Thursday, December 31, 2015

12-31-2015 Check in and My New Year's Resolution

Hello my darlings. I'm just checking in to let all of you know that I'm going to be out of town for the next week or so without any access to a computer. I'm going to visit my father and family in North Carolina (first time he has seen me in 4.5 years, and the first time my family has seen me in like 6).


I'm somewhat nervous about this trip, although not as nervous as I was about my mother's visit. My dad has been pretty good about this transition and has been rather supportive (he even calls me his daughter sometimes when he remembers to). I'm hoping that he continues with that and that I'll have plenty of good things to tell you all about when I return.


Until then, please have a happy and safe new year's celebration. Go crazy, have fun, make resolutions, kiss someone hot at midnight tonight, and definitely don't drink and drive! Taxi's are a pain but they are way less painful than a DUI, an accident, or even death.


I figure that before I close this entry I should reflect a bit on my last year and the resolutions I made, as well as making my new resolutions.


Last year's resolution was best summed up as:


Which I have definitely done. I am no longer in hiding in any way with my family and although this resolution eventually resulted in losing my marriage the freedom I've gained from living a life true to myself far outweighs what has been lost. I began this year as Robert and I'm ending it as 100% Emma. So what's next? I've thought about this some and I think I have a handful of resolutions.


First, I resolve to finally bite the bullet and legally change my name and gender. I've been putting this off for sometime now because of issues with my mother and the lack of financial stability to pay the cost of the change. I will be getting some money soon from school and I'm going to finally file the paperwork I've had sitting in my computer for a few months now.


Second, I resolve to finish what I started with regards to facial hair removal efforts. I no longer have a debt-ridden, penny-pinching wife to guilt me out of paying for laser hair removal, so I'm going to finally go have this done. This will likely take a bit longer to begin than the name change but I want to finish it before 2017 so I can stop having to shave every morning and can stop worrying so much about the 5 o'clock shadow.


Third, I resolve to get a new job, whether it's the one I have an interview for in two weeks or another one, I'm done with my current job. It might be awhile before I can effectively do that, but I need to change what I do for work before it drives me crazy. By 2017, I will no longer be a paralegal (thank god).


Fourth, I resolve to take better care of myself than I have been, and to not settle for less than I deserve. I resolve to make sure every relationship I'm maintaining is one that is good for me and isn't one where I'm being taken for granted, being used, or walked all over.


Fifth, I resolve to experience new things in sexuality. I want to push the limits of my previous experiences and try things I've never done before. I'm going to embrace my singledom with open arms and get a little kinky with it. >;)


Sixth, and this one is the most iffy of the lot, I resolve to fall in love again before 2017. I am so tempted to shut myself off, to put up my walls, and to not trust anyone with my heart, but I know that's not the right thing to do. I know I deserve love and I deserve to have someone in my life who actually cares for me and treats me the way I should be treated. I resolve to find someone who fits that mold, even if it's just a short romance that doesn't last forever I want to feel those butterflies while also knowing that they feel them too.


Well that's what I've got. Please be safe, and Happy New Year!!


-Emma

Monday, December 28, 2015

12-28-2015 Entry: The Huge Impact of Small Victories with Family Members

Hello my darlings. I’m writing to you at the end of a very long day and am doing so at the expense of what will likely be crucial sleep as I’m going to have an even longer day tomorrow, but I didn’t want to continue to leave everyone in suspense. The last time I wrote I was feeling very anxious about my mother’s Christmas visit. I was rather worried, justifiably so, that our already strained relationship would become more strained than it was previously.

I am quite relieved to tell you that my anxiety was somewhat misplaced. I will not say that her visit here was without setbacks or frustrations, but it was actually a rather good visit overall. She arrived somewhat late Tuesday evening so by time she arrived I was already dressed down for the evening (read: in my pj’s without makeup or my wig on). I did this somewhat on purpose because I didn’t want to overwhelm her immediately the first night she was here. I did, however, have my real hair up in a pony tail with a purple headband on, so I was still looking somewhat girly.

I won’t lie, the first night was awkward. I was rather nervous to have her around and didn’t really know what to expect from her. She noticed this and made a comment about it. Eventually, though, the awkwardness faded and things became a little more like normal between us. We didn’t do much the first night except chat before going to bed.

The next morning I got up for work and got ready to leave. I decided to wear my favorite dress and actually put effort into my makeup (not always the case these days) because I wanted to dive into the rest of her visit headfirst. She was here to see me and see me she would. She was rather tired and I left somewhat early so when I said goodbye to her she was still somewhat sleepy. My spirits were raised, however, when she told me that I looked very pretty when we said goodbye.

To be positively affirmed by my mother, the person who has been my greatest struggle thus far (apart from my wife’s sudden and painful departure, that is) was amazing. She told me I looked pretty! I can only imagine what it must have taken for her to say that. She didn’t say I looked good or looked nice like one might if they were trying to remain gender neutral, she said I looked pretty. Pretty isn’t necessarily a feminine descriptor as a man can be pretty, but to me, it was an affirmation of my gender presentation.

I went to work floating on a cloud. My mother hadn’t been awful and had actually been putting in an effort to be supportive and accepting. I knew, however, that the real test would come later that day when we were supposed to go to target to pick up some things. Her being affirming at home where no one could see was one thing, but to be affirming out in public for everyone to see was something entirely different. As I suspected, my mother’s reactions to me in public were somewhat different than they were at home.

Evidently some older lady read me as trans and tried to rescue her (I’m assuming) granddaughter from being exposed to my trans-cooties as I perused the women’s clothing section for a cardigan (which I did not find, sadly). I didn’t notice this woman or her apparent transphobic revulsion to having to share the same space with me, but I guess my mother did because after we left the store she asked me, “Do you just not pay attention to the way people react to you?”

I found this question strange because from my perspective, there really weren’t any people who had visible or negative reactions to me. That’s when she told me about the older woman’s comment and when I also realized that my mother was doing exactly what I did when I first started going out into the world as Emma. She was hyper-aware of any activity that might be interpreted as a negative reaction to me because she, herself, felt anxious about the way people would view me. I chuckled at her question and told her that I didn’t really care what people thought of me anymore. If they want to stare, then fuck ‘em, they can stare all they want. I also told her that the older lady was lucky I hadn’t heard her comment to her granddaughter about how they needed to leave that area because had I heard her, I would have likely been confrontational with her.

Although I do not suggest anyone do this, I have started to react differently to people who are rude and transphobic. Rather than tucking tail and not saying anything, I call them out on their shit. If they stare in a rude way for too long I say something to them. If they ask me inappropriate questions or harass me on the street, I give them the finger, tell them to fuck off, and walk with my head held high.

This trip to target was just the first of many public outings that my mother and I would have over the 5 days she was here. The next day, we raised the stakes a bit and we went clothes shopping for me (since I used to get clothes for Christmas and my mom didn’t really know what I liked to wear anymore, she decided to just take me shopping). At first, the experience was somewhat painful because again, my mother’s anxiety about being in a women’s clothing store with me in broad daylight was apparent. She was outside of her comfort zone and didn’t really know how to help me find clothes I’d like. She remarked several times about how she had no idea what I liked and didn’t like.

Again, I had to kind of chuckle at her reaction to this new experience. I explained to her that it was okay that she didn’t know because I didn’t necessarily know either. I told her that I was still new to buying women’s clothing too so she just had to be patient and relax. It didn’t take long, however, for her initial anxiety to subside. Once she picked out an item or two that I actually liked she seemed to relax a little and her confidence returned some.

We spent probably an hour or more shopping at my favorite store (Torrid) and after everything was said and done, I had several new outfits added to my wardrobe. My mother, while visibly uncomfortable buying me women’s clothing, did seem to take things quite well given the circumstances. A year ago she was in hardcore denial that I was transgender or that I wanted to transition and here she was, buying me dresses and helping me pick out cute outfits at a women’s clothing store.

And that’s more or less how things continued for the duration of her stay. She was often visibly uncomfortable but still making the effort to adjust to the new paradigm. She even referred to me as she when she was talking with the cashier. You cannot imagine how wonderful it felt to hear my mother, the person I’ve struggled the most with about this transition, call me she in public to another person. In the grand scheme of things that act was a tiny one, but the impact it had was huge. She was actually trying.

That’s not to say that there weren’t setbacks along the way. She and I went back and forth many times about her misgendering me. She called me mister at least a dozen times and only really corrected her self about half of the time. She did refer to me as he in public to someone, and although they didn’t really notice because it was a loud bar, it still felt really awful. I’m not sure she ever called me Robert directly, but she did refer to me as Robert to others several times (like my grandmother, some of her friends back in Colorado, and worst of all my former step father). I cannot fully articulate the lump I felt in my stomach as I watched her describe a picture she sent to my former step-father of the two us as “Robert and I.” I can somewhat understand why she did this because he does not (nor do the others) really know me as Emma, but it still hurt that she was referring to me in that way to placate the discomfort of others. It would have been wonderful if she’d referred to me as Emma to these people regardless of their exposure to my new and true self, especially when sending a picture of me in full presentation as Emma… but we have to begin somewhere, right?

