Tuesday, October 4, 2016

10-4-2016 Entry: Sometimes the Only Way Forward is to Go Back to the Beginning

Sometimes the best way to figure out how to proceed is to go back to the beginning to remember why you started in the first place. Two years ago when I began this journey of self-discovery I had so many questions and fears buzzing around my head. Last night I started rereading the first entries I ever published on here and I was struck by how uncertain everything felt back then. It was almost difficult to read the words, not simply because they reminded me of a time that was much darker than now but because they were written by a different person. That person who wrote those words in October of 2014 isn’t me. I’m not him anymore. That can be evidenced enough by the quality of the writing, let alone the mindset and mentality.

Even still, I couldn’t help but be brought back to that place once again. I remember typing the words. I remember the emotions that were behind them. I remember how frightened I was and how excited I was. What I was doing, or going to do, felt like madness at the time. To walk away from everything that I was and begin anew in a life I could hardly conceive of, let alone predict, was to take an insanity pill with the hope that everything would turn out well. I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea where I was even going to start, and yet the surety of my decision to do it was beyond question. I knew that I was going to do it. I knew that I had to do it, and there were times where it even felt like I was meant to do it. There were moments when it felt like providence or destiny that I’d arrived at that point in my life. I think that feeling has gotten lost in recent months.

I wrote in my previous entry that I wasn’t sure if there was any more story left to tell, and I wasn’t lying about my uncertainty. I was really beginning to think that the end was finally here. No more trans-advent, no more blogging about gender or sex or dating or the queer side of life, no more writing, even. I went into writing that entry feeling somewhat lost and alone, unsure if there was anything left to give to this endeavor. It didn’t feel like I was meant  to do this anymore, even though there was nothing else to take its place. In my life there has always been that next thing, the next step in the road to where I am going and it always felt like it was meant to be there for me, but not this time. This time there was no next step, almost as if the road itself had run out and I was left to face a dead-end.

A dead-end. It’s really the perfect description for how I was feeling when I wrote that entry. I was at a dead-end and it was time to collect our bags because the ride was over, except we hadn’t arrived anywhere. This dead-end wasn’t a cul-de-sac where our forever home resided, you know that place you settle down and make your own until your final days. No, this dead-end was in the middle of a field with nothing around for miles and miles. It was like the road ended and there was nothing but grass ahead. Sure the breeze was nice, the sky was blue, and the clouds moved across the horizon slowly and peacefully. It was a pleasant enough place but it didn’t feel right. How could our journey of two years bring us to this place? Where did we go wrong, for surely we did because this was not where we intended to arrive when we set off. I didn’t start this blog to have it fade off into obscurity as I slowly lost interest in the one passion I’ve held my entire life (writing), but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where I went wrong.

That’s when I decided to go back to the beginning. I remembered that it was roughly two years ago that I first had the dream that started all of this and I realized that it had been ages since I’d read any of those first entries. I’ve read the first entry dozens of times as it is still my most visited entry by incoming readers, but the entries that followed after it haven’t been read by me since… well since they were first written. Sure I read them over once or twice to check for grammatical errors (a few of which I still missed), but after they were posted I pretty much never went back to read them. At the time they were more cathartic in nature than entertaining or critical/political, so it didn’t seem necessary to read them often. Back then I hardly had any readers at all, so they were almost exclusively written for myself and my own purposes. I knew that I wanted to document my transition, I knew that I wanted to keep a written record of my thoughts and feelings as I went through the process, but I was always so concerned with the here and now that looking back didn’t seem necessary. Even to my (at the time) potential readers the primary effort was to document the current updates more than reference previous experiences.

Thus, as I sat in the grassy field of my dead-end conclusion about this blog wondering where I went wrong, it seemed a logical place to begin. Surely, if I could retrace my steps then I could figure out where that wrong turn was and how to best get back on track, and so I did. It only took about three entries before I realized that the answer to my question would come to me in the most unexpected of ways. You see, as I read my words, as foreign as they might have felt, I realized that the grass I was sitting in wasn’t a dead-end at all. It was a rest stop of sorts. It also wasn’t the result of a wrong turn or some failure on my part to realize the goal of my blog. It wasn’t me giving up on my dreams of being a writer and it wasn’t me handing in my resignation to all of you lovely people out there who so graciously read my words week after week. I was meant to reach this rest-stop, and the only reason it felt like there were no next logical steps in front of me was because the next logical step was behind me.

You see, I didn’t need to retrace my steps along this journey to figure out where I went wrong, I needed to retrace the steps of this journey because to do so was taking the next step. Yes, my transition is over, for all intents and purposes. Yes, I go about my day living as Emma, hardly thinking at all about the fact that I’m transgender or that I ever once was Robert. Yes, I have realized the majority of my HRT results and anything beyond what I’ve achieved thus far will be slight changes to the better compared to the enormous changes that have already occurred over the last 19 months. And Yes, my transition story, in many ways, has come to an end. True, I don’t know what’s around the next corner, but whatever it is will simply be my life story, not my transition story. If I fall in love, if I find an amazing job, if I win an award, if I finish my next novel, if I make new friends, or even if everything turns to shit, those will be part of Emma’s story, not our transition story.

What this blog will become, however, is a place where reflection brings about a wealth of new understanding, ideas, emotions, and experiences. I don’t have any further to travel on this transition timeline, which is why I was sitting in a grassy field scratching my head. What I must do is go back to the beginning and take the lens of today, of this current state of being and state of mind, with all of my experiences and gained knowledge, and reflect the light of truth upon the fears, confusions, and questions of yesterday.

