Thursday, May 26, 2016

5-27-2016 Entry: New and Wonderful Things are Happening

Hello my darlings. I have a lot of good news for you all! I guess the benefit to not writing as often is that when I do write I have opportunity to share a larger number of good things that have changed since I last checked in. To put it simply, sobriety seems to suit me. I know that is no great revelation but since I’ve made the decision to live a sober life my circumstances have only gotten better and better.

Sure, there have been many opportunities to break my sobriety and plenty of reasons to accompany them, but not having done that has led me towards the things I’ve been searching for for quite some time. The first of these things has been a job, which was really just the tip of the iceberg of my desire to switch career paths. As many of you have known for quite some time now, I am going to school to become a therapist. Since I last checked in with you I have also made the decision to pursue an additional specialization in addictions studies. When I complete my schooling I will not only be on my way to becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist, but I will also be a licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor. With that being said my previous work in the legal field was hardly preparing me for the rewarding and grueling work in the mental health field, and as such I was rather eager to leave that legal career behind. Ceasing to work at my previous law firm provided an excellent opportunity to make such a switch, but it was an opportunity squandered quite a bit in my struggles.

I’m happy to report that while my previous opportunities to switch career fields were either missed or unsuccessful I have been in the hiring process for a job opportunity that is so good it is very hard to believe it is true. While the paperwork is not final, I am a hop, skip, and a jump away from beginning my mental health career at the PRIDE institute here in Minnesota. For those who do not know what the PRIDE institute is, it is an inpatient treatment facility working with LGBTQ+ individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addictions. I will most likely be working in a dual role as a Chemical Dependency Technician and an Admissions counselor (that may not be the official title). I will basically have various roles working with various parts of the addictions recovery process, including leading groups for the clients to participate in.

I do not know exactly when I will be starting but it could be as early as next week, although probably not until the week afterwards. I cannot express enough of the excitement I feel at this chance to work with the exact population of individuals I’ve been hoping to do therapy with in a specialized field of treatment that I have had a great deal of interest in since my own struggles with alcohol. In many ways this opportunity, which practically fell into my lap, feels almost like a bit of divine intervention. While I do not believe in anything that resembles the Christian god, I do believe that this opportunity was sent to me at the perfect time for me to actually be in a good enough place to receive it. Had I been given this chance a few months ago, I likely would have squandered it or self-sabotaged it in a fit of drunken depression. I do believe, whether you choose to as well or not, that my work on my sobriety is the reason I was given this magnificent opportunity to do exactly the work I want to do in one of the, hands-down, best places to do it.

Imagine if you will, going into a job interview as a transgender individual who is mostly passable as female (whether she accepts the notion that she has to be or not) and not having a single ounce of anxiety that you will be discriminated against, either subtly or overtly because of that gender identity. That is an entirely new experience for me… well sort of. Sure, when I was presenting as a white, straight, cisman I never had to worry about being discriminated against. Since my transition, however, I have had nearly a dozen job interviews of varying sorts. Whether they be in person or over the phone, every one of those interviews has been tinged with an overarching fear that I will be discriminated against because I’m transgender. Even if they do not know it for sure, what happens if my voice drops too low, or I make some movement that betrays my assigned-male-at-birth self? And if I manage to get the job without them realizing I am anything but a cisfemale, what happens when they eventually find out? I don’t exactly hide it. Will they suddenly change their minds? Will their transphobia cause them to do something foolish like fire me or push me out with a hostile work environment?

These are the questions I would normally enter an interview with, but when I met the three lovely women with whom I interviewed today, I didn’t have to worry at all. I even specifically said something to one of them near the beginning that it was an immeasurable relief to know they wouldn’t think less of me for it. I could breathe easy. I could be me, Emma the transfem extraordinaire and not worry that they wouldn’t take me seriously or that they would feel wierded out in some way. In many ways, I was likely given extra credence in my interview because of my background and decision to transition. It was the piece I wrote on transgender bathroom bills that actually got my foot in the door with the HR lady to initiated this process. Who would have known that the piece I wrote and specifically sat on for a week or two until Dara Hoffman-Fox decided to publish it on her website would be the thing that led me to this job? I knew when I wrote that entry that I shouldn’t publish it here. I knew that it was special, not just because of the subject matter, but because it felt like it was meant for bigger things than my blog could accomplish. I thought at first that it would be read a great deal by others looking into the subject, and it was to a degree, but I believe I was prompted by my emotions to take a different route because it was meant to lead me here.