She did use my real name a few times over the course of her visit which, again, were small victories that had huge impacts. My mother called me by my true name in public where others could hear her. It seems so small and so silly, but it meant so much that she was even trying. By the end of the visit, I think she really started to see me for who I’ve become instead of who she used to know. I think she really started to see me as a girl and possibly as her daughter instead of as her son. I don’t think she is there yet and I don’t think she will be any time soon, but I now have hope that our relationship can be salvaged and can grow into something meaningful. I stood my ground many times and corrected her when she misgendered me time and again, but rather than becoming defensive as she could have, she tried to make appropriate adjustments to these corrections.

As I told her and my father, and as I will tell any parents of transgender children (regardless of age) out there who may be reading this, all that truly matters is that you try. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to get it right every time right away. As long as you are willing to try and are willing to put in the effort to be affirming, you will make it a long way. Eventually, yes, you likely need to start getting it right all the time, but it’s understandable to get it wrong sometimes in the beginning. As with almost anything key is to keep trying, even when you mess up or fail.

To those people out there who do not have the support or gender affirmation of their parents I want you to know that there is always hope. I was certain my mother would never be okay with my new life. I was almost positive that our relationship was going to come to a tragic end, but that’s not the case. I know how hard it can be for them to misgender you and to call you by the wrong name but you have to be strong, patient, and sometimes assertive about it. If they use the wrong pronouns or the wrong name, correct them. Even if you have to do it a hundred times or a thousand times, eventually they are going to give in. No one likes being corrected over and over again, so eventually they will start using the right name/pronouns simply so they don’t have to hear you contradict them.

 I think that too often we as trans people forget how strong we are. I think that too often we worry about being an inconvenience to others and are willing to accept mistreatment for the sake of peace. I say to hell with that mentality. If they won’t give you the recognition you deserve then it behooves you to demand it or to assert your right to it. When my mother called me Robert on the phone time and again over the past few months I didn’t correct her because I didn’t want to be in conflict. Anger in the guesthouse taught me that I deserved better than that, so when she was here and I did correct her regardless of the potential conflict, I got the results I wanted.

 You cannot be too passive and expect others to just change on account of you. Sometimes, you have to push, pull, and drag them kicking and screaming into changing for the better. If they are completely unwilling to make the changes necessary then give them an ultimatum, give me the respect I deserve or say goodbye to this relationship we have. No matter what they decide, you win. If they change then you get what you want. If they leave, then they were never going to support you anyways and you are better off without them. I know that can be hard when it’s someone you care about, like a parent or a sibling, but over the past year I’ve learned that family isn’t about blood, it’s about who stands with you and supports you. Sometimes those people are related to you by blood, and sometimes they are people you crossed paths with at key points in both of your lives. My family is much larger today than it ever was before because I’ve broadened my definition of family to encompass those who are not related by blood.

No matter what, you are not alone. No matter how hard your struggle is, you are not alone. No matter how isolated you feel, you are not alone. There are many of us out there and we are all fighting alongside you in this continuing battle for acceptance from our friends, our families, our governments, our societies, and our world. Be brave. Be bold. Assert your right to being treated fairly and with respect and never back down at your own expense because it makes others feel more comfortable. Fuck their comfort, be true to yourself. They will adjust or they will leave, and either way, you win (even if it hurts at first). At least, that’s what I’ve been learning time and again over the last 15 months.

Well, my darlings, that’s all I have for now. I have plenty of other things to talk about (especially dating) but it’s almost an hour after my bedtime and I haven’t even taken a shower yet, so I must bring this entry to a close. Never forget that you are beautiful, you are irreplaceable, you are amazing, and you are loved. **MUAH**


-Emma

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

12-22-2015 Entry: My Mother's First Visit Since Transition

There is an entry I need to write for the sake of those who have also struggled with the same thing and for my own recovery, but today I must postpone that entry for another, more pressing entry.

My mother will be arriving at my house in a couple hours and I’m not sure how I feel about it. On one hand I am eager to see her and eager for her to see me. She has not seen me in over a year, and has definitely not seen me since I started living my life as Emma the transfeminine extraordinaire. Sure, she has seen pictures, sure she knows viscerally that I am living this life, but today is going to be the first time she actually experiences her child in her new life. I am eager for her to see how happy I am, despite the continued heartache I feel about my failed marriage and how much I miss having my best friend in my life.

On the other hand, I am terrified that this is going to be an awful experience. I am terrified that her continued struggles to accept me as her daughter instead of as her son will be brought to the forefront of our relationship and it will drive a permanent wedge between us. I do not know how she will react to seeing me in makeup and with my hair up. I don’t know how she will react to going out in public with me presenting as I always do. I do not know how often she will call me Robert and he/him, rather than Emma and she/her. I am slightly hopeful because when we spoke on the phone a few days ago she did correct herself after calling me Robert by saying, “Sorry… I mean Emma.”

That is the only thing that is keeping me afloat in this moment as I anticipate her arrival. It is the only thing that is keeping me from entirely dreading the next 5 days. My relationship with my mother was the only one that lasted the test of time, but as I’ve grown older and as I’ve come more into alignment with my true self, I have started to see the many flaws of our relationship.

Don’t get me wrong, my mother did the best she probably could given the circumstances. She always made sure I was taken care of in basic ways that every child needs and deserves, but our relationship was a toxic one in many ways. I’m not sure that’s really her fault. I suspect that she just learned that from her own parents, but as I’ve gone through therapy and as I’ve unpacked the mental baggage that’s been swirling around in my mind my whole life, I have started to see how dysfunctional our relationship always was. She is coming here and likely believes that she can assume our relationship right where we left it off the last time she was here, but so much has changed.

I am not the child she left behind a year ago. I am not the child she raised from a little boy. I am not Robert, her son, at least not really. Sure, Robert is still in here, copiloting this experience we are calling our life, but I am Emma, and I will not allow the situation to fall into old habits. She is in for a rude awakening if she thinks she can push us around the way she used to. She is in for a rude awakening if she thinks she can steamroll us into doing what she thinks is best, even when it isn’t good for us at all. This time, we will be meeting on our terms, not hers, and it is because of that that I am concerned.

Anger in the guesthouse has taught us that we must no longer tolerate being taken advantage of or being mistreated. Our mother is by far the greatest challenge of our resolve yet. The hardest part of this visit is the fact that my best friend, the person I thought would always be there by my side isn’t here to support me. My wife is gone and with her, she has taken a solid foundation to stand on. If I had her at my side, it would be easier to stand up to my mother, it would be easier to force her to understand that things have to be different, but I do not have that luxury. I must face this trial alone.

I am reminded of the father-figure plights that are present in Star Wars (only because I’ve very recently watched them, the new one included) and I’m beginning to see why Luke’s greatest challenge was Vader and why… I suppose I shouldn’t ruin it for those who haven’t seen the new one… let’s just say there is another father-son dynamic in the new movie that is framed as it being the greatest challenge to the son to face his father.

I am at that point where Luke has chosen to fly off and confront Vader prematurely and against the advice of his teachers. I could have postponed this visit. I could have chosen to see her at a later time when I was perhaps more prepared for the trial ahead, but I know it has to be done now. Like Obi-won telling Luke that he cannot interfere this time and that Luke must go this one alone, so must I go on without the protecting buffer I was so accustomed to: my wife and her love. I do not have her love and acceptance and support the way I did last time I confronted my mother. I do not have her to help me and guide me as I struggle for acceptance.

Obviously this is the opposite as Star Wars in that it is a daughter who must stand up to her mother, but the framing feels applicable. This is my greatest challenge. This is the largest hurdle to my gender transition and honestly to my work in therapy. This is a struggle that has gone on since my birth and my mother holds most of the cards in the deck. My only chance of surviving the next 5 days is to stand my ground, to set my boundaries and to enforce them. Too often I permit her leniency, too often I don’t stand up for myself the way I should, but I MUST do that now. I MUST pass this test.

I know that she is coming with a (not so secret) desire that I will change my mind; that I will stop this gender craziness and go back to being her son. She probably even envisions me and my wife getting back together as a result and thinks that my transition was the true cause of our divorce. While it definitely contributed to the collapse of my marriage, it was only a part of it and not the only thing to blame.

