Friday, January 2, 2015

1-2-2015 Entry: Resolutions, Successes, and Setbacks

Happy new year to all of my lovely readers! With any luck this new year will be the best year yet, which brings me to my subject for today’s entry: New Year’s Resolutions.
So, I know everyone kind of rolls their eyes when they hear that someone has made a New Year’s resolution because the majority of these resolutions make it about a week before we go back to our old ways, but the resolution I made has already begun and in some ways is already finished. I’m sure you are thinking that the kind of resolution that can already be completed by January 2nd isn’t much of a resolution at all, but I think you might be surprised. The simplest way to put my resolution is that I resolved to live the next year without fear or hiding of my true nature, most especially when it comes to my family.
You see, as of December 31, 2014 there was only one family member of mine who knew the truth about me and my transgender nature, my mother (well her and my mother in-law, but we can discuss that later). For everyone else, including but not limited to my father, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, my grandparents, and my in-laws I was still Robert (Sarah’s husband). I had come out to my friends on Facebook, but I was still using the profile with my birth name on it to represent who I was. Sure, I was on here, blogging a million miles an hour trying to inspire others to live their lives in the open without fear or dismay, but in my own life I was still a victim of those elements myself.
Every day that went by where I was still being seen as and treated as Robert the man/husband was almost like another failure in my transition to live up to the advice I was giving others about how they could find freedom from their “in the closet” affliction. Add to this the knowledge that my doctor’s appointment for hormone treatment was set and my pre-transition timeline had a calendared endpoint, and you can start to see the pressure I was beginning to feel to completely come out.
So, with a bit more haste than I probably should have had, I decided enough was enough. My friends on Facebook were posting about their resolutions, both large and small, both serious and joking, and this inspired me to make my own proclaimed resolution… but to what extent?
As I sat at my computer, typing and retyping the resolution I wanted to share with my friends I was faced with a choice. I knew that I wanted to resolve to no longer hide and to no longer be controlled by fear because I knew that 2015 was going to be the birth year of Emma, transwoman extraordinaire (aren’t epithets awesome? Why did we ever do away with them?), but how far was I willing to go to keep that resolution? I knew that part of this birthing of a new identity would require me to eventually come out to all of my family and in-laws but was I ready for all of them to know at once with one fell swoop of the “post” button? If I was going to resolve to no longer hide then I had to do something to show that this resolution was more than a passing fancy, right? Sure, I could resolve to come out to all of them in my own due time and just resolve to start living my life as Emma little by little but wouldn’t I be contradicting myself if I kept my Facebook in Robert’s name? How can I resolve to not hide and yet still remain hidden behind a name that no longer fits me?
Well, as you might have guessed already, I decided that if I was going to make this resolution to stop hiding my true self then I had damn well better go big or go home with it. Not only did I decide to not hide my status from selected people (as I had done previously with my first coming out as trans to just my friends) but I took it a step further and announced that part of my resolution to no longer hide was to put the name Robert behind me by changing my Facebook to Emma. And so, with the click of a few buttons and the typing of a few keys I came out, once and for all, to all of my family members and all of my in-laws as a transwoman. I am not friends with every single family member or in-law I have, but I am friends with enough of them that this news was sure to spread to all of them (people do love to gossip after all).
And so it was, on January 1st, 2015 that Emma Thrumston would be born into the world of social media, and forever into the minds (and hopefully hearts) of every person I socialize with (all 324 of them).
Now, maybe that makes me somewhat of a coward since I went about doing this behind the safety of a computer screen, but I don’t see it that way. The emotions of fear I felt right before I posted that resolution and made the changes to my profile’s name field were more than enough to legitimize (at least to myself) the monumental move I’d made, a move that took very little time to have an effect as family members and in-laws began contacting me to give me their support.
