in my life have only ever known me as Emma, so that is who I am to them and who I have always been. They see pictures of me before the transition and they can’t or won’t believe that I’m the same person. In some ways I am still that person, but in most ways we are utterly different people.

I wish I could tell my former self that one day, not too far away, all of the struggle of transition would feel a million miles away. Like a rocket taking off from the ground, the first few hundred miles are the most difficult and jarring, but after that, when there is no more resistance to hold you back, you soar at incredible speed. Looking back to that day I went into work for the very first time as Emma is like looking back at the tiny earth as I’m about to land on the moon. It’s so far away, even though it really wasn’t that long ago that I was right there, strapped into my chair feeling the rocket engines roar to life, and what a hell of a ride it was too.

My whole world fell apart, just the way it was supposed to. The things that no longer served me or were no longer right for my life fell away, just as a shuttle sheds its spent rockets upon entering space. Even my wife leaving was a shedding of no longer useful parts of my life. Our marriage was over and to keep holding onto it would have only hindered both of us, really.

But like a trip into space, sometimes there is nothing but cold emptiness to keep you company, and I have experienced a great deal of that. While the starting point seems so long ago, the cold emptiness is still a part of my journey, and I suspect many people who transition genders know exactly what I mean when I say that transition is a solitary expedition. No matter the friends, family, or even partners you have in your life, in the end it is only you who must walk through the process; no one can walk it for you. Sure, they may take journeys with you but each of them must walk their own path along the way, none can walk yours with you. They will have their feelings, fears, worries, and joys just as you will, and you might even share in a few of those along the way, but like the transitioning person they must face their demons alone. They must find acceptance of you and of what you now mean to them, just as you must accept what being your true self means to you and those around you.

It isn’t an easy process, either. Even if you have everything handed to you on a silver platter and you get all the best circumstances possible, it’s still a difficult path to walk. The things we have to do in order to feel as though we belong, not to the world, but to ourselves is simply astounding. Most people will never fully understand what that is like, to have the fundamental essence of your being be contrary to the physical temple it is trapped inside of. To know that you are a girl but to have everything, every single thing in the world around you tell you that you are wrong, that you don’t know what you are talking about or that you are just confused, sick, perverted, or any other thing they try to marginalize you with. It isn’t an easy road, no matter what shoes you wear at the beginning, and while it does eventually get easier and the path smooths out for many, too many of us die along the way. Too many of us are killed and far too many of us give in to the temptations of those demons that tell us we are better off dead than alive.

No, my darling readers, this isn’t and hasn’t ever been an easy road to walk. So many times I have wanted to stop going. So many times I have listened too long to those demons who whisper to me that I should just kill myself. So many times I have sat in regret, wondering if I should have done this at all. So many times I have wondered if I shouldn’t just go back to living as Robert. My heart has wavered again and again along this road to becoming.

But this road has been worth it. The unfettered joy of feeling the breeze of self-realization blow across your cheeks as you stand atop the hill of transition is irreplaceable. The fulfillment that comes from looking back over the treacherous road you’ve walked, knowing that despite everything, despite all the misgendering, the transphobic comments, the bigotry, the invasive questions about your genitals, and the disowning of family and friends that you survived, is undeniable. And more than undeniable it is unimpeachable. No one can take it away from you. No one can say that you didn’t do it because you’ve got the scars to prove them wrong. And fuck them anyways, you are born anew as a glorious being of brilliance and beauty and their opinion can never take that away from you.

So to all of you out there struggling through transition, walking that treacherous path alone, please hear me when I say that it gets easier. It may not seem like it and sometimes it may seem like this transition will be the death of you but I promise you that it doesn’t have to be. You can keep going, you can keep your head up, and you can succeed. The only thing required is that you don’t give up, but more than that the best thing you can do is remain true to yourself in the process. Take care of those you love as best as you can but if they are meant to be in your life they will be when you finish this journey, and if they aren’t then they won’t be. It might hurt, hell, it might be downright agonizing to lose them, but you will be better off without them. They either come with you or they don’t. They will either see your beauty as I see your beauty, or they will miss out on something amazing.

Be strong. Be beautiful. Be powerful. Be brilliant, and last of all, be extraordinary because in the end you are the only thing you’ve really got; so make you the best you it can be.

Oh!! I nearly forgot. I have signed an agreement with a publishing company that publishes textbooks. They will be featuring one of my blog entries about transgender bathroom laws in their upcoming books. The books will be in about 2000 libraries around the country. =D

(Here are a couple recent pictures from about a month ago. First is just a random selfie, the second is me eating sushi with my roommate)

Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses, selfie, closeup and indoor

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, people eating, food and indoor

Monday, May 1, 2017

5-2-2017 Entry: Not Dead (yet), Just Distracted

Hello my darlings, assuming there are any of you out there since I haven’t written in months. Contrary to what you might have believed, I am still alive. I am still living as the transfem extraordinaire as best as I can, but the past few months have been anything but smooth and painless.

The last time that I wrote I talked about the person who had been living with me and who had seemingly pulled a 180 on me with regards to her affection and desire to talk to me. Well, my loves, it was just as it seemed, except it went way further than I could have ever envisioned it going. Jay (that’s what I’m going to call her from now on) decided that she was not only going to not respond to my messages but would wait an entire month before trying to contact me. The two messages she left for me were completely lacking in any form of friendliness (not to mention a fucking apology, which I absolutely deserved) and one of them even went so far as to threaten never trying to contact me again if I didn’t answer the next time she called. Richer still was the fact that she was using her counselor’s phone to call me, likely with the intention of teaming up against me with the counselor who, I sincerely believe, convinced Jay that I was some sort of monster. That counselor was the counselor of the person I lost my job over, so I’m sure there was no affection there.

Well, once I’d found out that she was using her counselor’s phone to call me I decided that enough was enough. I was done. She’d been a selfish, manipulative asshole for far too long. I called her counselor’s phone back and left a message of my own, telling Jay that I didn’t want to talk to her anymore and that the only thing I needed to know from her was when she was going to come get her things out of my house and how she planned to return the keys I’d lent her. Not surprisingly, I never got a phone call back from her. She wasn’t in control anymore and she knew that (assuming she listened to the message, which I’m guessing she did). I saw her for what she was; a liar, a manipulator, and someone who uses people to get by so she doesn’t have to take any responsibility for her destructive actions/habits. I unfriended her from facebook and then blocked her. I didn’t want her to be able to see my page anymore. I even went so far as to unfriend a few other people that I only knew because of her.

I thought it was over, except for the part where she got her things, that is. I thought the whole thing had been put to rest but the gods do have a cruel sense of humor sometimes. I finally found a new sponsor and had agreed to meet with him after the morning AA meeting that was such a controversy between Jay and I. Just as I parked my new sponsor was walking by, so he stopped when he saw me and we decided to walk in together. On the way in I saw a staff member of my old job and my heart sank. Great, now Jay might be here. I prayed that she was no longer in treatment and wouldn’t be at the meeting at all. The last thing I wanted was to fucking see her.

