So today’s post has nothing to do with fitness or diet or anything of that sort. This is one of my posts of self-reflection and taking a look at my history. Lately I’ve watched Ethan Walker Smith’s “A Letter to the Girl I Used to Be” and the story of one family that has supported their young trans son. I also read an interview with Lavern Cox. I found all three moving, but the first two brought tears to my eyes. Because of these I’ve been looking back on my own story. Some of this will be a recap on stuff I’ve written before but hopefully the new information that is there will give the old story some depth that I don’t feel I manged before.
I grew up in a pretty unstable household. My mother was an alcoholic. She was very emotionally abusive and occasionally physically so as well. From as early as I can remember I felt that it was my responsibility to act as the family counselor, to be the one to calm the situations, to be the one that was holding the family together. One of my earliest memories was talking to my dad after hearing them fight the night before and asking him if they were going to get a divorce. I couldn’t have been more than 5 at the time. I don’t remember what his answer was, I just remember thinking that there was something I could do to keep that from happening. My early years revolved around that idea.
By the time I was around 10, I realized she was never going to get better and that maybe a divorce would actually be a good thing. You can’t help somebody that doesn’t want to be helped. I lost myself for a while then. For a year or two my life consisted of putting on the happy kid mask out in public, turning to books and video games to escape when I was home, and often crying myself to sleep after watching her get drunk every night and take all her bitterness and hatred out on those around her. I remember wishing so many times that I was dead, that I had the guts to commit suicide… but I still had that fear of death that kept it just out of reach. Not to mention by that point I had dealt with my drunk mother threatening to commit suicide to me several times, and I think that experience of being so young (I remember it happening when I was only 8 years old) and feeling that the only thing keeping somebody you love alive is you and your words leaves a huge impression on you and as terrible as things may get you don’t want that on somebody else. You don’t want to leave another person wondering if they had said something different, would you still be alive today? So at no point was I ever going to commit suicide, but for a long time I wanted to.
At some point I turned what was tearing me down so much into a purpose. In middle school I remember making a conscious choice of deciding to do my best to take the brunt of my mother’s abuse so that my two younger brothers wouldn’t have to as much. My dad already did his best to do that for all three of us as it was, but he couldn’t always be around. He was the sole source of income for our family for a long time, and when our mom did get a job later on, it was only part-time and my dad’s hours didn’t get any shorter. So, I gave myself a reason for everything, a purpose I could cling to that almost made it a positive experience, or at least seemed that way at the time. I still had those occasional thoughts of suicide as I went through my teen years; I remember driving my car somewhere at one point after a confrontation with my mom and thinking “If I just turn the steering wheel a little bit I could go right into those oncoming cars and end all this”. I saw it so vividly in my head, but the steering wheel didn’t turn. Despite the fact that I still had images of my own death that would pop up in my mind on occasions, sometimes quite randomly when I felt like I was even in a good mood, much of the depression and suicidal thoughts began to fade away until it only happened once in a while.
This is just a short, not terribly detailed history on my family life as a child. There is much more to it than I have said, and maybe some day I’ll get into more detail, but this gives you the background to add the next layer of who I was back then.
Back to the earliest memories, which are few and far between since I don’t remember much of my early years, but there are a few things that have stuck with me. I remember hating to be dressed up by my mom. She’d always try to put me in dresses or in the color pink, a color I still to this day am really not fond of. Anything girly I absolutely hated. I wanted to be outside with the boys playing cops and robbers, ninja turtles, football, or street hockey. I wanted to be playing video games and going to sporting events with my dad. I wanted to be climbing trees and catching bugs, frogs, or snakes. My mom used to tell a story about how I’d go out and play with bugs when I was as young as 3 years old and I’d be trying to put them in my pocket whenever she wasn’t looking. As I got older and realized most girls don’t like those things I found that I also wanted to chase the girls around with those critters I caught that grossed them out so much. I loved going out with my friends, all boys, and riding our bikes to some nearby woods or one of the housing developments nearby that was still under construction and exploring, always coming home dirty and scraped up. I didn’t want anything to do with dolls or playing house or dressing up. I was what seems to be to be a very typical little boy, only… Only I was told I was a tomboy, a girl who has interests that are often associated with boys. I don’t think I ever saw myself that way when I was out with the guys, though. I was one of them, I just happened to have longer hair. It was only when I got older that I really started calling myself by that label.
As we hit puberty, the difference between me and my friends quickly became apparent. The guys I had always felt a part of grew taller and more muscular as their voices deepened, while I gained a pair of boobs and stayed relatively short and kept my higher pitched voice. The guys began looking at me differently. I became a girl, a tomboy in the eyes of many, but I was a girl. Girls were supposed to be fragile and needed to be protected by boys. There was so much going on in my home life in my childhood that I ignored so many of my deepest feelings and suppressed much of who I have come to realize I am at my core. When our bodies began to change, I know I became very aware of how I was viewed in a different light than I was before and that I never felt as feminine as I thought I was supposed to be. I brushed it off with labeling myself as a tomboy and didn’t let myself put too much thought into it, but still, under the surface was that insecurity and that shame of not being feminine enough and believing that there was something wrong with me. For as long as I can remember I have appeared as a boy in about half or a little more than half my dreams, though I’m not somebody that dreams very often, but when sex dreams entered the picture, those I was almost always male in.
My relationships in my teens and early twenties were short-lived. Many guys were attracted to me because of our shared interests, but expected me to still act like a girl, something I wasn’t willing to do for the longest time. As I came into adulthood I began to dress more feminine, though I never truly became comfortable with it. It was expected of me and I was starting to cave to some of the expectations that were being placed on me by others. My insecurities and self-consciousness of being different only grew, especially when I would come across other tomboys and I began to understand that I was different even from them.
This has already become a lot longer than I intended, and I have some stuff I need to take care of so I’ll stop here and make this part 1. I’ll get part 2 posted with the rest of the story later this week.