And so my resolution began, but it was not yet finished. Posting that resolution and change also meant that more work needed to be done. My father is not on facebook, but his sister (who lives right next door to him) is on there and is my friend, so unless I wanted my father to find out from a secondhand source that his son was going to become his daughter, I needed to finally muster the courage to come out to him directly. Additionally, many of my family members on my mother’s side are also my friends, which meant that I would have to give my mother warning that they might be calling her or asking her questions that I knew she would not be prepared to handle or answer.
So, with all due haste, I called my mother and told her what happened and the phone conversation was nothing short of a train wreck. Not only was it rushed, ill-timed, and jarring for her, but it left me reeling from the poor and angry reaction I received from her. I knew that she was still having trouble accepting everything but her denial and frustration became the focal point of the brief conversation as she began to ask me why I’d done what I’d done, only to cut herself off and quickly end the conversation. Just like the time I came out to her I was left feeling horrible and angry. I was so pissed by her reaction. Me being transgender wasn’t something she could really claim was new, not after months of knowing and several conversations (including one with my therapist) about it, so why the angry reaction? She had to know this was coming (she already knew my new name) so how could it come as such a huge shock to her? Why did this have to be a setback to what was turning out to be such a good move on my part?
Well, I digress, because there are no answers to those questions besides she is having her process, and I am not responsible for her feelings or reactions. I can only try to offer as much curtesy towards her (like giving her the heads up that others might be asking her questions) as I can, the rest is up to her.
I had originally intended to call my father after speaking to my mother, but since our conversation ended with me being in a foul and dejected mood, I decided I didn’t have the capacity to risk further humiliation or setback at my father’s unknown potential reaction. Despite this decision my wife, in response to me thanking her for how supportive and loving she’s been towards me after my botched phone call with my mother, decided to divulge that she was also having a hard time with things… when it rains it pours, right?
You can only imagine what this did for my mood as the ball drop and bedtime came rolling around. Instead of finishing 2014 filled with hope and the strength of my newfound convictions to be 100% open about who I was, I was left to lie in bed consumed with doubts and fears. I can tell you that I have never felt so alone in my life as I did just 2 nights ago, but something was different about it. In times past the aloneness was a crushing and depressing feeling, one that often led to thoughts about suicide or wishing I was just dead so I wouldn’t have to suffer it any longer, but this aloneness wasn’t like that at all. Sure, it wasn’t a pleasant feeling, but whether by some result of my meeting with my therapist that day or just the resolution I felt in myself, I vowed to not give in to defeat. Even if my mother wanted to live in denial and my wife decided she couldn’t make the adjustment to having a wife instead of a husband, I refused to give up. I would not be defeated, even if it meant that I had to walk the path ahead of me alone and without the support of those I loved the most. Those were my thoughts as I drifted to sleep.
Upon waking the next morning I found a renewed degree of courage and decided that I had to call my dad before it was too late, so at the early hour of 9am on the first day of 2015 I placed the call I’d dreaded to make. I explained to my father why I was calling and we had a lengthy discussion about me being transgender. To my surprise, shock, and loving awe, my father astounded me with his understanding and acceptance. Not once did he show any signs of frustration or denial or refusal of acceptance. He certainly had a great number of questions but his efforts to understand instead of just be blown away by the enormity of it showed the deep compassion he was capable of. He told me he would always love me and that he would always be my dad, no matter what. He said that he wanted nothing more than for me to be happy and if this is what made me happy then he would support my decision to transition and that decision would not take away from the pride he felt about who I was.
In short, all of the aloneness and discouragement I felt by my mother’s reaction and my wife’s admission of doubt were erased by a whirlwind of love and compassion by my father.
And that is why my resolution is already complete, because now everyone in my family, even my father, knows that I am Emma and that I am woman. I resolved to stop hiding, and in the span of a few days that resolution was finished, so never say again that a quickly resolved resolution cannot be a powerful one because change can come quickly or slowly, but it is change nonetheless.
Now, I just have to survive this weekend with my recently enlightened in-laws… but that’s for another entry.
With much love,
-Emma

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