I am unsure how to best approach this situation. I have somewhat conflicting desires about this visit. I want my mother to accept me and I want her to respect me, and those two things do not always go hand-in-hand. If I am forced to choose between them, I’m not certain which I’d rather have. Her respect, or her acceptance?

If she respects me and my requests that she call me Emma, that she use female pronouns, and that she cease to use my birth name, then our interactions will be easier, but she may not truly accept who I am. Even if she is kind she could always harbor a lingering regret that I wasn’t just “normal” anymore and I would always know that my mother doesn’t truly accept me for who I’ve become.

 If she accepts me and understands that there is no going back from this life I’ve begun, that doesn’t necessarily mean that she will respect my wishes. She may accept that I am Emma to the world, but may not respect my requests that she also see and treat me as Emma. This is honestly the most likely result of this visit. She will likely see that I have taken on this new life and that I am never going back, but she will never respect who I’ve become. I will always be some failure of a son who turned out so broken he thought he was a girl. She will think that she did something wrong to make me the way I am instead of accepting that this is actually who I always was.

I fear that she will be too unwilling to look back on our relationship to see all the times she stifled my feminine attributes in order to move forward with our relationship. If she is unwilling to make peace with the past, let go of it, and begin to embrace the future with open arms, then our relationship might be doomed.

I do not want to lose my mother, but I refuse to compromise who I’ve become to placate her insecurities and fears about my life. It is my life and I will live it the way I want to, without her respect or her acceptance if I must. I will not give up who I’ve become. I will not stop this work I’ve begun. This path I’m on is far too important for that.

She will be here in about 90 minutes, so I must bring this entry to a close. I hope I have good things to report the next time I write. I need something good in my life to happen. I’ve dealt with so much sorrow over the past few months that I’m not sure I can handle much more. Wish me luck my darling readers.


-Emma

Thursday, December 17, 2015

12-17-2015 Entry: Two Months and Counting...

It is amazing to me how long eight weeks can feel. Eight weeks ago the foundation of my marriage was beginning to crumble and the catastrophic collapse that would follow was only a day away. In those eight weeks I have experienced a lifetime worth of emotions. I have felt the deepest despair I have ever known as well as the most intense anger I’ve ever experienced. I have felt lost, confused, afraid, rejected, and worthless.

Like a mallet striking a gong, the deepest traumas from my childhood resonated through me from head to toe when she left me all alone. I have been forced to look my darkest fears and my most malicious demons in the face and have survived to tell about it. I wish I could say that I feel stronger for having gone through what I have, but right now I feel like anything but strong.

Even as my life begins to calm and the new routine of being alone becomes more familiar, I feel myself breaking; or rather I still feel myself so broken apart. I have such a clear vision of what I wish to do in this life, such clear objectives that I wish to accomplish, but I still feel so lost and alone. I have been unraveled and all my struggling has done little to put me back together again. I feel as though I am adrift at sea and only the light of the cold stars is there to guide my path.

I put on a good show for those around me that says I am okay, but I am anything but okay. I am merely going through the motions. Every morning I wake to this nightmare where my wife is gone, where I am left alone with a dismantled hope for the future. Even two months later I am still unpacking the pain I feel. It’s too large to bear all at once, and so I am forced to let it out a little at a time.

People expect you to get over divorce like it’s not this awful and traumatic experience. They expect you to still be able to function the way you did before. To still have the drive and motivation that you used to show. They expect you to just keep going to work, paying your bills and upholding all of your responsibilities when all you want to do is just lie in bed, crying and eating comfort food.

They expect you to find ways to comfort yourself when you are hurting or having a bad day, when the only thing you want is comfort from the person who doesn’t deserve to be missed by you. They expect you to either get back up on the horse, so to speak, and put yourself at risk of having you heart broken again, or they expect you to wait to date again so you can heal. What they don’t seem to understand is that both of those options suck.

Being alone to heal gets lonely and in that loneliness your fears are all but confirmed that you will be alone forever. If you don’t even try to not be alone then you are surely doomed to be alone forever, right? So then you decide to try to date. At first it’s exciting. Online dating is like window shopping for a lover, except you have no idea what each item costs. Most often, you don’t have enough to cover the cost (i.e. they aren’t interested), sometimes you think you have enough money until your card is suddenly declined (friend-zoned), and other times you have more than enough but the item you are considering isn’t anywhere near the quality of what you came looking for. Sometimes there are even those pushy salesmen who just won’t seem to go away until you are rude to them.

And when the rejection comes, and it almost always does, it’s like the wound is reopened. When you are rejected right out of the gate it is one thing. You sigh and say, oh well, I can try again. But when you start talking to someone and you are really getting along, you start to hope. You start to feel like maybe all those declined transactions or knock-off items you shrugged off were just the path that leads to this one. You talk for a while, you exchange numbers, you text and text and text some more. You start to feel yourself opening up even more towards hope. You like them and it seems like they really like you in return… and then it happens. They drop that word “friends” and your heart sinks.

Wait, what? Friends? You mean after all of this connecting we’ve done, all the flirtation, all the all-night until it’s way past our bed time texting we’ve been doing is only going to result in friends? There is someone else they are interested in, they say, and then you realize it. You are the knock-off item to them. They have enough to cover what you cost, but they have their eye on something better.

And so you go back to being alone and trying to heal. The wound has been reopened and there is nothing to do but change the bandages and hope it doesn’t leave a scar. You sit at home, alone, and you drink; not because you want to or even because you enjoy it, but because it’s the only way to numb the pain from that reopened wound. You consider giving up and throwing in the towel. You laugh at yourself as you consider taking a vow of celibacy. I mean, why not? It’s not like you are going to get any anyways (at least none that you’d actually want), so why not devote yourself to the service of the church?

 Oh wait, they all think you are an abomination and would also reject you. You drink some more. Damn, even the Catholic Church is like, “No thanks we have our eyes on some better candidates… but we can still be friends.”

So you drink some more and this time you add in a cigarette, because why not? It’s not like there is anyone around to complain, because you are alone. So alone with nothing but time, endless obligations, a half empty bottle of gin and some stale cigarettes. Isn’t being single just grand?

You get up, you go to work, you stay there way longer than you need to because why go home? There is nothing waiting for you there, you might as well just get some extra work done. You leave a few hours later than you really should have and you drive home in the dark because it’s already 7 o’clock. You get home and your two cats are there to greet you with affection. At least someone is happy to see me, you think; and then you start the process all over again with the hope that one of these times, the pain won’t be there anymore. The disappointment and rejection you feel has to go away eventually, right?

-Emma

Sunday, December 13, 2015

12-13-2015 Entry: Lessons from the Guesthouse, Maintaining Standards

Hello my darlings. Happy Sunday to all of you. I actually wrote the previous entry yesterday but didn’t get around to publishing it until this morning. That doesn’t mean, however, that there haven’t been some additional developments in the Hot Mess of my life.

So, last night I was actually presented with an interesting invitation to do something I had never done before. My poly friend R messaged me to tell me that her previous plans had fallen through and as a result she and her husband would be coming into town to attend a swinger party.

At first, I felt a little slighted by this change of plans on her part because she knew how much I wanted to see her this weekend and when she had the opportunity to make that a possibility she decided to go to a party a few miles away from my house instead. I don’t know all the reasons that she made that decision and I don’t know how much her husband was involved in coming to that decision. All I knew was that she would be very close to where I live at a sex party instead of having a date with me.

My initial reaction was altered, however, when R asked if I wanted to go with them to this party. I was somewhat taken aback by this invitation, even if I was very intrigued by the prospect. I took a few minutes to consider whether or not I felt up to going to my very first swinger party and despite the anxiety such an opportunity elicited from me, I told her that I would go with them.

She told me that she would have to talk with the party’s host to see if I would be welcome to come. I decided to leave work a bit early so I could get home and get ready for this new, scary, and exciting adventure. I arrived at home, got ready and waited to hear back from R.

My previous irritation at her decision to go to this party rather than just come see me was in equal competition with my eagerness for experiencing something completely new. I have always been fascinated with swingers and have often wondered what their parties actually looked like. I did feel nervous about the thought of being a relatively passable pre-op transwoman* (more on labels in a bit) at a party where I was positive men might be interested in me. I expressed this concern to my friend and asked if she would be telling them that I was trans* so that there wouldn’t be any uncomfortable surprises. She said that she would do that if I wanted her to.

The tug of war between my irritation and my eagerness came to an end, however, when R messaged me that the host had said I wasn’t allowed to come because it was only for couples. I thought this might be the case but had hoped that me being in an escalating polyamorous relationship with R would suffice for the party.

While I understood the host’s reasoning for not wanting me to come, it didn’t make me feel better about R’s decision to attend this party rather than come see me. I won’t lie, this didn’t sit well with me. The lesson that anger in Rumi’s guesthouse has come to teach me is that I deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. I deserve to be given time and attention from those I choose to have in my life.

