Hello my lovelies. I know the entries have been rather sparse lately and there is sadly good reason for that. The first of these reasons, which isn’t so sad, is that I was nearing the end of my second semester of graduate school and had a lot of papers to write and presentations to give. I’m happy to report that I did well on those papers and presentations and that my near 4.0 GPA will be maintained, despite a rather rocky and half-assed semester, which leads me to the second reason. I have not been writing as often because I have been struggling quite a bit recently with depression and alcohol consumption.
Yes, my darlings, despite all of my efforts to not drink and to swear off booze entirely for the foreseeable future I relapsed, and more than once, and definitely in very bad ways. I’m not sure I want to get into the gruesome details but suffice it to say I have discovered that I no longer had control over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable because of that lack of control. You see, I was using alcohol to bury something I didn’t want to deal with. I was consuming ever increasing dosages of this coping mechanism so I wouldn’t have to feel this thing that has been growing inside of me. I was using alcohol as an escape from the reality I didn’t want to face.
To put it simply, I was drinking myself silly again and again because I didn’t want to feel the regret I had about my decision to transition. I know I’ve hinted at it a few times because I’ve known it was there all along but it wasn’t until I found a way to truly give up drinking that I was forced to actually deal with it. The fact of the matter is that there is a not so insubstantial portion of me that regrets doing this. There is a part of me that wonders what the fuck we were thinking when we made the decision to pursue this enormous life change.
Since making this decision our marriage to the woman we loved more than anything in the entire world ended. There is a chance that could have been avoided had we stayed Robert. There is no guarantee of that but the possibility is real. She loved us, even up until the day she broke our heart and had we not pushed her to the brink by becoming a (mostly) woman that love might have been enough for us to work things out.
The depression we experienced after going fulltime, even before the divorce, was some of the worst we have ever felt and the depression we have felt since the divorce has been even more difficult to bear. The divorce was really where this regret we’ve been struggling with actually took root. The seed of regret was planted when the marriage fell apart and we tried to drown that seed with alcohol, but that only made it grow faster. We drank and drank and drank some more. So often we went to our job hung-over from the night of drinking before, and many times that hung-over feeling was the reason we called in sick. This terrible habit definitely played a role in losing our job, which only furthered the depression and intensified the regret we were running from.
The regret grew stronger and as it grew stronger so did the drinking we tried to bury it with. As the weeks went on we drank more and more often with larger quantities every time. We would go to the bar three to four nights a week and the number of drinks we consumed each time multiplied. Our denial said of course drinking four long-island ice teas is a good idea! Of course getting hammered before three o’clock on a Saturday was a stellar plan! When we were that drunk nothing mattered anymore. There was no regret, no shame in having lost our job or of having lost the love we loved the most. When we were that drunk we finally felt numb enough to drown out the agonizing combination of depression and regret. It was easy to run away into the bottle, but as with all destructive coping mechanisms things always catch up to you.
Alcohol is a depressant, as most of us are aware and as we have discussed previously, so the more I drank to avoid my depression, the more I needed to drink to cover up the new depression the drinking was creating. It is a nasty cycle. It is a vicious cycle and it destroys lives. If I hadn’t somehow come to my senses about this cycle and had I not recognized how unmanageable my life had become because of this drinking, then I would have drank myself into oblivion. Either I would have allowed it to destroy everything I had left in my life (my friendships, my enrollment in grad school, my house, my car, my cats) or I would have allowed it to propel me towards that suicide I was so often on the edge of.
Thankfully I reached out for help and thankfully there were amazing people in my life who cared enough to help me out of this cycle of destruction I was in. The only “bad” thing about that help is the fact that I now must sit in complete sobriety (no drinking or drugs) with no distractions (i.e. dating) and truly face this regret that I have been running from.
I chose to make this new life for myself. I chose to risk everything I had to live a life more true to who I was. I chose, as my therapist put it today, to live as Emma instead of dying as Robert (via suicide) because I wasn’t ready to die. I chose this path and in many ways it has led to the destruction of the life I once had. I cannot go back. I burned the bridge behind me and there is no way to go back to what once was. I cannot go back to living as Robert. I cannot go back to being married to my ex-wife. I cannot undo what has been done and sometimes I really wish I could. I chose to embark on this journey because I thought I’d have my best friend at my side and the stability of my career to keep me afloat. I wasn’t ready to make this trek alone, let alone to do so with diminishing resources at my disposal.
When I am alone, afraid, and unsure of what my next move needs to be to get me to where I am going, I regret having started this journey. In those quiet moments when there are no distractions and I am left alone with nothing but my thoughts I feel the pain of the knowledge that I put myself here. I did this to myself. I did this. No one else. There is no one else to blame for my current situation, just me.
True self-reflection like that is a heavy burden to bear. To know that your own choices have left you alone, scared, and without direction in the dark is no easy thing to endure. Self-pity comes easy in those moments and the desire to drink in order to escape can be nearly overpowering. The thought of getting up and moving forward by nothing but your own faith that you are heading in the right direction is not an appealing one, but you have no real alternative. You either flounder in self-pity until it kills you, or you surrender to those higher powers in the hope that they will guide you through the darkness that has beset you.
You ask for the serenity to accept the things you cannot change. I cannot change the fact that I am divorced from the woman I loved. I cannot change the fact that I lost my job. I cannot change that I am currently alone and may be for a very long time. I cannot change that I do not know what lies ahead of me or that I can’t predict where this path is going to go. I cannot change that I made the decision to transition and I cannot change the consequences that have already happened because of that decision.
You ask for the strength to change the things that you can. I can change the fact that I am unemployed by searching harder for work. I can concentrate more on my studies instead of less important things. I can find ways to enjoy my own company instead of needing to date. I can stop drinking myself into oblivion. I can face the reality of my situation with a sober perspective and figure out how to fix it. I can overcome my regret by building a life so good that it’s beyond regret. I can make amends to my ex-wife so that we are no longer estranged from one another. I can be a better person than I have been and put myself back together. I can put self-pity on the shelf to serve as a reminder that it doesn’t do me any good. I can make the best of my circumstances by appreciating all the good things I still have and all the good things that came because of my decision to transition.
And lastly you ask for the wisdom to know the difference between what you can change and what you cannot change.
I can’t change that I promised you all that I’d write about the poly play party in my last entry, but I can apologize that it will have to wait. The past 8 days of total sobriety (the longest I’ve had in longer than I can recall) have been too somber for me to feel up to writing about the play party. I daresay they have been rather sobering in ways that go beyond simply giving up alcohol or drugs. I have been living through a painful as hell reality check, and I needed time to figure things out. I think I’m past the worst of it but only time will tell.
Well, my darlings, I’m going to bring this relatively short entry to a close with one final thought. My transition has been a mixture of amazingly wonderful things and some of the hardest, worst things I’ve ever gone through. If I could actually go back, if that choice was actually possible and there would be no negative consequences to going back to living as Robert, I would not, even for one second, consider doing it. I would never give up being Emma to go back to that life. I miss my former wife and I miss the financial stability my job provided for me, but they pale in comparison to the amazing things I’ve gotten to experience because of my transition. Regrets be damned, we are Emma the transfem extraordinaire and our life is only just beginning. There is much we have left to do.