My sponsor and I were late for the meeting and because the treatment facility had brought people it was a pretty packed room. They were finishing introductions when we walked in and I asked my new sponsor where he wanted to sit. He pointed across the room to a handful of empty chairs. I agreed and began to follow him around the outside of the room. As I did I scanned the crowd for Jay and felt utter relief that I didn’t see her there. I said hi to two recovery friends on my way to my seat. I sat down right as they finished the first round of introductions. The leader of the meeting asked if the people who were late wanted to introduce themselves. The handful that were late started introductions and I was either second or third among them.

Everything was fine. I scanned the crowd again to see who all was there and saw a handful of other friends who smiled at me when our eyes met. The leader continued the meeting for about a minute or two when suddenly a person one row up and three seats to my left stood up to leave the room. It was Jay…

Yep, somehow, paradoxically with cosmic cruelty my new sponsor had led us to the seats closest to her in the whole room. FUCK!! Was all I could think. Great, now this crazy asshole thinks I sat by her on purpose. I just shook my head, but if I’m honest, there was a part of me that enjoyed the fact that she was uncomfortable. After all the pain, heartbreak, disappointment, and confusion that she’d caused me, I thought it was only fair that she feel uncomfortable at the meeting I introduced her to. I’d been going to that meeting off and on for 8 months, so if either one of us shouldn’t be there it was her.

She walked out of the room in a dramatic huff; the kind you see teenage girls resort to when they want attention but don’t know how to ask for it in functional ways. Eventually she returned, grabbed her jack and whatever else she’d brought and moved to a different seat behind me and quite a bit further away. I just laughed to myself at the absurdity of the situation and vowed to not break my promise. I never wanted to talk to her again and I was NOT about to break that vow during that meeting. I didn’t look at Jay, I didn’t try to get Jay’s attention, and I didn’t try to talk to her. If anything, I did my very best to pretend she’d never existed at all (I can be pretty good at that one) and went about my business. When the meeting ended I chatted with some friends and then left to go meet with my sponsor and didn’t think anything more about it.

Fast forward a couple weeks. I’ve just started a new job working in a residential mental health facility as a Residential Counselor and I’m having a date-night with Rose (We’ve started seeing one another again, but we’ll get to that later). Things are going pretty well, better than they have been in a long time. Rose and I meet for dinner, eat, leave in our separate cars, and then drive to my house where she will be staying the night. On my way back to the house I get a phone call from a number I don’t recognize. I choose to screen it because I’m driving and am in no mood for an unexpected phone conversation. They leave a voicemail, so I decide to listen to it as I pull into the garage.

“Hi, this message is for Emma. Emma this is Detective Coy with the Eden Prairie Police, I’d like to speak to you so please call me back at….”

What in the fucking fuck? Like, really, what in the fuck? Why is a detective from Eden Prairie calling me? What’s in… OMG… PRIDE is in Eden Prairie… but what could the police possibly have to do with anything that happened with PRIDE? Nothing that happened was illegal or subject to any sort of statutes. I was unethical but I didn’t break a law. They asked me not to come back after their overreaction but I adhered to their request, so why the police?

I went inside and wrote the detective’s number down. I apologized to Rose when she came in the front door and told her I had to make the call right away. There was no way I could concentrate on anything else anyways, so why not get it over with?

I dialed the number, the same voice I’d just heard answered the phone, “This is Detective Coy.”
“Uh… Hi detective, my name is Emma, I just got a phone call from you.”
“Oh, yes! Thank you for calling me back so quickly. I just wanted to ask you a few questions about an event that happened recently with Jay ___.”
“Oh… okay?” I replied, dumbfounded. There hadn’t been anything significant that happened and we hadn’t spoken in months.
“Well, I have a report of my desk saying that Jay ___ has filed a stalking charge against you…….”

And the world is spinning (figuratively). A stalking charge? Are you fucking kidding me? This has to be a joke, right? There is no way someone like Jay is seriously saying I’m stalking them. Surely not someone who lied to me, manipulated me, used me, and then dropped me like a bag of bricks by ignoring my calls for a month with zero explanation. Surely that kind of person wasn’t stupid enough to put my freedom and my career in jeopardy because she’s too much of a fucking coward to just own what she did.

I proceeded to have about a thirty minute phone call with Detective Coy about the situation. I answered her questions, even when they were unbelievably absurd like the ones about me driving past Jay’s baby-daddy’s house; a house I don’t even remember how to get to. Because, you know, I have soooooooooooooooo much time between working a fulltime job and going to fulltime graduate school to spend loitering around at Jay’s ex’s house… where Jay isn’t even at… which I know because all of her shit is still at my house!!!!

I digress. It became VERY OBVIOUS, as it should have, to Detective Coy that there was nothing even remotely resembling stalking going on. Once I explained that Jay had called me from the psych unit after feigning a suicide attempt to get attention (she blatantly admitted this to me in the hospital) and I took her in so she wouldn’t be homeless while she waited to go into rehab, Detective Coy knew what was up. The minute PRIDE said I couldn’t visit Jay or bring her presents/candy anymore I became useless to Jay. She couldn’t use me, my kindness, or my love anymore, not without having to give something in return for a few months. She’d have to maintain a relationship with me where she got no benefit (aside from my words of affection and encouragement) until she got out of rehab, but she wasn’t willing to do that… so she dropped me; and rather than being an adult who owned their decisions she opted to file a fucking police report saying I was stalking her.

Even before submitting her findings to the city attorney, Detective Coy told me she suspected it wasn’t going to go anywhere and she was right. The stalking charge was dropped. But the damage has been done. It was one thing for Jay to be a flakey asshole who went from telling me she loved me one minute to ignoring me without explanation the next minute, but police charges were a whole new level.

Her selfishness put everything in my life in jeopardy. If that charge had gone someone I wouldn’t be able to become a therapist. I wouldn’t be able to keep my new job (or my last two for that matter) either. I might have had to pay fines that would have made it so I couldn’t afford to pay my mortgage or car payment. There aren’t enough words to explain how deeply hurt I am after everything that happened with Jay. There is no way to explain my utter reluctance to trust anyone again. I will always wonder if them telling me they love me or care about me is really just a ruse to exploit my giving and kind nature.

Thanks to Jay my heart has been hardened in a new and unexpected way, and I honestly don’t know what I can do to soften it. So, I guess, for now I’ll just have to live with it being hardened. /shrug

Anyways, on to less depressing subjects. What’s new in the world of Emmz? Well, as I mentioned above we have a new job as a counselor. We are working with teenagers who have serious and persistent mental illness and it is AMAZING!!! Hard, stressful, and draining at times, but sooooo rewarding. And unlike PRIDE who had a laughable amount of training for new staff, my new employer really goes out of their way to make sure we are as prepared for the job as possible, and as we continue to move through the job finding new struggles or areas for growth, there are half a dozen therapists willing to coach/mentor us. There is even one who will likely study for and take the MFT exam with us and our classmates once we graduate next summer!! It’s very exciting to know how close we are to being at the same level as the therapists we work with.

