“Is something wrong?”, she said
Of course there is
“You’re still alive”, she said
Oh, do I deserve to be?
Is that the question?
And if so, if so
Who answers, who answers?” – Pearl Jam (Alive)
A young girl and her mother walked hand-in-hand down the sidewalk. The girl strained at her mother’s arm as she was fascinated by the displays in the shop windows that lined the street. She managed to wrest her hand from her mother’s protective grasp and ran up to a storefront, pressing her little hands urgently against the window and peering excitedly through the glass.
Her mother seemed unaffected by this and patiently waited for her daughter to finish inspecting whatever was on display.
I only witnessed this for a moment as I drove past but this simple scene affected me. A mother who loved her daughter. A daughter who was allowed to just be herself and enjoy a moment.
This was, in its simplest form, the life I never had. The life I grieve every day.
I wish I had known the words to say. I wish there had been someone to listen. I wish the world had been a different place….
“This is killing me. Why does authenticity even matter?” I asked my therapist. “I’ve faked being a guy for forty-something years. Why can’t I just keep doing it? Why do I even care?”
“Because it’s killing you.”
It really is that simple, however unfortunate that may be.
In my mind still, if I could only make this go away, I could keep my girlfriend, not lose my job…still have a life.
I’ve battled depression my entire life. Am I not good enough at this by now to just stay the way I was?
I abuse myself mercilessly with this poisonous internal dialogue. After all, none of this matters.
It serves no purpose to act as though I still have some kind of choice here.
It’s almost impossible for human beings to understand the lived-experiences of others. So it’s hard for me to explain what extreme Gender Dysphoria feels like in any meaningful fashion. It sucks (hard) – I’ll give you that.
I have never felt such grief. I felt that I was being torn apart inside. The pain wasn’t just mental, it was also physical. I felt like I was dying and utterly powerless to do anything about it.
The disease for which there was no cure.
There is no way to communicate the weight of all this.
Oh you feel like a girl inside and it makes you sad to look in the mirror? Boo fucking hoo…
The treatment for Gender Dysphoria may seem far-fetched. It sure did to me.
After initially approaching a therapist for what amounted to actual conversion therapy, I was shocked to hear that not only was conversion therapy pretty much outlawed as harmful and abusive, but that I apparently sounded like every other trans person my therapist had ever dealt with.
The actual treatment? Dark magic right from the DSM V.
You can take hormones. You can transition socially.
That’s it. End.
There was no way this would work. I was a literal abomination. A monster who lived in the mirror…
At 48 it was just too late for me. Being trans was a death-sentence.
So many times, I wanted to succumb to my fate…to obey the dark voice that called me under.
It’s weird how many times someone has said I am courageous. For someone who has lived in fear their entire life this is impossible to believe.
I’m so scared.
There is no courage here.
I have found myself compelled to move forward in transition though. There is no bravery just this odd seemingly automatic forward movement. Like a dream where I occasionally wake up and find myself somewhere new and unknown (but not lost).
I’m like the serial drunk who wakes up somewhere they didn’t expect and then realizes it was somewhere they had hoped to arrive at all along.
Beyond any reasonable belief… transition works. I conjured up the dark magic. I took hormones. I started to transition socially and then somehow – things started to get better.
Two years later and my life-destroying Gender Dysphoria has been mitigated to a nearly-manageable level.
So what now?
I need to figure out how to live.
It’s a tough pill to swallow. I have come to accept and (for once in my life) truly love myself but there is still much pain to come.
I have to risk my employment and come out professionally. I have worked a long time to build up my career.
I also expect my long-term girlfriend to finally call it this year.
Both these things terrify me. Can I not transition without losing everything?
I can be homeless and alone but somehow being authentic makes it all worthwhile?
…but once again, I find myself still moving forward on automatic. Not out of courage. Just compelled to. Propelled forward by some unknown nameless force within me.
This feels like a death march though. Like I’m on some conveyer belt transporting me to some infernal machine whose only purpose is to violently end me.
I can be me but I will never really “live”.
It’s funny…the devices we use to cope.
I am able to function again after two years of this nightmare. I am transitioning. I am making progress.
This should make me happy but it doesn’t.
I live for the moments of euphoria but my coping is largely based on “accepting my fate” not on any real belief that I have a future.
Who will ever hire me? Even more so…
Who will ever love me?
I want to look forward to the future…not just defer my death. This is a much-needed change in my thought process and it’s elusive. I just can’t seem to get there.
It’s like there is no way through this other than to let things implode, hit rock-bottom and then maybe rebuild my life somehow…
I need hope.
The only way to find it is to walk alone through fire and hope I survive.
It’s not too late for me but I wonder if I will end up being the reason my life never happens.
I want to live. I don’t want to be afraid anymore.
Doing all this on automatic won’t get me there.
I need courage now. The real stuff.