Friday, August 21, 2015

Discussions

I've been on vacation from work the past week.  During that time, I've done some travelling.  I've been to Richmond, Washington DC... and took lots of pictures!  And I WILL write about these in due time.  But I need to write about this first.

My last blog entry was brutal.  It was brutal to write; brutal to read.  I sent the link to my parents and my sister in law, as I knew they'd hear about it, so I wanted them to hear it from me.

I received a Facialbook message from my sister-in-law (brother's wife) and we initiated a nice dialogue.

That Tuesday, I had my daughter for the afternoon.  I was driving her through the town where I grew up when my mum called me.  I pulled the car over to the curb, and answered the phone.

Mum was quite angry.  Words were exchanged.

Now, I'd already planned to go down to southern Delaware to see them, and hopefully to talk.  Now that need to talk had grown.  That night I sent my mum a letter via email.  I will not reveal the contents, as it was private, but I will say that it was, in the end, asking for a dialogue.

Wednesday, mum called again.  We made arraignments for my visit.

Thursday morning, I drove down to Delaware.  I wasn't looking forward to this visit.  On the way down, I decided that I'd stop for lunch down in Fenwick Island: one of my favorite places, Harpoon Hannahs.  While there, I also had some drinks.  Liquid courage.  My mum finally called and asked where I was, and I headed over to my parent's place.  On the way, I stopped at one of those beach stores that was advertising a sale on summer dresses.  And I bought one.  I would wear it the next day.

I was greeted like they always did.  Hugs.  Smiles.  Mum made dinner- steak.  I walked out onto the pier, where it was windy and a little cooler.  Mum then insisted that we go grocery shopping.  I agreed, thinking that this would be where we would talk.  She generously bought Linda and I a lot of groceries, but we didn't talk about anything substantive.  We also stopped at a liquor store and picked up wine: a German white for her and a New Zealand Sauvignon blanc for me.

We went back to the house, opened her wine, and sat in the living room.  My father, as he always does, went to bed early.

That's when mum started to speak.

I have been asked not to discuss the details of the conversations I had with my parents, and rightly so.  They were private.  I will say this though:

We both had denials, posturing, threats: blunt and veiled, feints, bluffs made and called, lecturing... but finally we got down to it being two wounded people sharing their hearts with each other.  I cried.
By one AM we had finished both bottles of wine.  I was very tired.  I knew my father would speak to me in the morning.

And I had an idea of what he would say.

How would I react?  What would I say?

I woke up at 8.  Showered, shaved, put on my makeup, and put on the dress I bought the day before.  I liked the way it looked on me.  I knew my cousin Brenda was coming at 9 to take me for breakfast.  I went downstairs to the kitchen, where my dad was sitting.  He had never seen me in a dress, and looked at me for a heartbeat.  I don't know where mum was.

Me, in the new dress.  Pic by Linda after I returned home

He started to talk.  And I listened.  And countered.  Then Brenda walked in.  We went to the diner up the road and shared a nice breakfast.  She told me things about the family that I didn't know.  We had a wonderful time.  And so, Brenda became the first of my cousins to meet Sophie.  Hopefully not the last!

Brenda dropped me off.  Dad asked me to join him on the pier, and we continued.  Just as before, I will not write what we discussed.  Dad was solemn and quiet, as he spoke.  He sounded tired.  And like the night before, in the end, it was two people hurting... suffering the pain of old wounds... two hearts finally understanding each other.  Both of us, in our own way, dropped our defenses, and allowed the other in.

I will mention one thing he said.  Because it needs saying.  He apologized for the way he raised me, and for any pain that he caused.  He did this before, back in 1999, when it looked like he wouldn't survive his cancer.  Back then, I threw it back in his face.  I was angry.  Vengeful.

Not this time.

You see, my dad is a proud man.  He always has been.  He was a soldier.  Everything he has, he earned.  He all but completely rebuilt the house where he now lives.  He has worked so hard.  And now, here he was, in the twilight of his years, quietly apologizing.  That... that must've hurt.