More than all of that, the kids we work with are awesome. They have absolutely been failed by their families, by the system, and by society, but they have such strength and brilliance. It is so incredibly rewarding to get to help them remember that they have worth and that not all adults will hurt, neglect, or abuse them. I’ll leave it at that for now, but I’m just sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited to be working there!! Was the best career move I have ever made, hands down.

So why the huge gap between writing entries? Sure, all the stuff with Jay, with changing jobs, and with finishing my fifth semester of my master’s program definitely took up most of my time, but I certainly had opportunities to write (even wrote a few unpublished entries), so why not do so? Well, my darlings, it’s because I have been working on our memoir. It has been a resolution of ours to try to finish the first draft of the memoir, if not a second/third draft to submit for publishing. This time, rather than trying to go the indie writer route by self-publishing we are going to try to take the traditional route, assuming we can find any agents willing to take the book on.

As a result most of our creative energy with regards to writing has been directed towards the completion of that project. As of now we have about 34,000 words written, which translates to about 120 pages published. A typical memoir usually lands somewhere between 65,000 and 90,000 words, which means that the memoir is approximately halfway finished. Given that writing this entry has taken about two hours and it is 2,500 words at this point, that means that we need to put in somewhere around 40 hours of hard typing (not editing) before the so-called “sloppy-copy” is done. That’s the first time we’ve broken this down into math and we are surprised to find how few hours are left to work on it. Now 40 hours in a given week is difficult to come by when we are working 50+ hours a week and about to start our last semester of general coursework for our degree. If we scrounged together every minute we could on an average week, we’d maybe have 20 hours of time to write. In theory we could finish it in two weeks but that would mean no TV, no video games, no yoga, no painting (oh, we’ve picked that up again), no walks, no biking, and no other self-care activities that help us maintain sanity. Not sure we would survive those two weeks, honestly. But I digress again.

Well, my darlings. I hope you are well despite the world practically falling apart around us. I hope that we get to meet again soon and that there isn’t a nuclear war in the middle of all of that (or any of another dozen potential calamities).

Stay fabulous, because you are honey. O_+


(Recent picture of me at a friend’s birthday dinner, followed by one of our recent paintings)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

2-26-2017 Entry: The Month of Love and Disappointment

Oh my darlings, it has been an interesting and trying month since I last wrote an entry. I wish that I could be writing to you now with excitement that as of this week I am finally at two years on estrogen. I wish that I could be posting the in-depth photo shoot that I had planned for this entry but sadly I caught the flu this past week and was practically on my deathbed for about four days, so the photo shoot will just have to wait another week or two. Definitely keep an eye out for it, I’m hoping it will turn out really well because the photographer I have enlisted to help me is quite talented.

No, my loves, this is not THAT entry. This is the more realistic portrait of my recent life. I didn’t talk much about it before because I kind of wanted to keep things on a generalized level without going into specifics, but during the last month I had a new pseudo roommate move in with me. I say pseudo because she was possibly only a temporary roommate for a few weeks and should she become an official roommate we would have come to a written agreement as to the terms of her living with me.

She was staying with me while she bided her time on the waiting list at my former job to go through treatment for chemical dependence, and in total she lived with me for about three weeks. Now, this living arrangement was an interesting one because both of us had expressed in times past and even again during her stay here, a mutual romantic attraction. That attraction notwithstanding, did not steer my offer to allow her to stay at the house for this duration (she had her own room that she slept in for the entirety of her stay). I won’t  lie and say that this attraction had no bearing on our interactions because I know that it did. As the weeks went on, the two of us grew closer and closer, but with the expressed and discussed understanding that there would be no romantic involvement of any kind prior to her going through treatment. Whether any happened afterwards, was not quite decided but we knew at the very least that we were going to keep things platonic. I think that we did a fairly decent job, all things considered.

With that being said it was never lost on me the vulnerability of this person staying with me. She was dependent upon my good graces for a warm and safe place to stay. She also relied on me in part for transportation purposes including, but not limited to, her being able to pick up her son from his father to visit with him. Given my failures a few months earlier to recognize the vulnerability of the client I made such a gross error with, I was hyper vigilant as to any pressure I place on this person for something that served my needs, instead of hers. I knew that I could not, in good conscience, encourage this person into any sort of romantic entanglement with me without considering whether she actually had any ability to consent to it. I told her this, more than once. I refused to ever exploit someone in a vulnerable position to satisfy my own needs again (not unless we had an S&M agreement of some sort, that is).

I knew that with her housing being dependent upon me, she really couldn’t consent to something more than platonic without there being the very reasonable chance that she wasn’t actually consenting, but feeling pressured into it. I did my best, despite the mutually expressed attraction (She even went so far as to say, “the only person I have any romantic interest in is you.”) to keep things platonic. It was a daily struggle sometimes as I found myself falling for her more and more with each new interaction. The hours of conversation, laughter, shared meals, shared AA/NA meetings, shared activities, shared physical affection, and countless texts throughout the day made my struggle all the more difficult.

I kept having to remind myself that I had to be good. I had to be patient. I had to recognize that she was not only incapable of giving me what I would want or deserve out of a romantic relationship (she was far too in need of self-care and treatment for that) but that to ask her to do so would be detrimental to her recovery and wellbeing. I knew that my unconditional love for her, while an incubating energy preserving her in a safe place until she embarked on the hard work of treatment, was also a double edged sword. Should that love become too much of a source of dependence for her, her recovery would be malformed and convoluted by its presence; thereby almost certain to fail.

Even still, the effect that this person’s presence in my life was having on me was quite significant. Like a wilted and dying plant, deprived of the life-giving water and sunlight, her presence was like a hand that picked me up, placed me next to a window, and sprinkled my withered and cracked leaves with water. At first the effect was minimal, but with each new day and each new attempt to revive my death-like appearance I was restored little by little. In the span of just a week or two it was as if all the months of neglect and despair were completely wiped away. But more than this, there was something new happening which had not happened in many, many months. Flowers began to grow and bloom where there had only been withered nubs.

Hope. My beloved readers, I felt and remembered hope. Six months of PTSD, isolation, suicidal depression, relapse, enormous mistakes, and a foreboding sense that my life would always be this miserable lonely wasteland I saw around me had nearly robbed me of my ability to hope. I hadn’t felt hope in as long as I could remember, not any sort of real hope that was. Sure, there were brief glimpses of it and momentary spots where my manic symptoms made me think I was hopeful, but this new hope was utterly unlike those that had come before. For the first time since I was held down and raped by someone I never should have trusted, I actually believed that it might be possible for me to find happiness again. The strange thing about it, was that I knew it didn’t have to come to me through this temporary roommate. Sure, I loved her more and more with each passing day, but the hope her presence fostered in me was a deep recognition that my life was getting better and the darkness of the year before was finally coming to an end.

That, of course, didn’t stop me from envisioning like a schoolgirl with a crush all the ways she and I could be happy together. We seemed so right for one another and our interactions were almost always filled with laughter and affection. Those that weren’t were never unkind or cold, but often deep and serious. She is one of the only people who has ever held me as I cried uncontrollably.