For far too long I have tolerated being in relationships with people who use me, who abuse me, and who take me for granted. While my ex-wife was someone I loved a great deal because of her many positive qualities, she was also capable of being a very mean person and she often took her anger out on me even when I had nothing to do with why she was upset. I was often her emotional punching bag because she didn’t know how to maturely process her emotions or adequately express her unmet needs. I cannot count the number of times she insulted me or said/screamed “fuck you” to me.

 As I’ve reflected again and again over our marriage in the past 6 weeks, and especially over the past week, I have really started to evaluate why exactly I remained with her for as long as I did. She was good to me in a lot of ways and I do believe that she loved me, but she was also a very poor partner for me in a lot of other ways. I do not wish to enumerate all the ways that our relationship was imperfect or all the many different struggles that we had, but I have decided that the reason I put up with so much of her (as my therapist calls it) “bad behavior” was because of my own insecurities about being alone.

Worse than this realization was the additional realization that this was not the first time I had put up with someone’s bad behavior because of this insecurity. I have had a long history of entering and maintaining difficult or dysfunctional relationships because of my fear of being alone. I strongly suspect that I obtained this pattern of behavior from watching both of my parents struggle through dysfunctional relationship after dysfunctional relationship. I learned that this was simply how being in a relationship was.

Anger in the guesthouse has come to sweep away the baggage of such a misguided belief and the dysfunction my insecurity has permitted in the past. No longer will I permit myself to be mistreated, used, or taken for granted because I do not want to be alone. Being alone with my own company is far more valuable to me than sacrificing my dignity or self-respect for a relationship that does not serve me.

I am taking this approach with the pseudo-friendship I am trying to rebuild with my ex-wife, with the strained and difficult relationship with my mother, and now I will be taking it with my polyamorous friend R. She is permitted to make her own choices about whether or not I am a priority for her, but what she is not permitted to do is expect me to sit around waiting for her to finally decide I’m important enough for her attention.

If anyone wants my attention, then they must work for it. They must show me that they are worthy of my time, and all that I have to offer. They must show me that I am important to them. This act of party-going rather than having a date with me showed me where her priorities were, and they were not with me. In times past I would have made excuses for her. I would have given her the benefit of the doubt, swallowed my pride, and accepted terms of a relationship that I wasn’t really okay with.
Anger in the guesthouse will not permit me to maintain such a dysfunctional approach. I will not make excuses for her, but what I will do is make a decision that I deserve better than what she has offered and what she is willing to offer. Instead of worrying if I am worthy of her attention, I have decided that she isn’t worthy of my attention. She doesn’t deserve all the wonderful things I could have given her if she is unwilling to make me any sort of a priority.

Perhaps some of you out there are thinking that I’m being harsh or that I’m rushing to a conclusion, but I must respectfully disagree. I am not rushing to any conclusion. She had one real chance to prove to me that she was worth my time and she blew it. I am not interested in being last on her priorities or for her to take me for granted. My wife took me for granted for far too long for me to ever tolerate such treatment again. I do not feel spiteful towards R for her decisions. She has every right in the world to do whatever she wants and to see whomever she wants, but what she doesn’t have the right to do is take me, my attention, or my interest for granted.

Today she wanted to see me and at first I agreed to have her come over. I started to allow my insecurity to win me over. I made excuses for her and I started to justify her actions the night before, but something was different this time. A feeling grew within me that I shouldn’t go through with this. If she had made time for me last night, I would have happily seen her and would likely be writing a post about how I had some fun sex, but that’s not what happened.

Instead of seeing her like I wanted, either at the swinger party or just the two of us, I went out to the bar by myself and for the first time, I had a lot of fun being there mostly alone. As I mentioned earlier I have developed a solid group of acquaintances, so there were a few people that I knew that I got to hang out with, but for the most part I was flying solo. I found myself suddenly capable of overcoming my introversion. I found myself suddenly capable of overcoming my social anxiety and the strong desire I often get to retreat from social situations like the bar. I felt comfortable being there alone, approaching people I didn’t know, having conversations with strangers, and as a result I had a lot of fun. I danced, I met some new amazing people, I got hit on and flirted with, I had a hot girl pinch my butt affectionately, and I didn’t regret going at all. I wasn’t even sad that I didn’t meet anyone that I liked in return (the few people who expressed interest in me were not my type, especially the guy, but it felt good that they were interested).

So, this afternoon as I was considering whether or not I wanted to continue to be a low priority on someone’s list that I wasn’t entirely sure I really wanted to see, I realized that I could and would do better. I’m okay being alone. I’m okay being single. I’m okay waiting for someone who is actually worthy of my time rather than throwing myself at someone who isn’t worthy of my time.

When I was living as Robert in my early twenties, I threw myself at just about anyone who was interested. I compromised my standards constantly because I didn’t want to be alone. I slept with people that I didn’t really find attractive because I wanted to fill my loneliness with sex. I was somewhat at risk of doing that again with R. Anger in the guesthouse has shown me that I cannot continue to compromise my standards. My standards, finally, and rightfully are too important for me to jeopardize.

This means that I will likely be alone for a long time because I have very high standards now. I am a very accomplished, intelligent, and beautiful person, and the person I end up with will have to be on par with that. My previous standards, or lack thereof, have been swept away by the group of sorrows that’s come into my guesthouse, and it has been replaced with a standard I should have always had. I will find someone who treats me the way I deserve, who appreciates me the way I should be appreciated, and who gives me as much as I give them. I will never allow myself to be a low priority and I will never allow myself to be taken for granted.

If they can’t or won’t put in the time necessary to show me they care, then they won’t be lucky enough to have me in their life.

I cancelled my date with R and I fully intend to stop seeing her. I deserve better and I will not settle for less than I deserve. If that means I must be alone, then alone I will be. It will not be forever. There are already people who’ve shown an interest in me and it’s only a matter of time until I find one of them that I deem worthy of my interest and affection.

I am adopting a new paradigm and I believe that it has been a long time coming. I know that there is someone, or several someones out there that will provide me with the experiences I am looking for and they will do so in a much more life-giving way than R has. I will find someone who is worthy of having sex with me and I will find someone who is worthy of liking/loving me. I may be something outside of the norm, but that just means I am all the more valuable to the person I do give myself to.

Anyways, I did mention that I wanted to discuss labels a bit earlier, so let’s switch the gears up a bit. As many of you who have been reading my blog for a long time likely know, I have gone through varying degrees of identification. At first, I identified simply as a transgender woman. There were a lot of reasons for that decision and most of it was the result of a floodgate breaking open effect. I had been holding back the feminine side of me for so long that there really wasn’t anything I could do besides fully immerse myself in a female identity.

As time went on and as I took on my new life as Emma, it became apparent to me that I wasn’t just female. I realized that I was both male and female at the same time. There were two of us in here. Robert, while no longer the captain of our destiny, was still inside of us. When we became Emma we merged together and our bond as twin-spirits was reestablished after decades of separation. At that point we decided that the term transgender woman no longer fully approximated who we were and as a result we decided to begin identifying as a non-binary transwoman (one word).

While we found this label a better approximation for who we were, we also found it cumbersome and not entirely accurate. We are non-binary, that part is accurate, but transwoman seemed too inaccurate for our preference. We were not and are not a woman. While our presentation is very feminine and while we are most comfortable in the binary role of female when we must be placed within the binary, we are not a woman. To call ourselves a transwoman would not accurately describe who we were.

For a while, this was not too much of a problem, but with the advent of our adventures into the realm of dating, we have found the term transwoman to be problematic. If we are to date and to bring our entire self to a new relationship, then our partner must be aware of our true nature. This is why for a short while we identified simply as non-binary in our dating efforts. We did not want someone to assume we were a transwoman when that wasn’t an accurate description of who we were.

The problem with identifying as simply non-binary is that people are often unable to tell that we were born in a male body. We have related a story previously about how this became a problem with our rejection by a Pisces woman who couldn’t be with someone assigned male at birth. As a result of this incident we decided that it was necessary to find a more accurate description of who we were that would also convey to others that we were assigned male at birth.

Upon exploration of the varying labels that have been developed we have settled on one that we truly appreciate and believe conveys accurately who we are. From now until such a time that a more accurate label can be developed to approximate who we are, we will begin identifying as non-binary and transfeminine. This, we believe, will illustrate that our gender falls outside of the binary and that our physical condition is similar to that of a transgender woman.

Many people will still think of us as a trans woman. Most strangers will just assume we are female. The government, our school, and our employers will always think of us as simply female because we are subjected to a binary based society, but for those who truly know us, they will know that we are much more than a female or a trans woman. We are non-binary, we are transfeminine, we are a she and a her, and we are queer. Our gender and our sexuality cannot be placed into an either/or category, so we refuse to identify within those categories any longer.

