Short Post

I am going to do a short update right now because I’m clearly having a hard time writing a longer post. I have one in the works but I’m not sure what the conclusion of the story is so it feels weird finishing it. So far I have two different conclusions to the story that are drastically different and I expect another ending to emerge for said story. So instead here is my short update that is vague but will hopefully give you the essence of where I’ve been over the last 5 weeks.

My life recently has been all out of sorts. I’ve had tons of drama with numerous friends and I’m still trying to sort out what is and has happened. I am not talking to Spaced right now, my relationship with Chem feels somewhat tenuous and I had a big fight with Jamie (but we are cool now). Everything I thought I knew about my main group of friends was thrown in the air. And I’ve realized I haven’t been the person I want to be or the person I know I am recently. I was sucked into an alternate reality and during that time lots of things happened that I’m not proud of.

But now I am on my way out of this world. I’m still scared I’ll go back to these bad habits but they feel farther away everyday. I’m surrounding myself with people I trust and people who truly and always have my best interest. I’m trying to get solidity in my reality but it’s hard. That, you see, is the crux of the problem. I’ve struggled with what my reality is for a while. I used to love getting caught up in other people’s reality. I mean, it’s not hard for me, I don’t believe in my reality. In my reality my history makes no sense. I lived 25 years as a boy but I wasn’t one the whole time. On top of that I was molested as a kid and discovering this information has really fucked with my sense of reality. My history all seems invalid and I can’t tell what things affected what has happened in my life and why I am the way I am.

This all feels very doom and gloom but as with all of my posts, and the way I am in general, things are good, things are getting better. I am getting through bad patterns in my life and have begun to rely upon good people in my life. People I can actually trust, not just people that I do trust. I feel much safer and want to give a shout out to Majesty, Vonne and Heart. These three have helped me deeply in my time of insecurity and I feel a amazing trust for them. Vonne has consistently helped me realize my thoughts aren’t that unreasonable and has just always been there and been present in a truly amazing way. Heart has helped me feel, especially in the hard times and is someone I trust. And Majesty, who is my champion. Majesty is the person who I imagine when I’m scared, he guards me from my molester, he guards me from bad friends and he is an amazing voice of reason. He has my back 100% and I love him so deeply.

And beyond being around people life is tangibly better. I enjoyed my birthday for the first time in so many years. I cannot remember enjoying a birthday, my earliest birthday memory is realizing how much it sucks to have your birthday on valentines day and that was when I was a freshman in high school. But this birthday I was self confident, surrounded myself with friends and was the center of the party. I got pied in the face, made people eat pie off my knees and got friends to lift up me and the chair I was in. I had a blast and I went to visit my family and ended up having the best birthday ever. And I got to spend it with two of my favorite people, Majesty and Spaced.

I’ve also decided to broaden my social horizons and try to find new people and just hang out with friends I keep missing. One more super exciting thing, I finally feel confident enough to go dating. So far I’ve been on one date and have another one tonight. I’ve never gone on dates before, I’ve always just dated friends. This is an uncomfortable scary experience, but I am doing it. And I feel good that I’m in a place where I feel comfortable putting myself out like this.

Things are scary, unsettling, hard, stressful, anxiety provoking, rewarding, relieving, exciting, humbling, and my life is moving forward not necessarily as I hoped, but probably faster than I’d imagine.

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Winter Solstice Card 2015

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Dear Friends/Family,

This past year has been an amazing and challenging year. I started hormones on January 9th and legally changed my name on May 6th. I’ve been meditating for over a year and 6 months of it has been at a Shambhala Buddhist meditation center where I have learned a great deal. I started working again as an organizer, field director and currently doing data entry and just about everything else at SEIU.

During this past year I’ve also struggled with depression and anxiety. A week after my name change occurred I realized I was molested as a child. But from these experiences I opened up and finally asked for help. I have had tons of support from all I have told and found a strong bond with friends new and old. I have accepted and learned so much about myself and am appreciative of everyday I have. My life is so much more wonderful than a year ago, than a month ago. I’ve grown a huge amount in that time and looking back is a truly humbling experience. Thank you for being in my life and if I don’t regularly I hope to see you in the next year.

Love,
Jenny

This is the solstice card I sent out to family and friends and that I extend to y’all. This year has been an amazing year. One that has been terrific, horrible, freeing, paralyzing but despite all of the things that have happened this is the happiest I’ve ever been. Looking back on every other time of good feelings I can see that they are filled with feelings of despair, depression, and suicidal thoughts. These haven’t gone away but I’ve accepted them and started to address them. Knowing it has gotten so much better is relieving, because day to day I often only recognize problems that arrive.

