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If you follow me on Twitter or are a friend on Facebook then you know that the last week or so haven’t been the best for me mentally.  I can readily admit I started sinking when I found out that my hormone levels really haven’t moved much the past two and a half months.  I did rationalize with myself that my body and mind have seen changes, many of which I’ve discussed on this blog, and if I’ve seen such changes with my levels where they are at now then once they get to cis-female levels I should see some even bigger ones.  That, of course, is my rational mind speaking, and most of the time I let it run things, but every once in awhile when the dysphoria demon creeps in, and my emotions take over, I start to feel “mannish” and things head south for me mentally.

Nobody, I don’t care who you are, can be happy and positive 24/7.  Humans aren’t built that way.  I consider myself a strong and positive woman.  I like to think that most of the time I look forward to the future, excited at what it has to offer.  The past few days this has been difficult as I fixate on the questions of, “what if things don’t get better?  what if I will never get to where I want to, where I need to be?”  I realize that this is dysphoria fucking with me, but I still need to get past it, and so I thought I’d look back at the past year and see just how far I’ve come.

2017 began with me deep in taking care of name change stuff for my daughter.  I had already begun delving deep into information on trans women, but was still more focused on trans children and their needs.  My closet door was starting to buckle, but the skeletons where still locked away.   I can remember throwing  myself into work and the idea of starting to backpack with my daughter.  The prospect of hitting the trail with her had me excited, and the need to buy her gear and to update mine consumed most of my free time.  We even managed to get out for an overnight hike on the Appalachian Trail in January, and she was a trooper considering the terrain we had to hike.  I can remember how happy I was when she finished in tears, but ten minutes later started talking about “when we go the next time”.

The rest of the winter continued much the same.  My daughter’s name change became official at the end of February, and we got her passport about a month after that.  Late March saw my daughter suffering from some pretty bad dysphoria and so we went for another backpacking trip, as being out in nature always seems to help her.  It was on this trip that my closet exploded and I realized that I also suffered from dysphoria, although I wasn’t willing to admit I was transgender yet.  Instead, I still hedged with the idea that, just because I was sometimes jealous of women and wanted what they had, well, that didn’t make me trans.  However, the door had been opened, and my online searches now centered on trans women and not trans kids.  Subconsciously, my brain had shifted, even if my conscious awareness was still battling or misdirecting.

Late May saw my daughter and I go on a 7 day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail, and we had a wonderful time.  It was great just being alone with her on the trail, and it made for some good bonding.  Looking back I can say that it was the peace before the storm, and in many ways I approached the hike as if I was saying goodbye to something.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but there was a moment near the end of our hike where I was walking along listening to Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe” and tears just started to stream down my face.  I was thinking of my family and my kids, and how things might change.  I still had yet to make the connection, but the memories of my past had been hitting me harder, and I just had this feeling that things had to change.  I just had no idea how much they were about to.

The summer was my biggest summer of discontent ever.  My father-in-law came to live with us just as my closet completely imploded.  So many memories were coming back to me daily.  I began forming friendships with trans women online, and spending most nights researching anything and everything about transition.  I know now that I was trying to talk myself into the idea that transition was possible, but at the time my self-hate and loathing were at an all time high.  I was going through a nervous breakdown of sorts and taking it out on everyone in my house.  In many ways, I was mentally in the darkest place of my life as I realized that I could not continue as I had, and that something had to change.

Three girls, all of whom I met through Twitter, were instrumental in helping me to figure out that I was trans.  By this time I knew I was also intersex, but was playing around with the idea that I might be nonbinary.  However, after talking with one girl, and giving it greater consideration I realized that nonbinary did not fit me, because it didn’t mesh with who I knew I was on the inside.  I needed more, and nonbinary wouldn’t give me that.

Discussions with the other girls made me realize that I could transition, because it was about what I needed.  I began to realize that if I didn’t I would end up killing myself due to neglect or by my own hand.  Late July saw me telling people I was nonbinary, as I was hedging still and it was a baby step towards me admitting the full truth.  Local friends convinced me that I needed to tell my wife, and at the same time I finally accepted that I was a trans woman and needed to begin gender therapy.  With those admissions my life began to drastically shift for the better.

I came out to my wife in August, and again hedged that I thought I might be nonbinary, but I also admitted that I may want to transition.  I already knew the truth, and as I began therapy, in the very first session I admitted verbally that I wanted to transition fully.  With each admission, the weight that had been crushing me began to lift, but there would also be some low points as I began to set the path I planned to walk.

I learned how close I had been to losing my wife and kids, due to my self hate and loathing during the summer.  Coming out to my wife and beginning therapy kept my family together.  Although the nature of my marriage has changed, as a family we are better than we’ve been in a long time.  Accepting who I am and having some hard conversations with my wife has allowed me to put my anger and self-loathing behind me for the most part.  I won’t say things are perfect, but they are much improved.

I have made some good friends for the first time in a long time, and now count several trans and cis women as friends.  I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be friends with people who only know me as Allie.  It is truly a gift to feel comfortable enough to simply express as the woman I am.  I am even out to two girlfriends at work who are supportive, and one of them will be my new boss beginning with the new year.

October 9th, 2017 will forever be important to me because it was the day I started HRT.  My mind and life have simply become brighter since starting it.  I have seen changes, which I discuss every month in a post, and while not drastic, those changes are enough to keep me moving forward, along with having lost 40lbs in an effort to work towards a more girlish figure.  I don’t know how I navigated life for so long without estrogen, but I’d rather die than give it up at this point.

Overall, I’d have to say that 2017 is ending on a high note.  The blip I have experienced the past week was the realization that I have moved out of the mountain top phase and into one of realistic expectations.  I’m still excited about my future, but that excitement is tempered by the reality that physical changes take time and will happen when they happen.

When I think about where I was on January 1, 2017 compared to now, there is no comparison.  My mental state is stronger than it has been in years and I can’t remember ever being so in touch with my emotions.  I don’t want to dwell on the past too much as I believe you learn from your past, live in the moment, and look to your future.  2017 will forever be one of the most important years in my life, but it isn’t the best or the most important.  I believe those years have yet to come.  For the first time, I look forward to the future with hope and excitement.  In the mean time I will take each day as it comes with the knowledge that even if bad, tomorrow is always a new day that takes me one day closer to living full time as the real me.