She made me want to be a better person, not for her as much as for myself. I wanted to stop living in sorrow and start putting my life back together. The first thing that needed to change was I needed to return to sobriety, and this time I took it a step further. Not only would I give up alcohol, which had become a force of destruction in my life, but I would also give up the use of any non-prescription drug. I won’t go into details but I finally gave up something I have been doing ever since I was about thirteen or fourteen years old. I recognized it for what it was, a drug I was addicted to, and I took the necessary steps to never partake again.

And then the call came. She had a bed at the treatment center. While my hope did not fade, nor my love for this woman, my sense of ease definitely did. With her presence came something I’d been sorely missing for some time, companionship. Even if we only spent a sort while together and then went to our separate bedrooms for the night, I wasn’t alone in my house. With the news that she had a bed and would be leaving in a couple days, I was reminded that I was about to experience the dreadful emptiness of the house again. My other roommate, while still around in spirit, was almost never home, so I was almost always alone. I dreaded returning to that solitude again. In the solitude my mind turns in on itself. In the solitude I am left with nothing but time to think my way straight into the bottle, or the sleeping pill aisle at the pharmacy.

I’d been so suicidal the week before I got the call from her that she was in the same psyche unit I’d been in a few months earlier. Her call to me might have saved me as much as it was an effort to save herself, because it gave me a reason to keep going. There was someone I adored (even before she moved in) at a hospital I’d been at who wanted company, and having known the dreadful loneliness of that place firsthand I wanted to be there for her the way so few of my friends were for me. I visited her nearly every single day, sometimes twice. I wanted her to know she wasn’t alone, because I knew what alone was like. Alone was my kingdom, my domain. Isolation was my self-imposed sentence after the rape, and isolation kills. This woman was far too beautiful of a soul for me to allow isolation to get its icy fingers around.

I got to remember that I wasn’t just a fuck up or a failure. I got to remember that I did have something to offer that was worthwhile and that there were people who wanted me around. But all of that was to end once she left for treatment. It would be back to the silence and given the way things ended with my old job I wasn’t sure they’d let me come see her. I’m very sorry to say that that’s the case.

She went into treatment almost three weeks ago and in that time so much awful has happened. As I feared, the silence of the house was crushing. I broke down into tears when I got home the day she went in because I was so sad to be alone again. I missed her and she’d only been gone a few hours. Thankfully she called me a couple times that week which lessened the blow of her absence. It was so nice to hear from her (they can only call out, you can’t call in except to leave a message). That Friday night one of her friends and I went to the open AA meeting they have there every week. Seeing her, all dressed up in anticipation of seeing the two of us, made my heart leap and reminded me how much I missed her. I felt sick to my stomach being on the grounds of my old job, but I overcame that because I knew she needed support. She needed to know that she had people rooting for her and her recovery, and that we’d be there with her as she went.

The meeting was good and we had lovely conversations filled with laughter and hugs… until the HR lady came out and saw me there with her. From there, everything went downhill. She didn’t say anything then and there, but the next day she called me to try to convince me not to come visit my friend for visitation hours. I told her I was going to come despite her encouragement not to because I needed to bring things to my friend that she had requested I bring the night before. I did as I said. I brought the items and went to the visitation hours. The HR lady then loomed over me like a hawk watching my every move. My friend came out to greet me and hugged me warmly, very happy to see me again. She could tell something was wrong and I told her I’d explain in a minute (once the HR lady wasn’t within earshot).

They searched the stuff I brought, she took it to her room, came back out, and we went out to where the smoking area was. There I explained to her what had happened, sparing her many of the very upsetting details so as to not agitate her too much. These were the consequences to my mistakes and she didn’t need to be punished for them and certainly didn’t need to fight my battles for me. She was still quite upset and said she wasn’t going to stand for their treatment of me. I urged her to take care of herself and to not get into trouble on my account. We talked for a while and I left. That was the last time I saw her and the last time I really had much of conversation with her. We had a short phone conversation the next day when she asked if they’d harassed me any further. They hadn’t.

I thought that things had blown over, and that the HR lady, despite her extremely rude treatment of me, had realized there was no reason to be alarmed. I’d been perfectly well behaved (I wasn’t going to give them a fucking thing to use against me) and the sky hadn’t fallen. Well… I was wrong. Wednesday, four days later, rolled around and I got a phone call and email telling me that I wasn’t allowed to come there anymore. They didn’t care if my roommate/friend was there, they didn’t want me around.

Now, with isolation, comes humiliation. I was devastated. I was furious. I was heartbroken. I was so many things at once. I told them they had better tell my friend because she needed to know it was their choice and not mine. I didn’t want her to think I’d abandoned her because of my discomfort of being there again. They wanted this, not me. She and I spoke the next day for a few moments where she told me her counselor had told her I wasn’t allowed to come visit anymore. I don’t know what all was said and I had to rush to get off the phone for an interview at a practicum site.

The next night I left a message with her asking her about an AA meeting I go to on Saturdays that the treatment center also brings clients to. I wanted to know if she was going and if I should or shouldn’t go. I didn’t want to cause trouble. She more or less told me she’d rather I not be there before rushing off the phone. That was the last time I spoke with her, over a week ago.

It’s getting late and while there is so much more to tell, I want to cut this off so I can go to bed. Now I’m just sitting here wondering what the fuck happened. I can’t get any answers out of anyone as to what’s going on with this person and I. I’m trying to keep my distance because I don’t want to cause more damage than I have but I’m also going crazy not knowing. Remember how I said isolation gives me the space to think myself into the ground? Well that’s what I’ve been doing. Add to it the fact that I’ve been as sick as a dog with nothing to do but lie around trying to rest and feel better.

I fear that my past mistakes, despite all the care and effort I took to not repeat them, have somehow poisoned the relationship I had with this person. Just as the figurative plant was thriving again and blossoming with hope of the future, it’s like the same hand that restored its vitality has now cast it to the floor. The pot has shattered, dirt is everywhere, and the plant is struggling to cling to life once again. And what can I do? Nothing. Wait. See. Hope it’s not as bad as it seems.

Regardless, I will still love her. Even if she decides to cut me out of her life, I will still hope only the best for her and her son. She gave me a reason to keep going, and maybe that has to be enough. Maybe any more than that, is asking too much.

That's it for this entry. I have other stuff to write about though, and much of it is quite good, like the practicum I am going to be starting in the fall.

So, stay fabulous my loves,


Saturday, January 21, 2017

1-21-2017 Entry: Being Misgendered After Almost 2 Years of HRT

Yesterday I was misgendered. Almost exactly two years from the day that I started my journey into the realm of hormone transition. Now, for anyone who has gone through a gender transition or anyone forced to live as a gender they aren’t on the inside, this is rather commonplace. The fact that this was so out of the blue and unexpected honestly speaks to the privilege I have as someone who is assumed the correct gender (or something close to it) on a regular basis. In a way I feel bad even complaining about it because I know how fortunate I am.

