Inside & Out: Transformations (11/2/2016)
The past haunts my days quite frequently. Not because I have regrets, or feel wronged..but because I feel misunderstood. My sibling has recently reached out to me for the first time in two and a half years, which brought back many hurtful memories from times past. When I married Allan, my sibling was nine. I didn’t call to inform her I was gone. She came to visit on weekends to our father and step-mother’s home, where I lived prior to eloping. She had a hard time understanding and was extremely sad to find me not in our shared bedroom. Since then, we’ve not had a strong relationship, with sporadic periods of interaction between the two of us.
The ten years I spent with my father, was complicated for me mentally, emotionally and physically. He was single for several years and as a child I washed his laundry, cooked supper and kept our trailer cleaned. He worked long weeks supporting me and paying child support for my sibling. He needed help and I didn’t see why I couldn’t pitch in. My sibling chooses to taunt, tease and ridicule me and say things such as “Mom and daddy could care less if you’re transgender” and “you have seriously lost your mind” and “I’m done.. you’re a fucking lunatic and you are out of your fucking mind” and “bad bad life, poor pitiful you.” This is how our parent’s taught my sibling and I to treat people with different lifestyles than us. I can hardly believe my sibling chooses to speak in this fashion. This is just one example, my parents that raised me also used this type of language toward me.
I let her know how incredibly hurtful she was being and that she need not contact me again but that I was sorry she believed it was okay to verbally abuse me. I tried to be open, informative and patient with her regardless of how insensitive, abusive and hurtful she was being. I told her that it isn’t appropriate to speak to someone this way and that if she could only move away from the people in the south that taught her this, she would get it eventually. So badly do I want to educate her and my entire family on intersectionality, forms of abuse, oppression and ending the cycles of violence. But, no matter how much I try, it just ends up causing panic attacks, flashbacks and painful memories to even have one conversation.
Now, it’s hard to explain a life worth of negative events causing my parents to not want my friendship and my sibling to have this attitude toward me. But, I will try...
My birth parent’s Fancy and Saul were married a couple years, attempted to have children and couldn’t seem to. After a surgery to repair Fancy’s damaged Fallopian Tubes, she was told a child was now possible. A year later, Fancy found she was pregnant. My parents traveled to a few different states for work through the first years of my life. When my mother was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, I was still a toddler. At three, my father worked long days, and I was home with my mother. I would climb onto a chair, onto the counter and retrieve her medications each morning for her and the “special milk” I called it, which was basically a supplemental nutritional shake. I would put her medicines and milk on the bedside table and arouse her for the day. While she prepared for the day, I would begin watching cartoons.
Eventually, my father and mother decided to make the move to Mississippi, back to where my mother grew up, to be closer to my grandmother, Francine. According to my mother, several of her friends, my aunt and grandmother, Saul was an adulterer numerous times over. My mother claims that once they moved back to Mississippi, Saul left her. I haven’t a clue honestly, but the point I’m trying to make, is that people aren’t perfect and each person has a “he said/she said” history, whether it’s totally true or not.
My mother found out she was mis-diagnosed and the doctors wouldn't refill her steroid prescriptions. This being the 1980’s, apparently the doctors didn’t wean her off the medication and she turned to street drugs. With me by her side, she lived the life of a prostitute and crack addict. After four years of being raped, molested, used, abused and neglected by a substance abusing mother, my father was awarded full custody of me. At this time, I was eight years old.
I spent ten years living with my father. During those years, I was wrestled to the ground, put in head locks between his knees, punched for “practice” and bruises left behind and lots of corporal punishment dished out by Saul. Apparently this is considered “normal” and “playing”. Let me say, I don’t treat my children this way, regardless of how “right” some may see these behaviors.
I can only remember lying as a child twice, I’m sure I did it more often, but I can honestly remember twice. However, when I was taken to a psychologist at twelve, she informed my father, I had fabricated my entire story about what happened to me while living with Fancy. There was no way I went through what I was claiming. From that moment on, nothing I said was believed, this continues to this day. Thanks mental health! I’ve had a major issue returning to mental health, but regardless have been in counselling for 6 sessions now.
I spent several adult years, after the death of Allan, getting extremely inebriated and tried to nullify my pain through drugs. I felt that if my mother could choose drugs over me, then there must have been something to it. I smoked crack, took extasy, drank heavily multiple nights a week, ate active psychedelic mushrooms and even experimented with research chemicals. All in all, I found the experiences unfulfilling. I saw friends judging me, my parent’s were lashing out at me frequently (once physically) and heard rumors of people saying I was my mother made over.
It’s been over six years since I stopped experimenting with street drugs, four years since I quit taking research chemicals, and going into my third year completely substance free. But, where is my family? Where are those childhood friends Annette and Ashley? Gone. Annette told me when I came out as transgender to “consider me someone you used to know”. Ashley, has ignored every phone call for over a year. I would have much rather have had the conversations that we had gone astray and repair our broken friendships. But, they wouldn’t give me the time of day. Que Sera Sera...
Personally, I don’t find either of us to be horrible people. Rather, I find both of us to be more knowledgeable, more daring, and more grounded due to all life's experiences. I know I’ve lived my life with no hold backs, no regrets and no qualms. Although I’ve lost friends, family and respect. I have my own life to live and my own deeds to live with. Not them, so why be judgemental?
I’m the crazy lunatic, the druggie, the loser, the black sheep. Really? I don’t find any of these things to be true. What I see, is a damaged person, that was trying to find emotional contentment and release. What I see is a person misjudged, misunderstood and cast away like garbage.
I see good hearted individuals healing from the inside out and helping others to do the same. We have rallied for women’s rights at the capital building in Austin, Texas. We’ve spread awareness, campaigned and canvassed for Planned Parenthood. Katherine counsels countless people through her work with the Lifeline. We cook and give meals to homeless people, while being under-housed ourselves. We deliver food to friends in need. We volunteer and reach out to other transgender people that need encouragement or resources. I assist with a support group for transgender folks over thirty. Yet, those people I used to be friends with, are hitting up the same bars, being arrested for worse drugs and going through divorces. We’ve been attempting to get our lives together for over two years. They have yet to convince me I’m not worthy of love, or am horrible, but I will be honest, at times it has been hard to see my own value and worth.
Katherine and I were different people then though. All of these occurrences seem like a lifetime away now. We have transitioned in many aspects of life. We made the transition to sobriety, the transition to vegetarianism; we’ve transitioned from the eastern united states to the west, we’ve transitioned into wonderful people. We are adults I’m proud of. We transformed ourselves and our lives, from the inside out, literally. We’ve had to learn to not allow the judgements of others to bring us down, hold us back or change how we view ourselves and one another. We may live in a tiny camper, but we are finally able to live up to who we truly are, inside and out!