May 01, 2010

wonderful interaction

Recently I was blessed by someone taking the time to compose me a letter about their experiences in relationship to mine. What they had to say did make me stop and think about things, and life in general. I did compose a response and sent it back after careful thought and consideration. I did not ask this person if I could post this so I hope they forgive me and continue to write. I will say that I have changed some of their email to me, to protect their identity, although the meaning is still there. I am very curious how everyone will respond to the interaction and what comments are generated. Once again I have put up a long post and I thank you for taking the time to stop by and read. In the real world though I can see you and I, sitting on the patio on a sunny day drinking a tall glass of tea, with a slice of lemon. There is a slight breeze from the west and the sky is clear with the sun directly overhead. Now that I have you hear you will hear our conversation as we sit back and enjoy the others company...


While surfing the Internet tonight, I landed on your website. I started reading your entries and I couldn't believe what I was reading. Entry after entry closely matched my own feelings and experiences. I was absolutely mesmerized by your words and I read your entire site. I guess I just want to say hello and tell you that there is another person in the world with similar experiences and feelings.

I live in the Seattle area and I am in my mid 50’s, married almost 28 years, with four children in their mid 20’s. I am the person in your neighborhood or office that no one would suspect has been fighting a lifelong gender identity issue. I have been running from this issue and fighting hard to avoid it for a lifetime. I have reached the end of the Internet in my search for answers and I have seen more professionals that I would like to admit. I am an highly educated scientist with a graduate degree in business but I’m not quite smart enough to engineer a solution to my gender identity problem. I am big and tall and I have a competitive spirit that enabled me to win the National championship in sports three decades ago but it’s hard to feel like a winner today. I am the person that is reluctant to take a step forward for all the usual reasons…..fear, height, appearance, age, family, career, etc. No matter which path I decide to take, full time transition or not, my wife and best friend knows the real me and she wants to move on without me in her life----we will divorce later this year and sell our home. Last summer I broke out of my shell and I told my children and brothers all about me. To my surprise, everyone displayed a caring attitude and they want me to be happy. What I was unable to tell them with any certainty is where I am going from here. I’ve been taking hormones for years and I am halfway through electro and it might seem like I am well on my way to living an authentic life but I have been fighting hard to avoid traveling down the transition path. I am the person that believes that transition will never work for me. Slowly…….very slowly……..I am coming to terms with all of this. And I am beginning to accept that I can run but I can’t hide from this and life is passing quickly. It’s time to face my fears and live my truth, whatever that means for me. My intro might seem a bit dark but life is not unbearable……I keep myself extremely busy and my engineering career and hobbies (bike riding) bring a smile to my face.

You state that you are "40 something" and that's where we are different. I am a lot older than you and it seems as if I am looking back in time when I read your posts. I have been on and off hormones too and I have had similar conversations with my wife. My wife has told me that I am a narcissist but I think your explanation fits me too. My wife discovered my secret about 13 years ago and we agreed to stay together for the kids. Today all of my kids are in their twenties and they have graduated college. My wife decided that it is now time to divorce. A few months ago I literally begged and pleaded with her to stay with me and I promised to throw any my meds and cut my hair and try to be the best husband that I could be for the rest of my life. She turned toward me and calmly said, "Don’t do that to yourself. You will be back in the psychologist's office in 5 years and you will be on the verge of suicide." I walked away in a complete emotional meltdown……I knew she was right.

Imagine yourself writing your words all over again at 55 years of age-----still struggling to determine your path and still haunted by the gender issues. How does that thought make you feel? I have never read another web page that matches my story as closely as your story matches mine. Part of me wants to reach out and grab you and tell you that I know which path you are taking, because I have taken the same path years ago, and that you should STOP and find another path. But I know that I can't do that because I don't really know your full story. And I don't have a better path to recommend. I am the longest member of my psychologist's support group (9 years) and I am the only person that has not transitioned. My psychologist is an expert in trans issues and she has told me that I am her toughest case yet. She once told me that I am like the person that thinks they will cheat death. She added that the gender issues will catch up to me one day, I can't outrun it. Startling words from an expert but I keep running….but my energy is dwindling. Every one of my trans friends has moved forward and they are living the life that I have dreamed about. They all report that the gender anguish has completely disappeared but many have paid a tremendous price with their careers and families. The price of transition can be very high and that's why I keep weighing my options. Many friends told me that they thought transition would never work for them but they tried anyway and it worked. Those words haunt me daily. Each of us must find our answers and I call on quotes, like the quotes you have listed recently, to help find the strength to move forward one more day. I realize that I am rambling now and I'll end my note. I wish you much success in your search for your best path and I hope your relationship with your wife and kids grows stronger. I enjoyed reading your website and I hope you will continue to add your thoughts.