For me it is only maybe one in twenty-five people who even bats an eye at me and usually it’s only on the days when I’m not really trying that hard to present as female (aka not wearing makeup, not wearing “traditionally” female clothing, or not paying any attention to my body language or voice). It is extremely rare, however, for me to be in full female presentation and have someone misgender me (Unless they are being a purposely invalidating asshole).

I honestly don’t think the lady even realized that she did it. I think it was a total sub-conscious slip-up with pronouns that she neither intended or even noticed. She knew my name was Emma, she had used the correct pronouns at first (I think, although I cannot really recall) but eventually during out time together working through her background check something must have shifted somewhere in her mind. I was running her fingerprints through the system to make sure she could work with vulnerable adults and I said something to her that made her laugh. She had a friend with her in the other room and when her friend heard her laughing the friend asked what she was asking about. She turned towards her friend through the doorway and said, “He said_____” and repeated what I’d just said.

I was quite literally dumbfounded by her using the pronoun “he” in reference to me. I couldn’t speak, partially because it felt like someone had knocked the wind out of me. I wanted to ask her if I’d heard her correctly but I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to bring further humiliation upon myself by having to assert to her that I was a woman and the pronoun “he” was not appropriate for one such as me. If I said something then it was certain, in my mind at the time, that I’d not only be making her feel bad for an unconscious mistake but would be solidifying in her mind that I really wasn’t a woman, because a “real” woman as femme as me wouldn’t need to confront a situation like that. I’m not saying that is true, only that it felt true and accurate in the moment.

We finished her appointment and they went on their way, never-the-wiser that I wanted nothing more than to leap in front of a moving train or that I would spend the next several hours dissecting our entire interaction to figure out where I’d given my non-cisness away. Was it something I did with my body? Was it a blemish in my makeup that revealed my dreadfully present facial hair? Did my voice drop too low? Did I not use the right kind of voice pitch/cadence? WHAT WAS IT???

But there is no answer. There is no way to know for sure why she read me, however briefly, as not-female, and that’s the rub. No matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, there will always be that fucking person who misgenders me, consciously or otherwise.

The lesson here is two fold, I think. First, no matter how “passable” a person might become and no matter how privileged they appear in that regard, they are likely still suffering from being misgendered from time to time. I find this helpful because there are times when I see transgender women who are so completely feminine that I become envious of either their genetics or their financial affluence that’s permitted them the procedures I cannot afford that I forget that they are still fighting the same fight as me, to be gendered correctly. The second lesson is that when I accept that no amount of doing the things I think will make me “passable” so people don’t read me as not-female will save me from ever experiencing this again, then I can find peace with where I am in my journey. Even if I get laser hair removal or have SRS or whatever else I might want I still won’t feel completely fulfilled, which means that the external truly holds no completion for me. I must find completion on the inside and find joy in the progress I’ve made and relief in the changes that have already occurred.

I know, it’s a dangerous lesson to consider because it would be so easy to take a nihilistic approach to it. I could easily think that nothing I ever did would be enough and so there was no point in even trying. I could even take that to the extreme of thinking that I’d never be accepted as the person I know I am so why should I continue living? In the past that’s likely how I would have approached a situation like this, and I won’t lie, it was pretty damn depressing when I realized what she’d done. One little word nearly ruined my day but if I let that be the case then I’m truly lost. I have to be stronger than a pronoun and I have to remember that all that truly matters is that I see a woman when I look in the mirror. Who cares about the rest of the world?

Easier said than done, I know, but please know that you aren’t alone when you are misgendered. Please don’t think that it makes you any less the person you know yourself to be. You are still you. You are still beautiful, or handsome, or amazing, or whatever resonates with you and reminds you of your great worth. So don’t let a pronoun ruin your day, if you can. You are bigger and stronger than a pronoun, just like we are.

Monday, January 16, 2017

1-16-2016 Entry: How to Fight Systemic Racism as a White Person

Hello my darlings. I hope that as you all went through your day today you at the very least thought about ways you could help eradicate racism or ways in which you can use your privilege (if you have it) for the betterment of our society instead of just yourself. I am painfully aware of my privilege nearly every day as a white person, as an educated person, as an American, and as a “passable” transgender person.

But what is privilege? What makes someone privileged over someone else and why does it still exist in the realm of race, sex, sexuality, and gender even today in the twenty-first century? Well, simply put privilege (to me at least) means anything from the freedom from invisible burdens to very visible social roadblocks. As a white person I can walk into a clothing store, peruse to my heart’s content, and then decide to leave that store with no one really batting an eye. Maybe a salesperson will be disappointed they didn’t get a commission but otherwise I am fairly invisible to them. Change the color of my skin and it is too often an entirely different game. Instead of being able to peruse as long as I want, with a different skin color my innocent behavior can suddenly seem suspicious. Deciding to leave without actually buying something might raise so much suspicion that the salesperson begins to think I’ve shoplifted.

Obviously I’m *slightly* exaggerating the details of this very brief scenario, but it becomes obvious that something is amiss here. Two people who could be identical in nearly every regard with respect to education, income, age, weight, height, and attitude can be treated entirely different because of the color of their skin. The first person, with white skin, was free from an invisible burden of being guilty until proven innocent. The second person is assumed to be guilty until proven otherwise and all because of social programming from generations of messages about people who look like them. It’s almost a certainty that the salesperson (who we will assume is white) has absolutely no idea why they are suspicious of one and not the other. To make matters worse, the salesperson is likely oblivious to the fact that they treated them differently at all. If you asked that salesperson they would likely say they treated everyone the same, no matter what.

Does this make the salesperson a liar or just ignorant? If we give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they were truly ignorant of their double-standard treatment of the two almost-customers then can we excuse them from their behavior? The answer to that question is difficult to give because it depends on who you ask. Sure you might find consensus that the salesperson was ignorant of their behavior but you would almost assuredly get different answers about whether or not their ignorance excuses them. A white person who is not aware of or critically-self-reflective of their privilege would undoubtedly say that yes, their ignorance excuses their behavior. They didn’t MEAN to treat them like that, so there is harm.

But what of people who aren’t white? What would they say? As I am a white person myself I refuse to presume to know for certain what they would say but I can guess, and my guess is that they wouldn’t give two fucks that the salesperson was ignorant of their actions. My guess is that they would say it was just as damaging, if not more so BECAUSE of their ignorance. Their ignorance just proves that racism still exists and that it is damaging to our society.

But what about teaching this salesperson so that they no longer act from a place of ignorance but are able to consciously check their socially-programmed biases at the door to ensure fair and equal treatment of their customers? Whose responsibility is it to teach that salesperson? Again, we come to a difficult question to answer because it depends on who you ask. A white person who is not aware of, or critically-self-reflective of their privilege would undoubtedly say that it’s the job of the customer of color to educate them. How can they know they are doing it out of ignorance if you don’t teach them about how they should act instead?

But what about people who aren’t white? What would they say? Again, as I am a white person myself I refuse to presume to know for certain what they would say, but I can guess, and my guess is that they would say it is the job of the salesperson to seek out the knowledge themselves to become more enlightened. It is not the burden of those being mistreated to educate their tormentors on why they shouldn’t be mistreated the way they are.