Well, my darlings, that is all I have for now. Tomorrow is my last final for my first semester of grad school and I will be unlikely to write another entry for a few more days. I appreciate your visit and I hope that if you are not already a life-long reader that you find my story compelling enough to see how it continues. We are just beginning our long and happy life as Emma the transfeminine* extraordinaire and gender outlaw!


-Emma

In case you forgot the poem, here it is again:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.” –Rumi

12-13-2015 Entry: (Emma's Hot Mess of a Life) Bar Flirtation and Fun

Hello my darling readers, I hope you are all doing wonderfully this weekend. So far I have had some really fun experiences, the kind that lead to not so fun experiences the next day. That’s right, Emma is a bit hungover as she is typing this. As butterflies put it this morning, I must have decided I wanted to try to keep up with the boys with regards to drinking. I had two long islands and four rum and cokes, and as you’ve likely guessed, the sound of my keyboard as I type these words is honestly too loud. The lights above me are really bright too and I still have a touch of a headache despite having been awake for 5 hours (it’s 5pm right now if that tells you anything about how late I was out last night).

The night began with my law firm’s Christmas party at this really high-society venue in Minneapolis (the Minneapolis Club for my local readers) and it was everything I envisioned it would be. The bathrooms were practically lined with gold. The rooms had dazzling woodwork, chandeliers, and super old paintings. There was even a room that was nothing but a library with about eight sitting chairs where one might expect to see some Donald Draper-like man smoking a cigarette and drinking a glass of brandy while he laughed with other men in suits as they talked about silly women wanting to be executives.

It was, as my date put it, stuffy. So stuffy in there. The catering staff was almost pompous in their treatment of us, as if they were so accustomed to higher class people that they themselves felt upper class. When they sat us at the table and served our dinners, they surrounded the table and waited for a que from the head waiter so they could all simultaneously place our dishes in front of us. It was kind of surreal and really just speaks to the absurd pretension that one must deal with when you work for affluent lawyers.

My date was a dear friend of mine and honestly the very first transman I ever met. Were it not for our having met, I may not have ended up where I am with regards to transitioning genders. He really opened my eyes to the possibility of a person becoming the opposite gender. In many ways this person serves as a sort of… role model and guardian angel to me. He has taken me under his wing in the fallout of my divorce and has helped me to find my place in the local LGBT community. I have met no less than 50 people in the past few weeks because of him, and I continue to meet more. I have started to frequent his (and my now) favorite bar often enough that I’m starting to become a noticeable regular. People are just dying to meet me most of the time and a few of the bar tenders even know me by name now (likely because I’m a very generous tipper). My network of friends and allies is growing steadily week after week. Going out isn’t as scary as it used to be because I actually know enough people now that there is almost always someone there who I’ve met before and who is willing to talk to me so I’m not completely isolated.

Anyways, returning to the story, my date and I stayed at the party for about 3.5 hours before finally deciding to bail a bit early. We were having an alright time but when it came time to dance to the music provided by the DJ, it became pretty apparent that the fun was really at an end. If we were going to dance anywhere, we were going to dance at the gay bar, so we said fuck it and left.

We got to the bar a little bit before the burlesque show that was planned for the evening’s entertainment began, and grabbed a few more drinks (I was on number 5 at this point, as an FYI) and we hung out. We chatted with some of the regulars that I’ve come to know as well as some new people I hadn’t met before. Again, my friend introduced me to these new people and my circle of acquaintances grew some more. Eventually his girlfriend and butterflies showed up and together the four of us continued to drink, dance, and watch a very hot and provocative burlesque show. It was my first time seeing one and I won’t lie, it was far more entertaining for me than the drag shows typically are. Don’t get me wrong, I love the drag shows, but seeing actual women strip tease down to just their lingerie and pasties with spinners was a bit more up my alley. Another amazing thing about this show was the crowd that it attracted. Can we say lesbians everywhere?
And to that point, I actually ran into a few very attractive, very intriguing, and very interested (in me) women. I won’t say their names in case for some reason they read this blog but the first one definitely caught my eye because of how obvious it was that I had caught her eye. It has been a long time since I’ve had someone check me out that thoroughly before and she liked what she saw. I mean, how could she not, after all? I am dead sexy. =p::

We were outside in the bitter ass cold, smoking cigarettes (yes, I’ve started to smoke somewhat socially because all of my friends smoke and as a former smoker, it was too hard to resist when they offered one; don’t worry though, I don’t do it when I’m home or alone). While we were standing out there, this girl comes out with some of her friends and she has this enormous pitcher of some blue cocktail (evidently she wanted to get hammered too, lol). She walks around me to put her drink on the shelf that’s outside for that very purpose and as she’s walking past me I see her check me out with this playful grin. I kind of turn around to make sure I’ve moved enough that she can squeeze behind me and she is still checking me out. Eventually she steps back around me and starts to talk to one of her friends but the entire time she is standing off to my left, I see her glancing over at me with that same playful smile. Eventually she kind of transitions her way over to the conversation my friends and I are having and she like makes a point to stand next to me, and checks me out again.
At this point I’m feeling pretty good about myself. This girl is clearly interested and is positioning herself in such a way that she and I can talk, so I decide to make the first move and I introduce myself. You should have seen the way her eyes lit up and the smile she got when I did. She tells me her name and says  that it’s nice to meet me. Her eyes linger on my face with that twinkle in her eye and the smile on her face longer than they would if she wasn’t interested, but we go back to the conversation at hand. We have a few exchanges and then two of my friends decide to go back inside. Two others are still standing out there with me and now this girl is fully immersed in our group conversation. Well, it comes out that she works at a place where she often wears a bow tie, and it just so happens that she has one with her right then (I’m thinking she’d just gotten off of work) that my friend notices and asks about. She explains why she has it and then, while making sure that I was paying attention to her, proceeds to impress all of us with how quickly she can tie the bow tie. I won’t lie, I was impressed, and seeing her there, giving me that interested expression while wearing a bowtie around her neck, was a major turn on.

This very attractive (I’m guessing Queer) girl not only liked what she saw and wanted my attention, but she was even going so far as to try to impress me. It felt great and exciting. Eventually, though, the cold was too much for me so I decided I was going to go in with my friends. As I was heading inside she makes a point to call after me and says, “It was nice to meet you, Emma!”
I’ve read previously that when people are interested in you or really like you, they will often make a point to include your name when they talk to you:

“Maybe your date says your first and last name, like, “So, Michael Malone, you up for a night cap after dinner?” Or maybe your date says just your first name three times, like “Jenna, Jenna, Jenna.” Either way, it can be a sign that your date feels so much chemistry, he or she can’t help but connect with your closest possession: your name. But only if your name is said in an enthusiastic way—not in a flat tone like the person behind the counter at the DMV. “Saying someone’s name is like a sign that you’re testing the magic you’re feeling, because you almost can’t believe they’re real,” says body language expert Patti Wood. “It also subconsciously elicits immediate focus from the person whose name is said,” says Wood, which is more proof of the chemistry: If someone is into you, he or she wants your full attention.”

The fact that she specifically used my name to say goodbye to me only a few minutes after we’d just met told me that she was interested. Why call after someone leaving (just to go back inside) if you aren’t wanting more of their attention? She could have easily just let me continue inside without trying to elicit my attention, but she went out of her way to make sure I knew she was happy to have met me. Again, she had that smile and the twinkle in her eye as she said it.

The next time I saw this girl, she made a point to say my name again. This time I was on my way out of the bar out to my car because I was feeling overwhelmed by the bar inside. I was at the end of drink number six and there had been other mind altering substances partaken of as well, and the combination of the two left me in a state of extreme anxiety. My friends had disappeared, I was alone in a very loud bar feeling very under the influence and it wasn’t long before I started to have an anxiety attack. I was supposed to be standing by our table so no one would steal it from us which left me feeling trapped in this overstimulating environment, so after a few minutes I decided that I had to go outside to get some air. I abandoned my post and what remained of my drink and walked outside. The cold air helped sober me up a little but there were a lot of people standing outside smoking, talking, and laughing, so I didn’t really feel less overwhelmed. Instead of being around strangers paying attention to a burlesque show, I would be surrounded by strangers looking at me like, WTF is her problem?

I decided that I needed more shelter than the outside was providing me so I headed for my car (with absolutely no intention of driving, do not fear. I knew I was waaaay to inebriated to even think about driving). As I was walking to the car I passed a group of people and she was among them. I didn’t notice her at first because I was too busy trying not to panic, but as I was about to round the corner into the parking lot she called after me and said, “have a good night, Emma! It was nice meeting you!”

