Last Friday I heard from my family regarding the letters I sent them. They all sent texts to me, because texts are safe. You don’t have to show emotion or get emotion in a text. They said all the right things, that they love and support me unconditionally, and it did mean a lot to me, but it wasn’t all that I needed, and I don’t know when I will get all that I need from them.
Coming out to people is mentally exhausting. I’ve already decided that now that I am out to my immediate family I will only come out to people, if and when I need to, because of how exhausting it actually is. The act of telling someone I am intersex and transgender isn’t the hard part of the coming out. Instead, the hard part of coming is the time spent explaining to the other person that I will be OK, and the time spent making sure that they are OK with me being…me.
I talked to my mother three days after she got the letter I sent her, and I walked away from the phone call feeling off about it all. I spent the next day and a half in a darkening mood as I tried to figure out why the call bothered me so much. It wasn’t a bad call, but it wasn’t a good call either. Instead it was a safe call, as if my mom was afraid to show any emotion, and so the topics stuck to transition related stuff, which in turn also included the issue of passing. As a result, I spent the call basically justifying who I was and making sure she was OK with this. It will also be the last time I do this…I hope.
It isn’t my job to make sure you are OK with who I am, that’s your issue to deal with. I have a shit shack full of my own issues with out adding yours to the mix. Are you sad, scared, worried, or concerned with what others will think? If so, then you need to work that out and keep it to yourself, because guess what…I’ve thought about it ten times, no, one hundred times more than you will ever think about it.
I’ve thought about the effects on my marriage, my kids, my job, my body, my health, and I could go on with the list. I’ve thought about passing, living full-time, safety, how people will see me, and how people will treat me in such minute detail, and I will continue to do so, long after you stop. This is “my” life, so of course I think about these things…I live these things, or will as I move forward. Transition, and everything about it dominates my thoughts and life.
If you are trans and reading this, then I am guessing you are nodding along, as I know you have dealt with this, and like me will probably continue to deal with this. In some ways it is the shittiest part of being transgender, and I fear that if I never “pass” that it is something I will always deal with…and probably on some level I will anyways, because dysphoria never goes away entirely.
It is such an easy thing for people to take their worries back from a trans person they care about. How? Don’t dump your concerns and fears on the person coming out to you. Instead, you could hug them, tell them you love them, you support them, and that no matter what you’ll be there to help and see them go where they want to.
In the case of my mom, I just wanted her to be my mom. I wanted to hear her say she loves me, and that she will be there no matter what. And this is where I get selfish…because I know she has already expressed this to me, but I wanted to…needed to…hear it. I wanted to feel the emotion of her love, and I didn’t get that with the first phone call. I’m sure I will get it in the future, and I don’t want to paint her as being wrong, or that I’m mad at her. I’m not mad at her, after all she has talked to me. I also found out from my sister-in-law (through my wife) that my mom is hurting bad right now. My biggest fear in coming out was that she would hurt when she realized how long I had been hiding and that she never knew. As a parent you would do anything to keep your child from pain, and when you find you didn’t or couldn’t do it…it breaks your heart a little. Knowing this, I’m giving her the benefit of time to let her process. It isn’t my problem that she feels this way. She’s a mom, and so it can’t be avoided, but I can give her time to deal. I’ve thought about sending her a text to tell her that it isn’t her fault and that I don’t blame her or my dad for anything, but there will still be a part of her that feels like she should have known. I tear up thinking about it, because this could easily have been my daughter and I thirty-some years from now. Being trans and having a trans child puts me in a unique position to get both perspectives on this. I want what I want, and yet I also can empathize with what she is feeling.
Let me be clear…I am not in a bad mood as I write this, and actually feel like I’m in a pretty good place. My mood always gets better as the week goes on, and this is another source of mental exhaustion. These days my weekends are almost always good. I get to be me all weekend, even if most people see boy…I’m good with it, because I get to wear what I want and express as I will. I don’t have to be him or think like him, and I love every minute of it. As the week goes on and I get closer to the weekend, my mood improves because I know I won’t have to play the part for a couple days. Conversely, as the weekend comes to a close I become anxious and depressed because I have to put the man suit back on for another work week. Luckily, I work from home on Mondays and so it’s only four days, but my brain is already at the point where it doesn’t give a krap…it simply wants to be, and I wish I could let it.
This means exhaustion also comes from my need to hold off presenting full-time. I know many gals jump right in, and this is why they do so. It’s too hard for them not do so, and perhaps they don’t have the constraints that I have in my life. There can be a myriad of reasons for why we go full-time when we do. For me, it isn’t time yet. It’s not because I don’t want to, but rather because I want to go full-time when I feel the time is right. However, knowing the time isn’t right doesn’t give me comfort, after all logic and emotion are often at odds with one another. Logically, I should wait and plan it out, so that I can maximize the greatest benefit for me and my family. Emotionally, I want to say “Fuck It!” This is who I am, deal with it. These two sides being at odds with one another in my head can be draining, and I don’t see it ending anytime soon, but I know it will end. I just have to keep my eye on the glimmer at the end of the tunnel and hold to the idea that one foot in front of the other gets me where I want to go.
Now all of the above, plus add in hormones, mood swings, and all the normal day to day stuff everyone deals with. You can start to see why one might have mental exhaustion issues. Usually sleep rejuvenates me, but this week with the added stress of coming out I haven’t been getting that emotional rejuvenation, and so I just feel tired every day. If I didn’t have my emotional support network…if I was alone…then I don’t know where I’d be, but it wouldn’t be a good place.
I have my wife and my friends to thank for helping me get through this week, and for bringing me out of my funk. My wife was there over the weekend giving me support while I started to stress about talking/not talking to my mom. My friends were there to get me out of my funk after I talked to my mom. Some friends just listened and offered words of understanding and comfort. One friend, in particular, who is becoming a really good friend, just made me laugh and smile, because she seems to get me on a level that I never had a male friend ever get me on. She, in large part, was responsible for getting me out of my dark place this week, and I’m thankful to have her in my life.
The takeaway from this post and the one I want cis people to walk away with is that your mental exhaustion and mine are not the same thing. You don’t have to pretend to be someone else half your week, every week. You don’t have to regularly justify your existence or make others feel better about the fact that you exist as yourself. If you have a trans person in your life, please remember this. Remember, they don’t need to hear most of what you think. What they need to hear is your positivity and support. What they need from you is to simply be a loved one and/or a friend. If they bring up worries or concerns then by all means talk about them. If you have questions ask them, but do it in a way that comes from a desire to learn, and not from a place of worry or fear. We do enough of that on our own, even if you don’t see it. Yes, I try to be positive and outgoing to the world, but that doesn’t mean I don’t fear and worry. It just means I don’t want to constantly shoulder others with my problems, and yes, most of the time, I’m in a good mood. I would venture to say this is the case for many trans people out there.
Tomorrow is a new day, and next week, a new week…and before that a weekend with blessed sleep! I look forward to the future, because every day there is something that moves me forward. Even though I get exhausted sometimes…I like where my life is heading…I just wish I could get there a little faster.
Also finally changed my video…I thought “Just Breathe” by Pearl Jam was appropriate for this week.