“Don’t know if I’ll ever understand 100% but will try. This is kind of tough one for us and right now, what your father is going through, is our first priority.”
Those words were written my mother in a text almost two weeks ago. She wrote them as part of response to a text I had sent my parents letting them know I had mailed two books to them in the hopes that the books might help to bridge the gap between us, and help them understand what I’m going through. She sent the text only to me, making sure it wasn’t a direct response to the group text I had sent both of them. Obviously, the intent fell flat when it came to my mother.
When I came out, I explicitly told my family that I don’t need to hear about how hard this is for them, that I know it is, and that it’s one hundred times harder for me. It’s my life, I live it everyday. There is no diversion for me, no break, and no rest. Somehow, almost every time I’ve communicated with my mother she has managed to work in how “hard” it is for her, and so after the last text, I decided to no longer reach out and communicate. I’ve put the ball in her proverbial court. The door is open, but she will have to not only open it, but also walk through it if she wants a relationship with me. She has made not only my transition, but my father’s cancer about her, and what she’s struggling with. She has told me that my transition is something that she can’t think about while my dad is battling cancer, and in so doing has told me she doesn’t really want to deal with it.
No person in their right mind would expect a wife not to put her husband first when it comes to a cancer diagnosis, and more to the point, while it is her husband, he is also my father. I wanted to scream at her, and to say, “DUHHH!” I wanted to say to her that the two things do not have to be mutually exclusive, and that just because my father has prostate cancer does not mean my transition stops. She can certainly use it as an excuse for not getting on board, but I’m still moving forward, and if she can’t be there for me, then she’ll deal with the effects of that decision.
I don’t yell at her, or go off about how she has hurt me, because if she can’t see past herself to back down then my attempt to explain could very easily become a fight, and one where I won’t pull punches. I don’t want that to happen right now, as any fight between us would fall back on my father, and he’d be forced to deal with the fall out because my mother can’t not make it about her. She will make him deal at a time he shouldn’t have to, and until more is resolved with his situation I don’t want to put him through such an emotional ordeal. He doesn’t deserve it, because as shitty as my mother’s behavior has been towards me, he has gone the opposite direction in an attempt to understand me and what I’m going through.
My father is mostly deaf, and so his main way of communicating with me is via text, and in recent weeks he has stepped up his texting game to reach out and communicate with me. It was because of an hour long texting session between the two of us that I decided to send the books. I asked him if he’d like them before I bought and sent them, and so the text that spurred this was simply a heads up, in which I decided to include my mother.
My father texted me a few days after the books arrived, and wrote:
“So, I’m 200 pages into the Sarah McBride book. I’m understanding better, I just have to let it all take what is now it’s normal course. Of course her mate having cancer hits home. As the book states hearing the words you have cancer changes everything. I guess we are both dealing with life changes. I would say both profound to each of us. And I see a theme in this book and other info I’ve gathered that is selfishness but not in a bad way. If we don’t advocate for ourselves we can’t be sure others will do it for us…”
I got the text on a Sunday night as I left a local grocery store, and read it as I drove home, and I sobbed. These were the kind of words I was looking to hear from my parents. I had been looking for a sign that they had turned the corner, and here my father was showing me that. He was getting that my situation was life or death, just as his was. It was powerful for me, and it made me love him all the more for making the effort, even with his cancer to show he loves and supports me.
In the end, this is all any of us wants. Cis or trans, we all want our parents’ love and support. I dream of a relationship with my parents as their daughter. One in which I am treated that way, and no longer as the son I never really was. His text tells me we just might get there, and it gives me fuel to keep trying on that front.
People I’ve talked to who know my mother say that they believe she will come around, and get on board eventually. I hope they’re right. Part of the difficulty in all of this has been that my mother is far more liberal than my father, and has expressed support of trans issues. My daughter came out a year before me, and while my mother struggled early on, she never showed this to my daughter, and so I thought while hard, she could outwardly give me what I wanted from her, but I was wrong on that front. It is one thing to say you love someone and support them, but you prove this by your actions, or in her case lack of action.
Not once has she asked me how I’m doing, or if I’m alright. Not once has she expressed a desire to see me, or my children since I came out. Although, she did mention possibly coming for a visit…I’ll believe it when I see it. See, when it comes to me, the effort hasn’t been there for quite awhile. I was the eldest, and I was independent. I prided myself on figuring things out, and doing things on my own. I’ve rarely asked for help from my folks, and haven’t asked for it in well over a decade, almost two. This is why her “priority” comment stung so bad. Life happens, and it doesn’t stop for anyone. I’m transitioning and regardless of age, we all want our parents when dealing with something so serious. I finally reached the point where I pulled out the “I need attention card,” only to be told that there is none to be given.
My hope was always to borrow money from my parents for transition related surgeries, and now I’m beginning to worry that this won’t happen, and that I will have to scrape together money and go further into debt. I think my father will try and help, but my mother will be a part of those discussions, and when it comes down to this the question will be, “Will she see my needs, or will she only see the money I am borrowing?” I have a fear that she will only see the money, and depending on how that conversation goes, it could alter our relationship forever, meaning we will never be as close as I once believed us to be.
See, I’ve had to think about money and transition, having done so first when my daughter transitioned, and as a parent I would move heaven and earth to make sure she was safe and happy. My hope is that my parents view me in much the same way, but only time will tell if I am right on that front.
In the end, our parents are their own people, and we can’t make them be the way we want them to be. I am now trying to take the long view in the hopes that where my father has turned the corner, my mother will soon join him. In the meantime there are a myriad of things I can focus and work on to move my transition forward. All I can do is hope that when the time comes, I will get what I need from the both of them.
So, I don’t want this to just be a sad, pity party for me. In many ways, I feel positive about where I am heading. My weight continues to come off, very slowly, but it still seems to be moving downwards. My body continues to change…and I will show this ahead of my next HRT update…but the first is my lower torso/abdomen before HRT, and the second was a little over 5 months on HRT.
My hips are now clearly visible as my body shape takes on a more hourglass look. This makes me very happy to see, and I can verify just how different pants fit me.
I went shopping for women’s jeans in an actual store, which is a first for me…partly due to nervousness and because I couldn’t fit into most in store jeans yet. However, while weight loss is minmal, I am into a size 14 jean, and so I spent part of this past Friday at a Lucky Brand store trying on jeans, and buying two pairs, while the wonderful manager assisted me the entire time. It was definitely an affirming experience for me.
I also went ahead and pierced the cartilage of my ears, and am wearing earrings again. I still need to pierce my right ear lobe, but one more piercing and that stuff will be taken care of. I’ve also started electrolysis on my white facial hairs to complement the laser hair removal I’ve already been doing, and if I can scrape money together, I hope to feminize at least one of my tattoos before the end of the year.
Finally, I want to talk about how instrumental my friends have been in building my confidence through the validation and affirmation of who I am with their friendships. It means so much to be treated and seen as the woman I am by other women. The difference between being friends with men and being friends with women is significant in and of itself, but friendships with women as a woman are so much deeper and better than I would have thought. Being in the presence of friends for brunch, to shop, or even just to grab a coffee, gives me an energy I never got in the past from spending time with friends. In many ways, my friendships might be the best gifts transition has given to me. So I just want to give a shout out to my girls who read this. You all matter so much to me! I love you all, and am so thankful for your love and support!