Okay, so let’s say we accept the second answer (which, I’m just going to admit my bias here, is the right answer in my mind) and we agree that the salesperson needs to seek out the knowledge themselves, where do they go to find that knowledge? Again, this is a difficult question to answer because it depends on who you ask. A white person who is not aware of, or critically-self-reflective of their privilege would undoubtedly think that the salesperson should seek out the closest convenient person of that skin color to ask them questions about how people like them should be treated. Hello Michael, I know we met last week but I really admire what Martin Luther King Jr. did for your people, and I want to make sure I don’t ever offend you without intending to because you know… I’m white… and you… aren’t. Hahaha

But what about people who aren’t white? What would they say? Again, as I am a white person myself (are we noticing a trend here yet?), I refuse to presume to know for certain what they would say, but I can guess, and my guess is that they would say it isn’t their job to teach white people how to not be racist. They would likely discuss how dehumanizing and alienating it is to have some na├»ve, gung-ho to conquer racism white person presume that they (the person of color) are not only willing to discuss racism and how to fix it, but that they are interested in being a spokesperson for everyone who is like them.

So, wait a minute, where does that leave us? Isn’t this a catch 22? The white salesperson needs to desire to overcome their ignorance through seeking out education but not from the person they inadvertently discriminated against or from their trusted coworker (or friend, or in-law, or… take your pick) Michael either. So who do they turn to? Surely they are trapped in this state of racial ignorance for all eternity, right? This MUST be why racism still exists, because our poor white salesperson is unable to find the solution to their answer… /sigh

But wait, our salesperson isn’t just any salesperson. They are a salesperson capable of complex problem solving (those security magnets on the clothes don’t get there by magic, after all) and they realize that there really is a solution to their problem. If it isn’t the job of the person they inadvertently discriminated against, and it isn’t the job of their friend Micheal, then perhaps there are people out there who are willing to serve as educators and spokespersons for their fellow people of color. Martin Luther King Jr. was one, wasn’t he? But he isn’t the last one, right? Surely there are others out there doing the same work, others who are willing to take on the burden of educating their oppressors about the oppression they seem so ignorant of. There might even be books written on the subject, right?  Books that can be purchased online and read in the quiet places of salesperson’s home where they can become more educated on their own without offending their almost-customer or their friend Michael. What a novel idea!! (Pun intended).

Okay, so now what? Salesperson is ready to take down systemic racism all on their own. They’ve read some books, they’ve reflected on their privilege, they’ve become angry at how they were blind to their privilege for so long and desperately want to do something about the inequality that surrounds them. What should Salesperson do? Should they volunteer? Maybe, but salesperson knows that it’s important to not think that they can solve all the problems of people they’ve only just begun to understand. To do that would be another failure to recognize their privilege, so they must be careful with their desires to help out in that way. If they are going to volunteer they need to be very mindful of whether or not they are wanted there and what kind of impact they are having on the people they are volunteering for. If such opportunities aren’t there to be had what is salesperson supposed to do? They have some knowledge, they have some properly recognized and accounted for privilege, and they have a desire to help out… so what should they do?

They remember that they could donate money to causes that impact people of color. Chances are salesperson, while not rich by any means, is privileged enough to have enough money to spare for donations here and there. They also remember that they could donate clothing to places that give clothing to homeless people and impoverished families (too many of whom are people of color) because that is a practical way to contribute. They also remember that they could donate food to food shelves which serve homeless people and impoverished families (too many of whom are people of color) because too many are food insecure.

But Salesperson isn’t satisfied with donating some of their money, some of their clothes, or some of their food. They want to have a larger impact on systemic racism, something that will truly make a difference in the long run. And that’s when they are struck by a bright idea. What if, just maybe, they took the knowledge they’d gained from their studies and shared it with other white people? Wouldn’t that be a great way to erase racism? Maybe it would only be one person at a time at first, but if every person that salesperson taught about their privilege decided to teach another person, or more than one person and those people taught others, and so on, then it wouldn’t be very long before a significant population of white people would become enlightened to their privilege. And with a significant portion becoming enlightened to their privilege, then their kids and grandkids would also carry that enlightened state on for generations until maybe, just maybe, there was no more systemic racism.

Is it too much to take on? Is it too grand of an idea to spread awareness to their fellow white people, to teach them that they must become enlightened themselves through study and contemplation instead of from badgering poor Michael or that poor misjudged almost-customer? Is it too much to hope to inspire others to donate their time, their money, and their resources through a lens of self-aware privilege? Maybe it is, but then again so many other great causes have seemed too great to hope for, and yet they have been realized.

So, my fellow white people, please start educating yourself about your privilege. Please start realizing that systemic racism still exists and there are practical things you can do to fight it. Please remember that it is not the job of people of color to teach you about their oppression, but IT IS your job to seek out illumination on your own through study, contemplation, and a willingness to unflinchingly face the shame of our privilege. Only then will you be able to truly help to erase systemic racism, and once you’ve achieved this level of illumination then it is so important that you encourage other white people to do the same. Together we can achieve Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, but we have to do our part by learning from and teaching others like us.

I’d say my soapbox is put away now, but this isn’t something I only think about on MLK day. This is something I think about nearly every day. This is something I’m always keeping an eye out for in case any teaching opportunities arise, and I’m hoping that reading my words will inspire you to take action so that you can be ready for those teaching moments too. Here are some books to check out if you need somewhere to begin:

First: Pedagogy of the Oppressed
And then:

Sunday, January 15, 2017

1-15-2016 Entry: "Sun is in the sky, oh why, oh why Would I wanna be anywhere else?"

Hello my darlings. I hope you are all doing well. I am, for the first time in a long time, doing really well. My last entry was about trying to reset my thought patterns to something more conducive to joyful living and I have managed to do that. There have been a few depressing days here or there, but for the most part things have been going really well in my world.

The new job I started a few weeks ago is proving to be a job I actually kind of like. I don’t love the work I do but I really enjoy the people I work with, especially my direct supervisor. She is a total sweetheart and has achieved a healthy balance of being directive without being overbearing or micro-managing. The other girl I work with is younger than I am, but with her young age she brings with her a bright and youthful optimism that’s been missing in my life. She’s from Ukraine and as a result has an awesome accent that makes her totally endearing, especially when she misspeaks and uses the wrong word (like saying ostrich instead of asterisk) and we both get to laugh together. In short, the job is essentially exactly what I was wanting for this stage in my life. It is an office job with stable hours and stable pay, but without any lawyers prancing around acting like they are god’s gift to humanity. Also, because I’m working at a non-profit instead of a for-profit company, the environment is dramatically different. It is so much more laid back than my work as a paralegal. Everything isn’t about how many billable hours I’m generating. Instead it’s the quality of help I give to the people who come into our office, which cannot really be quantified. With the exception of a few, almost everyone I work with is pleasant and friendly. There is no bickering like there ALWAYS was among the support staff in the law firms I worked at, at least none that I’ve noticed.