I turned around to see who was talking to me and found myself staring at the same bright eyed, charming smile I’d seen half a dozen times already. I quickly explained that I was just going to my car and that I’d be back, to which she said okay and looked relieved  (I think she was afraid we wouldn’t get to talk again).

I went to the car, got in it, turned it on so the heat could be on, and I just sat there trying to calm down. Luckily I had half a bottle of water, so I downed that about as quickly as I could because I knew that I needed water if I was ever going to sober up. I sat in the car, wrapped in my jacket, talking myself out of the panic attack for probably 15 minutes (my sense of time was a bit altered, so I really have no idea). The car was safe. The doors were locked. I was alone. It was quiet. It was warm. No one would talk to me. No one was paying attention to me, and I could just be quietly alone.

I texted my friend that I was outside getting some air and that I’d be back in, so they knew not to worry about me. I decided that the fastest way out of anxiety was appreciation, so I started thanking the heavens for all the wonderful things I had in my life. I felt so grateful for my friends and for the fun I was having (prior to the anxiety overload), and for many many other things. Eventually my anxiety subsided and I found myself feeling calm. In an almost perfectly synchronistic way, a few other friends we’d been waiting for pulled into the parking lot and parked in front of my car. I decided that this was a sign that I could go back inside without being overwhelmed again. One of these friends is also an introvert so we share a common bond when out at the bar together.

I got out, rendezvoused with them, and went back inside. Bowtie girl (her name now) was nowhere to be seen, and would remain that way for much of the night. I looked for her again and again hoping to talk with her to see if my hunch that she was attracted to me was correct, but I never really got the chance. I worried that she’d left but eventually I did see her again and I did end up outside with her while she was smoking with her friends. Unfortunately I spent more of my time talking to one of her guy friends (who was totally nice) than I did her, and eventually I just gave up. It didn’t seem like it was meant to be because any opportunity I had to talk with her was headed off by one of her drunk friends monopolizing her time. I went back inside and that was really the last time I saw her. I did talk to her monopolizing drunk friend a bit later though, but it was an inconsequential discussion.

The night was not over, though. No, far from it, in fact. I watched a few more acts in the burlesque show, drank water hand over fist, sobered up, flirted a lot with butterflies who has been really enjoying my attention and wants more of it (things are escalating a bit there, but we can discuss that another time), and danced to some music during the show’s intermission. Eventually my friends decided they wanted to go out and smoke again, so I went with them (I didn’t smoke this time). While I was out there I ran into someone who immediately caught my attention. She was stunningly beautiful and had such an amazing smile. She was making a point to talk to my friends and eventually zeroed in on me. Our eyes met and there was this connection that I cannot explain.
Perhaps she is just that magnetic of a person but regardless, I was smitten almost immediately. I think she could tell and I think she liked that I was because she practically ignored everyone else around us to talk to me, and we talked for quite a while. My friends went back inside because they were done smoking but I decided to stay out there to talk with this girl. It was so easy and she was 100% interested in learning more about me, and I was 100% interested in learning more about her.
I honestly haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since it happened. It was like I knew her, somehow. Like we’d met before. She felt so familiar to me, but not in the way that actual familiarity feels. I knew I had never met her before, yet I felt like I already knew her, and I think she picked up on it. There has only ever been one other person I felt that way with, and that person changed my life forever. That person became the first person I felt comfortable enough to come out to as transgender and her friendship and acceptance of me was instrumental in the early months of my transition.

I remember feeling the way I do now about that person before, and it has me all flustered. I don’t know if I will ever see this girl again, but I really really hope I do. I really hope that our paths cross again and I hope she is as interested next time as she was last night because I felt a serious connection there. I guess only time will tell.

Again, I didn’t get much of an opportunity to talk with her past our initial interaction and eventually I decided to head home. It was past 2am and I knew I had to go into work at some point, so I left. That's all I have for now. I plan to go out again tonight and maybe I'll run into one or both of these girls. I don't have high hopes though.

Well, thanks for stopping by and I hope to have even more entertaining stories from Emma’s hot mess of a life to tell.
-Emma

Thursday, December 10, 2015

12-10-2015 Entry: Anger in the Guest House


“I don’t think you really know what to do with anger, Emma. Not true, lasting anger. I’m not talking about the flash in the pan kind, but the kind where you can’t just get rid of it. You can’t just do something and quickly get rid of this kind of anger. You have to deal with it and accept that it’s going to be there for a long time.”

Those were the words my therapist spoke to me yesterday, and they have been swirling around in my mind ever since. She went on to explain that she was basing this belief of her knowledge of my childhood. In the house I grew up in, I was never really allowed to remain angry, even if it was a justified anger like the one I feel now. I was always told to to “get with the program” of what my mother said was acceptable even if I had been wronged in some significant way. My emotions were too inconvenient for her and were never permitted for longer than a short while before I was punished for them. Act out in anger and I was spanked, chastised, publicly humiliated, or grounded from the things that made me happy.

Anger wasn’t okay, so the only way to cope within an environment that was punitive to any form of anger was to find ways to make it better. External solutions to an internal problem. Those solutions varied from year to year. First they started with all but living in a fantasy world rather than reality. Mental escapism from the harshness of the rage I felt about being abandoned by a father I adored and the repeated loss of father-figure after father-figure as my mother made her way through catastrophic relationship after catastrophic relationship. They always leave. That was the thing that was impressed upon my mind from the age of four. They always leave. No matter how much I loved them, no matter how much I tried to be a good kid for them, they always left, and more often than not, I believed it was because of me.

The only one who stayed was the worst of the lot. A cruel man. A harsh man. A drunk and a bastard of a man who shamed me, humiliated me, and made fun of me for his own amusement. Worse than that, though, he convinced my mother, the only person who was ever a constant in my life, to be okay with it. It’s good for him he would tell her. I needed to be toughened up if I was going to survive in the cruel world, he’d justify. Boys didn’t cry. Boys didn’t have deep and powerful emotions. Boys didn’t feel like they wanted to be girls. If I ever hoped to become a man I had to learn how to take it like a man.

Eventually the mental escapism stopped working and my sense of reality blurred to the point of not remembering where I was, where I’d been, or what I’d been doing. I felt my mind begin to splinter as it was pulled in countless directions at once. I was coming unraveled. Emma was buried deep in my mind, locked away in a prison of shame and confusion. She could not help me. I was a twin spirit, broken in half and left alone to be subjected to cruelty by the only “father” I had ever really known.

I started Therapy then. I couldn’t do it alone anymore. I felt so angry all the time. Such rage, bubbling beneath the surface, eating me alive and I had no outlet for it. I wasn’t allowed to be angry. I wasn’t allowed to express my anger. I wasn’t allowed to let the steam out, so like a pressure cooker left unattended I was a ticking-time bomb.

The therapy helped some. The mental escapism was the piece we focused on the most, but the anger was largely left untouched. We talked about it, sure, and even analyzed its source, but we never discussed how to accept it, how to express it, or how to unleash it in a healthy and therapeutic way. My step father hated that I was in therapy. He hated the fact that I was somewhere talking about feelings and, honestly, talking about how much of an asshole he was.

Things did get better, but they were never great. The mental escapism stopped but in many ways it was replaced with other things: religion and sex, primarily. I became Mormon, I became catholic, I surfed around the churches, and then eventually I started sleeping with my boss at the time. She was a woman who was 12 years older than me and it filled the hole I felt inside. When I was with her I got to be in touch with that feminine part of me that was left unattended in its prison of shame. We would become one through that physical and emotional connection and it made me feel temporarily whole, but as with all drugs, there were diminishing returns. Eventually it no longer did the trick, so I turned to love to fix me, to make me complete.

The sex with this person I loved felt so different. It wasn’t just a physical act, but a truly emotional one. Again, I felt whole, but it was doomed to fail. She moved away and started to change. She was finally free of her own oppressive home (something that drew us together) and wanted freedom that being with me couldn’t offer, so I broke her heart and ended it. She loved me so completely and so utterly that it devastated her. I didn’t want to do it but I couldn’t feel whole with her so far away. I was half a person again in her absence, and that was unacceptable.

The anger came back after that but as with before, I didn’t know how to express it. I didn’t know how to process it. I turned to other drugs to fill the gaps in my heart. This time it was food, alcohol, drugs, World of Warcraft, helping someone destroy their marriage, stealing, and eventually an abusive relationship with a person who truly needed mental health interventions of her own.

We’ve been over most of this before but the point of this reminiscent entry is to illustrate that my therapist is right about me. I’ve never learned how to be okay with being angry. I’ve never learned how to just accept and process my anger. I’ve never found ways to express it in a healthy or therapeutic way. I’ve always just tried to bury it under other things, to try to “do something” that makes it go away. I’ve never faced all the anger that’s been accumulating over the years as I’ve been abandoned, neglected, mocked, ridiculed, shamed, bullied, emotionally abused, sexually abused, lied to, led on, used, and even betrayed by those I’ve loved and cared about.