Again, you can choose to believe along with me or think me silly, but this feels like the workings of a power greater than myself. Never in a million years could I have planted the seed of that blog with the expectation that it would bloom into this amazing job opportunity. Something told me to send it to Dara, and something told me to apply to PRIDE despite having failed to get even so much as an email back from the other Tech Positions I’d applied for previously. Countless small decision were made that led me to this place and I refuse to take credit for even half of them. I follow my intuition on things and I’m often delightfully surprised by what results from that.

But the good news doesn’t stop there! No, no! In addition to my new exciting job opportunity I am also pleased to say that I think I’ve met someone. I know, Emma is always meeting someone new, and she is always excited about it in the beginning until it all falls apart and she’s left depressed and alone. While it is true that that could still be the case, my intuition tells me it isn’t.

No my darling friends, I have met a beautiful and amazing person. She is actually quite a bit like me. Like it’s almost spooky how many things we have in common. I cannot recall if I spoke of this much before now but I took a burlesque dancing class this past spring, and while I ultimately struggled too much with body dysphoria to participate in the final performance I ended up meeting a lot of great people, one of which was this person. I met her on the last night of practice for the performance and we chatted for a few minutes. I really enjoyed the short conversation we had and we parted ways thinking nothing of it. Well, the very next day I was on OKCupid surfing around when I came across her profile. I laughed, sent her a message, and decided to give her my phone number. I figured we’d already spoken in person and I knew she wasn’t likely to murder me, so where was the harm in giving her my number and maybe meeting up again?

We did just that. We had a lunch/coffee date that lasted a couple hours. We chatted a lot, found out we had an uncanny number of similarities and interests, and I ran her birth chart. To my astonishment, every single planet of any consequence was in either a sextile position (best friends dynamic) or a trine (kindred spirits dynamic) to my own. I’m sure that might be gibberish to most of you but suffice it to say that this kind of chart matchup is improbable to the point of being nearly impossible. The sheer number mathematical calculations that you’d have to do to predict when something like this might happen again are staggering to consider. I knew then that this would be no ordinary relationship, friend or otherwise.

As I suspected she and I have found that our attraction to one another is rather strong. The craziest piece of all of this is that she, like me, is a transfeminine person. I am not always attracted to transfeminine people or transwomen, and that doesn’t have anything to do with the somewhat confusing aspects of sex with such people. With her, however, I find myself drawn like a cat to an empty box on the ground (and her to me, consequently). We’ve only been on a handful of dates so far but barring any significant departure from our current state of interactions, I suspect she and I will be seeing one another for some time to come. Perhaps not forever as neither of us are going into this thinking about that as a direction we’d like to take, and definitely not exclusively as she is already dating one other person and I am setting up dates with two other people (all of this has been discussed openly in a true ethically non-monogamous fashion). But even still, I get the feeling this relationship, new as it is, will leave a lasting impact on me and my life.

Well, my darlings, I know this post was somewhat short and to the point but it is rather late and I have a lot to do tomorrow beginning rather early. I want to say that I’ve been considering a few things about this blog. I have noticed in my reading of other transgender blogs that there is almost always a point at which the author decides to wind down. They no longer feel the need to write about their transition because their life has normalized in their new gender presentation. I can truly empathize with that position. While I would never claim that my life has normalized (I’d be a pretty bad queer if I proclaimed normativity the ruler of the day, wouldn’t I?), I will say that I have found my life feels more authentic than it ever has before. In about two weeks I will hit one year living fulltime as Emma, I have already changed my name/gender, I’ve been on HRT for going on 15 months (I’ll do a picture entry soon), and I’m more or less “finished” transitioning from male to female (or something like female) with the exception of SRS, so what is there left to really talk about?

