Dear Clarity

Dear Clarity,

I love you and the kids with all my heart. Nearly all of my energy over the past 20 months feels like it has been dedicated to healing you and the kids. It’s been rewarding and satisfying to watch your growth. It hasn’t been sustainable or healthy for me. As it continues it also doesn’t seem healthy of helpful for any of us.

I got to watch the littlest child come out of her shell, watch middle child emerge from the boy she was, watch the oldest begin to verbalize his emotions in a way that few adults can. And, of course, watch you grow immensely as you shed years of trauma and break through old patterns as you begin to remember the real you. You all are hardly the people I met, it makes me cry tears of overwhelming joy and hurt to think about it. I think I can confidently say there isn’t much I would trade for that.

All the while I have pushed and pushed myself to do my best, better than my best to show up for all of y’alls healing. This has caused me to deteriorate. Suicidal thoughts and self harm was nearly gone from my life but has now reemerged and is stronger now than it ever has been. I spend hours some days unable to move as I collapse on the ground, feeling like there is someone standing on my chest. Irritable, depressed and apathetic, I’m starting to see the kids trying to avoid me, trying to get away from my angst. I am starting to see this not only as unhealthy for me, but unhealthy for everyone involved. As I snap at you, as I distance myself from you, as I am unable to show any love towards the 4 people I love so much. Instead I feel myself growing increasingly irritated with you, and increasingly view y’all as burdens.

As I take a step back I realize just how overwhelmed and stressed I am. I step back and realize how unhealthy this is and how I have immersed myself in your family’s world to the point I feel like I have almost ceased to exist. This isn’t a new struggle, it’s an old one that’s tied in with being trans. It’s a clinging I did and still do to other people and getting lost in them and their problems.

I can’t do it anymore, I can’t do this anymore. I wanted to be everything you needed to help you grow and get better, I wanted to want to be a caregiver, a parent, to have 3 kids and a dog. I wanted to want all of these things I was given and all of this security. But I don’t, I just want me, I want my life back and I want you to be in it, but not be it.

It’s not about holding out for the next time we move, or the next routine we develop, or that break through in therapy or that new job. It’s about me needing to be Jenny, a person that has only existed in name for 4 years. I am not ready to be a parent. I’m not ready to have 3 kids a wife and a dog. I have so many dreams of my future and what it looks like. This life feels suffocating and I don’t want to have people I love so dearly feel like they are just burdens suffocating me. I want them to bring joy and desire to see them, I want to have glee playing with and seeing y’all. This is something I haven’t felt in a long time.

Now, I’m sure you want to talk logistics now that I got my feels out, you want to understand what I’m even asking for. I don’t have a solid grasp on a healthy and thoughtful way to make this transition work for everyone but I know what my soul needs and I need a break before I can plot out long term logistics, otherwise I’d be planning based on my current desires to be around y’all. My end goal is to be an auntie and a nanny at times. I love you all so much I can’t imagine being happy not seeing y’all.

I know I’m going to be needing days instead of hours. I know I desperately need to heal to feel like a person to have time to connect with my people. I don’t want to disappear. I want to step back and become less involved. I think that would be the healthiest thing for all of us. I don’t have a timeline, but I do know I want to live elsewhere within this year.

I hope you understand how much this has torn me apart thinking about how I do and don’t want to do this. But I know in my heart that this is what is the best for me and what i have to do. I think this will also be great for y’all though it’ll definitely be hard at first but it’ll allow for a lot of much needed growth.

I want to talk more about this and can whenever you’d like. I was hoping to share this info last Monday at our group therapy since that didn’t happen I had to write it out. I will always love you in a way in a way I have never felt before.

Love, with all of my heart,

Jenny

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Who’s supporting who?

you promised you’d care for me
you promised I’d be fed
you promised you’d support me
while I supported you

we’ve got a lot of healing
we’ve got a lot of work
we’ve got a lot of kids
just got a lot to do

don’t matter if it’s paper of plastic
don’t matter how we get it
don’t matter why we need it
if we need it for the healing work we need it

I’ll cover this
I’ll cover that
I’ll cover anything
Anything for healing cause that’s what we’re doing, plus you say you’ll make it right

you’ve got a plan to pay em off
you’ve got my trust it’ll happen fast
you’ve got a way to make it happen
so I gotta believe in you, gotta focus on the work we’re doing, even as the numbers grow

Turned over my bank account when it dipped below four hundred
you spent that four hundred promptly and never did a thing

three months later my bank is calling me
they say they ain’t my bank no more
they say that I gotta pay them quick
they say they’re gonna send it to collections

You said you’d sort it out
you said you’d pay the bank
you said you’d make it right

all I see is you making off with
everything you can carry
everything you can haul
everything you can imagine

you’ve gotta fill this hole
you’ve got a lot of loss
you’ve got so much need

you fill it up with household goods
you fill it up with clothes for kids
you fill it up with lots of things

