Beginning the journey to rediscovery starts with returning to one’s earliest memories and thinking of the things you loved to do. All those hobbies which ate away the hours and left you feeling content even if there was nothing to show for it.
For me it was drawing, writing poetry or fiction, and reading books. Thinking back though brought back more than this… I remember the countless hours I spent alone, sometimes at home, others in the local park or even riding my bike on back roads surrounded by corn or soybean fields covered by a silence broken only by the wind of my passage rushing through my ears. Hours which often found me imagining life as I dreamed I could be if only God would answer my nightly prayers.
A life with long hair streaming in the summer sun, the flutter of my dress around my ankles and a truly carefree smile curving my lips, a lightness to my heart, knowing this was who I suppose to be.
I spent entire afternoons in the local library searching for information for why I felt what I did, why I saw myself one way when I dreamed. Why I was obsessed with understanding the ways my thoughts were so different, maybe even alien to the ways the other children would talk about themselves, in the ways they conducted themselves alone and in their social groups.
Why I felt like an outsider, always watching but never accepted.
Bittersweet memories indeed.
There have been so many times I have wished I could leave my past behind me, all of the memories and emotions. The faces and whispering memories of disappointment looks and cutting words. All of the lost hopes and dreams. Yet when I pause even for a second I find they are right behind me waiting for a moment of weakness.
The occasional stillness within is proven to be the quiet in the eye of the storm.
Since I have never known anything other than constant doubt, fear, and pain, I cannot say if this is true for anyone else. I simply know it is my reality and trying to rise above it has proven pointless as the darkness arises each time to engulf me.
I bring this up to explain why it seems I cannot push forward to become who or what I could be. Why, as soon as it seems I might find happiness and acceptance of myself it is all ripped away in a cataclysm of pain and self loathing.
It leaves me wondering how I can ever come to terms with being transgender when all I can do is rip myself apart with claws and teeth of my own making. Then again it might not make a difference when I can’t help thinking transitioning won’t make a difference, I’ll be just as broken as I am now.
One of the most dangerous things I have ever encountered has been the feeling, after an extended time of everything seemingly falling apart at the seams, of things suddenly settling down. Awaking one morning free of anxiety and fear. Of the doubts and questions falling silent.
It is a devious thing which leads me to feeling as though I could continue as I have forever.
This is especially true after an extended time of slipping further and further toward an inescapable breakdown. Reaching the point where I could see it, just over the horizon, a building glow of destruction waiting patiently for me.
I have reached this point more times than I care to remember. Some how I have survived them, though I cannot tell you how or why, though each time as left me forever changed.
This time has been in the making for months, years really, and I looked forward to embracing it with open arms.
Because I am not as strong as people seem to think. I am not brave or courageous. I am simply one person who has reached far beyond her breaking point, who’s knotted rope is frayed and in danger of snapping.
Someone who is tired beyond words but knows there are others who depend on me. People to whom I have made promises I can’t bring myself to break.
I know I said all of this countless times before and yet here I am again, still unable to believe in myself, to trust myself. Still listening to the whispers telling me I am wrong and even if I’m not, then following my heart, hoping to find some small measure of happiness, makes me selfish.
So much of my life wasn’t about me. It was about what I could provide to others. Setting aside my own hopes and dreams so someone else wouldn’t feel like the failure she had mede of herself. I know this, yet I cannot break free of the chains she wrapped so tightly around me that I am still bound by them though she has been dead for years.
I have no doubt she wanted me dead and if not then as miserable as she was and I fear, one way or the other, she is going to get her wish.
There was a tension in the air, a low level buzz which set her teeth on edge. It was there every day, each night, filling her nose with each breath, making her chest ache. Disappointment and barely controlled anger hung in the shadowed corners like cobwebs of disillusionment. The walls discolored with layers of lies.
I was thinking of the next step in my current story line: A Girl In Boys Clothes. I needed to remember my room from those days, (aged 10 to 13), when I realized how spartan it was. Just white painted walls, a single window and a calendar on the wall. It was small, my single bed taking almost half of the space. Closing my eyes I can still see it, feel the Summer stuffiness of stagnate, still air, smell the emptiness of my presence there.
There was nothing there of me and not much of “him” either, as if we were just guests passing through.
It’s sad in a way, taking the time to try and sort through your memories and realizing one day you have had almost no impact on the world at all, as if you were nothing but a spirit, a ghost… maybe not even as much as they…
There were no monsters under her bed. They hung, cloaked in dark malice, within the depths of her closet. They slept, with cold intent, in the drawers of the chest beneath her window. Each waiting for the morning light when they would be brought forth and draped across her shivering, goose pimpled skin. Scrapping and itching, mockingly moving in ways she could not completely ignore.
They were not hers, not these things. They were weapons, soulless, cold and unfeeling, just as the people who folded her into their unyielding embrace. She did not fight, cry out or utter a sound for she had learned long ago silence was her only defense against the quick hand. Her heart an impenetrable fortress encased in icy fear laced too deeply with the scars of unforgivable betrayals.
I began this journey long before I new what personal computers or blogs were, before they existed as a fixture of daily life. Before I understood why I was different from the people around me or had the words to explain it even if I had.