Outside of work I am finding that my life is also improving. Although I am busy all the time now with working 40 hours a week and having upwards of 11 hours of grad school a week, I’m finding that my time is being well spent with lovely people. In fact, just a few days ago I went on a date (well sort of) and it was fun, rewarding, and at the end of it I kissed her goodbye. It was a lovely kiss and one that I’d been longing for for some time now. While we haven’t officially decided that we are seeing each other again, Rose is back in my life and is likely to stay there. We can’t see each other very often but that hasn’t dampened either of our spirits about reconnecting. In a lot of ways this kind of relationship is precisely what I need: Something that’s not super serious, but is completely fun and rewarding. I imagine she feels the same way.

In addition to her I have either strengthened my friendship/bond with people I positively adore or I have met new people who are proving to be lovely individuals.  While there are some friends who have disappointed me to an immeasurable degree, their failures have been eclipsed by the blossoming friendships and bonds I have to other people. What’s that old adage about one door shutting and another one opening? Well I’ve had one door shut and about five other doors open up, and I can say without a doubt that it is a result of my shift in consciousness. Focusing my mind and finding the peace that is at my core has allowed me to better see golden opportunities to not only improve my life, but to improve the lives of others also. Were I still stuck in a fog of depression and mired in self-destructive thought patterns I can say with certainty that I would have missed these opportunities.

And what of my transition? I am quickly closing in on two years of HRT and the differences between me and my body now, compared to when I first started is truly astounding. My darling coworker even remarked that she was struggling to imagine that the person she knows now (and met just a few weeks ago) could have ever been that person before (upon seeing pictures of me pre-HRT). Another friend told me two days ago that had she met me now rather than a year ago, she would have never even suspected I was anything but a cisgender woman. She went on to remark on how much more feminine I looked compared to then.

These outside validations are confirmed every time I look in the mirror. I don’t see Robert looking back at me anymore. I don’t even really see hints of him. That life and that body are gone, quite literally since nearly every cell in our body has been replaced since we started HRT. Just yesterday our closest friend admitted that while she knew that we still perceived masculine parts of ourself, she didn’t see them at all. She only saw the feminine parts of us, and while only seeing the feminine isn’t seeing the whole picture of who we are, we were filled with joy at her words. Her words meant that this whole thing, all of this goddamn struggle and falling apart and saying goodbye to almost everything we loved, was a successful endeavor.

Six-ish years ago we stood in the hall of our apartment wearing a black sequin skirt, a top (we forget the color) and a Halloween witches wig, and stared into the mirror at our reflection with a sense of defeat and despair. The reflection we beheld as we stood there trying on our Halloween costume for perhaps the third or fourth day in a row was a reflection that was not appealing. Sure we had the clothes and we had the hair, but everything was all wrong. We were wrong. It didn’t matter how much makeup we tried on or how many women’s clothes we bought and wore in the secret moments when we were alone, we would never be the girl we wanted to be. We wanted to be pretty. We wanted to be feminine. We wanted so very much to have been born into a different body that made more sense so we didn’t have to feel this emptiness inside.

No… we can’t do this, we thought. We can never do this. We can’t be a girl. We can’t be ourselves. We have to be a boy… we have to be a boy… we are… a boy…… *sigh*

There truly are no words to describe the pain we felt as we took off our costume in defeat. Our girlfriend (we weren’t married yet) was relieved beyond words, but we knew that we would never be happy again. We’d never know joy, not really, at least not as a full person. We would never be a girl. We would never be pretty or feminine. We would never get to wear the clothes we wanted and be seen the way we wanted to be seen. Just a few days earlier a man had mistaken us as a woman when we tried to enter the men’s bathroom at the bar we were attending a Halloween party at, and it was the single greatest moment of our lives up to that point, but it was all in the past and had to stay there. We would never allow ourselves to even really ponder that memory or why it made us feel so happy, at least not for a few years until all of this transition business started. We never even wore those clothes again, at least not that we can recall. We threw away the wig and hung up the skirt and blouse in the deepest, darkest corner of our closet. Why we didn’t just throw them out then was a mystery to us because we’d resigned ourselves to the fact that we’d never be a woman.

But now look at us! Nearly every single person we meet today perceives us as a woman. Nearly every new person we become acquainted with is utterly floored when we come out to them as transgender. Our body has that hourglass figure. Our breasts have grown to the point of completely filling our bra. Our face looks almost nothing like it did before. Our hair now hangs below our shoulders. We have dresses and skirts, and cute outfits to wear all the time. When we put on our jacket with our scarf puffing out of it we look utterly adorable (we might be biased on this one) and more than just adorable we look like a tall, beautiful woman.

What we would give to open a portal in time to that moment when we stood in that hallway looking at ourself in the mirror with dismay and simply say, this is what you could look like Robert. This is what awaits you in the future if you are brave and courageous and determined to become the person you were meant to be. Don’t turn away from your destiny, don’t throw away the wig and bury the clothes deep in the closet, throw away your fear and bury your doubts deep in the ground instead. What I would give to be able to do that, even if it only changed the timeline of that version of me.

Regardless, I do not regret my life thus far. Yes I’ve waived with doubt and wondered if transitioning was the best idea, but at the end of the day I know that it was and always will be. This is who I am. This is who I’ve become and who I will continue to become until the day I die. I am Emma, not Robert, and as long as I can remember that, I know that I’m going to be okay. The sun is in the sky, so why would I want to be anywhere else?

Well, my loves, that is all for now. Things are going well and seem to be getting better everyday. I’ll try to keep you posted as things continue to develop. I strongly suspect I’m going to have a lot of lovely and fun things to write about, so stay tuned.

Stay beautiful. Stay courageous. Stay brilliant. Stay artistic. Stay Fabulous, and remember there is no one out there quite like you, so shine bright for all the world to see.


Song of the day: 

Image may contain: one or more people, eyeglasses and indoor

(Me and my baby-kitty Athena, taken recently)

Friday, December 23, 2016

12-23-2016 Entry: All This Pain is an Illusion

Hello my darling readers. It is a snowy day here in Minnesota and I fortunately have the day off in anticipation of the holiday this Sunday. I also have Monday off too, which is pretty awesome because who doesn’t like a 4 day weekend? In a lot of ways life has started to look up over the past week or two. There have been dips and moments that were lost to sadness or loneliness, but they have been fewer and further between than in recent months.

I think the main reason things have gotten better over the past two weeks has been because I’ve decided that I’m done with this depression shit. I know, it’s not like I really chose it or the circumstances that brought it to life to begin with, but I really feel like I’m done with it. It’s hard to explain but in more practical terms that you might understand I’ve decided that finding happiness or relief in every given moment that I can must become my number one priority. I have to change the patterns of thought that have developed, and I have to change the chemistry of my brain so that neural pathways that once brought laughter and happiness are reactivated.