For the kids, for the house, for the future, for the past, you got a lot to make up for, and you ain’t gotta make up a thing to me

now we ain’t got nothing
now we hit the top
now they’re all maxed out

we were spending all our future
we finally spent it all up
we’re living with what we make today
and today we ain’t make much

Now there isn’t a bill to share between the two of us, pinching pennies constantly, I even had to beg for gas

Can’t trust me with the money
can’t trust me with a bill
can’t trust me with what I buy

so here I am driving around on empty
so here I am 3 kids all hungry
so here I am with 25 dollars, wondering what to do

wondering how I’m gonna feed them
wondering how I’m gonna make it home
wondering how it’s gonna work out
driving home on fumes, I spend my last money on getting these hungry kids some food

isn’t ’til I pull up the reality dawns upon me
new curtains, new pillows, and new cushions too, new rugs on every floor and new clothes to boot

wondering why I was pinching pennies
wondering why I’m driving on empty
wondering why the fridge is still empty

wondering if we’ll make it to the next payday like this
wondering who’s money we’re even spending
wondering if there is any hope to remedy this

go home and check my voicemail
go home and check the mail
go home and check my accounts

Just crossed the 20 grand line, came here with 6 thousands, saying you’d be supporting me
when I look at my accounts, it says I’ve been supporting you

How to Change Your Name

A while back I posted a blog about how to get a court order for a name change in Allegheny County, which is fairly applicable for all of Pennsylvania. I also made a post talking about all there is to change. This time I’m going to walk you through the actual steps I had to take in order to get everything changed and potential hangups.

First off congratulations if you have gotten your name change completed. This is not an easy task, but this is also just the begin. While the following isn’t hard you can see from the extensive list that it is just a lot of stuff to change. But I’m going to break down this list so you know what you have to do first and how to begin the process. Don’t worry with slow steady effort you’ll be done in no time!

First off I would recommend that as soon as you get your court order to change your name to go get your new drivers license. To do this you need DL-80 (if you just want your name changed) DL-54B (if you want to update your picture too) for your name change, DL-32 filled out by a medical or social service provider (this is fairly lax in Pa, I got my therapist to do it but I think any social worker or doctor would be able to sign off on it) to change your gender. Then you just have to go to your local Penn Dot station wait around for a bit and get yourself a brand new drivers license, something which is essential to getting many more documents changed.

list

The next one I would recommend tackling would be your Social Security Card. For the Social Security administration they need your stamped court order the form SS-5 and updated drivers license. In order to change your gender marker on your Social Security Card you have to have a letter from your doctor that has wording that says you “had [past tense is essential] the appropriate gender treatment to (current gender).” I got such a paper from my doctor and was able to fully update my Social Security Card.

Now that you have those two you can pretty much change everything else! I would recommend trying to change both your name and gender at the same time. I’ve found that there are a lot of companies who have a gender marker for you so you might as well just give them a copy of your court order and your doctors note saying you have transition(ed).

The next thing I changed was my Credit Union/Banks and Credit Cards.
This was with varying degrees of success, I got forms from most of them and mailed them in with the two documents (attach a copy of these even if the forms don’t ask for them). Then I had to call each of them to confirm they got it and new what to do and to send me a new card.

If you happen to have a Paypal account, you’ll start to love Paypal. This is the easiest of all my accounts. You simply upload your files and the change your account over for you within a couple of days.

-Health Insurance Card (you need to do this to change medical records, doctors office, etc.)

-Doctors Office
All then need is show your insurance card to match your requested name and they promptly changed it for me.

-Dentist Office
I would assume this is the same for the Doctors office but I have yet to go

-Birth Certificate
I was born in Maryland and they just updated there policy for this here is the form for that, you need to fill it out and have your doctor sign off on it.

-Passport
As of currently you can change and update all of your info and your gender. I would direct you here for more info.

-Vehicle Title Registration
This is super easy all you have to do is mail in form MV-41A (link below) with $51 and your court order.

-School Records/Transcripts
The best way to go about this for K-12 is to just call one of the secretaries ideally in the records and enrollment. I got transfered to someone who asked that I mail her a copy of my court order and form from my doctor saying I’ve transitioned along with my SSN and something saying my past name and current name.

-Degree (ie college diploma)
I went to Penn State and they have a handy little form here and for $40 you can get yourself a new diploma with your new name. You have to fill out a form for both the name change and the form to request a new diploma.

-Healthcare.gov
I filled out my application for insurance and saw that I could simply change my name. I felt too lazy to go through all of the work required and hoped I didn’t have to. Sadly when I got my first bill from Highmark I found out they have my old name on it.

