Family Trouble

So for the last week I’ve been helping August after his top surgery. It really hasn’t been too bad at all. He hasn’t needed as much help, even the first couple days, as I think either of us was anticipating. Outside of needing me to get him things that he can’t reach due to not being able to raise his arms above his head, as well as helping him with his bandages and compression vest, he’s really self sufficient for just having had surgery so recently. I think he’s been pretty frustrated since he is used to being active and is having to sit around more than is normal for him. It seems like his recovery is going pretty well, there’s more about it on his own blog, Dream Deep.

We finally got back home last night. While I was gone my dad had sent a package that contained stuff he had gotten me for Christmas while I was deployed and an early birthday gift. The birthday present was useful, a piece of software I’ll be putting too good use as I start school up this fall. The late Christmas gifts, however, certainly left something to be desired.

What he sent was workout clothing, which I guess shows improvement in that he paid attention to the fact that I’ve been working out a lot more… But the problem was it was women’s clothing. The top and Capri length bottoms are both skin tight and clearly designed to emphasize a feminine figure. I’m not sure if these were purchased by him or my step mom, but even if she had bought them, he didn’t object to sending them.

I’m trying not to get upset and to keep in mind that for just under three decades he knew me as female and that these changes in perception are hard and take time. I’m also trying to consider in that he lives two states away so isn’t seeing me on a regular basis and isn’t exposed to everybody using my preferred name now. But then I remember that he hasn’t even accepted my friend request I sent him on Facebook from the new account I made with my preferred name… A friend request sent twice and just left hanging both times. I’m definitely not feeling supported.

How do you explain to your father who is putting out effort to improve a relationship that had drifted apart (for other reasons not related to my gender identification) that he’s doing it in a way that is counterproductive without discouraging him from continuing to try? I’m glad that he’s trying, but if he’s going to try I need him to support me as who I am and not who he remembers me as. I’m not sure how to talk to him about this.

Waiting Room Thoughts

So I never posted part 2 or followed up on how the reintroduction phase of the Whole 30 went, but that’ll come eventually. Things have been really busy lately as August has been finishing up school (yay graduation) and I’ve been taking required classes for getting out of the military. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to write up posts lately.  As soon as those things were finished we went out of town to the city in which August is having his top surgery.

The surgery is actually underway right now and I’m sitting in the waiting room feeling nervous and excited and everything in between. I’m so glad that I get to be here for such a big step in his transition, especially considering how much I missed while deployed. This is probably the best stage of his transition for him to have me around for as well so I can help him with stuff during his recovery. I keep finding myself worrying about whether I’ll do a good job taking care of him and making the recovery as easy and comfortable as possible for him. When I take the time to think about it, I know I’m worrying about nothing, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying anyway.

August has been waiting a long time for this. It’s really exciting to see him finally getting to do this and to see him gradually becoming more comfortable and happier as his physical appearance gets closer and closer to matching up with his internal identity. I’m a little jealous as I await my turn to start this journey, but I’m finding that while I’m anxious to begin my own transition, I don’t feel as trapped and unable to express my own identity as I used to. My turn is coming up just over the horizon and will be here before I know it. Thanks to that, more than anything else I’m simply excited for August at this time and love watching all the changes that have and are continuing to take place during his transition. It’s an amazing process to witness.

Looking Back – Part 1

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.