The way I process large life changes and difficulties is by looking back. As you’ve seen I’ve been processing what happened in the days around my most recent transition. I’ve found myself wanting to understand more though, understand not how it ended, but how it all happened. How I found myself drawn into being apart of this family. How I found myself isolated from everyone I knew, rarely interacting with any adult including Clarity. As I read through my journal entries for 2015 and 2016 it becomes clear. I was struggling with both who I was and who I was friends with. I had a series of short, close friendships that fell apart and I had outgrown most of my older friendships. I was trying both to run away from myself and figure out who I was. All the while being terrified of anyone shattering my fragile little trans ego.
The first major thing I did in 2015 was starting hormones after being out as a transwoman for 5 months. I didn’t work for the first few months of 2015 I was struggling with depression and how to get much of anything done. The free time did help me process what had happened and make sense of who I was and how to move forward. Through the help of a therapist I delved into this much deeper. I worked through some feelings I had around self-hatred and internalized transphobia that made/makes me loathe my body and want to change things about it. I was so anxious to have the hormones feminize my body and consequently frustrated by how slow they take to affect your body and when I found out that there is only so much effect that have taking them post-puberty.
In March I got a job working for SEIU for some time and then a city council campaign before returning to SEIU. When I was working at the city council campaign I had a dream that made me realize I was molested and proceeded to struggle a lot around that realization. It haunted potential and actual physical relationships and I realized it had been haunting and affecting my past relationships, even causing a traumatic sexual encounter I had years before. I began meditating and eventually started to go to the Shambhala Buddhist Meditation Center a place I have recently returned to. I made some new friends there and happily found myself in their friend circle.
This was the first friend circle (Spaced, Chem and Hair) I had been in while being a lady and I felt like I was living a high school fantasy. I became completely intertwined and dependent on them as soon as they let me. They became my world, my reality and I became emotionally dependent upon them. I would try to hang out with them every moment I was free, spending time with them whether I enjoyed what activity we were doing or not. I just wanted to leave the reality of my constant thoughts, I wanted to be away from glitter gardens, the house I never fit into and had recently outgrown. I told them everything, I trusted them completely, even when I didn’t. I tried to heal them, and they tried to support my healing, we became intertwined and codependent.
On the good days Spaced would be happy and suck me up into her reality where I was an amazing person to her. We would frolic along, maybe Hair would join, maybe Chem. On the bad days I was full of jealousy and Spaced would ignore me, be rude to me and give me “bad love,” as she called it. It all unraveled in early 2016 when my coworker and new friend, Heart, started dating Chem’s ex and Chem and Spaced turned on me. This wasn’t the first time I had been hurt or hurt people in this relationship, but it was the last one I felt like taking part in. Those 8 months were hardly blissful, though I did enjoy many moments of them. In the end I felt lonely but overall more content without them.
I now had the time once again to focus on me, fixing myself, understanding myself, loving myself. I had grown a bit from being friends with them and I had conquered some things things I was struggling with but I was having a hard time. I’d have anxiety attacks at work, on bike rides and at home. I was terrified about what others thought about me, I was terrified of being judged and stared at. I was the tall translady, I stuck out like a sore thumb. And while I knew everyone was stared at and judged I couldn’t handle the degree I was and that I was being stared at for being myself. This wasn’t something I was dealing with because I lost my friends, I just was doing it alone now. I had tried desperately to control most social situations with Spaced and Chem ensuring there weren’t any people that were transphobic or even ignorant of trans people. I was worried about every transgression that could happen. Being without friends and feeling this paranoia was was very isolating. I would go on long bike rides, longboard rides, and long walks. No matter how long I was out the feeling always caught up to me I’d run out of energy and I’d cry. Lamenting the running I had just done. I wish I had the courage to just face myself, but I was running from something I had been running from for 25 years, myself and the trauma I’d experienced over the last 25 years because of living as a boy and because of being molested. I didn’t know how to face it, I knew how to keep running from it.
