Trust Me, I’m (Not) Okay

As badly as I’d like to say I’m fine right now, I know I’m not.  No, I’m not going to kill myself.  No, I’m not going to resort to self-harm.  And no, I’m not going to just disappear anytime soon, either.  Yesterday, the door on my closet full of skeletons burst open and threw everything on the floor in a horrid mess.  But now, I’ve at least picked up the mess, and I’m starting to get it all back in the closet.

I know this isn’t a healthy way to deal with my problems.  Ignoring everything until the stress of it all causes a nervous breakdown is probably the worst way to do it.  But it’s the only way I know how.

But now that I’ve pretty much taken care of the whole transgender thing as best as I can for now, it’s time to take care of the depression and anxiety.  The medications I’m on just aren’t cutting it anymore.  Not to mention the fact that though I’ve come to terms with my past, the way I’ve coped with it hasn’t been the best.  And my therapist isn’t helping at all in that fashion.

But in the meantime, don’t worry about me.  I’m not going to show up in the obituary or the missing persons reports anytime soon.  I’ll just be here picking up the pieces and shoving them back in the closet until I find a better way to deal with them.

Insert Blog Post Title Here

I’ve been struggling a lot over the past month or so with all kinds of crap.  I’ll apologize beforehand for the lack of cohesiveness, this post is very much going to be a stream of conscious kind of thing.

Well, here goes nothing.

My immediate family sucks.  I’ve been out to all of them for well over a year.  I’ve presented female with them several times.  I’ve given them plenty of time and opportunities to learn, understand, and accept me.  I’ve told them what I expect in order to feel comfortable around them.  And yet they still misgender me.  My parents have only ever once each properly gendered me, and I don’t recall my oldest sister ever getting it right.  I try to just ignore it, but I can’t.  Proper pronouns are the first step to acceptance, and they can’t even be bothered to try.  They say they’re trying, but I just don’t see it.  All I see is pain and frustration.

My grandmother sucks.  I’m tired of giving people second chances.  She’s shown time and again that she can’t accept me for who I am.  Instead, she just passive-aggressively tries to get me to mold to her way of thinking though shitty Christmas gifts, offhanded comments, and looks of disappointment.  I’m done with it.  From now on, if she’s going to be somewhere, I won’t be.

My job sucks.  I’m sick of doing a thankless job for mediocre compensation.  This job is slowly killing me with the stress and anxiety, and I’m not even getting anywhere in life because of it.  And the worst part is I know I could get over the stress and anxiety with a few days off scot-free, but the constant pushing to get stuff done keeps me from really relaxing.  I can’t take a day off because I’m in constant fear of losing my job for not getting something done.  And even when I do get things done, instead of some level of positive reinforcement, I just get heaped with more shit that needed to be done a week ago and question on why it isn’t already done.

My boyfriend sucks.  He tends to plan major things last minute.  He’s completely clueless about everything involving relationships.  He’s probably the worst communicator I’ve ever dated. He lives all the way across the country and I haven’t seen him for a month and a half.  And he can’t seem to find a job to save his life.  I love him to death, and by no means do I want to lose him, but something needs to change.  Whatever he’s doing now isn’t really cutting it.

My health sucks.  My body is under constant stress, which makes everything hurt and makes me susceptible to illness.  I’m always tired because of issues sleeping and living in a constant state of emotional and mental exhaustion.  I wake up every day with some new sore or pain in my back or digestion issue or ache in my head.  And it seems like the only solutions are to constantly eat or take a bunch of drugs.

My childhood sucked.  Coping with a father who only ever seemed to find fault in me and a social environment that constantly scapegoated and harassed me have made me the anxiety-ridden, criticism-fearing person I am today.  If I do something wrong, I can’t get over it, and I can’t do anything right because I’m too afraid to make a mistake.  And if I’m struggling to get things done at all because I’m in this feedback loop of anxiety, I just get criticized more for being ineffective.

I suck.  I’ve gotten myself to a point where I built up all these coping mechanisms, and now the coping mechanisms are only adding to the pile.  And I can’t get out of it for fear of opening up all the problems I had before.  And really, I got myself into this mess by buying into the idea that I’d be happy with a STEM degree, a desk job, a 3 bed 2 bath cookie cutter home in the suburbs, a wife, and 2 1/2 kids.  I got caught up in an idea that just doesn’t really work for me, and an idea that just isn’t really feasible in this day and age.  And because of that, now I’m stuck doing something I hate just to pay the loans for a degree I don’t want to use, which is just making the hole I’ve dug myself into even deeper.