Fear not, my lovely readers! I’m not about to tell you that Trans-Advent is at an end. Far from it, actually. What I’m about to tell you is that I’ve been kicking around some ideas of how I could progress further with this blog. I certainly have a lot of things I could talk about as I live a rather eventful life, but I don’t want this to always be about me alone. True, I know I can hold the spotlight well enough, but I don’t want you all to get bored, and more to the point I don’t want to get bored myself. Most of my writing energy has been going towards completing the novel I’ve been working on for quite some time but that doesn’t really help me here. I started with less than 10k words (maybe like 6k? I can’t remember) and now I’m closing in on 40k words, so I’ve been a busy little creative bee, but I’ve been struggling to know what to write here.

I suspect my work with the PRIDE institute will allow me to expand my topics of discussion as that work eventually inspires ideas and commentary, but I don’t want to rely on that alone. I want to bring more content that not only gives you something entertaining or thought provoking to read, but also drives me to actually do the writing itself. Sure, I could keep pounding away at my novel, which is amazingly rewarding to do, but that book won’t be ready for anyone to read for quite some time. Whatever will you do, darling reader? Abandon me and my words for some upstart transgender blogger? Well, you should be reading their work too, but I say NAY!!! The show must go on!

Given the permission of those who would be contributing to the creative process, I’m actually thinking about adding a bit of that fiction writing to this blog. Well, it would be pseudo fiction. My best friend and I have come up with an idea for an amazing sitcom premise about a queer family and all the many dramas and comedies they live out in their day-to-day lives, based loosely on our own lives. It might be a total dud and never go anywhere, but it has captured my interest and I think I’m going to start working on it. It would basically be a periodical pseudo-fiction addition to our regularly scheduled programming of Emma’s very queer life. How would it work exactly? Well, I guess you’ll just have to tune in next time to find out.

Okay, my lovely readers. I bid you farewell and I hope to post that picture entry within the next few days. I have a busy weekend coming up so we will see how soon I can bring it together. Until next time, break the rules, reject the norms, queer it up everywhere you go, and stay fabulous.

With love,

-Emmz

Friday, May 13, 2016

5-13-2016 Entry: Alcoholic Regrets, and the Poly Play Party (finally)

Regrets. When you stop drinking and aren’t able to run away from your life anymore one of the first things you have to do is face your demons and regrets. For those who are familiar with the steps it begins with hitting bottom. I know I’ve covered this some when I first wrote about my choice to forever give up drinking, but there is more to be spoken about it. I know that this blog is intended to be about transgender issues and ideas, and this might seem a bit off topic but alcoholism is actually significantly higher in the LGBTQ community than the average population.

Part of this, I believe, is because many of the few safe places for LGBTQ people are in bars and clubs. There are other spaces, of course, and those other spaces are growing more and more every year, but there is still a very solid foundation in the queer nightlife that may never go away. As a result, many a queer folk have walked the razor’s edge between heavy social drinking and alcoholism. Some of them never face their demons and drink themselves into financial ruin or even suicide. Some of them are able to find a way out of it without the help of others and manage to stave off the inevitable collapse of their life. Some of us, however, must take what some might call an extreme measure to prevent ruin and despair.

I was one of the lucky few who caught my destructive path before it became unbearably awful, but only barely. I managed to hit my bottom before I hit a truly awful bottom. If I hadn’t stopped what I was doing I would have tumbled over the edge and fallen quite a long ways before another “bottom” would have been found. There is discussion for those who are familiar of people like me saving ourselves from years and years of despair and horror, but there is little discussion of what that is like. It is easy to see a person who has lost everything (their job, their spouse, their house, their car, and everyone who loved them) and for us to say what a sad lot that must be. Surely they are alcoholic. It is even easy to see a person who managed to keep things together in a worldly way but to lose themselves entirely in the drink. Sure, they have their job, house, car, and maybe even a very distinguished position in life, yet they drink every hour of everyday. They hide bottles around their house and must drink in the morning lest they find themselves succumbed to the jitters. True, they appear fine on the outside but on the inside there are all but ruined. Surely they are alcoholic.