I didn't take long to respond, but put in some thought on what I said. As usual I am long winded so, anyway here was my response:

First, thank you very much for taking the time to read all of my blog, second I also want to thank you for the time that you took to compose this letter to me, as it seems you put thought and heart into your writing. I have heard from a few in “our” boat, those that really try to fight this and prolong it with all the strength that they have. I imagine that some are successful and some are not. You mention that I should choose another path, as the one I am taking is like watching your history repeat itself. I suppose my question to you, is in the last fifteen years did you have joy in your life? Did your family provide you with enough joy that it was worth it? Also if you consider repercussions of your actions on those around you, had you made your move 15 or 20 years ago, how might your family landscape have changed?

I look at my children of 13, 11, and 4 and try to imagine how their worlds would change if their father were taken from them. You might go one step further and say that they would not even have that luxury as there would be another person who replaced their father, but was different enough that it would cause many interactions around them to change. I am blessed with 3 children with above average intelligence (way above) who seem to be destined to make a significant contribution in the world. I don’t want to be the one who takes that from them. Now you may say that my actions would not, but I believe that it would as I would be taken out of their equation, and things would be made more difficult. How do I know that with that increased difficulty they would not succumb to some sort of external pressure and fail in their endeavors? I was raised by a single mother without a father, and I swore to myself throughout my life that my children would not live such a life. I carry a bit of a chip on my shoulder that I could have been more and done more had I had that support, I didn’t get to go to a choice school, I went to a junior college, and slowly worked my way up with degrees from schools with less than desirable names. Now I have learned quite a bit and have more street smarts than my children ever will, but I so want them to have just a bit more than I. Now if they chose whatever path that does not coincide with what I desire, I will still love and support whatever they choose, but I will know that it is on their own accord that this has happened and not because of the ramifications what their father chose earlier in their lives.

Next is my wife, who accuses me of staying with her and the kids because of the kids. Some days that is, true and some days it is not, as some days I am with her because of her. For all of our challenges, she is there to support me. We compliment each other so very well, it is amazing. I feel as if there is nothing we can’t accomplish together. I have offered her at times to completely walk away, she knows I would support her, and be a bystander for the most part in her and the kid’s life. She (at this moment) wants me to stay. I don’t know what it would be like for either of us to come home to an empty house without the knowledge of knowing the other would be there soon. I can truly not imagine not spending the rest of my life with her, not that I haven’t thought about it, I have, I know that where I am now is where I want/need to be.

I consider every day a gift, every year I make it, is another year that we are all in each others lives, and enriching each others lives. It would be one thing to have some dysfunctional type of dynamic going on, but I can say in my house it is pretty much the model or exceptional family. Now my intermittent depression from time to time will cause me to withdraw or be crabby, but I try quickly to get a handle on it, and as my therapist says, “there is better living through pharmacology.” I can’t say I see my therapist as much as I should, she thinks I should transition and has even said I won’t make it past 5 yrs (about 3 yrs ago) as this will eat me up. I believe I can, yes I believe I can cheat death although at times I do pray for it to come early in my life as I do believe it would be much easier on all involved. Yes I do believe it would even be much easier on my children, although I am sure many would argue. I can say that if I put myself into your shoes, I would have found my life much harder without some of the pharmacology in my life as I know I can’t do without it. I also see a psychiatrist who also believes like every other professional that I should transition, she is a bit more supportive of my decisions not too, she give no time frame, and is honest that there is not much information out there. I am comforted by the fact I am not alone in my desire/quest to stay, and I know there are others out in the cyber world fighting the same fight as I, I bet many have made it. Morbidly I look at it as a race to the death, to see who can cross that finish line and not succumb to these desires. Using the ever interesting analogies of Radio Lab, they discussed “Limits” recently on what the body is able to accomplish. In one of the segments was a story about a bike race across the United States, where individuals will bike from one coast to another and only sleep about 12 hours, and how their body responds. Well this is our race, and some chose to not start, some chose to drop out early, some have accidents along the way, and some chose to drop out late, and even some make it. Well I want to make it, and I will do what ever means to make it, even if I have to fool my body in believing whatever it is it needs to make it. Yes I was on hormones for a little over 3 yrs and they did a number on me, and I would in a heart beat go back on them, although at the moment I really don’t need to as it seems my body is not producing testosterone, or if it is it is very little. Oh yes, I know what my body wants and it makes no ifs ands or buts about it. When I am on them my mood is better than at any other time in my life, when I was on them I could not believe how good I could feel. Well as good as it was, I will pass that up, and take one for the team, and even fake it if I have too, but I will make it.