I’m tired of going through all the struggles I go through every day.  I just want to run away and start over.  Get a clean slate so I can begin repairing my self.  But with all the debt and all these people trying to count on me, that just isn’t a possibility.  I’ll just wind up in jail or a mental hospital, and neither of those will help my position.  So I guess that leaves me with two options.  Keep playing or throw in the towel.  And right now that key in my back pocket is getting heavier than it’s been in a long while.

The Game of Life

Imagine life as a never-ending card game. You’re dealt in when you’re born, and you leave the game when you die.

At the beginning of  the game you’re dealt a hand of cards.  Some, like  your chromosomes, race, skin color, family, medical propensities, and starting location, are dealt to you from a set based upon your biological parents’ cards.  These things can’t be changed, but other cards can obscure, adjust, or change their effects.  These static, genetic traits are the building blocks of you as a statistic.  They’re what everything else in the game is based on from an outside person’s perspective.

Once these cards are dealt, you’re also dealt some more starting cards based upon the genetic ones.  Things like sexual preference, gender identity, deformities, and susceptibility to certain mental and physical diseases.  Scientifically, these are called epigenetic traits.  One card from each type of deck is drawn for these possibilities, and like genetic cards, these cards can only have their effects, obscured adjusted or changed, whether through bluff or action of another card.  These traits are the building blocks of you as a person.  They’re what make you you in the most basic sense – how you perceive the world and the most basic parts of your personality.

As an example, let’s use the sexual preference and gender identity decks.  In the US, an overwhelming majority of players will begin the game with both the heterosexual and cisgender cards.  But for approximately four percent of all players, these cards will be something different.  1.8% will draw a bisexual card and 1.7 percent will draw a homosexual card.  0.3 percent will draw a card that isn’t cisgender from the gender identity deck.  Source

Lucky me, looks like I drew some pretty rare cards.

Like I said before, these cards cannot be changed.  They are the absolute essence of you.  They will stay the same no matter what you or anyone else says or does.  There is no choice in these cards, only a choice of how to handle them.

Now, as you live, you will continue to draw and play other cards, and based on the plays of both you and the other players, the cards and effects that you receive will change.  The possibilities are limitless.  Health, fortune, favor, expressions, knowledge, and even negatives, like illness, loss, pain, misfortune, and even possible loss of some of your basic cards.

The game ends for you when you run out of cards.  This can happen in three ways:  the effect of another player, the effect of a random draw, or choosing to fold.  For the majority of players, the first two  are the end of their game, but about every thirteen minutes, someone folds.  Source

A number of players seem to believe, because of what current and former players of the game have said and the effects of their own cards, that the epigenetic cards are actually able to be chosen.  And of course, because someone important says or has said that that choice is wrong, then they believe it must be wrong.

But in reality, these traits are what make us.  They can’t be changed.  No amount of badgering, abuse, torture, pandering, or threats will be able to change or remove that card.  The only way to remove them is to destroy all your mental cards, whether through mental destruction or death.

And that’s really where the choice is.  Being straight, gay, bi, ace, pan, trans*, queer, what have you is what makes us us.  We can’t change that.  There is no choice beyond deciding whether to live with it or fold.  Some of us just can’t live with the effects that others place upon us for just being who we are.  30% of LGB youth and 41% of trans* people have tried to fold, and a huge number more have been successful.  Source 1 Source 2

For the rest of us, we have to keep living with it.  After going through tough times and seriously considering and nearly attempting to fold myself, I’ve come to accept who I am, and I’m living with it pretty well now.  But from time to time, I still think about folding, especially around times like these where I’m going to have to endure the people who are closest to me trying to tell me it’s all a choice.  But do they really want me to choose the actual other option?

What I Want For Christmas

To my family:

You keep telling me you want me to be around for the rest of your lives, and you feel that I’m trying to distance myself from you.  It brings you all a lot of pain, stress, and worries knowing that there may come a day where you’ll never again see me or hear from me.  You say you want me to actively take part in your lives.  Call on a regular basis.  Visit often.  Attend family gatherings.

Trust me, I feel the same way.  I’ve always been able to trust that my family could help me through my problems if no one else would.  My family has always seemed to accept me, no matter what I’m going through, how I’m presenting, what I’m doing.  In no way do I want to lose that.

But, unfortunately for me, I’ve lost all sense of comfort with the majority of you.  Some of our relationships have been tenuous at best, and my transition has only added to the strain.  The stress over these relationships has become anxiety about my safety and acceptance from not only these family members, but all of my family.  Those with the strongest reservations and ignorance are often the loudest, and everyone else generally seems content to stay silent in their shadows.