But what of the high bottom? What of the person who doesn’t meet the wild and reckless benchmarks of those truly possessed and ruined by the drink? What of those who save themselves, while still scarcely alcoholic before they began their deep plunge into the abyss of prolonged alcoholism? So little is known about them. So little is discussed about them. They have started to find their way into the programs of recovery, but their struggle, while just as life-threatening, is hardly examined.

It is for that reason that I feel compelled to talk about this on here. Maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there right now who has begun to wonder why they can’t stop drinking. Maybe they have noticed that they drink because of the depression and poor choices caused by previous drinking, and they have realized the ultimate destruction this cycle might create. Maybe there is someone out there who wants to stop drinking and hasn’t been able to, despite all of their efforts. They vow to give it up and not a week later are at the bar, drink in hand, briefly enjoying the warm fuzzy feeling that precedes the depression and heartache that’s sure to follow. Maybe they’ve just woken up from a night of excessive drinking and realized they’ve done something they would have never done sober and which they truly regret doing. Maybe these people need someone who knows what it is like to struggle with alcohol, yet not live a completely ruined life, to tell their story so they can find the help they need.

As a scarcely alcoholic turned sober, I am forced to face my regrets with the added struggle of not wanting to call myself alcoholic. If I was to keep drinking I would eventually lose my house. I would lose my car. I would probably fail out of school and I might seek out even more dangerous substances to stave off the despair I felt at the ruin of my situation; assuming, of course, I didn’t commit suicide before then, which was a real possibility. But none of those things happened to me and because none of those things happened to me there is a part of me that is reluctant to take on this mantle of alcoholic. When there is a reluctance to take it on, then there is a reluctance to face my regrets. If I’m not this thing then surely I can continue on without reflecting upon my life, right?

Wrong. There is no exception here, even if there are persistent doubts about the direness of my situation. I still must face what I have done and what I have lost because of my drinking, and that list is not short, despite the brevity of my unmanageable habit.

The greatest of my regrets actually pertains to my ex-wife. While our divorce was sudden and her betrayal was devastating, I allowed my drinking to negatively impact things between us. My drinking had only really begun its terrible spiral into the eventually destructive habit it became, but the effect was no less significant. I did things and said things to her I never would have had I not been going out night after night to drink. I tried to escape the reality of the situation in alcohol and in that escape I only found further despair, a despair I blamed her for entirely. She was not blameless in it but much of the blame actually rested upon my own shoulders. I thought I was finding a new life, one with friends at the bar, and while that was true to an extent, I had also found something much worse without realizing it. I thought my horrible depression was because of her entirely, but so much of it was because of the effect of alcohol. They call it drowning your sorrows, but what you are really doing is drowning yourself. The sorrows don’t go away, you just become less and less capable of actually facing them.

Maybe I would have treated her with more compassion. Maybe I would have tried to see how painful it must have been for her. I know the guilt and shame that comes from cheating on someone, and how truly awful that burden can be to see the pain it has caused the person you love, but I refused to see her in that light. I only saw her as a villain, not a person potentially in pain of her own. I only saw her as this heartless creature who threw everything away on a whim instead of a potentially conflicted person who was torn between staying in an impossible situation or breaking the heart of their closest friend by leaving. My drinking prevented that from happening because it prevented me from seeing anything clearly. I was in a fog of rum and whiskey and gin, swinging my fists in the dark at my own shadows. I refused to look at myself in the light because I was afraid of what I’d see. It was so much easier to be the victim than to see things clearly or to face my regrets about transition (as I’ve written about previously).

The next regret that has kept me awake at night and which is the actual inspiration for the first part of this entry is the regret I feel about Rose. For those who do not recall, Rose was the married poly woman I met and dated for a few months. In so many ways she helped me not completely fall into the abyss I was so determined to head towards. She was kind, and caring, and loving. She reminded me that I was worthy of love when I was so convinced I wasn’t. She filled so many of my long unmet needs around affection and words of kindness. She was only ever nice and sweet to me. We never argued and almost never disagreed. We laughed and would talk for hours. She was a good friend and a lover of a peculiar, yet wonderful, sort. She deserved me at my best, and instead she got me at my almost worst and then eventually at my worst.