Despite all of this hurt and pain I wrote in a blog post at the end of 2015, “I am reminded that 2015 was the best year I’ve lived, and 2016 is looking like it’s going to be so liberating.” And 2016 ended up being a even better year than 2015, despite how horrible it was. At the beginning of 2016 I really started to look into my pattens of running, patterns of codependency and patterns of finding refuge by losing myself in others. The same patterns that I’ve just been talking about. I finally saw them and I started working to change those patterns. With the extra space from having very few good friends I resumed working on myself and taking classes through the Shambhala Center. I worked to notice my habits and to break them. It was exhausting and rewarding work. I still remember leaving the Shambhala Center following a weekend long meditation retreat (Shambhala level one training). I went to the cool, dark Allegheny Cemetery near my house and I was just present. I took in what there was with a giddiness I don’t know if I’ve ever felt before. It’s what is known in Shambhala as “basic goodness” or the experience of reality.
My months of self work came to an end again when I met Half Elegant (previously known as Elegant Butch). She was a friend that could distract me from my constant anxiety, someone I could walk with for hours. And I did. It was nice to have a friend like that, it’d been a while. It only lasted for a day before she started making out with me. She was into me and it caught me off guard because I was sure she was straight. We dated for a week before I told her how I was struggling with my feelings about her. She had swept me off me feet and filled up all my time. She liked me, she thought I was hot, and being around someone that thought that way about me made me feel truly amazing. I had to tell her though that I didn’t like like her and that crushed her, but she didn’t give up home.
We proceeded to danced that dance between friends and lovers for 4 to 5 months. We became totally enveloped in each other, spending most moments of the day with each other. We had amazing sex, went on great adventures. She protected me like no one ever has by glaring at anyone who looked at me for too long and making sure no one gendered me wrong. Her protectiveness made me let down my guard and be free and live like the playful child I am. Our relationship was not good though, it was filled with chaos, confusion, fighting, jealousy, and hurt. She was so into me and I was not into her at all. She worked tirelessly to make me into her and I racked my brain for hours each day trying to understand why I didn’t like her like that, trying to force myself into having feelings I didn’t. As quickly as it started it ended, over and over again until I saw her through Jamie’s eyes. I saw her drunk, belligerent, careless and self-absorbed. I had only spent time with her alone and seeing her with someone else there made it clear, it wasn’t me that was problematic, it was her. I cut off all communication shortly after that and was once again alone.
About a month later I met Clarity. I liked spending time with her immediately. She was real and she would really listen and see things and people for how they were, or as she called it, she was a “knower.” I befriended her at work and only really saw her there at first. She made me look forward to going to work and the possibility of a brief interaction with her. She knew who Against Me! was and got jealous when I told her I went to see Against Me! in concert. I followed Against Me! to Philly and hung out with my friends there only to realize I had outgrown them as well. While they talked about what wine they like and their fancy jobs I felt alone and like an outcast among people I had called best friends. I came back from the trip and had dinner with coworkers and friends that I’ve had for years, an old lead organizer, Heart, Red Beard and handful of others. But there I was yet again, alone, a freak, an outcast.
I have felt like an outcast for most of my life with the exception of a few people who make me feel like I belong. I snuck out from the dinner with my coworkers and went over to Clarity’s house. I wrote of that night in my journal as, “I need to talk to Clarity right now because I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. I can’t handle feeling this anxiety anymore, feeling like an outcast anymore. I just want to feel at home.” When I got there I did feel at home. I felt like it was all better, she’s a freak and an outcast too. She’s a dyke who dated transmen in a time that this got her exiled from the queer community. She fought for her kids to wear dresses whether they were a boy or a girl, or both. She fought to protect them and to live how they wanted to. That night she told me I was a knower too, and that being able to see through people’s lies and bullshit threatens people. Living your truth threatens people too.
I loved feeling at home, and when Clarity got let go from our work I was furious and stopped going there. Instead I started to work for Clarity as her nanny to care for the kids. I was good at this job and Clarity made me feel like I was home. She had the same protective attributes of Elegant Butch that I loved and saw me for who I really was. It didn’t take long before I fell in love, with both that feeling and her.