Currently I’ve been struggling with how to relate to friends and what I want from them. But I am struggling with this because I am not just being what other people want from me I am figuring out what I want from other people and figuring out how I want to interact with them. Essentially I’m struggling a lot because a lot of what that I’ve “figured out” is wrong. I figured out how to serve and please other people now I’m figuring out what pleases me. I’m taking missteps every step I take but I’m learning so much from them.

I’m trying to be me. I’m focusing on me and it’s not always in a good way. I’m more selfish, impulsive, self-centered but like how a pendulum swings back and forth before reaching it’s center point. At least I imagine that is what I’m doing. It’s hard to explain it’s hard to understand I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing but this is how I conceptualize my current missteps. I am over being hard on myself, I’m over hyper-analyzing myself. Instead I’m letting myself do whatever I want and I dealing with the response in the moment, I’m relearning why I act the way I do. Is it for others? is it for me? Am I doing this to please people? or to please myself?

I don’t feel completely like myself but I feel like I’m becoming free. I feel my sense of obligation diminishing and my sense of commitment to being who I see myself as fading. I’m Jenny and that person knows who she is. I needn’t incessantly analyze myself I just need to do what feels right, and that what I’m doing. And all the while I’m trying to work on communications so I express why I’m doing what I am and how I feel. I’m just trying really hard to be me and it is a confusing disorienting journey. I will slight you on the way but don’t hold it against me, I’m pretty sure you won’t.

Who am I? I’m Jenny. What does that mean? Fuck if I know.

The Holidays

This holidays, since I’m still not working, I travelled all over and had a great time seeing everyone. Firstly I went to Philly, then State College and finally a solo backpacking trip on the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail. I’ll briefly tell y’all about all my trips and show some pictures.

Philly was nice, I saw all the friends I had hoped to and updated them all about my news of going on hormones and that (starting this Friday!). I also got to tell my Aunt and Uncle I was transitioning who were quite supportive. I even got to see a good friend from my first year of college and spent the solstice sunrise with her.

Sunset in Fishtown, Philadelphia

Sunset in Fishtown, Philadelphia

I spent the solstice in Philadelphia and spent most of my time in a brick cabin of sorts called “the compound” owned by Half Dread. It has a rain water collection system, electricity and a wood fire to heat it. The day of the solstice I spent time at Philly Aids Thrift and lots of time meditating in the sun. That evening I was with Guac for a while and even got to see Juju briefly. Anxiety overtook me that night and when I saw the sunset I felt myself working through and flushing out old problems. It was a cathartic experience and has made me exciting for 2015 a year of powerful enlightenment, awakening and openness.

Sunrise in Philly - exhausted and relieved

Sunrise in Philly – exhausted and relieved

Next was State College. I saw mostly my immediate family, it was especially nice to have my brother there. He missed x-mas last year, which while it’s not an important holiday for most of us it felt like the conscious choice of work over family. My family worked on calling me my new taken name and worked a little on using female pronouns too. This felt validating as though I was transforming into a woman in their eyes, and in my own.

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My final trip was to hike along the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail (LHHT). It’s the same trail that I hiked over Thanksgiving and I was happy to hike it again. This was the most intense of all the experiences. Including two opposite by equally astounding experiences.

The first being hiking two days to come upon a winter paradise. Suddenly there are houses covered in snow, even their roofs (there was no snow to be seen where I was hiking). People are skiing from house to house and then I see a ski lift. I’m at Seven Springs Ski Resort. I laugh and take a silly selfie and continue hiking. Whereupon I realize this is only the beginning, the LHHT cuts directly across multiple ski slopes. From serene woods to dodging skiers and snowboarders. I hike across the slopes taking a couple of pictures as I laugh at the insanity of what I am doing. Finally after 20 minutes in this winter paradise I quietly return to the woods.

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Now my third and final day. I decided that morning to cut my trip short early because there is freezing rain, I forgot my rain pants and I’m running low on food. I spent the day wandering adjacent trails in Forbes State Forest. The weather is beautiful with everything coated in a thin layer of ice. After hiking for several miles I realize I want to bike back to my car (I dropped of a bike two days hike out so I could ride back to my car). I also realize that I am lost and can’t comprehend where I am on the map. Luckily I see my footprints in the ice and simply retrace them. Three miles later I make it back to my bike and realize I have 20 miles left to bike.

At this point I am tired and woozy and have been for the last two miles of hiking. I eat two chocolate bars and start biking. First I bike down Laurel Hill, peak elevation 2,994ft, on Route 31. Next I bike up and down a series of hills on some back roads before turning onto Route 653. At this point I am exhausted and my pants are drenched, I can even feel the water sloshing around in my boots. I reach pinnacle after pinnacle as I climb the mountain where I parked my car. Having just read Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron (I’ll talk more about this soon) I try to stay focused on the present and not let my mind wander.