I wanted to cry.  I wanted to hug him.  I wanted so much... but all I could do was stand there...  and accept his apology.

He said his piece, I said mine... we talked.  And the relationship we had walking out onto the pier was not the same as it now is, back from the pier.

Within ten minutes, I was on the road for Pennsylvania.  I stopped at a new Wawa on the way to get gas and sodas (gas was only $2.24/gallon, compared to the $2.67 we pay up here.)  A man opened the door for me as I left Wawa, his eyes lingering on my breasts.  I smiled and thanked him.  And went to my car.

There are some things that bear mentioning before I continue.

Before transition, I was an asshole.  Total asshole.  And that was by design.  I was angry at the world and mostly at myself.  I hated being me.  I was an empty, rotted shell, and I tried to fill that shell with alcohol.  I caused a lot of pain in my life, through my words and actions.

I like to think I'm a lot better now, but I'm still not an easy person to live with.  Ask Zoey.  Ask Linda.  Ask my Wife.  I can be a total bitch.  But now I'm not trying to be.  And I try to NOT be one.

And my parents knew that.  They knew I was angry, but they didn't know why.  And now they do.  I got into trouble a lot, and as I have written, many times it was something I didn't start.  But I am far from blameless.  Like many children, I deserved punishment from time to time.  If I've ever given the impression otherwise, I'm sorry.

One of the things I tried to explain to the both of them was how it felt growing up with such a terrible secret.  But I really couldn't make them understand.  How could they?  I guess it's a lot like a combat veteran trying to talk to someone who has not known war.  The only people who really understand are those who have been there.  And so it is with being trans.  We are the only ones who understand that pain- who know what it's like to wake up...

Every

Single

Day

wanting, needing, desperately needing... to be someone different from who they were born.  The agony of the morning.  Waking up to being male when you know that you are not.  Hiding from everyone, especially yourself.  That pain which is all consuming... and Deadly.

How do you explain that to someone who has absolutely no common point of reference?

And this is what I tried to convey to my parents.  They are trying to understand.  They really are.

My family has never been perfect.  No family is.  Everyone carries scars from their childhood, and sometimes we pass those scars down to the next generation, adding to their fresh scars.

I told my parents that I had a lot of growing up to do.  And that I've finally started to do it.  Now, growing up no longer means being a Man, which I am not.  Growing up means becoming the Woman I've always been.  I have a long way to go.

My parents are older.  And this past week, I have put them through a lot.  And for that I apologized.

But it opened the way to a dialogue- talking- which we never did before.  It truly is a new beginning for us.  There are no more secrets.  We all said our pieces.  We opened our hearts.

I love my parents.  And they love their daughter.  I sort of understood that when they accepted me back a year ago.  But I know it so much more now.  I think now I see us as a family, where I never really did before.  I took a big risk in opening my heart, as did they.  There was so much at stake.  And now I wonder what could have been.  But they don't.  No- they both said the same thing to me.  That the past is over.  We can't change it, so don't dwell on it.  Make your peace with it, and move on.

After a life time of Pain, maybe I've finally made that peace.

I sat in the Wawa parking lot, strapped into my car.  And I cried.

I cried.

Not because I was upset.  I'd cried enough of those tears in the past two days.

These were tears of Joy.

Thank you for listening to me Mum and Dad.  I love you both.




3 comments:

  1. Sophie -

    Without saying a detail about what was discussed, you told us at a meta level about the nature of the discussion - and it sounds like you had very productive talks with your family. Denial, repression, suppression, omission, etc. becomes part of the family dynamic until people are willing to discuss things openly - and it sounds like you and family did just that.

    I hope that things start getting better from here....

    M

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  2. Sophie, after reading this I am very happy for you knowing that you could have reached out to me hadn't things turned out as positive as they seem to have turned out. Everyone deserves to have happiness in their lives........you now have some peace to go along with it. Good for you Sis! I had no doubt that this would go well for you!
    Big Hugs,
    Sami ;.)

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