After doing some house work today, I headed downtown. I needed to get on the bike. With no destination planned, I went to a local lesbian bar where I sometimes find friends. By the time I arrived, I was hot and needed something to drink. Being in a bar, I chose a Mike’s Hard Lemonade. And before I knew it, I had consumed three in almost 45 minutes. I’m not even close to being an alcoholic. As any friend will tell you, I am what you might call a cheap date. One hard lemonade will usually give me a buzz. Three gives me that “whoa who started spinning the world” feeling.
What I should have done is gotten a water. Even a Coke or a Sprite would have been better than this. I just needed to cool down. I could have done better. I wasn’t drunk. Not by a mile. But, I was buzzed. So, I went to the back, where there was a fan and a couch. I sat, sipping a Sprite and spent the next two hours charging my laptop and phone while talking to friends on facebook and twitter. Once I was confident that I felt better, I gathered my things, made a restroom stop and headed home.
The ride through Capital Hill and downtown was uneventful and kind of nice. It would have been nicer if had there had been a breeze. But, it wasn’t bad. As I approached the hill I need to climb to get out of downtown, the same hill I climb almost every day, I decided to walk the bike. I wasn’t tired. I just felt like walking. I ended up walking almost all the way home.
One of the biggest reasons I love riding a bike, is that it helps to clear my head. Often, I’ll have a good idea for a paper to write for class or a blog post idea while riding. It’s so much easier to put things into perspective while my feet are pedaling away. I absolutely love it.
The decision to walk, although I wasn’t sure exactly why, felt like the right thing to do. Within a few minutes I was enjoying walking under full grown trees with broken sidewalks under my feet. All of the nice old houses to my right. I said hi to a few people who were still out on thier front porches, enjoying the late summer night. My hanging bike helmet clanking against the bullhorn handlebar with every raised seam of concrete. About 15 minutes after dismounting, my thoughts started to my blogging. What led to it. Why I recently started to open up in such a dramatic fashion.
I had a thought earlier today, that when it comes to my blogging, it’s almost like a dam had been completely erased from the side of a reseviour. There is no longer anything keeping my feelings and ideas bottled up anymore. If you looked at the analytics, you’d see breaks of a day or two here and there. But, when I do post, it’s 5 or 6 posts in a day. So much flow. But, can it continue? Will I eventually slow down? Why have I been writing so much?
I asked myself these questions as I meandered my way through the western suburbs of Denver. I stopped once to pick up a flyer of a condo complex in the Highlands. Good God! They start at $900,000?!? In this market? It took almost a block and a half to get that out of my head. But, as I continued, my mind returned to the blog. This place where I have been spilling my heart out. Over the last couple of weeks, people have been telling me that I’m brave. Now, if you know me very well, you’ll understand how I dismissed this idea. The idea of me being brave? Ludicrous! Until recently,I was hiding behind a frog avatar on twitter. For the majority of my life, I have had the world’s lowest self esteem. I’m not brave. People who volunteer for the Army are brave. Police Officers. That’s bravery. Me? I write a blog.
The one thing I’m doing is being honest. And maybe, for some, that’s brave. Maybe everybody has a different definition of bravery. Is it really so hard to be honest? Well, up until recently it has been extremely difficult for me. I understand. Too type the words “gender dysphoria” or “transgender” was something that was near impossible to do. Until recently, I would rather be known as a trouble maker or class clown than let you know of this struggle. Isn’t it always the class clown who is fighting the worst demons.
So, how did I get here? What led me down this proverbial road. It wasn’t one thing. It probably never is. Last year, I found some amazingly accepting people. They let me live with them for 11 months. For reasons that will go unsaid here, they understood exaclty what I was going through. About six months ago, I found the courage to walk into a support group for people like me. Having a place where I know I’ll be accepted for who I am, not what I look like, that meant every thing. I grew to depend on this group. Now, if I miss a meeting, it kind of ruins my week.
Ok. But, what about the blog? I hear you. Shortly after I began what seems like my upteenth attempt at starting a blog, a man died. He wasn’t particularly famous. But, like just about every other death in the last three or four years, I heard about it on Twitter. He had a twitter account. But, I didn’t follow him. I heard about his death from two people. Andrew Hyde and Marina Martin. I looked at his name. That can’t be his real name, I thought. Tom Music? The first link I followed was a video of a young man, possibly in his late twenties speaking about his fight with lymphoma at Ignite Seattle. I then found his blog. What I read there struck me. Here was a very young man, fighting a horrible disease. And writing about it. Very matter of factly. With strength. And humor. Here I was, starting at the end. The end of his life. Just discovering him. Working my way backward to get to know him. The only way I could. All the while knowing what would come of him. It was sad. But, also inspiring. Here was a person who fought valiantly against the odds. He wrote about his struggle. In my mind, Tom Music was undoubtedly brave.