It makes me smile when you say that your wife wants you to cut your hair, as that is one of our biggest contentions in our marriage, not to mention my eyebrows that are plucked pseudo thinly. Yes too look at me, you know that there is something different, many think I am gay, which I am OK with. That gets challenged by others who know my wife and family; many just think I am creative and different as I am that way. I am blessed with great ideas and solutions to everyday problems that consume others lives, that is one of my gifts. I am sure it is from my gender issues, so the gender issues do have one plus. I can say I wish you would not have told your family, it is my belief that unless your are transition ‘tomorrow’ you should not tell anyone as it damages your credibility and once that fact is out of the bottle it cannot be put back in. I am interested in where you are going with your life, I do feel a bit of a connection, although you have told me so little.
I too have gone on a bit long and look forward to future correspondence, feel free to reach out at any time.

Anyway for those that read it all the way through, thanks I appreciate your time and feedback. I am grateful for the time and correspondence this person gave me. I love it when someone provides me with a personal note. I am guilty though of not providing others with this gift, although I do provide a well thought out response and try to provide the same amount if not more time in my response. Anyway, thanks again for reading.



Halle said...

Our stories; so similar and yet amazingly diverse in the detail.

By writing publicly, some of us have opened a channel (as they used to say on StarTrek) to allow the incredible diversity to be shared.

Thank you for taking the risk of putting two of you out there for the rest of us to contemplate.

I have written a very long response (you think your post are long! ;P ), too long for a comment, so it will appear on my site instead. Maybe together we can find a way to make the future members of our sisterhood's lives a bit more productive than ours, even as we try to do the same for ourselves!

Hugs as always,


Stace said...

I'm with you on a number of points there. The point of coming home and knowing that you are not waiting for someone to come home to you, but that you are just alone terrifies me.

My sister in law asked recently whether we were OK except for the GID. We are. We love each others company, we think so alike on most issues it's scary and we knw what the other is thinking to the degree that we acuse each other of being telepathic and stealing each others thoughts.

The question of whether that is enough to get past the GID (transitioning or not) is the tough part.

As to the not telling others. I think it depends on who you tell. So far I've chosen well I think, with people who are ultra supportive. Even Mrs Staces family are supportive (though obviously more concerned about how it's affecting her). I don't thinkt that it has removed any of my credability with them - if anything I would say the opposite is true.

They all know I am trying to not transition, but that the future is unknown at this point.

Thanks for posting the conversation - it makes for some good thinking points.


Calie said...

Hi, Bree, and thanks for posting your friend's letter and your thoughtful response.

As you know, I am also in the same camp as your friend and I am also older than you are.

I have survived and I have no regrets. The life I have spent with my wife and children has been priceless.

I will never, however, say never. There may come the day when I do decide to transition, but so far my disciplined routine has worked out well in my maintaining the status quo.

Again, thanks for taking the time to post this and, more importantly, helping out a friend in need.

Calie xxx

caroline said...

Not quite my perspective since I decided at a very early age not to bring children into a world into which I did not have a place.

I kept my head down and waited for an early death to end the torment. that torment poisoned nearly thirty years of marriage. Only now as we look back from our life with me finally making a change can we see how much we missed by my being in a near constant depression with no vision of a future beyond a month or two and little joy in life. Now...

I feel for those who are in the ultimate trap with family, there seems little hope until society opens up enough for wives to be openly comfortable with the situation. There is no easy answer to your situations just cyclical thoughts. I hope you can find a happy solution and one day just feel alive in your own skin.

Caroline xxx

lisalisa said...

It really does show that we must decide for ourselves where our journey lies.
We each have different circumstances, motivations, concerns and ways of dealing with things.
I guess even coping mechanisms that we develope can be more effective for some than others.
All we can do is lend an ear and support and learn from each other.

I do notice one thing that you mentioned that certainly has not been the case for me. That is your thoughts that coming out to the people I so far have this year, has definately not removed any credibility. Sure they have had worries and are still adjusting but I would not say they regard me as a less credible person.
In the past this did worry me a lot but I have found that many of my worries have been blown out of all proportion.

Thanks for an interesting blog. I can always rely on you to make me think!

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