This experience is wet, exhausted and laden with mild muscle pain. Not as bad as I imagined. The whole experience was actually beautiful, being present in the now even if it is miserable it calming and fun. After miles up hill I start seeing fog and familiar signs. I make it to the summit in a state of serene peace. I was very present and remained so the following day.

A wonderful end to my trips and a great memory to have as I embark on my job search and continued quest for my true self.

Winter Solstice 2014

Happy winter solstice friends, family and readers,

I hope everyone had as heartwarming of a year as I did. My friends and my family has gone above and beyond and helped me more than I ever expected. I feel truly humbled and extremely happy to write this. The last two years can best be summed up by two tarot cards I drew last new years. One was for 2013 one was for 2014. My card for 2013 was the 8 of arrows, struggle. My card for 2014 was the 9 of arrows, dedication.

Tarot Reading 2013

Over the last year I went from slowly dying and saving money to buy a house in Pittsburgh to quitting my job and working on being happy now. I vowed to spend my savings on things that made me happy and in becoming who I truly am – a woman. In August I went on a bike trip to remind myself of who I was and to start telling other about who I am.

Along my trip I had great responses and lots of support. I don’t know where I’d be without all my friends and family. The people near and dear to me stood by me and offered more support than ever. They picked me up when I fell and urged me to keep moving forward. Thinking of them and their unwavering love and support makes me feel free to do and be who I am no matter how scary that seems.

This past year was hard, but rewarding. I struggled but I found myself. I kicked depression and started meditating and being more mindful and present. I haven’t given up on anything but fake me. I left the bike shop world for good and am about to try to get a job working with mentally challenged adults. After that I plan on going to grad school to become a counsellor. My life is coming together and next year is setting itself up to be an even better year than this one.

Planned for next year is a solo backpacking trip to kick it off. After that I have an appointment to get hormones on the 9th of January. Second puberty here I come! I can’t wait to have my body fit my view of it. The next two years will be an exciting long awaited feminizing of myself. All the while I’ll be continuing to find my trueself and find love and happiness within myself instead of in others. As Arcade Fire says, “it’s never over” but that doesn’t mean that everyday it isn’t getting better and better.

My Family

When I came out to my parents they were both hesitant. They said they wouldn’t and couldn’t financially support me (they’re about to retire) and they are still coming to terms with who I am and supporting my journey. But when I talked to my family (close friends) the support was unconditional. I’ve long dealt with distant and detached parents and have called my close friends family. I talk to my close friends the way some people talk to their families. The actions of my friends throughout this was so unconditional and even more so, I am humbled and reminded of how lucky I am.

Throughout this evolution I have continually leaned on and talk to friends about what’s going on in my head. They have loved and supported me unconditionally, period. They fought and fight long and hard for me and are the only people who see me as a woman, something I am still working on seeing. They give me the hope and the courage to move forward and support me all the way.

I’m writing this to thank all of them and let them know how humbled I am by their support. I am truly appreciative and honored and feel extremely privileged. My counsellor expressed concern about being trans and how hard it is, I said that I have a pretty good support network. And I do, everyone calls me she, everyone is there to talk to and I know that my friends would want to fight anyone who wronged me.

I want to give a special shout out to a few people who have been outstanding supporters. Majesty, who may not be able to relate but knows how to listen and be there. He has helped me for years and years. Danedane, an old roommate in Philadelphia, who has loved to hear my transformation from depressed boy to strong woman and has helped me push forward and think about where I’m going. Big S who I have leaned on so much. She has been an extraordinary help I don’t know where I’d be without her. Red Beard, my long haired, big bearded friend from USAS who’s all clean cut now. He has been there for me and recently pledged to fund the entirety of my sperm banking. A move that reinforced my belief that my friends are my family and truly moved me beyond which words can describe.

I am pressing forward with the support of friends who are beyond supportive. Friends who call me Jenny and she before even I am ready. Friends who support me and look at me with awe of the amazing journey I’m going on. One even said to me, “Do you have a mentor?” And was in awe that I didn’t and had only just recently started going to a counsellor. I have my friends, correction, I have my family. They support me, give me the courage and the strength and help me through hard times.

And I know I deserve every ounce of support because you get what you give, but the support I’m getting is humbling and truly amazing. I am so honored to have the friends in my life that I have, both the once mentioned and the many out there that I didn’t. Thank you.