As I coninued along these broken sidewalks and dimly lit streets, I thought about the people I have known throughout the years who are no longer with us. Friends. Children. Babies. I had a friend in high school named Nick. If there ever was a class clown, it was Nick. He could make you laugh so hard, you might start crying. Hindsight is 20/20. And as I look back, I could see how much pain he was in. He tried his best not to show it. But, it was there if you looked closely. Shortly after I arrived home from boot camp in 1992, a mutual friend broke the news to me that Nick had killed himself by putting the end of a shotgun in his mouth. He did this after killing his parents. I still have no idea what made him do that. I can imagine. But, I really don’t know. I never saw where he lived.He never talked about it. But, apparently there were problems.
When I was 14 years old, we moved one mile to a bigger house. Across the street from this new house, lived a family we had known for some time. They had twin girls. While I was in boot camp, one of them died of a seizure. She and her sister were still in high school when it happened. I can’t imagine losing someone so close to you. And for thier parents? To lose a child? It’s not right for your child to go before you. It’s just not.
At my sister’s house, sitting on a mantle is a framed picture of a little man who had a very short stay in this world. His name was Jacob. I never met him. Not many people did. He passed away shortly after my sister gave birth to him. By the time of his birth, the genetic disorder that took his life had been identified. My sister and brother in law chose to carry the baby to term, knowing what would eventually happen. I’ve never been a parent. and I likely never will. I’ll never know the helplessness my sister must have felt, holding her newborn son as he passed away. I wish I could take that pain away.
I have Grandparents in their 80’s. They both have remarkable genes. But, the time will eventually come when we are attending their funerals. I don’t get a chance to spend as much time with them as I would like. But, when I do, I enjoy hearing their stories. How my Grandfather and his father provided the lights for Mrs. Knott’s berry stand in California so she could sell her jams at night. How he lost his finger at a bread factory and had to relearn how to fire a gun so that he could enlist in World War II. How my Grandmother grew up on a farm in Indiana during the depression. What it was like to work and live during the war.
These stories are how we keep our loved ones alive in our hearts. We’ll never forget them as long as we remember how they impacted our lives. I didn’t get to know my great grandparents very well. They both passed when I was very young. My nieces and nephews are very blessed to have Nana and Papa with them now. But, if much later in their lives, they ask me about them, I’ll be able to tell them every thing I know.
When I first started writing in this blog, I knew I wanted to do something for others like me. When I first started coming to terms with this, I found three different blogs. Three wonderful women named Amber, Kate and Kara. Through their writings, I was able to make a bond. I wasn’t the only one dealing with this. I didn’t feel alone after reading these personal stories of strength and conquest. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t found those blogs. If anyone who is questioning or knows someone who is questioning and in pain, I hope that if they find this site, that I can provide at least a little bit of relief and knowledge for them. You aren’t alone. You can do this. Don’t give up.
Once I gained a little more strength and thought more conciously about what I wanted to get across here and looked around at the world, I decided that once I’m gone, I can no longer control what people say about me. I want people to know the real me. I want to be understood. When I was little, I was told of my Grandfather’s brother. Nobody really talked about him. When I was older, it was revealed how he died. I never knew him. And because he didn’t write anything down or really spoke about his problems, nobody knows what led him to do the things that caused his death.
I am the only person who can control my message. There is no one who can speak so authoritatively about me. I still occasionally think about suicide. I hope I won’t do it. But, if for some reason, I find that I can’t take this any longer, I want the world to know who I am. I want there to be some understanding of what I’m going through. For every person who says this struggle isn’t real, I want a blog post to counter their argument.
As I walked and had these thoughts, the tears started pouring down. And they didn’t stop. I tried to hold them in at major stop lights. Because, god forbid, a stranger passing you at 45 mph, see you cry. But, as I walked, I realized my tears weren’t tears of misery. No. it was something different. They were at their worst when I thought about the times I stood on the precipice, ready to jump. I did it so many times, I can’t even give you the rough number. There were countless bridges, balconies, cliffs, busy street corners and the railings of a Navy cruiser. There were cuts. small and hidden. There were guns with fingers on triggers. All pointed at my skull or in my mouth.
I never did it. I am still here. And I’m glad that I am. But, the pain was and in many ways, is real. It’s not as bad as it used to be. Not even close. My tears tonight were for the young girl inside of me who struggled all those years ago. Even before she knew what suicide was, she was thinking about ending her life. Nobody should think such thoughts. Especially a child. I wish I could go back in time and let her know it’s going to be ok. I wish I could go back and help her understand these feelings. To help her come to terms with it earlier. I can’t do that. The best I can do is carry on. Keep writing. Six months ago, I would kick myself for saying this. But, this has become a very selfish endeavor. It’s taken some time. But, I’m finally ok with having one selfish thing in my life. I need this blog. And I needed to cry tonight. It was very cathartic. I had a little bit of closure. I wrote this post as a way of remembering how I felt.