Hello my darlings! It occurs to me that I haven’t posted a Picture entry in a long time, so I figure it’s probably time for you all to see how Emma’s transition is working out. Plus I bought some new clothes I’m excited to show off!
So, yesterday marked almost exactly four months (17 weeks) living full time as Emma and it’s hard to believe it’s been that long. I know I always get on here and remark about how it feels like it was just yesterday that I was still living as Robert, but in the grand scheme of things, I’ve only been living as Emma for approximately 1% of my total life so far. I even did the math, because that’s how much of a dork I am.
1% is practically nothing! And yet, it feels like it’s been so much. In many ways it’s like my life before this transition was just a long foggy road of confusion and depression. I never really felt “alive” when I was Robert. Sure I’d breathe, eat (and eat, and eat, and eat), talk, laugh, and have fun… but it was different than it is now. There was always this built-in reservation back then. I could never really breathe, eat, talk, laugh, and have fun without some part of me having to be held back. Everything was dulled and muffled by that fog. Worst still, most of the time I didn’t even know why that reservation existed or what it was for. I just always felt… half alive.
Contrast that to the last 4 months and it is like night and day. I feel like I am truly alive now; like it isn’t just some dull routine of existing for the sake of existing to get up in the morning. I’m not just wandering through life without a direction or without a true sense of self or identity. True, my job feels a lot like a dull routine done for the sake of doing it, but every other part of my life has been transformed.
It’s really hard to put this into words, but I feel like I’ve finally fully arrived on planet earth. It’s almost as if there was only half of a soul inhabiting my body for the first 29 years and now the rest of the soul has come to join it.
Imagine this: when you wake up in the morning (not on your weekend), you likely aren’t fully conscious, right? Unless you are one of those lunatics (aka morning people) who leaps out of bed with excitement to greet the new day, you likely do something like I do and begrudgingly will yourself out of bed with eyes half closed and your brain sputtering as it tries to turn on. You zombie-walk into the bathroom or kitchen to begin your morning routine, not entirely awake, and begin the day as best as you can. You are not excited about life in the least and wish you could just go back to bed. Eventually, over the span of a few minutes or a couple hours depending on your degree of exhaustion (and caffeine consumption) you finally become 100% conscious and are ready to embrace the world for all of it’s same-shit-different-day glory.
Now imagine that half-conscious, begrudgingly awake, wishing you could just go back to bed state was with you for your entire day. More than just your day, it was with you for your next week, month, year, and decade. That’s kind of what it was like to be Robert. I was always half awake, half conscious, and half alive. The zombie-walk level of engagement was the way I carried myself through the entire day. I didn’t really care much about how I looked, where I was, or what I was doing. I put in minimal effort into everything I did. I was just going through the motions of life, because I knew I couldn’t go back to the before-life state (although, suicide was often on my mind).
The last four months, while not perfect and definitely containing some ups and downs, have been vastly different. I am fully awake, fully conscious, and fully alive. I don’t zombie-walk through life anymore (even if I do still zombie-walk in the mornings). I do care how I look, where I am, and what I’m doing. I put in full effort into most of what I do (there are still lazy days, of course, and depressed days too, but far fewer than before). I finally arrived, fully, into this life.
And when I say I’ve arrived, there is some merit to that idea. In learning about the stages of individual development in grad school, I’ve come to understand that every adolescent and young adult is faced with the struggle of determining who they, as an individual, are and are going to be. They often struggle between what is expected of them from family/friends/religion/society/etc. and what they themselves actually want. If they can manage to navigate these oftentimes opposing forces they eventually “arrive” at a true sense of self/identity. They know who they are and what they want out of life. They are no longer simply the product of their upbringing or society, but are instead autonomous individuals, making choices and decisions for themselves.
Most people arrive at or achieve this individual autonomy by time they finish college (or around their mid 20’s). Others take a bit longer if they experienced early life trauma that results in mental illness or depression (I fit into this category), while some never make it at all. In many ways, deciding to transition genders at the age of 29 was really my choosing an autonomous life. It was the solidifying of my identity. I arrived at a true sense of self. I was no longer going to be trapped by the expectations of others or simply be a product of my upbringing; I was going to choose to make the life I wanted, regardless of my past or the pressures to conform.
Before that choice I was expected and raised to be Robert, so that’s who I was. I was expected to go to college, so I did that. I was expected to meet a girl, fall in love, get hetero-cis-married, and have babies, so I did that (except for the babies part). I was also somewhat expected, or at the very least influenced, to go into the law. My mom was/is a police officer, and there was always a part of her that wanted me to follow in her footsteps. I never wanted to be a police officer, but moving into the realm of law was in no small part a result of my upbringing in a law-enforcement house/community.
After I’d done all the things I was “supposed to do” I started to wonder what was next. Why did I still feel so empty? Why did I only feel half-alive? Why was I constantly seeking out coping mechanisms to cover up the constant aching pain inside? That’s when the “crisis” hit and I decided I had to be Emma. I had to try to live the life I actually wanted, instead of what was expected of me.
I’ve done and experience so much since then. Many of you have travelled along with me on that journey as I’ve blogged about it here. So much has changed and is different now. It’s like I’ve lived an entire life in the span of a year. One year. All of this has been accomplished in one year.
My first entry on this blog was exactly 1 year ago today. October 6th, 2014 was the day I announced for the entire world to see that I’d been living a lie for too long and could no longer continue the façade. 365 days have passed since I stopped lying to myself, my wife, my friends, and my family. 365 days of honesty about who and what I was.
When I think about everything that’s happened over the last 365 days it seems almost unbelievable. When you look at the pictures below it will be evident that much has changed, but appearances can only tell so much. So much more has been altered below the surface, where pictures cannot penetrate. A year ago feels like a lifetime ago because in many ways it was.
Today I am living a new life. Today I am a new person. Today I am no longer half-alive, but fully alive and ready to take on the rest of my life. No challenge seems too big, no obstacle seems too great to overcome, and no fog clouds my vision of the future. I know who I am, I know what I’m doing, and I know where I’m going.
Not only am I sure of my identity, but I’m positive I will be able to help others. I’m certain that I can be a positive influence on the lives of others. The lifetime of experiences I’ve had over the last 365 days have made me a stronger person who will be better able to lift the burdens of others. There are trans* people out there struggling with depression. There are trans* people out there who have never known acceptance or love. There are trans* people out there who are harassed on a daily basis. There are tans* people out there living on the streets, selling their bodies just so they can eat. There are so many opportunities to be a positive influence and to help those in need. I will be that positive influence, and I will offer that help when I can.
But enough of all that, let’s look at pictures! **after writing the entire post I decided I wanted to do more of a timeline of pictures so we can see the progress from start to present.
Thank you for stopping by, and thank you to all those who’ve read my words over the last year. There are many more to come, I hope you’ll stick around to read them. I’ve only just begun this journey, and there is still much to come.
Remember, you are beautiful. You are brilliant. You are unique. You are one of a kind. You are worthy of love and happiness. You have the strength to overcome any obstacle in front of you. You have the brilliance to solve any problem you face. You are powerful, and you are amazing! Keep faith, keep dreaming, and keep fighting. You only get one shot at life, so make it worth remembering. Begin today, even if it’s something small, to follow your dreams and passions. One small step each day can change your life in a short period of time. Just look at me. Only 365 days have gone by and I’ve made so much progress. I have a completely different life.
Big changes are really just the culmination of many small changes. What do you want to change today? What small step can you take today? Are you willing to go forward with faith? Only you can answer for yourself.