-Credit Bureaus (click here on a link to a page that explains how to do this)
This doesn’t actually seem necessary, but it is really easy! Two of the three got back to me and asked me to fill out forms for them and mail them back. I got an update from those to with my credit report. I didn’t hear back from Equifax at all. I’m sure they’ll realize though once all of my credit cards and credit union accounts get updated.

Phone Company
-I’m not the main person on my phone plan so I had a confusing time with this one. I was trying to upgrade my phone but Jenny couldn’t upgrade her phone, only Chris could. They asked me if I had a drivers license with my old name on it. They wouldn’t take my court order as proof so I had to wait for my parents to call in and update that Jenny had permission over the account. I think the informality of this made it more complicated

-Landlord or Deed to House
I have a landlord so this one was easy. When I got my checks with my new name on them I simply mailed him a letter explaining that I had transitioned and attached a copy of my court order and new drivers license. I didn’t hear anything back so I can only assume I’ve done my part

-Sperm Bank (if you froze sperm)
This is so easy. All I had to do was contact them

-REI
This was harder than I imagined. I could change anything but my first name in store, they refereed me to their member hot-line. When I called in their member hot-line I got a snarky response from a lady who said we don’t transfer accounts there is no reason you would need to change you name. To which I responded, “How about a court order?” That got me transferred to someone real quick and I simply sent in an email with my court order attached.

-Library
This is really easy you just go with your court order, they may ask to see your license but any librarian is capable of changing all of your details including your gender!

-Wills
I gave my parents a heads up when my name would be changed so that they could change my name in their wills to make sure that nothing wonky happened. Not sure how to do this but it didn’t seem too hard.

Other stuff you may have to change that I don’t have comments on:

-Voter Registration
-Water/Sewage
-Gas
-Electric
-Internet Service Provider
-Insurance provider(s)
-Cable Provider
-Selective Service (Draft)
Unless they expand the draft to women and they become okay with trans people (both seem like they could happen soon) If you’re trans you don’t qualify for the draft but you will have to do some paperwork if you are under 25.
-Legal Documents (power of attorney, living trusts, contracts)
-Deed to House
-Loans
-Retirement accounts
-Professional Licenses
-Employment Records
-Car Towing Company (i.e. AAA)

Dreaming of a future

When I was young we acted poor but we weren’t
We always had enough in the bank account but we would hardly spend it
Nice House
Tree house and garden
Summer vacation in the woods for two weeks

Straight cis married families surrounded us on all sides
I knew folks who got free lunch, there weren’t a lot, I knew of the broken families, there weren’t a lot
Good school district
Kids down the street
Quaint neighborhood

When you come from that background you just believe you are gonna always be there
Like it’s always gonna work out, you’re always gonna
Get married
have a good job
have money

Then I transitioned from handsome young man to gangly transwoman
The tomboy in me refuses to let me pass
refuses to soften my voice
refuese to wear makeup
refueses to wear any bright colors

Suddenly I don’t see a future that looks like any semblance of what I had
I look around at my community and all I see is a hot mess
Divorce,
shitty exes
messy complicated relationships

Haven’t had a real partner since before I transitioned, I’ve only dated straight ladies
Haven’t had a girlfriend to dream about for a long time, so I don’t
empty dreams
unsure future
hopeless life

Now I have a partner and three kids, we aren’t intimate, we hardly even talk these days
The kids live in a reality I’ve never lived in, a reality separate from ours
hockey, ballet
designer clothes
private lessons

They think they’re rich while we scrounge for for gas my putting 10 dollars in the tank at a time
Pulling from friends and food banks to make sure there is toilet paper and food in the house
EBT
NSF fees
maxed out credit cards

Spending away our future makes it hard to dream about anything
Living in a sea of straight people with mangled families makes it hard to see another way
sex with my ex
Books by queers
trips to the east end

Are what keep me alive, dreaming of a future where I still exist
Dreaming of another world that isn’t straight cis and bland, A world I’m allowed to exist.

The Day

The day I want to kill myself
it isn’t the day I have a crisis
it isn’t the day I cry for hours
it isn’t the day I cut myself
it isn’t the day I am angry, miserable and filled with rage and hurt

That’s the day I want to scheme
to tie a noose
to make sure it fits over my head
to find a spot
to make sure it’s hidden from sight
to find a stump
to make sure it’s easy to knock over
to write a note
to cry and scream in frustration and hurt when I realize today isn’t the day

The day I want to kill myself is
when I feel the cool breeze over my face
when I can hear the birds chirping around me
when I feel calm and present in my body
when the day has gone well and there isn’t a thing in the world making me knock over that stump

That’s the day I want to kill myself
a good day a happy day
a day where I say that was a full life
a day where I say that was a good time
a day where one tear escapes my left eye and runs all the way down my cheek until it reaches my chin and then it hops off to land on and be absorbed into my shirt
a day where that tear has to run past a smile before I knock over my stump.