Vision Quest – Majesty

This past weekend I was a supporter for Majesty as he went on a vision quest at the circle where he does American Indian rituals. I entered the circle feeling doubts and hesitation about doing all of this. This was my second time visiting and first time sweating with them. I was honored to have Majesty ask me to support him and decided to suspend my disbelief and simply go with the flow. This strategy worked out amazing and led to some wonderful times, strong emotions and powerful realizations.

Majesty has been doing the circle for 5 years now and this was his 4th vision quest. On the vision quests questers go up into the woods behind the circle leader’s house. They are supposed to stay in a little fenced in area about 7′ by 3′. They can only leave to go to the bathroom and only in the daytime and they aren’t allowed to eat or drink anything for 4 days. In the meantime supporters are eating, doing sweat lodges and singing for them.

The first day I went into the sweat lodge we did 4 doors (or sessions). Two with the vision questers and two without. In the middle we walked the vision questers to their new homes for the next few days. The homes were within earshot of each other to allow for singing and support but not within vision. We then went back and sweated again. The final door was very intense and brought up emotions I had been burying, specifically about being trans. I was so overcome with emotions for Andy and for my gender related thoughts that when I left the sweat I stared at the fire and cried.

The community there was very supportive and positive. I met many people there I hope to see again and felt nearly part of a family. I felt as though I could share most of my true feelings with these people despite only knowing them for a short time. My only complaint with the atmosphere would be the normaling of gender roles; it seemed like all the women cooked and all the men labored. There were a several comments reinforcing this mindset too. Though a friend and I helped to break these down by her doing more of the hard labor and me doing the cooking, etc.

I tried to be at the circle as much as I could but work prevented me from being there quite a bit. I was only able to enjoy the first and the last sweat and I had to stay home one night too. This tore me up because I really wanted to be there and felt very strange being in the real world. Whether at the circle or at home I was very emotional this whole time and thought of Majesty quite a lot. While I know we were close friends before I feel an even deeper closeness now and I would consider Majesty family without a doubt.

The circle was also enjoyable just in cooking and hanging out, I talked to very nice people and picked up some cooking skills. The environment there was hard not to enjoy and felt like the ideal environment where people are open, nice, cooperative and are more forthright about what they want and how they feel. I also realized that I really need to stop looking at others and trying to fit in to society. Instead I need to be what I feel and do what I love. Whether that be chanting native songs in the woods or wearing skirts and wandering the city. Finally one of the questers told me quite a nice thing when I said goodbye to him. He said that I have a wonderful energy within me and that I need to show it, he saw it the second time he met me before he went on his quest. I’ve been working on revealing this and now I will have to work even harder.

I’ll leave you with a song that I’ve been feeling a lot through all of this

Thanksgiving

This year I wasn’t able to make it home for thanksgiving, the first year I was disappointed to be without my family in a while. Instead I had to stay in Pittsburgh because of a Black Wednesday through Saturday sale at my work. Luckily I had the joy of eating dinner with a bunch of old friends and some new friends. I also realized/remembered that thanksgiving is best spent with a bunch of people, ideally people you love.

A partner and friend of a USASer that has been in one of my friend circles for quite a while threw a thanksgiving potluck dinner. She invited all of those who couldn’t make it home, didn’t have anywhere else to be or simply didn’t know what thanksgiving was. It turned out to be a bunch of friends including Juju and her boyfriend. We reminisced about people we hadn’t seen, ate delicious food and had great fun.

I had spent the past so many thanksgivings only with my immediate family. I hadn’t done otherwise for 10 years. These dinners were always something quite uneventful, whether I liked or hated my family. Same dishes, same people – nothing too exciting.

This year was very different. It was filled with food, so much food that I nearly exploded. I experienced the thanksgiving everyone seems to talk about. The one where you unbutton your belt and try to cram just a little bit more food in your stomach. I had three helpings of food and two helpings of dessert. It was the best thanksgiving since the ones I spent with my extended family so many years ago.

I’m excited for next thanksgiving and hope it is even half as good and filling as this one. Also I just remembered I still have a Friendsgiving vegan potluck on Saturday to get excited for! Best thanksgiving time yet!

And now a thanksgiving tradition – no I’m not going to talk about how horrible this holiday is besides this photo.
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Instead I need to say what I’m thankful for this year! I’m thankful for all my friends, family and loved ones. I’m so thankful you all helped me out of the slump I was in and now I can appreciate all the great great people and great things around me. I am truly lucky to have collected all the wonderful people in my life I have so far. I hope to not stop collecting or appreciating all the people I have in my life.

I’m also happy for Pittsburgh, for the coming winter (Philly doesn’t have winter and it drove me crazy), and having brightened spirits once more. Spend you days folks, spends your days!