By all accounts, she should have never dated me simply because I was still so broken from my divorce but she looked beyond that and offered me love instead of running away. I wasn’t ready to be the person she deserved and yet she took me into her caring embrace all the same because she was a truly amazing person. She tried to warn me, in her own way, about my drinking. I believe she saw the path I was on and she did what she could to encourage me away from it while also understanding that I had to make that choice on my own. She never shamed me about it and she never tried to make me feel guilty. All she did was offer kindness and affection.

But I couldn’t or wouldn’t hear her gentle nudges to look at my drinking. I couldn’t or wouldn’t believe that I had any sort of problem or that the path I was on would lead to destruction. Worse still, I couldn’t feel the kindness or affection she offered me because I was drowning myself (not my sorrows) in rum and whiskey and gin. With each drink I took I fell further and further into the abyss that threatened to swallow my entire life, quite literally, and as I tumbled further into the darkness I pulled away from her. I don’t think I realized it at the time but I let go of Rose and ended our relationship because I was afraid I’d pull her in with me. I knew she wouldn’t follow me forever but I didn’t want her to be hurt more and more by me as my belligerence increased. I didn’t love myself and so I couldn’t love anyone else. I could only hurt them, and I did.

The funny thing about trying not to hurt someone is that you almost invariably do. I know that I hurt Rose when I ended things with her somewhat suddenly. I didn’t really explain why I wanted to end things primarily because I didn’t know myself why I wanted to end it. All I knew was that despite all of her efforts I couldn’t feel her affection and kindness, and therefore couldn’t reciprocate it. I was too far-gone at that point to suddenly turn around. I had to hit bottom to realize what was happening and that wouldn’t occur for another two months or so.

In the past 32 days of sobriety I have thought about Rose a great deal and my heart has hurt for what I have lost because of my drinking. We are still civil and friendly to one another, and I suspect there will always be some degree of fondness between us, but I don’t think I will ever have the opportunity to be with her as the Emma she deserved. She deserved me at my best, or at the very least not the drunken, spiraling out of control Emma that she got. She deserved the girlfriend I know I am capable of being, not a hot mess that has no idea where she is going or which way is up, so she’d rather just drink about it than actually figure anything out. She deserved someone who understood her value and actually appreciated it instead of just taking it for granted like I did.

Yes, my darlings, I fucked up. A shocker, I’m sure, that an alcoholic in the making would fuck up a perfectly good relationship for no good reason. I’m sure there is a never ending book written about such fuck ups, and here I am, adding a few pages of my own.

I took the month of April off from dating and while I learned a lot about myself, I also remembered what it felt like to be alone because I ruined something good. I needed to be alone, there was no getting around that. I could never be the Emma that Rose needed until I spent that time in solitude, reflecting upon my life. I needed to get my shit together, or to at least get all of my ducks in the same pond (getting them in a row is a work in progress, unfortunately, but at least they are all in the pond again). I have done that and I am so much better off for having done it. I could be so much better of a girlfriend now than I could have before, but I think that ship has left the harbor, my darlings, because of the way I went about this.

Instead of simply asking for a few weeks to get my shit together, I ended things outright. Instead of finding my stability with her help or support, I was determined to do it alone (like the stubborn fool I am). The price of truly finding my bearings instead of spiraling out of control was sacrificing my relationship with perhaps one of the kindest people I have ever known. I am much closer to the Emma that Rose deserved, and yet because of the way I treated her when I was Emma the drunken wreck, neither of us will likely ever get to see what that is like. She has moved on. Others have come along who do not treat her the way I did, and she is happy with them.

It seems the only thing I can do is try to learn from this experience. The only thing I can do is remember that this is why I should never drink again. I can certainly make mistakes while sober, there is no denying that, but the chances of me sabotaging something good because I feel worthless and unworthy of love is significantly lower when I am not drinking. I have allowed alcohol to create so many problems and regrets in my life that I will be dealing with for years to come, but there are few of them as sad to me as this one.