So here’s what I want for Christmas.  I don’t want toys or clothes or gift cards.  I want you listen to me and truly hear what I have to say.  I want you to open your minds and hearts  and try to actually accept me and understand me instead of continuing to ignore and avoid me.  I want you to take interest in my life; ask me about more than just work and the weather; ask questions when you don’t understand something; do some reading on your own so I don’t have to bring all the resources by myself; actually call me for once instead of relying on me to call you.  I want you to show that you actually care about the real me, not some idealized version of me that you keep on a pedestal.  I want you to use my preferred name and pronouns instead of continuing to pain me with the invalidation in every use of male pronouns and my dead name.

And I want you to stand up for me when someone doesn’t do these things.  If you don’t, their actions will only continue to be seen as acceptable in their eyes, and that’s what hurts more than anything.

This is all I want and, really, have wanted for many, many years.  And if this is the gift I receive this year, and continue to receive it for the years to come, then I will continue to be there, no matter what else happens.

Love,

Your daughter/granddaughter/sister/niece/cousin,

Sadoni

 

What I Need

The emotions have been running high since my last blog post.  I’ve been all over the place, from feeling numb to curled up on my couch bawling my eyes out.  And finally, I think I’ve reached a place where I can really process my thoughts again.

I keep crying out that I want things to change.  I want something new, something different.  But as of now, that hasn’t really been something I could reasonably get.  Change takes time, and I’m just not giving enough of it.  If I keep putting in the effort to change things, they’ll change on their own, just not immediately.

So change is what I want, but what do I really need?  Well, I think I figured out a little bit of that this morning.  What I need is attention.  I need people to notice me.  But not just notice me, I want them to listen, to learn, to attempt to understand, to accept.

I’ve lived most of my life trying to hide away in the shadows.  Whether that be from social anxiety, distrust, or fear of repercussions, in some way, shape, or form, I’ve tried to keep myself from being in the open, where I’m most uncomfortable, most vulnerable.  Of course, my issues with self image and identification just made it even harder to be open.  I shoved pretty much everything into my proverbial closet.  My depression, anxiety, sexuality, religious views, desired lifestyle, hopes, dreams, and of course, my gender identity, were all stuffed in there under lock and key.  Occasionally the door would burst open and I’d have to pick up the mess, but generally it all stayed in there, far away from anyone’s notice.  Sometimes I’d crack the door open to let certain people see in, but never to people like my family, my teachers, basically anyone viewed as somewhat of an authority figure.

And now here I am.  I’ve opened that closet and not just laid it all out, but put it prominently on display.  I’ve accepted that these parts of me are really who I am, and I’m ready to show everyone that person, share it with the world.

But no one seems to be paying attention.  It’s like I’m talking to a brick wall.  Other than a select few friends, no one seems to notice.  No questions, no comments, just silence.  And that silence is deafening.

I really just want to share the real me with the people in my life who I care about the most.  I’ve already gone through a majority of this with my friends, most of whom accepted the new me on the spot, no questions asked.  They learned, they understood, and they accepted.  But my family still has not even come close to this point.  A very few have started this process, but the vast majority don’t seem to want to believe this is who I am, or they seem content with just believing that I’m still the old me and they refuse to accept that anything has changed.

But this is the real me.  This is who I am, and that isn’t going to change.  And I want to show you the real me.  The one with emotions beyond anger and irritability.  The one with hopes and dreams much bigger than just working a desk job for the rest of my life.  The one who isn’t afraid to speak her mind.  The one who will give you undying loyalty if you just try.  So please, stop acting like all of this will just go away, because it isn’t.  I’m right here, ready to show you, if you’ll just pay attention.

The Pain of Not Knowing

The holidays have been a rough time for me the last few years.  My family tends to butt heads with me over things like politics and religion.  And between having to keep my transition a secret and the struggle of getting my family to accept me, it’s only gotten worse.

Now that I’m out full-time, and my family seems to be supportive, things are getting better, but I’ve still got a huge worry on my plate.  Some of my family, especially the immediate family, has had a hard time adjusting and accepting me, which has led to some incredibly uncomfortable family get-togethers.  And the stress and anxiety associated with those uncomfortable times have really gotten to me.

I know that stress comes from not knowing how this will all turn out.  I’m prepared for the relationship with my family to either endure or disintegrate.  Both options have presented themselves as possibilities, and I’ve made steps to ready myself for both.  At this point, functionally, I don’t care which way it goes.  Being disowned would suck, but I could deal with it just as well as I could having another solid means of support.