Bloody Fists

I bloodied my fist today because of my rage. I thought I was mad at the kids at first, I cursed their names as I uncontrollably punched the cold mud. It wasn’t until later I realized I was angry at you.

You hurt me every time you are near, every time I hear your voice. Your words sting, your insults constantly fly. You claim you joke, you claim I misunderstand, but I am hurt by both what you say and how you treat me, by both your words and what lies between them.

I first looked down at my bloody fist with embarrassment and shame. The same shame I have when I look upon the blood I draw from my own forearms. But as I look back upon it only two days later I see power, power and strength in my bloody fists. I stand tall, chest out, shoulders wide with a calm look of “bring it” on my face. I am not someone to be fucked with. I am power. I am strength. I am perseverance.

I could crush you with this bloody fist, I could rip you apart with this bloody fist. I could make you cry with this bloody fist. I could make you question who you are with this bloody fist. I could make you ashamed to be who you are with this bloody fist. I could make you hurt for years with this bloody fist, the same way you have made me hurt for years.

I may have all this power,  all this strength and all the reasons in the world to take a swing at you with this bloody fist, but I won’t.  I won’t use this power to break you. No, instead I will stick out my bloody fist and I’ll grab your hand. I will pull you up with my bloody fist so you can stand. I’ll teach you with my bloody fist how to apologize. I’ll teach you with my bloody fist how to treat me right, how to talk to me like a person. I’ll teach you how to keep me in your life.

Or maybe I won’t. Maybe you won’t take my bloody fist, maybe you won’t listen to my words and my pleas to treat me right. Maybe you’ll just insist they really are just jokes. Maybe you’ll insisted they really are just misunderstandings.

I may have all this power, all this strength and all the reasons in the world to take a swing at you with this bloody fist, but I won’t. I won’t use this power to break you. I’ll leave you be. I think that is punishment enough. To spend years building someone up, tearing someone down, loving them despite all the hurt you cause them. To mold a human and have them grow up to despise you, to renounce you, to leave you.

What a Luxury

I have come to a lot of new understandings in the past year due to changing experiences and perspective aka, being poor and having 3 kids. These aren’t the things I want to share, they aren’t the joy, the love, the compassion, the growth, the power, the strength I have gained. No these are the ugly, the horrible, the depressing and the crushing I have experienced. I share this here because I have nowhere else to share it. No platform, no time, no people except y’all. Thank you for lending your ear, err your eyes.

And remember, I am currently the best person I have ever been, I’m struggling, sure, but I’m growing. Growth doesn’t happen in times of happiness and joy, but through hardship and challenge.

Luxury is so very perspective based but whatever you deem luxury feels luxurious.

When I was a kid luxury was a bar I couldn’t achieve. Over time it lowered and a few years ago luxury felt like a watermelon, and fresh cooked corn on the cob. Now my bar for luxury is much lower. Peeing alone and undisturbed is a luxury, having 3 dollars on me feels like luxury, having time to write, make art, putting up insulation in my room in the attic feels like luxury, having the ability to ride a bike or a long board or even just go on a walk feels like a luxury. Heck, having a adult conversation feels like luxury.

The luxury I failed to fully comprehend though I acknowledged it was the luxury to dumpster diving. There was so much joy there and the bounty was just that, a bounty of luxurious goods. But this luxury no longer feels like one though, my bounty has begun to feel like a burden. That’s because food from the dumpster feels much more liberating and exciting when you don’t need it to be there. It seems to be how you come at it: without expectation. Meanwhile I jump in these cans questing for a lunch, I have 5 pennies in my wallet and $8.55 of my ACCESS card and I plan on using that to buy something for the kids. These frozen donuts feel like my salvation. Yet they crush me when I realize their importance to me.

Immersing myself in emotions, while normally these were negative emotions, cutting, suicidal thoughts, depression, now feel like luxuries too. I long to feel my hurt, to have the space and the energy to have them consume me. I currently feel a dark cloud that I used to call nihilism and depression. I keep it at arms distance most of the time, but I call upon it when I have a chance to feel it’s overwhelming pressure. I can conjure up tears sitting alone for just minutes now. Time has become so much more valuable and much more well used.

I even have a fucked up day dream along that same line. When the kids are older and the time is freer, I desire to go on a journey like the journey’s I once had and often dream of. A journey of nothing, no destination or point, no resources or burdens. A wandering journey where I just go. A journey where I have my bags and my transportation. Maybe I sleep in a tent outside, maybe I sneak into a hiding spot in a building somewhere. I use what there is around, I just walk a lot, sit a lot and ponder and explore. Then when this time comes to an end, when I am off the map alone and lonely for a few days or few weeks, I disappear to hang my last moments from a noose or dead in a ditch.

I hope to be back to write more for ya’ll. I have a poem called “Bloody Fists” coming out next week or so.