I spent many hours in the library looking for anything I could find which might explain even the simplest of things. What made men and women different from the genetic level to the way they saw and interacted with the world. Biology, Psychology, writing, speech, mannerisms… I wanted to know, to understand, to be able to piece together a picture in my mind. One which would match the growing urge I felt to understand why I looked the way I did and why it never felt right. Why couldn’t I stop myself from draping a towel over my head and imagining it was long hair? Why did I try to push things which didn’t belong back inside or tuck them to look as I should? How could clothing feel wrong? A haircut like I was seeing myself lying on the floor, as lifeless as the hair on the cold tile?
Why being around boys made me uneasy at best and fearing for my life at the worst? Should I find their mannerisms crude and threatening? Should I see their games as pointless violence as they tried to prove themselves? There was nothing about them which made sense to me and I had no desire to understand. How many times did I tell myself this was the main reason I avoided them, spending my time reading, losing myself in imaginary worlds or countless hours alone, riding the empty roads which made their way though fields of corn or beans, never seeing another human.
From where I stand now I can see how much I needed the solitude.
I remember the time I spent adjusting my body as much as possible so I could loo in the mirror and see my body the way I saw it in my mind, as female. Looking at myself with a sense of wonder when all the pieces fell into place and I knew without doubt this was the way I wanted to be, how I should be. The feeling of peace which washed over me to be quickly replaced with the raging fear of being caught, of the unspeakable fate which would await me if they knew the truth.
Still I could not stop the questions, the hope, the racing heart, which came with the thought of seeing myself completely as a girl though I do wonder if I really understood what my desires were leading me to.
Then finally giving in to the undeniable urge to see what I would look like dressed in female clothes… This is something i have written about before, the feeling of completeness, looking at myself and knowing without question or doubt it was right, correct and proper.
Then once again being drowned by the fear… no, the terror of what my parents would do if I were caught. It might seem foolish or childish, but at the time I had no doubt they could easily kill me Yes, I mean actually take my life and then throw my remains in a ditch somewhere, done with having to deal with a worthless mouth to feed and being able to go on with their lives as if I had never existed.
At this point I decided to be safe and shoved it all into a deep dark corner of my mind and made every effort to forget.
And it worked… for a little while.
Several years would pass before I found myself looking through the Sears catalog and then Fredrick’s and Victoria’s Secret mailers, looking at the clothes and wishing they were something I could ever dream of buying for myself. Then finding myself looking at the sizing directions, wondering if I could measure myself and order something, paying with a money order so my mom wouldn’t know until I talking myself out of trying because what would happen if she got to the mail before I did?
The sad thing is at some point during my teen years, I don’t remember exactly when, my mother tried to get me to dress up as a girl for Halloween… I was terrified of the idea, what did she know? How could she have found out, and if she didn’t know, then it was all too likely she would see or hear something which would give me away. In the end I refused and she let it drop.
It was also during this time I got up the nerve to try using makeup and needless to say, it didn’t go very well… You see, my mother was color blind added to a complete lack of understanding of how to choose makeup products correctly, which meant what she had was wrong for her and miles away from what I needed with my skin tone, resulting in my nearly having a nervous breakdown when I applied it to my face. I can’t explain the pure terror which ripped through me. I couldn’t get it off fast enough then spent the better part of an hour washing and rewashing my face with soap and Noxzema hoping I removed every trace and then being paranoid for days afterward.
Again I played it safe and shoved the feelings down even deeper…
And it worked… for a little while.
Several years later would find me serving in the Navy, (that story would need its own post…) Being stationed on a ship I found I occasionally needed to get away for a weekend so I would get a motel room at a place within walking distance of a large mall. There were several nearby movie theaters, bars, and restaurants so there was always something to do if i needed the distraction. It wasn’t long before the old questions began to creep back into my mind and I would find myself wondering if I could walk out of the room to shop, see a movie, a drink, or get something to eat and be accepted as a woman. Time and again I would sit and go through all the things I would need, clothes, makeup, hair. How to buy them, (I thought of saying they were gifts for my sister or girlfriend), where I could keep them away from the ship, what additional things I might need such as bags to store them and how to explain them away if I was ever caught. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise I overthought the entire situation and would end each time allowing fear and doubt to keep from acting. Even mock shopping would fill me with anxiety, though I loved just being able to as myself “what if?”
Once again, I pushed the feeling away, deeper and deeper until I was able to almost forget them all together… almost.
Over the years which followed there were small flashes, little fires I quick tamped down. The sadness which came from seeing a piece of clothing I would have loved to try on just once… wanting to let my hair grow, of wondering what I would have looked like if I had been born the way my heart desired. I even thought about drawing myself as I saw myself in my mind, life sized and hanging it on the back of my bedroom door so it resembled a full sized mirror.
Yet, each time I would push it away, believing this time it would finally go away. Wanting to say, this is just foolish fantasy, nothing more than a wistful dream.
I told myself not to trust myself, my thoughts or emotions. It was too easy to give in and find myself following the wrong path. After all, if I was anything it sure as hell wasn’t a girl, right?
Then my world imploded and took my heart and mind with it.
It has been about six years now since I came out. Six years of constant struggle, questions, doubts, fears… and guilt…
Now I am one again thinking of pushing it down again, to bury it so deep within myself even I won’t remember where I buried it.
This was always the answer before and I managed to survive far longer than I ever imagined I would… couldn’t I survive again? Wouldn’t this be the best answer for everyone? Even if it wasn’t best for me… well, so what? I have lived my entire life with pain and disappointment, with denying myself for the sake of those I care about…
I can do it again.