Robert, like so many others out there considering or just beginning transition, had so many questions, fears, and confusions that, at the time, went unanswered. It is time for us to now answer those questions, to address those fears, and clear up those confusions. We thought we’d reached the end because we didn’t have anything left to record of our transition. Our experiment, so to speak, of transitioning from living as a male to living as a female had reached its completion and our notebook was filled to the brim with our observations and the data we collected, but we forgot that the work wasn’t done. The study hasn’t ended, even though the experiment has run its course.

You see, we were so busy recording our experiences and entering the data from this experiment into our log, we didn’t really have time to actually review any of it. If you don’t review the data you collect you cannot draw any conclusions, and without any conclusions then there is nothing to provide to the next generation of explorers/researchers. The time has come to review the data collected, analyze it, and draw conclusions… and that is what Trans-advent must become for now, if it is to survive. It’s time to go back to the beginning and see what treasures were left behind.

I will not begin this endeavor with gusto in this entry, because I fear it would diminish the purpose of this entry, but I will reveal something from even before the first entry of the blog. The first entry of the blog was entitled, “And you will know the truth, and that truth will set you free,” so let me give you all a bit of the truth that has never been shared on this blog. In that entry I talked about having a dream and all throughout this blog I have made reference to that dream. I have only ever given minimal description of what that dream actually was because I didn’t believe it was necessary to divulge all the details. If anything, I feared that to do so would somehow cause people to doubt the resolve I felt about my transition, but as I am safely well beyond reproach on that desire, having legally changed my name and gender and all, I believe it is okay to reveal the details. If I’m honest, I think that it is now necessary to reveal the details of the dream so that you can understand how very little there was to prompt me to make this enormous life change.

I went to sleep in my king size bed with my wife at my side and before I knew it I was lost in the world of dreams. I remember walking along, somewhere outside, with a group of my friends. We were looking for something but I wasn’t sure what. We ended up at this old abandoned warehouse and as we walked through the hollowed and rusted out innards of the building we were set upon by a group of people wearing black combat fatigues, helmets, and armor. They popped out from behind us, from in front of us, repelled down from above us and were all armed with machine guns. Their faces were hidden by their helmets and masks. They told us that we were now going to be their prisoners forever and as it happened the warehouse we were in was actually a secret prison. They began to escort us, rather rudely, to what were going to be our cells, and as we went further into the decrepit building I began to see other people locked in prison cells miserable and unhappy. I began to panic about being imprisoned in this place and started to look for a way out. Somehow I was able to slip away from the group without the guards noticing and I ran down a nearby hallway. I made it halfway down the hallway when a guard came around the corner at the far and halted me, gun in my face, asking me where I was going.

I didn’t really know how to explain myself so I came up with the first thing that popped in my head and told him that I was trying to find the bathroom. Somehow, to my great relief, the guard bought my flimsy story and said that the bathroom was right through the door next to him. I laughed nervously, wishing it hadn’t been so close so I could figure out a way to escape again, and said thanks. I went into the bathroom while the guard stood at the door, barring my escape. I went into the first stall and closed it. I went to pull down my pants to go to the bathroom and to my shock and unfathomable relief, I had a vagina.

Suddenly (because dreams are weird) the bathroom turned into a sort of medical exam room and I proceeded to further strip my clothes off to discover that I was in a completely female body. I was so happy, and as I looked at my newfound body I was surrounded by this odd sort of light and I said (or felt because, again, dreams are weird), “Finally, I’m home.”

And then I woke up to realize it was only a dream, and my heart broke into a million pieces. I’d finally been in the right body and it had been torn away from me, leaving me in this horrible male body I despised. I remember getting in the shower, crestfallen, and standing under the water just looking down at myself wishing I could go back to that dream body. It had felt so real and the relief had been beyond comprehension. I finally got to be me and there was no way to forget how that felt. And that’s it. That dream was what started all of this off. It was an odd dream, I’ll admit, and at the time I didn’t think much of the symbolism in it, but it was the dream I needed to have.

You see, the group of friends I was with was vague and there were no specific faces in it. It was simply a group of my peers and when things got to a point in the dream where I was afraid I would forever be in the same place as them, I knew I needed to get out and find my own way. I think it no coincidence that I was being threatened by unknown and oppressive forces with permanent imprisonment in a decrepit and decaying building. I was facing the rest of my adult life imprisoned in a body and a societally constructed and policed gender identity I hated, and one that was decaying more and more each day. I was so depressed and I was so done being Robert. I was on the verge of faltering under the pressure of that forced life and was getting close to suicide. I think that decaying building was my decaying sense of self as Robert. I think the men in strike gear symbolized the powers of society and family expectations that wouldn’t permit me to be what I wanted. I think I had to break away from my friends because none of them could help me escape, they were too resigned to accepting their predetermined fates. I think the reason the bathroom turned into a medical exam room was because I knew unconsciously that I needed HRT (and possibly SRS) to help me to achieve the body I needed in order to feel at home.

That dream, related to just anyone, would be anything but a smoking gun for someone being transgender, but for me it was enough. Maybe for you it is something more concrete or maybe it’s not even that concrete, but the point is, we all have that breaking point where we tell the fear to go to hell because it’s time to soar. For me it was the threat of forever having to live as a man, imprisoned in a body and gender identity that was decaying and ready to falter; and it took a dream for me to be able to finally realize what I’d been running away from most of my life.

And that is where my transition began, and where the next stage in the evolution of trans-advent shall begin as well. I always vowed to write a memoir about my transition, so perhaps this is going to be first chapter. There will be more to come because there is much that has not yet been reviewed and analyzed. I hope you’ll come along as I begin this new stage of my writing. I am hopeful for the future now because I think that I’m meant to do this.

As always, stay fabulous.


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