I cannot allow depression and suicidal thoughts to beat me down anymore. I have to fight back against them quickly and early on, which is something I’ve been struggling to do in recent months. I’ve simply allowed depression to run the show, and depression is a terrible fucking show director unless you are wanting to see a tragedy, and I really don’t want my life to become one. No, I can’t allow depression to take hold anymore. I can’t let it tell me what I’m worth (nothing), who loves me (no one) or what my future looks like (an empty void of sadness, heartbreak, and pain) anymore, because if I do then it’s only a matter of time before depression is right. I know that this isn’t going to be easy, and I know that there are going to be days I fail (yesterday was one), but I refuse to allow one day of failure define my ongoing battle with depression. No, the battle must be fought and it must be an organized effort, which is something I’ve failed to do (organize).

The first thing I must do is understand why this recent bought of depression came into my life to begin with. I thought for a long time that it was still tied to my divorce, which was tied to my decision to transition, and while that is true in part, that reasoning is mostly a farce put on by the depression. It didn’t want me to understand the true source of it. It didn’t want to be seen, because if it is seen then it can be dealt with directly. No, this round of depression has much more to do with the sexual assault than anything else. It had so much more to do with the PTSD symptoms I’ve been struggling with than any regrets over my marriage ending.

You see, the depression had a major trump card in this game of self-worth that it and I had been playing. It had the one thing that could overpower anything we tried to use as a coping mechanism. It didn’t matter how much therapy we had, how many friends we had, how well we did with school, how rewarding our work was, how well we did with sobriety, how much we drank when we did, or how close we were to our family (both blood and queer family) because none of that mattered in the shadow of the guilt we experienced over the sexual assault.

Our friends love us and care so much about us!
-You called her when you knew it was a bad idea and she hurt you without you even fighting back.
We are learning so much in school and at our job! Can’t wait to be a therapist!
-How can you help other people when you couldn’t even help yourself? You’re pathetic, no one would want you as their therapist.
We have so many good things in our life, and so much potential for growth and happiness.
-It happened when you were a kid, and again when you were an adult; it will happen again.
(looking in the mirror) We are so pretty these days, and our kindness and confidence will continue to attract people who love us.
-You are too soft. They have only ever wanted things from you and wanted to hurt you. They will take what they want and leave because they don’t care about you. No one can be trusted.

Those were the thoughts that kept me down when I wanted so badly to be up on my feet. It was easy to drown those thoughts out with distraction like socializing with people, going to work, going to school, studying, getting lost in a video game, or drinking, but they were always there in the quiet moments between all of that. They were there when we laid in bed trying to fall asleep. They were there as we drove from one place to another. They were there all the time, waiting for their opportunity to come out and torment me. I tried so hard to keep myself distracted, to find ANYTHING at all that would make the thoughts go away, to make the guilt go away, and when I inevitably failed there was that one permanent solution to the problem: suicide.

What I failed to understand, however, was that it wasn’t about finding distraction. It wasn’t about losing myself in something (aka dissociating) that made me forget the guilt. It was about learning to silence the guilt during those moments of quiet when the walls started crashing in on me. It was about finding peace within that storm of anger, sadness, guilt, and pain. It was about understanding that my desire to isolate and not reach out to people or talk to them unless I had to was just perpetuating my misery. It didn’t matter how much distraction I found or how many outside things I tried to dull the pain of my guilt about the assault, it would always be there, waiting for me. Realizing that at various points over the past few months only furthered depression’s grip over my life, but it didn’t have to.

I kept thinking I had to run from it. I kept thinking the only way to “get over” my trauma was to distance myself from it and try to find a normal life again, but I was wrong. I didn’t need to “get over” the trauma, I needed to accept it, to hold it in my arms, to hug it, to love it, and remind it that there is a future filled with potential, and the only way I could do that is if I stopped running from those quiet moments and stopped allowing them to overpower me.

Rather than letting the quiet moments sneak up on me, I needed to deliberately go into them through meditation. I had to put myself in the quiet moments and allow the thoughts to come up where they could be examined in the light of consciousness and not the dark of depression. Once I did that I could see them for what they were, a response to trauma and a defensive response at that. If you isolate, no one can hurt you. If you keep people at arm’s length then they can’t exploit any vulnerability. And in addition, if you aren’t aware you are doing it, you can’t feel guilty about your social failures.

 Instead of: I’m pushing all of my friends away and not reaching out like I used to, it becomes, they aren’t around because they know I’m broken, and it’s better that way because they’d just want something from me anyways.
Instead of: forcing myself into isolation is hurting me and causing me to lose all hope for a happy future, it becomes, It’s safer to just stay home, and I don’t have anything to offer anyone, anyways; I don’t matter.

So when I put myself in that place of quiet, knowing that I had to wrestle with the elusive creature of depression, what I really found was a mirror. I was the elusive creature of depression. I was the one doing this to myself, but I had to be careful not to become angry at that reflection. There was a reason I was doing it to myself and there was a reason I couldn’t see that for so long. I needed to do it in order to survive the trauma. I had to protect myself, just as I had to protect myself as a child when I was sexually violated again and again. I had to isolate. I had to push everyone away. I had to stop trusting in the goodness of people. I had to stop putting myself out there where I’d be at risk, and the fastest way to do that is convince myself I’m not worthy of being put out there at all. If no one cares about me, then no one can hurt me. If I don’t depend on anyone, then no one can let me down, betray my trust, or exploit my vulnerability.

Yes, I would have to take on the burden of isolation, guilt, and self-hatred, but the means justified the end if we could find healing from this terrible experience. Except, that healing never really came. It’s still there. Even as life gets better there is this gaping wound inside of my heart and soul that just refuses to close. The wound wants me to keep isolating, to keep pushing people away, to keep driving myself to the point of suicide, but I know that I can’t keep doing that. It hasn’t helped me heal, and in some ways has created other wounds that now need healing. What I must do to find that healing is learn how to regain my peace, regain my balance, regain my confidence, and regain my trust in others. That is what I must dedicate my time to now, but I can’t do it by looking outside anymore. No one and nothing is going to heal this wound for me, I have to do it on my own by remembering my true nature, our true nature. We did not come to this life to be overcome by the selfishness of others, but to shine brightly in the darkness so love and beauty can win the day.

This isn’t a tragedy you are reading about here. This isn’t the end and it’s certainly not the climax. We are deliberate creators who have the potential to realize all of our goals and dreams if we can remember our balance and true nature as eternal beings. This is not our first time in the physical world, and it is unlikely to be the last. If it is, however, it’s going to be a life worth remember, not one worth mourning the loss of. We are eternal and all this pain is an illusion.

We barely remember who or what came before this precious moment
We are choosing to be here right now
Hold on, stay inside...

This holy reality, this holy experience
Choosing to be here in...
This body, this body holding me
Be my reminder here that I am not alone in...
This body, this body holding me, feeling eternal
All this pain is an illusion


In this holy reality, in this holy experience
Choosing to be here in...
This body, this body holding me
Be my reminder here that I am not alone in...
This body, this body holding me, feeling eternal
All this pain is an illusion

Twirling round with this familiar parable
Spinning, weaving round each new experience
Recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing
A chance to be alive and breathing

This body holding me reminds me of my own mortality
Embrace this moment, remember, we are eternal
All this pain is an illusion


(This was taken two days ago at my grad school Christmas party with one of my very best friends. IDK what I'd do without her these days, she means the world to me)