I recognize that this is yet another entry where I have not discussed the poly play party I went to. I’m not sure I will ever truly write that entry. So much bad has happened since then that I can scarcely recall the details of that event, at least not enough to do the story justice, even as memorable as it was. I do definitely recall going to the party with a very distinct desire to not drink anything at all and only being able to make it maybe two hours before I was drinking gulps of fireball directly from the bottle because I wanted to get hammered. Even then I was convinced I could control my drinking, /sigh.

Perhaps I will try to encapsulate the events of that night in a brief discussion here, if only to lighten the mood from the previous downer stories about alcoholic regrets.

There were probably twenty-five people who came to the party, some coming early and leaving early and others coming late and leaving late (or not at all). The party was at a house and the hosts rented a hot tub for the event. Pretty much from the beginning of the party until the end, there was a great deal of nudity in that hot tub. At first I was rather bashful and kept my clothes on, but as I grew more and more comfortable I decided to say to hell with clothing and took my top off (I kept my bottoms on for most of the party, however). I was complimented several times about how attractive I was and how attractive my breasts were. I’m practically blushing now as I write that, so I can only imagine how much I blushed then.

For most of the party there was mostly innocuous physical contact between me and the several women who were there. Some of it was more flirty than other times, and there was some kissing or groping that happened. There was also some attention thrown in my direction by a few of the men at the party. Most of them I turned away either directly or by very publicly identifying as a lesbian. One of them, however, captured my curiosity and I allowed him to be affectionate with me in somewhat sexual ways (again, nothing overt, at least not at first).

There was definitely a lot of sex that happened at the party and more than a few threesomes that occurred… including the one I participated in, but we will get to that in a moment. I was asked out on a date by one of the women there (the one I most wanted to interact with), to which I said yes, and this woman made a point to tell me (in such a sweet way) that she thought I was really hot as I was. She could tell, I think, that my confidence wasn’t particularly high and I was concerned that no one would be interested in someone like me, so her telling me this was a huge ego boost. Later that night she was in the hot tub with me, the affectionate guy, and another woman I thought was very attractive. Suffice it to say that it was a very affectionate interaction that eventually resulted in the guy asking me out on a date too, which turned into an argument (a playful one) between the girl and the guy about who would get to take me out first.

There I was, mostly nude with three completely nude people, two of whom are arguing over who gets to date me first. I truly had no idea what to do. I have never experienced anything like that before and was so flustered and flattered I didn’t know how to respond. All I could say was we would have to see. Eventually this gathering dispersed and it was time to either decide to go home or stay the night. I was emphatically asked to stay the night, which I agreed to. My bedding options were either sleep on a couch by myself in a room where no one else would be, or sleep on a bed with the affectionate guy and the cute girl I didn’t really know. I was in a dilemma. I knew if I slept in the bed with them the guy would likely want to continue with the affection. I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about it, but I was curious to know. I have some attraction to men but didn’t really know the extent of it, so I wanted to explore that a bit.

I decided to sleep in the bed with them and at first it was me, the guy, and the girl in that order. I was not excited about this. I wanted to be next to the woman either entirely or partially, so I asked if I could sleep in the middle. They said yes, so I moved between them. At first there really wasn’t much going on. We were all rather tired and I thought we might just go to sleep. I was wrong. The touching began innocently enough and eventually I gave permission to go further than I had before. My bottoms came off and before long all three of us were intertwined with hands, mouths, tongues, and naughty bits. I was pretty much the center of attention between these two people and I have to admit… it was awesome. Like fucking amazing (hehe). Like everything I thought a threesome might be like. I couldn’t believe it was happening but I was so excited about it. I had a lot of fun and I learned a lot about my attraction-level to men. I’m kind of eager to go to another play party to see what (sober) trouble I can get into now that I’ve done it once before. I think I will be a lot less reserved than last time.

Okay, there you have it. I dished on the play party, only like a month and a half later, lol. I know you would have enjoyed the extended version with all the many things I cut out, but it’s late and I’m tired. I think there might be another party coming up soonish, so maybe I’ll have more exciting stories to share. For now, though, that’s all she wrote, folks.

With love,


-Emmz