Now, I have no recourse for the anger I feel. Now I have no escapism. No drugs, no sex, no anything to take away the pain and rage I feel about how the person I loved and cared about more than anyone I’ve ever known betrayed me and left me broken apart. I am at the end of my rope, so to speak, when it comes to running from my anger. My therapist helped me to see that. It’s time for Emma to be angry, truly, powerfully, deeply angry without trying to run from it, without trying to fix it, and without trying to make it better through some external solution.

I must just sit with my righteous indignation about the way I have been treated and accept it for what it is. I deserved better than I got. I deserved more than what I was given. I deserved to be treated with the same love and respect and kindness that I showed her, and all of the others over the years that hurt me, and the fact that I was not returned the favor makes me angry. So very angry, and rightfully so. I refuse to be taken advantage of again. I refuse to be mistreated and disrespected by those I love and care about. I’m done being nice for no reason. I’m done being kind to those who mistreat me. I’m done forgiving selfishness when it’s at my expense.

I wasn’t allowed to be angry growing up and so I developed the habit of not allowing myself the privilege or prerogative to be fucking pissed off and to act from that place of power (vs. disempowerment or escapism). People don’t like you when you are mad. They would much rather you remain defeated and broken. My ex-wife would so much rather just live her life without the guilt of what she’s done. She doesn’t want to feel guilty because of her actions. That would be inconvenient for her and so she expects me to just figure out how to not be angry at her, as if it’s my fault that I’m mad at her.

Well, she’s wrong, because it’s not my fault. I’m not taking the blame this time. I’m not the reason I’m here. This didn’t happen to me because I did something wrong like I’ve convinced myself of so many times before. I always owned my own mistreatment as if it were a reflection of my self-worth. I always just assumed that I was mistreated because I deserved to be. Even with this situation I’ve done the same thing.

I’m here because of my Karma, I said. I’m here because I helped ruin someone’s marriage, I said. I’m here because I broke that poor girl’s heart so fully that she spent years hating the very thought of me, I said. I have secretly thought for the past 6 weeks that I’m here because I was selfish enough to transition genders and to think about my own happiness before everyone else’s. I always try to make it my fault, but this time it isn’t my fault. My mistreatment isn’t my fault, and it never really was. I did nothing to deserve this pain or any of the pain before. I did nothing to deserve this situation or any of the others before this one.

I was a victim, and I’m not saying that for the sake of pity. I don’t want your pity. This isn’t a “poor Emma” entry. I’m saying that because there is power in acknowledging that I have been wronged. There is power in recognizing that my anger is a messenger that’s trying to tell me something very important: I deserve better and I should accept nothing less than what I deserve.

I am a good person. I am a kind person. I am a caring person. I am a loving person. I am a giving person. I spend my time bettering the lives of others. I uplift, I encourage, I support, and I give compassion. I’m intelligent. I’m accomplished. I’m gifted in many ways. I’m beautiful. I’m sexy. I’m courageous. I’m brave, and I deserve to be recognized for all of these qualities. I deserve to be treated with the respect because I am worthy of it, not simply because of my many excellent qualities, but because I’m a human being.

I am not responsible for my mistreatment. I did not make my father leave and then hardly ever be there. I did not make my mother dismissive and controlling. I did not make my step-father shame and humiliate me. I did not make my abusive girlfriend say and do the things she did. And I certainly did not make my ex-wife cheat on me.

These things didn’t happen to me because I deserved them or because they were my fault. These things do not reflect my self-worth. I am not the shameful child who must have been bad because their father left them. I am not the shameful child that must be punished for feeling too much. I am not the shameful child who deserves to be sexually abused by someone I trusted. I am not the shamefully effeminate teenager that deserved a petty, cruel, unbalanced, and shaming step father who was more important to my mother than I was. I was not the unworthy partner who deserved to be abused, tormented, broken down, and emotionally wrecked by an unstable, manipulative, and controlling girlfriend. I am not the shameful freak of nature that doesn’t deserve love or kindness or affection because their wife left them to be with cisgender men.

My struggles in the dating realm are not because I am this in-between gender/sex that no one would want. My struggles are because I have not yet found someone who deserves me, and I have not permitted myself the room to be as angry as I ought to be about where I am at in life. No one out there is going to make this anger go away, even if they somehow made me feel love or excitement again. Dating will not solve this problem. The only thing that will make this situation better is to go through it, to accept it, and to embrace it. I am pissed off at the world, and I have a right to be. It’s been a long time coming and I’ve had enough of this maltreatment bullshit. I’ve gotten the raw end of the deal for the last like 27 years, and I’m done playing this self-blame game.

I’m taking my life back and my power back. I will be no one’s doormat. If they don’t see what I have to offer then they aren’t worth my time. I’m done accepting hurtful, imperfect, exploitative situations because the alternative is being alone. I’d rather be alone because at least I know how to treat me the way I deserve. My anger is my teacher, and it’s giving me very important lessons:

 

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.” –Rumi

 

-Emma

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

12-8-2015 Entry: Trans* Dating Rejection

Hello my lovely readers. I come to you tonight filled with discouragement. Something happened to me last night that I knew would eventually happen, and almost always happens to trans* people when they begin dating after their transition, but I guess I wasn’t as prepared for it as I thought I was. I thought that I had defended myself against it. I thought that my open approach to dating, whereby I disclose right from the beginning that I was non-binary and that I was both male and female would prevent this from happening, but I was wrong.

Perhaps I should have known better, and perhaps this is the consequence of not using a label that doesn’t entirely suit me or my needs, but would give a greater indication to a would-be suitor of my situation.

You see, my darling friends, last night I was rejected simply because I was assigned male at birth. Now, on the surface that doesn’t seem all that shocking or unexpected. Who among the cis population actually considers trans* individuals as viable partners, sexual or otherwise? I would probably guess that very few do. Most, however, are not only not interested, but can sometimes be completely grossed out by it. I’m a girl with a penis. That’s the stuff of the crude channels on pornhub that people don’t typically frequent unless they are in the mood for something totally out there.

I honestly expect to be rejected by approximately 98% of females simply because I am transgender. I expect to be rejected by approximately 98% of lesbian women because I don’t have a vagina. In my mind, the only demographic of individuals I really have much of a shot with are those who fall outside of the straight/gay/cis binary. I’m talking about the bisexuals, the queers, the heteroflexible/homoflexible, the sapiosexuals, the pansexuals, the transwomen, and the transmen (I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting, but you get the idea).

Whether that perception is true because of my experiences or my experiences have occurred because of that perception is unclear, but that perception has matched my experiences thus far in the dating/sexuality world. The only people who honestly give me the time of day are those that fit into those categories. I have been given a handful of phone numbers from OKCupid matches and all of them have been queer, bisexual, pansexual or transgender. Cis lesbians? Nada. I’m lucky to even get a response from a damn cis lesbian, let alone have a connection followed by a phone number.

If I’d been rejected by a lesbian who figured out that I was a pre-op transwoman (aka a person with a penis), then I could have seen that coming. I mean, lesbians, with rare exceptions tend to prefer pussy. It’s just that simple. No pussy? No dating. And who could blame them? What lesbian wants to fuck, for all intents and purposes, an anatomical male when they can get an anatomical female?
My profile on OKCupid even specifies that if they are a lesbian, they had better be pretty open minded because while I may appear female, and may be mostly female on the inside if we must place me on a binary, I’m still very much a male in a lot of ways; physically being one of those ways. Sure, I have breasts, but they are barely noticeable most of the time. Sometimes they appear more significant than others, but they could easily be mistaken as a strange fat distribution on a guy much of the time.

So, were I to be rejected by a lesbian, I wouldn’t be surprised. If anything, they would reject me far before any sort of emotional investment had occurred so it wouldn’t even be that bad. They would likely not even message me, but that’s not who I was rejected by. No, my darlings, I was rejected by perhaps one of the safest bets (at least in my mind) that I could think of. I was rejected by a person who identified as (in this order, no less): Non-binary, genderqueer, and pansexual. Yep, that’s right, someone who is attracted to people with no regard to gender, who was outside of the binary themselves, and who seemed to reject the notion that gender was even an important thing at all… rejected me because I was assigned male at birth.

Allow that to sink in for a moment… no, it’s okay… take your time, because it took me awhile to process it too.

I mean, what in the fuck? What the fucking fuck? Can you even really, truly identify as pansexual:

not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity

If you are going to reject someone because of their biological sex and gender identity???
Okay, I know, I can almost hear some of you out there saying, “But Emma, they have the right to say no to you, even if you don’t think they should.” And you would, of course, be right, except you don’t know the whole story.