What’s killing me is not knowing which way the scales will tip.  My family says they won’t cut ties with me, but they aren’t making any effort to include me in the family, either.  And although I will say I haven’t made this any easier for them, the fact of the matter is I’m not willing to put the time, energy, and emotions into making it work until they show me they want it.  I’ve been through this kind of thing before, and I know opening up just makes it hurt worse when I’m rebuked.  There’s no reason to pile more suffering on top of the struggles I’m already dealing with.

I think that’s why I decided to not attend Thanksgiving this year, too.  I knew that, given which side of the family we were celebrating with this year, there would be a huge chance that someone would say or do something to cause me trouble, and I didn’t want to have to deal with that, especially knowing that there would be no one there to back me up.

And so, I guess I’ll get to my point.  To my family, I ask, which do you really want?  Do you want to accept me as I am and get to know the real me that’s been in hiding for twenty-five years, or would you be more content with just letting me go?  If you want to be accepting and supportive, I’ll be there through thick or thin.  I’ll help you gain the understanding I know you need.  You just have to ask for it and listen with an open mind, free of any preconceptions you already have.  To me, nothing is sacred, and I’ll lay my heart in the open if you want.  But if you’d rather just cut me off, I’ll understand.  Although it’d be rough, I can handle it.  I’ve already got the support I need to make it through.  But I need an answer.  The stress and anxiety will kill me if I don’t get it.

Dreams

I’ve been sick in some way, shape, or form on and off for the last several weeks.  As such, I’ve taken a number of days off work.  With that much time off work, I’ve done a lot of thinking, mainly about where I am and where I want to be.

I can’t help but think that some of these health issues I’ve been having are because of my job.  Basically, I can’t really stand it anymore.  I’m tired of having to deal with everything coming through the door, especially the bugs that always have a requirement of being done last week.  I’m tired of trying to keep myself together on the outside while on the inside I’m falling apart.  I’m tired of feeling like I’m constantly causing more problems than I’m fixing.  I’m tired of coming in every day and finding there’s another problem that doesn’t make any sense, especially when the problems are caused by something completely unexpected.  I’m tired of being constantly told I’ve done something wrong and never being told when I’ve done something right.  I’m tired of waking up every morning dreading the idea of coming to work.  I’m tired of seeing my cost of living increase and my income staying the same or shrinking.  And most of all, I’m just tired.  The stress and anxieties surrounding my job are making it even harder to be effective and efficient, which only compounds upon the issues I’m already having.

I’m ready to move on.

But I don’t just want to move on.  After six years of studying and working in software, I just don’t have enough interest in it anymore to want to pursue it as a career.  It’s awesome that I can do it, and the pay is pretty great, but it just isn’t something that makes me want to get up in the morning and work at for eight hours a day for the rest of my working life.  I’m just not cut out for the daily grind, and I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon.

So what do I want to do?  Well, first off, I need to get out of Indiana.  I really don’t think there’s anything left for me here in the way of personal goals.  And it doesn’t help that this isn’t exactly the best environment to be transitioning in.  There’s also that problem where it’s pretty boring and there isn’t much to do in any fashion, which means it’s harder to get the training and knowledge I need for what I do want to do.

The next step is cooking classes.  I realized about a month ago that those passing thoughts of wanting to open a restaurant weren’t just whimsical fancies.  That’s actually what I truly want to do.  I’m a pretty good cook as is, but there’s only so much I can get through just my own trial and error.  I need to learn from some professionals the minutiae of cooking.  How different flavors interact.  How to handle temperature as a means of changing the dish.  How to prepare on a much larger scale than a single pot.

So all that’s left is to figure out how to orchestrate this plan.  My SO is already in the San Francisco bay area, so first I need to figure out how to get to a point where we can be together, and that starts with one of us finding a job in the area.  Him finding a job and supporting us while I pursue the rest would be an ideal situation, but I’d be fine with finding a job of my own out there to support us until then.  Next is to take some time to attend classes and garner the finances I’ll need to take on this endeavor.  Hopefully I can get that done within a couple years.  Finally, I need to actually open the business, which will probably start out as a food truck.  It’s just simpler and takes less capital, and I can partner with a friend out there who wants to follow the same path, so we can split that to make it even less for me.

And that’s the plan. At this point, I can’t really do much more than work on my recipes and technique on my own, but hopefully I can get this plan rolling by the beginning of next year.