Again, if this person had rejected me right away by ignoring my messages or by telling me they weren’t interested right away, I wouldn’t be writing this entry right now. I wouldn’t be sitting here, drinking alone, feeling sorry for myself and having flashbacks to the rejection I felt from my wife who just left me (in no small part because of my sex/gender). I wouldn’t be thrown back into the dark realm of divorce trauma, feeling discouraged and miserable.

No, instead, I am here, sitting in that place of malcontent (which has been with me pretty much ever since this happened) because they did the rejection far later in our interaction. So, this is how it went down. They found me on OKC. They visited my profile. They “liked” my profile (for those unfamiliar, this isn’t something you do all that often, it’s sort of the equivalent of a wink on a comparable dating site that expresses your interest in the other person). I got a notification, so I went to go look at their profile.

I really liked what I saw. Their description about themselves and their interests were very promising. Our match percentage was close to 90%, which is well above my typical minimum for even considering a person. Their pictures were great and they were totally beautiful, at least to me. Their identification of non-binary, genderqueer, and pansexual seemed amazingly promising. They were also in a polyamorous relationship with their spouse and were looking for a secondary partner to befriend and have an ongoing sexual relationship with. Their astrological sign was Pisces.

All of these things combined were really promising to me, especially because they had liked me first. They had the potential to understand me on so many levels by being non-binary/genderqueer themselves. They had such potential to be completely okay with my situation because they were pansexual, so my gender/sex wouldn’t be an issue. They were looking for almost exactly the same level of relationship commitment that I was (aka, ongoing and emotional, but not exclusive or committed). The only piece of this situation that gave me pause was the fact that they were a Pisces. My ex was a Pisces, and I kind of made an unspoken rule to myself that I wasn’t going to date another Pisces.

Why I made that rule, I cannot say, but it just felt too raw still to delve right back into the chaotic and emotional realm of Pisces. My ex had shown me just how truly sudden, jarring and painful the Piscean escapism could be. She fucking took off, like practically overnight. I wasn’t about to put myself at that kind of risk again (and I was fucking right to have made my rule, as you will see). I decided, against my better judgment to say fuck it, why not try it? This person wasn’t going to be my wife, so what was the risk, really?

I decided to message them first and basically told them that they were fascinating because they too were non-binary, and that they were very attractive. I explained that we seemed to be looking for the same level of commitment and that I wanted to talk with them if they felt so inclined, which I figured they would as they had “liked” me first. I was right about my hunch. They responded and were very flattered by my kind words (I wrote more than I just told you, but it’s not important) and how forward I was about my desire to talk with them. They replied that they were also very interested and after a few messages, we decided to take our conversation to texting.

I gave them my number and they texted me within a few minutes. This was promising. They were not fucking around and I appreciated that. My other polyamorous romantic interest is so busy that it has been somewhat slow going. This person didn’t seem interested in delaying getting to know me. We texted one another for quite awhile and the nature of the messages were slowly escalating in their level of flirtation. I was excited because it was almost like instant gratification, which is often very exciting, especially when it happens so infrequently. All of my experiences thus far with online dating have been an exercise in patience. The number of messages back and forth can get to be a bit exhausting, especially when they often lead to nothing at all.

This person, was anything but that. They were so interested and flirty. It was wonderful. I felt so flattered and excited. Now I had two polyamorous pansexuals who wanted me. Maybe things aren’t so bad after all… wrong!

The conversation was escalating so quickly and in such a positive direction that I was easily starting to see how this person and I would be meeting (and possibly sleeping together) in no time at all. They had no interest in delaying things because they thought I was dead sexy, and not in the Fat Bastard from Austin Powers kind of way. They wanted to go from texting to talking on the phone with me, which was almost a first, really.  Because of this quick escalation in how flirtatious, fun and personal the conversation was going, I decided that I had better make sure they knew that I was not just non-binary, but that I was a pre-op non-binary transwoman.

/queue the tires-coming-to-a-screeching-halt sound effect.

That’s when it all fell apart. “Um um, I’m so sorry” they began as they quickly backpedaled from our escalating flirtation. They told me that they didn’t care about me being a male assigned at birth, but their husband felt uncomfortable with them sleeping with people like me.

I just couldn’t believe it. This person who was so hot for me a few moments ago, who told me that they were so attracted to and turned on by queer/non-binary people that they wanted to talk to me on the phone now didn’t want anything to do with me? I don’t know if they were telling the truth or if it was just a convenient lie to cover up how fucked up their own actions were, but I’m guessing the husband bit was more of an excuse than an actual reason.

Regardless, I was rejected by yet another goddamn Pisces because of my gender/sex combination, and it hurt. It fucking hurt and it still does. Most of this pain really isn’t their fault, it’s my ex’s fault for her decision to fucking destroy our marriage in the way she did, but that doesn’t change the fact that this really sucked.

I did my best to dust myself off gracefully in front of this person who’d just gone from red hot to ice cold, and said that it was probably best that we’d figured out it would be a problem now before things had gotten too much further. They apologized again and said that if their husband wasn’t uncomfortable they would totally be interested, but they had to respect their husband’s comfort. I told them that of course his comfort had to come before mine, and they thanked me for being understanding.

And that’s more or less how it ended. There was some discussion about how they hadn’t been able to tell from my photos that I was a male assigned at birth, which slightly softened the blow, but I left the interaction feeling worthless and disheartened. All the pain I’ve been trying to recover from and work through from my divorce all came flooding back so vividly. It was like I was experiencing it all over again. The rejection, the sorrow, the feelings of non-existent self-worth, and the belief that I will forever be alone because who would ever want someone like me, all came rushing back.
Like my ex, this person had gone from being there for me and wanting to be with me one minute to not wanting to be with me at all and fleeing as quickly as possible the next. The worst part was that of all the people who should have been okay with the fact that I was a transwoman, this was the ideal candidate. If even my ideal candidate can let me down so horribly and so suddenly, then what hope is there for me with anyone else?

This is why I’m sitting alone on my couch, listening to the clock on the wall tick the seconds away while I drown my sorrows in a glass of gin. This is why I have cried no less than six times today already, and why I feel so totally alone. The last 24 hours have been the first time I’ve honestly considered suicide in a few weeks, and I’m not sure I’ve made up my mind about whether or not I’m going to do anything about those suicidal urges.

I keep thinking that I don’t want to live anymore. I keep telling myself I don’t want to go through this pain anymore. I don’t want to be rejected for who I am when it’s the only thing that’s ever made me even remotely happy. Yesterday afternoon I was on top of the world because I felt so at home in my body, and I felt so happy with my reflection. I was so happy with the way I looked in my cute outfit and the way I sounded as I did voice exercises in the car. I felt so happy to be the person I was and not 12 hours later I lay in my bed, crying myself to sleep because I had been so fundamentally rejected again because of this person I was.

I feel so broken. So shattered to pieces. I should be happy, I should feel accomplished and amazing. I was asked to consider sitting on the Twin Cities Pride board of directors this morning. I was offered the opportunity to do a second interview for a job I really want. I finished one of my two graduate classes which I will likely get an A in. I have so many lovely friends and such wonderful opportunities coming my way and yet all I can do is sit alone on my couch with tears dripping down my cheeks because I feel so brokenhearted and worthless.

I miss my wife. I miss seeing her and talking to her. I miss lying next to her in bed. I miss kissing her goodbye in the morning and telling her I love her. I miss the way she used to look at me with the love that was so obvious in her eyes. I miss the way she used to just say my name for no real reason except that she liked to say it. I miss the weird faces she would make at me when she was feeling peculiar or wanted my attention. I miss knowing that she would always be there for me because she promised to love me and be with me forever.

People want you to get over a divorce so much faster than is even really possible. I’m sure some of you right now are out there thinking that I shouldn’t still be sad about how she left me, but I can’t help myself. I have fought the urge to text her or call her every day for the past week. I have wanted nothing more than to see her face again, to reach out to her for comfort or love, especially now after this rejection, but there is none to be had. She doesn’t love me or wish to comfort me anymore. She’s just somebody that I used to know…

I don’t even know what to do with myself right now. I just want to crawl into a dark hole and just stay there for a while. The thought of dating is just excruciating right now. Oh, and as I was just reviewing this entry for errors, I got a message from another person on OKC that I’d been chatting with and kind of hitting it off with. She basically just shut me down and said she wasn’t interested. When it rains it fucking pours, doesn’t it? Fuck it, I’m going to bed now. Hopefully tomorrow will be better than today and I’ll have something fun or exciting to write about instead of something miserable, disappointing, and heartbreaking.

-Emma